A new podcast on design worth listening to

Design View

I haven’t always agreed on the commentary that Andy Rutledge has written about design, but he’s started a podcast series that I haven’t been so interested in since Debbie Millman’s Design Matters started her great series of interviews a couple years ago. Andy’s first episode questions a number of design processes through his own experience. It’s a pretty quick listen, but very well thought out for the most part. I’m looking forward to episode two. Listen to his first episode at http://show.andyrutledge.com/ The only suggestion would be to have a transcript of the episode in html…

via swissmiss

Holding on Designing Design

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

Designing Design by Kenya Hara

On occasion I’ll get books sent to me by publishers for review. Designing Design by Kenya Hara was one book that I chose from the catalogue of Springer to take a look at. My actual review on the content will come soon enough, but I thought I’d give a quick glimpse with a couple photos that I took of the extremely well crafted book. The first thing that I noticed was its tactility. The weight, the paper and the overall whiteness really gave me the sense that this book was of high quality. Why I wanted to read this book was in part b/c of the new MUJI store that is opening in NYC in November, and in part b/c I just don’t know that much about Japanese design. From what I hear, Kenya will also be speaking in tours in the not so distant future, though I don’t have anymore information than that. Kenya is speaking November 29th in NYC. Stay tuned for the actual book review from me…

A couple art sightings to check out in Chelsea

Image by Andy Freeberg

I spent some time walking around Chelsea Saturday afternoon checking out a couple art exhibits. I only made it through a couple blocks (29th Street – 26th Street) before I had to call it a day. While not even going through probably half the openings I didn’t really come across a ton of art that was memorable. There was one exhibit that I did find sort of amusing in a self referential way. Andy Freeberg had a series titled Sentry. He’s taken photos of a number of gallery spaces where people work. Between the tops of people’s heads to the flowers on the tops of desks, seeing a series of these types of images shows the similarities and differences of a space most people ignore. You can view them yourself at Danziger Projects 521 West 26th Street (NY).

Daniel Rozin Opening

Daniel Rozin Opening

That night I went to the opening from Daniel Rozin’s Fabrication at bitforms. Combining a mirror like technology with metal and wood there’s a lot to admire – the experience of seeing yourself reflected in a non traditional material, looking behind to see all the wires connecting to circuit boards and listening to the gears make movement is quite compelling. Bitforms in NY is located at 529 west 20th street.

Review Copy: Taking Things Seriously

Taking Things Seriously

Taking Things Seriously

Taking Things Seriously

A book like Taking Things Seriously could have gone badly pretty quickly. Invite a bunch of people you know to submit a story about an object that inspires you. Ask enough people and soon enough you have a book. If you’re into name dropping it gets to a point where you don’t follow the stories as much as seeing who was and wasn’t invited. The thing with this book is that it really doesn’t feel like that. The objects and stories come off geniuenly, not as a contrived “look at how clever I am” etc. story example.

The write ups are longer then a sound byte but less then a huge commitment of time to read. The intro explaining how submissions were accepted helped frame the context for deciding what got in and what unfortunately did not. Some pieces of inspiration are quite funny while others are moving for more somber reasons. If anything, it will make you look around your own surroundings and make you ask yourself what inspires you?

After the Future of Design Talk

The future of design

Of all the design lectures that I’ve been to, Mediabistro’s The Future of Design was above average though I think the title was slightly misleading. The invited guests were Etienne Fang, Rie Norregaard, Elizabeth Pastor, Leslie Wellott and moderated by Chee Pearlman. If anything the talk was more about design process and less about how designers are going to be working in the not so distant future. For those in the audience that weren’t expecting such a process driven talk, it may have been information overload. Of course that’s not a bad thing if you’re one of those people that’s tired of just seeing the slide show of a designers greatest hits. The panelists were all articulate and didn’t always agree with each other, though I started to get the sense that they’ve read the same books on the idea of design, been to similar conferences and visited the same websites. Rie seemed to be the most hands on in terms of designing in the digital world while the others were much more on the defining the design problem and passing it on to someone else to execute. Personally I think those positions should be merged, but in a world of specialists that’s often not the case. I also thought it was telling that a couple of the panelists were not originally designers when they started their careers. Another feeling that I got as the talk went on was that if I had spent a couple hours on each of the speakers respective sites, I may have got the same amount of content. Each person backed up what they said, but it also felt that it’s the same thing that they’ve spoken about a hundred times before. Technology was briefly spoken about (I think I heard myspace mentioned once), but I never got a sense of how they’re taking advantage of the time we’re in now and how that’s going to effect things down the road. Maybe that was where the role of the moderator could have dug a little deeper. There was the standard audience questions about “how do I get a job” and honestly I can’t remember what other questions were asked. I didn’t leave disappointed though at the same time I wished the talk was less about an ideal of design and more about where they’re taking design.

What’s inside BAMN!?


