Tomorrow

Recently, a friend and I had a conversation about letting go and being free. He asked me if I had ever taken a trip or gone on a vacation where I woke up in the morning, walked outside, and let the day work itself out. I told him the thought of that was giving me hives.

To be completely transparent, I'm the sort of person who makes everything into an itinerary. Things have to be planned down to a T. I don't like to waste time. I react very well to boundaries. I move on when things are done.

So much of my energy is either spent reflecting on the past or looking at what's next and thinking ahead, that I have a hard time enjoying what I have right now. Instead of looking at the clock and thinking that I have 7 hours left in my Saturday to relax and take a breather, I see it as 7 hours until Sunday, when I have a whole new list of items to do and errands to run and I better get everything finished otherwise things will spill into the next day and I'll already be behind.

Finding David Okum's clocks in his shop, Okum Made, might just be the thing that cures me of this affliction. Built on the premise that goods should only embody the things that they actually need, David's O'Clock series contain the base, the hands, and the motor by which they are made. Because the hours and minutes aren't staring you in the face, the clock becomes a simple indicator of where in the day you are presently in. It's not an arms race anymore to be productive before midnight. Its purpose is to be a steady reminder of time moving forward, which is the definition of living.

So go out and be. Everything is really okay.

Herman

Found this gem of a video today from Dutch studio Part of a Bigger Plan, who was commissioned by Herman Miller to create an introduction video for their WHY campaign. WHY is a new digital platform that tells audiences the story behind the company and why it has remained a force in the furniture industry for the last 108 years. Aptly so, Part of a Bigger Plan created a quirky animation that details the Herman Miller history in just 108 seconds.

I own several pieces from their office collections, and have always appreciated the fine detail put into the design and aesthetics of each one without sacrificing comfort and ease. In reading the motivations behind what they do, I am reminded why I am proud to support them and their cause.

"At Herman Miller, design is never just about a finished product. It is a narrative that extends from the conceptual thinking that informs a designer’s vision to the people it touches and the places it transforms."

Superman

One of my favorite things about working in UX design is the fact that the majority of my job is spent thinking about how to take something that already exists and make it exist better. The phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" bothers me to no end because it denotes a negative attitude of complacency. If we as a society didn't exert effort into improving our standard of living and the experiences that come with it, how would we have ever risen out of the cavemen era? I suppose at that point, we wouldn't have cared one way or another. How great does that sound.

I came across a store on Etsy recently that specializes in metalworks for home decor, and their bookends resulted in a happy half hour of my chuckling at the cleverness of it all. Knob Creek Metal Arts is a Kentucky-based shop that takes this ordinary and simple device to the next level by creating a story behind the steel. They can also be organized to match the content it surrounds, so that all of your horror novels or DVDs are held in place by the headless horseman and his victim. This adds a nice touch to your otherwise boring standard fare.

The funny thing about bookends is that they're quite useless alone - you always need two in order to keep stuff upright. Knob Creek Metal Arts hammers that point in (excuse the pun) by making it crucial that one end has the other by its side in order to maintain compatability. I'm not quite sure how aesthetically pleasing it would be to have the butt of a triceratops being poked into by a man with a chainsaw.

But another great thing about the human imagination is that to someone else, that makes perfect sense. You need people like that who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is real in order to come up with something that is not yet alive but could be one day. It is the most frustrating thing to be stifled of that creativity because what is there now is good enough, and because people are afraid to take risks on improving an idea for the sake of appeasing its current audience. Because of this, great resources remain untapped and the vast unknown never becomes realized.

It is too early in the new year to be pessimistic already. Let's start over again and be glad that we at least grew out of cavemen times. Baby steps.

Cup

It's almost spring cleaning around these parts and I am currently on the hunt for a couple new things for the kitchen. Something I would love to get are these amazing glasses by Korean studio Tale Design, which are both minimalistic and educational in the most literal sense of the word. As the user finishes their drink in the Moon glass, the receding tide reveals the various phases of the Moon due to a unique divider within the cup that allows the liquid to delicately flow from one side to the next. For those of you who have never been to the Pennine Alps near Switzerland, never fear, since one of its mountain's peak is immortalized in the Matterhorn glass as an exact crystal replica.

Objects like this that have been consciously built as a means to engage the user is what makes product design so great. 

Underground

Scenes from city subways tend to be grimy, overcrowded, and full of tired, overworked people. Not anymore. Photographer Henry Hargreaves takes us to a whimsical side of public transportation in his Subway Series, a tastier and more colorful take on traveling that is sure to relieve many a commuter, aesthetically speaking at least. Henry reconstructs the underground railroad paths of New York, London, Paris, Moscow, and Washington D.C. out of ribbon, dyed spaghetti, pipe cleaners, yarn, and M&Ms respectively in this unique project.

In doing this, not only does Henry detangle the seemingly complicated nature of our subways to a more relatable, fun system, but he also tells us that we can literally make anything we desire with the help of a few common ingredients. Design isn't always a big to-do that requires the best supplies that money can buy, otherwise it would end up becoming very one-dimensional. Anyone can purchase the latest graphic software and the best equipment, but things you cannot obtain in a store are artistry, originality, and vision. Never disregard your simplicity for mediocity. Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.

Try

With 2011 coming to a close, it is almost customary at this point to be reflective, look back on the past 12 months, and remember what happened. We extol our accomplishments, feel satisfaction at all we have achieved, and pat ourselves on the back for having survived through another year in our lives. But there is also a side of us that thinks about the things we did not do, the promises we did not keep, and the people we decided to let go. In the spirit of Christmas and the pending celebration of a new year, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about this confusing state of affairs that some of us find ourselves in, and what it means to come out on top after a perceived failure. 

Joel Bukiewicz is the owner and operator of Cut Brooklyn, a knife shop that specializes in tools for chefs and restaurants in New York City and beyond. Joel's knives come bearing evidence of the time and effort it took to masterfully craft each one to perfection, and it is this human interaction from start to finish that gives his products a definitive edge over standard ones made in a trolley line by other machines. The video above details his process as one that is almost borderline obsessive, as he spends thousands of hours in order to grasp the exact measurements and details needed to render every piece as faultless. 

Joel's talents may lie in the cutlery industry now but when he was first starting out in the working world, his dream was to become a writer. He graduated with a MFA in fiction writing but was not successful in selling his first manuscript. Becoming increasingly desperate, Joel took a much needed break and immersed himself in a hobby of crafting knives. Over time, his interest and faculty grew to the point where he now has his own business, a true mark of success in the creative world. Regardless of whether or not this is where he thought he would be in the future, he still made it.

It is interesting that I discuss Joel's journey because I feel in many ways that we have taken opposite approaches in life. As a writer who surrounds herself with the optical works of designers and developers, I sometimes struggle with the fact that I myself am not the actual maker of anything. Instead, my talent lies in the ability to discover, research, and understand the moment of conception for projects that people undertake, and I then take these stories and give them a voice with my words. A long time ago, I could have figured out from the start that building something, whether it be with a pen, marker, or mouse, was what I wanted to do. Because I took the path of least resistance, I am here now as someone who yearns to do what it is these people do, but cannot.

But all is not lost. In starting this blog, I have come to the realization that this is my way of staying close and being a part of something I love in a different, albeit equally symbolic, manner. I may not be able to make graphite sculptures out of a pencil tiptame fire to create art, or code entire worlds, but what I can do is lend a willing ear and listen to the reasons why. From this, I have discovered my true purpose and reason for being. From this, I have found what I was really meant to do.  

PS: This will be last post for 2011. Stay tuned in 2012 as we explore even more amazing works that exist out there. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here with me. See you soon.