Hardwood Cycles

Renovo R4Ran into these gorgeously sleek bicycles with frames made of wood! And they are not just for novelty.

Apparently there are many benefits to these naturally sexy bikes, including strength, durability, weight (or lack thereof) and shock absorption.

Whereas in the past wood frames were only for show, these wonderfully performing frames are possible because of advances in adhesives and computer-aided machining.

Critics and users have put them on par with carbon-fiber vehicles.

From the Renovo Hardwood Bicycle website:

The real beauty of a Renovo frame is the ride, the looks are just a bonus.

Wood, nature’s carbon fiber, has unique engineering properties that promise superior ride quality and durability compared to man-made materials, and…it’s sustainable. When the right wood is combined with an array of advanced technologies, it becomes a high performance material that will forever change your understanding of ‘wood’.

Renovo R4 frameThe frames run from $950 to $2,500, which is well within normal pricing for high-end bikes.


[Via Core77]


Coke Freestyle In UseThe soda fountain hasn’t changed much in basic design since it was first popularized and democratized in the late 1800’s by Jacob Baur, founder of the Liquid Carbonic Company, whose main contribution was the manufacture of carbon dioxide in easy to transport tanks.

At today’s dispensers, usually found in restaurants, you can choose from around six or eight different types of soft drinks.

In the Taste It room at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, you can choose from 60 different kinds, which are dispensed from six separate cylindrical kiosks, taking up a whole room of the venue.

But now, starting in a few select Jack-in-the-Boxes (Jacks-in-the-Box?) in San Diego County, Coca-Cola is rolling out what they have dubbed the “iPod of drink machines.”

The Coca-Cola Freestyle lets the user select from over 100 varieties of soft drink from a touch screen.

This was enabled by rethinking the internal design of the dispenser, which uses small cartridges of concentrated flavor instead of bags of syrup.

Vince Voron, the senior director of industrial design at Coke, was recruited from Apple, so the comparison to iPod is more than fair. He notes that one of the challenges in designing the user interface was to make it friendly and not reminiscent of an ATM.

Coke Freestyle MachinesFast Company details some of the technology behind the machine: the “PurePour” used to mix in the flavors was originally developed for precise delivery of dialysis and cancer drugs; cartridges are kept in order using RFID radio frequency tags.

And in what should be good news for shop-owners and Coca-Cola alike, each Freestyler wirelessly communicates with HQ, sending info about what was consumed, when, how much, and receiving info about products that should be recalled or discontinued. (Guess with 100 flavors that’s more & more possible.)

Test markets this summer are said to include California, Utah and Georgia. Reason enough for a trip down South?

[via San Diego Tribune and Core 77]


ugliest and silliestCourtesy of Andrej Statskij design studio in Latvia come the Oops Awards for bad product design.

In the search for new and original design ideas and executions, there have to be many misses.

Though many are relegated to design-showroom-only status, and never make it past prototyping, it’s fun to take a look at what we hope doesn’t appear in stores or homes.

The anonymous Oops Design Award Foundation began giving awards in 2008 for Ugliest, Silliest and Most Useless Product Design.

They have selected nominees for 2009.

One of the interesting concepts this award highlights is that bad and good design can be very subjective.

For example, as Core 77 notes, one of the chairs nominated for the 2009 Ugliest category has already won the Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award, which is totally serious and comes with a $30,000 prize.

Somewhat related, and definitely in my Oops category, is this house which is currently on the market for $4 million (recently slashed from $5.5 mil).

Comments on the hideous “live-in” scuplture ranged from “That just made my eyes throw up” to “Dr. Seuss on acid.”

But someone is bound to buy it, because it’s different.

Much like the apparel that shows up on the catwalk during fashion weeks around the world, these designs are pushing the edge of what we recognize as attractive, in the name of innovation.

I suppose looking at what’s bad helps us define what’s good.

Without rainy days, who would as much appreciate the sunny ones?

The Poet of Plastic

Karim Rashid - Ring Door for AlbedKarim Rashid is an incredible industrial designer.

I’ve run into and admired many of his designs without even knowing they were Rashids.

Such as the Method bath & body products. And Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia.

What’s most cool is his statement on design philosophy, his “Karimanifesto.”

How to define design, today and what is its role?
Karim Rashid - Slice Precision Cutter

Design has been the cultural shaper of our world from the start. We have designed systems, cities, and commodities.

