Bottle Design Brain Melter: The Handle is the Spout, the Opening is on the Bottom, the Inside and the Outside Are the Same Surface


That there is the Klein Bottle, first conceived of in 1882 by German mathematician Felix Klein. Klein’s “non-orientable surface,” as it’s called in the math community, is like a Möbius strip in that you cannot distinguish inside from outside; follow it with your eyes and you’ll see one turns into the other, which makes me very, very uncomfortable.


I’m told that the Klein Bottle is, in essence, two Möbius strips connected together. I’d like to start sketching that to work out how it goes together, but I can’t because I’m too stupid.




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The Open University Presents ‘Design in a Nutshell,’ from Gothic Revival to Postmodernism


Last week, we learned (or relearned) Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design through a nicely-executed animation by Design Silesia. Today, we have a series of animated shorts from the Open University, a UK-based distance-learning institution. I can’t speak to the university’s academics, but it happens to be one of the world’s largest universities and is accredited in the States. In keeping with the nontraditional structure—students typically study remotely, whether they are in the UK or elsewhere—they’ve also taken to producing short educational videos on YouTube, and the latest series of shorts happens to be about “Design in a Nutshell.”


The Bauhaus segment is a gem—I learned that Gropius’s seminal school of thought marked the genesis of the “art school as an alternative way of life,” as well as a few fun facts about Marcel Breuer. Good stuff.



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Flotspotting: Richard Wilson Boldly Redesigns a Braun Classic


Design student or no, it takes some serious stones to attempt a redesign of a design classic. Case in point: The Florian-Seiffert-designed Braun KF 20, above—which we covered in our History of Braun Design, Part 4—essentially set the form factor for the modern coffeemaker. Coroflotter Richard Wilson, who is now a London-based junior designer, tackled a re-design back in his tender student days. Before we get to his renders, let’s have a look at some of his sketches from the project:


So what do you think—based on those, would he have been able to follow through and pull it off?

Hit the jump to find out.



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Sketchnotes of IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference 2013, by Stefani Bachetti


Reporting by Stefani Bachetti

The IIT Institute of Design held its annual Strategy Conference last week in downtown Chicago, a two-day event full of inspiring and interesting talks about using design thinking and innovation to solve complex issues. Socially conscious innovation was a common topic this year, from improving agricultural techniques in Africa to enabling University of Chicago students and professionals to collaboratively tackle major problems in healthcare, as well as revitalizing abandoned lands in Detroit with a community development and agriculture program.

Check out the sketchnotes below summarizing the ideas behind this year’s event. You’ll find synopses on speakers like Carl Bass with Autodesk, Catherine Casserly of Creative Commons, Stepan Pachikov, founder of Evernote, Bruce Nussbaum and Barry Schwartz from Swarthmore College, among others.

Click to view full-size images.

Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk

Mark Tebbe, Operating Executive, Lake Capital / Stepan Pachikov, Founder, Evernote

Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute / Kim Erwin, Assistant Professor, IIT Institute of Design



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Fabrican’t Hardly Wait: Manel Torres’ Long Road to Commercializing Spray-On Fabric


Fabrican is a sprayable fabric that actually contains fibers, and after curing it can be washed and re-worn. It first created an internet stir in 2006, but for reasons only the internet gods know, Fabrican is now resurfacing on social media and often being mistakenly presented as new.


Don’t get us wrong, Fabrican is amazing. But it is not new, and serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to bring a good idea to market, and how dogged inventors need to be. Manel Torres first conceived of Fabrican way back in 1995, when he was an RCA student studying fashion design, after watching a friend get sprayed with Silly String. Torres began to collaborate with chemical engineers, and by 2000 he’d filed a patent and set up R&D facilities at Imperial College London.


Three years later Torres formed Fabrican Ltd., and another three years went by before the blogosphere picked up on the stuff. Here in 2013, seven years later, there are still no announcements for commercialization; the “News” section of Fabrican’s website saw its last update in 2010.


