Category Archive 'Design'
15 Oct 2017

Apple: Really Bad at Design!

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Joshua Topolsky tears off the band-aid.

The “notch” on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd — it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience. The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screenspace.

It is, put plainly, a visually disgusting element. One which undermines the core premise of the iPhone X’s design (“all screen”), and offers a feature as an excuse which is really an answer in search of a question. To wit: no one wanted or asked for Face ID, and the feature actually raises new concerns about security for users. From a performance standpoint, there is hardly a differentiating factor between the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus beyond display size and type — the former is a flagship only because Apple wants it to be one.

Plenty has been written about the mind-numbing, face-palming, irritating stupidity of the notch. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about it. I would love to say that this awful design compromise is an anomaly for Apple. But it would be more accurate to describe it as the norm.

RTWT

02 Nov 2016

Skeleton Rocker

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skeletonchair

05 Jun 2016

Artificial Following Nature

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HypodermicNeedle
CobraFang
Above: the tip of a hypodermic syringe needle.
Below: the tip of a fang from the Monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia).

Both are designed to pierce the skin and admit fluids into the bloodstream, although it is often the case that the intended effects are polar opposites.

Artificial designs frequently imitate those of nature; in this case, mankind was approximately 25 million years late.

11 Nov 2015

Tughra of Sulieman the Magnificent

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Tughra1

Tughra2

Tughra3

Tughra4

Tughra5

Tughra6

Tughra (Official Seal, Signature, or Monogram) of Sultan Suleiman. Istanbul, Turkey. c. 1555-1560. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper.

06 Nov 2015

Lalique Watch Case

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LaliqueWatchCase
pocket watch. Rene Lalique (1860-1945) Ca. 1899-1900. Gold, enamel, moonstone.

“Of gilt-finished jewelled lever movement, the openface pocketwatch of circular outline with blued-steel moon-style hands and applied black enamelled Arabic numerals, against the gold ground accented by blue and white enamelled fluttering butterflies, within a polished gold case, the reverse depicting numerous flying purplish blue enamelled bats, with scattered moonstone accents, further embellished by a sculpted gold serpent bow.”

30 Aug 2015

Duesenberg Coupe Simone: The Car Which May or May Not Have Ever Actually Been Built

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DuesenbergSimone1
DuesenbergSimone2
DuesenbergSimone3

What actually exists are 1:24 models of the car made by the Franklin Mint, by one account, from drawings found in a barn on the remote Central Pennsylvania estate of Guy de LaRouche.

The legend says that the Duesenberg Coupe Simone was created by the coachbuilding firm Emmet-Armand on the Duesenberg Type J frame in response to a special order from French cosmetics magnate Guy (or Gui) de LaRouche (or LaRoche). The coupe took three years to build and was finished after the bankruptcy of Cord and the end of Duesenberg production. The Coupe Simone was named for LaRouche’s lover and was intended to be a gift to her. It was sent to France for LaRouche’s approval, before it was to be exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but disappeared as the result of a love triangle and the outbreak of the Second World War. The Coupe Simone was either destroyed during the war, or remains forgotten today, rusting away, in a barn somewhere in rural France.

An alternative story contends that plans for the car were drawn up in the 1930s, but the car was never built, and only the Franklin Mint models made from drawing re-discovered decades later were ever actually built.

Another version contends that neither car nor drawings nor French cosmetics king ever actually existed, and the model car was invented in the late 1990s by a couple of Franklin Mint designers, who made up a romantic story to explain the Art Deco automobile they had imagined.

Diesel Punks: The Strange Case of the Midnight Ghost.

Opposite Lock: The Duesenberg Coupe Simone: A One-Off that Never Was.

Wikicars: Duesenberg Coupe Simone

Before Its News: A Duesenberg That Didn’t Get Past the Drawing and Planning Stages of a Coachbuilder.

23 Jul 2015

Art Deco Motorcycle

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Magestic1929
1929 MAGESTIC

The Vintagent:

Georges Roy began motorcycle production with an unorthodox ‘New Motorcycle’ with a pressed steel chassis, then moved further from the mainstream, beginning production of the hub-center steered Majestic in 1929. The machine is a brilliant Art Deco sculpture, with a swooping unbroken line from the curved front wheel beak to the sporty abbreviated tail. The side panels are punctuated by louvers like a racing car (and the bike pictured is painted Bugatti / French racing blue). As the entire chassis is pressed thin-gauge steel, the overall weight is fairly low – I would estimate from hefting and pushing one around that it weighs 350lb. The chassis is constructed using two mirror-image side pressings, rivetted together by firewalls at the front and back of the engine, with further strengthening panels beneath the engine, plus the two large, fixed top panels. The whole structure, much like a monocoque car (or a late Cosworth /Norton racer), is extremely rigid. The central engine cover is removable for access) …, and … the side members are totally louvered to keep the engine cool. There’s plenty of room in the engine bay for a large motor, or even a radiator for a water-cooled machine. The petrol tank sits under the front bulkhead.

