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There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth.


Posted: August 11th, 2011 | Author: christopher | Filed under: Inspired, automobile, design | Tags: | No Comments »

Paris gets some Botox

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, life | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

As you know, there are so many design blogs out there. Fast Company’s design blog is one of the few good ones, employing some great oversized imagery and raising some interesting topics. But much of what is out there is rehashed, regurgitated, parroted. More and more I’ve been noticing there is a blind enthusiasm to these things- rarely do I hear a critical review, or even a different point of view. For me a critique can be more interesting than simply echoing others. So forgive me, but (again) I’d like to provide a different view on the various “developments” in the world.

This time around I’d like to give a hearty thanks to Foster + Partners, for their completely crappy (and oh so glossy) Hermitage Plaza scheme in La Defence, Paris.

It will be built in 2016, and I must say it proves once again that these guys, and firms such as OMA, are totally lost. What the hell do two massive towers have to do with the fabric of Paris? La Defense is already a tragedy- a completely soulless collection of barren, windswept facades… and now, this. To add insult to injury they’ve added a miniature park at the base of these monstrosities. Awful. People love Paris for a reason, and its not because of these sorts of buildings. This slick garbage can be seen in Hong Kong, NYC, anywhere there is big money and oversized egos. I say these architects are lost because they are so self involved, so focused on design philosophies, styles, and of making grand statements, they completely miss the point of what they should be doing. Please (and really, If it helps, I’ll beg), do us all a favour F+P, shut down operations and make this world a better place. Spreading your “designs” around the globe is more than just distasteful, it is damaging.

Advertising, mass manipulation, and us

Posted: August 14th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, life, people | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

An old 4-part series from the BBC. Have a look, Parts 2, 3, and 4 after the jump. Some scary stuff.

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Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, style | Tags: , | No Comments »

While some are purchasing new B&R Chronograph BR 126’s, I’ve just gone low budget and treated myself to a beautiful Il Bisonte wallet. It has a tough and compact build, and comes with a simple elastic closure. I saw an example of how they wear in over time and they just get better with age, the leather burnishing flat…

Veyron Super Sport hits 267 mph

Posted: July 11th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: Inspired, design, humor | Tags: , | No Comments »

That is… truly fast. Totally useless info really, nothing grounded in reality, at least not in mine, but still an impressive machine for those who can afford it.

2010 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP

Posted: June 24th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, sports | Tags: | No Comments »

Pretty machine. An oldie but a goodie.

From the wonderfully reliable Wikepedia:
The Peugeot 908 HDi FAP is a sports prototype racing car built by the French automobile manufacturer Peugeot to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, starting in 2007 and eventually winning in 2009. This effort, in development since 2005, was publicly unveiled on 15 June 2005. It first competed against the Audi R10 TDI, becoming the second diesel engined sports car from a major manufacturer, and then against the Audi R15 TDI. This was Peugeot Sport’s first Le Mans effort since the end of the Peugeot 905 project in 1993.

New Humane Prison design

Posted: May 28th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, humor, life | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Thanks NotCot for such a great post. Looks like Prisons are getting nicer all the time, with more natural light than usual. Of course it still screams “concrete dungeon” what with it’s bland exterior and slit windows, but it’s a step forward anyways. Oh look, there are even a few buggy-whip trees planted!

Greenwashing par excellence

Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, humor, politics | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Yes the chair is iconic, and so is the manufacturer, Emeco. The original Navy chair is a beaut, rich in trendy-lore and admired by the DWR set. Such a shame then that they partnered with such a lowly company (in every aspect) as Coca-Cola. It’s beyond rich that Coke is suddenly, after years of being a force for wasteful packaging, not to mention crappy tooth rotting drinks, now jumping on the do-good Eco® bandwagon. Clearly this a PR stunt (check the amount of launch parties) that will help them, and do very, very little to actual impact the huge negative effects of them being, well, Coke.

