Seeking a novel way to redesign a light switch while simultaneously retaining a functional and aesthetically pleasing object was the design challenge for Chinese designer Li Zan Wen. His solution was the Heng Balance Lamp, a fun desktop light that relies on a pair of magnets suspended on strings to pull an internal switch. The design concept won a Red Dot Design Award last year, and Allocacoc DesignNest is now lauching an edition of the lamp through Kickstarter.
For over a year, Swedish scientist Simon Morris has been experimenting with levitating plants, growing common flora while suspended in the air. This system, called LYFE, consists of a planter that hovers just over an oak base powered by strong magnetism. Through this invisible force field house plants are able to hover while also turning slowly to give equal sunlight to each of their sides.
Every LYFE planter is designed as a geodesic form, paired minimally with its discrete base to draw attention to the action of the vessel rather than the piece itself. You can read more about LYFE on their Kickstarter and see Morris’s other floating home accessory, FLYTE, on their website. (via Design Milk)
YouTube user Kaplamino has a channel where he shares inventive chain reactions or tricks using Kapla blocks and found objects. His latest video involves a series of Rube Goldberg machines that rely on marbles, magnets, and a bit of gravity to create some astounding little sequences. I can’t even imagine how he came up with some of these. (via Reddit)
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.