“For Pete’s sake, what are you writing about Lego for?”. If this is your reaction to seeing this post, then move on, keep moving and perhaps think about what you just said. It might mean that we may need to rethink our friendship – I’m sorry but that’s just how it goes!
Seriously though, I find it hard to imagine any reader here who doesn’t take a liking to the wonderful world of Lego. In truth, it’s probably the greatest toy ever made. The other day Lego announced that they’d collaborated with Volkswagen to create a Lego T1 Camper Van and I think they did an incredible job in recreating such an iconic design. While Lego have really captured the essence of the van it’s the enthusiasm of designer John-Henry Harris seen in the video above that made me want to share this with you.
For many, working as a Concept Designer at LEGO seems like a dream-job and it’s enriching to see the enthusiasm that Harris has for his craft. If you’re interested in learning more about the role of play in design then I recommend you check out this excellent TEDxEast talk in which Harris discusses how play is an integral part of any design process. The Camper van itself, will be available October 1, 2011 from the online Lego shop.
The folks over at National Geographic have doen the unimaginable, or at least, possible in real life. For a new show called How Hard Can It Be? they’ve made a real life, flying house, just like the one in the movie Up.
Yesterday morning, March 5 at dawn, National Geographic Channel and a team of scientists, engineers, and two world-class balloon pilots successfully launched a 16′ X 16′ house 18′ tall with 300 8′ colored weather balloons from a private airfield east of Los Angeles, and set a new world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted. The entire experimental aircraft was more than 10 stories high, reached an altitude of over 10,000 feet, and flew for approximately one hour.
This is so phenomenal, I really can’t believe it. What I want to know is how they safely landed it! Did they shoot the balloons slowly until eventually it landed. I guess the only way to know is to watch the show. You can see a bunch more photos over on My Modern Met.
Albert Roqué is a Barcelona based designer with a nice looking portfolio of student work. He recently finished school at Elisava and plans to move to London next month. My favorite project of his was this branding exercise for Garcia & Sons, a hotel for urban cyclists. I think he did a great job combining minimal type with super bold colors inspired by the Rainbow Jersey a jersey worn by the reigning world champion in a bicycle racing discipline. Such a great idea for branding a hotel, especially with those that are familiar with cycling. I feel like the insides of the envelopes are particularly nice. I also like his use of Gill Sans Shadowed, it feels very light weight and for some reason feels quite fitting, like the shadow of a bicyclist on the sidewalk.
This has been floating all over for the past couple days but it was too cute not to post. I think everyone in their life has pretended to be some other character when you were a kid. I know I used to pretend to be Mario, bouncing and jumping off the top of the equipment in the playground. So seeing a kid dressed up as Darth Vader trying to move things with his force powers makes a lot of sense to me.
This ad for Volkswagen definitely connects with me, and that’s what makes it so successful. I feel like it connects to not only people who can identify with the kid dressed up but also as a parent who wants to make their child feel special. Big kudos to the director and the little actor who was able to give a faceless child a ton of emotion and life.
Toyota has started a pretty funny ad campaign trying to figure what the plural of the Prius is. Is it Prii? Priuses? Prien? Well, they’ve decided to let the people decide and have made a great video to advertise the campaign. But I give them mega-bonus points for asking Hunter Gatherer to create the stop-motion video for the campaign.
Todd St. John is the guy behind Hunter Gatherer and I’ve been a huge fan of his for I can’t even think of how long and this video reminds me exactly why. He’s taken his signature cut wood blocks to create all the shapes and figures. It was hard putting together the preview images on this post, I wanted to put nearly every frame up there! Todd’s style is so quirky and fun, I know these are kind of generic things to say but when I look at his pieces I can’t help but smile at them.
I always feel like it’s getting harder and harder to find a good calendar for the new year. I’m usually bombarded by images of cutesy pets or dumb muscle cars or artists who’s work is being abused for a quick buck (M.C. Escher, etc). Thankfully I know some pretty rad people who make some pretty rad calendars that don’t suck. First up is Atherton Lin’s, who some of you might remember. I’ve written about them and their calendars before and they’ve even made a desktop wallpaper for the site. As always their calendar is filled with beautiful watercolored images that are beautiful in their design and are always pleasing to the eye.
