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September 28, 2008

New York Places to Fall Into

New York's Hi Life bar/restaurant has two locations: one on the upper west side at 83rd and Amsterdam and one on the upper east side at 78th and Second.

Hi Life

I had dinner at the upper east side one the other night. The menu is an odd but delicious mixture of sushi and assorted things from diverse cuisines. My memory is that the upper west side branch was styled more like a 1920s joint but the east side location is just a decent neighborhood spot. Tons of places that look good right nearby too. 

September 26, 2008

Meatpacking Harmony in NYC

The Gansevoort Hotel is located, funnily enough, right next to Gansevoort Street in the West Village or Meatpacking district of NYC.

Gansevoort Hotel

The name sounds like New York's Dutch heritage to me. It's a chic, luxurious place. The whole neighborhood is thriving. As mentioned earlier, the IDSA held a joint networking event with the HFES (Human Factors Ergonomics Society) this past Tuesday.

Human Factors Ergonomics Society The HFES was in town from all over the country to attend a big conference. Did you know that Human Factors is a discipline in which you can major? And in fact, many, many people do and have for some time. The event was great. Thanks to sponsors, generous sushi abounded, which made the expensive mojitos I couldn't resist that much better.

Interesting to me is that engineers, of which there are many in the HFES, are so different in their thinking from designers, industrial and other, and yet the tasks and interests are similar. While both groups focus on how things operate, look and feel, the sub-focus and abilities vary greatly. All present agreed, however, that working together to design smart, beautiful and well-functioning things is ideal.

September 24, 2008

Tattoo Artistry

Tommy Houlihan of Houlihan Tattoos creates amazing body art.

Tommy Houlihan Tattoos

Some examples of Tommy Houlihan's tattoo art

I'm finishing up Tommy's website this week. I never thought too much about tattoos but Tommy's artistry is up there with any other fine artist, in my opinion. Working on different artists' websites is incredibly satisfying to me and inspires me in different artistic ways. The endless variety of artistic impulses is a force of nature.

Yes, these pieces are sexy in that they decorate the naked human body; yes, they are scary, to me, in their permanence; yes, they are bold; and yes, they are inspirational in their inventiveness, color and variety. I am privileged to be in a position creating websites to show off my clients' work at its best. It's so much fun to work with different media and to use my own artistic and visionary skills to set off their artistry to advantage. I know I am doing them a service and helping to advance their visions with my own abilities; very cool work.

September 23, 2008

Color and Critter

One more fantastic piece of artwork by my client, Liz Ward.

Kitty in colorful room

Detail of painting by Liz Ward

Between the color, the kitty and the scribble art, I am in love with this painting. It's a great mixture of reality and imagination, as art should be. I love the blue on the kitty; my kitties will have to follow suit now.

September 22, 2008

Life Imitates Art Again

Color-drenched artist Liz Ward is my client; her website is just being completed, needing only the final shopping cart to finish up.

Sheep on a velvety night

The image at left is significant for me because the small beach at the end of my block has similar aspects. I love to go down there late at night and take in the peaceful view, which changes depending on the tide, activity in the water, the weather and nature's mood. It has looked like navy blue velvet to me lately, the color of the night sky in this painting. There's a piece of rock on one side that looks like an old judge's profile, the kind who wore wigs in British courts and it also looks like a sheep's face. I think of it as the sheepy judge. I like to point it out to people and sometimes they have their own nicknames for my sheepy judge.

Above, Sheep by Liz Ward

September 20, 2008

Trend Forecasting

Trend forecasting in all its aspects is big business.

trend forecasting

Funky headphones

On October 14th, the IDSA will hold its next lecture in their Inside the Designer's Studio series. This time, the topic is trend tracking and forecasting. Diverse companies pay experts huge fees to track and predict current and upcoming trends. The success of many products rides on what can be a gamble that tastes will coincide with developments. On the surface, this may sound superfluous (pun intended) but when you start to hear the details, the work is fascinating and rich with human psychology as well as artistic impulses.

September 18, 2008

Progress

Bramwell is a BBC series from 13 years ago (1995) that explores the courageous life of a female doctor in 1895 named Eleanor Bramwell.

Bramwell

This series is captivating. I defy anyone to say that progress has not been made after taking in this series. No matter how dire our current world, we have made strides we usually take for granted. A female physician was extraordinarily rare in 1895 and was frowned upon. It was said that women had smaller brains and weren't equipped to be doctors. Diseases were shushed, operations were undertaken with risky anesthesia (a miraculous invention in itself), racial divides were enormous and squallor and sickness were rampant and misunderstood. A highly recommended show for historical interest, perspective and great period settings.

