December 1st, 2013

Studley tool chest

Toolbox envy?

April 27th, 2013

radio facsimile


I’m in love with this invention and the appearance of this prototype… It’s an elegant idea, probably too much before its time to really catch on. And now it’s pretty much obsolete as a concept. A newspaper delivered by radio as you sleep, printed in your home. And in 1938!

This invention of a wireless fax, as it were, was credited to W.G. H. Finch and used radio spectrum that was otherwise unused during the late-night hours when most Americans were sleeping. The FCC granted a special license for these transmissions to occur between midnight and 6am, though it would seem that a noisy printing device in your house cranking away in the middle of the night might have been the fatal flaw in their system. It wasn’t exactly a fast delivery either, as the article notes that it takes “a few hours” for the machine to produce your wireless fax newspaper.

The Smithsonian’s online magazine has a nice write-up on the invention here. And here’s a video of it in action (you need Quicktime to view it).

October 17th, 2012

modernising a timeless game

A keen approach to designing a modern chess board, by Israeli designer Neora Zigler. From her website:

“Chess for the Mass” proposes an alternative design for the existing chess game pieces, fitting the current plastic injection manufacturing process, while preserving traditional identification symbols.

Back in the days chess pieces where manufactured using wood turning technology which had a direct influence on the
shape and design of the pieces. today, pieces are manufactured mostly by plastic injection, yet they still maintain the traditional shapes relevant to wood turning.

“Chess for the Mass” pieces are shaped in a shell-like form fitting the plastic injection manufacturing process and
allowing stackability of the pieces resulting in small compact packaging of the chess set.

More here. (via notcot)

October 11th, 2012

“blending tradition and innovation”

This silicone brush design does look like fun.

Not quite a brush. Not quite a palette knife. Catalyst tools are crafted from flexible silicone to allow artists a new form of expression. Available in two unique styles: Catalyst Wedges are ergonomically designed to fit in your hand allowing a direct interaction with your work. Catalyst Blades are mounted on artist brush handles offering a blend of tradition and innovation.

I wonder if it is as handy and effective as it looks! Princeton Catalyst brushes (via Notcot)

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October 9th, 2012

alternative scarecrow

What a mechanism! Now that’s resourceful. (via sciencedump)

August 25th, 2012

the ‘feel’ of being in Paris or London

Mind-boggling image research allows us to create time and site specific portraits of city architecture and make comparisons. Very impressive! via ScienceDump

August 24th, 2012

they have plastic pieces that will pop into there

Reuben Margolin‘s wave inspired mechanical sculptures.

June 29th, 2012

tea caddy

Ornate tea chest for storing loose leaves. Image by Hans Grobbe via wikipedia.

June 7th, 2012

bacteria born boots

English designer Suzanne Lee is working with a biodegradable leather-like material she grows herself in a bathtub, using bacteria, yeast and green tea. BBC Video.

See her website

May 21st, 2012

caution, slippery roads

Wonderful example of biomimicry… The use of slime mould to plan out an optimal motorway infrastructure for Canada (and other countries), via boingboing.

May 15th, 2012

how it’s made, 1945

The making of a bicycle. Via kottke.

May 7th, 2012

the bacterium Magnetospirillum magneticum

These naturally magnetic microorganisms usually live in aquatic environments such as ponds and lakes, below the surface where oxygen is scarce.

They swim following the Earth’s magnetic field lines, aligning in the magnetic field like compass needles, in search of preferred oxygen concentrations.

When the bacteria ingest iron, proteins inside their bodies interact with it to produce tiny crystals of the mineral magnetite, the most magnetic mineral on Earth.

Having studied the way the microbes collect, shape and position these nano-magnets inside themselves, the researchers copied the method and applied it outside the bacteria, effectively “growing” magnets that could in future help to build hard drives.

“We are quickly reaching the limits of traditional electronic manufacturing as computer components get smaller,” said lead researcher Dr Sarah Staniland of the University of Leeds.

“The machines we’ve traditionally used to build them are clumsy at such small scales.

“Nature has provided us with the perfect tool to [deal with] this problem.”

More: BBC Technology

May 1st, 2012

patterned by nature

Patterned by Nature was commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for the newly built Nature Research Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The artwork, a collaboration between Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Plebian Design, and Sosolimited, celebrates our abstraction of nature’s infinite complexity into patterns through the scientific process, and through our perceptions. It brings to light the similarity of patterns in our universe, across all scales of space and time.

10 feet wide and 90 feet in length, this sculptural ribbon winds through the five story atrium of the museum and is made of 3,600 tiles of LCD glass. It runs on roughly 75 watts, less power than a laptop computer. Animations are created by independently varying the transparency of each piece of glass.

The content cycles through twenty programs, ranging from clouds to rain drops to colonies of bacteria to flocking birds to geese to cuttlefish skin to pulsating black holes. The animations were created through a combination of algorithmic software modeling of natural phenomena and compositing of actual footage.

An eight channel soundtrack accompanies the animations on the ribbon, giving visitors clues to the identity of the pixelated movements. In addition, two screens show high resolution imagery and text revealing the content on the ribbon at any moment.

