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Hold Onto Your Seats—Nissan is Pursuing Self-Driving Furniture
When Nissan showed off their "self-parking office chair" earlier this year, it seemed it was a gag. But now the company is actively pursuing self-driving furniture, with an initial application so quirky it could only come from Japan.
Their ProPILOT Chair, as they call it, is intended to ease queue-waiting outside of restaurants:
Here's very similar footage, but with call-outs describing the technology the chairs are equipped with, and those technologies' link to actual automobiles:
It appears this is really happening: Nissan is taking applications for volunteer businesses in Japan, with a deadline of December 27th. Selected businesses will have the chairs provided for them free of charge, with the rollout to begin in 2017.
Hand Tool School #7: Does Your Workspace Inspire You?
I would estimate that I am doing 85-90% of my work with hand tools these days. Because of thist, I am constantly looking for better lighting so I can truly see my work. Lately, I haven't even been turning on my overhead fluorescent lights, instead favoring the incandescent work light right over the bench. I point the light at the white ceiling and work with only the reflected light. Sometimes, I'll turn the bulb right on the work for a spotlight effect. It is really amazing how little light you need to woodwork, and I can't help but think of my forefathers in the cabinet shops working in the waning light of day.
I can't really put my finger on it, but there is something very calming about working in a semi-dark shop. It feels more intimate, and that it would be wrong to make a lot of noise—like I might wake someone—so it seems that this low lighting actually lends itself to hand work, which is quieter than power tool work. The weather is currently too cold for me to open my garage door, and the two windows I do have shed some natural light on things but not quite enough; hence the incandescent task lights.
All of this preamble leads up to an experience from this weekend. I was working in my shop most of the day on my Wood Whisperer Guild build table with only this one light on over the bench. I continued to work until just before the sun went down when I took a break to walk the dog. That led to dinner, and a few other things in the house, so I was not able to get back down to the shop until it was fully dark outside. As I walked through the door into the shop, I was greeted by this sight:
Behold my shrine to hand tool woodworking! How can you not be inspired to produce your best work when confronted with this setting!
________________________________________________This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.
Thinking Outside the Socks: URU Design's Unusual, Sustainable Solution to Sock Waste
Every winter in New York City you'll spot lone gloves on the sidewalk or subway platform. That always makes me sad, as I know the person who lost it will undoubtedly throw the other one away. Single gloves aren't much good.
Socks are the same; once you've got a hole in one, the other is rendered useless. But Danish company URU Design has come up with an interesting way to get around this, and it involves selling socks in odd numbers:
Solosocks have been successfully Kickstarted, with USD $19,500 pledged on a $14,637 goal and 35 days left to pledge. A 7-pack runs $38, and URU Design reckons that seven of their socks will last a long as six pairs of regular socks, after you factor in the 2-for-1 waste rate of regular socks.
There's one thing I can't figure out, having no background in textiles. As you can see, the patterns of the sets only sort-of match:
Why on Earth would they do this? This is probably my industrial designer bias, but I feel that anytime you add differentiation to a line of mass-produced items, you are adding complexity, a greater chance of error and a potential sourcing headache. Would it not be more cost-effective to have all of the socks in a set be identical?
The only possible reason I can think of why they might make each slightly different is that if the socks wear and become faded at different rates, swapping in a replacement would not be as visually obvious, as they already don't quite match. Do you think that's it, or do the textile-savvy among you have a better explanation?
