Putting Light Phone to the Test: Disconnecting from the "pocket computer lifestyle" with this credit card-sized device

Putting Light Phone to the Test

When it was announced in 2015, the concept behind the Kickstarter-funded Light Phone felt much like a breath of fresh air. Roughly the size of four stacked credit cards, the device proposed a mobile world free of internet, apps and even texting……

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An Interview with jeffstaple Part 1: Collaboration, Digital Fabrication and Managing Multiple Teams

Through seamlessly blending business and design, Jeff Ng, also known as jeffstaple, turned his graphic design passion into the three-part visual communication agency, Staple Design. Including the agency itself, the t-shirt printing stint turned successful menswear collection, Staple Pigeon and the beloved Lower East Side retail store, Reed Space (whose new concept is currently in the works), Staple Design quickly grew to become and remain a respected conglomerate of NYC street culture-oriented companies in the late 1990s, early 2000s.

Image c/o Staple Design. (Header image of pigeons c/o BBC).

During this two-part interview, Jeff discusses different aspects of the design industry from a purely business standpoint, one designers often overlook, whether accidentally or intentionally. Part 1 is all about collaboration, managing teams across multiple companies and digital fabrication within the footwear industry.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

C77: You’re all about collaborations with other brands and artists—you’ve even made your own Staple concrete with Shake Shack. Can you talk about the role collaboration plays within the design industry as a whole?

JS: I love collaboration, but in theory, I don’t really like what it’s become. In its original principle, collaboration really comes down to each person having their inherent strengths and weaknesses. And hopefully, if I meet you and if I respect you, your strengths compliment my weaknesses and my strengths compliment your weaknesses. And hence, if we collaborate, we sort of form a yin-yang—that’s what collaboration should be at its core.

It’s become like a marketing pitch. It’s become a one-off. It would be the equivalent of if you were designing a car and you wanted to put chrome on the edge—like an afterthought. I think there is still collaboration that does happen a lot, but I think the BS of collaboration far out-strengthens when real collaboration happens. So, it’s hard for a young person or a consumer to decipher. I think they know that there’s a lot of bullshit that happens in collaboration, but it’s hard for them to decipher when it’s really happening and when it’s a marketing scheme.

That’s why we go, kind of extensive, on the story-telling side of collaboration. We make videos, we do one-to-one interviews, or I’ll do a talk with someone that I’m collaborating with just to show that there’s more depth here than a yogurt company collaborating with a graffiti artist. We’re actually brainstorming and thinking.

jeffstaple holding the sought-after Staple Design x Nike Dunk Low Pro SB “Pigeon”. Image c/o Staple Design.

When people say “I collaborated with Nike”… like, nobody collaborates with Nike. There’s 25,000 employees at Nike—it’s publicly traded. You don’t collaborate with Nike, you collaborate with a person at Nike that is representing the brand. But if that person leaves, there’s not a hotline for Nike where you’re just like, “Hey. I was working with this guy. Let’s just pick up where we left off.” No, it’s a relationship—you have to rebuild a new relationship now. 

It’s so common to say, “I collaborate with this brand.” What, you mean you call 1-800-NIKE, and they just send you stuff? There’s no human interaction? There’s a swoosh that just walks into your room? What does that mean? Like, no. There’s people on email. You gotta get lunch with them, shake hands.

What is your favorite type of company to collaborate with?

If you look at our history, it goes far and wide. There’s probably no real consistent thread. Maybe that is our trademark, I would say. In my industry— street culture, or sneaker culture, or youth culture—I would say 99% of collaborations occur between similar brands. Meaning streetwear brand collaborates with streetwear brand. And then, I think some companies—like Kith and Supreme—also do it very well, where they collaborate outside the box. I think they do a good job because they are able to collaborate outside the box but still within the vernacular of their community. One of the ones that Supreme did that I always loved from a strategic standpoint was their collaboration with White Castle. Which is like, why the fuck White Castle? But then it’s like, yes. White Castle. It’s perfect.

Staple x Shake Shack. Photo via First we Feast and Shake Shack.

