Solar Eclipse 2012.5.20

There was an eclipse in Calgary yesterday and it was cloudy. Whatever, weather. Just. Whatever.

So, here’s a picture from Tokyo of the same event; credit going to Kazuhiro Nogi who has a very, very diverse portfolio and no official listing of it. Odd.

We did, instead, as we’re apt to do, go and eat ridiculous amounts of very excellent food.


Friday Fail: Some sort of pizza thing

I know I can be harsh in my holistic approach to what design should be, but I’ve really come a long way with ignoring it. I’ve grown to accept that other people like the uselessly ornate and that’s okay. I’ve even grown to like some useless things myself just because they’re lovely. That’s remarkable.

And then (and I know I need to stop this) I browse popular industrial design blogs that promote things like the above as “good” and it bothers me. I feel like I’m allowed to be bothered by this because it’s not a question of taste – it’s not something that someone else might find attractive and I simply don’t, that isn’t the issue. My issue with this is it’s solving a problem that to the best of my knowledge, no one actually has. I could be wrong, and even if I am, here’s why it shouldn’t happen anyway:

It’s made of paper cut with perforations. I’m glad it’s not plastic, but it’s still a tragic waste to be cutting down the fantastic design that is the tree – the self replicating, self healing, adaptable thing that gives life to the earth and all that it contains via air purification, shelter, erosion control and works through every stage of it’s life cycle until it renews itself 100% back into the ground from which it came… it’s marvelous, really. Our design pales in comparison. But no, we’re going to cut those down and make little triangle plates so that we can “avoid getting our hands dirty” with the food we’re eating, which, I don’t know how they eat pizza, but can easily be done already.

Part two: energy cost. How are the perforations being made? A stamp, perhaps. Lasers? Water jet? There isn’t any way to manufacture this without using some energy. Then shipping. Then the poor guy in the back of the pizza place who has to not only place the thing into the box but also make sure he’s cut the pizza and rotated it to exactly match the pre-made lines. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a pizza cut before, but it’s a large blade that just sort of guillotines back and forth a few times at haphazard angles. It works really well when you aren’t measuring to see if every piece is of equal wedge, which brings up another issue: forced sizes. You know the difference between Pizza Hut and Domino’s slices; the former has 20 thin slices per pizza and the latter has like, five giant ones. They each have their reasons, I’m sure, and they’ll continue to do it that way.

As a side note while searching for the above image I found these and winced. Forget the 14 year old boy aesthetics, why do they need suspension? It doesn’t even make sense.


TL;DR Solves a problem no one has, contributes to the greater problem of obscene waste / lack of trees, annoys the people preparing the pizza.

You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that after clicking through to the original source it was via Yanko “design”

Geometric Gone Wrong

I love grids, it’s no secret. I like nice, crisp shapes with rounded chamfers and an overall robustness to the geometry.

But seriously?


Form should especially follow function on something that can gain so much by utilizing it properly. It’s an electric moped designed to go as far as possible on a single charge, they should be concerned about these things. Instead it’s a PC case that sprouted some bits. It’ll fit in your apartment, I’ll give it that, but you could make something equally thin with a different profile.

Still, it’ll go just over 50 km/h which is really all you need around town, so mechanically it looks promising. It’s not supposed to be a real motorcycle.


Free Falling Fail

Um. What?

So this is the “Free Falling” chair by design prof. Ezri Tarazi and it baffles my mind. He was a partner of IDEO’s for three years, you’d think they’d teach him better.

The process is simple: drop an inanimate concrete mannequin onto a sheet metal box and whatever comes out of the process is sold as a chair. This, of course, is entirely ignorant of things like ergonomics and posture and comfort and (although this is subjective) style. I mean, I can’t complain about style – to each his own – but if you’re making a chair it has to fulfill a chair’s function: seat a flesh human comfortably. Just because the mannequin looks like a human doesn’t mean the geometry will come out well. That’s why Herman Miller and party spend years designing chairs, because humans are so very, very different from simulations.

This is my favorite photo:

What’s with the undercuts? You wouldn’t even be able to get in / out of the chair.

Moral of the story: do you research and design things properly. Don’t be an artist.

