3D CAD Rendering Architecture and Furniture
Design

3D Rendering Technologies Make Furniture Design Sexy Again

Furniture Design is a topic rarely discussed. Until my mid-thirties I didn’t even realize that furniture designer was an actual job. Turns out it is, and it’s a pretty big industry. Modern technology such as 3D furniture rendering has made the topic a bit sexier and put it on the radar of many consumers.

Quick History

Furniture designers have been around since the dawn of the first piece of furniture. After all, someone had to design it! In post-Middle Age Europe, most furniture designers were craftsmen that designed and built. Today, however, the only furniture designers that also build are smaller studios and those with hobbies. The vast majority of furniture seen by consumers is designed by specialized firms or in-house corporate designers only to have the actual manufacturing outsourced.

Tools of the [Modern] Trade

Draftsmen, Architects, and Furniture Designers have a lot in common. Most notably, at least for discussion here, is the replacement of their tools by digital counterparts. No more rolled tubes—DWG files are now stored in the cloud. No more slide rules—3D modeling can handle that. No more hand-cut models to pitch architectural clients—3D Rendering can handle that.

How 3D furniture models and renderings are created

The tools of furniture design may have changed but have the core concepts of approach? I’d argue that yes, those are shifting as well. Design decisions are more influenced by international supply chain dynamics and marketing price points than consumer preference. That’s not to say that cheaper designs are a necessity—only that they are a more common solution to fixing complex production cost dynamics.

Quality Furniture via Digital Design

Digitizing design processes has many advantages. Remote members of design teams can collaborate more quickly, revisions are faster, references to past designs are more convenient, and iterative versioning is much more possible. What’s all that mean though? Simply put; having things on computers connected to the internet lets designers move more quickly and companies save time (read as save money.)

So how does this digital cost-saving digitization affect furniture design, on a consumer level? It allows higher-quality goods and designs to be produced by lowering overall production cost. By spending less up-front, furniture companies are able to spend more for materials and manufacturing. This probably doesn’t always translate perfectly and, again probably, just means that companies that couldn’t enter the market before are tip-toeing in with similarly low-quality products.

Influential Technologies

Enough rambling, let’s consider which of these fantastic new digital technologies are helping shape the furniture market and how. Each of these technologies, some merely trends, are influencing the consumer furniture market in unique ways. Some directly by lowering manufacturing cost and others indirectly by seeding the demands of future trends and styles. We’ll be skipping “The Internet” since that’s just too easy.

3D Furniture Rendering

Image from RenderNode

Digital rendering involves taking 3D Models, applying real-world mimicking textures to them (digitally), and then using computers to simulate real-world lighting in such a way that creates images similar to product photography. These images, when created by talented artists, are often indistinguishable from actual photography—but at fractions of the cost. CGI Furniture isn’t reserved for Hollywood blockbusters, however. 3D furniture renderings have become almost essential to modern furniture designers’ workflows.

3D furniture rendering services offer designers the ability to create photograph-like images of their designs long before final production decisions have to be made. Historically, no one really knew what a piece of furniture would look like until it was made and finished. 3D furniture rendering has, effectively, replaced initial sampling rounds for many companies and continues to allow a more nimble and market-reactive approach to product development.

Instagram

The Egg Collective Instagram Feed

Social media is influential in nearly every industry. Influencer marketing has become one of the most-overused buzzwords among marketers and shows no sign of cessation. Instagram is a special case for the interior design and furniture industry—born on a visual-first experience—and has been well-utilized by many industry titans. Companies like Restoration Hardware, Hooker Furniture, Bassett—these companies have taken to Instagram with much more ease than most other industries. Why? Because they’re used to selling through imagery alone.

Circling back to 3D furniture rendering—these images can allow brands to make follower-friendly changes to product images that would normally necessitate a new photo-shoot. For example, re-creating an image of a best-selling product in a bright green finish for a St. Patrick’s Day promotion would require re-finishing (if not re-manufacturing entirely) the design and doing an all-new studio photo-shoot. Digital rendering allows that to happen in just a few clicks of a button. These types of quick turn-around on design iteration let brands maximize their social media presence for less and not force themselves to use images that are only marginally relevant.

Wayfair.com

Wayfair’s AR App. Image via TechCrunch

There is plenty of places to buy furniture online—you can even buy quality furniture on Amazon. Wayfair is the single most influential online furniture retailer in the world. Their meteoric rise in the market is, largely, attributed to two things: they are geniuses at large-box logistics and they are geniuses at having a digital presence. Their website, in addition to furniture, has vast resources dedicated to inspiring consumers, comparing styles, and allowing people to “browse” around before buying.

