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166 7th St
Brooklyn, NY 11215
USA

Bomb lamps, artillery tables, and armored credenzas - Stockpile Designs adds impact to your decor with a line of furniture and lighting using obsolete military equipment.

Blog

Stockpile Design's blog covers upcoming designs and prototypes, shows and events, and the design community of Brooklyn, NY. Designer Jake Wright shares his creative process, decorating advice, and anecdotes about starting a business and trying to deliver antique bombs across state lines.

Filtering by Category: Awesome People

MindRider: A Psychic Helmet

Jake Wright

There are more than 50 other people working in the same space as Stockpile, in a semi-converted factory a few yards from the malodorous Gowanus Canal. Artists, designers and entrepreneurs inhabit a warren of open-roofed offices built up from the plywood floors, sharing three cavernous production shops and one severely over-taxed mini-fridge. In a studio just across from the wood shop, the two-person team of Arlene Ducao and Ilias Koen has invented something straight out of science fiction.

 MindRider design prototypes

MindRider design prototypes

It's called the MindRider, a bicycle helmet with a tiny BCI (brain computer interface) which measures signals from your brain to calculate focus and stress. Befitting a device that reads your thoughts, the stylishly creased, angular outer shell brings to mind a tin-foil hat, as made by some exceedingly fashionable milliner. Something Daphne Guinness might commission, were she concerned with alien surveillance and cosmic rays.

The technology that allows the MindRider to "read" "thoughts" is called EEG (electroencephalography), the measurement of electrical signals across the scalp. It isn't new technology - the first human EEG was performed 90 years ago, and it's still used extensively in medical diagnosis and brain research. What makes MindRider so innovative is what it does with the EEG data it collects: it adds it to a map.

 A map generated by a single ride, labeled with incidents that prompted specific readings

A map generated by a single ride, labeled with incidents that prompted specific readings

After only a few runs with prototype helmets, MindRider has produced a map of NYC's streets crowded with red and orange dots, representing problem spots like frequently-blocked bike lanes and crowded intersections. It's also mapped long green paths, showing those restful stretches free of double-parked taxis and jagged potholes. It's a useful tool for a bike commuter planning his or her route, but it has even bigger implications on a municipal level. A team of cyclists wearing MindRiders could help a city plan its entire bicycling infrastructure, and identify dangerous areas before an accident. Cities without bike lanes could use the mapping feature to determine where they're most critically needed, ultimately saving lives.

Thinking even bigger, why limit the MindRider to cycling? The computer system Ducao and Koen developed can help improve any high-traffic area, at any scale, from shoppers moving through malls to tractor trailers barreling along stretches of highway. Workers with hazardous, physically demanding jobs could integrate the device into their safety gear, receiving warnings when regular occupational stress reaches dangerous levels.

Making MindRider all the more impressive is its relatively humble origin. Nowadays, innovations with this kind of potential seem to come pre-packaged from major corporations, or well-funded teams at research universities. The archetypical Inventor, changing the world from a tiny office or shed, seems like another naive American fantasy, like the rags-to-riches tales of Horatio Alger. Ducao and Koen's MindRider prove that these capital-I Inventors are not only real, but they could be changing the world just across the hall.

MindRider is raising funding for the first production run on Kickstarter through July 10. Reserve yours and help bring an incredible idea to life!

Lost Type: Characters with Character

Jake Wright

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Choosing a font is a universal chore, something shared by high-schoolers laying out PowerPoint presentations and graphic designers working on multimillion-dollar ad campaigns. And at one point or another, everyone has been stuck. Our computers come with pre-installed typefaces that run the gamut from dull to heinous. Software like Adobe's Creative Suite improves the selection with some popular and versatile fonts, but they're the "safe" choices. No designer took a risk by using Helvetica Neue.

So where do you go if you want your characters to have, you know, character? Veer and MyFonts have great, extremely professional font libraries, but the prices add up fast. An individual or even a small business might have trouble justifying hundreds of dollars for a single font family. Sites like dafont and fontsquirrel offer lots of free typefaces, but with inconsistent quality. Some are missing key characters (such as punctuation, numbers, and lowercase letters), and many are only licensed for personal use. In other words, they're free for a reason.

The Lost Type Co-op bridges the gap between these two extremes with a simple, pay-what-you-want pricing structure. When you see a font you like, you enter a discretionary payment which is sent directly to that font's designer. No fees, no middleman. It's a great way to support independent artists, who have populated the collection with type from a huge range of stylistic inspirations, from the art-deco hotels of Miami Beach to men's haircuts of the 1950s. I particularly like Homestead, a display font that brings to mind a high-fashion Paul Bunyan with contemporary, plaid-like patterns.

