Find of the Day: 18 August 2016

The prolific industrial designer Richard Sapper had already designed for everyone from Alessi to Knoll to FIAT when he received a call from his friend Paul Rand asking if he wanted to be chief industrial design consultant at IBM. It was 1979. Rand was leading the graphic design department, and Eliot Noyes, the previous industrial design consultant, had died a few years prior. But Sapper wasn’t immediately won over.

“Before joining IBM, I worked for Brionvega for 20 years designing television sets, which are more or less the same, and as ugly, as computers,” Sapper tells designer and author Jonathan Olivares in his new book on the designer. At the time, computers were large, bulky machines, rendered mostly in a “hideous beige” as Sapper puts it. IBM was flooded with money from its mainframe computer business, but had grown too fast for its organizational structure to keep up. Bureaucracy often got in the way of good design—something Sapper would strive to change.

Richard Sapper

Chair design in the 1960s continued to explore new materials, in particular plastic: Robin Day and Verner Panton were two keen proponents. Work from Danish design heavy hitters remained very much in evidence and Hans J. Wegner introduced two rather uncommon designs: The Oculus and Shell Chair. Pop art made an especial appearance: in Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Karuselli Lounge Chair and Verner Panton’s Classic Panton Chair.

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Appropriation” is a concept that has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. This is when someone takes an idea or cultural practice and uses it for purposes that are contrary to the will of its originators. While the term is usually invoked in cases of “cultural appropriation” — which occurs when the creative labor of a marginalized group is exploited by members of a more powerful group — it can be relevant at other times, as well. For instance, there is surely no better way to describe how anarchist forces made use of modern art during the Spanish Civil War, when they borrowed the ideas of Bauhaus-affiliated artists as well as the Surrealists to design psychological torture chambers.

This shocking story was uncovered in the early 2000s by José Milicua, a Spanish art historian. Milicuawas rifling through records from the Spanish Civil War when he discovered the testimony of Alphonse Laurencic, a French architect turned revolutionary who claimed to have designed very unusual prison cells to house fascist soldiers captured on the battlefield.

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America, land of the free. Yeah, right. Tell that to the nearly 7 million people incarcerated in the US prison system. The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita incarceration rate of any nation on the planet — 716 inmates for every 100,000 population. We lock up more of our own people than Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan or Russia. And once you’re in, you stay in. A 2005 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) followed 400,000 prisoners in 30 states after their release and found that within just three years, more than two-thirds had been rearrested. That figure rose to over 75 percent by 2010.

Change is already happening. Police departments across the country are adopting the mantra “work smarter, not harder” and are leveraging big data to do it. For example, in February of 2014, the city of Chicago launched the Custom Notification Program, staging early interventions with people who were most likely to commit (or be the victim of) violent crime but who were not under investigation for such. The city sent police, community leaders and clergy to the person’s house, imploring them to change their ways and offering social services. According to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, of the 60 people approached far, not one has since been involved in a felony.

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The major brands won’t admit it, but it’s pretty hard to innovate in the pizza-making industry. Stuffed crust and sausage-ringed pizza are now well established, so companies like Domino’s and Pizza Hut are turning to clever marketing gimmicks to ensure sales keep ticking over. One such stunt is today’s launch of the “world’s first playable DJ pizza box” from Pizza Hut, which is a standard cardboard container rigged up with touch-sensitive decks, a mixer and other controllable buttons.

Created by printed electronics expert Novalia, the battery-powered box connects to your computer or smartphone via Bluetooth and is compatible with DJ software like Serato DJ. As Rinse FM’s DJ Vectra demonstrates in the video embedded in the link, you can scratch, rewind, control pitch and crossfade.

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Audi has announced it is rolling out a feature in some of its new vehicles that allows them to communicate with traffic lights. It’s a neat trick that customers might like: they can watch as a timer counts down until a red light turns green, or the system can warn drivers approaching a green light that it’s going to change, and advise them to start braking.

It’s more than just a gimmick, though. The death of traffic lights has been predicted for some time, and Audi’s move is the first sign that their decline might come quickly.

Traffic lights are an imperfect solution for an imperfect world. We human drivers are forced to sit at red lights while a lane of crossing traffic gets the green, then another gets a left turn arrow, and then, finally, we can be on our way. It’s bad for congestion on the roads, the pollution from all those idling engines adds up, and in the era of the smartphone there’s no guarantee that someone in front of you will actually go when the light turns green.

This lightsaber uses old camera parts as the basis of the build, which isexactly what the prop designers used for the original Star Wars lightsaber in 1977.

In order to get that impressive detail, Tested used a FormLabs Form 2printer, an expensive, pro-level machine that uses special resins and, fittingly, lasers. So you likely can’t recreate this build perfectly with any old 3D printer, but you can sure try.
Light Saber
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