Pop-culture is in love with the idea of a friendly helpful robot. While the concept may still seem like science fiction, JIBO promises to be a low-cost helper bot that will be available to buy soon. Is this really the future of at-home robotics, or just a bulkier smartphone with personality?
An Unlikely Expat
If you’re into the outdoors and own a car, chances are you own or have owned a Thule product for hauling your skis, bikes, kayaks and other outdoor gear. Nearly 80 percent of the company’s products for the U.S. market are made in the states, many of them at their Seymour, CT facility. We dropped in for a visit.
A New Solution for Impending Disasters
Six years after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami killed over 225,000 people, an aerospace engineer named Julian Sharpe imagined a new solution: riding the deadly wave of water. His idea was the Survival Capsule, a floatable and nearly indestructible sphere, with room for people and provisions. Now his design is becoming a reality — but how effective will it be at saving lives?
Growing Israeli Design, One Chair at a Time
Bloomfield, a high-end furniture and product design brand specializing in minimalist, elegant products, is the embodiment of Tel Aviv’s growing design scene.
A Pending Mission to Mars Gets New Duds
NASA’s newest spacesuit, the Z-2, departs from past designs and even used crowd sourcing (for a few minor bits). We break down its features.
Haus Sweet Haus
Though opened nearly four years ago, the VitraHaus remains a pilgrimage-worthy menagerie of design. Located in the German town of Weil-am-Rhein and built by famed builders Herzog & de Meuron, the VitraHaus is series of stacked longhouses filled with an assemblage of classic and contemporary design goods for the home. Visitors are encouraged to not just gaze in the standard museum sense, but to touch and interact with everything. A walk-through had us rethinking our own homes.
Porsche comes back home
Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 out of the last 14 years, a feat that cannot be understated. But there’s another brand whose record at the race is yet unmatched: Porsche, which has 16 wins total. But those wins came during a different era. This year, Porsche re-enters the Le Mans fray with a brand new car that will compete in the LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype 1 – Hybrid) category, the spectacular 919 Hybrid car, just unveiled in Geneva.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
50 mph on a skateboard, brah
If what you know about skateboarding is huge verts, Vans shoes, or longboarders on college campuses, then the Loaded Boards Chubby Unicorn deck ($360) and the whole downhill/freeride movement will blow your mind. Somewhere between snowboarding and street luging, this fun activity involves crazy talented and insanely balanced (maybe not mentally) human beings flying down streets at 50 mph, pre-drifting into turns and emasculating “play it safe” onlookers the whole way.