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general design discussion • Re: Machines v. Humans

jon_winebrenner wrote:
Mr-914 wrote:In a recent Autocar, Chris Bangle is quoted:

Today’s pop is so well produced that it becomes an inhuman wall of blandness. That god we have rap and hip-hop defending humans doing music.?

I’ll tackle this one as I know you and I are on polar sides of this spectrum….music has fallen into the hands of those seeking large dollars because there is no longer room for musicians to make a living wage unless you are filling larger venues and selling gobs of t-shirts. The digital trade of music has destroyed music at the same time.

You once said music should be free for everyone to enjoy, which means that music must be created by people – for free – and then freely distributed. It caters to the mentality of the Lowest Common Denominator which does nothing but bland everything down.

So, it is my opinion, that music created with drum machines and pitch correction is easier. You don’t need to develop talent, you just need to produce it well and crank out a lot of it. So, with little to no margin to make money people will go the route of easy to make the buck.

although i think it is maybe somewhat debatable, most can concede that (music) creation is easier given the capability & ubiquitousness of affordable tools…but i think you are romanticizing pop music of yesteryear a bit, popular music has always been comparatively well produced and the purview of profit seekers. i feel like it has been the case that most musicians have always had a tough go making a living wage from the music exclusively…

now it is a fact that digitization of music has only made it that much more competitive and probably makes the few big music companies still here even more interested in investing in music that has broad appeal as their business model of using the big acts to subsidize, develop, & find other artists doesn’t work nearly as well now. the flipside is not only is there arguably way more diverse, niche music being made now (absent a quality judgement) but as a result people have broader/more interests across musical genres and seem more willing listen to different music; albeit maybe not as deep…i think because hip-hop, even more than popular music, has been so openly entrepreneurial, that has perhaps helped it thus far reconstitute itself into different incarnations in ways that other genres have not?

isn’t the process of cranking out a lot of music is the process of developing talent? granted the incubation period (if at all given how easy it is to publish) is maybe much shorter…

yo wrote:
I think there is a bit of a “safe” mentality when it comes to purchasing decisions. IE,” I’m in Best Buy, and all of the other choices are black plastic rectangles, so that must be the right thing to get. This mahogany and white speaker must be the wrong thing to get…”. Most people want product like that to blend in. When they are in a retail environment and all of the other products are black plastic bricks, that seems to blend in. When they come home maybe they realize their room is not made of black plastic bricks and that thing actually stands out now!…. a couple of years after the heritage launch I was able to bring the walnut finishes and white back for independent retailers, so they would have something different from Best Buy and Amazon, and they crushed with it. It was the right distribution channel with a true sales team and a nicer retail environment to help the user make sense of the product.

that last bit matters, there are plenty of sensible, if maybe not always fully informed, reasons why people would not choose a product that naturally patinas or incorporates some more ‘natural’ materials in a retail spot like best buy, having a product exist the in a certain context & with a knowledgeable staff, catered to a certain audience is super advantageous…

it’s almost like older classic vehicles vs. new vehicles, in the abstract maybe most people would love to own a classic vehicle and very much appreciate it’s character, but the reality is that the maintenance & upkeep might not be something they’d want to deal with, pay the premium for, or even really be able to use regularly…


Helipads, hot tubs and high-def TVs: Furrion concept glampers get luxury overload

Furrion Elysium and Hercules-Limitless all lined up and ready to party

During the annual melee of CES 2018, the world seemed to have largely overlooked one of the largest, most tech-packed debuts of the show. Lifestyle technology company Furrion revealed an all-out glamping tractor-trailer packed with everything from a restaurant-level kitchen to a complete smarthome-like entertainment system. A combination of a fifth wheel trailer and a sleeper semi cab, the new concept joined Furrion’s 2017 Elysium, an A-list Type A motorhome concept with built-in helipad and hot tub on its roof. Furrion has taken the concept of the ultra-luxurious “land yacht” glamper to new heights.

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Continue Reading Helipads, hot tubs and high-def TVs: Furrion concept glampers get luxury overload

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general design discussion • Re: Machines v. Humans

Mr-914 wrote:
In a recent Autocar, Chris Bangle is quoted:

Today’s pop is so well produced that it becomes an inhuman wall of blandness. That god we have rap and hip-hop defending humans doing music.?

