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New to modgrain's blog? I'll be using it to share ideas and creative inspiration, tips, tricks, and current projects. That's it! An endless stream ideas connecting people who are interested in the same things.

iPad Stand in Nike Flagship Store

by: modgrain

Kinetic Singapore recently contacted Modgrain and ordered a iPad stand for a client. Turns out the stand is being used for a interactive kiosk in the Nike Flagship Store in Singapore. Kinetic had to figure out a way to keep users from fiddling with the menu button on the iPad. They came up with a fantastic design solution. A custom fit acrylic frame was placed over the outside edges of the iPad and tucked nicely into the stand. It would be nice if Apple would make a way to run the iPad in a kiosk mode… where users can only have access to a given app. Until then, this acrylic frame/cover is a perfect solution. Thanks goes out to Joe at Kinetic for sourcing Modgrain’s iPad stand for his client at Nike!

Modgrain's iPad Stand with Acrylic Cover by Kinetic Singapore

Modgrain's iPad Stand with Acrylic Cover by Kinetic Singapore

iPad Kiosk at Nike Flagship Store in Singapore

iPad Kiosk at Nike Flagship Store in Singapore

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By using Cork you are helping our Planet

by: modgrain

Cork Tree

Cork – One of the most renewable and ecologically friendly materials found anywhere in the world

Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). After the cork bark is harvested from the tree, the bark immediately begins to renew itself. Not a single tree is cut down during harvest. Generally, after nine years of growth the bark is two inches thick. It is often at this point when the tree is re-harvested. Cork trees live 200-500 years.

Cork not only begins to renew its bark immediately after harvest but during the trees entire lifespan it is filtering carbon dioxide thereby reducing greenhouse gases. Furthermore, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world”.

Despite rumours, cork is not going extinct. However, some winemakers are causing the cork habitat to be threatened by converting from real wine corks to synthetic and screw caps. Because of the decrease in use of real wine cork, the value of cork as a raw material has gone down. This may cause cork forest owners to sell their land, which in turn may be converted to alternative use (such as real estate development).

The more cork that is used, the more value the farmers who own the forests get out of their land, making it less likely they will sell their land for development. By using cork you are helping to preserve the forest habitat and thereby reducing greenhouse gases and contributing to biodiversity among plant and animal life. There are many other benefits, including poverty alleviation (many cork forests are in rural North Africa and are critical to their local economy) and employment.

The construction industry has been quick to embrace cork as an acoustic underlayment in multilevel units and for flooring. The interior design industry is also on the cutting edge with unique uses of cork. Both industries also recognize that cork contributes favorably to the LEED rating system. Please encourage your favorite winemaker to support the natural solution and think how you can integrate cork into your home or office.

Please visit our website or this link to the World Wildlife Fund:


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Workstation Concept

by: modgrain

I’ve been working on a design that can replace you current workstation (aka your kitchen counter). This is a functional workstation that can also be a conversation piece in any room. Especially if hand painted doors are incorporated. I would rather sit here and stare endlessly at Facebook or Twitter. And, once you see the status you were hoping for, you can close the laptop and fold up the top door to hide your obsession from any guests that might show up in person.

This is a concept drawing that is as fluid your daily status updates. I’m currently leaning towards the bamboo and walnut plywood combination with a white melamine highlights on the interior. The painted door on “graffiti” has a very urban or industrial feel. I like this juxtaposition of a brand new satin finished piece with a loosely drawn and painted illustration. The possibilities are endless for colors and subject. Commissioning your favorite artist to paint the doors could be a reality! Let me know what you think!

home office workstation graffiti

Workstation Prototype: Graffiti

home office workstation painted

Workstation Prototype: Painted

home office workstation natural

Workstation Prototype: Natural

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Motorized Bike Part 2

by: modgrain

I rode the bike (with the motor) for the first time today… I think it’s going to be pretty fun and a decent commuter. Maybe a little loud, but not bad. When it’s opened up it’s about as loud as a chainsaw or lawnmower… no surprise. Here’s what I ran into when building the bike.