23 Jul 2015

Art Deco Automobile

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Mercedes500K
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Erdmann & Rossi

Via Ratak Monodosico.

05 Jul 2014

The Schlörwagon

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Schloerwagen2
Schloerwagen1
Schloerwagen3

Built, just before the start of WWII, on the rear-engine Mercedes-Benz 170H chassis it was known as the Göttinger Ei (“an egg from Göttingen”) or the Schlörwagen. Its designer, Karl Schlör, a Krauss Maffei engineer, had proposed a bodyshell with extremely low drag coefficient as early as of 1936. The prototype dazzled the public at the Berlin autoshow of 1939. But, because of the outbreak of WWII, the Schlörwagen never actually went into production. Karl Schlör died in 1997.

Via Retronaut.

02 Feb 2014

Salvador Dali Silverware

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Salvador Dali – Ménagère (Cutlery Set) 1957.

Gomez Addams probably uses this service everyday.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

13 Jun 2013

Knife Rack

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Hat tip to Glorious Mind via Fred Lapides.

09 Apr 2013

Where the Stauton Chess Set Came From

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Smithsonian’s Design Decoded explains the architectural origin of today’s standard Staunton-style chess men.

Prior to 1849, there was no such thing as a “normal chess set.” At least not like we think of it today. Over the centuries that chess had been played, innumerable varieties of sets of pieces were created, with regional differences in designation and appearance. As the game proliferated throughout southern Europe in the early 11th century, the rules began to evolve, the movement of the pieces were formalized, and the pieces themselves were drastically transformed from their origins in 6th century India. Originally conceived of as a field of battle, the symbolic meaning of the game changed as it gained popularity in Europe, and the pieces became stand-ins for a royal court instead of an army. Thus, the original chessmen, known as counselor, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, became the queen, pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. By the 19th century, chess clubs and competitions began to appear all around the world, it became necessary to use a standardized set that would enable players from different cultures to compete without getting confused.

In 1849, that challenge would be met by the “Staunton” Chess Set.

The Staunton chess pieces are the ones we know and love today, the ones we simply think of as chess pieces. Prior to its invention, there were a wide variety of popular styles in England, such as The St George, The English Barleycorn, and the Northern Upright. To say nothing of the regional and cultural variations. But the Staunton quickly would surpass them all. Howard Staunton was a chess authority who organized many tournaments and clubs in London, and was widely considered to be one of the best players in the world. Despite its name, the iconic set was not designed by Howard Staunton.

According to the most widely told origin story, the Staunton set was designed by architect Nathan Cook, who looked at a variety of popular chess sets and distilled their common traits while also, more importantly, looking at the city around him. Victorian London’s Neoclassical architecture had been influenced by a renewed interest in the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome, which captured the popular imagination after the rediscovery of Pompeii in the 18th century. The work of architects like Christopher Wren, William Chambers, John Soane, and many others inspired the column-like, tripartite division of king, queen, and bishop. A row of Staunton pawns evokes Italianate balustrades enclosing of stairways and balconies.

I like the Lewes chessmen best.

17 Apr 2012

Gaming With Pretension

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Jonathan Blow produces games which are less violent and more pretentious than conventional gun-them-down and blow-them-up games.

The Atlantic really buys into to all this, and lavishes praise on a fellow whose approach to gaming sounds to me a lot like films by Alain Resnais.

[W]hat makes Blow’s games so remarkable[is, that] at great personal expense, in ways no other developer has even attempted, he struggles to communicate a deeply authentic vision of the meaning of human existence. With both of his games, Blow strives to use the unique language of video games to impart the wisdom he has gained the hard way in his life. In The Witness, he hopes to help players try to “step outside their human viewpoint and see what the world is.” And in Braid, he sought to communicate something more personal still. …

[W]hat he is [is]—a spiritual seeker, questing after truth in an as-yet-uncharted realm. These are the terms in which he sees his art. “People like us who are doing something a little different from the mainstream have each picked one direction that we strike out in into the desert, but we’re still not very far from camp,” he told me. “There’s just a huge amount of territory to explore out there—and until you have a map of that, nobody can say what games can do.

30 Jul 2010

Puzzle Gun: The Intimidator

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If you take apart GarE Maxton’s 40-45 lb. (18.18-20.45 kgs.) puzzle sculpture, comprised of over 100 pieces which took a year’s worth of precision machining to produce, you can assemble from a number of concealed parts the single shot .45 caliber muzzle-loading pistol seen below.

6:46 video of disassembly.

8:22 video of assembly

Hat tip to Brian Barrett via Karen L. Myers.

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