This lightweight + durable drone can fold down and fit into a small case when not in use!

A super lightweight drone designed to operate in the most extreme environment and difficult terrain. In a way perfect for explorers who are curious to discover the unknown.

Explorers will go any length trying to satiate their curiosity, and any tool that aids them in this quest is more than welcome. While DJI is the preferred choice for most action sports or adventure activities – it’s time we ask for a drone that’s made specifically for exploration of the nook and crannies of the face of the earth. Yes, I’m talking about the explorers who take all the pain to bring home some of the most breathtaking shots from the jaw-dropping hidden landscapes of the planet.

The Drone Explorer aims to fulfill that little void which demands a drone that’s ultra-resilient, lightweight, has a longer battery life, and can carry advanced camera equipment in the most extreme weather and climatic conditions. Film-making crews who discover and bring to us the majestic never before seen footage of caves, forests, rock walls and more. This drone pushes the limits further, going into dangerous places that have still not been explored due to human limitations. Places like uninhibited islands, rainforests infested with dangerous creatures, or caves that are too risky to venture out into.

All this is possible with the drone’s terrain observation sensors, prior danger warning systems, and high-class connectivity for live streams. Keeping in mind the ease of carrying, the drone has a minimal foldable form factor – so small you can put it inside a small case without even knowing it is there in your backpack. The four propellers fold via hinged structure and fit inside a small carry bag too. Perfect for exploration and research activities with minimal fuzz.

Since the drone has to explore narrow caves or the rough rainforests – for instance – the aerodynamics need to be on point. This is fully proofed with the body line and aerodynamic shape for a stable flight no matter what the conditions or terrain. For complete protection from the elements, the Drone Explorer is made out of lightweight and durable titanium. It gets waterproof coating to make sure it doesn’t have an off day on a rainy afternoon!

Designer: Design One

A rural Ecuadorian house features in today's Dezeen Weekly newsletter

The latest edition of our Dezeen Weekly newsletter features a house in Ecuador with rammed-earth walls and a glass outhouse.

Architectural studio Al Borde meant to challenge standards of comfort with its design for The Casa Jardin, or Garden House.

Located in Conocoto, a rural area south of Ecuador’s capital Quito, it was designed for a client who desired a home that felt seamless between inside and out.

Readers adore it, with one calling it “just about perfect”.

Minimal interiors of The sleeping area of Shoji Apartment
Proctor and Shaw designs London micro-apartment with translucent “sleeping cocoon”

Other stories in this week’s newsletter include a 29-square-metre micro-apartment in Belsize Park, London, an interview with London mayor Sadiq Khan and Herzog & de Meuron’s design for an extension to the MKM Museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg, Germany.

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INDEX: Award 2021 celebrates designs that "bring humanity forward"

A winning design from the INDEX 2021 awards

A non-hormonal contraceptive, insulation made from mycelium and a movement that uncovers racial and gender bias in algorithms have been announced among the winners of one of the world’s leading design prizes, the INDEX: Award.

One winner from each of the five INDEX categories will receive trophies at an awards ceremony in Copenhagen today during the live finale, which will be streamed globally.

Now in its 19th year, the biennial INDEX award evaluates designs that “improve life”, and “bring humanity forward”.

“Over the past year humanity has endured extreme hardships and as such never before has solution-driven design deserved such recognition and celebration,” said Liza Chong, CEO of The Index Project.

“This year’s winners reflect the shift we have seen globally in the past 18 months towards a more egalitarian, sustainable and progressive future,” she added.

This year, the five categories are body, work, home, community and play and learning.

Each winning design, which has been selected by a panel of 14 international judges, aims to solve a social, environmental or economic problem.

See all the winning projects below:

A hand holding a contraceptive

Designer: Oui
Category: Body

The Oui Capsule is a non-hormonal contraceptive that aims to help women take ownership of their bodies. Designed by Copenhagen-based company Cirqle Biomedical, the contraceptive works by reinforcing the natural mucus barrier inside the cervical canal. This makes ovulatory cervical mucus impenetrable for sperm cells.

Users can apply the vaginal capsule before or during intercourse, and it is effective a minute after insertion.

