Six Wheeled Crazyness
Now, before you start screaming about how ridiculous this car is, there are apparently some definite technical advantages to having multiple steerable wheels. The Tyrrell P34 F1 car of the 1970s used its smaller front wheels to reduce drag, and in order to compensate for the loss of traction, an additional set was added. In the case of the Convini, it seems like the extra wheels will be more useful for higher cornering force, and greater traction for reduced hydroplaning. While we're sure that Michelin would love to see this feature become standard issue in consumer machines, the cost seems to make it unlikely.
The Racing Pace of Change
Some of us are working on the Timex 2154 Contest. The basic premise is to design a "watch" for the year 2154 -- 150 years from now. This got us to thinking...
150 years is a hella long time. A lot can change in 150 years. Just think what's changed in the last 50 years. Or what life was like 100 years ago. Or for that matter, think about the entire history of the universe. When you consider that, you arrive at one of two conclusions:
1) Trying to design that far in the future is totally ridiculous
2) If you go far enough into the future, anything is possible
That second one makes design (and the future) sound pretty cool.
Hummer Keeps Hush Hush
Hummer's H2 vehicle is gargantuan, as everyone on American roads knows. After the initial feeling of awe inspired by the GM vehicle, you might wonder just how far this behemoth will travel on a gallon of gasoline. We did, and took the question to the giant’s maker. Hummer’s response- no comment. Usually, the EPA reviews the fuel mileage of vehicles on the American market. In fact, they review practically all vehicles up to a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 8,500 pounds! And the Hummer H2 conveniently weighs in at 8,600 pounds. This means there is no “official” fuel consumption rating for H2. We did find “unofficial” gas mileage for the H2 that claimed it gets 12 miles per gallon in the city. But don’t expect to see this tidbit on a new H2’s window sticker!
Rumble in DUMBO
The next edition of Brooklyn Designs, NY’s newest and most talked-about design show, will take place in DUMBO, Brooklyn from April 30 - May 2, 2004. Presented by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn Designs 2004 will feature designers and manufacturers of contemporary furnishings that include: furniture, lighting, linens, rugs, and decorative accessories for home, office and garden. Check out some of the designs in this video. And, if you check it out, take some pictures, and tell us about it
Sexy at the Turn of the Century
If only we lived in NYC. The MET has a cool looking show called Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century. From the reviews we've seen, it looks like this exhibit shows the racier side of the period. Who knew that those ladies in 400 petticoats were just trying to look like Britney.
The Del Mano Gallery in LA is one of the premier showplaces for fine art woodturning in the united states. We love looking through their galleries when we need a little inspiration for something...different. Their 2004 showcase is now online. Be sure to also check out last year's as well. They have a staggering number of artists, and woodturning all they do. Be sure to explore a little. Some of our favorites are Leon Lacoursiere, and Nikolai Ossipov. Now, if only we could make a chair like that...
Digital Paper Going Mainstream
We weren't sure if this was just another publicity blitz by E-Ink, but it appears that the first real consumer appliance using electronic paper will be the Sony LIBRIe. Rather than repeat second hand the excellent reviews available elsewhere, we decided that if any of you don't know the story about E-Ink, then you best start learnin'.
Give the earth a break, give yourself a bike
We didn't get a chance to get the whole earth day thing out of our systems yesterday, so today, we decided to do something about bikes. Biking is one of those rare activities with practically no downsides - it is non-polluting, keeps you healthy, and it is impossible to waste energy by riding alone (unless you own some kind of ridiculous contraption)
Happy Earth-Day from all of us at IDFuel. In honor of this day, we present the following links for your inspiration.
For a sustainable society:
A pattern language for sustainability outlines different inter-related pieces that allow designs within a society to sustain themselves
Demi is an online handbook for sustainable design developed by a consortium of students and practitioners in the European Union.
For low environmental impact designs:
The sustainable material library at the Re Materialize project has over 10 years worth of materials research behind it. With category listings by material property, you're sure to find what you need.
Have a productive and sustainable Earth Day everybody.
After our recent rant against the disposable paper Blu-Ray Dvd the other day, we fell we may have given paper too harsh of a judgement. Therefore, let today (In honor of the material used by Administrative Assistants everywhere) We offer a tribute to paper.
Oh noblest and oldest of composites, you are used today in everything from snowboards to boats. Architects have used you in schools, furniture, pavilions, and even tiny paper buildings. And you do all of this while remaining cheap, pretty, and bio-degradeable. Thank you for all your hard work paper.
"Why didn't we think of this" Packaging
At IDFuel, we have a serious soft spot for inventor-designers going it on their own to produce something amazing. This will be the first in a monthly column highlighting one inventor. This week's brave soul is D.L. Byron.
