Do-it-yourself module for people with Low-Vision

Image of Haptic Proximity Module

Hello! I have developed a do-it-yourself device and placed the instructions on!

So far it has received positive feedback, being featured on the front page of instructables for a few days last week. Check it out here: Haptic Proximity Module (HPM).

How do you see things?

This post is mostly an extension on a conversation I had back in October. It covered a few broad sweeping topics such as…

  • dimensions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th… etc),
  • colour and its existence,
  • Orientalism
  • and a little website called the Khan Academy.

I’m not sure how this came up but it was thrown in after someone mentioned the 5th dimension or maybe time travel. Take a look at this video: Imagining the Tenth Dimension – you might want to be sitting down for this one.

Now this next topic was quite interesting. Imagine the statement “Colour does not exist”. Colour is our brain’s perception of electromagnetic wavelengths. Our brains seem to associate certain colours to a certain range of waves. Keep reading this stuff is interesting, have a look here and here.

“Orientalism” is a discussion on why we have preconceived notion of things we have not yet personally experienced and how/where did we get those ideas from. Here’s a video to introduce you to it – the book by Edward Said.

Finally, I must introduce you to the Khan Academy. It is a place where you can catch up, refresh and move forward in your understanding of maths, science and many other topics. This kind of learning is turning school education on its head through reversing the current approach to teaching and learning. Now homework is done in class and teaching is done at home. Have a read here – article from Wired Magazine.

Mobi Des Wrap-Up

Eight days, five super Scalies, sixteen talented makers, two mobile shops, a bunch of wonderful volunteers, and hundreds of pieces of beautiful design: This was Mobi Des.

The State of Design Festival 2011, saw a newcomer to the world of design, namely, The Scale of Things. With the encouragement of the State of Design organisers, we took an idea from its inception on the application form (filled out on a whim!) all the way to a trading business and design experience during eight days of the festival. Part of the Look.Stop.Shop component of the festival, Mobi Des is a duo of roaming retail and exhibition units that showcases and supports local design. Built in response to the festival theme, design that moves, we were inspired by the mobile market cultures of South-East Asia. The result is a pop-up shop and mobile cart made of reused materials to sell the wares of a collection of talented, Melbourne based designers and makers. Mobi Des literally pushes the work of emerging designers and crafts people into the public focus.

With our temporary home at City Square, the Scale of Things and our team of volunteers could be seen assembling the stationary Mobi Des unit of a morning rain, hail or shine. And being the middle of July, the weather was definitely on the chilly side! A point of curiosity in the winter cityscape of Melbourne, Mobi Des attracted attention from the street with passers-by often stopping to admire and ask questions.

Another curio of the cityscape this July was the Mobi Des cart, weaving its way through the streets spruiking the wares of our lovely designers. The cardboard-clad, yet waterproof, rather charming little cart housed and sold a selection of the products for sale at the stationary unit.

Mobi Des was designed for ‘goodness’ according to the three core values of The Scale – honesty, aesthetics, and sustainability. We strove to use recycled or recyclable materials, locally sourced where possible and fostered relationships with emerging local designers.

Life before Mobi Des – Materials and their history

The panels of the stationary unit are made from Xanita board (X board). X board is really great stuff. It’s essentially a type of cardboard, made from 90% post-consumer paper/card waste. Unlike regular cardboard its inner layer is a honeycomb-like structure, making it much stronger. The X board we used began its life as a series of totems for a Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) exhibition in July 2010.

The vinyl used to create parts of the walls and roof came from a trip to the Reverse Art truck. The industrial off-cuts are clear, making them perfect for windows, and being plastic, are also waterproof.

Currently in the third phase of their life, the wheels on the cart have quite a history. They began life supporting a wheelchair in a hospital. Once retired from this occupation, they then became the locomotion for a project in an industrial design studio, as the wheels for a bicycle trailer. What’s more, their life won’t end after MobiDes. They are already being written into a proposal for a future project!

The cladding for the MobiDes cart is in fact cardboard that has been waterproofed. The display units were constructed from the same material. The pieces have been cut from large cardboard sheets that were originally wall panels in the Lamington Drive gallery, in Collingwood. The circular display unit was constructed from sections of industrial cardboard cylinders, another handy find from the Reverse Art Truck.

