Magnus, A Modular, Magnetic Children’s Sofa for Making Furniture Forts

Remember making pillow forts as a kid? Those were the days, weren’t they? The only thing missing? Magnus, the magnetic play couch. It can be assembled as a children’s sofa or disassembled and built into various fort configurations using its integrated magnet system. Don’t worry. I already emailed demanding an adult-size version.

Each cushion has dozens of magnets inside for connecting to other pieces, and the covers are all removable and machine washable in case somebody pees on them. Ahem, Ellie! Ellie’s my dog, just so we’re clear. Currently a Kickstarter project, the 14-piece Magnus set costs $199 but will increase to $320 after all the early-bird rewards have been fulfilled.

Looks fun, doesn’t it? I just wish there were even more pieces for more building possibilities. Because if we’re being honest, I still make the occasional pillow and blanket fort as an adult, and I don’t even have kids. I do have a bunch of people at IKEA pointing and staring at me, though.

[via DudeIWantThat]

Herman Miller’s latest office furniture range abandons the ‘cubicle’ and promotes social freedom

With changing times, social spaces need to change too… and it seems like Herman Miller has noticed that. As a world that’s slowly preparing to step out of their homes and go back to offices again, this unique window of time we’ve got is perfect to redefine productivity and how offices should look in this new future. Herman Miller’s OE1 series of furniture helps define the ‘new age’ office by creating a space that’s more conducive to co-working and socializing, instead of locking people in cubicles to make them more productive. The OE1 series brings an element of openness, dynamism, and fun to the workplace, giving it a unique facelift that definitely contrasts from the restrictive atmosphere created by working from home.

Short for Optimized Essentials, the OE1 range is “designed to help people experiment with space, discover what works in the moment, and change rapidly for the future”. It focuses on adaptability and on agility, by allowing modules to interconnect or separate, and work well both as a part of a team or as individual units… sort of like humans. The furniture elements can be scaled up, scaled down, or fine-tuned to create the workspace you need. Filled with basic forms and vibrant colors, the OE1 series has just the right amount of character to ad a minimalist yet vibrant touch to the workspace.

“The ideas behind OE1 predate COVID-19. The collection is the result of two years of development, driven by an international research project, in which the team interviewed everyone from office managers to sci-fi writers about the future of work. But as the collection came to a crest in 2020, amid a rise of remote work in response to the global pandemic, this future-forward design became a much more urgent one”, reports Fast Company.

“I often say with a mixture of pride and sorrow that Herman Miller invented the cubicle… probably envisioning a utopia, and it became something different,” says CEO of Herman Miller, Andi Owen. “We envision a future where [modular, flexible] furniture styles are the ones that are most dominant” Owen replies, indicating the demise of the restrictive cubicle, and the creation of what is referred to as an “unsystem” – or a series of individual elements that can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways, without ever really ‘going wrong’.

What’s immediately characteristic of the OE1 is that even as it creates separate, independent workspaces, it does so without putting the user in a bubble. People are still welcome to look each other in the eye, exchange pleasantries and ideas, and work as a collective whole instead of as individual cogs in a machine.

The Agile Wall [above and below] is a series of vertical panels that act as functional elements even serving as room dividers. The upper example showcases a wall-hung whiteboard that even has a soft-board attached to it, while below, a series of shelves helps functionally partition a space without visually creating a partition.

The OE1 series even relooks desks, with the Micro Pack [above] and a more traditional seating arrangement below. Each Micro Pack comes with an adjustable desk system, letting you choose between sitting and standing formats, while even organizing your cables into a central channel. Along with it all, the Micro Pack even lets you hang your bag or backpack on a hook placed right beneath the desk, so you don’t have to drop your purse on the ground when you sit at your desk.

For more traditional sitting desks, you’ve got OE1 Storage Trolleys that nest nicely under them, allowing you to cut the clutter on your table yet still have all your stuff at hand. The trolleys can be moved around as you shift workspaces, and can even be turned into stools by popping a seat on top, so you can have a quick conversation with your colleagues without dragging your chair around.

Ultimately, with the OE1 series, Herman Miller aims at building up the workplace by breaking it down. Plagued by the ‘cubicle culture’ that they themselves created, the OE1 is Herman Miller’s way of going back to the drawing board and redefining creativity and productivity in a way that is less bound by rules and is more accommodating of diverse work cultures. In a rather bittersweet way, it also takes into account the fact that workplaces may see downsizing, budget cuts, and migration to smaller office spaces. With the modular design of the OE1 and those innovative Micro Packs, Herman Miller hopes to create a workplace that fits ‘more into less’ while still “making [the workplace] as comfortable as possible.”

