To get any work done, it helps to have a quiet, simple study, which is why so many writers seek country solitude. But how do city writers find their zen? For one anonymous author/illustrator, it meant hiring British architecture firm Weston, Surman & Deane, who designed this workspace — based on their client’s love of children’s literature and mythology — in Hackney, London, on a budget of $51,000.
The Magic Tree House
The Future is Gold
Thanks to Cold-War-era bias (and some legitimate concerns), the groundbreaking athletic technology developed for the 2014 Sochi Games played second fiddle to alleged (OK, verifiable) corruption and safety issues. However, we want to give credit where credit is due. From aerodynamic bobsleds to virtual ski-runs to crazy X-Ray goggles, the technology on display in Sochi threatens to outshine the physical feats of our planet’s greatest athletes.
Nothing facet-ious about it
The current iteration of the Waterford Crystal company has been making exquisite, traditional crystal products for a good portion of history. But now Waterford has decided to reimagine their product; indeed, they’ve decided to revolutionize the way a man might feel about crystal, and as part of that effort heralded designer Jo Sampson fashioned the new decidedly male-centric London Collection. Apropos, then, that we hopped over to foggy London town to meet with Sampson, chat with Waterford CEO Pierre de Villemejane and check out the new collection.
Incredible Design for a Notable Charity
Collaborating with Bono and Bobby Shriver for the (RED) charity, Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson have personally curated a collection that celebrates the best in design and innovation. If you appreciate design, engineering, space, music or style and are itching to liquidate your family’s trust fund, then ready your paddle. On a kind invitation from the folks at Sotheby’s, we made our way to a private viewing of the collection before its auction.
Speakers that speak for themselves
Pursue perfection. Some people — people at the top of their games — consider it a personal mantra. That theory holds for the design world, too, and it’s why industrial designer Joey Roth recently released a third version of his celebrated speaker system. Apparently, he just wasn’t satisfied yet.
Meet the concept cars of the sneaker world
Nike has been a dominant force in basketball for years, equipping some of the game’s biggest stars with footwear both on and off the court. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Nike Basketball Design Director, Leo Chang, to discuss the second generation of the Elite Series, a limited collection of kicks designed for Nike’s premier athletes just in the time for playoff season. Given the stakes, the series which originally launched last year, provides a unique opportunity for Leo and his team to push what’s possible. It’s about designing the best for the best, when limitations have left the building.
Zero Drop, Zero Limits
The vernacular of the running shoe industry has morphed in recent years. While we were out pounding pavement and burning trails, the polo-clad retailer who spoke of under- and overpronation (often interchangeably) has been replaced by a more sophisticated runner who uses terms like “minimalist”, “zero-drop” and “windlass effect”. New slang is good, but it can be confusing — and it doesn’t necessarily bring us closer to understanding what makes the perfect running shoe. To get a better grasp on what goes into running shoes today we spoke with Golden Harper, founder of Altra Zero Drop Footwear.
Skis for the Snowbound Connoisseur
When picking out a new pair of skis, most of us don’t think to ask about core materials, side cut or vibration dampening — in fact, even knowledgeable ski bums probably don’t have more than a general understanding of these topics. Fortunately for you, the designers at Park City, UT-based RAMP Sports live and breathe ski engineering and manufacturing. It doesn’t take long after stepping on to their small manufacturing floor to see that building handmade skis is both a passion and a way of life for this small collective of diehards.
The trailer that inspired the AirStream
We’re all familiar with the iconic design of Airstream trailers. But what about the name Hawley Bowlus? He was the designer and builder of the Spirit of St. Louis — the record-breaking plane used by Lindberg to fly non-stop across Atlantic Ocean. But a few years later in 1934, he also created the forebear of the AirStream trailer, a stunning piece of technically advanced machinery dubbed the Hawley Bowlus Road Chief. Today, the classic Road Chief is reborn as a stunner with all the modern trappings.
Electric on the water
For most of us the world of powerboats is a bit on the abstract side — we simply imagine loud, fast and ridiculously expensive, but on water instead of pavement. The Cigarette AMG Electric Drive Concept boat is a spectacular example of at least the last two qualities.
The Prohibition Kit by Francesco Morackini is provocative project that’s designed to help home hoochers mitigate the risk of discovery by “camouflaging” a small-scale still as everyday kitchen objects. Specifically, the all-copper setup splits into a watering can, fondue stove, cooking pot and fruit bowl while not in use for home-made lightning.
Puts your igloo to shame
February 5 marks the official opening of the new Halley VI
Minnesota Antarctic Research Station, which replaces the 20-year-old (you guessed it) Halley V. Creating the new home of the British Antarctic Survey was a difficult project given the unique (a.k.a. wicked cold) weather on the southern-most continent. The end product is something straight out of science fiction.
Million Dollar Baby (maker)
Though most movies don’t cause the viewer to think about camera angles, lighting or color tone, there are some (Star Trek, Eagle Eye, Fast & Furious) with sequences and scenes that leave you wondering “How the hell did they shoot that?” This is how the hell: Chase Car Inc. We had a chance to check out their matte-black, modded out Porsche Panamera Turbo, replete with a full camera crane. Needless to say, we smiled for the camera.
Fly... or die
After adding his distinctive touch to typical consumer products like the Pentax K-01, Australian designer Marc Newson has now made the logical leap to… jetpacks? That’s right. Newson’s Body Jet is made from a carbon fiber shell and features all of the elements you’d need to make strapping a rocket to your back even remotely feasible: landing gear that retracts during flight, gyroscopic controls for steering and safety straps (…fine).
