It's every car-designer's dream—to design and build a supercar from scratch, with no constraints. Talking with Carlos Salaff, ex-Mazda exterior designer, I realize he is living that dream—he's the master of his own creation. And what a creation: Project Caden is a supercar with voluptuous surfaces formed by hand, flowing together to create the ultimate visceral driving experience.Prototyping Project CadenSalaff worked at Mazda's Southern California design studio for a decade, and was part of the exterior design team for the Ryuga, Nagare and Furai concept cars, as well as production vehicles such as CX-7, Mazda 3 and new MX-5. In 2012, he formed his own car company, SALAFF. I spoke to Carlos from his base In Cleveland, Ohio.Carlos Salaff: I started thinking about this project seriously in 2008 at Mazda. It was around the time we were working on the Furai—a big inspiration—and it made me want to continue that level of design excitement. Working on that kind of project, and then seeing the concept go away, I remember thinking: 'Wow, this could be a production car!' But that's the nature of a big car company—to always bring in the bread and butter. I wanted to dive into something more exciting."It was a gut thing and something that just evolved. I always wanted to have that emotional impact with my design—this artistic impact—and I realized I had to take a more independent path to create my vision."While the auto industry prepares us for a future where we no longer engage in the driving experience, there is a groundswell of designers, engineers and innovators keen to celebrate the tactile, man-machine interface. Honda's 2&4 concept shown at Frankfurt was an example of this raw, interactive analogue machinery—and Project Caden was born with the same philosophy.Honda's 2&4 concept car"The extremes are becoming more apparent—the more society moves towards a digital future, the more we will want 'connectedness,' and the more we'll crave that special union with the machine. That's what we're seeing more and more, and it's fascinating. I definitely have nothing against autonomous vehicles—I've been stuck in Los Angeles traffic many times! I love the idea of getting in a very sleek smooth architectural space that can whisk me to my destination and I can do something productive in the meantime. But I also think there's a need for the human soul to create these very tactile experiences and for us to not lose sight of that as a society. That's the place I want to play in; I've always been a tactile guy—Star Wars over Star Trek for that reason! Ed Stubbs: So, how does that manifest itself in Project Caden?Salaff: The interior will be about the feel—a manual shifter, toggle switches—combined with progressive forms and authentic materials; there's just something about aged leather, saddle-leather, that really enhances the interior experience.I'm following the race-car paradigm with a central driving-position. Passengers offset to the rear, a central driving position, like the McLaren F1. I started with a traditional seating position, but it's a natural thing to put the driver in the middle to enhance the experience. The doors will be half-door gull-wings. I want to take complexity out of the car; keep things simple. Caden will be powered by a BMW V10 engine. I felt that the sound and response of a naturally aspirated powerplant was key to creating a connected and timeless experience.Craftsmen Rodney Roeder and Peter Jackson attaching body panels to the metal shaping buck. Caden's body is being shaped at Pete's Custom Coachbuilding in Cleveland, Ohio. What are your plans for the finished car?Well, I obviously don't have the OEM budget, so I have to think very strategically about what matters most. My plan is to build this prototype, and to continue making Project Caden in small numbers, focusing on the artistry, the quality. Logging the design and build process is key—with so many supercars you get this 'ta-da!' moment, but you don't see the story behind it, the creative story—I think it is important to establish that relationship with people.Did you have any cars that were key to the inspiration behind the project?The cars that really excite me all seem to fall into the 1960s-80s era of racing, such as Group C racing in the '80s, and Formula 1 in the '60s. Boiling it down is tricky, but the Tyrell Ford of Jackie Stewart in the '70s: mechanical, beautiful in its purity. And Formula1 BRMs—they have a purity of form, like a fuselage with wheels…You studied at Art Center—when you look back at your time there, what would you do differently and what advice would you give your younger self?I'd say: 'Learn a lot more than what's expected right now in the industry. Learn everything about a car, from the engineering to the business side. You have a limited time as a student and you can't do it all, but when I think back to my final projects I'd look more at how to integrate the engineering and aesthetics in a better way.And think about how to create a business plan that's outside of the mold. Because now design students are much more empowered than we were—rapid prototyping tools for instance: that ability to micro-prototype and manufacture, and to create more personal vehicles, is opening up exciting new ways of doing business."Project Caden is modeled digitally – Carlos designed every element himself before starting the build: exterior and interior, engineering and chassis design. The aluminum tub under construction at Metcalf Racing in Garland, Texas. Metcalf managed structural and suspension engineering for Caden, as well as chassis construction. Digital gave me the ability to fail a lot, before I actually built a physical model. And to run it by experts in the field—it gave me the ability to use design iterations. I did at least 100 different designs before landing on the one.