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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 http://lunchstudio.blogspot.com 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.
Having a couple hours to push around a bunch of buttons in front of me as I flew from JFK to SFO, I thought it would be interesting to explore the playlist feature of the Delta music player. To be honest I’m not really sure why anyone would save a bunch of songs on a flight—though someone must find it useful. In any case I started saving a bunch of songs to see what unexpected questions might arise. The biggest thing that stood out to me was that I’ve invested some time creating a list, now what? What I mean by the “now what”, what can I do afterwards? I can’t export that list, and I can’t get that info out of that player. By the off chance that I wanted to purchase all those tracks there’s no easy way to do that. There’s no send, share or buy functionality. What’s up with that? There’s a perfect opportunity to explore music that I otherwise would never have listened to, and there’s no extension to take the experience further.
July is here and with that comes the Tour de France. I’ve found a number of bike and tour related stuff that is shows the sport in perhaps a slightly different light then most people are used to reading about. There were a number of process pieces that I didn’t connect directly though on a second look might warrant it. There’s behaviour process, big question process and the big idea process along with emotional process. And as usual there’s a number of photo and type related things. I’m heading off to SF for a couple days next week, so I’m not sure what the format for next week’s Link Drop will look like. Stay tuned…
where to get off the subway
Now that I have this app I’m hope it will be easier to find my exit on Canal St or 34th St a lot easier. Up until now I’ve been choosing my train car haphazardly. Now I’ll pick it by design.
beauty made from ugly
There’s something really cool about making architectural forms out of metal shipping containers.
Lost in Translation
I really like how the abstraction on the left carries a lot of visual resonance to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to the right.
Surry Hills Library Signage by Collider
The typography of this wayfinding system is quite special. I love how the type is angled. I want to be able to do that for something in the not so distant future.
When’s the last time you saw a building get up and go for a walk?
Letter from AIGA’s incoming president
It’s amazing to me that more incoming design organization presidents don’t write a simple letter explaining what they want to accomplish. It should be mandatory to have an outline like this.
A friend passed me on a video of a project designed by some Stanford d.school students. The process and explanation of the project is quite smart, though their hypothesis maybe not so much and the results were kind of dangerous to all involved. Taking on the issue of the daily commute, they wanted to disrupt the normal highway flow by driving slower to get people to consider that maybe driving wasn’t the best option. Their process in the video makes sense, but what works on paper isn’t always the best idea in the real world. “One guy tried to run us off the road” goes one of the slides as they described what happened when they drove 60 mph instead of the legal limit of 70 mph. To be honest I was like wtf—if I was driving I’d be angry too. While the video is a great example of showing design process I’d say the actual results we far less successful and were possibly a failure. What one person considers disruption another might consider it as design anarchism.
There was no call to action—people were forced to drive slower, but instead of turning that anger from the people driving behind into something positive they just left people angry. There wasn’t any two way communication. While it wouldn’t have been any safer they should have placed a piece of communication on the back of their vehicle to explain what they were doing. Even with a sign it would have been a dangerous stunt. In the end I’m not sure they accomplished a lot of actionable items. Are any of those drivers affected by that one day of slowness going to change their behaviour? Probably not. Would a billboard have been any more effective though safer—again probably not.
Changing people’s behviour through design has never been easy—consumer behaviour maybe, but not necessarily people’s day to day life. In some respects it’s like trying to convert someone to a different religion or turn a beef eater into a vegetarian. If people don’t want to do it, they’re not going to do it. There’s also a balance between righteousness and trying to make the world a better place. It’s a tricky line in the sand for people to consider. As we do live in a democratic world that people can consider options, a better design would have been to set a goal that can be measured through actionable items. Anything that is more about awareness is a good idea, but how will you know if you’ve made a difference?
EDITORS NOTE: 2 hours after the initial post and passing them on some feedback they emailed me this video explaining some of their results.
and in the email “Thanks for your feedback! Based on the feedback of you and a few others, we’ve made another version to cater to a non-design crowd. By the way, we did have signs on the back of our cars, but that was not apparent from the video. The hope is this second video is interesting enough to start getting people’s attention, and then begin spreading through the web.”
Wanting to take a look back so I can figure out how to proceed with 2009, I grabbed a bunch of notable posts that I thought were worth spending a bit more time with. Below each image I’ve made a note now that I’ve had some time away from each of the original posts. Here’s to the new year and thanks for visiting, and linking and commenting and…
This seemed like a great idea at the time, trade my shuffle with someone else and hear some new music. I ended up trading but due to my own business it took way too long to trade back with her. I learned my lesson – anyone else want to try trading?