While visiting NYC recently, the Curious Shopper ended up at BAMN!, a vending machine room that sells almost anything imaginable w/ out people there to serve you. Read her review and questions about what should and shouldn’t be inside on of those machines at Snickers or an iPod? I’ve never been to BAMN! yet, though it’s now definitely on my list of things to do in NYC.

My Saturday afternoon at Postopolis!

Postopolis! at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

Postopolis! was nothing less than a five day marathon for those interested in blogs and architecture/urbanism/design. I could only imagine how the four main blog people (BLDGBLOG (Los Angeles), City of Sound (London), Inhabitat (New York City), and Subtopia (San Francisco)) were able to maintain their questions and presentations over the week. I was following online each day though I was only able to watch in person for Saturday which was the last day of the conference. I was there from 2 pm to 6.30 pm and was exhausted afterwards. So for individuals to be there on a consistent basis for a span of five days is truly a feat. As Keller Easterling referred to the heat inside the Storefront for Art and Architecture – it’s like Baptist Church in here.

I’ve learned from experience of planning design talks that one should expect the unexpected. I’m not sure how much advance notice Postopolis! had that presenter Mark Wigley (Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation) would be unable to be in NYC at the time, but the group managed to pull off a decent phone interview that was audible to everyone that attended. It ended up being mostly a moderated discussion with each of the four Postopolis! organizers asking questions and at the end one audience member. I won’t try to summarize his talk but will point out some of the more interesting notes that I wrote down between the moderators and Mark.
· talked about breaking the limits (blogs) or/vs becoming and expensive xerox machine – are people looking for duplications or trying to do something different
· the risk of breaking the limits is that you bring in the idiots – more in the context of the comments that follow a post – that reminds me of the Op-Art piece of a diagram of a blog that Paula Scher did
· brilliance vs stupidity – again about challenging the fine line of ideas
· the question of blogs influence came up, who has more – a blog that a lot of people read and talk about or a professors book that sits on a shelf that no one reads – but then the question became: 1. what type of influence – effecting people or popularity – or in Mark’s position influence is if it changes the discourse 10 years from now
· email – there’s no barrier for communication like face to face
· a blog allows someone to step out of the marketplace, time for thought and reflection

I’ll be honest, I don’t have any notes from the second presenter. It wasn’t that Keller Easterling (Associate Professor, Yale University School of Architecture) talk wasn’t interesting, it was more of something that I just took in about how important blogs are.

Many times I’ve talked about my dislike for design magazines in general, but I’ll have to give credit to Randi Greenberg of www.metropolismag.com. She was quite enthusiastic and appreciative of all the traffic that blogs bring to the site that she oversees. Here are some of my notes from her moderated talk.
· the readership is considerably more online then the print magazine of Metropolis
· article’s life is extended on the site, a number of Inhabitat posts were cited that brought attention that the articles would never have seen
· the print side people seem to be more interested in finding out who the readers are and why they are reading a particular article
· on the writing side there’s the perception and reality that the web offers a way for new writers to start out, and that the print side is still where the money is
· the question of image use came up – is it bad to pull from a website? the consensus was that if your using the image to actually promote an article that you are linking to, it’s probably not that bad – though the line is still very gray at best
· Subtopia asked a brilliant question to Randi – had there been any consideration of letting a number of bloggers know ahead of time about a particular subject that the magazine was going to cover and then essentially do a group talk about it once the particular article came out

I’m familiar w/ Archinect or so I thought, a lot of the contributors of the site talked about their experiences. Ironically I’ve never looked for any of the names of contributors to that site so I was surprised to see quite a range of people talking in front of me. Ok if there’s on gripe of that site, I wish they would redesign the home page, I find it way too cluttered, once you’re inside it’s easy to read and understand. Of all the architecture sites out there, Archinect has a lot of power to influence (I think this is where the question of influence was rooted when asked to Mark). The thing was, the contributors didn’t hit anyone over the head with arrogance suggesting that they were part of a select club. In a sense the site continually refreshes itself with new contributors that want to be there. The influence comes from the community that is based around the discussion, and in turn people get a lot of learning from it. Now from hearing all of them speak I’ll be paying closer attention to their site.

The final discussion of the day was the Blogger open house (George Agnew, Alec Appelbaum, Abe Burmeister, John Hill, Ryan McClain, Miss Representation, Aaron Plewke, Enrique Ramirez, Quilian Riano, Chad Smith). I thought this was a great way to end everything, it allowed some more familiar and less familiar blogs a forum to explain what they’re all about.
· it seemed like they all did it for various reasons, though there were some similarities: on the question of having an editor most welcomed the idea of it – if for no other reason to clean up grammar
· on web traffic again there was an unexpected similarity, whether if they posted something or not, the traffic stayed fairly consistent, of course keeping in mind that there were traffic spikes occasionally
· other questions asked included the lack of female participants though the audience seemed to be fairly gender mixed, the lack of ethnic diversity and wealth
· miss representation was a dude – I certainly had no idea
· for those that live in Edmonton, aggregät 4/5/6 gets a lot of hits from the capital of Alberta and where I had been living for the last ten years – though he’s not sure why that is – perhaps it comes from madeinedmonton.org members?

