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Bright Idea: LED Lightbulbs Meet Wireless Technology

Tired of ugly lightbulbs and unsightly lightswitches? Dream of dimming lamps with the swipe of your iPhone? Check out RoboSmart, a new wireless LED lighting system that that can be controlled with a smartphone, tablet, or computer over Bluetooth Smart wireless. With an eye to simplifying the typical wireless lighting setup, Ian Crayford and his team at “Automation for the Masses” startup Smart Home Labs have developed an energy-efficient, Bluetooth-enabled LED lightbulb–designed to be a direct replacement for a standard 120V screw-in bulb–and apps (iOS and Android) for controlling it.

“We didn’t just want to take an existing LED lighting design and simply bolt on a circuit board with wireless,” says Clayton. “Our hardware team set out to develop a design that would be easy to put together and cost-effective, to make this technology accessible to the masses.” In addition to on/off and dimmer switch functions, the “Smart Lights” apps allow users to put lights on timers, keep track of power usage, and set proximity lighting, which can turn on and off one or more RoboSmart bulb as the user moves within range. Want to give it go? Silicon Valley-based Smart Home Labs is launching the product with a campaign on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo: the bulbs, priced at $49 each, will ship in February.

Quote of Note | Adam Lindemann

Damien Hirst, who this month announced his defection from Gagosian Gallery, where he has been represented for 17 years.

“Through ‘loyalty,’ lethargy, apathy, or fear, the biggest-name artists have been willingly shackled to their heritage galleries–now that may be changing. I don’t believe this trend is specific to Gagosian. The very foundations of the ‘artist representation’ model are crumbling. Maybe all the top-selling artists will fire their galleries and form one big collective, then they can just set prices and cut out the dealers. I’d prefer it if they charged one price at the door and then a bingo machine randomly chose which artwork you got; that would make it fun again.”

-Collector, gallerist, and writer Adam Lindemann in “The Art World Game Changers of 2012,” published in the December 24-31 issue of The New York Observer

GE Engineers Soup Up Santa’s Sleigh, Reindeer Rejoice

Amidst the fruitless efforts of a nine-member entity known only as “R. Deer LLC” to swap out Santa‘s rickety old sleigh with a Tesla Model S, engineers at GE have taken it upon themselves to reimagine the jolly old elf’s ride. The souped-up sleigh draws upon a range of technologies to offer a greener, faster, and more efficient Christmas Eve journey. Among the new features are a thin cooling solution that can improve jet engine aerodynamics, air traffic management technology to help Santa and the reindeer steer clear of planes, 3-D-printed sleigh blades for greater lift and maneuverability, and a rugged new battery that can function under extreme conditions.

The sleigh frame, sprayed with water- and ice-repellant coatings, has been upgraded with GE’s high-temperature ceramic composites–enabling flight into outer space and back. Santa is on board with the extraterrestrial upgrade. “I am looking forward to flying into outer space,” he said in a statement issued by GE. “This will really save time by helping me get to destinations in different parts of the world much faster.” And the reindeer couldn’t be more pleased with the redesign, which features an electric traction motor that can take over when Dasher, Dancer, and the gang need a breather. Noted Rudolph, “Covering the entire globe can be pretty exhausting, and having the opportunity to rest along the way will help us remain in peak condition.”
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Join Us Tonight in NYC to Talk Architecture, Media

Put down your digital device and step away from that glossy stack of design magazines to join us in person tonight at New York’s Center for Architecture, the setting for “Architecture and Media: Evolving Media Platforms.” The panel discussion, moderated by Molly Heintz (The Architect’s Newspaper), will explore technological advances and the proliferation of platforms forcing changes in architectural magazines, newspapers, trade journals, and design blogs. How is self-publishing and the multitude of micro-sites changing communications strategies? What are the most effective ways for architects to get their story heard? Find out this evening, when we’ll be joined by fellow panelists Susan Szenasy (Metropolis), Alexandra Lange (Design Observer), and Jenna McKnight (Architizer). The panel-based architectural fun starts at 6 p.m., and we hope to see you there!

Making a Case for Design: AIGA Names Winners of ‘Justified’ Competition

Earlier this year, AIGA put out the call for “stories that reveal the value design creates for clients, the public and, most especially, customers” for Justified, a new kind of competition. Hundreds of entries poured in—from design firms, in-house design departments, design entrepreneurs, and freelance designers—and a jury of top designers chaired by Terry Irwin, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, has selected 18 exemplary case studies that serve as an effective tool to explain design’s value to clients, students, peers, and the general public. Five entries made the shortlists of all of the jurors: the Feed the Future Website, Make Congress Work!, Earth Lab: Degrees of Change, HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites, and CODA Experience Center. “In a challenging economic climate, articulating what we do has become more important than ever,” said juror Petrula Vrontikis, creative director of Vrontikis Design Office, in a statement issued by AIGA. “It is possibly the most useful skill we can master, allowing us to keep good clients and make purposeful (and beautiful) work.”

What Does Color Sound Like? Listen Up with Neil Harbisson

You and your Pantone fandecks have got this color thing all figured out, at least from a visual perspective. But what does color sound like? Before you seek answers through illegal substances and/or the synesthesic genius-musings of Vladimir Nabokov, spend a few minutes with Neil Harbisson. The self-described “cyborgist and colorlogist,” who’s trundling off to Trondheim, Norway next week for the Meta.Morf Biennale, was born totally colorblind. He took the stage at this year’s TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh to explain how he has found color in a grayscale world.

