McMansion Hell Site Tackles the Wealthy Suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The last time we checked in on McMansion Hell, founder Kate Wagner was tearing into Betsy DeVos’ 22,000-square-foot summer home. For the past few months Wagner has been trawling an area closer to our capital: The wealthy suburbs of D.C., where McMansions proliferate, and she’s picked out ten noteworthy examples. Assuming politicians from both of the major parties reside locally, Wagner has discovered that bad design is a non-partisan issue. Some examples:

“#4: Mad Hatter (Fairfax County)”

“#6: Sticker Shock (Loudoun County)”

“#9: Tricorn Turret (Loudoun County)”

See the rest at 50 States of McMansion Hell: Fairfax and Loudoun County, Virginia.

This Bay Area Packaging Designer Paired Silicon Valley Vibes with a Zero-Waste Ethos

Boudin won a Student Runner Up Visual Communication Award in the 2019 Core77 Design Awards.

Boudin, a bakery and restaurant chain based in San Francisco, is famous for its sourdough bread and its “Bowl of Soup,” which is a hollowed out sourdough “bowl” with clam chowder in it. It’s an inspiringly self-contained, fully edible culinary design. It only makes sense, then, for the brand to follow in its own zero-waste footsteps with the rest of its food packaging.

A result of ArtCenter College‘s first-ever plastic-free packaging course, designer Yi Mao proposed a rebranding of Boudin’s packaging and visual identity that shifted the company toward sustainability and, as Mao deemed it, “the 21st century vibe.”

Boudin SF new to-go packaging container –
Core packaging containers for sourdough bread and clam chowder –

Mao’s presentation included physical food packaging (the models dictated the size, dimensions, and functionality of real paper pulp containers); reusable cotton carrier bags; and environmentally friendly wrapping papers, container tags, to-go menus, and business cards.

To produce the models, Mao employed a comprehensive range of compostable biomaterials: algae, food waste, grass, mushrooms, plant cellulose and wood pulp.

To-go packaging tag –
New branding identity –

The sustainability aspect was only one of the guiding ethos for the project; the other was modernization. “Cleaner typography and more illustrative graphic elements” as parts of a comprehensive visual system would transform Boudin ‘into a brand with a strong contemporary style’,” says Mao of the proposal. This restyling incorporated San Francisco’s history, as well as the bakery’s— Boudin has been a California institution since 1849.

Boudin SF food delivery packaging family –

Deeming the concept “Boudin Yuccies” (which stands for Young Urban Creatives), Mao’s pairing of heritage with the crucial element of ecological-mindedness aims to bring the brand’s stature as an iconic San Francisco tourist attraction into a new era, one that fuses with Silicon Valley’s philosophical and aesthetic direction.

Sounds like a fully baked concept to us.

Environmental design elements –

Learn more about the plastic-free packaging project for Boudin on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 honorees

The Jester: A Microphone Designed for Modern-Day Content Creators

Looking at most existing studio microphones, like those above, I can’t help but feel that they were designed by an engineer and sheathed by an industrial designer. Maybe that’s because manufacturers assume that there just isn’t much for a designer to do here; the technological innards of a microphone are well-established, as is the form factor. But Germany-based design firm SMAL begs to differ, and feels the lack of design attention is an inertia-based oversight.

“Besides improvements on a technical level or the type of connection, microphones still look, feel, and are built the same as they used to be,” the company writes.

“They never really evolved in the last decades – simply because they didn’t need to.” SMAL chalks that up to the enduring system of studios themselves, where trained audio technicians are the ones working with the gear. But now, they reckon, modern-day content creators–DIY musicians, podcasters, YouTubers, game streamers–who don’t have a headphone-wearing sound engineer advising them through a glass window, could use a pro-quality microphone more in tune with their needs. And design can help.

Thus they’ve designed the Jester microphone, which addresses what they consider a glaring flaw in modern-day microphones: The complete lack of visual feedback where levels are concerned.

