Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

let's all complain about air travel


I have always struggled with people's inability to discern the difference between senseless whining and complaining. A complaint is the voicing of a legitimate concern with the positive goal of improvement. Granted, a complaint should be voiced in a constructive manner to get the best response, but moreover than not, people simply take it as whining and ignore the intended message (i won't even begin to address the inability of even well-educated people to have a truly intellectual discussion on the subject of religion, politics or computer operating systems!)

To me, designers and inventors are great complainers. Many of us will start with a verbal gripe, but luckily, many also sit down and draft solutions to all sorts of vexations! I find designer stories very engaging, especially when they can identify their motivation, inspiration and influences in/of their work. One theme that comes up in my own process is air travel (which will bring me to the point of this blog entry).

By the time I was conscious of air travel, the boeing 747 was already flying for a few years. If I remember correctly, my first non-infant flying experience was on a National airlines flight to Miami on a DC-10. Concords were flying over my head from the beach club on Long Island giving out a short sonic boom we would wait to hear. It was also at this time that Start Trek was popular in reruns, Space 1999 was must-see-tv and overall, Sci-Fi was prime-time. From my childhood perspective, the 747 and DC-10 were not even the height of technology for travel at the time as we had the concord in the air and space shuttle on the way. Our sights were set for colonies on the moon by 1999 and trips to Tokyo in super sonic jets cutting the trip to 5 hours (not to mention hovercrafts!)!

This is where I must insert my amazement and awe in technological advancements in computers and mobile telecommunications as I like to keep things on a positive note, but my frustration with things like air travel is a major component of my motivation in creating Nooka – airplanes and wristwatches are 2 things that do not match the level of advancement that should be acceptable in a world that has room for the iphone!

Anyway, why am I writing this? Because the New York Times has a blog that never ceases to anger me on the subject of air travel [access it here]. The NYT is normally a consumer-first news source, but this particular blog seems to be a mouthpiece for the industry itself. Sometimes they do address some concerns like rediculous and pointless security measures, but moreover it is a rebuke to anyone who complains about the state of air travel in 2007 [and soon 2008].

My point? I am on an airplane a minimum of 10 flights a year since 1987. A flight to Tokyo in 1977 took 15 hours from NYC and guess what? It still takes that long in 2007! A computer in 1977 was pretty much 0 for me as home computers were a rarity then yet we have seen increases in speed and technology that only a mathematician could express for me. Why should we not have higher expectations for air travel? The Jetlagged blog sometimes refers to when people had to take boats and trains as a scolding to people complaining about airtravel, and I use the same argument to make my point: it is not 1907 anymore. Everything gets faster and safer...why not air travel?

As for service on the planes: let the people who made the decision to not serve food on short flights prepare for a trip to starting in a suburban household in central New Jersey with a vegetarian and a child with Celiac disease. Let them see how 2 hours flying time does not mean 2 hours travel time for even a family living near a major airport (or anyone for that matter with current security procedures). Let the city planners and politicians travel with a lower middle class family with 2 children and their luggage on a bus to a midwest airport or on the subway+airtrain here in NYC. Let them find a healthy meal in an airport.

I say it's time for EVERYBODY to complain and complain in an articulate and productive manner so blogs like jetlagged get with the program -- and please note, this is not an airline-only problem -- the airports and the government are equally responsible for creating infrastructure and systems that keep air travel a safe and efficient experience. And a note to all the aeronautic engineers out there: where the hell is my anti-gravity drive hovercraft?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

american vogue


i got a call from my PR guy that a green AND red nooka are featured in the January Vogue with Kate Hudson on the cover! check it out.

kudos to the stylist and editor...great photo shoot!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Creatures of the Night [COTN™]


I am proud to leak the news of my new line of urban inspired camouflage to honor creatures of the night. The design was a happy accident [gosh i love design process!], a result of developing the “have a grey-t day” line of cool grey nookas exploring images of “grey/urban animals” – pigeons, rats, mice, bats and cats. The resulting camo pattern was to be produced only in shades of grey, but the custom pattern we created is just too good to limit to just one color!

