Electricity-Conducting Paint

Super cool video about paint that can conduct electricity. For people who want to be really creative with lighting fixtures, here’s your next home project! I’m curious about this being applied to wearables like clothing. I don’t know how safe it is for continuous skin contact, but it seems like the technology could evolve pretty quickly in the sports industry especially.

Virtual Retail Showrooms

I’m not a big watch person. I bought my current one on Amazon for about $35. It gets me through the day, tells the time, and looks decent. That’s all I need.

But for people who are really into watches, and are making a hefty purchase online, the last thing you want to do is buy something that doesn’t end up fitting properly or looks completely different than the photos. Insert the company Chrono24. They take 3D modeling software of each watch they have in their catalog, and can superimpose the watch (with exact dimensions) onto your wrist.

I personally think it’s a little ridiculous, but hey, if this is something that people actually use, it’s a great idea. Who knows, maybe online clothing stores will start having virtual app try-ons. It’s uncharted territory for the most part, so it could be a new big thing sooner thank we think.

Watch the video below if you want to know more:

The Loop: Recyclable Tennis Shoes

@adidas

The most recent shoe release from adidas sports a brand new cyclical business model. Their 4 step process (shown above) takes old shoes that are sent back from consumers to 1) be cleaned, 2) ground up, 3) melted down, and then 4) reformed.

Plastic is extremely hard to recycle. For those that aren’t familiar with plastic processing, there are two distinct types: thermoset and thermoplastic. The basic information you need to know is that thermoplastics can be melted and reformed, whereas thermosets (hence the name) remain set in a physical state (aka no melting, they just burn). So although most companies have a great ambition to fully recycle, it’s extremely difficult to do so.

Even within the thermoplastics range, you have multiple forms. If you’ve never looked at the bottom of a plastic part, go to your kitchen cupboard and pick a piece of tupperware up. Within the recycle symbol stamped in the bottom, there is a number. Those numbers range from one to seven. Look at this website if you want to see the distinct breakdowns for those sections.

Because each plastic is typically pretty unique in composition, remelting and reprocessing is very tedious and costly. Adidas has figured out a pure plastic process that can be optimized to reduce waste and take full advantage of the benefits of a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). According to their webpage for the launch (check it out here), they state over 91% of plastic throughout the world is not recycled. I’m not surprised. As someone who has been around plastics more than the average person (hi dad), I’m well aware of how much effort and time it takes.

So, for adidas – especially as a company as large and global as it is – to promise recyclability within its own structure, I think it’s a great initiative. Here’s a wonderful video showcasing the process of it all. Quite honestly, this completely blows my mind. A wonderful design and a monumental shift in changing the way we consume.

Generative Design

3D printing took the world by storm a few years ago, and designers haven’t looked back. In fact, the possibilities have started unfolding in many new ways. Tamu, a design company overseas, created the world’s “most optimized folding chair, which takes up less space and the least amount of material possible to make.”

So how do they do it? A thing called Generative Design. Designers put parameters into the computer, which takes those simple points and fills in between the dots. You can see the rudimentary physical model the design team created below, alongside the corresponding digital model they input.

From that minimal, planar model, the designers then have the capability to interpret the space between each hard point. Those hard points won’t change, so the structure will be kept intact. But the space of each plane has a lot of wiggle room. For example:

Look at all of the unique data that the computer can come up with. Those webs still create a structurally sound piece of furniture, but by thinking outside of the box (pun intended) the program is able to warp the planes into more hollow spaces. Resulting in the masterpiece we see here:

I mean, look how compact and flat it is! And it’s visually stunning. Amazing how designers can use new technology to create something so unique. I wish I knew more about Generative Design so I could give you specific details, but it’s still over my head. Here’s a video I had seen a couple of years ago when it had first launched. Enjoy!

Cleaning up Oil spills with Hair

Image result for cleaning up oil spills with human hair
@vox

I recently saw a video (watch it here!) that had featured an organization out of San Fransisco that is using human hair to clean up oil spills. The company, Matter of Trust, has been operating for several years now, and has received donations of thousands of pounds of hair to date.

Now, I don’t know a lot about oil spills, but their site has quite a bit of educational material (they even donate mats and booms to schools for student experiments) on their products. The photo above shows a boom. This is a recycled nylon that is then stuffed with hair. Matter of Trust is sent all kinds of hair – human, dog, cat, alpaca, etc; short, long, and any length in between. Hair has a special property companies have only been able to mimic synthetically. It is porous, so oil can be soaked up, but it also is almost entirely hydrophobic, shedding water at an incredible rate.

