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    theaptSHOWS


    October 12, 2010

    sdfentrance101210

    still reeling after his expulsion from the shanghai expo,
    we roused divad q. nead from a deep autumnal eames
    coma to cover the seoul design fair 2010. heavy doses of bayer,
    ethiopian sidamo, a nova scotian blonde got him through
    two weekends of crack reporting and serious photojourno.

    *

    design for all

    designforall101210

    good morning. my two-day walkabout into all corners of design at the seoul design fair [9.17 to 10.7] had me neck deep in an overwhelming world of physical objects along with a bevy of real time inspirations fleshing-out in rapid succession. despite my brown belt in film festivals and conventional museum shows, this fair was a first for my eyes, as I’d never gone beyond the alessi or kartell showrooms in greater seoul. much of what i covered for the apartment were firsts, breaking an eggshell sense of the design world. it’s been over a year since i began to mull wallpaper* over lunch breaks, eating back issues that i found on sale in the subway stations. imagine a porn lover’s virgin foray into the avn awards and you get an idea of what i went through while swimming my salmon way through the crowds under the concrete corridors of the venue. there was something to be seen in 360 degrees, on both the x and y axis. it was a dizzying, sublime, and educational affair.

    360 degree video of the venue

    while operating under the guise of an educator for more than two years, life here on the korean peninsula is an odd arrangement of both homogenous apartment architecture and socket fucking gem discoveries like alvaro siza’s anyang pavilion. despite the impressive leaps in public and private design greatness here in korea in the last 10 years, life here still operates under the rapidity of industrialization and therefore, little consideration for nuance and detail. few notice the undercurrent of brilliant design that is growing in the wings while samsung designs their iphone killer or hyundai pours another denture of high rises. as a grade school teacher and daily witness to the nature of toy design, pencil utility, and anything on a micro scale, i have come to see the absolute necessity for design to reach into the mediocrity of our spaces, to touch the common consumer. during the fair, i spent more time in the seoul design market, where young korean students and some accomplished small business owners sold their wares, than at any other venue. the crowds would agree that there more eye-time was being spent on a single felt brooch or clever cup holding device than on any chair by poltrona frau. the truth is always in the traffic. i followed the deer paths.

    not to disparage the mighty italians or the other leagues of high-design characters, but once i hit the grassy pitch splayed out between venues and saw people, average citizens of the city, thumbing through a fantastic new notebook, trying out new pens, or just holding a simple rubber coaster, admiring the work that went into it’s manufacture, that is where i saw the fair’s motto, design for all, come into being. granted there were luxurious industrial and house ware pieces from taiwan to oslo that had me gawking, it was the congregation of citizens, coming and going, taking what they could, that represented the best of what the fair had to offer. without a price for admission, and an organizational model that allowed for fluid, discovery-based wandering, the fair [which actually spanned several city locations] was a chance for the laypeople to get a high on the best and a touch of the ordinary. nothing at the fair, for me, was lost in translation, that is, except for my subtle korean flirting at behest of some blissfully bored exhibit attendants. i just had to bother somebody.

    i milled and caroused, shot admiring smiles at the craftspeople lining the halls, collected business cards, and together enjoyed the rare opportunity to lie on cool grass amidst a congested city, sifting through our pictures, sharing the reflections on this chair and that table. the field of design may be daunting, but it can also be extraordinarily meditative. we are constantly and unknowingly evaluating the pieces of physical material that compose our domesticated existence. here are my considered reflections from my time within the corridors of the event. click through the links for further information, video, and links to more discovery.

    *

    freshly pressed and packing new muji tools, i arrived under the auspicious eaves
    of kim swoo geun’s olympic stadium with sugarplum fairy dreams of injection
    molded plastics and norwegian furniture haunting my temporal lobes. the venue,
    modeled after a joseon dynasty porcelain vase stands as an imposing, yet elegant
    stage for a design symposium. guides were offered for the mission minded, but i chose
    to let my intuition do the walking, landing first on the stadium’s open playing field
    holding some of the best grass seoul has to offer with no drug pun intended.

    sdfmouth101210

    operating under the motto design for all, it appeared that there were as many curious citizens strolling
    with family as there were design enthusiasts hunting for inspiration. as one who considers design
    to be considerably social at its core, the stadium offered one a chance to approach and
    retreat from the exhibits, taking intermittent respite on one of the many lounging areas
    throughout the complex. the first piece to strike my fancy was a piece by byung-hoon choi in the korea-china-japan exhibition.

    bhchoi101210

    a composition of wood and stone, the piece reflected the numerous totems i have seen scattered throughout the mountains, stones placed carefully on top of one another as a testament to balance, a welcome departure
    from scandinavian linear aesthetic that i have found myself digesting over the past year. dining ware by masahiro mori of japan, was a standout in this venue, namely a fine collection of rice bowls

    mmoritwo101210

    and tabletop sets meant to fit together in a larger geometric pattern. the joining of the plates was a touch that struck a novel nerve as i have never considered the arrangement of plates on a table as a matter of geometry.

