- A video on the designers that created the distinct visual style of southern hip hop album artwork in the 1990s. The text effects, photoshop flames, and composited cars all came together in a way unlike anything before it or since. In a way, it was an aesthetic celebration of suddenly available power: for rappers getting rich quickly: showing off assets of an upper crust lifestyle, for designers: having powerful graphic design tools that allowed an individual or small team to put together something quite complex.
- Once upon a time, the on-screen logos for TV networks were physical objects or entire mechanisms. In some ways we have come full circle, with digital brands utilizing physical devices as "immersive experiences" that connect users IRL. Brands are a flat circle.
- That possibly concept art/possibly marketing stunt all-black clothing and accessory subscription project that we covered a few weeks ago is apparently real.
- The latest from LEGO on their quest to replace the petroleum-sourced ABS plastic they use for their products with a bioplastic. They seem to have ruled out polylactic acid (PLA), a common material for consumer 3D printers due to its propensity to "creep" and shift form over time. LEGO uses 70,000 metric tons of ABS every year, and if they can make bioplastics a reality for mass production, it could have a massive impact on consumer plastic goods in general. As people who design products for the advantages and constraints of plastics everyday, we're genuinely, nerdily, excited about bioplastics becoming that much closer to a mass-production reality.
- There must be something in the air- more and more people are discussing how 3D printing is on a clear trajectory towards living up to the term additive manufacturing: making end-use components and products as an alternative to traditional methods like injection molding, stamping, and so on. Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal stress tests some 3D printed shoe soles and a metal hinge from Desktop Metal, and Jon Bruner interviews Max Lobvosky of Formlabs on how 3D printing will expand to include more and more industries. While the story of 3D printing supplanting other mass production methods has been a hyped story for awhile, advances in speed, material science, and methods are starting to deliver on some of that promise, at least for goods that require some degree of customization.
- Some good news: U.S. households are using less electricity. The highly-efficient LED lighting displacing incandescent and fluorescent bulbs is claimed as the cause.
- A really good read from one of the founders of K-HOLE, the group of self-described cultural strategists on how big corporations sought their art-world-bred cultural acuity but typically (unsurprisingly) de-fanged their proposals, tossing away the meat of their concepts in favor of surface treatments and mere nods in the direction of something subversive. Anyone who has ever worked in such contexts will find things in common to cringe about; corporations claim to seek to understand human needs, desires, and cultural trends but actually accepting those influences or even presenting those ideas often feels like an oil-meets-water scenario.
- Apple has acquired the sleep tracking hardware company Beddit, likely in a bid to appease people that have a deep desire for round-the-clock quantified self analytics (the Apple Watch has had some criticism from quantified self die-hards as its battery life precluded round-the-clock use). Adding sleep tracking to the buffet of data available will add value for some, but we'd bet that Apple has more in mind for this asset.