Monday, 28 November 2011

Writable Paint turns Walls into Easy Dry-Erase Whiteboards

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Writable Paint turns Walls into Easy Dry-Erase Whiteboards: [ Filed under New Materials & in the More category ]

Chalkboard wall paint has been around for a while now, but dealing with chalk dust gets old fast – the solution, of course, is to upgrade that paint just as schools have updated their own writable teaching surfaces.

Young 20-something entrepreneur John Goscha dropped out of his banking job to design and market this material “for home, work or school” that may transform walls as we know now them.

Titled IdeaPaint, it is available for half the price of an actual whiteboard and works just as well or better, leaving no marks behind when you wash down your work (and, without the rest of the infrastructure, it turns out to be greener, too).

Easy Drink: 45-Degree Plastic Bottle Cranes Neck for Refills

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Easy Drink: 45-Degree Plastic Bottle Cranes Neck for Refills: [ Filed under More & in the Industrial Design category ]

Some sinks and water fountains just are not shaped right for refilling portable receptacles, making it hart to fill at all in some cases and, in others, impossible to top things off to go.

This author, at least, has at times bent and crumpled bottles in an effort to get them as full as possible – after all, when you are traveling, you never know when your next opportunity to reload on free liquids will come. So, kudos to Hsu Hsiang-Min, Liu Nai-Wen & Chen Yu-Hsin for tackling this minor but persistent problem.

Tilt it the right way and it may make for an easier way to consume your beverage as well. Still, aside from reminding one just a little of a hamster bottle, there is a more serious catch: blow-molding relies on symmetrical shapes, so production of this prototype could prove difficult in actual reality. Perhaps a stainless steel model would be both easier to make and more sustainable.

Clucked Up: 13 Creative Chicken Coop Designs

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Clucked Up: 13 Creative Chicken Coop Designs: [ By Steph in Art & Design & Home & Garden. ]

Urban chickens have never had it so good. Not only is backyard chicken farming increasing in popularity, but chicken digs are getting cooler and fancier, with coop designs that rival those of the owners’ houses. These 13 poultry palaces range from ultramodern egg-shaped coops for a trio of birds up to larger wind-powered enclosures that could revolutionize the livestock industry.


(images via: studio h)

100 reclaimed sticks from a tobacco barn make up the ‘cage’ of this highly unusual, super-modern chicken coop. Chicktopia was designed and built by Studio H – a public high school design/build curriculum. Two skewed boxes on either end offer up cozy lodgings for the chickens while the twisting walkway gives them a taste of the outdoors. Chicktopia is now located at the Bertie Early College Agricultural School.

Handcrafted Chicken Coops by Drew Waters

(images via: design milk)

Portable, compact and beautiful, this is one chicken coop that you likely wouldn’t mind showing off. Drew Waters crafts these A-shaped homes from Douglas Fir timber, which naturally repels insects.


(images via: yank0 design)

Is this coop concept cool or what? Cocorico by Maxime Evrard is made up of an egg-shaped housing compartment connected to a covered mesh area for play and scratching. While, like a number of other stylish coops on this list, it’s not super practical, it’s an interesting idea for urban chicken owners with just a handful of hens.

Breed and Retreat by Frederik Roije

(images via: dezeen)

Like an apartment building for chickens, Breed and Retreat by designer Frederki Rioje elevates hen houses off the ground in a stacked configuration with private ‘rooms’ and a large glassed-in egg-laying area.

Maurice, the Car Chicken Coop

(images via: backyard chickens)

Kooky and creative, ‘Maurice’ is an old, half-crushed 1970 Morris Traveler converted into a chicken coop by Michael Thompson. Thompson cut the car in half, painted the interior black to create a private area for egg laying and cut a hole into the back door.

Chicken Circus

(images via: studio h)

Reclaimed and beautiful, ‘Chicken Circus’ is another chicken coop designed and built by Studio H. Two swinging doors make it easy for minders to feed and water the chickens and collect eggs, and an attached front run gives the chickens a little bit of protected outdoor space.

Front Yard Solar-Powered Chicken Coop

(images via:

This isn’t just a simple and compact chicken coop design. It does something very special, all on its own, without requiring you to lift a finger. The Front Yard “Fully Monty” chicken coop has a self-propelling mechanism that scoots it 16 feet every hour, powered by an affixed solar panel. Small yard? No biggie. If the coop bumps into a tree or a fence, it will simply turn itself around and move in another direction.

