Tag Archives: design

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 2: Final Rendering

Here in Part 2 industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, has just one more step to complete before building a model of his solar charger design: Nailing that all-important final rendering.

Some of you will do this all on paper, some digitally. Strebel has developed his own workflow combining the two for greater efficiency. Here he provides some practical rendering tips including why he starts with orange and 20% grey, why black comes last, how to get gradations on paper without pastel dust getting everywhere, what’s faster to do on paper vs. faster to do digitally, and more. Check it out:

Missed Part 1? Check it out here.


Core77

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 2: Final Rendering

Here in Part 2 industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, has just one more step to complete before building a model of his solar charger design: Nailing that all-important final rendering.

Some of you will do this all on paper, some digitally. Strebel has developed his own workflow combining the two for greater efficiency. Here he provides some practical rendering tips including why he starts with orange and 20% grey, why black comes last, how to get gradations on paper without pastel dust getting everywhere, what’s faster to do on paper vs. faster to do digitally, and more. Check it out:

Missed Part 1? Check it out here.


Core77

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 2: Final Rendering

Here in Part 2 industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, has just one more step to complete before building a model of his solar charger design: Nailing that all-important final rendering.

Some of you will do this all on paper, some digitally. Strebel has developed his own workflow combining the two for greater efficiency. Here he provides some practical rendering tips including why he starts with orange and 20% grey, why black comes last, how to get gradations on paper without pastel dust getting everywhere, what’s faster to do on paper vs. faster to do digitally, and more. Check it out:

Missed Part 1? Check it out here.


Core77

Design Job: Delicious Design! Astor Chocolate is Seeking a Graphic Designer in Lakewood Township, NJ

Graphic Designer Astor Chocolate is a premier luxury chocolate manufacturer, with its fundamental strength being its innovation, creativity and dedication to creating premium products. We provide our customers with the opportunity to promote them, leaving an everlasting impression of distinction and quality. We work in an

View the full design job here
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MCM Furniture Design History: Kai Kristiansen, Danish Modern’s Last Living Legend

In the last MCM Furniture Design History post, we mentioned that Kaare Klint founded the furniture design department at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1924 and influenced the next generation of Danish furniture designers. The designer in this week’s MCM Pick of the Week, Kai Kristiansen, is one of those designers.

Kristiansen’s style, presumably informed by Klint, is known for clean lines, functionalism, and Kristiansen’s own outside-the-box thinking.

Born in 1929 in Denmark, Kristiansen began studying under Klint at the Academy in 1949. At the age of 26 Kristiansen had set up his own studio, and produced his first “hit” design in 1955:

That’s the #42 Chair, created for manufacturer Schou Andersen. It was radical at the time in that the rear legs, not the front legs, were what supported the armrests. Also note that the suspended backrest appears to float, with no vertical support members coming into contact with it. This chair is recognized as a classic example of the Danish Modern style.

Kristiansen scored another hit two years later with the design of a modular wall system. In 1957, three years before Dieter Rams designed the 606 Universal Shelving System for Vitsœ, Kristiansen designed the Reolsystem Wall Unit:

It was well-received, both domestically and internationally. While much more of a commitment than purchasing a standalone wall unit, the Reolsystem was popular because the end user could arrange and customize a variety of storage components on it to their specific needs.

The Reolsystem was produced by Danish manufacturer SB Feldballes Møbelfabrik, one of the many manufacturers Kristiansen was contracted by. (Others include Fritz Hansen, Magnus Olesen and FM/Fornem Møbelkunst, who took over production of the Reolsystem in the ’60s.) Kristiansen designed chairs, desks, sideboards and wall units. The sideboard that Mid Century Mobler showed us as their Pick of the Week was also produced by SB Feldballes Møbelfabrik:

This is not one of Kristiansen’s smash hits; it is a more workmanlike piece, designed for people’s homes rather than a museum, and we must look closely at it to see what is significant about it. First off this piece was designed in the 1960s. To provide some context, let’s look at this earlier sideboard designed by Kristiansen in the 1950s, here integrated with the Reolsystem:

As you can see, both the bureau and the sideboard have legs connected to each other by an apron or stretcher:

The Find of the Week sideboard, in contrast, has no apron at all. Kristiansen has pared down and minimalized the supporting structure as much as possible; the legs are connected only by two lintels running front to back, and these make the connection to the casework.

Photographed from this low angle, the lintels, though recessed slightly, are visible:

However, when seen from the angle at which this unit would most commonly be seen and interacted with–which is to say, standing height–the lintels disappear from view:

On the thin legs, the casework thus seems to float.

Like most mid century modern pieces, the casework itself appears seamless. The corners are mitered.

The faces of the drawers inside are pure form-follows-function, with a gentle curve cut into each face to admit fingers for pulling.

No fasteners are visible throughout, and the use of materials other than wood is sparing. Felt lines the drawers to prevent objects within from sliding as the drawer is opened, and the tracks that the sliding doors run on are presumably metal, but that’s about it.

In the photo directly above, you can also see that the sides of the drawers are grooved, to accept the wooden runners affixed to the interior of the case. And looking inside the case, below, we can see three rows of holes beneath the two existing drawers:

These are undoubtedly to support additional runners, and it’s likely that the customer had the choice, at the time of purchase, to specify how many drawers they wanted the unit to contain. It might not be as configurable as the Reolsystem, but there was still a measure of customization available.