The Katana

Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: Inspired, design | Tags: , | No Comments »

The incredible Suzuki Katana. Still so distinct… and an example of a design aging well. This shot, of a modifed Katana, is courtesy of the sweet bike site Bike Exif. This example was built by the fastidious Steve Adams.

Arc 572/582

Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: Inspired, design, in store | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Titanium watch by Jacob Jensen Design. Seemingly very simple and clean, but with a large amount of thought behind the design. There is a clever hinged cover hiding a crown…

I once had the privilege of visiting the Jacob Jensen design studio to meet up with Timothy Jensen. I spent a beautiful summer afternoon at their gorgeous studio, and it proved to be very interesting and inspiring. I quickly realized Tim was whip smart, funny, and an incredibly gracious host.

Humility and humour

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, humor, people, sports | No Comments »

I admire a guy who can be both immensely successful, yet be humble and not take himself so seriously. Newman was known for his skinny “chicken legs”, so he playfully applied this insider joke to his racing team’s logo. Refreshing.

Embalmehn Placen Beeldeegnn - Malmö, Sweden

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: Inspired, design | Tags: , | No Comments »

The new EPB structure, designed by Tham & Videgard Arkitekter, is absolutely beautiful! The building instantly catches your attention against the backdrop of more traditional architecture.

The austere, cage like building perfectly rejects it’s surroundings, making for a harsh and theatric effect. It is so out of context and disconnected- but then that is the genius thinking behind it’s design. Why? Because it’s a place for not-so-alive people. It’s cold, metallic box form truly speaks to its contents- as a bearer of the dead and embalmed. The exterior is perforated, in the same way cardboard pet holders are- how ingenious! Plus this building looks so out of place- as though it were dropped in from space, a 2001-esque monolith turd if you will. Truly inspiring. When I die they need to ship me to this beautiful example of fantastic modern design thinking.


Posted: April 21st, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design, life | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

What a pathetic waste of time and resources. I would much rather we invest in making sure everyone has real, beautiful views from our homes. Don’t fall for this- it’s a dead end trap. If you don’t understand what I mean, well, I can’t help you.


Posted: April 15th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: design | Tags: , | No Comments »

Amazing design details, high performance, extremely lightweight, a respected racing pedigree, this car has it all. Except perhaps for… soul. Character. It may be just me, but it’s all a bit flat. Looking at it makes me think “I’ve seen that before…sort of”. The 12C is a styling fusion. Like taking the new 458, blending it with the R8, and sprinking in a little Porsche GT, a dash of S7… Still, it comes at a bargain basement price compared to it’s old relative, the F1, and all the while delivering typical Mclarenesque performance.

Design inspiration.

Posted: April 8th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: art, design | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The has provided a fantastic trove of pdf repro’s of old brochures, instruction/ service manuals for Volkswagens (and more). This is a great source for design inspiration, be it for colour, layout, or infographics. What is unusual and cool (for the web) is the quality- image sizes tend to be nice and large. Love it. Check out the collection here.

458 Italia.

Posted: April 6th, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: On our feet, art, design | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The “new” 458 Ferrari. A big step ahead in terms of power and technology. Very high tech, and far removed from the days of Ferrari’s being semi-unreliable. Ferrari really has there shit together now. It’s a pity there isn’t an optional manual transmission. Some stats: Engine - 4.5 liter V8. Weight - 3042 lbs. 570 hp @ 9000 rpm. 420 lb-ft of torque. 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds. Top Speed - 201 mph. Astounding performance stats, and it allows any two-bit driver to avoid disaster when pushing it (see 2nd Evo video after the jump). I like how the venting and ducting is very F1 inspired, but perhaps the whole package is a bit too sanitized and “digital” for my taste. It’s interesting too how 400 or 500 bhp is the norm now in many luxury cars- it’s almost the standard. Back when i first got interested in “supercars”, this sort of  power and performance was unusual and exciting. Now it seems a car must push 1000 bhp to be exceptional. Test drive video’s after the jump…

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Teenage Engineering

Posted: April 2nd, 2010 | Author: ninski | Filed under: Uncategorized, design, music | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’ve been following these guys for a while now, drooling over their OP-1, which seems to be taking eon’s to bring to market. A great little machine, nicely laid out and colour coded. I’m a big fan of their ID aesthetic… even their site and graphics are sweet.

