October 29, 2009

Resource: Apple Chart

Apple season is in full swing. Here's a reference chart that details the use, harvest season, texture and taste of dozens of apple varieties.

The chart is very comprehensive however, it does not include the oldest known apple variety: the Lady Apple. My suggestion is to use the extra line at the bottom of the chart to write the following: "Lady Apple, Eating/Baking, Nov-Dec, Crisp, Semi-sweet."

October 28, 2009

Design Idols: Design Research

Benjamin Thompson's now-defunct store/studio, Design Research, is legendary for bringing unusual international (mostly Scandinavian) products to the States. In honor of its 40th anniversary, a collection of items sold at this Cambridge store in the 1970s, including Marimekko dresses, have been reassembled at the shop and can be viewed through the store's exterior windows.

October 27, 2009

Resource: Colorful Images


"Colorful Images" sounds like it should be a post-modern art criticism journal but in fact, it's a catalog specializing in "unique personlaized products, stationery, home decor, & gifts." I would describe it as the Oriental Trading of the personalized products world. In my opinion, 95% of the products offered by Colorful Images do not need to exist (see Santa's Pants Treat Holders below) however, they do have a variety inexpensive personlized address labels and notepads. Also, their website allows you to shop by theme which I appreciate.

October 26, 2009

Methods/Systems: Cornell Note-Taking System

The Cornell Note-Taking System was developed by Walter Pauk, learn all about it in his book: How to Study in College. The method is designed to support the "Five Rs of Note Taking": Record, Reduce, Recite, Reflect, Review. Yes, that's right, it uses a mnemonic device (Five Rs) to help people remember how to remember.

October 22, 2009

Product Appreciation: Pilot P500 Pen

I first learned of this pen from a high school classmate that made beautiful drawings. One day, we were talking about pens and when he let me try one of his P500s the way I thought about pens changed forever.

In my opinion, the Pilot P500 pen is the best all-around inexpensive disposable pen ever created. The ink comes out smoothly without being too inky or prone to skipping. The point is unique because it's fine but very sturdy and doesn't bend under the pressure of hard writing but also isn't so sharp that it feels scratchy. Now, I know that the design of my beloved P500 is well...ugly and the caps tend to crack making them impossible to close. But no matter, I would choose a single P500 with a cracked cap over over 1,000 gold-dipped Bic ballpoints any day.

Sadly, since my love affair began it has become increasingly difficult to find the P500. Of course, you can buy them online (here) or if you live in New York, you can find them at University Stationery (28 E. 12th St.).


October 21, 2009

Methods/Systems: Pantone iphone App

The "myPantone" iphone app allows users to reference various Pantone decks and generated Pantone numbers for the colors of an image on the phone. At $9.99, it's pricey for an app but a fraction of the cost of an actual Pantone deck.

As far as I could tell, the color matching feature was just so-so but then again, I didn't have a deck to use for comparison. "myPantone" often has messages which inform users that it makes no promises of being flawless but it is entertaining because it allows you to find the number for say, a cloud (421C) or your dog (439C); $9.99 entertaining? I'm afraid not.

October 20, 2009

October 19, 2009

Product Appreciation: Lonny Magazine

Lonny picks up where Domino (R.I.P.) left off.


October 17, 2009

Product Appreciation: Blistex Lip Medex


I have tried dozens of lip ointments in my day however, I find Lip Medex to be the gold standard. I use this product throughout the year but, it's superiority really shines in the winter when chapped lips are at an all time high. It's smooth and packs the same menthol punch as a certain cold sore treatment (rhymes with harmex), which many mistakenly use as lip balm even though it contains a drying agent found in some acne treatments; salicylic acid.

October 14, 2009

How To: Make Things Look Tidy

Just yesterday, I was thinking that I should limit the number of posts that link to the New York Times' Moment blog... and then I saw this article about how trays make everything look instantly tidy. That Rita Konig, she's really got my number. Also, note her use of the phrase "the order of things" in the second sentence, a subtle nod to yours truly? Methinks so! (but not really)

I like this Iomoi tray (pictured above) because it's fancy and monogrammed.

October 13, 2009

How To: Understand Pens for Detecting Counterfeit Bills

Here's a nice explanation of how those counterfeit detection pens work and here's where to buy them.

October 12, 2009

Methods/Systems: A Book a Day

Here's an article about Nina Sankovitch, she's reading one book a day for 365 days and posting a review of each book here (or you could wait, maybe she'll write a book about the whole project when she's finished).