Kai Kristiansen is alive today, and still actively engaged in design work, well into his 80s. Just last year Kristiansen released a new line of entryway drawers called Entre, produced by Danish manufacturer Great Dane. 

You can read the story behind those here.


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Design Job: It’s Electric! Tesla is Seeking a Color, Material, and Finish Designer in Los Angeles, CA

The Role As a Color, Material, and Finish Designer at Tesla Motors, you will be part of a creative team that is responsible for designing the future of transportation. You will work to translate trends into award winning designs that inspire customers throughout the world.

View the full design job here
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Milan Design Week 2017: Form Follows Fiction

As the industry’s biggest annual trade fair, the Salone del Mobile is certainly an occasion to reflect on the state of design today—both implicitly and explicitly as certain schools and organizations take the opportunity to critique the commercial pretense of both the Salone and the mobile. This year, two venues in particular captured a more cerebral notion of design week, though the skepticism—about making more stuff—also took various forms around Milan.

Once again, Atelier Clerici—a perennial exhibition set in the eponymous Palazzo in the heart of Milan—served as a kind of embassy for Dutch design, anchored by the Design Academy Eindhoven and a half-dozen kindred spirits. (Full disclosure: I am currently a student in the Masters Design Curating & Writing program at the DAE.) Curated by Jan Boelen, the head of the Masters in Social Design, the heady exhibition was conceived as a high-concept critique of contemporary newsmedia in the context of design weeks, Milan, and reportage in general. Set in a darkened mock TV studio, the slick production value of #TVClerici relegated artifacts to the periphery of the double-height space, such that the daily performances would literally take center stage. 

Enter a uccaption (optional)

Once again, Atelier Clerici—a perennial exhibition set in the eponymous Palazzo in the heart of Milan — served as a kind of embassy for Dutch design, anchored by the Design Academy Eindhoven and a half-dozen kindred spirits. (Full disclosure: I am currently a student in the Masters Design Curating & Writing program at the DAE.) Curated by Jan Boelen, the head of the Masters in Social Design, the heady exhibition was conceived as a high-concept critique of contemporary newsmedia in the context of design weeks, Milan, and reportage in general. Set in a darkened mock TV studio, the slick production value of #TVClerici relegated artifacts to the periphery of the double-height space, such that the daily performances would literally take center stage.

With the galleria transformed into a black-box playhouse, #TVClerici could best be described as an overambitious bit of theater, brazenly skipping ahead to meta-meta-level critique as a performance about media. In that sense, the concept soared over the heads of visitors without quite scratching the surface of the sensationalist culture it set out to expose, not so much a mirror for society but rather another spectacle among others. After all, a daily series of scheduled performances — staged, semi-scripted segments—are not fictional events but decidedly real ones.

Contrived though the “look behind the curtain” may have been, the concept stopped short of onanism, thanks largely to the pseudo-professional production (down to the trucker caps) and earnest dramaturgy (i.e. recent grad Olle Lundin). All told, #TVClerici did offer commentary on specific issues in culture —gender, identity, etc. — precisely by renouncing design and aspiring to art.

The balance of the offerings at Atelier Clerici were rather more conventional, with several notable presentations in the gilded halls of the neoclassical former residence. As a counterpoint to the void of the stage, two other exhibitors opted for a single massive plinth in the center of the room. Amsterdam-based periodical MacGuffin (pictured above) literally and figuratively examined the sink—each issue explores a single subject at length—while the Envisions collective reprised their graphically arresting mise-en-scène of models and form studies. (Other participants included Het Nieuwe Instituut, Fictional Journal, Space Caviar, Z33, and more; see more images below and find more details here.)

See more images of Finsa by Envisions here.

If Boelen’s boldest statement was to bring the Design Academy from the periphery of Milan (i.e. Ventura Lambrate) to the very heart of the city, it was another exhibition tucked in a relatively quiet corner of town that posed a veritable counterpoint. Isolated if not insulated from the other design week festivities, Cascina Cuccagna, a converted urban farmhouse, hosted another polemical group exhibition. 

Forgoing the knowingness of a hashtag for a pithy declaration, Capitalism Is Over was clearly billed as “a provocation or parody,” its overarching message (per the title) at once blunt and pointed. Curators Raumplan commissioned editorial and documentary photography to illustrate the point, the former imagery serving as a kind of ad campaign, the latter physically and metaphorically sited at the center of the second-story space. (In the wings around the courtyard, smaller galleries offered an eclectic mix of projects in varied media, from data visualization to spoken word, to round out the exhibition.)

The spirit of the Capitalism Is Over comes in the guise of architecture photography: On one hand, “But It Used to Be So Cool” documents Olivetti’s headquarters in Ivrea as a throwback to post-war prosperity; on the other hand, “Bigger Faster Cheaper” offers Gursky-esque imagery of IKEA and Amazon logistics hubs in Piacenza. The typewriter company, of course, represents the boom time between 1945–1975, Trente Glorieuses, since eclipsed by the rise of neo-liberal economic models that have resulted in the likes of IKEA and Amazon. The two series of photographs invite facile, fertile comparison—vaguely nationalist nostalgia versus unbounded robo-futurism—in the face of a so-called post-capitalist era, the “fictional framework” of the entire exhibition.

It was a sentiment that resonated not only throughout the Cascina Cuccagna—Capitalism Is Over also included a few room-sized installations and a single “stockroom” gallery with design objects (pictured above)—but also in other exhibitions in Ventura Lambrate.

