Urban intervention

February 1, 2017

The Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias (CCMAA) is a sprawling, stunning cultural center in the heart of Guatemala City. A section of the complex’s public space was ripe for rejuvenation, which is where Taller KEN, a young architectural firm based in Guatemala City and New York, comes in. Known for design that is modern and …

More than scraps

The centuries-old tradition of handiwork—making a patchwork quilt, darning socks, patching jeans—is explored through the lens of sustainability at an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse seeks to draw attention to the environmental impact of industrial textile practices that fill up landfills with remnants from yarn, …

Keeping it cool

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a textile to keep you cool. It’s a plastic-based material that can be woven into fabric to cool the body two ways, allowing the wearer to feel nearly four degrees (F) cooler than with typical cotton clothing. The textile cools first by enabling perspiration to evaporate through the material, …

A dumpster gets recycled

A unique classroom concept brings new life to typical city dumpsters by providing a mobile space for learning. The brainchild of New York-based architect John Locke and his Department of Urban Betterment, the Inflato Dumpster consists of a membrane made of lightweight materials and clear polyethylene, an inexpensive, biodegradable material that allows views both into …

A maze, suspended

Audacious. Abstract. Experimental. These are just some of the words one could use to describe the work of Numen/For Use, a design collective working in the fields of conceptual art, scenography, and industrial and spatial design. Designers Sven Jonke, Christoph Katzler and Nikola Radeljkovic formed the collective in 1998 and established Numen in 1999 for …

The smart way to dress for winter

Skiers, runners and other winter athletes are at greater risk of contracting chest infections when exercising in the cold. Now there is a “smart” solution—a balaclava that warms oxygen before it’s inhaled. Developed by Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, England, and German advanced knitting machine manufacturer Stoll GmbH, the prototype features a knitted patch of electric-conductive …

Canopy scores a touchdown

As part the plan to realize head coach Jimbo Fisher’s commitment to rebuild the Seminoles football dynasty, Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium recently underwent a major renovation. The project included the construction of a premium club seating section featuring 6,000 seats and hosted services at the south end of the stadium. The 24,930-square-foot area …

Fast women, light bikes

January 1, 2017

At this year’s women’s Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf again dominated the women’s field for the win. She set a new course record with an 8:46:46 finish defending her 2015 title. The 112-mile bike route takes competitors along the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway where they must be prepared to withstand trade winds …

Spinning meaningful yarns

Upon a first glance, a visitor to artist Chiharu Shiota’s art installation at Berlin’s Blain|Southern gallery might have thought the artist painted her dramatic concept in mid-air. Named “Uncertain Journey,” the piece is actually a dense web of red yarn. Known for installations that immerse gallery goers in a world of color and texture, Berlin-based …

Stand out in a crowd

There are many options for businesses and other organizations that exhibit at events. But it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle if you opt for the fairly standard types of tents used by most vendors. Now there’s an option that could make any exhibitor feel like a star. The Star Tent stands out because …

Inspired by nature

How do you reimagine the design of a convention center? After all, it’s a structure that generally has an industrial feel in order to accommodate large event, meeting and trade show space and the expanses required to move displays, equipment and groups of people in and out. The international architecture firm, Studio Fuksas, looked to …

Textile, heal thyself

What if you accidentally spill a chemical on your shirt, causing a hole, and miraculously, the shirt repairs itself when you throw it in the wash? It’s not just the stuff of science fiction. Known as self-healing textiles, fabrics are being developed that can repair themselves as well as neutralize chemicals dangerous to human health. …

Blowin’ in the wind

While on several long trekking tours, Nils Ferber ran into one problem: His electronic equipment kept running out of batteries. The Zurich, Switzerland-based designer realized that there was no easy way to keep his devices powered up in the wilderness. He also recognized that this could be a real issue for mountaineers, filmmakers and expedition …

