Designing & Bulk Mailing Magazines / Catalogs

Whether you’re an interior designer or a furniture designers, you’re going to need to make brochures, catalogs, and even trade magazines to get your work out there. When you do, the first thing you’ll realize that good design requires good printing to get your message delivered with any degree of integrity. It’s super easy to end up printing a catalog or magazine that makes your work look horrible.

That’s why you’ll need to know the full range of details on how to print and bulk mail magazines or catalogs. While this video gives you a big picture, there are a million things that need to be confirmed. For example, you have to ask your printing company what offset printer they will use. If they use an India or Chinese made printing press instead of a German made printing press like the Heidelberg Speedmaster, your print quality will vary dramatically from the first print to the last.

So you’re going to need to demand a German or at least a Japanese made printing press like a Mitsubishi.

Then, you’ll need to make sure that all the mail is presorted in bundles of 15 to 50 pieces each. Finally, you have to make sure that the bundles are sorted by zip code. That’s the only way the post office gives you a discounted mailing and postage rate.

Bee9 Design

Students, young adults, or anyone living in a smaller space know how valuable it is if we had just a little bit more room in our studio, bedroom, or wherever. Maybe just 10 more square feet in the corner. A couple of of Unbranded members have found solutions to this problem, one being the Three in One  by designer Kai-ning Huang (read more about this design on our blog post). When dealing with a desk, it’s not difficult to figure out how to accomplish this task – restaurants do it all the time. Yet, it’s how you do it and how you present it, that makes the difference.

A UK (West Yorkshire) based design studio called ‘bee9‘ has created such a desk called Tablet Desk 2.0, which every college dormitory desperately needs. The mechanics of this product are essentially the same as any other fold-up desk you would see in restaurants. However, this one has its perks and is catered to people like us – students, professionals, workers.

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In its ‘standard’ position, you wouldn’t think of it as being special or different. It may even look more like a shelf than a desk. There’s a body, and a top surface that’s cut into the blocks so you can customize it however you want. Then after playing around with it you realize that this thing is pretty awesome. The body folds up and two legs come down. The applications for this table are pretty standard but essential to daily life. No wonder this company is called bee9, its product provides a gentle and benign experience with limited space.

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Office Storage Reimagined: Why This Challenge & Why Now?

We are proud to announce our most recent Design Challenge, “Office Storage Reimagined”! As we mentioned in a previous post, our aim is for the design community to come together and solve an interesting and emerging problem that doesn’t have a great solution already in the market. Obviously there are a lot of details to a challenge of this size, so we’re writing a series of blog posts to explain the different aspects of the Challenge. It seems fitting to start with why we chose this specific problem as our design challenge.

Noted entrepreneur Paul Graham likes to say, “Solve for problems you have yourself.” Well, we work out of an open technology co-working space in Chicago (hello, 1871!), and we deal with the problem of storage every single day. We have these adorable little two-drawer lateral filing cabinets. They are mobile, pleasing to the eye, and fit nicely under our desks. The only problem is that they don’t store the things we actually need to store. Laptop bags, gym clothes, jackets & extra clothes, computers & accessories. Most of the time, we are forced to jam these things in inelegantly, or lay things on top of or to the side of the filing cabinets. After some primary research as well as talking to some industry experts, we decided that we had stumbled onto a real problem that isn’t being addressed.

We believe that there must be a better way and so we’re enlisting our community to create it. We hear over and over from designers that they want challenging problems to solve, and this presented the perfect opportunity to push our community’s creativity and talent. And we’re confident that the talented, diverse, and innovative Unbranded Designs members will come up with incredible solutions to this problem.

As always, if you have questions or thoughts about this or future challenges, all you have to do is send us an email at design-challenge@unbrandeddesigns.com!

The next post will provide more detail on the Design Challenge Timeline.

Office Storage Reimagined: The Design Challenge Timeline

We are releasing a series of posts to further detail the components of the Office Storage Reimagined design challenge. Check out our last post here.

This design challenge will span from January 24th to March 20th (and far beyond as we dive into product development). The challenge will be straightforward and transparent, mimicking our process and values. Here’s a more detailed description of what will happen during each stage of the challenge:

January 24th – February 21st: During this period, the challenge will be open for submissions from any designer! As long as you meet the submission requirements, you will qualify for the challenge. You can submit as many designs as you like, as long as they are fleshed out, thoughtful concepts. However, all submissions must be in by midnight on February 21st.

February 21st – February 24th: We will be compiling the submissions, following up on any incomplete designs, and getting the submissions ready for community voting.

