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Design news, culture, events and resources. A daily must-read for designers world wide.

Currently Crowdfunding: Stay Fresh With an Eco-Conscious Cooler, Turn Your Smartphone into a Microscope, and More

5 Dec 2019, 8:40 pm | Core77

Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

Smart material choices (like swapping conventional polyurethane foam insulation for natural wool) make this cooler completely recyclable. Couple that with its sleek design and convenient features (there's a built-in cutting board!) and the Wooly Mammoth Cooler looks like a perfect companion for your outdoor dining adventures.

Already near its funding goal with just under a month to go, the Altered Shower employs a patented "dome technology" to rotate water at a high speed so you can enjoy a normal shower while using 75% less water.

A modular lunch box/food storage solution that checks off all the right boxes: it's leak-proof, shatter-proof, easy to open, keeps food hot or cold, and made of PBA-free recyclable plastic.

We all have a camera in our pocket, but what if you could use it to explore the world around you in microscopic detail? DIPLE is an add-on kit that will kick your smartphone camera up quite a few notches with its 1000x magnification capability.

Made of bamboo and aluminum, Ice Mouse is designed to stay cool to the touch no matter how many hours you work with it.

Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.

UK Police Emergency Tow Vehicle Can Arrive Quickly--Because It's a Modified Motorcycle

5 Dec 2019, 7:06 pm | Core77

I was once stuck in NYC's Holland Tunnel in a traffic jam behind a mid-tunnel car accident. With both lanes of cars backed up, there was no way to get a tow truck through in the direction of travel; they eventually sent one in from the other end, driving backwards, to clear the mess.

In the UK, they've got at least one solution for rapidly getting a tow vehicle on-site--and it's a motorcycle. Since the cars driven in the UK are generally smaller than what Americans drive, it's a viable option. Check out their modified Honda Goldwing "Retriever" model:

Incredibly, Autoblog reports that the thing can tow 5,500 pounds!

Good Design: Airline Seatback Designed for Smartphone and Tablet Viewing

5 Dec 2019, 6:16 pm | Core77

(This new "Quick Hits" series of posts will be short 'n sweet examples of good design. Debates welcome.)

The airline carriers have to be thrilled that people now travel with their own screens. It's got to be cheaper for them to install this folding smartphone/tablet viewing shelf in a seatback than an actual monitor:

Image credit: Chesires Shadow, on a Hawaiian Airlines flight

I also love how the charging point is right next to it. It's better than fumbling for that plug beneath the seat.

Good Design: Cup Shelf Next to Office Entry Keypad

5 Dec 2019, 6:15 pm | Core77

(This new "Quick Hits" series of posts will be short 'n sweet examples of good design. Debates welcome.)

Back when I worked corporate, all departments were silo'd off with tap- -to-enter badge reader pads. Other companies use keypads, like this Swedish office--where someone has thoughtfully anticipated that you may have a coffee cup in one hand and something occupying the other. Hence:

Image credit: "Ryder"

At my company, the badge readers were all mounted at a particular height. The "hack" everyone came up with was: You clipped your badge on your clothing at the right height, and performed a weird motion at the badge reader. Depending on your height, this resembled everything from a sideways hip-hump to a chest bump or shoulder-check. If you combined them all you could come up with an office dance routine.

Pablo Escobar's Brother Now Producing and Selling a Foldable Smartphone

5 Dec 2019, 6:06 pm | Core77

I'm not sure how this isn't April 1st, but apparently Roberto Escobar--Pablo Escobar's brother and former accountant--has produced a foldable smartphone. Called the Escobar Fold 1, it runs on Android and retails for $349.

Looking at the company's video of it, it's hard to believe this is a real commercial for a real product:

I mean, what is with the voiceover and monologue contents? "Apple boy Steve once looked into space. He saw Pablo Escobar with a phone beyond anyone's imagination." Uh--what?

Okay, that's about as far as I'm comfortable with, in terms of questioning or possibly insulting the brother of the formerly most powerful drug lord on Earth.

Here's the phone in use:

But as I watch yet another promotional video…

…I can't help but feel I'm being punked by 1990s Maxim magazine.

Anyways I should point out two things:

1) The phone can apparently be ordered here, and

2) Design bloggers are trifling individuals that really aren't worth sending hitmen after.

This Cool Programming Tool Idea Helps Designers Incorporate Coding Into Prototyping

5 Dec 2019, 5:00 pm | Core77

"blokdots" is a Student Winner in the Tools & Work Award category of the 2019 Core77 Design Awards. The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Stay tuned for more details.

Olivier Brückner was studying industrial design when a fellow student asked him for help. It was crunch time, and she needed an LED to flash in response to a button being pressed. Her idea was great and formally, the product was very interesting—but she lacked the programming knowledge to make it actually function.

Brückner had an epiphany. For designers of all disciplines—interaction, industrial, the like—their prototyping efficiency was suffering because they didn't always know how to connect the dots between designing a product, and the electronic engineering and programming that so often makes it work.

The solution, for Brückner, became blokdots.

blokdots is a professional tool that provides simple programming for prototyping design products that incorporate electronic elements. Easy to use, its main blok – the brain – incorporates pre-soldered components and outlets that accept all types of cables (familiar to even non-designers through headphone and cell phone plug-ins). Small printed circuit boards are already set up, to where the whole preparation process is done within minutes, even without any knowledge of electrical engineering.

