Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Banksy's water tank, Alessi in love, coffee on demand and more in our weekly look at the web


1. The Science of Champagne

That effervescence that defines the most celebratory drink in alcohol’s repertoire happens to be one giant happy accident. As physicist Gerard Liger-Belair explains in his new book, “Uncorked: The Science of Champagne,” those hundreds of bubbles bursting per second are vehicles for flavor and scent. It was considered a product of poor wine-making, and Catholic monk Dom Pierre Pérignon was called in to control an exploding bottle situation when temperatures fluctuated for a second time one season. But a shift in tastes at the Royal Court at Versailles led to a trend reversal in the late 17th century and a newfound appreciation for the fizziness. Perignon’s failed attempt at stopping those bubbles eventually led to everyone popping those bottles.

2. The Banksy Water Tank Apartment

In 2011, British artist Banksy climbed up to a water tower on an LA hillside facing the Pacific Ocean. There, he spray-painted the caption “This looks a bit like an elephant.” What the initial onslaught of tourists flocking to see it didn’t know, was that Tachowa Covington, self-described as not homeless but self-sufficient, was living inside. A resident of the abandoned water tower, Covington not only spent seven years building a home within, he also had mail delivered there. That is, until LA design firm Mint Currency purchased the tower from the City of LA in an attempt to own the Banksy art. Mint Currency took Covington’s home away, but Banksy came to the man’s rescue; offering him money to live in an apartment for a year. He even covered Covington’s other bills. Recently the money ran out and Covington returned to the hillside. The irony: Banksy refused to certify the tank as an original piece, and it ended up in a scrap pile.

3. Lana Macnaughton’s Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition

Portland, Oregon’s Lana MacNaughton is a talented photographer and an
avid motorcyclist. For her latest traveling photography show, titled
Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition,” she
found inspiration in the West Coast’s women who prefer life on
two wheels. The Selvedge Yard took a look at some of
MacNaughton’s favorite flicks from the show, with a few insightful
quotations to boot.

4. 3D Printing: Now with Paper

The technology (and political debate) around 3D printing continues to advance at an unprecedented speed. While most developers move forward into new materials and methods for advancement, one innovator is moving forward by looking back. The new 3D printer from Mcor Technologies prints on—pregnant pause—regular office paper. The 3D models from Mcor’s paper-based machine are of a startlingly high quality. The key to the technology’s success lies in its ink. In order to achieve opacity, Mcor uses an ink that goes all the way through the paper. The printed paper is then cut and adhered until all of the combined sheets make up the model. While standard office paper is cheaper than most materials in the 3D printing industry, the paper-based option still clocks in at just under $16,000.


5. Exploding Bats

Leave it to the US Forest Service to uncover the mystery of exploding baseball bats. Maple wood bats tend to be the sport’s most popular, made famous by Barry Bonds during his now-controversial 2001 home-run record season. The problem with the lighter wood, though, is that it tends to explode. Scientists at the US Forest Service took to the task and found that the more the cut of wood strayed from the original grain, the more likely the bat was to break. Major League Baseball responded with a regulation mandating that the wood cut not veer by more than three percent from the original grain. The weight of shattered bats has since plummeted by more than half, and although it’s less exciting, it’s certainly safer than a million shrapnel pieces flying about the field.

6. Alessi in Love

Desall is a new crowd-sourcing platform that uses design contests to connect creatives with companies, such as their newest client, the illustrious Italian design company Alessi. The two have collaborated to launch a new contest, starting this week, that challenges designers to interpret the universal feeling of love into a unique object that fits our contemporary times. Submitting concepts is free and the contest runs until 7 October 2013. The winners will be able to participate in an international workshop in Roncade, Italy, to help develop the new Alessi collection.

7. Block by Block

BKLYNR, a new subscription-only digital magazine that features in-depth, long-form articles about “all of Brooklyn” and not just the hip areas, sticks to its mission with their newest infographic. One of BKLYNR’s founding editors, Thomas Rhiel, plotted the 320,000-some buildings in New York’s most populous borough, and color-coded them according to date built, from the 1800s to 2000s. Zooming out of the map shows you a birds-eye view of Brooklyn’s historical buildings mixed with those recently developed, showing the old and new living side by side.

8. Coffee on Demand

There’s no better way to start a day than with the perfect cup of coffee, made just how you like it. The Coffee Haus from Austin-based startup Briggo, in collaboration with Yves Behar’s Fuseproject, is a smartphone-powered coffee kiosk that makes your latte to your exact specifications every time. Simply order from the app and the Coffee Haus will text you when your drink is ready—in other words, there’s never a line at the Coffee Haus. In addition to receiving orders and feedback via the app, the Coffee Haus is an aesthetic triumph. Its design recalls a cozy Scandinavian coffee shop more than a vending machine. The first kiosk opens soon at the University of Texas with more locations in the works.


9. Bob Burnquist’s Dreamland

Longtime pro skateboarder Bob Burnquist has fallen out of the spotlight in recent years, but as the insane video he released this week
shows, he’s been getting seriously gnarly while lurking in the
shadows. Burnquist’s mega ramp skating makes snowboarding look silly in comparison,
and every other ramp skater feel like they should just retire. As
Thrasher Magazine neatly sums it up, “You REALLY gotta
watch this one.”

10. Camerino Valet Stand

The valet stand is the old standby for those who are used to dropping everything as they walk in the front door. Currently in the process of crowd-funding, the Camerino is an updated take on the traditional valet stand. With two hanging racks, a table tray, mirror and bottom shelf, the Camerino is a study in making the most of a small space. Designed with the urban, perpetual apartment-swapper in mind, the stand deconstructs and packs down easily with one Allen wrench. Best of all, the stand is made using traditional furniture-building techniques with premium woods and metals.

11. Serial Killer Confessions

Sture Bergwall, also known by his self-appointed name Thomas Quick, holds the title of Sweden’s most infamous serial killer. The once verbose and confessional murderer chose to go silent for many years, directly following his eighth and final conviction. That was, until GQ reporter Chris Heath went to Sweden to hear the most shocking confession yet. Five heavily locked doors away from the free world, Heath sat beside the cannibalistic killer in a kitchen. There, discussions of sexual abuse, dismemberment and the media circus gave one to one new twist: Bergwall might not have actually ever done any of it.

12. McDonald’s Goes Minimal

“Design” isn’t the first word that immediately comes to mind with fast food giant McDonald’s. The corporation has upgraded its packaging for their line of Quarter Pounder Jewelry Burgers—available only in Japan for a limited amount of time—to accompany the ingredients including truffle oil, chorizo and pineapple. McDonald’s has forgone their trademark red and yellow colors for white and gold foil, making the carry-out bag look more like a purchase from a department store than a fast food chain.