Artist Emma-France Raff decorates clothing and tote bags guerilla-style in the street using ink, a roller and manhole covers as her printing press
Its not often manhole covers and fashion are uttered in the same sentence, but for Emma-France Raff, these functional metal structures have a distinct charm.
So much so that she scours the streets of cities for ones with intricate details and textures which she uses as a printing press – painting them with ink and transferring their designs onto t-shirts, hoodies and bags.
The artist, who brings a whole new meaning to the term streetwear, gets some curious looks when she gets her roller, ink and equipment out, and starts printing on the ground in public places.
For those of us who have a sweet tooth, cakes are one of those guilty pleasures that are hard to resist. Just imagine the rich creamy, extra moist and delectable taste of cakes! It would be unfair to blame someone when usually cakes not only look but also taste good. It’s the heart of special occasions and many different celebrations as we’re sure that it’s one of the few things that best marks big days.
There are many professional cake artists out there whose dedication to their craft has created many incredible and magical desserts. However, this time we would like to present to you an expert in the field. 23-year-old Luke Vincentini is unlike most confectioners as he doesn’t create ordinary, layered cakes. Instead, the artist makes desserts in the most unexpected shapes such as bags of Doritos, egg boxes, different fruits, cups of coffee and even cell phones.
Luke works at the famous Carlo’s Bakery in Lanoka Harbor, New Jersey, which is known to be the location of Carlo’s Bakery that shot to fame on the TLC show Cake Boss. Many people come here to see his culinary artistry and taste some amazingly realistic desserts. These mouth-watering sweet treats can take up to 14 hours to make, however, he says that each one is a labor of love. We all probably agree that it’s worth every minute it takes!
Screens were different a decade ago; thicker, wider, tethered to walls. There were screens in our pockets back then as well, though they weren't yet as hungry for eyes.
Today's screens are far more advanced than the ones from 2007, but many of the tools graphic designers use to fill them with digital interfaces haven't changed much. In fact, a lot of designers still use Photoshop—the industry standard since before the iPhone days—to design the look of your Slack notifications and the layout of your Instagram feed.
In the past few years, a crop of nimble newcomers has emerged to woo graphic designers away from Adobe's brawny graphics editor. The most popular is a tool called Sketch, which offers many of Photoshop's features but is easier to use and specifically made for interface designers. Competition has become so fierce that Adobe last year released a beta version of its own purpose-built interface-design tool, the straightforwardly named Adobe Experience Design CC (aka Adobe XD).
This is all a little inside-baseball and maybe a little boring, I'll admit. But consider that these tools are actually locked in a battle for the loyalties of designers at today's most powerful companies—designers who will use the winning app to develop digital products for years to come.
Today, that melee gets more interesting as an interface design tool called Figma takes a significant step toward the center of the ring. The browser-based tool helps designers make digital products as a group, letting multiple people collaborate in real time as they draw, drag, and edit elements on the screen. Figma technically launched last September, and since then, has made paying clients out of big fish like Microsoft, Uber, and Slack. But today, the startup unveiled two key features that should give Sketch and Adobe pause—and will likely earn it a few more companies for its trophy wall.
The first enhancement, "code mode," gives developers access to the code that underlies a project's look and feel. The second, "prototype mode," lets designers build, present, and modify working prototypes of digital products. Both modes work from directly inside Figma, a choice meant to ease tensions that can emerge between designers and the code-minded non-designers they collaborate with.
When it launched last year, Figma captured designers' attentions with two features: Live collaboration and version control. The same way you can work in Google Docs with multiple people simultaneously, lots of folks can join forces on a project in Figma. Tweaks and edits save immediately to the cloud, preserving a detailed record of each project's history and keeping collaborators from overwriting each others' work.
This real-time, all-in-one environment is a boon for design professionals, who have long relied on cobbled-together workflows involving multiple programs, plug-ins, and cloud services. You might design a screen in Photoshop, save it to the cloud using Dropbox, then share a link to that Dropbox folder with your collaborators—who then have to go through the same steps to share their revisions with you.
