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."

Credits

One of my absolute favorite parts of a movie now is seeing how studios and production houses depict the opening and ending credits of a film. A far cry from the stoic, black and white lists of yesteryear, credits and their visual effects today have become just as much an essential piece of the moviegoing experience as the rest of the action, and can serve as an expectation setter of what's to come, or a lovely closure to what just was. Its purpose is to fully engage the audience and give them a further glimpse of a character, environment, or overall tone of the story.

One recent example that sticks out in my mind is the main title sequence of Iron Man 3, which was directed by designer Danny Yount and produced by Prologue Films. I loved how they incorporated bits from the entire trilogy and unified them into a final farewell to tie everything together. The faded panes of imagery alongside black divider lines are a throwback to Marvel's opening sequence for all of its films. Its quirkiness and fun is a tribute to the playboy Tony Stark and his ability to make light of any situation. And let's not forget the music, which is reminiscent of a '70s cop show and again calls out related features of the movie - self-righteous heroes, nasty villans (no matter how loveable Trevor Slattery turned out to be), and always an awesome car.

Chances are that if you saw credits that you really enjoyed, it was made by Danny and/or Prologue. Their resumes are an impressive array of film, television, and gaming. I've provided videos for a few that I have particularly admired, and their websites are a film buff's dreamland for the rest.

Larger

The intersection between design and technology is one that is ever evolving and transforming as we try to reconcile both in a world that sometimes isn't as welcoming. Often times, we think that a harmonious bond between the two is hard to come by, because it seems that no matter how hard we try, we eventually end up sacrificing one more over the other. This happens because we're so focused on what must be that we forget to think about what could be. This can go both ways.

But illustrator and artist Ron Miller manages to find a workaround in his combination of art and science. As the former art director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., Ron had a question one day of what the skies might look like if all of the solar system's planets were the same distance from Earth as the moon was. Nevermind any mass effects or gravitational disparities that would arise due to the different sizes, backgrounds, and atmospheres that each planet comprises of. If this was in any shape or form feasible, what would we see when we looked up every night?

The images that were manipulated are nothing short of stunning, even humbling. At only 240,000 miles away, the moon over Death Valley, California is the first picture in this post and an actual photograph that Ron used to calculate and juxtapose the rest of the planets in stride. If the moon covers 1/2 a degree of the night sky, then Venus would take over 2, which would equate it to be four times the size of the moon to our eyes. With Jupiter and Saturn being 318 and 95 times the mass of Earth respectively, seeing them illuminated during a highway drive would feel as if we were speeding headfirst into another plane.

I talked earlier about how we sometimes get so caught up in the logistics of things that we get stuck. Don't get me wrong - we need to have one foot deeply rooted in reality because that is what will ultimately guide us to the finish line. But one thing Ron is especially proud of is how his ideas and fantasies have served as inspiration to others about what is out there and hasn't been discovered yet. As a space artist, he feels a responsibility to keep us thinking, guessing, and pushing to explore, because the second we stop is when learning dies. And the other shoe should never drop in that direction.

Summer

When I was younger, my parents used to take my sisters and I to get-togethers at their friends' houses, where the adults would congregate in the living room and discuss important matters such as current events in the Motherland, and the children would be segregated downstairs in the basement to watch TV. In the summertime, everyone would gather outside to enjoy the warm weather and revel in the darkness. I remember watching the other kids try to catch fireflies in their palms, the glow just beyond their reach, laughter and squeals heard aloud when one was successfully caught.

I never partook in the fun.

Thinking back now, there are so many things I never did anything about, mostly because I was scared. When mean girls bullied me in grade school, I sat quiet and cried at home. I once spent years dating the wrong person because the act of breaking up, no matter how toxic the relationship, was to me, akin to defeat. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I waited 2 hours in line at Universal Studios to get on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, only to bail and wait on the sidelines because I have a general affliction towards rollercoasters. Turns out that it wasn't even a legitimate stomach-dropping saga but rather an opportunity to fly through Hogwarts Castle and experience it in the most realistic way possible. Apparently, this is the best part of the entire theme park. Way to go, Jessilyn.