Fortress of Solid-tude
Looking to build a man-cave resembling something out of the Applied Sciences section of Wayne Enterprises? While undoubtedly Batman’s bivouac of choice, the Concrete Canvas Shelter (~$30,000+) is also an incredible achievement in British ingenuity and instant accommodations. Available in both 270- and 580-square foot models, these buildings-in-a-bag can be constructed by two people in under an hour and become semi-permanent structures in just one day. Simply unfurl, inflate and douse the shell with anything this side of sewage, and you have a weatherproof and insulated shelter ready for refuge.
After 15 years, it's finally time for a wardrobe change
The final frontier of space — and the technology required to get there — once represented the pinnacle of innovation. Then stagnation (and budget cuts) set in. The core design of the Space Shuttle was developed in the late 70s, several years before the development of Apple’s Lisa computer and Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and served for three decades before officially retiring in 2011.
Similarly, the iconic Spacesuit designed to protect our fragile forms in the endless vacuum hasn’t received a major update since 1998, the same year Google was founded, Bill got naughty in the Oval Office and Céline Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was making our collective ears bleed. While advancements in the spaceship industry have shifted to the private sector, the space agency has finally shared its own internal plans for the next generation spacesuit, dubbed the NASA Z-1.
Best thing since toasted bread
The pop-up toaster began burning bread for the masses in 1919, and while it was an American invention, the first iteration had very British tendencies and toasted only one side of its crusty victim. By 1925 this had been corrected — and the toaster has more or less remained the same ever since. Regardless of brand, number of buttons or inclusion of countdown timers, the driving principal behind browning has always been to apply heat to bread for a pre-determined amount of time; a process simple enough, but one that more often than not results in an unsavory end product.
Drink it all in
The plastic pitcher currently filtering water in your fridge is a far greener way to stay hydrated than pounding down bottles, but it stills leaves plenty to be desired — both in terms of form and function. Its tupperware aesthetic isn’t exactly ready for the bright lights of the dinner table, and if you fill…
The fastest sailboat in the world
One look at the Sailrocket 2 shows that your teacher wasn’t full of s**t when he said physics can be fun. This 600-pound carbon sailing vessel is truly a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its British sailing team (and the badass sailor that steers it). Reaching a certified speed of 54.08 knots (62.2…
It's not Jarvis...yet
Oakley’s Airwave goggles are a new breed of advanced snow sport eyewear equipped with a heads up display that simulates viewing a 14-inch screen from five feet away when a user looks in the lower right corner of their peripheral vision. That description sounds confusing, but the important thing to remember is that the technology…
Knockout On Wood
Upstart Allied Maker is one of those stories we love exposing. All the elements are right. An individual pursuing a passion, an obsession with making things and a handsome product. Craftsmanship. The most overused word in recent history, but we’re saying it anyway. The young man behind Allied Maker is self-taught woodworker Ryden Rizzo. But…
You Are My Sunshine
The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is simply “Be prepared”. They’re spot on: failing to do so can lead to some seriously bad outcomes when true disaster strikes. The AE Light SolarMine Emergency Lantern ($115) is made to give you light in exactly that unfortunate occasion, and having proved itself during Japan’s horrific 2011 earthquake…
The humble business card is an antiquated yet necessary tool of business communication. Their simple swapping is a time honored tradition the world over, and not a form of etiquette that is likely to disappear. But in today’s digital world, taking the time to transfer those vitals to a useful place seems downright tedious. MOO…
Carve the aqua apex
If sporting the three-pointed star on land just isn’t enough for you, aim your vehicular aspirations to the water. Mercedes-Benz’s plans to broaden their design chops to more than just cars are officially under way, mimicking Porsche-like endeavors. Mercedes and U.K.-based Silver Arrows Marine have partnered to create the high-end, 46-foot Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow of…
Tron de France
Want a cycling game-changer? You’ve got it. The Cannondale CERV by Priority Designs is a concept bike that adapts to a constantly changing riding environment. Typically, the rider’s body has to compensate for such changes, but the CERV has a “dynamically adjustable headset” that moves both vertically and horizontally during riding. For example, in a…
Improving on Edison’s original incandescent light bulb design has been a mixed bag — the soft-serve CFLs save energy but cast a bluish cadaver pallor and require a HazMat response to clean up mercury released if they break. A different, albeit expensive, approach to energy efficiency comes in the Switch LED light bulb. Continues after…
The deep end
Most landlocked divers recall with a shudder the pool sessions that were required to learn skills for open water certification. Often conducted in an over-chlorinated high school pool, they’re more a rite of passage than an inspiration. Well, for divers in Brussels, Belgium, pool sessions have a whole different meaning thanks to John Beernaerts’ NEMO33,…
Sayonara helmet hair.
Helmets save lives at the “expense” of what some misguided cyclists think of as “looking cool”. They’re also bulky, and a pain to schlep once the ride is over. Two female Swedish design students spent seven years researching crash data and over $10 million developing a new form of head protection that avoids both of…
How considered design is impacting the future of the beautiful game
Everybody knows Nike. How could you not? The global sportswear company is ubiquitous, thanks to decades of developing gear and sponsoring athletes competing in every sport imaginable (seriously, they even sponsor Curling). But while marketing savvy has unquestionably assured the brand limitless time in the spotlight — there’s an equally innovative half to Nike’s success…
Sledge hammer, hoe, crow bar, hook, wire cutter, nail puller. They sound like the members of a punkrock metal band, but sorry, this isn’t an album review. Those tools make up the individual components of a prototype tool that could save your life. A strictly utilitarian tool of survival, it has the makings of a…