Has Torres given up? Doesn’t look like it, as he’s delivered several Fabrican-based TED Talks as recently as last year. We can only speculate as to what’s preventing the appearance of Fabrican on store shelves, which is what we’d really like to see; while Torres is proposing industrial solutions targeted at the medical, automotive and fashion design industries, we think selling the stuff in cans and letting you guys figure out what to do with it would be a good way to go.


Hit the jump for some videos (one NSFW, if you work in Puritan America) showing the stuff in action.



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NY Design Week 2013: Konstfack Presents ‘Negative Space’ at ICFF


Stockholm’s Konstfack is among the university design departments that occupy the removed North Building of the Javits Center this ICFF, a more manageable—albeit somewhat sparsely populated—exhibition hall in contrast to the main floor of ICFF. Despite—or perhaps because of—the largely theoretical curriculum of graduate programs in Industrial Design, the 11 first-year Master’s candidates at Konstfack undertook a self-initiated project to actually make objects, which they first exhibited during Stockholm Design Week back in February. According to the Negative Space website:

What is a negative space?
Can it be framed by something other than matter?
Can a negative space be made tangible?

Ten explorations on the possible meanings of negative space showcasing new and intriguing perspectives. By shifting focus from matter to the space that it occupies, the designers have found new ways of working by investigating the relationship between objects and the surrounding space. Presented here are a series of individual interpretations of negative space, culminating in a fascinating interplay between form, memory, movement, light and time.


Insofar as the theme itself is intangible, the students took a broad range of approaches; even in the case of light, which might be considered an easy metaphor for space, the inspiration and execution varied significantly. Nevertheless, the overall aesthetic of the work is quite minimal, in keeping with both the theme and Scandinavian design language in general.


Unfortunately, the logistics of overseas travel and the tradeshow setting made for a somewhat attenuated exhibition—i.e. the convention center simply isn’t the ideal context for exhibiting the highly conceptual work. (I find that the Javits Center, for all its cavernous, harshly-lit real estate, is something of a ‘negative space,’ if you’ll excuse the pun.) In any case, the students were excited to be in New York—a first for many of them—and they were eager to share their work.


Daphne Zuilhof‘s “Spin” stool inspired friendly jealousy amongst her peers for it’s packability. It takes it name not from the English verb but for the Dutch word for ‘spider,’ where its collapsible legs delimit a volume that is a usable space.



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Try Not to Get Vertigo: POV GoPro Footage of One World Trade Center Spire Being Raised


Of all the reasons why I could never be a construction worker—not strong enough, can’t consistently wake up at 5am, don’t know how to catcall—preeminent among them is my deathly fear of heights. It was terrifying to watch this video of construction workers hoisting the spire onto One World Trade Center (someone slapped a GoPro camera onto the thing). The crazy part is that at the end, you get to see a handful of guys jimmying the massive thing into place with what look like crowbars.

Warning: This video isn’t edited at all, it’s a continuous nine-minute shot of them hoisting the spire from the roof to the top of its supporting structure. Part of me wishes they’d fast-forwarded the video, though if they had I would’ve peed my pants or thrown up (probably both).



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NY Design Week 2013: BKLYN Designs Celebrates Ten Years of Exhibiting the Best of the Borough


The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center won’t be opening its doors for the 25th annual ICFF for another week, but the NYCxDesign festivities are well underway as of this weekend, and besides the second edition of Frieze New York and its satellites, today also saw the opening of BKLYN Designs at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO. After a brief hiatus (including a stint at the Javits in 2011), the showcase of independent designers from the borough du jour is back in Brooklyn for its tenth anniversary.

Organizer Karen Auster and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce have wisely opted for first weekend of the inaugural NYCxDesign festival so as not conflict with ICFF—the exhibition will be on view through this Sunday, May 12. (BKLYN Designs is rather more accessible than Frieze, both geographically and metaphorically, though we recommend the humble bicycle as the most pleasant mode of transportation to either location; rest assured most of next week’s events are clustered in the more central districts of Soho and Noho. Check out our NYDW Guide for more details.)

