Date Archives July 2010

The Archival Clothing Rucksack by Best Made Co.

I’m a big fan of Best Made Companies axes, however impractical they are as a city dweller. They’re absolutely beautifully presented and marketed which makes me want one quite a lot.

I spotted this new bag by Archival Clothing in their webstore called the Archival Clothing Rucksack and figured some of you in the market for a new bag might be interested. This fella is made up of waxed cotton, the edges are bound in waxed cotton tape and stress points are bar-tacked or riveted and solid brass hardware is used throughout. It even looks like there’s a space for a hand axe on the side, though I’m sure your nalgeen could fit just as easily. Be sure to take a visit to Archival Clothing as well to check out some more great bags.


Le Creative Sweatshop

La Creative Sweatshop is a collaboration between Ndeur (Mathieu Missiaen) and Make a Paper World (Julien Morin.) The two met in early 2009 and (I’m guessing) started talking about how much they loved making things out of paper and how great it is to be from France.  Whatever their conversation, it must have gone well.  Eighteen months later you, can feast your eyeballs on the fruits of their labors.


Zara Picken

The work of British illustrator Zara Picken instantly transports the viewer to a time when housewives wore pearl necklaces while baking cakes, jazz music was played on ornate gramophones and social relationships were conducted with a sense of reserved grace. Certainly, Picken’s nostalgia-tinged, mid-20th century-inspired illustrations would be perfect for a campaign pitched by the advertising team from Mad Men.

The clever combination of digital and handmade elements provides Picken’s imagery with a delicious retro feel that is simultaneously modern. The humour that is present in all of her illustrations also adds to the appeal of her work – who wouldn’t want a “genie-us” wish machine? I also thought it most appropriate that one of her illustrations features none other than a black fox.

You can view more of Picken’s illustrations on her portfolio, flickr and etsy shop.


Space Suit of the Week.

A lot of things are for sale on TV. Easily my favorite is a precious half-hour on public access where the members of a local Baptist church sell goods donated by the congregation. What’s so great about the live TV show is that the goods are dumped on a table and sold in lots.  “E’rything on the table for $40 bucks.  We got some fancy Ninja Swords, a Gateway computer, Beanie Babies… lots of real nice stuff!” A telephone number flashes across the bottom of the screen.  At the top of the screen is the lower half of the steadfast Ten Commandments.

It’s so straightforward: here is some stuff to buy. What’s more tricky is a few channels over on the Home Shopping Network, HSN. It’s not merely the brightly-lit sets and glossy graphics, but a whole host of marketing and rhetorical strategies that assault the viewer. How can you not buy the hairspray when it’s so cheap… and used by the cast of Days of Our Lives?  By the time the side-by-side comparison shows a demographically-determined make over, you’re dialing the 1-800-number.  Right?

So what does this have to do with Space? If you’ve ever heard of Tang, you might have a clue.  Space sells a lot of stuff, too.  Tang, for the unfamiliar, is a powder that you add to water if you want to drink orange-flavored water. Tang became popular after John Glenn drank some during the Mercury flight, and somewhere along the way a persistent rumor emerged that Tang was invented by NASA.  It was not. The real story according to the History Channel: “There was a particular component of the Gemini life support-system module which produced H2O among other things. This was a byproduct of a recurring chemical reaction of one of the mechanical devices on the life-support module. The astronauts would use this water to drink during their space flight. The problem was, the astronauts did not like the taste of the water because of some of the byproducts produced, which were not harmful of course. So, they added Tang to make the water taste better.”

Another thing you may not have known: last week I quietly celebrated my 25th birthday. I’m getting at the age where I ask for useful things like new tires and prescription sunglasses for my birthday. However, I did receive one not-entirely-useful gift last week that has been making me think about space and commerce.  The photo above is the cover of that gift: a comic from 1951 about a chocolate powdered drink. But not just any chocolate powered drink, one that enables an American Serviceman-Astronaut to defeat a space villain.

The comic is illustrated by Bob Powell, who compares the discovery of Inapak to similarly innovative discoveries like electricity and the atomic bomb. The storyline of the comic involves the first man landing on the moon in 1984, discovering life and a sinister plot to destroy the earth. Lukily, Major Inapak enjoys the benefits of his namesake,  including: good red blood, sturdy muscles and plenty of pep. Evildoers don’t stand a chance.

All of the information I can find about this drink online relates only this this comic, and I have no idea what happened to the drink company from Chicago. Inapak certainly isn’t unique in using rockets as marketing bandwagons, but their wagon was hitched to the wrong star.  Nobody knows who Major Inapak is; they should have given a lifetime supply to John Glenn.


