Industrial Design

The Minimalist Design of the Beoplay M5

I have to admit I have always loved the look of B&O design work. Their products really do look and feel quite amazing, and yes the sound isn’t too shabby either. Is it worth the premium price you pay? Maybe. It depends on what you value, and what you think is affordable. It’s kind of like buying a Rolex or Tag vs a Timex or a Swatch. Both tell time, some just do it with more swagger, flair and a refined set of materials and craftsmanship. I say this because Bang and Olufsen have launched yet another wireless speaker that really does look stunning. It will set you back about 600 bucks plus tax, and if you are thinking about outfitting a number of rooms in your humble abode you’ll be rolling north of 2 grand by the time it is all said and done.

Designed by leading Danish industrial designer Cecilie Manz, the Beoplay M5 speaker is a small minimalist piece of audio gear pumping out 100 watts of power from its diminutive case. Housed inside the 7-inch tall speaker are 1 x 5′ woofer, 1 x 1.5′ midrange, and 3 x ¾’ tweeters with a frequency response of 37 – 22.000 Hz. Is it the biggest badest speaker on the block? No, but it is quite lovely to look at and jam-packed with all of the latest technology allowing you to stream music to any room in your house, or to every room at the same time.

Like all of the BeoPlay line up the M5 offers you the option to change out covers, and I’m sure they will be offering some bright bold color choices in the future. Frankly I’m really loving the monochrome versions that they are showing off across the entire line these days. The top is a machined aluminum disc that functions as the main physical control unit for each speaker. You adjust the volume by running your finger across the edge. Tapping the aluminum disc will activate Beoplay M5 to join other music experiences going on in your home or sync up with other units.

Beoplay M5 uses Bang & Olufsen’s “True360” to create spatial balance no matter where you are placed relative to the speaker. Three evenly distributed tweeters, a front facing mid-range driver and a powerful woofer that fires its energy down towards a carefully designed disperser, provide a uniform dispersion of well-balanced Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound all around the room.

Is it worth 600 bucks? I have no idea, I haven’t actually heard it or played around with it. I do know that if I had a few grand burning a hole in my pocket I’d be tempted to pick up a few of them for various rooms in my house.

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IKEA Furniture Is A Snap

IKEA has always been a company that has innovated. It shows in everything from the use of materials, to the adoption of solar power for all of their stores.  They are constantly pushing themselves forward, growing, adapting, changing as they bring new products to market. If you are familiar with IKEA furniture, you probably know that you will be using an Allen wrench, and a screwdriver to get the job done, but now thanks to the designers on the team, you might not.

KEA has recently introduced a series of snap together furniture using a new dowel and wedge system. The new joint is called a wedge dowel, and it’s specifically designed for wooden products. Products like the Lisbo table, for instance, have a small ribbed wedge at the top of each leg, which is then inserted into a pre-machined hole in the tabletop. the joint requires no glue and can be taken apart and reassembled multiple times without damaging the fastener.

IKEA recognized the fact that it included a lot of small fittings with each of their products. The number of parts is often a turnoff for customers, and a waste of resources. By incorporating the wedge dowel, assembly time decreases and IKEA saves money by removing all the metal fasteners.

The special design was initially introduced in 2014 as a proof of concept in the Regissör storage products and Stockholm cabinets. It was tested on these products for 3 years and now IKEA intends to incorporate the system into other pieces.

McDonald’s Super Straw for Shamrock Shake’s.

So what do you do when you are the largest fast food provider in the world and you have just invented a layered two flavor shake that needs to have those flavors mix while eating? You hire a bunch of aerospace engineers to design a new straw for you, and that is exactly what McDonald’s did for the new Chocolate Shamrock Shake, one of four new seasonal McCafé beverages.

The new McCafé beverage has dual layers of chocolate shake below mint Shamrock Shake, and the new recipe presented McDonald’s with a unique challenge. How do you deliver the ideal flavor ratio of 50% chocolate and 50% mint in each sip, versus enjoying each flavor separately with a traditional straw. To solve the problem McDonald’s turned to highly-qualified engineering firms. JACE and NK Labs created the probably-more-revolutionary-than-actually-needed Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal strawThe STRAW’s j-shape provides optimal flavor flow dynamics.

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Due to the STRAW’s unique design, only 2,000 were produced in time for Shamrock Shake season and it will only be available in select participating restaurants with the purchase of a Chocolate Shamrock Shake. Visit mcdonalds.mwnewsroom.com/US to learn where and when the lucky few will be distributed. (I don’t want the shake, but I definitely want the straw). And, like the seasonal offering of the McCafé Shamrock Chocolate offerings, the STRAW is also available for a limited time.

