We are pleased to announce the success of the AD Design Show this past weekend. We pulled everything together at the last minute, but this may be our most successful tradeshow yet! Take a look at the photos below to follow our journey.
From physics to conceptual design, understanding material uses to finished products, we scour our bookshelves and the Internet for infinite inspiration. While there is nothing really new anymore, we strive to push ourselves to create a new feeling. But before we can, we have to understand what past and present product design makes us feel. Below is a list of our favorite reads currently on our bookshelf.
One of our favorite books include the 2004 edition of Simply Droog 10+3 Years cataloging the history of Droog's creations since its founding in 1993. It follows all of their designs, exhibitions, projects, and publications, all while capturing the "We're weird, we know it, we like it. And so do you" mentality we've always admired in the conceptual design house. It's delicious book design makes it easy to devour, immersing you in the exploding ideas that have come out of Droog but the quick essays interspersed throughout the book make it a thoroughly enjoyable read--not a school assignment.
Spoon is another book we've spent hours poring over. It covers 100 designers who have emerged on the scene within the past 5 years, all chosen by 10 renowned design critics and other internationally acclaimed designers. It's a diverse exploration of recent design products, covering everything from furniture and lighting to tools and machinery. The stunning photos make it a great pick for a coffee table perusal, but the concise descriptions and inclusion of first and second-draft sketches make Spoon a nicely bound package and source of inspiration.
1000 Chairs by Taschen presents, well, 1,000 chairs. It's the most comprehensive survey of chair design of the 20th century, reflecting all the major designers and styles we've come to recognize--and some we haven't. We like this one because of its focus on a single item; it's a full exploration of the chair, which forces you to take notice of the minute details most people (read: not designers) don't see. From the classic and beloved Eames to Archizoom Associati's 'Safari,' 1000 Chairs has got you covered.
You can actually build them without being trained as an engineer. Even though there are only 15 projects, Monk provides you with enough theory that you can adapt each project and create your own modifications, so the possibilities are practically endless. There are more details and scientific principles you can peruse on the dangerously mad website (which, yes, looks like it belongs in 2001, but actually covers quite a few new technological advancements--surprisingly).
Because of the thorough information--Monk is very well-informed and knows how to explain difficult concepts in laymen's terms--we are able to translate much of the information into our own product design ideas. And even if nothing comes from the ideation sessions, who doesn't want to play with a ping-pong gun or build a levitation machine?
Chris Lefteri's Materials for Design provides a great overview of materials, their applications, examples of their uses, and even rough costs. It's very easy to digest as the design-heavy layout provides manageable bits of information so you're not left feeling overwhelmed. With a focus on raw materials (as opposed to semi-formed sold as a sheet, rod, etc), Lefteri provides you with the knowledge to understand the capabilities of anything from algae to PCL.
Materials for Design is a phenomenal jumping off point if you're looking into experimenting with new materials. It might just be number one on our required reading list. And if you're looking to explore other topics relating to material capabilities, follow Lefteri's Hello Materials blog.
Last, but not least (not in our book), is our sketchbooks. We have entire shelves of Moleskins filled with notes, sketches, to-do lists, and doodles. Our ideas spring from other ideas, but the power of a blank page helps our ideas turn into concepts, and, in turn, those concepts into products.
All design movements have been a reaction or a rejection to the aesthetics—zeitgeist if you will—of a certain time and place that preceded it. Contemporary design, in particular, liberated itself from the constraints of both the modern dogma of machine aesthetic as well as the eclecticism rooted in historical reference. It became a dynamic hybrid of varying design techniques and movements: individual and international, eclectic and expressional. It is at once traditional and modern, sculptural, cultural, traversing the boundaries of time and space.
But like all of reactive movements before it, contemporary design has now become ubiquitous in an oversaturated industry. Nearly every topical design studio has laid claim to the contemporary aesthetic, and in the Internet age of innumerable blogs, the endless flow of social media, and the slew of young millennials giving the middle finger to big business while aspiring to own their own start-ups, it’s too easy to get lost en masse. (Having a decent press page does not a successful business make.)
