More often than not when we think of design, we think of beautiful, or elegant, objects. Or we think in terms of type, color, balance, gestalt, tension etc. The reality is, good design is the product of solving a problem. Filling a need, and many times the end result is not the most beautiful looking thing, but instead the most practical for the problem it needs to solve.
The video below from Makeshift Magazine is about that very fact of good design. “Bicimaquinas” solve a problem. How do you provide tools to the people of Guatemala when the average salary is two dollars a day, and a large portion of the people can’t afford electricity? The answer is Bicimaquinas. This is a great story about how one individual has set out to provide a force of change through the design and build out of tools that are powered by the remains of discarded bikes. Believe me it’s worth the 3 minutes it takes to watch it.
I love it when a group of designers and engineers come together and solve a problem that blends digital and analog worlds. For a while now I have been fascinated by using conductive ink, and paper to extend a digital experience tied to your phone or smart device.
Razorfish Germany was tasked with creating an interactive brochure to promote the features of the new Audi TT Virtual Cockpit. To do this they used the physical automotive brochure, conductive ink, and a bluetooth chip that synchronizes the brochure with your smartphone. The idea was to create a seamless experience that mirrors the actual virtual cockpit and extends the learning experience for your new TT.
This “Digital meets Print” idea shows how you can generate unique value for customers by intelligently linking the virtual and physical worlds together to extend the overall experience. For a bit more information on the “Audi TT Brochure Hack” Project Gallery has a website with a bit more info and some still images.
I have to admit I don’t write physical letters and notes anymore. Like so many people I have embraced the immediacy of digital correspondence with a vengeance. I still use pen and paper to sketch out ideas and jot things down, but really couldn’t tell you the last time I wrote a letter to someone. With that said, I still have a thing for finely crafted pens and pencils. There is something about the look, the weight, the way it sits in your hand.
Thankfully Ystudio feels the same way, and have released a new line of writing tools that are drool worthy. The new “stationary collection” is a finely crafted set of writing implements for the discerning author, doodler, or note taker. The set is constructed from pure copper and brass, with a minimalist elegant design combined with pristine materials. The model line includes two rollerball pens, a ballpoint pen, a mechanical pencil, a sketching pen, a pen container a pen case, and a notebook.
Anabella Vivas has created a series of vases that investigate how the design process is benefitted by using natural materials during the creation of the object. Vivas, wants to create a balance between the materials used and the final outcome. To reach that goal on this project Vivas has mixed concrete and glass, both reliant on sand for their existence. Each vase is a balance of 40 percent glass to 60 percent concrete in materials use. Working with the most amount of sand possible in her concrete mix, Vivas was able to blow glass into the concrete vessel, because of the slightly cooler than normal temperature which helps to fuse the pieces together. Each piece is hand made and no two are truly identical. Each one has a unique textural qualities to it in both the concrete and glass components. I love the subtle tonal color ranges in the cast concrete combined with a minimal aesthetic. And the balance between the heaviness on the concrete and the lightness of the glass is simply sublime.
This new Kickstarter project from Dave & Calvin Laituri reminds me of my long ago days in graphic design and drafting when we used die cut templates to draw circles, ovals, arcs, curves, lines, boxes, and more. I think that nostalgia might be one of the reasons I like Tuls, but the reality is Tuls is a really nice design solution for people that need small tools which take up little space.
Tuls are a set of compact, credit card-sized tools designed to solve a range of everyday problems. Tuls are bundled in functionally complimentary sets. They are small and flat enough to fit on your keychain or in your wallet. The thinking behind them is simple. Tuls are there for you in those times when you can’t reach the tool you wish you had. Each laser cut Tul is made from 18 gauge stainless steel or titanium, about as thick and rigid as a US dime; tough, durable and built to last.
The first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere is just a couple of days away. With it comes long warm days, sunshine, and unfortunately harmful UV rays. In many cultures using an umbrella to shield you from the sun is as much a custom as using one to keep the rain off of your head. Unfortunately most umbrellas don’t offer a solution that is visually fun and exciting.
Japanese designers Fumito Kogure and Shinya Kaneko have come up with an artful answer to the umbrella. Komorebi is a Japanese saying that roughly translated means “sunshine filtering through foliage.” These two designers have applied that phrase to your typical umbrella creating something that shades you with the feeling of sitting under a tree. Komorebigasa, can be used in rain or shine but the shadows it creates on a sunny day simply make me smile.
If you have 3900 Yen ($41.50) you can pick it up here.