Tag Archives: design

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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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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Minimal Coat Rack for the Younger Generation

Many designers have played with the idea of a coat rack from hooks on a wall to a stand with protruding arms to awkward tables that don’t really seem like coat racks at all. This design called “Coat Rack for Bonnie” by designer Annabelle Nichols definitely surpasses all previous designs in its simplicity and minimalism.

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This design focused on four main object: keys, shoes, books, and coats. One of Nichols overarching goals in this project was to create habits from design – she aimed to find a home for these objects that are easily overseen and strive for attention in an overclutterd house. At first glance, you may be a bit lost at how such an ’empty’ structure could house all of these objects, but that is the beauty of it. The piece is made only out of four main components – white steel, wooden dowels, a wooden shelf, and 3D printed porcelain bowl. And another perk of this design is you only need for screws to assemble everything. The dowels are simply placed through the colinear holes of the steel frame and wooden shelf, creating a liberating and whimsical nature to the piece.

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What setting do you think this would be best in? College dorm, urban apartment, high rise in Chicago? Tell us what you think!

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Dining with Birds

The utilization of nature into furniture design or any other man-made structure always gives me a sense of awe and sublimity. It’s a combination that calms me for reasons that I’m unsure but can spectate that it is because nature is ultimately the greatest designer, and to incorporate it into one’s creation in a way that works is clever and beautiful.

Gregoire de Lafforest designed this table which also serves as a birdcage. 

From afar and even up close, this piece is beautiful aesthetically and the idea that you can eat with birds sitting right beside you gives me some unusual sense of freedom. The birdcage holds a pool for water and an artificial tree designed as organically as possible to look and feel as natural as possible.  The tree is made out of metal, the clear tubes out of glass, the table out of wood.

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gregoire-de-lafforest-cage-archibird-02Yet, is this table really something one would buy to put in their kitchen or living room? Yes, it is gorgeous. Yes, it gives you a good tingling feeling in your stomach. And yes, the idea is original. But, did Lafforest have the well being of the birds in mind? Who will clean the bird’s waste? How will it be cleaned? Is metal really the best material to be used for the tree? These are just some of the questions I asked myself.

Tell us what you think about this piece in the comments below!

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The Piano Harp’s Second Chance

I was looking through our website for new submissions and got into that trance many of us have experienced of continuously scrolling down the page, admiring the spectrum of designs. As I was going down, there was one design that forced me to quickly scroll back up. I looked at the thumbnail image again and stared at it for about five more seconds. It was so different but still so elegant – I had to look into the design more.

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Darrell Martin‘s Piano Bench is fearless. It looks like a product that could be placed in a history museum or a very industrial-styled loft in the high-rises of Chicago. According to the design description, the bench is made out of two bedposts, tobacco barn lumber, and – the highlight of the piece – a 1920s Emerson piano harp!

I don’t want this post to be about dissecting Martin’s design but rather discuss the atmosphere and life it can bring into a room. I’m assuming that, like many of our submissions, the materials drove the overall design because quite simply the piano harp is beautiful – I’ve never seen anything like it. Being from the 1920s, the piano harp by itself drives the design to another level beyond it just being aesthetically pleasing. The harp gives the bench a dimension(s) that is so hard to grasp in modern furniture – a dimension of history, which brings with it other dimensions of intimacy, mystery, love, tragedy, and countless more. Who played on the piano before it was destroyed? Where was the piano placed?

Anyways, if I were walking down an aisle full of awesome furniture and the Piano Bench was there, I’d definitely do a double take and spend more time looking at this piece. Frankly, it doesn’t look too comfortable, but it looks so sleek. 

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What do you think about his use of the Emerson piano harp? Would you put it in your living room? Comment below and check out more of Martin’s unique designs on his page!

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Michael Powers, Unbranded Designs Top Influencer

Perhaps you’ve come across his elegant and simple design, non: the table, or maybe he’s commented on one of yours. Michael Powers is a part of our community who has been an essential member in keeping the conversation between all of us who are connected to Unbranded Designs smoothly flowing. Our mission is not only to help designers bring their product to life and to the market, but it’s also simply to connect like-minded (or different-minded) individuals to each other – to create a constant dialogue so that we can also create inspiration, drive, passion, and professional relationships.