While the movement claims to be particular to each designer and perpetually in flux, it cannot go unnoted that contemporary design has a distinct aesthetic of its own. There is an overabundance of clean lines, open spaces, natural light, smooth surfaces, shiny materials, dark woods, light marbles, stream-lined lighting…. There’s a definitive theme to contemporary design that has captured American 21st century culture and aesthetics and Thislexik simply doesn’t feel comfortable conforming to it.
Once a purported "contemporary design studio," Thislexik now maintains its title as an experimental design lab, with an approach to design more akin to science experiments and less like adhering to an instruction book, or popular trends. We ask questions, undertake copious amounts of research, test hypotheses, and analyze the resulting product's function, style, and credibility in the market. We are not afraid of taking risks, or going against the flow. In fact, we embrace it.
Thislexik started with a simple question: how to re-purpose used clothing in an innovative way. We’ve been expanding our line of products ever since, and hope to continue producing high-quality furniture composed of both extra ordinary and extraordinary materials. Our mission is to scan the environment in search of raw materials and found objects to manipulate, conjoin, and experiment upon, resulting in highly conceptual products that explore the effect of visual data on the user’s experience. Now that we have released our new series of products at ICFF this spring, we hope to take on a new material each month and test its capabilities.
Contemporary design is rooted in the moment. As in, this moment. Right now. But it’s not enough anymore to design in the moment. We must design for future moments.
We’re making a definitive break away from the contemporary design principles, shifting toward the experimental. It is defiant, and unapologetically so. Thislexik’s designs explicate the experiential aspect to not only inform, but, dare I say it, confuse.
“I want people to be shocked. I want them to question how [my products] work, how they’re made,” explains founder and owner of Thislexik, Vedat Ulgen. “I felt like there was something missing in the design world. I wanted to do something different.”
“I like to think there's a certain "wow" factor to my pieces, not only on the way they look, but how they are put together, what materials are used to create something unexpected,” Ulgen adds. “Most of our creations are inspired by products that people are used to seeing and how they are constructed and flipping that concept on it's head. What you see is not what you get.”
Thislexik’s designs are not necessarily a reaction to the contemporary design movement, but we do strive for a reaction.
After a grueling albeit extremely fun few months of cranking out eleven new products to debut at ICFF 2016, the (saw)dust has finally settled and we're on track to begin the experimentation stage of design. We've always done things a little differently at Thislexik, so we're super stoked to start playing with new materials. We've been cataloging what feels like hundreds of materials, surfaces, and media from our personal library. Below are a few of our favorites.
We recently debuted our Bond Series at ICFF this year, a collection of furniture constructed entirely of UV bonded acrylic. While we originally planned to work with glass in keeping the homage to Shiro Kuramata true to his form, due to the high production costs and issues with being structurally sound because of the size of the pieces, we had to go with acrylic in the end.
While we're happy with the results (and its reception), it was a long and winding process to finalizing the design. With so few options to choose from for the transparent furniture we wanted, it would have been nice to have a more durable, less damaging alternative. Enter the future of transparent wood.
Scientists at the University of Maryland developed a method of stripping the color of blocks of wood, leaving behind a transparent material stronger and more insulating than glass, yet more biodegradable than plastic.
First, scientists strip the color from the wood by placing it in boiling water infused with sodium hydroxide and other chemicals. This process strips the wood of its color, turning it white. The researchers than have to soak the wood with an epoxy which strengthens the wood while making it transparent due to its refractive qualities; the tiny channels that transport nutrients in plants (wood) become conduits of light, allowing it to pass through the solid matter.
There’s already another group of scientists in Sweden who have developed a similar method, so it goes without saying that transparent wood is a definitive product of our future (and hopefully, our future products). With all the strength of opaque and now transparent lumber and its biodegradable properties, this discovery effects a significant shift in the way architects and designers will design for the future.
Leather Made From Pineapple Waste
We've dabbled with leather in the past, but have yet to produce any final products using the animal by-product. Mostly, it's very costly for genuine quality leather and, while we're not against it, we're always looking for more ways to be eco-friendly; our studio leaves little impact on the environment , so we fully support ecologically friendly materials in our designs as well.
