Philippe Starck had an epiphany, after all these years: "Everything I have designed is absolutely unnecessary," the French star designer admitted in a recent interview with the German weekly DIE ZEIT. I had the dubious pleasure of hanging out in the Starck-designed Volar club in Shanghai last weekend, and my initial reaction to his statement was: yeah, right! I've never really liked his pompose celebrity design. But then I read his quote again in the context of the whole interview and realized: he is right, actually. In fact, his thoughts are so poignant and humbling that it … Read more
I just returned from a trip to Shanghai, and in case you didn't know anyway, here's my No. 1 insight: China scales.
Let's take QQ.com as an example, the leading Chinese online social network. The site is reported to have more than 300 million active accounts. That is eight times the member base of Facebook--and it's the same size as the U.S. population.
What's also remarkable (and different from the Western social networks) is QQ's monetization. Facebook posted revenue of $150 million for 2007 (and according to Plus8star a loss of $50 million); … Read more
Drawing has never been my strength. I love looking at art and can certainly appreciate an artist's skill and patience with creating something pleasing to the eye. But when it comes to putting a pen or brush to paper, I simply don't have the talent. I always admired my friends who had the gift of being able to draw, but it was a gift I never received. I'm sure there are many of us who have thought it would be nice to be able to draw at one time or another.
Fortunately artists (or maybe even just … Read more
I was part of a panel discussion at Western Washington University yesterday for Design Green Now, a series of talks about sustainable design taking place on the West Coast. Together with my fellow panelists Sophia Wang Traweek, Marc Stoiber and Arunas Oslapas I think we covered a pretty good range of topics with our short presentations, but the real heart of it was Q&A with the 70 or so students attending and some questions submitted via a website. It was also good to see a presentation about the various sustainability efforts going on at the WWU campus.
As … Read more
Long before I got into the business of writing about tech and Mac stuff, I worked with 3D graphics on Macs for my father's visual analysis firm. We were hired to create 3D models of architectural projects and superimpose them on photographs of a proposed site to study how a project would look before it was built and how it would affect its surroundings.
Some of our clients wanted to make the project look nice for city officials so it would get approved by city planning departments, while others wanted to prove that the new project would obstruct the … Read more
Crowdsourcing has entered the mainstream big-time. It has become daunting to find a brand these days that does NOT have some crowdsourcing program in place.
My Starbucks Idea is just the latest example: Starbucks asks its consumers for advice, and besides certainly receiving a lot of good ideas, the troubled coffee chain makes consumers feel part of the brand remake.
It's the same template as usual: engage your community, harness its creativity, and let it create the content for you.
It works, sure, but it's getting stale. For some reason, marketing trends take two to three years before … Read more
Continuing their march upward in digital SLRs, Sony has for the first time allowed a hands-on look at a prototype of their Alpha 900. They had previously shown it "under glass" at photo shows.
There are a few noteworthy things:
Sensor: Holy moly, a 25 megapixel full frame sensor! Be sure to bring lots of memory cards, because you are going to fill them up fast, especially if shooting RAW (and as a pro, why wouldn't you be?). This is twice as big as the 12.2MP sensor in the competing Nikon D3, currently the darling of … Read more
I just read Ellen McGirt's poignant feature story on "The Brand Called Obama" in Fast Company, and my marketing head is spinning. "The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news," she writes, "but what has hardly been examined is the degree to which his success indicates a seismic shift on the business horizon as well." Indeed, Obama has introduced a new brand of politics, and he has caused a paradigm shift that goes … Read more
The focus on the micropreneur, he argues, is "understandably appealing, but thinking that everyone is, and should be, an entrepreneur leads us to underrate the virtues … Read more