Quote of Note: David Edelstein on ‘The Clock’

Still from Christian Marclay’s “The Clock” (2010). Photo: Todd-White Art Photography. (Courtesy White Cube, Paula Cooper Gallery, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

“I’m fairly sure, unless there are scores of movies in which the time is seen to be 11:48 at a given moment, that Marclay was limited by his source material. He also had to resort to a lot of ticking-clock action-picture scenarios, from the high-toned High Noon on down. Heist movies, time-bomb thrillers, hostage melodramas—the number of them is predictably disproportionate. Marclay returns to the more obvious ones over and over, like the Jason Statham picture Bank Job.

True, there are interstitial bits that bind some of the shots, and moments in which a character looking up at a clock are followed by similar vantages from another movie. Those are witty and brilliantly orchestrated. But it’s all fooling around with found footage, slotting it into place. Little of it is transformed the way it is in, say, the works of Guy Maddin and Terence Davies. From minute to minute (literally), there are delightfully seamless segues, surprising echoes, and excerpts in which I saw the films in question with new eyes. I just can’t conceive of watching it for longer than I did [two hours]…”

-Film critic David Edelstein, sparring with art critic Jerry Saltz on the merits of Christian Marclay’s 2010 video installation “The Clock” in a post on New York‘s Vulture blog. The Museum of Modern Art, which acquired the work last year, has just announced that it will show the work from December 21, 2012, to January 21, 2013, with a special 24-hour viewing on New Year’s Eve.

People Who Like Art Are Better Than People Who Don’t, Study Finds

Pat yourself on the back, UnBeige readers, because finally we have proof that you’re a superior bunch. It’s not simply reading here that makes you a better person but your love for art and design. According to a new study, people with an active interest in the arts contribute more to society than those with little or no such interest. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) used data from the General Social Survey—conducted since 1972 by the National Data Program for the Sciences—to analyze how arts exposure (defined as attendance at museums and dance, music, opera and theater events) and arts expression (defined as making or performing art) are related to traits of social responsibility.

“Even after controlling for age, race, and education, we found that participation in the arts, especially as audience, predicted civic engagement, tolerance, and altruism,” said Kelly LeRoux, an assistant professor of public administration at UIC and principal investigator on the NEA-funded study, in a statement issued by the university. LeRoux and her team correlated 2,765 randomly selected adults’ survey responses to arts-related questions to their responses on altruistic actions such as donating blood, giving directions, or doing favors for a neighbor, and looked at “norms of civility” including participation in community groups and charitable organizations. They also looked at responses related to social tolerance. “If policymakers are concerned about a decline in community life, the arts shouldn’t be disregarded as a means to promote an active citizenry,” added LeRoux, who plans to repeat the study with 2012 data.

In Brief: The $11 Million Ford, Student Designs ‘Food Printer,’ Perfume for Booklovers

(Photo: RM Auctions)

• This sleek little 1968 Ford GT40 now holds the title of most expensive American car ever sold at auction. It fetched $11 million in spirited bidding at an RM Auctions sale held last Friday in Monterey, California. Built for the J.W.A./Gulf team, the car raced extensively throughout 1968 from Daytona to Le Mans. “Its genesis alone is the stuff of legends and the subject of countless books, summarized most succinctly as a failed buy-out of Ferrari by Henry Ford II,” notes the RM catalogue of Ford’s GT40 program, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in March 2013.

• From a record-breaking Ford to…scent-captured food! An industrial design student at China’s Donghua University worked with Sony to develop a device she calls a “food printer.” Combining a camera with a smell extractor and a printer, it allows the user to photograph a food, capture its aroma, and then print out the image on a smell-infused postcard (wish you were here…to taste this!). The concept recently earned the “most-fun” award at a Sony-sponsored student design competition.

• If you’d rather smell like a freshly printed book than a foodstuff, feast your nose on Paper Passion. Created by Wallpaper* in collaboration with publisher Gerhard Steidl, fragrant bibliophile Karl Lagerfeld, and perfumer Geza Schoen, the bookish (and beautifully packaged) scent—a minimalist juice that includes ethyl linoleate and a selection of woody components to add dryness—is now available for pre-order from our friends at Aedes de Venustas in New York.

Does Wobbly Furniture Tilt Perceptions?

Can fixing that shaky table affect your desire for emotional stability? A new study suggests as much. Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada sat one group of volunteers in slightly wobbly chairs next to slightly wobbly tables while another group was seated in chairs next to tables that looked identical but didn’t wobble. Then they asked both groups to perform a couple of tasks: first, to judge the stability of the relationships of celebrity couples by rating the likelihood of a breakup on a scale of one (“extremely unlikely to dissolve”) to seven (“extremely likely to dissolve”) and then to rate their preferences for various traits in a potential romantic partner, also on a scale of one (“not at all desirable”) to seven (“extremely desirable”). The Economist recently revealed the rather ground-shaking results of the study, soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science:

Participants who sat in wobbly chairs at wobbly tables gave the celebrity couples an average stability score of 3.2 while those whose furniture did not wobble gave them 2.5. What was particularly intriguing, though, was that those sitting at wonky furniture not only saw instability in the relationships of others but also said that they valued stability in their own relationships more highly. They gave stability-promoting traits in potential romantic partners an average desirability score of 5.0, whereas those whose tables and chairs were stable gave these same traits a score of 4.5. The difference is not huge, but it is statistically significant. Even a small amount of environmental wobbliness seems to promote a desire for an emotional rock to cling to.

Watch for this finding to launch a trend in divorce lawyer office decor: rocking chairs.

Pictured: A work from Dutch designer Anna Ter Haar’s 2010 “Cinderella’s Chair” project.