The bike and motor arrived no more than 5 days from the day I ordered. Bikesdirect has delivered 2 bikes to me now and they arrive as described. I would recommend them to anyone who’s interested in ordering a decent bike for less. The only downside is that you don’t get to test ride them beforehand, but if you do your research you can pick up a good bike online. The motor arrived in a small 26lb box and seemed to be in good shape.

Building the bike was straight forward. Most of the bike is already assembled in the box. The only things left to do are install the handle bars, front brake, seat and seat post, wheels, pedals, and fenders. It took about an hour. I didn’t realize this bike has a large oval type tube for the front part of the triangle on the frame. And the top tube went down farther than I thought it would. I got a little nervous about how the motor might fit.

I unpacked the motor from ZoomBicycles and everything was in the box. I set out all the parts to familiarize myself with the kit. I put the bike up on a workbench and began to fit the motor. It was obvious that it was going to be real tight. It had to be low enough to fit the carburetor. The large frame adapter that came in the kit raised the motor up an inch and would not work. It seemed that none of the mounting hardware that came with the motor was going to work for this bike. I had to take a trip to the hardware store…. and ended up getting 3 feet of threaded 6mm Rod. The same size as the threaded bolts already in the motor. There might be a better solution in the future (I might build wood mounts that work and potentially cast them or maybe even just try the wood.) For now this should do it… long bolts bent around my oval shaped frame. I used an old tube for all the parts sitting against the frame… one, to keep it from scratching and two, for vibration control.

Custom Front Mount

After a couple of hours of messing around with it I finally got it in and ended up using the smaller metal brackets from the kit on the tube under the seat.

From this point, I followed the instructions that came in the box and proceeded to install the chain ring to the rear wheel. It wasn’t too hard. Aligning it so that it didn’t wobble took a little tweaking.

Installing Chain Ring

I ran into a problem when trying to fit the throttle handle onto the handle bar. The bike came with a SRAM twist shift that would not fit with the throttle/grip. I took a trip to Recycled Cycles in Seattle and found a used 7 speed shifter for $10. It slid over the handlebar and left enough space for the grip.

Used 7-speed Shifter

The clutch install was straight forward…. I chose to leave one of the springs off of the cable… it just made it harder to pull and I didn’t see a real benefit. The carburetor install was easy too… just slip it on to the intake manifold tighten the screw and hook up the fuel line/filter. The tank mounted easily with a little layer of rubber under to hold it off the frame and one cable.

Ok… now on to the electronics. I mounted and hooked up CDI unit. I made another trip to a auto parts store and picked up a better spark plug (NKG B6HS) and a plug wire/cap. I unscrewed the original plug wire out of the CDI unit and screwed the new one in. A simple upgrade that I read about… and cost less than $10. I then plugged in the kill switch as described in the manual. All set! Well, not so fast. I mixed up my fuel at 24:1 (the manual to break in the motor with 16:1 for 2 gallons…. many blogs I visited and read said 24:1 is sufficient). I hopped on the bike and nothing… popped the clutch… rode downhill with the compression of the engine pumping and couldn’t get the bike to turnover. I tested the plug outside of the motor and could not see a spark. Checked the wiring. Then did a little research online. I found the what the OHMs should be for the Magneto and for the CDI unit. I couldn’t get a conclusive reading with my OHM meter, so I decided to email Zoom Bicycles customer service department.

To my surprise (I read many blogs that many motor companies don’t respond) they replied with in 24 hours and told me to do a couple tests to figure out which part was bad. Checking the spark in the same by pulling it, grounding it, and turning the rear wheel. The second test was to hold the black and blue wire coming from the motor (magneto) and turn the wheel. If I felt a current then the magneto would have been good… I didn’t feel anything. I still didn’t know which part was faulty. I emailed ZoomBicycles again and told them the tests that I did and asked them to send both parts if they would. Again to my surprise, I got a email that day that said, the parts were shipping that same day.
ZoomBicycles has been great responding to my problems.