Being caught up in the heat of the moment when recording a gaming session or live broadcasting, the sound recording quality often does not live up to what today’s microphones are capable of – simply because there is a lack of feedback about how your live recording actually sounds to your audience.

The Jester Microphone has some smart guiding features built-in, giving constant visual feedback about the recording status and quality, to make sure the recorded live performance comes across to viewers exactly as intended.

For example, the 360° light distributed through the translucent shock mount structure indicates whether or not users have the perfect recording position for optimal quality, by changing its color in real time.

I’m not entirely sure if this is an improvement over keeping your eye on the sound levels on the monitor; I’m thinking specifically of eyelines, because the light is located at the bottom of the mic, where I might not be inclined to naturally look. However, if you were recording in a darkened room, as depicted in their press photos, I suppose the color changes would be more obvious.

The area up top is reserved for another important visual feedback cue: The illuminated mute button. My experience with studio microphones is limited, but with the few that I’ve used, I’ve always been surprised that mute notification was relegated to a tiny red dot that wasn’t always easy to see. I think SMAL’s approach is a welcome improvement.

Additionally, SMAL took the approach that “the workflow and the digital tools content creators use today [warrant] getting rid of redundant physical controls and connectors. The two remaining touch-sensitive ‘quick control’ surfaces on top of the Jester Microphone can be freely assigned with the functions that are needed, and are large enough to allow fast and precise control.

I’m somewhat wary of this, as an old-fashioned person that prefers physical buttons on the object itself–I find other arrangements, particularly touchscreens, always give me a cognitive disconnect–but I suppose I’m not the target market, and the people that they studied are. “Starting from foundational research and product testing, we quickly went into interviewing and observing real streamers,” they explain. “Analyzing the use, workflow, and the different parts of the microphone itself led to insights about opportunities for innovation.”

An area that SMAL has addressed pretty niftily is the shock mounts. They’ve done away with the standard wrestling-ring-crossed-ropes approach, and instead integrated a technique we’d seen flirted with in digitally-fabricated furniture designs:

The shock mount of the Jester Microphone is completely rethought – the 3D-printed flexible structure is now directly integrated into the body, and therefore absorbs unwanted frequencies even better.

The skin of the microphone is a fabric woven in a similar way that modern sneakers are – being more flexible where it needs to move with the shock mount and being denser where it needs to integrate pop-filter capabilities.

The overall design results in a fusion of the aesthetics of high-end audio equipment and lifestyle products – which is a perfect match for the target group.

The Jester has been submitted to the iF Design Awards, and you can check out more of SMAL’s work here.

The ICEBREAKER POP shows how we’ve been making ice wrong all these years

Label me ignorant, but I had no idea there was a ‘wrong’ way to make ice… but then again, you live and learn, right? Apparently the ice-tray we use today has quite a few flaws in it that people tend to overlook. It’s ridiculously difficult to fill, to balance, and to place in the freezer. The water tends to absorb the scent of stuff around it, so it’s also entirely likely that your open-tray may result in ice-cubes smelling like frozen fish or frozen peas. Not to mention the fact that popping the ice out of the tray invariably requires you actually, physically touch the ice-cube, which according to any expert bartender or barista, is an absolute no-no. Now nobody’s going to really stop you from using the conventional ice-tray to make ice-cubes. After all, we’re creatures of habit and we ‘get set’ in our ways, right? There is, however, a better way to go about making ice. It’s called the Icebreaker, and it works as an air-tight ice-tray that stores horizontally or even vertically, creates perfect ice-cubes that don’t melt as quickly, and can even be added to your drink without touching them!

The ICEBREAKER® POP is somewhat like a thermos that creates ice-cubes. All you do is fill water into its upright-cuboid design and seal the top. The ICEBREAKER® POP’s chocolate-bar pattern on either side helps form the water into 18 large ice-cubes that you break apart by just exerting pressure on the side of the bottle after you’ve frozen it for 6-8 hours. The ice-maker comes with a special expandable design that lets you increase its volume, helping the cubes fall out of their enclosures and collect into the bottle’s hollow space. That’s it. Just pour the cubes out by tipping the ice-maker over and voila! The freshest ice you can imagine!