All kidding aside, when you think about things like this, you seriously wonder sometimes what happened to you. Instead of living in the moment, you wish for a repeat of past events so that you could relive them and react differently. You think of the perfect response after the fact, except it's too late now to speak up so you spend countless hours in your head wondering if you did the right thing or tried your best. It never stops, even when you sleep. The lines between being awake and dreaming get blurred, and this entire ordeal gets really old fast.

When I get into one of my spirals, I reach out to any stimuli that is comforting and relaxing as a means to calm down. Yume Cyan's dreamy photographs of fireflies taken in the forests of Nagoya City, Japan remind me of those past hot nights in my first story, except I am fully present and involved because it's different this time. The long exposure renders the dancing bugs in an almost rain-like quality, and the overall effect is a beautiful snapshot of a single, still second. The picture looks busy and you feel as if there should be background noise, but I bet that when Yume took this photo, he heard nothing but the sound of his shutter. He felt peace.

The same peace is what I strive for inside. I don't want to let fear win anymore.  

Change

Hi. I am here after having taken some time off from the site. It seems like I always embark on these self-imposed hiatuses when things in my life are going through upheaval or major change, and as someone who likes her personal life to stay as still as possible, it's been an interesting period to say the least. I have been trying to get back into the swing of things so that I can retain a sense of normalcy again. I think I am almost there.

I've been searching for a way back for awhile now, so when I came across this 4-part mural series by David de la Mano and Pablo S. Herrero, it was like I had found a visual representation of what I have been feeling over the last several months. Together, the duo created street art in various points of Winter Haven, Florida that combined humans and their interactions with nature in a way that mimics fractal-like qualities. This interweaving of patterns and veins is seen both near and far, and just when you think you're at the edge, you eventually encounter another winding road that leads to its own basket of people, situations, problems, and solutions.

The intention behind these pieces is what speaks to me most. Regardless of how mathematical and purposeful the art may seem, there is something overwhelmingly emotional about these figures and their struggle to keep control over something that's larger than themselves. I look at this and identify with the message that you can't stop even if you are tired. You have to keep going until you reach the end one day.

Valentine

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Rob has been obsessed with the idea of having greenery in our apartment as of late, and I slowly find our place turning into a mini jungle of sorts. We have a small tree in the hallway, various botanicals along the windowsills, and two different kinds of watering cans under the sink. He claims that it has improved the air quality of our space. I'm convinced this is why we have fruit flies.

I've never been too much of a flower person, since my secondary thoughts after the initial "How sweet!" reaction tend to turn towards the realization that the survival of this bouquet's species is now my responsibility. I used to be gung-ho about it and even went so far as to buy a vase, which is a huge step forward considering I have a picture somewhere of a previous arrangement that made its home in an old wine bottle. Then one day, a cactus died under my watch, and that was the end of my career as a homemade gardener.

In spite of my previous disposition with members of the Green Kingdom, I recently came across these intricate x-rays of the everyday variety by photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick, and found my interest piqued once more. Brendan used an x-ray machine at a radiology lab to achieve these skeletal shots, and then processed each photo using color editing to give it the wispiness and radiance that is usually only seen when viewing underwater creatures in the darkest depths of the ocean. Only here can we really appreciate the delicacy of such plants, for their transparency makes them vulnerable and exposed. Brendan gives us the ability to see down to their core and study the parts that are normally tucked away, and we find that it could potentially be more beautiful than what's on the surface. So we take a closer look, immerse ourselves fully into the experience, and are changed because of it.

This willingness to explore deeper, no matter what failures may have occurred previously, is what loving someone feels like. 

Fresh

Visiting France again is a long awaited dream of mine, and it is something that I hope to accomplish within the next few years or so. When I was 19 years old, I traveled to Avignon and Cannes for a week and fell in love with the French people - their joie de vivre, their society's tendency to be reserved at first before opening up and showing a tremendous affection for others, and their zest for all that is good in this world: food, sex, and art. This beautiful country and the pride held within its land has resonated deeply within me all this time. I don't think I've ever met a French person who wasn't proud of being one. There is a good reason why this is so.