Setting the stage

December 1, 2016

Each summer, Hermosa Beach in Southern California is home to the popular Sunset Beach Concert Series. This year, the organizers, music venue Saint Rocke and the City of Hermosa Beach, expanded the Sunday series with a free movie night every Saturday in August. The concerts and movies took place on a stage constructed on the …

“Second Skin” to serve soldiers

In modern combat situations, soldiers in the field need protection from biological and chemical agents. At the same time, their protective clothing is a hindrance if it is too hot to wear or unnecessarily burdensome. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif., have developed a material that shows promise for futuristic smart uniforms. …

Urban canoeists, into the fold

If you like to paddle your own canoe but don’t live on a lake, river or stream, the mechanics of urban canoeing can be daunting. First, strap the clumsy aluminum or fiberglass vessel to the car, park near a launch area, carry the canoe to the water’s edge and enjoy a serene glide. Then, do …

Tough as steel, but made for the road

How do you build a composite hangar that is as sturdy as a concrete or steel building, but is still fully transportable? That was the challenge for Dasyc SA, a Greek manufacturer of bulk molding compound, thermoplastics and composites production, in the design of their composite hangar for civilian and military applications. The answer was …

Special powers: sunshine and movement

As more people want easy-to-use, take-along power sources for phones and other electronic equipment, smart fabrics that generate electricity are gaining interest. Typically, they produce energy from motion. But a team of researchers led by Zhong Lin Wang, a regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering in Atlanta, Ga., has …

Specialty wraps, food and ambiance

Korean-inspired restaurant B. Bim Asian Eatery, Chicago, Ill., offers marinated meats and “ban chan” sides, sprouts, sesame spinach, kimchi and other goodies in a taco or lettuce wrap. The wraps, along with custom-made bowls of similar tasty ingredients, are B. Bim’s specialty. So when restaurant management sought a new modern “dive bar” look to attract …

Rain? Wind? Fire? There’s a jacket for that

Oil and gas industrial workers need to withstand foul weather conditions on the job on top of dangers from fire exposure. The right outdoor gear is critical to safety and productivity. A new generation of flame-resistant foul-weather outerwear can help. Created by Newark, Del.-based W. L. Gore & Associates Inc., Gore® FR apparel is designed …

On the cold front

November 1, 2016

Cold kills more people than all other weather-related causes combined, according to the National Center for Environmental Health. People in areas with milder winters can be at a greater danger than those in frigid climates because they aren’t always as prepared for severe situations. XeroGear, a Wilmington, Del., manufacturer of portable personal protection equipment, has …

Suited against Zika

With the dangers of the Zika virus, West Nile, Lyme disease and other mosquito- and tick-born illnesses, protection for people who work outdoors is more critical than ever. Green Mountain Products, Norwalk, Conn., is now making available its time-tested superpolymer suit to provide head-to-toe protection against mosquitoes, ticks, bees and other insects. Virtually impregnable, it …

Crisis connectivity ‘in vest’ment

Soldiers on the battlefield, firefighters in the midst of raging wildfires and first responders to natural disasters often succeed or fail in their life-saving missions by having the right information in the right place at the right time. In situations where power and the ability to communicate are the first casualties, connectivity can be a …

High-tech camping, in the bag

Nothing kills a great outdoor camping experience quicker than tedious equipment assembly. Enter Cinch!, the brainchild of Lancashire, U.K.-based Jack Jackson, a life-long camper who wanted an affordable tent that sets up quickly and incorporates today’s best technology. Described as the ultimate pop-up, Cinch! incorporates high-quality superflex fiberglass poles that go up in seconds and …

Stars and stripes forever

While serving two combat tours in Afghanistan, Sam Russo flew every mission with one special flag. It was particularly meaningful to him and his family because this flag was given to his grandfather when he returned home from World War II. Russo wanted to provide the same emotional connection to the Red, White and Blue …

