Find of the Day: 31 July 2016

The author writes “I started out renovating and building houses, so moving into furniture was a bit of a change. The pace to making furniture is a lot slower and I like that about it.

I was inspired by contemporary furniture with its clean lines and basic materials and wanted to try and make a piece from my design. I wanted to make something bigger than this, but I used up some of the leftover materials I had about the shop. I got a basic design together and used this small piece to see how it worked.”

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Recycle Series, an experimental series mainly made of recycled construction concrete.

Recycle Series is the reflection on modern society’s current situation. With the rapid development of the construction industry, an increasing amount of construction waste is polluting our environment.

We took construction waste, like used concrete and stone, transferred them into heavily used products by using a traditional technique for making rustic finishes. Through this series, industry and nature can coexist harmoniously.

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To understand how creativity works, we need to first understand how creative people work.

Back in the 1960s, psychologist and pioneering creativity researcher Frank X. Barron brought together a group of the eras most high-profile creators including writers Truman Capote, William Carlos Williams, and Frank O’Connor, as well as leading architects, scientists, entrepreneurs, and mathematicians, to see if he could determine a common trait across creative individuals no matter their speciality.

What Barron found was that the most creative thinkers all exhibited certain common traits: an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for ambiguity and complexity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray (and vodka and orange juice if we’re talking about Capote); and the ability to extract order from chaos.

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Find of the Day: 30 July 2016

The Centennial Light is often pointed to as evidence for the supposedly sinister business strategy known as planned obsolescence. Lightbulbs and various other technologies could easily last for decades, many believe, but it’s more profitable to introduce artificial lifespans so that companies get repeat sales. “That’s sort of the conspiracy theory of planned obsolescence,” says Mohanbir Sawhney, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University.

So is this conspiracy theory true? Does planned obsolescence really exist?

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When you find yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert, on a 100-degree day, you wonder: who in the world would build something here?

Elon Musk, of course.

Tesla’s Gigafactory is perhaps the best example of the literal scale of Elon Musk’s ambitions. When the factory is complete, it will be the largest building in the world by footprint and, if all goes according to plan, will eventually churn out enough batteries to supply 150 gigawatt hours of batteries per year. That’s enough for 1.5 million Model 3s. Tesla hopes to build 35GWh of batteries per year by 2018, equivalent to 500,000 Model 3s.

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Here’s the problem with much of the big data currently being gathered and analysed. The moment you start looking backwards to seek the longer view, you have far too much of the recent stuff and far too little of the old. Short-sightedness is built into the structure, in the form of an overwhelming tendency to over-estimate short-term trends at the expense of history.

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When you think about it, shedding tears from your eyes is rather strange. Why do we do it? And why might there be differences between men and women?

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Find of the Day: 29 July 2016

If you work in an office, your boss has probably forced you into a brainstorming session or two (or 12). Brainstorming, after all, is supposedly a killer way to come up with ideas, and businesses want to take advantage of all that collective creativity. But it turns out that brainstorming is actually a terrible technique—in fact, people generate fewer good ideas when they brainstorm together than when they work alone. Thankfully, there’s a better way: a technique called brainwriting (think brainstorming, but with a pen and paper and less chitchat). And in a new study, researchers tested out variations of this method to understand exactly how to help people come up with their best ideas.

Why Brainstorming Doesn’t Work
The old brainstorming method infiltrated the American workplace over half a century ago, after an advertising executive named Alex F. Osborn coined the method in the 1940s. As companies all over the country adopted the method, psychologists started to wonder: Does brainstorming actually work? Many scientific studies later, they had their answer: a resounding no. Study after study found that people who use this group technique produce fewer good ideas than those who ideate alone.

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Mikiya Kobayashi has designed a small wooden chair, which is to be used by a young child. in the famous woodworking city of asahikawa in hokkaido, japan, each infant is presented with a chair of their own. every year since 2006, the city has teamed up with one local woodcrafter and a designer to collaborate and make this special furniture product. kobayashi was invited to work on the ‘kimi no isu’ project, by creating a carefully crafted seat that could be given as a present to a newborn child.

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IF YOU JOIN November Project, you’re going to get a lot of hugs. Hugs when you show up. Hugs when you’re introduced to new members. Hugs when you finish a workout. Sometimes, hugs just because.

I’ve been an athlete all my life. I’ve run ultramarathons, trained with alpinists, practiced yoga for 10 years, studied ballet for 16, and tested every fitness trend imaginable. Throughout that time, I’ve never made a practice of cuddling strangers while I exercise. But to have any hope of understanding what November Project is all about, one must embrace it—in every way.

