The PhoneJoy Play: A Gaming-Geek Device Makes a Larger Comment About the Shortcomings of Touchscreen Interface Design



Whether or not you’re interested in videogames, this device is kind of fascinating from an industrial design/interface design point of view. The PhoneJoy Play is essentially a portable input device with a slick mechanical design: The two holdable halves can spread sideways, connected by a telescoping mechanism. Your smartphone or mini-tablet can then be “docked” in the middle, and the variety of buttons and motion pads interact with your device wirelessly.


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A Lamp Worthy of All-Star Nomination: Grotesk x Case Studyo’s “6FT – 6IN”


If you’re not familiar with the work of Kimou Meyer, a.k.a. Grotesk, we recommend checking out his excellent 2010 monograph. But even those of you who have never heard of the Brooklyn-based graphic designer ought to appreciate a recently-launched edition he has created for Case Studyo of Ghent, Belgium.


Limited to an edition of 23 (after Jordan, we hope) plus four artist proofs, “6FT – 6IN” is a baller lamp that is distinctive for its “blocky sneaker feet, as not only a signature Grotesk output, but also a design incubation decades in the making.” Contrary to the height given in its name, the lamp measures 75cm (30 in.), or just under half the height of Mugsy Bogues, it’s clearly intended to be a table lamp, featuring a cylindrical abat-jour set on skinny “string bean” legs are more Kevin Durant than LeBron. These minimalist components serve to underscore the unexpectedly playful base, featuring a classic Bulls color scheme.


Last week, I took issue with the plain rectangular box that served as the packaging for Taylor Simpson’s MONIKER bicycle handlebar concept. Here, it serves as a remarkably felicitous concept: the custom packaging for “6FT – 6IN” resembles a giant shoe box—it’s hard to tell from the photos, but I imagine it’s upwards of three feet long—executed in custom screenprinted wood. It’s a veritable triple-double of brilliant design: ten points for style, ten points for substance, plus another ten for packaging.



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The Peugeot Design Lab’s Pleyel Piano


To our British readers: We Americans like stealing your TV shows, like we did with your language, and we use both of those things differently over here. So most of us don’t know who Ella Henderson is, since she was only on your version of “The X Factor” before you fools voted her off early.

Anyways this morning, footage of Ms. Henderson was released showing her playing a rather crazy-looking piano that was designed by…the Peugeot Design Lab.

We’d written before that France’s PDL was looking to stretch their design muscles, but had no idea they were tackling something this complicated, less than a year out of the gate. (They didn’t do it alone, they worked in conjunction with piano maker Pleyel, but still.)

And to our French readers: You guys don’t have to worry about us stealing your language, ’cause we can’t pronounce those freaking R’s.


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James McNabb’s “Sketching with a Band Saw”


Philadelphia-based James McNabb, who runs furniture design/build studio McNabb & Co., doesn’t let wood cut-offs go to waste; instead he goes at them with the bandsaw. The resultant forms, produced from the process he calls “sketching with a band saw,” resemble buildings:


Thus was born McNabb’s City Series…

…a collection of wood sculptures that represent a woodworker’s journey from the suburbs to the city. Each piece depicts the outsider’s perspective of the urban landscape. Made entirely of scrap wood, this work is an interpretation of making something out of nothing. Each piece is cut intuitively on a band saw. The result is a collection of architectural forms, each distinctly different from the next.




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The Sharpener Image: Craighton Berman’s ‘Campaign for the Accurate Measurement of Creativity’


I don’t know how accurately it measures creative output, but the Sharpener Jar is definitely a practical alternative to the underground artisanal pencil sharpening movement. So it should come as no surprise that designer, entrepreneur, teacher and sometime Core-toonist / Sketch-notetaker Craighton Berman (a.k.a. Fueled by Coffee) has nearly quadrupled his $2,500 Kickstarter goal in just four days.

Every day professional “creatives” spend their waking hours sketching, writing, doodling, brainstorming, drawing, and scribbling on paper—hoping that their next amazing idea will eventually appear. This process fuels a unique angst in the modern-day artist; they spend most of their time merely thinking about what to make with nothing physical to show other than a pile of sketches. Can you get credit for creative effort without showing an end product? How is your boss going to know that you spent most of the day working and not just surfing Tumblr? How can you prove to your clients that your rates are justified despite the absence of actual finished work? Can creative output really be measured?

As in the Dux Inkwell sharpener, an extant glass vessel takes on a new purpose as a reservoir for pencil shavings, underscoring the ritualistic appeal of paring down a stick of wood and graphite.


On the other hand, unlike the Cuppow, Berman has opted to include the jar (and lid and threaded ring) with the sharpener, which surely adds a bit of unnecessary shipping/packaging expense to the product. Hence, the $39 pricetag for a single Sharpener Jar—assuming that the 32 remaining “first editions” at $34 will sell out shortly. (Still, it could be worse: $210 worse.)

CraightonBerman-SharpenerJar-Thanks.jpgWe’d love to see these letterform pencils IRL…


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AL13 iPhone Bumper Case: Ultra-Thin for the Win


I must admit that the startup Designed by m mostly struck me for its cheeky take on Apple’s brand identity, appropriating the design cues (including the font Myriad Pro) with a wink and a nod for their website and, to a lesser extent, Kickstarter campaign. In any case, the AL13 aluminum iPhone bumper is a go, handily doubling its $20,000 goal in a week, and it doesn’t take an aerospace engineer to see why: it’s sleek, lightweight, easy to install and, above all, thinner than its competitors in the bumper category.

