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green-watersweet-green

I’m searching for ‘green’ today. Let it pour like a visual remedy! I started the hunt this morning looking through photos of a recent journey to Spain, and by the end of the day I’ll eat all sorts of green things in a salad. The psychological effects of color can have great benefits, better than most meds. The 4 psychological primary colors are red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, mind, the emotions and the balance between these three. For me today it’s the need of green.

Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the center of the spectrum, it’s the color of balancea more important concept than many people realize. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Green shows us harmony, rest, peace, refreshment and love. But I want to give it to you straight… negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used can perceived as being too bland. Make your greens grow and you’ll be fine.

The spritzer bottle just makes me giggle, I have a passion for green plastic, and the chocolate wrapped in green makes me think of the evergreen cocoa tree, very exotic and dark. I have a new favorite artist who uses lots of it too, Matt Magee.

We’re thrilled to share an exhibition opening on October 14 in Mexico City that showcases the work of graphics, branding and signage designer Lance Wyman at MUAC (Museo Universitadio Arte Contemporaneo).

Lance was one of our early mentors in New York City when we first began our journey as designers. He remains a friend and a inspiration to the entire graphic design community. Abrazos, Lance. We wish we could be there with you to celebrate.
CARTEL_LANCEWYMAN

REALLYparking

Seattle has blown it. A Pacific Northwestern cityscape that in the past was of uncluttered venues, a fringe of evergreens and recycled debris bins on many street corners.

In the brief span of the past couple of years we have lapsed into a parking-pay-system mania. Complicating itself every step of the way… how could it be when the idea was to streamline, make it green, user friendly, and efficient?

The result has been 6-foot hulking towers, 1 to 3 of them per downtown block, enough instructional signage to bewilder, and enough add-ons to create an eyesore. We now have an obstacle course of signposts and equipment. Each site has hundreds of instructional words incorporated into it… it’s informationally numbing.

We may just fall into apathy about our streets, or it may inspire us to ask for better… design for a solution that will make our streets a desirable intersection of urban culture.

TALL_building

Have you ever heard of the CTBUH?

Do you know what Vanity Height is?

To answer the first question, it is the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. A fascinating group which tracks the skyscrapers of the world. I can get lost in this subject, and be awed by these big towers made by little people, piece by piece. I imagine standing next to each slender edifice, staring up and then turning to see the world that bustles in the tower’s shadow.

If you have any curiosity about such things you may what to visit the CTBUH website which chronicles the top 100 skyscrapers. Wonderfully illustrated and organized, this makes for great armchair traveling. Travel the world, these days you will send much of your time in the United Arab Emirates to see the tallest.

This is a great database and fun, choose by many categories: country, status (complete, in-construction, visionary or demolished), function, steel, glass, precast, just to name a few.

Have you guessed what Vanity Height is… it’s that use-less space in today’s tallest. With the increasing trend towards extreme spires and other extensions of tall buildings that do not enclose usable space, the term Vanity Height describes it (the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top).

What are Supertall and Megatall Buildings? The CTBUH defines “supertall” as a building over 984 feet in height, and a “megatall” as a building over 1,968 feet in height. Although great heights are now being achieved—in excess of 2,600 feet—as of July 2013 there are only 73 supertall and 2 megatall building completed and occupied globally. Thus the completion of a supertall building is still a significant milestone.

628x471

Last week the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that after 42 years it would no longer be issuing its candy-colored metal buttons as proof of paid admission, replacing them instead with paper tickets. As with many things in life, with that decision came the sudden realization of how much something would be missed once it has been taken away.

While living in New York City for over 15 years, I have many memories of finding those little metal buttons everywhere. The little icons were such a ubiquitous part of NYC life. Yet who knew the colors actually had names? It was always a pleasant surprise when visiting the Met to see what the day’s button color would be, and a fun decision determining its placement. Depending on what you were wearing, it might look best on the collar, the strap of a handbag, a pocket edge, or even affixed to the cover of the book you were carrying. A default location was always calling on a buttonhole to do double duty. And a day’s visit would inevitably include the distinctive pinging sound of someone’s button falling to the marble floor.