The Urbanization of Farming—A Love Story
Farming is Filled with Emotions For the over two million American families who farm professionally, their work is toil and struggle, risk and fear. It is also joy and love, commitment and loyalty. Farm stories are generational, passing down both knowledge and lore from one generation to the next—from tales of the painful, lean years, to romanticized stories of great harvests past, to revolutions in farming that changed the entire industry. For millions of farmers, their work is fueled by a passion for family, community and country.Although 58% of our produce comes from small family farms, for consumers, these farmers are often an invisible link. Traditional farming happens far from urban centers, where the majority of Americans live, offering little connection between farmers and consumers.Nate Storey, founder and CEO of Bright Agrotech, wants to use cutting-edge technology to re-establish this link by reinforcing the critical role small family farms play in bringing food to our supermarkets, restaurants, and homes. Farming Gets PersonalFor Storey, it all started with his own family history and a deep connection with the soil. He hails from a family of sheep ranchers in Montana by way of Canada, who, growing up, related romanticized stories of early settler ancestors and hard times survived on the land. Enchanted with the tales of his rancher grandfather, Bob Storey, Nate grew up with a healthy respect for the rigors of farm life.Nate Storey, the man behind Bright AgrotechEarning a Ph.D. in Agronomy, Storey became immersed in the technical language of agricultural methods, while remaining grounded in the stories, land, and people essential to understanding the farming culture and practice.Says Storey, "When every generation before you has suffered for this thing, and you get it and now it's your turn to suffer for it, it's a deeply human thing. It's a deeply human struggle."Technology Fuels GrowthStorey's company, Bright Agrotech, is a technology start-up designing innovative solutions that support small family farmers working in vertical farms. Vertical farms are built in indoor environments, generally near urban areas where farmers need to optimize a limited amount of space. Many use hydroponic systems - technologies that use nutrient environments without soil, to grow produce. The USDA identifies hydroponic farms as "a growing area of commercial food production" that will become increasingly vital to our food system as our population continues to gravitate toward urban centers. Currently, approximately 21,000 vertical, hydroponic small family farms exist in the USA alone.Vertical farming at workInnovators like Bright Agrotech are developing creative solutions that address the unique constraints of these progressive farming environments. "Nothing has been designed for this type of farming before," Storey says.Two solutions Bright Agrotech developed have been a huge hit with farmers. The first is the CoolBar™: a highly functional, water-cooled, heat neutral, LED lighting product that produces optimal light without compromising temperature-sensitive, indoor environments."Our farmers needed a high wattage bar without the adverse heat loads of traditional LED lighting. We developed a way to accomplish that with water cooling. We connected it to a chiller system. The entire thing is basically set up to run heat neutral in the growing environment," says Storey. The second is ZipFarm: an Internet of Things system and the company's first indoor turnkey product, which delivers a comprehensive solution for lighting, temperature control, as well as growing and dosing equipment. ZipFarm sans vegetation"These farms are incredibly complicated. There are thousands of parts, so it's almost like building a car. ZipFarm was our attempt to make it more accessible to more people, in a way that is flexible for a lot of crops and a lot of different sales techniques," explains Storey.Since the Bright Agrotech customer typically works on a small farm, s[...]
A Way to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Feed Seaweed to Cows
Before we get to the cow thing, pop quiz: Which sector creates the most greenhouse gas emissions? We've placed the list of sectors below in alphabetical order—see if you can correctly list them in order of worst offenders. - Agriculture- Commercial & Residential- Electricity- Industry- TransportationTo force you to scroll down to see the correct answers, I will fill the space here with three videos from the seminal 1980s rock band, Bon Jovi. width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lDK9QqIzhwk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 340.312px; width: 605px;"> width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SRvCvsRp5ho" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 340.312px; width: 605px;"> width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ifm00JEjSeo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 340.312px; width: 605px;">You might be surprised to learn that, according to the EPA's most recent (2014) statistics, Electricity production surpasses both Transportation and Industry:Agriculture is the smallest chunk, but it's still significant—and increasing, which obviously needs to stop. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "Cattle (raised for both beef and milk, as well as for inedible outputs like manure and draft power) are the animal species responsible for the most emissions, representing about 65% of the livestock sector's emissions."The bulk of a cow's emissions are methane (44%, with 29% being nitrous dioxide and the remaining 27% carbon dioxide). So the bottom line: Methane from cows is the largest single chunk of GGEs from the Agriculture sector.Now, an Australian professor of aquaculture may have figured out how to reduce a cow's methane output almost entirely, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. James Cook University professor, Rocky De Nys, has been working with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and they've found that "adding a small amount of dried seaweed to a cow's diet can reduce the amount of methane a cow produces by up to 99 per cent."The researchers had already seen similar results with sheep, cutting their diet with 2% seaweed, which reduced their methane output by 50% to 70%. But with the cows, "the amount of success and reduction we saw was very surprising," Professor De Nys says.Now, the problem is how to harvest the seaweed, which CSIRO researcher Rob Kinley calls "the number one barrier—getting enough seaweed to feed millions of cows."Wild harvesting isn't going to do it because it's far too expensive and the resources aren't enough, so we need to get partners on board who can produce the seaweed in a cultivation process."By the bye, Professor De Nys revealed this surprising fact, which will disappoint schoolchildren everywhere: "The vast majority of methane comes from the cow's burp rather than the gas from the other end of the cow."