Again, to re-enforce how influential 3D technologies have become within the furniture industry: Wayfair has dedicated resources to creating real-time furniture shopping tools that would allow consumers to see what a piece looked like in their home before purchase. This is a form of augmented reality (AR) technology (as opposed to virtual reality (VR) tech) that has seen lots of interest across many consumer industries. There’s a high start-up cost of creating 3D models of furniture—at least for the entire Wayfair catalog—but the utility is self-evident.

Future Technologies

These digital technologies have helped shape the furniture industry into a more modernized version of itself. It is, arguably, one of the slower industries to respond to advances in consumer technology. Perhaps furniture design isn’t a great medium for technological advances. Perhaps the shift within the industry we’re seeing is more a product of technology’s influence on how furniture is marketed and sold to consumers. Technology like 3D rendering and online interactivity apps certainly cultivate a deeper regard among consumers.

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juicing benefits
Health, Personal

My New Juicing Lifestyle

Juicing hasn’t been on my radar until recently, but I feel as if it’s already been forever! Lifestyle changes often plunge us into different states of awareness, better enabling us to see the world through new eyes. My journey, as of late, has been one to better my health. I’m in good health by nearly all measure, although I just haven’t been feeling great as of late. I was started to feel sluggish more often than not and had trouble getting motivated. After very in-depth discussions (thanks Anna!) about the benefits of juicing, I felt that I should give it a try.

A Clean, Rejuvenated Energy

For those that have been on detox-type diets before, the shift in energy is similar when beginning juicing. As I’ve been stuffing my favorite fruits and veggies into juicers these past few weeks, my body adjusted quickly it seems, and my energy levels began to improve almost immediately! I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, plagued by upset stomach unable to be explained by my doctors. While this morning sickness never reached the point of ‘nausea,’ it was unpleasant nonetheless.  My go-to approach has simply been to take some very alkaline drinks, such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium as soon as I wake up, and eat breakfast a few hours later. As with anything, I got used to this routine but still felt I could take a better approach.

I began switching juices for my morning ‘powder’ drink about 3 weeks ago, and can say first hand that the benefits of juicing are incredible! I haven’t lost 60 pounds or anything crazy, but my quality of life seems to be improving on a daily basis. I’ve been juicing carrots, spinach, avocado, blueberries, grapefruit, bananas, oranges, and even some Cilantro! I tend to switch things up depending on my mood, but my juices usually look of fair-semblance to a ‘green drink.’ The most notable shift I’ve noticed has been in my post-lunch energy levels—which used to consist of my wanting a nap. During that 2pm-4pm window in which my body so fights against the 8-5 routine, I now have a renewed sense of rejuvenation as if my lunch is no longer a burden to my body!

The Benefits of Juicing: By The Numbers

I can ramble on all day about how great I feel, how much energy I have, or how focused juicing has helped me to become. The fact is, that when trying to tell others of my experience—numbers seem to help. At the risk of being a little to open with my personal info, I’d like to share some of my before and after numbers from the past 3 weeks of juicing. I’m referencing my most recent bloodwork and doctor reports against those of roughly 3 months ago.

Blood Pressure

Before: 174/88

After: 148/75

Cholesterol

Before: 185

After: 155

Weight

Before: Don’t Even Ask

After: -11lbs

As you can see, juicing has had a very traceable impact on my life, and it’s not just a placebo effect! I’ll admit I was a bit nervous to get my most-recent blood work back, feeling that the doctor might burst my bubble of energy. That wasn’t the case, and these numbers have re-energized my dedication to juicing all-over again! I’m a strong believer in balance and know that even juicing can be done to such excess that it could become unhealthy. So, for now, I’ll be juicing in the mornings, and between lunch and dinner where I’m usually really bad for snacking. I’m even thinking about getting back into running again with all this new-found energy!

Finding My Juicer

This could be a story itself; consisting of quite an up-and-down journey before I found a juicer I could work, and that actually made a ‘juice’ and not just a ‘smoothie.’ My dear friend Anna, whom first excited me about juicing, had just bought one of the best juicers on the market, leaving her with a very well-conditioned masticating juicer. Masticating juicers, I now know, are a type of slow juicer that allows one to better grind up leafy things and frozen berries. Anna now has what is probably the best masticating juicer, the Super Angel, which is what most health gurus use ( I think ), which means that she had a perfectly good Omega juicer just sitting around. Being the wonderful soul that she is, she loaned me this juicer to try out for myself, and it’s been my savior these past few weeks.

