Thursday, November 1, 2012

California Right to Know latest Ad - yay Danny DeVito!!!

This is the BEST ad I've seen from proposition 37 campaign so far.  I'm enjoying hitting the giant corrupt conglomerates smack between their eyes like never before.  There's nothing like watching simple truth delivered in witty way demolish 40 million dollars spent by Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of those low lives to lie to american people in the name of shareholder value and their flipping bottom line.  Please enjoy for yourself - and let prop 37 be victorious next week!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Happens When Design is Absent from Our Energy Policy:

This chart is self-explanatory.  For anyone who still thinks Keystone Pipeline project would be good for energy and a great "job creator" - enjoy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chevy Volts on Fire - Or, Someone's Pants Are?

I couldn't contain myself when I saw this.  Very sad that hype-crazy media reported the "first" part of the story about Chevrolet Volts catching fires, and left out the critically important "second" part, essentially reporting half the news here.

Bob Lutz (yes THAT Bob Lutz of GM) knows a thing or two about Chevy Volt since he headed the project to begin with; Watch him set the record straight more succinctly than I've probably ever seen.  Specifically, the onslaught of conservative media - i.e Fox, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Dobbs - with severe disregard for any factual reporting, going bunkers enough to sweep the whole thing into "Obama's administration fault" pile.  Making the case abundantly clear with, for starters, the fact that not ONE Volt "has ever caught fire in normal use or in accidents." More remarkable yet, is the fact that Bob Lutz is a conservative republican himself.

Not surprisingly, that really useful to general folk (and our precious economy) piece of information seemed to have quickly evaporated in favor of some bazaar accusations that are entertaining, yet incredibly misleading.  Reason I'm so excited to see Bob Lutz rightfully defend the job GM has done with the Volt is that I was one of those instantly under impression that Volts were poorly engineered and not up to snuff after all the time and effort.  Well, without further adieu, please enjoy the Forbes article for yourself:

"Chevy Volt And The Wrong-Headed Right"

Monday, January 23, 2012

The A21 Campaign against Human Trafficking

In case you've somehow missed it, human trafficking - organized crime sex trafficking specifically - is so widespread and rampant around the world, noone can or should ignore it.   Simply put, it generates over 27 billion - with a "B" - US dollars a year for the mafia bosses that run the operations, with 1.39 MILLION sex slaves, and majority of them ending up somewhere in Europe.  Greece happens to be what's known as "the center of trafficking in Europe."

Its sad statistics indeed, with none of the world's governments doing anywhere near enough to combat this heinous modern disease that's plaguing our world. 

One of the sharpest movies ever made about human trafficking is called Trade, back in 2007.   The stories of women kidnapped in Mexico and trafficked into the US for sex trade are sobering to say the least.

A short while ago, my wife and I heard an amazing speaker at our church, representing the A21 Campaign organization that's on the forefront of fighting these atrocities headquartered in the middle of it all, in Greece.  They also work in Ukraine, a major source of trafficked women, and other locations.

The scope of A21 Campaign work is to prevent trafficking, support and help the victims, prosecute traffickers, and work with law enforcement.  One of the most effective efforts is their educational campaign in the media and schools;  they also operate a Crisis Care Shelter where they connect the victims with police, offer access to medical care, legal services, life skills training, language training, recreation, and other opportunities to help them with stabilizing their lives.

Their transition program helps with accomodation, vocational and educational opportunities, employment, and gradual progression to independence. 

Needless to say, the A21 Campaign is doing priceless work that is critically necessary.  I urge everyone here to please go to their site and support them, as both my wife and I proudly do.  Thank you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Steelcase Amia has arrived!

So - I did get my Amia last Friday (in my home office below), after a bit of a debacle with Steelcase - a replacement one this time.  The fist one they shipped came broken and malfunctioned right out of their factory.  Everything worked except the most basic control of all - the height adjustment.  The gas lifter mechanism was shot, and lever had no engagement at all.  After a few calls and emails to their customer service, they did take the old one away and replaced it with one that thankfully works like it should this time.

Disappointment with their quality problems did fade away as I got used to my new Amia - simply put, the more I use it, the more I love it, and appreciate the thought that went into both the seat and back support especially.  Having adjusted the tilt resistance control to my liking, it feels like heaven, i.e. like every good ergonomic chair should.

