CaterpLight by Bacus Boo

This design draws inspiration from my poem about the life of a caterpillar – “Black and fiery, to hunt in hurry. Take a walk up the shady stalk. When prey comes by, it spins or dies. Till death imply to reborn as a butterfly. Caterpillar will never take its flight,” by Bacus Boo. They are available in table, pendant and floor lamps

Designer: Bacus BOO (Singapore)

Manufacturer: BOMANIA DesignworX (Singapore)

via Modern & Contemporary Design Magazine / CaterpLight by Bacus Boo/ Products / DESIGNSPOTTER.COM.

Published on Dec 27, 2008 at 9:42 pm.
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The Decemberists – Crystall Ballroom – TStout screenprint

The Decemberists Crystal Ballroom

Commissioned by The Decemberists for their Nov. 29th Crystal Ballroom Show

16×24 / 4 Color Screenprint w/mettalic gold / on cream paper / printed by D&L Screenprinting

via – Welcome.

Published on Dec 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm.
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fashion + technology

While searching for example uses of shape memory alloy (AKA muscle wire) I ran across the blog of MIT Tangible Media Group PhD Candidate Leonardo Bonnani, “hyperexperience“.

He has a great post, “robo-fabric“:

the shape memory alloy nitinol has the ability to spring back to its original forged shape when heated, allowing soft actuation without motors. italian fashion designers grado zero made a shirt that rolled up its own sleeves when the wire (and the wearer) overheat (above). later joanna berzowska and marcelo coelho made kukkia and vilkas, two garments where the thin metal wires are woven into clothing for different kinetic effects. in kukkia, ornamental felt flowers containing a coil of nitinol wire open and close through a tiny circuit and lithium battery. vilkas, like the shirt, raises and lowers the hem through vertical strands of wire in a gauze section of dress.

He also has several posts on the subject of “open source threads”. Here he introduces Burdastyle:

Burdastyle is an open-source sewing resource where members upload patterns and visitors can consult instructional references (below) or download pdf patterns (above). By providing instructions for how to sew at the same time as open source ‘code’ for what to sew the site is a real open source free fashion resource. As with free software, it would be interesting to see how clothing for specialized applications (work clothes, uniforms) could be generated by ‘users’ who are more familiar with the needs of unique populations that traditional ‘designers.’

Burdastyle has this to say for themselves:

We are a friendly, helpful and active bunch who want to use the web to bring traditional sewing craft to a new generation of fashion designers, sewing hobbyists, DIY’ers and anyone looking to sew something.

Use BurdaStyle to download copyright-free sewing patterns, learn with step-by-step sewing tutorials, share your sewing creations and skills, find inspiration and sewing project ideas and connect with people just like you.

Leo also led me to Hacking Couture, which is a series of workshops that have resulted in the beginnings of a collection of open source couture codes. By documenting the “hidden” structure that gives a couture brand its identity, they release the form into the public domain.

From the codes page:

Hacking Couture focuses on the documentation of established fashion identities in order to create a shared library that allows democratic access to its findings and contributions. The open source movement took its peak during the 1990’s and ever since, the software revolution has allowed for the exploration resulting on endless advancement in diverse fields, giving an improvement of the industry.

This advancement has been the result of opening the dialogue among computer programmers and by allowing public access and contribution, by the sharing of existing computer code and allowing its use for other applications. In addition to the sharing aspect, documention of these computer code is an importnat part of the open source cullture. More recently, the open source movement has been applied to hardware [physical aspect of computers, the circuit and all the other physical components that make a computer]. People have started to document how they hack into electronic devices [brake into a system and modify it in order for it to execute the desired task].

Hacking Couture’s ongoing research and documentation focuses on the documentation of the design code of established identities in order to derive new and evolving fashion aesthetics, serving also as a platform for
self-expression and nest for new ideas.

Once the code has been documented Hacking Couture publishes an example of a design hack based on the identity studied, in order to share and enhance the fashion dialogue between remote users, and participants of the Hacking Couture workshops.

And last but not least I learned about Studio 5050, who say:

In the summer of 2006 Despina built a modular, reconfigurable dress made of 400 identical white circuit boards. The idea was to experiment with modular structures and be able to assemble and re-assemble circuits to come up with new iterations of garments and accessories.

That work eventually led to the modules collection as it stands today. Despina started working with Zach on the collection in March 2007 as part of an ongoing experimentation with materials, rapid prototyping and concept iteration.

So far we have developed a collection of 5 modules and a flexible, removable and rechargeable battery system. We have also developed a series of garments both in order to demonstrate how the modules can be used but also in order to learn from the process and find ways to improve them. We strongly believe that it is in the doing, and in the space between engineering, interaction design and the history of clothing that the most interesting ideas emerge.

So far we have developed modules for sound input and output, LEDs, and temperature sensing and display.

We have also designed a unique, rechargeable battery system that is easy to remove and reattach to garments or in other applications where washability is important.

All modules share a common interface; with one wire each for power, ground, and communication, they can be easily connected to one another or to an Arduino-based circuit. Multiple modules can communicate with each other over a single ommunication line. Each module has a unique ID, and the infrastructure is already in place to allow them to communicate with eah other.