"The first time I used Figma was in a design review," says Trello product designer Adam Simms, who uses the tool to create extensions for his company's popular project management app. "I sent ten developers a preview link to my project, and they all jumped into a live demonstration of the design. When they realized they were looking at the source files, and they could follow me around on screen, the experience completely changed. It turned into this interactive feedback loop, where they were able to comment on things as I was going through them."
Collaboration isn't Figma's only strong suit. A browser-based app, it works whether your collaborators are using Macs, Windows PCs, or Linux laptops. (Adobe XD only runs on Windows and Mac, and Sketch is Mac-only.) On the other hand, Sketch and Adobe are better at working offline. The former benefits from a rich network of third party plug-ins, the latter from integration with Adobe's suite of products—not to mention the company's design heritage.
In any case, the most salient news is that competition has spurred all of these companies to address workflow issues that have bedeviled designers for years. But the battle for the hearts and minds of Silicon Valley's designers is in its early days. The features they'll prize most, and who will provide them first, is still being figured out.
Quick. Imagine a paper airplane. Got it? It's a folded up piece of standard 8 1/2 by 11-inch printer paper, right? A sort of three-dimensional hieroglyph of an airplane made of paper. How boring of you.
Now try imagining an airplane. A Boeing 777, the long range 300ER model to be exact. Think of the wing flaps moving, the landing gear unfolding, the reverse thrusters for the engines. You know, the details that let you hurtle through the atmosphere at 600 miles an hour. Now imagine building all of it at 1/60th the normal size and doing it with just one material: paper. Manila folders to be exact again. Also, some glue.
This is the paper plane designer Luca Iaconi-Stewart has been building, on and off, for nearly a decade. "It even blows my own mind," he says. "I don't know how I've done a lot of it." Watch the video above to see the incredible details like hair-thin strands of paper that make up hydraulic lines on landing gear and the 300 plus seats, each about the size of a gumdrop, that Iaconi-Stewart has laid out in the cabin. They don't recline, he admits but there are other mesmerizing parts that do move like the cabin doors, the retractable landing gear, complete with suspension, and wing flaps.
What began as a school project years ago has morphed into an oft torn apart and then rebuilt model. It's garnered a healthy Youtube following of fellow aviation and modeling buffs who cheer at Iaconi-Stewart's fastidious attention to detail and fidelity in such a limited material. In this age of Minecraft and computerized avionics simulations, it might seem anachronistic to devote so much time to such a fussy analog project. But that's exactly what Iaconi-Stewart likes about it and has kept him going. "I really enjoy the sense of calm and mediation that it brings when I really get into the building process," he says. "It's really exhilarating when you get to the end and you see a component coming to life."
Where the Sounds From the World's Favorite Movies Are Born
WIRED gets a tour from veteran Foley artist John Roesch of the Skywalker's custom built soundstage. Roesch reveals some of the strangest audio props that were used in films like 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' 'Back to the Future' and 'Braveheart’.
It was afternoon in the San Francisco headquarters of Frog, the design firm best known for its hand in creating the iconic look of products like Apple's original Macintosh computers. Hailey Stewart, one of Frog's industrial designers, had scattered an array of prototypes on a table. On one end, you could see cylinders of foam that looked almost like skinny vibrators, with handles that stuck out at different angles and sketches of levers and screw mechanisms. And on the other, the common speculum—the device used in routine gynecological exams to inspect the cervix. Stewart picked one up and cranked it open. "You're literally in the stirrups with that sound"—the device made a loud, painful sounding click—"and it's like, excuse my language, but what the fuck?"
Most of the designers in the room had never seen a speculum before. Some (the men) had never considered the contents of a pelvic examination—stripping off your clothes, laying on an examination table, and strapping your feet into stirrups, while a doctor pries you open with a cold, metal gadget. But Stewart hadn't gathered her colleagues just to explain what happens to women at their annual exams. She had a greater goal in mind.
For the past several months, mostly during down time and on weekends, Stewart and interaction designer Sahana Kumar had been studying this device. They'd wrenched it open and closed, studied the curve of the bills, read endlessly about its history. And now, she told the rest of the designers at Frog, they had taken on what was turning into a particularly ambitious project: redesigning the speculum for the 21st century.
