Interior Design

Digital Kitchen’s Immersive Cosmopolitan Experience.

I’m not a Las Vegas guy. I’ve been a bunch of times for both work and pleasure, and I have to say, 90 percent of it leaves me cold. It is a crowded sensory overload, which is for the most part filled with idiots in Ed Hardy shirts, who think they are much cooler than they really are.

There are things about Vegas that I like. But most of it just makes me long for the days when going to Vegas had a certain element of sophistication and swank. It’s entirely possible that I want a Vegas that never really existed, the “Old School Vegas” portrayed in movies. None the less the new VIP Lounge, Bottle Service, Over Priced, To Much Fake Money, Vegas just doesn’t do it for me. I might however have to go back so that I can check out the Cosmopolitan.

Cosmopolitan’s interior and exterior facing spaces were designed by the folks at Digital Kitchen, with an emphasis on merging art, film, and interactive experiences into a singular upscale space. From the look of these videos, the experience is pretty impressive, and would be worth a look. Maybe I could fly into Vegas, go to the Cosmopolitan, check it out and then drive straight to El Trovar lodge at the Grand Canyon.

Some of the Best in Design for 2009

As the year winds down I decided to try to put together a best of design 2009 post. This is turning out to be tougher than I thought. The reason is, there is so much good design work that came out in the last year how could I possibly narrow it down to a list that would fit on e page. So I think what I am going to do is a series of posts over the course of the next 5 days that will try to highlight some of the best of the best. And while these objects will be stacked in a numbered order, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one thing is better than the other. Different designs have different purposes you know. So in no particular order, these are designs that had an impact on me for a variety of reasons.

Human-Centered Design Toolkit. Designers; Tatyana Mamut, Jessica Hastings, Fidel Calderon, Scott Tong, and Sandy Speicher, IDEO (U.S.). The Human-Centered Design Toolkit empowers NGOs and social enterprises in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to address smallholder farmer needs. The toolkit (comprising print and online elements) leads groups through a process of fieldwork and data analysis, idea generation and prototyping, and implementation planning. Ultimately, the kit and the open-source effort it inspired work to better the lives of those in the developing world surviving on less than $2 a day.

Soundbulb. Designers: Hoang M Nguyen, Poom Puttorngul & Anh Nguyen. This is a concept for a wireless speaker that is housed in and combined with a LED light source. Although just a concept, the possibilities of this are really pretty amazing. The parts of the SoundBulb are replaceable and can be upgraded from time to time.

Concrete Block Humidifier. Designer: Sang Jang Lee. A slab of concrete with a bit of gadgetry gets us this Concrete Block Humidifier, which works with an all-important weight sensor. This is to ensure that a dry, empty bowl gets automatically switched off. The choice of concrete as a base was deliberate says the designer, because the material has the unique character of absorbing and evaporating water rapidly.

Interactive Tiles. Designers: Soo-Jin Chou, Young-Hee Cho, Young-Kuk Oh, Oh-Jae Kwon & Kue-Hoo Hwang.  The I-Quad Interactive Tile, uses tile shaped LED electronic boards held together by a simple frame and interacts with external devices via USB or wireless. Each tile is capable of a low-res, almost dot matrix-like resolution. Essentially anything can be displayed across these tiles; from communication, entertainment, even ambient lighting.

Eko Stoplight. Designer; Damjan Stankovic. This is an LED stoplight that has a countdown meter built-in to let motorist know how much time is left before the light changes. It’s such a simple idea, you wonder why it wasn’t thought of before.

Banq Restaurant, Boston. Design by Office dA. The interior of Banq gets your head swirling with its banyan tree-inspired aesthetic. The interior is made up of curved layers of birch plywood that  form an abstract wooden canopy that helps with the acoustics of the room.

Coffee.It’ espresso maker. Designer; Wiel Arets for Alessi. Architect Wiel Arets added to Alessi’s collection of home appliances with a sturdy and wonderfully stylish espresso coffee maker. Made from glossy stainless steel with a black plastic lid and a generously proportioned ergonomic handle, the ‘Coffee.It’ comes in two sizes – for three and six cups. It’s simple, elegant and practical.

two-tiered table. Designer; Industrial Facility. Designed for Herman Miller, this table has simple clean lines and can function as a desk as well. The cantilevered second level adds a level of fun and function to a very utilitarian object.

Hitachi UltarThin LCD. Designer; Hitachi. Hitachi’s UltraThin 1.5 Series LCD is probably the most beautiful flat-panel TV you’ve ever seen. Not only is it impossibly thin (1.5-inches, hence the name), but its graceful angles and curves are stunning even when the picture is off.

Samsung  BDP 4600 Blue Ray Player.  Designers; Jaehyung Kim, Yunje Kang, and Koungwon Park, Samsung Electronics. There is no reason that a piece of home theater equipment has to be a conservative black box. Samsung’s BDP 4600 is a prime example of this. WiFi connected, Netflix downloading super sleek beauty shown right here.

13 inch MacBook. Designers; Industrial Design Team, Apple (U.S.). At only 0.95-inches tall and weighing just 4.5 pounds, the 13-inch, full-featured, aluminum MacBook is a compact and durable notebook. Featuring the new NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor, MacBook delivers outstanding 3D game play on a consumer notebook, with up to five times faster graphics performance than the previous generation.

