Design and Art

Visual art and design topics, reviews, articles and random posts on art and design related issues.

Paper Machines

Anyone from Hallmark that might be reading this, raise your hand if you remember “T-Ink” from 2004 and the products Hallmark produced for less than a year with the technology? T-Ink had so much potential and it simply withered and died on the vine. The T-Ink project was one of the first things I worked on when I returned to Hallmark. It was such a cool product, and could have been huge if they could have figured out how to market it better. Fast forward to 2017 and check out Papier Machine from French Designers Marion Pinaffo and Raphaël Pluvinage.

Papier Machine is a set of 13 paper-made electronic toys. Each piece of paper can be cut and folded and assembled into the final toy. Another intriguing component of Papier Machine is that while there are instructions that come with the kit, the steps are not clear cut. According to Pinaffo and Pluvinage they still want users to interpret the instructions themselves, opening up the pathway to more possibilities, especially for kids.

 

Like T-Ink, the printed paper is equipped with reactive, conductive, and thermosensitive inks, which actually complete the electronic circuits and allow the toys to function. The toys are designed for kids of all ages and don’t require any special tools, skills or training. The designers want Papier MAchine to be all about fun, and exploration.  The 13 toys can create multiple projects that include Switches, a Gyroscope, Playing Track, Writing Track, Tilt Switch, Humidity Sensor, Wind Sensor, Mass Sensor, Power Reverser, Photoresistor, and Color Sensor. Pretty cool if you ask me.

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DixonBaxi Designs Eurosport Home of the Olympics

I talk a lot about cohesive brand voice or cohesive visual voice across all touch points of a campaign. Many times I think I’m getting through to a client, and I’m not, so I end up looking up examples to show them. I usually track down digital and print components, static images, and PDF’s, then try and get them to wrap their head around how it also applies to video, motion graphics, audio, and all the other little bits and pieces that go into a full blown OMNI channel campaign. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Today I found a great example that I think will help in the future.

The video below from DixonBaxi shows the campaign they have created to support Eurosport’s coverage of the Olympics for the next eight years. This is a huge project with hundreds of touchpoints that people will engage with. All of them need to have a look and feel that resonates the same way. From the editing of video all the way down to the static graphical content in print items. As you watch the video you will begin to see a very specific cadence that takes place in the way the clips are cut together. There is the establishment of a color pallet that gets picked up and used through out the campaign as well. About 15 seconds in they begin to hint at the graphics and animation, and then they roll out each component of the entire system showing how and where it will be used. From bus stop signs to tablet interfaces and everything in between. If you want to get a more in depth look, or just browse through the system at your own pace, they have it broken down on a really well-designed web page for you.

8 Years and Counting

Since the start of July, I have been on vacation, had my power go out for almost 3 days due to a massive thunderstorm, and been absolutely slammed with work at my job. All of this leads to fewer posts, but it isn’t like I have been posting on a regular basis anyway. Over the last year, I’ve been lucky to get a couple posts a month done. But after 8 years of doing this and 2843 posts, I think slowing down a bit is just fine. Especially since this isn’t a full-time gig.

When this blog started out, it was primarily focused on the modern house my wife and I had purchased. It was originally going to last a year and then quietly fade away into internet oblivion, but you know how things go. One thing led to another and I started going on about design and other things and here we are today. One of the first posts I did focused on the Worx battery powered lawn mower I bout for the new house. The design and functionality of a standard lawn tool and using it. With that said, I think it is appropriate that for the 8th anniversary of this blog, I talk a little bit about a new tool I picked up from Worx, that I absolutely love. The 20 Volt Switchdriver.

When I first saw this I was pretty skeptical. After reading a handful of reviews I thought I’d give it a shot. I needed a new drill, and I was completely fascinated by the design of this product, and couldn’t understand why no one had thought of this sooner. I decided to pull the trigger and pick it up from Amazon. If I didn’t like it, I’d send it back and be on my way. Suffice to say that after 3 months, I’m hooked. The Switchdriver isn’t a heavy duty drill, but for light to medium work it’s killer, and the rotating chuck is so damn cool.