The lining for some of the display units, as well as the table-top surface of the mobile unit is made from felt. This type of felt is quite thick, and is most commonly used for sound insulation. We picked up a whole lot of this stuff from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence.

All the timber that has been used in MobiDes, including the stationary unit panel hinge supports and structure for the cart, began life as something else. Most of it came from the remains of a cubby house and some old fence palings.

In mid September, Mobi Des came to life once more in Pin-Up gallery, just off Smith Street in Collingwood. This exhibition gave us a chance to reflect on Mobi Des, the first major project mounted by The Scale of Things.

The title of this piece is the Mobi Des Wrap-Up. So I suppose I should do just that. (Better late than never I say!) Despite the long days, inclement weather, and occasional tear, Mobi Des was an incredible experience for those involved. The Scale of Things took on our first major project designing and constructing two mobile shops and establishing and managing a business. No small feat, one might say. We certainly had a lot of help and support along the way. I would hate to forget anyone who has helped us out and lent a hand so the list simply goes like this: The Scale of Things would like to show their gratitude to the makers and their helpers, the State of Design team, the City of Melbourne, our friends and of course our families, for all you have done to help us bring Mobi Des to life. While Mobi Des only graced the city streets for the duration of the Festival, it is certainly not the last you will see of it. Plans are in the making for Mobi Des to appear once more on the street of Melbourne early next year. So until next time, thank you.

Jess, on behalf of the Scale of Things. x

Life skills…

Hello Scaly Mates, and the world,

It’s that time again – more link dumping goodness to keep the grey matter bubbling. This time around I thought I’d share a few lesser known and perhaps marginalised life skills I’ve had the pleasure of acquiring from various places on the ‘net. These tips aren’t your usual “know-how-to-get-stain-X-out-of-thing-Y” tidbits, nor do they pertain to anything particularly noble or of any particular use (time management or spiritual fulfilment for example). They’re just fun (read immature) or useful, and they involve making and fixing things, and I feel many people’s lives would be enriched by these completely unessential skills,

Brew Beer

Go on, do it – it’s fun. I started doing this in high school with a friend, after it dawned on us that although it was illegal for us to buy beer, it wasn’t illegal for us to buy the brew kits (disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer, under-age drinking is bad, don’t do it). Incidentally you don’t really need a kit, just some clean containers, measuring gear, bottles and time. Start with a malt concentrate brew (the cans you can buy in the supermarket) and work your way up from there. A handy tip is to not use the yeast that comes with the can – find a homebrew place and buy something decent. Use that brewers sugar stuff and make sure you age the beer once its bottled. If your first batch doesn’t kill you, and you’re feeling confident, try moving on to something like this. And if you’re not really a beer person, you could always go for an alcoholic ginger beer or maybe something a bit more exotic. And for those who just have to be different.

Make Some Dangerous Stuff

Or don’t – I’m not advocating anything illegal or dangerous or anything or stuff. But if you were theoretically so inclined, it might be fun to do this, or even build one of these. If neither of these ideas appeal, knowing how to do this is always a hoot. You would, of course, have to theoretically be careful.

Perform Basic Maintenance On Your Car

Its really quite empowering – It might not be your thing at all, you may not even own a car, but for those who do this site contains nearly everything you need to know, and some fun opinions as well. I could wax lyrical about how this type basic knowledge should be part of compulsory background reading for those wishing to comment on emissions, efficiency and the end of the world due to cars, but that’s for another time…

And finally,

Go to Wikipedia and hit “alt-shift-x” until something interesting happens,

Happy Monday everyone,
Wil, for The Scale of Things.

Spain, My Parents and Parc Guell

Hello all!

This is The Scale’s second international post! (sort of)
Following Imran’s lovely post about his travels to Japan (find it here), I’d like to tell you all about the holiday I took in August of this year.

I went to Spain to visit my parents in Mallorca, and then to Barcelona and Madrid (because those two cities – ah! – they are both so enticing in their own unique ways, how could I resist?). I was once again inspired by the beautiful visuals in these cities; there is nothing to stimulate the design-senses like a trip to somewhere else (new or familiar), and being a “tourist”.

I share them here with you, as (following Simone’s craft cubed post) I hope they inspire you to get creative…

What’s been inspiring you lately?


