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!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Better Place

Better Place is an electric vehicle infrastructure company founded back in 2007 by Shai Agassi, a former head of Product and Technology group at SAP.  I first heard about it last year through a presentation Shai gave at TED (annual technology / entertainment / design conference), laying out the boldest, most realistic, and most exciting vision for oil-free world I've ever seen.  To say that his vision and expertise to make the world a cleaner and healthier place to live is inspirational is a major understatement.  I quickly joined their community online, and a LinkedIn group here, which keeps me updated on their progress. 

Better Place builds necessary infrastructure, i.e. a network of charging stations and battery swap stations, but with a truly brilliant well-worked out business model.  Drivers will be able to subscribe to variety of mileage plans, similar to a cell-phone plan, where the ownership of an EV is for the first time separated from owning a battery.  Consumers own electric cars, but subscribe to energy on a basis of miles driven.  The thorough saturation of charge spots and battery swap stations insure that you will never run out of energy to drive your EV, thus totally overcoming the worst thing about 100% electric cars today - severely limited mileage range.   The battery-swap stations are beautifully designed to quickly change your battery without a driver ever getting out of the car, in about the same time it takes to fill up with gasoline.  On top of that they partnered with Renault-Nissan to create the first purely electric vehicles that will NOT cost more than the traditional gas cars, look and feel as good as or BETTER than traditional cars, and EXCEED the performance of the gas vehicles with far better instant torque and accelleration than inefficient gasoline engine - i.e. affordability being the critical key to global EV adaptation by the mass market.

Better Place has been working with many governments around the world, and are now deploying their business in Israel, Denmark, and Australia, with US, Canada, Japan, and many other countries following up as the equity funding continues to grow.  This will no doubts be the most notable sustainable transportation success story very soon, and I'm more than convinced we're witnessing history in the making.  I personally cannot wait till we here in the US have their green vehicle infrastructure in place so I could finally live my dream of driving without pollutting the air we breathe.  Stay tuned for more exciting developments from Better Place I'll be posting here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Design Revolution Road Show

The Design Revolution road show is a traveling exhibition and lectures given by Project H, an organization committed to improving peoples' lives on a global scale through power of design.  That is exactly the goal of the exhibition, which is traveling around the country right now in their Airstream trailer.  They're stopping in 35 schools and universities, featuring 40 humanitarian designs that solve problems for people in ingenious ways.  A great example is the Roughrider wheelchair designed by Whirlwind Wheelchair International, a San-Francisco company;  it features a rugged construction, anti-tip bar, and a long wheelbase optimized for conditions in the developing world.  All these products are part of their book called "Design Revolution: 100 products that empower people."  I have allways been their big fan, since not only does Project H design affordable solutions for the underpriveleged and overlooked, they spread the good message about the importance of good design, and how it changes the world for the better in every way.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Message on Soda Sugar Drinks - Design Makes a Difference:

Thank you Jesus someone at Bloomberg's administration is clearly getting how focused well-designed ad campaign can seriously change behaviour for the better.  I'm getting excited to the point of being giddy, since I learned through Fast Company that this ad against Coke / Pepsi's sad little sugar-obsessed world has appeared in New York City's subways and apparently made a real difference.  At least in the amount of attention it quickly generated and focused on the issue - by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Message about sodas slowly killing you has been out there for decades, but never in this clear anti-smoking kind of manifestation.  I have not had a soda drink for so many years I literally can't remember when was the last time. 

And loving every minute of it - understanding the battle we all face with a host of deadly diseases it DID NOT take much convincing for me to drop the sugar drinks, and turn to the obviously healthy water and tea (green and jasmine variations in particular, yumm!!) years ago, along with chucking red meat and fast food crap, replacing it with anti-inflammatory Japanese and Mediterranean diets that are not just healthy, but the most delicious ever.  My wife and I are serious connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine, "collecting" as many Japanese restaurants as we can all over the country.

So - my hat's off to Mayor Bloomberg's administration and their efforts to actually improve their city's health with well-designed ads that influence behavior on the emotional level, which is exactly what good design does, whether it's graphic, industrial, or architectural.

Cradle To Cradle

Cradle to Cradle is a book by William Mcdonough and Michael Braungart that is, in my humble opinion, the most profoundly important book on the environment and its preservation ever written.  Unlike scores of other environmental publications over the years, this one really is in a category of its own.  First thing that separates it from the rest is its not alarmist in any way - the amount of common sense in every aspect of the writing is incredible.  The authors are a famous architect and a chemist that demonstrate crystal clear ways sustainable design thinking can be applied to any industry and produce measurable, truly revolutionary results.  Notable is their opposition to "eco-efficiency" which is basically even worse than our current unsustainable way of life, since it drains and obliterates resources just as much, but more slowly and deliberately.  The argument if for what they call "ecologically intelligent design" which considers the entire product cycle from raw supplies to its disposal and fundamentally designing the process with recycling as clearly implemented and supported part of the product or service.  Great examples of companies that already do business sustainably and reap great benefits are given, Ford Motor Company's original factory is notable.  The book is eye-opening, inspiring, and an absolute must-read for ANY design professional or student, check it out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Slava Saakyan Design