Designers: Herman Miller in collaboration with Kim Colin and Sam Hecht

These sleek multifunctional headphones transform into a spiral-shaped speaker!

I love a good pair of headphones, in fact, I can’t function without my personal headphones! They’re my secret gateway from the real world, and into the world of my favorite songs and artists! I’m always on the lookout for innovative and exciting headphone designs that help me immerse myself into my own little musical realm. And during one of my headphone-seeking missions, I came across Helix by Junho Moon, and this design is as cool as it gets!

These sleek and futuristic headphones have a hidden secret – they transform into a speaker! Usually, once you’re done listening to your favorite tunes, you simply place your headphones on your desk or any other preferred spot, however, Helix’s soft headband and ball joint arm, allow you to easily twist and mold the headphones, enabling them to transform into a spiral-shaped speaker. In their speaker form, the headphones also look like a cool little sculpture, something you can place in your room, and are sure to be asked questions about! The headphones come amped with an accessible dial that allows you to control the volume, and change the songs, by lightly adjusting the dial. The dial also works perfectly when Helix is in its speaker form.

Helix is an innovative audio device that caters to all your music-hearing requirements. If you want to simply listen to music by yourself, Helix works perfectly, but if you change your mind and decide to share your tunes with the company around you, it works perfectly for that as well! In a world where our needs and demands can change any minute, multifunctional and modular products like Helix play a huge role in providing unique solutions to our unique problems – even if they are audio-based! Available in various shades like Mineral Grey, Steel Grey, and Deep Black, Helix is an uber-cool personal gadget that is portable, easy to use, and not to mention super functional!

Designer: Junho Moon

Playful modular cabinets that put a quirky spin on storage by using geometric shelves!

Simple yet unusual, modular yet quirky. The ROOM Collection of furniture by Erik Olovsson and Kyuhyung Cho is like IKEA but with a twist!

Fundamentally, the ROOM Collection is a series of wooden blocks with geometric negative spaces that you can store things in. The blocks are modular, which means you can stack them on top of each other to build shelves or cabinets… but what’s different about them is their storage spaces which are represented by a variety of geometric cutouts, from your conventional squares and rectangles to the unconventional circles and ellipses, to even the bizarre triangles and hexagons! The cutouts give each individual block their own unique character, and invite you to figure out what they could hold. The longer cutouts work well for wine bottles and vases, while the zig-zag ones are ideal for tablets, laptops, and books. Part of the adventure is in building the furniture to suit your space, but the rest of it is in figuring out how to turn your shelf or cabinet into a canvas for all your odd objects and souvenirs!

What the ROOM Collection so beautifully does is turns furniture into graphical art by allowing you to build a collage of 2D shapes and use them to store your objects. Inspired by architecture, designers Erik and Kyuhyung wanted to create “rooms” for your objects, with each room acting as storage while also adding to the composition of the entire shelf. The blocks come crafted from plywood and are topped off with a pine veneer. The playful treatment of the blocks literally gives them the appearance of building blocks that kids play with… acting as a reminder that we’re still creative beings who can turn ‘adulting’ into something incredibly fun and engaging!

Designers: Erik Olovsson and Kyuhyung Cho

Remember Phonebloks? This company is trying to bring the same modularity to laptops

There’s no such thing as a perfect laptop. As someone who’s gone through three of them (and is looking to now buy his fourth laptop), there’s always a trade-off somewhere. Either the keyboard’s pathetic, or there aren’t enough ports (or even the right ports), or you aren’t happy with the screen. Up until now, there have been only two solutions – either accept the problem and live with it, or buy a new laptop to find that it has some other problem. Laptops, just like phones, have become devices that are difficult to upgrade, modify, or repair… and Framework is changing that.

The way the Framework laptop is built reminds me of Phonebloks – a video that went viral in 2013, outlining a modular phone with swappable components. Phonebloks would present the holy grail of consumer electronics by putting the power right in the hands of the consumer. The block-based smartphone would allow you to change batteries, upgrade storage, or replace an old camera or broken screen by simply sliding the old part out and putting the new one in. The idea seemed simple, and Google even tried their hand at building it, but complications arose midway (I suspect it also had something to do with the marketing team saying it was bad for business)… however, Framework is bringing that idea to laptops, which could really use modularity given how expensive laptops can be, and how people tend to hold onto one laptop for at least 3-5 years, if not longer.

