A couple points from seeing Big Spaceship at AIGANY Design Remixed

Big Spaceship at AIGANY Design Remixed

After work last night I walked down the block to the Apple SoHo store to hear Michael Lebowitz and Joshua Hirsch of Big Spaceship. Before the talk I wasn’t planning to post anything but they had a lot of interesting points to consider. While I’m still in the camp that feels that online experiences serve more of a task based function (because who wants to sit in front of a computer all day?), Big Spaceship showed a number of examples of work that made me forget that I was in front of a screen. I was also struck when Michael mentioned a story about how a judge for an awards competition wrote a lengthy letter stating that what they had done “was not how a website should be”. Very good fodder to think about and ask have really gotten to that point where there is only one way to do things? I hope not.

Some other quick notes:

· It seems like they do as much w/ their hands as they do with being in front of the computer

· First example was an intro, they just played it. They then talked about how it was created, made the story interesting enough that you couldn’t help but want to see it played again.

· A lot of their projects have a sound component that played really nicely in the apple theatre. They didn’t talk about sound at, thinking about it now I should have asked them about it.

· The talk was very fluid with crowd interaction. They made it relaxed enough that people felt comfortable asking questions. Bonous from the audience that there wasn’t any stupid questions. Typically they would show a project reel and then crowd questions.

· If i was going to bring them in for a talk (you should invite them), I would be interested in seeing them do one less reel piece and show one project from the beginning to end. Start after the contract is signed for the project, and show everything from the beginning, middle to end. It would be fascinating to see.

· I noticed on their website home page that the links to their blog sites don’t work (what’s up with that?), but the interaction with signing up for their newsletter is kind of interesting. Actually opting out is what’s interesting…

Blip Festival 2008, December 4—7, 2008: Brooklyn


Blip Festival 2008: The Promo from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Vimeo.

View Larger Map

Having no experience w/ music aside from enjoying it casually, and a fan of bitmap typefaces, Blip Festival 2008 has piqued my interest.

About: Archaic game and home computer hardware is recast into the unlikely role of musical instrument and motion graphics workstation in the BLIP FESTIVAL 2008, a four-day event showcasing nearly 40 musicians and visual artists occupying the international low-res cutting edge.

The Blip Festival site contains all the pertinant info and links to the artists involved at http://blipfestival.org/2008/ If you’re reading this in current time and not after December 4–7, 2008 it’s coming up this weekend. For those in the know, is there anyone to take special interest in?

Back in the day w/ Vibe Magazine

fb-design - amc-slides1

fb design - amc slides2

fb design - amc slides3

fb design - amc slides4

fb design - amc slides5

I was passed on the above slides from a presentation quite a while back designed by FB Design for the American Magazine Conference in 2005. Sadly their whole site is in flash so I can’t send a direct link. To see all the slides for their design of Vibe magazine go to www.fbdesign.com and then click on Portfolio, then go to AMC Conference. It is actually worth the clicks to see that good design is still timeless.

Shigeru Ban Talk at the Cooper Union

After not being able to get in for the Shigeru Ban Talk at the Cooper Union last January b/c I forgot to RSVP, I’ve been agonizingly waiting for the Architectural League of New York to put up the presentation. A couple days ago they finally put the video on their site. I luv the fact that I can embed the whole video into this post – you can also view the talk on the Architectural League of New York’s website at www.archleague.org/index-dynamic.php?show=805

Field-Testing the Field-Tested Book Live in New York

Field-Tested Books Live in NYC

To be honest, the Delancey probably wasn’t the best location for Coudal’s Field-Tested Books live reading in New York. The rooftop was packed which in turn made it kind of loud for the eager audience. There was little room for improve – those that were heard kept it simple and loud so everyone could hear. The other issue was the giant column that blocked a lot of the view. To contradict myself, I’ll mention in a moment why that might not have been so bad after all. Having never been invited to be a part of a book reading I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure I prepped, I practiced reading my piece in front of Tamara and Madison, visualized success and drank beer to calm my nerves. But until you actually get to the venue it’s hard to predict where things are going to head. With the loudness and not being able to see the readers for the first half it kind of calmed me. Some people are going to be able to hear better than others, and chances of seeing a lot of people read every word was slightly minimized. So far so good in my mind.

At intermission I managed to get to the front where I ran into my friend Debbie and was introduced to Jeffrey. I also noticed that the other side of the column that was blocking my view actually held more people than I thought and yes people would be able to see every word that I spoke. I think my mind was preoccupied talking w/ Debbie which helped in me not thinking about what I was about to do. The second half started without any problems that I could see, though I was in a great spot to hear and see everything. Five people in, it was my turn. After deciding to not have a flashlight shown under my face and only one shout of “speak louder”, things went pretty good for me. I tried not to rush what seemed like an eternity and tried to enjoy the moment.

Some of my personal highlights were finally meeting Steve Delahoyde who’s been a great supporter of what I’ve tried to do w/ my blog here, meeting up w/ Debbie Millman again, hearing Randy Cohen talk in person as opposed to just hearing him on the NYT Ethicist podcast, shaking Jon Parker‘s hand just before he was to talk (after realizing that I was Michael from Canada), hearing a lot of great stories, and most of all just getting the chance to blab and in front of a lot of smart people. I really appreciated all the effort that was put into the entire production of the book to the website to the talk – an incredible amount of time. I hope more business’s like Coudal follow their lead in the future.