In theory, you were asked to deposit your buttons in a clear plastic receptacle when exiting the museum but I didn’t know anyone who did. Either you simply forgot or you were prescient enough to think about amassing a full collection, either for the nefarious reason of a future paid admission or simply because they were beautiful little objects. Days later, while doing laundry you would inevitably find one of the little guys still affixed to a collar or pocket. And I’m certain I’m not the only person who, more than once, while waiting for a street light or a subway, noticed a glint of recognizable color near my feet, miles and boroughs away from Fifth Avenue & East 89th Street.

After finding a full set going for a starting bid of $200 on eBay, I spent an hour today searching through old storage boxes in my closets hoping to find just even one. I found two! One inside a jumbled box of little-used jewelry and trinkets and another tucked inside the empty matchbox from Lisanne one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants which closed in 1989.

My buttons’ colors are Joker and Positano.


We’re back from the Vancouver Winter Olympics! Great international time for all!

From a design point of view…
The fashion was HOT and the mascots rocked. The overall volunteer color, and there was lots of it, was called “chill”. It coordinated well with the Olympic logo’s “winter ocean”. The leader of the mascots was Quatchi, a shy and gentle giant, a Sasquatch… he’d be a great hockey goalie. Here he is with Sumi on the side of a financial tower. I like blue AND fur… so I was happy. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle_Public_LibraryI’ve been itching to say it since we started writing this blog… Seattle has the best library system in the US! Well just look at it, need we say more. The head librarian got everything single thing she and her committee asked for and more… and it came in under budget. The Central Branch is just the tip of the iceberg… which by the way it looks a little bit like when you approach it some city avenues… it’s only one of many newly constructed or refurbished neighborhood libraries in Seattle. Each environment is comfortable, user friendly and architectural inspiring. They all do an incredible business; each is a true community hub. Just look around it’s where the action is. They shuttle books around from one location to another at your whim with such efficiency… I think they put Amazon to shame.

I may get a little silly here with the description of the different kinds of tea. This is only my humble opinion, but what the heck, enough has been written by everyone else on the subject. They for the most part dutifully stay on the prescribed script.

There are four main types of tea, which are white, green, oolong, and black. However the leaves of each kind of tea all come from the same Camellia sinensis tea plant, it’s the processing of the leaves that determine their “color”. The chart diagrams the process of how tea is made… it may be helpful to know. Read the rest of this entry »

Hedda_lettuce

In our continuing “colors of your choice”.

I think she’s the poster child for green. She’s the queen of green. My favorite color is green. I hear Hedda Lettuce has a great act. She just debarked from Seattle on a luxury cruise to be the lead entertainer. Of course she had a lot of steamer trucks in tow. Read the rest of this entry »

coffee101

I’ve been reading that coffee is having its third wave in the USA. This time it speaks to traditional roots and the purists at heart (no flavorings, please). Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters is now in Manhattan, and so the wave may span coast to coast.

I’m a tea drinker myself, but keep rowdy coffee drinking friends. A baffled friend asked me for a visual reference guide. Read the rest of this entry »

12th_AVE_waitresses

I’m stuck on my breakfast order. I’m originally from the East coast, Brooklyn before Seattle, so eating breakfast out on the weekend is somewhat of a tradition for me. Especially on Sunday… it’s an ideal way to deny the inevitability of Monday. We used to call it brunch… lazy… tasty… indulgent. In Seattle it’s “breakfast” a bit more practical, and a little less conversation (less cud chewing). Read the rest of this entry »

sign_of_the_wine

Streets are the fibers of our complex woven cities. Along the fibers cling an assortment of messages, free-radicals of a sort, and visual stimuli. Eccentric and exotic signage is in every town. No far-away journeys necessary to find great things. This one deserves attention, a wine shop (European Vine Selections) spotted in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. They have great wines, all for good value… Doug is a great help.
Read the rest of this entry »

lane_ending

This traffic sign always intrigues me….the iconic visual description of the narrowing road. The intended meaning is initially confident. Touché sign designer. THEN, for me, the idea morphs into an entirely different abstraction that has a contrary meaning. Using the line segments as road edges… and then narrowing the road with an angle… and some of these signs have an added element, a dashed line to express the ending of one of the lanes. You get the picture. But the “lines”… the road edges have gotten very fat, thick as walls on a house and the dashed line really looks like 3 stacked rectangles, maybe 3 windows. The slant becomes a roofline and the single lane at top looks like a chimney. It’s a 3 level house to me. The forms are breaking down to their basic abstract shapes and the conclusion can be left to your imagination.
deer_crossing
If you were to pick your favorite would you choose the deer crossing? Graceful. Leaping across a field of yellow. With the addition of a sticky dot changes the roadscape near the holiday’s… presto… Rudolph. Very literal in comparison to the narrowing road scenario don’t you think?

