Daniel Nasajon, Brazil based experimental product designer

Thursday, 8 June, 2017

Product design by Daniel Nasajon

Ok, here’s some product design. Some experimental product design. At first glance this looks an olive oil dispenser. And that’s exactly what it is. Once the black part, which is produced by 3D printing, is slotted in a glass that you might find in your kitchen. These are sorts of ideas that Daniel Nasajon, a product designer based in Brazil, working for NEXT-PUC Rio, brings forth.

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How complacent are you? Possibly more than you believe

Tuesday, 21 March, 2017

US economist and writer Tyler Cowen contends Americans are becoming ever more settled, and impervious to change. Are you one of them? Or, if you reside outside the US, are you likewise becoming complacent? Take the quiz, and find out.

To score any better than comfortable, which is one step better than a complacent rating, you need, I think, to follow the example of Jordan Peterson:

He’s been a dishwasher, gas jockey, bartender, short-order cook, beekeeper, oil derrick bit re-tipper, plywood mill labourer and railway line worker. He’s taught mythology to lawyers, doctors and businessmen, consulted for the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainable Development, helped his clinical clients manage depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia, served as an advisor to senior partners of major Canadian law firms, identified thousands of promising entrepreneurs on six different continents, and lectured extensively in North America and Europe.

In case you end up with the worst possible rating, complacent, Cowen offers a number of suggestions for helping to break out of the mould at the conclusion of the quiz.

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What is the most significant fad of all time? Or were there a few?

Friday, 17 March, 2017

What is the most significant fad, or craze, of all time? Or, more the point, fads, and crazes? The Atlantic invited a panel of those in the know to offer their ideas. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cigarettes
  • Rock and roll
  • The selfie
  • Demin
  • Miniskirts
  • Video games (of the 70s and 80s)

Some are still with us, decades after their arrival. Fad seems like a misnomer in that case.

Video games from the 70s may not be so popular today, though I’m sure a fair few people still partake of them, but they may have played a major part in the rise of computing, or at least getting more people interested in computers.

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Why did it take 250 years for washing machines to become popular?

Thursday, 2 March, 2017

Washing machine design, 1766. Image via ETH-Bibliothek

There’s nothing new about the washing machine. A patent for a device, or engine, for the “washing of cloathes”, and other purposes, such as “milling of sugar canes, pounding of minerals”, was issued in 1691.

The illustration above is taken from a book published in 1766, by Jacob Christian Schaeffer, a German pastor and professor. For their labour saving virtues, isn’t it strange then that washing machines didn’t come into wide use until almost two hundred and fifty years after their advent?

It’s not as if there was some other option hindering their uptake either. Like the humble washboard, for example. They were first patented in 1833, quite some time after the washer.

So what gives? I know there are people averse to things shiny and new, but isn’t holding off on adopting what will surely save much time and effort, taking matters a little too far? Of course, the earlier versions predated the supply of electricity, and required manual operation.

But that would only have been an imposition, if you allowed it to be. For instance, you could have recited some verse as you churned the machine through its cycle. Come on now, at least you weren’t getting your hands dirty.

Justin Fox – no, not that Justin Fox – writing for Bloomberg View, decided to investigate. He found people wanted their washing machines to be electrical, fully automatic – to hell with reciting verse – and reliable, and cheap. Then, and only then, would they ditch the washboard.

It was only with the invention of the electric washing machine by Alva Fisher in Chicago in 1907 that something dramatically better than the washboard came along, and even then it took decades more for the machines to become cheap and reliable enough to change how people cleaned their clothes (and of course in much of the world, washboards still rule). In the U.S., according to a 2013 paper by Benjamin Bridgman of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the big gains in household productivity enabled by the washing machine, dishwasher and other such devices occurred between about 1948 and 1977.

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All sorts of small ideas and innovations that are likely taken for granted

Monday, 20 February, 2017

Avocado, with label

Where would we be without BuzzFeed, and their enticing, clickbait titled, listicles? How else would we know about the existence of these sorts of things?

Colour coded shopping baskets, that let the sales staff at a store know whether you need help or not. A credit card tip jar that allows you leave one dollar gratuities. Elevators with buttons near the floor, in case your hands are full.

Or, microwave ovens with mute buttons, so you won’t wake anyone when fixing a midnight snack. Or stickers that indicate how ripe an avocado is, according to its colour, as pictured above.

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Your task should you accept it, devise twenty new ideas each day

Thursday, 12 January, 2017

T-shirt designs. Book ideas. Poster ideas. Furniture designs. Song titles. Are any of these relevant to your line of work? Even it they aren’t, giving thought to such things can go about helping you conceive of ideas in your field.

After all, we’re not advised to think beyond the box for no reason.

But these are among things that New York based creative director Rodd Chant mulls over constantly, in devising twenty new ideas every day. The results may not be directly applicable to his line of work, but that doesn’t matter. Coming up with the ideas is what counts.

An essential exercise especially, if you work as a creative professional.

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Fear of innovation? Is that really why we don’t like new stuff?

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016

We really don’t take to new things do we? Apparently when coffee and refrigerators arrived, respectively, they were met with resistance. Yet where would we be without either?

Harvard University professor, Calestous Juma, suggests the reluctance to adopt new technologies isn’t out of a fear of innovation as such though, rather it comes down to a sense of loss, in relinquishing an older something, that has been part of out lives for, possibly, quite sometime.

Among Juma’s assertions is that people don’t fear innovation simply because the technology is new, but because innovation often means losing a piece of their identity or lifestyle. Innovation can also separate people from nature or their sense of purpose – two things that Juma argues are fundamental to the human experience.

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Gravity powered lamps, lighting up our off-grid communities

Thursday, 21 July, 2016

Flick the switch, and there be light. It’s probably something we take so much for granted, that we don’t even think about. For people living in off-grid communities though, such as in sub-Saharan Africa, lighting a home is far from simple, or cost-effective for that matter. And how long do you think you might tolerate living with a kerosene lamp?

Enter London based designer, Jim Reeves, and the GravityLight, a lamp that shines light for twenty-five minutes, thanks to a weight assisted power generator.

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No advances in vacuum cleaner technology since 1910

Wednesday, 25 May, 2016

Well this is disappointing, it seems latter day vacuum cleaners are no more effective than their counterparts, that date from the early years of the twentieth century.

“A vacuum cleaner from 1910 would clean the rug just as well as a modern vacuum cleaner from today,” says Tom Gasko, one of America’s foremost vacuum cleaner historians and the curator at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum at Tacony Manufacturing in St. James, Missouri.

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Embrace our incompetence, it might be the end of us otherwise

Monday, 9 May, 2016

Long story short, the Peter Principle, named for Canadian teacher Laurence J. Peter, who formulated the theory, states “anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails.” In other words, is our vaulting ambition, our desire to continually make progress, actually what might be thwarting us?

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