Video of Mission Street Food in SF

just had an awesome meal at mission street food w/ @steveportigal and partner Anne, menu attached

A couple months ago (seems like years now) I was raving about Mission Street Food in this blog post about my dinner that I had with Steve Portigal in SF. Steve Passed me along a video that talks about how the idea came to be and the people behind it. It’s kind of long at 13 minutes, but very much worth the watch. If you happen to be in SF or visiting and are wondering what to do on a Thursday or Saturday night, go there. When I go back that will be on my must to do list.

Link Drop (8·07·09)

link drop themes

It’s been a bit of an up and down week over here at DesignNotes. I’ve been under the weather of most of the week which is highly unusual, and on the flip side the weather outside has been actually pretty decent. In more relatable Link Drop news, I found that the sites I spent time with has a lot of personal expressing in them. There’s a bunch of interviews, process and visualization. Intermixed with all that are the normal tech., Apple and Twitter issues.

President Barack Obama for BusinessWeek « Damn Ugly Photography_1249599117406

President Barack Obama for BusinessWeek
Brad has to be my favourite photographer that I like to share my doom and gloom predictions about the print industry with. He’s also old school but in a good way. Recently he visited the White House for BusinessWeek to shoot a cover story on Barack Obama. This is his post about the experience, something that more photographers should do once their images are published.

Advertising's revenge of the nerds - Aug. 4, 2009_1249599147652

Advertising’s revenge of the nerds
This was by far the most popular of the sites I passed along this week via Twitter. It’s hard to say if this really is a new concept or one that’s being reported on. Non creatives will always be more attentive to stats that show graphs going up. Designer’s just need to understand that and use it to their advantage.

Why Does the Best Design of 2009 Still Look Like 2000

Why Does the Best Design of 2009 Still Look Like 2000?
This was probably one of the more important articles that could warrant some more in depth consideration. Comparing some of the best in industrial design today to the past, there hasn’t been a huge leap in the design. Minor tweaks aside there isn’t much new. I think this also could be a bigger issue of business culture in general. Look at what others have done and replicate.

blog - natalia ilyin_1249599420489

On the inequities of design competitions
I really like this quote so I’m copy + pasting it here “…Designers who win awards for edgy design they did for a friend’s business– with a print run of one hundred or something like that? They’ve got no art director, no creative director, no client’s representative, no agency person. Where’s the obstacle to good design there? But take something like a cheese. When I see a really good package for a cheese– I know what that designer went through to get there. It makes me want to fall on my knees and kiss that designer’s feet, that cheese. —Ernesto Aparicio”

There’s a lot of takeaways from this practical statement. Can design that is collaborative, ie working closely with those that are not as passionate about doing something new be celebrated as much as the artist that does design on the side? This example also illustrates why I don’t show a lot of images from designers web sites. For me to truly appreciate a design I need to see it in the real world. Design magazines don’t barely reflect the real world that real design flows into. If I’m going to suggest a poster is pretty good, I better be able to see it against a real wall with other posters surrounding it.

 Andy Rutledge - On Inspiration_1249599181898

On Inspiration
This tries to end the mysticism of art trying to be design. Good design takes time, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be having an outer body experience to do appropriate work.

Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » JK Wedding Entrance Dance_1249599188576

JK Wedding Entrance Dance
This post pretty much sums up how media, design and marketing need to be. It’s amazing how distinct the age gap between those in online that are old that treat sites like print material, and those online today who understand it’s an ongoing conversation that can’t be predicted six months in advance. With that said I do have some doubts that the JK Wedding dance wasn’t an elaborate pr stunt by Chris Brown’s handler’s, but maybe that’s just me…

Co-opting Viral Hits to Sell More Music - PSFK_1249599200598

Co-opting Viral Hits to Sell More Music
PSFK reflects on the practical nature of having a copyrighted song in a YouTube video being in a video, and how that can be profitable.

Heating Up the Charts - Grids - SPD.ORG - Grids_1249599207579

Heating Up the Charts
There’s some unusual candor about the process of selecting and working with a design firm for the redesign of Billboard’s site. Interesting pov’s and observations.

 random acts of traction_1249599214256

how blogging really works: random acts of traction
This isn’t the only reason I blog, but it’s true that a publisher will never know what ideas take off. For me, if I post five or six random design ideas a week, over a period of months some of them will evolve into something really special. If I hadn’t started where would those ideas come from?

 Can We Please Kill This Meme Now_1249599220855

Can We Please Kill This Meme Now
This is why I collect stuff for this Link Drop. There’s so much good stuff out there that I need a place to filter it after seven days.

Q & A with Ingsu Liu, W.W. Norton | The Casual Optimist_1249599226661

Q & A with Ingsu Liu, W.W. Norton
I like talking about the demise of print, but I don’t have any allusions that digital can be as conceptual as a well designed book cover. The above interview is with the current V.P. art director at W.W. Norton, the talk is about their process.

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates « MobileBehavior_1249599239966

Building an Army of Hyper-Local, Mobile-Connected Advocates
There’s a couple interesting angles for me on this story. I first read this story from Advertising Age, but since they wall their content after a week I thought it made more sense to pass it along to the original source. A lot of people use foursquare, I can’t argue that point as I see them all talking on Twitter. I’ve never tried it for personal reasons. In any case this article does a good job a breaking down the mobile app.