While Kvadrat launched the much-publicized upcycling initiative Really., Design School Kolding took a more poetic approach to repurposing waste materials and offcuts. For Super Supermarket, the Danish academy partnered with the textile manufacturer and 13 other brands, from Fritz Hansen to Ecco to Royal Dansk, repackaging scraps of leather, metal, plastic, and even potato pulp into faux-grocery items. Thoughtfully conceived and executed, the retail setting offered a delightfully subversive twist on both consumption and upcycling, coming as close as possible to having one’s cake and eating it too.

But perhaps the most compelling fiction came from yet another school. Further afield in the Lambrate district, Burg Halle staged How Do We Deal with This?, a performative investigation into the topic of borders. The chainlink fence and whitewashed medical setting alluded to more pressing problems in society, those for which design alone may not be able to offer a solution, literally encapsulating the placebo effect of late-capitalist consumer culture in the form of a pill.

Ostensibly about geopolitical borders, the metaphor applies to design as well: Where do we draw the line between art and commerce? At Atelier Clerici, the DAE’s transgressive presentation format was a kind of sleight of hand, eliding the distinction between the design and how it is represented. Did #TVClerici overstep the definition of design by extending it to include media writ large—i.e. conflating TV “production” with the design and manufacturing of objects? Moreover, will capitalism ever be “over?”

Either way, the show must go on.


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Design Job: Play the Hits! KIDZ BOP is Seeking a Junior Graphic Designer in New York, NY

Job description KIDZ BOP, the #1 music brand for kids, is looking for a Junior Graphic Designer to join the team. The rapidly growing kids’ music and entertainment brand is expanding across several key areas of business, including international, consumer products and live tours. Core Responsibilities:

View the full design job here
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Design Job: It’s Ergonomic! Dauphin is Seeking an Entry Level Interior Designer in Boonton, NJ

Dauphin seeks an entry level (December 2016 graduate or May 2017 graduate) Interior Designer who has a passion for furniture to join the design team in Boonton, NJ. The ideal individual should be well versed in Interior Design, but have a passion for 3D environment modeling and rendering. This

View the full design job here
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The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 1: Ideation and Sketching

This is an eight-part series by industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, where he lets you follow along as he prototypes a portable solar charging unit.

The all-important prototyping process can be different between industrial designers and projects, but one thing that doesn’t change is that you start with ideation. Before you spend any real money, you want to first figure out what’s what by making basic, inexpensive mock-ups and doing a lot of sketching to identify and solve potential problems:


Core77

The Industrial Design Prototyping Process, Part 1: Ideation and Sketching

This is an eight-part series by industrial designer Eric Strebel, founder of Botzen Design, where he lets you follow along as he prototypes a portable solar charging unit.

The all-important prototyping process can be different between industrial designers and projects, but one thing that doesn’t change is that you start with ideation. Before you spend any real money, you want to first figure out what’s what by making basic, inexpensive mock-ups and doing a lot of sketching to identify and solve potential problems:


Core77

Design Job: It Might Get Loud. LOUD Technologies is Seeking an Industrial Designer in Woodinville, WA

LOUD Technologies Inc. is one of the world’s largest dedicated pro audio and music products companies. As the corporate parent for world-recognized brands including Ampeg, EAW, Mackie and Martin Audio, LOUD Technologies Inc. produces a wide range of digital recording products, loudspeakers, commercial audio systems, audio and music software and

View the full design job here
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A Short History of Design Leadership

Recently throughout the business press, there have been countless articles about CCOs and CDOs and their value. Large companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, 3M, Electrolux, and Hyundai have added these positions over the last few years. Most people behave like this is a remarkable new development. It has been the right of the professional practice of design to have a seat at the table since the inception of the industry. We just stopped demanding it.

Some of the most famous and influential people early the in the professional practice of industrial design—Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Harley Earl and later Dieter Rams—exerted tremendous influence over corporations by working at the executive level. The foundation they laid gives us various models for different types of modern design leaders.

Harley Earl was likely the first corporate VP of Design. He joined GM in the 1920s after a Cadillac dealer purchased his father’s custom body shop. Over time he established some of the first in-house corporate design teams, starting with the “Art and Color” department, then later the “Styling Department”. As the GM portfolio of brands grew, each division got another design team, all lead by Harley. Earl had the ear of Alfred P. Sloan, who was then the CEO, and Earl was able to get him to understand the value of design to attract and retain loyal users. Earl created the concept of the Auto Show, then called GM Autoramas. Here Earl had full control of incredibly expensive show cars that were created to flex his team’s muscles. He used concept vehicles to influence product roadmaps and features by going around production limitations and creating demand straight from the public. During Earl’s tenure, GM became the largest corporation in the world.

Raymond Loewy took a different approach to design leadership. Emigrating to the United States in the 1920’s, Loewy set up a design consulting office in New York. Loewy quickly learned that to do the work and exert the level of influence he wanted to, he needed to collaborate directly with his clients’ founders, president’s, and CEOs. This approach elevated his practice from focusing on quick churn-and-burn project work to long-standing relationships with brands like Coca Cola, Lucky Strike, Greyhound, Studebaker, Pennsylvania Railroad and U-Haul. Working directly with company executives Loewy was able to influence branding, packaging, and advertising in addition to their actual products. In this fashion he implemented some of the earliest forms of design language systems. This expansive thinking, designing everything, is essentially the role of the modern design executive.