We are proud to present COTN™ camo in:

Urban Jungle Grey
Balmy Army Green
and
Crooklyn Remix

The face is the Nooka Zen-H, stainless steel case back, PU band with butterfly closure, mineral crystal, 5ATM waterproof, and EL backlight. $250 US [but don't quote me on that] available in January 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

iphone: do not buy [yet]

what is a designer blog without the mandatory entry on the iphone? well here's mine, and i'll make it short: do not buy yet.

the iphone is an amazing leap in interface design, but there are some drawbacks no fault of apple: ATT super sucks. the edge network is painfully slow and their billing practices need to be investigated by the authorities. i read all the new york times articles about getting $1,000 iphone bills when traveling abroad so i called ATT BEFORE my trip to sign up for the international data AND voice roaming plans [i'm tech-savvy and turned off the international data roaming whenever i was in a wifi hotspot as well] -- i still got an $1,000 bill!! [no BS, will post a scan of the 2 bills here soon]. calls to ATT only confused the matter as they tried to explain that they bill present and next month in advance [is this legal?]. my sense is that they bill the data transfer even when on wifi as i was very careful not to use my fone much the month i was traveling.

only buy the iphone when the following things happen without unauthorized hacks:
VOIP is available,
IM [not just iChat] is standard,
available unlocked,
edge is upgraded to acceptable speeds,
or if you have shitloads of money or never plan to use your iphone overseas.

a ping from pingmag japan

a couple of weeks ago i did an interview for ping magazine in japanese. the edited version of that interview was uploaded yesterday. since the interview was conducted in japanese i assumed it would only go up that way, but an english version was prepared. surprisingly, it's a pretty good translation! there were a few emails back and forth to clarify my responses, no doubt because japanese is not my native language, so it was weird that i never got a draft of the translation to check....

anyway, the english version is here. japanese version here. thank you chiemi!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

new press



nooka gets such wonderful press coverage, it's difficult to feature it all. mono magazine in japan has a full page on ME in their 25th anniversary issue which is an honor. i must say though, i am very disappointed with the horrible picture they used -- i look 70 years old in it! i asked them to use a different one, but obviously they did not. also, W hotels is featuring nooka in their WISH catalog which i believe in in every room of the W hotel chain. they did a KICK-ASS job with the product photography.

back to mono...they are the first to cover our upcoming all clock...more on that later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

nooka on the view


i know it's not the target demographic, but nooka made a bold appearance on abc's the view last friday when brooklyn's own, the vesties performed on the show. julie of the band actually posed nude for my last catalog though we only printed a tasteful shot with her tits covered by her hot guitar. check out the "caroling for a caravan" part 2 on abc.com.

if you've ever wondered if there could ever be a band as good as blondie, the vesties are a band to watch. check them out on myspace and itunes!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

miami heist update

my hotel is super crappy...they have a thrifty car rental office right in front of my room! i guess it's perfect for people who want to wake up early in the morning to the sounds of people refusing additional insurance.

the space for heist is really nice [thanks to the sexy doug perkul of schatzi!] so if you're in miami, please come by. got to hang out with motomichi nakamura and meet scott bigfoot [both are artists in the show]. it's great to be in miami after 7 years – lots of development – unfortunately it's looking more like shenzhen china than a US city:)

map magazine party is here at charcoal studios tonight and blackbook tomorrow night.

also...i sold one big piece so far...the 60 inch c-print! YEAH.

i checked out the ink show [works on paper] and bridge. i never really thought about it, but having a one stop market for all things "art" is kinda cool for people who need to fill their 2nd and 3rd homes with expensive stuff. when i'm filthy rich, i'll send my personal curator though.

Monday, December 3, 2007

minneapolis

i know it sounds like a cliché coming from a native new yorker, but aside from 2 trips in the late 90s to chicago, the midwest is a mystery to me. and though i can draw a map of the us quite well, i can only place the coastal states with any accuracy. this past weekend saw me in minneapolis which i am told is in a state called minnesota. everyone my age and older knows minneapolis from the mary tyler moore show of the 70s or from prince and the revolution. cultured peeps know it from the walker art center, which is the reason for my trip -- to do a museum shop meet and greet for members of the center.