    mmori101210

    furthering my penchant for all things both organic and japanese, the suki by masayuki kurokawa
    represented the best example, along with products from karimokujp, of any traditional chair i saw during the fair.

    suki101210

    the 2010 living collection, featuring some of korea’s furniture potential caught a long look from yours truly, namely kim kyung lae’s couple bench and accompanying table. check out his outstanding lighting for a wow.

    kklae101210

    moving on through the other venues, i spotted alessandro & francesco mendini’s “tronspired”
    ramun chandelier rocking 11,000 rgb led inside the seoul brands design exhibiton,
    along with lg hausys and their cutting-edge acrylic hi-macs materials, a future look at your thermoformed world. continuing into the cycle design festival, my pedal fetish had its attention gripped on the two italian wheels of an abici cycle, noting a leather saddle I couldn’t resist touching. abici also makes wooden handles for their models, which I find to cut right along with my resurgent organic interests in all things handheld.

    abici101210

    the world design industry exhibit contained a fine showing of a personal favorite, swiss poster typography, notably pieces by david carson, jiri oplatek, and armin hofmann.

    carson101210

    norway got the merit badge for hospitality with its fantastic collection of lumbar friendly furniture in their please take a seat exhibit, featuring the best chairs in the kingdom.

    plstkseat101210

    such as classic pieces as the falcon by sigurd resell & fredrik a. kayser’s 711 had me more than once offering a longer-than-necessary pause, while the 2010 nor by steinar hindenes and petter knudsen was a contemporary favorite more for it’s mod classroom charm than it’s clean lines. germany made a nice showing at the dmy berlin showcase, featuring lighting by pluma cubic, makers of fine feathered shades for the swan fetishist in his parlor-come-aviary.

    pluma101210

    abutting the industry exhibit was the world design collection, in which the lighting from foscarini, the wagashi wall lamp designed by massimo gardone and luca nichetto was an eye-level standout, affixed to the wall like floral lampshade eyes.

    wagashi101210

    marc sadler’s twiggy floor lamp, arching over francesco binfaré’s flap adjustable white leather lounge was a fine combination of two long curving lines intersecting on different axes. cube or pebble illuminated floor lighting was also very present in the exhibit, namely arik levy’s meteor pieces for straight out of superman’s fortress of solitude and michele de lucci’s dioscuri tavolo 350 for artemide.

    before departing the corridors of design’s best, i took one last gander at daddy eames and then made for the market for one more shop stop. we breezed past a flurry of industrial design plans for seoul. this year our fine city was named world design capital 2010 and it seems that there are major plans in the works to bring some much needed flair to the non-stop rock and roll of concrete and rebar that dots the skyline from any vantage point. back on the field before sundown, a calm had come over the last of the revelers and a light rain fell. cutting out, back into the parking lot, my company and i mused over our heavy bags of handmades, microdesigns, and flyers. the best score of the day was a comprehensive catalog from the best stop in the seoul design market

    designmarket101210

    bound in card stock with a manila envelope styled string closure, the book contains scores of small design products from design tag, a collection of some of my favorite artisans and it is already bent at the binding. if there’s one good lesson learned from this year’s seoul design fair it’s that good design on a small scale is always within reach, could be the cup holding your charcoal pencils or the binder enclosing your travel journal. either way, take the time to consider the objects that form the outlines of your material life, be a frequent patron to the budding designers who build your favorites, and buy their work while it’s hot. it’s good to be first.

    dqnsig101210

    dqn

    June 21, 2010

    clockfor those of you who have ever wondered what it is we do for a living and never quite bothered to click on the creative agency link to the left there, i would like to extend a helping hand. fact is, even colleagues in our own industry sometimes ask “no but really, what do you guys do?…” and so, i figured that after exactly 10 years of practice (we opened our doors in the summer of 2000,) perhaps i should, for once, utilize this forum for something useful and answer that most pertinent of questions. to start this conversation right, please find below, for your perusal, a smattering of our favorite things… (it may take a little bit of time to load, but once it does, you will smooth sail your way to knowledge and understanding, so-called, theaptWORKS.)

    theaptARCHITECTURE shows how just another brick in the wall does not have to mean conformity.

    theaptBRANDING displays ideas for which a visual solution, graphic or otherwise, was needed to accomplish the stated goal.

    theaptEXPERIENTIAL details the projects for which we were asked, by a variety of clients, to invent and build experiences utilizing the tools of architecture, branding, marketing and event planning, all at once and never boring.

    theaptPRESS is a few pages of our favorite published compliments by some of the most cajoled names in the business.

    who is the apartment? we are a full-fledged agency that looks at problems with outdated solutions. there is a glut of old ways of looking at things, old ways to create meaning and old ways to create experiences. that’s where a company like ours comes in. since we don’t have the rules ingrained in us, we allow ourselves us to take risks where others may not dare. the apartment takes on all kinds of projects, from the branding and marketing for a broadway show to creative-directing the planning of a small eco-city in the ukraine. we tend to gravitate towards projects that make our lives more interesting, not ones that simply make our company profitable. it is a luxury afforded us by a life considered and a team of designers the world over for whom experiences will always trump design.

