A Prayer for the Dying.

Yes. I know I don’t post here enough.

My friend Alis’ mom is dying.

This one sentence carries with it a whole huge story, as you might expect. But I’ll keep it fairly brief.  Due to a lack of money, Alis has been placed in the role of full time, 24 hour a day caretaker for her dying mother, even though she herself is disabled. Her mother has emphysema, and is not dying “eventually”.  She is dying “really soon.”.  The problem is that Alis gave up what little she had to care for her mother. When she dies, there is a very small life insurance policy whose proceeds will benefit Alis.  But there will be a delay  in time between when her mother’s death occurs, and when the life insurance policy pays out.  There is no money to cover this gap. Every penny they have has gone into her mother’s care.

I realize it is the holiday season and people are strapped for cash. So instead of just asking for people to help her out, I decided to create an egg so people could actually purchase something for their money that they  could then give as a gift. Seemed win-win all the way around. Alis gets a little help, the buyer gets a physical object for their money suitable for gift giving, and I don’t have to put out cash I *truly* don’t have to help the situation.

Alis’ mom was a collector of flow blue china.  This was endearing, as I hold a degree in restoration and historic preservation, and as people who know me well already know, ceramics hold a special place in my heart due to the influence of my dear (and now gone) friend Amy Kalina (I miss you, Amy.)  Because of how negative space works on eggs, I decided to reverse the colors and instead of using white with cobalt blue, did the egg in cobalt blue with white.

My soon(hey, everything is relative..) to exist egg site (eggrotech) isn’t ready yet (might help if I had started it past buying the domain name but never mind that now…). so I don’t know where else to do this- so it’s going here.

I’m putting this egg up for auction. Shipping to be paid by the winner.  Yes, I can ship internationally. No, I’ve never had one break in transit and I’ve sent eggs all over the world.  Yes, I will happily include an egg stand. No, I cannot *guarantee* you will get it by Christmas day.  I’ll do what I can, but it’s the holidays and if someone wins it overseas I just can’t guarantee it will make it in time.

If you’ve never seen one of my eggs before, here’s some things you should know:

1. This is a real egg. No, I’m not kidding. It’s a real egg.

2.  It’s a chicken egg. If you want to know how big it is, go into your kitchen, open your refrigerator, and remove an egg. There ya go.

3. Bearing point #2 in mind- these images are 2.5-3x life size.  They’re just there to show detail. Imperfections seen in the images are not always visible in real life.  The colors are blue and white.  Any red you see on the finish in the photos is just a reflection from my mug behind it.  There is no red color on the egg anywhere.  It has a semi-gloss finish.

4.  Yes, these are made by me. Well not the actual egg. I’m not a chicken.  The chicken does that part. I do the rest of it, though.

Click on any of these images in order to see them in a larger format.




Bids will be taken through midnight December 15 2012, EST.

How do you bid?

You can:

leave a comment here at this post (this is easiest…)

You can send me a message via twitter at either my @damnedgoodesign or @djbronxelf accounts. I can update the post here to reflect the current price.

You can find me on SLU under Bronxelf.  If you message me there I’ll reflect the current price here.

You can find me on google chat if you already have my ID, or any number of other IM methods. Im pretty reachable, to be honest.

All proceeds other than the cost of shipping (which is extra) will go directly to Alis. I won’t touch the money other than the shipping, which has to go to me.

Bidding starts at $150 USD, the standard cost for one of my eggs (that isn’t black on the inside.).

Retweets, and any other forms of spreading the word on this are welcome. I’m just trying to help my very exhausted friend here.

Thanks a lot for reading, and have a happy new year, everyone.


The current price is: $250USD. (bid received through gtalk.)

Tardis Corset Technical Notes Part 2: The second version.

With a proof of concept, if not much more, in hand, I set about making a second version.  Nikki suggested printing the panels on paper and using the paper.  My printer was out of ink at the time (I have a fancy printer and the ink costs a mint.), so I borrowed a printer, and set about doing that.  What eventually appeared was a sandwich:

clear plastic

frosted plastic


clear plastic

This took a fair bit of time in photoshop, since I had to make the panels look exactly correct. So an hour or so per panel to make sure it all looked the way it was supposed to.  But I was having printing problems- the panels weren’t printing at the right size and it wasn’t my printer.  Concerns about ink usage arose. After several attempts I finally managed to get all the printed panels in my hands and make the sandwiches.