What the ICEBREAKER® POP manages to do is conveniently circumvent every problem you could have with making ice in your freezer. The container is completely leak-proof, which lets you store it either horizontally or vertically in your freezer (while also making sure your water doesn’t smell like the rest of the food you’ve stored there). It also works entirely hands-free, so the ice-cubes can go from container to cocktail without touching your fingers… and its most winning feature is the fact that the ICEBREAKER® POP actually works as a thermos too! You can make ice-cubes in your fridge and carry the ICEBREAKER® POP to a picnic, or to a friend’s house without worrying about the ice melting. The container’s thermo-effective design, along with the cube’s unique shape actually decelerates the melting process… and THAT’s the right way to make ice, people!

Designer: Kim Jensen

Click Here to Buy Now: $44 $60 (26% off). Hurry, only 8/220 left!

ICEBREAKER® POP – The Ice Cube Tray Reinvented

ICEBREAKER® POP eliminates ice cube trays with its space-saving design and your ice is ready to be served without touching it.

Enjoy 18 large slow-melting 1x1x1” ice cubes from the air-tight container anywhere without foul-tasting freezer odors.

Made from BPA-free food grade rubber and plastics and 100% non-toxic — safe for you, your family and friends.

The thermo effective container limits melting even after hours exposed at room temperature. So it’s perfect for adding a little extra chilled magic anywhere, whether on a camping trip with your family or even traveling the world.

The secret is two-fold: the team has designed a thermo-effective container that keeps the ice chilled at room temperature when it’s closed, AND the all-new design of the rounded ice takes MUCH longer to melt because of its surface area to volume ratio.

The patented stacking system makes it easy to stock up on ice without wasting space like ice trays and bulky ice bags.

Unlike open ice cube trays, ICEBREAKER’s 100% airtight design prevents your ice from absorbing any funky food odors and prevents spills.

Easily disassemble and clean, even dishwasher when needed. Both POP ice trays are attached to the mainframe with easy to separate rubber seals.

BPA and Phthalate Free. It can be reused 1,000’s of times, reducing plastic waste from single-use plastic bags.

Easy to Use. Fill with water and freeze for 6-7 hours. Open the lid, and pull apart the straps and shake to loosen the ice.

Click Here to Buy Now: $44 $60 (26% off). Hurry, only 8/220 left!

Zakuro Cast Iron Teapot

The Iwachu workshop has been hand-crafting cast iron since 1902, and their team of artisans also does an incredible job updating its collections to include more contemporary pieces—all while remaining true to their traditional processes. The Morioka-based makers turned a typical cast iron teapot into a sculptural work with distinct personality and ultra-functional features. Plus, the deep blue hue, because of the texture of the material, appears speckled in the right light.

Behind The Scenes at Arc’teryx

Take a look inside the Everyday design team’s studio, where attention to detail results in covetable gear

Many brilliant minds come together for each collection of functional, stylish outdoor gear released by Arc’teryx. To honor some of these people, the brand has been documenting behind the scenes, crafting articles and short films that offer fans a glimpse of the talented teams’ work. To begin, Cut From the Same Cloth introduces us to the Everyday design team and their studio, where innovation takes place every single day.

Edita Hadravska (design manager), Karen Willis (designer), Stella Ho (designer), Kimberly Burgess (design developer) and Shera Ng (design developer) work closely with the product and retail teams to analyze customer feedback, ensuring the product they create meets their needs. Hadravska says, “The creative elements of working within constraints, working with what you have with the consumer at the forefront of your mind, that’s what separates good and bad design… Asking what’s in it for the consumer gives the best guidance.”

This consumer feedback has led to some of our favorite products from the brand’s expansive Everyday category—all of which we adore for their thoughtful and practical details.

The women’s Patera Parka is designed to perform best in cities and features efficient placement of premium insulating material in the right places (which flatters instead of bulks-up) and an adjustable inside draft collar (which keeps cold air and moisture out). Ultimately, it’s super-easy to move around in and looks great while doing so.