It is also completely natural and sustainable which is an amazing bonus. There are over 80,000 hair salons and more than 100,000 pet groomers in the United States alone. This company is donated all kinds of hair, which they then process into their products. There are several thousands oil spills each year, all ranging in size and deadliness.

Here is a short video in which this company demonstrates the effectiveness of a hair boom:

It’s wonderful to see companies like this take such a seemingly overlooked material and create something so influential. Check out all of their videos here!

There are now Roombas for your Garden

I’ve never had a Roomba. And I’ve never had my own garden. But a new company on Kickstarter is combining the two through their original design dubbed the Tertill.

I don’t have much to say on this, other than the fact I think it’s adorable and amazing. As robotics become more and more accessible to the average person, the unique ideas will be what sets a company apart.

Though people with gardens are typically the green-thumb types that will somewhat enjoy taking care of their land, I can imagine this would come in handy for certain folks with busy schedules. Their Kickstart site says you’ll need to keep the Tertill inside the garden with shallow barriers on the perimeter. Other than that, sensors will distinguish between weeds and actual plants. It’s solar powered so you won’t have to worry about charging it or plugging it in to run.

Solar Powered Weed Control

One of the best things about this design is that it’s completely chemical free. Say goodbye to the Roundup sprays, and continue growing beautiful things. Happy planting!

Designing Around the Human That Can’t Put Their Phone Down

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@nworeport

This is probably one of the most fascinating and infuriating designs I’ve seen in a long time. People have become so ingrained in their phones – even whilst walking across a busy street – that a Dutch town has started putting in pedestrian stop lights. No, it is not the same as the universal red blinking hand and white person walking signaling we see everywhere (like the photo above). It is even more obnoxious than that.

Several cities across Europe have started to adopt in-the-ground lighting that coincide with the traffic lights above. Here are some visuals:

So, why are we starting to do this? Well, turns out, people – might I add those who are not the brightest light bulbs in the box – have started walking across intersections while looking down at their phones. Like I said…not the brightest.

Designers being the cool people that they are, have now solved for this problem by putting lights below. Now, lazy people who don’t want to look up from their devices, can walk safely across the road without even having to try. How amazing! Let’s stop teaching our kids we have to look both ways before crossing the street. Brilliant.

As you can tell, I’m not super happy about this. This is a great example of ingenious design, and yet, people are balking. Several boards for these cities have said this is merely “rewarding bad behavior.” And I’d have to agree. I listened to a podcast the other night that had discussed the benefits and possible downfalls of artificial intelligence in the future. One of the researchers had said people often fear the one on one experience individuals will have with robots. But what he is concerned about, is the interactions people will have with other people once they’ve interacted with AI.

For example, he mentioned children talking to Siri/Alexa/Google in an authoritative tone without using pleasantries. “Siri, play me this song.” “Alexa, remind me to do this tomorrow.” “Google, tell me what ____ is.” All without one please or thank you. Children are (hopefully) taught at a young age to use pleasantries because it’s the right way to treat people. It’s polite. What starts to happen when children get what they want from AI by being rude? Will they start to be rude to other kids on the playground, bossing them around and hoping for obedient results? “Suzy, give me the ball.” Kids are ruthless enough as it is.

To be fair, I had never thought about this so poignantly. We see robots revolt in action movies after mistreatment and humans kill off robots after they’ve gotten too powerful. All of that is fairly black and white, and physical too. Easy to digest and predict. But what I’ve failed to see fleshed out, is this nuanced ripping of our social fabric like this scientist theorizes.

Now, I’m not suggesting this pedestrian lighting initiative is tearing apart the way of life. But I am suggesting people should look up from their damn phones because that’s gonna rip apart social fabric real quick. It’s already begun.

Smart Home, Smart Safes

We’ve seen an increase in gadgets within the past few years that now make our homes infinitely smarter: thermostats, cameras, refrigerators, and more. What oftentimes is overlooked however, are our valuables. Insert the company QuickSafes. If you didn’t watch the video above, I recommend skimming through the visuals. It’s not the greatest acting, but for a company that is still a startup (and family built and owned), it’s easy to overlook the cheese-factor and see how brilliant their products are.

I’ve seen hacks for the beach where you can hide car keys or money in hollowed out tennis balls, sunscreen bottles, and even Pringles cans. There’s a factor to hiding things in plain sight that seems to render it more foolproof. It’s the every day objects we always overlook – and apparently thieves especially. Now, I’m not guaranteeing this is 100% going to work, and this company doesn’t either. But, the idea behind it is pretty genius in my opinion.

