Design & Tech Roundup: Digital Artisans
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Now that so many of us carry computers in our pockets and store our photos, documents, and more in the cloud, it's easy to think of technology as relatively formless — a series of black boxes and touchscreens that invisibly exchange data. In response to this misconception, some designers have embraced the opportunity to craft distinctive physical objects for our digital experiences. In this line of thinking, the projects below combine electronics with traditional craftsmanship to create devices that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are technologically impressive.
From counting steps to measuring sleep, it seems like there's a device or app to monitor and optimize almost every aspect of life these days. But what about tracking something more abstract, such as your creative health? Designer Chip Ambrose worked with arts nonprofit Fractured Atlas to create the Make Time Clock, a connected device that helps creative folks of all stripes stay focused on their passion projects. This beautiful walnut box with a pyramid of glowing LEDs and single-button interface allows you to "clock-in" to log time spent on creative pursuits. The accompanying app visualizes progress over time and serves up inspirational quotes and challenges to help reenergize you when your creativity flags.
The CAT Clutch is an eye-catching accessory with a colorful LED array that displays the art of your choice. Husband and wife team Al and Erin Linke designed the app-controlled evening bag — which doubles as a phone charger — and collaborated with notable pixel artists to develop original artwork for it. Perfect for a night on the town in your 3D printed dress!
Swedish designer Love Hultén's Pixel Vision reimagines the ubiquitous portable video game system as a jewel-like, handcrafted object. Finding beauty in limitations, he traces a link between the functional minimalism of Scandinavian design and the pixel graphic simplicity of consoles like the NES, Atari 2600, and Game Boy. This limited-edition, hardwood gamer evokes nostalgia not only for the thousands of vintage games it emulates, but also for an era when products were designed to be durable and timeless rather than disposable.
Tiny Arcade offers an even more compact take on retro gaming, recreating a playable model of a classic arcade cabinet that's scaled for your pet hamster. This DIY electronics craft kit, available in acrylic and basswood, is the third campaign from Ken Burns' TinyCircuits, which first launched its TinyDuino platform in 2012. Tiny Arcade is also Arduino compatible for developers looking to create their own miniature games.
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