Looking at the @Nooka Zub Zayu & Interview with Matthew Waldman

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Nooka Zub Zayu

Publisher’s Note: Anyone that’s visited this blog knows that I try to mention Nooka as much as possible without over killing it. They’ll also note that there’s an ad from Nooka on the right rail—they’ve been a great supporter of this blog. I’ve also worked with them on the redesign of their website that I mentioned in this post. With all that said this post like everything else I mention form Nooka is from the point of view of a fan and not as someone that just got paid with a briefcase of cash.

When I first saw a prototype of the Zayu it was an instant favorite. It had similar face to a couple of the other Nooka’s that I owned but had evolved it enough to be something new. The worst thing a designer can do is show another designer something really cool, and than mention that the cool thing won’t be available for months. So for the last six weeks I’ve been emailing weekly to find out when the Zayu would be finally out. It came in this week so here’s the pics I took above and below is an interview that I had with Matthew of Nooka while he was still in Japan for Tokyo Design Week.

MICHAEL SURTEES: Can you talk about how the Zub Zayu came to be. To me it looks like an evolution of the Zot, Zen and outer shape of the Zirc together.

MATTHEW WALDMAN: The zirc is my favorite design we’ve released in terms of form. It sits on the wrist almost weightless as the weight is transferred to the wrist bone when worn correctly. It also allows the watch face to be worn over a sleeve. Unfortunately we as a brand need to get better at telling these kinds of stories as well, and I think this was lost when we launched the zirc. Wanting to tell this story to a broader audience (i.e. More democratic price point) was my main motivation that led to the design of the zayu. To be honest, as a designer, I am never 100% satisfied with my own work and combing the appeal of the zubs with the things I like with our higher end models is definitely an evolution.

MS: One of the other features mentioned in the press release is a new battery power saving mode. I remember you mentioning during Design Week talk with Joey Roth that batteries are what’s constraining the features that a watch can do. Has the new battery technology influenced the design of the Zayu?

MW: Unfortunately it’s the old technology that forces us to innovate in this way. Necessity is the mother of invention right?

MS: A couple practical words that I’m picking up a lot in the press release and from other blogs is time capsule, ambidextrous, and asymmetrical. That’s a bit of a shift from the futuristic philosophy that I’m used to hearing. Has Nooka’s philosophy shifted much from the last year?

MW: Who says the future is not practical? It’s all rooted in futurism. The Zayu is a universal communicator of both time and cool—what can be more Nooka?

MS: Speaking of the future, are there any materials that you’d like to use yet haven’t been able to because of cost or are hard to manufacture?

MW: Tons! low power ELs, kenetic electric batteries, flat integrated LCD and OELD, self-cleaning surface coatings, bio plastics… The problem is that being a small company, we can never afford the license fees and minimum order quantities. I’ve reached out to the 3Ms and Duponts of the world, go to the industrial trade shows and we are active with the material connexion here in NYC, so making the effort is not the issue. Perhaps some high level people reading your blog will see this and reach out to do some cool collabs?

MS: One of the strongest brand attributes that Nooka has in my opinion is how fans share what they love about the company on Twitter and Facebook and how you and others at Nooka seem to respond to almost everyone online. How do you all keep up ?

MW: Convergence! I have Twitter and facebook on my iPhone so there’s no excuse not to check in. When I’m traveling I ping people in the Nooka lab to pick up the slack. Of course, it’s a bit of an addiction as I love attention, however virtual it may be.

MS: This time next year what can fans of Nooka expect to see that’s being thought about right now?

MW: I hope apparel, new strips (belts), new sunglasses, more watches and expanded fragrance offerings.

MS: Any plans for any more pop up shops in NYC or are you focused more selling online at Nooka.com?

MW: BOTH! Thanks to you and Yumi Asai, nooka.com looks HOT and i’d love to see more purchases there. We are planning more pop-ups as well as they are doing well in Japan for us. I’ll keep you posted.

MS: What’s the most misunderstood thing about Nooka?

MW: That our product is a really the philosophy of universal communication and not the physical objects themselves. Also, people think we are a larger company than the 8 people start-up we are which actually can get in the way of some things. Of course, it’s not a bad problem to have I’m always told.