Hybridizing the methods of Earl and Lowey, Walter Dorwin Teague took a different approach. Teague started out in advertising in the 1900’s. After a successful 18-year career he saw the early rise of industrial design and shifted his practice to include product design, branding, exhibit design, and packaging. While working across many clients, he was a big believer in bringing design teams to work locally with a company. His teams became direct extensions of the client’s team. He did this most successfully with Kodak and Boeing. In fact, the Boeing relationship was so successful it still exists to this day. If you fly on a Boeing, chances are that someone at Teague designed the interior.

So three of our industry’s founders were all operating at the executive level in different ways. Fast forward a couple of decades to Germany in 1955 where Dieter Rams was hired by the Braun brothers. You might be familiar with the hundreds of products Rams and his team designed there, as well as the guiding principles he created, the 10 commandments of design. What you may not know is that Rams was hired at Braun as an architect and interior designer. He became the head of design just 6 years later in 1961. He held this position until 1995, at which point he actually had a seat on the board of directors of the company.

So what do these four people have in common with each other and how does it relate to the modern design leader? They all share four character traits that helped them become great leaders in our field:

Expansive Thinking
Each one started with a specialty, not necessarily industrial design, and they gained deep knowledge of their chosen field. They then leveraged that knowledge to take on more and more design activities until the entire creative practice was under their purview. Their deep experience in a particular area gave them the confidence to try their skills at other areas of the business. Demonstrated success earned the credibility required to win additional resources, which then allowed them to build teams and extend their responsibilities. Think of Harley Earl, head of design, making such a huge marketing call to create a traveling exhibition of his own concept cars. It was a bold move, but now the entire industry does it. One thing I’ve learned is that if you are not expanding your influence, you are contracting. If you continually show you can do more, your budget will continue to grow. If you maintain the same level of contributions, eventually someone will ask for a budget cut.

Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo
When you dig into the history, in many cases this expansion in responsibilities came from dissatisfaction of how non-creative people were running design. I experienced this first hand as the CDO of Sound United from 2012-2017. Initially I was focused on building the Industrial Design practice. After a year of establishing that, I wanted to bring packaging under my wing, at which point I gained a graphic design team. Dissatisfied with the advertising we were getting from agencies, I had my team start producing our own print and digital ads, which lead to the company eliminating outside agencies. We saved money, raised quality, and gained photography and copywriting resources. Lastly I noticed how much we were spending on outside video production. Using the past success with print and digital ads, I convinced our CEO to allow me to hire a video and motion graphics designer. Within 5 years, I had a team that controlled every creative output; industrial design, UI/UX, packaging, advertising, video, retail displays, trade show exhibits… as Raymond Loewy once said “Never leave well enough alone“.

A Teacher’s Disposition
Looking back at my time in design school, the hardest instructors are the ones I remember most. Even though at the time it felt like they were dragging me through hell, they were the ones who helped me grow. All 4 of these design leaders had reputations for being notoriously difficult to work with, relentlessly demanding the best out of their teams. They believed their people could do things that others said were impossible. This belief pushed their people to deliver, which in turn helped them grow. The fun thing about stretching is you never go back to the same size. Many of their protégés went on to have outsized careers of their own. They realized that the end product lasts a lot longer than a difficult conversation or a late night working. In the end, the work is what prevails.

Manage Up as well as Down
The traits above will help any design leader manage their team to success. But the single biggest reason these designers got seats at the leadership table is because they took it. In business you’re rarely simply handed an opportunity to excel and expand—you have to prove that you are a leader and then essentially demand to be treated and compensated as such. This is not to say you should have a false sense of bravado or entitlement. On the contrary, after you demonstrate that you can contribute at a high level, can coach others to do the same and have the ability to extend beyond your specialty, you have truly earned a seat at the big table. At this time, you need to ask for it and gladly accept the responsibilities that come along with it.

These same four characteristics always bubble up in conversations with my peers in design leadership. For those of you with the ability and the constitution to weather tough situations, I argue it is your duty to your team and the profession as a whole to step up to the leadership level. We are living through the second wave of design leadership—let’s make sure this one lasts.

Ed. Note: Michael will be discussing these ideas and more in a keynote lecture on design leadership at the STRUKTUR Design Conference in Portland, Oregon on April 26th.


Core77

A Short History of Design Leadership

Recently throughout the business press, there have been countless articles about CCOs and CDOs and their value. Large companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, 3M, Electrolux, and Hyundai have added these positions over the last few years. Most people behave like this is a remarkable new development. It has been the right of the professional practice of design to have a seat at the table since the inception of the industry. We just stopped demanding it.

Some of the most famous and influential people early the in the professional practice of industrial design—Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Harley Earl and later Dieter Rams—exerted tremendous influence over corporations by working at the executive level. The foundation they laid gives us various models for different types of modern design leaders.

Harley Earl was likely the first corporate VP of Design. He joined GM in the 1920s after a Cadillac dealer purchased his father’s custom body shop. Over time he established some of the first in-house corporate design teams, starting with the “Art and Color” department, then later the “Styling Department”. As the GM portfolio of brands grew, each division got another design team, all lead by Harley. Earl had the ear of Alfred P. Sloan, who was then the CEO, and Earl was able to get him to understand the value of design to attract and retain loyal users. Earl created the concept of the Auto Show, then called GM Autoramas. Here Earl had full control of incredibly expensive show cars that were created to flex his team’s muscles. He used concept vehicles to influence product roadmaps and features by going around production limitations and creating demand straight from the public. During Earl’s tenure, GM became the largest corporation in the world.