Since signing up to be a member of our community last month, Michael and his table design, non, have jumped to the front lines. Currently, non is the third most voted design at 26% after Luna Ikuta‘s Line Light, which is in first at 38%, and Saana Hellsten‘s Slider Stool, which is trailing in second at 36%.

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Though at first glance you may wonder how non has advanced all the way to third in just one month, it becomes clear after reading its background and life-story. In his ‘About the Design’ section, Michael writes, “non is an exercise in using as little material as possible to make a piece of furniture. non is made from seven pieces of scrap steel. powder coated. non. what does a table have to be?” – non is a table that cost Michael nothing, perfectly exemplifying Michael’s style of design: “Products which harness complexity to reveal simplicity.” He embraces the challenge to create his designs using materials that have been thrown away as he says in one of his replies to a comment about non – “In the past couple years I have been increasingly getting into ‘upcycling’ as it were, and looking for opportunities for reusing old materials has become part of my daily observations as a designer.”

So, check out Michael’s design and vote for it if you want to see it on the shelves! If you want to have a profile on our blog, vote more, comment more, and submit more pieces! We’d love to see you join the conversation and get involved in the community.

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Lumio: The Book that Turns into a Lamp

At first glance, Lumio is just a book with wooden covers, which in it of itself would be a pretty cool book, But, to give consumers an even greater experience, it turns out to be a lamp… which is just awesome. There is no on/off button but rather the light is automatically switched on when the ‘book’ is opened – the brightness depends on the angle of how much it’s opened.

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If you’re a follower of KickStarter or honestly any design blog on the internet, you have probably come across Lumio. On KickStarter, it was a product that aimed for $60,000 but, in the end, received a total of well over $500,000, which is a simple testament of how beautiful and fun this product is. The most exciting aspect about Lumio is that its applications are almost limitless. Aesthetically, it is beautiful and elegant enough to be place in any sort of environment either it be an industrial modern living room or a teenager’s cluttered desk. Physically, it’s small enough to be put into any backpack or handbag but large enough to be noticeable. Functionally, it can stick to almost any metal or stand by itself. You could bring it on a late night date through the park, a romantic dinner on the patio, to a dark closet, etc.

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Here are the specifications and materials of Lumio according to its page on KickStarter!

  • Dimensions: 8.5” tall x 7” wide x 1.25” thick
  • Weight: approx. 1 lb
  • Cover material: FSC certified wood in 3 finish options – Dark Walnut, Warm Cherry and Blonde Maple
  • Cover magnet: Super strong Neodymium magnets built into the cover
  • Lamp body material: 100% recyclable, water resistant Tyvek
  • Light source / brightness: High output LED / 500 lumen (slightly brighter than 40w bulb)
  • Light temperature: 2700K (warm white)
  • Battery specs: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
  • Battery life: 8 hours battery life with constant use
  • Power: [UPDATE] Universal USB charger (included)

The only problem I see with Lumio now is its price, which is currently at $160. I can see many college students and young adults craving for this product but just not buying it simply because it’s outside of their budget… for a lamp.

Relating to our submissions here on Unbranded, Lumio is reminiscent of two products that have come in the past. I’ll let you decide if you can see what I’m talking about. The first is Justin Fraga’s table called Templeton and the second is Beau Hale‘s design called the Thistle Pendant Lamp. Check them out and vote for them if you like their designs!

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Motorola Mobility’s Design Challenge Finalist: Javier Velez

The motivation for a product can come from an infinite amount of sources – a personal experience, a manufacturing process, a movie, a bird’s nest, etc. For Javier Velez, inspiration comes from the method and exploration of using one design discipline to inspire a project in another design field. He mentions, “I became focused on… using photography skills on architectural renderings and using architecture elements in furniture design.” Velez first found his passion for design while in high school, leading him to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. He is now a student in California, pursuing his Master’s Degree.