Beer on our terrace 1000yo olive tree in Palma The 3 flags outside Palma's town hall the view of terraced mountainside from the train to Soller a street in Soller old defences on the coast salt "iceberg" at the salt works at Es Trenc ball of salt fig from our friends' farm terracotta drains on the houses in Llucmajor

They are: Beer on our terrace, 1000yo olive tree in Palma, the 3 flags outside Palma’s town hall, the view of terraced mountainside from the train to Soller, a street in Soller, old defences on the coast, salt “iceberg” at the salt works at Es Trenc, ball of salt, fig from our friends’ farm, terracotta drains on the houses in Llucmajor.


Casa Camper (Camper's hotel. Yes, they do hotels as well)  just a few supporters at the Barcelona-Napoli game at Camp Nou Gaudi's detail under Parc Guell columns and windows at Parc Guell Gaudi's house in the parc detail of the rendering the Parc's natural detailing - tree roots

They are: Casa Camper (Camper’s hotel. Yes, they do hotels as well), just a few supporters at the Barcelona-Napoli game at Camp Nou, Gaudi’s detail under Parc Guell, columns and windows at Parc Guell, Gaudi‘s house in the parc, detail of the rendering, the Parc’s natural detailing – tree roots.



They are: a typical breakfast in Madrid – tortilla sandwich and coffee – yum!, a view of the interior of a typical apartment, Barajas (airport).

And here’s a video I took while in transit, killing time between terminals.

Of course, there were so so many things I didn’t get to see on this lightning visit. But then again, there’s always so many things to see… I’ll just have to keep going back:)

Click on the pics for the superbig image.


Di Tan – Design and Vision

Di Tan’s vision is spellbinding. She has a natural ability to capture the most beautiful aspect of anything she photographs, especially her own object work. Her visual communication skills are unparalleled, in The Scale’s view. Having worked with or along side Di for several years now, we at The Scale are constantly stunned by the visuals she produces. To see Di’s photos are to see what she sees, and it’s all beautiful. Oh, to live in her world!

This is what makes Di’s object’s so interesting – via Mobi Des, she gives us things to touch, to feel, to look at, but do we see the same as she does? Take a glimpse into her world via her blog and her folio and grab one of her beautiful pieces of jewellery during our Mobi Des days this State of Design festival

  • The basics; where are you from? What lead you to Melbourne? What keeps you here? What are you doing now? What are your plans for the future?

I’m originally from China and now I’m a Melbourne-based designer. I came to Melbourne to study in 2004. Over the last 8 years, I’ve grown to love Melbourne even more than my hometown Beijing. I love the people here, the old buildings, the weather and of course the coffee and scones:)

I’m preparing an online shop at the moment to sell my own hand-made objects which will be opening soon (in September). I’m also open for industrial and graphic design free-lance jobs.

Dezira brooches and necklaces - photo from

  • How would you describe your design/maker style?

I’d like to describe my design/maker style as Freedom and Colour. I love to use colour on my designs and I often do it randomly, so that I can catch the unexpected moments. I love suprises😛

Dezira Brooch - photo from

Dezira necklace - photo from

Another Dezira necklace - available via Mobi Des. Photo from

  • Where did the name Dezira come from?

Don’t laugh please ): It’s actually my first WoW character’s name… (yes…yes…I play WoW… lol)

  • Time for some figjam – what’s your favourite piece of your own work, and why?

My favourite piece of design is my 3rd year studio project – Transition object. Once again, I love colour~ and it was also my first time working with clear acrylic sheets.

Di's Transition Object. Photo from

  • Who or what inspires you and your work? Who would sit at your fantasy dinner table?

I’m usually inspired by things and people around me. If I had to invite someone to my fantasy dinner table, I guess it would be all my friends! Ha! Beccause they are my support, they offer me help and I just can’t do anything without them!

  • What does ‘design’ mean to you?

I design things so that I can be myself. Most of my designs are the reflection of myself. I learn, improve and discover more about myself through design. I believe every design has its own story behind it, no matter if it’s about the maker or the user.

  • What are the best and worst things about what you do?

Best: lots of ideas

Worst: over do things

  • Your 2 favourite tools of your trade

2 favourite tools: Stanley knife and Copic markers

  • If you could work on any project, or with any designer/artist/maker, what would it be?

Slip cast ceramic!

  • Any parting words?

