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A Building's Journey from National Treasure to Symbol of Decay, More Info on Apple's Face ID & Bad Shopping Cart Return Habits

Tue, 2017-09-19 00:11

The Core77 team spends time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the World Wide Web:

Spiraling out of control: how a playfully modern spiral building in Venezuela became a notorious political prison and a symbol of national decay.

Ancient traditional trades in northern Alaska that are being threatened by climate change.

I still don't get it.

Seattle Design Festival questions the idea of power.

Some of the finalists for 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year, produced by the Natural History Museum, London. Full results come out at the end of October.

Announcing the 2017 Rhizome Microgrant Awardees.

The "Voice of North Korea" wears pink. A lot.

This week in problematic mascot design...

Sarcastic Rover.

A few answers to your burning Apple Face ID questions...

An epic short film by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Cassini spacecraft in honor of its last mission to Saturn today.The good, bad and ugly of shopping cart returns. (via Boing Boing)Hot Tip: Discover more blazin' hot Internet finds on our Twitter and Instagram pages.

Mid Century Modern Find of the Week: Danish Modern Rosewood Bar Cart with Removable Top

Tue, 2017-09-19 00:11

This Danish mid century bar cart, made from Brazilian rosewood, measures 25" long x 17.5" wide x 22" tall.

The top, which has raised edges, doubles as a removable serving tray.

The bottom tier features three plastic bottle holders.

Mounted on four original castors.


These "Mid Century Modern Find of the Week" posts are provided courtesy of Mid Century Møbler, which specializes in importing vintage Danish Modern and authentic Mid Century furniture from the 1950s and 1960s.

Design Experience That Matters: Cultivating Design Mind

Tue, 2017-09-19 00:11

In designing Firefly newborn phototherapy, Design that Matters used human-centered design to transform Vietnamese manufacturing partner, Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS), expanding their impact on newborn health within Southeast Asia and Africa, and positioning their designs to go global. Through multiple meetings with our manufacturing partner in the U.S. and Vietnam, collaborative field research, joint brainstorms, industrial design exercises, and design reviews, Design that Matters planted the seed. The result is an organization that now approaches each new device through a human-centered design lens as evidenced in their new product in progress to prevent newborn hypothermia.

The word "design" can evoke images of fashion models and expensive bags. Design is gaining mass appeal as popularized by companies like Apple and IDEO, embodied by everyday products like the iPhone, and celebrated in magazines like Fast Company. Design has also been making inroads into the world of international development and social enterprise. At Design that Matters, we use the power of human-centered design to bring the best technology to the poor in developing countries. When we mention the word "design" to many non-profits and social enterprises, they reply, "I already like the color." Design goes beyond aesthetic. Thinking like a designer means pulling disparate observations and requirements together and using them to inspire yourself to create a harmonious innovation to improve the world. What better place to apply design than in broken markets with too many stakeholders, too few dollars, and so many real needs?

In designing Firefly newborn phototherapy, Design that Matters used human-centered design to transform Vietnamese manufacturing partner, Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS), expanding their impact on newborn health within Southeast Asia and Africa, and positioning their designs to go global. Through multiple meetings with our manufacturing partner in the U.S. and Vietnam, collaborative field research, joint brainstorms, industrial design exercises, and design reviews, Design that Matters planted the seed. MTTS took on a new suite of capabilities from special user interview techniques to rapid prototyping. The result is a Firefly final product that looks identical to the Design that Matters design; a device that has treated newborns with jaundice in 23 developing countries including Vietnam, Myanmar, and Ghana; and an organization that now approaches each new device through a human-centered design lens as evidenced in their new product in progress to treat newborns with respiratory distress.

Beginning day one, Design that Matters fostered an open and collaborative atmosphere around the Firefly design process. Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process and a set of techniques used to create new solutions for the world. Solutions include products, services, environments, organizations, and modes of interaction. HCD builds on the idea of user-centered design, encouraging designers to use these tools to gain insight from many stakeholders beyond just the end-user. We decided to use the HCD process to better understand the needs of our manufacturer, while simultaneously coaching them to use the process themselves.

The staff at manufacturing partner MTTS talk Design that Matters through their Bilibed phototherapy design to help us understand the need, user, and context at the Firefly kick-off in Vietnam.

At the Firefly kick-off meeting in Hanoi, the Design that Matters team interviewed MTTS about their deep knowledge about designing medical devices for low resource contexts, and phototherapy in particular. At the time, they had installed hundreds of their custom-designed overhead phototherapy devices and had recently created a new phototherapy prototype called the Bilibed to provide lighting from below. The Design that Matters team broke the Bilibed design into manageable pieces to identify the features where our manufacturing partner knew there was room for improvement. We made each suggestion visual by drawing it on a post-it and sticking it up on the wall. Our manufacturer gained an appreciation for how prototypes like the Bilibed are enormously helpful in fostering deep conversation to guide design.

