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.

All those 0101010111100010101’s

Ok, I thought today was going to be a non blogging day – that lasted all of twenty minutes. I caught a great comment from the post titled Binary Code and Ambiguity. I’m copying + pasting the entire comment for my own notes. Hopefully it will make as much sense to you as it did for me…

Candice writes “Binary is what makes it all work, by its sheer simplicity. If you break anything down far enough, you can record it. And from there copy and move and on and on.

Take for example, ballet. All of ballet works within a very strict framework of positions and movements, which when combined together can create something as grand as Giselle. Every step has a simple name, in French, which is the same in Moscow or Paris as it is in London or New York. (Method differences on specific steps excepted – usually those are just details.) An advanced ballet class usually consists of a teacher giving directions without examples: just words and corrections.

Me at the World Graphic Design Foosball Championship 2006 (WGDFC)

Me at the World Graphic Design  Foosball Championship 2006 (WGDFC)

WGDFC 2006 was a great way to end a busy week. Foosball, beer, designers and some friendly competition. Organized by the office of paul sahre and the studios of karlssonwilker inc., it was a great venue and they ran it pretty smoothly considering how many people were there. Lillian Coryn and myself did our best to represent Renegade. In the end we had two loses and one win. With a little practice we’ll score a lot more goals next year.

Some of the things that I overheard walking around included “are you in line?”, “is that how long the line is?”, “I think the bathroom is broken!”, “no, the bathroom is fine”, and trash talking about typography “hey man, what’s your favourite typeface!”. Looking at the uniforms or lack there of was also a great time passer. In my opinion Princeton Architectural Press won the award for most innovative use of sign stickers that you could probably buy at Home Depot. Big type was popular too, one guy had a big letter “A” in tennis ball material on his shirt, while another team who I’m guessing were from Los Angeles b/c one guy had a giant “L” and the other had a giant “A” which looked pretty cool when they were standing beside each other. There were track suits, people wearing shorts, pink shirts, striped shirts, and one astronaut uniform worn by no other than Felix Sockwell. Lillian and I had a couple cool ideas, but we just ran out of time…

Whenever I go to something like this, I never know how the vibe is going to be. By the end of the night usually everyone is pretty relaxed and having a good time. For the most part that was the case, I met some people that I knew through e-mail and a couple others through reputations. But in a two floor foosball tournament, your bound not to run into everyone you know or want to meet. Till next year.

I’ve placed all my flickr photos from that night at

Understanding the Street

Above is the first vid. from Wallstrip, a new web show that talks about one company in depth for just a couple minutes in terms of investment through normal talk. Once you get to the site there’s lots of ways to keep track of the site afterwards – easy rss, podcast, link buttons and the ability to embed text. I’m just curious to see how they will archive their info after a couple months…

Muzak of 2006

Muzak of 2006

Here are some of the albums that could potentially be in my top 10 at the end of the year. The one album you should take special attention to is Lily Allen: Alright, Still.

Band of Horses: Everything All the Time
Gomez: How We Operate
Herbert: Scale
Kasabian: Empire
Keane: Under the Iron Sea
Lily Allen: Alright, Still
The Long Winters: Putting The Days To Bed
The Roots: Game Theory
TV On the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones
Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

One more thing about Designism

A friend sent me an e-mail over the weekend in response to some other comments that were posted on my Designism picture from Flickr…

There has been bad work by big agencies (and for clarity purpose there is a difference between advertising agencies and design agencies) for small and big non profits. However to say there is a relationship between high-end designers and bad grassroots design is over generalized and short sighted. Of course it may be a bad idea to approach a multi-million dollar advertising firm to do work for a grassroots inative. You have no clue if they are doing it because they care, or if they are just trying to improve their reputation. If the designer working on your project doesn’t agree with what your doing, or possibly even disagrees, good work is not going to be produced.

You can read the rest of his post at

Designism additions

“The biggest disconnects between the materials we put out that worked and those that were proposed had to do with tone and style. What worked best were materials that were (a) non-inflammatory and sober, and (b) highly informative without being overly dense. Clarity and factuality were far more important than drama.

Citizens’ groups and causes have, as their first challenge, to establish credibility — especially in a rural area. Pungeant imagery and tough-talking text only works once that legitimacy has been established, if ever. Ease of use/legibility, and a lack of “trickiness,” are also important when distributing graphics in a community that is not overly design-savvy.”