“It was a puzzling assignment but one with an ambitious goal,” said Seth Newburg, principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs. “From a physics perspective, it’s actually quite difficult to deliver a proportional amount of both chocolate and mint flavors with each sip. But that’s exactly what we did. It’s a marvel of fluid dynamics. Thanks Fibonacci sequence.”

The TAC Air Filter Stacks it Up

This morning while poking around on Behance I came across a really nice piece of design work for an air purifier system by junku jung. The TAC system is a minimalist cube with stackable filters that are placed on top of the unit in order to control the quality of air purification based on the environmental conditions. The unit is designed with 7 filters each taking care of a specific type of air pollutant. Pet allergies, Pollen, Dust, Oil/Mist, Smog, New House particulates,  and Coal.

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The minimalist white box allows each color coded filter to be stacked in a specific order to achieve the best results, and allow anyone familiar with the system to see what is being filtered with a quick glance. The unit looks to be a prototype, and there is very little technical information on how it works, how many filters can be used in conjunction with each other before the effectiveness is minimized, potential pricing or any other info.

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As a proof of concept, this is a great idea. Clean discreet design with a few bands of color at the top. It also appears to be a well thought out system allowing for the unit to expand and adapt based on the location, changes in air quality and an individual’s needs. I love the look. It reminds me of Stadler Form’s Oskar humidifier which I proudly display in my house all winter long.

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Test Pattern Lamps For The Video Nerd

Do you know a video nerd in need of some new studio / edit bay / office decor? If so, this is the perfect lamp for them. Inspired by analog TV test cards, Hungarian designer Simon Forgacs has created the “Mono Lamp”, a table lamp that captures the essence of TV for a those of us who grew up with analog CRT’s. The lamps come in two variations, color, and grayscale, with the latter looking a bit like the Death Star from Star wars.  Both are constructed from a plastic globe that is suspended above an ash wood base on an aluminum pole. Each is just under 12 inches in diameter with a height of 14 inches. You can pick one up on Forgacs Indigogo site, but if you live outside of Europe you’re going to need an adapter for the Type C plugin.

 

Graphic Design Today from Gestalten

coverHaving spent more than half of my life working in the graphic design and communications business I have seen many design trends come and go. One thing that is certain, is the state of graphic design is in constant flux. This is reflected in “Graphic Design Today” an in-depth survey on progressive contemporary graphic design from Gestalten. In recent years, graphic designs relationship with adjoining disciplines such as illustration, three-dimensional installation art, industrial design, interactive design, UI/UX design has pushed the further development of the discipline. And this in turn is  raising the bar for graphic designers.

 

This book from Gestalten examines and documents the current state of graphic design, identifying some of the most visionary young designers at the top of their game with examples of their progressive design aesthetics in the printed form. The book features a wide range of graphic design samples ranging from poster design, book, and magazine editorial design as well as typography. Most of the work is print oriented and shows a trend that I find interesting, a desconstructavist approach to visual design that blends elements of the 1980’s 90’s and early 2000’s into a unique style that intentionally manipulates and distorts traditional rules and ideas with a playful and experimental verve.

Graphic Design Today features  design trends from Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, France, Great Britain and the USA. Through abundant visuals and illuminating texts accompanying each featured project, and a foreword by François Rappo, renowned typographer, and teacher at ECAL Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne, this expansive volume provides an in-depth look at the state-of-the-art of contemporary graphic design and is going in my design library.

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Pininfarina + Diavelo Join Forces To Create An E-Bike

“E-voluzione represents a perfect synthesis of our spirit: sporty character and eco-friendly soul” affirms Paolo Pininfarina. “Sporty and dynamic, a harmonic bikeable to guarantee high performances and great comfort”.

E-voluzione is the first electric bike born from the design collaboration between Pininfarina and bicycle makers Diavelo. E-voluzione was developed with a holistic design philosophy in mind. By that, I mean all the main components of the bike are integrated in the bike. By making a conscious effort to seamlessly integrate the battery, the mid-engine, the handlebar and stem, the cockpit, all the cables, the lighting system they have created not only a very aesthetically pleasing bike but one with a higher level of function. Thanks to better weight distribution and balance and a more comfortable and performing ride.

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Using carbon fiber in the frame and in the bar, seat post, wheels, the bike is extremely light weight compared to the competition, weighing in at 35 pounds. I know, hefty by traditional bike standards, but fairly light for a motorized e-bike.

The carbon fiber frame is produced by using an innovative process known as  autoclave carbon fiber. Which produces a lighter stiffer frame allowing the bike to be more maneuverable and perform better.

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The same level of innovation applies to other components that are used in the bike as well. The motor and transmission feature a high torque capacity and are fully integrated into the frame. The transmission is belt driven for an ultra quiet ride and reduces maintenance needs. In addition, they have integrated the patented battery into the frame, yet it is still fully removable for recharging or replacement if needed. The bike features hydraulic brakes and  Shimano components as well.

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