While this looked okay- certainly better than the previous attempt, it had a flaw- it was very hard to make the sandwich stay together.  I spent a lot of time gluing and gluing.  The glue has to go SOMEWHERE and there was nowhere to put it on the panel that it was well hidden.  I had lots of problems with the panels coming apart. I kept gluing them back together.  But I was rapidly running out of TIME.  I shipped the panels overnight to Philadelphia.  They were supposed to be there by noon the next day.  Nikki would then have one full day to get it all together.  This was the second round of panels:

In the mad rush I cut the door opening to the sign on the stomacher backwards. Oops.

The USPS lost the package.

They misrouted it and it didn’t arrive until a day later.  Then Nikki had the same problems I did with panel separation.  She’d had a really, really awful week (for various reasons) and in the end just couldn’t build the corset in time for Defcon.  We then were focused on a new deadline- Wicked Faire on August 13.

So we were getting there, but we weren’t quite there yet.

Defining our terms.

Art is not design.

Design is not art.

These concepts overlap, but they are not synonymous. Were we to create a Venn Diagram, it would illustrate this relationship perfectly.

Oh. Wait. I already did that.:

Before we go any further than this, we need to really define “art”. In this case there’s two definitions we need to be concerned with.

1. To say something beautiful, created by a person or people, is art.

A painting, a sculpture, a piece of music, a photograph, a ballet.  All of these are examples of which we are familiar.  There are many others, of course, but you get the idea.  To say that art is a beautiful thing is common and we know what that means when people say it.

2. To say a physical object, created by a person or people is challenging, describing, informing or otherwise making a social or cultural commentary.

These things may not necessarily be beautiful.  They *CAN* be and often are, but that’s not their primary purpose.  Their purpose is to get people to think about culture, relationships between people,  and society.  I tend to think of these things as “Art” and they are the stuff of which “Art pretension” thrives on.  They’re the sort of things that people stroke their chins over and say “hmm, yes” a lot about.

So having defined that for purposes of this post, I want to talk a little about design.

Design is purpose driven.  When you design a building, the building has a function. When you design a restaurant, that restaurant has a function.  The same thing can be said of anything one *designs*, from a catapult to a coffee machine.  You can design a knitting pattern and make a scarf. You can even use design in the process of making art- I map out a design for each egg that I create, but the finished product is not a design project. It’s a piece of art.  However, if I design someone’s kitchen, that’s a design project, no matter how pretty it is.

All of that brings me to a post that appeared yesterday on Dezeen.  Go have a good look. I’ll wait.

When I first saw this, the post had just gone up, and there were no comments to it yet. When I went back this morning, apparently I’m not the only one who wasn’t pleased. But what really bothers me is that the *supporters* of this work don’t seem to get that fundamentally, THIS IS NOT A DESIGN PROJECT. It’s an ART INSTALLATION.

Frankly, I think it’s a pretty good art installation.  I really mean that. I think that as *ART* (definition #2, though it’s not a bad looking object either) it works quite well. It conveys a clear message and provokes thought about the concepts it addresses.  In that sense, it’s very successful.

As a design project, this FAILS, completely.  It’s not *REALLY* a bookshelf.  It’s not. It’s designed to hold very specific books, intended to make a societal and/or cultural statement.  If you put other books on it, it ruins the intent of the artist (yes, I said it cause it’s not a design project and I’m not going to call it one.) So really, its only purpose is to make that statement, and no other. It does not serve *an actual function* beyond making the cultural statement.  The books, even though they’re being held by the shelf are only there *AS PART* of the overall statement.

It’s NOT DESIGN. It’s ART. I don’t think it’s BAD art, either. But It. Is. Not. Design.

Considering the fact that there are innumerable *DESIGNERS* creating oh, I don’t know, actual design projects that could be featured on what is supposed to be a design blog, the fact that Dezeen doesn’t seem to be too clear on what design is/is not and what art is/is not is… well pretty disappointing (yes, I do have a gift for understatement, why do you ask?)

Come on.  Show some damned design work.


Where have I been?

No, I don’t want to talk about that.

