End of an Era for NYC Artists & Designers: Pearl Paint Closes


And now for a bit of local news. Pearl Paint, NYC’s famed art supply superstore and one of the original supply sources on Core77 version 1.0, has closed after more than 80 years in business.

This signifies the demise, for industrial design students at Pratt Institute in particular, of Canal Street as a destination for supplies; in the ’90s we’d travel to Industrial Plastics on Canal & Greene, Space Surplus Metals around the corner on Church, and cap it off with a trip to Pearl for everything the prior two stores didn’t have. Now all three outfits are gone.



The Phytophiler Flower Pot System: An Inspector Gadget-esque Growing System That Won’t Blow Up in your Face

PlantingSystem-Lead.jpgAll photos by Omar Nadalini

Nurturing a houseplant isn’t exactly a well-designed process for casual growers. You plant the seeds, water the sprouts once in a while and hope that something nice-looking makes an appearance after a while. Most of the time, it’s hard to tell what’s going on between the act of planting and the end goal of appreciating a full-grown arrangement. The Phytophiler Flower Pot System by Dossofiorito has something to say about that. The System (which was presented at this year’s Salone Satellite) includes your everyday terracotta flower pots with a few add-ons—magnifying glasses, rotating bases, mirrors, etc.—to enhance the growing process.


The Phytophiler becomes a centerpiece of a different caliber once it’s all set up. The add-ons can be rearranged, added and removed depending on what parts the grower wants to focus on. When assembled, it throws off an Inspector Gadget vibe—but in a homey, non-catastrophic kind of way.



Extreme DIY: Matthias Wandel’s Drill-Driven Motorized Scaffold


Yes, this thing is every bit as crazy as it sounds. Matthias Wandel, the man behind Woodgears, recently built a tall wooden scaffold to be able to change the lightbulbs in his secondary hangar-like shop. But to climb up, change a bulb, climb down, move the scaffold to the next bulb, climb back up, etc. would be a slow process, so Wandel decided he’d motorize the entire contraption. As if that weren’t daunting enough, he designed it to be driven and controlled from up top–using a simple drill and some woodworking ingenuity.

As for how he did it, and how this thing works, you simply have to see it to believe it:


Starck and Axor Dematerialize the Sink Faucet


We thought the PermaFLOW transparent sink trap was a pretty brilliant innovation, allowing you to see and clear those pesky under-basin clogs. But from Philippe Starck by way of Hansgrohe comes the Axor Starck V, which brings transparency up where we can see it. Starck calls it “a mixer that represents the absolute minimum: totally transparent, almost invisible, and enclosing a miracle that is the vortex.”

While the impetus for the design—reportedly five years in the making—is poetic…

With the beauty and dynamism of its vortex, the mixer bridges the gap between the functional and emotional aspects of water at the washbasin, transforming it from a basic commodity to a valuable resource.

…Besides serving the technical function of making water visible, transparency aesthetically fuses the mixer body with its surroundings, thus, in essence de- materializing it. The openly designed spout contributes to the natural water experience: before the eyes of the user, the upward, swirling motion of water through the mixer’s body and its “free-fall” into the washbasin trigger a feeling of joy and happiness.



A Short-Lived USB LED Fan Clock


Winter might be coming to Westeros, but here in NYC it’s the impending arrival of summer that has me worried. Your correspondent has relocated to new, poorly-insulated digs with a bank of drafty south-facing windows, and I can’t afford the BTUs it’ll take to keep this place cool.

While seeking inexpensive desk fans I came across this USB LED Fan Clock. Yes, I know most everything that plugs into USB that isn’t a thumb drive is total junk, but it caught my eye because it actually delivers two useful functions, even if the time delivery is a bit garish.


More on 3D Coins, and an Illegal DIY Production Method: The Doming Block

0domingblock-001.jpgImage via Seadraggin

Love it or hate it, the U.S. Mint’s forthcoming 3D coin seems to be capturing people’s imaginations. And while we previously looked at the cool production methods behind making coins here and here, reader Dan pointed out that we were remiss in not mentioning Don Everhart, the U.S. Mint Sculptor responsible for turning Cassie McDonald’s baseball design into reality:

0domingblock-002.jpgImages via Coin News

Numismatic website Coin News has a feature up on Everhart, where you can see shots of him sculpting as well as the CNC mill they use to cut the steel blanks.

