Saturday, August 18, 2007

Please hold...

While I expressed my disdain for link-to-link-to-link posts in a previous post, this is only a double-link post.

I guess I won't bounce myself out of the bar.

J-Walk Blog has always been a fun little link. It's basically like BoingBoing and Neatorama...the only difference being that John Walkenbach posts stuff long before its made the Digg front page (no offense to Neatorama since they're not bad about their linkage, but BoingBoing editors are slacking on surfing due to private/global [ad]ventures. Am I jealous? You bet your ass...Xeni's trips between Tibet and Guatamala beat my lifetime accumulation of frequent flier miles. Kiribati included).

Recently, J-Walk made me think about something I encounter almost daily. I can't count the number of times I've mentally griped about cell phone messaging systems. We all know to "press 1" on certain systems to go straight to messaging, but how much time does that annoying little message waste?

This much.

How long do tech prompts/designs last before they're adopted culturally?

What else grinds your gears?

Friday, August 17, 2007

We need to score some design Methadone for Dubai ...

Somebody needs to sit down with Dubai and have an intervention...

I, like everyone else, was amused at the picture of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball atop the Burj al Arab.

Then I flinched at the 800m estimation of the Burj Dubai.

Then came the queasiness of the man-made Palm Island and Dubai World Islands.

Then Hydropolis, the Burj al Alam, Dubai Towers, and O-14 Tower induced a little bit of architectural nausea.

The list goes on and on and on and on.

Now, a bar made out of ice in 111 degree heat that serves cocktails in a predominantly Muslim country?

Why not?

Story here.


Flippin sweet...

Just a quickie today...

Core77 had an awesome post about this bed (via Freshome) and while I usually try not to use link-to-link-to-link-to-link articles, I couldn't resist this one.

The Doc Sofa:

A sofa with removable covers and integrated/patented mechanism which transforms the sofa into a bunk bed. Doc XL furnishes the day area and with a simple movement transforms into a practical ready made bunk bed with integrated supporting ladder and protection guard.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Treasure and trash, trash and treasure...

I am often times amazed at the neglected furniture thrown to the curb in our hippie-dippie neighborhood. Most of the abandoned hardwood gold is tucked into an alley corner, left unseen a week or so too long (before my finding!) and now irreparably warped. So sad...all it really needed was a sand, a stain and a wax.

So I dream of the day when I can build my own wood shop. I was fascinated with them as kid, raiding my dad's supply of scrap wood so I could modify my bike ramps and tree forts.

I specifically remember when he bought his Shopsmith table saw. At the ripe age of eight, that machine seemed so huge, screaming and ripping through lumber as it searched for errant fingers and shirt sleeves. It was an eight year-old's frenetic dream machine.

Maybe one day I can hammer-and-nail in a manroom of my own, surrounded by my neighbors' furniture, glowing brightly underneath my 120" plasma television (so long as we're dreaming, I'm going for broke).

When that day comes (come oooooon Powerball!) I'll have an outlet to find some good neglected booty. Old booty for free. Free internet booty. Booty.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.

The site is called Freecycle (Freebay?) and with over 4000 chapters across the US, they more than likely have a chapter in your neck of the woods. Freecycle is a non-profit movement aimed at matching people up with other people's stuff, and matching people's stuff up with other people. The only condition as that the stuff be given for free!

From the website:

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free...

The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. The Network provides individuals and non-profits an electronic forum to "recycle" unwanted items. One person's trash can truly be another's treasure!

When you want to find a new home for something -- whether it's a chair, a fax machine, piano, or an old door -- you simply send an e-mail offering it to members of the local Freecycle group.

Or, maybe you're looking to acquire something yourself. Simply respond to a member's offer, and you just might get it. After that, it's up to the giver to decide who receives the gift and to set up a pickup time for passing on the treasure.

Our main rule: Everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The coolest product in the universe.

Hyperinterior Design? Articulating Media? Fluid Decoration? Visceral Communication Device? Kinetic Advertising Facade?

What in the hell do you call this stuff?