    an apartment is where you live. an apartment is where you do all the things in your life that matter, where you cook, read, sleep, listen to music, make sweet, sweet love, watch movies, talk, blog and get dressed, among other things. most importantly, it is the place that you shape so that it may function, look and feel like you. funny thing, that’s exactly what the apartment does! i co-dreamed of the apartment with my partner gina alvarez first in 1999 as an experiment in retail as theater which would offer an alternative to the design stores that operated (and still do) as art galleries. design always felt to us a part of daily life and needed to be shown that way! soon after we opened the doors to our public apartment, where everything curated, from toothpaste to sofas to sandwiches, was for sale, we realized we could do more than barter our lives an object at a time for money. we realized that people, whom we would shortly call clients, wanted complete experiences, for their homes, their offices, their brands. the creative agency was born. our new york-based office imagines and builds such experiences using the tools of architecture, design, branding, marketing and technology, fully integrated for the simple reason that it is how life is built. born from our need to consider our lives, bit by bit, little by little, thoroughly, absolutely, we tackle projects as wide-ranging in scope as the conceptualization of an 8-story museum and the redesign of a line of home-cleaning products. the apartment‘s and my goal stand the same: to tell a good story, with a beginning, middle and end, even if not necessarily in that order; to invent, always.

    but not just… fact is, and this is none the more apparent than in the news delivered hourly in our various inboxes, most creative people, be we architects, filmmakers or poets, keep adding to a world that we couldn’t be more vocally vehement about cleaning up. the often damning dichotomy of our innovative endeavors is that, as much as we want more beautiful things, songs and ideas to surround us and impress our friends with, we cannot deny that most new objects, new musical journeys and new reaches into the conceptual future will, eventually, find themselves sitting atop a garbage heap, abandoned and lonely. for our imagined expectations to not only be made real but also last, we must do better, we must subtract, we must look at systems, not just equipment, we must do what the word dictates: design, not merely decorate.

    at the apartment, every one of our creative partners around the world understands this superlatively-so, for they know that it is neither their skill with a mouse nor their ability to design beautifully nor even their sense of taste that got them hired here; they know they were chosen for who they are, not what they do. that they are talented goes without saying but, most importantly, they provide us with perspectives unknown. their lives nourish their work, not the other way around, which in turn nourish our clients by offering far-flung multiplicity, looking at problems from new points of reference, examining opportunities with eyes and minds unencumbered by yesterday’s methods, viewing every set of circumstances as a possibility for new and bespoke meaning. that is why we prize culture above all else.

    thing is, as i look at it, we evolved from ape to australopithecus to cro-magnon to modern man and, in all that time, haven’t significantly reconsidered most of our tools. even though there have been more advances in the last hundred years than in the last million, we still borrow the methods of those who have come before us and dare not rebel, dare not dream that there might be a different conversation worth having. we are so caught up in the results that we rarely ever pause to wonder if the process may hold a key to a different, more efficient door. and when we do, the procedure of habit-changing is so slow that it can span generations. the apartment believes that the way out of this conundrum is to begin with meaning, intention, passion, in a word, people, not decoration. then, support the development of systems that can allow the former to flourish without having to unlearn and learn again. we design from the meaningful up, not from the stylish down.

    ironically, curiosity, the very trait that often detours humans down the easier path, is what we need to get started again to find the just one. that which leads us to create, not re-create, invent, not re-invent. that which necessitates that we put ourselves in danger, perhaps feel uncomfortable and take leaps without knowing whether there is sure footing on the other side and see what comes out. that is how we tackle every new project, every new concept, every new moment, on your behalf. with such an approach, we are not afraid to deconstruct anything, the big or small problems at the root of which considered and willful design always guides us towards relevant solutions. design, it has probably been over-said, is how something works, not how it looks. and i tend to agree, but for this anecdotal caveat: about his juicy salif, somebody once challenged philippe starck, specifically about its apparent lack of usability. he responded, well, i designed it because, one day, it will probably be gifted by a son-in-law to his girlfriend’s mother who haven’t talked much in the past. she probably thinks of him as a slacker and he of her as an “adult.” she’ll open it in the kitchen and they’ll put it up on the counter. and she is going to say “wow, this is interesting. what is it?…” that juicer is going to make a conversation happen. about a juicer, granted, but they will have one nonetheless which may be the beginning of a relationship that wasn’t there before. if design must be ascribed a mission at all, that is one i can approve of: to start conversations that weren’t there before.

    that is what we propose to do for you, the clients, the people with ideas and the willingness to execute them, use all of the above principles to imagine the expression of said ideas, of who you have become and how you want to help. in order to do so, we must first immerse ourselves in your culture, understand your motivation, dig deep within your purpose in an approach perhaps more akin to that of a behavioral detective than that of an architect. then will come the application of the findings to the physical plane, the shape of which shall be as unique as you are.

    as you can see in the theaptWORKS above, thinking this way for the past 10 years has served our patrons well. from building homes, offices and restaurants, to launching automobiles and developing new brands, we look for the unusual and the unusual always finds us.

    for more of what life looks like at the apartment, come back here often and please visit:

    theaptCHARACTERapproved
    theaptTWITTER
    theaptFLICKR
    theaptVIMEO
    theaptGOODREADS
    theaptLINKEDin

    i hope this clears that up… and, as usual, have a wonderful week!

