Tag Archives: technology

Tech Beautiful

photograph by Todd Mclellan

In his new series “disassembly” Canadian photographer Todd Mclellan takes retro technology apart so he can photograph every screw, spring and wire. The images are beautiful and frenetic, capturing the complexity of the technological objects that surround us and showing the beauty of human ingenuity.  Check out the video below that shows him at work.

Technology and design go hand-in-hand because both are about ideas and innovation. Today’s post features a collection of objects that feature both smart design and smart tech. You’ll notice many of these objects combine old and new technologies in surprising ways, proving that designers and engineers are often looking back on the past just as they are propelling us forward.

john’s phone from a+r store

Meet the world’s simplest cell phone. This friendly looking phone doesn’t text, take photos, play music, or check email; it’s designed solely for making phone calls (all some of us really need a phone to do).  Using SIM cards you can call almost anywhere in the world, and it comes with a quaint pen and notebook that stores in the back of the phone.

wooden radio at general store

This wooden radio is reminiscent of the old transistor radios. However, unlike an old-school radio, this one is mp3 compatible, but you can also get AM and FM signals. The curves in the two-tone wood are incredibly inviting, and it’s refreshing to see knobs in the place of buttons or touch screens.

Tracks Headphones by KiBiSi via designindaba

KiBiSi headphones may not be stretching the boundaries when it comes to headphone technology, but they are quite eye-catching, and are designed to ensure the perfect fit. Designer Jens Martin Skibsted was inspired by the iconic Walkman headphones, but Tracks offer a more streamlined and modernized shape.

QLOCKTWO by Biegert & Funk

The QCLOCKTWO is for typography enthusiasts and gadget fans. It’s a digital clock that uses text rather than numbers to display the time. This slick design comes in both a wall model and a desktop model, and comes in a variety of colours.

iVictrola designed by Matt Richmond via made-craft

The iVictrola provides acoustic sound for your iPad. How it works is you dock your tablet in the base and a Magnavox horn amplifies the sound.  Each device is unique because each one is made from an antique phonograph.


Can you guess what this gadget is? Did you guess it was a camera? More specifically, it’s a light field camera that, according to their website, captures the colour, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. I’m not sure how it works, but what make the pictures this camera takes truly remarkable is that they can be re-focused after the picture has been taken.  Apparently, you can also switch between viewing the pictures as 2D images or 3D images.

I never thought I would develop a crush on a printer, but that day has come. The Little Printer is simply the most personable device I have come across since Apple’s iconic iMac. It lets you make a daily, personalized carbon print-out of puzzles, lists, newsfeeds etc. and can be programmed from your phone. If you want to snag one you’ll have to wait until 2012, but in the meantime you can watch it in action in the video above.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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More Sketching – Less Kvetching

Ah the many times we have tried to explain or describe a piece or design, when a simple photo or drawing would have saved so much time and frustration. Whether going back and forth with a client or tweaking a new design, one needs an easy tool that makes those changes quickly. While autocad is unnecessarily complex for most of us, Sketchup has become our new favorite friend.

Start with individual pieces, and soon you will feel the love (or at least see it)

Free, easy to use and with a very good tutorial, you can start simply by drawing individual shapes. The shapes soon become pieces and next thing you know, you are placing them in rooms and even adding color. It gives one great confidence with design, since you now know exactly how the piece will look proportionally, and in a setting. You can of course share drawings with others that have the program so they can make their own changes, or you can simply export it as a jpeg and send.

Your pieces "in situ"

Add counters, appliances, and suddenly it’s your dream kitchen come to life!

Sketch-up also has a massive library of images which you can use to fill out the missing pieces in your decor.  http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/

Download the program and release the designer within   http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/index.html

Another amazing tool is a Tablet with sketching ability. Meaning you get to draw on it, over photos, text, etc.  We especially like the new HTC with Scribe Technology. It’s as easy as taking a photo, dropping the photo in your “notes” section, and then scribbling away. Sharing is incredibly easy, as you can post it on FB or send it by email with just a touch.  Having the notes, arrows or directions right on the photo is an invaluable tool, and so much easier to comprehend then trying to synch up those attached notes.