That got me to think how sad it is that makers of this "class" of chairs do not make available to anyone in easily accessible "big box" office stores.  Their price range makes good design and true comfort simply out of reach of general public.  Yes there are plenty of marketing, supply, manufacturing volume and distribution reasons for this, but sadly its the textbook case of what Karim Rashid addresses when he talks about democratic design, i.e. great design available to the masses.  Why should Steelcases' Amia and Leap, or Herman Miller's Embody and Aeron always be "high end" for mostly institutional buyers?  Why should Office Depot or Staples sell a cheap piece of crap that makes you hurt and gets staticky just by rolling on a carpet for a while?

When it comes to products that would improve health and elevate everyone's seating experience to truly ergonomic and comfortable, I wish furniture makers would eliminate the cheap/entry level chair category entirely, and change their business model fundamentally to simply not offer anything less than a chair like Think or Amia at affordable range.  I know this is idealistic and utopian, but I can still dream, can't I??

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hunting for that Perfect Office Task Chair

I've been putting up with a large choice of conventional/no-name chairs from big box office stores like Stapes and OfficeMax over the years.  Last 2 we got in $80-150 range have been ok/satisfactory, but still "no cigar" when it comes to serious attention to all ergonomic detail.  Given the ongoing back problems I've been dealing with, and spending plenty of time in front of my machine, I decided the time has come to invest into a serious office task chair.  Any good spine doctor will tell you that sitting for any prolonged period of time is about the worst thing you can do for your low back, and health in general, so I got my desk raised at work, and been working standing as much as I can, which helps tremendously, as long as I pay attention to good posture.  But standing all day is impossible, so I decided enough is enough, and went out to find the best possible chair I could afford.

Through places like Crate and Barrel, Room and Board, and Relax The Back, I've researched and tried out best task chairs I could find at retail.  Here are specific chairs I tested, pictured below:  Steelcase's Amia and Think, Herman Miller's Aeron, Mirra, and Embody, and Humanscale's Freedom, regular and headrest version. 

These chairs' prices range is roughly $650-$1800.  Considering cost, comfort, and design aesthetics, I decided to go with the Steelcase Amia, ordered in a beautiful platinum/orange color combination.  What attracted me to it initially was its clean, minimal, and very functional design.  It felt very good, and features multitude of adjustments, including adjustable seat depth, back tension control, adjustable arms, height, back lock, and LiveLumbar flexers in lumbar area that flex with the curve of your back and are also height-adjustable.  Not a bad package for less than $700.  I did like the Embody and Freedom very much, and if price was not a consideration, probably would've purchased the Embody.  Its exo-skeletal design with human spine-inspired flexible supports is fascinating, and feels great indeed when I got into it.  I like its taller back form and proportions also.

Humanscale Freedom was probably the most comfortable of them all, but also by far the priciest.  Coming from the "less adjustment controls is better" school of thought, it uses a balance mechanism to control the recline force required per given weight;  it reclines comfortably with great deal of support, along with the armrests, while promoting motion and blood flow.  What I found a little strange is it did not have a simple back position lock, and thought that reclining force was too loose, and would've preferred the ability to control the reclining force myself, especially for its price range.  But one chair I always had major affinity for is Think, given its minimal lines, angles, simplicity and color schemes.  Surprisingly, with much less control it was a bit more expensive than Amia, but given overall aesthetics, I think it looks better than any other office chair I've seen, especially in group setting with many of them on the floor in variety of color and material combinations.  If we get another chair for us, it will probably be a Think.

So, my Amia is coming soon this week, and I'll probably post further impressions of its performance after I use it for a while.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Greenpeace has created a concise and clear presentation on why genetically engineered / modified foods are bad for the world.  From a small number of corporate conglomerates that own, produce and distribute GE/GM products, Monsanto is by far the biggest and the worst.  Reaching far into state and federal government dotted with former Monsanto executives that keep well-oiled corruption machine going, they deploy a well organized army of lobbyists to make sure the authorities keep any serious regulation back from Monsanto's business of increasing crop production while destroying near-by natural and organic crops, all in the name of profits and dividents for shareholders.  That has dire consequences, which are consistently ignored by this corrupt industry.  Take a look at this and judge for yourselves: 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An interesting new release from Dassault Systems - Catia V6 includes Natural Sketch, which streamlines rough sketching into quick 3D models to play with during the design ideation phase.  Functionality appears similar to Alias Design, but I'd have to try it out to really be able to judge the differences:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BMW Connected Drive

Talk about world's top design-driven company.  BMW design team just outdid themselves - The Connected Drive concept:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