    May 17, 2010

    oped-new7last friday started in new york city the yearly procession of those with little to say and ample stage time to proclaim it. that’s right, the international contemporary furniture fair is back within the grasp of those looking for cheap swill and rotation moulding to spill it over. now, don’t get me wrong, i find nothing dishonorable in setting up a design wares market in every corner of the world where each and every individual with ideas, regardless of color, creed or liquor sponsorship can rightly present them to an over-enthusiastic and willful audience in order to make a living. but that is rarely what happens at these things… take it from someone who has consistently thrown one of the most attended events of the week in the past, believed his own hype but been so repelled by it so violently in the past 2 years that he preferred to stay away. and he, i mean me. our last attempt was, in my opinion, the clearest, and certainly most disgusting, of all in trying to articulate our distaste for all things ephemeral and unneeded presented at the fair. also, for all itinerant sponsor-drinking people who do nothing but interni party hop and notice none of the displayed efforts. every year evolves, in my not-so-humble opinion, in the wrong direction and keeps furthering no other agenda than that of increased consumption, something we are given little reasonable excuse to engage in. other than pure weakness for all that is beautiful, cool as defined by others and status-enhancing that is. so as hard as you may be looking for my expanding gut within the folds of overcrowded “design spaces” in the hopes of punching me in the face, no such opportunity will come your way i’m afraid as i am neither throwing a bash nor attending others’. my apologies in advance for your loss…

    inasmuch as you’ve already gotten my acerbic point of view on, ahem, the state of design last year at this opportune time and since said state has not changed an iota, i won’t repeat myself and instead apply my award-winning wit to another aspect of what is happening this and every such week: the coverage.

    let me start by appointing myself and theapt.com as a lowly limb in the body i am about to flagellate because i am as much as fault as any design commentator of the day… i want to address the pundits, the fans, the observers, the assigned anchormen and women who crowd the air and microwaves with unconsidered banter, misplaced adoration and borrowed vocabulary. this is my plea to you, and it is a rather simple one:

    please do a better job…

    whoever you are, blog writer with a million hits a month or magazine columnist with an international readership, please do not feel obliged to report, hashtag, post or over-sensationalize that cactus chair just because it is there. please don’t tumbl, flickr, yfrog or twitpic that accordion lamp just because everybody else tagged it as “favorite” yesterday. please don’t tell me, again tonight, that you can’t wait for the vitra, kartell, moss or designboom party just because your name’s on a list of some sort and you’re totally meeting everybody there. fact is, most of what you’re blurrycaming today will be on top of tomorrow’s pile of the forgotten, unfit for your house, or mine. and you know it. but just because technology has made it so easy to document, and easy for us to feel important doing so since we hence believe ourselves “part of something,” we are unable to edit. which i understand, just follow me on twitter and marvel at my absolute inability to apply my own advice. but i feel stronger about my industry that i do about my lifecasting, and that is because, the less we edit our vision of it, the less it serves the world of taste it is, i suppose, our full intention to better. the more we use vocabulary whose consequences we do not care about, the more harmful the result. when you leave the hallowed yet deformed halls of the jacob javitz center, please don’t tell me you are inspired… by what? whom? how?! educate me! i have marathoned through those aisles for 10 years now and never found anything inspiring! unless we disagree on the definition. unless it inspires not to do. i may be able to understand one’s ability to find interest in a designer’s slightly new way of crafting a supposedly ironic ceramic milk carton but come on, inspiring? i think not.

    all i am asking is for said narrators to mind their words and reports. i would like to see critical eyes looking at this and other fairs without any of the obvious cheerleading which dumbs down conversation to insignificant admiration of whatever has made it to the booths. we owe it to ourselves not to applaud the merely there but the extraordinary, whatever that may mean for us. it is all too seemingly clear that many, under the cozy protection of “reportage,” use their power and audience to fill digital and paper columns with shrill assertions as to an object’s worth to simply make an act of presence on whatever medium they have chosen. our opinions are louder when few and far between. our words hit stronger when labored over patiently. our readers are thankful when we deliver on our promises of artful judgment. which cannot be fulfilled when i see 10 tweets about this shit! not that our industry, as every one, couldn’t use the support of its pundits but i fear that we might create a monster, based merely on unremarkable yet loud achievements, control over which will quickly be lost forever. i don’t want to name names here but you know who you are karim rashid. don’t do it for me, do it for the kids who will eventually ask you why their house is so full of crap perhaps only worthy of junk shooting into a spewing underwater oil leak precipitated by greedy corporations and their under-zealous regulators in a naive attempt to stop the very raw material used to manufacture said crap. i, for one, want to stop complaining about how filled with shit my house is, based in large part to my unflinching obedience to you curators of design. you, we, have a responsibility to our audience to do a better job of now considering our field mature enough for some more stringent editing. it’s ok, it will only encourage the unchosen to do better themselves. it’s ok, especially if we are deserving of the hits, the RTs, the interviews. it’s ok not to give whatever this might be, any publicity. these are objects of mass consumption, not golden idols to worship; let’s put them, and ourselves, in their place.

    i do not think it too much or arrogant to be asked to do the job we are so lucky to have created out of thin air, precisely. as we do not answer to anyone, so must we to ourselves. i will attempt to live by my own words and i would love to hear from you, my dear colleagues, about how this request shall be answered. have a less-than-designed week!

