Design

Dieter Rams’s 931 Handbag

via The New York Times

via The New York Times

via The New York Times

via The New York Times

 

Like Mr. Ive, who branched into the luxury lifestyle space with the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, Mr. Rams, 86, also had a brief flirtation with fashion. Back in 1963, he created a leather handbag as a surprise gift for his wife, Ingeborg. Smooth and boxy, with a short curved strap on the outside but a highly functional and compartmentalized interior, it was never produced or seen by the outside world. Now, 55 years later, the 931 (as the bag has been named by Mr. Rams) is finally coming to market.

 

If ever there was a grand arbiter that decided what the essence of an object looks like, besides God Himself, it’d probably be Dieter Rams. This is, as a far as I’m concerned, the idealized handbag.

Foster + Partners Unveils "The Tulip"

via Dezeen

via Dezeen

via Dezeen

via Dezeen

 

The Tulip – a 305.3-metre tall tower topped with a viewpoint and rotating gondolas designed by Foster + Partners – is planned to be built alongside the Gherkin in London.

Foster + Partners has submitted its design for the tower, which would become the tallest structure in the City of London, for planning permission.

If approved, the tower could begin construction in 2020, with an opening date planned for 2025.

 

I’m a big fan of Foster + Partners and their ongoing collaboration with Apple. Their buildings are as big as “starchitect” projects can get while remaining tasteful.

That said, I hate this. Sure, it’s clever building on the existing lot for 30 Mary Axe, but the way it completely dwarfs it just so it barely makes the tallest building in London is comical. The Tulip is like the crow to 30 Mary Axe’s annoyed bird.

Nevermind that the design is somewhat congruent with the 30 Mary Axe, being bulbous and all – it’s still a total freak show. You can’t tell me this thing isn’t begging for attention, especially with those cars on the side like some space-age cuckoo clock.

I have high hopes this remains a proposal. Goodness.

The Look of Jazz

Vox investigates Blue Note Records, one of the foremost jazz labels, and how graphic designer Reid Miles created typography-clad album covers that gave the genre a brand:

As a design student, thinking about why things are and how they come about occupies a sizable chunk of my mind, at this point even at a subconscious level. So it’s nice to come across a fairly ubiquitous thing in the world that I haven’t yet considered as designed. My music tastes have been leaning recently towards jazz, too, so this is kinda timely.

What struck me about Miles’ work was that it’s minimal, yet so expressive. It really emphasizes how great composition goes a long way.

Lessons from DIY + Design

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– 5 minutes –

Last June 2-7, I participated in something called a “DIY + Design” workshop.

The first half was a design thinking workshop in which students collaborated with partners in the local community to create solutions for them and their businesses. The second half was a woodworking workshop that taught the students and community partners how to work with scarcity of materials – only three sizes of lumber (2x2’s, 2x4’s, and 2x6’s), screws, and nails were available.

What resulted was an experience I’ll never forget.

 

About the organizers

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Ishinomaki Lab handled the woodworking workshop. It was spawned from the wreckage created during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan's east coast. They began running workshops for the local community to restore businesses in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. They’ve since taken their workshops across the world.

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Hub of Innovation For Inclusion, or HiFi, is a space for students of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde to capitalize on their ideas to create social good in their community. They helped connect us with the community partners.

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The design thinking workshop was handled by Habi Education Lab. They exist to educate people, from students to professionals, about the design process, design thinking, and how design can benefit businesses and communities.

 

Managing expectations

The first lesson I learned was one that was learned collectively. The community partners, most of them being street vendors, expected that we were going to be making food carts. Even I expected food carts – it wasn’t until we started woodworking, and finding that there were no wheels available, that we realized that wasn’t the case.

Thankfully, nothing spiraled out of control. Earlier in the workshop, we defined a design statement and design principles, which acted as a set of parameters that made sure that we were solving the right problems with our product, regardless of its form.

Our group aimed to create an environment that encouraged people to stick around rather than leave immediately after purchasing. The community partners we teamed with remarked that when there’s a place for them to stay, people become more attracted to buy their products. I liken it to the business model of coffeeshops.

 

Working within constraints

I mentioned already our constraints with materials, which was entirely the point of the workshop, but we were also pressed for time. We didn’t know that there was another batch of participants for the woodworking workshop, so that cut our total working time by about 4 hours. This is partly why making food carts became a blurry possibility.

On top of that, not all the community partners could be there for the whole duration of the workshop, and one of the later batches of lumber was significantly thicker than the previous ones.

Our team had to focus on what could be done, rather than overshooting expectations and ending up being constrained by insufficient resources, whether that be by a lack of materials or time. We settled on a design that was simple enough to exist within all our parameters.