From sampratt HERE

Designism Tonight

Designism Button

Two days, two design talks. Last night was Ellen Lupton, tonight was Designism with Tony Hendra, George Lois, Jessica Helfand, James Victore, Milton Glaser, Kurt Andersen, Brian Collins and Steve Heller.

Here’s a couple impressions from those that spoke in-depth tonight.

George Lois: Activist first, designer second

Jessica Helfand: Ask why, apply answer and do it bigger

James Victore: Cause you need to

Kurt Andersen: Take it beyond

Milton Glaser: Work around people’s immunity

and though Karl Rove was not there: Understand people’s responses

Good Design

ten, one & four

Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design helps us to understand a product.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is durable.
Good design is consequent to the last detail.
Good design is concerned with the environment.
Good design is as little design as possible.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

via Dieter Rams / Design Museum Collection via Dieter Rams: “Less, but better.”

Jeffrey Aaronson deux

Jeffrey Aaronson

Below are some of my notes from visiting “Maybe it’s You” by Jeffrey Aaronson a second time.

  • iPod shuffle may be hard for older people to understand if they’ve never used a digital player before
  • the word drama would come occasionally in the personals – as in looking for a drama “free” relationship…
  • some personals were long, others one sentence
  • if you were to read the personals online, the listings would probably suit the person behind the writing visually though you would have probably imagined someone else; confusing I know
  • two or three really stood out, the ones that really had a relaxed sense of humour that were more like a journal entry tended to be the most interesting to hear
  • nothing too sad
  • more could have been done with collateral stuff: I would have liked to have seen a screen capture of the original craigslist post and names of the people beside the photo
  • only was able to listen to 60% of the pictures, I’ll probably visit one more time

iPod Shuffles Beside Art

Jeffrey Aaronson

Aside from the fascinating photos, the exhibition by Jeffrey Aaonson was notable to me for another reason. Beside each photograph was an Apple iPod Shuffle that contained a sound file. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to listen to any of them. Jeffrey had contacted people through Craigslist personals of people that didn’t have images with their ads. The sound files were of the people reading their personals descriptions. I had never seen an inexpensive mp3 player used in that fashion before. While seeing something on the art wall like that could be considered a gimmick, I don’t think it was. Comparing the interest people had in front of these works listening intently, and comparing that with some of the video installations that required the viewer to use headphones at other art openings, this was a much easier way to keep someone interested.

If you’re in NY, “Maybe it’s You” by Jeffrey Aaronson can be viewed at the Kashya Hildebrand Gallery at 531–539 West 25th St., New York. I know I will be heading back this Saturday to hear what was being said.

UPDATE: I put up a couple notes from my second visit at

laptop, paper and plasma

laptop, paper and plasma

While the laptop wifi feature is nothing new, I think the combination of tv + laptop or newspaper + laptop, or even book + laptop with internet access are going to be more like brothers than distant cousins. Over the last couple of months I’ve been noticing that I really can’t enjoy a newspaper or tv show w/ out access to a computer.

Whether it’s b/c I want to look something up, jot a note down, or look something up b/c of a question that was triggered from a show – in any case it’s a new mode of behavior that I wasn’t reacting to a year ago. I think as more people notice this move to a brother/brother media play happen, websites will evolve in their interface. What that is exactly, I’m not too sure.

I did spend about ten minutes watching the MTV’s MVA’s last week (I switched it off once the Black Eye Peas won). During that ten minutes I tried to log in to their behind the scenes web cast. My computer has the most up to date downloads and I still couldn’t get the thing to work. So obviously if the tv + laptop/web thing is to really work, perhaps they should test it out. I’m sure MTV did, but it still needs some tweaking obviously. Football seems to do a good job too about keeping the live game in sync with their online content. What I haven’t needed to do, but think will pop up is how people search for the archive content. Relying on google is one way, but the interface should really allow for more than a couple ways to search. Date and subject matter are but only two ways.

Likeminds 2

John, Micahel, Eric, originally uploaded by GuyBrighton.