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Thank You, Steve: A Tribute to the Late Steve Jobs and His Ideas

Courtesy Apple Computers

It was a sad day for technology and design Wednesday, when Apple Computers announced the passing of its co-founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs was 56 and died at his home in California of Pancreatic Cancer.

The reactions were nothing short of tremendous, and twitter was abuzz with everyone retweeting quotations from his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, to simply saying thank you for how he revolutionized the way we use technology.

From the first Macintosh computer to the iPad, the creative that was Steve Jobs was the driving force of the Apple Brand. He was also the founder of Pixar Studios and in doing so changed the world of animation thereafter.

In the design field, macs are almost a given, and sometimes it’s hard to think of how we ever got to this point. Like everything in design and technology, it started with an idea, made real by Steve Jobs.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The original Mac has since moved from people’s desk into museum collections, but it certainly was a marvel for its time. It was the first personal computer that people could use with ease, and included a slot-loading disk drive for file storage. It was launched in 1984 with Steve Jobs unveiling it. The video of its launch can be found on YouTube.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Not only did Apple and Mr. Jobs revolutionize the way computers were used, but their design was also something that was given particular attention. The Powerbook 100 was the first battery-powered computer that sported its keyboard behind a palm rest for ergonomic purposes. Since its introduction the design has become the standard for all laptops to this day.

Images from iMac World http://imacworld.110mb.com/

In 1998 Apple rocked the computing world when they put out their fruit-flavored (and I’m being completely serious, the colors were named after fruits), revitalized Macintosh computers now fondly called the iMac. The colored plastic enclosed machines omitted the clunky tower that most PCs sported at the time, and spoke to every personality that wanted one. The only downside was the circular mouse – which remains to this day one of Apple’s most hated products.

Image by Moemen Khafaga

Possibly my favorite design of all Apple computers is the iMac G4. The adjustable monitor was ergonomic genius. You could move the screen up, down, all around without making you crane your own neck. I was disappointed when Apple decided to do away with that feature when they launched the next generation of iMacs, which resemble the current models but with plastic casing.

Image from Apple Computers

And speaking of plastic casing, there’s also the iBook G4. At a time where the laptop market was dominated by black portfolio looking ThinkPads (IBM) and Satellites (Toshiba), the white iBook looked more like a piece of gum than something that had the power to perform serious tasks. Many designers I know of began their explorations thanks to this little wonder.

Image from Apple Computers

Apple however really came into prominence with another little white thing, which while didn’t do many things did one particular thing well – play music, play alot of it, and play it anywhere. The iPod is still the number one music player on the market, and has been so since its inception. To say that it’s impact on the music industry is tremendous is an understatement. New car models today come with iPod auxiliary ports, and the word iPod itself has almost become synonymous to music player.

While these gadgets all represent the development of Apple and its movement to becoming one of the world’s largest tech companies, they all started out as ideas from people who wanted to make a difference with how we see and use technology. Steve Jobs helped these people to “think differently,” so that somehow, in our own way, we could too.

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Design Apps for the iPad and iPhone

We’ve got a new iPad.  The toddler seems to use it most, but yeah we think it’s pretty cool too.  Just having internet access virtually anywhere rocks if you work remotely.  Especially so if you work part time and have a little one.   It means a lot to me as a mum to make a park run during the day; and it means a lot as a worker to do so without interfering with other team members’ workflow.  And given that I spend so much time piling over design related stuff, the iPad and iPhone are especially great because of the apps on offer.  Here are a few favourites if you’re into design (and if you haven’t joined the cult of Apple, some of these have websites or web applications too, all linked to below as applicable).

Cool Hunting, Free

CoolHunting.com is a great site if you’re looking for inspiration and innovation and now they’ve got a free app updated daily with the latest design, technology, style and culture news as well as mini-documentaries.  This one’s a fun go-to on public transit for sure.

