Working in an office can get “crumby” am I right? Between staring at this bright orb of light for eight hours and having fluorescent lights beat down on you all day, life at the office can get mundane. Not to mention the chairs that, I know, we ALL slouch in. But what if you could change at least one part of this uncomfortable environment? What if…rather than sitting in these uncomfortable work chairs we were able to sit in a chair that has a sitting, standing, and….wait for it…lying down position! Get your finger out of your ear, you heard correctly. In an article this week on Fast Company, a new product called the “Altwork Station” allows you to work efficiently in all three of these positions. “At the push of a button, the desk can tweak the position of everything or fully shift back into sitting or standing. As the back moves, the monitor moves with your eyes, the desk moves with your hands, and the back headrest shifts slightly in or out to best support your head.” According to the co-Founder of the station, Che Voigt, “’you can make one of two choices: you can say you're going to sit in this uncomfortable position because it's more protective of your body. Or, I think we can go the other route, which is, how about we just let people work the way they want to?’" This piece of furniture innovation and Design is also unique because it was designed by aerospace engineers. Think you want one? Starting price is at, $3,900, so step on up! 



With so many stereotypes and preconceived notions about people, it’s easy for individuals to come off as sexist and or racist. However, according to an article on Fast Company this week, a new card game invented by researchers from Dartmouth’s Tiltfactor Lab will reprogram the way negative stereotypes affect people. The card game is called “Buffalo: The Name-Dropping Game” and works a lot like the game “war” where two people lay down cards at the same time. This time, however, one card will display and adjective and the other will display a noun. “The goal? Come up with someone who fits that description. The experience feels like a fast-paced game of trivia, but under the surface, you’re being reprogrammed. By chance, you may have to come up with a combination like ‘multiracial superhero’ or ‘female visionary.’ And rather than unconsciously associating Christopher Reeve with superheroes or Steve Jobs with visionaries…you’re forced to consider alternatives like Miles Morales, the half-black, half-hispanic Spiderman, or Rosalind Franklin, the overlooked genius who was instrumental in discovering DNA.” The design of this game is certainly an excellent idea to try and get more people to think outside of the box! As the designers’ state at the end of the article, “’ what’s important for people to take away is there are things you can bring into design practice: everyone can bring in attitudes to shift opinions through design choice.’”


The design field usually strikes a light and easy going tone, with talk about designing a new look for modern homes and how to design a relaxing work chair. However, this week Fast Company wrote an article on design that is a little darker: the design of new gas masks for people in Israel. You don’t have to be strictly following the news to be aware of the issues the Middle East, and Israel in specific, are facing. According to the article, most children walk to school carrying not only a lunchbox, but a gas mask in the other hand. “Until 2014, when budgets were cut, the government handed gas masks to every citizen. But the ubiquity doesn't make them less terrifying to see lying around.” With that, the article introduces Israeli designer, Zlil Lazarovich, and her new design of a friendlier and less frightening mask that can help one prepare for chemical warfare. It is true that the standard gas mask appears in a frightening way, and, especially in times of war, elements of daily life (such as a gas mask) should not add to the chaos and fear. According to Lazarovich, “’the stressful situation, the constant news updates and the frequent dashes to the nearest shelter reminded me of the Gulf War… [When] I was a young child, and one of my most profound memories is the length that my parents took to make the situation seem more normal while we sat for hours in the chemically sealed room at home, with our gas masks on. They decorated their masks with colorful stickers and made funny gestures to try to make their own image look less intimidating to the four-year-old me.’” After reading the entirety of the article I am completely humbled and inspired by designers and women like Lazarovich who put their design skill set to improving conditions for people in terrifying places around the world. I highly recommend reading the full article here.



This week Fast Company released an article called, “The Best Triangle House since the Pyramids” that details a new house designed by Swedish architect Leo Qvarsebo. The house is just as the title describes: in the shape of a triangle. According to the article, the house is designed in this particular way in order to give a stunning and unobstructed view of an “idyllic vista in Dalarna.” The house displays large windows on each of the three different floors, with the first floor opening to a beautiful terrace. The article claims that Qvarsebo believe that, “despite the fact it isn't very close to any trees, he thinks of it as a treehouse for adults. As such, there's a rope connected to the peak of the roof, so he and his kids can scale the facade. Even inside, though, climbing the home's central staircase is meant to feel like a treehouse.” This unique home has walls and ceilings that are lined with birch plywood which were sourced from a puzzle factory! The pictures of the house are definitely worth viewing by visiting the original article here.


Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 
We’ve all seen some pretty unique and innovative street art, but have you ever seen a car with unique cardboard designs pasted on? Well, this week Fast Company featured an article about artist, Max Siedentopf’s new project of spiffing up the design of cars with unique cardboard cutouts. “… Max Siedentopf noticed that we've lost our creative edge when it comes to personalizing cars. So he took things into his own hands and started a guerilla art project that involved kitting out nondescript cars with cardboard spoilers, headlights, body kits, and more.” According to Siedentopf, his inspiration stemmed from trying to think of a way to turn certain boring car designs into “supercars” for a few euros or less. This design plan involved Siedentopf going in the cover of night to paste the cardboard designs wherever he thought necessary. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it to: “Can’t he get in trouble for vandalism or destruction of private property?” Well the article doesn’t say anything about people speaking out against it, but the article also only covers Siedentopf’s story. What do you think? When does unique design cross the line?


In a very captivating and fascinating video posted in a Fast Company article this week, a new design compilation was put together by Universal Everything for the OFF Design Festival. Each of the company’s designs combines some element of typography and architecture. To start the video off, they feature the first design, called “Ideo” which, like the article says “looks like a roller coaster designed by M.C. Escher. I have to say, however, that my favorite featured design is the one called “AKQA.” This design, paired with a neat arrangement of music, features fans that move to the beat of the music and arrange themselves to spell out “AKQA.” According to the founder of Universal Everything, Matt Pyke, “’I wanted to invent some imaginary structures and products that people wish existed. These structures could represent any form of messaging or branding.’” I highly recommend this short 1 minute video to any design enthusiasts out there. This video definitely captures the essence of design being able to combine two very random themes and turn them into a captivating piece.


If you work in New York City but commute from New Jersey, well then, you may want to sit down while you read this article. According to a Fast Company article released this week, there are plans to design and build a new bridge across the river just for pedestrians and cyclists. New Jersey resident Kevin Shane teamed up with architect Jeff Jordan to dream up this idea of a one mile walkway which will link Jersey City to lower Manhattan. The bridge, called “The Liberty”, is planned to rise 200 feet and be much like the popular Manhattan walkway, the highline. This bridge is based off of the model of the Walkway over the Hudson which is located 80 miles away in Poughkeepsie, New York. The article claims that the funding strategy for this project is built on the idea that due to this structure possibly becoming an icon, many large corporations will clamor at any chance to fund it and get a name on it. This project would be very innovative if properly funded, so here’s to waiting around to see if it gains traction amongst New York’s wealthy.


Nowadays the car to own and have is a smart car, or one that has extensive technological capabilities. However, whenever we look into getting said car, our hopes and dreams are shot by the outrageous price that’s associated with buying these cool mobile gadgets. Not to fear though! According to a Fast Company article, a new San Francisco-based startup called Voyomotive is going to change everything about this dilemma. The article discusses this new company’s venture in introducing a sleek gadget called the “Voyo” which will plug into a car’s OBD-II port and have an accompanying app. According to the article, the gadget will work with any model from 1996 and on! “After a two-minute set-up, the $200 gadget essentially becomes a car's second brain, cracking into all of the data the car produces and translating it into more useful metrics for drivers.” The article states that if your “check engine” light comes on and you’re not sure why, the Voyo can read the alert and figure out why it it’s blinking. This is definitely a unique and innovative design that has the potential to build an entirely new market for people looking to have the perks of a “smart” car without have to drop millions of dollars.


Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 
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If you’ve ever worn glasses or need to wear them in order to be able to function, you’ve probably experienced the struggle of wanting to wear cool/funky frames but either not being able to find any, or worrying about being stuck to that one set every day. This week Fast Company, released an article discussing a new Company called “Biz Eyes” that essentially has a 3D printer make different accessories that can be attached to a normal pair of glasses to “funkify” them. “…it's a crazy, modular line of 3-D printed frames that can be easily mixed, matched, and swapped out, according to your mood.” The concept of Biz Eyes is to make it simple for the consumer to get as creative and funky with their eyewear, as they want. “Biz Eyes are made of two parts: a sturdy, transparent base frame, in which your prescription lenses sit, and the spectacles faceplates themselves, which are 3-D printed out of custom dyed white nylon and resin.” I highly recommend that anyone interested in design and creative concepts check out this new idea. To me, it was very fascinating and has the potential to really gain traction within the global marketplace.



This week, Fast Company wrote an article describing the process that the brand of Filson has been undergoing in order to tell their story. “Since 1897, the company has been outfitting the more rugged types of the Pacific Northwest, starting with gold miners, then forestry workers, and on to outdoorsmen of all stripes, including hunters, fishers, sports shooters and travelers. Over the last decade, the brand’s territory has expanded to just about anywhere a guy can grow a beard…” Until recently, the Filson brand has gotten by utilizing very little marketing and rather relying more on word of mouth. Now, the company has hired Alex Carleton (Rogues Gallery, LL Bean Signature) as their new Creative Director along with Gray Madden (associated with Burberry Watches) being their new president. “The plan is to use the legacy of the brand’s long, storied history to chart its future.” The full article then goes into what key components will be used to make this campaign reach its full potential. I highly recommend looking over this article, if not to look into a unique brand design strategy, then to glean how this brand has reached such a wide consumer base without much marketing in the past.


What do you see when you stumble upon a dollar bill laying around? Most people would respond by saying buying power. However, a recent article released by Fast Company explores the concept of currency from around the world, being deconstructed and turned into a textile. London-based designer Angela Mathis was commissioned to design a project for the National Bank and decided to take currency from around the globe, and use it as a textile to upholster a number of different custom-design stools. This unique and fancy project is what she calls as, “Value.” “As designed, Value comes in the form of four stools, each upholstered with a potpourri of different-colored currencies, reduced to shreds. Depending on how she combines these currencies—the American dollar, the purple English pound, the brown Indonesian rupees, and the color dense euro—Mathis was able to create different colors, textures, and effects (such as marbling).” Many people may see this as being a waste of money or even a criminal act in the destruction of it, however this is not the case. “…the average life of a note is scarcely more than 18 months, at which point, it is decommissioned. In America, you can actually buy a five-pound bag filled with $10,000 worth of shredded currency for just $45.” This is the type of currency Mathis used for her project which makes it far more affordable than it originally appears. Again, I highly recommend reading the full article and glancing at the designs. Perhaps you may find some inspiration in it.


Most, if not all, of us are familiar with the unique designs that the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall exhibit. With their peaks appearing just like that of the billowing top sails of a fleet, it’s easy to draw a connecting between the two structures and a sail boat. This week Fast Company wrote an article announcing that the designer for both of these structures, Frank Gehry, is actually designing himself a Yacht. As the article states, “…the 86-year-old architect is finally applying the aesthetic where it belongs: to his first ever yacht.” Gehry, being an architect and building designer, wanted to be sure this yacht could actually float and function so he enlisted Argentine naval architect German Frers to assist him. “Built out of traditional larch wood and accented with titanium, it looks modern only in detail, like the webbed planking of the steering wheel, or the elaborate lattice-work glass windows on the deck and the stern.” The article concludes that despite this boat’s unconventional design, it clocked the fastest time at the Round the Island race around Martha’s Vineyard this summer. Check out Gehry’s design here to look a little closer at how his architectural design may have affected this masterpiece. 


Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 
Here’s some interesting bit of news: LinkedIn just underwent a lawsuit settlement that cost the company $13 million. The crime being LinedIn’s dishonest design. As with anyone who has ever signed up with LinkedIn, you’ve probably found yourself on the receiving end of dozens of follow-up emails. Well, the worst part about this is it’s actually impossible to opt-out. According to an article released by Fast Company this week, LinkedIn was caught administering “dishonest design” through a court case in California. “…during the user sign-up process, LinkedIn claims that it ‘will not store your password or email anyone without your permission.’ Despite this, LinkedIn sends automated follow-up email reminders on a new user's behalf to any contacts harvested from their webmail accounts, which are presented in such a way as to appear as if they came directly from the user.” The technical term for something like this is supposedly called “dark patterns.” This essentially means that a user interface has been carefully crafted to intentionally trick users into doing certain things. Before reading this article I had ever heard of practices such as “dark patterns” or “dishonest design,” but this case may be a landmark case in the world of design and transparency. 


If, 15 years ago, you had asked the average 4 year old what their favorite thing to do in school was, they would most likely reply with some variation of coloring in coloring books. In today’s age with so much new technology and bright screens to captivate the 4 year old mind, coloring books are slowly but surely disappearing off of the shelves of children who would otherwise obsess about coloring. *Que Disney to the rescue!* In a Fast Company article written this week, Disney’s new augmented reality (AR) coloring book is explored and discussed as a possible alternative for kids. The Disney team, based in Zurich, points out that coloring books are one of the best, earliest opportunities for children to be creative. “Unfortunately, they also look boring and unexciting compared to the myriad screens and gadgets competing for a child's attention…the key to getting kids coloring again is to leverage augmented reality (AR).” In other words, this team is working hard to give coloring books the allure that electronics provide while also giving children the ability to express creativity. The AR coloring book App is currently just a Disney research project, but highlights a new way to rethink the original color book. Essentially you would color on a regular piece of paper, then using the app you would hover the screen over your coloring and a 3 dimensional version of your coloring would pop up. I would think this unique design by Disney is definitely bound to get more traction if and when it hits the market, what do you think?


This week, Washington Post listed 5 top design trends according to Apartment Therapy blog founder Maxwell Ryan. To start the list, Maxwell says that “dark, moody colors” are definitely becoming more and more popular in homes he writes about. The second design trend he points out is texture. Within many homes, he notices that more people are going with brands that use texture in their design. The trend of global influence is one that I definitely can relate to and see on consistent basis whether it be in the home or even in an ad for a car. In Maxwell’s words, “Textiles and treasures from all over the world add interest and vibrancy to a home.” Also amongst the trends listed is the trend of mixing the old with the new. Obviously, this list of trends is based off of Maxwell’s observations in home décor, however I found that especially with the “mixing old and new” trend, it is a common design trend in branding as well. I would almost state that all of the trends listed in Maxwell’s compilation are simply common trends in the design of brands and products. The full list is quite educational and I highly recommend anyone interested in design read it and compare notes. 


This week, Fast Company wrote an article exploring 13 vertical panoramas of the cathedrals in New York City. The article highlights the incredible design and artistry that went into building these structures and how these designs will carry through to the designs of the future. In taking these unique photos, photographer Richard Silver wanted to give New Yorkers a reason to look up and admire the design of these intricate buildings. “’One day I was walking around the city and walked into a church to see if I was able to take photos…once inside I was marveled at the beauty of the ceiling and the complete surroundings around me. I figured out that I could do a panorama of the church while capturing the ceiling along with the pew and all the way through to the back of the church.’” Each photo carries its own impressive angle and artistic value. I highly recommend viewing all 13 photographs. And who knows, you may find some inspiration within the design.


Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 
Today’s new and innovative products are increasingly moving towards helping to improve convenience for consumers. Whether it be an app that tells you the quickest route to a new shirt you may like or even a heart monitor that uses your hearts unique rhythm, efficiency and convenience is key.
Technology today does not seem to be primarily focused purely on the actual tech. But, there is often a story behind it, a meaning, a real look at how it will impact everyday life. Style as well as purpose is something that the tiny five person Russian industrial design firm Lapka have focused on in their products, according to Fast Company.

Lapka have recently been acquired by worldwide accommodation leader Airbnb and the news has left many rather lost as to what its purpose was. The question on everyone’s lips is – why has Airbnb, an accommodation platform for people to make travel easier, acquired a company that is renowned for beautiful yet useful products. Such products included a modular environmental sensor that picked up on air and food quality through a plug in that was attached to a person’s iPhone. Or a subtle yet stylish hand held breathalyser that is available for everyday consumers.