Make things.

Posted: March 24th, 2010 | Author: christopher | Filed under: art, design, news | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Stephen Bayley, an outspoken opponent of outsourced skill and manufacturing, has a lot to say about China being the largest exporter in the world and countries eliminating their ability to make even the simplest of things.

By Stephen Bayley for The Times

Anything that is made betrays the beliefs and preoccupations, the morals and manners, of the people who made it. So it’s been melancholy these past 30 or 40 years to note that Britain has successively, even systematically, abandoned key industrial technologies.

If the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, in his imminent Radio 4 series on the importance of products in civilisation, were to restrict his field to the UK since 1980, it would be a very strange and very short series of products he showed us: a hand-made Formula One car with a German engine, a Sunseeker yacht and a high by-pass turbo-fan. I’d need more time to think of anything else.

So while cautiously optimistic Business Page stories about a return of outsourced manufacturing have not (yet) caused outbreaks of mass national hysteria, they are welcome evidence of a change in mood and priorities. It would be nice to live in a country where we could make buckets. Certainly, reports of the death of manufacturing were not much exaggerated. It remains to be seen if it is as feasible as it is desirable to recover lost skills and actually manufacture the goods we want to consume.

Still, the change of mood is everywhere. The next book by economist John Kay is called Obliquity and it makes the case that commitment to products is the true source of wealth. Boeing, for example, became a great company not because it was pledged to a high rate of annual return, but because it was committed to making the best possible aircraft. This is certainly true, but, alas, economists much less able than Kay have burnt our ears off for half a century arguing all too successfully against the long-term investments in R&D that made the awesome 787 possible. And how we suffer for this false witness.

No one expects any sentimental return to the production of greasy, heavy things in soot-stained factories operated by sweating, under-paid artisans in leather aprons. (They have those in Asia.) This would be as absurdly anachronistic as William Morris addressing contemporary Victorian malaises encouraging the dressing-up in tabards and performing of medieval masques.

There are cleaner sorts of manufacturing today, but they bring similar benefits to those enjoyed when steam and coal and iron and enterprise made us rich. Manufacturing puts a company or a country in a virtuous circle: Toyota’s century and a half experience of making textile looms has made it a leader in carbon-fibre weaving, an important future skill. Italy makes great modern furniture not because of Milan’s great designers, but because of Milan’s metal-bending workshops where the great designers can get their ideas processed.

The trade benefits of manufacturing don’t require much emphasis in a country where we are all dragging around more than five times our own weight in mood-altering deficit, but there are even more important occult advantages. If you make things, you need to understand ideas, materials, markets, skills. If you make money, you just need the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing master. And when you make things, you restore that essential practical and moral connection between effort and reward. Of course, this was a connection carelessly lost when we wanted the economy run like a casino rather than a workshop.

This was all beautifully explained in a regrettably obscure 1944 pamphlet by W. Julian King, a Californian engineer. King’s Unwritten Laws of Engineering was recently reissued by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, but should be made a part of the national curriculum and, if there is still time, incorporated into any electable government’s manifesto.

The Unwritten Laws are not about physics, but behaviour. As opposed to the insolent selfishness of the usurer or the recklessness of the gambler, manufacturing requires social cohesion, personal responsibility, teamwork, commitment and vision. It needs clarity and accuracy, not obfuscation and dissimulation. Long wave integrity is more valuable than short wave greed. The manufacturing process demands that individuals be decisive and share information. And this process is on an orderly progressive scale that positively stimulates personal human development: you start with an idea, it becomes a more elaborate specification that is in turn mass-produced, distributed, consumed, recycled. At each stage, additional cumulative skills are required and generated. And, as King explains, this process teaches it’s better to do a modest job well than an ambitious one badly.