I’ll tackle this one as I know you and I are on polar sides of this spectrum….music has fallen into the hands of those seeking large dollars because there is no longer room for musicians to make a living wage unless you are filling larger venues and selling gobs of t-shirts. The digital trade of music has destroyed music at the same time.

You once said music should be free for everyone to enjoy, which means that music must be created by people – for free – and then freely distributed. It caters to the mentality of the Lowest Common Denominator which does nothing but bland everything down.

So, it is my opinion, that music created with drum machines and pitch correction is easier. You don’t need to develop talent, you just need to produce it well and crank out a lot of it. So, with little to no margin to make money people will go the route of easy to make the buck.


general design discussion • Re: Machines v. Humans

Mr-914 wrote:
Second, I don’t think designers are to blame. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in architectural products for my whole career, but the designers I meet are excited about wood, marble, stone, leather, glass: all materials that are imprecise or inconsistent. We (designers) love to try to use that give a human/natural touch to the products.

What does the forum think?

I agree with you here Ray. I think there was a brief moment where there was a cohort of ID graduates that wanted everything to be minimal, put shapes, and matte/gloss white, black or red plastic (IE easy to model in CAD and render)… but most designers I know are into old things, things that patina, things that are made not manufactured, and a lot of us are always trying to squeeze that into production work…. that sad thing is when it does make it, it can flop in the marketplace. A lot of the Polk Heritage product I worked on did not meet sales goals. Of course there were tons of other factors, the right distribution was not lined up, there wasn’t a deep enough targeted media buy to reach the right person, time was not spent free-seeding product with influencers…. but on the end of the day it is a poor reflection on the design language, and when we toned it down, kept the form language but went back to black plastics, the sales went up… The only things I were able to save outside the forms were a slight brushed nice finish to all of the metallic (instead chrome or silver paint…) and some interesting textiles for the grilles (though that was a knockdown drag out fight to keep!)

I think there is a bit of a “safe” mentality when it comes to purchasing decisions. IE,” I’m in Best Buy, and all of the other choices are black plastic rectangles, so that must be the right thing to get. This mahogany and white speaker must be the wrong thing to get…”. Most people want product like that to blend in. When they are in a retail environment and all of the other products are black plastic bricks, that seems to blend in. When they come home maybe they realize their room is not made of black plastic bricks and that thing actually stands out now!…. a couple of years after the heritage launch I was able to bring the walnut finishes and white back for independent retailers, so they would have something different from Best Buy and Amazon, and they crushed with it. It was the right distribution channel with a true sales team and a nicer retail environment to help the user make sense of the product.


footwear & softgoods • Re: Sketch-Fu: Men’s Footwear

being concise has never been a strength for me but here’s my little devil’s advocacy diatribe/rant/soliloquy?

it’s not mutually exclusive tho…’fashion’ & its peripheral influencers seem to be more of a driver than performance/sport & athletes right now, so maybe things are indeed ‘better’ but emphasizing that isn’t resonating as much as attaching the signifiers of cool/fashion or a ‘creative’ designer personality or musical artist? even nike/jordan have played into this many times with trotting out tinker out for things presumably because they know it will get a certain audiences attention, though maybe obviously with more bonafides/merit…i feel like most designers approach product from a “how can i improve this” methodology, but that has always appealed to a smaller set of consumers…

i think in some ways the problems newer brands like sketchers & under armour have are like a proxy for the athletic sneaker biz at large, ua doesn’t have the heritage of the more established brands so they have to try leveraging other things…kinda like all brands are having to compete with nostalgia, having to sell you on the latest sneaker with maybe not only previous season’s/year’s model in the same store but also the one from a decade or 3 ago there too! and those older models are maybe just as sufficient for their use & has the added benefit of nostalgia or just being familiar; that brands have made the back catalog’s designs such a staple (word to jeff, pun?) part of their business it kinda makes sense that brands have to do more to insert new product into the cultural discourse than be ‘new & better’ and placed on an amazing athlete…