One winner, 310 tents

The U.S. Open Golf Tournament serves as a premier stage for the best golfers in the world—156 athletes in 2016 vying for $10 million in prize money. Dustin Johnson walked away with the $1.8 million winner’s purse, but Arena Americas, Oak Creek, Wis., was another big winner as the provider of 310 tents and structures …

Art and architecture, comfortably

The Brickell City Centre, a new $1.05 billion, 5.4-million-square-foot, mixed-use development in downtown Miami, Fla., has it all. There are luxury residences, a hotel, office space and a five-story pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants and cafés. Connecting this vast space into one architectural statement is a 100,000-square-foot canopy called the Climate Ribbon™. Made of faceted …

Inflating space for public discourse

October 1, 2016

One minute, the neighborhood park is quiet; the next, it’s filled with protesters, party animals or players of Pokémon GO. The Seattle Design Nerds is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to design in the public realm. The Nerds decided that when temporary or flash gatherings happen, they deserve a structure that can be delivered by …

Robotics, biomimicry and museums

Inspiration for design can easily be found in nature. Take the wing of a beetle: It has an outer shell called an elytra that is both protective and lightweight. Those construction principles are the basis of a striking new exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, celebrating the institution’s annual Engineering Season. The …

The Plaza Hotel—or is it?

When the Plaza Hotel in New York City was undergoing architectural renovation a few years ago, managers wanted to present its “best face” to the public. So they contracted Britten Studios, a Traverse City, Mich., manufacturer of banners and signs, to create a building wrap to hide the hotel’s edifice during construction. Britten recreated the …

‘Ghostbusters’ reboot recreates New York

Who you gonna call? If you’re Martin Charles, the graphic designer hired to design and create realistic sets for the remake of the 1984 supernatural hit “Ghostbusters,” you call on Roland DGA Corp., Irvine, Calif., experts in wide-format inkjet printers. Charles, founder of Santa Monica-based SagaBoy Productions, worked with designer Jefferson Sage to bring to …

True performance: wearable intuition

Simone Schramm, a German product interface designer interested in the intersection between analogue products and digital interfaces, devoted her master’s thesis to the idea that when people continuously check their Fitbit or other electronic performance tracker to ascertain their health status, they are missing something important—their intuition. “Numbers are objective,” writes Schramm in her mission …

Light and color, inflated

Fabric Prism no. 2 is an inflatable and immersive color installation built around the fundamental properties of light and color. Made from an architectural double membrane, it was designed and built by , a Providence, R.I.-based design collective comprised of architects, designers and artists working within the fields of spatial design, temporary structures and contemporary …

Smarter thread

Tufts University engineers say that revolutionary health diagnostics may be hanging on a thread—one of many threads they have created that integrate nano-scale sensors, electronics and microfluidics into threads ranging from simple cotton to sophisticated synthetics. “We think thread-based devices could potentially be used as smart sutures for surgical implants, smart bandages to monitor wound …

Get a grip

Traditional athletic gloves didn’t cut it for former North Carolina State University (NCSU) football players Jamelle Eugene and DaJuan Morgan. They wanted something that would provide the right grip, but they also wanted to feel the ball to better control it. Instead of gloves, Eugene started taping his fingers to get the friction he needed …

Iconic canopy greets travelers

September 1, 2016

The San Diego International Airport (SDIA) wanted to make life easier for travelers needing rental cars by providing a one-stop centralized hub that would be quick and easy to access. They developed the SDIA Rental Car Center, a two million square-foot complex that houses all car rental companies and vehicles and enables them to provide …

It’s cool to be square

Companies looking for a stand-out way to promote their product or message have attractive new options with the sleek new AXION Cube. The inflatable structure is symmetrical and streamlined, offering a tasteful backdrop to highlight an organization’s brand. With its hidden water drain, the roof can stay optically flat. Designed and manufactured by Stretch Marquees …

Vehicles for change

The signature form of transportation in Mumbai, India, is the iconic black and yellow taxi. Many drivers like to make their taxi stand out by decorating it with personalized touches. But designer Sanket Avlani noticed that the seat covers were fairly standardized and dull. He also recognized that in India, design has limited scope and …