    May 12, 2010

    betonyi have two important questions for you on this very special mid-week post:

    1. does your sex life bore you to the limits of your defunct imagination, especially in the realm of full-body stimulation?

    2. would you like a chance to be one of the few and proud to lounge in the black apartment for an evening while improving the aforementioned skills?

    if you answered yes or hell, yes! to either or both of those questions, boy do i have an opportunity for you! with an industrial design master’s degree from domus and exhibits at the V&A on her cv, betony vernon is not your typical sex adviser. she is, however, my favorite kind. that’s because she doesn’t treat sexuality as a matter belonging to the “other” column, she understands, practices and teaches erotic techniques as belonging in the realm of life, not perversion and that is a teacher for whom i wouldn’t mind being the pet. as worlds tend to collide, the magnificent, and theaptSUPERFRIEND, cindygallop, went to one of betony’s salons last february which was, in her words, peculiarly riveting and enlightening on approaches to, ahem, the wilder shores of love… that, my young and far-fetched friends, is the sure sign of something truly unique at hand, and i assume foot, in ms. vernon’s instruction. so in less time than it takes to bring my neighbor’s wife to orgasm (i hear…) cindy and betony had arranged for a very special appearance and lecture on the tools and techniques of full body stimulation to take place at the famed theaptDESIGNED black apartment in chelsea on friday may 21st. there are only 30 seats available as of this post and the highly sought-after tickets are $100, well worth it for this double-penetration. pun naturally intended. do it.

    May 10, 2010

    oped-new7i am mentally exhausted this morning and unable to probe much of any depth i’m afraid. lucky you! that’s because that last week presented me with the hardest professional dilemma of my career and my fragile noggin’ is still reeling from the implications…

    having dully signed an nda, i can unfortunately not share with you the details of the matter formerly at hand but i can tell you that the aforementioned conundrum tested every fiber of my sense of morality. as broadly as i can paint this picture, it went a little something like this:

    last monday, i received a call from an agency in london looking for a talented creative individual to lead an international team in the creation of a multi-million dollar live stadium show involving a cast of thousands for a powerful client. apparently, thanks to our work for infinity and the museum project still ongoing in tokyo, my name ended up on a shortlist of some sort. we spoke at length all week long about this extraordinary opportunity and life-changing year-long project. in the end, and in a ball of ambiguous nerves, i found myself having to decline what certainly would have been a creative pinnacle of my experimental career. unfortunately, i cannot divulge details about the event or the client, but let me say that rarely do the worlds of politics and global affairs ever intersect with mine but such was the improbable case here and the only time i have had to turn down a project of this or any magnitude on ethical grounds alone.

    the thing is, flattery and momentum can take you rather far in shielding your peripheral vision to the hidden dangers of journeys undertaken. at the beginning of the week, i felt ready to involve myself in an adventure so rife with creative possibilities that it made my head explode. but in so exploding, made it so that i could not see the machine for the cog. it took one of my cherished friends and teammate to be rather more decisive than i on the matter and tell me no to wake me up to the affairs of morality involved. bottom line, this would have been a project to rival all others in inventiveness but one i would have been ashamed to tell my son about. or you. for i would probably have felt unable to publish it in the apartment’s portfolio. i ended it saturday morning with a call which was received with absolute understanding and class. giving them the it’s not you, it’s me routine, explaining that the task at hand was not at fault, the good people on the other line were gracious and appeared not to begrudge my 6th day pass. for a project with a tight deadline such as this, it was difficult to get to know strangers this quickly, on both sides on the equation, and as good as i feel about my decision, i cannot help but be aware of arduous task in front of them.

    taking work for the wrong reasons is a speech often rattled but rarely put to the test. a test, it turns out, much more painful to take than to study for. when told on friday that, finally, i had been chosen for the job, i was flattered, the sincerest way i can describe my feeling. and even though it had me on the verge for a week, it ultimately was not enough. if one is to lead a life considered and work on the projects that give passion a good name, one must be able to look past the honeyed words through to personal meaning and understand one’s truths to be self-evident if searched well-enough. i was on the edge of accepting such praise as a good reason to go forward. that and curiosity to understand the other side of the political divide. i am thankful for having been given the chance to peek behind a curtain inside me i didn’t know could be opened and for the opportunity presented. in the words of alexander graham bell, when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. well, my eyes are as wide open as they can stretch right now, i’m really looking…

    my apologies if crypticism has muddled the message but as i said, my brain is a bit scrambled. i will attempt to pull it back together for next monday. in the meantime, have a sagacious week!