October 11, 2009

Zabriskie Posts: The Things of Zabriskie Point--How To Recreate Daria's Drive (Part 7 of 7)

Here's a map I made for recreating Daria's drive (orgy with Grateful Dead soundtrack, not included):

Los Angeles to Zabriskie Point (286.11 miles)
Merge onto US-101 S, take San Bernardino Fwy towards San Bernardino which becomes I-10 E, Exit 31B onto I-605 N, Merge onto I-210 E which becomes CA-210 E, Merge onto I-15 N towards Barstow, take CA-127/Kelbaker Rd. exit towards Death Valley, L on CA-127, continue on CA-127, L on CA-190, L onto Zabriskie Point Rd.

Zabriskie Point to Phoenix (431.72 miles)
East on Zabriskie Point Rd towards CA-190, R on CA-190, L on CA-127, CA-127 becomes NV-373, R on US-95 S which becomes US-93 S, L to stay on US-93 S, Merge onto 1-40 E/ US-93 S towards Flagstaff/Phoenix, Merge onto US-93 S, Exit 71 towards Phoenix, L on E. Wickenburg Way/US-60 E, AZ-101 Loop S ramp, Merge onto 1-10 E (exit 1B), 7th St. exit 145A


October 8, 2009

Zabriskie Posts: The Things of Zabriskie Point--The Staircase (Part 4 of 7)

The Staricase
Yes, the house is in the middle of the desert but it has a ship wheel at the top of a spiral staircase. The best part is that the wheel isn't stationery, it spins!

The New Old Schlitz

Toby Cecchini's article,"Schlitz is Back" , is the kind of classic tale product developers will tell their children for many years to come.
"They found the beer had strayed so far, however, that no one associated with the brand even knew the original recipe anymore. The brewmaster Bob Newman had to track down Schlitz employees and brewers from the 1960s to piece together the formula, which he then tweaked for months, tasting it with those same old-timers, and finally calling it the “Classic 60’s Formula.” The company rolled out its first batches in Milwaukee last summer to great fanfare."
-Toby Cecchini

October 7, 2009

Methods/Systems: Japan's Bills

Paul, my friend living in Japan, kindly shared a second gem (for the first one, click here) with me:

In Japan, each denomination of paper currency has its own raised watermark in one of its corners, which is used blind people to deduce its value. The Yen, however, is not the only currency that is easily read by the blind, here is an article about currencies around the world and how they accommodate the blind in their design.

In the U.S., the bills are all the same size and aside from their printing our notes do not have any distinguishing marks based on their value. It seems that most blind people in the U.S. employ a system of folding for their money (i.e. a $5 would be folded in half, a $10 in thirds, a $20 in quarters etc...) and several members of the blind community oppose a possible redesign.

Zabriskie Posts: The Things of Zabriskie Point--Around the Office (Part 3 of 7)

Around the office:

October 6, 2009

Industry Standard: Pink Pearl Eraser

With its rhomboidal silhouette, perfectly-penned name, and cotton candy color, the Pink Pearl eraser has got to be the sweetest and most honest eraser out there. I find correcting a mistake with one of these cuties to be the emotionally equivalent of having a kind elementary school teacher tell me; "Don't worry about it, I know you're trying very hard. I'm so proud of you."

Here are some great tidbits about the creation and history of the Pink Pearl.

How To: Find a Flu Shot

Click here to find a flu (seasonal, not swine or bird) shot near you.
Click here to buy a jumbo syringe.

Zabriskie Posts: The Things of Zabriskie Point--Daria's Accessories (Part 2 of 7)

Daria's Accessories:

1. South Willard Brown Leather Running Sandal

October 4, 2009

Zabriskie Posts: The Things of Zabriskie Point

Even though Michelangelo Antonioni's film, Zabriskie Point (1970), overtly opposes consumer culture and its whims, at times it embraces design and architecture with open arms (there must be a senior thesis about this somewhere).

What this film lacks in the narrative department it makes up for in aesthetics. So, In addition to the regular posts this week, I will be doing a series of "Zabriskie Posts" which will showcase things in the film. Stay tuned.

Product Appreciation: Olbas Herbal Bath

Yesterday, I woke up feeling very congested and ill. The witch doctor at the health food store suggested a small bottle of what looked liked pond water for my condition. When I got home, I poured a few tablespoons of Olbas Herbal Bath into running bath water. My bathroom was instantly filled with the smell of eucalyptus and mint and I noticed an improvement by simply breathing the Olbas-spiked steam. Then, after a few moments in the bath I felt 70% better! I read the label again and saw that the Swiss solution can also be used as a household cleaner so I put a few drops on a particularly unsavory bit of tile grout and when I washed it off a bit later it too had improved! Since then I have taken another Olbas bath and an Olbas shower, I can't get enough of this stuff!

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I once took a personality test that told me I was a perfectionist and I thought the test was flawed. True story.

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