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Archive for the Industrial Design Category

Volkswagen Folding Bik.e

Posted by Alex




We think far beyond the car as such, with a focus on mobility in general. We do this regularly in concept teams made up of specialists with a mission to look into the future and give up existing conventions. – Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg

The two wheeler above is Volkswagen’s latest bid in their mission to become the most innovative and environmentally friendly car maker in the world. Of course the VW Bik.e looks just like a bike, though I didn’t notice the lack of pedals at first (indicates how often I ride a bike). This folding contraption is battery powered and has a range of 12.5 miles, with a top speed of 12.5 mph (apparently allows legal helmet-less riding). Given these specs it’s definitely intended as an supplement to your car. In its collapsed state, it easily fits inside the spare tire compartment in your vehicle. Check out the video below for the animation showing it going from bike to tire. Sounds like it might actually be for sale too, eventually.

As an idea I am skeptical. I don’t like the reliance on cars to get you to a place where you can practically bike about. If you don’t live in a dense city or a city center, this solution is always going to be a car + bike situation. While the design is obviously a step in the right overall direction, I prefer urban mobility solutions that remove cars from the equation completely. That said, this is definitely the coolest looking folding bike concept I have seen. (Here is another one if you are interested, this one with pedals.)

Martin Skelly’s Playlist Player

Posted by Scott





A novel concept and beautiful exterior make Martin Skelly’s Playlist Player vinyl emulation system a certified object of desire. The device — which plays back digital files in an apparently Serrato-like manner — attempts to simulate the classic ritual of the vinyl LP.

“There are two parts to the design: the player, and the record box containing five different coloured covers. Once the playlists are chosen and synced to the player with a memory stick, the user customises the outside of the sleeve with artwork of their choice. It could be photos of a memorable night or person or typed and hand drawn tracklists. Once the record is placed on the player, the music begins and the outer ring of lights illuminates. As the playlists plays rings of light visible through the translucent record move towards the centre of the disc, like a needle tracking on a record. These lights represent time and not the number of tracks, meaning your music must be enjoyed from start to finish with no distractions like the temptation to skip tracks, fast forward or rewind.”

Seeing people designing experiences like this is always nice, but it does illuminate the rather unsettling fact that the album format is dying. People are consuming media in ever smaller chunks and the LP experience is no longer the norm. I think this is a huge loss and an unfortunate consequence of the on-demand nature of the internet.

Although I grew up listening to 8-track, vinyl, cassette tapes, and then CDs — all of which tended to be enjoyed in album format more often than not — I must admit that I jump around a lot when consuming MP3s. I have recently begun rebuilding my music collection in lossless FLAC though and this has encouraged me to listen to more music as whole albums. If Skelly’s Playlist Player supports FLAC or WAV it might make the experience that much more enjoyable.

Milk Desk

Posted by Scott







The Milk desk by Holmris Hansen (the guy laying on it I presume) makes the Novanta workstation I posted last week look downright homely. They call it “the Lamborghini of desks” but I think “the Mac of desks” would be more apt. At any rate the thing is beautiful and seemingly functional with various gadgetry, compartmentry, and height adjustability (I know 2/3 of those aren’t even words). I would definitely be very happy with this as my primary desk. You can find more info and a lot of high res pics of the Milk at the product site: http://milk.dk. Also, it’s probably like $15,000. The designer’s other work at Soren Rose Studio is worth a browse as well; some very cool pictures of their space.

I recently built a new desk (sneak preview here via a terrible iPhone shot) so I had been researching for a while trying to scrounge around for materials and hardware. I ended up sourcing most of it from Ikea and cannibalized an old board room table someone gave me. I’ll post more on that once I get some proper pictures.

Via Jason in the comments of the Novanta post

1969 Mercedes C111

Posted by Scott










Was reminded of Mercedes’ beautiful 1969 C111 gullwing design after their recent concept unveiling. Beautiful Pictures; I’ll go ahead and file this under “things you can’t have, ever”. I’ve always loved cars; I used to collect die-cast models when I was a kid. I guess I picked the wrong thing to be obsessed with though because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that a 1959 Testa Rossa just isn’t in the cards for me.