What happened to the cabinet?

Finished. Been finished since before Gothmas, but don’t have photos yet because there’e still Gothmas decorations sitting on it (I need another box.)

What else has happened?

My cats (specifically Rupert and Rerun, but mostly Rupert) destroyed my original, not reproduction, not reiussue from Herman Miller, ORIGINAL, with original glass, Noguchi coffee table.

What the hell do you mean, “destroyed”?

Does that help answer the question?

Can you fix it?

Sort of.  I can repair the base. I do have a degree in Restoration that might be worth something other than cheap paper. But the glass (which I’m still finding in my floor weeks later) is obviously gone (I saved one chunk for posterity.) I can get an authorized reissue piece of glass from Herman Miller but it ain’t cheap and you know, it will be precisely correct dimension wise( sorry but the knockoff pieces *aren’t.*  I’ve lived with an original for a long, long time- I can spot a knockoff Noguchi table every time), but it still won’t be the original glass. Yes, I know no one will know but me. But I’ll still know.  Not ready to tackle that one yet.

What are you working on now?

Apparently, carving eggs. I saw an article a few months ago about this. Figured I’d give it a shot.  It’s not easy and it does take practice.  You do have some spectacular failures before you get any success. Most people tend to use larger eggs. Goose, duck, Emu, and Ostrich, since all of them are a) larger than chicken eggs and b) more sturdy than chicken eggs. It ain’t easy to crack an ostrich egg, let me tell you.  My approach was the “New York, New York” method. I figured if I could manage to get a handle on how chicken eggs carved up, I could do any kind of egg I wanted.

Of course my *perfect for this application* box of micro drill bits, which is DEFINITELY in this house because I see it *every time I don’t need it* decided to disappear now that I *do* need it, my tools were limited.  More/different tools probably would have led to earlier successes. Fortunately, there’s no shortage on eggs. (and no, none of the eggs were wasted- they were all used)

So by now some people are wondering how in the hell one carves an eggshell.  Maybe. I mean, if I’m lucky. I suppose the answer is “carefully.” But as a step by step process? Not that complicated.

1. Choose an egg.

This sounds easy but after you’ve screwed this up a few times? You get a feel for which eggs will work better.  The thicker the shell the easier it will be to work with without destroying after you’ve sunk four hours into it.  With more practice of course, you can go for more delicate and fragile shells.  How can you tell? Easiest way I’ve found is to simply hold them up to the light and see which ones you can see through the least.   I found that brown eggs were easier to screw up than white eggs, though realistically this could just be a matter of practice. Also, I don’t like brown, so take that as you will.   But you start to notice that though eggs are in general, egg shaped (or we’d call them something else) that there’s a great variety within that and you’re right away having to make aesthetic decisions about “what shape will work best.”  I suggest that your criteria start with “not broken.”

2. Great, so I have an egg. Now what?

Well now, we have to get the inside of the egg outside without crushing the shell.  My first attempts were seriously low-fi.  I used a safety pin.  While it’s possible to actually do this? Far more often? This is the result:

Again, you *CAN* get the egg out, but seriously, it’s a pain in the ass and unless you’re secretly Dizzy Gillespie, your cheeks get tired too.  So, screw the low fi method.  I broke out the machinery. In particular, my trusty flexible shaft machine (which as you will recall from many previous posts, is not a sex toy.)  As mentioned previously, my wonderful and fantastic array of micro drill bits has gone missing. However all was not lost, as I do have some tools to play with. In this case, a box of #52 carbide micro drill bits. ( For those who like engineering porn, the bits are .0635s)In short, they are wee. How wee?

Punch a hole in the top and bottom of the egg. FINDING the precise top and bottom is not unlike finding the north and south pole. I suggest “wing it, it’s close enough.”   I then went back in and made the hole on the bottom slightly larger using a micro cone diamond point file(if you follow this link it’s the one on the far left.). Then you go back and blow the inside of the egg out into a bowl.  It helps if you shake the egg every so often to break the yolk.    I then rinse the inside of the egg, but don’t make yourself nuts- it’s hard to get in there yet.    Let it dry.

3.  Then mostly it’s about going to town with micro sized tools, a flex shaft (or dremel) and lots of practice. I just sketched on the egg in pencil and went to town.  There were lots of failures. (eight, to be exact, at various stages.)

yet another failure.

