Magnetic Design

Category: Design

The small dark, gothic side of my personality is fizzing at the aesthetics of this work. Architecture Meets Magnetism  is Jólan van deer Wiel’s latest experimentation with gravity and futurism. New to me, the Dutch designer is famed for his use of iron fillings as objects. Previously he has created stools, candlesticks and tables from hardening iron that has been formed by the pull of magnets (you can watch a demonstration by Wiel here). In this project, Wiel combines the magnetic forces of iron with clay, developing a special formula which he calls ‘Dragonstone’. Allowing the clay to act naturally with the magnetic pull, these beautiful pyramids are created. Inspired by Gaudi and the architects use of gravity to calculate the final shape of the La Sagrada Familia, Wiel wondered what it would be like to be able to create with no gravitational pull at all.

I loved watching the film and seeing the oozing clay lift and float with a life of it’s own, with the only designer dictation being the base shape of the object. After discovering how clay could be shaped by magnetism, Wiel is now investigating applications for architectural builds. Imagine constructing concrete with this method! How wonderful would those buildings be.

It’s a fantastic idea this, architecture and design shaped by gravity; nature’s laws literally dictating our aesthetics. And what a great job she does. It’s part fantasy, part gothic, and part futurism.

Take a look at Jólan van deer Wiel’s work here, including his magnetic clothing for Iris van Herpen. And if you’re enjoying the ceramics vibe, then check out Christina Schou Christensen who uses similar ideas in her work.

Logan Bradley

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JIBO – personal robot to help out at home

Category: Design, Industrial design, Interactive

 

I hope 2015 is going to be the year of personal robots. This is something to look forward to! Personally I’m already tired of this year being ’the year of the smart watch’ although Apple haven’t even announced theirs.

Personal robots at this stage seem to be more like a smartphone with a personified physical presence and seem to build on refined voice- and face recognition technology. It is the ultimate interactive ‘hands free’ experience and if it’s done well it can make life easier.

As usual, Kickstarter and Indigogo is the platform for this sort of innovation, since big technology brands are still more interested in selling outdated technology. We seen initiatives popping up like the Romo which is basically an interactive iPhone app on wheels for kids, and the high-end Pepper, a child sized robot that can recognise human emotions.

Today, we arrived to a nice middle ground with Jibo, ’the family robot’. The first initiative I could see going mainstream through it’s accessibility, open platform and straight-forward features. The designer robotics expert / super-cool person Cynthia Breazeal also managed to make it insanely cute! Kind of reminds me of a simplified version of EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E.

Jibo can see through two high-res cameras, track faces, capture photos and has an immersive video calling feature that takes the concept to the next level. Jimbo can hear everything. It’s sensitive microphones can pick up and process speech, wherever you are in the room. Jibo speaks to you, reads messages, notifications, works like a personal assistant managing your day. It’s artificial intelligence is able to adapt and learn, it communicates with social and emotive cues. Jibo seems likeable through it’s appearance and ‘personality’. Watch the video above to see how it works! I quite like the smart, flexibly moving structure and the expressive eye feature.

Working on a Linux based platform open to developers the potential there is huge. At a later stage it might connect to your home systems to adjust light, sound or control the temperature. It is already impressive how handy it is in everyday situations like ordering your groceries or takeaway food, read up a recipe while you are cooking, take great photos or look up the answer to your questions online.

Jibo is on pre-order for $499 and arrives by the end of 2015. The public release will be early 2016. I look forward to revisit where it has evolved by then. The future is here!

Kyle Glass
Images: http://www.myjibo.com/

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Media Design School

Premium Design Academy in Auckland, New Zealand
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Ai Wei Wei at Lisson Gallery

Category: Fine Arts, Installation, sculpture

We’ve seen a lot of marble used over the past year in furniture, product and graphic design, and even in fashion as digital prints. Here it is used by artist Ai Wei Wei in what is perhaps the most apt manner—for the purpose of social critique. Ai Wei Wei has risen to international prominence despite (and also due to) his widely-criticized 81 day detainment by the Chinese authorities in 2011, and has since continued producing work—even though he is barred from traveling overseas to be present at his own shows, with his passport still being withheld by authorities. His commitment to social activism and the protection of free speech is laudable, especially since politics and art are seldom a successful mix.

