The Blackbird Rider features an all-hollow uni-body shell setting it apart from any guitar in the world. That is the body, neck, and head are cast in one-piece with the sound board, fretboard, single-coil pickups, tuners, etc. added to that main component. Forming the main component in one-piece eliminates the weak and sound-absorbing joints associated with standard guitars. This patent-pending construction relies on the incredibly strong and stiff properties of carbon fiber as well as plenty of unique design features to create the strongest, most resonant small-bodied guitar available anywhere.
The first model was the Rider steel-string, a truly satisfying and nearly indestructible travel companion which set the benchmark for the category. Blackbird’s singular blend of F1/aerospace design technology and traditional craft gives form to a new highly resilient and responsive guitar annually and including the first carbon fiber ukulele. Each Blackbird is individually made by small team of luthiers in San Francisco.
Carbon Fiber String Instruments, by Blackbird
The new Firmship 42 is a classic boat with a modern look. With the artistic directions by Studio Job who have modernized nautical traditions — without losing any of today’s functional comfort. The Firmship is a classic boat of the type that was still being built fifty years ago; an honest boat exuding confidence that will still be admired fifty years from now. What makes the boat even more striking is that literally everything is grey, from the railing and the bollards to the sundeck and even the throttle. Yet the Firmship is anything but drab or boring. Bold, or firm actually: a Firmship.
The boat’s forceful and bold exterior is designed by nautical architect Willem Nieland. The deck, the interior and colouring is a choice of Studio Job, the design duo whose artistic ornaments have earned them a worldwide reputation. With great subtlety, icons of our seafaring past have been worked into the interior, but given an unexpected twist. The sofa is upholstered in prints showing anchors, Moby Dick and skull and crossbones. A stained glass window between the cabin and the pilothouse displays the same ‘iconography’. At Studio Job, dream and reality become one. The interior can be added to as desired, with items selected from Studio Job’s custom-made design — a bronze ship’s bell, for instance, or a marquetry cabinet. Even people who do not normally like boats are attracted to the Firmship. It is more than just a boat: it is a home.
Firmship 42 by Studio Job, Willem Nieland
Probably the best engineered and most versatile folding bike available today. The Strida Folding Bicycle is designed for effortless transportation with its ability to fold in 5 – 15 seconds, making it the quickest, easiest folders to collapse and put back together. The bike weighs only 22 lbs, and its ability to roll when folded allows it to be carried easily into home or office or store on planes, trains and automobiles. Magnets on each of the wheels hold the two wheels together when folded.
With its unique triangular frame construction, lightweight, rustproof frame, the bike is very low maintenance; by using a Kevlar belt instead of a chain, no oil will get on your clothes. The ride is fine, with direct steering and a very tight turning radius. Best of all, the bike is tall so you can ride upright and get a good overview of traffic.
Boucheron’s peerless artisans have conceived the HM3 as a splendid three-dimensional jewelled owl, presented either in 18k white gold, with amethyst, diamonds and blue and violet sapphires, or in 18k red gold, with pink tourmaline, rose quartz, diamonds and pink sapphires.
The owl’s eyes are large glowing cabochons, set over the twin cones, and its sparkling wings, wrapped protectively around the precious HM3 engine, are entirely pavé-set with brilliant-cut stones. Its feathered breast is sculpted and engraved from a single block of amethyst or rose quartz. Most mesmerising of all: beneath the owl’s breast, its heart appears to be beating. The visual illusion is created by the faintly perceived swings of MB&F’s solid-gold battle-axe-shaped rotor beneath the translucent stone.
The original MB&F Horological Machine No3 (HM3), in gold and titanium, sent tremors through the fine-watchmaking world when it was launched in 2009. Its kinetically energetic engine is displayed on the top of the watch, where the swinging battle-axe-shaped rotor – an iconic MB&F symbol – and the fast-oscillating balance are clearly visible. The time indications parade around twin cones rising majestically from the three-dimensional sculpted case, driven by two oversized ceramic ball bearings. This combination of futuristic performance art and highly technical wristwatch is a feat of micro engineering. MB&F’s engineers and watchmakers machine, hand-finish and assemble the 305 parts of the HM3 engine to tolerances of a micron.
“Transport,” a thematic exhibition by Marc Newson at Gagosian Gallery, that brings together for the first time all of his major designs and realized products for transport and human locomotion since 1999.