    April 12, 2010

    oped-new7it was on this date 10 years ago that i first packed my bags to fly away to the famed salone internazionale del mobile, an event of gargantuan proportions in the club i had just feigned membership into with the opening of the apartment design store. i was told that i could not miss milan’s design fair if i wanted to be significant at all within the ranks of said elite community. these were good times, like the ones i’d heard about from france, during which entrepreneurs like myself granted ourselves permission to “invest in our growth” as we called it so as not to alarm the accountants. and so on we went, from first class alitalia, and discovering it was no better that coach delta, to our first taste of melt-in-your-mouth bufala, the trip became much more than a matter of mere trade show attendance, but rather a pilgrimage to a land where quality of life was not a pursuit, just the way. from lunching and shopping at 10 corso como to nighttime debauchery at plastic, the journey soon became a blur. supposed to focus on designers and their wares, our time was rather quickly filled with the golden triangle and the myriad restaurants and other places of capitalistic sin previously listed in this here column from last year.

    but you know what? it would probably be much better to actually see it happening instead of reading me telling you how amazing it used to be. well, as luck would have, it, i just unearthed my very first travelogue, heretofore never seen by anyone but its participants. it was only our second year in the italian design capital and it was quite a treat. it would be my first foray in committing audiovisual to digital memory so the pace is slow, the editing tentative (in iMovie 1!) and the storyline is approximate at best but here it is…

    we were so young all of us, gina, sébastien, martin, manoune and the usual cast of characters of the yearly fuckfest. good times… not had for a few years now. the thing is that this video could very well have been captured at the show this year as nothing ever changes in design; the people still drink free swill at another chair’s launch party and the actual fair, unless you’re there to publicize yourself, has nothing to offer that you can’t find a few minutes later on MoCoLoCo. apart from the bufala-to-go of course…

    good times indeed. have a wonderful week!

    March 11, 2010

    landscapes-of-quarantineas you may knoe, i am a bit of a bldgblog fanboy. i feel like the man makes me smarter with every new publish. which is why i urge you to check his landscapes of quarantine exhibit at theaptFRIENDS storefront for art and architecture. much like the post that inspired it, i guarantee an epically clostrogoodtime. and you can’t trademark that, i already did. go!

    conan_tour_postertheaptCLIENT, little plastic charge card, american express, is doing the right thing by having conan’s back for a concert series that starts in oregon on april 12th and ends in atlanta on june 14th. hopefully, they will all be there, the bears, the pimpbots, the vigodas to delight a bone not titillated since the lights turned off on stage 1 at universal studios. not making an appearance however, cynicism.

    February 12, 2010

    just a few days ago at TED, jamie oliver’s impassioned wish for the creation of a popular movement to inspire people to change the way they eat is something that is overwhelmingly close to my heart. in my life as a french person removed from his country, my search for quality of food is not only omnipresent but also very important as i have 2 young children, born here, for whom eating is unfortunately taught to be about consumption, not goodness. this mission is critical and i do hope that his wish is granted.

    February 10, 2010

    all this overproduced promotional video about their new logo tells me is how insanely peugeot has absolutely no clue what branding is supposed to do. i understand the whole, look at our past and this is our future thing they’re trying to pass off as legacy but are you seeing how many logos they’re gone through in their history?! i counted 10! and ending with the 11th which is actually the least interesting treatment of the same lion idea (or is it a bear…) of all of them! is there anyone in charge over there who might say that a new logo shouldn’t be made to matter this much? that brand now resides in other things? oh, i don’t know… like, in the cars?!… this is nothing, really expensive nothing.

    February 8, 2010

    oped-new5well damn… this was it, the weekend of theaptSUPERfriend cindy “why walk when you can” gallop‘s annual birthday extravaganza. and as much as the aforementioned superlative is usually grossly misused by the vast majority of the reporters of lackluster events, there is no other word to indeed describe this one, and you do know by now how i measure my words… a night of no-so-quiet luxurious depravity was had, graciously supported by the lovely people at hendrick’s gin, under the memoried guise of this past century’s last and, dare i say only, master of such ambitious design, mr. helmut newton. the mot d’ordre for the evening, and early morning, was simply to dress as one’s ultimate helmut newton fantasy… inasmuch as some didn’t seem to have bothered to even read the damned invitation we at the apartment so slaved over to produce, others thankfully and shockingly went all the way may. (extra points given for latter reference)

    unfortunately, until the official pics arrive at my desk, i will only have a couple of blurryCam shots to share with you. below was i, borrowing from helmut’s medical fetish period which was horribly uncomfortable for the first hour but which, after experiencing the level of pity affection i was getting from worried party-goers, soon became more than tolerable.