The past few days I have been searching for a new juicer, now that I’m better acquainted with what I’m doing. I’ll save the boring details for those that may not be juicing fanatics just yet (just keep reading!) but basically, I’m looking for one that is versatile and will let me grind up nuts and frozen berries as well. Luckily, my good friend Charles shared an article about the best juicers with me, which has been an immensely useful tool in running down my new health machine!

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Best Nootropics Brain Power
Health

Nootropics and Other Brain Boosting Tips

Any writer knows the struggle—you’ve got a deadline and your well of inspiration is about as dry as the Sahara. Maybe inspiration isn’t your problem, and you just have too many distractions around (life) to be able to really double-down on your deadline-sensitive work. Regardless of the specifics, I think nearly every writer has found themselves wishing they had more time to get work done, as well as being able to get more work done in the amount of time that they do have. Well, recently I’ve been reading a LOT about a type of supplements called Nootropics, which as a family of chemical compounds able to provide serious brain-boosting benefits for a plethora of needs and desires.

Having trouble focusing? There’s a Nootropic for that. Want to help actively prevent brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s or MS? There’s a Nootropic for that too! Nootropics help the brain get what it needs, use what it has better, and make sure that while it’s using all this stuff that it’s not doing damage to itself or other parts of the body. So it would seem; long gone are the days of shaky Adderall and amphetamine highs during crunch times. I’ve been all-too-often left as a pile of battered, sleep-deprived, starved, sickly waste after crunching to meet a deadline after using Adderall to have the gusto to turn to it anymore. Sure, when I was young it was an easy fix; pop an Adderall and make up for 2 months of procrastination in 48 hours. Who cares if you had to sleep for 24 afterward if it meant having all that other time to do what you wanted.

Nootropics Aren’t New

While they may be new to you and me, Nootropics isn’t exactly a new science—tracing some of the first discoveries back to the early 1970s. Oddly enough,  Russian cosmonauts were taking a compound called Phenibut during the cold-war era space races. These compounds have been studied in clinical trials and show a wide-ranging array of cognitive boosting abilities such as:

  • Increased Focus
  • Sharpened Clarity
  • Mental & Physical Energy
  • Memory Capacity
  • Memory Retention
  • Neuroprotective Action
  • Increased Blood Flow to the Brain
  • A sense of Well Being
  • Tranquilizing Effects Without Causing Sluggishness
  • Anti-Anxiety Action

There exist a long list of synthetic Nootropics which are able to provide very notable cognitive boosts, while there are also a great many natural Nootropics which offer much more long-lasting, subtle effects. These types of herbal remedies and floral extractives have been used in China, India, and other Asian cultures for hundreds of years and represent a collective of very well-trusted compounds. I’ve found these to be great promoters of subtle help in times of stress or anxiety, and also just when I have trouble sleeping.

Find the Best Nootropics for You

Nootropics are a tricky business when it comes to finding the one that is best for you. In all reality there isn’t really any one best Nootropic but, rather, everyone usually finds a ‘stack’ of best nootropics that work in harmony with one another to promote the desired benefits. For example, you might take one supplement that boosts the availability of acetylcholine levels, and antagonizes GABA receptor sites within the brain. To help prevent any issues with long-term use you may want to ‘stack’ a cardiovascular protective agent along with some actual GABA—to ensure your stores aren’t lowered. All in all, Nootropics are an exciting family of chemicals that can help boost your brain power into a whole ‘nother level!

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organic foods vegetables
Health

Organic Foods & Supplements

Our world is full of commercialized products which undergo sometimes dangerous stages of processing before finding their ways to us. Everyone knows to stay clear of plastics, Styrofoam, and other synthetic materials, but some other risks can be a bit harder to understand. Food is one of the least understood areas in which we are constantly being exposed to harmful ingredients. Chemical processing agents, as well as residual pesticides such as RoundUp are present in trace amounts in nearly all processed foods. To avoid these dangers, an important step is to make sure you are buying as much of your food in its organic form as possible.

Organic foods are regulated differently than other foods in the United States, and offer a greater level of consumer protection. Organic foods aren’t allowed to be grown with the use of harmful pesticides, and there can be no GMO ingredients in certified Organic products. While the research to fully account for the potential dangers of GMO foods isn’t widely agreed upon, most people still understand it to be a risk.