All modules offer connection points that accomodate a conductive ribbon or thread. Wires, conductive velcro, metal rings, or snaps can also be used to wire the modules into a circuit.

Each module features a programming header; new programs can be loaded with an inexpensive AVR programmer or by a custom made programmer. Programs can be written in Arduino (version 010 or later).

More about Studio 5050’s modules here.

While on the subject of modular wearable electronics, I should mention the LilyPad Arduino. I would not be surprised to discover that LilyPad and Studio 5050 modules could be used together. LilyPad modules are sold by Sparkfun.

Published on Dec 25, 2008 at 12:32 pm.
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A ShiftBrite Christmas

Garrett Mace says:

ShiftBrite is a simple device I am designing and producing. It allows easy control of a bright RGB LED. The interface is a straightforward clocked serial data line and a latch input. All signals are buffered and passed through for good performance over long cables and daisy chaining many devices. Many ShiftBrite devices can be controlled from any type of controller that supports clocked serial data output, which is practically all microcontrollers and even PC parallel port or FTDI bitbang adapters.

From the online store:

ShiftBrite is a high-brightness LED module containing red, green, and blue elements. It uses a simple clocked serial interface to receive a 10-bit brightness value for each color, resulting in over a billion possible colors. Each input is buffered and output on the other side of the module. This allows each ShiftBrite to repeat the signal to the next, allowing longer cable runs between elements without excessive loading of microcontroller I/O pins. ShiftBrite elements feature current control and automatic overtemperature control (an overheating channel driver will shut off until it has cooled). Each channel can also be adjusted with a separate current control register, for fine tuning of each LED if close brightness matching is necessary. The integrated voltage regulator powers the internal logic, allowing a single 5 to 9 volt supply rail to power the ShiftBrite chain.

ShiftBrite is $4.99

Shifty VU Demo from Garrett Mace on Vimeo.

Published on Dec 25, 2008 at 10:54 am.
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A Very Haeckel Christmas

From jholbo’s A Very Haeckel Christmas set:

Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 “Kunstformen der Natur” [Artforms of Nature] is a classic of biological illustration. What is less generally known is that the artist started as a Christmas card designer. The book was originally simply an album of holiday designs.

“All the sweet things that the Squiddies/Twittering in the dewy spray/Wish each other in the springtime/I wish you this happy day.”

During the Victorian era Christmas was indeed regarded as a ‘happy’ day, but one of uncanny terror; accordingly, cards and ornamentation featured strange creatures with too many tentacles. But then Santa Claus became popular, and many of these older designs ‘fell out of fashion’.

Commercially marooned, unable to draw anything except tentacles and congeries of pustules/bubbles, Haeckel wandered into natural ’science’ – almost as an afterthought – when he discovered that the stuff he had been drawing actually existed, give or take a tentacle. Isn’t that interesting?

Of course, Ernst Haeckel didn’t continue to make Christmas cards for the rest of his career. Kunstformen der Natur is a classic in scientific illustration and art nouveau. High resolution scans of many of the plates are available here.

The latest to draw inspiration from Haeckel is Robert Hodgin of flight404 fame. Robert is probably best known for the iTunes 8 built-in visualizer he calls “Magnetosphere“.

Robert says:

I became quite fond of his work because I had been exploring similar (looking) ideas with my own work. I was fascinated by Platonic solids and would sketch them in my journal to kill time during art history lectures. I was drawn in by the challenge of trying to reproduce such regular forms using no rulers or measurements. I didn’t realize it at the time, but figuring out how to draw those solids ended up being a nice little primer to learning trig later in life.

However, sketching these forms became more and more frustrating because I had to draw them head on with no rotation. My mind couldn’t make sense of it any other way. This created some really sterile illustrations. I liked the results, but they felt very flat.

Recently, while tweaking the magnetic structure code and the corresponding particle systems involved, I figured out how to gain a bit more control. The original code had been about freedom. I allowed the particles to move about and they pretty much got to do what they pleased. This new go around is about controlled restraint. I started to create multiple particle systems (instead of just one global one) and for each system, I am assigning it a small set of rules.

Robert continues:

Big particles, you will slowly gain mass until you lock into place. You are capable of attracting small particles. Each of you must remain a fixed distance from the center of the world and must try to spread yourselves out as evenly as possible.

Small particles, you will repel each other while the big particles attract you. If you happen to collide with a big particle, you are now locked to that particle and must remain x paces from its center at all times. Oh, and you must also remain y paces from the center of the world at all times.

From these simple rules, a large variety of different looks can be created by just randomizing a few variables. You can randomize the x and y, the mass, the charge, and the inertia, to name a few.

Below is a test render.

Self organizing dodecahedron flower from flight404 on Vimeo.

Finally, Robert concludes:

While watching this video, I realized I probably had enough control over the results to create a radiolarian generator. I added a few more rules and was able to get a nice lush variety of results. Below are some images from the first go around. I think there is a great deal of potential.

Thanks Robert and Ernst, and merry Christmas!

Published on Dec 25, 2008 at 8:59 am.
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