Geek & Freak Out Over These 12 Halloween Costume Ideas—Design Skills Required
With Halloween celebrations quickly approaching (this weekend!), it's time to stop procrastinating and start getting your costume ideas in order. From art history reminders to creepy looks into the future, here are some of our favorite takes on turning hard labor into indisputable costume party champions. Okay, most of them aren't great for last minute efforts, but hopefully they'll spark some extra creativity before the weekend rolls around: width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aI1twxnLV5s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via Jonathan Gleich 12. Impress friends and instantly become the life of the party by housing yourself in a working, wearable Pac-Man arcade game, a segway-equipped Zoltar fortune telling booth or a homemade Etch a Sketch. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xIjBqFMwM08" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via savioshow 11. If games aren't your forte, try turning yourself into a fully functional iPhone or Nikon camera. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/V6p5mbp_M98" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via Mark Rober 10. Incorporate iPads to instantly add creepy, futuristic meaning to any ordinary get-up. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/k-INUzgV_SY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via RayLiehm 9. Remind people to get their car washed ASAP as an energetic sky dancer—here's a tutorial. Note: wearer must have the confidence to flail arms in public...all night. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FN0cHYm3YtU?start=65" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via BE A DAD, BECOME A HERO 8. Destroy enemies—with child—in a Power Loader suit. Your kid will thank you in 20 years. 7. Wizarding Weekend is going also down this weekend—take note from this loyal boyfriend and craft your own Nimbus 2000 broomstick. Or just cast a spell to make it the easy way. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/87jErmplUpA?start=955" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet (Margarete Hasting, Franz Schömbs, and Georg Verden's 1968 reconstruction). Video via peristico70 6. We dare you to take it to the Bauhaus level. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JHXwr6xVUr8?start=14" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via GlowyZoey 5. This one's for the family—turn yours into light-up stick figures. 4. If you're someone that prefers planning—way—ahead, you could always make this Daft Punk helmet for next year. The directions say it will take 17 months, but we know our readers can work fast under epic costume creating pressure. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MnyCVto-Qqs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="height: 371.25px; width: 660px;">Video via GlowyZoey 3. Let the cloud inspire you.GIF via swissmiss2. Here's another direction you can take the storm motif—you might as well turn your day job into a costume, right? class="instagram-media instagram-media-rendered" id="instagram-embed-0" src="https://www.instagram.com/p/9h9esZkOLO/embed/captioned/?v=7" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="795" data-instgrm-payload-id="instagram-media-payload-0" scrolling="no" style="border: 0px; margin: 1px; max-width: 658px; width: calc(100% - 2px); border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.498039) 0px 0px 1px 0px, rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.14902) 0px 1px 10px 0px; display: block; padding: 0px; background: rgb(255, 255, 255);"> 1. If the[...]
Why Buy a New Chair When You Can Tweak an Old One?
I needed a new desk chair–my old one was a bit...uncomfortable. I don't like buying new chairs because there are already enough of them in the world. Sometimes it's a matter of tweaking an object that already exists to make it fit your needs. My main goal was to make a comfortable chair. Car seats are exactly that, and there are plenty of them around...everywhere. But car seats are not desk chairs. They need some some tweaks—add a simple frame, some wheels and you have a buddy for life.
This story originally appeared on Story Hopper, a collection of design stories worth sharing, squeezed into short videos.