If you're fed up with complicated and ineffective megaclips, cheap crummy twist ties, or those bread bag crab claw things, take a look at the Clip-n-Seal. Developed by Mr. Byron, a Seattle web designer, the clip is simple to use, and resource-cheap to make. Extrusion of the parts makes for little embodied energy of assembly, and as they are completely composed of one type of plastic, recycling should be easy enough to make even William McDonough smile. The inventors also maintain a weblog which discusses some of the challenges they have been through. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer even ran a newspaper piece on the inventor.
High Impact Packaging
Core77 and the Industrial Designers Society of America have both given high marks to Javier Verdura's work on the new Old Spice Red Zone deodorant packaging. But what are these design reviews condoning? Already excessive deodorant packaging has gone even further, adding multiple materials that make the remnants harder or even impossible to recycle while adding no functional value. Could there have been a solution that would make Old Spice's new stick more desirable to consumers while reducing its impact after the product's short lifetime?
We finally got down to the Chicago Cultural Center to see "Isn't That Amazing", The incredible collection of all things Popeil Lovingly assembled by curator Tim Samuelson, a longtime Ronco collector, this collection represents the largest public display of original Ronco and Popeil TV-advertised gadgets ever! So, without further ado,
Aren't these amazing...
Longevity Vs Biodegradeability
Sony has released specs for a 25Gb Blu-ray disk for it's next generation of optical storage devices. What's interesting about it, is that the media is 51 percent paper, and the disks are supposed to be bio-degradeable. This is another in the growing number of products that promise environmental responsibility through bio-degradeability. But is this really so? At the rate that CDs are currently bought, and discarded, it might appear that bio-degradeability would be a plus. However, with short term storage media (i.e. flash) becoming so much cheaper, and being very easily re-writeable - in most cases, flash drives mount as standard hard drive disks - shouldn't mass storage media be longer lasting? Imagine the damage a bend in the paper could do. Even if this paper disk is as chemically stable as a CDROM, that only gives 20 years of archiveability. Early CDs are just begining to fail, but over time, some artists will have to be re-released, or fade away completely. A recent study in PC-Active Magazine, found that many name brand and generic manufacturers are producing CD-R disks that become un-readeable in two years. From the first time a human scrawled an image on a rock face, through the advent of paper, and books, to our present digital age, we have understood more and more how valuable information is. And yet we have protected it less and less. Maybe it's time we started re-considering our values, for our children't environmental, and informational legacy.
And, if you're interested in more try a throw away culture search for starters.
Fueled by dottocomu
Carnegie Mellon is the Bomb
Please excuse the obvious partisanism, be we at IDFuel love our Alma-Mater, Carnegie Mellon University. Unfortunately, our jubilliant cries were recently muffled by Red Team's abysmal attempt at the Darpa Grand Challenge.
But we stand today, loud and proud once more, not only because this weekend is Spring Carnival, but because as Tartans, we can still screw with an ATM. Oh the joys of a school with a 3:1 ratio of guys to girls, and a greater than 100:1 ratio of nerds to not. CMU, we salute you.
Rapid Prototype F1 Racing
While rapid prototyping is still too expensive for final manufacture of consumer goods (Much to the dismay of Freedom of Creation), it has found great interest for Ultra-high precision, short turnaround time applications like F1 racing. Get an overview of how selective laser sintered(SLS) F1 parts and stereo lithographed body panels are changing the racing world. Or, if you're new to rapid prototyping, check out The Rapid Prototyping Homepage at the University of Utah.
Transparent Tape Nirvana
If you were one of those design students who always got low marks for your (you thought) classy use of "the handyman's best friend", then thank your lucky stars for modern technology. Yes, Transparent Duct Tape is finally here. Those crazy materials scientists at 3M have finally taken out whatever impurities caused the signature "duct" color, and produced a fully refined clear roll of heaven. Of course, new developments are not without problems. For instance, anyone trying to buy duct tape pants will now be showing more than just their bad taste. But all in all, we at IDFuel see this as a great evolutionary step for our friend of friends. If you'd like to see the entire evolution of duct tape, check this out
Fueled by CoolTools
Rock A POC
If you haven't heard about APOC yet, start hearin' now. APOC is Issey Miyake's latest and greatest creation, and about the most amazing thing to happen to fashion, or even manufacturing, since the Jacquard loom. Through some unimaginably complex computer-controlled wizardry, Miyake is able to weave entire garments in one pass. Yes. When the fabric comes out of the loom, all the seams are integrated into it. The wearer cuts out the garment, trimming it in the way that fits them best. As an added bonus, garments can be re-trimmed later, since the weave somehow locks, and will not un-ravel. So if the summer comes around, just trim the sleeves off your shirt. DesignBoom and Wired both have great descriptions of the process. And check out Japandesign for more amazing pictures. Lets just pray that Issey and Peter Testa don't start working together.
