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Design

We were impressed by young designer Kelli Anderson’s inspiring TED talk  about finding the hidden talents of ordinary things.

Much of Brooklyn based Anderson’s interest lies in challenging our assumptions about the way objects and processes, from paper to politics, operate on a daily basis.

Her fascinating projects include a paper record player wedding invitation and a utopian fake New York Times that she and a bunch of like-minded  associates released in 2008.

A note from Anderson's home.

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Scientist and designer Anke Domaske with her milk-made yarn.

Yes, you read right. A German scientist/fashion designer has found a way to turn sour milk into functional, sustainable and attractive clothing. Cue impressed exclamation.

Although not a new concept (milk fabric dates to at least the 1930s), Anke Domaske’s ‘QMilch’ contains the first human-made fibre produced entirely without chemicals.

In a process that took two years to develop, the protein casein is extracted from dried milk powder, heated with ‘a few other natural ingredients’ and then spun into yarn.

About six litres of milk is required to produce one dress (retailing at between €150 and €200) for Domaske’s label, Mademoiselle Chi Chi.Domaske says the process takes just an hour, making it incredibly ecological compared with the production of other natural and synthetic fibres.

Cue impressed exclamation #2: Domaske says the protein contains anti-bacterial properties and can help regulate blood circulation. As a highly breathable fabric, QMilch also effectively regulates body temperature.

Like most people, our first reaction to the whole milk fabric thing was, ‘Huh?’, followed by, ‘Wow’. However, the analyst in us quickly moved to questioning just how ecological it is, given the impact of dairy production on the environment.

Cue impressed exclamation #3: QMilch is made using sour milk, which is apparently (albeit sadly) available in abundance, especially in Europe, where the demand for milk is not currently meeting the supply.

As you know, we at Mustard are big fans of innovation and creative thinking. A new product with a positive impact? We say bring it on. However, possibly the best thing about this whole business is the opportunity for headline pun gold!

Just think how difficult it was for us not to title this post, ‘Udderly Ridiculous: Dresses lapped up by consumers eager to milk new product’.

A design we at Mustard are impressed with this week: the Omnifer, a braille overlay for Apple iPads.

Jayson D’Alessandro’s entry for the 2011 IDEA Awards, this design aims to make iPads more accessible for the visually impaired.

Thin and light, the three-panel flip design transforms part of the iPad’s surface into a braille keyboard. A corresponding app automatically streams text into braille format, setting off a chemical reaction that raises the braille keys as required.

We hope this design makes it to the mainstream, but at any rate, it’s good to know there’s still a lot of innovative thinking out there.

Design error or hidden message? The Dark Knight Rises teaser poster

Look at this poster. Look closer. Now those of you who see a giant unicorn in Gotham City’s skyline, raise your hand. For those who didn’t immediately make it out, maybe viewing the image as an icon will help:

Giddy-up!

While fans across the globe eagerly received the recently released teaser poster for the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman series, a few of us were left scratching our heads, wondering if the illusion was intended by Warner Bros to hint at the next big action franchise (perhaps something along the lines of Charlie the Unicorn:  The Ascent) or merely an overlooked design error.

Interestingly, the franchise has a history of releasing ambiguous  teaser posters. The following image for 1989’s Batman had audiences wondering what those big gold baby teeth had to do with Tim Burton’s upcoming film.

The art for Burton’s 1992 follow up, Batman Returns, faired no better, being recalled and replaced following mass audience confusion.

Having now been exposed to the above symbols for two decades, it’s difficult to understand the confusion. However we must remember that we tend to perceive dark areas as the ‘ground’ against which lighter ‘figures’ stand out. (Remember the old ‘two faces or a vase’ optical illusion?)

Given the importance of social media to the entertainment industry (/the world), and the importance of thumbnails to social media, it seems that scale is as important as ever.  Make an image smaller and you’ll notice that in addition to the obvious loss of detail,  perception is affected, the contents often become more realistic and  certain aspects take prominence. In the absence of further detail, the Gestalt perceptual principle of ‘Figure and Ground’ gets to work.

Who knew that all this new technology would actually give us reason to dig out the old, dusty textbooks and brush up on our theory?

(see what we did there)

YoorallaTEE is back for 2011!

A joint initiative between community service provider Yooralla and t-shirt retailer T-Bar, YoorallaTEE is a competition aimed to encourage positive images of disability, literally!

The competition calls for entrants to design a t-shirt based on this year’s theme, “Disability = Diversity“.

As YoorallaTEE’s official ambassador Father Bob Maguire says, “Imagine how boring life would be without diversity. With one in five people having a disability in their lifetime, it’s pretty important that we embrace the idea that disability is a part of everyone’s lives.”

From the occasional scribbler to creative professionals, YoorallaTEE is open to people of all skill levels. Anyone interested in transforming positive images of disability into wearable messages that matter should get involved!

Need some inspiration? Check out last year’s finalists here.

The most popular designs for 2011 will be sold in T-Bar stores across Australia, and one lucky finalist will win a unique contract to design for T-Bar and a cash prize.

What a super opportunity to get your workplace or classmates involved in a good, old-fashioned design-off!

Yooralla is a wonderful organisation that helps a lot of good people by providing disability services within Victoria, and we at Mustard are really excited and proud to be involved with this special campaign.

Submit your design for YoorallaTEE 2011 online at www.yoorallatee.com.au (entries close July 31).

Get involved! Follow YoorallaTEE on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The wonderful Father Bob looking great in his awesome YoorallaTEE t-shirt!

You know those occasions in which you realise you’ve taken an everyday object for granted? It suddenly seems outrageous that you’ve never paid it special attention. What form! What function! People nearby flick you odd glances as you sit, momentarily mesmerised by your wristwatch or a bowl of yoghurt.

Yoghurt aside, we wager we’re not alone in having such moments. While casually looking for a new light fixture for the Mustard boardroom, we were pleasantly surprised to discover how lighting designs have evolved into something undeniably cool.

Here is a great example  – the Plumen 001 energy saving light bulb. Apparently we’re not the only ones to have noticed this great design; there may have been some mention of it at this year’s Brit Insurance Designs of the Year Awards.

But  our favourite  designs might be these ‘Light Blubs’ by dutch designer Pieke Bergmans. At the very least, they are the first light bulbs to make us LOL.

"This is what I imagine the inside of my head to look like." - Mustard staff member

Demakersvan Light Wind

Demakersvan's Light Wind

At Mustard, we drool over functional, uncluttered design. It’s an ethos we try to carry into all of our work.  And so it was with great admiration that we came across the Light Wind – a practical and aesthetically appealing alternative to solar powered lights,  designed by Dutch design house Demakersvan.

At over 2 metres tall and 38 centimetres wide, we suspect you’re less likely to see these during a hard rubbish day collection.