But White Castle x Staple would not make sense. I think our community doesn’t really resonate with that instinctual “ah-ha” moment of White Castle. And so, you mentioned Shake Shack. We did Shake Shack, which is another New York story, but it couldn’t be any more different than White Castle. There’s nothing wrong with one or the other, it’s just interesting how brands can have different takes on it. 

How do you balance all of your work with outside companies while designing your own collections for Staple Pigeon?

Humans. Lots of humans. It’s another form of collaboration. I have an incredible team—between the three companies, there’s probably 60-ish people involved in everything, and everyone has their own responsibilities and jurisdictions.

Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s confusing. The plus side is, I don’t think it would work if all 60 people had to collaborate on everything. Sure, in an ideal world, there’s full transparency and we have daily meetings like, “Alright production guy, here’s the new brand we’re picking up at Reed Space.” That would be great for him to know, but it’s too much information for people.

There has to be a filtering, and it’s my job as CEO to kind of filter that information and parse it out. You know that saying, you’re on a need-to-know basis? Unfortunately, you’re on a need-to-know basis. You have to get this collection out. You cannot be concerned with which sneaker we’re getting next week at the store or our new client that we picked up. Often times, what does happen is something will come out of one entity and it’ll be a surprise to them. And the negative, then, is that they feel left out.

I have friends that work at Apple, where one guy or team will only work on the keyboard, and they won’t know what’s going on with the track pad. Some top guy knows everything, but each team doesn’t know what the other team is doing, and they’re sworn to confidentiality. That helps with secrecy so that no one person could have the power to know everything that’s happening. One person knows the shell, one person knows the dongle, but not everything at once. 

I know the guy who worked on the Mac Pro, which is like the black trashcan. All he did was work on the shell. He was like, “I’m just making a trashcan? I don’t understand. I’m just making this black can.” And then it wasn’t until the keynote where he was like, “Oh my god. It’s a fucking full computer.”

Mac Pro. Image c/o Apple.

You’re currently celebrating Staple Design’s 20th anniversary. Reflecting on the past 20 years, what has been one of your favorite projects to work on?

I’d have to say one of my personal favorites is the sneakers for Nike Considered. Nike had this rogue project within the company of a very small team—I’m talking like four people—that wanted to make a completely sustainable and closed loop shoe. Meaning, somehow, if the uppers can either completely deteriorate naturally, or are reusable, and the outsoles could be reground 100%, then you have a completely recyclable shoe. That even goes into the packaging. There’s usually a sticker on the box, but that sticker can’t be made using adhesive, so we had to figure out solutions for that. We even had to consider that the aglets—the little plastic tip at the end of a shoelace—couldn’t be plastic because they wouldn’t deteriorate, so they ended up being vegan tanned leather instead.

The Considered Boot. Image c/o Sole Collector

There was actually a lot of internal pushback at Nike because a lot of people thought that, “if we say this shoe is completely good for the earth, then what are we saying about the other 2,500 shoes we’re making every year? Are we saying they’re bad for the earth?” It was sort of a PR conundrum of what to do.

Nike Considered came out for a couple of years, and there were always around five shoes in a line every year called Nike Considered. Now there’s this thing called Nike Better World, which is Nike’s overarching initiative to try their best to do good in everything. This pinnacle thing called Nike Considered sort of just became, “let’s just sprinkle the goodness everywhere and get rid of Nike Considered”, which is what a publicly traded company that’s worth 50 billion dollars should probably do. But, I liked the renegade-ness of these five guys that are just going to make shoes that don’t do anything harmful to the earth. I actually named Nike Considered—the name they had internally was Nike Eco-Tech, and I renamed it to Nike Considered, which was an honor.

Speaking of sneakers, material choice and technology are clearly a focus in the industry right now. We’ve seen it with the adidas Futurecraft 4Ds, Reebok’s Liquid Speeds, and plenty more. What are your thoughts on this digital fabrication race in the footwear industry?