Digitized Stalking Is the New World Order | Threat Level | Wired.com_1249599814963

Digitized Stalking Is the New World Order

Just when you thought it was safe to be online.

Urban Omnibus » Designers and Citizens as Critical Media Artists_1249599245670

Designers and Citizens as Critical Media Artists
As a concept I thought yellow arrow was a pretty cool idea. The designer’s of that and other cool things talk about it.

Monster-Munch Easy Meat Cheat Sheet_1249599251113

Easy Meat Cheat Sheet
What can I say, I’m a sucker for meat charts. There’s something freakishly interesting about them.

 Retail Cuts of Art from GG_1249642741195

Retail Cuts of Art from GG

A second meat like chart I came across…

Geek Chic » Blog Archive » The App Store and Apple’s Recent Behavior_1249599257976

The App Store and Apple’s Recent Behavior
Apple has always been a corporation though sometimes people forget this. With the iPhone and the partnership with ATT, a lot of their business strategies are being questioned.

Is Apple More Evil Than Microsoft

Is Apple More Evil Than Microsoft?
Could an article like this have been written three years ago?

 MITCH COPE_1249599269645

Detroit Book : MITCH COPE
These are images worth taking a look at. They speak volumes to those that think that what ever industry they are in is not susceptible to change.

Op-Ed Guest Columnist - Twittergraphy - NYTimes.com_1249599278910

The meaning’s behind the short phrases are great.


what brands can learn from mission street food
A different type of look at my fav. SF food place.

 Why young American designers are ganging up - Core77_1249599404386

Design Club: Why young American designers are ganging up
Interesting concept but it’s not new like is suggested. MADE in Edmonton is doing something similar and has been going strong for over ten years.

 idsgn (a design blog)_1249599427461

Making sense of health care
I nice big chart about health care…

 Delightful error pages_1249599802759

Delightful error pages
The start of a collection of error pages.

Titanium - Five steps to a better design brief_1249599809260

Five steps to a better design brief

Here’s a couple steps that any designer can take heed to.

“GOOD” Design — The Bygone Bureau_1249599820028

“GOOD” Design
Good background info about how Good magazine does it’s thing.

Robert L. Peters » Never again…_1249599825534

Never again…
Friend of DesignNotes, Rob Peters looks back at Hiroshima.

Link Drops by DesignNotes | better taste than sorry._1249599832064

Link Drops by DesignNotes
It was interesting for me to read through the eyes of someone else about my Link Drop.

Mission Street Food, how I wish I was back in SF for one more meal

just had an awesome meal at mission street food w/ @steveportigal and partner Anne, menu attached

Yesterday I talked about my great iPhone map experience of not getting lost in SF because of technology. Today I thought I’d go in a different low–fi dinning experience direction. Searching for food online, looking at yelp or if you’re in NYC reading can be helpful in finding unexpected places to eat. But if I look back at last Saturday night while eating at Mission Street Food in SF, I doubt I would have come across it via a technological mean. Thankfully I’m friends with Steve Portigal who was the one that suggested that we meet there. He had never been before but had read about it online (I think)—so there was the blog component, but again with out him it’s unlikely I would have come across it. The quick moral to this food story is that if you’re looking for a great food experience, look to a friend before going to search. Every time I’ve come across a great place it was through a personal connection.

Onto the actual food experience of Mission Street Food. I knew I was in for something a bit unexpected when there was a line up before six as I walked by an unmarked and caged up storefront. I couldn’t really see the numbers of the door so I was hopping that I was standing in the right line. I did find out I was in the right line but didn’t make it early enough for the first sitting so I ended up being one of the first for the next sitting. That ended up not being a big deal as I had a beer with Steve and his partner Anne at Lunna Park on Valencia St. After one beer’s time we strolled back and managed to get a table pretty quickly.

What made this dinning experience unique was A. the place had no lights on, B. the vibe was chill, and C. the food was unlike anything I’ve had before. It was a cross between low–fi homemade and high fidelity flavour. We started by splitting the PB & J in three, and later on got the cheese plate. For the main course I ordered the MSF Rice. It was the best duck and rice combo I’ve had. Between the MSF Rice and the PB & J I was seriously thinking about coming back after Steve and Anne took the subway home. I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye to that food. But like all great things they had to come to an end, but not before dessert. We ordered both the butter fried cornbread and secret breakfast ice cream. As with everything else those desserts exceeded my expectations by A LOT. I’m getting hungry just thinking about that meal which was almost a week ago. Sigh…

If you live in SF or plan to be there on a Saturday you will be rewarded for the effort of visiting. I would go in to the experience by taking off all filters of what you think food should be, and let yourself be surprised not so much by the surrounding environment but what is in front of your lucky tastebuds.

