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oobject: 'daily user-ranked gadget lists'
Bladerunner – so where are we now? Particularly where are all the artsy animated building facades?Here are 15 of our favorites, avoiding Vegas style tacky glitz. We have tried to include some of the more recent architectural projects where the media skin is part of the design itself, rather than merely a billboard. Media skins are often designed by specialist firms in concert with the main architect, such as Berlin’s, excellent, Realities United, who worked on several of these projects.

15 Blade Runner Buildings

Five of so architects have produced much of the most famous modern furniture. Here are 15 different chairs by 15 different famous modern architects. Vote for your faves.

15 architects 15 chairs

There are some design classics here, from the John Russell Barlow, French Opinel and Laguiole, Japanese Higo no Kami and of course the Swiss Army knife, where we show the original 19th C version and the one actually issued to Swiss soldiers today. We have included a couple of multi-tool curiosities such as a surgeons knife with gruesome implements such as an abscess lance and a Veterinary blood letting pocket knife which we found in our attic. To demonstrate the history of pocket knives which go back to 500BC we have selected a modern looking Viking pocket knife and an amazing Roman Soldiers multi-tool which predates the Swiss Army by nearly 2000 years.

12 classic pocket knives

Up to the 19th Century mentally ill people were sometimes chained naked in squalid conditions in places like London’s Bethlehem hospital which became synonymous with chaos (its name being contracted to bedlam) and where tourists would pay to see the freak show. Then came the extreme rationalism of the Kirkbride plan which created a very unusual form of architecture for asylums throughout the Anglosphere that was used until the 20th Century. As a result of their demise, most are abandoned ruins today, giant, rotting testimonies to a bygone era of clinical Victorian discipline combined with neo-Gothic extravagance.The Kirkbride plan consists of an enormous a symmetrical staggered wing, like a bird made out of lego. Men are on the left and women on the right in wings that radiate from the main entrance for increasingly violent or incurable patients. Early mental institutions where patients had to pay for their own incarceration would also vary in class (rich to poor) on the y axis. The staggering of the wings ensured the flow of air through each, purging them of diseased vapors perhaps, such was the Victorian obsession with fresh air, from outdoor Tuberculosis wards to seaside promenades and piers.

insane asylum plans

It is no accident that very few production gull-wing door cars have ever been built. It is a design gimmick that looks superficially interesting but is highly impractical. Most gull wing cars are concept designs, and the company that made the most famous of all, the De Lorean DMC 12, went bankrupt. The Mercedes 300 SL is a lone example of a wonderful looking gull wing car, but even that was deemed dangerous, and nicknamed ‘the widowmaker’.The gull wing’s marginally less impractical sister, the scissor door, has actually become a signature feature for Lamborghini. How fitting that a symbol of bad design should represent a, once great, car producer that has reduced itself to churning out expensive kitsch, since the mid 80s.Somewhere in between a scissor and a gull wing are the doors on the cheaper Toyota Sera, which is a car that looks like someone’s grandmother trying to be cool.Vote for your very worst.

bad design gull wing cars

Magic Lanterns are essentially pre-electric slide projectors. They hold a unique position in the history of gadgets, being popular at the end of the nineteenth century when cheap mass produced decoration became available. They represent one of the last machines to be designed like furniture rather than gadgets.The dirty little secret of design is that good taste equals expensive – when everybody could afford decoration, minimalist design with expensive materials became a way to display wealth (the early modernist, Barcelona pavilion had stainless steel columns, onyx walls and travertine floors) contrary to legend, modernism was originally product for the elite, not the masses.Magic Lanterns are pre-modernist, richly decorated items that are very different from the design of todays gadgets, which look like their design is dictated by function, but in reality (like an expensive Porsche designed to travel at speeds which it is illegal to do so) is dictated by a fetishized culture of the machine.

12 Magic Lanterns

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WTF is That? #7

May 15th, 2009 #link

mystery object

What is this, what does it do? Can I have one for my birthday?

Answers in the comments



11 Responses to “WTF is That? #7”

  1. jeremy Says:

    Looks like some kind of giant solenoid.

  2. louis Says:

    Nuclear Fission Reaction?

  3. louis Says:

    No its nuclear fussion!

  4. louis Says:

    heres more info

    largest superconducting stellarator in the world
    This Japanese fusion research device consists of intertwined coils of superconducting material, and is designed to contain a 100-million-degree nuclear fusion plasma. The research aims to solve the many engineering challenges that must be overcome in order for fusion reactors to produce more energy than they consume.

  5. james Says:

    pretty cool guy louis

  6. admin Says:

    @louis

    Yes! Its the ‘Large Helical Device’.

    What I find interesting is that it demonstrates that the extreme engineering requirements of high energy physics can produce objects which are more beautiful than most product design, and without any deliberate aesthetic intent.

    More here: http://www.lhd.nifs.ac.jp/en/

  7. John Says:

    @admin

    It’s a purely functional expression of mathematics based upon the natural world. Two things we already know to be beautiful in their superficial simplicity and fascinating in their deep complexities.

    When everything is in its place for a reason and based around nature you inevitably end up with something inspiring, i think.

  8. robert Says:

    Oddly reminiscent of a nightmare I once had, except it was all in constant motion!!!

  9. robert Says:

    Actually, the Japanese Large Helical Device…

  10. Dave Says:

    Looks like an air conditioning system designed by H. R. Geiger…

  11. Sullivan Says:

    That is beautiful!