If you aren’t familiar with the Switchdriver, here is the way it works. The drill has two chucks on a rotating head so you can switch between drill mode, and screw driver mode on the fly, or between different bit sizes. This actually comes in handy for drilling a pilot hole and then switching to something like a spade bit.

This 20V cordless drill comes with two 20v Lithium Ion batteries and charger, automatic LED light, electronic torque control, and the main feature, the 2-speed rotating 1/4″ hex dual-chuck drill which allows you to quickly switch between two bits. It features a comfortable ergonomic handle which has a small shield to protect your hand from the bit that isn’t in use. It’s light weight which helps with fatigue, and it has variable 2-speed gearing which tackles all common drilling & driving functions. Like I said, it’s not nearly as powerful as my corded Milwaukee drill, but it is plenty powerful enough for most common jobs around the house.

My only knock is the hex bits that you have use with the quick connect chuck. There is nothing wrong with them, you just can’t use the drill with your current drill bits so it means you have to buy a second set.

Eto Saves Your Vino

I look at a lot of Kickstarter campaigns, and every once in a while I come across something that is not only useful but something I would actually use. Eto is one of those Kickstarter items. I’m in.

Eto is a beautifully designed wine decanter with an innovative preservation system that keeps wine preserved for at least 12 days, ensuring you never waste a drop of that precious nectar again. The decanter solves a simple problem, keeping air away for the wine which causes it to oxidize and begin to take on a vinegar taste. Approximately 13,208,600 gallons of wine go down the sink every year for this very reason, and Eto wants to stop that from happening.

The creator Tom Cotton, is a Welsh London-based product designer, with nearly 20 years experience in bringing products from concept to market. Backers were able to pre-orderEto (Welsh for “Again”) on Kickstarter for $75.00 on the Kickstarter site but it looks like the goal has been reached so  financial it will be available to buy for $100.00 around the end of the year.

The design of this is simple and elegant and the best part is it fulfills what good industrial design is supposed to do. It solves a problem, and it does it in a beautiful well thought out way.

 

From Ashes to Art

The video below is part of a digital media campaign to help rebuild the Mackintosh Building which was destroyed by fire in 2014. The Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building, a symbol of British art, was reduced to ash and out of the ruins came a brilliant idea, turn the charcoal into works of art. From the ashes of the building, artists were supplied with charcoal to create works of art that were auctioned off by Christies in March. The proceeds from the auction are being used to rebuild the Mackintosh building. The animated short captures the feeling of hand-drawn charcoal and highlight how some of the artists engaged with the medium. Unfortunately, the website feels like a bit of an afterthought and is less than exciting. There is a section that shows the pieces created though, which is worth checking out.

Christian Troels Mutatio Lamp

Look at the Mutatio Lamp, created by Danish designer Christian Troels. What an elegant expression of form, going from a minimalist black cylinder, to an angled abstract shape.  In its closed state the lamp is a nondescript cylinder. Just a black tube that doesn’t reveal its true purpose. As it opens up, it not only makes apparent its functionality, and taking on a familiar yet new shape for a table lamp. When open it feels so familiar, yet visually fresh. Christian Troels’ Mutatio Lamp goes from simple to magical and playful in one motion. It looks like it is constructed aluminum, or steel, and painted black. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of information on his website, and nothing about where or if it can actually be purchased. Which is to bad, because I think these would be a hot item.

It’s Not That I Don’t Like You. Sometimes I Just Don’t Feel Like Talking To You.

Last month I started to work on the backyard landscaping now that almost all of the updates to the house have been made. The patio is getting rebuilt and the back fence run is getting replaced later this year. I didn’t want to do a full privacy fence across the back so I decided to go with a 4-foot high wood fencing system from Home Depot. Now I like my neighbors, but there are times I want to sit on my patio not have to look at them or have them look at me. The solution is this series of tall planters designed by Fabien Joly. (sorry folks the link takes you to a Flash based website.) IRF is a collection of tall planters that have rectangular shapes and thin and high profile which makes them ideal for patios or terraces where you want a bit of privacy. Each planter is constructed of fiber cement and they come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green and blue to charcoal gray. With the tallest planter coming in at just under 4 feet tall these seem like a perfect solution to have a little bit of privacy while making the patio look better.