What are they so busy doing? Well, now that the students are up to their ears in this project, we thought it would be high time we release it to the rest of you. Inspired by some of the most essential parts of daily life throughout the globe, as well as our long-time partnership with OXO, (ELEVEN) and DSK will embark on updating and improving the global kitchen:
(ELEVEN)'s mission is to invent unique and appropriate solutions to everyday problems.
The most basic problem throughout human existence has been the acquisition and safe preparation of food and water. Although many of the traditional problems associated with these life-sustaining tasks have been technologically defeated, they continue to plague us socially and economically.
In fact, the very industrial processes and associated systems developed to solve these problems on a global scale are now precipitating new problems, the potential consequences of which we have only begun to understand.
For this project we would like to deeply explore the household kitchen, the realm in which food and water are typically stored for the family. What current problems can we uncover? What developing trends have the potential to give rise to new problems on the horizon? Can a cross-cultural understanding of these problems lead to novel solutions - global in scale - that would otherwise be unbelievable?Objective - The goal of this project is to improve the experience people have in the kitchen and the home by designing a system, appliance, and/or tool that will solve a specific problem and provide a complete sensory experience. Solutions may run the gamut and should be thoughtful as well as thorough in their exploration and execution. The hope is that ideas will blend culture and opportunity to shape the future.
Areas of Focus: The Kitchen and Beyond
Re-imagine the basic human needs of food and water in the context of the household kitchen.
Discover problems existing today or that may be looming on the horizon.
Invent unique and appropriate solutions to those problems drawing from local and global perspectives and understanding.
In one week we cannot hope to solve all of these problems, but we should be able to find one present or future problem within the kitchen touching on food and water, our most basic needs. We hope, through the course of this week's course, to solve a real human problem, not necessarily to design a product. The lack of a specific product on the market is never a real problem, but a new product may be one appropriate solution to a real problem.
We can't really explain our excitement to see what comes out of this week's work, and we expect you can't either. Matt and Craig will report back soon!
Ever been to San Francisco? No? Well, want to feel like you have? Check out the pretty amazing video above (and here), with a bird's eye view of a city that already feels smaller, more approachable than it already was.
This is the amazing 'copter work of one Robert McIntosh (whose other videos you really ought to check out too), and we hope he doesn't stop there.
The office is abuzz as Matt and Craig get ready to ship off to India for the next two weeks. No, we're not just stoked about some fun vacations our comrades get to take (though we fully support such things as well) - they're off for official (ELEVEN) business.
The dynamic duo will be teaching 40 college students, Indian and French, at the DSK International School of Design in Pune. Throughout the course of next week, they will be leading the students through a project specified by us, which we'll tell you more about next week (we'd hate to spoil the surprise for the students this early!).
Stay posted for more on the project, how those of us at (ELEVEN) have helped prep for M/C's send-off, and what comes of the students' work!
What's an Extensor, you ask? Marc's concept vehicle, which just nabbed first place (yes, FIRST PLACE!) in the recent Shell GameChanger D.R.I.V.E.N. Competition, that asked for designs for future mobility in five world cities - Amsterdam, Bangalore, Bursa, Houston, and Sao Paulo. Over 181 designs were entered, and Marc's Extensor was voted #1 for Amsterdam. Hip hip hooray!
What's the big idea? Marc's concept, the Shell/LM Extensor, in his words, "explores the convergence between bike and scooter; emotion and convenience, frugality with speed. The goal is to maintain the familiarity of the users' own bicycles with a refreshingly expedited, yet inexpensive, journey.
The Extensor system is a three-stage, solar-powered, user-subscription or pay-per-use mobility enhancer, which bridges the gap between bicycles and motorized scooters. Each platform implements the natural braking and steering movements of a bicycle, thus easing the transition between learned vocabulary and autonomic riding habits."
