Posts by Stephen Holmes

MIT meets Manc: new Fab Labs open up RP to the masses

Published 24 March 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: manchester, mit, fab lab

Boasting it’s position as the UK’s new manufacturing heartland (as one tongue-firmly-in-cheek speaker put it: “Sorry West Midlands”) the North West now boasts a Fab Lab.

Yes, it’s not on everyone’s radar, but the Fab Lab is an accidental creation of the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). With Fab Labs popping up around the world, it was only a matter of time before one appeared on our shores in fully funded, fix-placed form.

Manchester might not have been everyone’s first guess, but it has the credentials (birthplace of the industrial revolution, home to over 20 nobel prize winners, the place where Rolls met Royce) and, judging by the list of sponsors queuing up to back it, they have the support.

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Objectified premiere brings its stars along with it

Published 17 April 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: apple, jonathan ive, objectified, marc newson, film, gary huswit, documentary

After the screening of the latest documentary from Gary Hustwit, we were treated to something universally expected; Jonathan Ive dodged questions with a quiet voice and some well-chosen pauses.

Objectified showed with candid detail the human characters behind the names behind the products. Although afterward business was resumed as normal for a man happy to sidestep a straightforward question, but whose presence was as big a draw for the crowd as the actual screening.

The starry names of the film, Ive and Marc Newson, were greeted to as warm a welcome as they walked down the aisles to the Q&A session underneath the screen as they had been when on it, when shown working from their offices, sat alongside a CNC machine, or at a table full of ‘inspiring shit’. These looks into their working environments and homes were as intriguing as the views they offered.

Dieter Rams’ attention to his bonsai tree in his garden; Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s sibling bickering; Karim Rashid’s collection of kitch items at his offices; all of these give the documentary its colour and variety, showing how different each person is in both approach, attitude and application.

Hustwit has approached Objectifed without the clear definition of his previous release, the font-geek-chic Helvetica. Taking in as much of the spectrum of designers and their work as allowed, this film shows the differences in what makes them tick, as well as the issues facing them.

The film is very good, occasionally skittish, regularly humorous, and approaches the subject very warmly. Hustwit admits that the films he makes are the ones he wants to watch himself but can’t find. It would be safe to say that the glowing fondness of the designers that feature in the film was still present as he welcomed Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson to the stage.

Each designer’s idiosyncrasies and characteristics are enclosed in short segments, occasionally they are returned to, while some intriguing commentary from critics such as the International Herald Tribune design editor Alice Rawsthorn, also present for the Q&A, offer most of the direction for the film to follow.

The post film chat was brief but offered up some insights, interestingly what concerns Ive and Newson held for the future of design. A key theme for the film was that there is already enough bad design in the world, but what troubled the pair was the advent of design being handed over to the consumer with the availability of 3D software and the ease of 3D rapid prototyping, just how much will this waste resources and have a negative impact on our lives?

As I left the cinema Ive was still being approached at the front, while Newson greeted his own swarm of admirers, all were keen to learn more about these idols of design. This proved to be the only problem, after each segment you were left wanting more from each designer.

You can view Objectified at the Barbican Centre, London, from 22 – 28 May

www.objectifiedfilm.com

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You’re so two-faced…

Published 18 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: v12, canova, estari, kanye west

As soon as the images lit up the screen the ‘I-want-one-of-those’ meter went through the roof and we started drooling like infants – this is the Canova from Estari.

With a dual-screen and intricate hinge, it also promises a litany of features that will outperform other touchscreens. Flowing out of the concept stage, the design from Italian firm V12 [check their own impressive website showcasing their 3D design process] have enlisted American dual-screen laptop developers Estari to help out.

As these shots show, V12 aren’t bad at rendering either. Found courtesy of Kanye West’s excellent blog.

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Fancy footwork

Published 13 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: rhino, proengineer, autocad, eamz, symatron, united nude

For those of us men spending this afternoon (and possibly the early hours of tomorrow morning) finding a gift for our loved ones in time for Valentines Day tomorrow (yes it’s tomorrow), then DEVELOP3D are on hand to help.

These Eamz shoes are from United Nude, a company that works with designers from all industries. Referencing the classic Eames chair, founder and designer Rem D Koolhaas wanted it to embody the same sense of cool. “It’s an ode to them, saying that the Eames chair is so cool and so clean in its design that you can create a shoe from the concept of it,” says Rem.

