Using Design and Technology to Produce a Safer Football Helmet

As the devastating effects of football-related concussions become better understood, many are worried that one of America's great sports is in danger. Non-football-fans likely don't care, as it's easy to dismiss football players as knuckleheads; but to the American communities and youths who are bound together and individually shaped by football—read H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights, or see the stunning, 96%-on-Rotten-Tomatoes documentary Undefeated—it's a big deal. Yet American sporting goods companies have not been able to create a helmet that can adequately protect the braincase of a 300-pound man being crashed into by other 300-pound men.The problem may be intractable, but now a Seattle-based startup called Vicis is attempting to tackle (ahem) the issue by integrating better design and technology into their Zero1 helmet. The company reckons that by pulling together a superteam of doctors, designers, engineers and manufacturing experts, they can produce a cutting-edge—and extremely expensive—helmet that better protects the brain. Image courtesy of ArtefactFor the design part, Vicis enlisted Seattle-based consultancy Artefact Group, who "understood the critically important need to merge safety, form and function into the design of our new helmet," says Vicis CEO Dave Marver. "When we review our helmet designs with current and former NFL and NCAA players, they are consistently impressed by the look and the feel of the ZERO1." Here's what they've come up with:The LODE SHELL – Absorbs impact load by locally deforming, like a car bumper. Automotive safety engineers have used local deformation to protect people for decades. We're the first to bring this proven innovation to football helmets.The CORE LAYER – Employs a highly-engineered columnar structure that moves omni-directionally to reduce linear and rotational forces. The columnar geometry used in our CORE Layer is based on principles first described by Leonhard Euler, a Swiss physicist in the 1700s.The LODE Shell and CORE Layer work together to reduce impact forces, leveraging well established engineering principles and materials long-used in stringent aerospace and automotive applications. Tested to withstand multiple seasons of play, the VICIS ZERO1 delivers 21st century innovation built on bedrock scientific principles.Even if Vicis has gotten it right—thus far the testing has been limited to laboratories and simulations, with independently-executed field tests forthcoming—the Zero1 will initially be out of reach for most, as the $1,500 asking price is well beyond what your average high school can afford. (A typical youth helmet starts under $100.) But the price will be a drop in the bucket for the National Football League, for whom each team is worth roughly $2 billion, and Division One colleges will also likely be able to muster up the scratch. And "eventually," Bloomberg reports, "[Vicis] hopes to develop lower-priced models for high school and youth ball."Sorry to hit this point again, but if you are not a football fan and cannot understand the culture, I highly recommend you watch Undefeated. It will change your perspective by introducing you to the little-seen, positive effect on character in young American males.

Taming the Kitchen and Dresser Drawers 

Anyone who's tried to find one specific item in a large, crowded drawer will appreciate how drawer organizers can help make things easier. DrawerDecor from KMN Home is one cool way to provide that organization, with a silicone mat (which can be trimmed to fit) and repositionable pieces. It's easy to install and easy to clean—and it makes it extremely easy to find things. It can be configured as needed by each end user. However, not everyone has enough drawer space for this approach.The Dream Drawer Organizers from Dial are spring-loaded, so they're easy to install—no tools required. They come in two sizes to accommodate different drawer sizes. These organizers subdivided the drawers while still allowing a group of kitchen tools, for example, to overlap.One concern: A number of purchasers have complained that while the taller-but-shorter dividers are supposed to expand from 12 inches to 18 inches, they didn't actually compress to 12 inches, and therefore didn't fit into some shorter drawers. The expandable drawer organizers from Axis are also spring-loaded. One added feature are the notches which allow for horizontal pieces to be added to subdivide the rows into smaller sections—a nice option. However, purchasers noted these dividers, like the Dream Drawer Organizers, didn't fit drawers on the shorter side of the given range. And one purchaser had a drawer destroyed when the compressed spring let loose.The OXO drawer dividers come in two sizes; they provide the same ease of installation as the spring-loaded drawers, but use a different mechanism. The end user pushes down on a button to expand the organizer to fit the drawer. However, a minority of purchasers have reported problems with the dividers staying in place. The slotted interlocking drawer dividers from Sorbus are also easy to install and configurable to the end user's needs. Each set has three strips that snap apart without the need for any tools. Using these dividers will require the end user to do some pre-planning and measuring, though, to get the configuration right before snapping the strips into pieces. That may sound trivial, but for some end users it will be a challenge.The custom drawer organizer strips are another fully-configurable design. As The Container Store says, "You just measure, score, and snap dividers to the length you need; then slide them into the self-adhesive mounts in whatever configuration you want." However, some purchasers found the "score and snap" part to be somewhat difficult. The honeycomb drawer organizer from Whitmor is intended for small things such as socks and underwear. The pieces just snap together; purchasers agree the installation is simple. But they also note the sections are pretty small, and work better for a child's items than for those of an adult man. (Any organizer like this, with set compartment sizes, can't possibly work for everyone.)Some organizers are designed specifically for tall kitchen drawers. The Tra-Sta Deep Drawer Kit from Omega National includes three prefinished maple dividers and six predrilled mounting rails. They can be trimmed to fit various drawer depths, but the height is not intended to be altered. (Trimming the bottom would remove the finish from the edge and void the warranty.)The deep drawer inserts and the kitchenware and plate organizers from Häfele use a base plate and posts. This seems like an effective way to store plates in a drawer, but no one I've worked with would care about organizing pans that way, especially since it would seem to reduce the number of pans that could fit in the drawer.The Hettich Orgastore 100 kitchen drawer storage set, designed specifically for Innotech drawer systems, uses yet another configurable approach: a rail system with dividers.Some drawer organizers are designed to meet a very specific need. That's the case with the diagonal cooking utensil divider from Diamond Cabinets, which gives the end user space for large utensils that might not fit in a drawer with standard dividers.