Velez’s submission piece, Louvre, is a wonderful example of how a product’s inception can originate from the most unlikely of places. As stated before, Velez indulges in exploring different design principles and jumbling them up, looking for a way to create something beautiful from something so different. For the Louvre, he states that his inspiration was, as you may have already guessed, building louvers: “Louvers are designed to, most obviously, give shade and protect the interior of a building. A reception desk has the similar intent. It serves to be the ‘face’ of a building…” His design consists of multiple layers of plywood that are held static by the insertion of four steel rods all having 1in. diameters. Unlike any of the other designs, Velez also includes a unique seating structure as a part of the overall piece. Essentially, the seat is attached to the most bottom layer of plywood so that it can only move horizontally on one axis.

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Tell Javier what you love about his design!

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Motorola Mobility’s Design Challenge Finalist: Adam Owens

The material of a product, whether it is wood, aluminum, or regular ABS plastic, is often the characteristic that gives it its ‘spirit’ or essence. Deceiving materials can ruin the experience and perception of a product almost instantaneously and ruin the brand forever for an individual. Adam Owens, one of the four finalists in Motorola Mobility’s Design Competition, understands this concept of material integrity beyond many individuals in the industry. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Owens was constantly in the shadow of construction sites with his dad, being exposed to industrial manufacturing processes (the most prominent being concrete processing). As a result of his upbringing, although Owens graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics, he ultimately became a freelance artist/designer after spending two semesters in architecture school.

To him, the material and even the building processes to create the final product is a direct reflection of the final outcome, which is no surprise after knowing his childhood was deeply connected to the manufacturing world. When talking about the materials he chose, Owens says, “the idea is to showcase the qualities of wood and concrete and the dialogue between the two.” He then goes on to explain how when forming concrete, wood is used as the frame to pour the concrete into and then the wood is simply forgotten. Yet, Owens’ design is more economical and efficient. Instead of discarding the wooden frame, he instead uses it as the main surface of the desk.

All in all, Owens’ design reflects a minimalist and wabi-sabi feel. And although the structure is completely asymmetric, it’s still so fully balanced and welcoming. It would be a perfect fit for Google’s new Motorola office in Fort Worth, TX.

Owens’ desk is made from concrete and Mesquite wood.

“Mesquite is a native tree to Texas and can be locally sourced from the Texas Hill Country. The species has adapted to harsher climates and is robust to environmental changes. This can be seen in the non-linear grain patterns and contributes to its strength as well as its tendency to remain flat and not warp. The reddish brown color provides a beautiful contrast to the concrete blocks.”  – Owens

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What do you think of Adam Owens’ design? Tell us what you think!

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Motorola Mobility’s Design Challenge Finalist: Christina Fehan

It is every designer’s dream for one of their pieces to set a trend in the industry or even simply to stand out and be recognized among the countless new products created every year. Motorola offered individuals in the product design industry a chance to achieve this goal or at least to tread one step closer. Christina Fehan is a 27 year old practicing industrial designer, residing in Chicago, IL. Currently working at Slate Design – a design firm specializing in modern home furniture and appliances – she has only been in the home goods industry for three months. Yet, her submission piece for the new front desk at Google’s Motorola office in Fort Worth, TX serves as a testament of her upcoming success and talent.

Fehan’s Airflow Desk, screams simplicity and elegance at their finest. As for the form of her piece, she states, “I pulled inspiration from the shape created by airflow around a plane wing, in similarity to the flow of visitors.” She also wanted to capture the essence of the Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge in Sao Paulo, Brazil through her use of metal rods as an illusion to support the entire structure. In this case, there is no call to the design proverb ‘form vs. function,’ but, rather, to its more esoteric twin – ‘form is function.’ Though the play on material is limited almost entirely to stainless steel with a hint of dark cherry wood giving off vibes of an industrial modern feel, Fehan’s Airflow Desk still remains sophisticated, organic, and suave.

The frame is structured out of 1in. thick stainless steel and the four rows of steel rods have 1/4 in. diameters. The actual desk for the receptionist is dark cherry wood. The overall dimensions are 72in. x 40in. x 32in.

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What do you think of Christina’s submission? Let us know in the comments!

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