The group’s preferred term, it should be noted, is fitness movement, and it has chapters in 29 cities around the US, Canada, and (as of earlier this year) Iceland. This it has achieved almost entirely through social media and the work of volunteers; if you want to launch November Project in a new city, you have to apply online and pass a rigorous screening process that looks for serious athletes with strong social media followings. Many leaders find themselves working nearly full-time to create and grow their commu­nity, all without pay. While nobody tracks the numbers, it’s safe to say that thousands of members show up multiple times a week for intense presunrise workouts—and they’re all ecstatic to be there. They love each other so much.

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It’s late July: school is out, the heat is oppressive, and summer vacation-brain is imminent. It’s a great time to catch up on your reading and, luckily, there are plenty new books out this summer for design fans.

We combed through publisher catalogs and new release tables at bookstores to pull together our favorites, from monographs to comics to compelling visual histories. And while we wouldn’t exactly call them “beach reads” (some of these are door stoppers that definitely won’t fit in your beach bag), that doesn’t mean they’ll be easy to put down. There’s the story of a comic and her love of hot dog stands, a book collecting some of the sexiest type of the ’60s and ’70s, and a dual biography of two of the most famous architects in history—who hated each other.

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Find of the Day: 28 July 2016

When working with large amounts of data, precision is key. The same is true of the art of data visualization: size, shape, shade, hue—the tiniest details of a visualization can radically alter how information is perceived and understood.

Which is why color is an important aspect to consider (read: obsess over) when it comes to information design. “The overarching lesson for data design is that the color is there to help you understand the data,” says Maureen Stone a color expert and research manager at the data visualization company Tableau. “It’s there as a visual cue for what the data means. So I always tell designers the first thing they need to do is figure out what is the color doing? What is its function?”

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12 practical tips you should follow to calculate your rate—and avoid getting screwed

How much should you design freelancers charge? Discussion Board member TZD recently posed the famously tricky question, and got some great answers from our resident pros.

Some background info: TZD has been working full-time at a “decently sized manufacturing facility (100 plus CNCs) as a Product Engineer,” with “about 4-5 years working experience in related fields.” A client recently came in and asked for design work outside the scope of his company. With his boss’ permission he took the job on, and now he’s looking to do more—but he needs to get the money straight.

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Would you purchase a basic digital camera connected to a 22″ LCD monitor for $3,000?

How about a GPS unit to announce your location for $800?

Unfortunately, a hugely overlooked segment of the population has no choice but to pay these prices for outdated technology – namely, people with disabilities.

Commercial technology has taken off in recent years while assistive tech has remained flat in both innovation and competition. The gap between those two curves is opportunity. The Maker community is in a position to access and transform this market and significantly impact many lives in positive ways long before the major manufacturers intend to devote their focus.

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Find of the Day: 27 July 2016

We’re actually seeing the proliferation of surprisingly simple machines, devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home are effectively just microphones, speakers and a big tube to produce bass, and connectivity to the cloud. The cloud is where all the smartness lies and where the work is done. Will self-driving cars be making all decisions locally, assessing traffic conditions and best routes, or will they merely pass back data to intelligence elsewhere and get instructions in return? If humanoid robots appear, the same issues arise.

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 At first glance, the new FDA Nutrition Facts label, introduced by Michelle Obama in May, doesn’t look terribly different from what we’ve had since 1994. The calories are bigger and bolder. The serving sizes are a bit clearer. And for the first time, food manufacturers are required to list added sugars, offering some transparency to one of the most unhealthy additives in our processed foods.

But it still largely resembles the old label we all know—which may be surprising given that the FDA spent three years on the overhaul and people don’t understand that label all that well to begin with. Obesity is one of the largest public health problems in the United States. Research has shown that the old Nutrition Facts label is “relatively ineffective” compared with simpler labels at encouraging people to make healthy choices. Why didn’t the FDA release a more radical redesign?

Indeed, the new FDA label is a lesson in what happens when politics design the world.

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Xiaomi never shied away from acknowledging Apple as its role model. The company puts emphasis on design, has a line of smartphones called the Mi Phone and, at events, regularly compares its gadgets to Apple’s.

On Wednesday, Xiaomi took it a step further, announcing its first-ever laptop, a MacBook Air-like device that’s called the Mi Notebook Air.

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It can be intimidating to get into user experience, but don’t fear: there’s plenty of help around. To help you navigate that sea of information, we make a cool list to share with you. This list covers UX/UI blogs, resources, books and tools (in no particular order).

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The article has 10 pseudo-futurist catchphrases and concepts that need to be eliminated from your vocabulary.

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Installing Wallace Modular Shelving system in every room in your house means that you can adjust it to suit your need, anytime. Some people say that installing a wall shelf or storage can be more hassle than it’s actually worth, well, not this one. SWENYO, the designer, has designed a better shelf to fit your lifestyle, it is easy toinstall, durable, and the more important is, multifunctional. The system comes with wide variety of accessories such as chargers, cups, clips, and many more, it’s not just a wall furniture, it’s a solution.