Accidentally profound.

that was short lived.

4. But what about that icky membrane on the inside?

As you can see in the last photo, there isn’t one, but you can see it on all the others. Where did it go? How did I remove it? HOW SMALL WERE THE TWEEZERS?

Nope. No tweezers(I tried that. Doesn’t work well, btw.).  ORGANIC CHEMISTRY! SCIENCE!  CUE THOMAS DOLBY!

*boo doo doododo boo do doodoodo doo doo. boodoo. doo.* (this makes perfect sense if you’ve cued the Thomas Dolby properly.)

No, what you need is the exact opposite of what you need to color Easter eggs.  Easter eggs take color because the dye is combined with acid- generally vinegar. This makes eggshells softer and increases their porosity.  Color goes in, color stays in.   But egg *SHELLS* are not the same thing as the membrane on the inside of the egg. That’s just pure protein.  And what eats protein? Not acids, but bases.

Screw the science lesson- get a glass jar with a tight fitting lid(I used one of Stacy’s former jam jars) pour some bleach into it and carefully place the egg in.  Put the cap back on and watch science go to work.  20 minutes, half hour later? Carefully remove the eggshell and rinse in a water bath til it stops smelling like your white wash.


5. But how did you get those circles so ROUND?

They aren’t. But if you’re asking how I did the touch up work to make them MORE round, I sketched out where they needed to be fixed, and used my cone file on a low speed.  If I were using a thicker egg, like emu or ostrich, high speeds are better because they produce more power and more torque.  But chicken eggs disintegrate under that kind of pressure, so low speed, very slowly, being careful and patient.  I’d mark off each hole that I’d “fixed” with a pencil.  After that, I just used plain soap and water (dish soap) and cleaned the pencil marks off.   Finally,  I let the whole thing dry.  Once it sits overnight you can clearly see the proteins the bleach didn’t get the first time because they will have oxidized and turned golden brown against the otherwise white shell.  Back into the bleach for you!  Just let it sit there for a couple hours to remove any remaining residue, and then rinse carefully.

6. So why did you do all of this?

Honestly? Cause spring is coming and some people collect eggs. If anyone wants to buy one, let me know. I’ve already been asked about black ones(doable).  I can also do gilded ones (silver and gold) as well.  I was thinking of trying squares, too.  But I  can only make like… Three, before I run out of places to put them(and Rupert destroys them) here so it’s mostly going to be a “by commission” thing.  However if you want one, let me know! I can certainly do larger ones as well.

Got it? Eggcellent.

Oh well that explains that.

due to a large volume of high-quality entries the jury has yet to make its final decision.
results are now expected to be announced between august 10 – 15, 2008″

I had been wondering what had happened to the Crystal Vision contest results.  I know they got over 4,000 entries (I think it was 4072) so realistically, odds are even longer than usual on winning, but I think I had a good idea going on, so we’ll see.

In the meantime there’s been a new contest announced in partnership with Altec Lansing that I’m considering.  I like the speakers part, not quite as keen on the way they’ve worded the headset part.  It sounds too much like “how do we market headsets to the SATC crowd” when really I want nothing to do with catering to them in the first place. I’ll get over it and bug some jewelry designers to see if they have anything inspiring to say.  But I like competitions like this. Keeps you thinking.

Still mosaicing the top of the cabinet btw. Needed to run down and get a couple colors I ran out of yesterday.  But I should be done with the top by the end of the week, in theory.

I don’t think I’m back yet, but..

Honestly, I don’t think I’m back yet.  Things remain in a state where I’m not feeling too good about posting much of anything anywhere, and I have no idea when things will begin to straighten out.

I am really only popping up to mention that I actually, miraculously, made the Designboom Crystal Vision contest deadline (which is tomorrow), by submitting my entry at some obscene hour of the morning this morning.  Apparently, they have over 4,000 entries at this time, so my chances of winning aren’t great- I am sure there’s lots of great designs and products out there.  Still, I’m glad to have made the deadline (I am now, rather with trepidation, reviewing the submission to check for typos. )

Project in Miami continues.  Clients still lovely.  Doing endless small revisions which matter in the long run, but are fussy and time consuming.  Looking forward to handing over all the plans/elevations/sections/details, and The Big Book to the clients for review.