Panels of beige coloured mycelium insulation

Designer: Biohm
Category: Work

British biomanufacturing company Biohm has used mycelium, a mushroom root, to produce an environmentally regenerative natural insulation. The concept was born out of the need to reduce the building industry’s carbon footprint, which is one of the largest in the world.

The insulating material can be used in both cool and warm climates to lower operational energy consumption and reduce energy consumption overall.

A drone flying above a gazebo

Designer: Flash Forest
Category: Home

Canadian rainforest reforestation company Flash Forest uses aerial mapping software, drone technology, automation and science to accelerate reforestation worldwide and secure the future of our home and planet.

The software is used by NGOs, governments and corporations in order to successfully reforest and plant trees.

A woman holding a white face mask

Designer: Algorithmic Justice League
Category: Community

Algorithmic Justice League is a movement uncovering racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

As well as raising awareness about the impact of AI, the group offers practical ways to report AI biases, such as educational workshops and conducting company audits to analyse ethical and moral practices.

A phone showing a winning design from the INDEX awards 2021

Designer: Truepic
Category: Play and learning

Photo and video verification platform Truepic uses artificial intelligence, cryptography, and computer vision technology to authenticate and approve images and videos as they’re captured.

The aim is to help democratise technology by helping individuals to establish what’s real from what’s fake.

The Index Project foundation was created in 2002 to shine a light on Danish design. In 2005, it launched the Index Award, which has since become of the world’s largest design awards.

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How the Bark to Make Cork is Harvested from Cork Oak Trees

Nearly every task you can perform on a tree, whether it’s cutting it down, de-limbing it or stripping the bark, can be done by a machine. Indeed they often require one.

However, one tree-borne task for a specific type of tree resists automation and can still only be performed by humans using hand tools . That task is stripping the bark from a cork oak tree, for the purpose of turning it into cork. The bark has to be removed cleanly, so as to avoid damaging the tree; the bark will regenerate, but it will be another nine years before one can harvest it again. If you’re too heavy with the axe, you risk leaving a gash in the tree beneath the bark, which then becomes an entrance for insects who will destroy the valuable cash crop.

Here’s a look at the process in Portugal, the world’s largest producer of cork. And while it might seem like fun to cleanly peel a tree, the work and conditions look absolutely grueling:

When I watch stuff like this, I can’t believe I ever just tossed a cork in the garbage.

Gensler unveils redesigned lobby in Philip Johnson's AT&T building

550 Madison has a bright look

New York studio Gensler has completed a redesign of the lobby inside the postmodernist AT&T building in Midtown Manhattan that aims to pay homage to the existing structure.

The overhaul of 550 Madison is lead by Norwegian studio Snøhetta, with Gensler responsible for the renovation of the lobby in the landmarked Philip Johnson-designed building.

The lobby of 550 Madison features terrazzo marble and bronze
The lobby of 550 Madison was designed by Gensler

Gensler aimed to preserve the essence of the original space, maintaining the lobby’s height, volume and vaulted features, while creating a “bright, minimalist space.”

The studio kept and refurbished the building’s large 110-foot (33.5 metres) entrance along Madison Avenue, which leads visitors to the vaulted triple-height lobby.

The lobby has a triple-height vaulted ceiling
Large arches mark the entrance to the new lobby. Photo is by James Ewing

Gensler used grand materials throughout the entrance area, including bronze mesh, leather and stone.

Across the floors, greyscale terrazzo is arranged in geometric patterns.

Light filters through the window onto the marble walls of 550 Madison
Gensler wanted to reference the history of the building. Photo is by James Ewing

Bronze mesh panels, which the studio used as a buffer between usable space and the triple-height ceilings, line the lower walls below white marble.

The symmetrical lobby also features a stone welcome desk that lines the side of the space. This was placed along the lines of the patterned floor in front of a recessed work area.

Recessed seating booths, set within the bronze-lined walls and parallel to the welcome area, were wrapped in rust-hued leather echoing the bronze mesh panels.

“We were inspired by the large volumes and spatial proportions of the 550 Madison lobby and sought to honor its impressive scale with simple, classical, elegant forms and materials,” said principal and design director of Gensler Philippe Paré.

