Apply Design Thinking Anywhere, Even the Hospital

During the week we spent looking after a friend in the hospital, we found ourselves applying design thinking to many little ways to make our friend comfortable. Like many prototypes, the phone table we’d devised needed tweaking after it had actually been put to use. We asked ourselves: What problem do we need to solve? and then What can we use to solve this problem?.

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DIY? A Chair Frame Wrapped in Suspenders

Over the years, we’ve come across chair frames and carcasses — the structure without soft back or seat in place — and wondered what we can do with them. Recently we came across a compelling idea for transforming chair frames: wrapping them with a layered, intersecting network of suspenders to form the pan and backrest. The elastic framework provides comfortable, lightweight seating.

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Murphy Bed with Storage Design: Our Life-Size Prototype

Sometimes people adept at designing things get jammed and stuck by thorny design problems. When that is the case, making a prototype with moveable parts can help to test out various iterations. You can shift them around and play with them to see how they will actually work and feel. Somehow, I had forgotten this essential technique until a friend reminded me and got my stalled hideaway bed/storage/bookcase unit project MOVING.

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The Beauty and Secret of Black Hardware

Browsing through my image files, I came across photos I’d collected of matte black door hardware, which I contemplated using in the Laboratory. The first time I saw it used was in a friend’s just-renovated Brooklyn brownstone: black hinges add a surprising graphic element, as does the rosette of the crystal doorknob. Beautiful. Although I only used black hardware in one detail of the Laboratory, I learned its biggest lesson and caveat.

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how to make low ceilings look higher (optical illusion)

We were thrilled when Remodelista contacted us about using images we’d posted some time ago of an essential design trick we’d used throughout the Laboratory’s renovation: replacing the squat 6’6″ doors with tall, eight-footers. Their strong vertical lines make our lowish 8’2″ ceilings look higher. Check out our images on Remodelista. In the meantime, here are…

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how to wax suede and give it a fab new look UPDATE

Checking out the “ingredients” of a product —whether food or object— can yield a lot of information about how the thing is made, and inspire ideas for riffs and innovation on the theme. While shopping for pair of boots online, I stumbled on a pair by designer Martin Margiela made of “waxed suede”. Waxed suede?…

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how to use fabric to disappear eyesores and clutter

I frequently do Skype consultations with people who need clever, inexpensive fixes for their spaces and are having difficulty envisioning possibilities. Often, they are only able to describe the change in feeling that they’d like to achieve. In the many spaces I’ve looked at, I’ve seen a common problem: there is a lot of visual…

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