Toshiko Mori revamps Brooklyn's Central Library

Brooklyn Central Library Toshiko Mori

Oak, bronze and terrazzo are among the materials found in an art deco-style library that has been revamped by New York-based architect Toshiko Mori.

The project marks the first phase in a multi-stage revitalisation of Brooklyn’s Central Library, which is located along Grand Army Plaza in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The facility draws over 1.3 million visitors per year.

Toshiko Mori designed the project
A welcome centre is named after Congressman Major Owens

The Art Deco-style building opened in 1941 and is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. The recent renovation is the most extensive in the facility’s history.

The project entailed the refurbishment of existing features and the transformation of administrative areas into public zones. Honey-toned oak, light-coloured flooring and metal accents are found throughout the overhauled spaces.

Toshiko Mori designed the project
Honey-toned oak features in the refurbishment

“We were able to optimise the spatial potential of the Central Branch to engage and respond to the evolving needs of its community and to further its role as an essential civic and community asset,” said Japan-born Toshiko Mori, who leads his eponymous studio in New York.

“Its mission of providing knowledge for free to everyone is now enhanced by increased physical and visual access to its resources.”

The refresh is visible as soon as visitors enter the building. The library’s soaring lobby now features new lighting and a newly poured terrazzo floor, along with historic oak panelling.

Toshiko Mori added white oak and brushed brass in the lobby
The lobby includes a poured terrazzo floor

A new welcome centre with desks made of white oak and brushed brass is named after Major Owens, a late Congressman who worked as a Brooklyn librarian in the 1950s and 1960s.

Near the library’s grand lobby is a “New & Noteworthy” book gallery that offers a non-traditional browsing experience. Titles are curated by librarians and displayed on open-block shelving.

A metal ceiling sculpture can be seen from outside
A metal ceiling sculpture is installed above bookcases

Overhead, hand-blown white-glass pendants are set within a lattice made of brushed bronze.

“A striking, custom-designed metal ceiling sculpture with speciality lighting invites curious readers to spend time exploring the collections in the room,” the team said, noting that the installation is visible from the street, entry plaza and lobby.

The project also entailed the creation of a “Civic Commons”, where various public services are offered, such as issuing passports and city identification cards. The space will also host local committee meetings, voter registration drives and other civic events.

The space features natural white oak panelling, built-in millwork and light-toned terrazzo flooring. A seating area is fitted with curved benches and a ceiling recess with cove lighting.

Toshiko Mori also enlarged the library's business and career centre
The library also has a business and career centre

“Perimeter spaces are finished with bright white interiors, along with new windows bringing light into a formerly windowless concrete interior,” the team said. “The floor finishes in these spaces are light-toned carpet tile allowing for easy maintenance.”

The team also enlarged the library’s business and career centre. It now holds four meeting rooms, two seminar rooms, seven conversation nooks and a co-working area. Design elements include 24-foot (7.3-metre) shared workbenches that cantilever at the ends and are supported by solid brushed-bronze rods.

Bright white and wooden interiors
Wood panelling features in the redesign

Other work completed during the project include new public restrooms, the refinishing of wood panelling and flooring, and upgrades to the building’s elevators, fire alarm system and heating-and-cooling system. An outdoor plaza was fitted with new limestone and lighting.

In future phases, the library will get a new teen centre and renovated collection wings, among other enhancements.

Toshiko Mori redesigned the Brooklyn library
Views of Brooklyn are visible from large windows

Toshik0 Mori is a New York-based architect.

Other public libraries in New York include the Hunters Point Library in Queens, designed by Steven Holl Architects. The concrete building has large, irregularly shaped windows that offer views of the East River and Manhattan.

On Staten Island, Andrew Berman Architects overhauled the interior of a library dating to 1909 and connected it to an annex clad in zinc and glass.

Photography is by Gregg Richards.

