(Photo via Kickstarter)
Last week, Kickstarter launched a program called Kickstarter Gold, in which it invited 65 of the people and organizations behind some of the platform’s most popular campaigns to launch new projects based on those original favorites.
The goal, as posted on the company’s blog, is to send a reminder that “creators who repeatedly use Kickstarter to support and sustain creative ventures are an integral part of our community’s ecosystem.” According to Kickstarter, repeat campaigners attract a full third of the pledges that go toward successful campaigns on the site.
We perused the Kickstarter Gold site and found seven projects whose creators hail from Brooklyn. Four of them fit neatly into our beat, though we’d say the others are well worth checking out, too. (Among the others: an animated film about the pioneering black aviator Bessie Coleman, produced by Karyn Parsons, better known as Hilary Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Pony up $500 and you can watch an episode of the sitcom with the Fresh Prince cast. Seriously.) Projects are steadily being added each day, so there’s a chance more Brooklyn-based projects may pop up.
Without further ado, here are the ones that caught our eye.
A radio in a Mason jar
Zach Dunham and Spencer Wright are committed “radio monogamists.” In other words, they’ve chosen their preferred station to dial into, and they’re sticking to it. For radio listeners who feel the same way, they’ve created a device called the Public Radio. It comes pre-tuned to a selected FM station, which the buyer designates at the time of purchase, and fits atop a Mason jar. (The radio’s tuning can be changed, by the way, if the owner moves or just finds a better station to listen to.)
Dunham and Wright, both hardware specialists, launched their original campaign in September 2014 and raised more than $88,000. With their current campaign, they’ve improved upon the original radio’s design and are now striving to set up manufacturing in the U.S. They’ve also positioned the product as potential fundraiser swag for public radio stations, which seem like a quite fitting customer base.
An “over-engineered” pen made to last forever
Husband-and-wife duo Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy have a particularly Brooklyn-based pedigree: they’re both alumni of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and Wang also attended Pratt Institute. Wang and Levy run a design firm out of Bed-Stuy appropriately named CW&T. Their projects include a GPS compass app that gives directions while encouraging exploration off a given path as well as a concept for a giant 3D-printing gun that enables freeform drawing with plastic. (They’re also one of our top 10 design firms to watch in 2017.)
Many of the company’s products, though, are relatively simple objects. Among its flagships are Pen Type-A and Pen Type-B: sturdy, beautifully designed pens made from stainless steel and brass. The company’s original Kickstarter campaign for the Pen Type-A, launched in July 2011, brought in nearly $300,000, and since then, Wang and Levy have created a full line of similar pens. With their latest campaign on Kickstarter Gold, they are launching a titanium version of Pen Type-B and offering their full line of Pen Type-A products at a reduced cost.
Phillip Stearns’ now five-year-old company began with his fascination with glitches: the scrambled images that result from technological malfunctions. Stearns was among a group of technologists that experimented with turning glitches into art, and he launched a project on Tumblr in which he shared one such image every day for a year. He became interested in turning his glitch art into textile design in order to make his work tangible. So in 2012, Stearns launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a residency at the TextielLab in the Netherlands, which provides artists access to computerized textile equipment.
The success of the Kickstarter project, in which he raised more than $17,000, prompted him to launch a company, GlitchTextiles, around the concept. With his new campaign, Stearns is seeking to explore other facets of computational design beyond glitches and to bring production of his work to the U.S.
A social network that encourages you to log off
Cesar Kuriyama has filmed a one-second video every day over the past six years. It’s a visual diary of sorts, according to him, inspired by his desire to document his fourth decade on Earth. The quirky project, as one might imagine, has brought him plenty of attention: he’s even given a TED talk about his experience. In 2012, Kuriyama decided to create an app, 1 Second Everyday, which would allow others to create their own logs of second-long videos. His Kickstarter campaign for the app brought in nearly $57,000.
Now Kuriyama is aiming to pare down another activity to mere snippets: namely, the time-suck known as social media. He’s adding a new feature to 1 Second Everyday called Social Media Zero, which replaces the never-ending scroll of sites such as Twitter with a finite digest of the day’s activities. To keep the new feature ad-free, Kuriyama is introducing a subscription tier to the main app that includes premium features such as unlimited backup for videos and advanced editing tools.