Material Focus: Amorphous Alloys


Your Apple product will eventually be made of an amorphous metal- Vitreloy. This is a member of a strange family of alloys called amorphous metals, otherwise known as liquidmetals. Amorphous alloys are metals that do not have a crystalline structure (if you have ever seen a broken piece of cast iron I’m sure you probably noticed the dull, gray crystalline structure) but they instead have a liquid/glass like composition. These amorphous metal alloys are much stronger than their crystalline metal counterparts, so parts can be lighter.

Liquid Technologies, inc is a spinoff of a long Caltech/NASA/DOE research project into amorphous metals. While Vitreloy has been commercially available since 2003, it is relatively expensive and we have not yet seen widespread use of the material- but that may change soon- Liquid Technologies granted Apple an exclusive license to use their alloys for consumer electronics last year.

An amazing thing about liquidmetals is that once formed, they can be reheated and molded- while retaining their amorphous, non-crystalline structure. In my mind I compare this to glass- once sand, etc becomes glass, the glass can be remelted, cool, and it is still glass- it doesn’t become sand again. So, liquidmetals can be diecast, injection molded, etc. Here is an article in Nature News, another in Plastics Today, and one more.


So, watch for the Ipad3 or 4 to have a Vitreloy frame. For you bicycle riders out there, amorphous metals will be playing their part soon.

If you get a wild inclination to be a penny stock investor, Liquid Technologies is trading at 16 cents a share, search “LQMT.OB.”





Bathing Girls Tea Set

While I was compiling a small holiday gift idea list for the blog, I ran across this Bathing Girls tea set designed by Esther Horncher.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to cut back on my coffee consumption by drinking tea once in a while, so I’m now telling myself that if I had this tea set, I would drink more tea.  I know that’s a lie disguised as rational thinking, but I still would really love to own these anyway.

Coffee Maze!

Not that I’m the type of person to have a saucer with my cup of coffee, but if they had these at your typical diner, I’d totally mess with it while waiting for my food.

designed by Erdem Selek via zizot

300++ Limited Editions

From 300++, comes this Limited Edition series of plates from various artists.  From my understanding each artist is given a plate and collaborates with the art (or lack there of) that’s already on the plate.  Love that pink floral one!

click for detail

via designspotter

Scientists Discover Nerd Fluid

Ok, well, this is not exactly a new but it is to me: Ferrofluid… attracts nerds and I like it, even though I don’t trust it.  Just do a flickr search for “ferrofluid” and you’ll see what I mean; nerds & untrustworthy super-shiny black stuff.  If you decide that you must have some you can get it here, but I would recommend keeping it in a sealed container and locked up.

Fornasetti Vases

I have always loved just about everything that comes from Fornasetti, so when I saw these Limited Edition collection of vases (produced by Italian company Bitossi Ceramiche), I swooned a little bit.

A plaster form of a vase created by Piero Fornasetti was discovered in the cellar by his son Barnaba in the 50′s, but it never went into production until recently.

via designboom

Foam Porcelain

Marjan Van Aubel is a Dutch designer who developed foam porcelain, a material which can produce lightweight objects that are similar to regular porcelain, but 1/3 the weight.  Just like bread, the foam literally rises in the kiln, expanding itself about 300% its original volume.

via cribcandy

The Skullmate

I love these ceramic pieces by Luke Twigger.  Each one is unique, signed, and numbered.  Cute.

Wendy Walgate

I really love pretty much everything about the ceramic work of Toronto-based artist, Wendy Walgate.

The Making of Laura Palmer

Last year Wes and I embarked on a journey into the world of ceramics.  I was participating in a gallery show about cult TV shows and chose to work with one of my favorites, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.  In the process of creating a porcelain cast Laura Palmer, we had 7 explode in our kiln, and only one sole survivor.

Step-by-step how we did it below the image.

Emily Forgot

I pretty much only trust myself to use our “won’t-break-when-you-drop-them” plates from various thrift stores, so I would probably just hang these black & white plates by Emily Forgot on my studio wall.

White Earth Studio

Pretty porcelain vases by White Earth Studio.  Makes my attempts at ceramics feel like I’m playing with Play-Doh.


Scosha Rings

Some of Scosha’s rings remind me of things I would have created as a kid, had I access to gold and semi-precious jewels..  I mean this in the best possible way.


Rest In Peace Lenny

Lenny Tribute Leonard Bacich Wes Cox

Lenny Bacich passed away yesterday. His impact on generations of designers is huge; he was kind, strange and had a serious set of eyes on him. For four or five decades he was the wizard behind the curtain of the Pratt Institute Industrial Design program, the cultivator of talent, and the guardian of decades of three dimensional design principles which he has instilled in thousands of students.  He impacted my time at Pratt, and my life, in an indelible fashion.  Always youthful, inquisitive and insightful, he had a way of finding what your strengths and weaknesses were, and helped hone them into something better.  He believed in his students, he delighted in life, and his life and his work were intrinsically intertwined- he loved teaching.   I am thankful that he went in style; that he had a class today that he missed- he is and will be missed.

I don’t think there are many former students of Lenny who don’t ever think to themselves “what would Lenny say?” while they are making an aesthetic decision.  Thousands of beautiful objects look the way they do because of design decisions made while thinking “what would Lenny say?”

Wes Cox

First class with Lenny, Fall 1999

February. 4, 2010


Lenny Tribute Leonard Bacich Stephen Floyd

Lenny preached constantly that the key to making things visually interesting is found in the two simple words “Contrast and Variety. He also told us that those two words didn’t just apply to art and design, but applied to our lives as well. He told us that he lived his life by those two words… “contrast and variety”. He surrounded himself with a great variety of people with contrasting personalities and backgrounds. He sought out a variety of different experiences and contrasting opinions. He truly believed that contrast and variety wasn’t just the key to making the world visually interesting, but that those two words are also the key to leading a life full of variety, interest and excitement. I have never forgot that final lecture of my freshman year, and continue to strive to live by those same two words.

When I came to Pratt my intended major was Graphic Design. I had Lenny for 3D Design my freshman year. I excelled in his class and one day he asked what I was planning to major in. I said “Graphic Design”.  He said “No you’re not”. This banter went on for weeks until the day came when I had to declare my major and register for sophomore year classes. I saw him right before I went for my academic advisement appointment and he asked again, “What are you going to major in?” As usual, I replied… “Graphic Design”. He laughed and walked away. I was really intending on declaring graphic design as my major but when the academic advisor asked me I blurted out “Industrial Design”. I almost couldn’t believe it, but yes, that is what I said. I have never regretted that decision in part because I was able to spend 3 years taking Lenny’s classes at Pratt, and I wouldn’t be were I am today without that, being one of the most valuable parts of my education.

Stephen Floyd

First class with Lenny, Fall 1998

February. 4, 2010

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Lenny’s Lookout for great PDF downloads

Lenny was critical to the formation of this book and I highly recommend it. Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships

Stephen and I both felt like Lenny’s design children, as  I am sure many of you did… Larry I know you did,

More of Lenny’s children…

Josh Longo

Color Maven

Cutest Kitchen Accessories Ever

These Lola Goldstein’s pieces could really cheer up my kitchen.


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