Posts by Bobby Solomon

Kia LaBeija vogues through the streets of Bogotá

If you’ve never seen Paris is Burning (streaming on Netflix) do yourself a favor and put it on your to-do list. It’s a documentary about drag balls in Harlem in the 1980’s, a fantastic glimpse into a vibrant, unique subculture (one which Madonna “borrowed from” for her song, “Vogue”). One of the many drag houses you meet is the House of LaBeija, fronted by the house mother, Pepper LaBeija, who in her own right is a fantastic character.

The house LaBeija still lives on, thankfully, as evidenced by this music video for Pillar Point which features Kia LaBeija representing her House marvelously, dah’ling. Watching someone vogue is always entrancing. There’s such a fluidity and poise to the act, like a form of ballet that was born from a queer place. Setting this intriguing dance against the lush, color-filled streets of Bogotá and you’ve got a music video you can’t take your eyes off of. I’m so glad to see

Editor’s note: I do realize that my writing has been sporadic lately. I’m hoping to get back into it with more regularity.

This Old Website

I wouldn’t say I’m the type of person who watches a lot of TV though I feel like I am. When I get home from work my partner Kyle and I tend to put on one of a hand full of shows. We love Black-ish or Jessica Jones, some Adventure Time or Absolutely Fabulous. Afterwards we gravitate toward the type of show where someone talented needs to make something. Top Chef, Project Runway, The Mind of a Chef, A Chef’s Life… these are the kinds of shows we tend to get sucked into.

Enter our most recent fascination, the classic PBS television show This Old House. First airing back in 1979, it was one of, if not THE, original home improvement show, focusing on renovating older houses back to a pristine (albeit slightly updated) condition. Bob Vila used to host the show but lord knows what that guys up to these days.

Watching the show is interesting to me as a designer, particularly as a designer who works primarily digitally, because it raises a lot of conflicting feelings in myself. The work these guys do is precise, measured with lasers and chalk lines. At the same time it feels very loose. Mortar is effortlessly slashed across the top of a brick, roof shingles are nailed down in seemingly random places, a massive trench is dug with giant machine by a rather sloppy looking man named “Lenny.”

When I compare these renovations to my world of designing apps and websites and shareables and GIFs, my “craft” is more like applying wax to a Pysanky egg. But that’s not even it. It’s precise, it’s calculating, but I can Command + Z my way out of any mistakes. That and there’s nothing visceral about the work, nothing fulfilling about that custom Pinterest image, or sense of glee after you’ve applied that filter to the photo of the quiche you’re about to eat.

What I’m trying to get to is that it’s impressive to watch anyone who’s skills allow them to create something with a “permanence” in life, permanence meaning the thing made could at least last a few lifetimes. Your UI will be a fad, your UX will seem retro, and your IA will seem archaic. But that old house? It’s still going to be there.

Now to get back to that magazine I’m digitally designing…

‘Endless’, a hypnotic video of unending routines by Moli Studio

The mundaneness of repeating task is often tedious, but what if it was actually something beautiful? Perhaps this is Moli Studio’s take on the matter? Their video Endless takes a mono-colored world and adds in a series of machines which perform random tasks. In the context of the video though they’re oddly hypnotizing.

ENDLESS is a story about seeking and not finding.
It’s the mechanized routine.
It’s to get up, go to work, eat, fall in love, buy, throw, fall out of love, accept, sleep, wake up.
ENDLESS is a story about seeking and (not) finding.

Moli Studio - Endless video

Moli Studio - Endless video

Moli Studio - Endless video

David Bowie releases ‘Blackstar’ to celebrate his 69th birthday

David Bowie - 'Blackstar'

David Bowie enjoys giving presents on his birthday. Today he turns 69, and much like his 66th birthday, he’s released a new album titled Blackstar. Overall I enjoyed the album, especially stand outs like self-titled first track and the album closers “Dollar Days” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away”. You can listen to the full album in the player below.

Kodak resurrects the super 8 camera with help from Yves Behar

Kodak announced today they’d be releasing a new super 8 camera designed by Yves Behar. The camera has the ability to shoot in a digital format as well as traditional super 8 film cartridges which Kodak produces to this day. I feel like Behar has done it again, creating a stunning object that embodies the history of a super 8 camera while giving it a contemporary and perhaps timeless quality. Similarly there’s the K-01 which Marc Newson designed for Pentax which draws comments of admiration when used in public. They feel extremely similar to me, combining strong design with incredible functionality.

Not too be too much of a naysayer, I find it hard to believe that the product will revitalize the 8mm medium. They say the best camera you have is the one that’s always with you, and unfortunately I doubt this beautiful piece of design will be the one.

Kodak Super 8 camera, designed by Yves Behar

Kodak Super 8 camera, designed by Yves Behar

Kodak Super 8 camera, designed by Yves Behar

Kodak Super 8 camera, designed by Yves Behar

Kodak Super 8 camera, designed by Yves Behar

Abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly passes away at age 92

In sad news, artist Ellsworth Kelly has passed away. He was famous for his minimal works of art, lots of boldly colored shapes against barren gallery walls, which for me were extremely tough to understand. How I began to understand and appreciate his work, the way it was described to me, was that his pieces were created to transform spaces, their very existence change how you perceive a wall or a large space. With that in mind it helped me contextualize his work and appreciate it more.

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Radiohead drops unused ‘Spectre’ track as an amazing Christmas gift

Radiohead dropped a mighty Christmas present on the world yesterday, an unused song from the most recent James Bond film, Spectre. I think it’s crazy that they would have used a Sam Smith track over Radiohead though I’m a bit biased. Here’s the official message from the band:

Last year we were asked to write a theme tune for the Bond movie Spectre.
Yes we were. It didn’t work out, but became something of our own, which we love very much.
As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it.
Merry Christmas. May the force be with you.

Below I’ve posted a Soundcloud version of the track (which also allows you to download the song for free) as well as a mashup of the song with the title sequence of Spectre which it was intended for.

Frenchie to Go campaign by Content Design Lab

One of my favorite places to grab a quick bite while I was in Paris was Frenchie to Go, a quick service cafe located in the 2nd arrondissement. The place is a bit quirky with a unique menu (a fantastic breakfast sandwich) so it makes sense to have that unique sense apply to advertising as well. The folks at Content Design Lab created some offbeat graphics and flyers that highlight the unique voice and style of FTG.

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

Frenchie to Go awareness campaign by Content Design Lab

Grand Cru Cold Brew by Stumptown

It feels like “artisanal coffee” has had it’s day in the sun but then another interesting innovation comes along and makes me feel like there’s still more there. This seems to be the case with Stumptown’s new Grand Cru Cold Brew, which is a batch of rare Gesha seeds from Honduras that have been cold brewed which brings out a “bright and clean, with notes of orange blossom, juice of papaya, and a sweet crème brûlée finish.”

Plus look at that bottle! It’s gorgeous! Does anyone know who created the graphics?

Paul Eshelman Ceramic Tea Set

The American Museum of Ceramic Art has some great pieces in their collection (which you can see here) but this tea set by Paul Eshelman really caught me eye. Created in 1985 the slip cast red stoneware has a minimal Memphis vibe which I’m loving. How great would it be to bust this out after a nice dinner party?

Paul Eshelman Tea Set