Classic Workwear with Contemporary Appeal

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!

Impressive Demonstration of the “Incremental Launching Method” of Bridge Building

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?

Alexandru Duru’s Real, Working Hoverboard

It's just five days until October 21st, 2015, the date that Marty McFly traveled to and rode around on a hoverboard on. Which means Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru has just five days to paint his invention pink, make it a bit smaller and get it ready for McFly.Yes, Duru has invented a working, battery-powered hoverboard—actually, two of them—and unlike the one McFly used/will use, Duru's do just fine over water. Earlier this year the 31-year-old used his first version to break the Guinness World Record for longest hoverboard flight (275.9 meters) over Quebec's Lake Ouareau; now he's already got a second version ready. Though this second prototype was developed in secret, Canada's CBC was allowed to videotape Duru taking it on its maiden voyage:You gotta love the wirecutter throttle.Duru has formed a company, Omni Hoverboards, around his inventions, and the CBC reports that the plan is to "have hovercrafts available for purchase across the country." We assume they mean Canada, but like Michael J. Fox himself, perhaps the hoverboards will migrate south.

A Rare Look at the Early, Pre-Memphis Work of Ettore Sottsass 

Ettore Sottsass is practically synonymous with the provocative, raw aesthetic of Memphis—the pioneering design collective that formed in Sottsass' own living room in 1981—but he was already in his 60's at the time, with a formidable, diverse career preceding the years of Radical Design. At Friedman Benda, a series of works from 1955 through 1969 highlight a far lesser-known stage of his career, one marked by intensely personal explorations and a will to devise objects that "touch the nerves, the blood, the muscles, the eyes and the moods of people." During this time, Sottsass began to collaborate more with his patrons in the Italian furniture industry while also traveling extensively and drawing on these experiences in early explorations with color, pattern and material. Through an array of personal and commissioned works, the show frames these rich, formative years during which Sottsass consolidated his design philosophy: that "decoration can be a state of mind, an unusual perception, a ritual whisper."Sideboard for Poltronova (1962) and collection of Tenebre vases (1962)Offerta a Shiva (Offerings to Shiva) series, 1964In 1961, Sottsass traveled to India for the first time and was deeply moved by the sensuous world he encountered. "In India I found very strongly a sort of dimension of sacrality," he said. "Every object could become something so related to your life that it becomes part of your vision of la sacralità [the sacred]." Unfortunately, he also contracted a kidney infection—with a terminal prognosis—that forced him into a lengthy convalescence in California. It was there that he met and befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac (among others), seminal writers who had been similarly marked by their travels to India. After his experiences in India, and later with the Beats, Sottsass began working on a series of expressive, hand-made ceramics reflecting the darkness of that time period, in which he so closely brushed with death. Each of the cylindrical forms in the Tenebre (Darkness) series represents a specific person he had known and lost—a set of intimate memorials. In a more optimistic tone, he created the 100 unique plates that make up the Offerta a Shiva (Offerings to Shiva) series as an offering of gratitude for being alive. Using earth tones and circular motifs, the forms are meditative and echo the iconography of mandalas. Tantra vases, 1968Grande Mandala, 1964-65 and Piccolo Mandala, 1964He would go on to make numerous subsequent trips to India during the following years and continued to absorb lessons from the country into his work. The monumental Tantra vases demonstrate that influence. Their ziggurat-like forms are three-dimensional interpretations of tantric diagrams, while their oversized proportions begin to speak to the playfulness that would define his Memphis work. View of installation including the Califfo Setee and a hanging lamp designed for ArredoluceMobile Barbarella (1966)View of installation including the velvet upholstered Canada setee and armchairs (1959), Lava vases and a mirror designed for Santambrogio and De Berti. Library (1965)Alongside the ceramic works are several little-known furniture designs, many of which are taken from his own house: a gridded screen, the cluster of coffee tables which were similarly assembled and a set of graphically patterned planters. "The experimentation in ceramics up against the furniture pieces shows the complete duality of what his career was," explains designer Jim Walrod. In contrast to much of the plastic and laminate work that would come later, most of these earlier pieces were made of natural materials like rosewood and walnut wood, often inlaid in contrasting tones to create graphic patterns. The biggest presence in the space, floating on a wall, is the bookcase he designed for an Olivetti executive in 1965. Though definitely functional, this piece also represents Sottsass' bold, subversive attitude—the typical structure of a library is upended, the bookshelves are vertical instead of horizontal. The exhibition is closing this weekend in New York but if your interest in Sottsass is piqued, we recommend the recently released biography written by London's Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, Ettore Sottsass and the Poetry of Things.