I wanted to combine some of my photography with a listing of location. Another idea with good intentions, problem was it took a lot of time to map it out and I had no way of exporting the data offline if I wanted to. So after a while I stopped posting to that map.
This was before things really took off with Obama, I had seen the Hope graphic floating around the web but this was the first image I saw of it actually on the streets. A while after that post someone mailed me a couple of the posters. That was a very good day.
There was an interesting discussion after I posted this – unfortunately when I installed Disqus after the fact that comment stayed in the old database of comments. In effect the person was objecting to the commercialization of the idea of the Ghost Bike. At the time I was pretty much on the opposite side thinking that a company shouldn’t have to worry about worry such things. As I’ve walked a lot through the city and seen those white bikes out there, that person may have been correct with their objections.
This project is still going on for a couple weeks, but the number of people that saw it and contacted me after this post was quite amazing. Not sure where this project will end up but up until now it’s been interesting to watch it grow.
There was three events that were sort of art, sort of design that I really enjoyed seeing. One was MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition, Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum and Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney. I would have luved to have blogged more about the last two exhibitions but since they don’t allow photography inside I’ll just mention that it’s a stupid policy that will hurt them more than what it will help. Banksy’s installations would be up there too in really good things to have seen now that I think about it.
Just like the Frietag instruction booklet I mentioned above, Camper’s shoes are a product that other designers should want to strive for. They are perfect for the weather of NYC and never wear out. There’s only two brands of shoes that I buy, Camper and Giraudon.
There’s a lot of really smart stuff in this book. In my top 3 of things to read, and more interestingly I don’t think this book will date itself as much as some of the others along the same genre that came out this year.
For all the chatter of sites that tagged brands, I think Dear Adobe changed the game more so than any other UGC site. If I was wanting to study site concepts for company’s, this is where I would start. And no, Adobe didn’t design the site.
I’m not sure if the wait of three days in an airport will ever make me trust Air Canada again, but I’m so happy to be back in NYC. The flight that I did finally get out was an hour late leaving, but the company I had beside me was pretty fascinating. Having a friendly person to talk with always makes a flight go faster. I’m not sure I really need to talk anymore about the irritation and lack of comfort that Air Canada gave me, but I thought it might be nice to say that in the end I got my bag when I arrived at LGA. That makes me happy too.
This is day three of trying to fly back to NYC from Toronto. The irony that it only took four days to drive from Edmonton to NYC (2,500 miles) last year has not been lost on me. I was extremely lucky to have a friend take me in over the two nights – otherwise I probably would have just slept in the airport. I’ve had a lot of time to think of course, mostly in terms what went right and wrong during the days where I’ve been stuck at the airport and having never experienced a flight cancellation before.
Aside from the flight cancellations the airport has also managed to loose my suitcase, I’ll be making a report in NYC but I’m not going to hold my breath. Early on in the process I had decided not to even worry about the actual flight cancellations, but the suitcase thing has bothered me a lot. The first thing that I would redesign is how a person can keep track of their bag. Each checked bag has a barcode. Why not be able to check the status location from your cell or laptop, similar to the way you can keep track of a FedEx package? I would be willing to pay for that kind of convenience. Of course I’m never going to check a bag in again, but it’s something airlines should consider. I love how Air Canada and I assume every other airline is the same in abstaining in any responsibility for my lost time and expenses occurred b/c they didn’t have an available airplane. The excuse is that weather cancellations is not their fault. I don’t accept it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. A little good will could go a long way – give me free wifi at least.
The only reason why being stranded hasn’t totally weathered me down is that I’ve had my laptop and wifi that I’ve had to pay for. Ten bucks isn’t a huge inconvenience, but free is always better in my opinion. Staying in touch through IM, Facebook, Flickr and email has eased the boredom a lot. Power to keep the laptop running has been the only thing to worry about it. I’ve got two batteries that probably last three or four hours depending on what I’m doing. There’s electrical outlets near some of the seats, but there should be more. So it’s been a process of making sure my batteries are full and deciding how much time I want to be away from a power outlet. You never know when the power might go out and you need the extra battery life for something else. Did I mention that my cell cord to charge the battery is my suitcase? So my limited ability to conserve cell power has lead to some interesting ways to communicate with others. Again email has been a lifeline except when your in a restricted area such as baggage claim. So to let Mark who was picking me up know where I was, I had to rely on my one level of power to let him know that I was endlessly waiting for my bag.
