Friday, March 28, 2008

noo music update for march: max rouen

one of the great things about my tokyo office is that we share the space with other creatives, one of which is mr. kurasho, an amazing DJ. we have shockingly similar tastes and i always load up on great music for my long flight home and then to enjoy in the studio. i especially love when he turns me on to a band/performer i've never heard of, one of which is max rouen! the current cd is "the magnetic wave of sound" and it's my favorite disk of 2008 so far. here's a paraphrased quote from a review site: "...uses old methods, looping and splicing tapes on reel to reel – creating a sound that he then builds up into rather nice songs that have a less avant garde indie feel about them, an interesting and original take on how to make slanted and enchanted pop songs."

sums it up pretty well. in my words: the album has a lot of interesting pop turns and a laid-back grittiness that defies genre classification while exuding a confidence rarely heard in young artists [not saying that he's young]. check it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

cherry blossoms / sakura season

this is my first trip back to japan where i'm actually here for the sakura trees to be in full bloom [full-bloom is called mankai in japanese, and they report it like a coming storm. mankai in tokyo is predicted to occur this coming sunday, march 30th]. the japanese take cherry blossom season as a time to get drunk anywhere there is a cherry tree and perhaps it is the urine and vomit of the season that contributes to the beautiful display of flora each year...this is called o-hanami!

my meetings have all gone well and am catching up with friends and colleagues. i'm riding my one speed muji bicycle everywhere which is fun and a hedge against all the food i'm eating. staying in okubo is very convenient to my office via bike and it's also tokyo's korea town which creates a weird alice-in-wonderland feeling for me as my NYC office is in korea town as well.

again, visual entry left to right from the top:

row 1
sakura in mid-bloom [gobuzaki?, maybe nanabuzaki], koto from devil robots, cute restaurant signage.
row 2
nooka japan display case [built by elle-chan], workers being paid to hold a spot for hanami, kitai from devilrobots and machan from mad barbarians [yummy food!].
row 3
yu of nooka japan, hotel fraser in okubo [where i'm staying this trip], fraser entrance.
row 4
best parking lot sign ever, elle-chan with sake, ultraman truck.

P.S. Nooka Japan Hanami is this Sunday in Inogashira-Park. Please come if you can make it. I'll be back in NYC the next day!

Monday, March 24, 2008

tokyo in march

i'm in tokyo to review and file year end taxes for nooka japan, my office here. i came a few days early to adjust to the time zone so i won't be a zombie when i have meetings. i also used the time to finally get myself to the MOT, the tokyo museum of contemporary art [Museum Of Tokyo = MOT] as it is a bit of a pain to get to. the permanent collection is quite good, but their 2008 annual show of new art was disappointing for the most part. also, i'm always shocked with how humid the conditions are in japanese museums – not good for the art or the viewers comfort.

i decided to upload a visual diary for the past 2 days. the dog is the nooka tokyo office mascot and his name is nikko. the wonderful blue gate is a piece by artist Suh Do-ho called "Reflection". the little paintings are from a cute show at the tiny but wonderful fewmany shop/gallery in shinjuku of work from my friends at devilrobots. the new tange tower is almost complete...not sure how i feel about it [it's a bit overdesigned].

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the nooka nookanooka pre-launch blog buzz

i have always been a big fan of character design. i remember my favorite cereals as a kid were always the ones with well developed characters [NOT tony the tiger, he had no depth and frosted flakes tastes like crap]. the best example is 'the freakies' cereal from the 1970s. i collected all the magnets and toys and even made my own stuffed animals of the characters with felt and barley for home economics class [remember when boys had to take home-ec and girls took shop?] – ahhh, the "free to be you and me" era! unfortunately, not one of the freakies cereal toys remains in my collection and i'm kinda over the whole ebay thing...

i am also an armchair biologist. i devour research papers on evolutionary biology, comparative morphology, and try really hard to understand theoretical physics. many of these themes come together in my artwork with my fairy labor union project and to a lesser extent with the nooka time pieces. it's all about wonderful synergies!

the fairy labor union project is quite conceptual and hasn't really found it's stride yet [which is not to say i'm giving up on it], but i've put the same skill sets together to develop the mascot for nooka. hopefully this will broaden press coverage even deeper for design, sneaker, and urban pop culture magazines as well as bring joy to everyone [maybe usher in a new era of corporate mascots which i'll be hired to design?].

the nookanooka™ will first be available as a vinyl figure as a display for nooka watches in a few select markets and shops and then for sale to the general public.