Seeing Anagrama's branding for Bonnard, a confectionery shop in Mexico that was inspired by and named for French post-impressionist painter, Pierre Bonnard, reminded me of the airy, carefree nature that was infectious for me from the getgo once I landed at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport. Pastel colors, swished brush strokes, and a simple san-serif typeface all pay tribute to Bonnard's method of artistry, as he was a man who had a deep devotion to color. He also loved macaroons, and this detail is examined in the cross shapes that lie within the wording on top of all the O's. A good studio finds ways to incorporate the special, important aspects of any brand in a quiet, unassuming, yet impactful manner.

Despite Mexico and France being continents apart, Anagrama was still able to take a slice of the latter's culture and make it an enjoyable and relatable experience no matter where you are. In my bedroom in New Jersey on the other side of the world, I sit here contentedly drinking in these sights until I'm able to take this journey once more.

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.

Light

What a beautiful way to ring in 2013 by looking at this gorgeous installation created by Aether & Hemera. The London-based studio, which consists of Claudio Benghi and Gloria Ronchi, is named after the Greek god and goddess of light, appropriately so given the nature of their work. Voyage is the culmination of 300 sailboats powered by LED lighting that float in Canary Wharf, and its interactivity invites visitors to control the color function via their mobile devices.

While undergoing the process of building this, Claudio and Gloria first rendered the sailboats in 2D so that the perfect balance point and gravity distribution were realized, and then ventured into the 3D model. Small weights keep each one upright and connections are generated by wires that also serve as electrical cords. The boats have been designed to withstand waves, wind, and water. When all is said and done, the fully effect is truly magical.

It is one of those things that keep you rooted to your spot, and once you see it, you can't look away. Your mind is focused on the object but also becomes hazy as it wanders, like one is apt to do when viewing such an illusion. That is indeed the purpose of this project, for the audience to dig into their imagination and think about the times of yesteryear while being aware of the present.

My resolutions are to cook more, travel often, take some time for myself, buy locally, and be a nicer person. Happy new year to you all.

Path

I am writing this to you after five long days of Hurricane Sandy, which touched down last Monday evening and did not let the sun come out until the end of the week. I consider myself one of the lucky ones because we were only without power for 48 hours, and save for a single sponge bath that took me back to the days of Lincoln, and momentary panic that I was literally cut off from the world for that time, I came out of the whole ordeal relatively unscathed.

Others that I am close to have not been so lucky, and they, along with so many others in the greater New Jersey/New York area are still in pain. It's scary to think that something of this magnitude can happen in a matter of minutes. It's even more frightening to realize how little control we have in this kind of situation, and how salvation can only be given in the face of mercy.

With this new week beginning, we are all looking for a fresh start and a chance to put the horror of last week behind us. But even if we ourselves are ready, there are still many forces at work that we need to wait for. That's the hard part about it - the waiting. With rarely any boundaries put into place, we feel restless and anxious, eagerly yearning for any new tidbit of information that will allow us to move forward finally.

How do others find the strength to push past and create their own path?

I took inspiration today from an installation built in the woods of Tallinn, Estonia by Japanese architect Tetsuo Kondo. In 2011, he changed the way people walked through Kadriorg Park by creating a winding path amongst the trees themselves, which in effect put the wanderers on par with the lush scenary that this area was made of. Tetsuo did not negatively affect the environment in any way; rather, it was almost as if the structure and the park coexisted peacefully in order to provide something more to passerbys. By working together, a far greater and more enhanced experience was made - one that was bigger and better than what was already being offered.

The level of aid and empathy shown to the east coast recently has astounded and humbled me. I have blogged before about the stoicism and cynicism that permeates New York City, and how I both fear and accept that it is just the nature of things. But through this, I see that we hold no higher commitment than to our fellow man. I desperately want to believe that we are fundamentally good, and that from the darkness, a light is always shown. That cooperation will always be more beneficial than standing alone. That is what will take us to tomorrow.   

Wordsmith

Ever feel a tension so sharp in a room that it could cut glass and make angels bleed? Count on Wasted Rita to say what people in the room are thinking but are too cowardly to say. Her series, titled Words on Things, features personal and public thoughts that we have all had in our lifetime, some so honest that it hurts, others like a splash of cold water to our faces that makes us gasp, a few we can relate to that gives us the chuckles.