So when we heard about the non-woven textile made from pineapple leaves, Pinatex, we were intrigued. Developed by Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the Pinatex fibers are extracted from leaves that are usually discarded after the pineapple process, meaning no additional land, water, or pesticides are needed to produce them.
During this process, called decortication, the pineapple fibers undergo an "industrial process to become a non-woven textile." The resulting roles of fabric can replace traditional animal-based leather and faux leather, both of which involve hazardous chemicals and leave a large carbon footprint.
That's what makes Pinatex the ideal leather replacement; even the by-product of decortication is beneficial to the local farming community as it is biomass which can be recycled as fertilizer back in the pineapple fields, making this a self-sustaining process. And boy, is it beautiful!
Gallium: Metal that Melts in Your Hand
It may be one of the oldest elements, but lesser known metals. Gallium is a silvery, glass-like, soft metal, with the second largest liquid range of any element and is one of the few metals that melts near room temperature. It doesn't exist freely in nature and must be extracted from flue dusts of coal, or as a byproduct of aluminum and zinc production.
What makes it different from other metals? It clings to or "wets" glasslike surfaces and, like water, it expands when it freezes. Because of its unique properties, gallium has been used as a non-toxic replacement for mercury in telescopes and thermometers, an energy conductor in solar panels, and can be painted on glass to make a brilliantly shiny mirror.
While the majority of gallium's uses have been dedicated to science and technology, there remains an alchemistic pull toward this mystifying metal, one that insists we find new ways to apply these special characteristics in everyday life.
3D Printed Ceramic
3-D printing is all the rage. Heck, we even bought a printer of our own to print in-house. We're printing bricks, genitalia, even food. And while we love the idea that we can cook an entire pizza with the flick of a switch, we think it's even more rad that 3D printing is making it easier to design for the future (not just our rumbling tummies). While additive manufacturing (3D printing) has become somewhat ubiquitous in recent years, ceramics has upped the ante.
Ceramics can withstand an absurd amount of heat and pressure without warping or breaking, making it difficult to 3D print the material in comparison to metals and polymers, which can be fused together by applying heat.
Because ceramics cannot be cast or machined easily, 3D printing enables a big leap in geometrical flexibility. A team at HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California has developed a “pre-ceramic resin,” which can be 3D printed much like regular polymers into complex shapes. The process, known as stereolithography, fuses a powder of silicon carbide ceramics using UV light. Once the basic shape is printed, it can be heat-treated at 1,800°F to transform the pre-ceramic resin into a regular ceramic object.
With fewer limitations on the kinds of materials that can be used, the resulting objects have superior qualities to normal 3D-printed objects. With fewer flaws than their counterparts, they resist cracking for much longer and can withstand far higher temperatures—2,500⁰F is a balmy day at the beach for ceramics while most metals would melt long before reaching that temperature.
3D printing has come a long way since its invention in the 1980s, and the scientists at HRL Laboratories predict the process will only improve, projecting that the technique will have the ability to quickly build new parts that require high heat resistance —like steam turbines, hypersonic vehicles, and jet engines.
Cork: All Around Winner
As far as sustainability goes, cork is difficult to beat. Cork production is generally considered sustainable because the tree from which is comes from is not cut down; only the bark is stripped to harvest the cork, with no harm done to the tree. In fact, with a bare trunk, the tree absorbs three to five times the CO2 to aid the regeneration process, helping us breathe a little easier. So the ecological footprint from cork's extraction to the final product is minimal compared to other building materials.
Because Thislexik is dedicated to eco-friendly practices, a couple of our first designs were made from cork so we'd like to return to the renewable resource to test it's capabilities.
When people talk about cork, the first thing it comes to mind is wine stoppers, but in fact cork is being used for every purpose we can imagine like flooring, walls, furniture, tableware, clothing. Even NASA uses it for the isolation and thermal protection of their space shuttles. The industry is realizing that cork is a very resistant waterproof material and of course eco-friendly since its extraction doesn’t harm trees. So all these attributes take cork to another level of importance for every kind of application.
