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Change of Scenery

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Creative consultancies and agencies are always looking for ways to encourage creativity, while maintaining efficiency. And as they say, if you’re stuck in a rut – creative or otherwise – sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to shake things up. This is the idea behind Londoner Nick Couch’s concepts “Free Desk Here,” and “Open Studio Club.” Both are simple websites, connecting creatives who are either looking for a space, or looking to share their space. With Free Desk Here, creative agencies can post an image of their workspace and a general idea of who they’re looking for, applicable freelancers get a desk for a day, and both gain new connections and a fresh presence.

Sweat While You Work

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We’ve written about the growing trend in standing desks, and office spaces that encourage play, but designer Darryl Agawin has finally truly merged work with fitness. His “No Sweat” set of 3 workspace furniture pieces – a desk, chair and storage set – transform into a mini gym, giving those regularly stuck at their desk the impetus to do squats, push-ups, and lunges in between sending emails. The geometric, Memphis-era inspired pieces are smart-yet-quirky, just like the idea of jumping rope or using a kettle bell in your office.

PJ’s That Read

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A new company called Smart PJs recently developed a pair of pajamas that can read to kids. The white pajamas’ series of patterned dots can correspond with a free smartphone app, so that when scanned, a story appears on the screen with pictures and words. Parents can read along with their kids, or activate a storyteller to recite the tale. Each series of dots connects to a different story, allowing the pajamas to serve as a walking library.

Out of the Lab

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The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a mobile international project, inciting classes, lectures, workshops and urban community building through its presence – first in New York, then Berlin, and now Mumbai. Now, through their simple interactive site, “100 Urban Trends,” the Lab shares the range of concepts within urban issues that they’ve addressed in their programming. Click on a term like “Bottom-up Urban Engagement,” or “Happy City,” and a brief description of the term pops up, along with links to programs done by the lab, like their “Soupermobile: Build a Dumpster Kitchen” workshop in Berlin, or a talk on “Cycling Fast Facts.”

Computing Flavor

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Does a computer have the capacity to develop the refined taste, sensibility, and – most importantly – creativity of the world’s best chefs? Researchers at IBM think so. They’ve created a computer program – the Flavorbot – that cross-references huge databases of existing recipes; measurements of flavor at the molecular level; and connections between existing foods and flavors, to result in the most creative and unexpectedly good-tasting creations. One creation is an Italian grilled lobster, with surprising components of saffron, green olives, tomato, pumpkin, mint, oregano, orange juice, and bacon.

Spreading Seeds

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Helping prove that gardens can thrive anywhere, a new company consisting of one motivated seed saver is here to assist city dweller’s gardens. Zach Pickens started saving seeds from the most successful plants he grew on his rooftop in Brooklyn, eventually honing a rough and tough group of seeds ready to weather NYC balconies and small space gardens. Pickens packages up the seeds in lovely silk-screen packets, with sturdy basil, beans, peppers, and marigolds ready to plant. For more thriving and unexpected gardens, check out GOOD’s list of Best Guerilla Gardens.

New Fashion

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A new crowd-funding company hopes to alter the traditional modes in which fashion designers create clothing. Byco, from NY label JF& Son, helps young designers connect with investors and manufacture a sample clothing piece. Designers submit drawings, and when accepted, Byco caluculates the cost of sampling and posts to an investing page. Once the sample has funding, Byco manufactures it and sells it as well. Designers own samples and copyright along with 20% of sales, and investors receive 10% of sales. With successful designs and funding, all win.

Snapping Trends

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Looking to capitalize on all of the photo-taking and sharing done with smartphone apps like Instagram, iCoolHunt is a new app that gives users a directive for their photo-sharing: find something cool. Users can create categories of trends, like “Plaids in Fashion,” or “Urban Picnic.” Then, they and others can add applicable finds, with each gaining “cool” points as others “like” their findings. Theoretically, if they trusted the users’ eyes, anyone could look to the app for future ideas. Images are searchable by location, and you can follow users, or just see what’s trending.

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We’ve heard of the trend in “camp” style weddings for a few years, but now those who get nostalgic for their summer camp days can relive the experience of bunk beds, s’mores, and arts and crafts – without having to also attend a wedding. Camp Grounded is, quite simply, a summer camp for adults – hosted by the company Digital Detox, which specializes in retreats and getaways for those who need to experience life sans technology. Modeled entirely after kids’ camps, the June event in the Anderson Valley of CA also offers meditation and yoga sessions, in additon to capture the flag. A key component is giving up the work world, and all devices, encouraging participants to enjoy their surroundings and experiences.

Stone Paper

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We were surprised to learn that paper use has gone up in recent years, even with most people relying frequently on digital communication. Although recycling is up, we still lose many precious trees to the paper industry, so its interesting to hear about a new company creating paper from stone. Made from calcium carbonate, a natural by-product of limestone, and water, the paper is naturally white, waterproof, and can be wiped clean – lasting longer than its tree-made counterpart. The Italian company currently makes a collection of notebooks, and we’re curious to see where it goes next.

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Congrats to @blumenfeld @ @EnriqueAllen @designerfund on your continued successes! https://t.co/XNYDESiis1

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