Like I mentioned before I only was able to attend the last day in person, but like all things blog there’s talk before an event, during an event and even more discussion after the event. I’ll be interested to see how the discussion follows and how Postopolis! evolves next year if there is something done again. I was thinking about who the audience for something like this is. I think it would be a mistake to not go b/c you’re not an architect or urban planner which I am neither of. When you distill something like this from my pov, it’s trying to understand how to communicate something and events like this help the dialogue of that.

and here’s some of my pics the day on flickr

Something for the laptop


When I’m working with my MacBook Pro at home, I’ve always had to be careful not to burn my legs if I was wearing shorts with the laptop resting on top. A couple weeks ago at work I requested something that I could raise my laptop with on my desk. I’d never seen the Belkin’s CushTop, but I was in love at first site. It’s a fairly simple device that works for both small and large laptops, on a desk or on the lap. After using it for one day I knew I needed to get one for home. I ended up checking Belkin’s website and eventually buying one from Amazon. If you’re looking for something to rest your laptop, you might want to consider this.

This is not the book review (yet) for Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Honestly I don’t think I’m going to have the time to read Mingering Mike before the last week of April, but I wanted to mention it here before Friday. I received it in the mail this week from Princeton Architectural Press. I’ll spare you the background about what he’s about. What I do want to say that of the books I’ll be packing with me when I hit the Dominican Republic soon, this will be one of the few. The subject matter is unique in the detail and imagination that it’s the perfect book to escape with sans laptop. Once I get back I’ll have more of a proper review – I promise… Thanks for sending me the book Russell.

Talk worth listening to online


Right now is great time if you’re wanting to hear intelligent presentations from the conferences you can’t attend. I saw from Subtraction that Khoi Vinh was speaking at the Future of Web Apps held in London. The site has all the talks available to listen to, and you can follow most of the pdfs that were used in the discussion. I haven’t heard of all of the talks yet (40 to 45 min each), so I can’t give a top five yet. But so far I would really recommend listening to Khoi Vinh as a starting point. There are so many insights that I’m not sure it could be conveyed in a book if I only had an hour to read. The one consideration that I would filter into his presentation is that The New York Times is an ongoing live feed. The content never stops the same way an average site on the web does. So while most of the principles he offers are valuable, I think you can’t just hault what you consider valuable in sites that you are developing today with the same discipline that the nytimes does.

Comparing design annuals from the UK, Canada and the USA

The Covers
All four books in scale

Society of Publication Designers Spots Illustration Annual 2005Society of Publication Designers Spots Illustration Annual 2005
Society of Publication Designers Spots Illustration Annual 2005

I recently got my hands on the Society of Publication Designers Spots Illustration Annual 2005 and noticed something that I had never seen that much of before. The work was placed in context. For that annual, each illustration had two pages. On one side was the original illustration while the image on the other side of the page was seen inside the newspaper or magazine it was commissioned for. It was interesting to compare the two images beside each other, but also to note what really worked in in the real world and what worked as a thumbnail in space. That got me to think of a couple other annuals that I somehow collected over the last year. So I pulled out my D&AD Annual 2006/44, Graphex 06 (GDC BC), 365: AIGA Year in Design 27 along with Society of Publication Designers Spots Illustration Annual 2005 to see how each of them compared to each other. There’s a couple different levels to this comparison. There’s the different missions of each organization, for the most part the represent different countries and different ways to communicate. But with anything that is compared today, there’s exceptions to all those categorizations and it seems definitions are up for grabs these days.

D&AD Annual 2006/44D&AD Annual 2006/44
D&AD Annual 2006/44

I suppose the first question is why do these publications exist? Is it for historical reference, for the practical purposes of self promotion (for both the individual and the organization), altruistic notions of awareness to the public, all of the above or something entirely else? There’s probably a mixture of all of those elements in these annuals. Each of them is judged differently so it would be difficult to explain in great detail what each philosophy was in picking “the best”. I only emphasize the words the best because we all know how subjective that categorization can be.

Graphex 06 (GDC  BC)Graphex 06 (GDC  BC)
Graphex 06 (GDC BC)

So as a regular designer that was borne and raised in Canada and has somehow found themselves in New York, what am I exactly looking for, why would I spend time with each of these books, and what was it that made each of them memorable? Each of the books gave off a different feeling before I even opened them for the first time. If I were to place each of them beside each other on a table, I’d have to say that I would open the big yellow D&AD (UK) one first. It simply wins out because it’s the only one that is a hard cover book. The size is intimidating, but I also think that reflects the scale of their awards program too. After that it would be a toss up for what the next book would be. Of the three smaller books, the SPD (USA) one seemed to have the nicest page format proportion. What exactly does that mean – for the size, the number of pages and the simple layout, that was the one that I would spend the second most amount of time with. The GDC (Canada) was third, though the the rationales didn’t really interest me. The AIGA (USA) book seemed really cramped for space and I got tired just flipping through it. I think if that book was twice the paper size that would not have been an issue. The thing is, I haven’t really answered my earlier questions of why bother looking at all? After putting the books down I would judge it successful if I was a little inspired and learned a couple new things. It would be hard to say that I didn’t get at least some of that from each of the annuals. However I think if the only reason you design is to get in one of these books, you need to question it a little deeper. Why not just be an artist?