Next time you find yourself stuck, unable to choose a font, spend a minute and browse Lost Type's growing collection. You might find the perfect display font for your letterpress wedding invitations, or just the right typeface for your facebook header banner. With unique, professionally-designed fonts and flexible pricing, Lost Type enables designers of all skill levels to create more adventurous work.

Delivery Ordeal Featured in American Woodworker

Jake Wright

American Woodworker Blog Post

In a post titled "If You See Something...", I wrote about the hilarious security ordeal I went through to deliver a table via Amtrak. Now my friend and former instructor Yoav Liberman (who's been overdue for a shout-out here) blogged about it for American Woodworker! Yoav is not only a master woodworker, but an inventor with several patents for his innovative tools. See his work (which draws inspiration from, among other things, military camp furniture of the 19th century) at yoavliberman.com.

Gleam On

Jake Wright

  Ex Stasis  by Richard Lippold. A maquette just like this is in the Epner Technologies office. 

Ex Stasis by Richard Lippold. A maquette just like this is in the Epner Technologies office. 

For the last couple years, I’ve been doing my own nickel plating. What could be better for a young conceptual designer than working with highly toxic chemicals that need to be mixed in exact quantities? It was fascinating to learn and exciting when I got it right, but after a few encounters with boiling ammonia the novelty wore off. I needed to outsource.

I looked over many platers in New York City, and they seemed to fall into two categories. Modest labs that handle small batches from independent jewelry designers, and massive high-tech workshops that take engineering and aerospace jobs. The former didn’t have the kind of capabilities or turnaround that I needed, and the latter intimidated me. It would feel weird – embarrassing, even – to bring a cardboard box full of cluster bomb fins to a lab that sends its work into orbit.

When I called Epner Technology, a plating studio only blocks from 3rd Ward, the president of the company put me at ease. I told him about the cluster bomb fins, as well as their problematic, plating-process-ruining zinc coating.  He sighed. “You’re a real pain in the ass, you know that? Can you come by now?”

David Epner’s office had a kind of organized clutter. Every flat surface was covered with samples from the business. Complicated mechanical parts, pieces of jewelry, even basic hardware, all gleaming with gold like an engineer’s Versailles. The company has been in his family since 1910, and he recounted the history with relish. He pointed out a familiar looking sculpture on a cabinet near the door – a model of a Richard Lippold the company helped produce decades earlier. It turns out that Epner has a long history of working with artists, from major names like Lippold, Trevor Paglen, and Matthew Barney, to local jewelry designers and metalworkers.

David was incredulous that I’d had any success with my own plating (or that I’d survived it unscathed) and came up with suggestions for future collaborations, including a definitely-going-to-happen gold-plated Beacon. When I left his office, my notebook was scribbled with fresh concepts and new reference sites. One of these was his blog, a fascinating and well-written look into his industry and the company’s history. After reading the kind of work Epner does, I’m amazed I managed to snatch so much of his time.

Less than a week later, the fins were finished. They were paired up and rolled in white tissue paper, the way movers pack fine silver. Even the most corroded and rusty now had a flawless, bright coat of nickel. My work had been treated with the same importance and care as the satellite parts and fine jewelry that pass through Epner every day, and it felt empowering. When you’re a startup, you expect brusque treatment from suppliers and contractors. Your business just isn’t very important to them, and courtesy is extended on the off-chance that you’ll keep using them if you make it big. When a company that REALLY doesn’t need your business treats you as important, and takes your work seriously, it brings two thoughts to mind. One is that they’re well-run, and understand how much great customer service is worth. The other is that they want to keep working with you, because they expect you to succeed.

Steel Jewelry and Housewares from Munjoy Metals

Jake Wright

munjoy_avocado.jpeg

I share a shop (3rd Ward) with a lot of very talented artists and designers. One of my metal-shop buddies, Abigail Lloyd, just put her first online store together. When I met her, she was welding elaborate sets for an off-broadway play, but the goods in her store are smaller scale: rough-hewn steel jewelry and housewares. The pieces have a very fashionable barbarian-queen-of-Soho vibe, and are extremely affordable (for now): earrings start at $30, and theavocado bowl shown here caps the collection at $150. Keep an eye on Abigail and Munjoy Metals – if my first store looked this good, I’d be running an empire by now.

Peter Domorak, Photographer

Jake Wright

peter-domorak_homepage.jpg

A few months ago a photographer named Peter Domorak contacted me through Etsy. He was working on a portrait series of NYC designers and their work, and offered to trade some free product shots if I posed for him.

I have very little experience with that kind of editorial photography, but Peter was charming, professional and immediately put me at ease. The portraits are the best photos of myself I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be using those product shots for years to come. Check out his website – if you need a photographer in New York, I can’t recommend him enough.