HTech's new road bike is absolutely stunning. It's an exotic aero road bike that looks as state-of-the-art as any of the bikes you'd see on the line at the Tour de France. But it's made mostly from trees.
There’s something that always intrigues me about using traditional or natural materials to build something technologically “modern.” I love the kind of yin-yang of technology and hand-craftedness on a bike that’s been designed with computers, wind tunnels, and CNC machines… and then finished by hand, slowly, with sandpaper and lacquer. There's over 300 hours of labor in every frame.
None of this is cheap. Each frame (just the frame, not a whole bike) is over $5K, which of course is money that would buy you a used car. But the fact that a small shop like this is able to offer such a frame at retail at all is pretty amazing. Considering that high-end road frames from major manufacturers like Trek routinely go for $4k or more, I'm actually amazed that a small-batch, hand-built frame like this can be produced at such "low" prices.
I believe we're living in interesting times for hardware makers and light industry. Computer-aided-design (CAD), 3D printing, and CNC machining tools have gotten more affordable and accessible, allowing small shops to produce small-batch and customizable product lines at competitive prices. Economies of scale are less critical than they used to be. The internet allows these shops to market globally, and there's affordable, efficent international shipping to fulfill orders almost anywhere, quickly.
If you have a crazy idea and a garage, there's no better time than now to have a go.
"Easy" and "intuitive" are words you hear an awful lot if you make websites, apps, or any kind of interface. Over the last 20 to 30 years, they’ve become watchwords of user interface (UI) design; our metric for a design’s success is often based on how self-evident it seems to unfamiliar users. Can anyone, anywhere, pick it up and start using it without needing outside help? Does it "just work" for most people?
User experience (UX) designers often describe their approach as a process of reducing "friction." We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our users’ goals are, and then do our very best to to eliminate any "friction points" that slow them down. Along the way, a certain minimalism (and sometimes even asceticism) has overtaken UI design, as we strip away anything that feels even potentially complicated or unpredictable.
I stumbled across this review of early 20th century Swedish painter Hilda af Klint and I'm pretty blown away by it. For one, her work was staggeringly innovative: her experiments with abstraction and spiritualist-inspired painting predate Kandinsky, Miro, and Klee by decades. But I also think her stuff is simply beautiful. Despite the stylistic and thematic similarities with her male contemporaries, there's a precision and care in her compositions that strikes me as unique. They feel kind of graphic in a way, inviting enough to be equally at home on a poster or a gallery wall. But it was, of course, the gallery walls that were forbidden to her.
The fact that her work – and that of countless other women artists of her time and long before – was alternately ignored and dismissed for (literally) 100 years is yet another reminder of Modernism's unintended legacy. The idea was to create a more accessible, more democratic, more universal way of seeing and creating and living. But the founders' definition of "universal" extended only to people who looked and thought like themselves. That is to say: rich white dudes. This blindness often reduced modernism to an enabler of prejudice, and, in af Klint's case, robbed the world of at least one of the geniuses of the 20th century.
These playgrounds by Danish architecture firm Monstrum for the Lego House rooftop look amazing. I especially like that these spaces don't just look like fun, but they also suggest stories. A great place to play but also to pretend.
I love this photo series documenting Shanghai’s late-night food stalls from Florian Mueller. Although I can imagine these streets are busy and full of noise – horns, bikes, passing trucks, talking – there's a wonderful sense of peace to these images. Each stall is framed by darkness, the owner quietly attending in the shadows; each feels almost like a side chapel in a shadowy (skyscraper-filled) cathedral.