I’ve seen some great stuff posted elsewhere recently (since clearly I have nothing good to say), but in particular, today, this showed up at Design Hole, and Dezeen has the goods on the new “fabric concept car” from BMW.

No, seriously guys- checkkit:

I’m going to go bury myself in AutoCAD again now- I just know I’m going to need to make shop drawings…

There’s always a food analogy to be made.

I took the weekend off from writing, largely figuring with the holidays and all, no one was really online anyway except me. But I didn’t take the weekend off from working. In fact I got a lot done on the Miami house project, which is starting to congeal.

Yes, I said congeal. I find that design is a lot like making either chocolate pudding or hollandaise sauce. Take your pick. The point is that there’s a while at the beginning where you’re stirring and nothing seems like it’s really happening though you’re certainly stirring a whole lot. And then, all of a sudden the whole thing comes together and becomes food in one shot. Boom. Pudding(or sauce. Your call.) .

Aside from the fact that I now want chocolate pudding (or maybe hollandaise sauce.), that’s the best analogy of how work went this weekend. Miami has started to congeal. How’s that for a visual?

This is looking like a super busy week as well since I have a lot of projects on my plate, all of which are demanding attention.

But aside from doing a lot of work on my own stuff over the weekend, I did get a boost of inspiration from this, which I saw over at momeld(they got it from Nat. Geo.) I have been fighting the urge to pull out my flexible shaft tool (I actually own three of these, and they’re far less obscene than their name would imply) and my box of micro drill bits to try to do this myself(I’m also thrilled I actually have everything I need to do this already in my house.) I do think that at some point I’m going to have to try this, though. It’s just so COOL. This work was done by Franc Grom, an artist from Slovenia.





And now, back to stirring my congealing projects.

So much for a narrow focus.

(Y’see this is why it’s a problem.)

Because this post is all over the place.

I entered the DesignBoom/Swarovski Crystal product design competition yesterday. Sadly, that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to say about it in public because of the rules of the contest.  Stay tuned, sports fans.  Oh and please, don’t talk about the contest with me here (beyond the usual generic comments.)  You can always contact me via other means if you need to know something.

I also registered to attend this year’s ICFF here in NYC.  This would be my first time going.  In previous years there was always something that screwed with the scheduling and I couldn’t make it.   Hopefully the registration goes through smoothly(nope. I have five days to fax them a crapload of stuff. Damn it.)  and I’ll be able to give everyone a full report of all the interesting and inspiring things I find. I assume they will let me in with Ye Nikon o Wonderment, but  I suppose I’ll find out (and not the hard way, cause I am *not* traipsing all the way down there for them to fight with me at the gate over my damned camera.)  I also want to scope it out because I am strongly considering exhibiting there next year with one of my own furniture pieces.
Which I guess means that now is as good a time as any to talk about that.  I really like designing furniture.  I tell people all the time, and this is the absolute truth, that I design furniture because I hate shopping.  I would rather design it myself than have to shop. I also find that a custom solution is very often the best one, but mostly I just hate shopping *that much*.  (Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

I admit, when I went into design school I had no idea that I’d wind up being the kind of designer I am when I came out the other side.  I do think I was more prepared than most of the people that were there with me, since I’d been working in the industry (just not as a designer) for so long before I decided to just go under the rock to get my most recent degrees.   And I’m grateful that my department chairman was (and I have no doubt still is), a sadistic, brutal, workhorse of a person (whom frankly, I adore to bits- you either love him or you hate him, and I think he walks on water.)  because I do believe honestly that he made me a better designer (even if I did tell him to go fuck himself on a regular basis for years.  He got used to it.  Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

Anyway, back to furniture. See, one of the problems with being as introverted (not shy, just introverted) as I am is that you often have an exposure problem. Unfortunately, the meatspace world still overwhelmingly works in favor of extroverted people, and I promise I’m never going to be one of them. So you may do a lot of really good work, but no one ever sees it because you have to deal with all those people, and you’d rather eat ground glass than have to do that on any given day.  It takes you a little while to find a series of coping mechanisms so you can interact on that level.