On the other end of the spectrum is a new calendar from Bike EXIF, a motorcycle blog that takes bike lust to the next level. I’m not a big motorcycle fan but I love the way that Bike EXIF is presented, with more of an eye toward design.
Chris Hunter, the editor of Bike EXIF, has taken the sometimes awful motorcycle calendar and elevated to a distinguished level. I love the type treatments and the subtle textures as well. Perfect for the moto-bro in your life.
Yesterday I got a text from Tim Biskup asking me if I’d like to go the grand opening of the first Fiat showroom in North America. That entire sentence in-my-opinion is completely ridiculous, so of course I said yes and brought Kyle along with me. It ended up being a really crazy event for many reasons. First, it was basically a black tie event with older men and women in fancy looking suits and dresses. Kyle and I on the other hand wore red plaid (yes the both of us, not on purpose) and we may have also been some of the youngest people there. When we ran into Tim he was actually hanging out with Brian Bell from Weezer, which was random and funny as well. Turns out Tim was there painting the hood of one of the Fiat’s as a part of a promotional campaign the company is doing. The car will be travelling around the country and other artists and creative types will be adding to it.
It’s always fun to hang out with Tim but it was even better getting to watch him work. I’ve known Tim’s work for at least 10 years now so it was a real treat to see him working in person. He’s truly an amazing painter who has an amazing amount of control when he works. He’s able to paint a perfect circle, which I thought was pretty impressive. I even got to learn little details like how he adds blue and red to black to give it life because without it the black is too grey.
All in all it was a pretty great night. Mozza catered the event so we ate lots of yummy meats and cheeses and drank a ton of Prosecco. We even got to see Robin Thicke perform Lil Wayne’s A Milli on the roof… it was just one of those nights.
Update: Tim sent me an image of the finished car, it turned out pretty amazing, don’t you think?
The New York Times recently covered a story about Internet company Google testing autonomous cars that have been driving themselves around San Francisco. These test cars, comprised of seven Toyota Prius’ and an Audi TT, have all equipped with sensors that attach to the roof and wheels and allow the cars to drive unaided by humans, though there are humans in the car during the test for legal and safety reasons. The article focuses on the technology aspects mostly, how the car works and where it traversed. It was a great article and it’s a really amazing concept. Then I came across this idea from Nathan Williams, a designer who works over at Wolff Olins, who tweeted:
Google’s mission = ‘organise the worlds info’… if you think about it, drone cars make perfect sense. Bots collecting data. Simple.
And suddenly it became clear what Google could be working toward.
Imagine you make a technology that allows cars all over the world to be driven autonomously. There are a huge number of benefits to people and society at large. Less accidents, more freedom to interact with people in the car or just so you can text or watch a movie. But what does Google gain from this? Well, you have to input an address into the system so the car can drive you to your location. It can tell which grocery store you shop at, which gym you visit, what kind of school your kids go to. It knows what time of day you’re travelling, if you make a morning and evening commute or if you zip around town at all times of the day. What would Google do with this information? They’d sell ads based around the data. It’s your real life and your digital life merging together.
I’m not trying to sound Orwell-ian here, though the idea can sound a bit scary. There are a lot of devices that capture your real life and combine it with your digital presence, think Last.fm or Foursqaure. But this would be one of the largest companies in the world who already knows so much about you getting even more information getting even more precise data. I came across this article by IDEO though titled Why Would You Trade Away Your Online Privacy? which spoke exactly about the tradeoffs of privacy. It’s a great read and it honestly answers a lot of concerns one might have against losing privacy… you know, so long as Google doesn’t turn evil.
Update: The Associated Press has their own take on it but seems to think the cars would have cameras attached, taking photos along your route to flesh out Google Maps. While it’s an interesting idea I think it misses the real point which is tracking behavior in the real world.