1. The Dark Side of Design.

    Check out Marc Newson: Urban Spaceman, an interesting documentary on the eclectic designer who’s drawn up plans for everything from kitchen accesories to spacecraft.


    ^ The obligatory “designer touching their face” shot. It is a well established fact that “If you’re a designer, you ain’t shit if you don’t touch your face in photographs”. See Designers Touching Their Faces for more.

    There’s a lot to be said about Newson, and that’s been covered by a lot of people. But the thing that really struck me in relation to Open Design is the reason why he designs - starting at 7:15 in Part 2/5.


    Anger. Frustration with the world as it is.

    I thought, welllll, its not just rockstar designer Marc Newson who feels this, its everyone. 

    We get angry when things are confusing or don’t work quite right. We probably want to give the people responsible a good kicking, then make them fix it - so that no-one else should suffer the same rubbish design.


    Amongst the anger is a brief moment of selflessness in there - something that improves the situation for everyone. It’s a beautiful human psychological trait. For a brief glimmering moment, there is potential for users to give insightful design feedback and suggestions.

    I find this really interesting. Companies pay tremendous amounts of money for design consultancies to figure out what is frustrating about their products. How do design companies actually do that? Interviewing and observing users of the product.


    How about the users tell the companies themselves? In that brief moment of frustration, we have no problem giving constructive criticism for free. Can we co-create, instead of simply consuming? Can companies fling open their doors and actually communicate with users? Can the dark side of design be harnessed?


    There are some strategies emerging to do so:





    More and more systems are emerging for collecting user feedback and insights, not just for websites and apps, but for using physical products too.

    So although Newson may be a superstar designer, he’s not alone in being largely motivated by anger. I suppose what differs him from the masses is he has the necessary tools to do something when he feels exasperated. But now, the digital age is opening up the design process, giving everyone the power to design and improve products. If something frustrates us, we don’t have to wallow in our anger, powerless. We can harness that frustration and take meaningful steps to improve the situation.

    And in doing so, we might just discover the other side of design - the joy of creation.


  2. 10 Ideas for the Design of Digital Writers

    Digital notetaking in the future will be useful for a wide variety of people, whether student, business professional, writer, designer or artist.

    The advantages of a digital notetaker

    Digital textbooks - infinitely lighter!
    Ability to put in a page where there was previously nothing
    Merging, organisation of notes
    Infinite paper
    Easy to insert pictures and other media into notes to aid understanding
    Collaboration and sharing
    Backup, security of files



    Current devices though, are absolute crap. It’ll be a few years before digital notetaking really takes off.

    Ideas for the design of digital writers:

    1) Texture - It would be nice to replicate the feel of writing on paper, rather than a horrible slippery glass feeling. This affects handwriting.

    2) Pressure sensitivity - Need to get this perfect. Some tablets are already using these.

    3) Accuracy - Where the user places the pen should be where the “ink” comes out. The glass gap in current devices creates a parallax effect when viewing from a side angle - not acceptable.

    4) Speed - Should look like ink is actually flowing from the nib of the pen - not lagging behind it by a few millimetres

    5) Palm rejection - Current devices that state they feature palm rejection havn’t got this quite right - users often end up pressing random buttons anyway. The Samsung Note actually has an options popup button exactly where your palm rests. Not good enough - needs to work the same way a piece of paper offers palm rejection!

    6) Interaction - Currently, there are loads of options menus and buttons. Surely there are more intuitive ways to interact when changing pen.

    7) In-document navigation - Better ways to quickly flip through a document - as if it were a physical notebook.

    8) Multiple documents - similarly, it should be incredibly easy to handle, open, find, and switch between multiple documents.

    9) Collaboration and sharing - there is huge potential for GoogleDocs style collaboration for annotating documents - could be especially useful for textbooks. Missed a lecture? Just check out what your classmates have written.

    10) Simplicity - Paper is simple and minimal. The focus is on content. Let’s move away from menus and buttons.

  3. A minimal wallpaper featuring a modified version of the open source logo. The logo is based on the copyright symbol.

    Reminds me of a pirate flag too, which is fairly apt, seeing as a lot of freely shared information in the open source world is copyright or patent infringement. Does our current Intellectual Property system make sense in the digital era?

    "The only rules that really matter are these: What a man can do, and what a man can’t do." - Captain Jack Sparrow

    CC0 (Creative Commons - No Rights Reserved)

  4. Wooden A3 Presentation Folio.

    Click here to download

  5. Kinetic Beer Engineering by Project Studio.

    Salvaged wood and bottles creating a three dimensional sine wave.


  6. Idea: An Open Source Printer

    Printers (the everyday 2D kind) are probably the most frustrating pieces of electronic kit in the world.

    1) They are a hassle to connect to. You may be able to physically see a printer, but its often difficult to make your computer see it. THEN it generally requires some sort of driver before anything happens, which often needs an installation CD.