I got the two parts 3 days later, put them on, turned the fuel on, pumped the primer button, put the choke up, pedaled down the road and let the clutch out… the motor started right up! After a couple miles, I adjusted the idle screw a bit… but for the most part the thing ran great. I’ll post again with an update.

If you have install questions… let me know.

Handlebars Setup

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Modgrain’s Motorized Bike

by: modgrain

Gravity Bike Dutch Bikes Direct

Zoom Bicycles Limited Edition ZB 80cc Black Slant Engine Kit

This might be a little off topic, but I have embarked upon a new project that has nothing to do with furniture design or woodworking. I’m building a motorized bike! Let me back up… I have been bike commuting for years now over 8 miles each way, however, due to a lower back injury I have been taking it easy and have found myself behind the wheel for just about every day this summer.

My “car” time got me thinking and wondering why are there not many little homemade mopeds or motorized bikes driving around? I’ve seen a few, but not many…. Is it price? Is it too complicated to build one? Is a 150mpg’s not enough? Or, maybe it’s the noise, and the fact that these little engines pollute the air too much? I’m not sure… I’m thinking these little gems will eventually be very popular in many cities. Especially if people realize how easy and inexpensive it is to get/build one. Electric bikes are becoming popular and people might feel that another gas engine is not good for the environment…. I guess that I’m in the camp of, if I can go 150 miles on a gallon of gas, this is a good thing (especially considering most cars only gets around 15 mpgs.)

I spent a few days researching engine distributors… such as:
Gas Bike
Kings Motorbikes
Daemon Bikes
Zoom Bicycles

They are essentially the same kits, but one stuck out. Zoom Bicycles provided a better online experience that was just more believable for me. Plus, I reached out to Gas Bike via a little “Live Chat (offline)” button and never heard anything back. (BTW, live “offline” chat buttons have to be the most annoying feature ever on a website.) Daemon Bikes kits are less expensive (I paid $129 no tax/shipping) and claim to have a superior chain and bearings as well as a handful of other parts.

Anyway there were 2 kits that made the most sense to me… The Black Slant 80cc or the standard 49cc (street legal) kit. From what I can tell the motors look identical. Where I live is very hilly, so I chose the larger engine. There’s a carb upgrade that claims to make the engine idle more quietly and give you a little smoother ride, but I held out for that option. Maybe it’ll be a future upgrade. One other thing to note is that the “slant” is a newer model where the spark plug is on a angle compensating for the angle that the engine is mounted and supposedly performs better than the standard kits. Below are the o/a specs.

This 80CC Slant Head Bike engine has 2.75 to 2.9 HP which is very powerful for an 80CC motor engine of that size. The kit comes with everything you will need to get started. Just add oil and gas. The 2 Stroke engine can reach speeds upwards of 40 MPH and has enough power to move even a larger individual. These engines have excellent fuel economy and gets about 150 miles per gallon of gas. Turn any mountain bike into a moped with this engine kit.
Engine Box #1

* 1 x 80cc Black Slant Limited Edition Bicycle Engine (Model: ZB-80S-BK)
* 1 x Dished 44 Tooth sprocket with 9 holes
* 1 x Thottle Assembly with built in Kill Switch and Matching Grip
* 1 x 48 inch Thottle Cable with tension adjuster
* 1 x 56 inch Clutch Cable with Heat Protection Spring, Separator Spring, and Clutch Cable Keeper
* 1 x Glossy Black Heavy Duty Push Clutch Lever
* 1 x 53 inch Heavy Duty 415 Chain

Gas Tank Box #2

* 1 x 1.8L (1/2 Gallon) Glossy Black Finish Gas Tank
* 1 x Spring Loaded Gas Tank Cap

