Ikea Hackers

Ikea Hackers is a website that showcases and encourages the hacking/modification/repurposing of Ikea products.

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Knuff Transformable Coffee Table

The Knuff Table is a pretty clever Ikea Hack.  It uses nested Knuff wood magazine holders as the tabletop.  The nested boxes allow the tabletop shape to be adjustable, and the open ends can be used as a storage space.

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Frosta X Wall Shelf

The Frosta X is part of a subcategory of Ikea Hacking that is based upon the Frosta stool.  I really like the Ikea style instructions.

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Lova Elf Wings

A bit more on the whimsical side, the Lova Elf Wings are made from a children’s canopy, some curtains, a blanket, and a placemat.  I’m not a huge fan of this as a concept, my tastes lean more towards the functional, but I think its a very creative adaptation of Ikea Products.  Its a great example of someone taking something, and turning it into something the original designers never dreamed of.

Sugru

Sugru is a “self setting rubber for fixing, modifying and improving your stuff.”  It has infinite potential for hacking and repairing products, and has been gaining a lot of coverage lately.

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Sugru is cool because its silicone, so its very strong and heat/cold resistant. It is also very accessible to the average DIYer.   This means its potential to repair things is nearly limitless.

If you’re an even more hardcore you can make it yourself.  I’ve never used Sugru or made my own, but I think anything that encourages the average consumer to improve or repurpose the products around them is a positive addition to the landscape of design.

Is the future worth predicting?

In today’s D & T I listened to Nicholas Oddy’s presentation on the future of transport.  He started off his presentation by telling us that he didn’t want to talk about the future, and instead would talk about the past.  More specifically, he spoke about past attempts at designing/predicting the future.

Nicholas told us the concept of the future arose in the 19th century, since up until that point, the future, past, and present were essentially all the same.

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Raymond Loewy’s Design Evolution (1930′s) attempts to predict the future appearance of products based on their past.  Some aren’t far off, but others are.  The difficulty arises from the fact that it is simply impossible to predict some technological changes (for example, the smartphone) that will have a major impact on the form, function, or existence of products.

The fact of the matter is, when you try to envision the future, you can’t help but reflect the present.  There will undoubtably be technological advances/societal changes between now and 2050 that will have a major effect on transportation, that we simply cannot anticipate.  But it’s fun to try.

Glasgow Maklab and the paradox of my Pecha Kucha topic

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Friday we visited the Glasgow Maklab.  The Maklab is a public digital fabrication studio located in the Glasgow Lighthouse.  We toured the facility, and then listened to a presentation on open source design.  There is a similar facility in Philadelphia that I have been really keen to visit, but still haven’t had the chance, so I was quite excited to see what the Maklab had to offer.  I think these types of studio’s are a great environment for creative designers to share ideas and work on small personal projects, and it is very likely that I will involve myself in a studio like the Maklab wherever I may settle.

Throughout the visit I couldn’t help but think about my Pecha Kucha topic, and I realized an interesting difference between the Maker Movement and the Arts & Crafts Movement:

While both movements may be responses to their respective revolutions, the Arts & Crafts Movement is in direct opposition the the Industrial Revolution, while the Maker Movement is enabled by (and works very closely alongside) the Technological Revolution.

Materiality & Form in Design – Kirsty Ross

This past thursday we listened to a presentation on materiality and form by Kirsty Ross.  She spoke of Nokia’s experimentation with material forms and processes in relation to the development of their Lumia 800 mobile phone.

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It was interesting hearing about how Nokia has gone about “reinventing itself”

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Nokia became the most successful mobile phone manufacturer of all time arguably without paying any attention whatsoever to materiality and form.  The Nokia 3310 is perhaps the most famous (thank Memes), but Nokia produced nine of the top ten most popular phones ever.  Almost all of these phones were made from the same 3310 formula: a “brick” with numerical keyboard in textured plastic.  So what happened?

Apple.  Apple’s iPhone (Macbook, iPad, iPod) took over the industry and ever since companies like Nokia have been scrambling to get some of that share back.  I guess Nokia thinks embracing materiality and form is a way of accomplishing this.

They should make sure they don’t forget what made them successful in the first place (their phones work, and are bulletproof).  A close friend of mine has the Lumia, and the cover for the charger port has long since broken off.  I’m not sure if this is a common problem or not, but it surely wouldn’t happen to the 3310.

I don’t own an iPhone.  I don’t even own a smartphone.  I own a phone that makes calls, sends texts, and I can drop on a regular basis.  It isn’t a Nokia, but it very well could have been.