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    indeed, my stock answer to the question of how i had hurt myself quickly became short and sweet: skiing. gstaad. which i thought, perhaps foolishly, would get me kissed, or at least fondled, by some form of life meandering around the black apartment that night. alas, as the kidz say, no-go. but of course, the queen of the night knows how to please, herself primarily and in many ways. firstly by hiring a topless grand army of beautiful members of the male sex, branded for the occasion:

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    coming in one shape and size, these men worked hard all night to please their mistress by spreading their goodwill all over the crowd. (please note: no part of this sentence has been officially sanctioned as a euphemism.) sure, that might be a lot for one madame to take but our cindy is an accomplished habituée of such devotion to the god hedone and did not let one drop of the sacred elixir they were serving escape her thirsty lips. again, thank you to the good people at hendrick’s gin for that.

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    master of her decidedly voluptuous domain, she commanded and so it was done. people of significant social and professional standing found themselves unable to resist her depraved siren’s call and gave in to the cross-dressing, nothing-wearing ambience so as to chase away any unpleasant memory of mr. giuliani’s tenure as censor-in-chief. and when i say nothing-wearing, it is no mere word association. mr. steve jobs’ calumnious omission of a flash on his dear iPhone unfortunately prevents me from adequately showing you rather then telling what that looked like but let’s just says that i never saw disco balls so shiny on the dance floor as i did saturday night. fever indeed.

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    finally, wearing the exquisite bordelle waspie, my dear natasha rocked her own world until the sun (in my pants) came up and michele, on this, her first whorish outing since furthering her species a couple of months ago, braved the cold and the stare of lusty men as she bunnied up for the evening.

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    all the while, boom boom room’s own talented lust object dj coleman spun magic from those turntables of his and helped transform this willing crowd from what might have been, under other circumstances, a perfectly genteel knitting club into a frenzied orgy the likes of which might have made emperor nero say enough already!… but to my, and my friends’ delight, no such cock-blocking, pardon my latin, was ever uttered under the watchful eye of ms. gallop, empress to the last.

    as all my other pictures are too damned dark for exhibition, i will be sure to pass on the full album once it is made available to the public. but to sum up, i am still drunk and smiling from a night which brought much happiness to all involve, thanks to cindy whose life i pray to be eternal. thank god we’ll always have the #cindy50 hashtag to remember it by… have a wonderful week!

    February 5, 2010

    the french are so good at this! in order to promote their new website, the tackylicious frenchartofloving.com, lingerie powerhouse aubade set up a softly backlit window, easily gawkable from the street, behind which a few girls took their time to get dressed, undressed, play games, you know, what women do all day long, in france. very cute way to get attention. and not at all demeaning.

    January 28, 2010

    multi_touch_20100127so excited was i (weren’t we all?) to hear about a new category of product yesterday when apple was due to unveil their game changer. too long, computer-based products have relied on a learning curve, whether light or steep, in order to be used at all. new language always needs to be learned whatever your age, sophistication or operating system allegiances. as opposed to the appliances we use everyday, from the phone to the dishwasher to the car, they just work and are usually operated, even on the first try, with minimal instructions. i was hoping that what el jobso would reveal was such an appliance which would signal the beginning of the end for computers as we now know and hate them.

    as the kidz say, FAIL.

    in the interest of fairness, and to one’s surprise who regularly visits these pages, it is hard to find a more hysterical, one-sided apple apologist than me. this fruit company, whatever their missteps in the past or present, always has, in my nut-sized mind, had its priorities straight in that it does not consider design a marketing tool but a foundational one, in that human interface guidelines are based on behavior that is, as much as possible, existing, in that they understood early, perhaps the first multinational to do so, that design is not how something looks but how something works. from product to product they have astounded us with refined merchandise that, for better or worse, enhanced what we were already doing. from productivity to communication, apple products have provided solutions not simply to technological problems but living problems, leading us to the closest pizzeria when we feel hungry rather than include features because they can. and that is where, in my opinion, the iPad is a surprising and out of character lost opportunity.

    the biggest piece of information we were waiting for from our elected mass futurologists, even before any device was unveiled, was “why do i need it?” or, as a close second, “what is it for?” again, uncharacteristically, steve did not deliver on a crucial point that he never fails to make clear at every keynote: function, the avowed core value of the company, the one that differentiates it from all others. without a clear function, we are left with thousands of people rightfully wondering “i have a laptop, i have an iPhone, why do i need an iPad?” if it were a new product in an existing category, we would then have been told, in the strongest language available, that what had come before could not possibly get the job done. if they are creating a category, as steve claimed to do, we were owed a definition at the very least. if the plan was to let us decided for ourselves, the plan backfired. indeed, the fact that there is no visible file structure, nowhere to put files where they can be retrieved, no possibility of attaching peripherals and no real working apps, makes it impossible for it to be considered a productivity machine. also, the fact that there is very little communication connectivity such as phone capability, sms or video conference seriously scales back its mobile ambitions. so where does it belong?