Urban Solar-Powered Chicken Coop by RAAD

(images via: inhabitat)

While browsing the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in May 2011, Inhabitat came across this solar-powered chicken coop by RAAD Studio in New York City. The coop is shipped flat-packed and is easy to assemble. The solar panels on top help circulate air through the coop, which contains storage space for bedding and food, a perch for roosting, four laying units and a slide-out chicken run.

Handmade Green-Roofed Chicken Coop

(images via: dwell)

Before you get a sense of the scale of this sleek structure, you might think it was a full-sized contemporary home. But architects Mitchell Snyder and Shelley Martin prove that good design isn’t just for humans with their creation, which houses three hens. The green roof not only supports a garden, but also keeps the interior cool. It includes a 4-by-15-foot run.

Nogg Egg-Shaped Chicken Pod

(images via:

LIke a big wooden egg for your yard, the Nogg makes visual reference to its purpose while simultaneously looking like no other chicken coop you’ve ever seen. Made of cedar wood, the Nogg boasts a glass dome in the roof that provides light and can also be twisted and lifted for ventilation.

Coopus Maximus

(image via: studio h)

Inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s geometric architectural designs, Coopus Maximus is a third chicken coop by Studio H. The designers say, “This coop in particular was an interesting construction feat, as much of its realization happened in a sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants fashion, figuring out joinery and angles as we went, designing and building simultaneously.”

Eglu Chicken and Rabbit Hutch

(images via: core 77)

Says designer Omlet of their cute and colorful rabbit or chicken houses, Eglu is “designed to be the house that chickens [and rabbits] themselves would choose.” They’re cozy and well-protected, but each offers a nice long caged-in run in which to play and enjoy the outdoors without being exposed to predators. Each Eglu features a removable lid for cleaning, a pull-out tray for droppings, a top-mounted door handle and a reach-in ‘eggport.

Wind-Powered Prefab Chicken Coop

(images via: inhabitat)

It might just be one small step in the daunting process of reducing the impact that livestock farms, including chicken operations, have on the environment – but it’s definitely impressive. This prefabricated wind- and solar-powered chicken coop by Peleg/Burshtein Architects and landscape architect Nathan Gulman is designed like a wind tunnel to provide constant ventilation and contains water tanks, silos, egg storage and a waste-treatment system that turns chicken manure into biofuel. The unit can be adapted for free-range use.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Embedded Seeds + Used Chopsticks Grow Climbing Plants

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Embedded Seeds + Used Chopsticks Grow Climbing Plants: [ Filed under Tableware & in the Furnishings category ]

Aside from being a great green concept, it is always impressive to see such ideas tested and implemented in physical reality – even if, for other reasons, they may remain forever prototypes.

The design revolves around a hard starch capsule set on the end of a chopstick, which, after a meal, is stuck into the ground, slowly breaks down in the turn and releases a seed that, finally, sprouts slowly into a chopstick-climbing plant.

Its creator, Gyeongwan Koo, researched starch thoroughly for this project and concluded that if it could be used for toothpicks and hard pill casings it would work for this application as well.

Still, one thing is a bit puzzling: why not put the capsule portion on the back end, rather than having the user actually pick up food with it?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Smart Self-Adjusting Thermostat Learns Your Living Habits

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Smart Self-Adjusting Thermostat Learns Your Living Habits: [ Filed under More & in the Gadgets & Tech category ]

Did you know that the average homeowner turns on (or off) the heat, or cranks up (or down) the cold, 1500 times per year?

Of all the things we could automate and rarely do, temperatures seem too tempting a candidate to pass up. Hence the new Nest, a self-scheduling, temperature-regulating device every home should hope is in full production (currently in pre-order) for this (chilly) holiday season.

It starts, as usual, with manual inputs, but adapts to patterns naturally over time, learning when you are usually at home or away, night and day, and showing a green-leaf signal when it is in energy-saving mode.

Remote-controllable too, you can use your smartphone to tweak the temp while away from the house, and when you are around, well, it is a handsome piece of wall hardware as well.

Corner Drawers: 6 Solutions for Awkward Kitchen Spaces

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Corner Drawers: 6 Solutions for Awkward Kitchen Spaces: [ Filed under Hardware & Fans & in the Fixtures category ]

For those hard-to-reach places, there are all kinds of crafty solutions – but for looking integrated with the rest of your kitchen, few beat corner drawers.

These examples help make use of one of the more uncomfortable geometric remnants architects and carpenters run into on a regular basis.