Design Job: Yarn-ing for a new job? Join Warrior Sports as their next Knit Technician in Warren, MI

Seeking an experienced knitwear technician with programming and hands on knowledge on flat knitting machines. High level of competency in fully-fashioned programming and knitwear machines is required. Ideal candidates can manage large and complex 3D knit development projects. Extensive knowledge of yarn selection, gauges, stitch techniques, patterns and layouts required.View the full design job here

How a Traditional Korean Inlaid Lacquer Box is Made

For those of us who are beginner or even intermediate level woodworkers, making a delicate box with a perfect finish is hard enough. Imagine that you get all of that done, and then the real work starts.If you've ever been to Korea, you may have seen some of these lacquered boxes inlaid with what looks like pearl or shells:In fact they're shells, and while a purist might say the techniques used to get them in there aren't proper inlay, well, watch this guy (master craftsman Lee Kwang-Woong) make one and see if you'd find it any less difficult:"I was about to ask how much one of these boxes go for," writes one commenter on the YouTube page, "but then I saw it takes one year to make one of them so I think I'm better off not knowing."

Germany Building Bicycle-Only Highway That Will Link Ten Cities

The ADFC is Germany's bicycle advocacy group, and they've come up with a funny term: MAMIL, which stands for Middle-Aged Man in Lycra. What they're referring to are studies that show it's typically macho dudes in their 30s and 40s who feel most safe riding a bike, particularly in adverse conditions; the number of bike-riding females, elderly, and well-parented children are kept down due to safety concerns. MAMILs"With MAMILs only, you cannot build a cycling nation," the ADFC states. "[There must be] younger and older people, fathers with children on their way to school, well-dressed women on their way to work, girlie girls in pink, ministers and doctors, teenagers on their way to sports training, musicians with double basses on their backs, elderly ladies on their way to the library [all riding bikes]."If you hit the "studies" link above, you'll find another study reporting that "in European cities with separated bicycle infrastructure, women account for 50% of riders." In other words, bike lanes bring equality. And now there's good news for the ADFC, as well as the residents in the Ruhr region of Germany: The country is launching a 100-kilometer (62-mile) fully-paved roadway dedicated entirely to bikes, no cars allowed.This "bicycle Autobahn," as is calling it, will be located in the densest part of Germany. The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area has a population exceeding 12 million people spread over nearly a dozen cities, and thus this super bike lane will connect ten cities and four universities. Almost two million people live within two kilometres of the route and will be able to use sections for their daily commutes, said Martin Toennes of regional development group RVR.Aided by booming demand for electric bikes, which take the sting out of uphill sections, the new track should take 50,000 cars off the roads every day, an RVR study predicts.For now the bikeway has been kicked off with a 5-kilometer stretch that's 4 meters (13 feet) wide, as the rest of the path is projected to be; in order to complete the remaining 95 kilometers, financing is required. At €180 million (USD $197 million) the bikeway isn't cheap, and the question of whom will pay for it must be negotiated. So far the RVR is off to a good start: While they paid for 20% of the initial run, they got the local state government to pay for 30% and the EU to pick up the rest. With any luck, the ADFC will soon get their wish of seeing MAMILs and non-MAMILs alike all pedaling to work.It's not really called the "bicycle Autobahn," by the way; the cycleway's official name is the RS1 or Radschnellweg, which I believe translates to something like "Fast cycleway." (Can any of our German-speaking readers clarify?)