Working in real time vs plus one

real time vs 1 plus

I noticed something strange a couple days after I changed the time on my watches back an hour. Working away on my laptop I’d glance up to my microwave time which I hadn’t been bothered to change. A couple days passed, I’d glance up and continue to work. It hit me—I realized that by having one clock an hour ahead I was getting a lot of more work done and leaving for work on time. There’s probably reasons why my work flow is better like being more focused however I think there’s something helpful to being able to see slightly into the future, even if it’s just on the surface level. If you’re game I’d set one clock an hour ahead and keep track to see if you notice any different work habits.

Looking at the Nooka Zem Zenv Mr S and some of the other Nooka brand shapes

nooka zem zenv mr s

nooka zem zenv mr s

nooka zem zenv mr s

not my bottle

not my belt

Sure, people sometimes call Twitter the lazy web, but I also call it the helpful web. Case in point, Nooka is a supporter of DesignNotes and has an ad on my left rail. I’m also a big fan of the brand and its design—it would be hard not to. But when I wanted to post about the new Nooka Zem Zenv Mr S I wasn’t sure how people would react reading this post and seeing the ad on the rail. So I asked… The general consensus of friends that I trust said it’s fine as long as I’m upfront about the support. So yes Nooka is advertising on DesignNotes, and no they did not ask or influence how I wrote this post. Hopefully that keeps things transparent.

If you’re familiar with DesignNotes I do post a lot about Nooka and shoot a lot of pics too. What I really like at the base level of Nooka’s time pieces is that they’ve chosen to visualize the measurement of time in an original way (that has many people emulating now), that is actually very intuitive. Typically units in the bars are represented geometrically with squares showing hours and minutes. At a glance it’s easy for me to know how much time is left in an hour much like a second hand of a normal watch works.

However that’s not really what I want to talk about today. A couple months ago when Matthew invited me to the Nooka studio showing some unreleased Nooka things, I was really interested in how his new line of gem like cuts transferred from his time pieces to his fragrance and belts. A simple branding trick to measure the success of a brand’s visual communication is to place a thumb over the logo. If a person can still identify the brand, the design is doing what it needs to too. In much the same way, if a person where to take off the Nooka logo and compare the products of in this post, they’re very much part of the same identifiable family. In terms of brands that I interact with on a daily basis, there aren’t that many examples that I can think of that do that well. I might be misquoting Matthew but I think he attributed the shapes to glam futurism. It certainly has that type of feel.

Of all the cases from Nooka, I’m starting to think that the Nooka Zem Zenv Mr S is my instant favourite. It’s bright, has an awesome heavy weight to it and the band is constructed nicely. There are very few days when I’m wearing any of my Nooka’s that someone doesn’t ask about it. “How does it tell time” is a common one, but people are also drawn to the uniqueness of it. With this latest one it really turns the volume up with the silver chrome. I’m not usually a fan of big shiny things, but this time I’m willing to make an exception. Things that are heavier feel more luxurious—nothing new with that. But the combo of weight and brightness really make the watch nice on the wrist. As the watches evolve, so do the bands. While I really liked the clasp of the Nooka Zon, it’s now been tweaked to perfection. Instead of disconnecting, the band opens like suicide car doors.

Nooka has been around for a while, but over the last three years that I’ve known Matthew I’ve been pleasantly excited each year to see how things have changed for the better. There seems like a definite trajectory of moving into a number of different design categories. The Nooka Zem Zenv Mr S feels much more classy than the pop colors that the rubber watches provide. But with that said each has a place at the table that is smart just like those that are a fan of the brand. Don’t believe me, just check Flickr and Twitter to see what fans are showing and talking about—again there aren’t a lot of core fans like Nooka’s. That’s a design case study in itself.

Time in words every five minutes

it is a quarter past ten

I’m a huge fan of anything that shows time in a slightly non typical way. Nooka is a great example of that. Another is QLOCKTWO who has been making the blog rounds. The clock basically shows time in words, every five minutes. While the jpgs of the clock are ok, to really get a sense of the coolness you have to have it in front of you working live. Luckily if you don’t feel like buying the big one, there’s an iPhone App for .99 cents. While I wish it could take over my wallpaper, pressing the app button is all I can use for now.

