Discover futuristic design projects from IKEA, smart packaging, and more.
The future of design looks bright. There are so many new and innovative projects in production that appear plucked from the pages of a science fiction novel but are, in fact, 100% real and here right now.
Designers and technologists are exploring new and old materials, different modes of production, and smart forms at an incredibly swift pace and coming up with design solutions that are awe-inspiring, beautiful and just might save the world.
Collected here is a sampling of some of these inspiring and futuristic design projects.
The Digital Grotesques project is a 3D Printing Architecture project by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger. It consists of two full-scale 3D printed grottos that look like nothing you’ve ever seen. The ghostly, chalk white sculptural structures resemble primordial stalagmites, yet appear etched with some strange code-based alien braille across their surface. The grottos do look like caves but also places of worship, with their highly intricate and overwhelming ornamentation.
What humans experience as beautiful is written into the code for these structures. The grottos are designed by algorithms that are optimized to present differentiated geometries that provide the viewer with rich, and stimulating spatial experiences.
The use of a traditional material like sandstone gives the designs a very formal, traditional and real world feel and demonstrate how 3D printing can be used adeptly for architecture projects.
In the field of sustainable packaging, a good solution is one made from organic material that can be grown in abundance and is also relatively cheap. Royal College of Art student Felix Pöttinger has developed such a solution with a new kind of seagrass packaging, an alternative to plastic food packaging.
Seagrass, as a sustainable packaging solution, is not new. The woven version is both ancient and traditional. Pottinger’s material design is different: it’s made from mashed up seagrass fibre that is bound, using its own cellulose extract, and pressed into metal moulds.
Seagrass is completely biodegradable and has antibacterial properties, which can keep food fresh. It’s also resistant to mould. If it is able to be mass produced without affecting the natural role of seagrass in the ecosystem, it could provide a packaging solution that’s better than plastic.
The SmartFlower really brings new meaning to the phrase “Flower Power” as the latest design innovation in solar generators.
The inspired flower-shaped design has intelligent petals that hold solar panels. The solar petals are smart-sensing and re-center themselves during the day to catch the most amount of rays. The design makes it 40% more efficient than current rooftop solar panels, plus the SmartFlower is also small enough to easily added to one’s yard and it's fully-integrated design makes it virtually plug-n-play.
The Smart Flower won’t be able to power a six bedroom home, but it does provide enough energy for any reasonable sized home.
The H2 SmartPhone is truly like something out of Star Trek. It’s the first ‘material-sensing’ smartphone. The H2 is capable of reading almost anything on a molecular level, from lettuce to almonds to personal body metrics, and returning data.
The central purpose of the smartphone is to empower people concerned about food safety. The technology makes it possible for people to gain complete assurance that their food is safe to eat - or find out whether it’s laced with chemicals or made with GMOs.
The smartphone is designed with a scanner that uses an SCiO sensor to measure the light reflected off an object. It then breaks down the light’s spectrum and sends this data to the cloud where it is able to be analyzed and reveal the molecular properties of the object.
Design innovation history is made up of inventions intricate and complex and also those that are incredible simple. The new wedge dowel from Ikea is of the latter category.
Ikea first innovated by bringing flat pack furniture to the global market. The problem with this furniture for many people was how difficult it was to put together, and how whole afternoons could disappear trying to put a bookcase together.
Ikea has resolved this issue with the invention of a new joint named the wedge dowel. From here on, every piece of Ikea furniture will be able to snap together in a matter of minutes.
The wedge dowel has a ribbed design that fits perfectly into pre-drilled holes in the flat pack furniture kits. The design has no screws, bolts or allen keys which also saves money for Ikea and makes the product more long lasting. The new wedge dowel is easier to disassemble and reassemble, so will help make the furniture hold up longer for those nomads on the move.
The iTens bandage is a new healing patch that uses mild electrical currents to rid the body of pain. The electro-therapeutic technology is housed discreetly in a smart product design that resembles a butterfly. The design has rounded wings covered in a pretty gradient design that attach to the skin with a gel sticker. The bandage is managed via an app and smartphone.
The iTens provides a non-invasive pain-relief solution that is an alternative to taking pills. The wearable pain-relief bandage can be applied to any part of the body in pain or experiencing fatigue.
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