We have addressed the world’s problems. Now design is not about solving problems, but about a rigorous beautification of our built environments. Design is about the betterment of our lives poetically, aesthetically, experientially, sensorially, and emotionally.

My real desire is to see people live in the modus of our time,to participate in the contemporary world, and to release themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, old rituals, kitsch and the meaningless. We should be conscious and attune with this world in this moment.

Karim Rashid - K-8 Dogbowl for Acme

This is a general philosphy for the advancement of society, and parallels the insta-, all the time, everywhere connectivity we are beginning to take advantage of as a species.

“We should be conscious and attune with this world in this moment.”

[Post inspired by idsgn]

Idea of a Tree

idea_tree11The Viennese design firm mischer’traxler has developed recorder one, a completely solar-powered machine that makes furniture.

This furniture (benches, lampshades, stools) is unique. Each individual piece is unique, in fact, because its height, shape and color are determined by the natural surroundings of the machine — specifically, by the amount of sunlight falling on the solar panels.

Beginning at sunrise, the loom dips threads through dye and glue, and winds them around a mold until the sun disappears again. So if the machine is not on the equator, you’ll get shorter pieces in winter, longer in summer.

The passing of clouds or shadows throughout the day determines the saturation of color and the thickness of the weave.

idea_tree3Interesting idea. I would love to see other, more complex shaped objects created this way. And different colors in a single piece — perhaps a gradation between two — could probably be worked out.

[Via DesignBoom and Dezeen]

SoiSong Origami

soisong_octagonal_oragami_cd1SoiSong is the new music outlet for Peter Christopherson, formerly of Coil (which he founded with the now-deceased John Balance).

Brainwashed has an interview from 2008 where “Sleazy” discusses his decision to collaborate on music again, this time with Ivan Pavlov.

Maybe the most exciting thing about SoiSong is the design of their xAj3z album release. 

The die cut octagonal CD (it will only play in horizontal trays, not vertical computer-slot-players) is encased in an oragami-like, biodegradable case, on which is printed imagery and artwork.

Very attractive, and probably worth the € 22 as an objet d’art.

Their landing page for their website is not badly designed, either. (If you’re going for cryptic minimalist, which they are!)

LEGO Architecture

wright lego Legos rule. Let’s get that out of the way straight off. Hours of endless fun, for kids and (if you are so lucky as to be around a kid who has them) for adults.

And in the grown-up vein, just announced: Frank Lloyd Wright Collection® LEGO® Architecture Building Sets.

Released on May 15 at the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Guggenheim, these are the first sets available from the new LEGO Architecture division (which is so new their website isn’t fleshed out yet).

Playing with legos as a kid, I always felt torn when building from “sets” — those boxes of bricks and special parts that could go together to create a specific structure (castle, helicopter, working tow truck, etc.). I kind of preferred building free-form instead.

But these new Wright sets, and presumably others in the Architecture series, really can teach the user about good architecture! And because of the beautiful way legos are designed — with uniformity in the interlocking parts — nothing says you can’t also use these sets in free-form manner.

A great direction for this iconic toy company.

[Via prairie mod and core 77]


Warp Designs Vases
Really unique flower vases from Warp Designs NYC.

Thinking “outside the vase” for sure.

Designed by Kimberly Manne, the owner, and hand-crafted in Brooklyn.

Perfect for modern interiors, be they wood, glass or metal.



Diesel’s new watch design kicked up a bit of a kerfluffle, what with it’s completely smooth black stainless steel face.

Detractors decried the watch as style winning over functionality, a sentiment on whose side I usually come down. Even those who like the way it looks talked about how it was not very useful.

dz9044_watch_side1But the DZ9044 does have four watch faces, actually, two small squares on each side of the main slab. They can be set to separate times, showing up to four time zones. 

What the physical design does allow, however, is glances at your watch without the signature wrist twitch that lets others around you know you’re checking. At a boring meeting, for example, or just during a conversation on the street.

It also most likely does not cause the annoying reflection that can shine in others’ eyes when you’re wearing the watch in the sun.

For $400, I’d be buying my man something different, though.


scotch tapeThese days, I drink scotch more often than I use Scotch Tape. 

Only at Christmas, I think. 

Even so, I want one of these.

A winner in a student design contest at Ontario College of Art & Design, in partnership with 3M Canada, this will go into production next year.

Hopefully also available stateside. [Via]