________________________________________________________________________The melding of old and new technologies is something that Carlos is keen to explore. He has a CNC milling machine, which he's used to mill windshield glass-molds, interior surfaces and door-skins. At the other end of the chronological scale is a metal-forming English wheel, used to create the exquisite aluminum curves that form the exterior skin (using the Italian Superleggera method pioneered in the mid 1930s). Laser cut pieces, assembled together to form a traditional metalshaping tool—the buck The complete buckMetal craftsman Rodney Roeder on the English Wheel This juxtaposition between digital design and analogue construction methods is key, and reflects a real movement. We're entering an age where the digital design-canvas offers enormous scope for new forms of personalization and new ways of expressing aesthetic personality, yet we still covet and value products created by artisans, craftsmen skilled at hand-beating metals, stitching leather with a needle and thread.For more on Project Caden or follow SALAFF on Instagram.
In your opinion, which of these animals is more majestic?To an American the choice is obvious, and there's a reason Don Henley didn't co-found The Ostriches. But as far as which animal we humans have more in common with, it's the latter bird.That's because ostriches run on two legs, like we do. Unlike us, however, ostriches can reach speeds of over 40 miles per hour. Take a look at the gams on this thing:Pretty impressive quads, considering they don't do CrossFit. But an ostrich's speed also has much to do with their tendon structure. After studying this, obsessive inventor Keahi Seymour has spent nearly two decades tweaking prototypes of his Bionic Boots, which are based on ostrich anatomy:Pretty impressive. And from a biomimetic design perspective, it seems that in contrast, eagles simply don't have much to offer us.
The new Fall/Winter collection is in! With it comes high-quality textiles, cozy layers, and classic cuts. These distinctive pieces hail from England, Germany, France, the U.S., and more, and are all made for the long haul. There are tough new chambrays and brushed cotton button downs, wool skirts, outerwear, raw denim, and tons more. To test it all out we spent a day exploring with two Portland creatives, musician Mike Rich and ceramicist Ashley Rose Hardy. From the studio to the streets, these Fall-friendly pieces keep pace with an active life and do it with comfortable style. Check out the lookbook with Ashley and Mike, and see the full collection here!
Commenting on the efficacy of levers, Archimedes reportedly said "If I had a place to stand, I could move the Earth." That "place to stand" is a key consideration in the building of bridges and elevated roadways. In modern construction, pylons are created at ground level, each a fixed distance apart from the rest. Pre-fab spans are then trucked in and lifted into place by a crane. But this assumes that the crane has a place to stand, a staging area. When spans must traverse deep valleys, water crossings, unfirm soil or roadways incapable of supporting the load, a crane alternative is needed.In 1907 the Canadian Pacific Railway solved this problem by devising the Incremental Launching Method: They created a 415-foot steel span on the north embankment of a river crossing in Ontario, and "launched" the entire thing from one side to the other between two massive pulley blocks, using steel cable and a pretty darn powerful hoisting machine. By the 1960s Venezuela had pulled it off with a concrete span, and in the 1970s we Americans developed a way of launching half-spans from both sides at once and getting them to meet up in the middle.I'd love to see YouTube video of these erections (yeah, I said it), particularly of the 1907 feat, but surprisingly they do not exist. We do have, however, footage of a modern-day Chinese construction company using the 21st-Century version of ILM. It is an incredible feat of engineering:Here's an animation that lets you more clearly see how the process works, and also reveals the pick-up phase back at the staging yard:Today the ILM is used around the world, from Scandinavia to Europe, Russia to India, Australia to Asia, with more than 1,000 bridges worldwide constructed via the technique. But it doesn't seem to be prevalent in the U.S., which prompted the National Cooperative Highway Research Program to launch a 2007 study [PDF] to find out why. Alas, it seems the study's answers are terribly American, related to everything from the obfuscation of financial details, a lack of education on the part of construction firms, and a difficulty with securing required permits for this type of construction. Being an American, I suspect it's more to do with money than anything else. "As is often the case in the highly-competitive construction industry," the report states, "the cost of these specialized bridge construction bid items are not widely published and are not available without considerable research into each specific project. Therefore, the projects presented in the following case studies do not present this information." It's no wonder we don't use the method much when we can't even figure out how much it will cost. Who'd have thought bridge-building would be like healthcare?