Below is the final, final roster of speakers in order…

Ben Greenman
Liz Danzico
Steven Heller
Ron Hogan
Matt Linderman
Randy Cohen
Randy J. Hunt
Debbie Millman
John Gruber


Jon Parker
Andy Ross
Jason Santa Maria
Maud Newton
Michael Surtees
Scott Korb
Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Jeffrey Zeldman

Reading and Drinking in NYC

reading and drinking

With the book launch of Field Tested Books 2008, Coudal Partners is having two readings – one in Chicago and the other in NYC. The event is free and anyone is invited to attend. You can get more information at Coudal Partners website at www.coudal.com/ftb/events.php. If you happen to be in NYC on the night of Monday, July 28 at 7pm, the reading will be on the rooftop of The Delancey. I just happen to have the unofficial roster (travel plans and schedules may change who’s there) of those who will be reading – it’s quite the list to say the least.

Randy Cohen the NY Times’ The Ethicist
Steven Heller the NY Times’ design columnist
Jon Parker from Veer
Randy J. Hunt designer
Scott Korb author of The Faith Between Us
Mike Sacks Vanity Fair editor
Pitchaya Sudbanthad writer for The Morning News
Matt Linderman designer from 37signals
Debbie Millman designer and owner of Sterling Brands
Michael Bierut partner/designer from Pentagram
Andy Ross comedian/Onion writer
Ben Greenman New Yorker editor
John Gruber of Daring Fireball
Jeffrey Zeldman author and designer
Jason Santa Maria designer
Michael Surtees designer
John Tolva iChating his appearance, by laptop, from Ghana
Rosecrans Baldwin editor of The Morning News, iChatting his appearance from Paris

Update – here’s the latest playlist of readers…

Ben Greenman
Liz Danzico
Steven Heller
Ron Hogan
Matt Linderman
Randy Cohen
Randy J. Hunt
Debbie Millman
John Gruber


Jon Parker
Andy Ross
Jason Santa Maria
Maud Newton
Michael Surtees
Michael Bierut
Scott Korb
Mike Sacks
Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Jeffrey Zeldman

Vancouver Publication to Check Out

 a contemporary art magazine published from Vancouver, Canada

I have to admit that up until know I really didn’t know that many publications that came out of Vancouver. That changed recently when I was contacted by Jeff who was looking to use a photograph I took to promote FILLIP TALKS: Stuart Bailey of Dexter Sinister who is going to talk in Vancouver Monday July 7th. I’ve copy + pasted the event info below…

But even if you’re not going to be in Vancouver Monday night, you should check out Fillip Review’s site at www.fillip.ca. It sounds quite interesting if you’re tired of reading about design in the same predictable ways. This is how they describe themselves: Fillip is a publication of art, culture, and ideas released three times a year by the Projectile Publishing Society from Vancouver, British Columbia. Crossing academic, artistic, and related practices, Fillip acts as a forum for critical discussion in the contemporary arts, and situates itself as a complement and stimulus for contemporary practices and discourses.

FILLIP TALKS: Stuart Bailey of Dexter Sinister/Dot Dot Dot Magazine
Monday, July 7, 6pm

Fillip is pleased to present a talk by New York based producer, publisher, and writer Stuart Bailey on Monday, July 7th, at 6pm, at the Fillip office, 305 Cambie Street, Vancouver. Bailey will discuss his work vis-à-vis the forthcoming issue of Dot Dot Dot.

Admission is $5 or free with current Fillip subscription. Given space limitations, visitors are encouraged to arrive early to guarantee a seat. Please buzz for access, or call 604 781 4417.

About the Speaker: Stuart Bailey graduated from the University of Reading in 1994, the Werkplaats Typografie in 2000, and co-founded the arts journal Dot Dot Dot the same year with David Reinfurt. He is currently involved in diverse projects at Parsons School of Design and Pasadena Art Center.

With Reinfurt and Sarah Crowner, Bailey operates Dexter Sinister in New York. In 2006, the group produced and published Notes for an Art School in conjunction with the Manifesta 6 art school project proposed by Mai Abu El-Dahab, Anton Vidokle, and Florian Waldvogel. In 2008, the collective participated in the Whitney Biennial, representing their signature and multifaceted approach to working across the fields of production, design, publishing, and distribution.

According to the artists, their practice “involves avoiding waste by working on demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production, and distribution into one efficient activity.”

About Fillip Talks: Fillip Talks are a series of presentations that critically engage ideas and issues in contemporary art. Previous talks include Makiko Hara’s A History of Tokyo Art Speak and last month’s publishing workshop presented in conjunction with Artspeak.

The Fillip Review
305 Cambie Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6E 3N4 Canada
www.fillip.ca fillip@fillip.ca

I haven’t read the book yet, but…

Danielle Sacks of Fast Company magazine and Rob Walker of Buying In

Who would have thought that the thing to do on a Friday night was to head over to the Art Directors club to hear a writer talking about a book. That writer was Rob Walker and he was talking about his just released book event was organized by Buying In. The event was organized by PSFK who did a nice job of keeping things organized and running on time. Before starting Rob took a picture of the audience with everyone’s hand over their face. After that he spent a couple minutes talking about why he wrote the book. Soon after that he invited Danielle Sacks of Fast Company for a collaborative talk.

I’m not sure if it was b/c I had read most of Rob’s articles for the New York Times or something else, but the actual conversation between the two of them seemed familiar and slightly old. It was like the conversation could have happened two years ago. There weren’t a lot of new pivot points to grab onto. I also heard the phrase “I haven’t read the book yet, but…” w/ both friends I talked w/ before the event started and the Q/A affterwards. But again people were very familiar w/ the ideas that Rob written about. In part that’s b/c a lot of the stories have been blogged about once they were first published from NYT. It was a good night, just not a new night of hearing about what those murketers are up to.

