The G0G0 Transporter was an internal FUSE science project seeking to solve 2 problems: 1. What’s the most ecologically friendly way to take advantage of Portland’s 20 minute neighborhood concept? And 2., what happens to the expensive strollers that children certainly grow out of ?
Answer number 1 is the wagon. With a wagon you can haul almost anything while on foot. That is :a 50 lb bag of dogfood, groceries, kids, even a large potted plant.
The question then became “is a wagon enough?” Would other people share this wagon love? So we thought more, and I had colleagues that were about to become parents and his or her colleagues would pitch in and buy them a really cool expensive stroller. This got me thinking about what happens to these strollers beyond being used for a younger sibling. No one wants a pooped-on, barfed-on second hand stroller or at least there did not seem to be a robust used stroller market. So, what if the stroller could be built more like a roof rack system where you could evolve the product to transform it into some-thing or things more useful once the child gets out of infancy?
This turned into the GoGo Transporter System whereby adding or subtracting components, you can make a variety of wheeled products.
A New Way to Make Shoes
Prior to founding FUSE, Tory worked as an industrial designer within Nike’s Advanced Product Engineering Group or APE. On of the projects was to hunt for new opportunities within the Basketball category. Tory was in a small team that included former Ford Engineer, John Tawney. Tory and John had a dual agenda: Of couse we wanted to uncover a great opportunity for Nike Basketball, but they also wanted to reduce the labor it takes to build a pair of basketball shoes. The team presented a handfull of good ideas including this one that was titled as “Game Day”. The idea was to make a super lightweight shoe that would allow players to practice all week in their heavier training shoes and then jump higher and run faster on Game Day with these lighter kicks. We built the first prototype shoes out of molded EVA only. No heavy outsole, so the shoes were feather light.
The shoes were great but had a too short life span so John put a 4 way stretch fabric skin around the pre-molded form and compressed it. It was amazing. Super light and super strong. A true composite. At a review their boss asked Tory what the technology was called and Tory spouted “FOAMPOSITE”. The name stuck.
Beyond the advantages for better fit, visually Foamposite afforded designers the ability to play with form and really sculpt their products.
Soon after, the project headed to Nike’s Taiwan R and D facility for commercialization. The team there traded compression molding for pour-in- place molding using liquid polyurethane. John and Tory are both on the patent.
The Footscape was designed around an anatomically correct foot form, not the normal Last. A Last is the form shoes are built on and they are part anatomy and part art. This project was initiated by FUSE principal, Toren Orzeck, while in Nike’s Advance Product Engineering group. Birkenstocks were coming back into the mainstream so building an anatomical correct foot form seemed like a good idea.
A neutral runner with laces running down the lateral side of the shoe. The design of the upper enhances comfort by moving the laces away from the superficial tendons and arteries that run on the peak of the dorsal side of the foot. Instead the Footscape puts them on the lateral side. This eliminates the point loads caused by the laces. Not only is the shoe more comfortable, but it is also is visually different telling the running consumer there is something going on.
This shoe has gained “classic” status and is still made in a variety of materials and colorways in Nike’s Sportswear line.
Sitting Is The New Smoking
This project was born within FUSE during the time when became widely recognized that standing was better than sitting. This period saw the advent of work surfaces that raised and lowered. These were expensive desks and the other thing is it’s hard to love a desk or at least want to spend big money on a desk. We know you can make a desk from an inexpensive door and sawhorses and most importantly you can put the desk up high to support standing. What is needed is a chair that can support this posture. Even better would be a chair that can go from traditional task height to stool height, maybe even allowing a worker to perch or lean against that chair. Easily done with locking a few casters!
Also, for the facilities managers who must purchase chairs for an organization the Crane chair supports all the work surface heights a facility may have.
We submitted this design to premiere office seating manufacturer Herman Miller (HM) and they picked up on it, flew our principal to HQ and launched a project to build a prototype. The project hit a snag when the HM design manager went on maternity leave but this led to our participation in multiple projects at HM.
When we built Orp, the super smal really cool bike horn/ bike light, we built it to be Remote Ready. Meaning: make a small wired switch that cold be placed under thumb that could go wherever the rider wanted. This simple product makes the Orp experience that much better as you never need to lift a hand to actuate either of Orp’s horn sounds. The REMORP uses a slick dual action switch. Press lightly on REMORP’s bulbous swelling to fire Orp’s loud sound and then press a little harder to fire Orp’s 96dB loud sound. The other cool thing about the REMORP is it provided an update to the Orp product line that worked for all Orps and Orp owners. It’s super neat and you should go to Orpland.com to get one… now!
The Potato Shoe: for All But The Couch Potatoes.
The 4th floor of the Michael Jordan building on Nike’s campus is where all the footwear design happened and while Tory was in the APE group. He got wind that NIKE was working on a shoe for the extreme athletes. In this case, extreme meant all those athletes that had specialized footwear like cyclists and snowboarders, or didn’t need footwear like surfers. Also, contextually important was Tory’s colleague in the APE group was working on FIT (a highly prescriptive problem). While not a surfer, Tory grew up in southern California and attempted to surf a few times.
“You get up early at 4AM and get to the beach before the waves are blown out, and it’s cold. What you need is a “before and after” shoe.”
“Design-wise it sure would be fun to do something that was the opposite of most of Nike’s shoes… something made of one piece that appeared the opposite of a prescriptive fit.”
Tory grabbed fellow designer Steve MacDonald’s outsole to put on his “off-book” upper. It looked sort of like a Sharpe dog but with the four ventilation holes it looked more like a baked potato. The “Air Ida” was born. Steve, Tory and a lot of the 4th floor designers advocated it be built. It was and Heinz, owner of the Ore-Ida brand, threatened to sue. This was great PR. The name was changed to Air Moc and it’s still in the line.
Be More Splatterproof!
Orp was developed after a spate of fatal right hook vehicle vs. Bicycle accidents hear in Portland Oregon. It seemed like there had to be a way to make bikes more visible to drivers. It seemed a a loud horn could make this visibility happen. Also with this digital platform we could design our own sounds and have multiple sounds. We were really excited and started with just a dual tone horn but got a big “meh” from targeted users. When you look at the circuitry it got us thinking, it would be really easy to add LEDs wyhout adding a whole lot of volume.
Adding the lights made Orp much more intriguing. You ve got to have a light, right? With a slew of positive feedback we launched a Kickstarter campaign and it did fairly well. Our media coverage during the campaign and after production was amazing. Highlights included the TODAY show, Wired and the Wall Street Journal.
It took a year to get us to production Orps. We went to the factory twice during that year. About a year later we introduced the REMORP-Orp’s Remote. All Orps were built Remote Ready.First year sales were amazing there are around 30,000 Orps in the world and stillm its growing.
A Friend Furever.
Furilla started life as a gift for a friend but then that friend’s friends also wanted Furillas. Next, FUSE had several projects to enter into the IDSA IDEA competition and we thought Furilla would be a welcome reprise from the more serious ID products the judges would evaluate. Unexpectedly, Furilla won a Bronze. With this small bit of notoriety it seemed like an OK idea to launch Furilla.com, a website that would sell Furillas. Soon enough Furillas ended up all over the world. Furilla was fortunate to slide into then unknown to us blossoming designer toy trend. Furilla got picked up by several media outlets and was sold at KIDROBOT and even had a premier at Chicago’s ROTOFUGI. Above is totally a cover story. The real story involves invitro fertilization and a freak accident.
Late in 2005 KIDROBOT decided they wanted to license Furilla and build production in Asia. We were on board but then the project hit a snag when the pricing swelled beyond feasibility.