Given the amount of haranguing that happens at our workplace, at home, in school, between lovers and amongst friends, there comes a point when we can't take it anymore. For the introverted and nonconfrontational, an outburst in defense and return is not an option. So Wasted Rita provides those of us an outlet, however passive aggressive it may be, so that we may feel some reprieve. It doesn't solve anything, but it is enough to get us through another day.

Maybe this is how Wasted Rita gets through hers too. I don't make friends easily, but I admit I am captivated by her and wish she was a real presence in my life. I think her candor and blunt observation is just what the creativity industry needs in order to provide some normalcy to a land where politics and ego rule the roost. But can such things ever be tamed and brought down to earth? 

Name

One of the more painstaking memories of my childhood is not that a boy pushed me on the playground one afternoon in 5th grade, or that I once had a sleepover where I invited a mixed group of friends who instantly hated each other, thus invoking a lifelong fear of events where people don't know each other to begin with. It's that my name is and has always been difficult to say or spell. I don't think you truly realize that fact until you look at a delivery receipt and see "Juslen Eu" in the To: field. Talk about a case of mistaken identity. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the initial things you do is introduce yourself. When you take a test, the first thing you do is write your name. When a baby is born, one of the first acts of passage is giving he/she something with which you can call. So many emotions surround what you are identified as, that having someone mispronounce or misspell it can be a buzzkill.

How does one cope with this? By taking charge of the situation of course, and that's exactly what Brazilian graphic designer Guilherme Dultra Villar did with the identity of his personal studio. Guilherme provides a phonetic pronounciation of his first name in a way that makes it instantly clear as to how you say it. Instead of having future prospects be embarrassed of completely butchering it or waiting until they do to correct them, he proactively gives a helping hand in a smart and friendly manner. Using neutral colors such as dark gray and muted yellow along with a middleweight sans-serif typeface like Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk ensures that the introduction goes smoothly and the transition to his work is seamless. 

What have I done? When all else fails, I go by "Jess". Especially in Starbucks.

Pencil

Designing for any corporate entity has the potential to be flat, creatively draining, and for lack of a better word, boring. Given the strict guidelines, legal hoopla, and office politics that have to be dealt with throughout the entire process, it's no wonder that a design team feels compressed and restrained, unable to really let go and push forth as they wish.

But every once in a while, given the circumstances, you still come across a concept that is fresh, inspired, and also clever, and that's what I found in designer Alex Dalmau's identity for Deskidea, an office supplies company located in Spain. Keeping the color schematic simple with only black and white, the brand stands out amidst the many products that are housed on the website. At first, I wondered why the two horizontal lines were not continuous from the K in "desk" to the I in "idea", until I saw the pencil that becomes apparent once the logo is rearranged vertically. In its current state, it also has the potential to look like a paper clip.

All good ways of making something that could otherwise be one-dimensional into something mult-faceted that lends itself well to the task at large.

Drive

After the week I just had, I have the biggest urge to go someplace far away. But because running from our problems never actually solves anything, I'll settle for these gorgeous high fidelity shots of city traffic by Shinichi Higashi. His series titled graffiti of speed / mirror of symmetry details the fast-paced thrill of the chase that so many of us desire to dive right into. Maybe being a part of such an illustrious, exciting scene will at the very least take our minds off of our current sadness, and provide a brief reprieve from the neverending thoughts that trickle through our minds. We all deserve a break once in a while, right?

IKEA

When I moved into my first apartment, my default source for furniture and appliances was the great IKEA. With its quirky yet functional layout designated to ensure that we walk through every single display and compile a list of things we want and need, IKEA is probably one of Sweden's greatest exports for the young and financially challenged home dweller. The simple and clean aesthetic of its products is probably what draws me in the most - that no matter where I live, I will always find something that matches with my surroundings in some way, shape, or form.

Recently, I noticed that the IKEA I go to opened a food mart near the entrance which sells native Swedish foods. The packaging for these mimic the same streamlined look and feel that I've grown to associate with the country of origin. Created by the Stockholm Design Lab, the purpose of the design was to evoke a sense of what and how meals in Sweden are presented and eaten, bringing a resurgence of interest to the overall Swedish culture, and providing a glimpse into the personalities of the Swedish people.

Some might say that this is indicative of a very stark and cold society. I say that done right, minimalism is never spartan, but honest and pure.