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Spire Wins People’s Design Award

COOPER HEWITT'S 2014 NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS GALAThe people have spoken, and selected Spire as the winner of the 2014 People’s Design Award, announced by presenter Bruce Mau at the Cooper-Hewitt‘s National Design Awards ceremony and gala held last night in New York. Designed by Zhao Zhao (pictured), Spire—a wearable device that senses and tracks physical movement, position, and breathing patterns—takes its place alongside past winners such as PackH2O, Trek’s Lime Bike, and Toms Shoes.

The mission of Spire, which began shipping this month after three years of R&D, is to “change the way the world breathes.” Data from the device, which is zapped to a mobile app, can provide the wearer with insights about his or her daily activity and state of mind, according to the San Francisco-based team. The app also can help users to boost their activity, relaxation, and focus. Spire bested a slate of 20 nominated works, ranging from elegant and inventive consumer products (Drift Light, Lumio, Soma Water Bottle) and eco-friendly construction materials (Mushroom Building Blocks) to emergency tools (SAM Junctional Tourniquet) and design solutions for human and environmental problems (Deka Arm, Ecozoom Stove).

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Watch: The Jonathan Ive Supercut

Earlier this month, amidst news of Apple’s Newsonian hire and breathless anticipation of streamlined, possibly wearable gizmos to come, Rob Walker had but one Cupertino-themed wish: “I didn’t want to guess what the company would release. New iPhone, iWatch, iEggBeater, who cares?” wrote the journalist in a Yahoo Tech column. “I just wanted Jony Ive—Apple’s staid, British design honcho—to tell me how amazingly magical it is.” He soon got his wish, as Ive waxed poetic about the “completely singular” Apple Watch in a launch video. And so Walker kept right on wishing, this time in the form of a tweet:

rw tweet

Once again, the universe has answered, this time in the form of a video (below) created by the Dublin-based creative crew at Army of Id (“Saving the world one frame at a time”). “[It's] a short, supercut-style compilation of fourteen years of Jony Ive earnestly telling us the latest Apple iThing is ‘simple,’ ‘smaller,’ ‘intuitive,’ ‘powerful,’ over and over, in a series of v-neck tees,” Walker tells us. “I wonder if there is another designer who could inspire such a thing?”

Quote of Note | Daniel Libeskind

Daniel_Libeskind“People used to say, ‘Why don’t you design products also,’ and I would say, ‘I am designing buildings, big projects.’ Then one day a company asked me to design a door handle, and I started laughing because it is the smallest object. But I kept thinking about it and suddenly I had a revelation—why not? I mean, it is something that is part of everyday life. So I said, ‘Sure I’ll design the door handle.’ And I did, and I thought that was it. Then months later I was asked to design a door. And I had this other revelation—first I had the door handle, then a door, then you have to open the door. Then suddenly I realized what an incredible thing I had come across, something that I had never thought about. And that’s how I began designing all type of objects. Large or small, all the things that have to do with design are things we have to use everyday. From there grows the whole idea of the environment. I was lucky to come across these opportunities. And like Frank Lloyd Wright said, ‘To design a chair it is as difficult as to design a city.’”

—Architect Daniel Libeskind

Favorite Thing: Normal’s Bespoke Earphones

(James Ewing Photography)
(Photo: James Ewing)

Your personalized playlists deserve to be heard through tailor-made earphones. Treat yourself to a pair of Normals ($199, including shipping and tax), made using “nerdalicious software and 3D printing to sculpt each one-of-a-kind pair” by Normal. Ear measuring not required. The startup, based in a hybrid factory/retail store (pictured) “on the elf-ear-shaped island of Manhattan,” has created an app that makes getting fitted for your bespoke earbuds as easy as snapping a photo of each ear. “The result is a premium sound made for the strange pieces of cartilage on either side of your head,” notes founder Nikki Kaufman, a Princeton grad and veteran of Quirky. “And no one else’s.”

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Marc Newson to Join Apple’s Design Team

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The word on the street (and by street we mean the vast array of tech blogs) is that Apple will use tomorrow’s highly anticipated media blitz for which it has commandeered Cupertino’s Flint Center to launch its iWatch and a couple of new iPhones. Also expected are mumblings about increased security amidst the iCloud breach and a cameo by Dr. Dre, who will probably be fully clothed. But we think news of novel devices, even one that marks the company’s foray into wearables, is no match for the bomb that Apple dropped on Friday, via Vanity Fair‘s VF Daily blog: Marc Newson is joining his buddy Jony Ive‘s design team. The Australian-born designer, who when we last we checked in with him was showcasing a feast of Newsonian domestic delights in an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is set to become Apple’s senior vice president of design, although he will continue to be based in the United Kingdom and work on projects outside of Apple.

Seven Questions for Karim Rashid

Karim RashidIt’s been a busy, brightly colored, organic-shaped summer for Karim Rashid. The designer has given lectures, made appearances, and occasionally DJ’ed in cities from Miami and Toronto to Hamburg and Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth-largest city). On Friday he could be found in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he keynoted the Construye & Remodela confab. Not that there’s any shortage of stateside projects: Rashid was recently commissioned to design three Manhattan residential buildings, including a mixed-use project (20 apartments, with office and commercial space at the street level) located at 1633-1655 Madison Avenue. The concept is a continuation of Rashid’s signature boundary-pushing, rooted in a desire to “bring a fulgent vibrancy to the environment and move away the trends away from tired archetypes and cold minimalism.” He made time between groundbreakings, prototyping sessions, and DJ sets to answer our seven questions.