9 Myths about Electric Vehicles:

Sierra Club just posted a great article debunking common myths and fears about owning and driving an electric car.  They are:

Myth 1: Switching to an electric vehicle will just mean that the same amount of pollution comes from the electricity generation rather than from the tailpipe — I'll just be switching from oil to coal.
Myth 2: Plug-in cars will lead to the production of more coal and nuclear plants.
Myth 3: Electric car batteries pose a recycling problem.
Myth 4: My electricity bill will go way up.
Myth 5: Electric vehicles will just fail again like they did before.
Myth 6: My battery will run out of juice.
Myth 7: Electric vehicles are much more expensive than traditional vehicles.
Myth 8: Electric vehicles are only available in California.
Myth 9: Charging an EV on solar power is a futuristic dream.

The picture above is of the new beautiful Tesla Model S coming out next year.  What they're doing right, as opposed to most other manufacturers of electrics so far, is they design the electric to be as exciting OR MORE exciting than a great gas-powered car.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wide View Mirrors

I just got our second wide view mirror for the new car.  Used the original Broadway mirror for years, and just can't live without it.  So here's a fundamental question in a category of "is it me, or am I missing something here":  Can anybody please tell me WHY no car manufacturer anywhere on earth supplies these kinds of mirrors on their cars?  Why is this an accessory?  Is it me, or does every standard mirror in every car or truck I've ever been in is a small piece of junk that's plain dysfunctional and dangerous?  "You're supposed to turn your head" is a one of those old-time cop-outs that you hear when automakers just refuse to go one tiny step further and design something that actually matters, doesn't cost extra, prevents a ton of accidents and saves lives.  No, they'd rather invest into gimmicky hi-tech blind-spot prevention systems, but completely overlook a virtually-no-cost low-tech solution like a wide mirror.  I guess no point about being cynical;  if we ever want to see this desperately missing change in future cars, we simply have to demand it.  Common BMW, are you listening?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cars and Coffee - Irvine CA

This past Saturday I finally got a chance to hang out at Cars and Coffee, and extremely cool local car show held in Irvine every Sat. morning for a few years now. What's awesome is how easy-going and diverse the show is. Every car-crazy boy's dream come true - from Rat rods to top-class Ferraris. Check out my Flickr collection of shots here:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Temple Grandin

This one was so important I had to blog about it immediately after watching.  I do not normally do that about any subject.  But once in MANY years and scores of wasted hollywood productions comes a movie that's so incredibly powerful, so epic, I'm at loss of words.  It did make it to a report on World News Tonight the other day, which is how I learned about its multiple nominations and Temple herself,  but it deserves many more major headlines accross all media. 

Temple Grandin is a college professor, a scientist, a designer, an inventor, and - she's autistic.  She didn't even speak till she was 4.  And accomplished far more than so many "normal" people do in their lifespans.  The actors do an absolutely incredible job at authentically portraying the characters, time period (1960s-80s), and director Mick Jackson addresses just about every major social issue in the most profound way, from autism to women's rights to humane treatment of animals, and surprisingly for me, design.  I was so moved by Temple's intrinsic designer instincts, work, power of observation, and the way it was portrayed in the movie, I think this picture should be made mandatory material for every design school in the country.  It will make you laugh and cry.  I could go on, but as they say, a picture's worth a 1000 words - please do yourself a favor, and see "Temple Grandin".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Espn X Games the Movie

Just watched the 2009 X Games movie, featuring action/extreme sports legends like Ricky Carmichael, Bob Burnquist, Danny Way, and Shaun White.  Crazy fun other-worldly tricks were expected.  What I did not expect as I watched it is dropping my jaw to the ground and getting inspired in a very profound way by what Danny Way did in the mega-ramp contest.  I've never seen anything like that.  He essentially came back "from the dead" after injuring himself in a spectacular way, and then finishing all he was planning on accomplishing that night.  I think determination and tenaciousness was redefined by Danny that night.  What does that have to do with design you ask?  Pretty much everything - design is prevalent and pervasive in life in multitude of forms, can be complex, frustrating, not for the faint of heart or those who give up easily.  So any inspiration such as demonstrated in the X Games movie goes a long way in helping not to give up when going gets tough.  And in this amazing economy of ours it couldn't come soon enough.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oakley - Our Life Video

About 4 years ago Oakley got some of the world's best skateboarders, and set'em off to do their thing all around the world.  Result - 45 minutes of pure exhilaration.  Just got done watching - yeah I know, better late than never.  Nuff said.  Check out a clip of it with Dave Bachinsky:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Decorative Glass Design

I decided to do this post out of my utter appreciation for beautifully crafted glassware pottery, vases, bowls, jars, etc.  Below I'm posting shots of glassware so great I could not resist taking pictures of it right in stores and galleries.  My wife and I love travel, and I can never get enough of the diversity and beauty of glass art around the world.

