Sodapop Prom Dress

Regan Kerr and her dress made from soda can tabs.

It doesn’t matter whether you hail from part of the world that says “soda” or “pop” to come to realization that this dress is cool. Regan Kerr of George Washington High School in Aurora Colorado spent five months sewing 5114 soda can tabs into a one-of-a-kind prom dress and that doesn’t count the 2 years it took to collect all the tabs. Regan made it clear that she didn’t actually drink all those sodas but had help from friends and family. I love seeing examples of truly creative reuses for materials that too often end up discarded. The simple gown has an understated design aesthetic that contrasts nicely from the intricacy of the tabs themselves.

Over 5000 tabs make up the dress.

If you want to make your own fashion statement with soda can tabs there are plenty of videos on youtube that can show you how to make anything from jewelry to handbags. Click here to see more about Regan’s dress.

via KUSA9 news

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re:vision’s new use for old cameras

New life for old technology, camera lens bracelet.

Film cameras may be considered obsolete by some but elements of them can live on thanks to Aussie Craig Arnold of re:vision. Craig makes beautiful one-of-a-kind bracelets from discarded camera lenses. Arnold, a photographer, happened upon the idea by accident after dropping a lens and realizing it didn’t have to go in the trash. Each piece carries the distinctive marks and scratches of it previous life. This is the perfect gift for the photographer in your life. Arnold is also now making sterling silver versions cast from the original parts as well if you are looking for something with a bit more of a traditional jewelry feel.

All of the great graphics and machined details live on.

These are only available exclusively online at

via designboom



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Chalk Bluff Cabin, Off-the-Grid Inspiration

Arkin Tilt Architecture's Chalk Bluff Cabin. Photo by Eric Millette

Since we started D-Build, I have been thinking, well dreaming really, of designing and building an off-the-grid “eco” cabin totally out of repurposed materials. In fact I have even begun stockpiling materials from some our example projects for this very purpose. Some day when this dream is realized, I will be referencing the work of architects like David Arkin and Anni Tilt of Arkin Tilt Architecture in Berkeley California. Their Chalk Bluff Cabin on the outer edges the Tahoe National Forest in California is an excellent example of what a simple cabin in the woods can be. The nearly 900 square foot home is partially constructed of straw bales and is completely off-the-grid:

The home is so remote that its location is well beyond the utility grid. The home harvests energy from the sun through a PV array on the roof and stores the energy in batteries to operate the well pump and other domestic electrical services. A Solar Hot water collector provides domestic hot water and heat for the small cabin. Along with the solar hot water collectors heating is accomplished through a 2ft deep Sand-bed heat storage system.
Though it’s tucked deep into the wilderness, the home sits isolated in a clearing to protect it from wildfires. The siding, metal roof and earth-cement on bale walls all contribute to the home’s wildfire resistance. – Rob Yagid, Senior Editor

The main living area doubles as a bedroom after dark. Photo Eric Millette

The simple interior has everything one needs to get away from the trappings of modern life. All of the work done by Arkin Tilt has a connection to being environmentally responsible and should be an inspiration to all of us.

Built from combination of straw bales, conventional framing and SIPS. Photo by Eric Millette

Via FineHomebuilding


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Wood Casting by Hilla Shamia

"Wood Cast" Furniture by Hilla Shamia

One of the most celebrated exhibitions to come out of this year’s Milan Design Week was the work of Israeli based product designer Hilla Shamia. The unique process of blending molten aluminum with wood into one of a kind furniture pieces is nothing short of amazing. The way in which the metal flows into the negative space of the wood gives a unique aesthetic while helping to create a lasting bond between the two materials. The organic/industrial fusion of the bark on split logs with the sharp edges of the metal legs is an unexpected marriage of two age old materials.

Notice how the aluminum flows into the negative space of the wood.

I think the voice of the designer speaks best:

Furniture combining the cast aluminium and wood.The negative factor of burnt wood is transformed into aesthetic and emotional value. Preservation of the natural form of the tree trunk within the explicit boundaries. The general,squared form intensifies the artificial feeling, and in the same time keeps the memory of the material.


For more information about the designer please visit her site at:






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The Epidemic of Illegal Logging

By the time you have finished reading this sentence, around a football field size portion of forest will be illegally clearcut.  Across the globe, illegal logging is reaching epidemic levels, and little is being done to slow this booming industry.

The report estimates that illegal logging accounts for as much as 90% of all timber felled each year, generating between $10 to $15 billion. The report says the logging is mostly controlled by organized crime, and ill-gotten gains are used to pay corrupt government officials at all levels to turn a blind eye.

“Forestry’s criminal justice system is broken. Despite compelling data and evidence showing that illegal logging is a worldwide epidemic, most forest crimes go undetected, unreported, or are ignored,” says the 56-page report released Tuesday. “All too often, investigations—in the rare event that they do take place—are amateurish and inconclusive.”

