// Blog Archive
To prove that germs aren’t all bad, Paris-based studio Bold-design came up with an activity kit that uses bacteria to turn sand from the beach into stone souvenirs. Designers William Boujon and Julien Benayoun of Bold-design created Memorabilia Factory for the Design Exquis project that invites four designers to respond to each other’s objects in turn, like the parlour game where one player draws part of a character then folds the paper over and passes it along for the next player to make his contribution.
Bold-design was asked to respond to a portable machine designed by Mikael Metthey and Milan Metthey, which lets parents test sandy beaches for harmful bacteria to find the safest place for their children to play.
The designers came up with Memorabilia Factory, a family activity kit that uses a harmless bacterium to turn sand from the beach into solid stones in the shape of local rock formations. The kit includes a bacteria solution, a fixing agent, a tool to fix and shape the sand and three moulds, which represent Durdle Door in the UK, the dune of Pilat in France and the Kon Phi Phi islands in Thailand.
In an abandoned warehouse on New York’s Lower East Side, a radical new kind of park is taking shape. Among the peeling paint and old neon signs advertising food, fruit, and meat, an intensive period of design development has yielded a prototype of the LowLine, an underground park whose name riffs off Chelsea’s now-famous High Line.
On April 6, the LowLine, it was merely a pie-in-the-sky pitch. Now, 600 individually rendered pieces of anodized aluminum make up a 36-foot-radius canopy suspended over a piece of cozy park.
The project is into its next and much more real phase: an exhibit of the underground park prototype, a proof of concept which will be free and open to the public until the end of this month. In partnership with Audi and Columbia University, A First Glimpse of a Future Underground, does indeed feel like just that–a peephole into what a new, green, subterranean landscape could be.
The web-like structure–designed by Edward Jacobs and Brandt Graves is an exercise in bringing a design sensibility to NASA space telescope technology. It culminated in brute strength, as the assembly was hoisted to the ceiling so as to look like it’s levitating. The exhibit is essentially a core sample of what all 60,000 square feet of the LowLine park, a stone’s throw away from the exhibit, would eventually look like–a subterranean, dreamlike space in the middle of the city.
At the heart of the project is a network of tubes, which bring sunlight where there was none before. “With the solar technology that James invented, we now have the chance to make use of space which wasn’t possible by horticultural standards before,” says Misty Gonzalez, the lead environmental designer for the project. “A lot of space exists that we don’t use well enough. We don’t need more or new.”
The technology to create a sunlit, underground, green park is complex. Using six tubes called collimators controlled by a computer and GPS system, the system channels natural sunlight 15 feet down through a series of lenses and suspended reflectors, which then bounce light back onto the anodized aluminum parabolic curve. The lens-and-curve method of light diffusion is essentially the same as that used by the James Webb Space telescope–“a large, infrared-optimized space telescope” that is being developed to observe stars forming under extreme conditions. For the LowLine’s life-size prototype, the curve shape was made entirely of flat pieces to obviate the need for tooling, the cost of which could have run into the millions of dollars. Instead, each piece was laser or water-jet cut and fabricated entirely in Brooklyn, right across the river.
In spite of the high-tech nature of the project, the team members emphasize the idea of a forest floor: “It’s like you’re walking in the forest, and you turn a corner and see a fallen tree illuminated in a shaft of light,” James analogizes. It’s that element of the unexpected that James hoped visitors to the exhibit opening last Saturday would experience. “People will turn a dark corner, be confronted with this, and just be taken aback by the magic.”
The LowLine has more exhibits, fundraisers, events, and outreach planned. Constantly engaging their stakeholders, they will be submitting a formal proposal for the former trolley site as early as next year.
We spend billions of dollars a year making our homes and offices climate responsive, with details as simple as ceiling fans and as complex as motorized sun shades. Architects Steffen Reichert, Achim Menges, and Boyan Mihaylov think there’s a more intelligent way. “Nature suggests a fundamentally different, no-tech strategy,” explains Reichert. “In many biological systems the responsive capacity is quite literally ingrained in the material itself.”
It’s a simple enough concept: Organic materials are capable of adapting to climate change, and if we could harness these properties in a controlled way, we could make smarter, cheaper, lighter buildings. In practice, of course, such a theory is a kind of holy grail. But on May 2nd at the Pompidou Center, the trio unveiled proof positive of their ideas about reactive materials, in the form of an installation called HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology.
Reichert spent five years developing the technology at play in HygroScope, working with a team at Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design to exert control over the reaction between wood and moisture. Commissioned by the Pompidou to build a demonstration, the team spent three months designing and fabricating a fragile wood framework of 4,000 modules that form apertures, opening and closing in response to humidity levels.