To be honest, I think it’s needed, but I also think there’s a bit of a gimmick behind it. Don’t get me wrong there’s a percentage of the population that really lives and dies by that performance and need. But it’s more so a rallying cry for the brand. It’s more of an inspirational thing for not only sneakerheads, fans, and collectors alike, but for the internal team. Somewhere in those brands, there’s someone coloring shoes for Walmart—let’s not get it twisted. That person is responsible for a lot of money in the company, and when they see Futurecraft 4Ds and when they see Yeezys, it makes them feel empowered like, “I’m part of a bomb-ass company. And even though I’m down here in the basement schlepping shit and making 20 million dollars for the brand—I’m gonna make it better. There’s something that I can innovate out of this.” That’s something that most companies won’t say.

Sure, Kanye West and what he does for adidas and his Yeezy division is amazing. But actual Yeezy shoes to sales percentage for the company is like a pebble. What it does do, is it makes young people be like, “Yo. Have you heard about John Wexler? He actually made that happen.” If it wasn’t for Kanye, John Wexler would be just a cog in the system. And then John worked with this guy, Paul Gaudio, and Paul Gaudio would just be a designer at his desk. But now, these people are elevated to hero status to kids.

I would say, for Nike’s side, it happened back in the day with Michael Jordan—that was Kanye. Tinker Hatfield was the residual side of that and then Mark Parker. It’s actually a mirror image, if you see it that way. Michael Jordan was to Kanye at Tinker is to Wexler as Mark Parker is to Paul Gaudio.

Do you hope to experiment with any new materials in the near future?

Hopefully shoes—printing and stuff like that. Clothing is not as crazy as shoes in terms of innovation. What’s really interesting, though, is what they call on-demand or direct-to-garment, where there’s no longer stock. So, as the designer, I don’t even touch the product. That’s kind of interesting. It’s also kind of scary.


What’s that in your pocket? A coffee machine.

Ah, coffee… what would the world be without it? It is, in fact the world’s fourth popular beverage with more than half a trillion cups being consumed every year. Yes, you read that right. Half a trillion cups…

So what if I told you you could carry your coffee-maker with you everywhere you went? No more of that instant coffee nonsense, or the insipid coffee you call Starbucks. I’m talking about your own espresso maker, in an avatar that’s about as portable as a mini-umbrella.

The Handpresso is literally the size of a deodorant can and can be carried everywhere you go. It uses no electricity and all you really need is hot water and your favorite coffee (powder or pod). The Handpresso has a pump integrated into its design with an in-built pressure gauge. All you do is pump it up till the gauge reads 16 bar pressure. Fill the reservoir with hot water, and top-off the coffee cartridge either with fresh coffee grounds or your standard E.S.E Pod. Once you’ve put the cartridge back into the Handpresso, simply lock it in place before hitting the pressure release button. The pressure pushes the water through the coffee and out of the nozzle, giving you one cup of freshly brewed espresso, made right in front of your eyes!

The Handpresso is literally the most portable espresso-maker yet. It easily fits into all bags, uses no electricity, and brews the coffee of your choice. Yes, we’ve ordered one for ourselves! #halfatrillionclub

Designer: Handpresso











Tools & Craft #49: The Modern Furniture Shift

I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past weekend with a guest, and we ended up in one of the 20th century galleries that I almost never visit. On display among the paintings were four 20th century chairs (from the left). The “Zig Zag” chair by Gerrit Rietveld (1937), an armchair by Koloman Moser (1903), the “31” armchair by Alvar Aalto (1931-32) and the “DCW” Side Chair by Charles Eames (1948).

By the very fact of the display, the Met shows that it considers these chairs important landmarks of 20th Century furniture design. But to me, the chairs also signify the shift in furniture craft: from the craftsman making furniture for a client to the designer making furniture specifically for mass manufacture.

The Rietveld and Moser pieces were designed to be made in a typical cabinet shop. We sell a great book about Rietveld, complete with plans, and you can pretty much make everything in his book with a fairly basic shop. I am not familiar with Moser, but the Moser piece is also pretty accessible. It’s woodworking. I get it.