Calming, wonderous LCD installation by multimedia artist Jeff Lieberman. Vimeo via BoingBoing

April 29th, 2012

smart sand

Imagine that you have a big box of sand in which you bury a tiny model of a footstool. A few seconds later, you reach into the box and pull out a full-size footstool: The sand has assembled itself into a large-scale replica of the model.

That may sound like a scene from a Harry Potter novel, but it’s the vision animating a research project at the Distributed Robotics Laboratory (DRL) at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. At the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May DRL researchers will present a paper describing algorithms that could enable such “smart sand.” They also describe experiments in which they tested the algorithms on somewhat larger particles — cubes about 10 millimeters to an edge, with rudimentary microprocessors inside and very unusual magnets on four of their sides.

Unlike many other approaches to reconfigurable robots, smart sand uses a subtractive method, akin to stone carving, rather than an additive method, akin to snapping LEGO blocks together. A heap of smart sand would be analogous to the rough block of stone that a sculptor begins with. The individual grains would pass messages back and forth and selectively attach to each other to form a three-dimensional object; the grains not necessary to build that object would simply fall away. When the object had served its purpose, it would be returned to the heap. Its constituent grains would detach from each other, becoming free to participate in the formation of a new shape.

Read more at Science Daily

April 5th, 2012

Der Mensch als Industriepalast (in Bewegung)

I just found Frtiz Kahn’s fantastic 1927 poster, Man as Industrial Palace, on my old harddrive and wanted to post it. Looking up the history of the poster online, I discovered that a certain Henning M. Lederer has brought the poster to life with an animated short film. See it on vimeo, full screen.

December 5th, 2011

lust tot experimenteren

December 4th, 2011

forgone chaos

An interview with Rem Koolhaas in De Standaard. Lots of interesting ideas about architecture, filmmaking, East/West philosophies and the individual, celebrity…

Dat alles zo geregeld is, dat geldt toch vooral voor het welvarende westerse deel van de wereld?

‘Dat is zo. Dat is het bijzondere van mijn vroege ervaringen in Indonesië. Je hebt al jong ervaren hoe er in andere delen van de wereld geleefd wordt. Het was een chaos en dat was vanzelfsprekend. Daar werd verder geen oordeel over geveld. Ik heb tot mijn twaalfde op zes verschillende scholen gezeten. Nu zou het bijna als een misdaad worden gezien, maar mij heeft het veel gebracht. Talent voor organisatie, openstaan voor mogelijkheden, gretigheid voor het nieuwe.’

Verlangt u terug naar die chaos?

‘Ik lijd niet aan nostalgie.’

Wat voor jongen was u op de middelbare school?

‘Een van de vreemde dingen is dat ik door mijn ervaring in Azië niet zo aan mezelf denk als een ik. Het is niet dat ik de vraag wil ontvluchten. Het is meer dat ik geen westers persoon ben met een duidelijk afgebakend ik.’

‘Toen ik op de middelbare school zat, las ik alles van Dostojevski. Ik begon in film geïnteresseerd te raken, in kunst. School was bijzaak.’

Het individuele is te belangrijk in dit deel van de wereld?

‘Het is niet productief. Het is een obstakel om, eh, de manier waarop ik architect ben en bouw… (Hij tekent met een blauwe balpen vierkantjes op een vel papier.) Het is niet mijn ik dat bouwt en waar anderen dan een relatie mee moeten hebben. Het is: een vormeloze massa die iets wil bereiken en waar ik een onderdeel van ben. Dat heb ik aan Indonesië overgehouden. Ik zag al snel dat die opstelling me grote vrijheden gaf. De openheid, het permanent rekening houden met de andere kant. Ik ben vroeg doordrongen geraakt van het feit dat het Westen niet alles is.’

Waarom ging u in 1972 naar New York?

Opeens monter: ‘Ik had het gevoel dat er met New York iets te doen viel. Ik was geïnteresseerd in moderne architectuur en in Europa waren er vooral manifesten, geen realiseringen. In de VS, of in elk geval in New York, was het andersom: geen manifesten, wel realiseringen. Maar zoals ik dat nu zeg, zo had ik het toen nog niet doorgrond. Er was alleen dat gevoel dat ik daar iets kon doen.’

Hoe is het om ‘stararchitect’ te zijn?

‘Mensen kunnen zich niet meer voorstellen dat een normaal persoon de rol van architect kan vervullen. Ze willen dat je een celebrity bent. Vervolgens is iedere poging tot echte communicatie gedoemd om te mislukken.’

Waarom willen mensen dat?

‘Het is een effect van de markteconomie. Belangstelling voor ideeën heeft plaatsgemaakt voor aanbidding van roem.’

Wilt u dat dan ook het liefst als architect: kunnen doen wat u wilt?

‘Nee. Ik geloof in de tegendruk van de opdrachtgever. Dat meen ik oprecht. Door tegenstand kom je tot betere dingen. Of door samenwerking. Je kunt dit vak niet doen zonder dat andere mensen willen wat jij wilt.’

More here. Thanks Arnaud for the heads-up. The last point reminds me of this quote from Panamarenko.

June 12th, 2011

ISS lamp

Wonderful idea!

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