What makes the Extensor so great for Amsterdam, or really any city? This solution brings convenience to a new level, while also being socially and environmentally sensitive. It, as Marc noted, utilizes users' existing knowledge and instincts for how to operate similar vehicles. And, obviously, it's fun. We also love how it offers users much more flexibility - those inclined to stick to the bike, and not own a scooter or car, can still take advantage of some motorized assistance when they happen to need it.Part of what makes this challenge timely - and brilliant - is that it's far from focused on just making life more convenient for users in the coming years. Instead, it recognizes that personal mobility must evolve in order to incorporate new and/or better materials, technologies, and energy sources, and must reflect how people truly want to get around. The materials and energy sources for each concept must be locally sourced, and the idea should help social challenges that the particular location is facing. For more than fun, these vehicles promise to be invaluable.
We couldn't be more proud of Marc, and look forward to a future created by great minds like his!
Check out his entire presentation for more details on how the Extensor can come to life and operate day-to-day... and to see the poetry in both his design and in the words he uses to describe it.
You all might have heard of recent record-breaking (high!) temperatures in Boston (and, if not, we're quite happy to tell you all about how great it's been). Everywhere, sunny and/or grassy spots are filled with scores of sunbathers. And those of us who bike commute will tell you that the bike lanes are suddenly crowded once again.
And although it's never thrilling to have scores of biking newbies weaving around the road, we're nonetheless excited to see the number of local cyclists growing by the year.
Of course, there are still plenty of holdouts - in our own office, and surely in many others. And, certainly, in plenty of cases, biking to work doesn't make sense - whether it's because of the sheer distance you have to cover, a healthy fear of Boston drivers, or simply because arriving at work sweaty, panting, and possibly grease-streaked doesn't sound like your cup of tea.
Luckily, plenty of people are working on making all of this more accessible, especially as it becomes clearer that we need some good solutions to the obesity epidemic (and biking, walking, or otherwise powering oneself to work is a great way to combat that).
One of those people is our very own Marc Senger, and consider this post an official teaser - we'll reveal his amazing work on this very soon.
Another cool contribution, recently debuted at South by Southwest, is by Conscious Commuter, and specifically designer Gabriel Wartofsky:
Please meet their solution - a lightweight, folding electric bike that lets cyclists pedal as much - or, happily, as little - as they'd like. As in, if you're heading up that dreaded steep hill, and or just beat on the ride home, an electric, chargeable motor makes the front wheel move on its own with the squeeze of a throttle. All of a sudden, you're going up to 20 miles per hour, and all you need to do is hang on.
If you decide public transportation is how you want to get home, this bike also folds up easily. It will set you back around $2,500 when it's released later this year, though we all know a fancy bicycle can cost you far more than that, depending on your tastes.
What's keeping you from riding, if that's something you would otherwise be inclined to try? And, better yet, how can you be a part of creating the solution?
Otherwise, stay tuned for Marc's amazing work, and go enjoy the sun - we sure are.
In this article, John Thackara compiles an extensive collection of eye-opening information about how design, manufacturing and new technology can exacerbate growing environmental problems. The internet-driven 'information age' promised us two major benefits: 1. open access to information about everything, 2. increased energy efficiency due to the replacement of analog processes with digital processes.
However, as Thackara implies, these benefits will only come about through continued hard work and sacrifice. There is no free lunch.
Reading through some of the referenced literature, one realizes that perhaps these desired benefits have not yet been achieved and are by no means inevitable. In fact, digital technology could end up causing more problems than it solves. While the internet makes it easy to find information about the energy savings, as compared to analog machines, of digital devices in use, it is very difficult to find information about the energy-intensive processes used to actually produce the devices in the first place. According to one of these articles, these processes require energy consumption that is orders of magnitude greater than pre-digital products. The other issue is obsolescence. If the average digital device has a lifespan of two to three years, as compared to 10+ years for analog devices, these energy-intensive manufacturing processes occur with much greater frequency, not to mention that the recycling process for digital devices is far more complex, and in some cases, impossible or not beneficial.
Despite the openness and vastness of the information available on the internet, finding data that contradicts in any way the incredibly optimistic view of unlimited technological growth is not so easy. And maybe that's because no one is really looking for it, since we all want to believe that ever-expanding exploitation of digital technology will save us. I personally hope that dream will come true, but I have my doubts.
In any case, I think any designer who cares about the issues would find it enlightening to read some of the articles listed.