A place where Minnesota's design community can blow its collective mind about creative expression in every medium from websites to landscapes, chocolate to bicycles.

An Oblique Lesson in Creative Direction (part 1)

Posted: October 28th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, opinion | Tags: | Comments Off

arch-tgha-01

One of the credos from my childhood that has served me particulary well as a creative director is “Give credit where credit is due.” With sufficient practice this simple act of generosity becomes so rewarding you’ll never miss an opportunity to share the love. So, naturally I felt the need to share with you my praise for the beautiful portfolio of residential work featured in the Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects portfolio. It looks like a really nice crew of folks in this San Francisco office and I appreciate the smiles on their down-to-earth faces given what a minor miracle it must be to achieve architectural nirvana despite the obstacles of budgets, deadlines, building codes, personalities, weather and the chaos inherent in a quantum mechanical universe.

In a world overflowing with cheap plastic meaninglessness and flashy technological trends there is something about the soft, reassuring glow of wood that never fails to satisfy my sense of a welcoming home and TGHA employs it masterfully. The integration of these houses into the landscape is likewise wonderful and I hope to see the next iteration of the TGHA website give the firms they work with (like Lutsko Associates) credit for their important role. Take a minute to click through their work, email them a note of appreciation and let the inspiration of their work find expression in your own.

arch-tgha-02

arch-tgha-03

Don’t forget to apply this lesson’s theme of sharing credit with those who have earned it.


Think Globally – Surf Locally

Posted: October 28th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: Interactive, local twin cities, resources | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

interactive-websota

interactive-minnesota

The web is now so full of astonishing content the challenge has become locating the most amazing bits that are most relevant bits to you. Several angles are available here. Subject oriented aggregators like NotCot.org, Core77.com, and Materialicious.com for instance can each get you started on fascinating creative explorations. Despite the proclamations by many that the new paradigm will revolve around these “communities of interest” there are those seeking to bring the good ol’ fashion community defined by location into the information age. So to take a different kind of slice through the interwebs check out websota.com and minnesota.com where you’ll find this blog along with many others on a wide range to topics with relevance to you as a Minnesotan. Communities of interest but at times it’s just nice to take a stroll through the neighborhood and see a few familiar faces. Enjoy.


I've Been Objectified

Posted: October 20th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: artifacts, design, input, video | Tags: , , | Comments Off

The bright red envelope in my mailbox yesterday signaled the much anticipated arrival of Gary Hustwit’s new film Objectified and an evening spent on the couch, in rapt attention with hot cocoa in hand. Directed in a style very similar to his last film Helvetica this movie is a collection of interviews with a series of fascinating characters from the industrial design world. Some of them are practically caricatures of themselves which like cow hide on an Eames chair makes for a secondary dimension of entertainment layered over the primary theme -¬† a dive into a tremendously interesting, important, impactful and often overlooked design field. As the movie points out the sexy stuff from Apple or BMW gets noticed as design but in actuality everything is designed at some level even if that level is a pretty disheartening, single-minded drive to get one more piece of trash into our overflowing landfills via your living room. But take heart, design has exploded onto the radar of the mba set and become the primary business advantage for many products. Designers and manufactures are also coming to recognize that sustainability will be the next advantage. Together with consumers everyone involved is becoming more demanding and if the trend is toward more elegantly designed and more sustainably manufactured products that is a good thing.

Check out the trailer and then reserve a spot on your sofa and make extra hot cocoa so you’ve got enough to get you through the extra features – you’re going to want to soak up every minute of this film.

Rent Objectified from NetFlix before it gets all scratched up.
Or buy it from Amazon, directly from the Objectified store or from iTunes.