You can also read more about it’s history with SF Gate’s post titled Mission Street Food: low-down haute cuisine And you can always visit flickr to see people’s food experience at

DesignNotes Ten Design-Related Blogs from NYC

10 Design-Related Blogs from NYC

A couple weeks ago asked me if I was willing to pass them on a list of design blogs based in NYC (I considered Brooklyn as part of this list) of my choosing. I thought it wouldn’t be that tough—but of course it was, not because of the quantity but because design for me can be a fairly broad term. There’s a lot of categories that blur into each other. To help me see where the blogs fell into, I made a 2×2 grid. Within the grid I made each of them have a 4 letter name so they could fit on the grid in a consistent manner—kind of like a stock ticker. As I started putting together the list, I’d check a certain number of blogs each day with the intention of if someone could only open eleven blogs (after all I’d want to include DesignNotes) each morning from NYC, which sites would give the biggest amount of great content that wasn’t overlapping each other. I also didn’t want the list to turn into something akin to what everyone else would pick as popular blogs, but show that there’s a bigger range than the expected norm that everyone lists. The sites below are what came I ended up with. That list became known as Ten Design-Related Blogs from NYC.

I’ve always been a bit skeptical of other listings like this to some degree whether from magazines or other blogs because they felt very buddy, buddy. One could argue the same thing about me—people would be wrong to think that of course, but now maybe I was wrong to be skeptical of others intentions in the past—I don’t know. But just to be fair here’s a breakdown of how these blogs flow into DesignNotes: People behind the blogs that I’ve met in person: 6/10, People I’ve shared email correspondence: 8/10, People I don’t know at all: 3/10, Number of of blogs that have been mentioned in my Link Drop: 10/10, and People I’ve had a beer with: 4/10.

The listing Ten Design-Related Blogs from NYC can be found at

AisleOne (ASL1)
A clean curated design blog that emphasizes grids, typography and whitespace done well—very calming blog.

i [love] marketing. (ILVM)
Don’t be fooled by the title, this blog is much smarter than the typical blog pushing marketing ideas. Not afraid to question the status quo out there, lots of ideas to consider.

Ashley Simko (ASMK)
There’s a constant flow of great design images, quotes and thoughts daily if not hourly placed on display. I’m curious to see this blog evolves over time.

PLUS and MINUS things (P&MT)
The image selection is always compelling as it is unique. Lots of photography and industrial design stuff.

Graphpaper (GRPR)
Here’s a blog that talks a lot about UX design in a manner that’s understandable to anyone, yet isn’t holding back from great observations.

Kottke (KTKE)
A ton of diverse links, it’s hard to be bored when there’s a source like this out there.

They cover a lot of different areas of design and marketing. If something is kind of interesting out there in a commercial sense, they’ll probably talk about it.

Swissmiss (SMSS)
A bellwether blog for all other reblog design sites, the number of people that gravitate to what is mentioned on this site is incredible.

UnBeige (UNBG)
There’s a constant flow of news in the design world from fonts, furniture, art and architecture

Wooster Collective (WOST)
A great source and authority on all things street art.

The engineering feat of the shotcake

shotglass cupcake 01 for yuri's night

shotglass cupcake 02 for yuri's night

Over at Daylife HQ on Friday night there was a small gathering to celebrate Yuri’s Night, the World Party. Being more attuned to design stuff, Yuri’s Night 2009 was a new concept to me. It’s an interesting idea and who can argue with a party that can last 207 days? Aside from learning about the idea of celebrating space exploration—a co–worker made quite possibly the best cupcake ever. Not sure what to call it, it’s either the shotglass cupcake or shotcake, it was quite an amazing feat of engineering design if I do say so myself.

Link Drop Contextd for the Week Ending in Friday the 20th (February 2009)

 On Rating Systems_1235089074794clear_001Untitled Document_1235089108381clear_001W+K PORTLAND · She's heeeeeere!_1235089140608clear_001 The Hype Machine Blog about Hype Machine (and things we love)_1235089156788clear_001AHOi!_1235089163202clear_001
Twitter Groups_1235089170385clear_001What the CBC should know about Twitter | Spark | CBC Radio_1235089182204clear_001Eismann-SF News_1235089188874clear_001Neighborhoods - Mapping L.A. - Data Desk - Los Angeles Times_1235089199193clear_001About New York - No Photo Ban in Subways, Yet an Arrest - NYTimes.com_1235089216252clear_001
 Hotelier at Sea_1235089253813clear_001NYPL, LIVE from the NYPL, Event Description_1235089262039clear_001The No-Stats All-Star - NYTimes.com_1235089277521clear_001Nike Foamposite Lite - Nate Robinson - KRYPTONATE PE - Slam Dunk Contest | Sneaker News_1235089334933clear_001How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It
 how campaigns work. beats me._1235095261799clear_001 A FontFont Focus by FontShop_1235095286315clear_001Creative Statistical Visualization by Guy Limone - PSFK.com_1235099507663clear_001hicksdesign_1235127378996clear_001The Wayfinding Handbook_1235128185096

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I’m not a huge fan of basketball but found myself posting two sites related to that sport in the week’s Link Drop Contextd. In the NYT Magazine piece about Shane Battier and his invisible stats, one take away is that there’s always potential to see something else that no one has bothered paying attention to – and applying that to something. Very applicable to almost anything out there. Twitter makes a strong comeback with a couple new links, so does food and music blogs. Till next week, thanks for coming back…

– m

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 On Rating Systems_1235089074794

On Rating Systems
I’ve wondered about the usefulness of numbers in rating systems too. What’s the difference between 3.5 and 3.7? How is that going to make your decision that much easier? But then again pass/fail or great/sucks doesn’t always help either.