Tools & Craft #20: How to Make the Mundane Tasks in Your Design Job Meaningful
I don't care how exciting your design job is—at some point you have to engage in repetitive, mundane tasks. Whether it's naming Photoshop layers, cutting a crapload of biscuit joints or tediously executing some CAD task that you can't automate—how do you deal with it? Me, I've found a strange way to turn it into a plus.After a mention in Chris Schwarz's blog, my company, Tools for Working Wood, had a rush on our 18tpi coping saw blades. We buy these in bulk and repackage them in lots of a dozen, which is a lot of mundane work. With everyone else working flat out on other equally important stuff, I realized that if I didn't repackage the blades myself, they would not get done for days. Even though the rush is now over, whenever I feel I don't have the patience or will to start a new task, I start packaging coping saw blades. It's easy, somewhat mindless work, but getting the blades out of the bulk packages means your hands are going to get scratched up. After a few hundred dozen, you get pretty good at counting to twelve.The best part of doing this task is that it gives me a chance to think. I realized this is what our ancestors meant when they said "Idle hands do the devil's work." Not every job we do is hard, skilled, or even interesting. But lots of little jobs need patience and reliability. The time to do them is when you need a break. The trick in all of this is good technique / coming up with a procedure. I can think about stuff while I pack blades because I worked out a procedure for packing blades, so I am not continually applying any effort to the process. This sort of procedure/ efficient technique applies to most mundane chores. If you have places to put stuff on your desk (pencil holder, circular file) and have clear ideas of what goes where, cleaning your desk regularly isn't a brain stretch. Et cetera. Once I'm in the flow, it's pretty relaxing. Apparently, there is even some scientific research that suggests repetitive mundane tasks like this one lower your levels of stress. There is also a great sense of accomplishment after completing a mundane task—they're tasks that nobody really has the time for or really loves to do. In this case, packing blades must be done if we are going to fill orders. It's certainly more useful than pretending I'm working while surfing the Internet.How does this pertain to your design work? Forget about the exciting stuff you do, and take a look at the annoying tasks you're faced with—like putting things away in the shop or the studio, cleaning those sandwich crumbs out of your keyboard, sharpening your tools. Try to look at them not as chores, but a useful, relaxing diversions while you collect your thoughts for the next good job. And what's really key, is that as long as you don't see the annoyance of doing the task while you do it, it really will be a "useful, relaxing diversion while you collect your thoughts for the next good job." Stay sane, folks.
What Materials Should I Use?
A discussion taking place on the boards strikes an interesting material challenge for Core77 readers. Discussion board member, mrcry wonders how to find cheap alternative materials for compression molded products with a similar visual effect and level of reliability:
I've been making our products with compression molded EVA for years, but am looking for an alternative. EVA seems expensive and I am hoping to find a cheaper or comparable material to (at least) test out.
- soft finish, or laminate-able with fabric pre molding (or post, if possible to get a clean lamination or even tight fabric cover fit)
- size is about 25"x20"8"
- current cost is about $8-12, so lower would be better
- I've seen some amazing molded PET felt furniture that might work for us, but have no experience or connections to people doing this.
- molded car interior panels - what material is this? the truck cover on a hatchback seems similar to PET with a fabric lamination.
- vacuum formed sheet goods with some kind of flocking?
- I usually produce 1000-3000 units at a time.
Do any of you have experience or ideas?
Our reader also shared a video to further illuminate the process of compression molding—a process film by Benjamin Hubert for his eco-friendly Pod chair, covered several years ago on Core77:
We're curious to hear your material and process ideas for this particular question—also, how can someone look around for the best materials for a particular manufacturing process? Any advice for testing before committing to a material for mass manufacture?
Join the conversation in the comment feed below, or contribute to the original thread on the discussion board!
(Title image credit: DeVorm)
Designing a Full Line of Cosmetics for a Company with a Quirky Personality
Benefit is well known for being a champion of beautiful brows everywhere. Having already established a global network of brick and mortar brow bars, the next step was to create a complete line of products that provide all of the tools needed to master the eyebrow. Dashdot created a visual language that represents the brand's playfully luxurious attitude, and that unifies the entire range of brow products. While the line works together as a family, it was important to give each product it's own voice and attitude.View the full content here
Leather Turntables, Yea or Nay?