Circled ring in Union Square

Fight Club in Union Square

When I was walking home a couple weeks ago through Union Square I didn’t really think much of the crowd that circled a couple people. I tend to avoid those types of groups. But as I got closer I heard a thud, a bunch of oooohs and then just as quickly I saw an arm swing back. It was obvious that two people were fighting and the crowd was watching. I was a little sickened and left. It was until a day or two later when I read about fight club via PSFK and andiamnotlying. Having that background info it didn’t seem so bad for me to approach the circle last night when I saw it happening again. Keep in mind that I’m not much of a fan of the caged fighting of UFC. But I was curious to see how the whole Fight Club in Union Square worked out. For two guys fighting it was incredibly quiet. Everyone watching had an intense focus. Sure there was also disbelief that the fighting was happening, but they weren’t about to stop it.

I stayed for about twenty minutes and saw three fights. No one really got injured that much aside from their pride. The first battle was the longest with the two guys taking breaks every couple minutes. One guy was much quicker while the other guy had the height and weight. The second match was an equal match of two fairly lanky guys that didn’t seem to have been out of high school too long. The third match was the most skillful of the three. Lots of swinging kicks and grappling. If there was one match that had the potential to have someone’s head taken off – this was going to be the one. But whenever the guy in the tank top had obviously won he held back. They both knew who had was victorious. There was no need to put someone in the hospital. While it may seem strange to see two people battling show respect if you’ve ever played rugby you know you leave everything on the field and have a beer with your opponent afterwards. There was no beer but water was shared.

SVA D-Crit Readings Series Last Night

SVA D-Crit Readings series at KGB Bar

I was tipped off to the SVA D-Crit Readings series from fellow co-worker/new hotshot recruit Samuel who works at Daylife. I wasn’t sure what to expect though I’m happy that he mentioned it b/c I would have been disappointed to have missed it. In order of speakers last night at KGB Bar was Akiko Busch, Paola Antonelli and Paul Lukas. For me the best design events aren’t the biggest ones, or the famous ones but the unexpected ones that would be very hard to recreate again. It happens once and can’t be duplicated. I think this one last night falls into my last category. For the people that I recognized sitting around and standing up, it was incredibly relaxed. The fact that stella was only five bucks didn’t hurt either.

The highlight for me was Paul Lukas’ talk on beef charts. It was perfect timing as I mentioned in an earlier blog post wondering if there was a technical name for such diagrams. As he talked about the evolution of the charts it was light humoured but incredibly informative. He even had handouts that I photographed below. The only thing I’m surprised that he didn’t mention was the FreshDirect Beef Guide. I’m can’t remember the date of the next one, but sign up to be on the mailing list at eweiner1 [at] sva.edu so you won’t miss out.

Archinect Reviews: Design and the Elastic Mind

Archinect Reviews: Design and the Elastic Mind

Archinect Reviews: Design and the Elastic Mind

If there’s one common outcome to a popular design event, it’s that everyone that attended has an opinion. Even better is that there isn’t any one publication that has the last say with their opinion. I really enjoy reading what other’s have to say about an event once I’ve had down some time to consider it myself on DesignNotes. It’s great to be able to compare notes and see what others thought. That’s why I was really happy that Aaron Pléwke of Archinect asked me if I’d want to pass on some thoughts about MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind. Collected are seven people that have some observations that you may or may not have had if you experienced the exhibition yourself – read it at http://archinect.com/features/article.php?id=75138_0_23_0_C

Notes from AIGA NY’s Smart/Models Event

Having had the benefit of time to go over my notes and consider all that I took in on Saturday at AIGA NY’s Smart/Models Event – I was impressed how each of the presenters had a unique approach to what they did. If there’s anything to take from that, there’s many different ways to be successful – there isn’t just one way. With the contrasts in approaches there were also some ideas that they all seemed to seek out. Happiness, such a simple concept that can be hard to attain. I also heard the phrase “bullshit” more than once during the day.

Drew Hodges opened the all day event with some interesting news. He will be the incoming president of the New York chapter of the AIGA. He also set the tone to some degree but planting a couple question to consider as the day unfolded. “How do you do that?” and “what’s the structure” as the invited guests shared their experiences. He also left everyone considering a story he related to when he first started doing design work to promote Broadway productions. One year his studio made $48,000 while the agency side that did the media buy made over $1.1 million – that got a lot of people’s attention.

AIGA NY Smart Models at Ten15am: EMILY RUTH COHEN

EMILY RUTH COHEN www.emilycohen.com
Emily Ruth Cohen kicked off the introductions and moderated the day’s talks. Some underlying themes that she picked up ahead of time from speaking to the presenters was leveraging past business experience, have a set of core beliefs, decide what type of relationships you want to have (with both clients and employees, what kind of work you want to be known for), and what does the future look like?


The first speakers was the collective Athletic. The first thing that stood out from their talk was the innovative and playful diagrams. As cool looking as they were, what it showed was a focused understanding of their strategy in relationship to their business model. What came out after in the moderated panel discussion was that all three partners at the end of the day invoice separately for projects (if I heard that wrong, someone please correct me). It was emphasized that each of the people that are partners bring separate skills to the table so that they each compliment the others. They can each defer to the expert. They also seemed to have a smart attitude in when they bring in business, they’re each willing to pass the project on to the most appropriate person as opposed to keeping if for themselves. That’s more impressive after hearing how they invoice afterwards.