Untitled Document_1235089108381

Edible prints
When I first saw Edible prints it immediately reminded me of Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow by James King. I find the idea of redesigning food to be fascinating and allows for a completely different experience then what has been created so far.

W+K PORTLAND · She's heeeeeere!_1235089140608

Blogs aren’t the magical publishing tool for everything, but it’s been put to good use with this design work. I’ve come across some of this stuff outside in the real world. Nice to see the whole package in one place.

 The Hype Machine Blog about Hype Machine (and things we love)_1235089156788

How we pick blogs
I’m always interested in how someone makes editorial decision, for this post it’s how a blog is chosen to be in Hype Machine. And to think I just thought they allowed anyone…


A lot of really quick posts with good links to more links and even better info.

Twitter Groups_1235089170385

Twitter Groups
What do you mean when you’re talking about creating a twitter group? It might have to do with one of the two mentioned in this post.

What the CBC should know about Twitter | Spark | CBC Radio_1235089182204

What the CBC should know about Twitter

Every media source that has any type of online community should be asking the above question. What kind of expectations and experience do the people that follow have with twitter, and what do they want? Maybe there’s an unexpected opportunity. Either way the responses from the above question are worth a read.

Eismann-SF News_1235089188874

Sketching Interactivity – The Inspire Video
I haven’t actually watched this video yet (no time), but the description sounds pretty good. Hoping I’ll have some time over the weekend.

Neighborhoods - Mapping L.A. - Data Desk - Los Angeles Times_1235089199193

Select one of L.A.’s 87 neighborhoods
Super cool idea about location of areas of a neighborhoods. People can make their own area names. It would be really cool to see something like this in Manhattan, and have a bunch of different people outline areas themselves and compare. If you see that in New York Magazine anytime soon, remember where you read it first.

About New York - No Photo Ban in Subways, Yet an Arrest - NYTimes.com_1235089216252

No Photo Ban in Subways, Yet an Arrest
It’s amazing that this stuff happens…

 Hotelier at Sea_1235089253813

Hotelier at Sea
I’m pretty sure I link back to BldgBlog every week – so hopefully you’re not surprised that I’ve done it once again this week.

NYPL, LIVE from the NYPL, Event Description_1235089262039

LIVE from the NYPL & WIRED present: LAWRENCE LESSIG, SHEPARD FAIREY, STEVEN JOHNSON. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy
I bought my ticket about a minute after finding out about this event. Really curious to hear the discussion around this timely topic. Are you going too?

The No-Stats All-Star - NYTimes.com_1235089277521

The No-Stats All-Star
This was the perfect article to read on a Saturday morning eating a bagel and lots of coffee. Sometimes it’s better to disregard the conventional rules and make some new guidelines for measurement.

Nike Foamposite Lite - Nate Robinson - KRYPTONATE PE - Slam Dunk Contest | Sneaker News_1235089334933

Feb 14 · Nike Foamposite Lite – KRYPTONATE PE – Slam Dunk Contest
Great concept for a dunk.

How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It

How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It?
There’s always the luxury of hindsight, but still… Even if they had all been right would anyone have listened either way?

 how campaigns work. beats me._1235095261799

how campaigns work. beats me.
Sill one of my new fav. blogs that make me think, the above post has a number of ideas that I can’t summarize in a line or two. But the thing to note for me is that an agency is likely to deliver the same sort of results as they did in the past due to their own organizational inertia – or they’re taking their past experiences as a cue for future work. So much for innovation…

 A FontFont Focus by FontShop_1235095286315

FF DIN :: A FontFont Focus by FontShop
A lot of micro sites fail miserably, this one does not. Even better it’s about what of my favourite typefaces.

Creative Statistical Visualization by Guy Limone - PSFK.com_1235099507663clear_001

Creative Statistical Visualization by Guy Limone
Such a cool idea, wish I had thought of painting the side of a building like that.


Playstation 3 Media Centre
There’s a lot of talk about different web apps finding their way on to the tv. Most notably there’s boxee and hulu in the news fighting, but there’s others out there too in the game.

The Wayfinding Handbook_1235128185096

The Wayfinding Handbook
I’m currently reading this book for review (almost finished). I’m really liking it (recommend it as a buy) so when I found out there was a website I was oh cool, what additional info do they have that the book wasn’t covered. Sadly I’m not sure why they bothered putting up that page – there’s nothing going on. I can think of about a 100 different things that they could have done and all they bothered doing was a five second ppt slide. Just when I think designers are realizing the potential past paper – brutal flash sites like this pop up. I don’t get what they were hoping to gain from the experience they presented. I’m hoping I just missed the button to click next, but I don’t think there is one…

Link Drop Contextd for the Week Ending in Friday the 23rd (January 2009)