Read the rest of this entry »

When I tell my East Coast friends that I frequent Issaquah WA… they ask if I’ve ever had a rough and tumble with Sasquatch, or if I have an ounce of city boy left in me. I let them imagine Big Foot stomping around and that my gourmet tastes have turned to road kill. The fact of the matter guys is that these days Issaquah is half asphalted and its most popular destination is probably Costco (a parking lot full of customers waiting to get cheap gas). So why Issaquah? I have a dear friend there and whenever possible we beeline it to the Issaquah Brew House, which is part of the Rogue Nation of breweries. Rogue has a dozen locations from San Francisco to Issaquah, headquartered in Newport OR.

ISSAQuah_brewhouse

It’s a “Cheers” kind of place, friendly faces, staff that cares about the beer pint you hoist, and about you. I’m biased, but they’re heard me say too many times this is the best beer I’ve ever had. 35 Rogue taps and 5 guest tap that are worth the visitor in themselves. The food may remind some folks of the English pub tradition… a high standard meal to have with your hoppy beverage. Read the rest of this entry »

fontanaWhat it is about jets of water cascading into the air from a simple fountain that suddenly puts one’s spirit at ease?

The last week here in Seattle has been one of blistering heat—with a record-setting 103 degrees on Wednesday. I had made plans to have lunch with one of my clients at a small restaurant here in Belltown, La Fontana Siciliana. It was a place I had often walked by, but never actually eaten a meal at, yet it had always intrigued me. Yesterday, I found out why. Read the rest of this entry »

penne1

Friends were over for dinner last night… not the Facebook kind, the neighborhood kind. It was an unusual day at work because I made a pasta sauce while I called on clients and did layout designs for the Sumner School District calendar. It really made me think about what we mean when we say “multi-tasking”. Many times the tasks are so similar that they are undistinguishable from one another. Stirring a pot, smelling the garlic and saffron both complimented and contrasted the design work at hand. No one complained about my cooking until I took it home and the aroma left with me.

Since I’m here I’ll leave a recipe of sorts. It’s not a formal recipe per se… as is often the case I just combined ingredients as I went along. This frustrates my family since they can’t return to the exact meal… but it’s about the moment.

I think the key to this dish is the farm-fresh garlic I started with. Scrawny little bulbs… but mild. Sautéed in olive oil and a little bit of butter. A couple of cups of cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas) went in next. Read the rest of this entry »

T-SQ-2

My hometown, NYC, still turns my head and makes me nod and smile. All of you know of the famed Times Square, you have some image of it in your mind whether you have seen its lights or walked the tar or not. Always teetering on the edge of tacky, vile, glitzy and inspiring

This summer, Times Square began to shut down on the weekends to make it the domain of pedestrians. The skyscrapers submitted to the follies of the weekend and its multi-borough citizens… the Square became a asphalt beach of sorts. Making it a place where people can go to hang out and not just to pass through, it has a chance to pass on from just a tourist phenomena and transform into a more robust civic space. Read the rest of this entry »

remedy_tea

Even in Seattle, the coffee saturated town that it is, there’s still a case to be made for tea. Coffee—the palate-numbing, strong-tasting beverage—basically comes in one color unless you doctor it up, and lots of buzz… what can I say. In color alone, tea has me hooked. Infinite shades of green, yellow, red and brown, grays and whites. The tint itself is artful. Like an oyster that reflects the taste of the bay it cultivates in, tea is imbued with the flavors of the hillside it sprouts.

At the end of a great meal, what’s better? There’s a choice, to coddle the lingering flavors of beautiful things past… or to ingest a depth charge of bitter, head-spinning coffee? Sadly if you’re indulging every-day addictions to coffee, tea will never live up to the challenge and convert you. Wish I could help. It’s a developed taste that you will not regret. Read the rest of this entry »

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