Archive for the 'Design' Category

Moleskine Plain Cahier Journals – my new sketchbooks

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Over the past few years, I’ve been using Bookbinders Design’s very nice square formatted hardcover sketchbooks. I even got a case for the trio. These were great books. I loved the format, and the hardcover, but the paper didn’t have a great bit of tooth to it, and they weren’t handy for sketching on the go.

Once they were filled with doodles I thought about getting another set, but they are awfully expensive. I had a Moleskine notepad a while ago, which I really liked, very handy – fit right in a jacket pocket – but small for sketching, really. I had been given a lined journal from my sister an even longer time ago – bigger; but lighter paper – not so good for sketching. The size was perfect.

So I opted for a 3 pack of Cahiers – light, portable, nice paper. Slide in a jacket pocket, and I’m good to go. They even have a pocket in back page (I use it for receipts). And they are inconspicuous enough that they don’t fill my tiny desk when i’m not using them!

Moleskine 3 Plain Cahier Journals

The Free-thinker’s Espresso

Friday, March 12th, 2010

For my 40th Birthday, my wife Marie and her family, got together and spoiled me rotten by getting me an espresso machine – The Isomac “Maverick”, a coffee grinder and other assorted paraphernalia*.

It’s a piece of work, and I’ll tell you why:

Firstly- it produces an espresso on par, or better than most cafés. I’m no barista, but I do know my espresso. This stuff is goooood.

Secondly - it looks the part. It LOOKS like a machine, and I like that. It shines and sparkles in the corner of the kitchen, begging to be used, it whirrs and hisses and spurts. The grinder grinds loudly, producing the fine grinds that give off that inviting, alluring, seductive aroma of… well… freshly ground Arabica.

Oddly enough, it somehow reminds me of my old ’73 Mini. I think it’s the straightforwardness of it. It even has the same number of switches, no electronic display, nothing aside from what you really need to do the job. It’s made of metal, and it looks like it. It’s honest. Like the Mini, you have to wait for it. It requires patience both to get started, and to learn how to get that cup of espresso just the way you like it. Both require a bit of ritual – priming the choke, pumping the gas, and saying, “Please, please start!” to the Mini /and switching on the Maverick, letting off some steam, waiting for the green light to go off – and then you’re good to go. Now comes the rumble of the 1000cc engine, and the grinding of the espresso beans. Lovely.

It’s also a pleasure you earn – espresso and driving the Mini. The amount of preparation and clean up is disproportionate to the time you actually enjoy the thing – but the amount of enjoyment is enough to make you forget about the effort you put in.

It’s a messy affair, making espresso – the coffee grains end up everywhere – but it’s worth it. I drink less coffee during the day now, the coffee tastes better. Since espresso is less acidic, it’s also better for my innerds.

I miss my Mini, but now I have my Maverick!

*DreamFarm’s Grindenstein Knock Box, Motta Wooden Handle Tamper (58 mm), and cups from d’Ancap

Tappity-tap vs. Glonk, Swish & Woosh

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I came across “The Making of The Dunhill Double Document Case” this morning, on Selecticism, and was immediately struck by the tactile nature of this production. The sounds, in particular, are very good.

I know leather work is tactile, and cozy. My father’s friend, Flemming, still pounds out leather bags and belts – as far as I know. I remember getting one of his belts as a kid, and being happily struck by the smells in his cool, woody shop. They stayed in the belt. Decades later, while handing it down to my son, it still smelled like that first summer I had with it.

Watching this makes me want to pick up a similiar trade. Something tactile. Something where I’d need a workshop to do it. Something I could do that wouldn’t sound like “tappity-tap-tap-tap”, and more like “glonk, swish and woosh”.

That might not be why Dunhill made the film. I’m sure they want me to buy the bag, rather than yearn for my own workshop.

You win some, and you lose some=)

The Magic Highway

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

I ran across this stylish (and old) animated video on treehugger this morning – a cheeky Lloyd Alter post, “Secret Video of Government Highway Spending Plans Hacked and Exposed”

Not only is the film very good looking, the ideas in it are just as exciting as the pictures. Some are way out there, some downright ridiculous, and others strangely optimistic about using new technologies (the gas-turbine car, the speedier jet propulsed vehicle, the inexhaustable atom, and the sun-powered electro suspension car(!)), fantastical modern architecture, and conveniences such as video conferencing in a auto-piloted mobility pod, or highly specialized pleasure vehicles (furnished with lounge and fireplace, and which can also travel on water as a hydrofoil) directed by punch cards to a holiday destinations, moving sidewalks, door to door assisted parking… it goes on and on… “heated highways”- that’s a good one.

It looks as if it was made in the 50’s- maybe 60’s? Full of optimism and confidence in our ability to carve out a brave new world for ourselves, it nonetheless leaves a bitter taste in my mouth – we didn’t do anything this film says we would. A lot of that is good. Who needs heated highways?
Well… we did get the moving sidewalk. But the rest?

We still do the same crap we did at the time the film was made. Only – we do it poorly. Cars are starting to become “intelligent”, helping you park, talk on a phone, not fall asleep at the wheel, all while cradling you in a livingroom environment filled with music, tv, video games and food. No room for luggage though, because you aren’t travelling anywhere, merely driving around. Alternative energies are coming to the table again (after 50 years?)
– but instead of being met with wide eyed optimism, they are met with snail paced skepticism? What is wrong with us?

The filmmakers obviously assumed the modern person would stay in good shape eventhough they wouldn’t have to stand on two feet, walk or move themselves anymore.

But – it looks so good. So sleek and clean and streamlined. Just hearing the soundtrack reminds me of good times. Carefree. Nice. Like being a kid again.

What’s not to like?

the Monocle Summer Series Podcasts

Saturday, July 4th, 2009


It’s nearing the end of my workload, and as I anticipate it, and our family trek to Canada, I am enjoying the Monocle Summer Series.
Just in time for the weekend, and filled with sunshine and laughter – these podcasts get me in the mood, and help turn the dial in my brain from “grey winter – wet spring” to “sun-splashed sweaty summer”. It’s hard to do it on your own when you are stuck inside.

Fittingly, the Monocle site has pages filled with illustrations by Satoshi Hashimoto to accent that summery feeling. Lovely, as usual.

Edition 1 featured Swedish Quiet Nights Orchestra. It’s a perfect start.