February 24th – February 28th: Consistent with our belief that the community should have a say in the process, we will open all accepted submissions to the public to score and choose their favorite designs. The most popular submission from this pick will automatically qualify as one of the finalists.

February 28th – March 3rd: Our judges will review all the submissions and choose the remaining finalists. They will also perform formal critiques of the finalists to help the designers improve and further refine their design. This portion of the challenge is very similar to our own Refinement. We will publicly announce the finalists on March 3rd.

March 3rd – March 14th: The finalists will have several days to account for the judges’ critiques and work on further honing their submissions. During this period, we will release blog posts highlighting each of the finalists and their respective designs.

March 14th – March 20th: During the last week, the judges will perform their final review. Each finalist will be evaluated on their latest submission and after the judges convene, the winner will be announced.

March 20th +: After we announce the winning design, we will move forward with the designer and our chosen manufacturer to bring the design to life. While this portion of the process will be out of the public spotlight, you will still get regular updates on the product’s development!

As always, if you have questions or thoughts about this or future challenges, all you have to do is send us an email at design-challenge@unbrandeddesigns.com!

The next post will provide more detail on the Evaluation Criteria.

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One Shot

It always brings a wonderful feeling to come across a product that’s functional and still materialistically lean. It inspires something inside to heighten the push to create bolder, cleaner, and simpler design solutions.

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Jasheng Wong, one of our Unbranded Designers, is the craftsman of the recently popular piece, One Shot. It’s sudden increase in likes from our community from jumping to one of the top three submissions is a testament to its wonderful design. The part that makes this piece incredible is the fact that the product is built with one piece of sheet iron. And on top of that, it only requires three simple manufacturing processes to complete it – laser cutting, metal stamping, and bending. It’s hard to get any better than that. From a manufacturing and production point of view, One Shot is golden. The design also holds a limitless number of smooth and clean lines and geometric shapes that are amplified or hidden depending on your point of view.

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From reviewing the comments, however, there are some worries that Wong’s design is more unstable than it should be. Our Unbranded Designer, Seizmic Design wrote, “Materials are certainly your biggest concern. In a close second is going to be the strength of that break at the bottom trying to support all the physics going on above. One solution might be to have two or three feet instead of just one. One way this could perhaps be done is by breaking the center foot only out of the back and breaking two feet out of the front. I think you will also wind up having to go from having a perfect radius at the bottom (which looks awesome) to having at least a little bit of a flat area (which wouldn’t look as hot, but would be more stable),” which numerous people agreed with.

Tell us what you think to help One Shot become the greatest version of itself!

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Nothing but What You Need

If you were given two minutes to design a table that was functional and aesthetically pleasing, could you do it? Two friends are the owners of a small Czech design boutique called Master&Master and so far there is only one product for sale, the Stackable table trestles.

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After a few seconds of just looking at the table, I realized that this piece is just extremely naked – there are two steel legs and a flat wooden surface. However, what makes this table interesting and beautiful is the way the legs are designed. If you’ve taken any physics or engineering courses then you’ll understand the mechanics of trusses (don’t worry, I won’t dive into explaining equations, forces, stress, etc.). Basically, these designers have utilized this common feature mostly found in architecture and engineering into this ‘simple’ table. As a result, they’ve optimized the table’s strength. Oh, and a perk to these tables are that they’re stackable!

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This design is also reminiscent of three of our Unbranded pieces – Akshat Ragava’s WM Coffee Table, Tracy Tyler’s Bent Plywood Table, and Alain Santos Monteiro’s Revi Table. Check them out!

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Introducing Our Newest Design Challenge!

A few months ago, we partnered with Google/Motorola Mobility to run a design competition to find a reception desk for their new facility in Fort Worth, Texas. In one week, with no real submission requirements and a very vague design brief, we received 29 submissions from designers all over the world. Eventually, we pared down all the great submissions down to 4 finalists and the eventual winner, Formwork by Adam Owens. Overall, we received a lot of positive feedback from designers, who strongly encouraged us to continue to offer design competitions.

We heard the feedback, and we are really excited to introduce our next design competition: The Storage Component of the Future. We will be releasing the full design brief to our website when the challenge releases on January 24th, but in the meantime, here’s the high-level overview:

“Papers, files, and folders are a thing of the past. Lateral filing cabinets no longer serve the needs of today’s office-goers. Design a personal storage component that responds to what people in the workplace need to store today and in the future.”