Worldwide Inauguration via Twitter_1232665074222McSweeney's Internet Tendency- I Am the King of Household Design._1232665126995Redesigning A User Interface In The Open_1232665168263Swedish Television launches a great online television site but where’s the social interactionThe Last Days of W (printfetish)_1232665234317Robert L. Peters » Shigeo Fukuda | 1932-2009_1232665297061 Nominations | Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum_1232665346100 A revolution quietly begins in Washington state - Publishing 2.0_1232665382325 Blog_1232665414852Wisconsin Cheese Cupid_1232665437344I Love You More Than Blank_1232665501628 Keyword Clouds. | - Special Reports - The 44th President - The Moment_1232665663306 Can Obama Really Reboot the White House100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter | Online Universities.com_1232665747589Link by Link - Historical Photos in Web Archives Gain New Lives - NYTimes.com_1232665796701 Inside Obama's Social Media Toolkit_1232665841934The Faces of Mechanical Turk - Waxy.org_1232665874232

As I’m focusing more on quality vs quantity it’s interesting to see how smaller patterns emerge after a weeks worth of filtering. This week seemed to be a combo of ux, tech and ideas – not a huge departure from most of my Link Drop Contextd’s I realize. What is different again is the format. Still tweaking it a bit. Aside from the size of images and format the colour is also slightly different. I’ll be posting about that later today. Until then happy Friday clicking.

– m

Worldwide Inauguration via Twitter
Flowing Data | 22 JAN 2009

Worldwide Inauguration via Twitter_1232665074222

Flowing Data put together a visualization of tweets around the time of Obama’s inauguration. Really fascinating to watch the spikes leading up to and after 12 noon on the 20th of January 2009.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency | JAN 2009

McSweeney's Internet Tendency- I Am the King of Household Design._1232665126995

I wish I had written this myself, kind of an apt commentary to read after Murray Moss’ remarks in Design Observer.

Redesigning A User Interface In The Open
A VC | 17 JAN 2009

Redesigning A User Interface In The Open_1232665168263

I really like the idea behind the modules of Bug Labs, this post is a good starting point to click off a bunch of links that look at opening up the user experience as they move forward.

Swedish Television launches a great online television site but where’s the social interaction? | 20 JAN 2009

Swedish Television launches a great online television site but where’s the social interaction

The site was working for me when I originally grabbed the info, hopefully it’s back up by the time you read this…

The Last Days of W
Printfetish | 15 JAN 2009

The Last Days of W (printfetish)_1232665234317

A review of the latest Alec Soth book and commentary about one person’s observation in today’s climate.

Shigeo Fukuda | 1932-2009
Robert L Peters | 16 JAN 2009

Robert L. Peters » Shigeo Fukuda | 1932-2009_1232665297061

I was sad to read this.

National Design Triennial: Nominations
Cooper Hewitt | JAN 2009

 Nominations | Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum_1232665346100

I was underwhelmed by the options at the last Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt among many other things (like no cameras to photograph design stuff – it’s not art after all). I’m not sure how the vetting process happened last time, this time they’ve opened up the nominations which makes me very happy. If you think something should be nominated you now have the opportunity. You can also view what has already been nominated and by who. Great transparency, let’s just hope when the open the exhibition a person can take photos for their own private use…

Networked link journalism: A revolution quietly begins in Washington state
Publishing 2.0 | 9 JAN 2009

 A revolution quietly begins in Washington state - Publishing 2.0_1232665382325

News being passed on via twitter isn’t new now, but this gives an overview on how easy and fast things can move when the conditions are right.

Koolhaas’ Exodus and Thomson’s Divided Kingdom
Maud Newton | 22 JAN 2009


I’ve walked through this exhibition at the MoMA a couple times though I haven’t paid that much attention to it aside from photographing it. Next time I’ll be taking a closer look.

Wisconsin Cheese Cupid
JAN 2009

Wisconsin Cheese Cupid_1232665437344

I’m not a huge fan of micro sites (or flash), this one maybe shouldn’t even be categorized as such anyways – but, it’s a really informative site on what to pair cheese with. Next time I buy some cheese I’ll be keeping this site in mind with what I want to drink with it.

I Love You More Than Blank
JAN 2009

I Love You More Than Blank_1232665501628

Interesting social experiment.

Conversation Mapping in Twitter: Keyword Clouds.
PurpleCar | 15 JAN 2009

 Keyword Clouds. | PurpleCar_1232665606459

I liked how they broke down how forum discussions tend to flow. But the better info they present is in the form of a question about how to follow a twitter discussion.

Inauguration » The Moment
CNN | 20 JAN 2009 - Special Reports - The 44th President - The Moment_1232665663306

I was kind of skeptical if people would even submit photos to cnn to have them stitched together. Looks like some people are and the visuals is kind of cool. I think the ui is slightly jittery but as a first attempt it’s pretty cool.

The Wired Presidency: Can Obama Really Reboot the White House?
Wired | 19 JAN 2009

 Can Obama Really Reboot the White House

I’d like to see the author to revisit their article once a year for the next four years to track how things evolve.

100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter
Online Universities | 18 NOV 2008

100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter | Online Universities.com_1232665747589

I haven’t checked out all the sites in this list, but surely there’s at least one that everyone will find that they like.