Design that Matters used dual language flashcards to spark better conversations to understand the most desirable phototherapy features.

Design that Matters exposed our manufacturer to a variety of stakeholder interview and observation methods including flash cards, drawing, and prototypes to probe beyond what people say they do, to understand what people think and feel. During successive field research visits to hospitals throughout Vietnam, a rotating cast of staff from our manufacturing and implementation partners accompanied Design that Matters, learning many HCD techniques firsthand. In one activity early in the design process, Design that Matters had a set of flashcards listing different product qualities in English and Vietnamese including effective, bright, comforting, and safe for the baby. We invited doctors and nurses to write-in other important qualities we had forgotten, and then asked them to sort the flashcards in order of most important to least important. We then used the flashcards to conduct a discussion through translation about why the qualities were ranked in that order. Having dual language flashcards enabled Design that Matters and members of our manufacturing partner team who did not speak Vietnamese to conduct a multi-faceted conversation with healthcare providers without depending solely on the translator.

At the East Meets West Foundation Jaundice Conference, a Vietnamese healthcare provider draws their dream phototherapy device with light from the top and bottom.

Using the nuanced information we collected early in the field, Design that Matters created concept phototherapy devices and integrated them into photos of hospital settings we had taken during field research. We then coached a team from our manufacturing and implementation partners to independently conduct Firefly concept evaluations at the East Meets West Foundation jaundice conference, bringing together over 80 doctors and nurses in central Vietnam. In one exercise, doctors and nurses were asked to draw their dream device. A lightbulb went on for the team when some healthcare providers drew phototherapy with light from the top and the bottom. Asking users to think visually was a great way to get at what they really need.

During a visit to our studio, Design that Matters industrial designer Will Harris coaches our Vietnamese manufacturer through a classic exercise embodying abstract qualities using clay and image collage.

We also wanted our manufacturer to understand the role of industrial design in synthesizing so many disparate requirements into a unified form that evokes emotion in the user. During one of our manufacturing team's visits to Boston, our designer, Will Harris, facilitated a classic industrial design exercise. Each team member used magazine images and clay to express abstract concepts like "trustworthy" and "comforting". In this way, the manufacturing team experienced a bit of that magical leap of intuition that leads to an holistic product.

Left: The Design that Matters-made clinical evaluation device. Right: The MTTS-manufactured Firefly device. Right photo courtesy East Meets West Foundation.

We knew we had done our job well when we saw the first Firefly fully created by our manufacturer. It looked identical to the four devices we had built for the clinical evaluation in Vietnam. For those less familiar with the typical product design process, the final product often looks quite different from the first generation of test products because the type of information you steep in as a team during the design process is very difficult to convey later to a manufacturer through reports or meetings. The result is that many manufacturers take a design and dramatically alter it to be easier to manufacture.

To design Firefly, Design that Matters brought our manufacturer along for every step of the process, creating buy-in, preserving the design intent, and passing on HCD skills that have forever changed their approach to product design. The result is Firefly, a device that MTTS considers to be their flagship product, giving them entry into new countries and rural-level hospitals to save many more babies. MTTS has since hired their own industrial designer and is already using HCD to design new products for infants with respiratory distress and hypothermia.


This "Design Experience that Matters" series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM's Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.

Reader Submitted: Paper Toys that Demystify the Insides of Our Electronic Devices

Tue, 2017-09-19 00:11

Papier Machine is a booklet gathering a family of 13 paper-made electronic toys ready to be cut, colored, folded, assembled or torn. Silkscreened with special inks that have different electric properties, these toys aim to reveal what hides behind our machines' magic black boxes. A world of materials, shapes, colors, stories and even smell.

Papier Machine received support from the cultural program Audi Talents Awards, of which were laureates in 2016. It has also been exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, in Mai 2017.

View the full project here

The "Downsizing" Concept for Addressing Overpopulation: Shrink People Down to Just Five Inches Tall

Tue, 2017-09-19 00:11

In the upcoming movie Downsizing, filmmaker Alexander Payne, the guy who did Election, Sideways and About Schmidt, has come up with a way to address the world's overpopulation crisis: Use science to shrink people down to just five inches in height. Think about it: You can have a huge house built with very little material, you'll consume less, and you'll leave a smaller footprint both figuratively and literally.

Are you ready to take the plunge?

While the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Paramount's not putting the movie into wide release until Christmas.

It is interesting to see satirists and comedians addressing these issues. The environment, shrinking resources and overpopulation is a favorite topic of stand-up comic Bill Burr, who has considerably darker proposals for how to solve the problem:

[Warning, these videos are NSFW! It's a Friday, so maybe you can get away with watching these, but put headphones on.]"30,000 People:""85 Percent of You Have to Go:"

Has Sound Been Weaponized? Mysterious Sonic Attacks on U.S. and Canadian Diplomats in Cuba

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

I'm a little surprised that this story isn't getting more press. We've learned that not only can ultrasound be used to hack smartphones, but apparently it may have been weaponized and used in a series of attacks that authorities are at a loss to explain.

