Urban Plastic Waste into Street Furniture

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I adore this “zero-waste” project from Thessaloniki titled “Print Your City” in which they reclaim plastic waste and process it so that it can be fed into giant 3D printers to make these lovely benches/planters.

See more on the project here

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Studio Snap Shot – little baskets

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I’ve never understood why people make jokes about basket weaving. Think about it: What skill could be more useful than making an object that carries things from one place to another, using materials that you have lying around? I happen to have a lot of tyvek and a little bit of leather, so I’ve been designing tyvek baskets with leather handles (at half scale for now). I think these vessels are sweet and I like imagining filling them up with fruit in summer.

I love all kinds of baskets and if I had the right studio space (which would have to include a sink), I’d definitely take up weaving.

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Swamp Road Baskets are the most beautiful baskets, made here in The Finger Lakes

I love this modern spin on Shaker Baskets by Studio Gorm

My BASKETS board on pinterest

 

Inventor Spotlight: Takuma Yamazaki

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a pencil that amplifies the sound of writing

If you use Twitter, then you’ll see that I have the following statement pinned to the top of my feed:

“Technology is an effective amplifier. We need to decide, and then design, what it is we want to amplify.”

So I was delighted when I came across this project, The Sound of Drawing, from young Japanese designer Takuma Yamazaki in which he literally amplifies the action of making marks with a pencil. With this project, he draws attention to an age-old method for writing notes or poetry or drawing lines and images. If you are the type who gets pleasure from moving a piece of graphite across a sheet of toothy paper, then you will appreciate what this project does to heighten that sensation.

Here’s Yamazaki’s statement about the piece: By amplifying the faint noises created by the friction between pencil and paper, this project represents a new way of communicating with stationery. I reflected on the meaning of drawing, and discovered that stationery can be not only writing instruments, with the purpose of leaving visual information, but also musical instruments. By redefining stationery as creative tools for drawing sounds, this pencil offers a fresh creative experience for both people who are sighted and those who are not.

 

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Check out Yamazaki’s portfolio here

Originally posted on Spoon & Tamago

Artist Spotlight: Irene Posch & Ebru Kurbak

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Irene Posch and Edru Kurbak are artists and designers who that integrate handmade textile making with computing. They refer to their work “Macro Electronics” in that their technology isn’t hidden in a black box, but rather, visible and with stories to tell. Their hope is to inspire their viewers to explore computing themselves and ultimately to diversify who makes technology.

 

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Posch and Kurbak in DesignBoom

Interview with Irene Posch

Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection

I’ve recently recommitted to the habit of listening to one or two chapters of Rick Hansen’s Hardwiring Happiness each morning. In the (audio)book Hansen offers 21 focal points for mindfulness practice. As the title suggests, he argues that if you practice these meditations, you can carve new pathways in your brain so that when you are experiencing a challenging emotion, like fear, for example, your brain will make a connection to a positive emotion that will ease that fear. This theory that you can rewire your brain is called neuroplasticity. While I’m not a 100% believer, I do find this book very helpful.

The focal points are organized into three categories that target three different parts of our brain:

  • SAFETY  – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm (reptilian)
  • SATISFACTION – Subcortex, focused on approaching rewards (mammalian)
  • CONNECTION – Neocortex, focused on attaching to “us” (primate/human)

All 21 focal points listed out below:

SAFETY

  1. PROTECTION
  2. STRENGTH
  3. RELAXATION
  4. REFUGE
  5. SEEING THREATS & RESOURCES CLEARLY
  6. FEELING ALRIGHT RIGHT NOW
  7. PEACE

 

SATISFACTION

  1. PLEASURE
  2. GRATITUDE & GLADNESS
  3. POSITIVE EMOTION
  4. ACCOMPLISHMENT & AGENCY
  5. ENTHUSIASM
  6. FEELING THE FULLNESS OF THIS MOMENT
  7. CONTENTMENT

 

CONNECTION

  1. FEELING CARED ABOUT
  2. FEELING VALUED
  3. COMPASSION & KINDNESS
  4. SELF COMPASSION
  5. FEELING LIKE A GOOD PERSON
  6. COMPASSIONATE ASSERTIVENESS
  7. LOVE

Exploring Media: Mezzotint

 

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Spring Evening by Robert Kipniss, 2017

Today will be a fun art-making day. This morning I’m meeting my students at the new makerspace in our public library to fabricate their designs on a laser cutter.

And this evening I’ll start a mezzotint short course hosted by Cayuga Arts Collective. Mezzotint is a 17th-century printmaking technique in which you manipulate the roughened surface of a copper plate. The media affords soft gradients and a painterly effect unlike printmaking methods before it which are more line based. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

 

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Affordances – just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Affordances is a term made popular by Human-Computer Interaction theorist Donald Norman. The term refers to the actions that an object or system enable the user to take. A knife enables the user to cut. Thus, one affordance of a knife is “cuttability.”

I like to make a distinction between the actions that certain tools and objects enable vs the actions that tools and objects want to enable. Sure, a wrench can be used to hammer a nail, but it’s not what it was designed for. Hammering is not what a wrench wants to do. Not that you shouldn’t use a wrench to hammer a nail if that’s what you need to do and a wrench is all that you’ve got. Just remember that it’s important to understand that hammering is not what a wrench is designed for.

I have a controversial stance on the affordances of some digital fabrication tools. For example, in many cases, people use 3D printers for low batch production of identical parts. Yes, low batch production of identical parts is an affordance of a 3D printer – a 3D printer can do this. But it’s not what the tool wants to do. It’s quicker and easier on the machine (which is often a shared machine) to use a 3D printer to make a mold and do your low batch production using a mold rather than running the printer for 500 hours (and dealing with all of the hiccups) to make your ten identical parts.

I also believe that laser cutters afford cutting. Yes, they do etching really well and many a laser cutter owner uses their machine to run an etching business (think trophies). But etching, compared to cutting, is really slow. And if you are using a laser in a shared space, it’s advantageous to lean into what the tool really wants to do: lighting quick cutting. Don’t use a wrench to hammer a nail if you don’t have to.

 

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Affordances and Design on jnd.org

Affordances on IxD Foundation

 

The Intersection of Craft and Technology at Haystack Mountain School

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Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on remote Deer Isle, Maine was founded in 1950. I had the pleasure of visiting it recently and was delighted to see that they are exploring the intersection of digital technologies with craft.

Glass Instructor Helen Lee is using a microcontroller with an accelerometer that gives audio feedback to glassblowers as they learn to level their rods (upper left).

MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms has implemented a Fab Lab – the only fab lab in a school of craft. They are building a 3D printer for ceramics (lower left), exploring digital mold making, as well as other opportunities for infusing traditional craft with digital tools.

Metalsmithing Instructors Arthur Hash and Elliot Clapp are integrating circuitry and electronics with jewelry and other wearables.

All of this magical exploration is set on a coastal mountainside overlooking the sea. A place of dreams.

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Learn more about Haystack Mountain here