The Eye
Slate’s design blog.

May 16 2016 9:19 AM

France Decks Out Its National Railway Cars to Look Like the Palace of Versailles

The SNCF, France’s national rail network, is a fine piece of infrastructure. But unlike the taxis of Mumbai or the long-haul trucks of Spain, French SNCF trains generally have an unremarkable décor that is more about efficiency than inspired design. But in 2012, the SNCF in collaboration with 3M launched Art in Transit, an ongoing project designed by Paris ad agency Adkeys that has redecorated banal train car interiors with recreations of Impressionist art and stained glass from Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, a train station turned art museum.* The latest installment features a second edition of Versailles-themed décor inside five cars on the RER C train line that runs between Paris and Versailles.

May 13 2016 8:58 AM

Mesmerizing Maps of the World’s Tangled Highway Interchanges

Chicago-based web developer and artist Nicholas Rougeux has created a series of 60 mesmerizing color maps of the world’s spaghetti junctions that transform nightmarish highway interchanges into fluid rainbow-hued abstractions.

May 12 2016 8:41 AM

These Japanese-Designed Fishbowls Are Cooler Than Anyplace You’ve Lived

We’ve seen classy feline furniturearchitect-built cat shelters, and designer dog houses. Now Japanese designer Haruka Misawa (who worked at award-winning Japanese design firm Nendo before starting Misawa Design Institute in 2014) has created Waterscape, a series of stunning translucent square fishbowls that blow conventional aquariums out of the water with beautiful, minimalist design.

May 11 2016 8:46 AM

Google’s Method for Testing New Ideas Includes a “Magic Clock” Invented for a 4-Year-Old

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz is a new book in which the Google Ventures’ design partner shares the step-by-step process behind the “sprint” methodology he created to help companies design new products and services in the space of a workweek.

They have developed a precision blueprint for how sprints should run, down to details such as start and end times, the precise hour to break for lunch, what and what not to eat for lunch, and non-negotiable rules that include banning screen-based devices from the workroom. Their favorite tools are old-fashioned office supplies like giant white boards; yellow 3-by-5-inch Post-It notes (additional colors slow down decision-making by increasing cognitive load); medium-point Paper Mate Flair felt-tipped pens (rather than thin-tipped, to help concision when writing out ideas); blue ¼-inch dot stickers; and, as he shares in the excerpt below, a nondigital device they describe as a “magic clock” that was invented for a 4-year-old.

May 10 2016 8:52 AM

How the Wright Brothers Inspired the Way Google Tests New Ideas

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz is a new book in which the Google Ventures’ design partners share the step-by-step process behind the “sprint” methodology that Knapp created to help companies such as Google, Slack, and Blue Bottle Coffee design new products and services in the space of a workweek. In the excerpt below, the authors detail how the Wright Brothers inspired the sprint process and how the methodology that they outline in the book is being adapted in companies, classrooms, and government agencies across the country.


May 9 2016 8:54 AM

This Bright, Fun Pictogram-Based Book Can Help You Learn Chinese

Taipei, Taiwan-born, London-based entrepreneur ShaoLan Hsueh used design to teach her English-speaking children the 200 Chinese characters required for basic reading comprehension in her native language. She deconstructed frequently used Chinese characters into key building blocks, creating an engaging pictogram-based road map of the language for people who don’t speak Mandarin Chinese. Then she shared that clever method with the world in a popular 2013 TED talk and 2014 bookChineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese, which has now been published in 15 languages.

May 6 2016 11:32 AM

This Cardboard House Was Designed to Last for 100 Years      

Wikkelhouse from Amsterdam-based Fiction Factory is a sustainably built, customizable cardboard-based house that was designed to last for up to 100 years.

The flexible structure is designed so that as many individual 54-square-foot segments as you want can link together to form temporary or permanent housing, office space, or popup space for retail or festivals.


May 5 2016 8:36 AM

Can 3-D Printing Help Build a Better Wheelchair?

Since founding his London-based experience-driven design agency Layer, British industrial designer Benjamin Hubert has turned his attention to socially conscious quality-of-life–enhancing design projects like hemp-based noise-reducing office panels and a prototype for a Fitbit-like wearable to track your carbon footrprint.

His newest effort is a prototype for “the world’s first 3D-printed consumer wheelchair,” according to a project description, developed in collaboration with 3-D-printed software and services company Materialise. The designers spent six months interviewing dozens of wheelchair users and medical professionals to help them figure out “how to remove the stigma associated with wheelchairs as medical devices and instead create a more human-centered vehicle to improve the everyday lives of users,” the designers write.

May 4 2016 8:49 AM

Zaha Hadid’s First Posthumous Building Was Inspired by an Oyster Shell

The architecture world suffered a jarring blow when Zaha Hadid died suddenly on March 31. But her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, soon announced that it would soldier on to complete the 36 projects under development in 21 cities around the world at the time of her death.

May 3 2016 9:12 AM

Can This Monastery-Inspired Vacation Home Really Promote Calm and Reflection?

Award-winning British designer John Pawson has created a new property for Living Architecture, the U.K.-based organization founded by writer/philosopher Alain de Botton that commissions exceptional vacation rentals for the general public. If Living Architecture’s last project was the eccentric House for Essexdesigned by FAT Architecture and cross-dressing English artist Grayson Perry, Pawson’s Ty Bywyd (Life House) is its aesthetic antithesis—a luxurious getaway in rural Wales built for the burned-out modern-day secular ascetic in search of some navel-gazing peace and quiet.