given that there seems to be an oversized emphasis on delivering product as close/fast to market as possible, is delivering ‘new & better’ product at the speed of trend(s) realistic? even if it were, would it be motivating for many consumers, who mostly aren’t pushing to those limits of the product(if using it as it was intended at all), to have incrementally ‘better’ product, faster? what does a term as nebulous & potentially subjective as ‘better’ even mean? companies like nike may have some defined metric by which better is determined seasonally or generationally beyond pricepoint (what exactly makes a $175 shoe ‘better’ than one thats $125 or $60?), materials, and/or labor/time put it in, but nike’s metric for ‘better’ prolly isn’t even the same as nike sportswear’s, and likely less similar to puma’s or a brand like vans. maybe for some brands just being able to charge more, is ‘better?’ maybe what qualifies as ‘better’ is that some one high enough on the importance ladder thinks it looks ‘better?’ or that a collab w/designer of the moment gets more attention?

most of those are questions i was starting to ask all the time (#maybethatswhyiamunemployednow), it was frustrating sometimes to always be trying to judge how much to pay attention to all the differing and changing opinions, or even who the target consumer was…i was constantly second (and 3rd, 4th, & 5th) guessing everything

something that stands out to me was once at my last job, i had to attend a random presentation by one of those trend services, where a new manager, that had recently come from a more executive role, was lamenting how our brand needed to be better about being on trend and asked the presenter why they were pitching us color palettes & trends that some brands were using a season or more ago and the presenter didn’t hesitate to say “those brands tend to be more aggressive and open to more risk so they usually are willing to be more different & forward looking, that’s not where we see your brand” it highlighted how misaligned the aims of the brand were & with their position at the time…

yearly like clockwork some exec would triumphantly stroll in to interrupt a team meeting, after our preliminary retailers meetings, and say something like “this is the best received our product has ever been, we’re really excited about how much better the product is!” without feedback about what was actually better to the point it became a sort of an expected platitude, only to have somber meetings weeks later after orders were in or after sell through numbers were known, about ‘challenging design’ to “do better” or with no real definition to what better meant, that similarly felt empty…everything was externally defined, what retailers thought, what did or did not sell, which is maybe is the business but it was hard to really gauge what anyone was actually proud of…

…all that to say i think there is a lot going on now that brands have to pay attention to and there is always the distinction to be made about how product is conceived, developed, & made and how it is marketed…and with that i kinda think is becoming much harder, and indeed probably not optimal, for brands to speak to consumers in the ways that perhaps we’re used to?


i-project-equinox-686x457

Equinox’s “Fitness Incubator” And Its Search For The Next Zumba

Alongside upscale eateries and fashionable boutiques on Soho’s Mulberry Street, you’d likely miss an unmarked, bare brick storefront. There’s no glaring neon sign or a pun-heavy chalkboard inviting patrons in. It’s quiet and unassuming, a rarity in this Manhattan neighborhood.

That’s because in it lies a laboratory of sorts, a barely known incubator devoted to the future of fitness. Project by Equinox is a sweaty think tank where instructors, exercise specialists, and program directors brainstorm the next Zumba. Created by Equinox, it independently lives outside a traditional studio to create an intimate training community.

“Our ultimate goal is to welcome ideas and innovation into the brand from outside that might provide us with scalable ideas to use back at Equinox,” explains Keith Irace, Equinox’s VP of group fitness.

Inside, it’s an equal mix of trendy boutique studio and a secretive underground bunker. The blocky and matte cement interiors resemble a panic room, though dotted with a few unexpected amenities like a cold brew tap, tubs of Orbit gum, and a bathroom stocked with Drybar products.

[Photo: Jason Rappaport]

The workout room, meanwhile, features support pillars encased in cognac leather and sleek glass. Grates cover the ceiling, letting bursts of bright colors like melon pink shine through. This place doesn’t look like your average gym, and that’s the point: This is a place to get instructors to, hopefully, think differently.

“We wanted to make sure that we weren’t missing anything that didn’t organically fit under our umbrella,” says Irace of the program.

Embracing the new is on par with the luxury brand, as it continuously expands beyond the gym floor. Most recently, Equinox announced plans for a fitness-themed hotel and launched a line of high-end goods with famous designers like Virgil Abloh.