They also spoke to having clear understanding of project management from the start of the project to then end which helps in the flow of work. Other notes that I jotted down from their conversations:
· on the collective: “I hope we made it sound nice”
· trust good people
· on finding their studio that used to be a boxing gym “it smelled of dude”
· on building desks for their studio “I’d recommend doing that”
· questions they through out for consideration “what is your perspective”, “what is the methodolgie”
· expose yourself to all sorts of different worlds
· be a good self manager, don’t take anything too personally
· be successful, excited, happy and creative


DOUGLAS RICCARDI www.memo-ny.com
While I didn’t know of Douglas Riccard before yesterday, I had experienced a lot of his work first hand between the stuff he’s done for Hale & Hearty to Florent. He framed his talk via his past experiences gained elsewhere. From the skills he learned of presenting his work at a corporate place to his days at M&Co. where he couldn’t wait to get in to work. As time passed he described how the different jobs were not perfect for him and that when he did know it was time for him to start on his own. His personality became his firm. He joked that he doubled his firms size when it went from one to two people. The workspace environment is place to conduct business – he finds it difficult to work in different environments like the home where other things can be distracting. One smart idea that he shared in terms of people requesting projects that you don’t do, but instead of flatly saying no try another approach. Mention what you are good at and talk about the potential of working on other projects together that might be a better fit.

Some of the other things that I noted:
· consider the LTR’s (long term relationships)
· no matter how small, you still need to manage
· what does growth mean to you?
· the elevator pitch – market yourself, what do I bring to the table?
· who to keep, who to kill
· surprise yourself


JASON FRIED www.37signals.com
I’ve never had a lot of success using Basecamp though I’m a huge supporter of what 37 Signals represents. The app wasn’t bad, I just couldn’t get others to buy into the system the first time I tried to introduced it to others while the second time I think people relied on it too much. But I digress – of all the people speaking at Smart/Models I think Jason Fried had the most to offer in terms of what the future looks like. The questions he’s asking out loud and the philosophy he shares was quite different from everyone else that day. More offensive then defensive approach – willing to take risks, fix it later if needed. Granted Jason in the moderated discussion afterwards described the distinction between clients and customers. A single customer isn’t going to be able to push a company around as much as a single client working with a firm that may only have a couple projects on the go. I think your turning design into a commodity if you treat people as customers, but the scale is quite large if you’re selling a product vs a service. In the past designers have been selling more paper products to supplement their design ideas – what 37 Signals is doing is much more true to solving a problem that others can buy.

It’s a cliche to suggest that designers are surprised when their not inundated with slides and images to look at in presentations, so I won’t go on about the one slide that he kept up. It supported his talk, not a big deal. What was interesting about his diagram is that he prefers a lot of quick updates vs one long project. It follows the idea of not being locked into a long term plan. While in theory that’s a great idea I wonder how you can keep focused if you can change directions on a whim? As I write this I kind of wished I had asked that.

I’m not going to do a play by play of everything that was mentioned but here’s a couple other notes that stood out.
· scratch your own itch
· he spent three years as the tech support guy responding to all the emails
· how can we share our experiences – workshops
· blog -> workshop -> book
· if something is good and you put a price on it, others will buy it
· optimize business for happiness
· willing to support employees interests, but they expect them to share that knowldge back to the company
· 2 week projects, no meetings
· sell to the user, not the buyer
· walmart’s prices end with an 8 or 6
· part of the team works remotely, they all get together three times a year
· if you need a pm, scale down the scope
· managers of 1


Joe Duffy’s stage presence was quite apparent before the first slide went up. The idea of change and to a less extent battles were themes through out his conversation. Whether it was about deciding to leave the last partnership, getting clients to buy into the concept or legal battles – this was a guy that had gone through a lot. While obvious after seeing the slide on filtering devices (tivo, satellite radio, ipod, ripping music), it was an interesting m.o. to know what we have to deal with. It built up the idea that we’re at a stage of “Being it”, in the past it was growing it, building it, and telling it. From being it evolved the idea of needing to be reborn and his need to change what he was doing.

Those ideas were emphasized via these points.
· surround yourself w/ people that have skill sets that you don’t have
· reflect the people behind the beliefs
· how can design enrich life?
· what are the core beliefs before day one?
· know what you don’t want to do
· size of firm no larger than 25
· know who we wanted to be
· when he showed a photo of his employees he had a story about almost all of them
· after the project is over – ask what we could have done better, would we want to work with them again
· design business is defined by the company it keeps
· we our are most important client
· looking to work with more clients where they have a stake in the royalties
· process: imagine -> design -> activate
· don’t settle with the clients brief, language before design
· reinvent yourself early and often


SYLVIA HARRIS http://sylviaharris.com
Sylvia’s approach wasn’t via the typical client designer partnership. She’s involved more with large institutions like hospitals and education institutes. Again, great stage presence – really spoke with the audience as opposed to at the audience. I liked how she set the tone with the phrase “we build the road by walking”. She was very process orientated which was interesting b/c on one side she mentioned that themes are more important than sequence while on the other hand she talked in great detail about process like assess -> manage -> model -> design -> integrate. One model that she carries in her head in the balance between work, family and civic time. If what she’s doing doesn’t fit into one of those themes she tries not to proceed with it.