It’s Almost Here – One Week Left Until the Core77 Conference!

Have you been feeling a little uneasy lately, like maybe you're forgetting something important? Perhaps it's your subconscious reminding you that time is running out to grab your ticket to the Core77 Conference: Designing Here|Now, this October 22nd through the 24th in historic Downtown Los Angeles, CA. In one week's time on October 22nd, top designers and change makers from across the globe will gather in downtown L.A. to kick off the weekend's outstanding design-centric festivities. A full day of inspiring presentations, parties and exclusive Field Trips are on the schedule. With so many reasons to attend, only one question remains: Will you be there to experience it all? Perks of attending? Enjoy drinks and food on us while getting to know your fellow attendees at one of Don Draper's favorite drink spots, hear a full roster of design luminaries share personal insight and explore Los Angeles with our guided Field Trips. Learn more about the four pillars of design—Collaboration, Making, Business and the Future—from leaders in the field. No matter what type of design you practice or how you relate to design in your day-to-day, you'll find something in these presentations that will spur an idea, expand your understanding or just leave you impressed! Our guided field trips to compelling design destinations throughout Los Angeles offer an inside guide to happenings around the city. Attendees will have one of three field trip options to choose from, but we assure you, there is no wrong choice. Finally, to wrap up the day, you'll gather for a farewell picnic so everyone has a chance to reminisce about the best design conference weekend they've ever had.Still not convinced? We've highlighted 10 of the most compelling reasons to attend the Core77 Conference to help get you off the fence and into sunny Los Angeles for this late October weekend. The 2015 Core77 Conference may be three days long, but the knowledge and perspective you'll gain and the connections you'll make could stay with you for years to come. The only way to take part in it is to be there. There's only one week left to get your ticket. Don't miss out.

How Much Weight Soldiers Carry, and Incredible POV Footage of a Massive Paratrooper Drop

An old Army saw has it thatThe General asks, "What does it do?"The Senator asks, "How much does it cost?"The soldier asks, "How much does it weigh?"We think of soldiers as warfighters, but for even the most combat-hardened vet, the amount of time spent in firefights is a fraction of the time spent hauling their gear around. And that gear adds up: A soldier on the march might be saddled with an assault rifle, a sidearm, ammunition for both, a knife, smoke grenades, flashbang grenades, rations, water, medical supplies, tools, body armor, a flashlight, communications gear, extra batteries, night vision goggles, et cetera. (Members of crew-served weapons teams, i.e. mortars and machine-gun squads, have it even worse.)All told, a soldier might be carrying anywhere from seventy to over 100 pounds of gear. Watch this soldier in Afghanistan step onto a scale while loaded up with "everything I go out with every day:"What's even crazier is that sometimes soldiers with this amount of gear on are dropped out of airplanes—which can add another 53 pounds to the load. (The U.S. Army's T-11 parachute and harness weighs 38 pounds and the reserve chute adds another 15.) A veteran of the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy writes that "Gear weight of a paratrooper…hits up to 160 lbs out the door!"To give you an idea of what this looks like, check out this footage of members of the 82nd Airborne Division, all wearing the T-11 rigs, jumping out of a C-17 over New Mexico. Be sure to watch for the guy on the far right of the screen around the 55-second mark:It's strange how amazingly peaceful it looks—on a training mission, anyway—when the guy with a GoPro on his helmet jumps out of the plane. To give you a more visual idea of where all of that weight comes from, here's footage of a soldier at Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord being kitted out for deployment:Even more illuminating is this footage shot in the field, in Afghanistan. Here Specialist Craig Brown points out the design features of the initial layer of clothing, then explains the locations and functions of each successive piece of kit he straps on:Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn't it? I'll never complain about not having a MacBook Air again.Title Image courtesy of U.S. Departement of Defense. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Casey Neistat on What Kind of Camera to Use

