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Issue 14

The Socarrat

A selection of what inspired us recently
and occasional updates from the studio.

Duo’s Taqueria

Language learning app Duolingo opened a taqueria in Pittsburgh, where their HQ is located. The menu, created by local chef Marcella, features Mexico City-style tacos made with fresh corn tortillas. When ordering your tacos, you get a short Spanish-language challenge with a tasty reward if you answer correctly, such as a 10% discount. We’re curious to see what Duo’s next takeaway restaurant will be; maybe pasta to go to learn Italian?

79-year-old builds wheelchair bike to enjoy the outdoors with his wife

Kevin Harvey made a custom wheelchair bike to enjoy the outdoors together with his 89-year-old wife Beverley, who has dementia. He figured it would be easier to modify his electric bike than pushing a wheelchair up the hills of New Plymouth in New Zealand. The custom bike is fitted with a seatbelt and other adjustments, ensuring that Bev is secure and comfortable when traveling along the coast. In a local news interview, Kevin said that Bev has no need for speed, but loves that this invention allows her to enjoy seeing the ocean and meeting more people.

The Climate Game

There’s no denying our planet is in a climate crisis with wildfires, floodings, heatwaves, and more effects from climate change happening all over the world as you’re reading this. The Financial Times made a game that puts you in charge of solving it. However, it is based on real science, reporting, and emissions models developed by the International Energy Agency, which makes it a data-driven simulation of the future rather than just a fun game. Can you lead a path to a liveable planet and reach net zero by 2050?

Typeface designed by a tree

In 2015, designer Bjørn Karmann started carving Helvetica letters in a beech tree in his parents’ forest. Every year, he carefully documented how the characters changed as the tree grew. An interesting coincidence is that the growth and expansion of the tree happen sideways, similar to how typefaces ‘grow’ into bolder weights. It led to Occlusion Grotesque—an experimental typeface with unique deformed letters shaped by nature.

With Deep Occlusion, a continuation of the project, the designer then tried to replicate the process by introducing an AI to the process. Whereas repeating the process with another font and tree would take several years, the AI could learn how the tree grows, simulate its patterns, and generate synthesized images. Check out Bjørn’s website for more information and to download the fonts for free.

With the Digital Minds in San Francisco

From VLC ☀️ → SFO 🌁 Every year, students of the Digital Minds master at Barreira Arte y Diseño school in Valencia get to go on an experience trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, home of the biggest companies in tech. As teachers of the master, we got to join them to learn from designers working at Apple, Google, Zendesk, LinkedIn, Figma, and more. It was truly inspiring and lots of fun! 💙 Check out the recap on our Instagram.