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Amazing Mixed Media Mini Collages

Natalie Bradford est une artiste basée à Détroit, récemment diplômée de l’école d’art Frostic de l’université de Western Michigan, avec une licence en beaux-arts avec une spécialisation en médias imprimés. Dans son travail, elle explore la manière dont nos souvenirs modifient et déplacent les récits. « Je m’intéresse à la manière dont nos souvenirs évoluent avec l’âge et dont nous essayons de conserver ces moments précieux, ces personnes et ces lieux que nous aimons et dont nous voulons nous souvenir pour toujours, mais dont nous perdons des bribes à force de les retrouver dans nos têtes », explique-t-elle dans un communiqué.

Pour en découvrir plus, rendez-vous sur son site internet ou son compte Instagram ou sa page Etsy.

Radical Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Tab patent shows a two-part folding screen + magnetic S-Pen docking area

It’s slowly becoming pretty clear that Samsung wants to be the dominant player in the foldables market. We’ve seen Motorola, Xiaomi, Huawei, Royole, and even the oddball TCL try their hands at folding devices, but none of them have invested the amount of time and effort as Samsung has. Based on a patent filing uncovered by LetsoGoDigital and rendered by Sarang Sheth, here’s a look at the Galaxy Z Fold Tab, a Note-style smartphone with 2 hinges and a nifty ‘crawl-space’ to dock and charge your S-Pen. The Z Fold Tab hopes to form a third device in Samsung’s line-up alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3, which are set to launch this year – in effect consolidating Samsung’s position in a questionable yet rather interesting foldable-devices market.

The Z Fold Tab concept takes on the avatar of a folding device with an outward screen. However, unlike the Huawei Mate X or any of Royole’s Flexpai devices, the Z Fold Tab comes with two hinges on its massive screen, creating a novel folding format that has a rather interesting set of pros as well as cons. In its closed mode, the Z Fold Tab can obviously be used as a regular smartphone (albeit being slightly thicker) with a waterfall display on both left and right edges thanks to the folding screens (this obscures the volume and power buttons, but those could easily be translated to the screen via force-touch like in the Vivo Apex 2019). However, unfold the screens on either side and you have yourself a larger tablet. The obvious cons are that instead of one crease running across the screen, you’re now faced with TWO creases, however, given how we consume content and the amount of time we spend looking at centrally aligned elements, this format oddly works, because the two creases sit on the sides of the screen rather than along the center.

The foldable design comes with a unique detail. The two halves leave a distinct gap when folded completely, solving two purposes – the gap exposes the main camera lenses, enabling you to take photos and videos without worrying about unfolding your phone; and the gap even acts as a safe space to magnetically dock your S-Pen. Unlike previous Note devices that came with hollow slots that allowed you to slide an S-Pen into the phone, the Z Fold Tab lets the S-Pen dock outside, almost like the iPad Pro. The magnetic dock charges the S-Pen while that comfy gap prevents the pen from accidentally sliding out or getting lost.

The Galaxy Z Fold Tab is not unlike the Z Fold 3 concept we featured last year, however, its key difference is that the two-part hinges don’t overlap to form a 3-layered device. Even when folded, the Z Fold Tablet still remains relatively slim by foldable standards.

For now, however, the Z Fold Tab exists only in conceptual form, protected by an international patent filed by Samsung. The Korean consumer-tech giant is slated to host its annual Galaxy Unpacked event in August this year, although according to analysts and experts, we’re probably only going to see the Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3 devices this year along with the usual suspects. According to LetsGoDigital, Samsung may have this under wraps until 2022.

Designer/Visualizer: Sarang Sheth for LetsGoDigital

This concept was first published on LetsGoDigital. Click here to view the original piece.

Go Treads: A Simple, Low-Tech But Heavily-Designed Object for Freeing Stuck Vehicles

Sold to both military and civilian customers as well as fleet owners, Go Treads are a simple-seeming traction-adding device for freeing stuck vehicles.

“I designed Go Treads to be simple to use by virtually anyone – no tools needed – no attaching to the tires,” writes inventor Arne Pinto, who began manufacturing them in 1991. “Go Treads had to be easy to use because I understood that many of our customers would not be mechanically inclined. Most folks…will try getting traction with sticks, carpet remnants, boards and the like, so why not a piece of plastic with powerful gripping surfaces like Go Treads?”

