Why the Kenwood Chef is heavier than it needs to be – and other design tricks

 

Sir Kenneth Grange, who redesigned Ken Wood’s original mixer in the 1960s (and created more besides, from Kodak cameras to Intercity trains), has revealed that he made the appliance with a particularly heavy material to give it a sense of quality. “We read a lot into the weight of things so, when you pick something up, in that moment you make an assumption about its value,” the inventor says in The Brits Who Designed the Modern World, a BBC documentary.

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How Ghana’s top fantasy coffin artist has put the fun in funeral

 

“People celebrate death in Ghana. At a funeral, we have a passion for the person leaving us – there are a lot of people, and a lot of noise,” says Jacob, 28, who has worked with his father for eight years. Far from seeing their work as morbid, Jacob says the coffins are celebratory and reflect west African attitudes to death. “It reminds people that life continues after death, that when someone dies they will go on in the afterlife, so it is important that they go in style.”

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The 10 lies ​about Black Friday’s consumerist circle of hell

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have started our descent. From now until closing time on Christmas Eve, we are destined to fall towards an existential abyss. Some of us are fated to experience an unpleasant altercation with another shopper on Black Friday over the last discounted PS4 in a warehouse on the North Circular. Others will be on our knees in Hamleys begging the assistant to check again in the storeroom to see if they have that on-trend Zoomer Chimp, a £119.99 plastic robotic ape that comes complete with voice command recognition and – please God, no – 100-plus tricks. And then, sometime around 10am on Christmas Day, our nation will be united by a warm fuzzy feeling. What’s that feeling called again? Buyer’s remorse. Walter Benjamin … ‘the “modern” [is] the time of hell’ the Frankfurt School leader wrote. Photograph: Alamy Walter Benjamin … ‘the “modern” [is] the time of hell’ the Frankfurt School leader wrote. Photograph: Alamy One thing I’ve learned in researching the lives of that bunch of mostly dead neo-Marxist German Jews called the Frankfurt School is that shopping isn’t so much a satisfying pastime that boosts the economy as a burning wheel of Ixion on which we are bound until death secures our release. “The ‘modern’ [is] the time of hell,” wrote Walter Benjamin, the brains behind the Frankfurt School operation, in his critique of consumer capitalism, The Arcades Project. He wasn’t writing about Saturday at 5pm in Toys R Us, but he could have been. Here then are 10 lies about shopping to help you escape the seasonal consumerist circle of hell so appalling that even Dante didn’t dare imagine it.

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ASA bans Heinz Beanz’s Can Song advert for safety concerns

 

A Heinz TV advert teaching viewers how to use cans of its baked beans to drum out a song has been banned for being dangerous for children to copy. The commercial, which used the strapline “Learn the #CanSong, featured children, teenagers and adults using Heinz Beanz tins to drum out the rhythm of song. Nine viewers lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority that the advert encouraged “unsafe practice”, with six believing that it could be dangerous for children to emulate.

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The UK craft sector isn’t a ‘hipster’ economy. It’s sparking innovation | Rosy Greenlees | Opinion | The Guardian

 

The craft and making sector has created the basis for the disruptive collaboration that led to breakthroughs such as 3D printing, the application of prosthetics in surgery, and the design of the wearable technologies set to revolutionise our clothing. Craft and making can be artisanal but the myth swallowed by policymakers is that it is little more than this. A cute, niche sector. But Britain has quietly built up a £3.4bn making economy, influencing everything from the automotive industry to smartphones. It is also reshaping the way larger brands produce and engage with customers. Companies ranging from Adidas to Ikea have set up design units based on the craft innovation model. Ikea’s Space10 development in Copenhagen, for instance, is specifically based on the idea of collective co-creation. The second myth is that this new craft industry is not an employer, instead being a small ecosystem of makers and curators. Yes, the sector has not given birth to any super-companies yet but neither has the much-vaunted UK tech sector. Instead both have created not corporate monoliths but hundreds, maybe thousands, of small, highly specialised firms that are transforming our economy and the relationship between producer and consumer.

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How managers came to rule the workplace

 

Worse was still to come. Employees at the Telegraph recently discovered heat and motion sensors that tracked whether they were at their desks. There was no warning. Employees simply found the devices on Monday morning. They eventually had to Google the brand name to identify what they were. A memo was issued at lunchtime by senior management stating that the new policy was “to make sure we are making best use of our space in the building”. None of this sits very well with the official knowledge-society narrative. Old-school hierarchies are meant to be dead and buried. Authoritarian micro-managers have no place in industries that need workers to use their initiative, share ideas, be creative and excel at self-management. Flat company structures and autonomy are the future. Back in the 1990s, business guru Tom Peters even heralded the end of management.

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The secret life of a clickbait creator: lousy content, dodgy ads, demoralised staff

 

Viral content and clickbait sites are different to your classic startups. They often don’t raise any money, instead generating massive amounts of capital per day by posting other people’s kitschy videos and images while plastering them with countless ads. Instead of planning for the future and diversifying their business model, most rely heavily on Facebook and adapt only when the social media company forces their hand by changing the algorithms. The worst part about these companies, however, is the emphasis on volume of product – the content – and the lack of emphasis on the wellbeing of the producers – the writers.

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Why rewards can backfire

 

Here’s a story about a man with a machiavellian genius for psychological manipulation. (It comes from the US educator Alfie Kohn, so I’ll Britishise it here.) This man is elderly and lives near a school. Every afternoon a group of pupils subject him to merciless taunts as they walk home. So he approaches them and offers a deal: he’ll give each child £1 if they come back next day to taunt him further. Incredulous but excited, they agree. They return to mock him; he pays as promised, but tells them that the following day, he’ll only be able to afford to pay 25p per person. Still thrilled to be paid at all, the children are there again the next afternoon, whereupon the old man sadly explains that, henceforth, the daily reward for hurling abuse at him will be a mere 1p. “A penny?” The kids are scornful. For such pathetic money, it’s not worth the effort. They stalk off, grumbling, and never bother him again

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Folding bike helmet wins James Dyson design award

 

Resembling an accordion ball Christmas decoration, the helmet can be flattened, while a honeycomb structure, visible when unfurled, gives it strength. “It is one size fits most,” said Shiffer. “These [helmets] are quite sturdy and the honeycomb stalls are arranged in such a way that they can protect the head from a blow from any direction.”

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