Developed with the assistance of Dutch master shoe-maker Rene van den Berg, the shoe took a lot of designing. “I drew the heel myself in AutoCad since I am a trained architect and this is the software that I’ve always used and feel most comfortable with,” explains Rem, adding “Since the Mono Eamz has a fully moulded upper, you’re dealing with double curved surfaces and you use 3-D software like Rhino, Pro/E or Symatron to make high-level moulds.”

Following several rounds of prototyping, adjustments, and scanning, the heel was finally completed in design, although the assistance of a motorcycle factory had to be enlisted in order to manufacture it.

You still have a few hours in which to get a pair. That is, if you can remember her shoe size.

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The future, the past and obliteration on the menu for Solidworks World keynote

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: solidworks, jeff ray, solidworks world

SolidWorks World 2009 Monday Keynote – Jeff Ray by SolidWorksCorp

As the announcer bellowed his name as though a boxer was entering the ring and the blistering music rang in my ears I actually got a bit excited about Jeff Ray’s keynote speech at this year’s Solidworks World (SW).

I was slightly taken aback by the rock and roll entry, but it didn’t hold back CEO Jeff. Customer service is up to 91%, 1.2 million people are firing through the customer portal, and localisation of languages has been upped to 16.

So how would he grade their performance overall last year? “I would say it’s a B, but it’s a B-minus because we have plenty of room to improve.”

A survey of users after the last SW said they spend 70% of their time in SW, a huge chunk of their working lives to be in one program, and Jeff seemed set to make sure users have the chance to give their opinion.

Located in the customer portal, Brainstorm, a way to vote publicly about what goes into Solidworks, was key to this message of interaction. “It’s going to be a core part of the R&D process for those people who have access to the customer portal,” said Jeff, adding “The key word here is transparency. We’re going to show you everything and we trust that you’ll give us your best advice in our best interest.”

Showing that his inner cool belies his age, Jeff even gives out the tweet code for everyone to chase-up later on Twitter.

The outlay for the next version was summed up through “three things we have to concentrate on” – and this came through obliterating installs, obliterating the upgrade process, and the way that users have to work when managing design data. “When you need to go find that part, or that assembly, you have to become a database administrator. And we need to obliterate that language,” explained Jeff, his heart clearly set on destroying the niggling parts of the Solidworks experience. “It shouldn’t matter where those files are located – if they’re on your hard drive, on the server, or out in the cloud – you shouldn’t care and you shouldn’t have to talk to the computer in the language that it understands.”

Despite his rallying it was a tricky crowd. Although the audience was there through their love of SW, many of the claims were being met with stony silence as everyone waited for the news of what the financial crisis was to bring.

Jeff attacked this with a bit of history. “Some of the great inventions that we take for granted today came out of adversity.” He began, before extolling the virtues of Spam rising up from the Great Depression. He also gave examples of companies pushing their designs in the modern world – an interesting micro-windmill, UV water treatment for developing nations, and a baby incubator made from readily available car parts – as how resourceful thinking and design is already starting to blossom from our own recession.

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Making the cut

Published 11 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: arrk, flymo

This little Flymo is a prototype put together by ARRK comprising of 25 CNC components in ABS and clear acrylic, whipped together in under a fortnight that allowed for actual field trials to cut grass.

Garden tool manufacturer Husqvarna called upon ARRK to assist in the development of their new rear collection lawnmower, the Multimo 360XC.

After successful trials ARRK was then commissioned to produce vacuum castings to build 15 fully assembled lawnmowers to be used for photo shoots and marketing meetings.

The components were fully finished, textured, assembled and then delivered to the client within four weeks, just in time for the product launch.

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Dyson digs deep for British manufacturing

Published 09 February 2009

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: dyson, royal college of art

James Dyson, renowned inventor and hoover enthusiast, has made a giant donation of £5 million to the Royal College of Art to rediscover the nation’s talent for making things and rescue the manufacturing industry.

Speaking to the Observer this week, he said: “You often hear of British designers who’ve gone abroad and designed things for Apple, Volvo, Sony and so on, but if we are able to go on training very good designers and engineers, and manufacturing is given the right sort of support by government, I believe we can turn the tide and start exporting more than we import – and have great fun in the process.”

His educational charity, the James Dyson Foundation, makes the donation to help fund a new building on RCA’s Battersea campus in south London, including a lecture theatre, gallery space, studios and 40 business “incubator units” where recent graduates will be able to take their designs from the drawing board to production.

Dyson added: “Manufacturing is not a Dickensian, dark-satanic-mills place where you end up if you’re thick: it’s a very exciting intellectual exercise that is clean, poses fresh challenges every day and involves using science, design and engineering to make groundbreaking, wonderful products that the world wants.”

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