The men’s Keppel Trench Coat uses GORE-TEX fabric to buffer against wind and keep moisture out. It’s designed as the perfect piece of outerwear for all commutes—but clever touches like the reflective collar, two-way zipper and split rear are all the more appreciated by those bicycling to and from work. The Keppel Trench Coat and Patera Parka are just two examples of many from Arc’teryx that have mastered form and function for today’s lifestyle.

Though the design team is made up of talented, creative and experienced individuals, there is always room for failure, which Hadravska explains is actually essential when attempting to stay ahead in the industry. “If we’re not failing, we’re not pushing hard enough,” she says. “You learn so much about what isn’t going to be an option. The majority of the things you try fail.” The result of this mindset is substantial research, development, innovation, experimentation and testing. Ultimately, the team’s mission is to solve problems—and that’s how Arc’teryx continues to make some of the most effective and beautiful gear on the market.

Images courtesy of Arc’teryx

How to Transform an Old Gas Station?

L’artiste Camille Walala a récemment collaboré à la transformation d’une station service désaffectée des années 1950 en une véritable oeuvre d’art publique, en plein coeur de l’Arkansas. Le projet, nommé The Unexpected, est le fruit d’une collaboration entre l’artiste française et Justkids, une entreprise spécialisée dans la production de projets artistiques en partenariat avec certains artistes, proposant ainsi des créations urbaines, des festivals ou encore des expositions. De nombreux motifs géométriques aux couleurs pastel ont ainsi été tracés sur la station, lui conférant un style à la fois pop et vintage, qui permet d’attribuer au lieu un aspect accrocheur et accueillant.

Crédits photo : Designboom

Oscar Niemeyer's Tea House in Brasília gets refresh by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

Design firms Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas used a mix of warm and cool materials in their refurbishment of a visitor centre in Brasília, designed by the late architect Oscar Niemeyer in the 1970s.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

The project, called the Revitalisation of Oscar Niemeyer’s Tea House, is located in the planned city of Brasília, which is the federal capital of Brazil. Established in 1960, Brasília features a number of modern-style buildings designed by the late architect Niemeyer.

The Tea House sits within Praça dos Três Poderes, or Three Powers Plaza, and serves as a tourist information centre. Partially sunken below ground, the 250-square-metre building has glazed walls and an overhanging, white roof.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

The building has undergone various changes over the decades. Local studios Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas were hired to refresh the interior in a way that was sympathetic to the original design.

“The goal was to restore Oscar Niemeyer’s project – honouring the past and furnishing the space with contemporary pieces that connect with the capital’s aesthetic and modernist spirit,” the team said.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

When it opened in the 1970s, the building was intended to serve as a place for meetings and rest. It was abandoned at some point due to political complications and the lack of a tenant, according to the architects.

In 1994, it reopened as the Tourist Assistance Center, but it was closed six years later due to concerns over a potential roof collapse. After structural modifications, the centre reopened in 2010.

In recent years, the Secretariat of Tourism and Unesco hired Bloco Arquitetos to revitalise the space. Architect Samuel Lamas, who co-leads Equipe Lamas, was chosen to design the furnishings.

The team freshened up the white marble floors and walls. Window frames were cleaned, and ceilings and pillars were repainted using colours from the original design.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

The furnishings, all by Lamas, are meant to complement the architecture. Black iron is paired with warm materials such as wood and leather. Hues of peach, yellow and tan lend a softness to the atmosphere.

The reception area received a Deia couch, a Sandra armchair, a Jamile coffee table and a Janice side table. In a central seating area, the team placed sofas and Sonia armchairs, a Ruy coffee table and bench, and a Caroline side table.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

A space reserved for showing maps and books was fitted with a Caroline table, João chairs and a Carlos shelf.

Overall, the furnishings are meant to look light and streamlined, while being sturdy enough to handle daily visitors.