    2) Printers tend to use proprietary cartridges, which constantly change from model to model. This is known as a “bait and hook” strategy - how printer companies make big money. For some inkjet printers, the refill is more expensive than buying the printer.

    3) Silly error messages along the lines of “You are out of Magenta ink, please replace ink before continuing” - preventing the user from printing a black and white document.

    4) Ugly, plastic, low quality design - parts can easily snap and break. What happened to the care and craftsmanship that went into the early days of printing? - the Gutenberg press, silk screening, letterpress typesetting machines.

    5) Paper jamming. Designed in such a way so that it possible to insert paper incorrectly, leading to a jam.

    6) Not user repairable, serviceable or upgradeable. Companies don’t hand out blueprints or instructions of how to repair or maintain their printers. Instead - it’s a throwaway culture of planned obsolescence - whoever heard of upgrading a printer?

    The internet has plenty of complaints about printers - just try google searching images for “Printer Rage”. My favourite is this comic strip by The Oatmeal, titled "Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell To Make Us Miserable".

    The Proposal

    An open source printer may be able to address these problems. Replaceable parts, a fair price for ink. No proprietary cartridges - just a standard design that anyone can use. High quality precision machined and 3D printed parts - easily manufactured in Fablabs or simple workshops. Ability to upgrade the printer head, motors etc. Community forums full of handy tips and tricks. We’re talking about an absolute battle axe of a machine here - reliable, precise, fast, high quality, and will last for years and years.

    The final designs would be freely available for anyone to use and modify. There could be profit in selling components and kits to makers and developers, and in selling the fully assembled printer to users who simply want a high quality printer with cheap ink refills.

    Getting Involved

    This is a fairly large multidisciplinary project, consisting of four key areas.

    A) Industrial Design - Redefining and simplifying how the printer works to address issues such as the six listed above.

    B) Software - Finding, adapting and creating open source code for fast and accurate printing.

    C) Electronics/Hardware - Sourcing cheap, reliable and widely available electronic components.

    D) Mechanical Engineering: Design and manufacture of mechanical components of the printer.

    As a starting point, there are a few open source projects that could be built upon.

    I intend to work on the open source printer full-time for my final year Product Design Engineering project (September 2014 - July 2015). Please feel free to contact me.


  7. Top 5 Things I’d Love to Design

    1) An optical illusion experience
    2) A high quality, minimal pen
    3) A digital notebook
    4) A slightly mad alarm clock
    5) Some sort of sustainable power generator

    Someday I’ll get there!

    What’s yours?

  8. An open idea for an E-Ink Photoframe. Photos of selected friends and family from Facebook.


  9. Spritz Chrome Extension - a superfast way to read articles and PDFs on your laptop

    Spritz has been described as “flashcards on steroids”. It uses the Optimal Recognition Point of a word to position and flash words quickly in sequence, so your brain is focused on recognition and comprehension, rather than finding the next word on the page. With a bit of practice, you can find yourself reading at speeds around 1000 words per minute.


    For more, check out the Spritz website

    Currently, Spritz seems to be aimed towards mobile platforms (would also be awesome on Google Glass!)

    I was fairly inspired! I wondered if a simple browser extension could be developed so that it could be a better way to read articles and PDFs.

    The article below, assuming you have an average reading speed, and you are not distracted by the ads at the side, takes just under 3 minutes.


    Instead, how about highlighting the text you want to read, then right clicking “Spritz”?


    At 1000 words per minute, the article takes 38.1 seconds to read.


    Some UX details - the article scrolls down as it is read - useful if there are pictures to illustrate the text. The current word in the Spritz redicle (box) is highlighted in grey on the web page.


    Clicking anywhere pauses the Spritz redicle. Potentially there could be some way to rewind text if you missed it (could be as simple as just clicking on the word?).

    This also enables you to blink…

    So that’s my little idea for Spritz. If there’s a developer out there with the skills, make it happen please!

  10. An open idea for a doublesided USB cable. Works either way up.


  11. Welcome to the community. A place for designers, makers and users to come together and chat - gaining support, sharing designs, asking questions and seeing how other people are engaging in open design across the world.

    Have a look

  12. Aluminium E-Reader
    Intended for reading PDF’s and digital textbooks, but with the feel of paper. Ideal for academic and professional use.

  13. The Amazing* Bottle Sharpener
    *(May or may not be amazing)

    A little hack I made for my desk.

  14. Barblade hack

    Magnet retains the cap when you pop a beer.

    Would also be nice if there was some satisfying way to flick the cap into the bin afterwards

  15. Beer Engineering. A kinetic sculpture that creates a three dimensional sine wave using beer bottles. Mechanism constructed using an old wine rack, a door we found in the street, fishing twine and elbow grease.