Currently, it is estimated that less than .1% of people involved are being penalized, and with this much money greasing the wheels, it seems like there is little incentive for governments to enforce the laws.  This has obvious environmental implications, as well as hurting local economies and communities, and putting unfair competition on legal, sustainable harvesting practices.  At this current rate, about 16 millions acres are being clearcut a year, about the size of the state of West Virginia, and if this is not slowed, it will reach a point past where some of these forests will be able to recover.


Posted in Environment, International, Preservation, Public Awareness | Leave a comment

The Future is Physible

A mighty ship that has so far sailed the digital waves says that the future will be filled with physical objects, or as they are calling them , physible.  The Pirate Bay is known throughout the web as the go-to destination for pirated content, from software, games, music, books, to movies, and have been publicly leading the fight against copyright, much to the consternation of copyright holders across the world.  Paying attention to the trends sweeping the cultural and technological world, the Pirate Bay has announced a new category of content that users will be able to upload and share, physible.

We’re always trying to foresee the future a bit here at TPB. One of the things that we really know is that we as a society will always share. Digital communication has made that a lot easier and will continue to do so. And after the internets evolutionized data to go from analog to digital, it’s time for the next step.

Today most data is born digitally. It’s not about the transition from analog to digital anymore. We don’t talk about how to rip anything without losing quality since we make perfect 1 to 1 digital copies of things. Music, movies, books, all come from the digital sphere. But we’re physical people and we need objects to touch sometimes as well!

We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical. We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare sparts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.

The benefit to society is huge. No more shipping huge amount of products around the world. No more shipping the broken products back. No more child labour. We’ll be able to print food for hungry people. We’ll be able to share not only a recipe, but the full meal. We’ll be able to actually copy that floppy, if we needed one.

We believe that the future of sharing is about physible data. We’re thinking of temporarily renaming ourselves to The Product Bay – but we had no graphical artist around to make a logo. In the future, we’ll download one.

At first this may seem a bit odd, especially for people who have followed 3D printing for some time.  There have been resources and communities based around uploading and sharing 3D printable files for some time, including the incredibly active Thingiverse community built around the Makerbot.  Maker Culture is becoming increasingly popular, to the point where 3D Systems, who makes many of the expensive high end 3D printers, have come out with their own budget, home 3D printer.

So how can The Pirate Bay have influence on scene that already has an active community?  Easy, by allowing people to shared items that would be banned from other forums, and this is not just copyright infringement.

AR-15 Magazine and Lower Receiver

This is a near fully printable 5.56mm X 45mm or .233 REM AR-15 magazine. It is current only a 5 round magazine. I left my printed spring design out on purpose for saftey reasons. However, with a little printing experimention and some range time it can be made easily.

The Lower Receiver is the frame that holds together all the other pieces of the firearm. In the States, all the other pieces can be purchased without a permit – over the counter or through the post. The Lower Receiver is the only part which requires a background check or any other kind of paperwork before purchase. Typically this part is made of aluminium. A rifle with a Lower Receiver made of plastic can be perfectly functional.

In the one day that the category has existed, 11 items have been uploaded, including one anonymous (obviously) poster giving out a part file to allow users to print out and then assemble untraceable, background-check-free guns.  Another involves 3D printing porn.  Right there, you have the internet, and now in (real) 3D.  With the all of the talk of SOPA and PIPA, and the recent shutdown and arrests around Megaupload, it clear that there is a growing battle between different realms of the internet, but not matter which side you take, you will now be able to print your own weapons.

Via Gizmodo and Core77

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Virtual Guilt and Redemption

We have recently talked about the concept of gamification as a method of crowd sourcing human input to solve complex problems, but games can be used for other purposes as well, such as raising awareness.  If you are not familiar with Minecraft, which we have mentioned before, it is a wildly popular game where you navigate through an environment made of cubes, which you can break apart, transform, and build with.  One of the key aspects of the game is the gathering and consuming of supplies to power other transformations, such as chopping down trees to make wood, to make planks, which you burn to melt metal.  In the real world, these types of processes produce greenhouse gasses, and now, thanks to a hack by James Smith, it has the same effect in Minecraft.

Smith went to work on this hack at the Stockholm Green Hackathon in October. He states that Minecraft — a game in which you can make things and in which that making often includes burning things — is a perfect platform for overlaying carbon emissions data. He used AMEEconnect to get real scientific data from IPCC which is then used to calculate the carbon footprint of your actions as a player, from adding carbon emissions to the atmosphere by burning things to taking it out of the atmosphere by planting trees.

“When you burn some wood in a furnace, the mod calls out to AMEEconnect to do a calculation, and adds the result to a tracker in-game. As the carbon ticks up, the environment gets more and more polluted as the skies go dark and the clouds come down. OK, not entirely accurate, but an effective visual indicator!”

Smith notes that his hack supports the burning of pretty much anything in Minecraft — so if you light a fire, you won’t escape the carbon ticker.

“After a long day of mining and smelting, you’ll have to go plant a few trees to keep the weather nice.”

Now, whether this will make people live a more conscientiously environmental life is debatable, but it could most certainly raise awareness, and at least make players conscious of the impact that their actions would have on the real world.  It also makes videos like this all the more gruesome.