Accessories Box #3

* 9 x Sets of Mounting Bolts, Washers and Nylock Locking Nuts for the Sprocket Assembly
* 2 x Rubber Sprocket Mounts
* 3 x Semi-circle Metal Sprocket Mounts
* 4 x Nylock Gas Tank Mounting Nuts
* 1 x High Quality Fuel Grade Line
* 1 x Inline Soft Plastic Fuel Filter
* 1 x Gas Fuel Valve with Nylon Fuel Filter and Fibre Washer
* 1 x Spark Plug
* 1 x Spark Plug Removal Tool
* 1 x Black Chain Guard
* 1 x Chain Guard Fasteners
* 2 x Fuel Tank Fasteners
* 1 x EPA Approved Exhaust Muffler with built in Catalytic Converter
* 1 x Heavy Duty Exhaust Muffler Clamp with Nyloc Nuts
* 1 x Adjustable Bearing Chain Tensioner
* 1 x CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition) Module with mounting assembly
* 1 x Large Frame Tube Adapter mounting plate with U Bolt and Engine Adapter Bolts.
* 1 x Parts Pack (2 x Exhaust Gaskets, 1 x Master Link and Keeper, 1 x Rear Engine Mount, 1 x Rear Engine Mount Clamp, 1 x Spark Plug)

Bicycle Requirements:
This 80cc Slant Head Bicycle Engine Kit fits most Men’s 24″ and larger bicycles which includes mountain, cruiser, the bike must have a V-frame with at least a 8.5″ height clearance for the engine. Larger frame size might require drilling of the bike. Ride you bike just like a moped

This 80cc Slant Head Zoom Bicycles Kit is about 8.5″ height 7″ length 5″ width and fits on most standard 24″ – 26″ or 25mm 29mm frame bicycle frame tubes.. This engine kit only adds about 22 lbs to your bike.
Gas And Oil Mixture For Fuel Ratio: Use of a good synthetic 2 stroke oil is recommended.
This bicycle moped 80CC slant head motor engine kit is a 2 cycle/2 stroke design, therefore, a gasoline/oil mixture is necessary as follows:
• When New: 16 to 1 (8oz per Gallon)
• After 3 Tanks Of Break In: 32 to 1 (4oz per Gallon)
The engine crankshaft bearings are lubricated from the oil in the gas mix. A rich break in oil mixture ensures bearings will not cease during engine break in period.

Now moving on to my decision about what bike to put this motor on… after hum hawing about picking up a used bike on Craigslist, I decided to look at a new bike from BikesDirect. I previously bought my road bike there a few years back and thought it was a great deal! You can see the picture above, but the specs are here. I’m not a big hybrid know it all, but this bike looks to be a decent bike especially for the low price of $269 (no shipping, no tax), plus it has fenders and a kick stand! Here are the details about the bike:

Frame  Lightweight Welded Aluminum with multi-shaped tubes and reinforcing gusset. Replaceable rear derailleur hanger, 2x H2O brazeons, Fender mounts and Fenders (included)
(Fenders are Grey or Black)

Fork Zoom/Enjoy Aluminum Suspension Comfort Front Shock
Stem Adjustable Height/Angle, Aluminum alloy
Derailleurs Shimano Tourney SIS Index, SR Suntour
Shifters/Cassette SRAM Gripshift MRX 21 Speed, Shimano 14-34T SIS Mega-Range Cassette
Brakes/Levers ProMax Linear pull ‘V’ type Aluminum
Hubs Formula Forged Aluminum Alloy with quick release and dust sealed ball bearings
Rims Aluminum 700c with 36 holes
Crank TH Forged SteelArm triple 48/38/28T
Saddle Comfort wide-style w/suspended Spring base Seatpost Comfort Suspension Seatpost, Aluminum alloy
Pedals Resin Dual-purpose
Tires Comfort-ride 700 x 35c
Colors Blue Nightshade or Gloss White
SizesMen’s – 15″, 17″, 19″,  21″, 23″

Both the bike and motor have shipped and should be here this week. More to come!