Years ago someone saw some photos I had taken and said "Wow, your camera takes really good photos." I thought that was like saying to someone "Wow, your pot makes really good stew." And it struck a chord with me when sketchmaster Spencer Nugent told me that students always ask him what kind of pen/pencil they should use; there seems to be this notion that in certain creative fields, it is the specific brand of the tool of expression that provides the results, not the person wielding it.So it's unsurprising that a question Casey Neistat gets asked a lot is what kind of camera to use. Well, here's his answer, along with some excellent explanations and demonstrations:In another recent video, Neistat attempts to hack a GoPro Hero4 Session in order to correct the ergonomic setback that occurs when the camera is used without a protective case. (Warning: There is some disturbing footage at the end, when Neistat happens to capture a commotion outside of the window that appears to involve animal abuse. Stop watching at 8:00 if you don't want to see it.)Finishers among you, what would you have done? YouTube commenters insist he should have primed it first, but I don't know of any primer that would stick to a waterproof, presumably rubberized surface, do you?

Evolution of the Windcheetah

I am a big fan of Mike Burrows, and have mentioned his work quite a few times over the years at Bicycle Design. In 2012, lifelong "cycling fanatic" and engineer Karl Sparenberg of Advanced Velo Design took over production of Burrows' Windcheetah recumbent trike, and has been working on improving the materials and manufacturability of the original design. I think it's a pretty interesting story, so I am letting Karl tell it to you directly in the guest post below. Having taken over the production of Windcheetah a couple of years ago, the design and manufacturing has taken a different tack. Many people are already aware of Windcheetah, "the ultimate recumbent tricycle", so I've decided not to rattle on with all the historic detail… but it goes without saying that Mike Burrows did a pretty good job 30 or so years ago when he designed it!The modern iteration of Windcheetah is now a more cutting edge speed machine, incorporating advanced materials including Carbon composites and Titanium that were still prohibitively expensive in years gone by and with that, we have to move with the times and produce a 'better' machine.When I took over the manufacture of Windcheetah, to my alarm there was an Achilles heel, not with the design but the castings. These are the components that make up the frame, by bonding the aluminum and carbon tubes together onto spigots, these sand cast aluminum components could come from the foundry with flaws or voids in them.If you could imagine ordering a 'set' of castings to make a Windcheetah frame and then having to go through the whole long winded process of post casting heat treatment, machining, drilling, tapping, powder coating and then the final finishing to only then proceed onto the bonded assembly with the tubing. At any stage in this manufacturing process, from the rough sand castings to the finished component, the dreaded 'flaws' or 'voids' be discovered. Even worse, if the frame has been fully assembled and the sand casted part fails during testing, not only would the whole frame have to be scrapped, but it would also take out any of the other perfectly good components and tubing to the scrap bin with it. A very expensive and time consuming process as I'm sure you could imagine…there had to be a better way to manufacture these components!?You may be interested to know, why the sand castings were failing at such an unacceptably high rate. Well, a few things really, but predominantly the foundries in the UK had to compete with the far east for business. As a consequence, many of them had to shut down, leaving in short, foundries that were not tooled up for small production runs or with the necessary skills to cast such intricate shapes as you find on a Windcheetah. The foundry would simply credit the customer if any of the components failed. But this gesture didn't really help, when what is required is a full set of components to build a machine, not the hassle and cost implication of trying to manage the ongoing balance of the failure in certain components, while the 'perfect' odd parts sat on the shelf.The solution became apparent after considerable research into an alternative method of manufacturing and with massive investment into the tooling for a process known as 'lost wax' or 'investment casting'—the two terms are interchangeable but in essence the same thing.CAD model screenshot and a 3d printed part (used to produce the soft mold needed for wax production). What you see below is the result of numerous hours of redesign and CAD drawing to be able to 3D print the parts ready for soft mould production that manufacture the waxes. Now that we can produce waxes, this opens up the possibilities of alternative materials to aluminum. Soon we will be bringing to market a magnesium version as soon as beta testing is completed. The advantages of magnesium or aluminum are instantly a weight saving of a third the weight.Wax parts for aluminum investment casting So watch this space for an even quicker, lighter and more performance orientated Windcheetah. For further detail contact me directly This post originally appeared on Bicycle Design.