I’ve come to learn that the Airport in Toronto has a sense of humour. Any checked international baggage that doesn’t make it out should find it’s way onto carousel number 13. Lucky thirteen right – the first day it was for me as I was able to get my bag the first night I was stranded here. The second day it was unlucky. No bag in sight. Of course there’s absolutely no signs mention that 13 is the carousel for that type of situation, there was one announcement an hour after I found out. Another mystery was trying to figure out how to leave the terminal after clearing American Customs once the flight had to be cancelled. I eventually tracked down someone that had to open a secure door where I found myself going through Canadian Customs. But by day two there was almost a routine to the chaos. I learned to embrace long lines, understanding that that there was a 50/50 chance of it being the line I needed to be in.
So the next time I travel, this is how I would plan my trip. 1. I would bring a suitcase that didn’t need to be checked in, no matter how long I’m away for. 2. I would have 2 batteries for my cell and laptop charged up. 3. I would have all the important flight information on my computer and paper format. That would include phone numbers for the airline and confirmation codes. 4. I would also write down important phone numbers and other information in case the cell or laptop dies. 5. For the laptop scenario to happen, you actually need a laptop – I find it extremely difficult not to have my computer with me at all times, so that’s a given, but if you’re wondering if you should or shouldn’t bring it, I would. It’s all common sense of course, but it’s a good idea to think about what you would do ahead of time if the ideal situation doesn’t work out.
Everyone likes Moleskine though sadly my nomination of it for the People’s Design Award didn’t win. Then there was the Moleskine City Guides, a pretty good idea for the closet tourist. You could open one of the books up to find directions without fear. Now to extend things further there’s the the Moleskine City Blogs. Just like the books, the blog covers London, Milan, New York, Paris and Rome separately and together. You could either look at one particular city or combine them all.
Goal setting: do you set your goals as the person you are today, or for the person you’re going to be when you reach them? That question and many more are asked in the book Stumbling on Happiness. Another must read if you haven’t heard of it before. It was the last book I read before heading back to NYC a couple weeks ago.
Walking around for a couple days in NYC with my new black MacBook, I started to feel that the bag I was carrying wasn’t up to the challenge. Lucky for me I found the Crumpler store. Just a couple doors down from Rice to Riches, I checked the bag store out. Of course I found the bag of my dreams, but more noteworthy was one of their giveaways that I’m now talking about. They had these really nifty mini matches. They’ve got this really cool scale to them and how can you not smile when you look at them – just like they’re bags.
After a long needed break I went back to NYC. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking about some of the discussions I had, some of the things I saw, and ultimately what inspired me as a designer.
But for now as I catch my breath, I need to thank a lot of people for their kindness and help. So Eric, Caren, Piers, Noah, Mark, Roger, Marion and lots of other people out there – thanks for making NYC just a little bit smaller and showing me what you luv about your city. It won’t be forgotten.
I’ll be in NYC mid next week. If you have any suggestions on things to see or do, please speak up. I guess the question becomes, do you visit the places you’ve already enjoyed, or do you throw caution to the wind and take a 50/50 chance that you’ll see something even better than the previous time?
The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization awarded Montreal a “UNESCO City of Design”. The only other cities to have been given the award are Buenos Aires and Berlin in 2005. Quoted here “Montreal is a city where design and designers, be they involved in the fields of interior, industrial, graphic, fashion or architectural design, represent a dynamic force of cultural and economic life. According to recent statistics, design is responsible for 20,356 jobs in Montreal’s metropolitan area and economic spin-offs of more than $750 million. Also, 65.3% of Quebec workers involved in the field of design live in the metropolitan area. Montreal is the only North American city to have established, as early as 1991, a bureau dedicated exclusively to the development and promotion of design. Important achievements are owed to this bureau, including the Commerce Design Montreal competition, which has contributed to the rise of Montreal as a city of design.”
It sure seems like if you’re a designer and like to be active, UPPERCASE would be the first place to visit if you head to Calgary. Aside from the cool poster, the Robot Show looks pretty neat. Below is more info that I received in an e-mail newsletter.
The Robot Show opens this Thursday, from 6 – 10 pm.
Co-curated by Janine Vangool & Mike Kerr Featuring robots in art, illustration, kinetic sculpture, books, toys and film!
Toby Cougar, Calgary
AJ Dimarucot, Manila
Mark Dulmadge, Calgary
Doug Fraser, Victoria
Ryan Heshka, Vancouver
James Jensen, Calgary
Mike Kerr, Calgary
Aaron Leighton, Toronto
Renata Liwska, Calgary
Patricio Oliver, Buenos Aires
Don Post, Calgary
Rick Sealock, Toronto
Janine Vangool, Calgary