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

Inside the Nooka pop up shop

View Larger Map

With only a couple weeks left I thought it was time to visit a friend to DesignNotes blog, the Nooka pop up shop. When Matthew told me about the idea a while ago I was intrigued to see some of his new products that he had been mentioning for a while. There was a new wallet, a vegetarian friendly belt (sans leather) and a fragrance. What I didn’t expect to see was all the collaborative watch projects he has done to be on display too.

Often I talk about the benefits of digital. Online is great for this, that and everything else. But what it doesn’t do well is show jpgs of things in real life. That’s why a seeing products in person gives an entirely different experience and why a pop up shop that can display designs in person is helpful. Sure you’re reading about this online, and hopefully my photos convey scale, but to walk around enjoying everything in person is much more fun.

Nooka has a unique cult following that transcends a lot of logic. People are always mentioning it on twitter and shooting pics on flickr. Matthew probably interacts with his fans on a level that I haven’t seen anyone else attempt. His blog allows him to pass on info about the culture around Nooka which I think is cool. So to see all of that extended to a store for a limited time was nice. Now if there was a way to connect all that digital stuff to the outside world what an experience that would be.

If you’re curious to see the Nooka pop up shop and you’re in NYC, it’s located at 330 east 11th street for a limited time.

Link Drop (5·29·09)

link drop themes 05 29 09

I’m not entirely sure why but I’m pretty happy how this week turned out for Link Drop. Lots of Design process, typography, NYC, social and business stuff. Art doesn’t usually get mentioned that much, but there’s a couple mentions of it. Usually by Wednesday I’m wondering if I’m going to have enough stuff that keep me interested, and it was the same this week. Yet I managed to find more then I’ve been able to post for a couple weeks—go figure.

 Read books online by daily email and RSS feed_1243552028595

This is one of my new favourite reading sites. While they don’t have a ton of free books to choose from, the option of having small chunks of the story emailed on a daily basis is nice. Through a five or ten minute read on a daily basis the chances of completing the book grow exponentially. There’s also a really nice UI that goes along with the options when a person chooses a book.

Design - Focusing Design Solutions on Social Problems - NYTimes.com_1243552050556

Focusing Design Solutions on Social Problems
Happy to read about design in a non flashy way once in a while. Using process to get to a better understanding and changing behavior is what it’s all about.

Conceptual Trends and Current Topics_1243552057655

Digital Socialism
One of the most interesting aspects is the first comment suggesting that volunteering isn’t just a thing of socialists but also of religion—I just found that interesting in a non obvious way. And by my suggesting this, probably way too much of a generalization but, I’m pretty sure most people that are on the digital side have never considered how closely those two ideals in sharing knowledge are. I know I didn’t.

 Predatory Equity_1243552077251

Making Policy Public: Predatory Equity
Every once in a while I get email from Urban Omnibus mentioning posts that they’ve put up. What I appreciate about the info is that the posts really dig into using design for improvement and talk about how they did it.

New Path | Michael Karnjanaprakorn_1243552094285

New Path
Great post for anyone that’s motivated about their career. If you’re successful you’ve probably already been in the same mindset, but it’s good to remember those ideals once in a while.

Webvisions Slides and Handouts_1243552100633

Web Visions 2009 Presentation
These pdfs are a really great source of information for people in the business of design. Like REALLY helpful—go there now and download them!

Agile Process | Konigi_1243552107830

Agile Process
A collection of information on Agile Process—happy to see my presentation included.

 More Startups, Fewer Giants, Infinite Opportunity_1243552135375

The New New Economy: More Startups, Fewer Giants, Infinite Opportunity
This is why I wanted to go to a startup to learn what big business couldn’t teach.

 The New Yorker_1243552147444

How David Beats Goliath
I haven’t had time to read this, but I think I’m going to like it…

Not by Links Alone « Networked News_1243552216619

Not by Links Alone
Smart post that anyone interested in news, search or google should read.

 Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken—And Do A Lot Of Listening | paidContent.org_1243552233881

Advice For NYT’s Social Media Editor: Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken—And Do A Lot Of Listening
Advice that anyone working on the interwebs should probably take a look at.

twootles! search Google & Twitter_1243552246652

Nice simple search results page combining google and twitter.

Some tips from Google's CEO Eric Schmidt - FA | Exposure_1243552252646

Some tips from Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt
A collection of quotes.

Ebon Heath and his visual poetry | yatzer | Design Architecture Art Fashion +more_1243552259061

Ebon Heath and his visual poetry
Really novel way of using letters in art.

Typography in China_1243552265126

Typography in China
Fascinating breakdown of type design in China.

OFFF 2009 | Sponsor Titles - Onesize Motion Direction Design_1243552279379

OFFF 2009 | Sponsor Titles
I’m not usually a fan of motion design, but this is really smart though it does get a bit long. Great concept and well worth taking the time to watch the whole thing.

Computerlove™ | Connecting Creative Talents._1243552289816

way shape form
Nice illustration/art thing.

 An Interview with Richard Mosse_1243552299951

Saddam’s Palaces: An Interview with Richard Mosse
I find it actually quite amazing that I can read something like this on a blog and probably wouldn’t expect to see it in a mainstream magazine. Kind of telling for the state of publishing.

Apple Pie Charts | The Dapper Alchemist_1243552306558

Apple Pie Charts
Info design that is actually kind of meaningful and interesting. And can’t really be created on the computer the same way everything else seems to be being pumped out these days.

37 Data-ish Blogs You Should Know About | FlowingData_1243552313545

37 Data-ish Blogs You Should Know About
I found a couple new blogs in this list that I haven’t seen before.

2009 Indy 500 Car Tracker | IndyStar.com | The Indianapolis Star_1243557895810

2009 Indy 500 Car Tracker
Really fascinating way to watch the race within a couple minutes. There’s some interesting patterns that happen, and some that don’t emerge at all.

Location-based timeline ∞ precious forever_1243552319595

Location-based timeline
Interesting concept that I think can be built on.

Keri, The Canadian Explorer | KeriCDN - Home - Me Tonight_1243552325555

Me Tonight
I really like this combo of real life imagery and arrows juxtoposed together. It tells a story and then shows the actions afterwards. I don’t think I’ve come across this kind of visualization before.

Geek Clock | Clock | Home_1243552336218

Geek Clock
This clock both makes me feel smarter and hurts my head at the same time.

 Self Control App_1243552343437

Self Control App
Who couldn’t use a little help in terms of time management.

Superlocal » Blog Archive » DJ Pod_1243552349039

DJ Pod
I’d like to hang out in a room drinking fancy drinks while this dj table was bouncing around. A couple super model would be an added bonous…

 The book is here_1243552355499

The book is here
Great idea from a talented illustrator, order his book from him and he’ll add one more illustration by hand. I also noticed that he was giving shout outs to people via twitter that were buying it.

 The New Yorker_1243552363090

Cover Story: Finger Painting
I think by now we’ve all seen the cover of the year from the New Yorker. What you may not have known is that I mentioned him in early March, which I found via twitter a couple days before that…

Manhattanhenge | Hayden Planetarium_1243552369218

If you’re in Manhattan this weekend, be sure to be facing west around Saturday, May 30 — 8:17 P.M. It’s when you can see the sun fall directly down the streets of NYC.

 Mannahatta in Miniature_1243552377331

Mannahatta in Miniature
I love looking at anything that has to do with Manhattan, especially with this project. I think I’m going to have to check out the exhibition this weekend, can’t wait to get my hands on the book at some point soon either.

 Helsinki x New York_1243552387258

Helsinki x New York
Sometimes I think NYC is small and then I read a post like this and it shrinks even more. Nice write up from a couple friends on different sides of the pond at the moment.

Metropolis POV » Heralding the Latest Street Closures_1243552392386

Heralding the Latest Street Closures
Hopefully you’re not tired of me talking about NYC because what is going on in Manhattan with the streets is very special. Super cool to see what in my backyard. I’m so looking forward to not bumping into so many people at rush hour once the roads have been taken back to pedestrians.

Looking at the Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

Nooka Zon

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the time pieces that Nooka puts out. I think I’ve reviewed just about every product that I have. So in that long tradition I’m going to take a look at their newest watch – the Nooka Zon.

