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The Week in Design: Skateboarding Goes Hubless and Chess Gets Erotic

a selection of this week's designs
The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.

This week saw some reinterpretations of classic diversions, such as skateboarding and chess, updated for better use and, um, more pleasure. We also discovered a design consultancy trying to use existing tech to make doctor-patient interactions more informative and accessible for both parties. Meanwhile, an architect artistically explored the possibility of making your own biofuel at home. Click through to see our favorite designs and ideas of the week.


FreeRider SkateCycle by Brooklyn Workshop and Antonio Meze

 FreeRider SkateCycle
Yeah, we know what you're thinking: this is not a skateboard. This hubless contraption, called the FreeRider SkateCycle, is some kind of hybrid between a skateboard, bicycle and a futuristic snakeboard (yeesh... ), birthed from the mind of Alon Karpman from Brooklyn Workshop, along with the help of Antonio Meze. Unlike your classic trucks, the two wheels at front and back are hinged, allowing for both rotational turns and easy folding. As it does on a regular deck, the grip tape on the foot pads keeps you from slipping, but it's located inside the wheels. But can you still do tricks? Check out a video demo of the SkateCycle here, which, we have to say, proves that it's no amateur toy.

Design We Can All Live With by Worrell

doctor-patient concept by worrell
In a new video called Design We Can All Live With, Kai Worrell's design firm addresses the problems that patients face when dealing with illness. Instead of creating a new gizmo, Worrell and his team decided to look at tech that currently exists, but has not been oriented toward patient education. The firm met with a cardiologist and with a patient who has an implanted cardiac device in order to dissect the doctor/patient information transaction. As doctors have little time for extended interface with those in their care, patients are often left to research their condition, medication and treatment. Worrell came up with a few ideas, such as tablets that share information between doctor and patient, as well as real-time access to medical history, drug information and vital statistics. The sad reality in 2010 is that our electronic medical records infrastructure is still so backwards.

Algaerium by Marin Sawa

Algaerium by Marin Sawa
Architect and materials researcher Marin Sawa has been working toward an aesthetically breathtaking and botanically adventurous project with her Algaerium. Sawa farms algae with the help of this serpentine glass-tube contraption in an effort to bring large-scale algaculture (which is already being explored as a potential biofuel) into the home. With both green and white algae, the living sculpture produces oxygen, biochemical energy and a beautiful bioluminescence. The green algae converts light and CO2 into O2 and biofuel, while the white algae produces the light, itself. Sawa further explains the process on her site: "The photosynthesis of green algae generates a responsive colour system. The water is CO2 sensitive and changes to purple from yellow as the algae photosynthesize." The problem is that current tech isn't ready to harness the energy produced on such a small scale, but that just gives Sawa -- and energy researchers -- another challenge to tackle.

Vibrator Chess Set by Aruliden

chess set for kiki de montparnasse
Yep, it's a sex toy. Aruliden designed this gorgeous, sexy and outrageously expensive ($7,000!) chess set for the luxe adult wares mecca known as Kiki de Montparnasse. Unlike any old vibrator, the pieces are banded with gold and housed, when not in play, in a slide-out drawer within the board. We can't imagine that anyone would ever finish a game with this set, but that's not to say that we don't like designers thinking outside of the sensory box. (Does the world need a titillating chess set with a seven-grand price tag? Probably not, but we don't really need Bentleys or Berkin bags, either.) The prurient pawns look, traditionally, all the same, while the first row pieces include anal-bead-shaped knights and sacrilegiously smutty bishops.

Binary Clothes by Trikoton

binary clothes by trikoton
We're happy to see tech invade the fashion world, whether it's LED-embedded dresses (like the designs by Diana Eng that we saw this past weekend at Maker Faire) or something as subtle as these binary-encoded wearables from Germany-based Trikoton. Fashion nerds can create custom clothing by submitting audio recordings (whether their voice or a favorite song) to the company's site, where the files are then converted into a binary pattern with the use of audio signal processing software. A traditional knitting machine, which is retrofitted with a microcontroller and 25 engines that feed the code into the design, produces your signature sweater, scarf, leggings or shirt with small holes that reveal your custom input. While still a bit more pricey than your average H&M discount tee, your bespoke knit will never be owned by anyone else.

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