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Contagion’s bacteria billboard will give you an immediate urge to wash your hands

9 Sep

Rick Marshall

September 9, 2011

A billboard petri dish and live bacteria form the perfect Contagion promotional tool.

The new film Contagion has jokingly been referred to as a 105-minute reminder of the benefits of hand-washing. And while that’s not all that far from the truth (we left our screening wondering where we could buy a surgical mask), a piece of innovative marketing for the film has apparently embraced that notion.

Embracing the literal nature of “viral” marketing, Warner Bros. Pictures created a pair of billboards for Contagion composed entirely of harmless (we assume) bacteria and fungi. The germs were added to billboard-size petri dishes in a pattern that would allow the film’s title to be revealed as the bacteria and fungi grew.

In the video below, you can watch the advertisement for the film grow before your eyes — and see the initially curious, then horrified response the billboards received people passing by the Toronto storefronts where they were mounted.

In the end, you have to hand it to the WB marketing team. They managed to create a truly one-of-a-kind promotion.


greencycle bamboo bikes

8 Sep

as his master’s thesis project at the auckland university of technology paulus maringka has developed a series of bamboo bicycles
under the name ‘greencycle’. the project applies a system approach to shift design thinking and practices away from the ongoing
unsustainable use of resources towards a more sustainable framework of consumption whereby local cultures, skills resources
and technology are analyzed to inform the design and development of a human powered transportation system.
here is a look at the three bicycle prototypes that maringka has thus developed: greencycle, greencycle-eco and the G2.

maringka’s initial two year research study focused on looking at how to improve the bicycle manufacturing process so that it was
cleaner and didn’t rely on unsustainable processes, together with exploring the use of renewable materials.
through the study process and time spent in understanding the culture of users specifically in indonesia, his focus shifted.
it became apparent that most bicycle manufacturers only cater to the middle and luxury ends of the market instead of producing ranges
suitable to and affordable for the people who need this form of transportation the most – the lower income bracket,
whose livelihood depends on it to make ends meet. most target users cannot even afford to buy a bicycle and their needs have been
neglected for some time. therefore, maringka becane looking at ways of reducing manufacturing processes and costs
while utilizing local resources and harnessing local craftsmen’s skills to produce a design outcome that would best suit target users
and their needs, wants and ways of life.

to understand the creation of the ‘greencycle’, a participatory approach was applied in the design process that included a
series of interviews of the target users, prototype testing and field experiments with sustainable resources, in order to propose,
design and evaluate the system. to gather knowledge and experiences of a society all stakeholders were consulted;
including farmers, artisans, bamboo experts, engineers and manufacturers to provide insights that has enabled this research
to produce a cohesive socio-technical system in indonesia. the design process applies system design thinking, informed by cultural insights,
to improve on this form of human powered transportation, taking into account the behaviour, belief and value relevance,
functionality, the needs and wants of the users and the use of appropriate technologies and environmental considerations.

a laminating process was used to create the form for the bicycle frame as this is a relatively easy, economical and low technology process.
two identical curved laminated bamboo pieces were placed in opposite directions and joined using simple steel brackets
to produce a simple but yet very strong construction. this construction also allows for the seat and paddle bracket to be adjusted
along the two curved frames to suit different users. rattan lashing was also used as a secondary binding to reinforce the
laminated bamboo layers. the production and manufacturing of ‘greencycle’ was done in indonesia, using recycled parts.

high technology has the connotation of expensive costs and is normally associated with sophisticated products.
‘greencycle-eco’ explores the use of current technology to help reduce the production cost in order to make it affordable to farmers
and the lower income demographic group in third world countries, while the strategic design thinking and model can be applied
to any first world country to achieve greater sustainability. high technology was introduced to explore the possibility of
simplifying the process.

pre-fabricated materials have been chosen for the ‘greencycle-eco’ design. bamboo panel products have been proven to be suitable for
structural as well as non-structural applications in high grade building work. with the increasing demand for using greener and more
highly renewable materials followed by recent technology developed in india and china, research studies and material testing has shown
positive results for quality and mechanical strength. taking into consideration production costs, the design pattern of ‘greencycle-eco’
reduces the number of component parts to three different forms with two sets of identical parts being repeatedly cut out from a
bamboo based panel product. each part is cut out using a CNC cutter; not only to get a consistent form and precision positioning
of the screw holes, but to also maximize the material use and minimize material waste in the process. standard bamboo panel measuring
1200 x 2400mm can provide enough parts for eight bicycle frames which can be cut out in a short amount of time and reduce the
production cost considerably. using a pre-fabricated bamboo panel product as the main material for ‘greencycle-eco’ offers a
number of advantages including:
1. the product is made from a renewable material, abundantly grown and commonly available in asian countries
2. it has consistent quality
3. the whole bicycle can fit into a small flat-pack package making it economical to transport (reducing carbon footprint) if shipping is required.

