“We’ve been weaned off this culture in recent decades by the emergence of the platform as picker, with the voice stripped back. The DJ, when vocal, must act as a Nick Carraway to our moment–in it but above it–and like Orson Welles, a commanding voice forcing us into the future. The eternal joy of this vox as a knowing guide might account for the rise in podcasts, too. It is an on-demand friend, a lone accompaniment to the freelancer and commuter nation.”

Sam Valenti, founder of Ghostly Records, wrote a piece on Medium that echoes my thoughts on curation, specifically how important it is to music. Services like Rdio or Beats rely too heavily on algorithms to make your experience “customized.” Unfortunately, you end up being bucketed with everyone else who may have listened to a similar set of albums or artists. Curation offers a point of view, a variety of options which can even contradict each other and surprise you.

Complex, moody photographs by Joss McKinley

Joss McKinley

Oxford born, New York based photographer Joss McKinley makes a lot out of a little. That is, he takes photos that seem simple in nature but are in fact filled with nuance, extremes of contrast, and rich depths of color. I see McKinley’s work focused on capturing and isolating certain aspects of life itself. People, food, animals, and plants are all treated with a sort of dignity, their individual aspects of beauty highlighted for the viewer to take part in.

Joss McKinley

Joss McKinley

Beautifully moody photographs by Joss McKinley

Ugmonk Black Series – Part II, for the designer wardrobe

Ugmonk Black Series - Part II

For the past year or so my wardrobe has progressively headed toward limited palette of black, white, and grey. Perhaps I’m becoming that stereotypical creative director, perhaps it’s the fact that I’m nearing 33? Either way I feel good with the change but I’m always on the look out for some stylish black clothing.

That’s why I was stoked to see the Ugmonk Black Series – Part II drop yesterday, a tightly designed collection of mostly black garments and accessories. I’m guessing there’s literally something for everyone in this collection, though my personal fave has to be the stitched ampersand crewneck sweatshirt. Totally on point.

Ugmonk - Black Series - Ampersand Sweatshirt

The Heinrich Manuever, a work of art in motorcycle form

The Heinrich Manuever, a work of art in motorcycle form

My knowledge of motorcycles is extremely limited though my appreciation is great. Their design, like the design of any product, can be akin to a work of art if done by the right people with great skills. I’d place the Heinrich Maneuver from Dues Ex Machina into that category, a fully customized BMW R nineT which now has a refined, futuristic feeling to it. From an aesthetic standpoint I liked this point they included about the color of the bike.

Colour was critical for the tank. Craftsmanship that deserved to be showcased, and the gloss white livery is a winner, leaving enough exposed alloy to highlight the hands on approach.

It’s all about the details. You can read more about Deus’ customization, or even order this bad boy for yourself, by clicking here.

The Heinrich Manuever by Deus Ex Machina

The Heinrich Manuever by Deus Ex Machina

The Heinrich Manuever by Deus Ex Machina

The Heinrich Manuever by Deus Ex Machina

SF Design Week’s 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's new identity reflects a cities spirit

Attempting to capture the essence of a place, such as the city of San Francisco, must be a daunting challenge. What’s defines the city to you may not resonate with others. Character, one of the finest design firms in SF, has taken on such a challenge and succeeded with stunning results.

For this years San Francisco Design Week, the Bay Area’s largest design event, Character crafted a campaign called “Look Closer” which highlighted the idea that design is all around us, even if it’s not obvious. This message was exemplified by a four physical letters made from intricate frameworks fronted by mirrors.

Each letter was hand-fabricated and placed into an environment with a direct relation to the SF Design Community. Beacons of timeless design. Epicenters of commerce and innovation. Nature and places of preservation. The designs we make as designers reach far and wide as do their implications for the future.

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

SF Design Week's 2015 campaign reflects the cities spirit

While the large letters in their beautifully photographed surroundings may be the centerpiece the entire campaign is a treat. 99% of the time I’m not a fan of orange but that’s absolutely the perfect shade. The type is clean, legible, and confident and the whole endeavor feels exactly what you’d want a contemporary design week to feel like.