Skybuds Wireless Earbuds Are a Clever Solution for Storage and Charging 

It's been a long road to arrive at truly wireless earphones, but a new crop of products entering the market are finally ditching that clumsy, behind-the-neck connective wire. Among these, Skybuds—the result of a collaboration between ECCO Design and Alpha Audiotronics—takes things a couple steps further than just delivering great sound, by incorporating the earphones into a storage and charging system aimed to "seamlessly fit into a user's existing behavior," as co-founder Jamie Robert Seltzer notes. The evolution of Skybuds through many rounds of prototypes. In order to create an earbud flexible enough to fit a majority of ear shapes, the team started the project with extensive analysis. They conducted hundreds of studies to map out different ear geometries, which they 3D modeled and used to explore possible ergonomic iterations for the Skybuds tip shape. In its minimalist design, the Skybuds system combines four everyday products: wireless earbuds, a bluetooth headset, an extra battery for both your phone and the earbuds and a protective case for your phone. Skybuds live in the accompanying, patented phone case and can be removed from the bottom with a simple push, like clicking a pen. The buds begin charging as soon as they are securely docked and have a 3-4 hour battery life. The case itself has an embedded battery pack, so a welcome side effect of using this system is that your phone will be recharged throughout the day. Through dozens of iterations, the team pared down the sleek case so that it's not too bulky on the bottom to make room for the earbuds. The final design features a slight taper, allowing the case to lie flat and the screen to be fully visible in a resting position.The focus throughout the entire design process was on minimizing bulk and hassle while creating a tool that addresses multiple modern-day needs. "The work of good design is to simplify complex issues so people can readily enjoy everyday experiences," explains ECCO Design President Eric Chan. "The most challenging aspect is to negotiate space between EE components, antenna design and performance and battery capacity, while getting the most comfortable and compelling form factor, all in a very small earbud." The earbuds include a set of useful functions: Buttons on both buds let users play/pause music and also answer, ignore or hang-up phone calls. The system uses a combination of wireless technologies but is really freed up by the use of Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI)—a technology previously only used in hearing aids—to send signals to both buds without needing to connect them through a wire. The benefits of magnetic induction are numerous—it is an efficient, low-power system that overcomes many of the drawbacks of radio frequency systems, like interference and security concerns. One of the frustrating aspects of wireless earphones is how easily they can be lost, but Skybuds has considered those of us who are prone to misplacing things. Though the case itself already helps prevent lost buds, they also created an app that contains a tracking feature—for those inopportune moments when you're searching for your earphones as you're running late to work. Though some will be disappointed to know that (for now, at least) the case is only compatible with iPhone 6 and 6s, there is a lot of enthusiasm for this clever, compact product—just a little over a day into their Kickstarter campaign, the project is already almost half-way funded.

A Desktop Robotic Arm That Can 3D Print, Mill, Plot, Carve, Etch, Assemble and More

The prevailing form factor for consumer-level 3D printers and CNC mills is a box, dictated by the axial/gantry-style mechanisms of these machines. But entrepreneur Zaib Husain and engineer Azam Shahani were thinking outside of the box, literally, when they devised their Makerarm prototype. An articulated arm is cantilevered off of a column mounted to a worksurface; the arm has a 180-degree sweep, ten inches of Z-travel and a maximum reach of nearly 16 inches. So what does this arm do? Well, everything. The creators have designed a series of interchangeable tool heads that can hold an almost absurd variety of: Cutting heads for milling and engraving, nozzles for 3D printing either FDM-style or resin-based, a laser cutter, a soldering iron, a pen plotter, and even a series of pick-and-place tools like a claw gripper, an electromagnet and a suction cup. Check out its range of operations: I found the auto-leveling feature shown in the video the most fascinating, where the head tracks the slanted surface of the workpiece. The sensors that must be contained within to perform such a feat make me wonder if the arm can also automatically index off the corner of the workpiece. Holddown–not to mention bolting the arm's base to your worksurface–is presumably still the user's domain.Unsurprisingly, the $999 early bird special is already sold out on Kickstarter. That was for just the Makerarm and a single head pack including the electromagnet and pen plotter. The fully-loaded version that ships with all of the heads (see below) is going for $2,199.Though they've still got a long way to go, it seems certain the project will be funded. Though the campaign is only in their first few days, they've already raised $145,653 of a $349,750 goal, and there are still 28 days left to pledge. And assuming they do make it, they're planning on shipping by October 2016.