Hold on to your black framed glasses because I'm about to blow your mind. No, seriously.


[mind blown]

1000 pneumatic actuators at frequencies of up to 3Hz being fed information at 0.01sec, punching and relaxing sophisticated 3D patterning in real-time (running text/graphics/video images, anything that can be done in relief) using generative algorithmic programs. If you thought your walls were melting in high school when your parents left you home alone, you're really in for a treat.

"Whoa," says Keanu.

The surface (i.e. rows of expensive nacho chips) has the same effect as concert lighting, allowing you to interact with dancers’ or with musicians’ (movement and sound interactivity), with video/sound-recognition systems offering a programmed response to your beats. It also allows direct DJ/VJ operation, a form of visual musical instrument that fulfills the dream of Archimboldo who developed a "colour piano" back in the Renaissance or Brewster’s delirious prophesy of the effect of the kaleidoscope on the kinetic arts. (Yes, the red text was a blatant cut and paste...I wasn't even going to try to pass it off as my own)

The screen surface itself physically bounces and waves, producing precise and high-speed hills and valleys across the surface, thus producing fluid motion - all of which is enabled by high-speed information buses. They're programmable, movable wall pixels!

You can transform Hyposurface as you need, adjusting reflective or LED materials on to the panels, sending your flamboyant curse words (a boy can dream) across the screen surface at up to 60 mph. The images can even peak outward up to 2 feet in length, adding to the ambiance of interaction with the consumer/stoner.

As the technology advances, expect higher resolution (i.e. smaller nacho chips) and quicker response time. Coming to a Super Bowl Half Time Show near you...or the Fiesta Bowl?

But don't expect the designer's embrace. There will no doubt be an upheaval about the immorality of "replacing architecture with virtual installations" and "disrupting natural spaces with immaterial building."

While I understand where they're coming from, I don't agree.


Two words: Las Vegas.


My Basement.

When it works, it blows...

Wind-generated turbine technology has come a long way since the days of yore (sorry, I'm fascinated with the word "yore").

The last two decades have seen numerous advances in tech design, increased turbine size and manufacturing improvements...all of which have reduced the cost of wind power during the last 20 years to just 3 to 7 cents (on average) per kilowatt hour for utility-scale project sites. Turbines have even moved to the sea, generating energy from the waves and tides.

While that information sounds nifty (sorry about "nifty," too), those turbines have nothing on their vertical axis brethren. Take the windmill pictured above, flip it on its back, wrap two blades around each other, and let it rip. Something just got a whole lot sexier.

"Small wind" is the new big oil (only it doesn't use its powers for evil).

So why is the spiral blade design effective, given its smaller stature and relative efficiency?

First and foremost, they're like Cheney on a pheasant hunt...they don't need to aim at anything! With the rotor shaft running vertically and the spiral blades seizing wind form every direction, they can be mounted virtually anywhere. Check out the numerous applications offered by companies like Windside.

Pictured below: The closely-related Savonius Wind Turbine.

Still not sexy enough for you? Try the old-tech Darrieus wind turbine. Patented in 1927, these "giromills" have been around for quite a while, but continue to thrive in areas where the wind is consistently strong. The problem is, they basically need to be push started to get them going.

[Click on pic for larger]

Still not sexy enough? You little wind energy pervert.

Try award-winning hybrid Quietrevolution on for size.

Founded in 2000 by Robert Webb and Richard Cochrane, Quietrevolution is making the world take notice. They're taking a century old technology and morphing its DNA into an efficient, productive little energy machine.

So why vertical? You sure do ask a lot of questions.

Vertical axis wind technology has numerous advantages. Point-free directional capabilities not included, these units have their generators and gearboxes at ground-level, allowing acrophobic service staff to rest easy. And due to their compact design, models like the Quietrevolution QR5 can also be placed close to buildings and on top of towers.

Cost? The £25,000 sticker takes only 15 years to pay for itself.

Too much for your rooftop? Take it to tax dollars.

Why not line the center dividers of the freeway with thousands of these guys? Use the gas we guzzle to power our own greedy selves?