“The outcome is a space which is both quiet, yet powerful; respectful, yet not a reproduction; timeless, yet very much contemporary.”

A sculpture by Alicja Kwade is hung in the centre of the lobby of 550 Madison
The space follows a strict geometry

A large, multi-storey arched-glass window opposite the main entrance filters light into the lobby and overlooks gardens designed by Snøhetta.

At the centre of the space, a marble, sphere-shaped installation by Alicja Kwade was hung by chains from the vaulted ceiling, 12 feet (3.6 metres) above the ground.

The installation at 550 Madison is a large blue sphere
Strip lighting was used subtly throughout the space and across the ceiling

“550 Madison is a unique landmark in New York City that carries a rich history,” said managing director of real estate at investment group Olayan America Erik Horvat.

“Our goal with Gensler and other design partners is to add modern upgrades that will ensure its future, while also preserving its history,” he added.

“We are thrilled to have Gensler reimagining the building’s lobby to create a beautiful and functional space that also respects Philip Johnson’s original design.”

White marble was used across the walls of the lobby of 550 Madison
Bronze mesh lines the lower half of the walls

Investment group The Olayan Group is turning 550 Madison into a multi-tenant office space. The overhaul of the building is lead by Snøhetta and developed by Olayon together with RXR Realty and Chelsfield.

The plans to renovate 550 Madison were first unveiled in 2017 and met with a major backlash, with architects including Norman Foster and Robert A M Stern backing a campaign to protect the building.

It resulted in the tower gaining landmark status, protecting the exterior of the stone building. In 2018, Snøhetta released a revised plan of its proposal, which saw the practice focus on “preserving and revitalising” the postmodern building.

Photography is by Fred Charles unless stated otherwise.

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This chair is assembled with a cargo strap – no hardware, screws, no glue, no packaging!

The TEMP chair has been designed as an eco-focused seating solution that makes use of an unlikely material to blend packaging and assembly into one piece. The chair is made by cutting OSB (oriented strand board) and is assembled by tying a single cargo strap with ratchets. The luggage strap, which can withstand more than 700kg, makes for a super sturdy chair without the use of screws, glue, or any hardware!

OSB is stronger and more waterproof than plywood. It is a versatile, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly alternative manufactured by compressing precisely engineered strands of woods with exterior resins at high temperatures to create an incredibly strong panel.

The cargo strap is also used to wrap the panels effectively reducing packaging for the chair. The five panels that make up the chair can be grouped together, and one panel has a handle, so it can be easily moved while packed.

It is designed to be wider than the existing chair, so you can take a break in various postures, and the lower part of the seat can be used as a storage space.

The reasonably priced OSB has enough strength to make up the chair, and the wood chip pattern makes it hard to see scratches, so it could be shipped without additional packaging.

Joo Hoyoung said, “I ordered plywood cut from a carpentry shop. I tied the cut plywood with a cargo string to bring home. When I came home, I untied the string, put the plywood in the right place, and tied the string again. I am sitting in the chair that has been completed just like that and writing this!” – could it BE any simpler?!

Designer: Joo Hoyoung

Amazon's Astro, a Household Robot for Home Monitoring, Has Zero Combat Effectiveness

Here’s the latest “This is a parody, right? –Oh no, they’re sincere” realization: Amazon has announced their Astro, a small, Alexa-enabled “household robot for home monitoring.”

And this, folks, is how they envision it integrating with your lifestyle:

I say Amazon is half-stepping. This thing is supposed to monitor your home for intruders, yet it has no combat capabilities, nor defensive measures. The screen is placed at perfect kick-height.

If overturned, the Astro has no way to right itself. There’s no powerful laser, sonic weapon, electroshock prod, not even a ball-bearing or caltrop dispenser. The thing can’t tackle stairs; if your house is two stories, well, just choose the level you’d like to protect. Should be an easy choice: You’ve got the kids sleeping upstairs, but all that expensive stuff in the kitchen and living room.

Also, that telescoping rod? I’ve seen enough movies to know that when fighting this thing, you snap that rod off, then use it to spear the robot.

On the plus side, it docks itself for recharging. So it’s like a Roomba, except it doesn’t vacuum.

