Editor's Note: Tune in to CNN Saturday, June 15th, at 2:30 pm ET to see "The Next List's" 30-minute profile of Graham Hill.
What is most important to you? House? Car? Clothes? Formal china? Probably not. These things might make your life more convenient. To some extent, they might enable you to do the things that Are actually important. But our stuff, when we think about it, isn’t that important.
What is important to most of us? Our friends, families, having meaningful work, amazing experiences. As I have heard it said, “The most important things in life aren’t things.”
Yet somehow, when many of us look at our lives, we see a disproportionate amount of time and energy directed toward stuff. We work extra hard so we can make the car payments. We max out our credit cards to keep up with fashion. We move into big homes so we have a place for the hutch that stores the formal china.
In the late nineties, I had the great fortune of selling my startup. What did I do with my newfound cash? Same thing any good American would: I got lots of stuff like a new car, furniture, gadgets and of course a big house.
This ability to consume was new to me. When I was growing up, everyone in my middle-class, six- child family had everything they needed but not much more. When you’re raised with just enough, you imagine having more than enough will make you that much happier.
But there I was living the American dream–driving a quick car, living in a big house, with the ability to buy more–and I was no happier. What was I missing?
I was missing the fact that no amount of stuff would ever make me happy. I actually found the more things I had, the more complicated life became. There were more things to buy and maintain, more things to keep track of, more things to lose.
A number of events in my life–most notably a serious romantic relationship–made me realize that people, amazing experiences and meaningful work are the real important parts of my life. The other stuff is just stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I love objects and architecture. I studied product design in college and have built homes as a carpenter before I got into startups. But my later life experiences made me reevaluate how and why our stuff and homes were designed. I started to wonder why we often ended up living to support our stuff and homes rather than the other way around?
It was with this question in mind that I started LifeEdited. I wanted to help start a movement where our products, homes and the way we live are aligned with what’s important to us.
On a practical level, this meant doing more with less. The average American takes up three times more living space than sixty years ago. Yet we still don’t have enough room for our stuff, evidenced by a $22 billion dollar personal storage industry. Worse still, we have become a nation of debtors paying for our big homes and stuff. Clearly, our lives could use a good edit.
LifeEdited is starting with homes. We help conceive homes around what is important in people’s lives. We are specialty consultants to architects, currently working in cities such as New York City and Las Vegas. Often, the result is a space that is much smaller than the typical American home. My own 420-square-foot Manhattan apartment sleeps up to four, seats twelve for dinner, has a home office and much more. The smaller footprint is cheaper to buy, easier to clean, greener and, even though there’s a generous 426 cubic feet of storage, doesn’t permit me to collect a lot of unnecessary stuff.
Because I have fewer things, the stuff I do have is quality stuff I love and appreciate.
LifeEdited is about freedom, not restriction. We think the less-but-better approach leads to more money in the bank, more time for friends and recreation and less to think about. It’s about including everything that’s important and “editing” out the rest.
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
We're all doodlers by nature. Give most people a pen, paper and some down time, and they'll fill the margins with the fruits of their imagination.
But imagine if you could wave a pen in the air and create a three-dimensional rendering: A toy, a sculpture, a crude architectural model.
Soon you will. A Boston-based startup, WobbleWorks, has created what they are calling the world's first 3-D printing pen. It's called the 3Doodler, and it's been a sensation on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, since it debuted there Tuesday morning. The makers of the 3Doodler set a modest fundraising goal of $30,000; within 48 hours, backers had pledged more than $1.1 million.
"We knew it was a great product. But we didn't expect the response to be this fast," said Daniel Cowen, a spokesman for the gadget, which is still a prototype. "The velocity of the response caught us by surprise. It's phenomenal." FULL POST
Editor’s note: Diana Eng is a fashion designer and technologist who gets her inspiration from math, science and nature. Watch a full profile of Diana Eng this Sunday at 2:30p ET (all-new time!) only on CNN.
Diana Eng’s mission is to bring innovation to the fashion world, and she’s doing it with some very unlikely tools.
Best known for her role on the second season of "Project Runway," Eng creates fashion and accessories that combine cutting-edge technology with design concepts from nature and science.
“I like to look at technology, math and science and how to integrate it into fashion designs,”says the New York-based designer. Eng has knitted scarves using the formula from the Fibonacci code as well as thermochromic scarves which change color with the temperature. She also uses laser cutters to design lace patterns and distressed T-shirts.