Shopping Organic

If you are new to the concept of Organic foods, you may be wondering where to begin. The best place to start is with your refrigerator. Removing unwanted items, as well as non-organic items, can be a great first step. I’ve always found that when making one change it helps to frame in within another change. That way, you fell less likely to negate on your new change. Simply put; it’s easier to start eating organic if you don’t have any other choice. By throwing out your non-organic foods, you are mentally preparing yourself to commit to buying new, organic food!

Organic food costs a bit more, and is usually available in less varieties. Where your local grocery store may have an entire pepper aisle, there may only be two or three peppers that are certified organic. While this can be a pain, it’s always vital to help remember your goal or building a more robust overall health profile. Sometimes you’ll end up having to go from store to store to get all the food items on your lists; while still accepting that some of your produce will have to have non-organic versions.

The vast majority of positive changes that are able to be seen my eating organic are seen over a long period of time. Nutritional deficiencies may begin to disappear, and you may feel like you have a more youthful approach to life.

Allergen Free Foods

Many people that buy organic foods do so after having learned of sensitivities to other non-organic foods. People suffering from food allergies and intolerances often buy organic products simply because they have a heightened awareness of how food effects their body, and have realized the difference that organic foods can make. Organic foods can help avoid the following:

  • Nut Allergies
  • Daily Allergies
  • Wheat/Gluten Allergies

Manufacturers know that those suffering from these types of issues tend to vote with their wallets pretty powerfully, therefore they truly do go to extreme lengths to ensure purity. Pesticides are a plague on the Earth, and should be avoided at all cost. Certified organic has been produced from a growing process that only uses all natural ingredients such as neem oil.

Summary

Organic produce is free of most all the normally used pesticides and GMO ingredients. Shopping for organic products offers the unique opportunity to help purify your nutritional intake, often allowing for a boost in health. These products are slightly more expensive, but well work the extra cost in the long term. You will certainly not regret making a decision to shift towards an organic lifestyle!

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natural supplements testing quality
Health

The Dangers of the Supplement Industry

I’ve been writing a great deal lately regarding the nuances, complexities, as well as the corruption of the American healthcare industry. Most everyone hears the stories played on the nightly news; big CEOs this, corporate greed that, and falsified clinical trials that. These stories convey a generalized sense of doubt and negativity in the minds of viewers but often do little to help establish concrete specifics by which consumers may benefit. For example, the New York Times published an article last year detailing a study conducted by a Canadian research group—which published their results from an investigation into the purity of common supplements. The results were shocking, yet not all surprising; many major retailers are offering dietary supplements that are mislabeled, or altogether containing ingredients other than those listed on the label.

Corruption & Misrepresentation

Health care products in the United States are regulated quite lightly, in that they are viewed by the FDA as food items, rather than prescription medications. Many supplements and products that are prescription in other countries such as Canada or Germany are listed as dietary supplements—food—within the United States. This offers a tremendous advantage for those consumers treating their health conditions or illnesses through supplements and nutrition, in that they can simply pick up their “medicine” from the local vitamin store, or easily order them online. However, these consumers are usually the type that knows the brands they trust and opts to go with manufacturers they know to have a good track record of quality. For the rest of us, the majority, we usually assume that the Wal-Mart brand of Vitamin C would typically be just that—Vitamin C.

As discovered by the Canadian research group, this assumption has been found to be completely false. Large manufacturers such as Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels, often containing unlisted ingredients or completely different compounds than those listed on the label! For example, Walmart’s Spring Valley brand’s Ginko Biloba was found to contain zero actual Ginko Biloba and had rice, mustard, wheat, and radish in it instead. Such misleading of consumer trust should be punishable by some heinous degree but, per usual, little more than a flare on social media and an evening of cursing came about.

Target, GNC, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart were found to be selling many of these dietary supplements under false labels

This article firmly illustrated the importance of choosing quality supplements for me, and I thought I would do my best to warn my readers of the potential dangers. I’ve never personally used many supplements, short of some vitamin C for colds, and a multi-vitamin every now and then. I eat healthy for the most part and view that plus some regular exercise as the most potent ally in my fight to live forever. However, this entire subject has gotten me thinking about all the other potentially-mislabeled products that could contain dangerous contaminants, or at least products barely qualifying as placebo. After much research, I’ve decided I would share with you what I feel is the best way to avoid this type of potential pitfall while picking out supplements or other nutrition products.