Bring Candy! 5 Transformative Lessons from the 2015 Core77 Conference

Hosted in downtown Los Angeles, the second annual Core77 Conference celebrated many facets of design with the theme, Designing Here/Now. An exploration of the spaces between design disciplines where today's most impactful work is taking place, this year's speakers are changing the very definition of designer. Organized around four central ideas—collaboration now, making now, business now and the future now—the conference was a deep dive into what it means to be creating impactful work in today's competitive landscape. The speakers presented groundbreaking projects and incredible ideas over the course of the day (check our #Core77Con15) in the dramatic setting of the Vibiana, a former catholic cathedral in the heart of downtown LA. Even if you weren't able to join us for this year's event, here are five transformative lessons designers can put into practice today. Storytelling 101: Bring Candy!Storytelling will become even more critical in the age of co-creation and interdisciplinary practice. Jessie Kawata of NASA JPL working on prototypes for mission design.In Jessie Kawata's presentation about design thinking for space exploration, the creative strategist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory shared how fundamental tools of design like asking the "what and why" can help engineers and scientists connect ideas and problem solve. In one example, Kawata led a workshop with NASA scientists asking them to prototype ideas for space missions using materials from the 99 cent store. Besides the wonders of pasta propulsion and coffee filter parachutes, the biggest learning from the exercise was that these storytelling opportunities provided a venue for new ideas to be born. Prototyping with mundane objects meant that the scientists weren't as attached to their ideas spurring a brainstorm of far out ideas that could just lead to the next mission innovation. (How did she get these rocket scientists to participate? "Candy helps.")[Editors Note: For more on design thinking and science, read Jessie Kawata's post, "Is Design Thinking Rocket Science?"]Sly Lee, a marine scientist, shared the value of the world's coral reefs as well as the challenges facing ocean ecologies. Communicating the urgency of these challenges continues to be a huge hurdle for the scientific community. The Hydrous was founded to, "Make scientific data sexy!" Lee declares. Through 3D imaging tools, The Hydrous is now able to map and 3D print models of coral reef, creating better data sets for scientists to chart growth and development while providing better storytelling tools for the public. By engaging technology, citizen scientists and the scientific community, The Hydrous is working to create open access oceans and storytelling is a key component in accomplishing this mission.Sly Lee's full presentation for Designing Here/NowPeople FirstWhether through a community-driven design practice or working on your most important design project (yourself), putting people first in the age of technology can sound pretty radical. Attendees sketching their heroes as part of Ayse Birsel's first exercise for designing the life you love.The award-winning product designer Ayse Birsel introduced her newest work, a book and workshop that applies her human-centered design practice to life's biggest project—the Self. Design the Life You Love is about creating meaning and purpose through a series of exercises that form the basis of Birsel's client work. Birsel's book and workshop shift the familiar tenets of human-centered design to a self-centered design practice which can be both empowering and transformative.Process video for manufacturing Brendan Ravenhill's Grain lamp shade in Los Angeles.Brendan Ravenhill gave the audience a glimpse at what it means to be a designer-manufacturer in Los Angeles. The lighting and furniture designer often works with local manufacturers to produce his work and he argues that the link between the two is more important than a passing trend. "The new designer-maker movement is helping to fill the void of manufacturing jobs going overseas," Ravenhill explains. By putting people first, designers working with local manufacturing in turn supports local economies and allows for a type of co-creation that is beneficial for both parties. Ravenhill's Grain pendant is a prime example of how manufacturing locally can allow for a complexity that wouldn't be able to be achieved by working remotely.[Editor's Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Brendan Ravenhill on switching from boat building to industrial design, working in Los Angeles and how his bottle opener jump-started his business.]Whereas Ravenhill's community is driven by production and economics, the fiber artist and designer Tanya Aguiñiga defines community in a broader sense, placing it at the center of her work. Whether its in her woven installations and the relationship with a viewing public (see "Crossing the Line" where she transforms a gallery space into a loom) or in the physical interactions of her felting interventions, Aguiñiga's work explores her own identity and a connection to a broader community—mothers, outsiders, multinationals, women. Designers of all disciplines can learn much from her "craft-centered, local problem solving," approach and the ways that it has not only transformed her work but also the people around her.[Editor's Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Tanya Aguiñiga on designing outside your own reality and using craft as a way to diversify conversations in society.]Models of Impact workshop led by Matthew Manos and verynice."What if everyone in the world lived to create a model of impact?" Matthew Manos of the global design consultancy verynice, asks the audience. "What if the $8 billion nonprofits spend on design services could be spent on serving the cause?" Manos has inspired a movement with #GiveHalf, his business case for giving away half your work away for free by taking on probono nonprofit clients. By building in a probono strategy into a consultancy's workflow, "your capacity for projects can grow while your fixed costs stay low," Manos explains. If the success of verynice is any indication, putting people first can be transformative not only for the client, but for the consultancy as well. [Editor's Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Matthew Manos on Giving Away Half Your Work for Free.] Mickey McManus rang the alarm in his first book, Trillions, where he described a state of, "unbounded, often malignant, complexity." In his talk, he argued for a "people first" approach as we design the future. Instead of designing an Internet of Things, McManus argues for a "community of things" that can be agile in a rapidly shifting environment. "How does design need to change?" in an age where the intersection of machine learning, digital manufacturing and feedback loops from the Internet of Things demands new and dynamic systems.Design ecosystems, not products.As technology and design merge to create complex, more connected and adaptive products, it is more critical to design ecosystems that enable users to create new interactions. The market is flooded with smart, connected devices that rely on what Mickey McManus, also an Autodesk fellow, identifies as a sea of information. "We'll have to try to create symbiosis between [products]…this will be more like growing a garden or raising children rather than like building products, houses and factories." Being a designer will mean co-creating ecosystems where machine intelligence, data and connectivity must be harnessed.Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group and Levi's are a great example of the potential for co-creation. The two American companies have partnered to develop Project Jacquard, a system for weaving connected, touch-sensitive textiles, into a commercially-viable denim garment. "Project Jacquard creates a new ecosystem of open source garments," Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Global Product Innovation at Levi's underlined in his talk. "It is not a gadget, it is a platform that adds value in a world of fast fashion."NewDealDesign's Project Underskin.Gadi Amit's presentation on technology design took a more concrete approach to designing ecosystems. In his work with wearables, Amit is already creating customized technologies that draw from complex systems of information. Project Underskin, is a new kind of "wearable"—a sensor embedded under the skin that is designed to interface between the body and external cues from the environment or other people.[Editor's Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Gadi Amit on assimilating technology into society, being 'a very actionable guy,' and his favorite productivity trick.]Sochi Olympic fountain designed by WET Nadine Schelbert, director of design and branding at WET Design gave a powerhouse presentation that shared how their consultancy own every aspect of designing and manufacturing water features for their clients. From precision engineering, custom built simulation software, manufacturing custom designed hardware, Schelbert explained that designing a water feature means designing space, form and performance. "Owning the design, systems, hardware and software development and build give us creative freedom and pushes boundaries," Schelbert told the audience. The workings of WET's interdisciplinary design practice is a great case study for developing robust ecosystems of the near future.MAYA: Most Advanced Yet AcceptableRaymond Loewy's principle of "Most advanced yet acceptable," continues to be a guiding touchstone for designers. In our current age of rapidly shifting paradigms and new technologies, the concept of MAYA can help navigate some of the more thorny ethical and business questions posed to designers today. Can collaboration be competitive? Core77 contributor and vice president of design at Sonos, Tad Toulis, made the case for creating an internal culture that encourages designers to "challenge assumptions and push people" in order to deliver something truly good. In a 2011 essay for Core77, Toulis made, "The Case for Competitive Competition," and at this year's Core77 Conference he revisited the idea and reminded the attendees of the power of deep engagement, prototyping ideas, embracing ambiguity, pushing people and most of all, humility. "Explain, explain, explain," Toulis encourages. "Maybe you'll find what the project is REALLY about instead of what you thought it was about."Tesla Model S, 2013In Javier Verdura's talk with CARLAB's Eric Noble, the Tesla director of product design reiterated the importance of balancing advanced technologies with the demands of business and consumer expectations. Unique to the industry, Tesla positions itself as both an automotive manufacturer and an energy storage company. The responsibility of the designer is delivering on the brand promise of a luxury, forward-thinking vehicle while also honoring the vision of its founder, Elon Musk. "When people hear the Tesla brand," Verdura explains, "they already think, 'That is so cool.' My goal is for them not to be let down by anything else they touch."Teddy Ruxpin designed by RKSBelkin Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone by Pip Tompkin StudioPip Tompkin (Pip Tompkin Studio) and Ravi Sawhney (RKS Design) discussed the business of running an ID consultancy with Core77 contributing writer Rebecca Veit. In their wide-ranging conversation, the two industry veterans discussed the delicate dance between clients and consultancy. On one hand, the business world, "understand the value of design," Sawhney told the audience. "They know they need design, they just don't know how to get there." On the other hand, "design encourages risk," Tompkin cautioned. Oftentimes risk-adverse business can be "truly frightened by design." Savvy consultancies must balance the demands of the client, hire balanced interdisciplinary teams and stay ahead of the market to thrive in this environment. Loewy's axiom seems especially prescient in today's competitive landscape.Think WrongUnconventional ways of thinking and problem solving are extremely valuable (and can be taught) in a fast-moving and agile market.John Bielenberg is a pioneer in social impact design. Since founding Project M, a program to engage young designers in social impact work, Bielenberg has gone on to form COMMON, the world's first collaborative brand, with Alex Bogusky and more recently the Silicon Valley innovation firm Future Partners. In his years of experience working with young designers and entrepreneurs, he's come to the conclusion that "thinking wrong" is the fastest track to finding ideas that matter and Future Partners is on a mission to share and teach the thinking wrong methodologies. The six tenants of the process include:• Be Bold• Get Out• Let Go• Make Stuff• Bet Small• Move FastWebsite for Kenzo x Blue Marine Foundation by OKFocusNJ(LA)If Bielenberg's success isn't convincing, the conversation between Ryder Ripps (OKFocus) and Nicole Jacek (NJ(L.A.)) offered a glimpse into the unconventional methodologies their consultancies use for creating powerful work for companies like Nike, Red Bull, Kenzo, Good Magazine and Adobe. "There is a lot of room to divert from the template," Ripps responds when asked about the work being labelled weird. "Being 'weird' is survival." Jacek's work relaunching GOOD magazine has helped reposition the beloved publication and online community for a new print audience that is fluent in the language of digital culture. She notes that a number of corporations are taking cues from agencies like hers by establishing internal departments dedicated to trying new things. Thanks to everyone who made Designing Here/Now a huge success! For more information and scenes from the conference, check out the full Core77 Conference 2015 photo gallery!