Historical Photos in Web Archives Gain Vivid New Lives
NYT | 18 JAN 2009

Link by Link - Historical Photos in Web Archives Gain New Lives - NYTimes.com_1232665796701

A nice primer to see the connection between photos and history/stories.

Inside Obama’s Social Media Toolkit
Micro Persuasion | 17 JAN 2009

 Inside Obama's Social Media Toolkit_1232665841934

Good breakdown when consider a strategic operation.

The Faces of Mechanical Turk
Waxy | 20 NOV 2008

The Faces of Mechanical Turk - Waxy.org_1232665874232

If you’ve ever had to use mechanical turk as i have, you’re probably curious to know who’s actually doing the work.

The Flo in Florent

On the weekend my friend Caren and I went to Florent one last time. I didn’t have a long history with the dinner like some that may have been going there for years, or remember the times they would go there after partying till 4 in the morning or even had a business account there. But it was the first place Caren took me to eat while visiting nyc back in the day. She thought I would appreciate the designed aesthetic of the place. And of course I did which spoke to the unpretentious humour that was visible where ever you looked. I thought the above sign really spoke to that attitude. It sounds like the dinner isn’t exactly going to close after all which is good b/c people will still be working etc, but it will be fascinating to see where the past design aesthetic evolves into.

Coudal Partners’ Field Tested Books: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain, Field-Tested by Moi

Coudal Partners' Field Tested Books: A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain, Field-Tested by Moi

Some cool news to report (for me at least), Coudal Partners’ latest Field Tested Books just came out and I’m included. I remenised about Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour. Since reading that book many years ago I’ve been a fan of his attitude and passions. You can read about what I had to say at Thanks for the invite Steve…

Having Lunch w/ the Blog Lunch and Ray…

lunch w/ Lunch

If you enjoy food you should definitely check out my favourite food blog Lunch Written by the two architects of Front Studio, Yen and Michi explore New York w/ their refined sensibilities during lunch. I’ve been a fan of their site since they started when Ray who’s a mutual friend tipped me off. So today we all finally got together for lunch in SoHo which was pretty easy as we’re all only a couple blocks apart.

Our chosen restaurant was Il Corallo. I had a tough time w/ the menu as there were a ton of choices in all-caps. I ended up choosing the tortellini – it wasn’t a bad decision though there was way too much to eat. The conversation was fun, I got some tips on things I should do when I visit Minneapolis for some Adaptive Path workshops, learned about Carnegie Mellon and we all laughed about how insanely small New York is. You can read Lunch’s take on today’s first of many lunch’s to come at

Food design, molecular gastronomy and other things worth eating for the mind

I’m not sure where Food for Design has been hiding, but I’m sure happy to have discovered it this morning. With sections like molecular gastronomy, physics, and shape this blog combines design with food in a way that I just haven’t seen too many places before (if any). An instant bookmark.

For bonous points – their flickr site is worth visiting, though probably not just before lunch…

Black Toothpaste

Charcle Toothpaste

Charcle Toothpaste

At a recent Likeminds a friend came by to say hello and gave me a cool looking box. Not really knowing what it was, I held it in my hands admiring the type in both English and what I’m going to assume was Korean (not sure) – she then exclaimed it was black toothpaste. Black toothpaste? Interesting idea though I’m not sure how it would take to my mouth. This morning I tried it for the first time, the experience ended up being less pleasant then I first thought it would be. I was fine seeing the black stuff on my brush, it wasn’t until it went into my mouth when my stomach started to turn. Near the end I barely could brush my tongue and when I spit it out to rinse I felt a bit queezy. In the end though my mouth did feel clean, but I’m not sure if the weirdness that I felt would be something I’d want to do again. Sure my review is a bit negative but I’m happy to have gone through the experience – thanks Kathy.

The aftermath of eating only one colour per day for a week

Food week of Colour

Last week I mentioned that Johanna was only going to eat one colour of food per day for a week. It was an interesting experiment, maybe a little crazy – but what the hell. If it worked out maybe there would be a new food trend. If it wasn’t the best idea, cool – good thing it wasn’t me. I was curious to know how someone would handle it, would there be sugar highs and lows? Well the week is over and in Johanna’s own words “IT SUCKED”. “By end of Sunday I started to feel terrible. I hadn’t had protein in the previous three days, my body was starting to freak out, etc.” Maybe not the best idea – but if you’re curious to know what colours of the week were good, and which were the worst check out her post week color food.

An interview with John Gargiulo, owner of Swich in NYC


For the last couple of months I’ve been making it a habit to visit Swich (104 8th Ave between 15th + 16th, NYC) for lunch. There’s a rotation of three swiches I really, really like. There’s the Karate Chicken, Steak Monster and Thanksgiving Every Day that come highly recommended. Aside from the flavour of the food there’s something else about the environment. Everything seemed considered and designed, more so than usual from what I’ve noticed when a business opens for the first time. One thing led to another and Noah Brier introduced me to John Gargiulo, the owner of Swich. Thinking that this would be the perfect opportunity to learn about Swich, John agreed to do an interview through email about all that is Swich.

Michael Surtees: How did Swich come to be, what was your involvement? What were you doing before?

John Gargiulo: In my life before Swich I was a creative at an ad agency called Cliff Freeman and Partners. It had always been my dream agency and it was a thrill to get to work there. My Art Director partner at Cliff, Matt Woodhams-Roberts and I created and shot Print and TV spots for clients like Snapple, Sports Authority, and Quiznos. Matt is a great designer and has helped me with some design for Swich.

I always said on my 30th birthday if I hadn’t yet taken a big risk in life and started a company or something big, I had to quit my job on that day and figure something out fast. I guess I got anxious because on my 26th birthday I walked into Cliff’s office and retired from advertising. I developed a business plan, found an investor, and a year and a half later in December of last year, we opened our doors.

MS: When I walked into switch for the first time, it seemed relaxed yet the environment and experience seemed extremely considered. What is the philosophy of Swich and how did it come to be? Has the idea changed once the doors opened?

JG: The credit for the design of Swich has to go to the firm that came up with it- a happy group of people called The Apartment. I knew I wanted Swich to be a forward-thinking, future-leaning kind of place, but I also wanted it to feel comfortable and accessible. Homey-chic was sort of what I was thinking. I feel like The Apartment delivered that feel perfectly. It’s a huge credit to them that your experience walking into Swich was precisely what all of us intended! A warm, happy, hip little place to get your sandwich fix.


MS: Everything about Swich is designed yet it doesn’t feel over the top. It doesn’t scream of anyone’s signature design style that I’m aware of. How did your concept for Swich turn into a reality. Were there designers involved? How did the collaboration work out?

JG: Looks like I should have been reading ahead on these questions! Yes as I’ve said the collaboration with the Apartment worked out great. When I was bidding the project I wanted to choose a design firm that I might have to pull back a little, rather than one I’d have to nudge along. What I love about Stefan and his team is that they have the guts to throw just about anything out there that they think could work. No matter how bizarre or impossible some of their ideas may seem at times, they are all original- which immediately puts them ahead of 95% of other creative firms, in my opinion. And many of their ideas are quite brilliant!

MS: What was the process like in choosing the company name? Was it fun, difficult? did you hire writers or let friends and family put in their ideas or did you know it was gonna be Swich from the get go?

JG: Oh my god there were so many names we went through. I asked all friends and family, as well as The Apartment to come up with a name, as well as working on it myself. There was “Stacked”, and “Flaterie”, and about 250 others. Oh! And for a while the name was “Made” which I sort of liked, but we found there was a chain of places in Iowa that the trademark lawyers said sounded too similar, so that got killed. I love the name Swich. It’s clean, simple, catchy, and represents the product.


MS: I think people really enjoy the conversational tone of the experience. All of the sandwiches have funny yet no so obvious names. Where did the sandwich names come from?

JG: I wanted the personality of Swich to come through in almost every aspect of the experience. It may have been more direct if I had called the Swiches Buffalo Chicken and Steak Sandwich, for example, but I think it’s easier to identify with a favorite sandwich if it’s got a name like Buffalo Hot Pants or Steak Monster. It gives each Swich its own little personality.


MS: Along with the sandwich names you’ve taken the opportunity to have a talk with the person eating the food. There’s writing on the stickers begging to be read, there’s more writing on the paper that covers the trays. How has the feedback been on this? It almost seems like it could evolve into a two way conversation, have you considered any options to hear what others think of Swich?

JG: Having a talk with them is exactly how we think of it too. It’s conversational. Every brand is like a person. Mercedes is the guy at the party in the Gucci suit striding up to every girl, Jamba Juice is the hyper-hypo California guy bouncing off the walls, and so on. We want Swich to be just a normal, stylish, totally down to earth guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously. That’s the tone that comes out in all our copy on those cups and trays and all of our branding communication. We absolutely love to get feedback and hear from our customers what they like about Swich and suggestions they have to make it better. On some of our cups we ask that people email us at to keep the conversation going. And I think at some point when we catch our breath, I will start a newsletter type of thing as well. I think listening to your customers is vitally important.


MS: There’s a couple great peripheral elements that help make Swich unique such as all the green and white color, the magnetic wall near the front door that has the welcoming type, the large menu display, there’s a plasma tv playing Swich tv, another plasma showing the music that is on, an interesting seating arrangement with a long table. How did all these things come to be?

JG: Well from the beginning I wanted to do SwichTV as well as the screen showing what song is playing. I think music is the most underrated part of the restaurant experience. It totally sets the mood for the place and taken a lot more seriously than just pumping in satellite radio or something. I choose all of the songs that play in Swich very carefully. For the menu display and the type on the walls the credit has to go to the Apartment, who also convinced me to paint the ceilings green by the way, which I’m glad we did.

MS: Why Swich tv? What have you learned by making videos? Any plans to extend what you’ve started?

JG: Making the bits for SwichTV was some of the most fun I had during the whole year and a half lead up to opening the first shop. I just wanted it to be weird, original stuff that you couldn’t stop looking at. I noticed at other fast-casual chains there was never anything to look at while you waited for your food. People would stare at their feet, look for their sandwich, or if you were lucky you would have your iPod and just zone out to that for a while. Part of the Swich experience is entertaining people, and SwichTV I think adds to that. We are definitely making more videos in a couple of months. I want to get our employees involved, as we all think it would be extra funny to look up and the guy who’s making your Swich is dancing on TV or doing some other strange stuff. We have a great, fun staff and they’re totally into it.