More points to her process.
· what are the right problems?
· what did we do right/wrong
· where are the touch points
· the need for speed and clarity
· the role of the advisor
· after you learn the answers to your question, the questions have already changed
· follow the lead afterwards

AIGA NY Smart/Models: Panel Discussion

· on collective – each person is incorporated
· ask the tough questions first
· emulate chefs – they’re sharing the ideas via books and shows – they share
· on competition: easier to out teach than to out spend
· speak at clients industry events – learn about their world
· be careful to be thinking about others as opposed to “me”
· customers can’t boss the process that clients can
· optimism vs happiness
· what do you want to take on?
· if a design feature doesn’t work, the designer has to answer the tech support questions
· err on the side of simplicity
· don’t compare yourself with others

Putting a name to that face…

Behance Party a couple nights ago - image from lastnightparty

If there’s a time to be in NYC when your senses can be overloaded w/ ideas, parties and events May is it. Between portfolio shows from graduating students, company sponsored gatherings, conferences and ICFF there is a ton to be aware of. For the stuff that I’ll check out I’m always taking in how the particular event is organized. It’s part appreciation and part learning. I’ve been on the other side where I was the one helping out with the work so I know what kind of effort it takes to pull something off successfully. A couple nights ago Behance through a nice gathering. If there was one idea that I luved and would execute myself next time, it would be the polaroid thing where you take a picture of every person and have them put your name and who you are. It’s such a simple way for people to place who they are, and for the host of the party you know exactly who showed up. That way you’re not relying on people leaving business cards, plus it’s way better to have a name to the face than a logo. If you’re curious to see what was going on at that party – check out www.lastnightsparty.com/behanced

What’s ICFF w/ out some Parties to check out?

stools invite from the apartment

Just got an email from Stefan Boublil mentioning that the apartment is having another party this year while ICFF is going on, sort of like last years bash but w/ more surprises. Not too sure what that means just yet but sounds pretty cool none the less. And since I’ll be at AIGA/NY’s Smart/Models all day, that party seems like the perfect place to end the night.

Saturday May 17th
6.30 pm to 10 pm
the apartment
101 crosby street
between prince st. and spring st.

AIGA/NY Smart/Models Event

AIGA/NY Smart/Models, poster designed by Sam Potts

I just wanted to quickly mention the AIGA/NY’s Smart/Models event happening Saturday May 17th at the Times Center in New York. It’s got a great line up of people (see below) that will be talking about design and business. Whether you have your own practice or not there’s going to be a lot to take in and apply afterwards. I’ll be there taking notes and will be doing a post wrap up afterwards here on DesignNotes. If you’re attending please say hello…

+ Athletics: http://athleticsnyc.com
+ Jason Fried: www.37signals.com
+ Sylvia Harris: http://sylviaharris.com
+ Douglas Riccardi: www.memo-ny.com
+ Duffy & Partners: www.duffy.com

AIGA/NY Smart/Models
Saturday 17 May 2008
The New York Times
242 West 41st St. between 7th & 8th Avenues


Gel 2008 Slideshow and Other Gel Stuff

While I’ve never attended a Gel Conference in person I’ve definitely benefited from the content that has been placed online afterwards. There’s always notes, and photos from attendees placed in one spot. If you dig a bit further you can find videos of some of the talks. This year was no different in that you can check out how people experienced their April 24th and 25th, 2008 (and years before that) in New York with Gel.

2008: http://gelconference.com/08/recap.php
2007: http://gelconference.com/07/recap.php
2006: http://gelconference.com/06/recap.php
2005: http://gelconference.com/05/recap.php
2004: http://gelconference.com/04/recap.php
2003: http://gelconference.com/03/recap.php

Going back through the years it’s a good time capsule on what tools were available to share content. Back in 2003 it was mostly quotes, over time flickr allowed people to tag photos and create slide shows. Now there’s moving video that I can embed at the top of this post.

A couple notes from Pecha Kucha New York 5 last night


Before anyone got on stage last night for PKNY5 I said to myself that I feel for the presenters. I don’t think any of them were expecting two solid floors of people. I had been to one other Pecha Kucha in Brooklyn last year which was smaller in scale. Comparing the two events I’ve come to some simple conclusions. Presenters should come with three talks prepared. One in their ideal environmental condition (perfect sound, visuals work – everyone sitting and able to see), one that relies more on their auditory (no one can see anything, everyone is standing and moving around), and one where you throw out what you had prepared and react to the audience in front of you. Of all the six minute presenters there was probably three that I can really remember along with a couple phrases here and there thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure if I remember Andrew Andrew’s talk b/c I’ve seen stickers w/ that name on the street or that they seemed best suited for the venue. My favourite acronym mentioned by another speaker was BBT – bombs, blood and tits, and I really don’t think I agree that the periodic chart is the most important piece of graphic design as was suggested by the last speaker of the night, though I might be quoting that wrong. The event wasn’t bad by any means but I actually got more out of just bumping into people that I didn’t know and hearing what they’re up to. It’s too bad some of them weren’t on stage b/c it would have been interesting for them to talk about what they’re finding is interesting today.

Hearing Roger Black

Roger Black

Roger Black

Roger Black

At the end of Roger Black’s talk last night held at Frog via AIGANY, I kind of wished he had started the talk how he ended it. My friend Vineet who I work with at Daylife asked him what he thought of web 2.0 design. The audience got a bit of a surprise commentary about how designers need to open up the reigns a bit on the online side. He referenced the popularity of the film Helvetica as an example where normal people are interested in fonts and want to have the ability to control how things look on their screen. The designers will be creating the structure but people will ultimately control the out put. Those ideas certainly weren’t there cornerstone of the talk though those ideas that he had about that are worth hearing more about from him. That concept is of particular note as I’m kind of doing something similar at the moment. I can’t say much more than that, but to hear some of the same ideas coming from someone else makes me consider that I’m on the right path at the moment though examples are not out there just yet.