365: AIGA Year in Design 27365: AIGA Year in Design 27
365: AIGA Year in Design 27

The good, the ok and the indifferent of Monocle



I picked up Monocle yesterday with the question of why was there so much talk about their first issue of the magazine? Is the industry in that bad of a funk, or is it something else. Possibly all those bloggers out there wanting to see something in their hands as much as on their screens? As I flipped through it back to front and then vice versa I was impressed that it read just as well either way from a visual point of view. I thought the placement of the letter on the last page made a lot of sense. I liked how the ads tended to fit in with the design too. Nothing seemed forced in that context. Though I hated the gutter length in between the columns – it was jarring to me. The typography will take a bit of time to get used to, but it’s not that bad. Their pie charts and pull quotes need a lot of work. Something about their photos reminded me of the design magazine Domus. Content wise, I think this magazine could find a broad audience, not just jet setting men – but women of equal curiosity. I liked the lego and shoe maker from Wisconsin interviews. The cover story kept me reading too. Overall I spent a lot of time with the magazine and wasn’t bored. Magazines that now launch need an online presence that carries the content further. Monocle makes the claim that you can get more from their website. I haven’t had time to check it out yet, but I hope they’re right. I look forward to the March issue to see if they can continue the pace that they set out with.

Design Life Now is design light

Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006

Coming into the Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006, I didn’t have any expectations. I was aware of Speak Up’s contribution and had read the NYT’s review. As I walked through I tried to see it through the eyes of someone that may not be aware of what design influences are around them daily. Unfortunately afterwards I don’t think the show made a convincing argument that design is actually that important.

I understand that this is a “national” design triennial, not an international affair so I won’t even bring up the argument about who it included and didn’t from around the world. Part of my experience was spoiled before it even really began. No photographs allowed. While I can understand that kind of policy at the Neue gallery, I’ve almost taken it for granted that institutions like MoMA, the MET and the American Museum of Natural History allow their pieces to be photographed. If the exhibition was really design life now, the ability to photograph examples should be expected. Adding to the tone were all the signs displayed say “do not touch”. While I understand that some of the items are fragile, it really makes you wonder if they are trying to be art or functional design pieces. So no photos allowed + stuffy signs = weak pretentiousness.

As I did walk around both floors seeing it through the eyes of an average civilian, what other impressions did I have? Slight awkwardness, I viewed fashion items that really didn’t have context, buildings that I wondered why were included and what the qualifications were to get in. I saw materials that belonged in a gallery and not in real life. I wondered why Kid Robot was included and why the displays that relied on technology weren’t working properly. There were three large corporate players that deserved to be there (Apple, Nike and Target). However Target’s Clear Rx was the only one shown in context of design as function instead of pure consumption. Google was included, though there was no nod to the digital photography explosion of the last couple of years.

Afterwards I did visit the gallery store. Ironically I felt more comfortable walking around there than in the exhibition space. You could pick things up, go through the books and if a person was so inclined take their object home. In that small space there was probably as much to learn about design in the past three years as there was to the two floors of curated design.

Wii Wii

Wii at Renegade

I’ll be the first to admit that when I heard that Nintendo was going to call their new game system the Wii, I laughed it off. I thought there would be quite the backlash of the name though nothing really came of it. Now that I’ve had the chance to play the Wii a couple times I want one. My wife who’s been in Canada for the past couple weeks has threatened to return it if she sees one in our apartment. So for now it’s a no go, but I’m sure once her friends start talking about it, it wouldn’t be a hard argument to win.

In the spirit of giving you as much Wii knowledge as I can, I offer Noah’s blog post titled Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!! and Jason’s Mental Floss post Virtual Exercise for further reading fun.

Reading and watching on your iPod, are these really digital magazines?

iPod Magazines

There’s been a couple photo applications on the video iPod that have challenged the idea of reading magazines. The first that I became aware of was Tiger (btw the cover image has a semi nude women on it, so use your own discretion) – a screen based art magazine that has started to transfer their content for an iPod download. It’s never been a printed publication so the experimentation is a natural evolution. On the more commercial side there’s Perooz.com From their site you have semi access to mens magazines like GQ to FHM. Their downloads are accessable to the iPod and a number of cell phones. It’s not the full magazine, most of the content consists of women and a couple text interviews. The template format is weak. There’s zero consideration of typography. It’s text set up in photoshop with no intention of what is readabilty. It’s also interesting to question the content, though it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The target is young males that are interested in tech toys. But could this format be used for more productive things? Only time will tell. Lifehacker has an article that talks about Perooz too, “Perooz” mobile magazines on your iPod, Zune or other mobile device.