MS: The food is great, almost every time I’ve been there I see people swapping bites with their friends. How did the menu develop and what type of process do you have in place to make the food even better? How often will you update the menu?

JG: The Swiches I just worked on over and over again for the year and a half leading up to the opening. I tested every Swich at least 15 different ways before choosing the best tasting, most complete version. My wife Sidney and family and friends helped a lot in that process. We just completed two months of further “real world” testing of every item in our kitchen, and we made a couple of tweaks here and there, and added the Earthy McGee deconstructed. But after so much work on getting the variety right in the menu and making sure the taste profile of every Swich is as perfect as it can be, I would like to keep the menu as static as possible. It also simplifies operations and helps us make sure we can get people their Swiches faster and more efficiently.

MS: What was the biggest learning experience that you’ve had since starting Swich?

JG: I’ve learned time and again during this process that the best thing you can do when starting a business is surround yourself with great people. I have the absolute smartest, nicest, most hardworking team I could have ever asked for. From my restaurant consultant Lisa Chodosh, who teaches a great class at the New School, to my real estate broker to my GM Steve Hardy, I couldn’t be happier with my team. The goal was to build a core group of people who would be sort of the support team in growing Swich out as a national concept, and I definitely have those people behind me now and that makes all the difference in the world.

MS: When you’re not eating at Swich, what is your favourite restaurant in New York right now.

JG: It’s a tie between Pearl Oyster Bar and Blue Ribbon.


MS: How do you think design and marketing plays a role in Swich’s success?

JG: I think that they play a big role. I think first of all as a restaurant concept, your food has to be good. That’s a given. But I think design, maybe second to music (which permeates the entire room at all times) is the most underrated thing about a restaurant’s success. In fact I think right now, and this is beginning to change, but design is one of the most underrated determinants of any retail business’s success. Design for Swich helps us stand out, and it helps define who we are. The marketing, from the stickers on the cups to how our take-out bag looks sitting on someone’s desk in their office 10 blocks away, are also ways in which we present ourselves to the public and have an opportunity to stand out.

MS: In a couple years where do you want to Swich to be? Are there other types of experiences that you would like to take on?

JG: Going forward I am working on making the Swich on 8th Avenue and 15th the best prototype it can be. When the time is right, which I think will be a matter of months, I will get back out there and start looking at locations to roll the concept out further. I can’t tell you how many people from all over the city have written me asking for one in their neighborhood.. But right now I’m just trying to improve the model we have now little by little every day. We just started delivery a couple of weeks ago and it’s been going really well. Next up is catering, where we’re going to differentiate ourselves as best we know how from the competition.

I’m having so much fun doing this every day, and I think going forward Swich will only get bigger and better!

MS: Thanks for taking the time to do this John. You know I’ll be back. I’m looking forward to watching this grow into something better than it already is.

Book of the Week

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer

It’s always interesting to see at the end of the week where my interests went for the week on the blog. If there was any pattern for the last couple of days it’s been food. Until now I really wasn’t sure where I was going to fit in the book Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. I haven’t been to many of his restaurants, but if Blue Smoke is any indication of what the potential is – he’s probably got a couple things worth hearing about. I wasn’t disappointed. While some of his experiences would seem obvious in hindsight, hearing about how he managed to grow his business was valuable. I don’t have any anecdotes or summary of the lessons of the book to share, but if you love a great meal and are interested in what has driven a successful person you could probably get more than a couple things from the book.

Lunch, the blog

lunch blog

Explaining to my friend Ray about how I use flickr to find new places to eat in NYC (roboppy being one of the busiest and best), he comes back with a great link of his own. He has a couple friends that have started the blog Lunch. Conceived by two architects, Michi and Yen go on to talk about what they had for lunch, where they went, add commentary and photograph it. While this does sound like a lot of writing – it’s usually very concise and doesn’t go on and on. Ironically my fav. post of theirs doesn’t even have to do with lunch, but about their 4:00pm ritual with Francis Francis! Live vicariously through them at

and since we’re on the topic of food, go visit Noah’s blog post about the great swich. I think he really nails down the philosophy of the company.

How I rate food

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At Cafeteria, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

There are a couple things that I live for, great company and food – ok I like a couple other things too, but I’ll save that commentary for another time. I’ve had the chance to eat at a couple nice places in NYC since arriving on Saturday. I think it would be boring to just give straight reviews on what I liked and disliked, which service was ok and who really impressed me. So instead I offer a way of reviewing food my way.

All the food has tasted good, so that explanation about the flavours doesn’t really mean much. However if I found myself telling Tamara that I would come back for the exact same thing again – that meant it was really good, while if I mentioned that I would come back to try something else it meant the food was ok and the service saved the experience for me.

So where would I go back? Bar 6 for the Steak Frites and calamari, Cafeteria for the Fried Chicken and Waffle, Elmo with the company of Melissa and Ben, and French Roast with Caren for talk. I would visit PT212 again, but I would try something else other than their sushi.

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