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Archive for the Industrial Design Category

Vintage Etsy

Posted by Scott

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@McCrothers pointed out the fact that you could find some very interesting vintage items on Etsy. I thought it was all about handmade accessories and trinkets, but the above examples suggest otherwise. They’re from the 26 Olive Street shop where you’ll find a few other interesting odds and ends along with a lot of nicely Poladroid-erized product shots. This comes via a Valet article breaking down the Etsy second-hand market.

Mastering Tycho At Monsterlab

Posted by Scott

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I made the drive out to Sacramento this morning to have the next Tycho single mastered by Eric Broyhill at Monster Lab Audio. In case this is sounding familiar to you, it’s because this is my second pass at this song. I mixed and mastered it last month but after repeated listens, something just wasn’t quite right so I did another mix over the past week and it’s finally wrapped. It’s been a long road, this particular track is sonically very dense and it’s been a very difficult one to mix. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea of mastering, it’s the last stage in the production process in which an engineer puts the finishing touches on your music and gets it into the form it will take for the final release — be it CD, MP3, vinyl, or otherwise. That is, of course, a gross oversimplification of what mastering is, if you’re really interested in the details here’s the Wiki article on the subject. It’s a vital step in the process of moving a recording out of your studio and into the real world where every stereo and every room is different, and you hope that your music sounds good on and in all of them. I think most importantly it puts another set of critical ears on your music. By the end of the production process your own ears can become deaf to the subtleties (or not-so-subtleties) and details of the material so it’s vital to have some fresh ears hear it for the first time and recognize it for what it is, not what it has become for you through infinite listens. Ideally, those ears belong to a capable person who knows waaaay more than you’ll ever know about the science and nuance behind how people perceive sound. Mastering can be heavy-handed or light and transparent, and therein lies the problem. Because the process can have such a profound effect on the final product, you have to trust the person doing it. You must have faith that they get what you’re trying to do with a song. It’s a very difficult thing to hand over the reigns to something you’ve put so much of yourself into, to another person who may or may not understand the essence of what you’re trying to do sonically with a song.

I was fortunate enough to meet Eric Broyhill back when I was finishing up my first album and he’s mastered all of my releases since. He’s great at understanding what I am going for and I am always amazed at the night-and-day results when I compare his versions with the raw material. The shots above are from his space which is located inside Hangar Studios (John Baccigaluppi’s studio and the home of TapeOp magazine) in Sacramento. I took these shots during a session a while back so they aren’t really up to date, I think he’s replaced a few pieces in the rack but the interiors are the same and that’s the really impressive thing about the place (unless you’re like me and you can’t stop staring at the Manley Massive Passive). A mastering environment has to be acoustically treated to ensure accurate monitoring of the material. There are many ways to go about this, most involve fiber sound absorbers and diffusers. I’ve always admired Eric’s solution to these problems from both a technical and aesthetic perspective. He was able to build much of the treatments into the structure so that they’re almost unnoticeable but the most prominent element is definitely meant to be noticed. The primary diffuser on the front wall is a giant face he had built by a local artist out of wood blocks set at varying heights (see picture above). This randomly redirects reflected sound waves to avoid phasing issues that can be caused by parallel surfaces. It looks amazing and sounds even more amazing when paired with the incredible Earthworks Sigma monitors he uses. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard a better sounding system than this one.

Now it’s time to finish up the album. I really can’t wait for the day I get to drive back out there, it’s always like a celebration for me at the end of the months spent in the studio slaving away on the music. You get to hand it over and then watch it become complete. If you’re in the market for mastering — which any self-respecting musician should be — definitely check out Eric at Monsterlab, he does incredible work at very reasonable rates. And if you’re not in Northern California I know he can do the work remotely as we did a couple sessions that way. Monsterlab Audio

Neve Sidecar

Posted by Scott

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In the world of audio engineering, the name Neve has become almost mythical. Rupert Neve was responsible for a very popular EQ and preamp circuit design that helped produce many a hit record over the years. I personally love the Neve sound and record everything through a set of four Neve clones. While clones are great and can approach the sound of the original, they’re still not truly a Neve. So to see an actual Neve Sidecar show up on Ebay was a surprise. Just seeing pictures of these is pretty intense, I can’t imagine what it would be like to actually use one. To me, the color and design inspire a sort of reverence, kind of like the Futura of the sound engineering world; classic, refined, and functional. At any rate, a $40k mixer is just a dream…but what a nice looking dream.

Olivetti Lettera 32

Posted by Scott

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“The Olivetti Lettera 32 is a portable mechanical typewriter designed by Marcello Nizzoli for Olivetti in 1963 as the successor of the popular Olivetti Lettera 22. This typewriter was popular amongst journalists and students.
The typewriter is sized about 34x35x10 cm (with the carriage return lever adding about 1-2 more centimeters in height), making it portable at least for the time’s standards, even though its 5.9 kg weight may limit portability somewhat.”

- Wikipedia

Objectified Film

Posted by Alex

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Objectified, the upcoming documentary on industrial design by Gary Hustwit, will be premiering soon at the South by Southwest Festival in March. It will take an in-depth look at the designers and creative processes behind some of today’s most popular objects, and should provide a great introduction into the field of industrial design.

I enjoyed Hustwit’s last film, Helvetica, and I thought it was a great way to give the general public some perspective on the world of graphic design. I am constantly asked what graphic design “is” by friends and family, and it was nice to have a film I could show them that pretty much summed it up. It was also interesting to see how the film’s release affected the use of Helvetica at school. Despite the fact that it was ubiquitous already, students suddenly became afraid of using it at all, for fear of further saturating the design community with more Helvetica, or doing something predictable.

I’m sure a lot of you will have heard of the release by now, but be sure to keep an eye out for a screening in your area. The fantastic Sundance Kabuki Theater, here in San Francisco, will be showing it on April 21st, with a Q&A with Hustwit to follow. More dates and screening information can be found on the Objectified site.

Name That Chair

Posted by Scott

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Can you name this poor, unidentified chair? Some people were asking that same question in the comments of today’s Dieter Rams post so I thought I’d put it up in the hopes that someone out there can solve the mystery because, as Joe Clay put it, that is a damn sexy chair. Sound off in the comments. First correct answer gets a Tycho single!

By the way, how badass is Univers LT Std 39 Thin Ultra Condensed? Completely, is the correct answer.

Update: That was quick, Vito called it, it’s a 620 Chair by, of course, Dieter Rams. Here’s some very nice high res shots from the link vito Provided.

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Images via Vitsoe 620 Chair Program

Matthew Donaldson: Dieter Rams

Posted by Scott

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Plastolux posted up these wonderful shots by Matthew Donaldson of various Dieter Rams artifacts in their natural habitats. Unfortunately though, if placed in my house — being the cluttered mess that it is — most of these poor creatures would wither and die in a matter of days. There just aren’t enough clean lines and pristine spaces to support their minimalist German sensibilities. Someday… Although seriously, can anyone get anything done in an environment like this? I’d love to see Jonathan Ive’s work space, I would bet it doesn’t exactly mirror his design aesthetics.