I have finally worked it all out to a point where I feel comfortable looking into getting at least one of my furniture pieces prototyped.  There’s a steep learning curve involved, but fortunately I know smart people who are able to assist.  I’m going to try to get the simplest one done first, since simple means less likely to have some kind of serious problem.  So, fewest materials, easiest construction.  Fortunately, it is the kind of piece that would fit in quite nicely at any ICFF event, so I am going to try to work it out somehow.

The first thing I looked into was getting a patent on the design. It may be that I wind up sending the design out overseas to be prototyped, and I really, *really* would like not to run into 40zillion of my chairs on sale on Canal Street before I ever get the original prototypes back.

Fortunately,  I know a smart person at the patent office, who kindly looked into it for me,  and told me that the expense wasn’t worth it- that the only way it’s honestly worth it is if you have the money to actually sue if the patent is violated, and patent suits are super expensive.

Well, poop.

My personal familiarity is with copyrights, not patents (I used to be a musician- I was smart enough at the time to take a course in copyright law.) So, my understanding now is that though the images of my chair are protected under copyright(and they are.), the actual physical product wouldn’t be. The expense of all of this now clears up a lot in my head about the proliferation of knockoff designer furniture out there. Now it all makes sense.

So I suppose the first steps are to find out what materials are most appropriate for the finished product (who knew there were so many kinds of rubber?) , and to work out making what I suppose could be called a pre-prototype out of “some other material that I can put together in my house”) in order to work out the engineering- how many pieces the chair will need, how it should be put together, etc.
Maybe I should do it in miniature first. That sounds less daunting. I see injection molded plastic and tool dip in my future.  Also, gathering a bunch of stuff to prove my credentials to the ICFF.  Bleah.

Design as social commentary.

For all the time I’ve spent (and believe me, it’s been an OBSCENE amount of time) working on charity projects, I don’t possess much of a social conscience. I’m not an activist (though I do hold strong opinions on many things and I am a furious supporter of the City of New York) , I don’t talk about politics much (having a politician as a parent growing up has jaded me- honestly, I just don’t *care* what your politics are as long as I don’t have to hear about them)   I don’t suffer from any kind of Panda Guilt.  For me, design isn’t an exercise in social commentary.  I just don’t have it in me to create clever takes on cultural mores, since I find most cultural mores to be complete shit and not worth my attention.

So a couple of days ago, Dezeen coughed this one up, and I just sat there thinking “wow, that’s a hell of a punch for 3 small products.”

What am I talking about? This.:




Let’s talk about what these things are.

They’re scales, designed by Alice Wang, called “Asimov’s First Law”.  If you’re not as geeky as I am, the law in question is this one:

 “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

I am not entirely sure a scale qualifies as a robot, but okay I’ll let that one slide.  The top one is called “Half Truth”.  The premise is that the person on the scale cannot read it themselves. They are required to have someone else there to read the scale for them (and I suppose it’s up to the scale reader as to whether or not they want to tell the person on the scale the truth.)  The second, even more creepy, is called “Open Secret”.  The person weighing themselves has no idea what the results are. The results are transmitted via SMS to someone else, who then can immediately do whatever they want with that information, I suppose.  The bottom one is called “White Lies”, which operates on the principle that the farther back you stand on the scale, the less the scale says you weigh.

The first time I saw this set and read the article, I was horrified.  I mean genuinely horrified.  Worse still was the fact that the few comments that had come in seemed to think it was funny and lighthearted.  Except it’s not.  What the article *doesn’t* say (and it’s a dis-service to the designer, because this really should be mentioned up front) is that Alice Wang isn’t being cute.  Her bio states “She often uses products to illustrate human behaviours, social taboos and social trends. Her products question why people do what they do and how it will evolve over time leading onto other possible behaviours.” 

And when I read that the penny dropped, and I went from horrified to absolute AWE at the genius of this. Because if there were ever a way to shine a light into the dark corner of the psyche on the issue of weight and how it’s related to shame by designing a product? Oh, this has GOT to be it.  This is brilliant.  We’re used to seeing social commentary as visual art (paintings, murals, graphic design, and photography) and as words of course, but product design? Not so much- which makes this even more brilliant.

I think these products achieve her point like a nail gun driving it home.  Nice.