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    as i see it, this is a living room product, one that you leave on the coffee table, to share between members of a family that already has heavily invested in media of all kinds and would profit tremendously from a lightweight product to simply play it, not centralize it since the hard drive capacity is too poor. in this light, apple’s investment in lala as an alleged digital locker from which you would stream content that apple knows you own would make perfect sense. in a way, playing the hand that netbooks never correctly dealt. think of it simply as a player, for lack of a better device term, that awaits your content to come alive. but if that is so, why then spend time and money developing iWork for iPad? as a heavy keynote user myself, i do not see being able to program the complex presentations i craft through touch, something that is hard and time-consuming enough with all the handy shortcuts afforded the desktop version. the self-appointed, and badly in need of a new moniker, road-warrior will need to look elsewhere. especially since, from what i can see, no apps currently available allows full-featured work to take place. i guess that could change.

    newton

    in fact, per this post’s title, the iPad is on par with all the half-baked devices out there that claim to be Personal Digital Assistants, a category invented long ago by, isn’t that interesting, apple while john sculley was in charge… even though it does so with exponentially more elegance and hopefully more speed, the iPad is a newton. oh shit… the iPad is a newton! and as a newton, i do not see why it should now be easier to find a place for it in our lives where it once couldn’t. as a great straddler of categories, one of which did not exist in newton’s time, the iPad has an enviable form factor to be sure, beautifully polished applications that would make tibor tear up which i hope will eventually find their way to the desktop but without the ability to do something as basic as having two of them open at the same time, how can i ever consider this product essential to my admittedly digital lifestyle? i can’t, this is a luxury product deceptively priced as a bargain, which it happens to be. whereas the iPhone was an important product, first priced as a luxury. and as sure as i am that the good people at apple know what they are doing, i stand here confused. ok, not really, i’m actually sitting.

    more questions pop up the more i think about it… why god why will i have to buy and carry multiple adapters to be able to input stuff in this thing? i understand the need for design purity but then why not include wireless transfer if you will not allow peripherals? you did for the macbook air, didn’t you? also, this was in my mind the perfect opportunity to be a friendship maintainer, as in having the ability to ichat video anyone, from anywhere. why doesn’t it have a front-facing camera? photosensors still too expensive? really?! no, i’m asking because my coffee machine has a camera. no, really. will i be able to send a document to a wireless printer? why, of all things, is handwriting recognition not supported on this device which could usher in a new era of note-taking, of idea-sketching, of sharing hastily written drafts between devices? why is the hd display of my dreams dwarfed by an amateurish-at-best 1024 x 768? why is the standby screen not filled with critical information such as weather, latest email and sms previews as well as iCal events without my having to go through login and multiple clicks to find?! and, finally, why is this just a giant iPhone?!

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    that is perhaps my biggest gripe, which is a conceptual one. this needed to be a “bridge” device, something that didn’t simply replicate features and behaviors from other devices but invented new ones the way the iPhone suddenly let us navigate our world in ways we didn’t know we wanted to. this needed to be able to receive, transmit, allow us not to work but to organize all that we already possess. especially if you live, as i do, in an apple ecosystem, from desktops to laptops to apple tv, i am astounded how little these effectively communicate with each other so that i may watch in hd on my giant tv something i just downloaded on my iPhone. now, instead of a facilitator, we have a fourth device with its own resolution, own problems and own quirky operating system. this needed to be an always-on appliance, as i said in the beginning, that just lets you unite, not further divide, you digital life. is it possible, perhaps too simplistically, that this should have been an os x machine and not and iPhone os? is it probable that the hard and quick working pwners of the world will soon make it possible peek at what might have been?

    that said, i cannot wait to hold one in my hands and for the oft-mentioned magic to take hold. it will, i’m sure of it, compensate for all that it is not. reading magazine looks perfect, email looks perfect, calendars look perfect. maybe this really is the filofax replacement i’ve always wanted… and the fact that this device will come alive with developer involvement fills me with hope. but i sure wish it were different, not necessarily more, just different.

    January 27, 2010

    appletableteventthis is it people, defcon 1, 60 minutes away from taking delivery of information we have been waiting for since that black monolith freaked the shit out of those monkeys and a flying bone turned into a spaceship. due to overwhelming over-excitment on my part, i will not be able to post during the keynote but wanted to share with you the direct livestream links you might have missed and that i will be constantly monitoring on your behalf at 1pm easter standard time:

    engadget
    wired gadgetlab

    apple insider

    mac news network

    gizmodo
    huffpo

    inevitably, i will probably fall victim to twittering incomprehensible words and profanities during the proceedings so i do encourage you to follow now if you don’t already. good luck to you all feature-seekers but do remember that the secret is in what you do with it, not what it looks like…

    January 14, 2010

    haiti quakei guess there’s a time and place for everything. i guess we could discuss the various ways conan could get back at jay. but for now, let’s give help to those who need it.

    general help

    the red cross

    unicef

    operation usa
    save the children
    mercy corps
    UN central emergency response
    help haiti now
    haiti children
    madre
    partners in health

    celebrity help

    ben’s stillerstrong

    wyclef’s yele haiti

    bill’s clinton foundation

    food help
    world food bank

    action against hunger

    word

    medical help

    doctor’s without borders

    international medical corps

    direct relief

    CARE

    albert schweitzer hospital

    searching for people

    haitian earthquake registry

    state department

    in situ help

    baptist haiti mission

    better future international

    irc
    haitian health foundation

    world concern