September 17, 2008

Asian Design Today

Monday evening, I attended a lecture and exhibition reception at Sotheby's titled Creative Hong Kong. The event was co-chaired by the IDSA, which is how I got invited and heard about it.

Creative Hong Kong

Established designers from Hong Kong spoke about their work and thought process. All were men and all were well-traveled and spent plenty of time in the U.S. and Europe as well as Hong Kong, although all were born and raised in Hong Kong. Their approaches ranged from playful to serious. All the designers spoke about not maintaining a primarily Chinese or Japanese focus, however, there were elements in their work, in both practical and philosophical terms, that came from an Asian aesthetic. They were influenced greatly by practical needs of space constraints and traditional ways of living in Hong Kong. I had never been to an event at Sotheby's before so it was a nice opportunity. The building is very nice and the larger exhibition of which this lecture was a part was on display. It was a civilized New York art event; nice to be a part of it.

September 14, 2008

Your Due Season

In the uplifting movie, Daddy's Little Girls, there is a preacher who inspires the lead character, played by Idris Elba, not to grow faint (of heart).

Don't Faint The lead character is a good guy who faces numerous challenges.

At left, Idris Elba as Monty in “Daddy's Little Girls.”

He has three little girls, an ex-wife with a thug drug dealer boyfriend; he served jail time for a wrongful accusation of rape and he is trying to earn enough money to own his own garage despite obstacles.

The preacher says that your “due season” is so close at hand, it's right there almost next to you. He says that the proof is that you feel like you are going to faint. And when you feel like you are going to faint — don't faint. 

It has the ring of truth to it; it's like things having to get worse before they get better. Just when you think you can't take it any more, when you have been beaten down beyond belief, that's when relief is on its way. But there are many times in life when we are all sorely tested. It's why stories like Job in the Bible have so much resonance, because this struggle remains an aspect of life that we have to go through at times to get to the “other side.” (Watch a clip of the preacher here.)

There's no sin in getting weary;
the sin is giving up, says the preacher.

Whatever trial you are going through, these words may be of comfort. Know that when you feel like you are going to faint — don't faint — and your due season is imminent. 

September 12, 2008

Visionaries and Pioneers

Igor Sikorsky was a pioneer in the development of the helicopter and is the founding father and namesake of the firm Sikorsky Aircraft, my client.

Sikorsky Aircraft

Sikorsky is one of the leaders in modern helicopter flight and development. They carry out dramatic rescues and supply the military with much of their aircraft. Sikorsky is one of United Technology Corporation's seven firms, all of whom produce impressive equipment. The UTC corporation companies are an intelligent group, exceptionally so. Having worked with them for several years now, Sikorsky places extreme value on learning and education. They pay for employees' continuing education of any kind and encourage employees to take whatever courses they might be interested in, both internally and externally, including advanced degrees. Igor's seeking spirit continues in the people who work in his firm today.

September 9, 2008

I Design, Ergo I am a Human Factor

The IDSA NY and the Human Factors Ergonomics Society will be holding a joint networking event on September 23rd at the Gansevoort Hotel in New York.

Gansevoort Hotel Pictured at left is the Garden of Ono restaurant at the Gansevoort Hotel, where the event will be held. There are many interesting groups of design-related individuals to be found in this great city. Taking part in joint networking events is a fantastic way to satisfy intellectual and artistic interests as well as social ones.

The HFES is holding a big conference in the city at that time, which is the reason for taking advantage of their presence with this joint event. Looking forward to it. 

September 7, 2008

Harry's Tour

Harry is the adorable and expressive tour guide for my client, Highland Kennels and owner/manager Andre DeGarmeaux.

Highland Kennels Dog Boarding in New Jersey

A couple shots from Harry's extensive tour with a cameo by yours truly

Photos by Susan Farley 

I get to play Harry's dropoff family in the tour, as his real life family wasn't around. Check out all the great photos online and definitely check out Highland Kennels if you need dog boarding in New Jersey — a very friendly, safe, clean, fun and loving animal kennel if ever there was one — and yes, cats and other critters are welcome too.

September 6, 2008

Expressions of Faith

Long-lived BBC series, Monarch of the Glen, mentioned earlier, took many story turns in the course of its run. Most viewers felt that its finest moments carried through Season Five. While it's true that certain plot lines were mysteriously abandoned and almost all the original characters had departed by the last two seasons, the very last episode was a triumph and the most fantastic final statement.