You can design each kit for a specific room in mind, since each kit is modular, it can be easily adapted to any environments.

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iTouch Leather & Felt Cover

My iTouch has been feeling neglected for a while. It’s grown old and needs love and care. So, I decided why not make a nice and minimal cover for it, cause iTouch likes simplicity a lot.

I had some tan leather and felt with me and a vague idea about the look and feel of the cover. So, I got down to business. Cut leather and felt, glued them together, stitched it and ta daaaaa. It’s done!

I ended up writing an Instructable also.

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Find of the Day: 26 July 2016

If there’s one word that describes the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, it’s “open”. With very few interior walls, there’s nothing but air between the majority of its studios, lecture halls and pin-up corners. All these spaces occur over, around and on top of each other, slipping past themselves through a free-flowing interior defined by giant, curved concrete “scoops” that rise to the full height of the building.

In addition to its open floor plan, every building detail, down to the furniture, was meticulously considered by the architects of London-based CRAB Studio. CRAB had the rare opportunity with this project to design for their own profession — or more accurately, for the future of their own profession.

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For Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, it wasn’t enough to simply ask his patients what they thought. Their true desires, he believed, could only be examined by paying attention to ‘slips of the tongue’ and other clues from the unconscious. A classic slip is, as the saying goes, when you say one thing and mean your mother.

Otherwise known as parapraxis, these verbal stumblings could reveal forbidden urges – such as sex and swearing – which were usually locked safely within the unconscious mind. Verbal errors aren’t random at all, but puzzles to be decoded.

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I’m not alone in this dream. Eighteen million Americans have been drawn to the practice of meditation, which must explain why there are more meditation apps in the App Store than I can count. Meditation’s benefits range from lowering blood pressure to boosting immune systems, and they have been proven by scientists again and again. Mindfulness—the premise of meditation that involves recognizing your thoughts and emotions as they come and go—is a central tenant of one of the most powerful psychological self-treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy.

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An international team of scientists has just sequenced a protein crystal located in the midgut of cockroaches. The reason?

It’s more than four times as nutritious as cow’s milk and, the researchers think it could be the key to feeding our growing population in the future.

Although most cockroaches don’t actually produce milk, Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young, has been shown to pump out a type of ‘milk’ containing protein crystals to feed its babies.

The fact that an insect produces milk is pretty fascinating – but what fascinated researchers is the fact that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories then dairy milk).

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Find of the Day: 25 July 2016

Societal shift towards the instantaneous—with the explicit intention of saving time—is infused into modern life. But what are the implications for our happiness?

Technological innovations that offer convenience and time efficiency have brought remarkable changes to the way we spend our time.  These technologies have inarguably made our lives more convenient and our time usage more efficient. Presumably, being enabled to work more efficiently and spend less time on chores should provide us with greater opportunities for discretionary leisure time, enhancing our subjective well-being: yet while we have indeed experienced an appreciable increase in leisure time over the course of the past half-century, there has been no related improvement in aggregate happiness during the same period.

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The study, led by psychologists at Singapore Management University and the London School of Economics, found that people are generally happier the more time they spend with friends. That is, except really smart people.

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Crawling on the ground for hours at a time in the middle of winter at the mouth of a cave doesn’t sound like a particularly fun time, but for Finland-based photographer Konsta Punkka it’s a necessary sacrifice to get the perfect photograph … of a mouse. At the age of only 21, the budding wildlife photographer has proven himself wildly capable of capturing affectionate portraits at extremely close quarters of squirrels, birds, foxes, and other woodland animals.

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In case you haven’t heard, there is a very, very big problem with the universe: About 80% of all of the stuff inside it is missing.

Astronomers call this material “dark matter.” They know it’s out there because its huge mass tugs on and shapes galaxies, but no one has ever detected the material itself. Aside from exerting a gravitational pull, dark matter doesn’t seem to interact with stars, planets, dust, atoms, subatomic particles, or any other “normal” matter as we know it. It’s essentially invisible.

A group of researchers led by NASA cosmologist Alexander Kashlinskythinks the recent and groundbreaking discovery of gravitational wavescould help rule out the idea that dark matter is made of exotic, hard-to-detect particles.

Their suspicion: Massive black holes, like the two whose collision caused the gravitational waves, are far more common than suspected and might have formed in the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang. That could mean the dark matter that makes up most of our universe is not exotic particles at all. It might simply be black holes.