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“Joule” Jewelry Box Concept

by: modgrain

On this cold, gloomy Labor Day in Seattle, I have found myself working out a new jewelry box design. The construction will be the same as my previous jewelry box design… but with the a potential new flare. I’m thinking (in addition to laser engraving the walnut) of adding color or painting the graphic before applying the satin hand rubbed finish. These images represent some of my preliminary thinking. I’ll update you on this project as it comes together.

joule jewelry boxjoule jewelry box

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On Prototyping: The Simplest Solution Never Comes First

by: modgrain

Seta Chair

This article {On Prototyping: The Simplest Solution Never Comes First :: via The 99 Percent}. about problem solving and the process of taking an idea to market is worth reading. Studio 7.5 has spent 5+ years developing a single chair Setu chair for Herman Miller. Now that’s perseverance. Their approach really makes me appreciate where quality products come from and makes me realize why the best products cost more.

My experience with prototyping is limited, but I know that it is painstakingly difficult to keep working on the same thing over and over. It can even get boring at times. You always have to battle the financial burdens, resources and time to make it happen. The outcome, however, is always worth the investment. I’d be interested in hearing other stories about the prototyping process you go through. Please comment!

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Storage Box Production Photos

by: modgrain

I just shipped my first storage box to a customer in the Portland area. She was thrilled with the “toy” box, it’s soft close lid, and the citrus smell. She has left positive feedback at Modgrain’s Etsy Store.

I learned a few things along the way. It’s one thing to build the furniture… it’s another thing to figure out how to ship it safely. UPS delivered the box undamaged… so, that’s good. However, it’s hard to be eco-friendly when packing furniture to ship long distances. It pained me to buy so much styrofoam. I’m doing research for the next time around and have found a cool product that I need to learn more about. It’s EcoCradle by ecovativedesign. Their packaging is biodegradable and home compostable. It’s made from seed husks and mushroom roots. EcoCradle perform similarly to synthetic foams, but it takes far less energy to produce, is made of natural materials and is eco-friendly every step of the way. I don’t do a ton of shipping, so I’ll be interested if I can get my hands on lower quantities of flat sheets.

Below are a few production photos of the finished storage box.

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Eames House Building Blocks

by: modgrain

I just came across these pretty cool building blocks from House Industries. I love the color palette, the typography styles, the graphics and the packaging. I just might have to get a set of these someday… for my daughter of course. I Imagine that she’ll play with them for a couple weeks… then, voila! I’ll have a new centerpiece for my coffee table!

Eames House Blocks: $175Tours of the Eames House and Studio require a sizable donation to the Eames Foundation, but you can bring the Case Study No. 8 house to the convenience of your coffee table or kids playroom for less cash than dinner for two at the local upscale chain restaurant. It’s a bargain when you consider that each set of 36 replenishable Michigan-grown basswood blocks represents 29 separate hand-pulled screen passes. In the true Eames spirit, your kids can create a ligneous yard sale on your living room rug while youre in deep conversation with your guests, then build this living landmark to demonstrate how you are properly introducing them to important bits of culture. And, as a whole, they take up much less room than those awkward and unsightly Montessori toys.

36 Alphabet Blocks 20 for the house, 16 for the studio

Blocks 1.75″ 4.5 cm square

House 8.75″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″ 22 cm x 8.9 cm x 8.9 cm

Studio 7″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″ 17.8 cm x 8.9 cm x 8.9 cm

Made in the USA!

Replenishable Michigan-grown, kiln-dried basswood.

Printed with non-toxic, lead-free, child-safe inks.

via House Industries – Objects – Eames Blocks.