As for the rest of us who don’t have access to such technology, there are DIY ways to make domed coins: Hobbyists and tinkerers use something called a doming block to hammer coins into sweet bowl shapes. Check out how the woman behind the Epbot “Geekery, Girliness, & Goofing Off” blog turned these pennies into buttons:

0domingblock-003.jpgImages via Epbot


U.S. Mint to Launch 3D Coins This Month


Later this month the U.S. Mint is rolling out three new collector’s coins, designed to honor the American national pastime. And unlike previous coin designs, the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins will feature a twist, or should we say a curve:


When Concept Cars Get Real: Ford Motors designer Kevin George on the making of the Edge Concept


Making a concept car is a little like building a toy—a huge, expensive toy for the finicky giant-baby that is the international car market. Like toys, concept cars are often more fantastic than feasible, but some do hit the sweet spot between production and wild projection. Ford unveiled its new Edge Concept last year and it is positioned uniquely to blend pragmatic new technologies and fun design. It combines the core of the existing Edge, but reaches out to touch on sweet new car tech (remote parking! Glowing armrests!?) and the obsessive tech-savviness of People These Days. We talked with Kevin George, Design Manager at Ford Motor Co., about what it’s like working on a not-quite-production car like the Edge Concept.

C77: Walk me through the process of conceiving and building the Edge Concept.

Kevin George: The beginning of the process for us was looking at how the target customer was evolving. One of the main purposes of Edge Concept was to confirm a hypothesis we had about how the design should move based on that. The idea was that the customer had evolved into somebody who was more socially nimble. They make plans with their friends on the fly, maybe through social media connections, so how should the imagery of the car evolve to meet that need? The other concern we had was how are gas prices going to be in a few years, and what would that do to the customer’s idea of the efficiency of the machine. So we wanted to test out something that looked a little more nimble. So the customer is more socially agile and the vehicle needed to look a little more agile so it would convey the right message about the car’s efficiency.

We looked at Edge in the market: it’s leading its category at least here in North America, we don’t want to just start over. We don’t want to throw out the earlier work of other great designers, but we wanted to leverage their work in a way that would fit this predicted image. In the past you may have seen Ford do some wild, out-there concept cars, and one issue with those is that if they never come to fruition then the customer is frustrated. One of the ways we really connect with customers is to build these concept vehicles that relate to the production.

Edge today is very modern, very monolithic, but not very agile. So the slab sides you see on Edge are gone on Edge Concept. So we started sketching Edge Concept to be more athletic in an agile way. Evolving it from sporty like a heavyweight boxer to sporty like an Olympic sprinter. And to bring it into the new Ford DNA, because Edge was originally developed during the last incarnation of the brand DNA and it needed to catch up to be more like the Fiesta or Focus. Those surface languages were influential to the designers as well.

FordEdge2.jpg“For a smooth, cohesive look, sculptors sand away the paint of hte liftgate on Ford Edge Concept to create a concave, angular form to the valance. The body shell arrives at the studio as a complete form, but requires serious hands-on attention before it becomes a vehicle designed by Ford.”


Holy Cow: Tech Designer Whips Up a Business Card That You Can Use to Play Tetris!


That the business card is dead, or at least dying, is no secret. At any trade fair I’ve been to in the past few years, exhibitors would rather scan your badge than stuff their pockets with more paper, and I myself use my smartphone to snap others’ contact info and leave their cards behind.

Still, Portland-based technical designer Kevin Bates reckons he’s got a business card you’ll want to hang onto. Because you can use the darn thing to play Tetris. Observe:


Edmund Scientifics’ No-Spill Coffee Device


Billed as being “perfect for boats, parties and restaurants,” Edmund Scientifics’ The Incredible Spill Not is simply a 13-buck gizmo that combines a flexible strap with a rigid arm and base. While at first it may seem somewhat silly…

…you can’t deny that this thing would be useful on a boat: