Links We Like: Minnesota by Design, Decades of Product History, and an Incredible Sci/Fi Site

Rollerblades, the design of Minnesota native, Scott Olson

Rollerblades, the design of Minnesota native, Scott Olson

This week’s Links We Like admire the great design history produced by the people of Minnesota, browse the historical decades of consumer products, and aspire to read all of the articles on Michael Heilemann’s Star Wars and Sci/Fi themed site.

If you’ve stumbled onto an interesting link or two, make sure to share them in the comments below or in our forum. We’re always on the hunt for new links to get lost in. Have a great weekend! ໒( ͡ᵔ ▾ ͡ᵔ )७

Now this is Midwestern Nice

Gianni Pettena's Ice House

Gianni Pettena’s Ice House

The Minnesota by Design project from the Walker Art Center displays iconic designs created in Minnesota. You may not know this but Roller blades, poetry magnets, and the Nerf Ball are all products designed and made by Minnesotans.

The collection of designs is strengthened by the superb presentation of the website. Click on an item in the collection and up pops a split-screen showing information about the item’s history and a map marking exactly where in the state the design originates from.

Browsing the site leads to some surprisingly joyful moments. Trust me. You’ll not only find a lot of items you recognize, you’ll find the stories surrounding them. This is the strength of the collection — it reveals good design and fascinating history. The combination is powerful.

The Draw Me! turtle was a nostalgic find for me. I’ll always remember seeing the Art Instruction School’s infomercial during A-Team episodes, but I never knew the story. Now I do.

Working at a computer company, Minnesota’s own Cray-1 Supercomputer is of great interest to me, and the Ice Houses are simply sublime. But it’s really challenging to pick only three items to share. All of the collection is unique and will keep you curious.

Back in My Day…

Sticking with the theme of discovery, The People History presents a glimpse into the homelife of past decades. Documenting daily life in the decades from 1800 to the present day, the site catalogues appliances, music, fashion, furniture, and even toys. There are even weird factoids that encourage deeper investigation.

As a child of the 1980s, I naturally found myself reliving those early years while browsing the site. In 1982, TIME named “The Computer” Man of the Year (the award is now correctly called, Person of the Year). And in 1983, Motorola introduced the DynaTAC 8000X, the first mobile, cellular phone in the United States. That’s right, 1983.

The People History website gives just a glimpse at the important moments and objects of the past, and is great way to remember things forgotten.

Get Your Narrative Kitbashing Fix

Three of the great articles on

Three of the great articles on

For many of us, discovering Star Wars was a seminal moment in our lives. It was for Michael Heilemann. He has spent years writing essays on the intricacies of Star Wars and the inspirations behind them. Heilemann pays extra attention to two major themes: the filmography of George Lucas and the birth of space-heros.

Covering classics like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon, Heilemann connects these as early influenses on Lucas and Star Wars universe. The content is enjoyable and great to get lost in.

Honestly, even the URL is cool. Kitbashing is a term from the world of model making, which describes the act of taking pieces from one model and combining them with parts from another. The goal is to make a scale model that’s entirely new. If you’ve watched Star Wars, then you’ve seen kitbashing done right. Most of the spacecrafts in the film are the result of heavy kitbashing.

My favorite article so far is the sprawlingly long Complete Conceptual History of the Millennium Falcon, which I wrote about several months ago. But the site is simply too good to only recommend one article. Point your browser there and make sure you’re in a comfy chair to spent a lot of time reading.


Have a great weekend! Make sure to share your favorite Kitbashed article with us, as well as any cool links you stumble on. You can reach us in the forums or comments below. And if you’re working on any cool C.H.I.P. or PocketC.H.I.P. projects, make sure to tweet us about it!

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