Situating Aquariva by Marc Newson within the breadth and reach of Newson’s enduring obsession with human and mechanical locomotion, “Transport” explores the full range of his vehicle design. Some have been commissioned by leading international corporations specializing in automotive, aerospace, and nautical design, others designed for pure pleasure. From MN Special (2008), a lightweight carbon fiber bicycle designed for Biomega, to EADS Astrium Space-Plane prototype (2007) designed for commercial space tourism; from the mirror-like Nickel Surfboard (2006) designed for competitive tow-in surfing, to Kelvin40 (2003), a small, idiosyncratic jet plane named after the main character in Tarkovsky’s Solaris and commissioned by Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain; from the “convertible” Zvezdochka trainer for Nike (2004), designed for general use by Russian cosmonauts in the International Space Station and named after the fifth Russian dog in space, to the endearing Ford 021C urban concept car (1999), Newson’s imagination reveals a sense of playfulness and fun behind the requisite rigor of the modern design mind.
Newson approaches design as an experimental exercise in extreme structure and advanced technologies, combined with a highly tactile and exacting exploration of materials, processes, and skills. As an industrial designer, his reach is broad and diverse, from concept jets and cars to watches, footwear, jewelry, restaurants, and aircraft interiors. Since the outset of his career, he has also produced beautifully crafted, limited-edition furniture, including the iconic Lockheed Lounge (1986). In a world where the distinctions between art and design are becoming increasingly blurred Newson is a trailblazer, having pursued parallel activities in exclusive and mass production for more than twenty years.
As a kid obsessed with designing and making things, post-war Italian design was a huge source of inspiration. I was amazed by the seamless ability of designers and industry to produce every conceivable type of industrial product, from furniture to automobiles. My own career has undoubtedly been influenced by the Italians’ impact on so many areas of design.
Transport, by Marc Newson, September 14 – October 16, at Gagosian Gallery, New York
Marc Newson has partnered with Riva and their official designers, Officina Italiana Design, to reinterpret the ‘Aquariva’ speedboat. ‘Aquariva by Marc Newson’ will be launched as a limited edition of 22 units in September 2010, available worldwide through Gagosian Gallery.
“As a kid obsessed with designing and making things, post-war Italian design was a huge source of inspiration. I was amazed by the seamless ability of designers and industry to produce every conceivable type of industrial product, from furniture to automobiles. My own career has undoubtedly been influenced by the Italians’ ability to impact so many areas of design,” says Marc Newson. “That influence is fully evident in ‘Aquariva by Marc Newson’, my first nautical design project for the iconic Italian brand.”
“Aquariva by Marc Newson is a natural extension of the artist’s work with planes and automobiles. The result is a brilliant blend of form and function, looking back to La Dolce Vita of the 1950′s and 1960′s and forward to the latest trends in nautical design,” says Larry Gagosian. “I can’t wait until it is on the water.”
The exclusive special edition Leica M9 “Titanium” is the result of a collaboration with Walter de’Silva, the prominent automobile designer. Responsible for groundbreaking design concepts for the latest models from the Volkswagen Group, the chief designer and his Audi Design Team have re-interpreted the design of the LEICA M9 just as he envisaged it. The outcome is a unique camera with a new interpretation of the characteristic features of Leica rangefinder cameras, which lends precision engineering, unique style and solid titanium to extraordinary formal design.
Walter de’Silva has given the Leica M camera an ergonomic, precise and logical “look and feel” without changing the intrinsic character of the rangefinder camera. Thus, the compact construction and technical features of the LEICA M9 ‘Titanium’ retain the distinctive style of a true Leica M camera.
The camera’s trim, which uses leather typically reserved for the interiors of Audi’s premium automobiles, fits perfectly with the body’s titanium surface and provides outstanding grip. The grip characteristics are additionally enhanced by a specially designed and embossed diamond pattern.
Walter de’Silva addressed not only the design of the camera, but also focused on its handling and technical specifications. New features include the LED illumination of the bright-line frames in the viewfinder, removing the necessity for a standard illuminating window and making the front aspect of the camera even more balanced.
Furthermore, the Leica logo has been restyled and is elaborately hand-engraved in pure resin, inlaid with white enamel, sealed with clear varnish and then polished and positioned centrally – directly above the lens. Instead of the traditional strap lugs of standard cameras, the chief designer and Leica engineers developed an innovative camera carrying concept that is reduced to just one single mounting point on the camera body.