The composition of flower cells has inspired her designs and help them keep structural integrity.
“I like to make fashion and accessories that tell a story,” says Eng. “The story usually comes to me while I’m designing. And it can take me two or three years to design something, because I’m carefully gathering little bits and pieces of the story together, to create my design.”
Eng is also one of the founding members of a Brooklyn-based hack space called NYC Resistor. In an unassuming warehouse, she and 30 other members with a variety of backgrounds meet to learn, make things and share ideas.
“They have a whole bunch of electronics there so I feel like whatever I’m doing, whatever technical development (I want) inside of things, I’ll go to NYC Resistor,” she says.
Eng says she wants people to enjoy not only her fashions but the thinking behind the product.
“I’m really interested in making people think differently about things,” she says. “I feel like it’s really teaching people to look at materials that already exist and think about how it can change how we live our lives and how we can create.”
By Anton Willis, Special to CNN
To me, boats are about great adventures. Being out on the water - even near a city - has a freedom and magic that’s hard to describe.
But when I first started work on the Oru Kayak, I had no idea how big of an adventure it would be.
Four years ago, I moved into a small San Francisco apartment, and had to put my kayak in storage. At the same time, I read a magazine article on new advances in the art and science of origami. This led to a question that soon became an obsession: what if a boat could fold up like a piece of paper? What if it could go wherever you wanted it to go?
I started folding paper models, and soon switched to full-scale plastic prototypes that I tested in the Bay and elsewhere. I built over twenty versions - first in a friend’s garage, then at Tech Shop in San Francisco. Tech Shop was a revelation: Its tools allowed me to build far better and faster, and the community got me thinking about the future of the Oru Kayak.
I met entrepreneurs who had turned obsessions into livelihoods, and encouraged me to think more about getting the Oru Kayak out into the world.
With the help of a small but committed team, the Oru Kayak launched on Kickstarter late last year. It exceeded our wildest expectations. We raised enough money to launch the business, but even more exciting was learning more about our customers, including kayak commuters in New York, scientists in Alaska, explorers in the Amazon and many other people we’d love to join on a paddling trip.
We’re now about to go into full production. We’re manufacturing Oru Kayaks not in Asia but here in California - something that we’re very proud of. We’re motivated by a shared vision of making the outdoors more accessible and connecting people to nature, even in urban areas.
Scaling up to build more than 500 kayaks in a few months certainly has its share of challenges. But it’s enormously exciting when a weekend passion becomes a grand adventure and takes you in directions you couldn’t have imagined.
My advice: Nurture your passions and let them turn into obsessions. Find a way to work on them that’s tangible and gives you joy, even if you don’t know where it’s all headed. And don’t be shy about sharing your story as you go along. You’ll find help and encouragement all over the place, and you may even find a new community, as I did with Tech Shop.
I'm now doing this with kayakers all over the globe. I’ve always been into making things, but building a community of enthusiastic supporters has been even more exciting than building a cool product.
Editor’s Note: Neri Oxman is a designer, architect, artist and founder of the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab. See Oxman's full 30-minute profile this Sunday 2 P.M. E.T. only on CNN.
By Neri Oxman, Special to CNN
In the future we will print 3D bone tissue, grow living breathing chairs and construct buildings by hatching swarms of tiny robots. The future is closer than we think; in fact, versions of it are already present in our midst.
At the core of these visions lies the desire to potentiate our bodies and the things around us with an intelligence that will deepen the relationship between the objects we use and which we inhabit, and our environment: a Material Ecology.
A new model of the world has emerged over the past few decades: the World-as- Organism. This new model inspires a desire to instill intelligence into objects, buildings and cities. It is a model that stands in contrast to the paradigm of the Industrial Revolution, or the World-as-Machine.
While I believe that the new model will eventually become the new paradigm, it coexists for the time being with the old model: our minds are already at home with this new view of the world, but we still employ the building practices and design traditions that we inherited from the industrial era.
For instance, today’s buildings are made up of modular parts and components that are mass-produced and interchangeable. A furniture piece can easily be replaced by a ready-to-assemble kit of parts while a damaged tooth-root or bone can be replaced by the design of a titanium implant.
Editor’s Note: Watch Neri Oxman’s full profile this Sunday on CNN’s “The Next List”
Who: Neri Oxman, designer, architect, artist and founder of Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab.