You recently lectured—and DJed—in Ekaterinburg, Russia. What is your impression of the state of design in Russia?
I have been to Russia 25 times and always love the country, the energy, the people, the intellectual spirit, the food, the sensibilities. In regards the state of design I have seen things change drastically since 14 years ago, but the problem is that Russia has not embraced the design phenomena enough, yet it is getting better and better. The condition is changing. In order to know Russian designers internationally they either work and develop brands in Russia—that become globally established—or work for foreign companies. And in all those trips very few Russian companies approach me to design for them.

Russia with all its diversified money, increasing incomes, intelligence, education, and manufacturing capability, lacks globally recognized brands. I always thought how fascinating it is that a country like Sweden has international brands like IKEA, H&M, Absolut, Volvo, and Voss with only a population of 7 million. Because of the size of Russia, companies were producing goods exclusively for their huge market and taking no impetus to export. Russia has the manpower and money to create major global brands. But times have changed and the doors to the West are open. I would love to see Russia build some very contemporary brands that contribute to our beautiful global consumer landscape.

I just completed the new OK.RU website [a popular Russian social media platform], and I am working on a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, an orange juice bottle, a cognac bottle, a tractor, and other projects in Russia, but I would love to design some hotels in every major city. There is a lack of design-driven boutique hotels in Russia.
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Design Students Compete for World Sneaker Championship Title

pensole beltIt started with 30 carefully selected design students from 16 countries. Divided into eight design teams, with three footwear designers and one color and materials designer in each, they took an original design idea from concept to finished design over the course of four weeks as competitors in the World Sneaker Championship. Part footwear design master class and part sneaker smackdown, the event is organized by Pensole, the footwear design academy founded in 2010 by Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards, and after Friday’s presentations to industry pros, the finalists (in eight categories and for eight sponsoring brands) have been chosen. Head to the online home of Sports Illustrated by 6 p.m. EST Wednesday to cast your online vote for the overall winning design as the finalists head to Vegas to present their designs at the FN Platform trade show. The big winner, to be announced late Wednesday, will be presented with the coveted (and pencil-studded) Pensole World Sneaker Championship belt (pictured) and the possibility of seeing their design sold at retail.

Watch Paola Antonelli Discuss Design and Violence

Paola Antonelli‘s twenty-year career at the Museum of Modern Art has been a journey through many facets of design, “from cute chairs and fast cars to video games and now also the idea of violence,” she told the audience at the recent DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in New York. Watch her talk from that confab below to gain insight into the darker side of design as explored—and hacked, penetrated, manipulated, penetrated, and exploded—through Design and Violence, an online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society.

Derk Reilink Redesigns Tape Dispenser with ‘ClickTape’

ClickTape_usingit

ClickTape_Derk_ReilinkUnwilling to cede precious desktop real estate to a bulky, weighted tape dispenser nor to look upon the unsightly clear plastic one that accompanies a roll, we’ve long relegated tape to the drawer, where it spends its days in the company of foreign coins, our second-favorite scissors, and a thicket of novelty USB flash drives. Derk Reilink knew there had to be a better way.

The Dutch designer took on the challenge of building a better tape dispenser as part of his graduate studies in industrial design and engineering at the University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands. “I started to experiment with basic shapes and found the shape of the tape itself to be the best shape for the dispenser,” Reilink tells us. “By taking out a section of the ring shape I could create a symmetric chain-linked design.” The result is ClickTape, a minimalist dispenser that is useful and portable—think of it as the practical, low-key sibling of the bottle for Bulgari’s Omnia fragrance.
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Seven Questions for Giulio Iacchetti

noe gi
noe alessiMore than 10,000 people visited WantedDesign, which wrapped up on Monday at New York’s the Tunnel. A highlight among the more than 60 exhibitors was Italian design powerhouse Alessi, which presented projects stemming from research and workshops the company has conducted in collaboration with several young designers around the world. Veteran Alessi designer Giulio Iacchetti was on hand to showcase his new “Noè” collection of wine accessories. The name is a nod to the biblical patriarch. “Noah is not just famous for building the ark, but also for his passion for wine,” says Iacchetti, who is based in Milan. “And it is said that he invented it after being the first to experiment with vine cultivation.” We popped open a bottle of bubbly—with the aid of his bottle-shaped opener—and asked him seven questions.

Giulio IacchettiWhat was the concept for the Noè set?
The inspiring concept for these objects designed to serve and preserve wine comes by a strong formal reference to existing wine imagery, so the bottle holder refers to a cluster of grapes, the Champagne stopper recalls those corks used to hermetically seal Champagne bottles, the shape of the Champagne cork opener is inspired by the outline of a bottle, and finally, the drop-stop ring is truly the engagement between us and wine!

What has distinguished your collaborations with Alessi from those with other companies?
When I think of Italian design and design companies, I think immediately of Alessi. Alessi could be really considered the “dream factory”—as Alberto Alessi defined his company years ago—for its exceptional capability to combine real industrial productivity with the openness to collect in its catalog many different products categories. Every time I go to Crusinallo [Alessi headquarters], I personally live a life-long dream.
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