Project Masiluleke Home HIV Test Kit. Designers; frog design (U.S.). The Project Masiluleke Home HIV Test Kit was designed to make HIV testing in South Africa a comfortable and familiar process. It combines mobile support with off-the-shelf, saliva-based diagnostics. The test, with copy written in both English and Zulu, is available free of charge and is intended for private use in the home and outside of the traditional health-care infrastructure. Not only that the package design is just wonderful to look at.

BTS1 Dual Cook Oven. Designers; Kang-Doo Kim, Joo-Hee Lee, Seon-Ju Lee, Chan-Young Lee and Ji-Young Shin, Samsung Electronics. The BTS1 electric oven provides the functionality of two ovens in the space of one. The divider, composed of two steel plates with a layer of air in between, means that users can cook one large dish and a small dish in a small space or two dishes with different cooking requirements at the same time. The divider plate blocks the flow of heat and smells between the two cooking spaces.

Teneo Storage Furniture. Ayse Birsel, Bibi Seck, Birsel + Seck. I love this stuff and I want it for my own office. Teneo is a storage system for everything that doesn’t fit on your computer: books, papers, files, other technology devices, personal items. The system’s 20 parts can be combined to make more than 80 products, including credenzas, easels, lecterns, book and project carts, and supply islands.

Design Friday. Illy Coffee

For this Design Friday post I wanted to talk about Illy coffee. Anyone who has traveled outside of the United States is probably familiar with the international coffee brand, and if you have been to a handful of major cities in the USA you might have come across one of their concept stores.

When I first started writing this I was going to focus on the packaging and the art cups that Illy produces, but as I have started gathering images and such the focus has changed to reflect the more global approach that Illy takes with its design and branding.

Illy is all about the visual presentation of product, store environment, packaging, interactive, and mobile are designed as a cohesive unit. The design components of illy caffè show that it is a company with a far-reaching vision. It is this design vision that has placed Illy firmly at the head of pack, positioning themselves as a company in the pursuit of beauty and excellence.

The Illy Bar Concepts works like this: the Core Bar is usually situated in a historic center, and functions as a meeting point that expresses the culture and the daily life of its location. Landscape Bars are set in busier areas, such as shopping malls or museums, and are meant to provide a restorative break. Transit Bars are spacious bars for travellers, located in train stations or airports; Community Bars serve regular customers in residential or semi-central areas; and Corner Bars are stylish, open-plan buildings offering fast service for quick consumption, or the get it to go crowd.

The cafe’s are beautifully designed featuring clean open architecture with natural lighting. The fixtures in each are designed to elevate and display the coffee brand, usually accented by artwork that features an artist sponsored by the Illy Art projects. Packaging focuses on prominently displaying the Illy brand on simple tin cans with easy to follow instructions in 5 languages. Coffee cups, and all other items in the store display the red Illy logo on a clean white background, helping to reinforce the brand at every turn. Illy also selects independent coffee shops with “relevance in their market” which are selected to use only Illy coffee beans and agree to do so for a three-year period. Baristas are trained to pull an Illy-quality espresso and given recipes for other drinks common to Artisti del Gusto shops. Illy provides art work, coffee machines, glassware and other branded touches, such as the red Illy umbrellas. Certified coffee shops are periodically monitored for consistency, and the certification can be pulled if the lattes aren’t up to snuff.

Not only is this is a proven way to expand with minimal investment, it’s also a way to increase the reach of a brand, and indoctrinates a much wider audience to the superiority of your coffee beans. In other words, it’s a great way to market your product in grocery stores and online outlets, without a national advertising campaign. A coffee shop on your corner is far better than a billboard, since it’s a place you already trust and whose coffee you are conditioned to love by association.

In addition to the store concepts Illy has developed a series of collectable limited edition cups and coffee tins all of which are designed by world-famous artist. In 1992, the first collection of designer cups entitled “Arts and Crafts”, which combined coffee with the aesthetics of the cup was introduced. Since then, illy has established a strong bond with the art world, constantly adding to the collection. And now, when you are in an Illy café you can drink coffee in an artist designed cup and read the story behind each concept. In addition you can purchase limited edition cups or tins at any of the cafe’s themselves.

As a forward thinking, and design focused company, Illy has been quick to innovate and embrace new technologies and outlets that allow them to expand their brand awareness, without expanding their physical footprint with additional stores. They have done this through the Illy At Home program. Via the website you can sign up to have the coffee delivered via FedEx directly to your home over the course of a year. Each month a set amount of coffee is delivered directly to you, and 3 times a year you receive limited edition collectable coffee tins, and or espresso cups. In addition you have the option of purchasing over time a Francis Francis espresso machine through the program. The concept is really well thought out. Illy promotes the brand, through delivery of a quality product, and then hooks you with special gifts all designed to reinforce the brand.

Illy does an excellent job through out every aspect of its visual presence of making sure that the red and white color pallet is displayed in a consistent manner and that the Illy logo is placed in locations that leave a memorable impression which can quickly be associated with what the company stands for.

Nice Package. IdeaPaint, and Packaging by “Jones”

With all the talk these days about Internet-enabled collaboration and crowdsourcing as ways to spawn creativity, some times it’s still the simplest solutions that still work best. With that said I wanted to  post something about  IdeaPaint. This product has the ability to transform any flat surface into a dry erase board allowing you and your pals to be inspired the old-fashioned way. With IdeaPaint you’ll never run out of space for jotting down all the good ideas generated during your next brainstorming session.

Now what really drew me to this in the first place was  the packaging. Designed by “Jones“, it features great use of big graphic elements that emphasize the product’s simplicity. 50 square feet. Mix THIS into THAT with the STICK.” It just looks good. Clean, simple, and to the point. Such good design.