Via Treehugger

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The Best Use For Foreclosed McMansions

Most likely your college living situation looked like some variation on the image above, barring varying levels of cleanliness.  Now imagine under those discarded liquor bottles and empty takeout containers beautiful granite countertops.  This is now becoming part of our ever increasing bizarre reality, as formerly foreclosed McMansions get rebirthed as student housing.  In many ways, the shoddy balloon construction of cheap 2x4s and tainted drywall of your average cul-de-sac subdivision is more appropriate for rambunctious college students than the century old, old growth wood trimmed, beautiful houses that are used as student housing here in Syracuse.  This is happening right now in Merced California, solving the concurrent problems of skyrocketing foreclosures and student housing shortages.

The New York Times reports that in Merced, Calif., college students and realtors have found a solution to address both the shortage of on-campus housing at the local state university and the abundance of luxurious McMansions sitting vacant and in foreclosure. You guessed it: The college kids are moving into the oversized homes in overbuilt, “Desperate Housewives” type neighborhoods, making them seem desperate in a completely different way.

This is probably not the scenario dreamed up by developers years ago. Merced, however, is the third-ranked city in the U.S. for metropolitan-are foreclosures. Property values have plummeted: One homeowner in a development that now hosts college student renters paid over $500K for a house that’s worth around $220K. It’s no surprise that so many owners found it in their best interest to walk away from their mortgages.

What is surprising, though, is the current scene in these neighborhoods of luxurious newly built single-family homes. Six-bedroom houses are now split among a half-dozen or so students, who pay $200 to $350 apiece in monthly rent—and who often get their own bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as access to pools, hot tubs, and kitchens that are nicer than the ones in their parent’s homes.

The UC-Merced free transit system even does pickups at many of the subdivisions where students now rent.

What do the non-student neighbors think? Naturally, this is hardly the scenario owners envisioned when they bought their homes years ago—not only are their properties worth a fraction of what they paid, the presence of beer-pong-playing neighbors will ensure that property values don’t rebound anytime soon.

In fact, it is said that University neighborhoods are one of the few areas that were not hit by the housing bubble, because there was always need of more housing, and a constant flow of tenants. Honestly, if you were 19, off at college on your own, wouldn’t you choose to live with your friends in a huge house with a pool?  It sounds like the party scene from every 1980s teen movie, for nine solid months.  Sounds like frat row just moved up a notch, though the suburban American dream probably just went down three.

Via Time

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Fictional Authentic is Still Authentic

Next time you are perusing the web, searching for your next box of paper to fill your ever hungry printer’s mouth, why settle for Georgia Pacific, when you can have genuine Dunder Mifflin paper instead?  Because it isn’t real, you may answer, which up until recently, would have been true.  Now, through the miracle of branding, you can use paper produced by the fictional company at the center of the wildly popular show The Office.  While consumers have become weary of product placements littering TV shows and movies, this is something different.  This is not a company shelling out lumps of cash so that the action star is drinking their soda, driving their car, or wearing their underwear.  It is a fictional artifact, a contemporary Necronomicon, an item that exists in a fictional, parellel universe, that has then stepped over into our realm.  While a cinematic close up of a logo comes across as pandering, the appearance of fictional item in the real world has an element of magic.  Dunder Mifflin paper is not the first, and will definitely not be the last, product to make the leap across the fictional line, and Fast Company has a curated a nice selection of some of these.

These are not just idle manufactured goods (though many are), but some take real, honest effort, such as creating real novels written by the fictional main character of the show Castle.  We have talked a lot about the future (and immanent death) of brands, and the consumer’s search and desire for authenticity.  What is interesting is that we find authenticity in fictional media, when we have become cynically skeptical of real brands.  It turns out that reality is not a necessary prerequisite for authenticity.

Via Fast Company

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The Little Printer That Analogs The Cloud

First, I am well aware of the liberties I am taking with the English language by making “analog” into a verb, but who knows, it may be the next “benchmark”.  This is not that ludicrous of an idea though, since we have the term “digitize” to describe the transition of information from analog to digital, but no specialized term for the reverse.  As more content is originating in the digital sphere, the transfer of that content into analog formats is something that will become a more common occurrence.  People are rediscovering their love of physical media, and realizing the short comes of purely digital interaction.  Stepping into this developing space is The Little Printer, a cloud connected printer that prints out receipt size digests of content that you have subscribed to, such as news headlines, the weather, your to-do list, or other useful chunks of information.

Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.

When noodling through a puzzle such as a sudoku, or checking things off of your to-do list, there is something deeply satisfying about pen and paper that is lost when translated to the touchscreen.  In many ways, it is almost like a Nabaztag which uses words instead of interpretive dance.

The group behind The Little Printer is BERG, who we have talked about on many occasions before, and is the initial product of what will be a full line of devices and services based around their new BERG Cloud.  It is supposed to be available for beta run pre-order in 2012, though their site seems to hint that there are some alpha printers out there in the wild.  The impressive list of media partners that they have already also makes this seem like it has a solid chance of success, and shows that many people are realizing that there is still something special about reading something on flat dead trees.

Via The Next Web

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