I once had a certain famous designer as a tirade-prone ID professor. One time, a student presented an object that was typically made of wood, but instead he'd fabricated it out of metal. He accompanied the design with a flowery description as to why he made the material change. The professor let him have it. "No, no, no!" He yelled. "You don't switch materials for the sake of switching materials. There is nothing profound about this." The materials, he insisted, had to serve the object's function and manufacturability.I agree with him in spirit, but occasionally a material-swapped item does catch my eye. Like this team-up between stereo manufacture,r Crosley Radio, and leather supplier, Moore & Giles. Their co-produced Commonwealth Collection C10 Turntable has a plinth made of wood inlaid with luxurious-looking leather.Mahogany & Black Calf. The mahogany wood finish is inlaid with calfskin in a sophisticated, smooth matte black. Synonymous with luxury, the small, supple hides are tanned in northern Italy by a family tannery specializing in calf. With use, the flat black color will polish to a handsome luster.Birch & Modern Saddle. The birch wood finish is paired with a pebbly, vegetable tanned leather called Modern Saddle from a small producer just outside of Pisa, Italy. Each hide is tanned for two month, deepening the color and accentuating the texture of the finished leather. Over time, you can expect Modern Saddle to evolve from its initial golden color, burnishing into a rich shade of dark caramel.As you can see, the platter mats appear to be leather too. If you're wondering what those lines in it are, they've laser-etched in "the topography of the land between Lynchburg and Louisville—the companies' respective home bases—as an abstract nod to the historical and geographic proximity shared by Crosley and Moore & Giles. These concentric lines of the topographical map echo the concentric lines engraved on a record."Seeking to underscore the tactile appeal of the record playing experience – the weight of the vinyl, the intricacy of the album art, the ceremony of dropping the needle – by adding extraordinary leather textures and laser-cut detailing to the player's physical design, the Commonwealth Collection C10 Turntable is a record collector's dream.The $840 CC C10 goes up for pre-sale this week, though few of you will be able to buy these—they're only making 20 of each.The leather admittedly doesn't add anything to the function or manufacturability, and perhaps an audiophile would insist that the platter mat needs to be something synthetic and perfectly flat, but it does do something for the experience, no? Ah, what do I know, I believe that professor gave me a "C."[...]
A Behind the Scenes Look at the Harry Potter Themed Festival, Wizarding Weekend
Commonly touted as one of the best college towns—or places to retire—Ithaca, NY has had its fair share of press. Until last year, it was not considered a Harry Potter mecca. However, the surprising success of a community-driven, themed weekend in 2015 quickly changed that. Developed and launched within two short weeks during the month of October, the inaugural Wizarding Weekend festival was created to celebrate a love of Harry Potter and drive a little late fall business to downtown merchants. The handful of participating vendors situated in a funky little alleyway originally hoped for 200 guests. Once word got out and over 8,000 people planned to attend the afternoon festival celebrating all things wizarding, they had to swiftly design a larger experience.Fast forward one year later, and the same core group of entrepreneurs—a chocolate maker, a local energy provider, an urban developer, an electric bike pioneer—are anticipating another record breaking turnout. This time, they've enlisted an area design team to help add elements of interaction and theatrical staging to the event. Wizarding Weekend is planned for four days of experiences. From Character Brunches and Potion Classes to Quidditch Games on electric cargo bikes—the stage (i.e. Ithaca's downtown) must be set to match this expanded itinerary. The all-volunteer, community based event reached out to St. John Design Group (SDG) to lead the charge of creating several interactive exhibits to be placed throughout the festival's locations. The company's founder, Pete St. John, is an industrial designer who started his career as a theatrical set designer. He loves Harry Potter and regularly sets aside part of his team's client load for community based projects at low or no cost. Festival organizers felt confident this relationship would be a perfect fit.After accepting the design challenge, SDG went to work determining how to create elements that fit the following protocol: embodies the spirit and magic of the event, is interactive enough to entertain and delight large crowds, can withstand lots of kid activity and can be built on time and on budget. In other words, all volunteer build labor and five compelling exhibits for under $2,000—Go!Design: SDG started with simple and quick concept sketches. Drawn on the backs of napkins, yellow legal pads, and discarded pieces of wood with carpenter pencils, they hashed out overall form and interactivity. After roughing out initial concepts, the process quickly went into a Trimble Sketchup model to work with real world dimensions, proportions, and structural planning. To manage project planning and volunteer roles, SDG utilized Asana, a web-based project tracking software, and Facebook Group pages. Monster Book. A fan favorite, and a seemingly low build, high impact addition to the festival. To create the Monster Book, SDG first took the approach of a RC robot base platform for a "Battlebots" style build. While this could have been a great solution, budget constraints quickly led to an alternate solution built on a high rpm remote control car (purchased on Amazon) with a skeleton structure of 2" insulation board, strips of 1" x .25" cedar and water based contact cement (3m's Fastbond 30), which provided enough lightweight strength to build the form of the book. Mold some giant, wonky teeth from Instamorph (low melt plastic), scour Amazon for realistic looking costume fur and eyeballs, and a monster book is born. To complete the illusion, Sam Corbett, an IT specialist from Cornell University and lead volunteer responsible for building the monster book, will be cloaked in a wizard robe, complete with belled sleeves to discreetl[...]