Basically, cork is awesome.
We were stoked when we found Thislexik's Worn Stool mentioned in the Huffington Post. But it's even cooler that we were included in an article that lists environmentally friendly products for Earth Day!
Thislexik was built upon sustainable design practices—they're what make us, well, us. The studio itself is housed within five reclaimed shipping containers, which would have otherwise been inhabited by fish at the bottom of the Hudson River. We have a green roof to keep it cool (or at least cooler) in the summer, and three pellet burning stoves that uses compressed sawdust pellets to keep the metal containers warm during New York's brutal winters.
To further reduce our environmental footprint, we use a composting toilet and filtered rainwater collected from the roof; none of our sinks are connected to NYC tap water lines, which makes Thislexik self-sustaining.
We have also switched to an eco-friendly resin, EcoPoxy, for the Worn and Woven Series, making an otherwise extremely harmful practice environmentally friendly—you could drink out of our Worn Planter (but please don't)!
And our ideals don't just stop at the container walls: we always source locally to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and take care to support our local community. What are you doing to protect the environment?
THISLEXIK is beyond excited to announce our four page spread in V Magazine's VMan 35. Not only are we pleased with the final products, but we had so much fun making the pieces out of designer clothing including Calvin Klein, Burberry, Diesel, and Louis Vuitton. While we usually recycle the clothing that comprises the Worn Series from local thrift stores, we really embraced using the new clothing in new ways. With the clothes already provided, we were forced to think outside the box with this project.
Designer: Vedat Ulgen
Production Assistant: Mary Chimenti
Photography: Adrian Gaut
We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we landed a feature in Brooklyn Magazine's February's issue with kick-ass cover star Eleanor Friedberger. While it's exciting to be recognized in international magazines with press coverage around the world, it's more rewarding to be noticed in your own city —in this case, Brooklyn.
We hail from the subway-less industrial stronghold of Red Hook, nestled between the stuffy Carroll Gardens and the sludgy Gowanus Canal, we've found our oasis in Brooklyn along the New York Harbor in five reclaimed shipping containers taken from the very same body of water.
We are proud to be a part of the community, a part of Brooklyn, a part of a part of Brooklyn. Cheers to you, Brooklyn Magazine, for celebrating your local artists.
COVER Magazine recently featured the Worn Coffee Table in their 40th issue. We are incredibly pleased to be mentioned in the niche magazine's 10th anniversary issue, alongside interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, British architect David Adjaye, and Project Jacquard, Google's initiative that transforms clothes and furniture into interactive surfaces with "touchscreen" capabilities by weaving "touch and gesture interactivity" into any textile with standard industrial looms.
What makes this issue extra special is that there are also two features discussing upcycling —a process of design we are particularly drawn to and would like to explore more for future projects.
It really is a notable issue, but don't fret if you've missed it. You can receive every back issue for free here.
We are so pleased with Details Guide to House Plants featuring the Cactus Chair. We hope you can enjoy the comedic element of sitting atop a cactus in this humid summer heat! Surprisingly comfortable, surprisingly cool. Might we add that there is minimal maintenance required for this houseplant and with the barrel cactus being a part of the chair, you leave valuable floor space open for more succulents.
"Don't you want to be this cool city dweller who has this great jungle in their fifth-floor walk-up? (Answer: Yes, you do.)."
Check out the online article here.
We are honored and humbled to have been recognized in the Architect's Newspaper 2015 Best of Products Awards. The Arc Light was chosen from hundreds of designs as one of the winners for the Visionaries Section. Check out the print version below or view the rest of the winners here.
The Arc Light is both a light and an art installation—and you’re in control. A piece of solid walnut conceals a generator that creates an electric arc of energy that pushes electrons through the glowing flourescent bulbs.
The generator is positioned on the far right, making the closely positioned grooves designed to emit more light while the sparsely placed grooves on the left emanate a softer glow.
The bulbs are completely wireless and only light up when brought to the hidden generator, transforming a stationary fixture into an interactive piece of art.
The Arc Light is now on display at the WOM townhouse at 214 Lafayette St. in Manhattan.