Raymond Loewy took a different approach to design leadership. Emigrating to the United States in the 1920’s, Loewy set up a design consulting office in New York. Loewy quickly learned that to do the work and exert the level of influence he wanted to, he needed to collaborate directly with his clients’ founders, president’s, and CEOs. This approach elevated his practice from focusing on quick churn-and-burn project work to long-standing relationships with brands like Coca Cola, Lucky Strike, Greyhound, Studebaker, Pennsylvania Railroad and U-Haul. Working directly with company executives Loewy was able to influence branding, packaging, and advertising in addition to their actual products. In this fashion he implemented some of the earliest forms of design language systems. This expansive thinking, designing everything, is essentially the role of the modern design executive.

Hybridizing the methods of Earl and Lowey, Walter Dorwin Teague took a different approach. Teague started out in advertising in the 1900’s. After a successful 18-year career he saw the early rise of industrial design and shifted his practice to include product design, branding, exhibit design, and packaging. While working across many clients, he was a big believer in bringing design teams to work locally with a company. His teams became direct extensions of the client’s team. He did this most successfully with Kodak and Boeing. In fact, the Boeing relationship was so successful it still exists to this day. If you fly on a Boeing, chances are that someone at Teague designed the interior.

So three of our industry’s founders were all operating at the executive level in different ways. Fast forward a couple of decades to Germany in 1955 where Dieter Rams was hired by the Braun brothers. You might be familiar with the hundreds of products Rams and his team designed there, as well as the guiding principles he created, the 10 commandments of design. What you may not know is that Rams was hired at Braun as an architect and interior designer. He became the head of design just 6 years later in 1961. He held this position until 1995, at which point he actually had a seat on the board of directors of the company.

So what do these four people have in common with each other and how does it relate to the modern design leader? They all share four character traits that helped them become great leaders in our field:

Expansive Thinking
Each one started with a specialty, not necessarily industrial design, and they gained deep knowledge of their chosen field. They then leveraged that knowledge to take on more and more design activities until the entire creative practice was under their purview. Their deep experience in a particular area gave them the confidence to try their skills at other areas of the business. Demonstrated success earned the credibility required to win additional resources, which then allowed them to build teams and extend their responsibilities. Think of Harley Earl, head of design, making such a huge marketing call to create a traveling exhibition of his own concept cars. It was a bold move, but now the entire industry does it. One thing I’ve learned is that if you are not expanding your influence, you are contracting. If you continually show you can do more, your budget will continue to grow. If you maintain the same level of contributions, eventually someone will ask for a budget cut.

Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo
When you dig into the history, in many cases this expansion in responsibilities came from dissatisfaction of how non-creative people were running design. I experienced this first hand as the CDO of Sound United from 2012-2017. Initially I was focused on building the Industrial Design practice. After a year of establishing that, I wanted to bring packaging under my wing, at which point I gained a graphic design team. Dissatisfied with the advertising we were getting from agencies, I had my team start producing our own print and digital ads, which lead to the company eliminating outside agencies. We saved money, raised quality, and gained photography and copywriting resources. Lastly I noticed how much we were spending on outside video production. Using the past success with print and digital ads, I convinced our CEO to allow me to hire a video and motion graphics designer. Within 5 years, I had a team that controlled every creative output; industrial design, UI/UX, packaging, advertising, video, retail displays, trade show exhibits… as Raymond Loewy once said “Never leave well enough alone“.

A Teacher’s Disposition
Looking back at my time in design school, the hardest instructors are the ones I remember most. Even though at the time it felt like they were dragging me through hell, they were the ones who helped me grow. All 4 of these design leaders had reputations for being notoriously difficult to work with, relentlessly demanding the best out of their teams. They believed their people could do things that others said were impossible. This belief pushed their people to deliver, which in turn helped them grow. The fun thing about stretching is you never go back to the same size. Many of their protégés went on to have outsized careers of their own. They realized that the end product lasts a lot longer than a difficult conversation or a late night working. In the end, the work is what prevails.

Manage Up as well as Down
The traits above will help any design leader manage their team to success. But the single biggest reason these designers got seats at the leadership table is because they took it. In business you’re rarely simply handed an opportunity to excel and expand—you have to prove that you are a leader and then essentially demand to be treated and compensated as such. This is not to say you should have a false sense of bravado or entitlement. On the contrary, after you demonstrate that you can contribute at a high level, can coach others to do the same and have the ability to extend beyond your specialty, you have truly earned a seat at the big table. At this time, you need to ask for it and gladly accept the responsibilities that come along with it.

These same four characteristics always bubble up in conversations with my peers in design leadership. For those of you with the ability and the constitution to weather tough situations, I argue it is your duty to your team and the profession as a whole to step up to the leadership level. We are living through the second wave of design leadership—let’s make sure this one lasts.

Ed. Note: Michael will be giving discussing these ideas and more in a keynote lecture on design leadership at the STRUKTUR Design Conference in Portland, Oregon on April 26th.