The Soap of the Future: Bubbles!

Back in my ambulance days, we were taught to wash our hands after each shift in warm soapy water—while mentally humming a segment of "Yankee Doodle Dandy." This would take us, they reckoned, to the 30 seconds required for the soap to kill whatever germs might have got past the gloves. To this day, I still hear that silly song in my head when I'm washing up in my kitchen after handling raw meat. Now researchers at the UK's University of Southampton have come up with a faster way to disinfect, and it's chemical-free. The method is also theorized to get us out of the medically-problematic situation we've created, where we take so many antibiotics that the bugs are forced to evolve, creating ever-hardier strains. Amazingly, this new cleaning system is…bubbles!It's fascinating that they can turn bubbles into something that cleans mechanically just via ultrasound. (Perhaps less fascinating to jewelers, as ultrasonic jewelry cleaners have been on the market for some time.) Being able to clean something that ordinarily takes 20 seconds in just six means less water is wasted. Also, not mentioned in the video is that the water needn't be warmed in order to clean, which reduces energy expenditure.If the team can get this Starstream device successfully commercialized, and integrated into kitchen taps, I'd happily pay for one if I never had to buy soap again. It would be less chemicals, not to mention money, water and energy, down the drain.

DiResta’s Cut: Corian LED Lamp

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:

Julie Anixter will be AIGA’s New Executive Director

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.

My Vote for This Year’s Best Halloween Costume, and How Casey Neistat Built the Most Viral Costume

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?