Other iPod sreen apps that have tried to use the screen were those subway maps, but do you recall the last time you went to your iPod to see a route? Video – I don’t think it’s really caught on as much as people theorized it would. My guess is that the battery life up to this point hasn’t been able handle people’s expectations. But what happened to photos? Have you ever had someone pull out there iPod and share some of their images that they have stored? I’ve done it a couple times, but I’ve never seen anyone else do it.

Clip/Stamp/Fold in NYC Review

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

As much as the word inspiration is a cliche – Clip/Stamp/Fold was was indeed inspirational if for no other reason than it gave the viewer a lot of reasons to want to enter the world of publishing with their own ideas as opposed to sitting back and accepting what is being composed in your time. The fact that we now have the tools to compile, publish and distribute ideas easier than ever before is worth the effort. But I digress slightly. For my first show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, it didn’t disappoint. As I entered the space for the first time, opening the door not knowing what to expect I was surprised that I wasn’t overwhelmed by the visuals and sound. The space was composed with a number of visceral elements that fit together nicely. The large plastic timeline draws you in, displayed in a scale that takes you through the years 196X – 197X. The magazines displayed were predominantly written by architects, either as students or practitioners. Each magazine had a brief summary below the image that was essentially the ideas and intentions behind the writing. Going through each of the summaries drew up a lot of ideas that could easily drive a design blog or two. Looking back to these magazines on the timeline, it’s easy to get nostalgic for a better design writing period now for magazines or blogs. In my opinion it seems that the motivation is questionable today. There’s the vanity pieces, critiques that barely dig deeper than the surface and promotion of personalities as opposed to understanding the work and why it’s relevant. Then there’s the social and political questions that seem to be all but forgotten. The intentions of the publishers of the little magazines in the Clip/Stamp/Fold exhibition seem more about sharing issues, stats and hits were not the motivation as much as getting something out on paper.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

On a secondary level of the exhibition, there were plastic bubbles that contained some of the original magazines on the other side of the timeline. You couldn’t pick them up, but it made the timeline real. Not all the magazines were in pristine comic book condition, but that made it better. People read these things, they weren’t collected for archival purposes. Behind the bubbles on the other wall was an assortment of past covers from the timeline. You could get lost in the visuals – so much action represented behind each of the images. I really appreciated how all the elements came together. But there was more. On the third wall there was a number of magazines re-created digitally and printed for people to thumb through. They were all different designs, sizes, and content that was as original as each title. It wasn’t important that these things were printed from a digital printer, it had to do with the content and getting a feel for what it was and represented.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

But did you catch earlier when I mentioned sound? In a number of plastic clusters there were interviews being conducted and projected through some pretty interesting looking speakers. While I usually find this type of thing inconsequential in museum environments, it fit in there. I could focus on reading text on the wall, stop to look at the visuals and float into the sound of what was being talked about. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I did find the collection inspirational. It wasn’t because of the aesthetics as much as what the visuals contained. I think we tend to confuse personality with skill, and visual fireworks confused with importance in what it offers for others to build from. In this case it’s about what some designers decided to do because they thought it was important enough to say.

Clip/Stamp/Fold Timeline Graphic

Clip/Stamp/Fold is at the Storefront for Art and Architecture till January 31st, 2007 in New York. If you have a spare hour I would highly recommend stopping by. Be sure to grab one of the newsletters on the way out as it contains a number of excellent interview captions of people involved in the magazines. And besides that, it’s nicely designed.

I’ve also published a number of photos from the exhibition on my flickr site HERE.

From the Clip/Stamp/Fold Exhibition held at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

Treasure Island?


I would never had guessed that Costco would be seen as a place for treasure hunting, but over at the Curious Shopper Sarah makes a compelling argument about it at Come for the deals, stay for the treasure.

On searching out that perfect chocolate fountain… But the best part was the checkout. As the cashier was ringing me up, she says, “This is twenty bucks? Are there any more left? Because this would be great for my daughter’s wedding.” I laughed and told her there were. Then the guy in line behind me starts asking questions. “How much was that? Twenty dollars? What kind of chocolate goes in it? And twenty dollars? Hold on, ma’am, I’m just gonna run back.” She goes, “Hey, can you get one for me too?”

Nigel Holmes on Information Design

Nigel Holmes on Information Design

I picked up the book Nigel Holmes on Information Design by Steven Heller last night and was immediately drawn to the image Nigel created above. I haven’t finished the book yet, so I can’t give a full review. But from what I’ve read so far it’s worth every dollar of the twenty that I spent. I wouldn’t consider myself a total expect on information design, but I can talk Otto Neurath with the best of them. Within the first couple chapters of the discussion between Nigel and Steve, Nigel throws out a lot of names to be researched that I had never heard of before. I’m doing a lot of work with icons and other visuals to diagram information and frankly google and del.icio.us have helped some, but not all. This book looks like something that I’ve been missing for a while.