The current design of the speculum, fashioned by American physician James Marion Sims, dates back to the 1840s. The device had two pewter blades to separate the vaginal walls, and hinged open and closed with a screw mechanism. Sims, sometimes called the "father of modern gynecology," used the speculum to pioneer treatments for fistula and other complications from childbirth. But his experiments were often conducted on slave women, without the use of anesthesia. So to say that the speculum was not designed with patient comfort in mind would be an egregious understatement.
And yet, the speculum today looks almost identical to the one Sims used more than 150 years ago. The most noticeable difference between the original Sims device and the one you can find in gynecological offices today is that instead of pewter, modern specula are made of stainless steel or plastic.
That the speculum is old is not, on its face, a problem. It's that the design is neither optimal for patients nor physicians. Doctors have to stretch the speculum's bills wide in order to see as far back as the cervix, and even then, it's not always possible to get a good look inside. (Some specula come with built-in lights, but the problem has more to do with tissue falling in than the darkness of the vaginal canal.) All of that pressure causes discomfort; one review of the medical literature found that some women even avoid the gynecologist because of the dreaded device.
In 2014, the American College of Physicians went so far as to recommend against pelvic exams, citing the "harms, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort" associated with speculum examinations. Those side effects impact gynecologists, too. "The more comfortable a patient is, the faster they can do their job, the more patients they can see," says Stewart. "There's actual monetary value to [patient] comfort."
It’s not that nobody’s tried to change things. In 2005, a San Francisco-based company patented the design for an inflatable speculum called FemSpec. The device was made out of polyurethane, the same material used to make condoms; a physician could insert it like a tampon and inflate it like a tiny balloon. It debuted to some fanfare, but ultimately flopped. As an article in The Chicago Times pointed out, most women never even got to experience the new speculum "because it is so new on the market that most doctors aren't using it."
"With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want. With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick." — Biomedical engineer Mercy Asiedu
Other do-overs have focused on more modest improvements. A prototype called the Lotus, created by a student at the Pratt Institute, kept the bill shape but curved it slightly for a more ergonomic insertion. The design also included a rotating handle to open the speculum bills vertically, and a hidden lever mechanism to prevent pinching. It seemed promising, but after appearing in a student showcase last year, it never turned into anything real.
In Oregon, a group called Ceek Women's Health has begun clinical trials for a series of new devices—including a sleeve, a speculum with narrower bills, and a speculum that patients can self-insert. Their goal is to create a variety of specula to serve a variety of patients, rather than recreating another one-size-fits-all tool. "For women who have a lot of tissue, women who have had more than two vaginal births or a high BMI, for women with a history of trauma or rape, for post-menopausal women who have vaginal atrophy—there isn't any product to address their needs," says Fahti Khosrow, Ceek's co-founder and CEO. Give physicians a whole new toolkit, she says, and they can better serve their patients.
Perhaps the most promising new design comes from Duke University, where researchers are testing a device that could circumvent the speculum altogether. Mercy Asiedu, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering at Duke, designed a tampon-sized device with a 2 megapixel camera attached to the end. "The speculum was originally designed for a physician to view the cervix from outside the body," Asiedu says, "but with current technology, you can easily view the cervix from inside the body."
Asiedu tested her prototype in a pilot study with 15 volunteers this year, the results of which were published in the journal PLOS One in May. Every single patient said the smaller device provided a better experience than the speculum.
The Duke study looked at patient satisfaction, and Asiedu acknowledges that physicians may offer more criticism of the device. The design emphasized comfort, modesty, and patient empowerment, not necessarily ease of use for physicians. "With a speculum, you just shove it in and expand it as wide as you want to get the visualization you want," Asiedu says. "With this, you have to put it in and gently move it around, kind of like a joystick."
When Stewart and her team set off to redesign the speculum, they knew what they were up against. Plus, Stewart says, "I hadn't even seen a speculum."
So before they started researching or sketching ideas out, Stewart and Kumar listed the things that had bothered them in gynecological exams. There was the noise (like a can opener), the temperature (freezing cold), the feeling inside (as if someone was stretching your insides like a rubber band). When they acquired a set of specula, one plastic and one metal, they realized they needed to change the aesthetics too. These things looked like medieval torture devices.
