Slate’s design blog.

Jan. 30 2015 12:34 PM

Change the Height of This Slick Standing Desk by Holding Out Your Hand

The standing desk is an ongoing social and design experiment. Some people choose permanent standing work stations and bring their laptops to couches or tables when standing gets old. For most, the preference seems to be adjustable height furniture that can stand tall when you want to be on your feet and sink down to sitting height when you need to take a load off.

Recent adjustable desk variations range from Ikea’s bare-bones adjustable Bekant to the high-end, high-tech Stir, which includes the ability to preprogram height options and team up with your Fitbit to track standing and sitting data for the quantified-self obsessed.

A new entry to this growing category is the TableAir from London-based designer Lukas Lukosevicius. It’s a sleek, rectangular desk that comes in glossy white or black or, for an additional cost, American cherry wood or walnut. While at this point most standing desks look pretty similar, with straight or curved rectangular platforms mounted on four telltale adjustable metal legs, two things stand out about the TableAir design.

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Jan. 29 2015 11:23 AM

Barcelona Has the World’s Most Beautiful Stoner Museum

Until I spotted photos of the Hash Marihuana Cáñamo and Hemp Museum of Barcelona this week, accompanied by false reports of its recent opening (the museum opened in 2012), I never really thought about what a stoner museum might look like. Certainly not like the Palau Mornau, a glorious, elegant 15th-century palace turned Modernista museum.

Jan. 28 2015 11:56 AM

The Murder Mystery Legend Behind Austin’s Iconic Moonlight Towers

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about moonlight towers—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Jan. 27 2015 12:18 PM

The Cubitat Shrinks an Entire House Into One Compact Cube

Those on a quest to rethink small-space living build tiny houses, install pop-up rentals on vacant lots, and design portable 10-square-foot microkitchens tucked inside armoires. Presented over the weekend at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, Cubitat is a 10-by-10-by-10-foot cube that houses a kitchen, bathroom, bed, laundry, and storage.  

Once plumbing and electric are hooked up, the structure can theoretically turn any dwelling into what the developers are calling a “plug and play” living space that looks something like a giant’s Rubik’s cube and seems to beg to be painted in Mondrian colors. 

Jan. 26 2015 1:01 PM

These Whimsical 3-D Ceramics Look Like Cartoon Drawings of Everyday Objects

London-based artist Katharine Morling makes ceramic sculptures of woodland creatures and colorful still lives of fruit and flora. But it’s the cartoonish, hand-rendered, black-and-white renditions of everyday objects—a blank page and pen, an old typewriter, a box of matches, an old sewing machine, a chainsaw—that are the most arresting, inviting nostalgia and reflection. Even in photographs, they look like a sketchbook sprung to life.

Jan. 23 2015 12:49 PM

These Sleek Pop-Up Rentals Designed for Urban Millennials Redefine Prefab Housing

To battle a tight housing market in Amsterdam that is hard on an ever-increasing number of single renters, Dutch building company Heijmans (which also built this dreamy Starry Night–inspired bike path in the Netherlands) has come up with a clever idea: planting prefab pop-up rental houses on vacant city lots that offer singles design-friendly, affordable, quality temporary housing in urban centers.

These movable dwellings are designed to rent to young, single-person households for a reasonable 700 euros ($788) per month as temporary residences located on vacant lots that are in redevelopment limbo and otherwise eyesores on urban landscapes.

Jan. 22 2015 11:42 AM

The Classical Piano Gets a Radical Makeover

So many of life’s familiar objects are constantly redesigned according to the whims of fashion and the latest trends. But the curves of a classical music instrument seem almost sacred, inviting design changes—apart from exceptions such as this 21st-century cello—that tend to be of the nip-and-tuck variety, preserving familiar forms and ageless appeal. Even Liberace’s piano, after all, is really only a tarted-up version of a classical shape.

But this week Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi unveiled a radical redesign of the grand piano, a project he initiated in order to make it sound the way he heard it in his head. Produced by Louis Renner, a world-renowned German company that specializes in making piano actions and hammerheads, Bogányi and a team of designers and engineers spent more than a decade rethinking the piano’s 18,000 parts from the inside out.

Jan. 21 2015 12:12 PM

How Apple’s User-Friendly Design Doomed the Computer Mouse’s Complex Cousin

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about the history of the computer mouse—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Jan. 20 2015 11:51 AM

Le Monde’s New Paris Headquarters Design Bridges the Paper With Its Readers

Le Monde has announced plans to build a new headquarters near the Gare d’Austerlitz in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. The winning design came from Snohetta, which will build the new headquarters with local partner SRA for France’s paper of record, founded in 1944 at the request of Charles de Gaulle.

Word that the Le Monde Group, which includes the paper and several magazines, is planning to build an ambitious, futuristic headquarters is optimistic news for the business of publishing. That the news was unveiled a week after the unprecedented attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris makes its design all the more worth considering. The building, Snohetta’s first Paris project, aims to act as a bridge between the publication and its readers with public spaces that include a visitor center, auditorium, café, seating, and green areas built to welcome the public and serve as a stage for public gatherings.

Jan. 16 2015 11:37 AM

These Adorable Human-Powered Concept Vehicles Test the Lines Between Car and Bike

Currently on display at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit are two human-powered concept cars that offer an alternative vision of how a futuristic vehicle might look and operate. “Future Cycles” from Ann Arbor, Michigan-based designers Cameron van Dyke and Rachael van Dyke of The Future Peopleare human-powered vehicles that offer “the weather protection and carrying capacity of a car with the efficiency of a bicycle to create a ‘hybrid’ vehicle—half car and half bicycle.”

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