Follow the yellow fabric road

Renowned fabric artist Christo has worked his magic again—this time on picturesque Lake Iseo in Northern Italy. The Floating Piers transformed the landscape of the lake and the surrounding area for 16 days between June and July 2016. First conceived in 1970 by Christo and his wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude, who passed away in 2009, The …

Furniture meshes with footwear

Could athletic footwear inspire furniture design? It did for Benjamin Hubert of the London, England-based experience design agency, Layer. Hubert likes to look at existing materials and technology and consider how they can be re-imagined and used in unique, new ways. For his three-piece Cradle collection, which includes high-back and low-back chairs and a room …

Flotation in style

People who spend time on the water, whether for work or play, need to take the right flotation protection with them in the event of an emergency. Damel, a Portuguese textile company that specializes in technical clothing, has introduced outdoor apparel that integrates automatic inflation, eliminating the need to carry extra equipment. The SeaB2 jackets, …

Antique sewing machine museum attracts Expo attendees

August 1, 2016

  One of the special attractions being offered to attendees at this year’s IFAI Expo in Charlotte, as a fundraiser for the Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF), is an opportunity to see a unique private collection of antique sewing machines: almost 600 machines, originating from the early 1850s to the early 1940s, not only from the …

Space-themed fashion explores possibilities

To mark the 2014–2016 European Space Agency (ESA) mission to the International Space Station, European fashion schools from the astronauts’ home countries explored the future of fashion and all its technical possibilities. “Couture in Orbit” was a project of ESA and the Science Museum of London. It brought together students from the Fashion Akademiet in …

Protective footwear for sports makes a splash

People who enjoy board sports like body boarding and surfing, or other outdoor activities like rock climbing, trail running or volleyball, will tell you they prefer to be barefoot for better balance. But there’s a problem with that: cuts, abrasions and other injuries are always a possibility. Swiss Barefoot Company, Landschlacht, Switzerland, has solved the …

Glass curtainwall gives great transparency

The UCLA School of Medicine’s South Tower building is undergoing a major renovation to convert nine of the former hospital’s 12 floors into a research lab. Known as the South Tower Seismic Renovation project, the four-phase initiative includes reinforcing the building’s structure, making interior improvements and exterior upgrades to comply with new energy requirements, all …

Motorcycle racers confront danger in D-air®

Motorcycle racing isn’t for the faint of heart, and the 2016 Supersport World Championship is a top-tier competition for international riders on production-based motorcycles of 600 to 750 cm³ displacement. Czech rider Ondrej Ježek finished in 14th place at the Motorland Aragon race in Spain, but made history nonetheless by being the first to wear …

Photographs tell a Texas-size tale

Haltom City, Texas, is a community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a long history. It was the county seat of the early Birdville Settlement, which was established four years before Texas became a state. It remained the Tarrant county seat until 1856 when Fort Worth won the designation in an election. The Haltom City …

Space under pressure

The first inflatable structure designed for human use in orbit was attached to the Tranquility module of the International Space Station (ISS) in April. A collaboration between Bigelow Aerospace, Las Vegas, Nev., and NASA, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was delivered to the ISS in the trunk of an unmanned Dragon cargo ship. Using …

Satellites and silk conjure earthly delights

It’s called the “overview effect”—a term coined by space philosopher and writer Frank White in a book of the same name. It’s the mental shift that happens to astronauts in space when they see Earth as a tiny, fragile ball of life. National boundaries vanish and the reality that we are all passengers on the …

‘Batman v Superman’ premier tent is blockbuster

June 29, 2016

Everything Entertainment, an event-production company based in Staten Island, N.Y., routinely provides services for red-carpet events, trade shows and outdoor festivals in New York City. When tapped to provide a heated tent covering the exterior of Radio City Music Hall spanning Rockefeller Center to Avenue of the Americas for the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of …