The Glen Bogle Waterhorse

Magical water horse glides through ancient waters of the loch at Glen Bogle

The episode's story is that the laird's niece, Amy, takes a photograph of what appears to be a prehistoric water horse creature. Implications are that besides this being a huge scientific discovery, Glen Bogle could become rich beyond belief, flooded with tourists and whatever else could ensue from such a finding. It's a great idea because such a creature could believably exist in the 1,000-foot depths of the loch on Glen Bogle's massive Scottish estate.

Commercial gain but at what price, the gift and even responsibility of faith and what we all want from our lives are some of the thoughts posed by this plot line. It turns out that the water horse has been spotted throughout the years by locals. A drawing is etched on a rock, Hector, the previous laird, used to talk to his wife about it and Golly, the wise land worker, has heard it making odd sounds.

The writers are brave enough to have the lead character, who plays the role of the doubter initially, actually see the creature. His “vision” brings with it a transformation and peace, as such an experience might do. The story resolution is touching and full of faith and hope, a beautiful culmination to a fun series that captured its audience with gossipy plot lines as well as deeply moving revelations.

September 5, 2008

Yum

No shortage of great places in the city that never sleeps.

Schiller's in nyc

Schiller's on the Lower East Side has great style, great food, great drinks. My industrial designer friend took me there last night for dinner. The menu is delicious; the drinks equally so. The price range is not impossible. Cool looking place for sure, full of tile like a chic bathhouse, speaking of which the bathrooms are unique. I've noticed great bathroom designs in a number of cool restaurants. I sat at the seat you can see in this photo, on the far end of the bar and had a drink called “Country Time,” which is lemonade and some way less innocent ingredients too.

September 4, 2008

Bringing the Indoors Out

Yet another open air bar graces The Delancey on New York's Lower East Side.

The Delancey

Named for the street on which it resides, this palm-tree festooned hangout is welcoming. This isn't a vast city view like some of the other spots recently cited on this blog; the bar is about three flights up from ground level. The lovely night air filtered in on this yet again perfect temperature evening and a good time was had by all. Tucked away in this now thriving neighborhood, this spot is definitely recommended.

September 3, 2008

Timeless Thinking

Can you believe George Nelson designed this daybed in 1948?

George Nelson Green Couch The color is great. The style is so modern. It functions well, as a sleeper and a couch. It's sleek. George Nelson is best known for his incredibly simple yet stunning clock designs (which he designed with the aid of other icons such as Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi) but his other designs, such as the Marshmellow Couch, are equally original, inventive and praiseworthy.

George Nelson's Marshmellow Couch

Designers who name things like the "Marshmellow Couch" have me at hello. 

September 2, 2008

Comedy and Drama Together

Preston Sturges is one of the greatest movie makers of all time. 

Preston Sturges' Christmas in July

Above: Earnest stars in Preston Sturges' “Christmas in July,” Dick Powell and Ellen Drew, in a story that doesn't date about goals, success, love, work, loyalty and life's inescapable mixture of pain and pleasure.

During the late 1930s to the mid 1940s, Preston Sturges wrote and directed seven of the greatest popular movies ever made and was a huge success at the box office too. Besides brilliant writing, casting and cinematography, his standout ability in his greatest works is the knack of combining broad humor with gut-wrenching drama in the same story without making you feel like they are at odds with each other.

September 1, 2008

Who's Your Audience

Writing a blog on a regular basis is an evolving experience.

Listen to your audience Besides the fact that you will automatically start to think more about written structure and what makes for different types of good writing, other unexpected processes take place. For instance, it occurred to me that when people write their blogs, they are consciously or unconsciously speaking to a certain audience. And the character and style of that unseen audience will influence how you “speak” your blog.

In an informal blog, your audience might be your closest friends, your inner voice or someone you look up to whose opinion you'd like to feel you've won over. In more commercial blogs, they might be speaking to novices or experts in a given field, whether the focus is cooking, politics, music, real estate, children, fashion or anything else. Like most artistic pursuits, which writing a blog is, no matter how casual, it's helpful to become more and more conscious of the sometimes unseen elements that contribute to its final shape.

I have to think a bit more to figure out who I think my audience is. But I realized that I don't speak to anyone I consider an expert. So when I talk about design, I am assuming that people reading don't necessarily know the sources I'm citing. There are lots of design blogs for people “in the know” but for some reason, I feel that my audience is more of a blank slate.