M9 Titanium, Special Edition of 500 Cameras Worldwide, by Walter de’Silva, for Leica
Three-quarters of a century after the last of the original models, Car #3, rolled off the production line, a new Dymaxion Car has been created, Car #4. Based on the drawings of Car #3 and painstaking analysis of Car #2, it was built in the English countryside in the East Sussex workshops of Crosthwaite & Gardiner, which specializes in restoring 1930s racing cars. The new car was commissioned by Norman Foster, the British architect of such modern landmarks as Beijing Airport, the new Reichstag in Berlin and the “Gherkin” in London. A passionate car collector, he undertook the project as a labor of love and an homage to R. Buckminster Fuller, who he met in 1971 and collaborated with until Fuller’s death in 1983.
Car #4 is now on display in “Bucky Fuller & Spaceship Earth,” an exhibition of Fuller’s work running through Oct. 30 at the Ivorypress Art + Books gallery in Madrid. The story of all four models is told in a new book “Dymaxion Car: Buckminster Fuller” published by Ivorypress, which is owned by Mr. Foster’s wife, Elena Ochoa Foster.
What a story. It begins with Mr. Foster’s moving description of Fuller as “a dear friend — as far as it is possible to be with someone who is also one’s mentor.” Jonathan Glancey, the British architectural critic, then recounts Fuller’s struggle to produce the cars that he envisaged as being but one component of a dazzlingly futuristic “Dymaxion world” for which he also intended to design housing, boats, maps and something sounding startlingly like a hovercraft.
As Mr. Glancey points out, it is a complex, often confusing tale. By 1933, when Fuller opened the Dymaxion Car workshop, he had made his name as a gifted and charismatic, but rambunctious, design maverick who had twice been expelled from Harvard and had started several ill-fated entrepreneurial efforts to manufacture his designs.
To develop the car he collaborated with two nearly as colorful characters. One was W. Starling Burgess, a Harvard dropout who had become a brilliant aviation engineer, yacht designer and poet, but also a womanizer, alcoholic and morphine addict. The other was Nannie Dale Biddle, a wealthy socialite and aviatrix who financed the project until she clashed with Fuller (an occupational hazard for his business partners) and fell for the dashing Burgess, becoming the fourth of his five wives.
Car #1 was built using the chassis frame, gearbox, running gear and V8 engine of a 1932 Ford Tudor sedan. Inspired by science, aviation and nautical design, Fuller and Burgess constructed a long, lean vehicle with two front wheels and one at the rear. The body was built like a boat with an aluminum-coated wooden frame. A fortnight before Car #1 was finished, Fuller told a journalist that it had already “done 100,000 miles” and that 100 more were being made.
This was nonsense, but Car #1 did make a triumphant journey to Manhattan before its fateful crash a few months later just outside Chicago, where it was to debut at the 1933 World’s Fair. It wasn’t to blame, but the tragedy cast a cloud over the Dymaxion project at a time when Car #2 was still under construction.
By the time it was completed in January 1934, Fuller had ousted the Burgesses and was preparing to start work on Car #3. He refined the design of each model and, though none of the three was quite as fast or fuel-efficient as he boasted, they could be driven for 35 miles a gallon, twice as far as a typical car of the time. The Dymaxion Car was also, as Mr. Foster puts it: “So visually seductive that you want to own it, to have the voluptuous physicality of it in your garage.”
Phasma is a hexapedal running robot that can run dynamically like a living organism. It is an attempt to depict life purely through its motion rather than its shape, by extracting the physics of running from living things and implementing that to the artifact. Phasma uses compliant components such as stainless steel springs and rubber joints to reproduce smooth and efficient locomotion seen in animals. Another interesting biomimicry applied in Phasma is the alternating tripod gait as seen in insects that provides excellent stability.
Created for ‘bones’ exhibition held at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, Tokyo 2009.
Phasma is based on iSprawl developed at BDML, Stanford University, USA.
Phasma: Six-legged Running Robot, by takram design engineering
Photography by Takashi Mochizuki
“VANMOOF was inspired by the good old-fashion Dutch bike”, explains the designer Sjoerd Smit, “we stripped the bike from whims that can only break or cause frustration and added innovation and style”. The VANMOOF is built from the day-to-day experience of cycling in Amsterdam, it has a striking aluminum rust-free frame with a highly advanced solar powered LED light system built inside the frame. Gone are the dynamo’s that add friction to the wheel, no more cables, and best of all for the urban rider, no more lights stolen off your bike!
VANMOOF Bicycles, by Sjoerd Smit, for VANMOOF