If there was only one suggestion from me, it would have been to show more visuals within the book. Or if there wasn’t the budget, have a secondary web site that could show images of what was being discussed.

KEXP’s Top 90.3 Albums of 2006 from Seattle


One of my fav. radio stations is doing one of my fav. things today. KEXP’s Top 90.3 Albums of 2006 (Listener Voted) starts in a couple minutes (11 am EST./ 8 am in Seatttle). You can listen on in at their website. There’s also a breakdown of lists from the eclectic set of dj’s at DJ Top 10. In the case that you miss the entire set, they have everything archived – so there’s plenty of opportunity to hear some great muzak that you might not be familiar with.

Albums of the Year for 2006 by Me

Time to hit the road party pre-game

10. Band of Horses : Everything All the Time

09. Kasabian : Empire

08. Bob Dylan : Modern Times

07. Yeah Yeah Yeahs : Show Your Bones

06. Lily Allen : Alright, Still

05. Keane : Under the Iron Sea

04. The Game : Doctor’s Advocate

03. Gomez : How We Operate

02. Cat Power : The Greatest

01. Jarvis Cocker : Jarvis

Honourable mentions; Supergrass : Supergrass, The Streets : The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, Herbert : Scale, Yo La Tengo : I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, The Roots : Game Theory, Paolo Nutini : These Streets, Brazilian Girls : Talk to la Bomb, TV On the Radio : Return to Cookie Mountain

Spam Karma

Wobbly Text Spam

Everyone gets spam, but if you blog you’ll also get spam entries for your blog. From time to time I’ll get some comments that are spam, but I wonder if I should let them get posted b/c they’re just so nice. It’s funny how the bots think that if they give a complementary gesture, the odds of getting posted are better. Some of the more recent posts that I’ve sadly had to deny include:

First time here on your site. I am delighted to find your wonderful website online.

Your post is on target. Keep it up….

Thank you, I could not have sead it better my self….

Very good web site

Hi! Very Good Site! Keep Doing That!

Very well! Your site is neat!

Like what you have to say. Your blog makes good since to me….

Exelent! Good work!

You have a great page!

One of the best locations I’ve come across lately!!! Definately a permanent bookmark!

I’m glad I found your site! It’s nice!

Amazing artwork! This is spectacularly done!

Good site, nice design!

Hi people! Great job!

I mean, how could you really argue with these comments? Sadly there’s more text that corresponds with the entry that aren’t exactly appropriate.

If you’re still reading this post, and are interested in spam behaviour, go visit Spamosphere. It’s got a great collection of the strange things that are going on. The categories are quite funny too: SPAM STOCK SUMMARY, animated URL type-in, camouflage fax , confetti fax, content blabber, ending blabber, ending cut & paste, filter test, filter word misspell, fireworks fax, mortgage request, name dropping, pharmaceutical, porn, replica retail, scribble fax, stock tips, table colors, wobbly text…

I wait for this issue every year!

I wait for this issue every year!

Over the last six years there’s been one particular issue of the NYT Magazine that I really enjoy receiving. It’s the Year in Ideas issue. Last year I almost didn’t get it in Edmonton due to some ridiculous distribution problems in Winnipeg. Eventually I had to order the magazine and it took two more weeks after the fact before it was in my hands. So you can imagine how happy I was to open my paper yesterday and see it in NYC real time.

I haven’t had the chance to really go through it yet, so I can’t really say how it rates with the previous five issues. It seems like one of my Christmas traditions when I have a couple days off is to spend a lot of time reading the current and past issues just to refresh my brain. I also try to re-read Atlas Shrugged, but that’s something for another post.

So if you’ve never heard of the Year in Ideas before, I would encourage you to pick it up or read it online HERE. to see a sample of some of the things that went on in 2006.

clover at Café Grumpy


Today is day two of my coffee experience at Café Grumpy. My first cup on Thursday blew me away. Unfortunately for the last three days I wasn’t able to get back. When I got my cup today I had to ask – why is this coffee so good? The obvious points would be that they measure out each cup with beans that they then grind, but a big part of the taste is the machine they use. That machine is a clover. From their website this is how they describe it – “The machine employs what we call Vacuum-Press™ technology, which – for the first time – combines two methods considered best for brewing coffee: the “French press” and the vacuum brewer.” On the clover site it only shows two locations in NYC for the machine, and one of them is Café Grumpy. So if you’re in Chelsea (224 West 20th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues) and love coffee – give the clover a test drive.

Also, Café Grumpy has a blog that is worth a visit in itself if you can’t walk on over. And a flickr site too.

