Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Sculptures for skating, a powerhouse design merger, clever traffic lights and more from around the web

Herman Miller + Knoll To Become MillerKnoll With Merger

Iconic furniture manufacturers (and historic competitors) Herman Miller and Knoll are set to merge into a powerhouse design entity named MillerKnoll. The deal, valued at approximately $1.8 billion, will attempt to reimagine “collaboration, culture and focused work, while supporting a growing remote employee base,” according to Andi Owen, president and CEO of Herman Miller. Over the years, both brands have become renowned for their “premier designs emblematic of midcentury modernism,” according to Surface. Read more about the merger there.

Image courtesy of Surface

Assemble’s “Skating Situations” Sculptures

As many cities around the world purposely make spaces and surfaces impossible to skate, Folkestone (a port town in England) has—through the 2021 Creative Folkestone Triennial—commissioned public sculptures designed for skateboarders to enjoy. Made by multidisciplinary collective Assemble (in collaboration with local skaters), the nine “Skating Situations” are located on the city’s Harbour Arm promenade. Made from “raw Kentish ragstone found on the beach and steel sourced from a fabricator in nearby Ashford,” the sculptures aren’t just functional, they’re also beautiful to look at. Assemble’s co-founder Jane Hall tells Jennifer Hahn at Dezeen, “Our main starting point was this idea that skateboarding is about appropriating found or existing aspects of the public realm and adapting them through resourceful, low-tech, DIY means. Skaters will appropriate anything for skateboarding but are also unbelievably particular, within a couple of millimeters tolerance, about what makes a good edge to do tricks on. So it’s interesting to design for because you’re constantly having to make sure that really weird things are completely accurate while the rest is not accurate at all.” Read more about the project, and others commissioned for the triennial, at Dezeen.

Image courtesy of Assemble + Creative Folkestone Triennial

Scientists Uncover More Information About Ancient Supercontinent

Known as Zealandia or Te Riu-a-Māui, an ancient supercontinent exists underneath New Zealand. “Only recently recognized by scientists, Zealandia is the most submerged, thinnest, and youngest continent yet found,” and geologist Rose Turnbull is dedicated to unraveling its secrets. While the landmass was believed to be relatively young, with a crust roughly 500 million years old, the discovery and testing of crystals of zircon collected from the islands of Zealandia that appear above the sea provide evidence that it’s much, much older—over a billion years old. Turnbull says, “It just makes you keen to keep getting out there and exploring.” Read more at National Geographic.

Image courtesy of National Geographic

Ian Callender’s “Uptown Underground” Art Installation in NYC’s Subway

A figurative 180 on glass-bottom boat tours, artist and designer Ian Callender’s installation “Uptown Underground” projects geographically correct moving images of New York buildings on the ceilings of NYC’s subway cars. The battery-powered artwork uses four projectors that are connected with “raspberry pi’s which communicate over a peer-to-peer WiFi network… They synchronize and accordingly offset as informed by geolocation and acceleration data from a cellphone application.” It’s been recently nominated for the Media Architecture Awards, with jury member Filippo Lodi saying, “The idea of screening the outside in an enclosed environment is not new. On renderings of the Hyperloop of four, almost five years ago you can see already a screened ceiling that shows images of the outside. But this guy actually realized it! This is what prototyping is all about: showing us that something is possible, even in a very low-tech way. The augmented interior is here, and you can experience it not in a restricted laboratory but while going home on a New York subway. It won’t take long before this becomes a trend.” Read more at designboom.

Image courtesy of Ian Callender

Traffic Lights for the Future

Moscow-based design firm Art. Lebedev Studio has proposed a traffic light alternative to the classic unit that’s been more or less unmodified (from a design point of view) since one debuted in Cleveland in 1914. Rather than stack the three colors (which is actually a means to help colorblind drivers), the studio’s dazzling design features one LCD panel that shifts colors continuously, but uses clear icons to support the directions—as well as a countdown clock. The benefit here is the opportunity to offer more complex instructions and cues (without adding extra physical modules) if need be. Two Russian cities have already agreed to test it in a limited capacity. Read more about the concept at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Art. Lebedev Studio

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of Assemble + Creative Folkestone Triennial