All posts filed under “Art

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Knyttan: the newest, coolest, “printing” company

One of the companies in the current Techstars London batch just launched their website yesterday, Knyttan.  They’ve got some of the most interesting/unique technology I’ve seen in a while: they turn current industrial knitwear looms as 3-D printers for knitwear.  The founding team includes three graduates from the Royal College of Art, and they’re full of passion and knowledge of knitwear.  When it comes to disrupting an industry… they’re about to do it.

Current state of affairs

Knyttan is currently focused on classic knitwear: sweaters/jumpers and scarves.  Today’s technology is literally archaic; the current code/protocol is 30-40 years old, and can be directly traced to punchcards!  To create a sweater, a designer has to communicate the design/dimensions as best they can to a factory that has the loom manufacturer’s software to create the punchcard-code necessary to knit the sweater.  These are then sent back to the designer in a series of back-and-forths until the designer gives their okay for manufacture.  And when you’re a designer in the US/Europe dealing with a factory in China/Southeast Asia, this is a long, painful process.

For manufacturers, they also have significant constraints in what they can do.  To knit a particular design of jumper, the different colours of yarn have to be on very different specific spools on the machine.  And once a machine is set up to knit, it is time-consuming and costly to set it up to do something else.

Knyttan’s technology

What Knyttan can do with these existing industrial looms is incredible.  They have essentially re-created the entire stack of code necessary for these looms to run.  Instead of having to use complex software provided by the loom manufacturers, Knyttan has created a web interface that anyone can use.  For people with knitwear factories, they can use Knyttan to turn their looms into general-purpose knitwear printers.  It doesn’t matter what spool each colour of yarn is on, Knyttan can adjust.  A loom can knit a sweater, and then a scarf, and then something else entirely without any costly change-over time.

For the first time, a designer can have complete control of the design/manufacture process.  And for the first time, a manufacturer can radically improve productivity of their existing machines.

The two BIG effects

1- Democratization of design.  Right now knitwear design is a pain in the ass, because designers don’t have the full set of tools necessary to go from what’s in their head to the actual creation of the item… manufacturers have to be part of the process.  Knyttan allows any designer to create something they’d like to have/wear, and print/knit it out right away.  This is transformational in the industry, particularly for designers that want to do more with knitwear, but don’t because of the pain involved.

2- Radical change in supply chain.  The design cycle to design/develop knitwear is extremely long, potentially weeks/months as samples are sent between western designers and overseas manufacturers.  Knyttan upends this process… designers can get back a prototype of their design in a matter of minutes to hours.  But perhaps more importantly Knyttan disrupts the supply chain by making it far easier to create knitwear in smaller batches that can be manufactured on demand.  Instead of being forced to make an order months ahead of time, either getting stuck with excess inventory (or having demand for product that can’t be filled), designers can order stock when they get low.

How you can check Knyttan out

If you’re in London, go check out their shop!  You can buy some of their existing stock designs, or even design and print yourself an item in-store!  (Literally, they have a loom in the store where they can create items immediately.)  It’s in Somerset House, and you can find information here: https://knyttan.com/find-us/

If you’re not in London, you can design and create a sweater/jumper or scarf today, and have Knyttan deliver it straight to you.  They just launched their site yesterday, so check it out here: https://knyttan.com

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Living and loving live music – thanks to Songkick!

Yesterday I saw The National in concert, and it was absolutely awesome. It was the first of a string of four concerts I’m going to in the next few weeks. I’m seeing The National, Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers (with Neko Case!) and Kings of Leon.

But I would never have known about all of these shows or gotten tickets without Songkick. If you are interested in live music AT ALL, you need to do yourself a favor and register with Songkick TODAY. It takes a minute to register, and another couple of minutes to hook Songkick up to your iTunes library, last.fm profile or Pandora profile. Three minutes after starting, you’ll start seeing e-mails from Songkick when the bands that you like are coming to your city… before tickets go on sale.

There are very few sites on the internet I’m truly passionate about, and Songkick is one of them. Otherwise, I would have never been able to see this kick-ass final encore song from The National last night… done completely unplugged in a crowd of 5000 people. Amazing…

Links to specific shows, etc.:
The National last night
Arcade Fire tomorrow night
The New Pornographers next week
Kings of Leon just before Christmas
My profile (you can “track” me to see what concerts I’m going to)
My “gigography”: all the shows I’ve been to since my very first concert in 1994 (Pink Floyd!)

PS – Songkick is a London-based startup, and a Y Combinator startup, so they’ve got a very bright future ahead of them.

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Iraqi art exhibition in New York City – Opens Thursday!

IraqiArt.jpg

This Thursday, May 22nd a very unique art exhibit will open in New York City. It features art from Iraqi artists, most of whom cannot even be publicly identified for their safety. It was a Navy Lieutenant serving in Iraq that found this art and worked to bring it over to the United States to exhibit and sell for the artists. I served with that Lieutenant, Chris Brownfield, for about two years when we were both stationed on the same submarine. He’s a very unique guy, as this initiative suggests!

From 2006 to 2007, a military liaison officer in the U.S. Embassy of Baghdad worked on the sidelines to develop relations with the artists of Baghdad. Under extremely unlikely circumstances, several of Baghdad’s artists trusted this military officer to share their art with the world. It is the first collection of art in the United States comprised entirely of works from wartime contemporaries of Iraq. The scope of the exhibition is unprecedented, including works on Iraqi refugees, the children of war, genocide, and an Iraqi perspective on Shock and Awe.

The exhibition is taking place at the Pomegranate Gallery on 133 Greene Street in SoHo (see map here). The opening reception runs from 6-8pm on Thursday May 22nd, and the exhibition will be open through June 21st.

Jake Halpern wrote a great article about the exhibit in New York Magazine. He even managed to speak (via phone) to a couple of the artists involved. One of my favourite parts of the article describes how Chris had to pull rank with the military postal clerks in order to send the 100+ paintings back to the US!

If you can’t make it to the gallery, Chris has also produced a book that includes much of the same artwork. It’s tri-lingual in English, French and Arabic. You can buy it from Amazon.com here: Oil on Landscape; Art from Wartime Contemporaries of Baghdad.

If you live in or near New York City, I hope you get a chance to drop in on the exhibit; it should be interesting.