Drink to that!

Cheers to the holiday season, and all the gloriously curious liquids it brings. Try one of each of the classic drinks from 80 countries, because you’ll get thirsty from all the wanderlust you’ll endure in each new place.

drinksRemember to imbibe under the guise of cultural exploration.



Breathing Patterns

When Diller Scofidio + Renfro came to speak at the Boston Public Library, I was impressed by their portfolio of projects that showed inspiration from unlikely places.

In contrast to Doric columns and Brutalist concrete, their palette consists of water (Blur Building in Switzerland) and bubbles (Hirshhorn in DC). By breathing organic design into places that we traditionally see as permanent objects, they extend spaces into the same patterns of life that we see under a microscope or in the sky. In architecture, the trend is known as biomimicry — but it seems to be an approach with staying power.

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The hole-riddled structure above is the home of the new Broad Art Institute in LA, nicknamed the Vault & the Veil. The walls have pores to let light in.

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Design eventually swings back to nature and the beautiful patterns within it.

The origami scarf by Keiko Kuroishi takes on a unique dimensionality with a similar pattern.

Maybe that’s why Chanel bags are so perennial — the quilt is actually mimicking nature? :-) The bag below is from the Paris-Byzance line of 2011.

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Making Maps of Music to Man

Photo by Catalina Kulczar

At a recent event, David Byrne and Steven Pinker lobbed their theories and experiences on the neuroscientific language of music.

The questions swirling through the room included:

  • Why do we even like music?
  • What is music for?
  • What do we respond to in music?

Music has melody and rhythm. Rhythms power our inner synaptic connections, and our outer everyday actions — walking, singing, swimming, sewing. We live in rhythm. When we’re doing what we love, we hook to a groove where time fades away, and we sync with some greater pattern of energy.

Studies show that patients with seizures recover, albeit briefly, when the brainwaves of their brain synchronize to music (classical). Narcolepsy is brought about, for some, from certain types of music. The spoken language, in many examples of foreign tongues, follows a pattern of sound that is recognizably present in fifths and thirds and elements of music theory.

Could it be that music simply mirrors the blueprint in which we have been constructed? Our brains have innate rhythms — when we sleep, make love, and love what we’re doing. Those rhythms exist outside of us, just as they power our bodies. When we hear these rhythms, do we just find it easy to synchronize to them because they already course through our veins?


Invited to the LV Sac Louis Party

In a crowded sea of handbags, the patterns of LV monograms and damier checkerboards float to the top of choices. Louis Vuitton, whether from the Paris flagship boutique or off the back of a truck on Canal Street, is everywhere.

If you’re looking for something different, you may want to look elsewhere. I certainly try to avoid the obvious designs in handbags. LV is a “massclusive” brand, because so many people seem to spend a lot of money to have a piece of the elusive dream.

Though I associated LV with a brand that may be overexposed, their line of 1920s themed handbags drew me into their designs, since they looked very unlike any typical Louis Vuitton design. After chatting with the associates, I began coming nto the store more often. Before long, I started getting invitations to art events that were hosted by the brand. But after buying one Louis Vuitton bag, I was unsure I’d purchase another.

Until I got a phone call. And an invitation.

Have you ever been invited to a secret event to view a handbag? I hadn’t before. But the Sac Louis is a mythical bag in Louis Vuitton lore.

Imagine a bag that isn’t advertised or promoted in stores — even Louis Vuitton sales associates are often unaware of its existence.

I was unaware of it too, so I awaited the day until the unveiling, where a black limo would deliver me to the destination.

More to come…

Picture Yourself Changing Perspective

Are you one of those early adopters with a Lytro camera, or have you heard of it? It’s a square tube of a camera that allows you to focus on foreground or background elements in the picture when you view it online. It gives the viewer a lot of power over your photos.

Promises of a breakthrough technology attracted me to it. Opportunities to make artful stories with it compelled me to take it home.  I got the Lytro about a month ago, and I just picked it up again today to continue experimenting with it.

I took my camera to the footpaths of the Public Garden, which is one of the greenest escapes from the cement traps of downtown Boston that I often turn to. Bridges and benches, swan boats and ducklings, intricate wrought iron and blooming roses are commonplace partners in this slower paced park.

Here are a few of my favorites from today’s visit. Click on points in each picture for a new focus.

Partners in Time: Louis Vuitton & Marc Jacobs

Nothing is more Parisian than the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre…and the Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs exhibit at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It focused on the duality of two prominent men who propelled the LV brand forward through insights that changed the perception of their brands.

Walking into the hall opens the story of Louis Vuitton, the man who started it all, because he had the foresight to capture an unforeseen market. He positioned himself differently from the other “packager-trunk-maker-packers” of the time. He lopped off some letters (in French tradition) and called himself simply the “Packager.”

And then the Packager befriends Charles Frederick Worth, who opens his first fashion house around the corner from Vuitton’s 1st workshop. Worth is none other than the British founder of haute couture. Shortly after, Vuitton started specializing in the packaging of fashions. Good move.

Worth increased the number of clothes needed in a bourgeois wardrobe to get through the day, wherever she traveled. Any given trip might require a morning dress, town attire, afternoon gowns, dinner gown, ballgown…the list would easily wrap around a steamer trunk. But this change was a godsend for LV, who, thanks to his head start, became the de facto packager for all transport of fine clothing.

Heading up the stairs leads to the world of Marc Jacobs and his famous creations in handbags and clothing. All of which is like a walk down memory lane, as the items on display have been in existence for roughly the last ten or so years. Check out the arm candy they have on display on one of their walls!


U.S. Postal Service: the New Brand Has an Old Look

The United States Postal Service has fallen to a low rung on the ladder of relevance, thanks to communication via email and social media.

However, I use the post office all the time when I ship items I sell from my closet. And since the Fort Point location is open until midnight — every single day — and has an efficient ticketing system, I’ve grown quite fond of my local post office. If they served Starbucks there, I’d be quite content.

So when I got a letter announcing the new Priority Mail brand, I paid attention.

Aside from the business sense of streamlining the Priority Mail and Express Mail brands, the visual change caught me.

Priority Mail

Old Priority Mail brand, designed in an era of CRT screens that displayed data from computers that weren’t yet connected to each other. Quaint.

The old brand looked like a time capsule of the early 1990′s, with forward-pressing italics and a triangle “A” that seemed to unconvincingly scream “change” and “future.” Except that because this logo looks like it was created before AOL and 14.4K modems, it actually looks like a quaint time capsule. In the battle between the Internet and the Post Office, we know how the story ends.

So it appears that the U.S.P.S. strategized about their new look, and returned to their midcentury glory days. The new logo looks like it dropped from the sky about 60 years ago. The stars are officially patriotic and simple, flanking the bold and wide type. It harkens the good ol’ days of pinup girls and the Andrews Sisters. And the badge that assures you of the benefits: Guaranteed, Tracked, Insured — is as honest as a Boy Scout badge.

The trend of looking old is everywhere. In the case of the Post Office, who fills a need that really defined itself in a bygone era, this move makes sense.

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