In some cases, there are vertical solutions that can utilize extra areas even more efficiently – but when there is not space in the Z axis, a 45-degree-angled stack of drawers at least uses half of the void leftover space.

The catch: these drawer systems look, for the most part, like regular pull-out drawers – one has to get used to the counter-intuitive direction of their slide, which makes it worth asking: is there an even better way? Sources: Heritage Cabinetry, Jason Beaver and Blum

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Resource Furniture: 4 Space-Saving Transformers [+Video]

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Resource Furniture: 4 Space-Saving Transformers [+Video]: [ Filed under Tables & Stands & in the Furniture category ]

Per the company’s present in the must-see video below: pictures (static or moving) just don’t do justice to how beautifully functional these multi-purpose transforming furnishings really are.

Consider this an introduction, as there are just too many pieces to cover in a single article, to some of the particularly well-publicized successes of Resource Furniture.

Doc, a doubled-up pair of bunk beds that folds down into a single, normal-looking sofa, is one of the more impressive magic tricks in their arsenal, as you would never guess in couch form that two secret sleeping units are hiding inside.

There bed-to-desk-and-back again sets are also highly impressive, often disguising entire shelving systems behind them, or tucking work surfaces below (that, in some cases, stay level so you can simply leave everything out when heading to bed).

Finally, too, they have a ton of tables that turn from tiny low-to-the-ground, on-the-side stands to full-fledged workstations and dinette sets.

New 7 Wonders of Nature: The 7 Winning Wonders!

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New 7 Wonders of Nature: The 7 Winning Wonders!: [ By Steve in 7 Wonders Series & Geography & Travel & Nature & Ecosystems. ]

The New7Wonders Foundation’s long-running campaign to select (with your help) the world’s seven most outstanding natural wonders officially ended on November 11th, 2011. The highly-publicized process was hugely successful in raising awareness of our planet’s natural beauty and in that respect, everyone’s a winner.

Amazon Rainforest

(images via: Amazon Rainforest, Caoba Lodge, Flickrfavorites and The Guardian)

The Amazon Rainforest first took root, so to speak, around 55 million years ago. Ironically perhaps, its creation was sparked by a period of global cooling that resulted in a moister climate in north-central South America. Known colloquially as “the lungs of the Earth”, the Amazon Rainforest functions both as a critical carbon sink and an oxygen supplier whose beneficial effects are distributed worldwide.

(image via: Love These Pics)

Although its current area of 2,123,562 square miles (5,500,000 km2) does not mark the rainforest’s maximum historical extent, “Amazonia” is still the planet’s largest tropical rainforest and acts an irreplaceable biological reservoir for botanical and zoological diversity.

(images via: TripAdvisor, Dark Roasted Blend and Big Travel Web)

At the present time, approximately 668,000 square miles (1,730,000 km2) of the Amazon Rainforest – nearly one third – is protected to some degree by official conservation measures. The region’s unique pink river dolphins, brilliantly colored “poison dart” frogs and forest-dwelling Amerindian tribes never in contact with the modern world will be happy to hear that.

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

(images via: Todd’s Wanderings, Asean Heritages and Desben)

Ha Long Bay means “descending dragon bay” in Vietnamese, and this picture postcard perfect place has charms that could soothe even the most ornery dragon. The bay boasts nearly 2,000 islands, only half of which have been named.

(image via: The Amazing Stuff)

The bay’s otherworldly beauty is a testament to the power of geological processes acting over time… say, 20 million years since the area’s half-billion-year-old Karst limestone began weathering away under the onslaught of tropical storms and salt-water spray.

(images via: World’s Best Places and Baitulong Travel)

Karst limestone formations around the world often feature extensive subterranean cave systems and Ha Long Bay is no different. As such, the area shows another dimension of scenic beauty though the more popular caves have suffered ill effects from human activity associated with increased tourism.

Iguazu Falls (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay)

(images via: Wikipedia, National Geographic and List After List)

Iguazu Falls has been impressing onlookers for a long time: the name “iguazu” is derived from the native Guarani words for “water” and “big”. Unlike other large waterfalls such as Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls, the irregular basalt plateau over which the Iguazu River plummets divides the flow into as many as 275 separate cataracts.

(images via: Neverending Voyage, Argentina’s Travel Guide and Artist Rising)

Visitors to Iguazu Falls are advised to take the Moonlight Tour, though the ethereal after-hours magnificence of the roaring falls is best taken in under a full moon and clear skies. The sight may seem somewhat muted but the sound? Not a bit!