Pinto modified the design in 2010 when he discovered that the market had grown beyond civilian drivers to include military clients and fleet operators, for whom downtime is money. The Go Treads were made larger to accommodate trucks and military vehicles, who also found the folding design, which takes up less space in vehicles already loaded with equipment, attractive. Today the larger size is the only one sold, as it works just as well for small cars as for large trucks.

I say Go Treads are “simple-seeming” because there is actually a fair amount of design thought that went into this object:

Pinto writes that Go Treads are tough, made from “a special polypropylene copolymer” that was selected to withstand freezing temperatures; Pinto, who invented them while living in Chicago, designed them with snow in mind. It was only after “hundreds of Go Treads were in use, that I discovered that our customers were using them in sand and mud, too,” he says.

Lastly, Pinto says, out of thousands of units sold “only two have come back for warranty replacement.”

Go Treads are made in the USA.

This tiny slingshot is a nostalgic throwback that doubles up as a fun EDC!

Slingshot hand-powered projectile weapon has been around for ages –used as a hunting weapon by our ancestors, or even as a military weapon by guerrilla forces who had primitive resources. Fast forward to 2021 and the slingshot gets a compact, modern design – worthy of an everyday carry item for situations unknown. This is the Mini Sling by knife manufacturing expert TOPS Knives. Reimagining the slingshot design that’s not seen much of an evolution, the small little slingshot is another EDC accessory for the adventure stricken.

The tiny slingshot can be put to a number of uses depending on what the occasion demands. You could use it to shoot a squirrel in the wild for food, deter any unwanted attackers on the prowl on a dark street or simply lineup beer cans to shoot them down as a pass time in the current pandemic affected age. The sling is ultra-lightweight weighing in at 3.2 ounces and no bigger than a compact EDC, perfectly fitting in the palm of your hand. Mini Sling comes with a brown leather sheath (attached either vertically or horizontally) for easy to carry aesthetics – it’s so small you won’t even notice it’s there. You can also carry it in your pant pocket or backpack too without any hassles.

Mini Sling is inspired by TOPS Sling which became an instant hit when it was released back in 2017. On the demand of users who wanted something smaller for plinking, they came up with this accessory. The slingshot comes in black powder-coated structural steel and the Tan Canvas micarta handles for a classic bushcraft look. This compact little slingshot is truly the perfect replacement for the standard sized ones – ideal for any situation or needs.

Designer: TOPS Knives

Click Here to Buy Now!



The Pocket Piano: A Full-Size Keyboard Made from Magnetically-Connecting Segments

While studying business at Pompeu Fabru University in Barcelona, Josep Bergadà had a problem: He was itching to play the piano during his downtime, but the instrument was sitting in his parents’ house, 40 kilometers away.

After graduating, Bergadà partnered up with Jorquera Pianos, a local piano dealer that’s been in business since 1853, and the Eurecat Technology Centre, a technology services company, to create the Pocket Piano.

Bergadà’s creation breaks the keyboard into portable segments that snap together with magnets. There’s 87 keys (versus a piano’s 88) covering seven octaves, two foot pedals and a controller module.

The system connects to speakers (or Garageband or other apps on your phone) via Bluetooth, and the batteries are good for four hours’ worth of playing time.

And the whole thing fits in an absurdly small package.

The Pocket Piano runs €700 (USD $854).

ReVolt: An Adapter to Power Battery-Operated Devices with USB

This reminds me a lot of those tape cassette adapters many of us once had in our cars.

ReVolt is a system for powering battery-operated devices using USB power instead.

“One end is battery-shaped and goes into the battery compartment of the device you want to power, while the other end has a power connector,” Luke Brennan, the inventor and a former Ericsson engineer, writes. “The two are connected by a thin ribbon cable, robust enough to deliver power to your device, yet flat enough to allow you to easily close the door on the device’s battery compartment.”

The ribbon cable then plugs, functionally but somewhat inelegantly, into an adapter for USB.

You can scale the batteries up with different housings to meet different battery size needs.

ReVolt is currently up on Kickstarter. At press time there was $15,584 in pledges on a $24,397 goal, with 26 days left to pledge.

