Despite the visual beauty and life-giving nature of plants, there’s always been one main problem with our vegetative friends: plants can’t fly. A small company called Hoshinchu based out of Kyushu, Japan, recently set out to fix the problem that evolution forgot by inventing the Air Bonsai, a system for magnetically levitating small bonsai trees several inches above a small electrified pedestal. The system allows you to create your own miniature Avatar-like worlds with tiny trees or shrubs planted in balls of moss, but is also powerful enough to suspend special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock.
Air Bonsai is currently funding like crazy on Kickstarter and is availble in a number of configurations starting with a base DIY kit for $200 that requires you to use your own plants up to more elaborate designs that may only ship in Japan. (via Spoon & Tamago)
Way back in 2000 I downloaded a screensaver designed by Yugo Nakamura called DropClock that tied in with your systems’ internal time to create a functional clock face depicting Helvetica numbers dropping into water in slow motion. It was mesmerizing to watch and I kept it running for years. Designer Zelf Koelman took the idea of merging time and liquid a step further by creating Ferrolic, a self-contained clock that literally displays time with liquid. It’s almost exactly what would happen if a digital clock and a lava lamp had a baby.
Ferrolic utilizes ferrofluid—a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field—to display recognizable shapes in response to magnets embedded inside the clock’s aluminum frame. The moving blobs look almost alive, a fact not lost on Koelman who refers to them as “creatures.” He shares:
Ferrolic was designed from a strong fascination for the magical material Ferro Fluid. The natural dynamics of this fluid makes that this display bridges the gap between everyday digital screens and tangible reality.
Because the fluid behaves in a unpredictable way, it is possible to give the bodies perceived in the Ferrolic display a strong reference to living creatures. It is this lively hood that enables Ferrolic to show a meaningful narrative like for instance having the creatures play tag. In addition the natural flow of the material, it can be used to form recognisable shapes and characters. Ferrolic uses these both layers in parallel in order to display scenes and transitions in an poetic, almost dance like, choreographed way.
The clocks are a bit of a prototype so far, only 24 of the devices are available at a price of about $8,000 each, making it much more of a limited edition art piece than a consumer-grade alarm clock. You can learn more here. (via Boing Boing, Fast Company)
We’ve seen a number of interesting ways to play with magnetized ferrofluid over the last few years, but here’s a new one worth a mention. Designer Kyle Haines just launched a Kickstarter featuring his design for a “motion lamp” filled with heated ferrofluid that can be manipulated with a pair of magnets called the Inspiration. The idea works somewhat similar to the iconic 60s-era lava lamp but with a magnetized twist. For those who just want to play with ferrofluid without the lamp, he’s also create a smaller self-contained bottle called the Thinker. See a video of them in action here.
Not content with boring old inanimate origami, Japanese designer and maker Ugoita T. assembled this clever electromagnetic stage to bring his paper cranes to life. While the idea of moving paper creations around with magnets is fun, it’s the synchronization that really makes this hilarious. (via Digg)
Is it a toy? A tool? It’s both, and it’s amazing. Polar is a modular pen and stylus made of 12 neodymium magnets that can be disassembled for all kinds of quirky and functional purposes. The pen is the brainchild of Andrew Gardner over at Indiedesign and is one of many great projects to appear since Kickerstarter expanded into Canada only two weeks ago. Polar will come in both silver and 24k gold models, in multiple colors, and has an add-on of chrome-plated steel ball bearings to create additional magnetized objects. Pick one up over on Kickstarter.