Episode 12: Où est la plume de ma Kickstarter? with Taylor Levy and Che-Wei Wang

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Taylor Levy and Che-Wei Wang run CW&T, an art and design studio that produces an array of items ranging from purely commercial to completely aesthetic. The way they string projects along that spectrum offers a lot of insight into how one can fulfill one’s own artistic vision in a world of commerce. They’re also the team behind the Pen Type-A, a large and ultimately complicated Kickstarter project that we’ll get. On Twitter: Che-Wei Wang and CW&T.


Show notes

I quoted from an interview at Big Things from 2011 with the two. Their site is CW&T. Watch the bouncing teeth. The Museum of Jurassic Technology blurs the line between real and imagined by presenting every exhibit the same way and challenging you to determine whether and which parts conform to objective reality. You’re often wrong.

We talked through a bunch of their projects like the Google Earth Clock, 1BIT 1HZ CPU, and the TV Barrow, which is going into commercial production. I mentioned Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (1953). The reason I couldn’t remember the name is that it’s just called…Bicycle Wheel. (In Advance of the Broken Arm is a snow shovel.)

Taylor and Chei-Wei both attended the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, which encourages cross-disciplinary artistic and technological collaboration.

Their best-known project is Pen Type-A, a replacement shaft coupled with a sleeve for the beloved Hi-Tec-C pen cartridges. The Kickstarter campaign set out to raise $2,500 and brought in $282,000. An intellectual-property issue and manufacturing complexities delayed deliveries by several months.

Compact fluorescents (CFs) with twisted shapes involve a lot of hand work and thus have been manufactured in China where labor has been cheap, although the cost of labor has been rising in local terms and in relative terms as the renminbi floats a tiny bit against world currencies. However, there have been changes that automate some parts at least at some factories.

The firm making a kind of tea infuser (the name of which I couldn’t remember) is Gamila, which started with the Teastick in 2005, when I wrote about it for the now-defunct I.D. Magazine (then a leading publication about the aesthetics of commercial industrial design). (Gamila did a Kickstarter campaign last year for a coffee brewer which will be delivered on schedule by April, when they will start selling production units, too.)

Elevation Dock is often cited (inaccurately in my opinion) as a poster child of a lack of preparation and late delivery. I was trained by the Swiss (like Armin Hofmann) and Swiss-trained designers.

Near the end of the podcast, we spoke about Blockhead Stem and Crow’s Flight.