Core77

Milan Design Week 2017: Best in Glass

Just over a century ago, Paul Scheerbart noted that “the new glass environment will completely transform mankind, and it remains only to wish that the new glass culture will not find too many opponents.” Captivated by Bruno Taut’s 1914 glass pavilion, the writer painted a utopian picture of a crystalline future, equally panoramic and kaleidoscopic, all thanks to the transparent building material. Suffice it to say that he would have been chagrined to learn that visitors to, say, Massimiliano Fuksas’ formidable Fieramilano spend more time in its hangar-like exhibition halls than they do admiring its soaring glass canopy (ditto I.M. Pei’s ziggurat-like Javits Center).

Architectural applications aside, “glass culture” continues to thrive at the scale of product design and craft. From a breakthrough in 3D-printed glass to a collection of pieces from weekend workshop in Portugal, here are a few noteworthy new glass projects from Milan this year.

The Mediated Matter Group – “Ancient Yet Modern”

Led by Neri Oxman, this research group at MIT’s Media Lab first published its findings in optically transparent 3D-printed glass back in 2015. Now, with G3DP2, the whiz-kids have scaled the technology up, from product scale to that of architecture. To show off their latest efforts, the Mediated Matter Group installed “Ancient Yet Modern,” a series of three freestanding columns embedded with synapse-light pulsing lights, at the Triennale di Milano.

Project Team: Chikara Inamura (project lead), Michael Stern, Daniel Lizardo, Tal Achituv, Tomer Weller, Owen Trueblood, Nassia Inglessis, Giorgia Franchin, Kelly Donovan, Peter Houk (project adviser), Prof. Neri Oxman (project and group director).

Project Associates: Andrea Magdanz, Susan Shapiro, David J. Benyosef, Mary Ann Babula, Forrest Whitcher, Robert Philips, Neils La White, Paula Aguilera, Jonathan Williams, Andy Ryan, Jeremy Flower.

Off Portugal presents Glass Cares

On the other end of the proverbial spectrum, OFF Portugal took the time-honored tack of gathering designers for a weekend workshop — in this case, glass-blowing in Marinha Grande. Two days in the making as opposed to two years, the resulting ten pieces offer a nice capsule collection of Portuguese design today as young designers look to move beyond the nation’s ready association with cork. The glass workshop 

The glass workshop and exhibition in Ventura Lambrate marks the debut of OFF Portugal, a joint effort between Vicara, Arquivo 237, and Cencal; future initiatives will explore other craft and manufacturing techniques.

Participating designers: Diana Medina, Eneida Lombe Tavares, Luis Nascimento, studio ojoaoeamaria, Jorge Carreira, Paulo Sellmayer, Samuel Reis, Vitor Agostinho, Manuel Amaral Netto, and Joana Silva

Salviati presents Decode/Recode

Speaking of long traditions, Venice-based Salviati is among the world’s oldest glass factories, dating back to 1859. For this year’s Milan design week, the Murano specialists presented a pair of installations at the newly minted Ventura Centrale district, a series of cavernous makeshift galleries underneath the train tracks. For Decode/Recode, Salviati invited Luca Nichetto and Ben Gorham to create modular works of glass, “Pyrae” and “Strata.”

Having long collaborated with his fellow Venetians — Salviati produced his first piece — Nichetto developed 25 modules that are combined in different configurations to create the 53 totem-pole-like figures, each illuminated from within. Meanwhile, Gorham, a perfumer by profession, opted for luminous towers to showcase glass tiles in various textures and finishes.

Spektacularis at Matter and Muse

An entirely unexpected joint effort between Filipino industrial designers and Czech master glassblowers, Spektacularis was one of three exhibitors in Matter and Muse, which occupied a modest gallery at the Palazzo Litta. The mutual unfamiliarity yielded expected results, hybrid objets d’art that incorporate elements of both cultures.

Participating designers: Stanley Ruiz, Liliana Manahan, Gabriel Lichauco, Jiri Panicek

“Prism” collection by Tomás Alonso

Atelier Swarovski Home at Palazzo Crespi

The Austrian crystal producer unveiled its latest home decor collections, developed by designers such as 2016 Swarovski Designer of the Future winners Studio Brynjar & Veronika and Tomás Alonso, who extended his collection. Scintillating though the wares may be, the gilded setting stole the show.

“Prism” collection by Tomás Alonso
“Prism” collection by Tomás Alonso
“Currents” collection by Studio Brynjar & Veronika

Other new Swarovski Home collections (not pictured) were designed by Aldo Bakker, Barbara Barry, Andre Kikoski, and Greg Lynn.

Roll & Hill launched Ladies & Gentlemen Studio‘s new “Kazimir” chandelier at Euroluce. Art/design history buffs can probably guess which Suprematist painter inspired the Brooklyn-based duo.

Also noteworthy

Naturally, this is just a selection of works in glass from design week in Milan; here are a few others that also caught our eye at the Salone and beyond. 

The New York-based lighting company also debuted the “Coax” collection by John Hogan
Meanwhile, at SaloneSatellite, Berlin’s Mendelheit Design Lab showed a mix of products, including several glass pieces. Created in a mold made from up to 128 different blocks, the “Tombola” generative vase can take countless forms.
Germans Ermics exhibited three ombre pieces at Rossana Orlandi; the chair, in particular, is an homage to Shiro Kuramata (forgive the awkward photo and check out more on his website)


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Design Job: Educate and Enlighten! Gallagher & Associates is Seeking a Technical Project Manager in New York, NY

Gallagher & Associates is seeking a Technical Project Manager to join our New York office. The Technical Project Manager is responsible for planning and overseeing the software development timeline for multiple digital interactives, concurrently. The ideal candidate has experience managing design-focused software applications and navigating complex development

View the full design job here
Core77

Design Experience that Matters: How to Create a Rubber Prototype Using a 3D-Printed Mold

_____________________________________

This “Design Experience that Matters” series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM’s Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.