here is the story:
there is a realm we can not see, can not hear, can not taste nor smell, yet from this realm comes everything perceived as real. within this higher dimensional place lives beings who call themselves what can only be transliterated as: nooka. Their physiology is transient, eternal in their world, ephemeral yet immortal in ours – beyond imagination yet real enough to feel. time is to them as carbohydrates are to us, and from this they poo carrots and kittens [or anything else you can request]. they pee gravity and what is the equivalent of light to them is dark matter in our universe.

all that aside, the similarities in names drew the nookas to nooka inc. and a trans-dimensional relationship was forged!

now the official mascot of nooka inc., the nookanooka™ can spread the cheer of wonder-through-design [wtd™] to the 4 corners of the earth.

so go on, take the nookanooka shopping, to your auntie's summer cottage, to paris france, or to work on “bring-your-extra-dimensional-being-to-work-day”. you can also use the nookanooka as a handy stand for your collection of nookas!

nookanooka design team:
matthew waldman
yumi asai
alexander yoo
karl-johan hjerling [1.0]
carl nordenskjöld [2.0]

ALSO: i'm looking to find digital animators who can work for nookas [or our low budgets] or even as an intern to develop animations for the nookanooka story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

package design

this semester i am teaching the senior package design for the first time at parsons [the new school]. i taught design process, web process and print process previously, so being asked to teach package design was not just a nice change, but perfect timing personally as i grapple with package design issues daily with nooka. i only have 5 students, which i thought would be a problem, but they're all good students [in previous classes of 15 students, i was lucky if i got 2 students who were mentally present and did the assignments as instructed].

i started with a philosophical approach and the story of pandora's box to get them thinking about how everything is packaged, including our bodies in our skin, the clothes [and cosmetics] we wear, the tubes and ways we buy these things. i want the students to think of the emotional aspect of packaging, especially how one felt as a kid opening a present, and to identify personal experiences of purchasing a product based on the packaging alone [a book cover IS a package which illustrates another class exercise: package AS product]. then i went onto exercises to identify the basic purposes of packaging and the many concerns facing a designer with each:
as protection for the product in transit [from factory, to store, to consumer, to use],
as branding,
as value-add [including 'package as product'].

We also discussed context as a main concern [prada doesn't need elaborate packaging because of the context of both the brand and the selling environment, a new product in a supermarket does], eco-concerns [the greenest package is no package, differences between recyclable and renewable resources etc.], as well as cost concerns and how they affect design [I was shocked that none of my students knew the relationship between oil prices and the cost of plastics!].

another mandatory task for this class is to keep a blog to share information with each other and to collect design reference. and i would like to share some of them here with you.

kevin, nia, elaine, joan.

above image is from a product i bought in japan [but have yet to use] because i liked the package called sylotee & bee polish. It's a tooth polishing system for stains regular brushing won't remove and consist of a silicone eraser and special polish. cute huh? my only criticism is: why isn't he/she smiling? more on the product in japanese here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


i figure i can try the power of the blog for this one:

OY, air travel...i need to get myself to tokyo for work and was pretty proud of myself for managing a M-class economy ticket on my favorite airline ANA with an upgrade to business class with my mileage until my meetings were changed to the week of the 24th! now i can't seem to get the same deal leaving either the 20th, 21, or 22nd on any airline even though i have more advanced notice? if there are any airline marketing people reading this and you want a hip designer to try your trans-pacific business class...let me know what you can do! or even a skillful travel agent who can find a business class ticket under $6,000US... as sitting in a tiny seat for 15+ hours is something i can no longer handle. ah the problems of a start-up company executive!:)

it'd be great if priceline added business class to their "name your price" feature.

Monday, March 10, 2008

blogging about blogging is blogenessabound

blogging about bloggerheads blogging on me may make you feel a bit blogged-down....

but michael surtees of designnotes paid us a studio visit which leaks the upcoming nooka mascot, the nookanooka...designnotes here and boy do i look bad in that photo – michael, please retouch the bags under my eyes!

and josh spears, purveyor of everything cool has an interview with me here. i look good in that pic, but who doesn't in harsh direct sunlight? thanks osamu iizuka for that photo.

nooka spotting

nooka spotted on CBS TV with Andy Rooney ripping on fashion. watch it and look for the working girl spread from vogue...

Thursday, March 6, 2008


March Issue GQ US edition. Thanks Matt and Joe at our PR office! And special thanks to the accessories editor at GQ! the model featured is our zoo c night.