we landed saturday into a snowy minneapolis and i drive the rental car on unplowed highways. the hotel, graves601, is a boutique hotel that would be comfortable in nyc, london or berlin -- common areas feature custom lighting [wood veneers over plexi boxes], floor to ceiling seamless wood paneling, plexiglass blocks glued to create post modern space dividers and the requisite overplayed lounge-crap mixed cd playing over and over and over in the halls, in the elevators, in the lobby [who thunk one could get sick of listening to ‘libertango’ by grace jones, but then again, i was never subjected to it 8 times a day for 3 days]. the rooms are not as ‘designed’ as the common areas, but spacious -- plus, i’ve never seen hermes soap before [it smells pretty]. 2 problems are the fact that the windows don’t open [bring candles or incense if you know what i mean] and there was no bath tub in my room [bathroom felt like a hospital]. the construction though is flawless, not a light switch poorly sunk, no corner imperfect, and no surface not plumb.

we ate at a place local to the hotel [in the warehouse district] called pizza luce which was great. my double shot of jaegger was only $5.25! we then went to a club called jetset though the snow kept everyone home, so we didn’t stay.

sunday was our trunk show at the walker. the walker is truly a wonderful institution. unfortunately, only one person showed up for my presence [the snow?] which made me a bit sad. it seems to verify my impression that americans really aren’t interested in designers like asian consumers are, which is fine as they still buy the product. again, it was probably the snow being the first major fall of the season. nooka does do well in the shop though, so i shouldn’t complain.

now back to the walker: the permanent collection is amazing, their staff is wonderful and friendly, and the building by herzog and mueron is a pleasure. the utility areas of the museum are playful herzog and mueron -- sharp angles with smooth seamless joins, glacial forms and light, combined with surprisingly utilitarian/practical gallery spaces. the transition from the fantastical to the practical going from gallery to hallway to gallery creates a sense of adventure to the sometimes tedious task of looking at the art [i went for the building but stayed for the art!]. (if there are any people who know construction details, i am curious as to how the interior walls are finished. they seem to be a plastic veneer over sheet rock with molded plaster joins. the surface has sponge/scrub marks all over the surfaces which brings you to my question: is this intentional or the unintentional leftovers of a poor choice of cleaning material? is it a wash of plaster over the veneer to attempt to match the surface with the plaster joins? i really want to know as it doesn’t match the smooth futurist aesthetic of the structure)

after the walker, we drove to see the new guthrie theater designed by jean nouvel -- and what an amazing building it is. it’s an imposing deathstar black onyx clad structure with a signature overhang jutting out towards the mississippi called the endless bridge [or is it bridge to nowhere?]. this building also creates an alice-in-wonderland experience as the blackness of the skin gives one an impression that the interiors will be smaller than they actually are -- a feeling exaggerated by the light colors of the interior walls. i think the best anaolgy i can come up with at the moment is akin to eating a dark chocolate cherry cordial for the first time: it looks like a solid chocolate but cracks in the mouth to release the liquid surprise of syrup and a bright vermillion maraschino cherry. it really is worth a visit. if anyone reading this knows jean, tell him i’m a huge fan of his.
we then had dinner with friends of friends who love in a fab converted loft condo, but i won’t bore you with details of what we ate or drank [cocktails in the condo, then dinner at azian, an uptown asian fusion spot]. they were great hosts who filled us in on the real estate market and design business in minneapolis as well as pointers for nightlife [nothing on a freezing sunday night].

i was told that minneapolis is famous for breakfast, so today we had breakfast at a place called hell’s kitchen [tried to go to ike’s, but they close the kitchen after 10 am for breakfast]. they played x-mas carols the whole time we were there, which confirms my suspicions of what the soundtrack in hell really is [i think i like libertango again]. the food was great, home-made bison sausage patties, local wild rice porridge, sickly sweet pecan cinnamon rolls, and eggs. no soy milk for my coffee was a minus though.

hotel check-out and then we went to visit status, a cool sneaker shop that will start to carry nooka. the owner, sly peoples was there -- he’s a well connected guy in the sports world. after that we visited the mall of america -- world’s largest mall. it’s actually quite impressive and a place where start-up brands test out franchises. there was a p.b. cafe [peanut butter themed sandwich + coffee shop] which has daily flavors of peanut butter like asian curry or sundried tomato...not sure it will be a hit. unfortunately, we had to get the rental car back by 2:00, so didn’t have enough time to see the whole mall.

so what did we learn this trip? that minneapolis has some great new architecture [i didn’t write about the minneapolis public library which is also very dramatic], friendly cultured people, a great sneaker shop, freeze-your-ass-off winters, the world’s largest shopping mall, bison sausages, headquarters for target, the start of the mississippi river, affordable real estate, and a sculpture of mary tyler moore!