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

How to Restore a Truck's Torn, Trashed Seat

17 Feb 2020, 6:12 pm | Core77

Kim Buckminster's path as a craftsperson was shaped early: He was "introduced to needle and thread by my mother at age four," he writes, "with many people influencing me in upholstery, arts, craftsmanship and education." Today he runs Buckminster Upholstery, a Nebraska-based business that specializes in antique restoration and conservation. If you've got a Charles Limbert Arts and Crafts furniture piece circa 1900 that needs fixin', Buckminster's your guy.

Which is not to say he only takes on antique projects. In the video down at the bottom Buckminster shows you, step-by-step, how he restores a totally trashed seat bottom from a truck.

It should be required watching for ID students during their shop training--how do you create a contoured foam shape from rectilinear pieces, what are some tricks you can use to double-check your pieces for symmetry, et cetera--and it's satisfying to see how Buckminster arrives at the finished product:


Social Commentary: A (Probably) Fake Company Offers "Face ID Compatible" Respirator Masks

17 Feb 2020, 5:24 pm | Core77

I've seen this circulated as news (thanks, social media) but I'm pretty certain this is an artist having a laugh. A website called Face ID Masks claims that they make "N95 respiratory masks that work with facial recognition software. Our masks are custom printed with your face making phone access easy during viral epidemics."

I know most social media users don't bother going too far past the headline, but it doesn't take much scrolling on Face ID Masks' website before you reach this telltale part of their FAQ:

Is this a joke?
Yes. No. We're not sure. Viruses are not a joke. Wash your hands when you can. And get vaccines when you can.
How can I get one?
If you enjoy late stage capitalism, facial recognition respirator masks will retail for $40 per mask. They are still in development.
We will not be making these while there's still a global mask shortage.

Sadly, I could just as easily see this not being a joke.

More Product Disassembly Animations from Disillusioned Industrial Designer Dina Amin

17 Feb 2020, 4:44 pm | Core77

A couple of years ago we spotted the work of Dina Amin, an industrial designer who ran into a paradox:

"I realized that I am not very fond of a huge part of Industrial Design," she writes, "the part where we consume insane amount of resources and energy to design things that eventually people throw away."

Amin began creating stop-motion animations of her hobby, which is disassembling consumer products to learn about their construction. In the two years since we last checked in on her, she's done a bunch of these, and has put them into a supercut:

Check out Amin's website here.

Self-Assembling "Origami" Furniture Designed by Former SpaceX Engineer

17 Feb 2020, 4:31 pm | Core77

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft features a neat trick: After being launched into space, it deploys massive solar arrays that unfold from the rocket body (video here). These arrays suck up the sun's delicious juice, providing power for the craft's sensors, communications systems, and heating and cooling systems.

It took a team of engineers to get that to work, and Brian Ignaut was one of them. "I worked on [the] deployable solar arrays at SpaceX for six years," he writes, before revealing that he had a hobby on the side: Designing and building furniture that also unfolds.

What appear to be odd-shaped stacks of wood are pulled open to transform into furniture pieces that lock into place, without the user needing to mess with fasteners. It's almost like flat-pack furniture that self-assembles, with minor input from the user.

Ignaut "went rogue" in 2018, quitting SpaceX to focus on designing, building and selling his own furniture. For now his prices are high, but Ignaut sees that as a temporary necessity. "Affordability is the ultimate goal," he writes. "I'm excited about making things that a wider audience can purchase. Though I'm not there today, hopefully these higher priced runs will be able to subsidize the development of more cost effective iterations."

Check out his company, Degrees of Freedom.

How to 3D Print Something That Convincingly Looks Like Wood, Using Simple Hand Finishing Techniques

14 Feb 2020, 3:48 pm | Core77

Justine Haupt, the polymath behind that killer rotary cell phone, has a lot of other tricks up her sleeve. On her projects page I found this concertina (an accordion relative) that she 3D printed, as you can tell by looking at it:


However, the finished product rather convincingly resembles wood:


So how'd she do it? In a nutshell, some 60-grit, stain, wood finish and (directional) elbow grease.



You might be able to figure it out from there, but click here for details on her process. It's as simple as it is clever.

Who's Got the Best-Looking Electric Delivery Van Design: Amazon, FedEx or UPS?

