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Forays into the physical with thoughts on industrial design from frog's product design team.

Sustainability 3.0

Two frog success stories Carmanah everGEN and ECOtality Level 2 Electric Vehicle Chargerare on display at Sustainability 3.0 in San Jose.

Carmanah everGEN 1710 Off-Grid Solar Lighting

At the Sustainability 3.0 "Beauty, Brains, and Brawn" exhibit at the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery in San Jose, frog has showcased its Carmanah everGen off-grid solar lighting work and its ECOtality electric vehicle chargers.

Analog Form

“Industrial design is dying”. In the past couple of years I’ve been hearing this proclamation, and it is usually blamed on the rampant growth of smart devices and their habit of rendering some stand-alone products obsolete. Alarm clocks, calculators, and cameras are some of these disappearing products. The smart devices themselves are shrinking so much that they don’t offer a lot of opportunity for formal expression either - especially since most of their physicality happens to be a screen.

Repurpose, Reinvent, Rebirth

This weekend, while blowing off some steam at the gym, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful architecture that surrounded me. In a place where I am meant to simply burn calories and leave, I found myself enthralled by the beautiful surroundings.  San Francisco, a historical city relative to many parts of America, has many beautiful architectural relics scattered throughout its 7 square miles and hundreds of untold stories buried beneath their foundations - if only walls could talk.

Aged to Perfection

By the time you finish reading this, both of these consumer products will have been recycled at a local e-waste facility.

Communication Residue

Before fountain pens, people would write with pens with nibs. While writing, these nibs would get gunked up with ink. Periodically during a writing session, the writer would wipe the nib clean, dip the nib into the ink well to refill the nib, and start writing again.

A popular desk accessory at the time was a “pen wiper.” These desk accessories were sold wherever pens and nibs were, and occasionally they would be made by children as gifts for their parents. Above is an example where the head of a broken porcelain doll was turned into a pen wiper. As the “leaves” of the pen wiper became soiled with ink, they would be replaced. This quote from a Victorian craft book sums up the sentiment surrounding these useful and decorative objects: “A gay little pen-wiper with fresh un-inked leaves rarely comes amiss to a man who likes an orderly writing-table.”

Tangible Thinking

One of the aspects about industrial design that I enjoy the most is that I can combine thinking and making together at the same time. As soon as I have even the vaguest of ideas, I'm off to the workshop. I find that my ideas truly come to life in the process of tinkering, modeling, experimenting, It’s a fuzzy, random moment where the thoughts buzzing around in my head somehow come together and form one cohesive idea. It’s a seemingly chaotic moment where intuition and logic are combined.

The Return of Romance in the New Frontier

Inventing Outside of a Vacuum

For a while, every time my wife and I went to the local big box store we would stop by the vacuum cleaner section and check out the Dyson products. We would take them off the shelf and go through the motions with each set of products. My wife would always ask me, “How do you think they look”? The designer in me could not overlook the bright utility colors and the strong use of machine form language.

Temporary Experts

There is no denying that Daniel Day Lewis is one of the greatest actors alive today. The intensity and realism he brings to his roles result from his relentless discipline in “method acting” and dedication. It was reported that he stayed in a wheelchair for the entire filming of the movie My Left Foot in which he portrayed a paralyzed character. This resulted in two broken ribs from being hunched over in the wheelchair for so long.

Nourishing Nostalgia

Putting functionality aside, a lot of product design is about understanding consumer's emotions, feelings, and desires. Design has the power to place a product in context and it’s the context that generates value and relevance for the user.