As the Associated Press reports, at least 21 American diplomats and a handful of Canadian diplomats in Cuba have suffered nosebleeds, permanent hearing loss, concussions and brain trauma after experiencing what's been described as "sonic attacks:"

The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into bed. Inexplicably, the agonizing sound hit him again. It was as if he'd walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room.

Soon came the hearing loss, and the speech problems, symptoms both similar and altogether different from others among at least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery still unfolding in Cuba. The top U.S. diplomat has called them "health attacks." New details learned by The Associated Press indicate at least some of the incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, baffling U.S. officials who say the facts and the physics don't add up.

Investigators don't know who is behind the attacks, and searches of the affected premises have not turned up any devices. Investigators also have no idea what the attacking device is; previously it was thought impossible that sound could trigger a concussion and brain trauma. Confusing the investigation further, the experiences of those who suffered attacks has not been consistent:

In several episodes recounted by U.S. officials, victims knew it was happening in real time, and there were strong indications of a sonic attack. Some felt vibrations, and heard sounds — loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets or cicadas. Others heard the grinding noise. Some victims awoke with ringing in their ears and fumbled for their alarm clocks, only to discover the ringing stopped when they moved away from their beds.

The attacks seemed to come at night. Several victims reported they came in minute-long bursts. Yet others heard nothing, felt nothing. Later, their symptoms came.

… Sound and health experts are equally baffled. Targeted, localized beams of sound are possible, but the laws of acoustics suggest such a device would probably be large and not easily concealed. Officials said it's unclear whether the device's effects were localized by design or due to some other technical factor.

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction or fanciful spy novels, but it appears that these attacks are terrifyingly real. We will be watching this story with interest.

Design Job: Design to Empower as Human Rights Campaign's Design Assistant in Washington, DC

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

The Design Assistant supports the marketing team by assisting with graphic design as well as administrative tasks. Work closely with the Senior Design Director and other marketing staff in production of print and digital collateral consistent with program objectives, brand guidelines and budgetary constraints, obtain photography for publications, assist with photo and illustration research, maintain and organize photo collections, scan appropriate photos for publication use

View the full design job here

A' Design Awards & Competition: Call for Entries

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

A' Design Award & Competition, the world's leading international annual juried competition for design, is now accepting entries for its next cycle. The A' Design Accolades are organized in a wide range of creative fields to highlight the very best designers from all countries in all disciplines. It's almost guaranteed you'll find a place for your work in one of the many categories, which include Industrial Design, Product Design, Service Design, Architecture, Communication Design and Fashion Design.  (Check out the rest of the categories here).

The A' Design Prize

Entries to the competition are peer-reviewed and anonymously judged by an influential jury panel of experienced academics, prominent press members and established professionals. A' Design Award & Competition promises prestige, publicity and international recognition to all A' Design Award Winners through the A' Design Prize which is given to celebrate the awarded designs.

Every year, projects that focus on innovation, technology, design and creativity are awarded with the A' Design Award. Entries are accepted annually till February 28th and results are announced every year on April 15. Designers worldwide are called to take part in the accolades by entering their best works, projects and products. Entries are accepted as long as they were designed in the last 10 years.

To give an idea of projects that are eligible to apply to receive an A' Design Award, we've put together a list of ten diverse projects that have won in previous years:

Dynavonto Exotic Car Concept by Bashar Ajlani, Vehicle, Mobility and Transportation Design Category Winner, 2011 - 2012Calendar 2013 "Module" Calendar by Katsumi Tamura, Graphics and Visual Communication Design Category Winner, 2012 - 2013Dhyana Armchair by Salvatore Guzzo, Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category Winner, 2011 - 2012Printed Bulbs Light Bulb by Eric Brockmeyer + Karl Willis, Lighting Products and Lighting Projects Design Category Winner, 2012 - 2013 Shoe Class Sneaker store by Pinkeye, Interior Space and Exhibition Design Category Winner, 2012 - 2013 Smartstreets-Cyclepark™ Transformational bike parking by Chris Garcin and Andrew Farish (Team), Street Furniture Design Category Winner, 2013 - 2014 Conspiracy shoes Luxury Shoes by Gianluca Tamburini, Footwear, Shoes and Boots Design Category Winner, 2013 - 2014 Baan Dinner set cupboard by Mr.Paitoon Keatkeereerut,Chawin Hanjing, Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Category Winner, 2013 - 2014Flow Coffee Table & Stools by Olena Sydoruk, Arts, Crafts and Ready-Made Design Category Winner, 2010 - 2011Kitchen Train Kitchen Accesories by Ahmad Abedini, Home Appliances Design Category Winner, 2011 - 2012

Did you enjoy the designs above? We will be publishing a selection of award winners on April 15. To have an opportunity to get your design published, featured and promoted, remember to submit it before the entry deadline. Send Your Works today to The A' Design Competition : Nominate Your Best Design Project.