Marc Joseph Talk

Marc Joseph Talk

Two things that interest me are books and photography. I didn’t know anything about Marc Joseph before tonight’s talk, but when I learned that a photographer was going to be talking about a book my eyes widened. The underlying feeling that I got from Marc was that he plans things quite methodically. There was a consistent pace in the story he was telling, he would refer to points earlier in the talk and build from that, and none of the images had captions yet he could all but once talk in detail about the location and point to a story with the photos. He also admitted that the images used for his latest book New and Used were going to be developed in large scale (3X their original size) and that he wanted to make the images of books and music stores seem prominent.

Before talking in depth about the book, he showed the images by themselves. What I don’t think many people realized is that the images on the projection screen were probably near the scale that they will be developed to be seen on the walls. When Marc went through the book in pdf form, it was interesting to see that there were no captions nor text to correspond with the images. The essays and poems that went inside the book seemed to divide the photos in a very systematical way. Marc mentioned near the end of the talk that he was ruthless in the editing choice of the images, and worked very hard not to seem repetitive with the images. In the case of staying away from the images being to predictable, he succeeded.

In a lot of ways I think this talk was more of a benefit for me in the AIGA’s NY Small Talk series than the first b/c it was a fairly honest talk about an artist working within the constructs of design. I’m also pondering some ideas with books and photos for my own sake, and to hear what his motivation and process were, it helped create a frame of reference for me in the near future.

Massimo Vignelli Talk

Massimo Vignelli Talk

Finally, a design talk where I can say that I left afterwards with a smile. If anyone is wondering who they should invite for their next big talk – put Massimo on the top of the list after you’ve considered swissmiss. By far Vignelli has been the best individual that I’ve seen talk in NYC. The talk was way longer than the average 55 minute lecture I’m used to seeing. I didn’t end up leaving F.I.T. until after nine. And I would have stayed another hour if there were the questions to keep him on stage.

It would be too difficult for me to do a play by play review of every slide he showed, but I did my best to shoot a bunch and post them on flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157594379518635/ I came to the talk thinking that I knew a bit about the designer, but it was apparent that I really didn’t have a clue. The number of products that he had designed was quite exhausting outside of the graphic design stuff. I just had no idea that he was so into dishes and environments.

In the past when I think of modernism, I attached it with serious business. Strong lines and very systematic without a sense of humour. But after hearing Vignelli and others that believe in the philosophy – I have reconsidered. While every point made sense, the delivery had a punch line that everyone in the audience couldn’t help but chuckle. I’m learning that Modern people have a great sense of joy.

As much as I left smiling, it wasn’t all b/c of the jokes. I truly felt I became a better designer for listening to him share his thoughts. Some of these notes are not much different from what you’ve come across in your own travels, while others might strike a new note.

· ask yourself what the rules are, what does it mean?
· design w/ intensity and passion
· nothing comes easy
· 72 points is big!
· I only design when I need something
· let the emptiness sign
· this is me in 1972, do you like my pants!?!
· five different levels of hierarchy
· if you can’t find it, design it

Stuff Happens

The NY Art Book Fair

It almost seems inevitable that I’ll go to a design event/thing, and the next day some one comes up to me and asks why I didn’t tell them about what’s going on. So for the sake of letting people know about some of the cool things going on in NYC that I’ll be thinking about attending, I offer this short list below – happy event hopping!

F.I.T. Visiting Artist Program: Massimo Vignelli
November 16, 2006 at 6:30pm
Katie Murphy Amphitheater, New York

The NY Art Book Fair (via swissmiss)
Friday & Saturday, November 17 – 18, 11am – 7pm
Sunday, November 19, 11am – 5pm
548 West 22nd Street (10th & 11th Aves), New York City

Architecture 06: Michael Rock
Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.
The Great Hall, Cooper Union. 7 East 7th Street, New York City
Co-sponsored by the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union.

adc young guns

adc young guns

NYC is funny w/ time. Some days time flies so quickly and other times it just stops. Last night was one of those nights where I thought I was at the Art Directors Club Young Guns for hours, but when I looked at my watch as I left I had only been there for about an hour and a half. The event itself wasn’t boring at all, I’m just saying that time in NYC is not like it is elsewhere.

It seemed like everyone had a pretty good time, there didn’t seem to be the stiffness that usually follows a design show w/ stuff on the walls. I saw one winner with a lot of family supporters. It was impossible to miss how proud they all were of him. It really was quite the moment to witness.

The event was also relaxed, it didn’t feel like a pressure cooker. Tamara mentioned that it might have been due to the fact that no one had name tags on. Once a name tag goes up, it becomes a different type of event. It may have also been relaxed b/c of the free flowing wine and beer. It’s hard to say.

The work itself was interesting – lot’s of energy. I’m not sure if the style really suited what I do, but all of it was cool to look at. There was one diy poster that I was particularly fond of…

adc young guns

adc young guns

NYC is funny w/ time. Some days time flies so quickly and other times it just stops. Last night was one of those nights where I thought I was at the Art Directors Club Young Guns for hours, but when I looked at my watch as I left I had only been there for about an hour and a half. The event itself wasn’t boring at all, I’m just saying that time in NYC is not like it is elsewhere.