Black framed the talk with his past experience’s from Rolling Stone and Newsweek magazines with a heavy emphasis on typography and how that influenced the layouts and what he was trying to accomplish to the reader. He then went on to talk briefly about Bloomberg’s internal system and how that translated to their website which is pictured above. The end consisted of some moderated questions and then was open to the audience afterwards. The talk was held at Frog which was a pretty good location for this event. It was the perfect night to have some wine on the terrace that they have before hearing one of the magazine greats.

Here’s some of my notes from the talk.

“People don’t remember the bad layouts, people back then tried things – they took risks”

“Playing against the expectation”

“Weight, stage and push forward”

“Web = blurry”

“Narrative design; YouTube vs. documnetry, Iraq vs. Vietnam”

“Web 2.0 – open it up”

Finally a “design film” worth watching

Kate Bingaman-Burt and Mike Perry from Ethan Bodnar on Vimeo.

I’ve been skeptical of designers on short videos until now. Sure it’s easy to blindly follow names that are recognizable but it’s time to look past the people that publications suggest we should know about. Sorry but I’m tired of that hype. I’m on a promotional kick to those that have something relevant to add. While I was not a fan of the book Handjob and the combined talk at Jen Bekman’s Gallery with Kate Bingaman-Burt and Mike Perry, the above video dares me to reconsider a lot of those first reactions. The film captures an honest self recollection of experiences from both people that anyone that watches can gain something from. After watching the film and considering the talk I saw that day in person it makes more sense now – at least to me. At the time I thought they both were people were bit reserved. But if they had done the film ahead of the talk they may have been spent talk wise.

Before I had the chance to invite designer’s to speak I tried to read up as much as I could about others that had gone through the experience before me. One of the things that I remember reading is that you shouldn’t pepper a speaker with too many questions before their talk. What happens is that they become so focussed on answering your questions that they then loose a bit of their edge when they get on stage. I think the above film may have caused them to be more reserved when it was time for them to talk live. At least for me when I saw the film tonight it made me recognize that sometimes a venue for knowledge is more then just first reactions. Ethan Bodnar who filmed and edited the whole production himself has an incredible knack for doing the right thing at the right time. After watching his film be sure to check out his post at www.blog.ethanbodnar.com/2008/04/09/kate-bingaman-burt-and-mike-perry where I first saw it.

MIND08 The Design and the Elastic Mind Symposium


This is more of a FYI than a post – if you’ve been to MoMA lately and saw the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition you might be interested in the one day symposium April 4th titled MIND08. There quite the list of speakers: Paola Antonelli, co-host, Ben Aranda, Jessica Banks, Ayah Bdeir, Adam Bly, co-host, Laurene Boym, Chandler Burr, Erik Demaine, Drew Endy, Marc Fornes, Hugh Herr, Chuck Hoberman, Jamer Hunt, co-host, Natalie Jeremijenko, Chris Lasch, Christophe Laudamiel, Janna Levin, Greg Lynn, Benoit Mandelbrot, Henry Markram, Neri Oxman, Fiona Raby, Bradley Samuels, Kevin Slavin, Paul Steinhardt and Skylar Tibbits. This is how the event is described “Collaboration between science and design is yielding a radical new way of visualizing, understanding, and manipulating the natural world. MIND08 is a conference, presented by Seed and MoMA and inspired by Design and the Elastic Mind, which aims to catalyze this convergence. Bringing together an eclectic group of speakers and participants, including leading scientists, designers, and architects, the conference will explore topics such as the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design. MIND08 is an opportunity to interact with the ideas and thinkers transforming our visual and intellectual landscape.”

Friday, April 4 | 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Tishman Auditorium
Parsons The New School For Design
66 West 12th Street, New York City

more information and registration at www.mind08.com

Sleeping Nights of the Beautifool Mind and Marian is in her 45th year

Sleepless Nights of the Beautifool Mind

marian birthday45

Last Friday night was one of those evenings where you’re not too sure what to expect. Marian Bantjes was celebrating her 45th birthday in New York and had invited a lot of her friends to attend. I couldn’t verify if everyone that was on the list was there or not, but a person was more likely recognize someone then not. It was a little different from what I’m used to guest list wise. One person that I hadn’t meet before but enjoyed talking books was Rodrigo Corral. And then there was Debbie Millman who was her usual sleek self.

Another person that I had a fairly lengthy conversation with was Satoru Nihei. He publishes a monthly a series titled Sleepless Nights of the Beautifool Mind. They’re monthly journals that he writes in both english and japanese. There’s a number of twists to his writing – the english and japanese writings are not translations but two different stories. As he put it, if you don’t know japanese he hopes that you will find someone that does so the translator can share the story. An obvious question would be “why not a blog?” to his response was that it doesn’t have the same reading experience which is hard to argue with.

Saskatchewan Design Week Wrap Up

In Saskatoon

As I write this I’ve just finished packing and am flying back to NYC in the morning. Coming back to Saskatoon this time to talk design and participate in the juried competition was exactly what I needed after the craziness of NYC for the last couple months. On Friday night I talked about what was going on in Design from my perspective and hopefully passed on some new information that they may not have considered about design previously. As it was my first talk I thought it went pretty smoothly, though I may have talked a bit longer then I should have. The next step is to filter a lot of the ideas about observing design and turn it into a book proposal.