Photos / article via

Haptic Handicraft

I am an industrial designer. An industrialist. We make things in mass amounts using industry. This doesn’t mean soulless in the slightest, but it means consistent. You can argue that a fine sports car is or isn’t a piece of art, but it was built multiple times and each one is consistent. This is the goal, the beauty, to share the sculptural excellence of something with everyone. The Eames were big into this: everyone should get an Eames lounge because it was this ideal chair, this ideal thing. Everyone deserved one. Not everyone could afford one, but they [the Eames] did their very best to see to that problem because they deeply believed in this sharing of form. This mass production of excellence.

We’ve degraded since then, but that’s not the topic right now.

He’s combined a haptic feedback (meaning, it’ll resist your motions so you follow a form) with a physical medium, meaning it wants you to make the model in the CAD, but since the user is human, it’ll be sloppy and filled with mistakes. That’s his point. Humans make mistakes, and he uses them as art. Cool presentation, utterly useless.

Everyone is different and I’m not saying he’s wrong – I applaud his efforts and his passion for what he loves. I just don’t like it, personally. It bothers me. He already has the CAD model, he’s already built it in the 3D space; this isn’t replacing that. This is just a way to add error, a noise factor to the creation process, to make the outcome more wrong.

I’m not against handmade stuff, I quite love watching artisans work because there is an intrinsic beauty to having a master make something by hand. It’s gorgeous. But this is a way of taking computer perfection and ruining it. There is no handiwork, there is no honed patience and delicate, skilled movement. There is no deft maneuvers that only experience can provide. It’s just, constructed sloppiness.

The moral, or at least, where I’m coming from: I like computers making good things and I like humans make good things. Really, in the end, I just like good things. I just don’t really see this as either of those two.

Modernism Fail

I get this every so often: “Brennan, I think you just repost everything you find that’s clad in wood paneling. That’s hardly critical of you, and I don’t like your bias.” to which I’d reply “Hardly. There’s a lot of absolute rubbish architecture out there, putting perfect colours over terribly geometry is just lipstick on a pig.”

There’s a fine line that gets walked here when I write about these things, but I will risk seeming elitist when I say: architecture is hardly about the colours. Interior design is worthless if the space itself is worthless. I suspect that’s why the pretentious architecture is white – the emphasis isn’t on the interior palette, but the volume itself.

This is the Casa Lara by architect Mihai M. Tudose for his own family.

I disagree with it.

The first photo at the top seems promising; rectangular prisms, white stucco, warm wood accents, neat lines of hedge. The front gate thing is sort of awkward, but alright, nothing is perfect.

Then the second photo, the bridge. Um, diamond plate? Interesting choice. Why do you have to escape through the window to get onto it? Why don’t the steps line up at neat angles? This whole photo says to me: “We saw this in a Dwell magazine and really liked the idea, so we made our own version of it.”

Third photo: living room. The couch, of course, is opposite how it should be but architecturally speaking, the windows are severely lacking. That whole wall should be glass. The roof should hover, as if not a roof at all but an awning. Theirs is firmly planted, adding an intense claustrophobia to the room(s) which should be the lightest, airiest, and most desirable. The ceiling ledge lighting is patchy.

The shelves are Texas thick and cluttered without care, and it appears they have two coffee tables in front of the already heavy sofa area. I don’t mean to use the word again, but it’s really the adjective that keeps coming to mind: claustrophobic. Everything. Annoyingly full. Stuffed without care or harmony. It’s not even that you have to get rid of it all (well, maybe that second coffee table) but just design it to be cleaner. Minimalism isn’t about living with less than you need, it’s about living in harmony with the stuff that you have.

I’m not sure if it’s just terrible photography (you’ll notice he took his own photos) but everything just seems dark and closed in. There’s no appeal, nothing inviting here. I like the lighting behind the shelves there, but the wall separating the interior cavity from that large wall of frosted glass is twice as thick as it needs to be, and probably useless altogether – given the frosting was acceptably private, I would say it should extend around the corner, lighting the whole area.

Overall, the house feels like they saw things they liked and then copied them, but didn’t bother to learn why they liked them in the beginning. Modernism isn’t just white with wood panels, nor is minimalism concrete with steel and glass. They appear often in the same sentence, but the defining of it; the passion of it is entirely unrelated to the materials. It’s a lifestyle and a philosophy. This house just copies the lipstick, but places it on the wrong animal.