Rapid consumer interest in health and fitness activities has skyrocketed, with 1 out of every 5 Americans heading to the gym (or at least paying for a membership), according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. IBISworld predicts the gym and health club market will grow at an annualized rate of 3.2%, a faster pace than the overall economy.

[Photo: Jason Rappaport]

“It’s never been better to be in the fitness business,” Equinox executive chairman Harvey Spevak recently told CNBC. “Demand has never been stronger . . . Health is the new wealth.”

As boutique fitness grabs a greater percentage of the $30 billion U.S. fitness industry, big brands know they need to innovate to keep up with trends. Cycling studios, for example, doubled in the last few years. The intention isn’t to simply copy what’s working for cult-favorite studios, but to come up with The Next Big Thing.

As such, Project by Equinox acts as both an incubator program and a talent scout. Forward-thinking fitness instructors can apply for a yearlong program on premises, though some are “discovered” by an in-house scout who frequents boutique studios, then sets up auditions. Some are already employed by Equinox, but the majority are new to the brand. It’s an even mix of insiders and outsiders.

At the same time, anyone can take a class at Project. While the studio doesn’t advertise itself in traditional ways, it does get a decent-sized group for each class simply by word of mouth. That, and the fact that many of the instructors boast sizeable social media followers (or as fitness enthusiasts call them, “tribes.”) Attendees are encouraged to provide feedback on each class, thereby helping to improve the end result.

Equinox introduces a number of new classes to clubs each year. A few become mainstays, but many have a short lifespan. The latter is by no means a sign of failure; limited-edition classes help schedules feel fresh and exciting. “It’s the culture of our members to want new and innovative things all the time anyway,” says Irace.

So what exactly is Project looking for? Does it want out-there ideas and unique class props like, say, goats?

Irace says the incubator is “open to just about anything,” provided it fits within the general style and ethos of Equinox. There are some popular categories the program prefers–most notably, fitness that incorporates elements of martial arts (such as boxing) or dance conditioning classes, like barre. (Equinox recently bought a minority stake in Rumble, a boxing-inspired group fitness company, and one of the brand’s most popular classes is The Cut, described as a “cardio-forward boxing workout with no bags, no wraps, and no ring.”)

[Photo: Jason Rappaport]

Although, one could ask: What is new in fitness? Isn’t everything already a mixture of something else?

“Usually it is either a specific way that someone sequences something together or combines a couple of disparate elements,” Irace explains, “or there’s a storytelling opportunity around the way that an instructor delivers something that becomes unique to them.”

I recently attended a class called #TMI (an acronym for Tempo-Metabolic-Isometric), led by a muscular instructor named Gerren Liles. Much like a standard HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class, attendees were paired into groups and commanded through a sequence of stations for both cardio and strengthening purposes. I skipped side-to-side while throwing a medicine ball; at another station, side planks were interspersed with weight lifting.

At one challenging point, I was forced to bind my feet together with a plastic band, while simultaneously attempting to move a slider back and forth. It was like SAW for weak people.

[Photo: Jason Rappaport]

“This is always the ‘what the hell’ move,” the instructor laughed. “A lot of people struggle with that.”

Would my grimace and collapsed Bambi legs, I wondered, convey my input on this specific exercise?

Despite my poor coordination and underachieving muscles, I’ll admit it felt different than your average circuit training class. Nearly every station had one such unique slant on the expected move, even if was just as much as a reverse plank. There were, of course, plenty of familiar moves as well, including loads of jumping jacks.

From here, instructors spend months fine-tuning their creation before pairing with an Equinox partner to create a bit of infrastructure–to flush out scalability and craft a teacher manual. There’s also an entire vetting process to ensure each move is both safe to perform and sound from an exercise physiology standpoint.

The goal is to ultimately serve the prestige brand’s greater portfolio (which currently boasts 135 locations), but Project has quite a following in its own right. Classes are half to mostly full, with students eager to experience what’s on the precipice of fitness.

“The people that are coming in are definitely adventurous fitness fans,” says Irace, “people that are showing up for something new and different.”