The Aalto and Eames pieces were designed for manufacture. Their clients were furniture corporations, not a person. To make either piece, you would need forms, presses, and equipment. Even if you only want to make one chair, you would still have to make molds and forms for the bent plywood. Most of the work is in the forms, and once you have done that, making multiples is fairly easy.

The Aalto and Rietveld pieces date from about the same time, but it’s clear to me that Rietveld is looking backward at the A&C movement and its idea that furniture should be accessible to anyone to build. Aalto, on the other hand, is looking forward to the disconnect between the factory, which can manufacture his flowing designs, and the individual maker who is then left in the dust.

Now, before you point out to me that most American furniture was made in factories, let me point out that the furniture factories of the early 20th Century America made traditional furniture the traditional way—just faster, with the aid of machines. Stickley made his A&C furniture in a factory, but he published plans so that any competent shop, amateur or professional, could make a copy. (Maybe not as efficiently, but certainly as well.)

These chairs document the two paths furniture has taken in the past century. It’s not about traditional versus modern design. It’s about designing for mass production versus designing for small production. I am not saying mass production is bad, just that the designs for mass production don’t leave room for traditional workshops. And so the modern small shop is caught between two worlds: a desire to explore the limits of craft, and the mass vocabulary of manufacture that people are used to and have come to expect.


This “Tools & Craft” section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

Link About It: Inventions for Future Humans at Beirut Design Week

Inventions for Future Humans at Beirut Design Week

As part of the “Speculative Needs XOXO” exhibition at Beirut Design Week, 150+ Lebanese design and architecture students have presented artistic creations that address future human needs springing up thanks to anti-social technological developments……

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OMA reveals designs for severed block on Boston's waterfront

A huge slice filled with terraces and trees will be cut through the centre of OMA‘s 88 Seaport development in Boston – the firm’s first project in the city.

Dutch studio OMA designed the 18-storey building, featuring a mix of offices and shops, for the Boston Seaport – a “dynamic and vibrant” area of the city undergoing renovation.

Called 88 Seaport, the building will feature a huge angular section cut out of its middle, creating space for cascading terraces. Glazing will wrap the inner section so that the building appears to be pulled in half.

The architects created the slice to open the building to its surroundings, including nearby public green, the Fan Pier Green, and the waterfront.

“Our design for 88 Seaport slices the building into two volumes, creating distinct responses for each urban scale of old and new, while also accommodating diverse office typologies for diverse industries with demands for traditional and alternative floor plates,” said project lead and OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu.

“The slice also generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domains, linking the waterfront and Fan Pier Green with a continuous landscape,” he continued.

Office space measuring 425,000 square feet will occupy the majority of the building, while 60,000 square feet will be set aside for shops on the lower two floors. There will also be 5,000 square feet of civic and cultural facilities.

OMA designed the building for Massachusetts-based property developers WS Development and is among several firms contributing to its masterplan.

Others include James Corner Field Operations, Sasaki, and NADAAA, who will contribute residences, offices, shops, restaurants, civic and cultural uses, hotels and open spaces.

“We are committed to bringing world-class architecture to Boston’s Seaport – architecture that will stand the test of time,” said Yanni Tsipis, the senior vice president of Seaport at WS Development.

“Together with the brilliant team at OMA, we will create a unique urban environment that advances Boston’s innovation economy and celebrates great urban design.”

Construction for 88 Seaport is expected to start next year, with its completion slated for 2020.

OMA – which ranked at number 12 on the Dezeen Hot List – is an international firm with offices in Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Brisbane, New York, Doha and Dubai.

The firm, founded by Rem Koolhaas, is also building its first project in New York – the 121 E 22nd residential tower.

Rendering is by Bloom.

The post OMA reveals designs for severed block on Boston’s waterfront appeared first on Dezeen.

Third-Eighth Graders Competed in the CC3DP 3D Printing Challenge During NYCxDesign

For understandable reasons, the focus during NYCxDesign tends to be on independent designers, design studios and college students—what other demographics are out there designing for a better world? We often forget that designers under 20 years old are now learning digital fabrication at school right under our noses, starting in just the third grade.

