For the good

Smarter Hide & Seek

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Get kids started on appreciating good design early. The faded, plastic playhouses of our youth are no longer the only option for children playing hide & seek and other games in the yard. SmartPlayhouses are a line of mini architectural gems, based on famed buildings, like van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois. All are constructed of birch plywood, with acrylic windows and doors that open easily and shut with a magnetic latch. The little homes can be easily customized, ship flat-packed, and assemble easily. And playtime is better by design.

A Hideaway for Seeking Information

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With a talented group of architects and engineers, artist Stephen Turner planned, built, and recently launched the Exbury Egg, a self-sustaining and energy efficient wooden, floating pod on which Turner will live for the next year. Inside the beautiful but small interior, with only a hammock, desk, small stove, and wet room, Turner will study the effects of climate change by living within the 730 daily tides, in 365 days of weathering as the pod sits in the estuary of the River Beaulieu in the UK. Following Turner’s year-long stay in the egg, it will become a travelling exhibition space.

3D-Printed Cast

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The healthcare industry is turning to 3D printing for potential future solutions to health issues, whether using it to print cell structures or human ears. After breaking a bone, designer Jake Evill decided to look to the technology to replace current clunky, annoying casts. His resulting design is a possible huge leap forward – breathable in its open structure, made of durable, lightweight plastic, and washable as well. He based the structure on the natural patterns that make up bones, expadable and adjustable to fit perfectly to each person’s arm, with extra support and density where a fracture occurs.

Superformula

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A wonderfully genius collaboration between Warner Bros and JWT Brazil, children’s chemotherapy bags were re-branded as “Superformula.” To help introduce kids with leukemia to the concept of the treatment, Warner Bros sketch artists created entire comic book stories that emulate the kids’ own cancer fight, with the superformula as the solution. A simple protective case with superhero logos was devised to cover treatment bags, and kids are given the comics to read and understand the process. Check out the heartwarming video explaining the project.

Buzz Away Pain

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A friendly bee helps kids (or adults) who are afraid of shots stay calm and forget the pain. Buzzy, created by a pediatrician/mom, uses natural pain relief methods of cool numbing and tingling vibrations to confuse pain nerves. The cute bee shape straps onto the arm against an ice pack, blocking sharp pain in the same way that cool running water soothes a burn. Kids barely recognize the poke of a needle, and the doctor’s office becomes a less painful place.

Garden Reading

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For a workshop for Ministry Street Stories, a nonprofit aiming to inspire kids through creative writing, Burgess Studio developed a lovely new format for mesostic poems (in which a vertical phrase combines with lines of horizontal text). In a workshop at Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, local children in East London developed their mesostic poems, with help from writers and poets. Their creations were then assembled into colorful little garden signs, and displayed in St Mary’s Secret Garden.

Kids Get Cooking

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A new app from Great British Chefs and British supermarket Tesco aims to help get kids more involved in cooking, with a playful interface and over 100 recipes that kids can get involved with. Illustrator Rebecca Sutherland created several animated characters based on standard ingredients – onions, mushrooms, etc. – which then take kids through the easy steps of recipes created by 21 top chefs. Instructional videos are also included on basic cooking techniques – like how to whisk cream, and how to sauce a pizza.

Play for Relief

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Respond & Rebuild, a wonderful grassroots volunteer group that formed in working with relief efforts in Haiti and New Orleans, is working with agency Mother New York on a new approach to disaster relief – using Farmville. They developed a simple campaign and site, “Repair the Rockaways,” allowing users to buy bricks to re-build houses that remain devastatingly damaged after Hurricane Sandy. With a goal of $250,000, the campaign is off to a good start with $2,600, but needs many more bricks – get 20 for $10. Players can meet Rockaways residents along the way in characters dotting the map, giving a full picture of the damage and repair needed.

Fold-a-Bowl

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Two Swedish designers have worked with Swedish research company Innventia to create freeze-dried food packaging that doubles as a bowl. The Sustainable Expanding Bowl does just that – expands in origami-form from an efficiently-packed food container, twisting upwards to create a large bowl. Just add hot water to the mix, and food is ready to eat.

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.”

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