His current show at Lisson Gallery in London is largely made up of meticulously sculpted objects, sparsely arranged, some encased in glass display cases. His photographic series Study of Perspective, depicting him giving the middle finger to various structures of power around the world, dilute what may appear to be a serious museum display with a touch of cheeky humour. A good sense of humour is surely needed for someone in his situation, and the rest of the aesthetically beautiful objects point to some of the problems he encounters in the homeland he is bound to. A conglomeration of bicycles harks back to the days when Beijing was famed for this mode transport, now overtaken by cars and pollution. The gas mask, immortalized in marble, serves as a sinister warning. Highly personal items intermingle with those of wider cultural and political significance. There are handcuffs and coat-hangers, re-created from crystal, jade and huali wood, that refer to his detainment. Traditional lanterns and replicas of his father’s armchairs carved from heavy marble. Glass replicas of taxi window cranks are a puzzling sight, until we find out that these have been banned from Beijing taxis, in order to prevent passengers from distributing protest leaflets.

Every object in this exhibition is charged with cultural and personal references it is up to us to research further and decode. It’s an unapologetic display of dissent towards the authorities, but also a narrative of Ai Wei Wei’s experiences and struggles as an individual. The exhibit will be on until 19 July, but Ai Wei Wei is also the subject of a major retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum until 10 August.

Anna Tokareva

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Doug Johnston’s Coiled Vessels

Category: Accessory, Design

When it comes to home furnishings, baskets aren’t something I had given much thought. Sure, I have a couple stashed in the wardrobe for the practical purposes of containing my bedding, and I’ve found several lovely woven pieces to hold pot plants. But generally, I feel like they get put into the boring “country feel” category of decorating, and their potential as an object has been a little overlooked. Then Doug Johnston’s signature coiled wonders started popping up along my regular net-surfing trajectory. These objects—baskets, bags, decorative pieces—come in all kinds of curved, curious shapes in gentle pastels and color-blocked brights. I especially love the “hump tote” and “hump handbag.” They look kooky and fun, and yet make a lot of sense as a functional bag.

The sturdiness of these things, and their ability to hold their form, is surprising, considering that they’re made from coiled and stitched cotton rope. Doug Johnston has been experimenting with this particular method of creating vessels and art objects for almost 15 years, after moving away from a career in architecture. You can watch him smoothly sewing away in his studio in New York in this short video. His accuracy and speed is impressive. The technique looks simple at first, but I suspect that it’s the years of practice that make it seem this way!

Johnston is one of those amazing creative people who manage to juggle many different talents and ventures—as well as making gorgeous, covetable objects he has played music in a number of bands and creates performance art with his partner Tomoe Matsuoka. His blog is also worth checking out, it’s a great collection of art, product design, architecture and photography.

Anna Tokareva

Images: Michael Popp

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design

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Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Arts

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NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Milan, Italy
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Domus Academy

Design and Fashion School in Milan, Italy
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Formafantasma’s De Natura Fossilium

Category: Furniture Design, Industrial design, Interior Design

Looking through Formafantasma’s projects is akin to flipping through an encyclopedia of sorts. I have never learned so much about historic events, craft processes or the way that common natural materials are formed, from looking at a design studio’s work! This is what sets them apart from many others—Formafantasma go to great lengths to understand and explore each material they work with. They do this not only through physical experimentation, but extensive research of cultural and even geopolitical contexts and history of the objects they create. Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the designers behind Formafantasma, utilize naturally sourced materials and techniques in innovative ways, whilst acknowledging the craftspeople they borrow from. The comprehensive process undertaken to design and make a piece of furniture or an object is admirable. The method of arriving at the final outcome is often visible in the object, and sometimes presented in exhibition of their work alongside the finished pieces.

De Natura Fossilium is a collection of objects made from lava originating from Mt Etna, an active volcano towering over the town of Catania in Sicily, and Stromboli, a volcanic island. This project was commissioned by London’s Gallery Libby Sellers, where it is currently on exhibit, after being revealed at Salone del Mobile in Milan earlier this year. Collaboration with a number of experts, who create lava-derived materials in different forms, has pushed the possibilities of this natural resource to the limit. Basalt fibre textiles depict Greek gods. Elegant blown lava glass and smooth slabs of basalt stone are contrasted with raw chunks of lava. The hanging obsidian mirror, balanced by rugged rock takes advantage of this most beautifully. Another favourite of mine is the ingenious horizontal clock, comprised of three separate planes (for seconds, minutes and hours) that levels different samples of ancient lava sand in a perpetual gesture of the clock hand. This simple and poetic object holds so much allegorical weight!

In addition to the show at Gallery Libby Sellers, a retrospective of their work, Prima Materia is on at the Stedelijk Museum’s’s-Hertogenbosch until mid-June. If you can’t make it to either of these then invest some time into their website—you are bound to learn some fascinating things.

Anna Tokareva

Photographs: Gallery Libby Sellers

 

 

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Domus Academy

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NewSchool of Architecture + Design

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