Somehow, that last sentence makes me think of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Here was a decrepit monument to the godless and fractious manipulation of money, not the more humane and enduring task of making goods. And how might the disreputable behaviour of the bankers have been improved had they been required to understand that the laws of nature require deposit and withdrawal to be in some sort of hygienic balance? Something for nothing is fraudulent.

Yet, amazingly, you can hear Gordon — Safe Hands — Brown say that manufacturing is an irrelevance, that we can be sustained by our “creative economy”. Never mind the sinister semantic links between creative economy and creative accounting, this is a ruinously stupid opinion. The creative “industries” we so rightly admire cannot exist in isolation. They were in the first place stimulated by their relationship to manufacturing and can only be kept viable by continuous contact with the facts of industrial life.

To listen to the Prime Minister on manufacturing is as dismaying as hearing pot-bellied, lardy pub bores talking of footballers’ performance when they would rupture their colons jogging to the gents. Manufacturing, Mr Brown, calibrates the moral compass. People who make real things not only make real money, they behave better. The day I am writing this, China became the world’s biggest exporter.

It does not matter whether you call it engineering, technology, design, craft or even art. Whatever it is called, a system that gives priority to an engagement with products over a lust for quick returns is a more stable and wholesome one than a system where derivatives are a more reliable source of wealth than making a teapot.

And it is, ultimately, a system more likely in the long run to make profits. Yes, I know Keynes said that in the long run we are all dead, but I don’t want to end up in a Chinese coffin.

Let this be a lesson.

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Author: christopher | Filed under: design | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As I first began to watch this web series, Dirty Denim, on I was immediately turned off by how huge douche bags Chip and Pepper of Chip & Pepper jeans were. But as a designer and someone who deals with manufacturing and finishing I kept watching out of curiosity of the LA denim business - and I’m glad I kept watching.

I think there is an amazing lesson to be learned from watching. The Naughties denim craze has many parallels with the current work wear craze we are seeing today. There is a lot of money being made off this trend, and yes it is a trend for most, at the moment and I think it’s only going to get bigger over the next year or so. But when it crashes, it will crash hard. It will be interesting to see who will be left standing as the masses move on to what’s next.

On the Runway | Generra Fall/Winter 2010

Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: christopher | Filed under: On The Runway, design | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

As we saw from former Obedient Sons creator Swaim Hutson’s quick additions to Generra’s Spring collection, color was going to be important to what he wanted to bring to the new, for him, label. When I got a chance to chat with Swaim this week he confirmed that notion saying “We went in to Fall 2010 with the idea that we would inject as much color, keeping things as open, loose and casual as possible.”

I got the sense from watching his first full collection walk down the runway that it was a softer more relaxed extension of what Swaim did with his Hutson label just after Obedient Sons was dissolved. But Swaim didn’t necessarily agree saying that any similarities were “not intentional. If anything perhaps it is just a carry over of our aesthetic. Obedient Sons was much more tailored and stiff than anything we have done for Generra. For this collection we went for a more casual boxy fit and used snap closures to keep things modern.”

I really feel there is a rejuvenation going on at Generra and that Swaim has brought in some vision and freshness to what has been a label lost in the shuffle. What has always been described as a basics-centric line now has some oomph and pop. And it also helps that their new website plays Sleigh Bells on loop.

One of my favorite looks from the show was also made up of some of my favorite pieces as well. I love the grey moto/bomber cut jacket made in a textured nubby wool with a removable faux fur collar. The collar and lining give the jacket a striking pop of color and a point of difference. And the pants - I would buy these today if I could - made of a light wool with a subtle polka dot.

Continuing with the Generra basics heritage all the crewneck sweatshirts are made of cotton terry sweatshirt but Swaim dresses it up a bit by throwing a sturdy wool jacket over it.

The materials and color mix between the open-neck button down shirt, again with a polka dot, and the jacket, cut from a heavy jersey wool, are a very nice combo.

Read on for some more great looks from the show.

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