Aside from moving to NYC for work, one of the reasons why I wanted to move from Edmonton was to have the opportunity to take part in things like Likeminds. It’s a pretty simple concept that you can do anywhere of course. You just get people together from different backgrounds and open up the table for talk. Why this was different for me was that it offered a fresh environment. Here’s a clip from today and you can check out updates for the next one at

One of the people that I met was Eric who has a site at that is intended to help entrepreneurs connect with each other for help. Again based one two simple but very smart concepts: 1. I need help starting or growing a new business and 2. I want to help new businesses

3 Likeminds

3 Likeminds, originally uploaded by nbrier.

If you’re in NYC tomorrow and feel like waking up early, there’s the second happening. From the website of the same name:

who: people like you.
what: an opportunity to enjoy coffee and conversation.
when: friday, august 25 at 8am
where: sNice, 45 Eighth Avenue, at West 4th Street, NYC (yahoo MAPS)
why: because drinking good coffee with likeminded people is fun.
how: piers and noah thought it might be a good idea.
questions: ny — AT —

IKEA product naming system


Have you ever wondered how and why IKEA products are named the way they are? According to Wikipedia, names are used as opposed to code numbers because it’s easier to remember. The names themselves come from a number of countries and ideas. From Wikipedia:

  • Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames (for example: Klippan)
  • Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian placenames
  • Dining tables and chairs: Finnish placenames
  • Bookcase ranges: Occupations
  • Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
  • Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes also other names
  • Chairs, desks: men’s names
  • Materials, curtains: women’s names
  • Garden furniture: Swedish islands
  • Carpets: Danish placenames
  • Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
  • Bedlinen, bedcovers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones
  • Children’s items: mammals, birds, adjectives
  • Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
  • Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
  • Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish placenames

Back in the radio day

(no that is not me, nor my photo, it came from CBC) (Photo by Lauren Burrows)

Aside from three days, I’ve been hanging in NYC by myself as Tamara finishes off a magazine back in Edmonton. As happy as I am to have left Edmonton, there’s still a level of comfort that is missing when A. you move countries, B. you move to a much larger city, 3. start a new career. But what has eased the transition is a bunch of music from Canada. First there’s CBC Radio 3 which has a great podcast. Over Christmas I really got into listening to the back library of shows, but might have gone overkill as I slowed down on listening to it over the spring and summer. Now I’m back full throttle with listening to it. Check it out HERE.

The second comfort music feeling comes from Radio Sonic in Edmonton. The station is just over a year old and isn’t nearly as good as it’s beginnings, but it still reminds me of the drive into work with Tamara. I’ve never been one for radio chatter in the morning, but Garner Andrews always brought a laugh to me, well almost – he went on for what seemed like weeks about a concept called “man land”. What is ironic is that the last week I was in Edmonton, Garner took the week off, and it seems like he’s been away again the first couple days of this week, so I’ve yet to hear him for quite a while.

While I’m not totally surprised about feeling slightly nostalgic for Canadian music, what has surprised me is how much easier it’s making the transition for me. It’s sort of like hearing a song that you’ve got some emotional attachment to, yet it’s a constant feeling when your hearing the same pattern of music over from a station.

Wrapping everything

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wrapping everything, originally uploaded by saralynncantor.

“If you wrap that placemat in tissue paper, god help me but I will never shop here again.”

Ask yourself if it’s bad for the economy if you share you’re shopping bag, and find out why stores wrap towels in tissue paper. All that and more can be read at the Curious Shopper.

Today’s Inspiration

Walking Around

As I watched the video clip from PSFK asking the question of “Where Do You Get Inspiration?” it got me to think about my first real full time week in NYC. As much of a cliché as it is, NYC would be where I’m getting my inspiration from. But maybe not for the same reasons as you think. For me, there are so many talented people here that you have to always be striving to get better. No matter how good yesterday was, today you have to be smarter, faster, more observant, and listen better than you ever have before. Then there are the people on the street. 99% of the people are wearing interesting clothes, they’re not always nice looking but in their choice of clothing it tells a story or pattern of action of where they’re at in life. There’s also the visual culture out there too that makes you rethink concept, typography and execution constantly, but I can talk about that design inspiration another day.