Phaidon Design Classics for iPad, $19.99

I will always love books.   Of all my possessions, it’s my library that’s my most precious. Reading a book a sense feast for me: I love the smell of a book, its heft and the feel of turning paper pages, the satisfying pppft sound it makes when you close one upon its end, so I just can’t my head around ebooks.  That said, Phaidon, the visual art book gurus, have released a pretty remarkable iPad app. It covers 200 years of product design in encyclopaedic detail and includes stunning 3D renders and illustrations.  Years in the making, every expert was consulted from architects, curators, historians, and product manufacturers to create this fun and beautiful app.

Architecture Pocket Guide, $3.99

Okay this one’s for the iPhone/iPod, but it is cool if you love architecture and are lucky enough to travel.  GPS-enabled, it gives you the location – with directions – to a city’s greatest buildings as well as background information on its significance and the team who conceived it.  The app designers are so sure you’ll love it, they give you a three day free trial.

Houzz Interior Design Ideas, Free

This app, like its parent site, Houzz.com lets you browse the largest database of home design ideas found in one place.  You can save images to your own idea book and even find local interior designers, architects and contractors and browse their portfolios if you’re looking to renovate.  Certainly worthwhile if you’re looking for home decor and design ideas.

Pinterest, Free

Thanks to Mandy for turning me on to Pinterest, the social media online application that allows you to pin anything that catches your fancy from home design, to products, from causes to memorable meals.  You can browse other’s finds too – friends and strangers – for some unexpected inspiration.  It’s really delightful to virtually wander around gazing at beautiful images and now you can take Pinterest with you with the iPhone and iPad app.  Cool!

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Jetson Approved Kitchens

We recently moved and we have a wonderful kitchen. We don’t know how we managed before. We’re enjoying an open concept, tons of cabinetry, a dishwasher (!) and the most glorious island. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t leaf through design magazines and drool over the latest appliances — indeed it’s part of the job. If you’re planning a kitchen reno and have money to burn, here’s what I’m talking about:

Elica Range Hoods and Air Purifiers

Stunning crystal light fixture that will add opulent drama to your kitchen?  Yes.  A range hood, with air purification ability too?  Yup!  Elica is an Italian company specializing in high end range hoods with architectural and sculptural qualities.

Aga Ranges and Cookers

For swoon! Aga ranges and cookers have enchanted me ever since I happened upon their Toronto boutique a few blocks from an old apartment of mine.  I’d just go and peer in the window during late night strolls.  The dual fuel professional model pictured above bakes, broils, steams, stir frys, roasts and boils all at the same time.  While the cooker below isn’t a new technology – around since the 1920s- it has made such an impression in the UK an entire sub-genre of family saga literature has come to be known as Aga Sagas (apparently the “older sister of sex and shopping romances”, if The Times description is to be trusted).  The cookers, beautiful to look at, have recently come under fire for the fact their fire never goes out.    Totally energy inefficient, though they do last for 50 years and are made of recycled materials.

Smart Fridges

LG Smart Appliances

There have been many false starts for the Smart Fridge.  Ten years of promises for an appliance that will track the contents of your fridge,  helpfully text message you your grocery list, pull recipes up based on what you’ve got on hand; even let you and its maker know when it isn’t feeling well and have repair service done remotely . The future is now, says LG who unveiled prototypes for their line of Smart Appliances at the CES (Consumer Electronics Association) this year.  To market, to market, this year!


For the beer connoisseur in your household, ASKO’s HomePub may be for you.  A fridge, freezer, and high-end beer tap may actually be a terrible idea, depending on how frequently you want to host summer barbeques, game nights, among other social events. Guests may never leave.

And here’s one that won’t require a second mortgage:  the Quooker

Goodbye tea kettle. Hello special faucet that pours water heated to 100 degrees C.  Very energy efficient, using 55% less energy then boiling the kettle;  it also doesn’t waste water as you pour only what you need.   The Quooker promises to change the way you cook and drink (think how quickly you could boil potatoes or cook your pasta!).  It installs easily on your counter, with a discreet tank that fits neatly under your sink.  Also it’s childproof and insulated to stay cool to the touch.  I almost wonder why this hasn’t come along earlier!