14 Feb 2020, 3:29 pm | Core77

At this point Amazon, FedEx and UPS have all put in orders for electric delivery vans. FedEx was actually the first to make the news, ordering 1,000 vehicles from Chinese manufacturer Chanje back in 2018:


Stylistically it's a mess, particularly that front end, where it looks like the designers were halfheartedly trying to rip off the worst part of a Nissan Frontier:

Last month UPS announced they were getting into the electric game too, ordering 10,000 no-gas vans from the UK's Arrival, whose design game is more on point:



But it was Amazon who went largest, if neither first nor last, announcing in 2019 that they'd ordered 100,000 electric vans from Rivian, likely altering the future of that company:

Amazon is also the only one who seems interested in pushing the design angle, releasing images of the mockups in the design studio:

That being said--and sorry to dump on Nissan again--it looks to me like the designers took the last-gen NV200 and stretched everything above the beltline to make it taller.

Who do you think has the best-looking truck? If I look at them all together…

…I've gotta give it to UPS. Sure, the truck's shape is such that new drivers will need a second to figure out which end the driver's compartment is in. But to me it looks the most modern, and I'm digging those sexy little fender flares.

What say you?

Alastair Philip Wiper's "Unintended Beauty" Photo Book of Industrial Spaces

14 Feb 2020, 2:32 pm | Core77


Fascinated with the intersection of industry, science and architecture, British photographer Alastair Philip Wiper has visited his share of factories and industrial facilities. His website is loaded with photos revealing his capacity for capturing the almost terrifyingly organized beauty of them:

This month he's released a new book documenting the best of them, Unintended Beauty.

Unintended Beauty offers a rare insight into places of work, knowledge and power that are normally kept behind closed doors. Unintended Beauty is a photographic exploration of industrial iconography and scientific symbolism found in technical facilities in around the world. The book reveals the accidental aesthetics, sublime complexities and rich details of our machines - machines that smash atoms together, build aeroplanes, produce medicine, make shoes, stuff sausages, and more.

Click here to see more of his work, and you can order Unintended Beauty here.

Also, if you're a B&O fan, check out Wiper's previous book The Art of Impossible: The Bang & Olufsen Design Story.

New Super-Fast 3D Printing Method: Prints in Seconds, High-Res, No Layers, Soft or Hard Materials

14 Feb 2020, 1:51 pm | Core77

Researchers at Switzerland's EPFL (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) have invented a new 3D printing method similar to stereolithography, but with far faster results.

The similarity between the two systems is that both use photosensitive resins cured by lasers. Where they differ is that EPFL's system, which is tomography-inspired, doesn't build layer-by-layer on a vertically-moving platform, but instead comprehensively blasts their beams into a spinning container holding the resin. This essentially creates the object in one go, and with better surface quality, absent telltale layers.

At present their build area is limited to two centimeters square, but they can print objects with extraordinary speed, from "milliseconds" to "less than 30 seconds," depending on the complexity of the part.

Because they can print objects using both hard and soft materials, an obvious application is medical:

The researchers teamed up with a surgeon to test 3D-printed arteries made using the technique. "The trial results were extremely encouraging," says Damien Loterie, CEO of Readily3D.

Readily3D, by the way, is a spin-off the researchers have already set up to commercialize the technology. They reckon further development will increase their build area from two to 15 centimeters; if they're able to do that and the price is manageable, I believe at that point we'll start seeing strong interest from industrial design consultancies that aren't purely medical-focused. "The process could also be used to quickly build small silicone or acrylic parts that don't need finishing after printing," says Christophe Moser, who heads up EPFL's Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices, which developed the technology.


Watch This Enormous Mobile Crane "Self-Assemble"

13 Feb 2020, 7:52 pm | Core77


The Liebherr LTR 1220 is a telescopic crawler crane with a 220-metric-ton (242 U.S. ton) maximum load capacity, with a boom arm that can hoist things 101 meters (331 feet) into the air.

Although it can move around on jobsites under its own steam, it of course moves too slowly and takes up too much space to drive it there; so like a stationary crane, it is broken down into pieces and trucked to the jobsite. But it is designed in such a way that once it arrives, it can "self-assemble," with some human help:


Currently Crowdfunding: A Travel Cup That Can Fit Inside Your Pocket, an Educational Robot Friendly Enough to be a Pixar Character, and More

13 Feb 2020, 7:00 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:

Hunu is a reusable coffee cup that collapses to fit inside your pocket, making it easier than ever to avoid single-use disposable cups when you're on the go. You don't even have to worry about cleaning it beforehand, it comes with a plug so you won't risk any leaks.

This furniture system uses an ingenious connector that doesn't require any tools or hardware. You'll have to buy your own plywood but after that, the sky's the limit for what you can build with your own two hands.

With a friendly design that looks like it came straight out of a Pixar movie, Clicbot is a modular, educational robot with myriad programming possibilities for kids embarking on their STEM journey.

A push and grip mechanism allows this simple towel holder to function better than any hook and keep your towels off the floor.

For all you transit buffs: This documentary explores the factors leading to New York City's subway crisis as well as the dire state of transit infrastructure throughout the country.

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.

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