If you come away wanting to be even more objectified iTunes recently interviewed Gary Hustwit and posted the podcast.
(note this and the iTunes link will open in iTunes)


Yummy Dummy Chocolate

Posted: October 13th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, packaging | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

chocolate_yummy-dummy

Chocolate
Why would seven girls from Davis, California start a chocolate company? Because it’s yummy dummy. In other words, for the sheer pleasure of it. That’s probably why they donate 100% of their profits to charities benefiting children and the environment. Who can resist that combination? 71% Cocoa is an unusual rating but I dig that they threw in the extra 1% for good measure. It’s kind of like an old-school baker’s dozen. The plain bar I sampled (actually I ate the entire thing… does that still count as sampling?) was nice, smooth and enjoyably crisp at room temperature. It’s a pretty straightforward flavor that provides balanced sweetness and a little bitterness but not the strong after taste characteristic of many single source bars. Still it’s strong enough to engage neurons in your milk proximity detection lobe so make sure you’ve got a cold glass close at hand.

Design
Yummy Dummy chocolate isn’t fancy. In fact the wrapping job is reminiscent of my little brother’s approach to Christmas gift preparation. Sort of loose around the middle with an assiduous avoidance of square corners. But it is precisely this distinctly hand-crafted quality that makes the design so charming – particularly in conjunction with the “girl owned and operated” slogan. It’s not that my expectations are lower. More that the home spun design and production fit so nicely with the overall story (what we have somewhat cynically come to call the “brand”). Many big chocolate companies hire agencies and buy fancy folding equipment and only manage to produce a lifeless and uninspiring container the only redeeming qualities of which are the squareness of the corners (I’m looking at you Nestl√©). Not Risa (who does much of the design work), Sara, Bay, Rowan, Rachel, Stream and Sedona. They are content to revel in the simple secret revealed when you first unfold the wrapper and are greeted with this simple phrase: “Oh sweet mystery of life at last I found you.”

Yummy-Dummy’s website proceeds in the same spirit as their packaging – including the self-styled proverb: “Man can not live by chocolate alone, but girls can…” It’s a fun read actually and you’ll learn about things like their Nut-O-Matic machine. To get the full experience you should purchase a bar the next time you are at the Davis Farmer’s Market. If that isn’t going to be any time soon you can order bars online.

Online
Yummy Dummy Chocolates

Location
Davis, CA 95618
email: info@yummy-dummy.com


I’ve Been Thinking…

Posted: October 7th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, opinion, output | 1 Comment »

illustration-flight1671

Maybe those little white mice I occasionally see in the clutches of a magnificent hawk are just getting a ride.


TCHO Chocolate

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, design, packaging | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

chocolate-tcho

Chocolate
TCHO chocolates come in four 70% cacao flavors made from organic, fair trade beans. Chocolatey, Fruity, Nutty and Citrus. These flavors are derived from chocolates inherent nuances and not from additional ingredients so the affects are subtle but quite distinct from one another. Citrus has a sharper almost malty impact at the back of the mouth and an after taste that lingers like wine. Fruity is a rounder, richer flavor that seems to happen more on the sides of the tongue and is my preference. I’m looking forward to trying chocolatey and nutty next.

Design
I discovered these little squares of chocolate in a small grocery store in the tiny town of Point Reyes Station, California and couldn’t resist the simple pleasure of the foiled, geometric designs on bright colored wrappers. I was delighted to discover the chocolates themselves also have a complementary geometric design engraved into them. TCHO’s is definitely a design friendly company. The identity and packaging were designed by Spiekermann Partners in Berlin and you can even read about the design from Susanna Dulkinys’ perspective on the site.

The TCHO website is nice and clean, full of fun information and the only site I’ve seen that boasts a colophon. They also have an ongoing blog.

Interactive types will appreciate that TCHO went through a beta phase and has now fully launched version 1.0. I would recommend you find some of this great chocolate. You’ll enjoy the experience while rewarding a company that values design as a partner in its business. If there is not a location near you try ordering online. As an interesting side note the first web based order was placed by Herbie Hancock.

Online
TCHO Chocolates

Location
Pier 17 (on the Embarcadero)
San Francisco, CA 94111
phone: 415.981.0189

Available in Minnesota at Product Exchange on Lake Street. Find other locations.

Update (11.13.09)
It looks like I’m not the only one to notice TCHO. Scott Hansen has a nice post on his iso50 blog worth checking out. If you can forgive him for the fact that he does “not really enjoy chocolate on it’s own” it is worth taking a gander at his fantastic poster designs while you’re at it (I already have three so try not to look as a poor substitute for self-control).