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.

Bloomsberry & Co Chocolate

Posted: November 24th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: chocolate, design | Tags: , | Comments Off

Bloomsberry and Co. chocolate only comes in two varieties; Milk (for beginners) and Dark (which at 55% cocoa content isn’t particularly advanced). This means it will probably not satisfy those who generally consider dark to mean over 70%. Neither are there hints of fruit or citrus or bark if you are seeking subtleties. The chocolate is smooth and tastes a lot like chocolate chips. There’s no bitter after-taste, it’s very easy to eat and reminds me a bit of brownies actually. This can’t really be considered a sophisticated chocolate flavor but is perfect for kids and helping friends make the sea change from the bay of milk to the wide ocean of dark chocolate bliss. The bar itself is also a nice simple design. I found myself breaking it into smaller chunks than indicated.

Bloomsberry clearly recognizes that design is an important part of the experience. In fact there is significantly more variety in the packaging than in the chocolate and consumers are encouraged to collect all the designs. Similar to the chocolate the packaging can better be described as whimsical, fun and spunky than sophisticated. It’s accessibility makes it a good gift for anyone who is not a chocolate snob and is sure to bring a smile. I know because I received this bar as a gift and even though it confirmed what I’ve known all along (that chocolate will not cause weight gain) I had a good chuckle. Actually since laughter burns calories this chocolate is the perfect weight loss strategy. Click on the photo for an enlargement if you want to read the small print.


92 Jackson Street
Salem, MA 01970

Davis Co-op’s Got Spunk

Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: design, food | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

What fun to travel 2000 miles only to find the work of Minneapolis design firm Spunk Design Machine spicing up my home town Davis Food Co-op. Spunk (with contributions by fellow redblackbrown creative genius Peet Fetsch) reworked the signage, printed material, canvas bags, t-shirts and more. Davis is also one of the few places a co-op would find it reasonable to brand bike trailers and a bicycle six-pack carrier. Gotta love this town. I’m particularly fond of the beverages sign and the logo for P6. The designs are fun and whimsical without being kitschy or cartoonish which is appropriate because people here take their food seriously but aren’t above riding in the pouring rain to get it.

Pyramids and Totems

Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: illustration, input, photography | Comments Off

I looked out over Pyramid Lake.

Todd did a little airplane concepting.

Surely the trip to California for work and good family fun will be inspirational if this was just the beginning.

Workplace vs. Workspace

Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, interiors, local twin cities | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Today two magazines found themselves in ironic juxtaposition on my desk. Together they reflect the seismic shift happening in the creative professions and a question we’ve been pondering for years. What kind of environment best inspires creative endeavor?

The Sept/Oct issue of Architecture MN (You can pick up a copy at the AIA offices in International Market Square.) pursues one answer to this question by featuring several beautiful, local workplaces of the super-size variety. Two advertising agencies; Carmichael Lynch and Modern Climate, and two architecture firms; Cuningham Group and Ellerbe Becket show what can be done by a professional with a substantial budget to house an army of creative talent.

The cover of the November issue of Dwell on the other hand boldly proclaims a glorification of the live/work option. Of course buying a home like those featured in California, Ontario and Japan might cost as much as renovating a Minneapolis agency but both strategies can be achieved on the relative cheep so the exercise is really to explore the differences in the two directions.

Simple day-to-day choices compound to take us in unexpected directions over the long-term. Will media conglomerates get bigger and bigger until they are the heartless but efficient equivalent of industrial agriculture? Will a vast population of nomadic, independent contractors coalesce into the much predicted 1099 culture? I suspect the human tendency to push at the extremes combined with a Darwinian expectation that no niche goes unfilled will cause both options to come true. The only question is where do you do your best work – fancy agency, humble home office or someplace in the middle? We’re volunteering the term “micro-studio” for that middle ground and hope to share the creation of ours in future posts.


Carmichael Lynch by MS&R (navigate through “portfolio” to “offices”)
Modern Climate by 20 Below Studio (project not featured and the site is challenging)
Cuningham Group by Cuningham Group (project not featured but their work for Hunt Adkins is)
Ellerbe Becket by Ellerbe Becket.

The Desk

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: interiors, video | Tags: , | Comments Off

We’re still on a quest to understand (and create) the perfect micro-studio for BrainstormOverload and today discovered this nicely done mini-documentary (perfect for a micro-studio quest right). Imaginary Forces has collaborated with Intelligent Life Productions to create a series entitled “Lines”. This one, The Desk helps shed a little light on the importance of desks as a key fixture in our creative workspace. Secondarily it reassures us that we are not simply tilting at windmills which is rather a relief. As a teaser one provocative quote from the film is: “If a messy desk is a sign of a messy mind then what is an empty desk a sign of?”

Illustrator Casey Anderson

Posted: November 4th, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: illustration, local twin cities | Tags: , | Comments Off

Recently graduated from Northwestern College local illustrator Casey Anderson is ready to unleash her work on the Twin Cities. Check out her website for more of her endearing and whimsical work. There is something optimistic and personal coursing through her portfolio that (particularly if you have been recently bombared with dark political negativity) will brighten your day. Expressions of simple joys. Now that’s something we could use more of. If you need a double dose check out Casey’s blog Imitation of Life for more. Better yet drop her a line via LinkedIn and hook her up with some work.

Twin Cities Streets for People Blog Contributor

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: Cindy | Filed under: bikes, design, landscape architecture, local twin cities, urban planning | Comments Off

BrainstormOverload is happy to announce Cindy’s obsession with streets and non-motorized transportation has landed her square in the middle of another blog. Thanks to Carrie Christensen and Antonio Rosell of Community Design Group for the invitation. Head on over there to Twin Cities Streets for People to check out her first post on the local impact of Congressman Jim Oberstar’s national efforts. Thank you again, Mr. Oberstar, for your service and profound impact in the realm of transportation.

ASLA-MN In Effect at AIA Conference

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 | Author: Todd | Filed under: architecture, artifacts, events, landscape architecture, local twin cities | Tags: , , | Comments Off

The American Institute of Architects convention in Minneapolis begins today and continues through Friday (Nov. 5). There will be lectures and a large exhibition hall full of the kind of shinny objects that architects find irresistible. You can follow the convention on Twitter: #aiamnconv

Also making the scene at the convention will be the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (notice that landscape architects have a full on “society” while architects have to settle for just an “institute” but that’s a topic for another post). BrainstormOverload was delighted to help ASLA-MN prepare to make a strong impression at the convention. We helped develop the concept and designed presentation boards and t-shirts featuring Theodore Wirth as the central theme for the year. To learn more about Theodore Wirth, who has had a lasting impact on parks nationwide, click on the image above for a larger version. It will be a yearlong campaign so watch for more.