Oscar Niemeyer Tea House by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas

“The use of geometry and pure forms are explored in the products,” the team said. “With simplicity and architectural reasoning, the furniture has delicate metallic profiles that reach the maximum lightness without compromising the functionality.”

Other projects in the Brasília area include a dwelling by Samuel Lamas that features ample glazing and numerous gardens, and a house by Bloco Arquitectos that consists of rectilinear, all-white volumes that push outward and pull inward.

Photography is by Haruo Mikami.

Project credits:

Architects: Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lama
Participants: Quadra Interior, Secretaria de Turismo do DF, Unesco Brasil

The post Oscar Niemeyer’s Tea House in Brasília gets refresh by Bloco Arquitetos and Equipe Lamas appeared first on Dezeen.

B-One is the most secure travel backpack designed with Touch and Face ID

Having come back from my recent trip to London and China, I realized how dangerous it can be to catch a few winks at the airport. For example, I fell asleep at the Dubai airport and almost missed my connection. Luckily, I was woken up by a friendly staff, and I made it to my flight on time. However, this incident got me thinking – in my deep-jet lagged-slumber, anyone could have opened my backpack and cabin bag, and tampered with the contents.

Thankfully, I’m back home safe and sound, but the next time around, I definitely don’t want to become a statistic of airport theft. Bags like the B-One & D-One Series, seem to a wise investment in the name of secure travels. As the first connected Backpack and Duffle Bag in the world, the duo are fitted with a Smart Lock – Face ID, Touch ID, Morse Code – and a removable battery pack. Needless to say, a Travel Companion App completes the whole deal. This one App connects all of the Plevo bags (old and new).

I like the fact that you can check on your flight status through the Travel Assistant App and ensure that you get to your gate on time. The removable battery pack ensures you can juice-up your devices on the go.

Available in two sizes each, both the backpack and duffle bag are stylish and complement the latest ‘travel look.’ If you happen to move too far away from the bags, they will alert you via the app, ensuring you stay close to them. The B-One & D-One Series are intelligent bags that are spacious and secure.

Designers: Mauro Manzo, Ivan Nieto, Franco Di Pietro & Federico Pelatti

Click Here to Buy Now: $179 $240 ($61 off). Hurry, less than 24 hours left!

B-One Backpack & D-One Duffle Bag with Smart Lock Technology

The world’s first connected backpack and duffle bag. And with their Smark Lock technology (Face ID, Touch ID, Morse Code), your belonging has never been so secure.


Travel Assistant App

Check your flight information at a glance. And let their travel assistant APP be your smart partner during your trips.

B-One Backpack

The first connected and most secure backpack ever utilizing Smart Lock (Face ID, Touch ID, Morse Code). Also, always stay charged while on the go thanks to the removable battery pack. Available in two sizes (B-Urban 19.5L and B-Travel 27L).

Smart Lock (Face ID, Touch ID, Morse Code)

Face ID. Your face is your password.

Touch ID. Lock your backpack via your smartphone.

Morse Code. If you lost your phone or ran out of battery, just put the code your previously set with morse code to unlock.

Removable Battery Pack

Their removable battery pack is compatible with all their Plevo products.

Anti Theft & Loss

When your backpack moves apart from you it will lock itself and send you notifications about you leaving it behind.

Access & Pockets

180 degree opening.

Interior storage.

Quick access.

D-One Duffle Bag

The first connected duffle bag in the world with Smart Lock and removable battery. Available in two sizes (D-Urban 21L & D-Travel 37.5L).

Click Here to Buy Now: $179 $240 ($61 off). Hurry, less than 24 hours left!

Moses Sumney: Virile

From his upcoming album græ (which will be released in two parts), Moses Sumney’s “Virile” is a huge, stirring song that explores the concept of masculinity. Beginning with delicate strings, the piece builds with guttural guitar, raucous percussion and Sumney’s stunning falsetto. The accompanying video is the artist’s directorial debut and proves equally colossal. As Sumney puts it, “In a post-human world, the last remaining man is caught between beauty and brutality’s battle to dominate the earth and his body.”