The $1,500 robot will initially sell for the bargain price of $1,000, “exclusively by invitation” through Amazon’s Day 1 Editions program. If it succeeds in the marketplace, we can expect to see a rash of YouTube videos of guys in ski masks moving towards the camera, then the video ends with a giant shoe sole.

LX662 armchair by Frans Schrofer for Leolux LX

LX662 armchair by Frans Schrofer for Leolux LX

Dezeen Showroom: a high-backed seat with exaggerated winged sides defines the LX662 chair, which Frans Schrofer has created for Dutch furniture brand Leolux LX.

LX662 was developed by Dutch industrial designer Schrofer to offer users maximum comfort and privacy.

According to the Leolux LX, this makes the chair ideally suited to lobbies or lounges and “interiors with an exclusive look”.

LX662 armchair by Leolux LX
The LX662 swivel chair has a high-backed seat with winged sides

The curved high-backed seat is teamed with a slender base made from metal. It is available in a four or five-prong version.

Both bases can be fitted with an auto-return mechanism, meaning that the armchair can swivel but always reverts to its original position. The seat can also be fitted with a reclining mechanism.

The back of the LX662 armchair
Its back is finished with decorative hand-stitched seams

LX662 is available in a range of different upholstery options and both its inner and outer sections can be finished in different materials.

Finishing touches to the chair include decorative hand-stitched seams across the back of the seat, which is available in any thread colour.

Product: LX662
Designer: Frans Schrofer
Brand: Leolux LX

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Vela acoustic ceiling panels by Impact Acoustic

Vela acoustic ceiling panels

Dezeen Showroom: Swiss brand Impact Acoustic has created a range of colourful sound-absorbing products called Vela for use in creative interior environments.

​​The Vela ceiling panels are made in a variety of different colours, patterns and shapes to challenge traditional, “boring” acoustic panel designs.

Yellow and grey Vela acoustic panels
Vela is a range of colourful acoustic panels

They are suspended from ceilings to help absorb sound and ideally suited to interior spaces such as restaurants and creative offices, according to Impact Acoustic.

There are a total of 28 different colours available for the panels, which are made in various shapes and with different geometric patterns across them.

Yellow and grey Vela acoustic panels
They are designed to be suspended from ceilings

Each Vela panel is made using Archisonic, a sound-absorbing material manufactured from recycled PET bottles.

Impact Acoustic’s in-house design studio is available to advise on the ideal acoustic solutions for a specific space or tailor-make the Vela acoustic panels upon request.

Product: Vela
Brand: Impact Acoustic

About Dezeen Showroom: Dezeen Showroom offers an affordable space for brands to launch new products and showcase their designers and projects to Dezeen’s huge global audience. For more details email

Dezeen Showroom is an example of partnership content on Dezeen. Find out more about partnership content here.

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Would You Consider Freezing Your Jeans Instead of Washing Them?

It’s well-known that the manufacturing process of clothing isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. But few consider how just owning and maintaining clothes continues to drain resources.

“Repeated washing and drying cause the lion’s share of a garment’s environmental impact,” reveals Rachel G. Clark, Managing Editor of Patagonia’s Brand Storytelling & Impact division. “This is even more true for denim; soaked jeans can take a lot of energy to dry. As such, you have a big say in how green your blue jeans are.”

Even the open-minded Clark was shocked to learn that co-worker Mark Little, Patagonia’s Product Line Director for Men’s Sportswear & Surf Apparel, wore the same pair of jeans almost every day for 2.5 years—and only washed them five times. Little explains why in this article by Clark, which resulted in the tips below:

“Here are five ways Mark helps his jeans last longer, while using less electricity, natural gas and water. You can, too.”

Don’t Wash: Air out, spot clean or place in the freezer overnight

Wash Better: If you must, use cold water and wash by hand rather than machine washing

Line Dry: If that’s not an option, avoid a hot dryer (stick to low heat)

Repair: Before replacing, customize. Jorts, anyone?

Pass Along: When done with a pair, let a friend write their next chapter

I’d never heard of the freezing thing before. I assume it doesn’t raise the electricity bill by much, and I’d try it–if we had the room in our freezer.