Thanks ‘The Scale of Things’ for giving me this great start! And I hope my little Dezira will end up big~

You’re very welcome Di! We hope so too. Inspirational answers – many thanks to Di for her beautiful objects, and for her time in chatting to us. We love your work, and hope to see more of it in the future. Keep us in your loop, Di!

Angelina Russo and the Importance of Being Conscious, Capable and Crafty

Here at The Scale, we’re big fans of human-powered movement. We love the theatre of movement, the joy of locomotion and the passion we see mirrored in other movement-enthusiasts (and here we’re talking about sportspeople, dancers and transportation designers). We know that sustainable transportation is the way of the future, and we know that we need pioneer designer/makers to lead the way to this future. One such pioneer is Angelina Russo.

Angelina is an avid cyclist, researcher and crocheter, who has found the opportunity to combine these three talents into her project, CultureCycle. Travelling the world exploring the bike paths and cycling systems of metropolises such as London, Edinburgh and New York, Angelina calls Melbourne home, and sends back her insights via her blog. She has created a range of products for the urban cyclist – crocheted high-visibility, high-design wear – that synthesise her findings into simple, beautiful, functional objects. The Scale of Things is privileged to have Angelina and her hand crafted bike wear as part of our Mobi Des project.

  • The basics; where are you from? What lead you to Melbourne? What keeps you here? What are you doing now? What are your plans for the future?

I’m originally from Adelaide though apart from a 4 year stint there about 15 years ago, I haven’t actually lived there for over 20 years. I was offered a job here in Melbourne and moved down from Brisbane where I’d been for 7 years. I stay in Melbourne for the culture, the fantastic cycling and definitely not for the weather. I’m getting ready to launch the new range of reflective crochet cyclewear! It’s an exciting time! I’m really looking forward to the response to the range! If it goes well, there’s no stopping me! Who knows, I may even be able to give up my day job!

CultureCycle - Where Cycling meets Design and Culture

  • How would you describe your design/maker style?

I’m a designer, at least that’s what my degrees say. I’m also a maker and always have been. I grew up in a large Italian family at a time when knowing how to knit, crochet, cross stitch etc. was part of the arsenal a young woman took with her into life. I’ve been a practicing designer in the fields of interior, film, communication and interaction design for over 20 years. Now I can add handmade design to that cache!

  • How do you juggle your making and working? Or is it one and the same for you?

Everything is making for me. I’ve managed to carve out a working life which includes opportunities to allow different activities to converge. That’s why CultureCycle is so exciting for me. I can write about the links between design and social media from a theoretical perspective and then design a piece, document the pattern and make it! I crochet at night and write during the day and I try really hard to keep it in that order. I have to admit that the Melbourne winter makes it difficult sometimes. In my old age I seem to get more arthritic each year!

Angelina's crocheted hand warmers - we need them in this weather! Photo: Brad Triffit, Model: Ruby Forrest


  • Time for some figjam – what’s your favourite piece of your own work, and why?

I love my crochet stockings. I think they are the Bugatti of the stocking world. They’re so smoking hot that I can’t wear them! I designed the pattern and have made them in a fantastic cotton lycra and also in wool. I’m thinking of making a pair with reflective elements but I’m not sure anyone is ready for that!

  • Who or what inspires you and your work? Who would sit at your fantasy dinner table?

Ah yes, the fantasy dinner table! To be honest I am utterly inspired by ordinary people. I love cycling through the city of Melbourne in the morning and seeing people brave the elements while doing something that is good for them! I’m inspired by running around the Tan in the mornings. You see so many people who are obviously in pain and yet there they are! I love funny, articulate, uncomplicated people. Most of all, I’m inspired by people who don’t promise what they can’t deliver and deliver what they promise.

  • What does ‘design’ mean to you?

Design is a wonderful phenomena. It blends sophisticated technologies with extraordinary creativity and does so for a purpose. Without a purpose, it’s art.

Design with a purpose - be seen and be warm while cycling. Sounds good to us! Photo: Brad Triffit, Model: Ruby Forrest

Design with a purpose - reflective by night. Photo: Brad Triffit, Model: Ruby Forrest

  • What are the best and worst things about what you do?

Being able to translate an idea into a finished product which is replicable is probably the best thing about what I do. The worst would be trying to cope with people who have no interest in finishing anything!

