Slate’s design blog.

July 22 2014 11:15 AM

A Beautifully Illustrated History of Nearly Two Centuries of Bicycle Design and Technology

In the recently published Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History, authors Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing offer a comprehensive and authoritative survey of nearly 200 years of cycling technology and design. Here at the Eye, they highlight 10 pivotal moments in the design history of the bicycle.

When one of us tried to put a quintessential bicycle history on Wikipedia in 2010, an anonymous Wikipedian immediately overwrote the text, commenting that "No single time or person can be identified with the invention of the bicycle." Today, Wikipedia has a specific entry on bicycle history, indicating the growing interest in this long neglected area of the history of technology. But it has a limited scope and also contains debunked myths, such as the claim that the Scotsman Kirkpatrick Macmillan built the first crank-driven bicycle, or that Leonardo da Vinci invented the bicycle.

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July 21 2014 9:02 AM

Jewelry Boxes, Combs, and Mirror Frames Made From Human Hair    

Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves of London-based Studio Swine researched their latest design project by traveling to the heart of the billion-dollar global human hair market in the Shandong province of China, the world’s largest exporters of human hair.

The result of that research is Hair Highway, a "contemporary take on the ancient Silk Road," in which they explore the possibilities of using the renewable resource that is human hair to create a series of objects that at first glance betray nothing of their source material.

July 18 2014 9:03 AM

How People With Extreme Sensitivities to Everyday Chemicals and Electricity Design Their Homes and Routines

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 designing communities for those with extreme sensitivities to low-level chemicals—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

July 17 2014 9:03 AM

Production Designer Stéphane Rozenbaum on Building Sets for Michel Gondry’s New Film    

Writer-director Michel Gondry’s films are defined by their always inventive, often childlike and surreal production design values. His latest film Mood Indigo is no exception. Starring popular French film duo Romain Duris as Colin and Audrey Tautou as Chloé, the movie is a spirited but tragic love story based on the classic 1947 French novel L′Écume des Jours by Boris Vian, who died in 1959. It opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Production designer Stéphane Rozenbaum won a 2014 César Award (the French equivalent of an Oscar) for his work on Mood Indigo. He previously worked with Gondry on The Science of Sleep (2005) and spoke to me by phone from the set of Gondry’s next film about designing the show-stealing sets for Gondry's latest. Rozenbaum also shared several personal photos that he took on the set during film production.

July 16 2014 12:02 PM

Dubai Plans to Build the World’s First Temperature-Controlled City

This week Dubai announced grandiose plans to build “the world’s first temperature-controlled city, Mall of the World” in the Al Sufouh district.

Developers Dubai Holding estimate that the decadelong project, which does not yet have a start date, will require $6.8 billion in funding.

If all goes as planned, the self-contained shopping and entertainment complex will include a Broadway-style theater district, a pedestrian walkway modeled on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, a 4.3-mile retail network of roads based on London’s Oxford Street, 20,000 hotel rooms, underground parking, an indoor family theme park, and a “wellness district” catering to medical tourists.

July 9 2014 12:13 PM

The Evolution of the Modern Emergency Exit

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 design evolution of the emergency exit—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

July 8 2014 1:12 PM

Incredible Layered Glass Sculptures That Mimic the Ocean

This week landlocked design bloggers have been swooning over London-based designer Christopher Duffy’s Abyss Table, a mesmerizing sculpture masquerading as a coffee table that mimics the deep blue sea.

July 7 2014 11:12 AM

Watch Japanese Zoo Animals Distress Denim for Designer Jeans Fundraiser

A Japanese zoo has enlisted its resident lions and tigers and bears in a wildly entertaining fundraising initiative by helping to design a collection of limited-edition jeans.

Eager to find an eye-catching way to raise money for the Kamine Zoo in Hitachi City, local residents and volunteer zoo supporters the Mineko Club persuaded zookeepers to wrap the animals' favorite toys—rubber balls and tires—in denim. They were thrown to the animals, who gnawed, clawed, and otherwise went wild on the denim, resulting in a pile of naturally shredded and distressed fabric that Japanese fashion designers pieced together into a series of jeans fit for human hipsters everywhere.

July 4 2014 9:03 AM

An Underground Elementary School That Doubled as an Advanced Cold War Fallout Shelter

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 a Cold War bomb shelter cum elementary school—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

July 3 2014 9:00 AM

The World’s Most Clever and Unique Disposable Coffee Cups

Photographer Henry Hargreaves, whose fun and beautiful food-based country maps we featured recently, has spent the last year assembling a nicely curated collection of disposable coffee cups from cafés around the world. He brought them home and shot them at Café Moto in Brooklyn, so that the images would have a uniform look that focused on the individuality of the designs.

The original, clever, witty, or otherwise handsome designs of the cups demonstrate the possibilities of the quotidian paper coffee cup as a blank canvas.

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