AIA Award Winners Announced
The American Institute of Architects' 2004 San Francisco Design Award winners were announced today. All buildings were completed after 2000, and were judged in 4 categories: Excellence in Design (Interiors & Architecture), Green, Urban and Unbuilt. The 26 winners build everything from guest houses, to public ferry terminals, and even high school music buildings. Great discriptions and photos of all the winners are here
Winners of the 2003 Medical Design Excellence Awards have been announced. Entrants responded to the call for the best medical device design with everything from hearing aid battery packaging to a consiousness monitor. Check out all 23 of the winners.
All Trussed Up
Anyone who needs to use rigid beams in their design should check out Isotruss. This patented configuration of carbon fiber tubes can deliver the same load bearing charactaristics as steel or aluminum, while weighing only 9% of the comparable steel piece, and only 40% of the comparable aluminum. What does this mean for designers? Think about bikes that weigh only pounds, large portable shelters that can be carried by one person, and any application that needs a 40 foot pole put up by hand.
New Viridian Design Contest
The Viridian Project has a contest to develop concepts for an "Aromitizer". The contest is sponsored by Paul Groepler, an entrepreneur from Austin Texas who developed the smell dispensing technology. Give it a look.
RipeSense is a new type of packaging for fruits that changes color to indicate ripeness. The color change is caused by a reaction of the ink in the packaging and the gasses given off by ripe fruit. While this is a wonderful thing for fruit lovers everywhere, it seems a little excessive. Fruit already have such perfect packages - beautiful, protective, edible. Wouldn't it be better to make a personal device for checking ripeness? Or maybe something almost like a hanging scale that could analyse the fruit's gas and give a verdict. More packaging is the last thing we need.
Coffee that's Hot and Haute
Seven year old Eva Solo, a Danish design company, has some great new products available online, all with that amazingly refined aesthetic that made their apple corer our favorite a few years ago. Favorites are meant to be changed, so our new darling is their gorgeous Vacuum Jug
Fueled by Reluct.com
Just when you thought nothing could be more boring than a simple rubber band, something changes to surprise you. Take a look at the latest in rubber band technology. Imagine the possibilities with custom printable rubber bands. Look Uber-chic in your Absolute™ simulated diamond 2-strand rubber band ring (how could we leave this out!). And finally, Jack Spade is selling these great box rubber bands. We can't wait to get ours and start wrapping everything up.
Design Within Reach recently held a competition to "Design a chair using only the corks from two Champagne bottles". We thought it seemed pretty impossible, until we saw the entries were tiny. Check out entries here.
Universal Design for Homes
Universal Design is making a splash in home design, according to the Monterey Herald. Leslie Marks, executive director of the National Association of Home Builders' Seniors Housing Council in Washington, has some interesting points to make on the viability of housing design for an aging population. It seems like a great idea to us - you live with your house a lot longer than your Oxo carrot peeler.
Flexible Aerogel Blanket
Aspen Aerogels has developed a fiber reinforced aerogel blanket which delivers a thermal conductivity 2 to 3 times lower than competitive foam and fiber bat insulation. Roughly speaking, this means that similar heat or cold retention can be had with 1/2 to 1/3 current insulation thickness. While it is currently too costly (at $3 to $10 per square foot) for housing and residential use, it's excellent properties might make it just the ticket for consumer products like clothing, portable refrigeration, or cooking appliances.
Turn that Heat to Power
Researchers at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece have made a significant advance in the efficiency of thermoelectric materials. Their new semiconductor material achieves more than twice the energy output of traditional materials when heated to 527 degrees Celsius. These materials could find use in power generation using solar energy or waste heat from industrial processes.
Fueled by Technology Review
Becks Prize Results Announced
Winners of the Becks Prize design competition are on display at Design Boom. Designers from all over the world (including some of our own) weighed in with their answers to the problem: "Design a Key and What it Opens". Entries range from insightful, to ridiculous, to totally useless. But what can you expect when the prize is a year's supply of Becks beer?(Answer: A LOT of bottle openers). We especially like entry numbers 132, 672, and 88. Give it a look.
Unbelievable Doll Heads
Luts, a Korean doll manufacturer, has some incredibly detailed doll heads for sale online modeled by Cereberus Project. They appear to be similar to traditional porcelain doll heads in material and production, but the style is definitely a modern anime take on dolls. What a cool way to update an existing technology to keep it viable for new markets. It's also great to see edgy toys in something other than the ubiquitous (and toxic) PVC.
This tea service, and some other great pieces can be found at Buk, a design house in Japan. The designers are apparently from all over, and we really wish we could read Japanese, because there's a whole directory of designers too. Too bad the Internet doesn't come with language lessons.
Simon James Design has a great new website designed by Chris Johnson. Simon James is located in New Zealand, and produces some beautiful minimal furniture.