I suppose it’s for the best though; nice cars are so impractical and besides, this is the sort of thing that has me dreaming these days. ($8700 MSRP!!! why do you torture us?) I feel like we as designers sort of got a raw deal; we’ll never be able to afford what our taste dictates as acceptable to us (except for that one guy who redesigned the Louis Vuitton monogram maybe? He could probably buy the car and the guy driving it). And then you see MTV Cribs and these people’s houses look like they hired Scarface and the set designer from Full House to do their interiors.

More images here

RCA Spectra 70

Posted by Scott



Beautiful shot of the RCA Spectra 70 computer (1965). They need to start making ATX cases that look like this and the DEC PDP-8; people would start putting their computers in the middle of the room.
These are the same guys who later brought you this (unrelated but awesome commercials — including Superman Peanut Butter — follow):

Also, apparently “pause” was once known as “stop action” and qualified as a “special effect”. Wait’ll Quigley sees this!

Herman Miller Embody Review

Posted by Scott






It’s been about 4 months now since I was able to get my hands on the Embody — Herman Miller’s latest flagship work chair — and now I feel like I’ve spent enough time in it to give a proper review. The Embody seems to be the logical successor to the throne of the ubiquitous Aeron chair and I have to say it’s a worthy one. I’ve had various repetitive stress related injuries throughout the course of my career so I’ve always been very sensitive to ergonomics. I’ve had Aerons and various other chairs but I’ve never really been truly satisfied with any of them. So it was with a healthy dose of skepticism that I approached my experience with the Embody.

Before I got the Embody, I had a hard time finding any definitive information as to whether it did in fact live up to the initial hype surrounding it’s release. I guess chairs are pretty subjective, there’s never really a one size fits all solution. I heard a lot of people debating whether it was better than the Aeron and Humanscale’s Freedom Chair, and still more debating whether it was worth the decidedly high price point. But everything I had read pretty much went out the window when I sat in the Embody. It really is as incredible chair, it’s the first one I’ve had that I’m not constantly aware of. It acts almost as an extension of your body allowing for much longer periods of sitting without the common issues I’ve had with most chairs in the past. The unique seat back isn’t just there for looks, it does wonders for my back which was usually the biggest issue when working for extended periods. The arms are very flexible and can be easily dialed in for a perfect height which goes a long way to alleviate wrist pain issues. All in all, the fit and feel are top notch and honestly like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The bottom line is that this chair allows me to work longer and focus better. And the Embody is definitely a step up from the Aeron and light years beyond the Freedom Chair (which I really don’t like at all) or the Mirra (which many recommended as a cheaper alternative to the Embody).

As much as I love the Embody I do have a few issues with it, none are deal breakers for me, but you should be aware of them if this chair is on your short-list. First up is the design. Yes, I ordered the orange/white which in retrospect was a mistake. It can really overwhelm the space visually. The chair is also rather large so between that and the color, it certainly is a presence in the room. I have since seen the black on black version which is much more subtle and highly recommended. Second is the mobility of the chair. In the studio I have to move around from station to station a lot and the sheer weight of the Embody makes this difficult. The thing is build like a tank which is great for durability, but it’s not a chair you’re going to be gliding around the office in. Or course, this would be less of an issue on hard surfaces, but the downstairs at the studio is carpeted and you almost have to get out of the seat to move it around. I do have the optional chrome base and I would imagine the standard plastic base is a bit lighter. Finally, at around $1100 (which is at least better than the insane introductory price of $1700 and can be much less with an industry discount, see below) it is prohibitively expensive. But as they say, “buy it nice or buy it twice”. As someone who makes a living sitting in a chair all day it’s not hard to justify spending a chunk of that living on a high quality chair. It allows me to get more work done and avoid injuries that in the past would put me out for a while making it well worth the premium.

All things considered the Embody is a huge winner in my book. It’s the most comfortable and functional chair I’ve ever used and will be in my studio for a very long time.

I am told that discounts are available on the chair through Herman Miller. I got mine direct and at the time they had a promo deal going on that brought the price down to $800 fully loaded. You might try contacting them directly to find out whether they have any promotions going on or whether you can get a designer discount.