20 Jul / Rolly Brush. The chewable toothbrush
Hitting your lunch break is normally the high part of a long day at work. The only problem you will inevitably face, is having weird smelling breath after you have eaten. The opportunity to brush your teeth is not always available right after lunch, but no one is going to want to be around you if you have bad breath.
If you’d rather not bring a travel toothbrush and tube of toothpaste to work everyday, then you might want to switch to the Rolly Brush. This is a little disc covered in 276 spiky rubber bristles that are supposed to be as good as brushing your teeth. They have both Fluoride and Xylitol that will make sure your mouth is squeaky clean as you roll this little disc around with your tongue. One pack of twelve will cost about $10, which means having a couple of these on hand for “just-in-case” scenarios won’t be too costly.
Ready for take off? Try and build the best paper airplane design and see who’s flies farther!
Discover how spinning motors and plastic discs are used to launch a paper airplane up to 30 mph (50 km/h). This is an ideal science kit for exploring paper plane designs, and is a great science fair project. Which type of paper airplane flies better and why?
You build the launcher from the provided materials. This educational toy includes components for assembling the launcher and detailed instructions.
28 Jun / Choi + Shine’s “Land Of Giants”
Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon-figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.
The pylon-figures can be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.
The pylon-figures can also be arranged to create a sense of place through deliberate expression. Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town.
Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures’ cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.
Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.
Created by James Leng, Point Cloud is an attempt to re-imagine our daily interaction with weather data. Even with the modern scientific and technological developments related to weather and when we can deploy sophisticated monitoring devices to document and observe weather, our analysis and understanding of meteorology is still largely approximate. Weather continues to surprise us and elude our best attempts to predict, control, and harness the various elements. Point Cloud builds on this premise, exploring new ways to interpret and understand weather data.
Point Cloud is a sculptural form defined by a thin wire mesh, driven asynchronously by 8 individual servos controlled via Arduino. As whiteness of the hanging structure begins to disappear into the background, the viewer is treated to a constantly morphing swarm of black points dancing through midair. In the current prototype, the speed, smoothness, and direction of rotation are modulated to interpret a live feed of weather data. Instead of displaying static values of temperature, humidity, or precipitation, Point Cloud performs the data, dynamically shifting between stability and turbulence, expansion and contraction.
James Leng explains that “Weather has always had a unique place in our lives, because it has a multiplicity that encompasses both the concrete and the indeterminate. It is the intangible context within which we build our lives and our cities, but it is also the physical element against which we create protective shelter. Most of the time it is an invisible network that we can see but are not aware of; yet it can manifest in a spectacle or disaster, come forward and activate our senses, make us forget our rationality in delight or fear.”
Step through the doors of the Park Avenue Armory today and you’ll join a DIY expedition to Mars that’s part hard science, part Capricorn One. With new installation Space Program: Mars, sculptor Tom Sachs and his team of 13 astro-artists have crafted an otherworldly fantasy out of common materials, assembling the components of a space program out of readily available materials bought at hardware stores or salvaged from the streets.
Space Program: Mars, which opens Wednesday, consists of 50 sculptures, five films and countless zines, which took Sachs and his studio hands three years to create. With the sprawling installation, they’ve attempted to fashion all the life-sustaining gear with NikeCraft (see the full post about the gear here) that would be necessary for humans’ colonization and scientific exploration of Mars, from a food-delivery conveyor belt and an astronaut gym to systems for waste disposal and even a Mars rover. Tucked away amid the exhibit’s simulated launch and capsule-gathering scenarios, visitors will find a few Sachs staples: a place for his tea ceremony and for a signature Jack Daniel’s bottle.
But really, Space Program: Mars isn’t about space. It’s about life on Earth. “We have to consider how we interact with it,” Sachs said Tuesday, introducing the second phase of his Space Program series. The exhibit considers what we bring with us when we explore new frontiers: What germs do we transport, what parts of our culture do we share and, perhaps most importantly, what do we draw from the experience?
The sculptor considers carefully the complicated relationship that humans have with their environment by looking at the dark side of the space program, conjuring up images of colonialism and American pioneerism, all set to the backdrop of the Park Avenue Armory’s stunning and historic Wade Thompson Drill Hall, where decadent galas and balls have hosted everyone from the Queen Mother to the Kennedys, and where Marcel Duchamps’ Nude Descending a Staircase caused great scandal when exhibited in 1913.
Throughout Space Program: Mars, Sachs’ team members — dressed as astronauts or in NASA lab outfits — continuously alter and fix the works, reapplying a strip of duct tape here or fixing a nail there, to show the continuous nature of the artistic process. The reason for this, said Sachs, is to continue the practice of bricolage, the construction of artwork from a wide range of materials that happen to be available.
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design