When I was little, the Discovery Channel ran cultural and wildlife documentaries and history specials. It was stuff that made me want to become a paleontologist. Now, the station runs shows like “Amish Mafia,” “Game of Stones,” and “Rods N’Wheels,” not to be confused with the similarly named — and similarly themed — “Fast N’Loud.” In these dark times, the upcoming Cosmos reboot offers a glimmer of hope.
The Magic Tree House
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.
Ever wish you could hit a 95 mph fastball? Us too. In lieu of that pipe dream we’ll happily take the ability to see a 95 mph fastball better while whiffing. Aaron Seitz — a neuroscientist at The University of California Riverside (UCR) — seems to have an answer with a new eye training app. His creation may have more far-reaching consequences than an increase in homers.
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.
Deer now need fear iPads
TrackingPoint’s XactSystem Precision Guided Firearm System — which comes standard with an Integrated Networked Tracking Scope, Guided Trigger, and Tag Button — turns any layman into a marksman at up to 3,600 feet, depending on model. Terrifying? Yes — but also technologically impressive. We break it down.
New Event, New Controversy, New Excitement
Despite being created by a famous course designer, the Olympic Slopestyle course has drawn criticism from many competitors — and a few have even been injured during practice runs. It’s a dubious start for a brand new Olympic event for both skiers and snowboarders. What does the course look like, what’s the event all about, and why is there already so much controversy? We break it down.
Speedskating — not to mention its thrilling short track sibling — is known less for its technical innovation and more for its excitement. Under Armour, partnered with Team USA and Lockheed Martin has set out to change all that. Come February 8th at 6:30 a.m. EST the USA men’s 5000m contenders will be the first to don the menacing and impressive Mach 39 Speedsuit in anger. We break down the high-tech super-skater suit.
Nanometers from the future
In the past, researchers working with graphene faced incredibly high production costs — somewhere in the range of $100,000,000 per cubic centimer. The price isn’t particularly surprising, considering that the leading method involved hand-peeling layers of graphite with scotch tape and placing it on silicone wafers. In this video, Ric Kaner, a chemist at UCLA, explains how he set out to find a better production method…and ended up making a discovery that could change the way we interact with electronics.
Have a Seat
Design often is the avant-garde when it comes to social and global trends, and this was especially true in 1950s Denmark. One of the most notable Danish designers was Hans Wegner, the creator of the iconic “Swivel Chair” in 1955. Dutch firm PP Mobler has recently decided to bring the iconic chair back, and we’ve decided to explore its rich history and details.
Optimus Prime's Second Cousin
Cross a helicopter with an SUV and you get the Advanced Tactics AT Transformer, a platform that enables the world’s first roadable, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL). We break down the AT Black Knight Transformer, a Mad Max-ian vehicle that aims to use the Transformer technology for cargo drops or extractions during urban firefights.
The Sky's the Limit
Last week, London architecture firms proposed a plan to build the SkyCycle, a 137-mile bike superhighway that runs over existing rail lines. We break it down.
Stuttgart Speeds Into the 21st Century
Mercedes has been innovating in Silicon Valley for over two decades, but they’ve decided to bolster their cutting-edge technological efforts with their new Mercedes Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA) headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were on hand to explore the new facilities, check out their in-car technology and gawk at the beautiful, newly unveiled AMG Vision Gran Turismo.
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.
A GP Architecture Survey
So often we look beyond the walls of our surroundings in an attempt to grasp everything around us — to better understand our place. Where are we? When are we? Nowhere is this more aptly embodied than in the throes of architecture. From pole to pole, the pervasive, vast trade spans projects from home renovations to soaring landmarks only describable through prepositions: above, within, beyond.
For our latest survey, we immersed ourselves in the current state of 21st century architecture. Narrowing down such a broad subject to a mere list of 21 entries, so soon, is bound to create fallout; our list isn’t immune. To maintain focus, we’ve kept the list’s perimeters within the realm of completed public and private institutions, avoiding the vast world of home designs and projects still under construction. We’re only 14 years into the 21st century, and only time will tell if the impact of these buildings will endure. But one thing is for certain: these buildings are certainly emblematic of our world today.
Stuff to fill his white space
If you’ve ever spent time around this next guy on our list, you’ve probably been exposed to one or more of the following: the name-that-font game; conversations on additive vs. subtractive color modes; mistaking Roy G. Biv for a close friend; wagers on the over/under lifespan of the flat design trend. What’s Gaelic to them is Greek to us; the designer’s discerning eye can leave you feeling rudderless and depressed when it comes to gift buying. Suddenly you’re lost in the libraries of Hoefler & Frere-Jones, killing time by exploring the classified section of Architectural Digest. That’s a dark place, my friend. We’re here to help. Moral of this story: leave it to us. We know these people. We’ve sailed to the farthest corners of digital commerce to bring you the best selection of holiday gifts for The Designer.