However, what use is that for someone who wants to go on holiday in New York for a long weekend and needs a quick easy place to stay? My only theory and one being shared by a few others is that Airbnb and Lapka will work together in order to create a new form smart lock. Whilst there are smart locks already on the market, the partnership could mean stylish and efficient new locks for Airbnb users that aids in efficiency, i.e. no need to wait and give someone the keys.

Whilst this is only a theory, the merging of two highly successful start-up companies should hopefully mean further innovative products and ideas that us mere mortals won’t think of. Though it is still early days and the owners are being very coy about giving any news, the consensus is still of a slight confusion, mixed with a sense of excitement as to what may be coming.


About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com.

Who likes tote bags??*Awkwardly raises hand while typing* Yes, yes I love tote bags, but who doesn’t? I mean these nifty, transportable, storage units can hold so much in such a small space. I use tote bags on a consistent basis throughout my week and rely on them to carry most, if not all, of my work documents. But what if you could have a tote bag that also can double as a light reflective backpack? According to a Fast Company article this week, that is exactly what a company called “Notabag” created. This neat design features new fabric that glows and reflects when light shines on it. “…while the hands-free carrying was first intended for bikers, it'll work great for skaters and pedestrians, too.” Check out these cool new bags, only going for $25, at the Notabag website here





Who likes to fly and deal with the hassle of checked bags and fees? Not I said the…well me. This week, Fast Company released an article discussing a new idea on air travel coming form an air travel design studio called Teague. The idea is simple: to make the customers experience smoother and more enjoyable. So how do they plan on going about this? Teague discusses a ban on carry-on luggage (I know...I was outraged at first too) that would not only create more space above the passenger, but also significantly decrease boarding and deplaning times. The alternative would be to continue the charges for checked baggage, but this time include the unique feature of having your baggage delivered to you. The company also plans on upping airline revenue by “…sell[ing] customers special airline-branded bags. These bags would be specifically designed to click in underneath a seat for people who still wanted to bring larger bags on board.” I have to admit I wasn’t completely sold on the idea at first, but after reading the entire article, the three design moves this company raises would definitely make for a better plane experience overall.



Imagine owning a home that creates as much energy as it uses. You’re probably imagining what is now called a “net-zero house” and what is usually extremely expensive. However, that dollar sign does not always have to be so high according to a recent Fast Company article. The article, titled “This Zero-Energy Home Is Run By Machines And Costs A Lot Less Than A Regular House”, explains how a new startup company called Acre Designs has dreams to design a house with no energy bills and have it sell for as much as buying a standard power-sucking home. “The Axiom House is ultra-efficient, runs on renewable power, and smart: Robots handle everything from lighting and security to mowing the lawn.” Cofounder of Acre Designs, Andrew Dickson, explains how they felt the typical home today is actually very out of date. “’We view this as an opportunity to redefine what the American home is, and tailor for a lifestyle that is more focused on doing great things than having things.’” According to the article, the 1,800-sqaure-foot Axiom House costs $220,000 (not including land), which is much less than most other architect-designed homes. The full article is a fascinating read and speaks strongly to the eco-friendly AND affordable trend we’re seeing within the housing market.




This week Fast Company released an article that highlights new animated heat maps that correspond with the noise levels in each neighborhood. The real estate site Trulia designed a new heat map of noise in neighborhoods by simply using the crime data on noise complaints. “Trulia pulled five years’ worth of noise complaints and mapped out the noisiest areas of Seattle, New York and San Francisco. It then used the software CartoDB to create GIF heat maps that show the changes by year.” The article also mentions how noisy areas can also pose a health risk and lead to cardiovascular diseases and stress. Obviously this method of tracking noise levels in neighborhoods a not a perfect method, however, it is an interesting approach and gives us insight on the varying neighborhoods of large cities and possibly how that impacts the specific population. To view all of the maps in full you can visit Trulia’s blog here.



Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 
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