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Find of the Day: 24 July 2016

In trying to figure out what the future of design will look like, we’re at a bit of a loss.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace. In five years, mobile platforms have gone from being an emerging part of a company’s strategy to the focal point of its future. So who’s to say when virtual reality and automation become more prominent? Quickly-evolving tools like these and a shifting playing field make it almost impossible to predict the future, because the gadget that will drive our lives in 10 years probably hasn’t even been invented yet. And then there is the matter of divergent career paths. The age-old standard of working your way up the ladder at a single company for the duration of your life has been disrupted by career professionals blending skills that were once thought to be mutually exclusive — like design and computer programming – to make entirely new hybrid careers in anticipation of the market needs of tomorrow.

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Eadweard Muybridge revealed a new universe of motion with his camera, but history has largely obscured his extraordinary accomplishments with photography.

In its earliest years, photography rode an unsure line between science and art. It transported facts of the world to the public. It offered pretty images. Few people knew what to do with it. But Muybridge and Stieglitz changed that.

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When it comes to healthcare and wellness, the population of people needing support is quite diverse. Not everyone has adequate health insurance, access to specialists, disposable income for a gym membership, education about proper nutrition, a reliable personal support system or convenient internet access to receive messages from providers.

Digital health solutions are well poised to fill this gap. For example, a plethora of telemedicine apps and websites offer patients access to providers who live outside their area or with whom getting an in-person appointment would take weeks. There are innumerable fitness apps and YouTube channels that help people exercise for free at home, and there are equally infinite websites and apps that offer free diet and nutrition education.

Yet, too often these digital health products and services seem designed for those in the same socio-economic situation as the designers themselves.

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For more than 65 years, computer scientists have studied whether robots’ behavior could become indistinguishable from human intelligence. But while we’ve focused on machines, have we ignored changes to our own capabilities? In a book due to be published next year, Being Human in the 21st Century, a law professor and a philosopher argue that we’ve overlooked the equally important, inverse question: Are humans becoming more like robots?

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American manufacturing is seeing a growing resurgence. While some retail companies like American Apparel have long produced products on U.S. soil, a new breed of companies are seeking to take advantage of American ingenuity and manufacturing prowess to produce high quality products locally. From Detroit based watchmaker Shinola, to San Francisco headquartered accessory company Edward Field, more and more American companies are foregoing outsourced foreign operations to assemble, build or produce their products in the United States.

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Find of the Day: 23 July 2016

What do you do when you graduate from Ikea? Where should you shop when you’ve outgrown the DIY-attitude of easy assembly and flat-packed transport, when your tastes (and budget) begin to expand, and your eye now better-trained to spot quality and timeless design over what is the obvious, ubiquitous choice?

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Inside a secretive AI nonprofit backed by Elon Musk and other Silicon Valley figures, a handful of robots designed to help out in warehouses are gradually learning how to do useful household chores.

OpenAI, which was created to do basic AI research, is reprogramming robots developed by Fetch Robotics, a company that supplies warehouse automation hardware. Researchers at OpenAI are equipping the robots with software that lets them train themselves through trial and error.

The effort reflects a bet that innovations in software and machine learning, rather than breakthroughs in hardware, are the way to give robotics remarkable new capabilities. Fetch makes a range of robots for warehouses, including systems that follow workers around a building, carrying items dropped into a basket. OpenAI is using a system that features a mobile base but also 3-D depth sensors, a 2-D laser scanner, and a robotic arm with seven degrees of freedom.

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The 3.5mm headphone jack as we’ve known it for the last 50 years is on the chopping block. Apple is widely expected to ditch the established audio port on this year’s new iPhones, paving way for Lightning port-compatible earbuds and headphones.

In the Android camp, phones like Lenovo’s Moto Z and Moto Z Force and China’s LeEco have already scrapped the 3.5mm headphone jack; to listen to music on the company’s three latest phones, users need to plug in USB Type-C headphones, go wireless, or use a dongle.

Oh, great! Another damn dongle to buy, attach and detach and eventually lose.

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How much (and what kind of) control should we relinquish to driverless cars, artificial diagnosticians, or cyber guardians? How should we design appropriate human control into sophisticated AI that requires us to give up some of that very control? Is there some AI that we should just not develop if it means any loss of human control?

How much of a say should corporations, governments, experts or citizens have in these matters? These important questions, and many others like them, have emerged in response, but remain unanswered. They require human, not human-like, solutions.

Answers to these questions will also require input from the right mix of humans and AI researchers alone can only hope to contribute partial solutions. As we’ve learned throughout history, scientific and technical solutions don’t necessarily translate into moral victories.

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Three months ago, 25-year-old Alexey Moiseenkov was working at Russian internet giant Mail.Ru when he had the idea to create an app that could stylise any photo at the tap of a button. Unlike other photo-editing tools that manipulate the image itself, Moiseenkov’s idea was to use deep learning to create totally new images out of people’s photos.

A piece of open source code sparked the idea, which Moiseenkov and his colleague adapted to produce works of art in seconds. The result was Prisma, an app that uses machine learning to transform pictures into works of art.

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