Most small creative companies start with a product — not a business plan. But Mariko Carandang of iluxo was all business right from the beginning.
“One day I decided that I wanted to start a company and start selling things on Etsy,” she says. “I wasn’t already making something that I wanted to sell. I asked myself ‘Now what should I make?”
As a web developer and designer in San Francisco, she had the software skills to jump into digital fabrication. Mariko did lots of product research ranging from materials to manufacturing methods to fashion trends. She finally decided to enter the competitive market of laser-cut jewelry, and the next big question was how to set her designs apart from the crowd.
“Laser-cutting is inherently flat, so I thought a good way to differentiate my first product was to make something 3D. That’s where the idea of creating a locket came from,” she says of her first design.
When burlesque dancer Donna Touch first tried using those big, flirtatious feathered fans, she knew she couldn’t work with them.
“I wanted to move them around with a lot of speed, something different from what most dancers were doing. But the fans were so heavy, slow and cumbersome, and really difficult to hold,” she explains. So Donna decided to maker her own.
“I did a Google search for ‘custom laser cut’ and found Ponoko,” she says. “I’m professionally trained in Adobe design programs, so I used Illustrator. But one great thing about Ponoko is that the skills needed to create files for laser-cutting are definitely learnable by non-designers.”
“I’ve taken up photography as a hobby, and I love Instagram but I haven’t printed a photo in years,” says Monique Malcom. It’s something lots of us in this digital photo age can relate to. But Monique thinks there are some photos that are “just too amazing to be locked in the digital dungeon.”
Being a fulltime creator and “Chief Everything Officer” of her own tshirt line Antisparkle, she saw a product design opportunity.
So she created Instasparkle — a line of lasercut photo frame jewelry — to encourage people to show off their beautiful pics. Her colorful necklaces, broaches, and rings can each hold a 1″x1″ photo print.
Mine Kafon: a low cost, wind powered mine detonator
Of all the maker projects I saw in 2012, Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon stands out in my mind as the most valuable contribution to global society. Hassani grew up in Qasaba, Kabul in Afghanistan, he is now an industrial designer living in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In his studies at university, Hassani recognised that the current means of land mine removal hasn’t had a lot of development in the last 60 years, it is still a labourous, dangerous, slow and expensive operation. Mine Kafon is designed as a low cost solution to the problem of old, but still active, land mines. It is a land mine detonator inspired in part by childhood toys that Hassani and his friends crafted from cheap materials. (more…)
Ever wondered what it’s like to get a shipment from Ponoko? The video shows Garland West, an artist/crafter outside of Charlotte NC, unboxing her recent lasercut order featuring a variety of materials and sheet sizes.
You can see her peeling the protective paper and popping out her designs including bamboo business cards, acrylic jewelry, and a big red octopus.
Drew Tetz is a professional yo-yoer who travels the country competing as part of the official Duncan Crew. When it’s not yo-yo time, he works as a graphic designer in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Drew has combined his design skills and yo-yo know-how to create a flatpack yo-yo with Ponoko. His design was a runner-up in the recent EvD lasercut toy design competition, and you can see him assemble and demo the yo-yo in the video below.
Lu Davidson is the project coordinator behind the Inspiring Stories Trust of New Zealand, a charitable organization dedicated to telling the stories of New Zealanders who are taking action and leading change.
“Its been 9 months since we launched the Inspiring Stories National Film Competition, themed ‘Young Kiwis Making A Difference’.” Lu tells me. “This competition motivated young aspiring filmmakers to tell stories of incredible people doing awesome things in their communities and all over Aotearoa. I want to make the awards ceremony extra memorable for our young filmmaking winners.”
So Lu approached us about creating unique award trophies for each of the winners. “Josh at Ponoko suggested keeping it simple, using lasercutting with a single material. He also emphasized the importance of making a prototype.”
Ponoko-made products from Meshu founders Rachel Binx and Sha Hwang
When Rachel first moved to San Francisco, she was looking for work and knew she wanted a job in data visualization. “I was using Twitter to find potential contacts,” Rachel says. “Sha was gracious enough to meet me for dinner, and the rest is history!”
The two of them hit it off, eventually moving in together in a sunny carriage house in the Mission. And yes, Rachel landed a great job at a design studio. But the story doesn’t stop there.
Last year, Rachel and Sha sat down in a tea house and started brainstorming ideas for a side project: something that could combine their skills in design and data visualization with their love of travel.
The result was Meshu — a web-based app that brings together data visualization and digital fabrication.
Meshu lets you design products like necklaces, earrings, and cufflinks based on the connecting lines of various places.
For example, you could create a design using your Foursquare checkins or the route you took on your epic road trip. And you could have that design turned into a pair of one-of-a-kind lasercut earrings or 3D printed cufflinks.