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The details of the challenge will be made very public soon, so I’d rather not focus on the nitty-gritty, but rather highlight a few philosophical choices we made for this challenge:

  1. We are attacking an interesting problem: We aren’t convinced that the world needs just another piece of furniture. But the world does need the RIGHT piece of furniture. The best thing about furniture is that it’s not just aesthetic, but it functionally solves problems. We love that we have the opportunity to unleash the creativity of a huge community of amazingly talented designers to try to solve real-world emerging problems. We feel that this design brief is worthy of our community’s time and will bring back a lot of great ideas!
  2. We’re offering a substantial prize: The first prize of $4,000 and a royalty on all units that we sell is certainly one of the better purses you will see for a furniture design competition. We are a startup ourselves, without an endless bankroll. But we are sponsoring this entire challenge because we believe that our community can solve this real market problem with great solutions. And we feel that a prize of $4,000 will attract talented students and professionals alike. More than that, we are asking designers to do a lot of work, and we think it’s fair to not lowball or cheapen the skills that people are bringing to the table.
  3. The challenge will mimic our current process: We have a unique process that enables our community to help one another develop great products. So we are instituting that process into this design challenge. We will have a judging panel who will determine most of our finalists, offer critiques to help those finalists refine their ideas, and pick the eventual winner. However, we also will have a “Community Pick” finalist that will be chosen by our community. It’s important that the community always have a voice, so this is an opportunity for everyone to vote for their favorite design. After the submission deadline, all submissions will be made public and our community will be able to score their favorites. The top scored design will be our “Community Pick” and will become one of our finalists for the judges to evaluate. The finalists will then have an opportunity to improve their designs before final judging, mirroring our Scoring -> Refinement -> Production process, which we firmly believe is a great way to drive collaboration and innovation using the community.

So that’s the deal, guys. We are so excited to see what our awesome community comes up with! The challenge will launch on Friday January 24th. If you aren’t already a member of our community, go to www.unbrandeddesigns.com to sign up so you can hear the latest on this challenge and others in the future!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can always shoot me a note at: sameer@unbrandeddesigns.com

Functional Art

As an industrial designer, there’s a fine line that cannot be crossed between creating something catered for a user and something that is simply art. Amazingly, designer Axel Yberg has found a gray area, which he calls ‘functional art.’

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By taking a look at Yberg’s portfolio, it’s definitely hard to stop looking at his work and to stop wondering how in the world does he think of these detailed, intricate, and ultimately beautiful pieces. The main elements he utilizes are metal and wood or ‘industrial and organic’ as he labels them. Yberg views these two juxtaposing materials representing something more harmonious and poetic. The use of metal symbolizes control and deliberation. He decides how to cut it, how to shape it, and what type of surface finish it should have. On the other hand, his use of wood represents the more spontaneous, natural, and hidden dimension of his craft. A slab of wood has already lived a lifetime – it brings its experiences to the surface and Yberg has to work with what is there.

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I really encourage anyone who’s reading this to take five minutes to peruse through Yberg’s work and see its intricacy and uniqueness. Tell us what you think!

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A Lamp that Makes You Clean the Floor

It’s always a fun experience when a piece of furniture or lighting allows (or perhaps ‘forces’ is a better word) the user to perform an action for it to properly operate. Designer Arthur Xin created a clever way for users of his lean and modern lamp to clean their floors.

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At first sight, you can’t tell that there is something different about this piece. But after a couple of days (or however long the power lasts) you’ll notice that the light will begin to dim as time goes on. There is no cord or charging mechanism. So what are you supposed to do? To make the lamp brighter again the user has to actually mop his floor with the lamp. The bending motion of lamp, the handle of the mop, is a source of kinetic energy which is then stored to as power. Clever, right? To mess with your mind even more, Xin wanted to portray a larger meaning to this product – wash away the bad to create positive energy.

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NOTE: There is a possibility that your lamp will smell….

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Timeless Pieces

It’s not common to stumble upon a piece of furniture that is versatile enough to fit in both a garage and a classy, sophisticated lounge or office space. To achieve such a task, the piece needs to hold a certain balance of classic, rustic, yet clean and lean characteristics. Fajno Design submitted a chair that holds true to this timeless and universal brand – the Beatle Chair. The seating material is made of leather while the metal frame is made of darkened steel.

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The concept behind the design was to create something that could seamlessly blend and feel natural in any environment. The designers modeled the chair by the physical appearance of a black beetle believing that any true substance of nature can easily fit into any surrounding.

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After brainstorming about 25 different places to put this chair, they all seem like a good fit. Can you think of any places where the Beetle Chair wouldn’t be appropriate?

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