At first glance the Zon looks to tell time in a manner that’s either extremely easy or a bit of a challenge. One function displays the time in big digital numbers while the other way shows time in squares. Each square represents a minute and collectively those squares fill a line. One full line is thirty minutes, two lines is a hour. Those lines fill up a box that makes twelve hours. Hopefully you’re still with me as I explained that. What makes Nooka unique is that they’ve managed to show time in a way that’s intuitive. With the Zon display showing squares you get a good overview of twelve hours, but if I wanted to quickly glance down and see that it’s ten fifteen in the morning it’s not that easy. Of course I can just change the function to the numbers and see things perfectly.

There’s a couple other cool functions with the watch at first glance. You can set the display for either positive or negative background. The numbers (and squares) can be displayed either in the foreground or background. I’ve found myself during the day to have the background turned on while in the evening turning the background off and just having the numbers on. That same feature makes the time feel like it’s disappearing through an hourglass when I have the squares telling time.

The biggest surprise for me is the world clock. When I first read about that feature I was wondering why? If I want to know what the time is elsewhere I can check with my iphone. But I’ve found that by pressing one simple button I can tell what time it’s in London or Samoa, Honolulu, Anchorage, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York, Caracas, Rio De Janeiro, Recife, Azores, Paris, Cairo, Moscow, Dubai, Karachi, Dacca, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Nourmea, Wellington quickly is actually quite practical. In some respects I think that’s a more valuable feature than the square display. The only issue is that I wish if I clicked on the world time feature that it would stay showing that time until I turned it off. Currently it goes back to default after sixty seconds. The functional UI would have be a pain but I also would have liked to type in a city of my own choosing – maybe for v2 of this watch? The other nice thing to have would be a timer – the square display for that would have made things perfect. When Matthew was setting the time for me, the system for the buttons seemed a bit unintuitive. However once I started pushing things when I got home it was pretty easy. Typically each button does something on one click, and if you hold the button down for three seconds a setting changes. Simple once you’ve tried it once.

What is perfect about the watch is the construction. It’s got a great weight and the leather wristband strengthens over time. It also has a butterfly buckle that’s new to me. I’ll have to admit that the first time I tried putting the strap through I didn’t know how to do it. There’s also no mention of buckle in the instruction booklet either. Once I finally figured out how to open the buckle everything was ok, but I would have saved a couple minutes if I had seen something instructional. You can also change the strap position. The original setting is to the right of the watch though you can change it so it’s centered. I haven’t tried unscrewing the straps to try that, but it’s nice to know that I can.

The whole package or brand for the Nooka Zon is quite impressive. The box is pretty cool and there’s def. a wow factor when you open it up for the first time. But there’s something missing I think – there’s no story when you open up the manual. It’s not a huge deal, but I would love to read a quick (or even long) blurb about what the watch is about. Was it a reaction to something, an inspiration while in the shower or something else that makes the thing even more real. It’s already a great watch, but it was also designed by a person, so why not share those ideas? With all that said the watch does seriously kick some ass and is a great addition to the Nooka family.

Telling time in the dark

Dark w/ light on

Dark w/ light off

Off w/ natural light

and it glows in the dark at ten15am

Ever since reading about the Nooka Zub Glow on sites like Core77 I knew I had to buy one. There’s something kind of fun w/ a glow in the dark watch. Last Monday I noticed on Nooka’s blog that they were starting to sell them so I put in my order right away and by Friday night there was a Nooka ZUB ZENH GL 20 on my wrist. Of all the different watch faces the Zen H is my personal fav. As I’ve mentioned before on my blog what I like about the it is the fact that there’s no numbers – just units that represent time. The top two bars are hours, the third line is minutes and the fourth is seconds. As the time goes bar the bars fill.

I thought it would be interesting to take a couple photos showing the difference between the glow in the dark states and what it looks like in normal light. The only thing I would change about the watch is to give this special edition a longer time limit for the light – possibly doubling it, maybe make it an on off state. Of course if the watch did have those light features who knows how long the battery would last. In any case, you can get more info on the Zub Glow HERE.

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