Thursday, September 13, 2007

A stariway to design heaven...

Some objects are cast so deep into the mind that we fail to realize they could ever look/feel/sound any different. Their universal design of some objects--similar even under extreme cultural isolation--is not only recognizable, but iconic.

For instance, if you take a Yanomamo man from the rainforest region of Southern Brazil and show him a modern, aluminum ladder, I'm 99.98% sure he'll know it's for climbing. The materials might be different, but the symbolic shape is obvious (be careful though, that .02% is wrong quite often).

You see, a good friend over in the shirt and tie sector sent me a video that's been popping up quite a bit (thanks, Deena), making its way from blog to blog. While it seemed insignificant at the time, it got me thinking (and we all know that nothing good can come from that)....

...because every now and then a designer will throw me for a loop, creating something so outside the realm of traditional usage and form that it makes me wonder what else can/will be changed. Basically, I'll just sit there staring at my computer screen like a Yanomamo man staring at an iPhone. So i was wondering if I woke up 100 years from now, be it it by time travel or tequila hangover, what would I recognize?

You can bet your black framed glasses I wouldn't have known this is a ladder!

From the Cima Ladder website:

We built the ladder around 3 major inspirations:

Lightness: strip the ladder from the heavy look, from the complex assembly of a standard ladder to a simple and light shape. Functionally the weight of a ladder is a main factor. From our calculation our ladder weight is less than a kilogram.
Paradox: between the outside shape and the inner shape, between the strength and the lightness, between the pure functionality and the pure aesthetics.

Climb: like climbing a tree, brings us closer to the basic nature of climbing up to reach the top, climbing as a metaphor of growth and self elevation in life.

The material used is a carbon fibre composite.

The continuous shape and the closed frame spread the forces in all directions.

This study of form added to the high strength of the carbon fiber and allowed an extra thin and light ladder of only 1 Kg.

Alas, if I ever got to the point where I was rich enough to afford/need a carbon fiber ladder, I'm afraid I'd already be dead from champagne poisoning.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pretty damn pretty...

Look what bookofjoe found...

It's a bamboo framed bicycle...

I don't even have the words to describe it's coolness...

but Joe does...

Actually, one of our staff rides a Calfee (not the bamboo version) and another staff had mumbled something about "the frame could be bamboo," but I quickly pushed that comment out of my brain thinking it crazy talk. Now my brain is thinking of other cool things that could be made out of bamboo.

All I came up with is pan flute. Already made. Damn.

On a side note, I showed the previously pictured bike to said Calfee-riding staff member and even though he said his Calfee didn't have a bamboo frame, he was, in fact, looking for a local bamboo distributor. Apparently he was in the process of putting an addition on his house and was attempting bamboo gutters for the roof.

Did I tell you I love this firm?

Other cool bamboo mods:

A Bamboo Laptop...

A Bamboo Helmet...

Eco-Plastic Bamboo Car Trim...

A Bathroom Sink....

A VERY expensive Bamboo DVD Player...

Bamboo Charcoal...

Bamboo Speakers...

Bamboo Yarn...

And even bath towels...

The possibilities are endless and still...all I can think of is pan flute.

Damn you Gheorghe Zamfir and your melodic genius!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

#2 of a kind....

Travel anywhere in the Pacific and you'd be surprised at the European influence --not just in a royal Monarchial sense-- but in the bathrooms.


You heard me right...yes, the bathrooms.

Why low-flush/dual flush toilets have never caught on stateside, I'll never know. Travel anywhere east of Lisbon or west of Papeete and you're bound to find a two-flusher underneath your bum (in addition to, ahem, less scrupulous versions of what some might consider to be a toilet). For those of you that have never experienced them before, the two flusher provides two different levels of flushing power: Level #1 using half the water at code yellow, and level #2 opening up the locks on the dam. Pretty logical, eh?

But for some reason or another, Americans require a 30 gallon SHWOOSHing sound to insure that our poo is whisked away on a 50 mph hour log ride to the water washing plant far, far away from the sterile bubble of home. Think Homer Simpson shouting "USA, USA" in the episode Bart vs. Australia.

Actually, if you're an American you might even consider this conversation a bit too gauche for your virgin ears? My apologies, but as you'll see from a quick googling toilets and restrooms are the talk of the world (I want this one). You haven't lived till you've tried your first Asian squatter.

Back to the conversation at hand...

The crude, frail design of dual-flush toilets has advanced quite a bit over the last decade, so maybe there's a chance we'll see them soon. Up until recently, they've never been able to meet the needs of American sturdiness. Solid construction and sleeker designs will hopefully provide some form of a competitive edge in the US market. Until that time, I guess I'll just keep posting about other crazy designs (some of which might just work!) in loo [sic] of a dual flush post.

One crazy design that caught my attention was the Royal Flush Water Saver.

Whether you're looking to save the environment or your just a fan of the TV show Oz, you'll no doubt appreciate this grey water recycling system. We've posted about grey systems before, but the system takes it to a whole new (see: prison-like) level.