 This is a design consultancy I stumbled upon last night doing research - Slava Saakyan.  To say I was impressed is a major understatement.  His practice is out of Moscow, and design style is truly cutting edge, with Karim Rashid's "sensual minimalism" appearing abundantly, and serious "old school" deliberate attention to most minute detail is nothing short of inspiring.  Most notable on their site are samples of beautiful train interiors, and wide range of industrial design.  Slava teaches a number of courses, and if I had a chance to take them I absolutely would have.  Too bad they're currently in European schools only.

LG EcoMobilization Program

Looking at LG, I was very impressed by their EcoMibilization program which provides numerous ways to recycle phones, and most importantly makes it easy.  Simple truth is most of us would recycle gladly if it was made easier.  You can print out a form off this site, request a free pre-paid pack, and ship the old phone to them, or just drop it off at a number of the mobile recycling bins, including ones by Waste Management which they partner with.  Additionally, LG came up with the Skycharger, a fully green freestanding phone charging station in a tent, which uses wind turbines and solar panels to create peak power or 1.8Kw, and can charge 104 phones per hour.  More of those Skychargers are going to be setup around the country, according to their facebook page.  My applause to all companies that make a visible effort to be ecologically responsible, encouraging recycling, power conservation, and renewable energy production.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Parrot AR Drone Augmented Reality

This is getting seriously fun - control this helicopter toy with your Iphone as an RC controller.  The "Drone" by Parrot, a French wireless company, generates its own Wi-Fi network, which enables the Iphone to control it.  Someone was bound to do this, and they are the first.  Seems obvious - use Iphone's own accellerometer to control the movements.  And to spice things up even more, the chopper streams live video to your Iphone, hence the videogaming experience.  They got the CES Innovations Award in the electronic gaming hardware category.  The videos speak for themselves.  No word on when it's coming out (apparently sometime 2010), or the cost, but very cool indeed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Designers Accord - Biomimicry Challenge:

"Have a design challenge? Ask nature for the solution" - states the top entry on The Designers Accord's site.  Very refreshing to see this great topic brought to attention of one of the most important design hubs out there.  The Designers Accord, according to their own definition is "...a global coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact."  They promote ecological awareness and serious sustainability through successful design case studies features on their site.  Fast Company posted a great article on Biomimicry, definitely worth reading.  I would also point out that when they say "...If we're trying to do it, chances are, nature already did it better", they are certainly missing the obvious, that God created nature and the world we live in with its amazing design all around us available for reference.  Saying that "mother nature" has done this or developed that has the same logic as the big bang theory, which literally makes the case for the great complexity and order on the level of the DNA molecule resulting from a giant explosion billions of years ago.  Unbelievably this theory is still taken seriously by world's scientists.  To me the fact that we and the world around us has been designed by the Intelligent Designer is as clear as the fact that a computer we're all using has been intelligently designed, engineered, and manufactured, vs. came out of an explosion and then evolved over a long period of time.  So, again, it is very refreshing to see Biomimicry highlighted on both sites.

ABC World News Tonight Profiles Mission to End Child Sex Trafficking in Cambodia

Diane Sawyer has reported on ABC news tonight about Clay Butler, an American missionary who started a mission in the heart of Cambodia child sex slave trade, where kids are sold into prostitution by their own parents.  Talk about insane, this is how sad and morally deprave that society is.  Thank God for people like Clay who sacrifice so much to rescue those children.  Dan Harris, an ABC investigative reporter did a great job showcasing what they do, and a truly life-changing results in his interviews. 
I applaud ABC, and any network that makes a serious effort to bring these kinds of issues and people who devote their lives to the good of others, keep on!

Friday, March 19, 2010

ASUS Waveface

Asus Waveface concept - a flexible screen hardware with intelligent beautifully-designed interface that represents location-based cloud computing to bring you relevant content and basically organize your life for you.  Don't know the details, but it looks well thought-out and I'm looking forward to seeing this concept brought to life soon.  Check out their concept video:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LG Design Competition

I'm currently working on what's next in the mobile/smart phones for the LG "Design the Future" competition that just opened up.  Exciting for sure, since there's so much yet possible with personal mobile communication, not the least of which is simplifying and making mobile communication more intuitive.  That's been my focus for many years, and I'm looking forward to innovating in this segment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Morgan's Wonderland

As shown on ABC World News Tonight, a businessman father of a special child raised $30 million (investing a million of his own) to build a specialized theme park (Morgan's Wonderland) designed specifically for mentally challenged - I thought it was BY FAR the best most profound report i've seen in a long time.  Not only did it demonstrate a great heart of a father who decided to do something about a real problem, it also shocased the true power of ethnographic research and what good design can accomplish.