The second, smaller blok – the interface – contains a minimal knob that allows for testing, even without a computer. With the help of an application, components are selected and connected and then can be tested in the highly familiar "if this, then that" manner.

Brückner developed blokdots even further for those who are more engineering-inclined to take their prototyping to the next level. There's a "Live View" available that dictates connectivity so that factors can be manipulated and results easily and immediately monitored, allowing for adjustable tests for effectiveness.

blokdots isn't meant to teach people how to code; rather, it facilitates ideas being brought to life. It's accessible, easy-to-command, and a succinct method for people to realize fallacies or misdirection early on in the development process, and from there to continue prototyping with more intention.

Ultimately, blokdots grants designers autonomy over their processes so they can make their visions a reality. So next crunch time, when you're down to the wire, dream of plugging into blokdots – and outputting your perfect prototype.

Read more about blokdots on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 honorees

The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Sign up for our newsletter on the Core77 homepage to stay up to date on awards deadlines.

Design Job: Start Your Career as a Junior Graphic Designer at Snow Joe in Carlstadt, NJ

5 Dec 2019, 4:12 pm | Core77

Are you ready to GO WITH JOE? Snow Joe + Sun Joe has an immediate opening for Junior Graphic Designer at our Carlstadt, NJ corporate headquarters. We are looking for a dynamic Junior Graphic Designer who is self-motivated, performs at a high level and capable of juggling multiple assignments. The Junior Graphic Designer would work and report directly to the Creative Director to grow and develop the Snow Joe + Sun Joe brands.

View the full design job here

This Rain-Catching Panel Could be a Solution for Drought-Stricken Urban Areas

4 Dec 2019, 7:30 pm | Core77

With a shifting climate, it's going to become increasingly important for architecture to evolve to have a more symbiotic relationship with nature (some have started referring to this as the forthcoming Symbiocene era). Designer, researcher, and recent Design Academy Eindhoven grad Shaakira Jassat has been exploring how urban design can create opportunities to harvest water sustainably. As part of her graduate project exhibited earlier this year, Jassat developed a rain-catching panel designed to integrate with architecture in dense urban populations.

Made of stainless steel in order to resist rust, the panels that make up Jassat's Aquatecture project feature a pattern of funnel-shaped perforations that catch rainwater and condensation and divert it to a building's grey-water system. Jassat tested various forms and designs before she settled on this one for its efficiency. The next step for the young designer, who recently founded Studio Sway, will be to test the design on a building facade.

The project is driven by aesthetics as much as functionality. "Aquatecture makes water conservation both visible and engaging," she says.

More Package Design Deception: Signal Snowboards Ships Theirs Disguised as Fluorescent Light Bulbs

4 Dec 2019, 7:03 pm | Core77

First we saw Dutch bicycle manfacturer VanMoof printing flatscreen TVs on their shipping boxes, in hopes handlers would treat them more gently. Now we've learned that California-based Signal Snowboards is pulling a similar shipping-damage-avoiding trick with their snowboard packaging:

My only fear is that, as more people cotton to this trick and shippers eventually catch on, it'll just be a matter of time before they're tossing real TVs and lightbulbs out of the truck and onto the concrete. Boy who cried fake package design?

The Car, Gadgets, and Tricks Used to Drive From NYC to LA in 27.5 Hours Without Getting Caught by Police

4 Dec 2019, 6:12 pm | Core77

Taking turns driving, two men have broken the speed record for driving from NYC to LA, the so-called Cannonball Run. As Road & Track reports, Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt made the 2,825-mile trip in a blistering 27 hours, 25 minutes. (Previous record: 28 hours and 50 minutes, set by Ed Bolian and Dave Black in 2013.) Their average speed was 103 MPH. Their top speed was 193 MPH. And yes, all of it was highly illegal.

I had some questions, all of which were answered by the R&T article and a video I came across, which I'll embed below. My first was:

What the heck kind of car did they drive? What kind of vehicle has LeMans-like endurance at that speed, and is unflashy enough not to draw police attention?

The answer: Toman's silver 2015 Mercedes E63 AMG with upgraded turbos and intercoolers. To help disguise it, he removed the emblems; painted the red brake calipers grey; and most cleverly, used dowdy silver vinyl to cover the carbon-fiber trim and disguise the shape of the taillights, making the car's rear end resemble an older Honda Accord. He also added kill switches to the brake lights and taillights.

Left: Honda Accord. Right: Toman's AMG sleeper.

At speeds of up to 193 hours in the middle of hunting season, how did they not hit a deer?

In the video, the team reports that during the drive they saw "probably 50 deer, dead on the highway." One reason why it wasn't 51: In the back seat of the car was a third person, spotter Berkeley Chadwick, operating a roof-mounted thermal scope on a gimbal. This was "great for seeing deer" at night; during the day they removed the scope because it was too conspicuous. (You can see it in the photo below.)

How did they avoid cops?

A combination of technological and human help.

For starters, two radar detectors, a laser jammer and a police scanner. And Chadwick, in the back seat, used gyro-stabilized binoculars to scan for cops ahead.

As for the additional human help, the team managed to recruit some 18 spotters all across the country, who scouted out their route ahead of them to warn of police. During the last leg of their trip, they were led by a spotter on a BMW motorcycle kitted out with super powerful headlights: This driver flew ahead of them, flashing motorists out of the fast lane to clear the way.

For those of you with more questions, the mini-doc below tells the whole tale.