Stalwart of the Skies
747. The Jumbo Jet. Whether you’re a million miler or just look for the cheapest thing on Kayak, the 747 is a plane that requires no introduction. You know it has an upstairs. You know that’s what Air Force One is. You know it’s been around forever and it still imparts second glances through the glass even when you’re beelining it for baggage claim. It’s a stalwart of the skies.
Since its birth in the ’60s as a revolutionary way to tackle long distance flights with large passenger loads, the 747 has undergone several evolutions. Today the 4th generation 747, the 747-8 Intercontinental, is, in our opinion, the finest one yet, though its success has been somewhat marred by its misunderstood approach. In the previous decades while manufacturers focused on making their products bigger, newer and faster, Boeing took a different tact with the 747: efficiency and evolution. We got aboard one on an inaugural Lufthansa flight.
Personalize Your Ride
If you’ve ever spent time in a local bike shop, you’ve heard the salesmen, repair techs and riders talk about getting the perfect “fit”; talk to a cycling or triathlon coach and they can wax all day and night about optimal hip and knee angles. But what does that mean for you? What exactly is a bike fit? We’ve broken down five of the most popular fit systems and algorithms you might run across in your search for the perfect bike.
Are two really better than one?
Since General Motors introduced the first Hydra-Matic automatic some 70 years ago, the world has been divided between two types of drivers: those who push a clutch pedal and shift, and those who do not. But in a world where fuel economy takes up the majority of the automotive attention span, a third possibility looms: the dual-clutch transmission, or DCT. Learn to love it. Unless you’re just a passenger holding the steering wheel and pointing your two tons of SUV at Point B, DCTs represent the best hope for engaged, entertaining driving and reasonable fuel economy.
San Francisco for Dinner, L.A. for Dessert
What do you do once you’ve made your own electric car and founded the first private company to make a delivery to the International Space Station? You come up with a method for long-distance subsonic mass transit, duh. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept aims to deliver passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a scant 35 minutes. We break it down.
Lighting Up the Backcountry
Even the most seasoned adventurer has had that terrible moment: miles from the car on an arduous hike back from the latest backcountry adventure, your headlamp sputters out on a moonless night. If you’d prefer to make it back to civilization in one piece — and have a little luxury — on your next mountain excursion, having back-up batteries and a solar charger goes a long way. We tested out some of Goal Zero Solar‘s newest back-up batteries and portable solar panels on a recent backpacking trip through the Uinta Range in northeast Utah.
Sure, everyone loves to commute by bike. But there are inherent issues: showering at work, remembering different outfits, needing multiple grocery trips to carry your bags. The eFlow E3 Nitro electric bike is a major step forward — a step with striking design efficiency and a style that belies its e-designation. We were amped at the chance to cruise it around town for a few weeks — read on to see how it performed.
As of May 27th, New York City’s Citi Bike bikeshare program was the largest in the United States, with 6,000 bikes available to residents and visitors alike. Though the program isn’t without its detractors, it has all the markings of a success: seven days after its launch, 65,000 trips had been taken and 28,000 people had signed up for an annual membership. Contrary to what many might think, the bike itself is a bit of a design marvel. We break down the ride.
Souped up threads and a mean music machine
In 1957 the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar was a spry three years young; that same year, Levi’s original 1873 patent for riveted denim work pants — the first jeans — was already an octogenarian. But that doesn’t mean those jeans didn’t love to rock ‘n’ roll. As part of a series paying tribute to America’s vintage Hot Rod culture, this spring Levi’s is rolling out one-off garments and items that would love to take your pink slip at the drag strip.
This is the incredible technology you're looking for
Want to use simple hand gestures to move around robots, control iTunes, play video games and way, way more without spending an entire lunar cycle on Dagobah bunking with a rambunctious green midget? The MYO gesture control armband ($149) is the answer.
True British Muscle
Aston Martin recently decided that being one of the most prestigious and sexiest car makers on the planet wasn’t enough. They needed to be audacious. Their execution of this? Surgically transplanting the 6.0-liter 510 hp V12 from the DBS into their smallest and lightest offering, the Vantage. The Carbon Black edition adds carbon-fiber side strakes, lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar seats, piano black accents and gloss black painted wheels, which convey the same kind of ballsy aggression as the drivetrain underneath that extruded aluminum body. Read on for a video and photo essay of this Brit stunner.
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.
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.
This faucet really blows
There are more inefficient and grosser routines in life, but washing and drying our hands has that certain je ne sais quoi — the feeling that there must be a more sensible, genius solution on tap somewhere. The genius solution comes courtesy of the folks at Dyson; their Occam’s Razor solution is the new Dyson Airblade Tap (call to discuss pricing), a hyper-efficient washer/dryer faucet combo.
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.