Here are some of the standouts from our quick tour of the space this morning:


Palo Samko, an elder statesman of the Brooklyn scene, has been exploring with casting in earnest ever since he started making his own brass hardware (drawer pulls, table legs).




As with many of the woodworkers at the show, Bien Hecho was a custom/contract studio for years before debuting their first collection at BKLYN Designs.

BKLYNDesigns-BienHecho-2.jpgFounder John Randall noted that “Water Tower” was made of reclaimed wood from the very same; it’s intended to hold a standard five-gallon water bottle, as an alternative to the mundane water cooler.

BKLYNDesigns-Hooker-1.jpgWhat’s that around the corner…?



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LOHOCLA Growler by Herald Urena


By Herald Ureña, College for Creative Studies ’13

I chose the name LOHOCLA, backwards for Alcohol, for this project in order to suggest that my new design inherits the past by incorporating it into a modern object. It is a redesign of the growler, a reusable vessel to carry beer from the pub or store to your home, commonly used in the USA but also used in Australia and Canada.


I investigated the history of the growler and based a new design on the product’s forms from the past so the reinterpretation has an aspect of ‘design memory.’ Growlers in USA circa 1800’s we actually repurposed metal buckets. During the 50’s and 60’s people would reuse packaging and food containers as growlers, including waxed cardboard containers and plastic storage products. Half-gallon jugs became popular in the 80’s, though those glass jugs were also re-purposed (apple) cider or moonshine jugs. The design of the growler shifted to closed containers once refrigeration became standard in American homes.


It was important to me that the redesign of the growler keep an aesthetic of other preexisting objects in some way. The overall shape still looks like the cider jug but I have created a handle that is reminiscent of the bucket handles from the 1800’s, as well as the look of a common pitcher.



I investigated ergonomics from the point of view of the common user, bartender, waiters, user trends, consumption habits at home, in restaurants, and pubs. I then decided to ensure that the shape of this growler could also be used as a decanter / pitcher as well, so it can be used for serving in a pub if the user decides to stay. This growler is smaller in size, contrary to high American consumption habits. Existing designs are notoriously difficult to clean; thus, I made the top wider to facilitate this process, as well as for pouring. To reduce the material used on the cap, the cap now screws on to the inside of the glass wall and is also hollow to reduce weight. I added texture to the bottom of the growler so that the bartender can grip it and fill it up easier. There is also a bubble marking system on the outer surface of the glass, marking every half pint and indicating exactly how much to fill the jug with an extruded line on the surface of the jug. It is intended to be filled very close to the top, near the lid, in order to reduce airspace in the growler so the beer stays fresher.


Although some growlers are now being made out of aluminum, people complain about not being able to see the beer, particularly when someone is serving them from a growler. The interior of the growler has a helix that circulates the beer as it is being poured to keep it circulating and equally fresh throughout the drinking experience—the user will not get the bitter butt of the beer that is sometimes discarded altogether. That large inner helix clearly is the driving differentiating element applied.




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Massive Multi-Tool: The Cole-Bar Hammer


Statistically speaking, most of us only use crowbars when we’re about to be arrested for Menacing, but if you’ve ever had to do light demo around the house you know how handy they can be. Someone actually stole my crowbar a couple of years ago, and I never bought a replacement since I haven’t recently needed to pry anything open or dispense street justice.

Maybe it’s just as well that I’ve held off, as a new crowbar may be hitting the market at the end of this summer. And, usefully, it also happens to be a hammer. And a 1/2-inch socket wrench, and a couple of other things. I’m normally skeptical of multi-tools, but the Cole-Bar Hammer, which is currently up on Kickstarter, look pretty promising:

I know what you’re thinking: How well would that central joint hold up when the tool is extended into a full-length crowbar?




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