  • A pair of pairs: your 2 favourite tools of your trade, and 2 links everybody should see

My two favourite things? My bike of course and my camera. Together they can get me to far flung places and document them to share with others. Two links? TEDX talks. As my friend in Austin says, TEDX makes us smarter! and Adam Savage’s website (from Mythbusters). It hasn’t been updated since 2003 because he became a megastar on Mythbusters and no longer needed to promote himself as a “maker of general things”. One day I’d like to have a website that I no longer need to update!!!

Angelina and her bike (via her camera) in NYC

  • If you could work on any project, or with any designer/artist/maker, what would it be?

I’d really like to spend a few years creating an end-to-end program of cycling, research and handmade design. I guess I’ve started the process with CultureCycle. I’ve met so many interesting people online and have been truly inspired by their work. I hope that one day I can inspire others.

Inspiring designs. We love this piece! Photo: Brad Triffit, Model: Ruby Forrest

  • Any parting words?

I really believe that if you have a skill, you can never be unemployed. I see so many people who have outsourced every part of their lives. They can’t cook, can’t make things, have opinions about doing really simple things like taking out the rubbish. If the electricity, water and phone went off, they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. Learn to do something with your hands. Make it a priority. Enjoy the process and share the results. What more could you ask?

Ah, yes! We hear you. Thank you Angelina for taking the time to talk to us.

Melbournians, look out for Angelina on the bike paths of this beautiful city, and look out for her products at our Mobi Des stalls this July.

Design to make you smile: Ivan Adhiteja

Ivan Adhiteja is going places, people. He’s on the cusp of greatness, and about to get very famous, very quickly. His designs are intelligent, quirky, beautiful, and they make sense. Good design sense. He’s a talented industrial designer and design writer who juggles a hectic online life (co-managing Design Territory as well as his own blog and various side projects) with visits to the Milan Furniture Fair (2011), The Melbourne Movement and his own design career. At The Scale, we’re proud to be the first to compare him to the likes of Karim Rashid, Marc Newson and maybe even Japan’s Nendo. But, (not necessarily) unlike those power houses of design, Ivan’s a nice guy. And, unlike the above, The Scale is fortunate enough to be having Ivan design and produce some beautiful objects for Mobi Des. Wow. Look out Melbourne.

Not convinced? Check out Ivan’s folio and blog and his side project Design Territory. Still not convinced? Get to know Ivan below:

  • The basics; where are you from? What lead you to Melbourne? What keeps you here? What are you doing now?
INDONESIA!!! I planned to continue my study in Perth after I finished my Diploma in Singapore. However, there were some people telling me that Melbourne is a better place for design, and that’s also why I’m still here. I’m planning to put my final year project into production, so just wait a little longer and you can buy the super awesome stool… hahahaha…

Ivan's Shima stools - 'Shima' means 'layers' in Japanese. Click the above link to see why...

  • How would you describe your design/maker style?
I like cartoons, I love simplicity, and I worship products that make my life easy. So, at least one of these inspires my style of design.

Dombaaa - look out for this sheep during Mobi Des!

  • What are your plans for the future?
I’m not really planning my life, so I just live my life and do what I can do now.
  • Time for some figjam – what’s your favourite piece of your own work, and why?
A silver pendant in pig’s snout shape from 2007. I won a design competition with this design and that’s the only design competition I’ve won in my life so far. However, this piece became my favourite because that was the first time I experienced many people appreciating what I’ve done. It made me excited to design more.
  • Who or what inspires you and your work?
 I am usually inspired by problems in my daily life, mostly by problems with products that I use.
  • What does ‘design’ mean to you?
Design is one of those activities that can only be done by humans… It will not be replaced by a computer or a robot.
  • What are the best and worst things about what you do?

Best: problem solving.

Worst: planning.

  • What are 2 links everybody should see?… to see all the news about what I’ve done, what I’m doing and what I’m going to do…… I check this website twice a day…

  • If you could work on any project, or with any designer/artist/maker, what would it be?
I designed toys and furniture before… I would like to design kids furniture, I guess…
  • Any parting words?

THANK YOU “THE SCALE OF THINGS!!!” By the way, teach me some Aussie Slang… Lol

No worries Ivan, we’ll try our best😉

The Scale thanks Ivan for his time completing the questions above, and for his lovely design pieces for Mobi Des. We can’t wait to get them out to everyone in Melbourne this July. Stay tuned for your chance to take home your very own Ivan Adhiteja original.