It seemed like everyone had a pretty good time, there didn’t seem to be the stiffness that usually follows a design show w/ stuff on the walls. I saw one winner with a lot of family supporters. It was impossible to miss how proud they all were of him. It really was quite the moment to witness.

The event was also relaxed, it didn’t feel like a pressure cooker. Tamara mentioned that it might have been due to the fact that no one had name tags on. Once a name tag goes up, it becomes a different type of event. It may have also been relaxed b/c of the free flowing wine and beer. It’s hard to say.

The work itself was interesting – lot’s of energy. I’m not sure if the style really suited what I do, but all of it was cool to look at. There was one diy poster that I was particularly fond of…


tree, originally uploaded by calculated nonsense.

Finally, something in flickr to blog about again. tree by alex taves. more at http://www.flickr.com/photos/67247718@N00/

Aside from that, I point you to Michelle Arcila at http://www.flickr.com/photos/notheories/

Mo Music

Dear God No, I've become one of those bloggers at Starbucks' Saturday

Friday was quite the day of new music flowing into my computer. After picking the brain’s of my work-mate who sits beside me and happens to find the most interesting party’s in Brooklyn and bounces doors due to her height, she dropped a lot of stuff for me to talk about. And then there’s Chet from Edmonton who never fails to tell me about new stuff that is impossible to actually buy, but can be found with a little skill. And finally there’s BBC Radio One’s playlist. I visit that site every couple of months to see what’s eventually going to be playing pop wise here.

Chet’s recommendation is Girl Talk’s Night Ripper. There are girls on the album, but not really talking the way you’d think. Night ripper is one of those albums that mixes a lot of stuff you’ve heard before, but with an updated beat and intensity. If you Search for Girl Talk at the Hype Machine you won’t be disappointed. And just to be fair, there’s a lot of guys talking on the album too.

Alexandra’s choice for me after I asked her for some good muzak was Van She. Again a search on Hype Machine will give you an overview of what it is. There’s some serious digital base beats going on. The perfect option for working out to.

My great find from BBC Radio One was Paolo Nutini’s These Streets. Mellow and refined, this is something special. It gives me the same feeling that I got when I discovered Paul Weller for the first time with his album Wild Wood back in college.

I think it was a couple weeks ago that I mentioned some of my top tune picks for the year. There was one album that I omitted by mistake and is probably the best of the year. Yes, it’s Cat Power’s The Greatest. Stupid me for forgetting.

magCulture Blog

magCulture Blog

When it comes to publishing, the only thing I luv more than books is magazines and newspapers. Recently I was happy to discover magCulture, a blog about magazines and yes, newspapers. Be sure to check it out – you’ll discover something new. For instance on a recent trip to NYC, the editor of the blog (Jeremy Leslie) talks about some of the magazine related things he saw – like Visionaire. I didn’t even know such a place existed…

Visit magCulture at http://magculture.com/blog

Learning to Spectacle

Architecture and Books: Spectacle

Tonight’s design lecture was sponsored by the Architectural League and the Municipal Art Society. I came into the talk tonight without knowing much about the new book Spectacle by David Rockwell with Bruce Mau. Sometimes a little ignorance goes a long way. No preconceived ideas nor expectations. Just a guy sitting in on the conversation.

The night started off with David talking about the influences of growing up in both New Jersey, going to theater and then moving to Mexico at a young age. Reflecting on not how things looked, but what they felt helped influence some of the theories behind the book. He then moved on to defining what the working meaning of “Spectacle” means for the book. The breakdown for the what they are included Big, Bold, Brief and the what they do contained Connect, Transform and Immerse. With each of those headings he broke into simple examples that were in the book. A short two minute movie of the examples followed.

The discussion followed with Chee asking if the book’s premise was an oxymoron. Design brings order to chaos, yet under the subject headings that are Spectacle it seemed as though it was about creating chaos. The quick response was that it was more about creating opportunities, planning for spontaneity. Bruce followed that up by talking about the culture of no, regardless of the emotional effect. As opposed to cutting things down, think about the possibility. Emotional connections become real experiences.

What was really interesting was what was written on the cover of the book. Spectacle, David Rockwell with Bruce Mau. I’ve never seen a designer of the book placed in the same sentence as the author. I asked them about the line afterwards. Was it conscious or did it just happen? With some laughter it seemed like they had spent a lot of time with exactly how that was going to be expressed. David then went on to say that “it was the right thing to do”. During the discussion Chee asked Bruce about how he worked to place 3 Dimensional experiences into a book. For him it was about a cinematical experience – a sequence, flavour of expressions.

As for the overall talk tonight, the three of them shot out a lot of good sound bytes. Enough that I was curious about the book itself. With a bit of salesmanship it was mentioned that the first run of the book was sold out and that they were lucky to have enough for sale tonight. I’m not sure if I totally believed it, but it sure made people pick up the book quickly.

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