In his sprawling underground NYC shop, Jimmy DiResta has what seems like every tool and material known to man, all tucked away somewhere in the labyrinth. In this episode of DiResta's Cut, Jimmy whips out a tool and material we haven't seen yet in this series: A desktop CNC mill and a sheet of Corian. Watch as he turns it into an adjustable LED lamp:
AIGA is embarking on its second century with new leadership. Today the esteemed organization announced that, beginning in January 2016, Julie Anixter will take the helm after Richard Grefé's tenure will come to a close in December of this year.Anixter's unique career path has spanned numerous aspects of both the creative and business sides of design. She has focused on helping clients anticipate and adapt to the changing world—advocating, as she explains, for design to be "recognized as the force for good that it is; ensuring that the craft of design is valued, the discipline is taught more broadly, and the expert use of design helps us all navigate our information-laden world with greater ease." She has been involved with consulting, curation, business development, education, management, marketing, product, service and UI/UX development, and R&D for a host of brands and institutions including Chanel, GE, P&G and the U.S. Military. Most recently, she has held leadership roles at Think Remarkable Consultancy, Innovation Excellence and as Executive-in-Residence at the Disruptor Foundation.Her experiences connecting design, business strategy and technology in order to instill transformation and growth will be key attributes leading AIGA into its future, as the organization continues to expand the reach of design in culture and society. As Su Matthews Hale, President of AIGA's Board of Directors remarked, "Design is a powerful force in every facet of the creative and business disciplines, and in Julie, we found a leader who can be a connective thread across our increasingly diverse community of designers, innovators, educators, and advocates."Anixter's hire is not the only change for AIGA. The organization has also revised their strategic direction to be more focused on members and chapters, invested in an endowment and relocated the national office staff to the historic Woolworth Building in New York City. Under Anixter's leadership, the organization hopes to best leverage the creative energies of their ever-growing 25,000 membership population and advance the strategic role of design further.
Call me a simpleton, but I think this is the absolute best Halloween costume I saw this year:Sadly there's no attribution, though the photo's all over social media. As awesome as that get-up is, in this day and age it of course was not the most viral. That honor goes to this mythical, Disney-appropriated character and his special mode of transportation:As you probably recognized at the end, it was none other than Casey Neistat, and co-conspirator Jesse Wellens of the PrankvsPrank YouTube Channel, behind the costume and rig. Here's how they (well, mostly Casey) put it together:Thinking back to the porcupine: You reckon that kid can't sit down until he gets home?