You know what it's like to almost be blown off the freeway by an 18 wheeler, so you know the power is there.

Still not enough? Time for craziness.

Take the whole vertical axis turbine concept and stick it on magnets (thanks, China).

Yep...magnets. Why not.

Maglev, a loudly lauded company with a now-defunct website (largely in part due to heavy Digging), is trying take friction out of the equation by borrowing from the high-speed train industry. The turbines are now floating.

Similar claims from other companies are heavily saturated in "could be" sponge water, but the concept itself makes want to open up my Hover Rink Rollerama.

Househacker has the best analysis on the claims I've seen thus far . Check out their updated analysis for a whole bunch of numbers/statistic talk I'll never understand.


Monday, August 13, 2007

The Great Design Depression...looming?

Icon Magazine has some sobering words for the design community (and by sobering, I mean brave).

Why Design Needs a Recession.

I can't say that I agree with all of them given my non-industry administrative monkeyism, however I can comment as far as internet hype.

Their exploratory thoughts on Children's Furniture, Authenticity, Magazines, Regeneration of living spaces (especially the 3000 conversions in Columbus alone), Affluenza, spectacle (see diamond encrusted skull art), and - dare I say it? - Dubai Hype, are all dead on.

The green revolution is not only televised, it's saturated in sponsorship. I won't go as far to say I have the classroom hours to agree or disagree with Icon's words, but I do think they're traveling with some it diesel, biodiesel, or Ferrari grade high octane.

While you're at it, check out this original piece: 50 Manifestos of the Design Community. (Speaking of hype, it features the internet idol Zaha Hadid. She's practically taking over the intertubes with accolades).

Little people, big houses....

How low impact is a $4 million house?

How low impact is a $4 million house?

How low impact is a $4 million house?

I keep asking the same question because I can't come to an honest conclusion!?!?!

The first ever Wired home, built in conjunction with LivingHomes, is coming to Los Angeles this fall. Apparently, environmental frugality comes at a bank-breaking price.

Flash saturated gallery HERE.

I just don't get it.

Of course, I'm the kind of person that will take a $700, Vegas-style bar tab over an iPhone any day. So maybe it's just me.

But isn't there an inherent economic responsibility in green design? Bueller?

LivingHomes, the pioneer in green, prefabricated environment(s), would/could/should have a better conceptual understanding of what this movement actually entails.

Pioneer [pi-o-neer]: one who is first or among the earliest in any field of
inquiry, enterprise, or progress.

It's a straightforward concept: modular design and prefab construction are driven at their cores by a lust for simplistic efficiency, both in labor and waste reduction, AS WELL AS ECONOMICS.

4057 square feet in what is destined to be a 2-person home is extravagance at its worst, regardless of the LEED rating. Even at half that price, I still think that luxury and the environment were never meant to live in harmony. Life is supposed to equal subsistence, not proof of existence.

Still, the one-day installation video is kinda cool. Size it down to 900 square feet and you could race an Amish barn by sun-up!

The press release can be found here.

Fortunately, projects such as these are beginning to be seen as the financial flops that they really are, and (woohoo) a "small house" movement is afoot.

From the SF Chronicle: Open plans, unpretentious design characterize new, small houses

Wanna take it to an extreme? Take one of Jay Shafer's courses. He's been living in small houses for a decade now. How small? Really small. How worth it? Really worth it. Under most circumstances, building costs for a home affixed to a permanent foundation range from $100-$200 per square foot.

I'll take a B-52 Bungalow: A not-quite-so-tiny tiny house, the B-52 interior has many great features - porch, daybed, cast-iron stove, ten gallon water heater, tub, toilet, vanity, four-burner range, stainless steel refrigerator and sink - with the addition of a bump-out over the porch. The form of this house was inspired by the airplane bungalows of California. Here it is pictured with optional cedar siding and a cedar shingle roof.


The M-House.
Alchemy Architect's Wee House.
The Small House Society.
On wheels?
On wheels ala the circus?

As far as I'm concerned, you can keep your Wired home.

Unless you're giving it away.

In that case, I'll take it.