DesignFeature

11 design-related Kickstarter projects that kick ass!

With projects on the innovative funding site breaking the $1million barrier, we select our favourite design-related projects to inspire your own efforts

9 February was an incredible day for Kickstarter: the Elevation Dock became the first project to receive backing of $1million, and then indie game studio Double Fine achieved the same feat within 24 hours. Freak-out at Kickstarter HQ documented here. And now a third project has crossed the $1million marker: a comic called The Order of the Stick closed a few days ago with over $1.25million in funding, having sought only $57,750.

These projects are in the limelight for hitting the milestone, but they're not the only ones to be massively popular and receive many times their funding goal in backing. As well as the two stars, below are 11 creative and design-related projects we found extraordinary.

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1. Double Fine Adventure

Project goal: To build a point-and-click adventure game.
Status: Ongoing.

Indie developers Double Fine broke records by reaching their goal of $400,000 in just eight hours, which rose to over $1million before the day was out. The number continues to rise and as of today stands at over $2million. The key to the success of the project is Double Fine's large and passionate fanbase comprised of gamers keen to enable designer Tim Schafer to make a point-and-click adventure.

On the project page, the team tell of how traditional funding "comes with significant strings attached that can pull the game in the wrong directions" and that crowdsourced funding gives them more creative freedom.

In an update video, Shafer says "We got a little bit more money than we thought we were going to get..." and announces that the extra capital will go on voice acting and making it work on more platforms and in more languages.

Backers will get access to the closed Beta via Steam, and there will be a DRM-free version. There's still time to back the project if you'd like to get early access to the game.

2. Elevation Dock

Project goal: To build a superior iPhone dock.
Status: Funded.

The Elevation Dock project was only looking for $75,000, but it had received backing of just under $1.5million when it closed on 11 February. This one goes to show that you don't need to come up with a unique idea to develop a product that stands out: this is an iPhone dock, there are dozens of them on the market. This one distinguishes itself by its superior quality. The Elevation Dock is designed to be used with or without an iPhone case, and it has a special low-friction connector so that the phone is easily lifted out without having to hold the dock down. It's machined in solid aluminium, and matches the quality of Apple products. iPhone owners loved the idea and over 12,000 people backed it.

3. Code Hero

Project goal: To create a game that teaches the player how to make games in Unity 3D. Status: Funded.

Alex Peake of Primer Labs is building a game that gives the player a code gun which shoots JavaScript that can be edited to change the surroundings, build things and defeat enemies. It's designed to get coding beginners into programming with Unity 3D, a free engine that can even be used for professional-level projects. Rewards for backers include a "K12 Code Hero School" which gives all pupils at the school of your choosing Code Hero accounts and the team at Primer will train teachers to mentor pupils.

4. Wood Type Revival

Project goal: To digitise old letterpress wooden fonts.
Status: Funded.

The days of making type out of wood and printing using a letterpress might be gone, but letterers Matt Braun and Matt Griffin want to prevent awesome old wood fonts from disappearing into obscurity. They set out to find the best wooden fonts and make them into Opentype so that the glory of wood type will be preserved. They've found idiosyncratic fonts that exemplify the genre and now have then for sale at www.woodtyperevival.com.

5. The Shape of Design

Project goal: To write a book about design.
Status: Funded.

This project has something in common with the Double Fine one in that it's received several times more funding than it aimed for because it has behind it a person who has a reputation for creating wonderful things. In this case, it's Frank Chimero. He wanted $27,000 to pay for production costs and pay his living expenses while he wrote, and he finished with $112,159 when the project closed last year. His book addresses new challenges in the world and how design can help in meeting them, seeking ultimately to answer the question "How can we make things that help all of us live better?" The book is currently only available to backers.

6. Red Pop

Project goal: To make a big red button for the iPhone camera.
Status: Funded.

Brendan Dawes wanted to improve the experience of taking pictures using the iPhone, so he invented this attachment which adds a hand grip and a "juicy" red button. It slots into the phone's dock connector and the Red Pop app launches automatically when it's connected so you can start taking pictures straight away. Red Pop received well over double its funding goal.

7. This is Not a Conspiracy Theory

Project goal: To make a political documentary.
Status: Ongoing.

Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based filmmaker who made the awesome web series Everything is a Remix, which demonstrates how all creativity is derivative: every creator is to some extent cutting and pasting from earlier works. Now he wants to make a series about "the major ideas, events and human quirks that have shaped where we are right now politically". He's about half way there so far, and there are still nearly three weeks to go.

8. The Manual

Project goal: To publish an illustrated, hard cover journal containing excellent articles from smart web designers.
Status: Funded.

The Manual is a thrice-yearly print journal of articles from some of the best thinkers in web design. Writers such as Cennydd Bowles, Josh Brewer, Simon Collison, Trent Walton and Dan Rubin make a deep study of the maturing of interactive design as a serious discipline. The project was successfully funded at the start of last year, and is the work of Build conference organiser Andy McMillan.

9. MORE/REAL Stylus cap

Project goal: To make a pen cap that doubles up as an touchscreen stylus.
Status: Funded

Instead of having a pen for sketching on paper and a separate stylus for drawing on a tablet, this cap enables one pen to perform both functions. There are caps for Sharpie, Bic and Pilot Fineliner and they're made of stainless steel. The tip works with any capacitive touchscreen. This project was looking for $15,000, and it received $73,276 from 1,792 backers.

10 MATTER

Project goal: To fund top reporters to undertake proper investigative journalism in the field of science and technology.
Status: Ongoing.

"The web has become a byword for fast and cheap" say reporters Jim Giles and Bobbie Johnson, who want to bring high quality science and technology reporting to the internet. Uncovering amazing stories and reporting them properly costs time and money, so they've turned to Kickstarter to help fund MATTER - a site that will provide one impeccably researched long-form story per week. They aim to charge about a dollar for each piece of work and are looking for $50,000 to get things off the ground.

11. Printrbot

Project goal: To manufacture a 3D printer kit that's cheap and simple to assemble.
Status: Funded.

Such is the popularity of the Printrbot that it has been funded 3,323%: it was only looking for $25,000, but it got $830,827. Its makers say that it will only take a couple of hours to put together and won't require any fiddly calibration like the other kits out there: it's simple enough to be assembled by a child. It's also a "RepRap" machine, which means it can print parts to upgrade itself.

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