Living in NYC where there’s great examples of design around each corner, it’s easy to forget that design awareness is still important. Having an actual design week in Saskatchewan is a great foot forward to accomplish that. Not only for practitioners to talk with the general public but for cross disciplinary processes too. Architects, planners and other professions talking to graphic designers etc. I think this came out really well in the juried competition discussion. There was a number of different categories with one of the juried members talking about some of the broad goals of success in a particular field. For example I shared insights into successful communication in graphic design. One of the exercises that I asked everyone to do when we talked about graphic design was to turn to the opposite wall of the work and talk about which pieces they remembered. We then went through each piece to find the examples that we felt best deserved more attention.

Generally speaking towards all the different categories of work which I uploaded to flickr, some of the pieces were hurt by how the images were displayed. The only advice I can suggest to architects, planners and others should be this – hire a graphic designer to make the work more understandable on a wall. The other thing that I found slightly confusing was the lack of people in the environments and spaces. There were a number of buildings where I wondered how the people would interact with the space. I don’t think every image needs to have a person in it, but a couple couldn’t hurt.

Saskatchewan Design Week

My favourite project was a collaborative piece (sorry for the blurred image). To be in that category I believe that a number of different design disciplines had to be part of the project. To me the River Landing Tree Grate Project was a nice example of bringing the community together, telling a story in simplified yet compelling illustrative way and true to the materials it incorporated. And most importantly it showed the city that using design can enhance the environment at a cost effective way.

I have to thank Randy Hergott for inviting me and driving me around Saskatoon – it was a lot of fun to talk about design in Canada again. My only regret was not having time to see some of the other talks that went on. Hopefully next time I can. On a separate note, DesignNotes will be back to being published on a daily basis very soon – sorry for the slow down from the past week.

Street Mining and Link Coincidences

Street Mining

Street Mining

Street Mining

Ever since mentioning Street Mining a couple weeks ago here on my blog, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the curated walk to hear and see things that I otherwise would never have known about in NYC. Last week I moved from Chelsea to what I would consider midtown so I now have to rely on the subway to go south as opposed to before when I would walk everywhere if I was headed in that direction. Giving myself thirty minutes to get to soho on a train I thought would be more than enough time. It was not due to a stalled train and eventually I did have get off the train to meet up with the group of Street Miners and Pam who was leading it. Once I got close I called/txt messaged Noah who instructed me on their known where abouts. It was funny and kind of interesting to follow location instructions as they moved around in real time.

Once I got into the walk, I found that everyone was genuinely open to talking as we walked past things. I’m always curious to know how people find out about events, which blogs they read and what they do. From what I gathered yesterday Swissmiss has an eclectic following of people. The weather was near perfect (just a little hot and all sun) and I found a couple amazing places to visit if I’m in a funk to get stimulated. If you’re at all interested I would visit the Street Mining site and sign up to be on the mailing list at http://streetmining.net. I’ve also posted all my images on flickr and facebook.

On an upcoming post I was going to throw out a couple links that caught my attention over the week, but I found some parallels between the walk and those links. The first came from New York Times: With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking. It talks about how people are using technology and browsers like Google Maps to create their own stories. I think the first photo above is the perfect example of this in real life. Of course a second example would be my google map of places that I’ve discovered in NYC. I suspect in a couple days the route that Street Mining took will be up, though of course questions of how public it should be have been asked. Should someone that never went on the tour get to see things that others experienced first hand? Personally I think the more information you put out there, the better. I’ve found out about a lot of places to eat just through flickr. I didn’t get to experience it first hand but appreciated the fact that someone took the time to let me know about it.

I was going to mention Creative Review: Global Cities at Tate Modern b/c of the visualization of dense urban areas. I couldn’t help but feel the squeeze of people as I walked to find the Street Mining group. I would be interested in a physical three dimensional map of all the locations people have come from as they walk from East/West in soho. Relying on the subway on Saturday was a mistake – Junk Charts: Noisy subways link talks is essentially a report card of the system – and how badly the diagram is designed. The last link that I was going to mention, PingMag: Cocoa Abstractions In Mind had nothing in common with anything that I did yesterday – but who doesn’t like chocolate?

UPDATE: the map of SoHo has been posted on Google Maps, and one of the first places that was visited while I was still on the train was a chocolate shop – so even my last link now seems appropriate…

UPDATE 2: Children of Darkness from the NYT.

New Design Event Blog

Vague Title of Design: stuff to do, see and hear

Every once in a while I’ll have someone mention that they had wished they had known about a design event after it had happened. So with that I’m starting a new design event blog called “Vague Title of Design” at http://vtod.blogspot.com/. It’s in beta at the moment, after a couple months I’ll take a look at how the information is working and make adjustments. I’ll be looking for design events primarily in NYC, but if there’s something that you’d like to add from a different city – please send me an email. Since it’s in beta, if you have any suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know.

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

Next week: More Design


As this week starts to slow down with design week fun (after the Ric Scofidio talk at the IAC Building Thursday night), I was looking forward to taking a couple days off, visit D.C. for the first time on the weekend and taking the next week to slow down the design extracurricular activity. That was the plan but the reality is probably going to be a lot different. The Storefront for Art and Architecture is holding a week long (Tuesday, May 29, to Saturday, June 2, 2007) event called Postopolis! The schedule isn’t out yet, but if the number of invited guests is any indication I don’t think it’s humanly possible for a full time working designer to be there for everything. Since it is about blogging I’m sure that most people will be able to catch a lot of it online before/during/afterwards.