In 2012, Brooklyn's CW&T raised more than $280,000 on Kickstarter for Pen Type-A, a stainless-steel upgrade to the Pilot Hi-Tec-C, a plastic gel pen with a cult following among writers, designers and other pen connoisseurs. But almost as soon as CW&T shipped its last Kickstarter reward, its founders had a realization—they needed to make another version. The Pen Type-B"We designed the pen and we were super happy with it, but we realized that it's not something that we can take everywhere with us," says Che-Wei Wang, who founded CW&T with Taylor Levy. "I literally took a Pen Type-A and ground its edges off so that it could go in my pocket. And that was silly."So the duo set about designing a new version—Pen Type-B—that could fit comfortably in your pocket, thanks to its newly rounded form. But the new iteration is not only more portable. "There's a big difference in all of the parts," Levy says. "We've tweaked tiny little things about it to make the pen itself work a lot better." Indeed, Wang and Taylor spent four years refining their design, testing numerous materials (titanium, aluminum, steel, brass) and finishes (glass bead blast, polish, black oxide), and sending drawings back and forth with the multi-generation machine shop in Vermont where they fabricated the first pen. Like its predecessor, Pen Type-B is precision machined from solid metal for ultra-high tolerances that create a piston-like effect between the body of the pen and its sleeve. But the latest edition also introduces a magnetic closure, which posed a host of manufacturing challenges. While Pen Type-A was milled and turned from a block of 304 stainless steel, Type-B uses three types of stainless steel of varying ferritic properties to achieve that closure. The tip is 400-series stainless (magnetic), the cylinder is made out of 300-series stainless (non-magnetic) and the dime screw at the end (for replacing the ink cartridge) is cold-worked stainless (slightly magnetic, but just the right amount). "We're just trying to balance magnetism on both ends so that it feels right," Wang says.Finding the perfect magnet to embed in the brass sleeve of the pen also proved tricky. The team initially started with rare-earth machineable magnets, which—despite their name—proved exceedingly difficult to machine. One day when browsing K&J Magnetics for another project, however, Levy stumbled upon a doughnut-shaped magnet with an interior chamfer that could perfectly hug the ferrous tip of the pen. "It was literally the perfect magnet," she says. The brass sleeve is made from two parts, the barrel and the end cap. These pieces are joined together through supercooling the end cap, and allowing it to shrink enough to be slip-fit into the barrel; then the cap expands so that it's permanently fixed and the seam between the two parts disappears. Machined using a massive gun drill, the barrel has super tight straightness tolerances and a mirrored interior finish on the sleeve. A rubber piece on the interior protects the tip of the pen behind the doughnut-shaped magnet. In addition, a flat edge was added to the sleeve to prevent the pen from rolling—off your desk and far, far away. The sleeve is left uncoated to allow for a gradual patina to build over time.In addition to the doughnut magnet, another prefabricated piece is the ink cartridge itself. As with Pen Type-A, Type-B uses a black gel .3mm Hi-Tec-C ink cartridge manufactured in Japan. "They really are the best," Levy says. "But they can be a bit finicky sometimes and hard to work with." Levy and Wang made small adjustments to the tip's outer and inner openings to help improve ink flow, adding a radial pattern of tiny holes near the pen cylinder tip. Those perforations create airflow into the pen that assists with that flow of ink, and that also equalizes the air pressure on the ink cartridge as the pen is pulled from its sleeve. Each raw cartridge ships to the factory in Vermont with a small rubber cap for protection and to keep the ink from drying out. Wanting to use every piece efficiently, the factory even went so far as reuse the typically discarded rubber cap in the sleeve of Pen Type-B, providing a tight seal around the tip of the pen and ensuring that it won't dry out when not in use. "They're basically salvaging this tiny rubber thing stuck inside this plastic cap for each pen," Wang says. Since the cap is used to keep the ink fresh, the factory had to be strategic about the amount of time the cartridges spend un-capped from its rubber counterpart. "There was a problem for a while where, if there was a pause in production, the pens would dry out," Levy says. "Last week, we asked them how they worked around that and they showed us a jig they built, so that the last operation in the production takes the rubber thing out, squeezes it (since it's rubber) and shoves it actually under the magnet already embedded in the tip. They're totally in love with solving little problems like that."As with any additional introduction to the manufacturing process, adding a magnet to the sleeve of the cap or changing small diameters added new layers of complications that rippled down to the final prototypes — requiring even more incremental tweaks to the pen. "From the width of the flat on the pen to how far the pen sticks out from the cap, just these little things," Levy says. She and Wang went through several prototypes, making minute changes to the length of the barrel, getting the flat edge to be just the right size. "They're all like little picky things because we're picky people," Wang says. "We're trying tackle all these issues as early as possible so they don't show up when they go into production." Levy and Wang see their Pen Type-B as an exercise in reducing the writing instrument down to its essence. They also promise that this is their very last pen—they swear. But perhaps they shouldn't be too quick to abandon the product category, given what is clearly a powerful demand for such obsessively considered writing instruments. The Type-B Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in mere hours, and it has now raised over twelve times its goal of $12,000, currently clocking in at nearly $165,000. Nonetheless, the pair is already onto their next project, which they say they might to turn to Kickstarter to fund as well. "[Kickstarter] just works for us," Levy says. On the last day of their campaign, though, she won't be watching the dollars tally up. "It makes you kind of crazy," she says of the individual Kickstarter notifications that you can turn on for every backer. "It's a bit of an unhealthy habit."
