Friday, July 20, 2007

Hot, Hot, Hot

A Hypercolor T-shirt in your shower? Now if I could only find a "Frankie Says Relax" rug for my floor!

UltraGlas and Moving Color are offering incredible tile products for heat-sensitive rooms. When exposed to hot water and air, the tiles change from their basic "cold color" to a wide range of hues.

My favorite so far is the Watercolor and Living Art designs. They afford the qualities of a mural, while giving you something to show your visitors at a cocktail party. And we all know that a cocktail party is always better if it ends up in the shower, yes?

Want to spec it out? You can do so, HERE.

Design it up, stick it, rub it down...

I have never been a big fan of wallpaper in any situation, under any circumstances, in any room, but I'll be damned...Today I actually found a Better Wallpaper.

From their website:

Better Wallpaper Ltd enables you to create your own bespoke, digital wallpaper for creating a feature wall covering at home or a stunning photo wall mural for the boardroom!

This entirely different approach of customizing your wallpaper gives you a new, personal and interesting feature, which can be suitable for any living area or office.

Whether you're refabbing your home or corporate office, Better Wallpaper has amazing design potential. But like any and things that tickle my fancy, design has a price: a 100cm x 100cm panel will cost £103.85.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ample man's treasure...

With the amount of samples flowing in and out of our office, we're often inundated with (almost) more than we can handle. Fortunately for the firm, we found a wonderful organization in which to donate our carpet, tile, steel, plastics and wood samples, in which they're reborn as student and teacher work's of art.

The Waste Not Center is a program of Keep Franklin County Beautiful (KFCB, receiving donations from businesses and local donors with extra goodies (some of you might remember Re:Art). The program benefits local area teachers, artists, and others for various types of projects, ranging from schools to galleries.


The center estimates that members receive about $4,000 of materials PER WEEK compared to what these items and supplies would cost if they were purchased at a traditional store. It never hurts to help those helping our kids.

So for about two years now, NBBJ has donated all of our excess (used, but not abused) pens, pencils, card stock, binders and material samples.

So, what do you do if you don't have a program like this available in your area?

Ample Sample!

You know that design firms receive some pretty amazing samples that would be otherwise discarded (hopefully into your company's comprehensive waste recycling programs!). A little while back, Ample Sample sponsored an "upcycling" design contest in collaboration with Tricycle, Inc. Needless to say that some of the finalist's entries were downright amazing!

Check them out on the finalist page (Flash saturated website, so no direct linkage).

Although the contest is over, it doesn't hurt to pre-plan for next year's event!

Silver twinkie, eat your heart out...

I have been a fan of the Airstream since I was a kid. There's something about chrome-on-wheels that calls out to you as a boy. It runs deep, from the loins to the spine, obviously something set in our DNA. Like grunting. Kind of. OK. Not really. It's just a camper, but it IS a symbol of the great outdoors. You can't see one rolling down the road and without thinking firewood, bonfires, and bank liens.

But alas, my baby truck, a mere puppy to my father's Bull Mastiff of an F350, can't take the weight of the polished beast. Well, it couldn't take the weight of this either, but it would be an excuse to buy a new (eco-friendly, of course) truck.

It's a green, space-saving, fits-on-the-back-of-your-truck minihome!

The design team, Sustain Design Studio (site bogged down with Flash, so no sharing), describes the home as:

The world's first, completely self-sufficient, ecological trailer design, the miniHome features many of the 'mod-cons' that consumers have come to expect, without the associated energy, resource or material use. Within a well-organized 38 sm (350 sf), there is everything you need for comfortable, year-round, sustainable living.

To cool for home school.

Everyday green...

Give us our daily green:

The Sustainable Everyday Project (SEP) proposes an open web platform to stimulate social conversation on possible sustainable futures (**whew**). The SEP network is organized around 3 core activities:

The promotion of a Scenarios laboratory where new visions of sustainable everyday life are proposed and discussed.

The constitution of a Catalogue of cases showing examples of social innovation from all other the world developing original solutions promising in terms of sustainability.

The organization of a traveling exhibition to meet public events, confront with close scientific communities and give visibility to new visions of sustainable daily living.

The SEP platform hosts several research activities and didactic workshops. The Platform is an organization and communication tool providing an open web space and visibility for activities relating to the fields of design and sustainability in the everyday context.