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The Ikea Effect

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I recently listened to an NPR story on the Ikea Effect.

The theory of the Ikea Effect suggests that it’s not love that leads to labor, but labor that leads to love.  That’s why you love that Ikea table, even if its crooked.

This could explain the satisfaction Makers and DIYers get out of designing and producing their own “products”.  Furthermore, could this be the driver behind all handcraft (Arts & Crafts, Punk, DIY, Maker, Hacker, etc) movements?

It’s also important for product designers to keep in mind (and perhaps avoid).  If you work on a project for too long, the Ikea Effect suggests that you will begin to love it, whether it’s a good idea or not.  I guess thats why we need outside criticism.

The Nissan Factory – The realities of mass production

I am obsessed with the Science Channel series How it’s Made.  I absolutely love watching the machinery involved in automated manufacturing.  So when I heard we were going on a trip to the Nissan factory in Sunderland I was excited.

A little background:

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The sprawling facility above is Nissan’s Sunderland factory.  It operates 24/7 and is the most productive automotive factory in Europe.

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The robotic assembly line was absolutely amazing: sparks flying, each machine’s movement perfectly choreographed to the music blaring on the PA system.  A dream come true.

I was a bit put off when I saw that the “automation” continued when humans took over.

Employees were treated like a pieces of machinery.  Each assembly line worker has a 59 second task which they perform on a repeating loop eight hours a day.  Bathroom breaks are discouraged, and smiles were nowhere to be found.  I couldn’t help but wonder what factories must be like in places without the workers rights of the UK.

Pichi Kichi

Thursday I delivered my first Pecha Kucha style presentation.  It was a miniature ten-slides-for-twenty-seconds version (aptly named a Pichi Kichi).  My topic was the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

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I knew very little about Westwood prior to the presentation.  For those unfamiliar, she is (among other things) largely responsible for bringing punk to the mainstream in the 70s and 80s.

I concluded that Westwood sort of lies outside of the world of design.  She is at least outside the Dieter Rams style of design we are taught in school.

I found Kevin’s presentation on Ross Lovegrove particularly interesting in terms of FASCINATIONS 2050.

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A car, a solar cell, and a streetlamp

His multi-purpose transportation vehicle was an interesting idea, and it’s applicable to the project.  What other multi-purpose transport could there be?  Bike benches?  Car shelters?

DIY and Skateboarding

Skateboarding is what got me into design.

When I was ten years old, the X Games came to Philadelphia.  It was mainly so they could hold the Skateboard Street contest in Love Park (it was actually held nearby) before John Street ruined what was one of the greatest street skateboarding locations in the world so rich businessmen would have somewhere to eat their lunch (I’m sure you can tell theres a rant here, but I wont bother).

During the X Games I paid a visit to FDR Park, another Philadelphia skateboarding landmark, only this one was built by skateboarders.  FDR is a DIY skatepark constructed in a disused space under Interstate 95.

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I was inspired to create a skatepark of my own.  I designed and built a series of ramps with my Dad’s help.  The pinnacle being the 3ft high 28ft long “miniramp” which sat in my front yard for ten years.

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Skating the ramp in 2005

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The ramp right before I tore it down. 2012

My skateboarding interests expanded, and I got more into downhill skateboarding.  At the time, there was very little available commercially for DH, so most of my equipment I designed and built myself.  My parents were really supportive of my basement tinkering, and by the time I was in high school, I had a full workshop.  Here are a few of the creations I actually have documented:

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One of probably about 30 skateboards I have made

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Before GoPros existed-DV camcorder in a PVC pipe

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“Aero” helmet I built in 2006

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Racing with the Aero Helmet in 2007

I don’t skate as much as I used to, but it was the first chance I had to conceptualize, create things, and then actually use them and learn from the experience.

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Is the DIY/Maker Movement the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 21 Century?

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I have finally chosen a topic to focus on for this semester’s Design and Technology requirement:

DIY Movement : Technological Revolution

Arts & Crafts Movement : Industrial Revolution

The Arts & Crafts Movement was an effort to reconnect people with hands-on activities as a response to the growing disconnect with manufacturing and artistry caused by the Industrial Revolution.  I modern society, it is entirely possible for one to spend their day interacting solely with pieces of technology.  This inevitably leads to a disconnect between people and the world around them.

DIY Culture offers an alternative; a community based around self-sufficiency and the sharing of ideas/skills.