Brutalist redesigns of popular apps

Via Pierre Buttin:

I wonder if these rugged aesthetics, now commonplace in cutting-edge websites, can work at scale – in mobile apps used by +1b people. Instagram’s new UI paved the way: can this effort be replicated in other categories (e.g. gaming)? Is brutalism a fad or the future of app design? Would it make apps more usable, easy-to-use and delightful? To end with, would it generate more growth? Conversions experts sometimes suggest that more text equals more engagement – what if we push this idea to the extreme?

I dare say he’s got a point here – discounting the garish colours in some cases, the block-iness and straightforwardness of the UI makes you wonder whether we’ve taken minimalism a little too far.

Android creator Andy Rubin pushes boundaries further with the Essential Phone

Right on the heels of the Samsung Galaxy S8, Andy Rubin launches the first fruits of his own ambitious project with the Essential Phone, with a screen stretching across the top edges of the phone, ignoring the curves and the front facing camera.

Here’s Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

First, the Android phone basics: the Essential Phone costs $699 with top-of-the-line specs and features. It’s a unique take on a big screen that makes the phone stand out — and it’s smart, too. Often, the status bar at the top of an Android phone doesn’t fill that middle space with icons, so it’s efficient.

Essential is clearly planning on releasing a very well-made phone: the screen looks promising, it has no annoying logos, and it is built with a combination of titanium and ceramic so it can survive a drop test “without blemish, unlike the aluminum competitor devices.”

The Essential Phone also has a good take on the dual-camera systems we’ve seen on other phones. Rather than use the second lens for telephoto or bokeh, it’s using it for a monochrome sensor. That second sensor will be able to take in more light than a traditional color camera, meaning it can be combined with the regular 13-megapixel for better low-light shots.

While the hardware efforts can be lauded, the biggest issue this phone faces right now is that it’s built on top of an Android version which isn’t optimised for this direction — the rounded corners and cut-out (which admittedly I’m not a fan of) might feel awkward right now — similar to when Android wasn’t ready for big phones when they arrived. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of controlling just the hardware.

Essential is also placing a lot of emphasis on their modular nature, such as attaching a 360 degree camera. You can read about it on their site.

Experimental pieces that rethink the traditional park bench

Alli Morris, writing for Dezeen:

Participating designers were asked to reconsider the concept of the traditional park bench while retaining its sole function of providing an urban meeting place to sit or relax.

While some are upgrades of existing benches in the Kvarnbacken park [Stockholm, Sweden], others are entirely new designs. Every Superbench has the potential to become a permanent fixture in the park, but only if it is appreciated and used by locals in the area.

More discreet interpretations included Max Lamb’s Superbench. Using a CNC mandrel bending machine, Lamb fashioned a zigzagging design out of a length of simple stainless-steel tube that is bent six times at 90 degrees in alternating directions.

“101.6 OD 305 CLR” is like a piece of street furniture,” says Lamb. “Ubiquitous, substantial, utilitarian, familiar, ambiguous, unnoticed.”

If only more countries undertook such initiatives.

Inside the sketchbooks of the Mac’s first graphic interfaces

Jenny Brewer, writing for It’s Nice That:

The Design Museum’s latest show California: Designing Freedom looks at the story arc of the US state that has gone from countercultural epicentre to innovation hub. Amid that is a collection of rough sketches drawn on squared paper by Susan Kare, that show the ideation of the symbols used in the Apple interface.

Susan designed the icons for the Macintosh’s graphical user interface. At the time, the notion of a GUI was revolutionary: just a few years prior to the Mac’s release, people could only interface with a computer through arcane commands written in code. By providing an image-based way to execute computer commands, the Macintosh made computers more intuitive and less intimidating. 
As part of the original Mac team, Kare created some of the first digital fonts, the UI for MacPaint and some of the most persistent icons in computing such as the trash can/bin, the save disk and the smiling Mac. Kare added to the UI an element of friendliness and emotion. The icons that she designed were playful and simple enough to be recognisable to users around the world. 

Susan Kare’s designs for a pixel-friendly GUI were probably as revolutionary and influential as the best typefaces.

Butter-soft and icy-sharp cement furniture

Eleanor Gibson, writing for Dezeen:

Brooklyn designer Fernando Mastrangelo has created a pair of contrasting furniture collections: one that features smooth curves and another with jagged edges.

Both based on different natural forms – rocky glaciers influenced the jagged edged Thaw, while fallen snow inspired the softly curved Ghost – which he achieved using different moulds and materials. [..]

“It starts as a massive block of foam and its CNC milled, the machine sort of spins it and cuts it,” Mastrangelo said. “Then we takes those back to the studio, and make these huge moulds out of fibreglass.” The moulds are mounted on their sides against a wall and the liquid cement is poured in and left to set – a technique that creates the striations that pattern the surfaces.

To create the Thaw pieces, powdered glass and cement is poured into an MDF box to set. The designer hand sculpts the material before it is left to set.

Cement furniture is clearly derived from the building material and hence more often than not is treated in the same way. Not this one though; Mastrangelo’s masterfully brings out properties of cement that are unique to this scale.

Rare, vintage Ikea furniture is selling for a small fortune

Stephanie Linning for Mail Online:

Collectors splashing out as much as £50,000 to snap up rare vintage pieces by the Swedish furniture maker at auction houses around the world, research reveals. 

Many of the most sought-after items are ones that flopped when they were first released while others are the result of collaborations between IKEA and well-known designers. Colourful flatpack chairs designed by futuristic Danish designer Verner Panton worth £60 in 1993 now sell for £700.

The most expensive example is the IKEA ‘mushroom’ or ‘clam’ chair, which was released just a year after the store was founded in 1943. It has appeared at numerous fine art and design auctions around the world, where it has fetched for up to £50,000.

Sometimes it’s just so hard to get Art.

Korean barista turns cups of coffee into works of art

Via Oddity Central:

Armed only with a thin metal rod and a palette of food dyes, Lee Kang Bin can turn a bland cup of latte into a stunning masterpiece. From drinkable recreations of famous paintings, like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, to detailed cartoon characters and portraits, there’s virtually nothing he can’t draw on milk foam.

His food-dye based latte art is known as CreamArt, and has attracted a lot of attention among Korean baristas, many of whom study under Lee, and fans of all things cool, who follow his latest creations on Instagram.

Dressed up llamas at weddings are a thing now

Alexis Hobbs, writing for Brides:

For brides getting married in the Portland, Oregon, or Vancouver, Washington, area, your llama dreams can now be turned into reality. Mtn Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas is offering an exclusive service to brides and grooms who want to make sure their wedding is the most talked about event of the year.

According to the non-profit organization’s website, their llamas—named Rojo, Smokey, Diego, and Jean-Pierre—are pros when it comes to socializing at special events. “Always decorated to compliment, our llamas can easily handle all ages, and any size of crowd.”

But just as weddings can be unpredictable AF, these furry guys don’t necessarily come with a guaranteed presence on your big day. “To avoid undo stress for our animals, we may not be able to fill requests which would require us to travel during peak traffic times,” the website notes.

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