the steel brackets are created from flat steel and used as a joining component so they will last and can be reused again while the bamboo parts
can be easily and cheaply replaced when needed. to increase the bicycle’s functionality and load capability, the following changes have been made
as part of the design features of the ‘greencycle-eco’:
1. frame length increased by 20% to allow for more surface area to carry loads without compromising the stability,
maneuverability and safety of the user
2. changing the shape of the downward angled seat stays of the traditional bicycle created an opportunity to provide not only a
support for the rear seat but the point of attachment needed to give the target user freedom to develop or customize their bicycle
and turn this humble people mover into a form of transportation which better suits their needs and wants without compromising its
functionality as a form of transportation or operational safety.

featured in the top 20 for the 2011 international bicycle design competition, the ‘greencycle 2nd generation’ or ‘G2’,
the bike challenges current practices to transform human-power transportation design. a culture-centric approach
is used to shift design thinking and practices away from the ongoing unsustainable production of goods and services
that are unfit for the human conditions in poor countries.

the bicycle provides more than a basic transportation to go from A to B. poor countries need and depend on this mode of transportation
for a wide range of uses. expanding its functions and uses would be of great benefit to the society. a series of ‘greencycles’
and accessories were created in the design process to extend the artifact’s functionality, with the core parts made from renewable materials
such as the mighty ubiquitous bamboo that is available abundantly in many third world countries. pre-design information gathered from observation,
interviews and participatory design approach of target users and bicycle manufacturers in indonesia offered insights on how low income users
modify their bicycles to maximize their personal needs. the focus of human-centric design is to improve the usability of a product or service so that it
becomes more related and meaningful to the user’s way of life.

the ‘G2’ incorporates the following optimum features:
1. an extra wheel for stability – going from a two wheel to a three wheel design to create a triangular base that is stable and strong for heavy loads
2. the ability to convert back to a two wheel configuration style when the terrain requires tight negotiation – like a narrow pathway through a
padi field or poor road conditions as commonly found in third world countries
3. a splayed rear wheel base to provide a stable surface for load storage / carrying which conventional bicycles don’t have
4. provision for a basic frame for further customization depending on the user’s needs and wants, such as a hawker’s stand
5. a splayed rear design has given an opportunity for a further fixing point for additional attachments
6. an attachment that has a dual purpose as a wheel barrow for loading goods and as a trailer for carrying goods
7. an s-frame shape instead of a diamond frame shape to free up and create as much space for loading
8. a strong central core acting as an anchor for other attachments, such as a people carrier
9. a stronger wheel design
10. double front spokes to mimic the old style bicycle frame which has reinforced steel front forks
11. the main frame components made from environmentally friendly composite bamboo based materials which can be molded
to produce the desired form. for this project it would have been a simple process for the designer to come up with a concept
that was based on a personal view of what would be a suitable solution for the target users. instead, human-centered research methods
were used to capture knowledge and feedback from the target group participants to shape and develop the design process and to ensure
the design will not only be acceptable, but also culturally meaningful and desirable for the users to use. this knowledge was later used to
explore a series of new bicycle concepts and bicycle accessories to increase the bicycle’s functionality and load capability aimed
at improving the user’s way of life. understanding this cultural relevance in the analysis, design and evaluation process also ensure
that ‘G2’ is materially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

‘Small’ safety risk as 7-ton satellite falls to Earth this month

8 Sep

Rick Marshall

September 8, 2011

NASA expects the decommissioned UARS weather satellite to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the next few weeks.

At some point in the next six weeks, a seven-ton satellite will return to Earth… in pieces.

NASA has warned of a “small” safety risk from the free-falling arrival of The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) that’s expected to re-enter our atmosphere now that its mission is complete. Originally launched in September 1991, the weather-studying UARS is expected to break into pieces during re-entry, but not all of it will burn up before hitting the ground.

At this point, the U.S. space agency is uncertain exactly where the UARS is likely to fall, though it estimates that the wreckage will land somewhere between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator. The debris “footprint” is expected to cover a 500-mile path.

NASA has reiterated that no one should be worried about the satellite’s return, though — as there’s never been an injury or significant property damage from similar events. The agency plans to post weekly updates until the satellite nears the re-entry period, and then daily updates will be the norm.

naked shapes at domaine de boisbuchet

8 Sep

naked shapes
domaine de boisbuchet, france
on now until october 9th, 2011

‘naked shapes’ presents japanese objects for daily use that are made from aluminum which industrial designer seiji onishi,
gallerist keiichi sumi and graphic designer nobuhiro yamaguchi have been passionately collecting over the years.
each piece on show has been stripped down, cleaned of dirt, any sort of ‘make-up’ such as paint or coatings, labels,
excess decoration, so that they stand in their most essential form. their simplicity, anonymity and material nakedness express
a quiet clear poetry of everyday objects.

the pieces assembled within domaine de boisbuchet in france have always been tainted by the aura of being cheap substitutes
and scarcely received any notice, but now exempt from modish posturing and short-lived attractiveness, appear in our world as a
testimony to a culture of meaningful interaction with material things. the process of cleaning that only leaves behind the
naked material and concentrates the form on its essential function symbolizes the typical material-specific workmanship
and refined simplification of japanese design.