(image via: eTravelPhotos)

The two nations that share access to Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil) recognized long ago that the falls and their associated ecosystem was both magnificent and fragile. Brazil created Iguaçu National Park in 1939 while Argentina’s Iguazú National Park first opened in 1934.

Jeju Island (South Korea)

(images via: Chic Traveler, Scubaboard and Travionside)

Jeju Island is the largest and most southerly island in South Korea. The 175 mile (282 km) wide island was formed 2 million years ago in a series of massive volcanic eruptions and the island owes much of its unique and striking scenery to its fiery origins.

(images via: Vinhbinh-Share and MohammedAldawsari)

South Korea’s tallest mountain, the 6,400 ft (1,950 m) tall extinct volcano Halla-san, rises from the island’s geographical center. The contrast between Halla-san’s alpine scenery and the palm-fringed tropical beaches at the isle’s fringes results in a wide range of ecosystems.

(images via: VisitKorea)

Known as the “Island of the Gods”, Jeju Island is South Korea’s top honeymoon destination. The island’s relatively small residential population and the unsuitability of much of the rocky, lava-covered land for farming has helped preserve Jeju Island’s primordial character.

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

(images via: Labuan Bajo and TripAdvisor)

Founded in 1980, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park consists of the three large islands of Komodo, Padar and Rincah, 26 smaller surrounding islands, and a short section of western Flores Island’s coast.

(images via: The Beauty of Indonesia)

The park as a whole comprises nearly 670 square miles (1,733 km²) of combined land and sea. The park was created specifically to protect the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, but its purview has been expanded to cover a number of unique indigenous terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

(image via: Photohome)

Komodo Dragons are a rare example of “island giantism” in which one species gradually evolves to fill an ecological niche, in this case one left empty by the lack of large carnivorous predators. Certainly qualifying as giants among lizards, Komodo Dragons can grow up to 9.8 feet (3 meters) in length and can weigh up to 150 lbs (70 kg). Fun facts about Komodo Dragons touch on their reddish saliva and white excrement, the latter a consequence of the creatures’ inability to digest the calcium in their prey’s bones.

Puerto Princesa Underground River (Philippines)

(images via: LovePinasPinoy, Puerto Princesa Hotels & Resorts, Eye in the Sky and

The Puerto Princesa Underground (or Subterranean) River was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 4th, 1999, and it’s likely the attention the site subsequently received did much to spur much-needed preservation and protection measures.

(images via: Pinoy Travel Blog, Themenschwerpunkte and TripAdvisor)

Stretching 5.1 miles (8.2 km) from its mountainous headwaters to the South China Sea, the Puerto Princesa Underground River system encompasses a vast range of ecological habitats supporting an intricate web of rare and often interdependent plant and animal species.

(image via: Philippines – Official Gazette)

Puerto Princesa City is the capitol of the Philippines’ semi-isolated, rugged and relatively undeveloped island province of Palawan, and the Puerto Princesa Underground River is situated roughly 30 miles (50 km) north of the city center. This advantageous location is a boon for the limited number of tourists who have and will visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River.

Table Mountain (South Africa)

(images via: African Fiesta and TripAdvisor)

The massive, flat-topped sandstone peak called Table Mountain stands 3,558 feet (1,084.6 meters) tall and looms over Cape Town, South Africa. As the centerpiece of Table Mountain National Park, the long-time landmark attracts visitors from around the world and facilitates their movement via the convenient Table Mountain Cableway.

(images via: Splash and SA-Venues)

Is that Reverend Desmond Tutu up on Table Mountain looking all messianic-like? Why yes, yes it is! Was the revered Reverend calling upon The Big Guy “upstairs” to help boost Table Mountain into the New 7 Wonders of Nature’s final seven? We can let the results speak for themselves.

(image via: Itinaukri)

Table Mountain’s indigenous ecosystem is very different today from what it was when Dutch colonists first founded Cape Town in 1652. Large carnivores such as lions and leopards have been eradicated as have most of the larger herbivores. SANParks has been vigilant (some say TOO vigilant) in rooting out invasive plants and animals from Table Mountain, including a large population of goat-like Himalayan Tahr which descended from a breeding pair of zoo escapees back in 1935.

(images via: Let’s Go Sago! and

The seven winning wonders described above and listed in alphabetical order are stated to be “provisional” based upon the first vote count conducted by the the New7Wonders Foundation and announced by Bernard Weber, project founder, on 11/11/11. Stay tuned for official confirmation of the seven winning sites, due to be announced early in 2012 at the Official Inauguration ceremony!