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Designers turn cork into beautiful, functional decor

by: modgrain

I came across this post this morning. Kim has inspired me to continue looking for ways to incorporate this amazing natural resource into my design. Also love seeing one of my favorite designers — Michael Iannone being recognized, as well as many of my favorite stores.

A roundup of home products created from cork. The products include creative designs found at Velocity Art and Design, Ecohaus, Target, Branch Home and MOMA.
By Kim Cook The Associated Press

bark harvest

The Portuguese Cork Association shows workers as they harvest cork from a cork oak tree in Portugal. The trees are a remarkable renewable resource; the bark can be harvested every nine or 10 years for the life of the tree -- most live to about 200.

The design world has rediscovered cork — and we’re not talking wine stoppers and bulletin boards. Beautiful, fresh examples can be found in furniture and home accessories.

Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree, found in the Mediterranean and, in particular, Portugal, where more than half the world’s cork comes from. The trees are a remarkable renewable resource; the bark can be harvested every nine or 10 years for the life of the tree — most live to about 200. A tree in its prime, at 80 years old, can yield 440 pounds of cork. That’s enough raw material to produce about 25,000 natural wine corks.

Cork is durable, lightweight, naturally insulating, fire and rot resistant, and has a soft, pliable quality. It can be shaved thin enough to be used as a fabric for anything from handbags to upholstery. In thicker forms, or layered over other materials, cork makes great furniture and building materials.

Philadelphia-based designer Michael Iannone uses the material artistically in a collection of striking sideboards. Geometric and nature motifs are coaxed out of differently colored and textured cork.

“As a green furniture designer, I’m always looking for new materials to expand the range of sustainable materials that are available,” Iannone says. “We’ve always incorporated graphics into our furniture line — cork fits the bill as a green material, and gives me a wide range of colors and finishes to create graphics with.”

Vitra’s smart stools appear at first glance to be wine corks for enormous bottles. They’re light and portable, and would complement any décor.

MOMA’s design store now features “Destination: Portugal,” an exhibit of goods from that country’s best designers. There are cork umbrellas, envelopes and stylish tableware.

Ferm Living has a charming set of cork place mats painted with a simple branch design, and a clever trivet fashioned out of little cork balls.

Branch Home, another retailer known for stocking eco-friendly yet design-savvy goods, offers a selection of cork trays, bowls and cutting boards in an array of sizes.

Target offers an attractive cork bath mat.

In home renovation, we’re seeing more cork flooring. Warm, quiet and comfortable underfoot, cork floor tiles are available in many patterns and colors at a modest cost. Their resiliency makes them a popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms and family rooms. Check out Ecohaus’s selection as well as Jelinek Cork Group.

For some great photographs and history about cork’s production and use over the decades, go to the Canada-based Jelinek’s website as well as the Portuguese Cork Association’s site.

Simple Forms Design, the studio of Portuguese designers Alzira Peixoto and Carlos Mendonca, won the 2008 REDDOT Design Award for their cork bath collection, which includes geometric laser cut mats, soap dishes and even wash basins.

“Despite being such a traditional material, cork can be employed in very innovative and unexpected ways,” the pair wrote on their Web page.

Sourcebook “Destination: Portugal,” MOMA’s limited-run exhibition with an array of cork products. Among the designer items are cork umbrellas, stationery, tea sets, wine coolers and trays. Capri cork tiles, $7-$10.50 per square foot; many other varieties available. Iannone Design cork media console, $2,800; deer mosaic sideboard, $3,400; Vitra stool/tables, $406. Cork dinner mats, set of two, $33; Cork ball trivet, $21.95. From Bambu, a collection of cork tableware including trays, cutting boards and bowls, $10-$68. Jelinek Cork Group offers building materials and furniture, plus interesting information on cork. The official Portuguese Cork Association’s information site.

Original Post:
Home & Garden | Designers turn cork into beautiful, functional decor | Seattle Times Newspaper.

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