The idea, just like with Phonebloks, is simple. Framework just announced a 13.5-inch notebook with a number of modular parts that are easy to repair and replace… even for novices. The screen sits on a magnetic bezel, allowing you to easily snap it off if you ever want to upgrade your display (or replace a broken one). Underneath it is a keyboard with 1.5mm of travel, also replaceable, along with the battery, RAM, SSD, and even the WiFi module, all fitted using industry-standard sockets. On the top, right above the display, lie the webcam and microphone modules, that come equipped with hardware switches that let you disconnect them for privacy reasons… and if you’re looking for a laptop with ports, look no further. The Framework laptop’s infinitely swappable port modules mean you can choose ports you NEED, rather than settle for ports the manufacturer selected for you.

While the idea of Framework’s laptop is about empowering users to rebuild/fix/upgrade their laptops, there’s a case to be made about how the laptop is good for the environment too. It drastically cuts down on e-waste generated, while also meaning less laptops need to be manufactured/sold in the long run. In fact, founder of Framework Nirav Patel (an ex-Oculus engineer) even addresses the fact that the laptops are made from up to 50% post-consumer recycled aluminum and up to 30% post-consumer recycled plastic. The packaging’s designed to be recyclable too, with no single-use plastic pieces, and carbon emitted during shipping will eventually be offset too, making the Framework a laptop that isn’t just great for consumers, but is also great for the planet! The Framework laptop’s due to ship this summer with a variety of configurations to choose from, and if you’re interested, you can just head down to their website and hit the Notify Me button to sign up for updates.

Designer: Framework

Poly Effects Beebo review: A versatile and complex touchscreen guitar pedal

It’s not enough to have a pressure cooker, you need an Instant Pot that’s also a slow cooker, and a rice cooker, and a yogurt maker. Your video game console is also now a media center and live streaming platform. And if your printer doesn’t also m...

This prairie-inspired modular planter puts the charm of the savanna grasslands on your desk!

What is a planter but just a simple container for your plants? Aditi Kedia’s Prairie Planter reinterprets these containers as landscape-elements in their own right. Designed to look almost like an abstraction of a prairie-grassland landscape, the modular planters stack over one another, resembling mounds of red soil. When paired with succulents or cacti, the Prairie Planters come to life, looking a lot like a savannah landscape! “By adjusting each unit in different orientations, one can play with the shape and placement. The design takes inspiration from how things in nature grow on uneven, unexpected surfaces”, says Aditi, who designed the planters as a part of an Instagram-based design challenge.

The Prairie Planters sport a rather fascinating geometric design, almost looking like a Minecraft landscape. The planters can either be used individually, or stacked atop one another. When stacked, they efficiently manage irrigation, as the planters on the top help drip water into the planters below. A water tray sits at the very base of the planter stack, allowing you to pour water into it so the lowest tier of planters can absorb moisture when the soil runs dry!

Designer: Aditi Kedia

Poly Effects fully merges Digit and Beebo into one super pedal

The Poly Effects Digit and Beebo are two of the more interesting guitar pedals to come out in the last few years. They feature large touchscreens and incredible depth for designing your own effects and instruments. They’re basically virtual modular s...

Hector is a virtual modular synth you can put in your real modular synth

Poly Effects has made quite a splash over the last couple of years with the Digit and Beebo — two highly modular guitar pedals that covered everything from amp simulation to drum synthesis. Oh, also, the two pedals were completely interchangeable — y...

This modular MIDI Controller concept builds on the inventive format of the ROLI Blocks

The term Modular has a long tryst with music production, from the very concept of modular synthesis to modularity in DAWs, to the more recent modular ROLI blocks system which lets you build an extendable and customizable music setup just by snapping different units together like they were puzzle pieces. Juan Manuel Martinez Prieto’s modular MIDI controller builds on the kind of easy-to-use modular nature of the ROLI blocks. The MIDI controller concept (which remains nameless at the time) relies on multiple parts that come together to create a nifty music-production kit that’s easy to set up, carry, and use.

The overall design of Prieto’s MIDI controller feels like a cross between the styles of ROLI and Teenage Engineering (arguably two of my favorite brands), with a little speckled CMF to just make things more pretty! A parametric equalizer sits on the top, controlled by a set of 5 rotary knobs below. You’ve got two sliders on the side, along with a jogdial that I assume is a Master Volume control, and finally a series of 6 light-up pads that let you play anything from synths to drum-sets. Additionally, the MIDI Controller even comes with its own stand that lets you prop it up, so you can produce music on the fly, or have the kit standing at your deejay table without occupying too much space!

Designer: Juan Manuel Martinez Prieto