Thanks for trying, and props to you for doing it. It has it’s moments and does have some nice features, but I just feel like the overall execution was less than ideal. Then again, meta-architectural philosophy: Are you happy living in your own house? If yes, than it’s a resounding success. Some armchair critic can’t say if you’ll be happy of not, and what are houses if not places to be as you intend them.

Photos via

HP Envy Release Videos

Okay, so we all know that the HP Envy is an obvious, shady ripoff of the Macbook line, but the video just kills me. His two main points were ‘simplicity’ and ‘honesty’ – both things I love and will defend with a passion.

But when we look at the product, we come across bits like these:

What are those bits tacked on either side of that wheel? They look like they were hot-glued on there. Why isn’t that mute button centered in the hole properly? Why isn’t the bottom seamlessly integrated with the sides / top?

Sure, they’ve got simple geometry, but anybody can do that. They failed at simplicity. They’ve failed at honesty. If I’m worried those tabs are going to break off just by looking at the picture, they’ve failed at durability. It just screams of shoddy, sub par workmanship. Is it cheap? Yeah. I guess you get what you pay for.

Video via the ever amazing Trojankitten

Mercedes Mistake

What a truly terrible concept, that SF1.

I can see the designers sitting in their studio, pristine drafting tables filled with the elegant curves that Mercedes has done gracefully for years, maybe a half sculpted clay model or two sitting patiently on a table and then some director rushing in “Stop what you’re doing!” with a thick German accent, of course “The new thing is sharp angles. Do this!” he says, pointing to the Lamborghini Reventon.

The designers look at each other and shake their heads. This isn’t what they’re good at, known for or otherwise involved with.

So I sit here, in my large snobby armchair and thumb my nose at the result.

It’s just not who they are or what they’re good at and the outcome is just sort of awkward and lumpy. The front lights are angled down in the middle, aggressively, makes sense. But the back lights aren’t and it looks soft and sort of wilted, like some support inside gave out and the two back corners just deflated.

And overall, it’s a curvy car that’s been polygon-ized. It’s not really an angular car like the Lambos are, which very purposeful in the geometry, it’s just a papercraft version of some existing SLK.

Mercedes, if you’re reading this, stick with what you’re good at. You’re good at it and it’s your design language. You don’t need to release these things to prove something, there’s nothing to prove. You certainly aren’t going to attract the other crowd by releasing these things without the background and practice to make them perfect.

Photos via

Ceramic iMegaphone

Megaphone from RACOON_STUDIO on Vimeo.

Not all that’s hand crafted and minimal is good design.

I do love the walnut on white combination, though. It’s a gorgeous thing – don’t get me wrong – but I can’t imagine the ratio of object volume to usefulness is working in it’s favor.

Terrible idea: Cake-sicle pans

Not satisfied with normal cookies? Why not put sticks into them and make cookies that you have to eat around in a specific way? To top it off, use perfectly good trees for your couple seconds of enjoyment, and then have the duty of throwing them away.

I’m not sure who thinks this stuff up, or who buys them, but they should be punished for all the completely unnecessary waste they’ve created.

My brief, non-exhaustive list:

  • Energy wasted manufacturing some specialized metal pan.
  • Energy wasted shipping to and fro, finally reaching some suburban soccer mom.
  • Energy wasted with Amazon having to deal with this Rubbish.
  • Energy wasted in the popsicle sticks needed (manufacturing, chemical application, shipping, etc.)
  • Your cupboard space which has a metal pan that can only be used for one niche task.
  • Waste created by endless popsicle sticks.  Because really, like you’ll only eat one at a time.
  • Waste created when you realize there’s this giant metal pan that you never use in your cupboard.
  • The sheer inconvenience of you having to dispose of said sticks when you’re done eating.

So make proper cookies. They’re way easier to eat and far less likely to leave splinters in your mouth. And they leave no trace of how many you’ve eaten in one sitting.

Then, go write a terrible review on Amazon until they concede it’s entirely wasteful and pull it from the market.

Haha. Oh man…

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