The New York Times has an article about digital aids for people with vision damage. The Quicklook is a handheld color magnifier with a 4" TFT display. It allows much higher magnification than a conventional magnifier, but with a price tag of close to $800.00, we're surprised that is doesn't have picture taking capabilities.
Robots out the Yinyang
Designboom has a great collection of Crazy Japanese Robots Most of them are downright ridiculous, but a few, like the manga-inspired "worker robot", or Tama, a companion for the elderly are both great looking, and seem almost plausible. Well, the worker's nowhere near plausible, but how cool would it be to have your car assembled by this guy!
Biothinking.com is a great site for getting inspired about sustainable and sustaining design. They offer a wonderful explanation of the different environmental standards that they are developing. One of the more interesting parts is their materials discussion section, where they outline "Alternative" materials to some currently used materials with high embodied energies. Also be sure to check out the Total Beauty section. This idea is great, but it's going to take a concerted effort from lots of mainstream designers to convince the average joe user that these criteria of beauty qualify just as well as that certain 'Je Ne Se Qua' that beautiful products have now. In any case, biothinking is a great spot to get jazzed about sustainability.
We don't like re-posting other blogs, but Boing Boing got this one before we saw it, and it was too good to pass up. A Japanese custom bike shop is making a limited run of the bike from Akira! An even more crazy-detailed, but non-production model can be found here. It seems like more and more Japanese culture is coming into mainstream America.
Sometimes the most beautiful objects come out of nature. Bioluminescence Web has a great new gallery of sea creatures that sparkle, shimmer and glow. And their forms are so clean that any minimalist would be happy to call them their's.
A Japanese researcher at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan has developed a Scent Cannon which can track customer's noses in a retail environment, and deliver a targeted(literally) dose of scent specifically to them. The scientists hope to use the system for improved point of purchase advertising. Who could have seen this coming?
Green Design...For Explosives?
While it may seem like an impossibility, Ron Jones at the US Naval Air Warfare center is working to develop ammunition for military and law enforcement that has a minimized environmental impact. One of the major culprits? Lead in both the projectile and the chemistry of the explosives.
CRAZY 3D WinXP
Sphere XP, a novel 3D interface for Windows XP has released a new version. Unlike previous interfaces, like Microsoft's Task Gallery, the interface builds onto the already familiar Windows interface. Will ever increasing baseline 3D acceleration in new PCs allow applications like this to replace 2D interfaces in the same way that graphics pipelines in pentium motherboards caused an explosion of GUIs in the early 90s?
More Guerilla Music
A recent post in the Radio weblog Rodcorp recounted a sad story of a copier who's "song" was missed when it was replaced. We don't think too often about the amount of ambient noise present in our environment that we choose to simply ignore. The User , an artist collective, has used this phenomenon as a canvas, with their "Symphony for Dot Matrix Printers". Imagine what thinking about this question in the design of an item could produce. I'm waiting for the hot-tub who's pump and jets sound like Enya.
Wake up Media Zombies!
MIT Technology Review writes about the increasing use of technology - portable music and video players, PDAs, and cell phones - by users to escape from the world around them. The article explores how design might be able to help users augment their reality, rather than escaping it.
Nissin Electric has announced a novel device for power generation. Their piezo-electric module is currently being used to power simple LED gimmick-type lights, light-up fans, and other novelties. But with enough power to light 20 series wired LEDs, this technology begs to be used for something more salient. Like an Ipod powered by fidgeting children...or something.
CNC Grafitti Artist
Taggers everywhere will rejoice with the higher level of precision offered by Hektor, a nifty, computer controlled spray can plotter.
This is similar in application to Grafitti Writer, a robot that allows users to tag a message onto the sidewalk or street remotely. To see how these mechanical marvels stack up to the real thing, check out grafitti.org.
Throw Away Culture
Not that it's new news - How long has planned obsolescence been the war cry of the automotive industry? - but the BBC reports that the UK is viewing personal electronics as more and more disposable.
Obviously, this electrochromic plastic is going to go farther than just color change nails. Like, how long will it take before they coat cell phones with this stuff? Rather than sending a picture, you could "skin" your friend's phone remotely! Zebra baby. All the way.
According to the BBC, Sprint's new corporate headquarters in Kansas are designed for the cardio-fitness of it's employees. The part about the intentionally small elevators is fabulous. Next thing you know, Ford will release a concept based on the Flintstones car. Foot power!!!
McDonalds has announced that it will launch a new line of children's clothing in Europe and North america.
Re-Hashed Toy Symphony
Bent, a "week long exploration of the art of circuit bending" is primed to begin on April 3 in New York. For the layman, circuit bending involves re-purposing the electronic soundmakers in toys and consumer electronics for use in custom musical instruments. Sort of guerilla design with toys.
Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team