 

 

We designed a bench and table that could be quickly taken apart and stored in a light, compact form.

 

 

 

Total number of parts for the bench.

Total number of parts for the bench.

 

They’re easy to repair. They each have a small number of parts that are easily replaceable.

 

Designing with purpose

To me, design without the end user in mind is vain and vacuous. I’ve always thought this, but it seems much truer having been a part of something like this.

Beyond the catharsis of coming up with an idea and seeing it through, or the enjoyment of working at wood with various tools, or even the excitement of working with people I’ve never met before, what I’m really glad about is that our product won’t be sticking around at some exhibit somewhere for the rest of its lifespan. It will be used and enjoyed by people.

It puts things into perspective. It makes an obvious notion like design itself – bringing about something new into the world to achieve a goal – a lot more real to me.

 

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How Drumsticks Are Made

Jared Falk of Drumeo interviews Pro-Mark and D’Addario on their manufacturing process for drumsticks – a great crossover of interests:

Some interesting tidbits:

  • It’s incredible how much waste product is produced even at the very beginning of the process. (Well it isn’t really “waste” in that it’s immediately repurposed.)
  • The use of pitch in a QA task – yeah, as in sound pitch.
  • Even the mere fact that the process is this complicated for making literal sticks is remarkable. I’ll never complain about drumstick prices again.

Sidenote: I’ll be back soon, I promise.

A Look at Gary Hustwit's Rams

via Fast Co. Design

via Fast Co. Design

 

More than perhaps anyone, documentary filmmaker Gary Hustwit has articulated the supreme importance of design in our world. With his films Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized, he explored the impact of typography, industrial design, and city planning, respectively. But in Rams, his latest documentary due later this year, Hustwit focuses his lens entirely on one subject: Dieter Rams, the most influential designer of the last century.

Hustwit just dropped three new teasers for the film, along with news that it will be scored by none other than electronic music pioneer Brian Eno.

 

Judging by his previous work and these new teasers, I think Hustwit’s filmmaking style (plus Eno's score!) is going to help tell the story of Rams and his work as it ought to be told. I really hope this leads to more documentaries on other prolific designers in the future.

Vestaboard: Analog Made Digital

via Vestaboard

via Vestaboard

Found this really cool product via Jason Kottke. Though it looks awfully familiar

Vestaboard is a nice re-imagination of the split-flap display that can be programmed using a smartphone. It can also receive Wi-Fi to update itself automatically and connect to Amazon Echo and Google Home.

If I were to own one, I’d offload a lot of my news consumption onto it – headlines, at least. That’s a big “if” though – it costs a whopping $1850.

New Adidas Shoes Can Be Used as Transit Passes in Berlin

via The Guardian

via The Guardian

 

The shoes, which feature the same camouflage pattern used on the city’s train seats, double up as an annual transit pass. It’s embedded in the tongues of the trainers, which are styled as a fabric version of the BVG annual ticket, and can be used just like a regular ticket covering the bus, tram and underground in zones A and B. While the cheapest annual ticket available from the BVG is currently €728, the shoes cost just €180.

 

I’m curious how this works. Is there a way to verify the ticket on the shoe besides simply looking for the tag on the tongue? Is the pass only valid when you have the shoes on? What if you don’t want to have to wear the shoes every time you need to ride public transit?

Technical details aside, this is a really cool and clever way to encourage ridership for public transit. The savings are a big win, too… but the standalone ticket should be much cheaper than that to begin with.

The Urban Gentry Launches New Website

I came across The Urban Gentry, a watch-centric YouTube channel run by “TGV”, a few months ago and I’ve been absolutely hooked ever since. I can’t say I’m that much more of a watch connoisseur having watched the guy’s videos – being midway through college on an allowance can only take me so far in the watch world – but his passion for horology and great watch design is infectious and eye-opening.

Now he’s got a new blog and online store. He’s celebrating with a Seiko watch collection giveaway – not just a watch, a watch collection. Instructions to join in the video linked below.

Also, if you’re trying to get into watches like me, now’s as great a time as any to join the Gentry. He’s got videos from his recent factory visits across Switzerland coming up throughout the next few weeks.

There's Nothing Wrong with the Google Logo

A few weeks ago I remember coming across a post on Facebook that ridiculed the Google logo for not being mathematically perfect. I wasn’t so bothered by it cause I knew there was something going on regarding how the logo is visually perceived.

Logo design YouTuber (I’m so glad that’s a thing) Will Paterson explains how mathematical perfection doesn’t always result in what he calls “optical stability”.