Industrial Design

RowFree Helps Me Row Away Evenings

I have used a Concept 2 rower for physical exercise for longer than I can remember. It is such a great workout and the C2 is built like a tank. If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking one up.

Like all rowers except for the Hydrow the workout can be a bit boring. You are going back and forth for 45 minutes to an hour with an occasional break for stretching or interval weight training. To combat the boredom I use a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that I have paired with my phone so I can listen to music or books on tape. I also have them paired with my Apple TV so if I feel inclined I can pull the rower into the downstairs media room/office and watch something on the TV while rowing.

The thing is, moving the rower is kind of a pain, and I never do it. Because of this, I started looking for a stand of some kind to hold my iPad and position it close enough to see the screen without hitting it as I rowed. I found nothing that I liked or that I thought would work. Then I found RowFree, and I’m in love.

The RowFree Mount is a quickly installed bracket that can be used with Concept2 rowers, BikeERG, and SkiERG to hold electronic devices like tablets, smartphones, and laptops.  The RowFree Mount is highly adjustable and can be used to quickly position your device exactly where you need it. 

Constructed from aluminum alloy, the bracket is light and durable. The bracket simply slips over the PM5 on my Concept 2 and then adjusts to hold my device directly in my line of sight for the entire workout routine. I love this thing. It is simple, functional design at its finest. It’s not over-thought or overly complicated. It has a simple function and it works. It doesn’t block the readout on my PM5 and it makes rowing a whole lot more enjoyable.

RowFree is a small business located in Bend, Oregon.  Their mission is to provide the best way to interact with tablets, smartphones, and laptops while rowing. I think they nailed it.

Advertisements

The Value of Good Design

If I only had a few extra days of vacation and a few extra dollars to spend I know what I’d be visiting in the next couple of weeks. MoMa’s “The Value of Good Design” exhibit that is currently up through June 15th. The video below is a fun two-minute look at some of the design and designers featured and some of the more iconic pieces in the show. If you’re in New York or headed there soon, this would be well worth a visit.

Featuring objects from domestic furnishings and appliances to ceramics, glass, electronics, transport design, sporting goods, toys, and graphics, The Value of Good Design explores the democratizing potential of design, beginning with MoMA’s Good Design initiatives from the late 1930s through the 1950s, which championed well-designed, affordable contemporary products. The concept of Good Design also took hold well beyond the Museum, with governments on both sides of the Cold War divide embracing it as a vital tool of social and economic reconstruction and technological advancement in the years following World War II. This global scope is reflected in many of the items on view, from a mass-market Italian Fiat Cinquecento automobile and a Soviet-era East German Werra camera to a Japanese poster for a Mitsubishi sewing machine and a Brazilian bowl chair. These works join both iconic and unexpected items made in the US, such as the Eames La Chaise, a Chemex Coffee Maker, and Irwin Gershen’s Shrimp Cleaner.

Slide Over With HMM

I spend most of my day working on a computer in programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Premier and on my iPad using apps like Art Rage, or Sketchbook. These tools allow me to create everything from illustrations to motion graphics and video. As great as all of these tools are, they can’t replace the tactile feeling of putting pen to paper and actually drawing.

As a designer, I am always looking for quality drafting tools and drawing implements. That pen or pencil with the right weight balance, and feel in the hand. While it seems like something that should be easy it’s not. The right tool makes all the difference and you can feel it as soon as you pick up a pen or pencil that has it.

Recently I discovered HMM, a Japanese company whose goal is to make “The Ordinary Classy”. The name stands for Human-Mechanic-Method and they specialize in the manufacture of finely crafted coffee ware and office accessories.

“We focus on polishing the details that make utensils unique and human. With selected materials and craftsmanship our products are classic and timeless. They are ready to embellish your daily life.” HMM

What I picked up from them is “Slide“. A winner of this year’s iF Design Award, Slide is a stylish and multi-functional ruler and pen in one. Finely crafted from milled aluminum, and coated in a matte black finish.

The sleek tool features a unique magnetic structure that allows the pen and ruler to be split up into two pieces, or be reassembled back into one with a feeling that is fluid, and smooth.

Slide has a triangular shape to the body with one side that is distinctively flat while the other two roll into a gently curved edge. It feels really comfortable in my hand. The pen writes and draws beautifully with smooth ink flow allowing for a lighter touch and more control. The pen can be used independently from the ruler or with it by simply pushing it forward to expose the tip. With the ruler attached to the pen, the back takes on the same gently curving arch with an almost indistinguishable seam between the pen and the ruler.

The ruler is all metric measurements. That makes sense since it is a Japanese product designed for the world market. That doesn’t bother me at all though. I’m not going to be using it for doing much measuring, I’ll be using it to help me draw straight lines when I need them.

The packaging is impressive as well. Well thought out and executed with sustainable materials. Slide comes in a matte black cardboard sleeve. Inside there is a stacked chipboard container that has been cut to hold the device in place. The container is wrapped in a black paper liner that contains simple instructions on how to refill the pen and use it.

Along with the packaging, there is a really well-designed catalog of HMM products. Minimal layout and simple type treatments really round out the emphasis on the quality HMM put into their product and package design.

Bang Bang The BeoLab 50

No matter what you might think of the audio quality or the price point, you have to admit Bang & Olufsen make some beautiful audio gear. The BeoLab 50 is no exception Combining innovative design and state-of-the-art technology, the BeoLab 50 continues the brand’s mission of creating “the future of sound.” This floor speaker system stands out from some of the newer offerings B&O has made in the last few years pulling from an older aesthetic while still looking forward. The cylindrical rounded shape ensures that the speaker fades into any modern interior. The look of the oak and aluminum certainly tower sets it apart from recent B&O designs while still connecting it to other styles in the lineup. The BeoLab 50 features a silver semi-matte body with wood lamellas on one side and a black fabric on the other. It is futuristic and yet has a slightly retro feel that blends into any period.

The high-end loudspeaker features seven dedicated amplifiers that have a combined power of 2,100 watts. With three 4’’ midrange drivers and three 10’’ woofer drivers and an Acoustic Lens at the top. All of which is designed to make sure the BeoLab 50 provides an incredible sound experience. In typical fashion, B&O has incorporated seamless controls that allow the user to connect the speaker to other devices in the home easily. The BeoLab 50 also features wired and wireless inputs as well as the Active Room Compensation option which applies custom filters to compensate for sound reflections in different areas of a room.

 

No word on price, but I can guarantee you these won’t come cheap. You might have to decide between that small compact economy car you need for your daily commute, or a set of speakers to help you unwind at the end of the day. If you get a chance, check out the website. Once again B&O has put together a nice microsite with full page video, parallax effects and just enough information to hook you and make you want to come back when this officially launches.

 

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.

 

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.