on exhibition are some 200 cooking utensils, furniture, household appliances, tools and toys produced as objects of
anonymous design during the period of 1910 to 1960, when the modernization of japan began to take form following
the second world war. a country that has a long tradition of reclaiming and reusing materials, today japan is the world leader
in the recycling of aluminium cans. particularly during the war and postwar period, objects that would normally be made of steel,
wood or ceramic were produced in aluminium, which is expensive to manufacture in the first place, but very easy to process.

thematically conceived and organized by japanese curator ayako kamozawa, the exhibition is based on the presentation of the
onishi-sumi collection for the gallery of the retail chain muji in 2010. the japanese brand’s support for this project made for a logical choice,
as the concept and success of the company are based on similar types of products that are minimalistically,
yet anonymously designed and manufactured in a resource-saving manner.

nikole nelson: new balance experience store

7 Sep

images © jeff harris

new york based artist and designer nikole nelson collaborated with athletic apparel new balance’s retail design team
to conceive the ‘new balance experience store’ located in the flatiron district of new york city. brand derived sculptures
depicting the inception and evolution of the iconic series of products lines the interior. after witnessing the manufacture
of merchandise at the production plant, the artist repurposed raw materials found on dumpster dives to create art
evoking the process. the entry features a 13 foot tall installation comprised from parts of new balance shoes and
various apparatuses for the shoe construction. a hybrid of technical and organic, the focal sculpture features converging
angled boxes filled with depictions of individual moments in time throughout the brand’s history.

images © jeff harris

a glowing red wall in the rear of the space invites shoppers to delve into the store’s depths. layers were the key to the
authenticity of historical brick construction authenticity as mortar was custom tinted, thickly applied and strategically
scraped after drying. the edges of the bocks were chiseled to sculpt the desired movement of the 16 foot high installation.
metal columns were cleaned and restored to their original glory while the wood floor was stripped, stained and distressed
with a large company logo.


images © jeff harris

‘it comes back to the power of the experience and that is where this store more than succeeds. it is not enough to
design for
design sake alone – brands have a history, like living things and as consumers we want to be part of
that history. my passion
for design stems from the process of discovery; I learn a brand inside and out so that I
can design from within.’  – nikole nelson

images © jeff harris


Nokia will give you $10,000 to remake its ringtone

6 Sep

Andrew Couts

September 6, 2011

Nokia is offering $10,000 to anyone who can create a new ringtone to replace the iconic Nokia Tune, which has been annoying movie theater-goers since 1994.

To accompany its new Microsoft operating system, Nokia has offered up $10,000 to the person who can create an iconic new jingle to serve as the handset maker’s next go-to ringtone. In addition to the cash prize, Nokia says the winner of the “Nokia Tune Remake” contest will also have the honor of having their ringtone heard “over one billion times a day.”

Kicked off yesterday, September 5, the contest gives jingle-makers until October 5 to submit their ringtone to Ringtones must not exceed 30 seconds in length. While Nokia provides a “Nokia Tune Remix Kit,” which contains past versions of the classic “Nokia Tune,” the company says that this “is not simply a remix competition.” Entrants “are welcome to create a truly new and unique version. Boy choirs, ukuleles, trash cans, opera singers, steel drums, finger pianos, dusty synthesizers… anything and everything can be used to create an interesting version of the Nokia Tune,” according to the contest website.

On October 5, ten finalists will be selected. Five of those will be chosen by public vote (those who get the most “Likes” on their ringtone); the other five will be chosen by a “professional jury” from Nokia and its partner, AudioDraft.

“The winning tune will be selected by the jury featuring some of the most respected names in the audio branding industry,” says the contest overview. “An overall winner and five runner-ups will be selected on 7th October 2011.”

The five runner-ups will receive a cash prize of $1,000, and have their ringtone available for download from the Ovi Store. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 cash, and have their ringtone pre-loaded in more than 100 million Nokia devices, and be available for free from the Ovi Store.

If you’re interested in entering, it’s obviously better to get in sooner rather than later, as you’ll have more time to get public votes on your ringtone. As of this writing 184 ringtones have been submitted, and the contest is less than 24 hours old.

Just remember, whatever you create, the rest of us may have to hear it over and over, so try to not make something that immediately elicits feelings of violent rage. (A task so many ringtone makers before you have utterly failed.) Believe us, the world will thank you.

visiondivision: tower town

6 Sep

stockholm-based architecture practice visiondivision has submitted ‘tower town’ a proposal for the
taiwan tower international competition for taichung city, taiwan. a cluster of over one hundred slender spires,
this building is the antithesis of currently repeated singular tall structure of varied shapes and cladding.
this design provides unique experiences for employees and visitors of the site, reinstating architecture
as an opportunity for spatial exploration.

the gesture of dividing the towers creates open air internal streets between the numerous towers generating
a highly interactive interior. narrow passageways create an intimate city feel while encouraging upward views
of the elevated catwalks systematically spanning gaps between peaks. the pedestrian bridges impart additional
lateral support for the structure while simultaneously contributing a plethora of observation points to view the city
and surrounding landscape from varied heights and perspectives.