Why you might know her: Oxman was named one of the most creative people in design by Fast Company magazine. She is pushing the limits of what it means to erect a building and believes one day soon we'll be able to "print" our buildings using 3-D printers.
Her artistic medium: At MIT’s Media Lab, Oxman experiments with different printable materials – everything from concrete to silk. She’s also repurposed a robotic arm into a 3-D printer. “How can we reinterpret 3-D printing in a way that suggests a new design language?” she wonders. Oxman plays with different gradients in her materials, with a goal of printing, for example, concrete that can go from porous to dense. “That concrete can be many things,” she says. “That concrete can become a transparent window.”
Her design inspiration: Oxman thinks about architecture and design in completely new ways. Her muse for all of it is nature. Take the spider, which generates a different silk for different purposes: building a web, creating trailing routes, capturing their prey, wrapping their eggs. Oxman believes that in a way, spiders are like a multi-material 3-D printer. “One cannot separate the spider web’s form from the way in which it originated,” she says. “Nature doesn’t divide between the architect, the engineer and the construction worker. These are processes we’re interested in and want to explore.”
Why she matters: The traditions of building construction in many ways are very old-fashioned,” says Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “The way that Neri has used the 3-D printer proposes … the possibility of a different way of making things. Can we also think about buildings that will be made through a process of 3-D printing – that will make our houses, that will make our cities?”
Oxman as artist: Many of Neri’s “experiments” with 3-D printing and materials are so beautiful they wind up in permanent collections in museums around the world. “I don’t see her work as art – I see her work as architecture and design,” says Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “You can see her work as art if you look at the object itself, but in truth, it comes from very serious studies and from serious examination of data and figures. What is distilled at the end is an object, that if divorced from all the background, can be considered art. But in truth it’s an experimental study.”
Her roots: Oxman grew up in Haifa, a city in the north of Israel, until she left for the Israeli Army at age 18. Both of her parents are also architects. “I grew up in a modernist house, in a modernist culture. There was a love for modernism everywhere – the furniture, the books, the food, even the cutlery,” she says. “So I learned very early to appreciate the value of design and the value of architecture.”
Something you might not know about her: She's a medical-school dropout. “It was one day, I remember it clearly – it was a hot day in Jerusalem, and I left class and called my father and announced to my parents I was going to leave medical school,” Oxman says. “I don’t think I would have made for a good doctor. It was not meant to be, and it took me a long time to realize that.”
Her life philosophy: “There is a very beautiful expression in the Hebrew language that’s borrowed from spoken Torah… ‘All is predicted and permission is given at any point to change anything,’” she says. “I think I live by this idiom in the sense that there is always a goal there is always something to look forward to in life and my creative search and that goal is there … and when I look at it I know it can change at any point and I give myself permission to completely reconsider it every time I look at it. And that’s a very empowering and invigorating way to live life for me ... that maintains an openness toward anything that I choose to pursue.”
By Heather Kelly, CNN
If you've always wanted a smaller replica of yourself, but are hesitant to commit to the cost and stress of parenthood, there is now an alternative. If you're in Tokyo, you can sit for a 3-D portrait.
Omote 3D Shashin Kan is a pop-up portrait studio that uses a handheld scanner to create a three-dimensional model of your entire body. A 3-D printer then makes a small, intricately detailed plastic figurine. The final, full-color models look exactly like the larger you, down to the wrinkles on the clothes and part in the hair.
The 3D photo-booth project is part of a photography exhibition at the Eye of Gyre gallery in Tokyo's Harajuku neighborhood. It's the brainchild of PARTY, a young ad, branding and entertainment company based in New York and Tokyo. FULL POST
By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - Here's a new stab at a solution for that old fat-thumbs, small-phone problem: Turn your desk - or table or whatever - into a keyboard.
That's what Florian Kräutli demonstrates in a video called "Vibrative Virtual Keyboard," posted on Vimeo about a month ago. His unreleased virtual-keyboard software, which is making the rounds on design blogs like Fast Company's Co.DESIGN and designboom, lets him place his iPhone on a flat surface and then use the area in front of it to type.
"Touch screen devices, such as smartphones, lack a suitable method for text input which can compete with mechanical keyboards," Krautli is quoted as saying in a press release from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is studying cognitive computing. "The Vibrative Virtual Keyboard aims to appease the frustration felt by smartphone users when faced with drafting lengthy e-mails or notes on a small onscreen keyboard." FULL POST