Core77

MCM Furniture Design History: The Safari Chair’s Military Roots

Here we’ll go into Mid Century Mobler’s MCM Pick of the Week, Kaare Klint’s Safari Chair. An early example of flatpack furniture, this chair, designed in the peacetime between two world wars, has its roots in military campaigns.

The Designer

Kaare Klint is known as the father of the Danish Modern style of furniture design. Born in Copenhagen in 1888, Klint began apprenticing as a furniture builder at the age of 15. He learned technical drawing at an industrial arts school and also attended an art school, where his talent as a painter emerged. Additionally, he was exposed to architecture through the instruction of his father, a working architect.

As he began developing his own designs, Klint managed to blend three disparate elements: Danish craftsmanship, the clean lines of Modernism and the clear-eyed practicality of Functionalism. According to Danish-Furniture.com,

While Modernism — Bauhaus — was rejecting its heritage, Klint embraced it. He believed that a thorough understanding of materials, proportions and constructions of classical furniture was the best basis for designing new. The design of Klint’s pieces is always based on a relentless research — every piece must fulfill its purpose, be absolutely clarified in its construction, have proportions which correspond to those of the human body, and display materials and craftsmanship of the highest quality.

In addition to designing his own pieces, Klint founded the furniture design department at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1924, where he then influenced the next generation of Danish furniture designers.

The Chair

Klint’s Safari Chair, designed in 1933, was based on chairs that the world-traveling Klint had witnessed being used by Americans or Britons (accounts vary) on an African safari. Those chairs in turn were inspired by “campaign furniture,” the genre of furniture used by traveling armies since at least Roman times.

Campaign furniture was designed to be easily broken down, transported and assembled on-site; thus the pieces in this genre needed to be lightweight, sturdy and easy-to-assemble using a minimum of tools. It was flatpack before Ikea, and the utter practicality and simplicity of the genre presumably captured Klint’s imagination.

The chair Klint spotted and was inspired by was undoubtedly the Roorkhee chair, seen below:

On campaign during the Boer War, 1900. Major-General R. Pole-Carew , right, is seated in a Roorkhee campaign chair. National Army Museum, London
Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis [seated in Roorkhee chair at left]; Winston Churchill; Wladyslaw Anders. Image via National Portrait Gallery

Christopher Schwarz, who has researched and built versions of the Roorkhee chair extensively, writes:

The Roorkhee Chair is a seminal piece of British campaign furniture and was popular with British officers from 1898 to World War I, according to Nicholas Brawer’s book on campaign furniture. Named in honor of the headquarters of the Indian Army Corps of Engineers in Roorkhee, India, the chair is lightweight at about 10 lbs., breaks down quickly and is allegedly quite comfortable.

The “seminal” part refers to the chair’s influence on other important 20th Century chair designs. Schwarz wrote a second article, here, pointing out the debt owed to the Roorkhee’s unknown designer by Marcel Breuer (the Wassily chair), Le Corbusier (the Basculant Chair), Wilhelm Bofinger (the Farmer’s Chair) and Vico Magistretti (the Armchair 905). If you are familiar with those chairs but not the Roorkhee, let’s take a closer look at it.

Here are photos of a vintage version of the Roorkhee chair in both its flatpacked and assembled state. (These photographs are from the Nicholas Brawer book Schwarz referenced above, which is sadly now out-of-print.)

The ingenuity of the design lies not only in its ease-of-assembly, but in how the weight of the sitter plays a role in the structure. With the seatback slung between front and rear crossbars, placing weight on it pulls the crossbars towards each other, which in turn bear on the legs; this has the effect of tightening the side rails in their mortises.

Klint’s Safari Chair is functionally identical to the Roorkhee, with one addition (perhaps): Assuming Brawer’s photo above is of the original design of a Roorkhee, that chair lacks any lateral stiffening, which Klint has provided via buckled belts at the front and rear.

I say “perhaps” Klint added this functionality because other photos I’ve seen of (presumably) original Roorkhee chairs are too small and dark to make out any such belts, so I can’t say for certain they weren’t already there. I have seen photos of modern-day Roorkhee variants that do feature the belts, it is unclear who is borrowing from whom, as Klint designed the Safari in 1933.

Following his Functionalist/Modernist principles, Klint cleaned up the design of the Safari’s legs as compared to the Roorkhee, stripping them of unnecessary ornamentation, and tripled the amount of screws securing the armrest straps to the legs. For the sake of ergonomics he’s added a seat cushion and angled the seat by raising the height of the front crossbar.

Incredibly, after eight decades this chair is still in production. Here’s manufacturer Carl Hansen giving you a closer look at some of the components and construction:

p

It is easy to tell, even in photographs, new versions of the Safari Chair from vintage versions: The leather armrests will have stretched over the decades on the vintage models, whereas the new ones will be taut.

Vintage
New

You’ll note that the new, beige Safari chair in the photo above appears to have a vertical seatback. That’s because the seatback is only attached via two pins at the top of the legs (visible in the red leather chair, above right) and can pivot along the sagittal axis. This not only uses less hardware than a conventionally-mounted seatback, but confers greater comfort to the user.

