My favorite place to work is a noisy, busy coffee shop, specifically, the Intelligentsia in Silver Lake. It’s never not busy, there are always a flood of trust fund kids, yippy dudes with beards writing their screenplays, and the occasional asian tourist snapping photos of the beautifully done Barbara Bestor designed space. Yet with this flood of noise and distraction it’s really the place where I feel like I can focus. The noise to me acts as an enveloping blanket, allowing me to focus singularly on the task in front me.
Thankfully I’m not alone in my admiration for ambience as this 99U piece points out the benefits of noise and how it increases creativity.
Specifically, they separated the participants into four groups and asked all four groups to complete a Remote Associates Test, a commonly used test of creative thinking that asks test-takers to find the relationship between a series of words that appear unrelated. Each of the groups was subjected to a different level of background noise (50 decibels, 70 decibels, 85 decibels, and total silence). When they scored each person’s test, the researchers found that those in the 70 decibel group, exposed to a moderate level of ambient noise, significantly out-performed those in the other three groups. The background noise boosted their creative thinking.
I like that they also included some ambient noise apps as well in case it might be, you know, like midnight and your local coffee shop is closed.
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Last week I had the pleasure of meeting designer/illustrator Matt Chase at a meet-up over beers. Curious to see his work I was excited to see that he does fantastic work around editorial illustration and publication design. His work is highly stylized and full of graphic punch, illustrating strong messages with only the minimal elements necessary. You can see that he’s been influenced by some of the great designers out there but I feel like he brings his own unique touches to his pieces.
If you dig his work you can purchase some of them (like the beautiful piece above for The Great Gatsby) over in his shop. The sprinkle popsicle skateboard deck is calling my name.
Seemingly out of nowhere Thom Yorke dropped a new album titled Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes this morning, to the delight of Radiohead nerds around the world. In typical Thom Yorke fashion he opted to release the album through a rather unconventional source: BitTorrent. For $6 you receive a BitTorrent bundle that contains eight tracks and an extremely odd music video featuring close-ups of Yorke’s face and him jumping around with boxing gloves. You be you Thom. You also have the option of buying the album on vinyl which looks pretty rad, though it’s £30.00 price tag might be a tougher pill to swallow. Still, I’m sure it was pressed in a very small edition so you may want to snag one while you can.
Fusing nature and technology is an interesting practice. Biomimetics is sure to be a field ripe with potential in the near future though a few intrepid designers are already start to spearhead the way. Teresa van Dongen, an Amsterdam based designer who also studied Biology at the University of Amsterdam, hasn’t gone completely biomimetic but you can see the principles in her Ambio light. The “lamp” is filled with a glowing bacteria that was collected from octopi, which when shaken lights up with a beautiful blue tone.
Ocean waves glowing blue in the dark of night, anyone who has ever experienced this knows how magical it looks. The phenomenon is caused by bioluminescent bacteria in seawater that emit light in response to oxygen and movement. This principle inspired me to combine my passion for design and biology in a bioluminescent light installation.
It’s a pretty great idea that certainly has potential for using nature as a source of light. If someone can figure out how to keep the bacteria alive in the glass tube, or create a synthetic version of the bacteria (whatever that might mean) you could imagine these as potential night lights. The physical design of the lamps are also aesthetically beautiful as well, truly adding to the beauty of the idea.
Only a director like Steven Soderbergh would be intrepid enough to turn Steven Spielberg’s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark black and white and overdub it with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack music, all in the name of learning. In a recent post on his site he uses this version of the film to teach staging of scenes, an art that Spielberg did masterfully.
I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong).
It’s actually really interesting to watch the film in such a different way: no color, no dialogue, and a very contemporary soundtrack that’s cut to each scene. My only complaint is that there’s no way to like this, thus no way to be able to watch this on the Vimeo channel on my Apple TV. Watching this on my Macbook Pro is definitely not as impactful as the experience on my TV would be.
Net Neutrailty is an important issue that is set to define the way we use the Internet in the future. If you’re unfamiliar with the issue, Vox has you covered. Tumblr also believes in the fight for neutrality and has come up with this cute enamel pin to show your love for the net. Only $8 and the proceeds go to ALS research.
I don’t tend to post about many online classes but this Skillshare class certainly caught my attention. The extremely talented Peter Mendelsund is offering up his knowledge for an upcoming class on book cover design, teaching how to read as a graphic designer, iterate with imagination, and breaking the “rules” to make your message stand out.
Skillshare conducted an interview with Mendelsund on their blog, and I this question and answer in particular stood out to me.
Why is lifelong learning important to you?
PM: Lifelong learning is crucial. I had been one thing for most of my life [ed. note: a musician] and changed very late to a new career. I’m extremely aware of the twists and turns that life can take, and I think the key is really to maintain an open mind over a long period of time. Life is long: be open to the changes that present themselves to you.
You can sign up for the design class by clicking here.