First, Stewart explored how to silence that ratcheting sound. She and Fran Wang, a mechanical engineer at Frog, investigated new types of opening mechanisms. No concept was too bizarre. What if, like a pufferfish, they used saline to inflate the device from the inside? Or what if they used air, blowing it up like an air mattress? They looked for inspiration in nature (cobra hoods), in machining (milling chucks), and in everyday objects (bicycle pumps); they studied how a tripod clamps open and shut, how ski bindings clip in and out, searching for ideas that might replace the old-fashioned screw mechanism.
Next, they considered new materials. Instead of constructing the device out of plastic or metal, they decided to cover the whole thing in autoclavable silicone—a material that wouldn't feel cold, could be easily sterilized, and would make insertion more comfortable. "On the metal speculum, there are pokey bits," says Wang. "Those shouldn't go near your delicate body parts! Having all of that covered in silicon, it prevents tissue from getting damaged. And also when you look at it, it's nicer."
They experimented with using three prongs instead of two, opening the device into a triangle shape. They tried shrinking the device to the size of a tampon, or borrowing design language from the vibrator industry. They put the device's handle at different angles, ranging from 90 degrees to 120 degrees, to find most ergonomic position for physicians. And then they 3-D printed a few different prototypes and put them in the hands of OB/GYNs and medical providers.
"The one they were really excited about was the one that opened up using three bills, rather than just two," says Stewart. The triangle-shaped opening gave physicians the same field of view without having to open the bills as wide, making the process less "stretchy" for patients. OB/GYNs also liked the device's handle at 110 degrees, which enough extra space between the physician's hand and the patient's body to eliminate the "last scooch" down the examination table. The silicon covering was a big hit, too. A button unlocks or locks the speculum with one hand, freeing up the other hand; a push handle eliminates the need for screws. Even more comforting, the speculum was totally silent.
Conferring with OB/GYNs made one thing very clear, though: The project wouldn't succeed with redesigned hardware alone. Stewart wondered why she felt more comfortable getting a bikini wax than she did seeing the gynecologist once a year, and the answer boiled down to the environment. One felt cold, clinical, and scary; the other, relaxing and personal, even if it was more physically painful. If they wanted to redesign the speculum, they had to redesign the entire experience.
Half a year later, the project has turned into something of a coup d'état on the modern pelvic exam. There's the speculum itself, still in development with the insight from several OB/GYNs who have signed on to help. There's a list of guidelines for physicians, which include simple but meaningful tips like giving patients somewhere to hang their clothes and explaining the components of the exam. "It's never going to be perfect," says Kumar. "So how do we at least prepare people emotionally for how it's going to be, and make them feel like they got some value out of it at the end?"
There's also a mock-up of an app, which would let patients fill out forms, ask questions, or follow a guided meditation before the exam. Kumar invented a gear kit—a stress ball, socks to cover your feet in the stirrups—to improve patient comfort, alongside the new speculum. The team also added Rachel Hobart, a visual designer at Frog, to help brand the experience. The result is called Yona.
For now, the Yona project is still an early-stage design concept. Stewart and Wang are still hashing out new speculum prototypes, while Kumar and Hobart refine the app and experience. They're working with their board of physicians to fine-tune the idea, to negotiate what's feasible and what isn't. And collectively, they're searching for partners who may have similar goals, like the tech-savvy healthcare service One Medical, who can bring Yona from concept into reality.
The trickiest part, it seems, is developing something that physicians will actually adopt. It's not lost on the Frog designers that other prototypes have failed after physicians bristled at the idea of investing in something new, either financially (the cost of purchasing a new device) or mentally (the time it takes to learn how to use a new device). Gynecologists have been using the speculum for over a century, and so far, it's worked. Why change now? "You could create the most beautiful, most unique, most user-friendly device, but if a doctor doesn't want to learn how to use it, your patient's never going to see it," Stewart says.
But Wang says that's mostly a matter of getting the product out there, showing physicians how great it can be for them and for their patients. She knows the traditional speculum works fine for most gynecologists. "It passes, but it's not great," says Wang. "But we're working on making it better. When you give [physicians] the option to choose a better one or a worse one, then they're going to choose the better one. But they might not know that until they get that option."