I am glad that we know Kaare Klint’s name and sorry that we do not know the name of the Roorkhee’s designer.


Core77

MCM Furniture Design History: The Safari Chair’s Military Roots

Here we’ll go into Mid Century Mobler’s MCM Pick of the Week, Kaare Klint’s Safari Chair. An early example of flatpack furniture, this chair, designed in the peacetime between two world wars, has its roots in military campaigns.

The Designer

Kaare Klint is known as the father of the Danish Modern style of furniture design. Born in Copenhagen in 1888, Klint began apprenticing as a furniture builder at the age of 15. He learned technical drawing at an industrial arts school and also attended an art school, where his talent as a painter emerged. Additionally, he was exposed to architecture through the instruction of his father, a working architect.

As he began developing his own designs, Klint managed to blend three disparate elements: Danish craftsmanship, the clean lines of Modernism and the clear-eyed practicality of Functionalism. According to Danish-Furniture.com,

While Modernism — Bauhaus — was rejecting its heritage, Klint embraced it. He believed that a thorough understanding of materials, proportions and constructions of classical furniture was the best basis for designing new. The design of Klint’s pieces is always based on a relentless research — every piece must fulfill its purpose, be absolutely clarified in its construction, have proportions which correspond to those of the human body, and display materials and craftsmanship of the highest quality.

In addition to designing his own pieces, Klint founded the furniture design department at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1924, where he then influenced the next generation of Danish furniture designers.

The Chair

Klint’s Safari Chair, designed in 1933, was based on chairs that the world-traveling Klint had witnessed being used by Americans or Britons (accounts vary) on an African safari. Those chairs in turn were inspired by “campaign furniture,” the genre of furniture used by traveling armies since at least Roman times.

Campaign furniture was designed to be easily broken down, transported and assembled on-site; thus the pieces in this genre needed to be lightweight, sturdy and easy-to-assemble using a minimum of tools. It was flatpack before Ikea, and the utter practicality and simplicity of the genre presumably captured Klint’s imagination.

The chair Klint spotted and was inspired by was undoubtedly the Roorkhee chair, seen below:

On campaign during the Boer War, 1900. Major-General R. Pole-Carew , right, is seated in a Roorkhee campaign chair. National Army Museum, London
Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis [seated in Roorkhee chair at left]; Winston Churchill; Wladyslaw Anders. Image via National Portrait Gallery

Christopher Schwarz, who has researched and built versions of the Roorkhee chair extensively, writes:

The Roorkhee Chair is a seminal piece of British campaign furniture and was popular with British officers from 1898 to World War I, according to Nicholas Brawer’s book on campaign furniture. Named in honor of the headquarters of the Indian Army Corps of Engineers in Roorkhee, India, the chair is lightweight at about 10 lbs., breaks down quickly and is allegedly quite comfortable.

The “seminal” part refers to the chair’s influence on other important 20th Century chair designs. Schwarz wrote a second article, here, pointing out the debt owed to the Roorkhee’s unknown designer by Marcel Breuer (the Wassily chair), Le Corbusier (the Basculant Chair), Wilhelm Bofinger (the Farmer’s Chair) and Vico Magistretti (the Armchair 905). If you are familiar with those chairs but not the Roorkhee, let’s take a closer look at it.

Here are photos of a vintage version of the Roorkhee chair in both its flatpacked and assembled state. (These photographs are from the Nicholas Brawer book Schwarz referenced above, which is sadly now out-of-print.)

The ingenuity of the design lies not only in its ease-of-assembly, but in how the weight of the sitter plays a role in the structure. With the seatback slung between front and rear crossbars, placing weight on it pulls the crossbars towards each other, which in turn bear on the legs; this has the effect of tightening the side rails in their mortises.

Klint’s Safari Chair is functionally identical to the Roorkhee, with one addition (perhaps): Assuming Brawer’s photo above is of the original design of a Roorkhee, that chair lacks any lateral stiffening, which Klint has provided via buckled belts at the front and rear.

I say “perhaps” Klint added this functionality because other photos I’ve seen of (presumably) original Roorkhee chairs are too small and dark to make out any such belts, so I can’t say for certain they weren’t already there. I have seen photos of modern-day Roorkhee variants that do feature the belts, it is unclear who is borrowing from whom, as Klint designed the Safari in 1933.

Following his Functionalist/Modernist principles, Klint cleaned up the design of the Safari’s legs as compared to the Roorkhee, stripping them of unnecessary ornamentation, and tripled the amount of screws securing the armrest straps to the legs. For the sake of ergonomics he’s added a seat cushion and angled the seat by raising the height of the front crossbar.

Incredibly, after eight decades this chair is still in production. Here’s manufacturer Carl Hansen giving you a closer look at some of the components and construction:

p

It is easy to tell, even in photographs, new versions of the Safari Chair from vintage versions: The leather armrests will have stretched over the decades on the vintage models, whereas the new ones will be taut.

Vintage
New

You’ll note that the new, beige Safari chair in the photo above appears to have a vertical seatback. That’s because the seatback is only attached via two pins at the top of the legs (visible in the red leather chair, above right) and can pivot along the sagittal axis. This not only uses less hardware than a conventionally-mounted seatback, but confers greater comfort to the user.

I am glad that we know Kaare Klint’s name and sorry that we do not know the name of the Roorkhee’s designer.


Core77