In a day and age where everything is going digital, opening a safe with your smart phone is practical and efficient. They have other options, but I think the app is an accessible way for people to start being smarter about their valuables. Nowadays, cars even have apps that can start the vehicles from miles away. I don’t have a vehicle with that luxury yet, but as technology progresses, it’s often the simple – and overlooked – things that really make a difference.

These safes are actually pretty reasonably priced too. The company has glowing reviews online, and as mentioned before, it’s amazing to see a family company doing great things. As Big Tech is ever-encroaching upon their global monopolies, it’s refreshing to see a small brand with an imaginative idea become successful.

Color Trends: Real or Fake News?

Have you ever heard of the color “First Lady Pink”? I personally had never known about it until a few days ago. I was taking a workshop with a Color and Materials Designer from Kohler during class on Wednesday. She was discussing the basic progressions of color trends in kitchen/bathroom plumbing throughout the past few decades.

More often than not, people tend to think trend forecasting – an integral part of CMF design – doesn’t mean a whole lot. Or that it’s totally fake. Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve found the best example yet.

Mamie Eisenhower, during her time as the First Lady, had renovated her bathroom in the White House all pink. She had done an interview with the news after it was completed, sharing her one-hue palette. Needless to say, all of the women in the States heard this interview, and within the next few years, bathrooms everywhere – and I mean everywhere – turned a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink.

Now, I’ve been in several of these period-correct bathrooms that have stood the test of time – their shade of bubblegum still bright as ever. You see, I had personally noticed this shade in bathrooms, but chalked it up to being the fashion at the time. I never thought more of it. Until this Kohler designer pointed it out. She said through the company’s research, they found that fixtures, tiling, etc. in the very specific shade of blush during the 1950s skyrocketed directly after this interview of Mrs. Eisenhower (just look at the advertisement I found above!).

The shade became officially known as First Lady Pink after that. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to finally make this connection (even if I learned it from someone else). It’s the connecting of dots like this that show you how trends in pop-cuture effect a vast majority of products and people. Forecasting in the art and design world is an extremely difficult thing to do. Now whenever the next person asks me to describe part of my work, I’ll be able to give a concrete example to help visualize something that quite often sounds like nonsense.

The Milk Delivery System is Being Brought Back

@myro

They way we consume goods has completely changed in the past few decades. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about delivery systems and how our mailing means have grown exponentially. You can order something online with one click, and have it on your door step the next day.

The simplicity of everything has become dangerous quite honestly. I don’t think about ordering things online as much as I do in person. I’ve gotten particularly good at making sure I walk around a store at least once with a potential item to make sure I reaaaaaaally need it. Nine times out of ten, within a half-loop of a store, I put that item back. I mean in grocery stores, the layouts of the aisles are purposefully designed to make you spend more money (it’s actually really interesting if you want to read more). I’ve been able to get better with that too, now that I know. Especially feeding one person; I can’t buy that 24 pack of chicken at Costco because dear goodness, I’d never be able to get through that before it goes bad.

But with online shopping, I find I’m all too eager to get that new thing. I’ve paid for subscription boxes before, because I find if I set aside $10 per month for that sample-filled box, I don’t go out of my way to browse for the full size products that will eat at my funds. Now, I’ve stopped doing the subscriptions, despite how much I’ve loved them (it’s a nice surprise every other month since I tend to forget about their arrival).

So where does that bring me to the Milkman theory? I’ve seen several companies recently edit the subscription phenomena that seems to be plaguing all of us. Myro is a great example. They specialize in natural deodorant: delivered to your door, Milkman style. Your first time order you get a case with refillable contents. Every time you start to run out of your deodorant, order a refill (you can even make it automatic if you know your sweating patterns), and boom, it’s at your door.

We’ve seen subscriptions like this before. I have friends who swear by Dollar Shave Club. They’re whole premise is just like the company’s above. Buy a razor the first time, get sent razor heads whenever you need them.

Now, you may ask, “Sydney, how is this anything like the home milk delivery system that you mentioned previously?” Let me tell you! Back in the god-forsaken olden days (hi mom and dad), there used to be a thing called a Milkman. He’d deliver milk to your front door, packaged up in glass bottles. Once you used the milk, you’d put those glass bottles back on the porch. The good wholesome (no pun intended) Milkman would then pick up those bottles, and start the process all over again. Today, we have fancy packaging and apps that do the hard logistic parts for us, but the fundamentals are the same.

Like a few recent posts, this system revolves around the mission to cut packaging waste as much as possible. Every single item we buy is in one-use packaging. It’s not a revolutionary model by any means, but in a day and age where companies want consumers to buy, buy, buy all the time, it’s nice to know they have values that reflect the new (or would it be old?) way of doing business.