Here are some of these creations I run into during our trips.  While in California back in 05, we visited Carmel-by-the-sea, an incredibly lovely town south of the Bay Area.  The fairy tale-like decorations below kept me mesmerized:

In Monterey's aquarium, besides amazing ocean creatures, I could not get enough of these glass medusas and jelly fish:

In summer of 07 we toured the Northwest, one of my most favorite corners of our great country - Portland, Seattle, and all kinds of places in-between.  Here's some pottery I saw at their saturday  market downtown Portland:

And some dazzling color pallete in glassware I run into in one of the craft stores in Leavenworth, a Bavarian town surrounded by amazing Washington state mountains and forest:

Finally here are some of my favorite glass designs I saw in Victoria, BC - their downtown is probably one of the most fun, sight-seeing best-kept secrets we ever visited:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trip to Oakley

About week-and-a-half ago I was at Oakley's headquarters on a business trip, in Foothill Ranch, Orange County, southern CA.  Last time my wife and I were in their neck of the woods was back in '05 on our vacation when we enjoyed a trip from San Francisco to San Diego, and all kinds of points in-between.

So I forgot how incredibly sweet the place is since 5 years ago till I landed in John Wayne and drove out.  This place is truly a paradise, there are no 2 ways about it.  Their forecast is boring - it's sunny and 75 basically every day.  Yes, with fires and earthquakes, I do not care - I waged enough war with Northeastern winters to call southern California a paradise, and wanting to move here as soon as we're able.  Here are the shots of Oakley's headquarters and their lobby (photos from Oakley site):

I remember when they opened this building back in '97, I was looking at the shots on their website and seriously thinking this is fake.  Nothing drove the point of how real it is home more than physically being there - They call it "the bunker" which is exactly what it looks and feels like, straight from a Hollywood set of Star Wars, Mad Max and Blade Runner.  It's located on top of a hill in Foothill Ranch, surrounded by majestic mountains and southwestern desert landscape.  On the road up the hill, the company "sign" greets you and lets you know you've arrived - except unlike a typical company logo sign by the entrace, they have an actual tank with Oakley logo that definitely lets you know you're "not in Kansas anymore."  The excitement builds as you enter their lobby and notice a row of actual fighter-jet ejection seats.  I'm not even going to start comparing it to other places I've worked at, it's in a category of its own.

This is Bruce Irons, one of the world's top surfers sponsored by Oakley, taking a joyride on their new toy (photo credit: Matt Murray/Oakley):

From their large product line of eyewear, watches, action/extreme sports apparel, luggage, and accessories, here are couple of my favorite designs - Gascan sunglasses, and Minute Machine watch:

I love their attention to detail, authentic use of materials, "nothing but the best" design/technology approach, and probably more than anything thoroughly authentic "born and bred in southern CA" style.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Rework is the new book by Jason Fried and David Hansson of 37 Signals, a software developer company.  They have succeeded in preciseley what Brunner highlighted in his "Do You Matter?" book - creating simple, intuitive, clear, and powerful products that customers love, without the hype.   Their services can probably be summarized with my favorite "No IT guy required" note on their list of benefits.  I'm not even done with the book yet (about 70% through), but it's so ridiculously great I cannot wait but to publish a review. 
And the review is simple:  wow.  Again, using someone else's words would do it better justice - Seth Godin's in this case - "Ignore this book at your own peril."  It's one of those works that opens your eyes wider the more you get into it, turns established dogmas upside down, and makes you go "how did I miss this, it just make so much sense."  Rework has a refreshing, even liberating feel about, as in this is the way we all need to work in the 21st century - we've experimented with whole lot of business models, company structures, ways of doing business, and here's what we've learned.  Skip the senseless waste of time, money, and resources, be honest, straightforward, strive to make people's lives easier and the commercial success will come.  I could go on and on, but... I need to finish the book.  This is one valuable read, so here I go...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

