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Archive for the ‘Trendspotting’ Category

3D Printers for the Home



What does the future of product design look like? Well, it’s starting to look something like this: an affordable home 3D printer that allows anyone to digitally design a 3D piece and manufacture it on the spot. On the other side of things, a consumer can purchase a design online, download it, and watch it form before their eyes. Artists are already starting to upload their designs to sites such as this one.

Whereas 3D printing is nothing new, this particular platform by 3D Systems, called “Cubify,” which debuted at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is perhaps revolutionary in its movement toward mass appeal. With a price tag of $1,299, it’s getting into the “affordable” range for home printing.

Not that it’s the only affordable option either. For instance, there’s an independent company called MakerBot Industries in Brooklyn that manufactures 3D printers for nearly $1,000. Theirs even come complete with Brooklyn style and ingenuity.

In response to these affordable 3D options, we’re all ears about the coming developments in 3D printing – to find where we fit in best (if anywhere), and how we can best support other independent artists and small shops when (or if) it becomes commonplace.

For artists who prefer to design digitally (or don’t mind having their sculpts scanned in 3D), home 3D printing could be a prime opportunity for their designs to gain mass appeal through this medium in just a few years. This might be especially good for a number of otherwise unknown artists who might struggle with the threshold of having their work produced to break into the mainstream virally, should home 3D printing take off.

This potential future also invites a number of new debates about cost, exclusivity, integrity, creative license, intellectual property rights, and material. How quickly or begrudgingly will the product industry, artists and consumers continue to adapt to this new twist, and will the home 3D printing world offer a clear benefit to all sides?  Or, alternately, will home 3D printers be to product design what Napster and home recording were to the music industry? What do you think?


Crazy European Bag Advertisements


The shopping bag is free, mobile advertising for every company that sells goods that must be transported from one place to another. (Which is still plenty, regardless of the growth of online shopping.) Yet here in the US, I feel like it’s underutilized, existing as just another space where said company can slap their logo without giving much thought as to who’s seeing it and what, if any, impression it’s having on passersby.

Enter these walk-stopping European bag advertisements, used by ad-agencies to promote products from companies like Greenpeace, Volkswagen, Red Cross and many others. This is guerrilla marketing at its finest and would do wonders for brands looking to catch peoples’ eyes and start the conversation, on the street and in real time. For once, it might be what’s on the outside that counts.

Check out our favorites after the jump, and head over to Bored Panda to see the rest.

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7 Food Trucks You Can Fund on Kickstarter


Food trucks and Kickstarter: a perfect pairing? You decide. For as little as $1, a mobile chef’s dream can become a reality. Here are seven food trucks currently looking for funding. I’ve put them in order of deadline, so the first project on the list ends the soonest. Kickstarter is “all or nothing funding,” so if the project doesn’t reach its goal, the entrepreneurs get nothing. Just think: with your help, maybe one day these entrepreneurs will get to hit the road and be immortalized on food truck tumblrs like this.

Guten Brat: A Pneumatically-fitted VW Bus Serving Currywurst

WHAT IT IS: Jorge is a welder and fabricator who loves painting and cooking. He wants to turn a 1957 VW bus into a food truck that serves German and Austrian food with a California flare.


WHAT THEY NEED: They have just 12 days to reach their goal of $10K. They are less than 10% of the way there.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU: stickers, spices, sauce, meal tickets, bus pass, large original abstract realism bus painting, a year of brats, a LIFETIME of brats, a side dish named after you, catering as far as Oregon, Arizona and Nevada…

WHY YOU SHOULD HELP: Of the seven food trucks on the list, this one is the most original. The project melds Jorge’s love for customizing cars and cooking. Wouldn’t it be great to help someone make a living doing not only one, but two things he loves? I’m rooting for this, and I don’t even like brats.

Click through for six more food trucks.


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Are Blocklets the Next LEGO?


It’s not often that we see a new product invention and think, “Wow, that has the potential to be absolutely huge.” Well, such is the case with Blocklets, these interlocking pieces of laser cut wood-acrylic that snap together to form anything from sculptures to furniture and even an Arduino-based Trebuchet (I didn’t know what that was either: watch the video).

In an interview with Geek Dad, Blocklets’ inventors, Mark & Gabe, explained the purpose of their creation:

“We want Blocklets to become the standard prototyping and building system for makers. We hope to create a system of interlocking pieces that can make anything from art to furniture to robots. We want the system to be not only fun and versatile, but also easily modified and expanded. If someone needs a particular piece that doesn’t exist they can design it and we can make it. This isn’t a system by Gabe and Mark, it’s a system by and for everyone.”

Which is why they decided to keep Blocklets a Creative Commons project: “Together, we all have more great ideas than any of us can separately, and we can take advantage of that to help each other out. We love the idea of system that anyone can modify and use. What we give up in control, we’ll gain many times over in innovation, good will, and ideas. We think the trade-off is well worth it.”

Blocklets just reached its funding goal of $22,500 on Kickstarter, but that shouldn’t discourage potential pledgers, as some great rewards are up for grabs. For instance,  pledge $1,000 and they’ll build you a coffee table! (Check out all of the rewards and a bunch of fun promo videos here.)

With products in general, it’s impossible to predict future success. But just by looking at the playful functionality of Blocklets and the open source ethos of its creators, I think it’s safe to say that they have the potential to build a powerful community around what they’re doing. And passionate supporters at the ground level goes a long way in taking something from obscurity and into the mainstream.

Blocklets are manufactured in Raleigh, North Carolina, and they will be available to purchase in the next few weeks.

Literal Captions for New Yorker Cartoons


The Monkeys You Ordered, a hilarious single-subject Tumblr, gives literal captions to New Yorker cartoons.

Check out some more of our favorites after the jump.

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Kickstarter: The Science of Crowdfunding


Kickstarter found a way to monetize the DIY craze by connecting people with creative projects with a community of potential financial backers. They call it “crowdfunding,” and it’s revolutionizing the way ideas become reality.

For those unfamiliar with the landscape-changing service, Zippy Cart and Killer Infographics put together this chart that explains exactly how Kickstarter works.

[Mashable via Zippy Cart]

LEGO Angry Birds


Created by Tsang Yiu Keung.

[Via The Daily What]

The Polaroid iPhone 4 Decal


Pick one up from Photojojo! [$6.00]

Conan O’Brien in Legos


Lego virtuoso Nathan Sawaya was commissioned to build this Conan O’Brien sculpture out of legos, except for some reason he’s not allowed to say who it is – the work is titled “Red-Headed Man” – or why it was created. The secrecy seems odd, though, because on the bottom of the statue, which stands a ridiculous 6’5″ tall, it reads “Conan” and has the “TBS” logo.

Maybe he made it for Leno so that he could destroy it on air. Who knows?

[Via The World's Best Ever]

The Evolution of Daft Punk’s Helmets


Harder, better, faster, stronger?

[The Daft Club via Buzzfeed]