This team even had signage in over eight languages to encourage people of all backgrounds to play. Photo: RPGA Studio

During this year’s NYCxDesign, CC3DP held their 3D printing design challenge at P.S. 175 over in Queens. When we were asked to judge the competition, we weren’t sure what to expect—teams of elementary and middle schoolers 3D printing sounded like it could go really well or get really messy. To our pleasant surprise, the students’ final projects were almost as impressive as their group dynamics—they worked in teams of an average of 6 students, and we didn’t witness any Kanye-esque disputes over the creative process.

The gears on the house turn! Photo: Dvid Samuel Stern
This team designed a golf club that works as both a regular gold club and a billiards stick. Photo: RPGA Studio
Check out that crazy hand etching on the side of the ‘Heroes and Villains’ course! This team’s attention to detail was impecable. Photo: Dvid Samuel Stern

The teams came from public schools all around New York City, with one team even hailing from New Jersey. Each team was faced with the same challenge—design a themed mini-golf course in SketchUp then 3D print the course’s obstacles, build the course and create a branding experience around the course, all within only 10 weeks.

During the final event, the students presented their designs to a panel of judges (that’s where we came in) then had the chance to play their courses with everyone at the event. 

Testing out the courses with other students and family. Photo: RPGA Studio

What was most impressive actually came before the presentations, when each team was challenged to a live SketchUp competition. The teams were asked to design two fixtures for an outdoor library—in just one hour. Watching the kids work in SketchUp at that fast of a pace was jaw-dropping, especially in such large groups. The kids truly joined forces to focus on the most important task at hand—designing the fixtures—and acted as if they didn’t have time to argue over creative differences. Older designers take note…

Students brainstorming at the beginning of the live challenge. Photo: Dvid Samuel Stern
Students hard at work designing their outdoor library! Photo: Dvid Samuel Stern
Getting some tips from their coach! Each team had one coach to supervise the printing and design process. It was shocking—in a good way—how little they were actually involved. Photo: Dvid Samuel Stern

Technology is advancing rapidly, which makes it all the more inspiring to see the NY public school system even attempt to keep up by partnering with programs like CC3DP and companies like Shapeways, who donated printers to some of the groups that didn’t have access to the technology. 

It was impressive to see how engaged all of the teams were in the design process—let’s just say judging was equal parts exciting and heartbreaking after seeing how invested the kids were in their designs. We’re very proud to have judged this competition, and we hope the kids involved continue to take interest in digital fabrication as they continue with school. 

Note Design Studio celebrates pastel colours in revamp of 19th century property

Instead of opting for the Scandinavian minimalism of many contemporary renovations, Note Design Studio chose to use shades of yellow, green and pink when transforming this old Stockholm office into a home.

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

Over a century old, the 200-square-metre property was previously the head office of a fashion brand. The clients asked local design collective Note Design Studio to transform it into a family home that maintained its “19th century splendour”.

The designers’ response was to create a colour palette based on some of the tones already there. They then applied these pastel hues to walls, mouldings, and door and window frames.

They call the project Hidden Tints.

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

“We noted the colours of the three tiled ovens: green, pink and a yellowish white,” explained interior architect Sanna Wåhlin.

“We added tones to the original colour scale, which worked as a bridge between the powerful original hues, finally ending up with an eight-tone palette that originated from the hidden traces of the old apartment.”

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

Some rooms are dominated by one colour, while others present an assortment of different tones. But they all build on the recent trend in Sweden for dark, cosy and colourful interiors, rather than the whites and greys of typical minimalist homes.

Note Design Studio has also applied similar thinking to some of its previous interiors projects, including a 1930s loft with a bright blue kitchen and a green-hued bistro elsewhere in Stockholm.

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

“Colour helps to emphasise the splendour in the detailing of the architecture,” Wåhlin told Dezeen.

“In fact, the approach to colour in architecture in the old days was much braver than we see today. It deserves it’s place again!”

