Archive for the 'Design' Category

Matchbox Cars 1965

Regular readers will know that I love a behind-the-scenes look at manufacturing processes, whether that’s Apple or a pair of scissors.  But it’s even more true when it comes to a product that I’ve owned many of during my childhood.

I’m also willing to bet that most people (certainly in the UK at least) have owned, played with, or collected many a Matchbox car over the years (they now look like this by the way).

My Dad was an avid collector with hundreds, if not thousands, of models so Matchbox is a very familiar brand that fills me with nostalgia even today, so this insight into their design process and production line is fascinating.

No 3D renders or CAD, just drawing boards and handmade wooden prototypes as part of the design process and production line to show how they were manufactured in mid-60s Hackney, London.

Many thanks to British Pathé for posting this online.

The Big Life Fix

I sketch, scribble, and make written notes almost every day.  Whether it’s as part of my job as a lighting designer or a subconscious doodle waiting for a train, doing something with a pen in my hand is something that I take for granted.  And most of us do too I’m sure.

Emma is a graphic designer with Parkinson’s disease which causes uncontrollable tremors, meaning that she can’t write or draw.

Designer and Technologist Haiyan Zhang and the team at Microsoft Research set about trying to solve this problem and the result is just incredible.

Emma’s story is just one of many that is addressed in the first episode of The Big Life Fix on BBC Two.  Watch it here.

Shadowplay Clock

As clocks go you’d be hard pushed to find one that is more minimal than the Shadowplay Clock by design studio Breaded Escalope.

No numbers, no hands, no way of even telling the time.

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Until, that is, you step up to interact with it.

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A plywood ring conceals 12 LEDs and sensors connected to an Arduino, an open-source, sensor-driven electronics platform, which turns off all but three of the LEDs when it detects your finger.

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Your finger casts shadows from the three LEDs that remain on to create the traditional clock “hands” that we are used to.

The hour and minute “hands” are much darker than the faint shadow of the second “hand” to minimise confusion in what the time is.

Now, if only they could make that power cord a bit more discrete I’d definitely be looking to get one!

Protopiper

In most sectors of the design industry mock-ups are commonplace.  They allow in situ testing of colours, materials, spacial reasoning, lighting effects, usability and so forth in a scale simulation of the final design with an opportunity for feedback to iterate and refine the design.

Although worthwhile, they can often be expensive and time consuming for the overall project.  Cue the Protopiper.

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Created by a team at the HPI Human Computer Interaction Lab in Germany, the device acts as a mini handheld assembly line.  It draws tape from a roll, shapes it into a tube, seals it, and cuts it off with a wing connector allowing you to join endless pieces together.

Innovation sometimes sits between AutoCAD and balloon animals.

What might have easily have started out as a joke down the pub is actually a very cleverly detailed piece of kit.

It allows for very quick and very cost effective mock-ups of, well, almost anything that you can think of!  Being able to “air sketch” 1:1 scale objects in real space would be an invaluable tool for many architects, interior designers, space planners, and designers in general.

It’s like wireframing in real life.

Ok, so it’s not 100% perfect.  But it does have appeal with an almost whimsical and crafty element to how it looks and performs (as a hacked tape dispenser) that can effectively draw and build ideas in real time.  It’s not always about being perfect but often more getting a feel for something, which the Protopiper achieves rather well.

Read the published paper Protopiper: Physically Sketching Room-Sized Objects at Actual Scale here.

Via Fast Co.

Design Machines

There’s a really rather excellent article on Louder Than Ten: Design Machines.

We need to be better than the machines. It’s time to step up and design with heart.

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In essence, “how will you prove you’re better than a machine?”

Go and read it.  Now.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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More information on the Nendo site here.

Via Design Milk.

 

 


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