When I ask Irace what’s he most excited about in the Project pipeline, he points to a class called Sculpt Society, taught by former Nets dancer Megan Roup. Her session is a mix of high-energy cardio with fast-paced sculpting exercises. At certain points, she incorporates the Step, i.e, the ’90s fitness staple that has since gone out of fashion.

“She is doing these exercises that take you from the ground to standing on the [Step] with grace,” says Irace. “She’s really rethinking these linear patterns around how she’s using that Step in a way that I haven’t seen before. And I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years.” He pauses, before adding, “You sort of start feeling like you’ve seen everything–and then you realize you haven’t.”

business practices • Re: Freelance Product Designer Startup Costs

I think it depends what your goals are.

I freelanced for years, as a little side thing, for fun, and to keep the portfolio diverse. Almost all of my work was word of mouth. I did this with an EIN. It doesn’t cost much in money or effort and it prevents your SSN from being all over the place. (of course now I have LifeLock so it is kind of a moot point).

Once I left the security of a full time gig, I set up my studio with the intention to grow, so this is what I did:

- Trademark the business name $800-$1500

my personal name, this was with intention to form a studio around my expertise/experience

- Accountant $1500

I did hire a very good accountant that costs about this much. He is more of a complete financial services provider, so I do taxes through him, he helped me get all the insurance I need (life, personal disability, umbrella coverage, this stuff is important and expensive, but if your right arm in an accident, you want to have disability coverage). He helped me get 401k’s and SEP IRAs in place. He also can run payrolls for me, and when he does my taxes he runs them multiple different ways and is able to do things that TurboTax can’t. One of my best friends is a designer at TurboTax. The accountants basically use a professional version of TurboTax that allows them to run things multiple ways and make exceptions with reasons. It is worth it and the he basically pays for himself.

- Legal (contracts, etc) $1500

I hired a lawyer who mainly works with athletes on contracts and endorsements to put together my standardized contracts, master services agreements, NDA’s and contracts for subcontractors as well as file my LLC. Having worked at larger firms, and on the corporate side, I’ve seen the benefit of having contracts multiple times. If anything it just puts everything in black and white right up front. I will do this, at these times, and you will pay me that at these times. It forces some disciplined thinking up front. When people are afraid of signing contracts, that is a red flag.

- Any business licenses (not sure if needed or not) ~$200?

Had the same lawyer handled that at the same time

- Creating LLC ~$200+

Had the same lawyer handled that at the same time. This is important not only for liability, but also for taxes. By filing an LLC you can file your taxes as an S Corp, then run payroll to yourself (and once you get employees, to them too)

- Website $1500

Made mine myself. I used Everweb, because when I made it Squarespace and Wix were very new and I din’t quite trust them. When I eventually get around to redoing it I’ll like use Squarespace or Wix. Just hasn’t been a priority as I’ve been booked a quarter out for the last year and most of my business comes from word of mouth.

- Logo & Business cards $300-$400

Do it yourself, print on moo.com

- CRM system $0-$1200/yr

Why?

- Computer hardware & software ~$3000 (this is a given)

This might be more, depends on your needs. I tend to really like my gear, so I spent a bit more than this.

- plus marketing costs – $ unknown

Haven’t needed, but eventually I’ll probably step up to something here.

- plus anything else not identified – $ unknown

There are always other costs. Traveling to tradeshows/conferences, your car, and don’t forget to make a budget for your living expenses and a rainy day fund. Sometimes the hot water heater goes or something.


transportation • Re: Acura, an incomplete visual history

aahhh, memories.
Well, I had a Gen2 TL and I loved it. Everything was well designed, spacious and super smooth ride. I loved that you could only get 2 (or 3) trim levels…with or without Navi. I hate when dealers have 5+ trim levels plus options.
My wife got a Gen 3 TL in white. I think that car looks best in white with tinted windows. We still have it and it’s still fun to ride. Getting up there in miles and our family grew so we’ll be replacing it soon.
I think Gen 4 went back to the “luxury” ride feel of Gen 2. Gen 3 is more sporty and low to the ground. Dealers used to say clients would buy the Gen 4′s only if the dealer painted the grill the same color of the body.
I really like th MDX suv but unfortunately the 3rd row is too small.