Inventor Spotlight: Hella Jongerius

portrait of the artist, Hella Jongerius

Hella Jongerius is a Dutch designer, founder of JongeriusLab (1993) based in Berlin. The first time I saw Jongerius’s work was about 10 years ago at a Droog exhibit in NYC. The piece of hers that burned a new pathway in my brain was Embroidered Tablecloth in which the designer ran a red embroidery thread through a white linen cloth and porcelain table setting.

This is what Jongerius does. She mixes industrial materials and processes with traditional ones. In doing this, she questions how we use these materials so that we might expand our thinking about what they are capable of and what they mean. The mix is powerful and disruptive yet beautiful and welcoming.

At present, Jongerius is preparing for a textiles show called Interlace at Lafayette Foundation in Paris.  From what I see on instagram, the work is playful and gorgeous, simple and complex and I’d love – love – LOVE to see it in person. The show opens in June.

via JongeriusLab instagram

Artist Spotlight: Craig Mains

mains 2
trailers at sea via

This weekend I’m taking a printmaking workshop with Craig Mains at The Ink Shop here in Ithaca. I dig Mains’ work and have for a while now.

In the workshop, Mains is going to show us how he integrates a vinyl cutter into his printmaking process. I have a vinyl cutter in my studio. It’s one of my favorite tools. I’m looking forward to learning how I can expand my use of it.

Check out some of Mains’ prints on his website:

Inventor Spotlight: Simone Giertz, The Every Day Calendar

Simone Giertz is known for her intentionally shitty robots and her straight man schtick in her demo videos. But this project here, the Every Day Calendar, is a more serious piece. The Everyday Calendar is a touch-sensitive, light up display that you can use to help keep track of a habit that you want to form. Giertz used it for meditation practice.

Check out Giertz’s kickstarter campaign here

Artist Spotlight: Liana Finck, Passing for Human


I’m reading a beautiful new comic book by New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck. The book is about her parents–her artistic yet domestic mother, her odd yet professional father–and it’s about the author’s own coming of age. If you’re a reader of comics, then you probably appreciate how different writers play with time and timing. Finck is a master. Her stories are beautifully paced, toggling back and forth between reality and abstraction.


Interview on WNYC, Sep 2018

Finck’s column on Medium

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Inventor Spotlight: Jessi Baker, applying blockchain to LCA

Jessi Baker is a technologist, designer, and founder of Provenance, a European startup that uses blockchain to track supply chain of products. Why is this kind of system valuable? It’s valuable for product companies in that it can help streamline supply chain issues. But more important, it’s valuable for customers who want transparency on where and how the companies they buy from source their materials.


The Sustainable Supply Chain. HBR, 2010.

Sustainability in Supply Chains. McKinsey, 2016.


Artist Spotlight: Joan Jett

After yesterday’s hearings, I need a good dose of Joan Jett.

Joan Jett was a pioneer in Rock & Roll. In 1970s Hollywood, she set out to form an all-girl rock band. As you can imagine, that idea was met with a lot of resistance.

But Jett survived and thrived and this month she’s got a documentary coming out that captures her story. I can’t wait to see it. In the meantime, there’s a lot of great coverage out there to read and listen to. This interview with Marc Maron is fantastic (it starts about 15 min, 50 seconds in) and this interview with the NYTs is sweet.

In these interviews, you’ll hear that Jett has this great combination of character traits.  She’s strong, yet humble. She has had crystal clear vision and integrity throughout her career. She’s authentic and she f*ckin rocks. Thanks, Joan. Much love and respect.

Immigration and Innovation

On the fourth of July (yesterday), Tech CEO Ayah Bdeir wrote and shared a thoughtful piece on rethinking immigration: The Hottest New Space to Disrupt is Immigration. 

Disruption is a term that is used a lot by folks in tech to describe a sector that’s ripe for change. Uber is disrupting transportation. Netflix is disrupting network television.

Who and what will disrupt immigration in a positive way?

Bdeir, raised in Beruit and schooled at MIT, believes in the entrepreneurial power of immigrants. Over half of US companies are founded by immigrants. The skills that immigrants acquire in adapting to a new home are exactly the skills they need to succeed in business.

When Trump’s travel ban was implemented in January 2017, Bdeir’s company littleBits placed an ad in Times Square–a highly visible, positive message that framed Arabic and Muslims in a positive and inventive light.

However, speaking out in this way has a real business cost. When Bdeir wrote a piece last week titled “Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance,” it was met with some backlash. Loyal customers wrote to her to say that they would no longer buy her product.

That said, Bdeir stands by her decision to use her voice, “History will judge us if we quietly allow our government to strip us of the diversity and innovation that make America so amazing.”

A true leader.


Toggling between 2D and 3D

Artists and inventors transform dimension. They make a 2D sketch, then build a model of that sketch in 3D. They build a 3D environment, take pictures of it to use in 2D images. Autodesk 123D had a feature that took your 3D model, sliced it up into 2D pieces that you would then cut from a flat sheet of material and reassemble in 3D.

This toggling between 2D and 3D gets even more interesting when you introduce soft materials. In the example above from Prosthetic Knowledge, they are making 3D models in CAD, processing them to generate a one-piece cut pattern for fabric, then using a jig (of that same cut pattern) to attach zippers to the patterns’ curvy edges so that it can be reassembled in 3D. The result has a topographic quality that is really beautiful.

Another take on this process was explored by Josh Jakus, a textile designer and fabricator, who used a similar approach to create some gorgeous felt bags a few years back. His bags employ “simpler” cut patterns and the results are less topographical and more sculptural.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 5.13.33 AM

Inventor Spotlight: Melanie Shapiro

Melanie Shapiro is the CEO and co-founder of a wearable identity system, Token. Shapiro holds a PhD in Consumer Behavior from the University of Reading, sold her first tech company, Digsby, in 2010, and has spent time as a researcher for Microsoft.

In this video, Shapiro spends a glorious eight minutes talking about her product at a high-level, “We are trying to give people control of their identity and we start by eliminating all of the things that you have to carry around to prove who you are.”

She’s talking about the social and human behavior that her design team is responding to  (the problem space) and not the technological features that her team is building (the solution space). Shapiro offers us some history,

“When we were living in villages, our society was only as big as the 150 people around us. People knew us by our personhood…and that was enough. Complexity was added when that society grew to be a global society and suddenly I need to prove who I am to someone that is all the way on the other side of the world and that person has no history with me. How do we create that sense of trust?”

And then goes on to critique the centralized and siloed structure of our current solutions for creating trust. It’s an insightful and articulate critique.

It’s such a pleasure to watch a tech video that isn’t focused on features but rather on human behavior, culture, and society. And I appreciate a smart device team that thinks beyond the screen and beyond siloed solutions as the Token team is doing. The tech world needs more of this.



You can read more about Shapiro’s human-centered approach on the Token blog