While slicing fruit, crushing candy and swiping faces have become commonly accepted forms of smartphone-based time killing, can't we do better, in terms of our intellectual health? Entrepreneur Christophe Sibieude thinks so. Thus he started Short Edition, a French "community publisher" that has users of its smartphone app trading short stories that they themselves write and consume. The Short Edition community is open to all ("male, female, old, young, blond, bald…"), and in four years has attracted some 140,000 members.In an effort to further immerse society in humble literature, Sibieude conceived of a kiosk that would dispense, for free, short stories. Placed in a train station, airport or one of France's famously bureaucracy-saddled municipal services buildings, the device would allow the line-waiter to disappear into a story, if only for a few minutes at a time.It sounds crazy, but what's even crazier is that the machines have actually launched. The Mayor of Grenoble, a city of 150,000 colloquially known as "The Capital of the French Alps," ordered eight of the machines placed throughout the city center. Users can select a one-minute, three-minute or five-minute story, and the machine instantly spits it out on recycled paper. (Amusingly, the stories still appear to be shorter than your average CVS receipt.)"The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks, Sibieude told Agence France Presse. "We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments."While it might sound like an impractical idea to some, RT reports that interest in the machine is high:"We are getting a lot of requests from all over the world for this invention. Once we will sort out our costs, we will ship these machines anywhere – for maybe a month, several months or even for a few years," Quentin Pleple, one of Short Edition's founders, told RT.There is an unembeddable, French-language news video showing the machines here.
Tesla rolled out their autopilot feature this month, and it seems a sure bet we're headed towards a future filled with driverless cars. But Yamaha's working on an alternative: Robot-driven cars. The company's thinking is that for driverless cars to become pervasive, well, everyone must purchase one. Rather than making the millions of cars already on the road obsolete, Yamaha thinks you should just get a humanoid robot to drive your car for you.They've started down this road by producing Motobot, which apparently can drive one of their motorcycles, though they sure don't show the thing getting on and off:So let's assume Yamaha takes the next step and creates a 'bot that can actually drive a car. The all-important factor they haven't explained is what you do with the robot when he's not driving:- After he drops you off at the bar, does he stomp off to find and kill John Connor, or does he hang out in the car listening to the radio? – If I run into four friends when I'm out and want to give all of them a ride, do I kick the robot out and make him walk home? – To free up space, does he fold up and fit in the trunk, or can I tow him from the back like he's water skiing? – And do I want this metal creep sitting next to me all day when I'm stuck in traffic?For their part, Yamaha is making no bones about this robot's self-awareness and eventual desired position in the food chain. Listen to it narrate its own Prime Directives, which were clearly not written by Isaac Asimov:How creepy is that last bit, where he goes "I am Motobot. I was created to surpass you." You're going to surpass me, tough guy? I'd like to see you navigate a McDonald's drive-through without crushing the french fries in your lousy metal mitts.