G Magno Wooden Radios

These wonderful wooden radios and products are the creation of Singgih Kartono, a talented award-winning designer from Indonesia.  What makes them truly remarkable is the story of how Magno business came to be.  Singgih comes from a village in central Javah, and when he saw economic situation there drastically deteriorating, he decided to utilize exotic local woods and skilled craftspeople to make these beautifully designed radios and office-related products.  The New Craft method that Singgih's company Piranti Works employs is basically a combination of traditional craft making with efficient modern manufacturing and production elements.  Moreover these products are produced in a truly green and environmentally sustainable way - Piranti replants every tree they use for production through their nursery, with a local high school participating in the effort.  Everyone wins in this scenario - more local population gets employed, and more forest is being regenerated.  Magno products are marketed here in the US through Areaware, an NYC-based design manufacturer, and have received Japan's coveted "Good Design" award.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Yves Behar's New Green Shoebox for Puma

Here's an example of honest, truly sustainable design that's nothing short of inspiring.  Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject consultancy partnered with Puma to rethink their shoe packaging, and broadly include the entire product lifecycle into the process.  Shoeboxes result in a ridiculous waste and even after they've been reused for storage of some sort are eventually disposed of.  Fuseproject studied the current manufacturing and after thoroughly attacking the problem from every angle came up with what they called a "Clever Little Bag".

Basically it's about half of the box, with a low production energy die-cut flat cardboard structure that's folded into shape without laminated printing, any tissue paper, lighter in weight than a conventional shoebox, and far more recyclable since no additional materials or parts need to be stripped out first.  The bag that covers the box and protects the shoes is also recyclable, and made from recycled PET, with a non-woven method, which uses less material than woven variety, and stitched with heat.  It eliminates the traditional bag you get in the store, saving more plastics yet.

So what kind of environmental benefits and saving exactly does all this design goodness result in?  How about over 60% reduction in energy, water, and diesel required for manufacturing annually.  Or more specifically, saving 20 million mega-joules of electricity, 264 gallons of water, 264,000 gallons of fuel, 8500 tons of paper, 275 tons of plastic, and 132,000 gallons of diesel since the reduction in shipping weight.  That is what I mean by inspiring.

The new package will ship in 2011, and I sure hope that the rest of the shoe manufacturers take a good notice, since what Yves Behar and Puma came up with is no rocket science - just a serious, honest, deliberate focus on designing a product that not greenwash, but makes a significant difference in making our world cleaner and healthier, while making the packaging even more functional and pleasing to the eye than before.  That's what good design is about. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New York International Auto Show

My friend and I visited NYC auto show last week;  while a sad departure from the lavish glorydays of the early and mid-nineties, back when economy was actually swell enough to allow for giant stacks of cars hanging on displays in all directions, it was a good show to attend nevertheless.  Noticeable was the absence of numerous concept vehicles like in the past;  the few that were on display did show off some inspiring design and technology.  Granite from GM was a welcome departure from what we're used to seeing coming out of motor city in the recent past;  solid sculpted surfaces, angles, proportions, and refreshing interior with harmonious combination of whites, browns, and grays.  Audi E-tron was easily the hottest sports ev in the green pavilion, and Toyota's FT-CH plugin hybrid's design was a welcome sight, especially when you compare it to Prius.  But of course, saving the best for last, BMW in my ultra-humble opinion ruled the show, or why don't I just say rules the entire automotive world with a reliably fun, confident, balanced, and o-so-meticulously designed vehicles.  The new 3 series is breathtaking, Z4's interior - pure joy, and the latest 7 series was just stunning to behold, especially their ultra-long proportions and taillight treatment.  I should mention too, Volvo, Saab, and Mercedes had plenty of great products on display, to be sure - check out my large collection of shots here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Solar-Powered Plane Takes Off:

In Payerne, Switzerland, the largest solar-powered airplane completed its maiden flight today.  They are planning a 100% fuel-free/emission-free flight around the world.  A truly major encouraging development in the sustainable design world.  According to Bertrand Piccard who's the leader of SolarImpulse project, "The goal is to fly day and night with no fuel. The goal is to demonstrate the importance of renewable energies, to show that with renewable energies we can achieve impossible things..."  While this is just the beginning, and the solar technology is nowhere near ready for commercial aviation, it the obvious first step that had to happen, and I'm celebrating that it did.  This plane uses 12000 solar cells, 4 motors, and rechargeable lithium batteries.  Can't wait to see the grand launch!