I Knit Brisbane

I am currently in Brisbane, Queensland attending an architecture conference and was intrigued when Linda Carroli, one of the opening plenary speakers, alluded to the I Knit Brisbane project. Walking around the inner city on the weekend, it was interesting to note that there was not much in the way of street art or graffiti, but had I arrived a month earlier the urban spaces of Brisbane would have looked quite warm and fuzzy.

The brief for the project suggests that the central aim of  I Knit Brisbane was to ceremoniously prepare the city for its rather mild winter; however, Carroli also emphasised that this style of folk craft renovation is also integral to altering and beautifying ugly aspects of urban architecture. Based on the comments left on the I Knit Brisbane site, the public’s reactions to the wool installations have been mixed. While some see the magic in the concept, others have claimed that it wastes time and resources that could be better used to clothe the homeless. Personally, I think it is a really exciting way to transform the city’s architectural facades and would like to see some guerilla knitters stitching wool on urban structures in other cities. Is this a call to arms…uh…needles? Why, yes it is!


Meet Flipboard

Last night I had the chance to download a brand new iPad app called Flipboard, which is sort of an aggregate feed made up of your social networks and websites. This description sounds like a lot of existing products out there but what makes this one different is the way the content is being presented. The way I see it it’s somewhere between a traditional magazine/newspaper but with the quickness and flexibility of a web page.

But finding that middle ground is quite difficult as I don’t think anything has really been able to reach that sweet spot. But Flipboard is honestly the closest thing I’ve ever seen to getting it right. The way the pages flip are smooth, the pagination at the bottom expands as you go and gives you a sense of time, the pictures expand as you click on them… basically they got the details very right on this program. I also can’t imagine trying to use a program like this on any device but the iPad, it is 100% made for a medium sized, touch screen device and nothing else.

Currently though the demand for their service has crippled their servers, obviously because they’re doing something very right. So you’ll have to wait a little while to use the social aspects (Facebook, Twitter) but you cans still dive in to the news, tech and style sections to get the idea of what they’ve dreamed up. I really think this is going to get some people’s attention and hopefully smart people will steal some of the great idea Flipboard has to offer.

P.S. The music in the video is a cover of the Aphex Twin song Flim by the jaz trio The Bad Plus.



As I often say, the simplest ideas are often the best, and Luke White and Remi Weekes are full of ’em. Take for example their video above called Seaweed, which features who I assume to be Luke, contorting his body in random positions but slowly layering himself… over himself. To try and describe exactly what’s happening in this video would be a tiny bit difficult but the end effect is totally rad. In the comments he says he “Cut out the arms and then just jiggled them about” but I have to imagine he did much more than that. Hopefully he starts to post more of these experiments as this one was posted over a month ago.


Felix Thorn’s Increidble Music Sculptures

Felix Thorn is a British tinkerer who makes electronic music out of found objects with incredible results. Made from bits and pieces of old instruments, randomly found stuff and a mountain of LEDs these are less instruments and more sculptures, pieces of art that play music. Watching this video and seeing all the random things he creates I was totally baffled how you’d even begin to think of creations like this. I love that he leaves all of the sculptures in their somewhat natural state, so you can see bit of a piano, a clock, a metal cone or what have you. But the real excitement comes when he plays them all together, creating actual songs and melodies. As someone in the comments of the video wrote, in 20 years his home is going to look like something out of Wallace & Gromit.


Johnny Kelly

Should you be doing something other than reading +KN right now?  I certainly don’t think so, but I might be at odds with both your cold-hearted supervisor and the rational voice in your head. Maybe you’re procrastinating, in which case you should put your stolen borrowed time to good use and watch two delightful videos by Johnny Kelly.  Only have time to watch one?  I suggest procrastination.

Johnny Kelly is kind of brilliant. He graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Animation; Procrastination was his Graduation project. The other video above is The Seed, an imaginative representation of the life cycle of an apple seed. Johnny definitely gets bonus points for the pool of digestive acids in the stomach rendered in paper. That cake sinks like the Titanic.

Hopefully your boss has a thing for Kate Winslet.


An Afternoon with Gary Pepper Vintage

I’m not usually a big fan of fashion videos, but I have been turned around with this video for online vintage clothing boutique Gary Pepper Vintage. Featuring the boutique’s owner, Nicole Warne, the video showcases the superb vintage finds from Gary Pepper Vintage and an assortment of Jeffrey Campbell shoes courtesy of SoleStruck. Filmed and edited by Chad Waldron, the video is a behind-the-scene’s peek at a photo shoot of the collaboration between the two online boutiques.

As there is no specific narrative, the video successfully works to frame the beautiful clothes and shoes. Warne’s styling, in particular, is impeccable, and carefully blends her vintage threads with the new season footwear. I really love the carefree mood and the small fashion journey that the viewer is taken on.