Olivetti Divisumma

But there’s more… Via Architectradure, Cati mentions the future exhibition IDEO Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection at the Cooper-Hewitt. Having that design displayed along with the other exhibition Design for the Other 90% is something that most design enthusiasts would be hard pressed not to miss. Funny though, the designer in me looks at the image of the The Divisumma 18 Calculator by Olivetti (Mario Bellini, 1973) and wonders why not make the “C” button the same width as the “+” button? It would make the alignment so much better.

The Apartment and Design Blogfest: what was Day 1 of Design Week

Design Blogfest

My wife actually scoffed at the idea of going to a “blog party”, when I mentioned the Design Blogfest to a couple people at work I got the same roll of the eyes. What no one mentioned to me was that I never thought of Design Blogfest as a blogging event. It just seemed like good timing to have a get together w/ noble purposes. The only irony is that a lot of the people there may have been bloggers that I visit daily, though I missed out on talking with them b/c I would have recognized their names before their faces.

But with that said I did get to meet a couple of the hosts inside the Apartment. John Gargiulo from Swich was there asking people about chips and spreading rumours that llb was the drink to have, Stefan Boublil the resident landlord of the Apartment was happy to say hi and Pia Richter got some serious rays from the glowing review of the work that the Apartment did with the design of Swich. Btw, if you don’t know who or what Swich is, here’s an interview that I did about my fav. place to eat lunch and sometimes other times of the day: http://designnotes.info/?p=949

I stayed there for most of the early night and then stumbled out later to find myself eating tacos, talking with a designer who mentioned the difficulty of getting pretzel dough shot through a caulking gun to even later hearing Charles (another work guy) play guitar on stage to drinking some can beer. Now day two starts…

I’ve also started posting some of my pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157600230643583/

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.

PSFK Conference: Why?

psfk conference

I guess what interests me about a conference like the PSFK Conference is the unexpectedness of it all. I’m a designer that went to a traditional college for Visual Communication Design, and then moved on to University where I got a taste for the social sciences like anthropology and sociology (and the essentials of VCD) and tried to implement some of those ideals into the work of a designer. I’m a firm believer that design can change behaviour, you just need the right plan to do it. So to see and hear from the diverse range of speakers, and to note those in attendance today will hopefully bring smart ideas to the table and make me consider things that I may not have had the chance to yet think about.

Blogging at the PSFK Conference

PSFK Conference New York

One of the reasons why I blog is just to keep my brain active, it makes me an active participant. That’s why I’m happy to mention that while I’m attending the PSFK Conference in New York that I’ll also be blogging about it too with the “official blogger” status at the venue (I’m not sure what that exactly means though). Having never blogged at a conference before, I’m interested to see what happens. I also feel that I really need take a close look at each of the speakers, try to understand who they are, what they do and think about the topics they plan to talk about in advance. It should be a lot of fun. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to say hi. Over the next ten or twelve days you might notice a shift of the blog to cover some of the ideas that encompass the conference.

likemind this Friday


This Friday is the next likemind. Does your city have one – check out the website at http://likemind.us/ to see. If you’re in New York, it’s at sNice, 8 am. What is so refreshing about a meet up like this is that there’s a really diverse crowd of people. So there’s no way you can’t get inspired by the conversation that follows.

and btw, yes they do have a new wordmark. I was really happy to work w/ Noah and Piers to create this open and positive mark for a group that has a lot of potential…

PSFK Conference New York

PSFK Conference New York

There were a ton of reasons why I wanted to move to New York. There’s the professional side of things, but there was also the opportunity to take in as much learning as possible. So you can imagine how happy I am to see that there’s PSFK Conference New York – Thursday, March 6th, 2007. You can get more information at www.psfk.com/psfk_conference

Confirmed Speakers:

Mike Byrne of Anomaly
Alan Chochinov of Core77
Josh Deutsch of Downtown Records (tbc)
Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitat
Doug Jaeger of TheHappyCorp
John Lee & Jaie Kim of Theme Magazine
Floyd Hayes of Cunning
Grant McCracken
George Murphy of Fitch
George Parker
Peter Rojas of Engadget
David Rosenberg of JWT
Marc Schiller of Electric Artists
Elizabeth Spiers of Dead Horse Media
Kevin Slavin of AreaCode
Rony Zibara of Fahrenheit 212
Chuck Welch of Naked (tbc)
Scott Witt of Droga5

Confirmed Press Attendance

Advertising Age


From Dexter Himself

Pecha Kucha 2

Please come to Dexter Sinister this FRIDAY FEBRUARY 9 2007 for a book launch of PHILIP, a novel by Mark Aerial Waller, Heman Chong, Cosmin Costinas, Rosemary Heather, Francis McKee, David Reinfurt, Steve Rushton & Leif Magne Tangen

and, Larissa Harris will be reading (quietly, in the corner and on a never-ending loop) “The Seventh Voyage” from Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences Of Ijon Tichy by Stanislaw Lem

and, Three (quite short) videos are presented by Mai Abu ElDahab (also in a never-ending loop)



Easily mistaken for the infinity sign, the Lissajous Figure is a horizontal figure-eight named after French physicist and mathematician

Jules Antoine Lissajous (1822-1880). The shape is drawn by plotting a two-variable parametric equation as it calculates and recalculates itself over time. The resulting figure is the picture of two systems falling into and out of phase.


FRIDAY FEBRUARY 9 2007 from 9PM until

Dexter Sinister
Just-In-Time Workshop & Occasional Bookstore
38 Ludlow Street (Basement)
New York City

For More Information or to Contribute, go to


Blog Widget by LinkWithin