While I think the design is oddly genuine, I still have my reservations about American idiosyncrasies and the toilet/cleanliness combo (see: aforementioned 500 mph log ride). It's obvious between this system and the Aqus system that there is a viable way to recirculate used water back into reservoir tank, but I think the Aqus system might be in the lead, design-wise. I'm just not sure many Americans, obvious as it may be that the hand-washing water isn't coming FROM the toilet, might still think/feel that that the toilet H2O is the source.

Additionally, there are many misconceptions as to the flight patterns of airborne particulate swirling through the bathroom post-flush (FYI: according to Jaime and Adam, that myth was busted). As a result, many might assume that the sink would be infested with germs and bacteria after the first flush, much less the many flushes thereafter.

Still, I can't help but find myself a teensy bit excited at the thought of competitive development in this field (yes, I need to get out more often). It's simple: competitive market interest produces perfected design.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Because even the Jetsons need to barbeque...

It's about damn time somebody came up with an alternative to the wicker tiki. Granted there are thousand of copper alternatives on the market, but how many people crane their necks at copper? This will get people talking.

Dutch design house Demakersvan is often conceptually inimitable, playing with forms and functions until they resemble something almost familiar (see: lace fence), but this design has me salivating at the pocketbook, wanting to know when/where/how I can purchase.

What's more is that they claim that "the fuse is calculated to last for more than 100 years" - a claim that doesn't necessarily have to be demonstrable to be advertised, but adds to my gimmegimme yearning nonetheless.

If you'd like to check out more madness from Demakersvan, check out their website.

How green is your candidate?

We all know that the political air is thick with fertilizer, but that doesn't mean that your candidate is as green as you think.

Grist and Outside have recently teamed up to sort out the BS from the greenspace. They've already spoken with the Democratic candidates and will soon be publishing the rest of their interviews with the Republicans.

I, like the rest of America, wait on bended knee to see what kind of bats&%t crazy responses Mike Gravel will give. If you want to do your own research, I also posted links to the candidates' websites and Wikipedia pages. I'll update the Republican section when Grist and Outside finish their interviews.

If you would like a full list covering all the issues, has an interesting table.

Senator Joe Biden - Website Wikipedia Grist
Senator Hillary Clinton - Website Wikipedia Grist
Senator Christopher Dodd - Website Wikipedia Grist
John Edwards - Website Wikipedia Grist
Mike Gravel - Website Wikipedia Grist
Representative Dennis Kucinich - Website Wikipedia Grist
Senator Barack Obama - Website Wikipedia Grist
Governor Bill Richardson - Website Wikipedia Grist

Senator Sam Brownback - Website Wikipedia Grist
Rudy Giuliani - Website Wikipedia Grist
Mike Huckabee - Website Wikipedia Grist
Representative Duncan Hunter - Website Wikipedia Grist
Senator John McCain - Website Wikipedia Grist
Representative Ron Paul - Website Wikipedia Grist
Mitt Romney - Website Wikipedia Grist
Representative Tom Tancredo - Website Wikipedia Grist
Fred Dalton Thompson - Website Wikipedia Grist

Cooking something other than meth... I can be the creepy neighbor cooking stuff in his back shed! Introducing the BioPro 190!

In all honesty --given my history of worker's comp claims/accidents-- making my own fuel scares the living CFL daylighting out of me. Fortunately, AGR LLC has dumbed down the process to bread maker-like proportions.

Needless to say, I'm still a little skeeved that one of the steps is "Add Sulfuric Acid." Nevertheless, this seems to be an interesting answer for those who like to home brew their benzine.

Still, I think I'll be pumping my bike tires before I pump my own fuel.
From their website:

The BioPro 190 produces one 50 gallon batch every 48 hours.

The actual hands-on time (adding feedstock ingredients, and interacting with the machine) to make a batch is around ½ hour. If you take adding ingredients out of the equation, you’re down to about 10 minutes per batch. Making biodiesel yourself only saves you money if it doesn’t take a lot of extra time.

The BioPro processors drastically shorten the learning curve required for making biodiesel. For instance, the BioPro is one of the few processors in its class to employ an esterification reaction along with the regular transesterification. What this means from a practical standpoint, is many oils that would yield soapy glop in other processors can be successfully turned into biodiesel using the BioPro. For typical waste vegetable oil, no titration or other chemical testing is required.

The BioPro processors are totally self contained – no settling tanks, wash tanks, external plumbing, etc. The BioPro 190 is about the size of a typical refrigerator, while the 380 is bit larger than a typical vending machine.

Working in green for green...

If 20 employees turned off their PC during a lunch hour, your company would save over 3700 watts of electricity in just 60 minutes, supplying enough power to keep an energy efficient lightbulb burning for over eight and a half days.

If you could cut the 3700 watts mentioned above, you’re workplace would be saving $75 per day. Although this may not seem like much on first inspection, it actually means that you could save an astonishing $17,250 per year (given a 230 day work year).

For every ton of household waste we produce, commercial, industrial and construction businesses produce another six tons.

If you were to make just one monthly 400 mile round trip to a meeting you’d contribute 1.38 tons of carbon to the atmosphere every year. To put this into context, you would have to plant 35 hardwood saplings to suck these emissions out of the air.

More fun facts about greening your workplaces at Big Green Switch.