All systems go

Working Well With Others

A good workplace environment is essential to creating our best work – so we’re not surprised that some great new co-working spaces are hitting their stride. Makeshift Society in San Francisco offers up an inviting space supporting collaborative and community projects. And The Hub in LA includes an on-site cafe, and events, lectures, and workshops on sustainability. And WeWork continues to expand throughout NYC, with locations also in SF and LA, offering an extensive network, in addition to lounges, conference rooms, and screening rooms.

Crowd Control

Concert-goers can do more than watch and listen, with new smartphone apps allowing for audience participation. Electronic musician Dan Deacon recently released an app that, when turned on by attendees, can be controlled by Deacon to emit different light and sounds. The musician is using the effect on his most recent tour, synchronizing users’ phones to create the light show, and provide another instrument altogether.

A Table of Your Own

Need the perfect table for your kitchen, but can’t find anything that fits? You can support small American manufacturing with a custom-design, made easy by the new site Custom Made. See what others have commissioned (furniture, jewelry, cabinets, etc), connect with makers, and track progress once you hire someone – all through the site.

(Image via The Makers Project)

Think Design

The California College of the Arts will host a screening and panel on Oct. 3 for new documentary “Design & Thinking,” which explores the concept and practice. The doc, by director Mu-Ming Tsai, takes a deep look into the design industry, including interviews with thought leaders from various design firms, businesses using design, social entrepreneurs, and the sorely missed Bill Moggridge. Check it out if you are in San Francisco – the screening event will include hor d’oevres and drinks, and a panel with some included in the film.

Creativity Spark

A group of Stanford University students are trekking across the country this summer and fall, teaching kids the fundamentals of making stuff from a truck filled with fun tools and toys. The Spark Truck started as a Kickstarter project, and is now fullfilling its promise, traveling to libraries, schools, hospitals, and events across the US, and hosting creative making sessions with kids along the way. The truck is outfitted with rapid prototypers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and good old tools, teaching kids how to make and form their own designs. Check out the schedule here.

Grow What You Write

A group of MIT Media Lab grads have developed a product, which is decidedly non-tech. It takes the small, simple waste of a used-up pencil nub, and turns it into a plant seed. It comes in several varieties – Basil, Radish, Mint, Rosemary – all embedded within the end of a high- quality Ticonderoga cedar wood pencil. Just plant, water, and watch it grow.

(Via Core77)

Good Food Business

A new San Francisco accelerator program is helping small, local food entrepreneurs get off their feet and into the markets. Local Food Lab provides mentorship, support, advice, and resources to people looking to sell their own pickles, jam, sausages – you name it. They take students through a six-week program  of writing a business plan, pitching investors, and building their networks.

(Image via Drawn Butter)

Is it Worth Your Time

Somehow, there’s never enough time – especially for small businesses. One in four small business owners believe an extra hour in their day is worth $500. This infographic illustrates the average time spent on various office tasks, how these tasks have changed over time and suggests time-saving solutions to incorporate into your work schedule.

Breaking the Restaurant Mold

The pop-up business model has become commonplace in several industries – fashion, design, art. Pop-up restaurants are less common, but this infographic shows how lucrative and interesting these temporary food joints can be – especially in big cities. Start-up cost in San Francisco is a measly $2500, with NYC at $30,000, compared with over $300,000 to open a permanent place. Pop-ups can get more creative with menu, hours, and locations – holding court in galleries, empty storefronts, or backyards.

Take it With You

If you are struggling for creative inspiration, perhaps you need to pack it up and get on the road.

MIT designers Ilan Moyer and Nadya Peek, for example, have gone mobile with their incredible design-workshop-in-a-briefcase, Popfab. It includes a 3D printer, CNC machine, vinyl cutter, and drawing tool – so the designers are always prepared. And a recent Swedish design school graduate also took his work to the streets, with a playful Design Bus. Erik Olovsson is taking his work where its needed, while getting to “explore new ways of working and, above all, get closer to the customer.”


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