Design Of The Year 2015 – Lung On A Chip

This year’s shortlist for Design of the Year was an incredible array of design and talent spread over a range of sectors from Architecture to Digital, and Graphic to Fashion amongst others.

I had thought that the brilliant Ocean Cleanup would take the win (or from a popularity standpoint maybe the self-driving car from Google), but it was in fact the phenomenal piece of design and engineering known as Lung-on-a-chip that took top prize.  It is the first time that a design from the field of medicine has won the top prize in the Design of the Year competition.

Produced by the team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering it is, in essence, “a new in vitro approach to drug screening by mimicking the complicated mechanical and biochemical behaviours of a human lung”.  Sounds incredible and it is.

lung on a chip

It combines microfabrication techniques with modern tissue engineering to give all the “biological complexity of your lungs distilled onto a computer chip”.  Wow.

Bacteria can be introduced to mimic infections (you can actually see the white blood cells successfully migrate across to engulf the infection!), or the effect of airborne chemicals and new medications can be tested.

Since the chip is lined with actual human cells it gives a much more accurate prediction than testing on animal cells and is not only a much quicker and smaller process, but cheaper too.

lung on a chip2

The goal is to build different organs and link them to create a whole body.  A team at Berkeley have even managed to model a human heart on a chip!

An absolute marvel.  Truly amazing.

Light Well

Working in the lighting industry I often see beautifully executed lighting ideas that by day look simple enough, but by night come alive and transform the space.

The Light Well by Studio Lux Nova is no exception.

light well1

Installed in the market square in Lahti, Finland, it brings the best of both aspects by performing during the day as well as at night.  The interactive nature engages people and creates a beautiful and inspiring focal point.

Drawing on the recent historical findings of the market square excavation site that discovered 150 year old water wells, the Light Well project offers a meeting place and a stage for small-scale events for residents and visitors in the heart of the city as part of the wider area’s overall lighting scheme.

light well2

A fantastic urban lighting solution that enhances the human experience as well as the exterior space.

More from Studio Lux Nova on their site here.


After another long and busy week at work this GIF from illustrator-animator Robin Davey (as part of Time’s “Is Sitting Killing Me?“) struck me as particularly relevant.


Here’s to an active weekend outdoors, happy Friday!

Flow Hive

I’ve had such a positive reaction to my latest post “What Happens If All The Bees Die?” that I thought I’d follow it right up with another bee-related article.

In my research and reading about the critical role that bees play I became curious about what it took to keep bees and produce honey.  It’s probably not something I can undertake with limited outdoor space for now, but if I had a bit more room I would definitely consider the beautifully designed Flow Hive.

“It’s the beekeeper dream, turn a tap right on your beehive and watch pure fresh honey flow right out of your Flow™ hive and into your jar! No mess, no fuss, and the bees are hardly disturbed.”

honey 1

The bees complete the specifically designed comb with their wax and fill the partially formed honeycomb cells with honey.  Insert the special tool and rotate 90 degrees to split the cells and turn them into a channel down which the honey flows, all whilst leaving the bees undisturbed.  For full details on how it works see here.


“It’s literally honey on tap directly from your beehive!”


Fantastic design which balances the purely practical aspects of extracting honey with the aesthetic.

Follow the Flow Hive story on their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

What Happens If All The Bees Die?

The weather is turning increasingly summery outside, allowing me to ride to work without a waterproof coat (for the most part) and sit outside in the garden with a few beers at the weekend.  Inevitably the warmer weather brings with it insects, specifically bees.

Before you curse them for lingering around the BBQ food and buzzing around your pint of cider in the afternoon sun just remember that without them things would be very different.

In being “directly responsible for 70% of the fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts we consume” they actually form a rather critical element in our human lives.

Without bees “our diets would consist mainly of corn, rice, and wheat”, not that appetising I’m sure you’ll agree.  Oh, and a it looks like you’ll also be a good deal poorer and possibly naked too due to a mass decline in the availability of cotton.

So, let’s look after the bees and definitely don’t confuse them with wasps.

Thanks to AsapSCIENCE for the video.

Nendo Glass Tables

With a newborn baby in the house a glass table is far from the most practical, but that doesn’t stop me swooning over this set of absolutely beautiful glass tables from Nendo.


Created as a range for Glas Italia at Salone del Mobile they seemingly contradict the sharp corners you would normally expect from glass boxes and instead end up looking like a soft blur of coloured glass that invites you to run your hand along the surface.




Each table is made up of five sheets of frosted glass and it is the 45 degree cross section at each joint that is printed with colour before being bonded together.

The rear face of the frosted glass is then printed with a pattern to create the blur effect that softens the edges.


Their design intent was  “to create a natural and soft image, as if the colours on the edges were blurring” and I can definitely say they have achieved that with beautiful execution.



 An appearance that contradicts the conventional image of glass, which is of a hard and sharp material, was achieved.



More information on the Nendo site here.

Via Design Milk.



What Happens To Plastic You Throw Away?

I like to think I’m quite good at recycling, both at home and at work, but aside from separating my rubbish out into different bins I don’t really know what happens once it has been collected.

So, what actually happens to that plastic bottle you throw away?  Whether it is casually discarded as mixed waste or put in a specific recycling bin the consequences are very different.

The ever informative TED-Ed takes a closer look.

Worth considering next time you throw that bottle away!

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