Toothpaste Tube Design Improvements: Get the Last Drop, Improve Recyclability

My wife and I use this contraption to get the last drop of toothpaste out of the tube:

They sell them on eBay for less than ten bucks. Painters use them for paint tubes. There’s a fancier version called the Big Squeeze, below, that looks more ergonomic, but they run nearly $40.

Colgate-Palmolive has a new toothpaste tube design that obviates the need for a squeezer. CP’s new Elixir line of toothpaste is packaged in a PET stand-up tube whose insides are lined with a friction-free LiquiGlide coating. LiquiGlide is a Cambridge-based company whose coating technology allows the last drop of product (whether ketchup or toothpaste) to slide right out of the bottle.

I’m curious to see how customers will respond to that black toothpaste. In any case the PET used in the Elixir packaging is, of course, recyclable on its own; however, I could find no mention on either Colgate nor LiquiGlide’s site of whether the coating impacts the package’s recyclability.

Colgate competitor Unilever has changed up their toothpaste packaging to improve recyclability. You may recall that traditional toothpaste tubes are made of both aluminum and plastic which, while recyclable on their own, are impossible to practically separate and recycle. As a result, traditional toothpaste tubes aren’t really recyclable. Thus Unilever has developed a tube “made mostly of HDPE,” and the company says these are recyclable. They’re scheduled to roll out in France under their Signal brand. However, there’s no word on whether the new packaging makes it any easier to completely evacuate the product, which needs to be done prior to recycling.

Perhaps those Bite Toothpaste Bits, which require no plastic packaging at all, make the most ecological sense. (Weirdness: At press time something was up with Bite’s website—it was flashing in a seizure-inducing way.)

Abisko seating by Claesson Koivisto Rune for True Design

Abisko collection by Claesson Koivisto Rune for True Design

Dezeen Showroom: Swedish architecture and design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune has created Abisko, a collection of gently rounded seating for True Design.

The range includes daybeds, chairs and sofas and is named Abisko after a national park set within the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

The park is famous for its view of a U-shaped valley known as Lapporten or gateway to Lapland.

Abisko collection by Claesson Koivisto Rune for True Design
The collection references Abisko’s natural topography

This topography and the area’s natural colour palette informed the earthy hues and soft, rounded silhouettes of the seating collection by True Design.

“From the name of an immense natural park to the name of an object, they share the same colours, passion for natural shapes and knowledge of materials,” the brand explained.

Abisko seating features a solid wood frame, varnished steel legs and fabric or leather upholstery in muted hues.

Abisko collection by Claesson Koivisto Rune for True Design
The collection features a wooden frame and steel legs

According to Claesson Koivisto Rune, the collection was designed completely remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“This has meant no physical meetings between us as designers and True Design as developers and manufacturers have been possible,” the firm explained.

“For anyone with experience in the design process, it is a remarkable feat to develop a strong visual and tactile product under such circumstances.”

Product: Abisko collection
Brand: True Design
Claesson Koivisto Rune

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This bookshelf designed for a tiny home hides a sleek staircase. Watch the video!

A staircase is one of those essential home furniture that you can’t live with or without them. When we need it, there is no way around it, but they remain an eyesore most of the time. Meet the stair cupboard Villa Roco, an inventive design that blends into your furniture when not in use and has been designed especially for a tiny home!

Tiny home designs are some of our favorite designs, mainly because they have forced designers to look beyond the obvious space-consuming solutions and think literally inside the tiny home box for out-of-the-box solutions! The stair cupboard manages to do the same and beautifully, with super tight-fitting steel sliding stair in a bicolor oak closet that slides out with ease. The staircase also doubles as a temporary storage space for knick-knacks and other items in the bookshelf when not in use. The dark steel staircase creates a strong contrast to the pale wood while matching the industrial-chic vibe of the remaining apartment. Villa Roco was designed to house a generation of one family that can live together and apart in one plot with its intuitive design. Who said an entire family can’t live in a smaller space with their privacy intact!

The stairs use steel wheels over a rail to enable the smooth rolling motion without disturbing the cabinet and all the pieces it holds. While I have not relocated my belongings to a tiny home, this solution is applicable across the globe as the world shrinks, homes become smaller, and demands more intuitive solutions!

Designers: Daniel de Bruin and Kokon architects made by Jan Verbaas