Honda is Latest Car Company to Join the Retro-Electric Movement

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

Looks like we officially have a trend on our hands: Retro-Electric? We saw both Volkswagen and Jaguar reinvigorating classic automotive designs with electric powerplants, and now Honda's dipping their foot in the pool as well. Their compact Urban EV, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, bears a striking resemblance to their original Civic, the car that put Honda on the map in America in the early '70s.

Urban EVFirst-generation Civic

Some condensed automotive history: In the early '70s we Yanks were still driving around in land boats. Japanese cars at the time were not taken seriously, being much smaller, and Japan was not yet recognized as a technological and engineering powerhouse. (Throughout the '50s and '60s Japan, which was steadily rebuilding after World War II, had a reputation for producing goods of shoddy quality, similar to the perception of Chinese-made goods today.)

The original Civic, introduced in Japan in 1972, could not have come at a more perfect time: The 1973 oil crisis hit the following year, and the affordable Civic's 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine sipped gas economically. Americans hit hard by high gasoline prices were willing to give the tiny Civic a try. They found the car to be reliable and well-made at a time when Detroit's quality control seemed to have disappeared. On this reputation of economy and reliability, Honda and other Japanese automakers were able to gain a foothold in the American automotive market that would in later years blossom into outright domination.

First-generation Civic

Despite its tiny appearance, the Urban EV is actually a four-seater, and it looks like Honda is following in the original Civic's economical spirit by opting for bench seating (both fore and aft, unlike the original Civic, which had split seating up front). The interior is Spartan, to say the least:

One interesting interior feature is that camera-connected screens embedded within the doors themselves take the place of rearview mirrors. And an interesting exterior feature, though it's not shown in the photos, is that the car will have suicide doors (i.e. hinged at the rear).

And yes, we said "will." Honda President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo has announced that "This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019." No word on whether they'll bring it Stateside.

Hand Tool School #45: My New Semester Focuses on Getting Back to Basics, with Minimal Tools

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

I've just released a new course at The Hand Tool School called Orientation. Its the result of running the school for more than 7 years and learning how new woodworkers absorb information and what questions they have right out of the gate that hold them back. This semester assumes nothing, requires no previous experience and no tools. We add 4 or 5 tools and build 4 projects.

Thanks for checking out this video. You can learn more about the new course here.


This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.

A Collection of Channels: Interface

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

Are.na is a collaborative research website that allows designers and artists alike to connect dots and dig into creative interests. This article was originally published on Are.na's blog.

A Collection of Channels is a series highlighting channels we're paying attention to on Are.na. Interface focuses on channels related to the place at which independent and often unrelated systems meet and act on or communicate with each other.

Ascetic User Interfaces

View this channel on Are.na

Situational Awareness 

View this channel on Are.na

Beige Electronics with a Red Button or Two

View this channel on Are.na


View this channel on Are.na

Body Interface

View this channel on Are.na

Input Devices

View this channel on Are.na

Interfaces with Black Backgrounds (Only)

View this channel on Are.na

Experimental Interfaces

View this channel on Are.na

Circular UI

View this channel on Are.na

Baroque User Interface

View this channel on Are.na

Hybrid Interface

View this channel on Are.na


Reader Submitted: Bumpe: The Bridge Between Antenatal and Postnatal Care

Sun, 2017-09-17 23:41

One of the first signs of fetal wellbeing is mother's perception of movements. Currently women are told to report any abnormalities in fetal movement with a quantified number stated as less than 10 felt kicks/rolls per day. However, the minimum activity is highly dependent on an individual pregnancy case, and one of the greatest challenges is defining what is normal when it comes to fetal activity.

Bumpe proposes a safe, at home and reliable answer to current products that can be also used after the child is born. It is a remote system that assists with the tracking of fetal movements during pregnancy. Its developed passive sensing technology allows for continuous monitoring outside of a hospital and can be safely used from the third trimester. Also, Bumpe is there for you to assist and bring reassurance after the birth of your baby. The sensors gather data over the course of your baby's development. They provide information about the infant's breathing patterns and sleep cycles. The system consists of a wearable device, base station and assistive App.

Bumpe was designed in conjunction with health care professionals and in compliance with early-stage health assessment guidance.

App to use during pregnancyAnd after a child's birthTo ensure the project's feasibility, the passive sensing technology was tested in the scenarioThe design process involved thorough prototyping and testingView the full project here