Pharmaceutical Grade Health Supplements

There is an entire class of supplement manufacturers that go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the purity of the product, as well as the ability to be used by your body. These are manufacturers like Biotics Research, Pure Encapsulations, Ecological Formulas, and products from Thorne Research. Thorne, in particular, does much more than sell supplements—leading the industry in establishing nutritional benchmarks, developing clinical trials (yes, just like pharmaceutical companies), and applying robust product testing practices. These companies offer a type of product that is considered by many to be pharmaceutical grade supplements which are as potent and pure as any prescription medication you would find on the market. Now, just because they are as pure, doesn’t mean they qualify as substitutes; you should ask your doctor before making any changes if you’re on medication. However, if you are taking supplements, I would recommend changing to one of these brands, which will ensure you are getting the purest product possible, and aren’t exposing yourself to any unwanted contaminants.

The entire healthcare industry is a convoluted mess; the dietary supplements industry is no exception. There does exist, however, a shining few manufacturers that can help you ensure you are getting what you pay for. Research has shown that large manufacturers like Wal-Mart and GNC can’t be trusted and that their products are inferior and little more than marketing campaigns. The companies such as Thorne Research and Biotics Research are a scientists’ supplement manufacturer—using independent research to drive their product development. You health is the most important thing you have guys, and I hope you take this article to heart and be careful out there!

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joys of freelance writing
Personal

The Joys of Freelance Writing

I’ve been asked many times about my choice to pursue a path of freelance writing; I still don’t know how to answer the question. I’ve always felt a love for the expression of thoughts through written words, as the complexities by which they coalesce give rise to much beauty. I’ve certainly faced the decision of resorting to a staff writer position many times, usually influenced by financial circumstances. I have, during brief periods of my life, been forced to work within this mold. I have reached a point now where I feel confident in saying I have the means to never return to the constriction that is corporate sponsorship. I now operate completely as a freelance journalist and pursue contracts with only those publishers whom I feel share my values.

Expression as a Profession

Many people pass remarks of their undying love of “being creative,” or some other form of self-expression. It’s my experience that most of these comments are fueled by a lack of opportunity, in a somewhat self-medicating context. You might catch an accountant describing his love for creative hobbies, but a professional portrait artist will unlikely feel the need to clarify this. Maybe it’s balance or lack thereof, but I’ve always felt that your chosen profession often becomes such an integrative part of your life, that it transcends simple descriptions such as “being creative,” or other surface-bound descriptions.

Creative writing is far removed form journalistic literature; the former being a semi-organized daydream, the latter a rigidly-organized survey of topical flow. For those of us working the grind of a journalist’s life, creative writing rarely seems to be an attractive lure after hard day’s work. Similar to a 5-star chef warming up leftovers after spending 12 hours in a kitchen, we writers also feel the need to separate ourselves from our profession to relax.

More idealistically, I find small outlets within my professional work to slip in small accents of creative accounts. These small flares are found in the connective tissue of journalistic accounts; the accent of an article if you will. Simple expressions of these types of tissue may often be seen as simple strings such as “usually,” “similar to,” or “unsurprisingly.” For example; “The conflict in the Middle East has taken a surprising turn towards peace.” This sentence conveys a topical idea and an inner expression of specificity. the phrase “has taken a surprising turn towards,” is the area in which creative expression can take hold. Depending on my overall tone, mood, etc., this sentence may appear as “has taken an utterly jaw-dropping,” “has vehemently disregarded normal dynamics and shifted towards,” or even “has calmly glided towards.” Each supports the expression of peace in the Middle East, but each does so in vastly different tones; sensational, complex, and feel-good. When reporting news, these are the differences by which political opposites can report the same facts, while still pushing their ideological agendas.

A Journey To Balance

The dynamics of freelance journalism are immense; I have the opportunity to constantly improve my own approach. Understanding the best way to accurately communicate facts, while effectively packaging them in tone is an act of self-discovery. Through this expression of artistic balance, I am able to constantly find an outlet to better my self, my work, and the reach of my words. I love the profession, the art, and feel so very fortunate that I am able to participate in such an exciting period in our history!

While my blog will ultimately be composed of a vast selection of topical writing, random thoughts, and quotes, as well as samples of my professional work; the underlying message I hope to convey is that I love my work. I feel the combined presence of the variation in which I express myself will work to effectively paint a larger picture; that even the most rigid of literary expression leaves room for creative improvisation. Thank you to all that have supported me over the years, I hope you find some joy in this site!

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