SEP is an independent network funded by public research projects and organization of events. Editorial activities are based on a voluntary participation.

SEP events are placed under the patronage of UNEP United Nations Environment Program.

1980 New York, the good ol' days....

At lease they got the pill-poppin' part right....

Just Imagine:

New York, 1980: airplanes have replaced cars, numbers have replaced names, pills have replaced food, government-arranged marriages have replaced love, and test tube babies have replaced ... well, you get the idea.

Scientists revive a man struck by lightning in 1930; he is rechristened "Single O". He is befriended by J-21, who can't marry the girl of his dreams because he isn't "distinguished" enough -- until he is chosen for a 4-month expedition to Mars by a renegade scientist. The Mars J-21, his friend, and stowaway Single O visit is full of scantily clad women doing Busby Berkeley-style dance numbers and worshiping a fat middle-aged man.

It's no Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo, but the strength of the plots are about equal.

Building takes peaces....

Architects for Peace asks that all professionals of the built environment provide 1% of their time to pro bono work.

Their pro bono services provide options to those who could not otherwise afford them. At the same time, such work encourages public discourse in relation to building and environment, forcing Architects and Planners to immediately ask: What impact will this building have on these people, their health and their city (as should be the process EVERY TIME). Truly a great way to promote education, participation and environmental reclamation.

How It Works:

Architects for Peace pro bono service acts as a bridge between community groups, non-profit agencies and charitable organisations that need architectural services but cannot afford to pay for them (the ‘Clients’) and professionals of the built environment who are prepared to work with these groups free of charge (the ‘Service Providers’). The roles of the Service Providers (arch-peace’s members), the Clients and the Arch-Peace pro bono team are explained in detail below. The main contractual relationship is between Clients and Service Providers, with Arch-Peace providing a linking and facilitating role. The process is illustrated in the following flow chart:

Now, I only wish we could get a forum similar to their "Transported" for the City of Columbus and their City Planners. I've all but given up on biking to/from work for safety reasons (not to mention two of our staff were struck by cars during Bike-to-work month). I still take the bus whenever I can, but the hour and 15 minute commute for a 10.6 mile trip leaves something to be desired.

Two of my favorite things...

As a parent, it's always nice to see "fun design" interact with "tweak-my-child's-imagination-because-so-many-toys-on-the-market-are-mind-numbing."

Well, this next item up for bid isn't even a toy but the designer hit the needle right on the stitch.

Remember making lava courses out of couch cushions? Military battles out of twig forts and army men? Here's your very own racetrack (NASCARPET?).

The idea that this rug was "inspired by children's gestures" is perfect. I look at it and automatically picture my 6-year-old-self racing matchbox cars for hours and hours, until the enevitable fight that comes from my brother's incepid cheating. It does, however, make me think that if this rug was inspired by the gestures of children, was my carpet designed by middle fingers? We fought quite a bit...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chuck Hoberman, the real Transformer...

Every so often a mad scientist will hit the design world with something that completely blows me away. Chuck Hoberman is one of those people.

The Hoberman toy line creates and transforms, stretching the possibilities once constrained by the bounds of Lincoln and his logs. Established in 1995, Hoberman continues to push the limits of invention using cutting edge technology.

The “expanding geodesic dome,” Liberty Science Center, NJ:

And it doesn't just stop at toys. His medical adaptations of transformational technology are beginning to reshape the bounds of design.

It's no wonder he's one of the Pecha-Kucha people.

Hoberman's Theory.

More? A great interview via PingMag.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Naturaire System's Green Wall

These literal "green walls" act as both filters and central aesthetic features of buildings. They're centrally controlled via the building's HVAC system, pulling air through the walls regardless of whether or not the system is in operation.

The natural air filter removes VOCs and CO2 from the air as it passes through the wall into the building's office spaces.

For an amazing 3D graphic of the system in operation, check out this link.

I was slightly sceptical about the necessary size application needed for industrial structures, but it looks as if Naturaire has every base covered:

Given most residential and office conditions, a ratio of at least 1 to 100 for the area of the biofilter to floor area to be treated will give desired affect. Given typical operating conditions, this will mean that one square metre of biofilter will treat 100 square metres of floor space (or 1 square foot of biofilter will treat 100 square feet of floor space). This will give the desired improvement to the indoor environment.