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

The colours are complemented by the original but worn wooden floors, as well as newly added contemporary furniture pieces.

Pale yellow was chosen for the kitchen and dining room at the heart of the apartment. Here, a wooden table provides a dining space for six people, while a terrazzo island frame a kitchen in green and grey tones.

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

A similar palette features in the lounge space beyond, where the traditional ceiling mouldings are contrasted by a sculptural geometric lighting fixture.

In the bedrooms – one green and one peach – cabinets and wall panelling feature angular details that mimic the diagonal lines of the parquet flooring.

Hidden Hiues by Note Design Studio

Many of Note Design Studio’s own products also dot the interiors, from the Silo pendant lamps to the Mango chair, while other embellishments include plants, framed black and white photographs, and simple rugs.

“The result is a harmonious but rich colour experience,” added Wåhlin.

The post Note Design Studio celebrates pastel colours in revamp of 19th century property appeared first on Dezeen.

Getting organized for barbecue season

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, the warmer weather is upon us and that means it’s time to enjoy a few barbecued meals. Whether you’re going to grill vegetable brochettes or beef steaks, here are some tips to help you prepare your favourite meals in an organized way.

Prepare your barbecue

Before you get your first meal ready, it is important to check your barbecue and give it a good cleaning.

If you have a propane barbecue, check all connections and hoses for leaks using soapy water. Replace any hoses that are cracked and/or leaking. Clean ports with a brush to remove debris. Remember, blocked portholes can cause fires. For charcoal barbecues, remove any charcoal, clean out all of the ashes and ensure the vents are clear.

Grease is flammable so make sure you clean grease buildup from the cook box and grease tray regardless of the type of barbecue you have. Also, look for thin or rusted through spots in the cook box. That could be a sign that it is time to replace the barbecue.

It is important to clean your grill at the start of the season and between uses. Choose a bristle-free brush for cleaning your grill. Experts recommend that people throw out their wire bristle brushes because of the danger of  bristles coming loose, sticking to the grill, transferring to food and accidentally being eaten.

Here are a couple of videos with detailed cleaning and maintenance tips for gas barbecues and charcoal barbecues.

Collect your barbecue tools

Many barbecues have a series of hooks attached to the frame where you can hang your grilling tools such as meat fork, basting brush and tongs. If you don’t have pre-installed hooks, you could add some magnetic ones to your barbecue or install a pegboard system on a wall that is close by.

We live in an apartment block and we’re not permitted to have barbecues on our balconies. We have common barbecue area near the swimming pool. A utensil caddy with a handle is ideal for carrying cooking utensils back and forth to this barbecue area. Marinades and sauces are transported in a condiment basket.

Healthy cooking

Thermometers are essential for ensuring food is thoroughly cooked (to kill any nasty bacteria) but not overcooked – no one likes to eat burnt foods.

The ThermoPro TP03A Digital Food Cooking Thermometer is inexpensive and very easy to use. It provides a fast and accurate readout of the food’s temperature. My favourite thermometer is the iGrill Mini. It is magnetic so it easily sticks to the barbecue frame (or my stove). It connects via Bluetooth to my iPhone so that I can see the temperature of the food even if I’m not standing right next to the barbecue.

Using the same plates and utensils for raw and cooked meats may transfer harmful bacteria to your cooked foods. Always wash your dishes in hot, soapy water after they have been in contact with raw foods. Check out these food safety tips for barbecuing.

Are there things you do to make your grilling experience more organized and productive? Please feel free to share your tips with other readers.

Post written by Jacki Hollywood Brown

How to Make a Krabby Patty From 'SpongeBob SquarePants'

“The Krabby Patty is a thing of pop culture culinary legend – a burger, forged from a secret formula, worshipped by a sociopathically upbeat sponge. How do we go about recreating that which is not reacreate-able? A bit of science, a bit of whimsy, and a whole lot of wanton conjecture. Fill in the blanks with me this week as we build an umami burger using ingredients from mother ocean!”..(Read…)