Of course, if the AL13 isn’t minimal enough for you, we covered a couple of ultraminimal cases about a month ago. Although Alex Karp didn’t reach his funding goal via Kickstarter, the campaign apparently received enough publicity to attract outside investors, who have offered to bankroll Bummpies. mod-3, on the other hand, has surpassed their goal for the Radius case by over 50% as of press time, with five days to go.



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Below the Boat Puts the ‘Laser Cut’ in ‘Lacustrine’


Besides anagrams and pizza, I also have a keen interest in digital fabrication and maps. “Below the Boat” is a new company that combines the latter two: besides lakes, the site also offers laser-cut visualizations of bodies of water from archipelagos and bays to shorelines and sounds.

Starting with a bathymetric chart (the underwater equivalent of a topographic map), the contours are laser-cut into sheets of Baltic birch and glued together to create a powerful visual depth. Select layers are hand-colored blue so it’s easy to discern land from water, major byways are etched into the land, the whole thing’s framed in a custom, solid-wood frame and protected seamlessly with a sheet of durable, ultra-transparent Plexiglas.

The result is stunning. It lifts the surface of the water back like a veil, exposing the often-overlooked, under-explored, awe-inspiring world that lies below. To those familiar with the floor of the ocean or the bed of a lake, it’s a beautiful reminder of the deep channels, sharp drop-offs, and mountainous landscapes that are hidden from normal view. To the uninitiated, it’s wonderfully eye-opening; as though the world suddenly took on a fourth dimension.


Below the Boat is the brainchild of Robbie and Kara Johnson, a husband-wife duo from Bellingham, WA, who came across one of the charts while traveling in Michigan and set out to bring the digitally-fabricated artwork to the masses via webshop.


As you can see, the results are absolutely amazing—etched in memory, as it were—and I daresay that even the most hydrophobic landlubber can appreciate the beauty of bathymetry in burned in baltic birch by laserbeam.



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Low-Tech Remedy for a Small Screen: A Magnifying Glass?


Had to LOL when I saw this Mini Cinema for iPhone. We’ve seen non-powered sound amplifiers for iDevices before, that essentially use seashell properties to magnify the acoustics. But here someone’s come up with a rectangular magnifying glass that makes your iPhone look (in theory, anyway) like an iPad.


The manufacturer claims the $68 device “is of exquisite craftwork” and enhances the experience of both watching movies and playing games, though it’s not clear how you’d play a touchscreen game with the screen magnifier in place. You can rotate the device to watch movies in landscape view, which we’d imagine would be the preferred method, but of course you’d have to keep your head in a fixed position to enjoy the magnification.


The potential usability flaws aside, this thing did get me wondering: Do you reckon it’s possible to work out the viewing angle issues, and create large-screen TVs with smaller sources magnified by a big-ass lens? Or would the manufacturing hassles preclude any cost savings?


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Analog Degradation: Dave Hakkens’ Shrinking Jug


Eindhoven-based designer Dave Hakkens has been on our radar since we first got wind of his “Break Soap” concept, and it so happens that wind was the inspiration behind the more recent oil pressing machine. So too does his latest project begin with a seemingly straightforward concept—that porcelain shrinks when you bake it—and end with a fascinating, allusive series of objects. Curious about the ‘diminishing returns’ of the material, Hakkens “made a huge jug from all kinds of materials to see the shrinking process on different textures.”

From this jug I made a mold and poured porcelain in. Then baked it at 1260 degrees, and it shrank… With this porcelain model I made another mold and baked it, it shrank again. Made a mold from this model and so on… Every time the porcelain deforms a little bit and slowley the textures loses its detail.



After 13 rounds of casting and baking, he arrived at a collection of 14 jugs, each of which comes in at roughly 60% of the volume of its progenitor. Thus, the original jug is a healthy, pitcher-sized 5000mL, while the last one holds a mere 10mL, or a whopping two teaspoons.


Meanwhile, minor deformations emerge in more subtle fashion, as details fade and the vessel develops a slight crook in its back. Although molds are intended to mass produce exact replicas from a single template, Hakkens’ “Shrinking Jug” series clearly illustrates the variations that characterize handmade objects.



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Hans J. Wegner’s Feather-Filled Mid-Century Modern Sofa Makes a Comeback


One of my first tasks as an industrial design intern, nearly twenty years ago, was to archive the draftings coming off of a plotter machine the size of two refrigerators. I’d bring the fresh prints to the File Room, which was filled with flat-file drawers holding draftings that traveled back in time; by rifling through the lower right corners of each page, where the title blocks were, I could drill down and get to decades-old, hand-drafted sheets of old product designs scrawled onto mylar and vellum. As a wide-eyed student I found it fascinating that all of these things were saved, and that in theory, I could take one of these older drawers to a current-day modelmaker or tool-cutter and have them reproduce the object.

Carl Hansen & Son is a Danish furniture outfit that’s over a century old, and they’ve recently done their own version of diggin’ in the crates. In the section of their file room filled with work by Hans J. Wegner, the Danish Modern designer, they found blueprints for a sofe he designed in the mid-’60s. And now, nearly fifty years later, Wegner’s mid-century modern piece is once again rolling off of the assembly line, in two- and three-seat versions named CH162 and CH163.


What’s interesting about this particular sofa is what it’s stuffed with; Wegner chose, of all things, feathers for the original design.

…In 1965 when the original was introduced, feather filled cushions were revolutionary. “The sofa series was originally known as the ‘Down Cushion Sets’, because cushions filled with feathers were an innovation at the time. Wegner chose feather cushions to create a soft and inviting look – a style that broke with the standard practice of using cushions of fixed upholstery.” says Knud Erik Hansen, CEO of Carl Hansen & Son.

The announcement is so new that the sofas are not yet on Carl Hansen & Son’s website, but you can see other Wegner pieces they produce here.

via 3 rings


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