The majority of this post comes via the Queens University Live Building virtual lab. There is a TON of information available at their website and I encourage you to take a gander for yourself.

The Design Green Project

There are so many great competitions available to young designers. I really wish I had more industry knowledge/training to get involved.

The Design Green Award is the first of its kind to honor and reward designers' creativity, from around the world, for their excellence in the disciplines of branding, print, packaging, environments, fashion, photography, art, and design green.

Creative Categories
Branding: Naming, identity, stationery packages, etc.
Print: Collateral, posters, magazines, etc.
Packaging: CDs, DVDs, boxes, bags, labels, etc.
Environments: Retail designs, exhibits, signage, etc.
Fashion: Couture, ready-to-wear, bags, shoes, etc.
Photography: Portraits, landscapes, etc.
Art: Paintings, illustrations, sculpture, etc.
Design Green: Eco-friendly designs.

The Design Green Project will also plant trees for every entry received. While I'm not a huge fan of this method of promotion (for various reasons I hope to expound on in the future), it is not to say that the gesture is without merit.

Would body paint make me a robot?

What advancements have there been in the field of solar nanotechnology?

I'm glad you asked. You're so inquisitive.

Well, what would you say if I told you that you could paint on solar paneling?

That's right, it's solar paint!

From the website:

The secret is "quantum dots," particles made from semiconductor crystals. They can be tuned to absorb particular colors of light, dots so tiny they can be dispersed in a solvent and then painted onto something else - a house, a car, even a sweater.

Hybrid Solar Lighting

Fiber optics meet Mother Nature, Mother Nature I'd like to introduce you to fiber optics.

Hybrid Solar Technology is an idea long past due, basically concentrating the sun's rays into bendable, flexible tubing that can stretch the length of your home or office, adding natural light throughout.

I first reported on this in-house in late May, but have since been hoping that further technological advancements would be made. Alas, while the system is still winning awards, their only video looks about as modern as an episode of Mr. Wizard's World (RIP).

From the website:

HSL technology uses rooftop, 4-ft-wide mirrored dishes that track the sun with the help of a GPS receiver. The collector focuses the sunlight onto 127 optical fibers. The fibers, which can be thought of as flexible light pipes, are connected to hybrid light fixtures that have special diffusion rods that spread out the light in all directions. One collector powers about eight hybrid light fixtures—which can illuminate about 1,000 square feet.

So what if it's dark out, you say? The end-source of the light tubes are mounted to fixtures that also contain electric lamps so you can combine the usage with fluorescent tubes and other various lighting sources, and I'll admit that while there's a long road to haul for commercial applications, I'd take this system over track lighting any day.

You can also catch a 12 minute podcast from Marilyn Brown's Earth & Sky radio show.

Because nature knows better...

Stuck on graphics for a proposal? Don't know what color to paint your den or kitchen? Ordering a new Honda straight from the factory?

Take a cue from Mother Nature.

Colour Lovers has produced a series of color palates based on the tones found in nature. It’s about as “organic” as you can get.

The Birds.

The Butterflies.

There's even a set devoted to the Master of Painting.

With lasers on their heads...

For quite some time now we've had a laser cutter at the office. Our Atelier extraordinaire being the mad scientist that he is can cut and engrave on 3D surfaces, but the process is uber-complicated, resulting in numerous manipulations and adjustments, the majority of which judged on his experience alone. Complications from human error can ruin an entire day's worth of work.

Jonathan Krawczuk is breaking, nay redesigning, the mold.

From his website:

'4D Glass' forges a relationship between an on screen, computer generated model and the actual physical object.

When creating a 3 dimensional representation on a computer programme a 'skeleton' of the object is formed, known as the wireframe.

In an attempt to fuse the virtual and the physical world, this wireframe has been engraved onto the surface of the glass. This concept sees the computer being used to automate a linear pattern, specific to the object itself.

Free MIT Edumacation

Want an MIT education? Loathe Sallie Mae?

MIT Open Course Ware puts the best lectures and learning materials on the interwebs....for FREE.

Let's hope the open-source-education trend catches on. Given programs like MIT and OLPC, my optimism for the future continues to swell - that is - if and only if we continue to educate the unlikely.

Ingenuity needs planting, but hardly any water.