Slate’s design blog.

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.

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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.”

Jan. 15 2015 11:55 AM

Gorgeous Limited-Edition NYC Subway Posters From the Transit Map’s Late Designer

The design world lost a beloved giant with the death of Massimo Vignelli in May of 2014. Last fall, the NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual that he co-designed in the 1960s was reissued as a limited-edition book. And now SuperWarmRed Designs’ Beatriz Cifuentes and Yoshiki Waterhouse, Vignelli’s associates for the last 15 years of his life, are offering both signed and unsigned limited-edition posters of the MTA New York City Subway Diagram that the trio designed together in 2012 for use in the MTA’s Weekender website and app.

Jan. 14 2015 11:27 AM

How Chili’s and Ford Use Sound to Sell Their Brands

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 role of sound in product branding—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Jan. 13 2015 11:46 AM

The University of North Dakota Dropped Its Offensive Nickname. How Does the School Replace It?

Sociologist James I. Bowie’s Emblemetric blog examines patterns and trends in logo design using quantitative analysis of data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Here at The Eye, Bowie shares a recent post about the University of North Dakota’s search for a new nickname and logo for its athletic teams.

American colleges and universities have now largely abandoned Native American nicknames and logos that many find offensive. In 2012, following a battle that had lasted years, the University of North Dakota dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname, which had been used by its athletic teams since 1930. Since then, the North Dakota teams have played without a nickname, something virtually unheard of in American sports. This year, having completed a two-year “cooling-off period,” the university will begin the process of selecting a new nickname. The old name, however, does not look like it will be forgotten quickly.

Jan. 12 2015 11:30 AM

London Department Store Celebrates Creatives of a Certain Age in “Bright Old Things” Campaign

Since 2011, the British department store Selfridges has kicked off the new year with its annual Bright Young Things campaign, showcasing emerging young design talent. But this year the venerable century-old department store decided to turn the bright young thing trope on its head. Reinventing its annual talent showcase as a celebration of second acts, Bright Old Things features creatives ranging in age from late-40s to mid-80s.

Jan. 9 2015 11:50 AM

The Hotel That Inspired The Shining Wants Fans to Design Its New Hedge Maze

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is holding an international competition to design a 10,100-square-foot hedge maze inspired by the memorable piece of set decoration in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King. While the film wasn’t actually shot at the Stanley, the hotel did serve as King’s muse; he got the idea for the book while staying at the allegedly haunted hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America, in 1973.

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