No More

While Tamara, Maddie and I hit the road (today Saskatoon, tomorrow Winnipeg, some where in the USA after that), I’ll hold off on the soapbox crits for a little while. However in my absence you should check out Fort Drastic. In their own words they “are writers, artists, musicians, sketch comedians and Monday morning coaches. We also occasionally sit backwards on toilets. We are here for one reason: to entertain you.” How can that be a bad thing? Even if it’s not Monday it’s worth checking out.

The Question

The Question

It had to happen sooner or later, that just dumping a link on my blog and mentioning “it’s interesting” wouldn’t be enough. Now that I’m in the final countdown (for instance this is the last Tuesday that I’ll be working in Edmonton) in moving to NYC, I’m just about ready to move on with my blog. It started as an experiment, not really sure what to expect. Last Christmas I had a lot of time to think of where I wanted to take things, both with my career and my blog. I felt that it was time to move on from Blogger and perhaps with the name design*notes. I changed blogging platforms to WordPress and if you noticed the url of this blog it doesn’t say design*notes but sidewalkpressed. It was one of those small reminders of where I wanted to get to. When I finally moved to NYC the name of my blog would change.

I walk a lot, it’s one of those things that give me a chance to clear my mind and just think. During one of my long walks over Christmas time I wanted to come up with a name for my blog that didn’t have the word design in it, and something that would allow me to grow outside of publishing digitally. When you have the means and skills to communicate in an infinite number of ways, why should you hold yourself back? I liked the word “press”, but it wasn’t enough, I didn’t want it to be locked down in the world of publishing. As I bounced a lot of ideas around, I decided to keep things simple. Like I mentioned I walk, and that’s usually on a sidewalk – nothing too deep, but it gives things a bit of context. In the end I felt sidewalkpressed put a lot of the elements that mean something to me through the expression of ideas. In a long winded manner, design*notes the name is coming to an end. As a heads up I will be putting it to bed once I start walking in NYC. This blog will be known as sidewalkpressed in less than ten days.

The content isn’t going to change that much. I’m not a big fan of reading stuff from people when it gives tips about rules on designing or web interaction or whatever. I’m not going to go “I’m the expert and this is the way it should be” type of attitude. But I will try to put more time into writing about thoughtful experiences that were memorable to me. As my philosophy goes “see to think, think to design, and design to live” it won’t be like I’m not talking about design, but the life that makes up design.

On a side note I have to share one of the funnier e-mails I got from Vancouver about me moving to NYC. I’ve paraphrased a bit, and taken out some stuff, but you’ll get the idea. All I can say is that some people sure know how to write…


That’s fantastic. You talented little fucker. I’m jealous. Take me with you!!!

No, seriously. I hate you. I’m going to go kill a kitten in an evil ritual to put a design voodoo curse on you. The moment you arrive in NYC you’ll get creative block until you invite me there. You’re screwed. 🙂

Alright, alright, alright…congratulations. You’re a talent mofo and deserve a break like this…

Where have I been?

Sorry for the unuusal quietness of this blog, but hey I’m moving to NYC in a week and there’s a lot of things to get done. One thing that I’ve been to meaning to mention is the redesign of All This Chittah Chittah blog by Steve Portigal. Clean and easy to read, there’s something there that that will make you question your daily surroundings.

Wifi in the car

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Wifi in the car, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

When you sell a house, you have to be accommodating to potential buyers by not being inside when they come for a viewing. Monday was Canada Day and hence a perfect day for people to look. No problem, but when you have a dog with back-to-back-to-back showings, and plus 35 degree heat in the sun, that becomes an issue. On top of that, we’ve had some vital issues come up with apartment searching in NYC. So we’ve needed to stay connected to the web. Because of Maddie we couldn’t leave her in the car so I tested a theory about the strength of wifi outside a Starbucks. We drove up beside one, kept the A.C. going and opened the net on my MacBook. Within a couple seconds I saw the familiar credit card sign in for web access. So after punching in the credit card info we had all day access. I didn’t know much about the strength of wifi, but in hindsight it makes sense that you could probably get a decent signal outside. I wonder how many other people have been in a situation where they needed to stay in their car, hopefully parked and needed access to the net. And if so, how many were aware that they could actually get a signal if they parked close to a wifi hotspot?

Did I ever mention how I feel about NYC?

and I how I would recommend every designer start a blog – you have no idea what it can lead to.

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