You can learn more about the campaign’s design by clicking here.

VR company Oculus focuses branding on a perfect new logo

New Oculus Brand/Logo

This morning my digital friend and talented designer Cory Schmitz posted some new work he collaborated on with Mackey Saturday, Nicolaus Taylor, & Jon Malkemus, a rebranded logo for Oculus. For those out of the loop, Oculus is a virtual reality headset manufacturer who’ve almost single-handedly pioneered the direct to consumer market. Paired with their recent acquisition by Facebook they’re preparing to change the way we think about VR.

With such an intrepid, cutting-edge company though you can’t have a logo like the one below. I mean, it’s fine, it’s an eye and you need your eyes to see VR, blah blah. But it’s too cliché and is lacking that feeling of “this is the future strap it on your head.”

Old Oculus Logo

On the other hand the new mark screams simple futurism. The oblong O is a perfect representation of not only the brand but a visually cues into the Oculus Rift hardware itself. In a world of iconic marks it’s amazing to me that I’ve never seen a mark like this before, or at the very least, there’s no other recognizable brand out there utilizing an O shape quite like this.

I believe this branding is pretty new as I haven’t been able to dig up much more information or find any additional photos. It will be interesting to see how the overall brand scheme comes together. Excellent work to start.

Oculus Rift

‘The Birth of Saké’, a new documentary exploring the venerable world of saké making

The Birth of Saké

I’m extremely intrigued by the upcoming documentary The Birth of Saké from director Erik Shirai. Previously having helmed the camera for Bourdain’s No Reservations , Shirai’s film focuses on the workers and production seasons at Tedorigawa, a fifth-generation, family-owned sake brewery in Ishikawa, Japan.

What the documentary highlights for me is the intense determination and amount of hard work that goes into creating something so seemingly simple. In an interview with Bon Appétit magazine Shirai describes the challenge of sake making.

What people don’t understand is that you can’t just make sake with machines and program everything. There are all of these variables because it’s a living thing. Things are changing based on the type of rice, the type of grain, how it was steamed. You have to be able to adapt and work with it. Only someone who has that experience can do that.

As you’ll see in the trailer the cinematography is incredibly well-done, capturing the quietness of the Japanese winter but also the frenetic pace and demand that the job requires. The level of quality is on par with the work of other contemporary film documentarians like Jiro Dreams of Sushi director David Gelb or the production team behind A Chef’s Life.

Dntel remixes classic Enya tracks into contemporary songs

Dntel remixes classic Enya tracks into contemporary songs

If you’re a music nerd you might remember a guy named Jimmy Tamborello. He was one half of your favorite early 2000’s band, The Postal Service, the guy who made all the beats for Ben Gibbard to sing with. The Postal Service was but a brief moment in the life of Tamborello, who also records under many monikers like Dntel and James Figurine (you must listen to his older albums) and is a fantastic electronic musician.

Several years back he put out a record of remixes, but not remixes of any usual pop group. He made a remix of Enya songs. Tamborello was a big fan of Enya’s music in his teenage years, and as an homage decided to interpret some of his favorite tracks with his own musical language. The result is a quirkier, pop-inspired Enya album that’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Kyle plays the album on repeat quite often and I’m a huge fan of it.

This tribute is free to download, simply click here.

All my life I’ve heard the same refrain, “Why can’t you be… Normal?” But, everything in life has its risks including (and especially) being ‘Normal.’ Most of us understand there’s risk when taking the chance and aspiring to something more. But even more are ignorant of the cost of Normal, the cost of not taking chances, and the risk of complacency.

– James Victore writes a stunning piece on 99U about the undeniable benefits of being weird. More than anything Victoire speaks about the courage it takes to take your own path and finding like-minded people along the way.

Jamie xx’s video for “Gosh” showcases the beautiful potential of terraforming Mars

Jamie xx's video for "Gosh" showcases the beautiful potential of terraforming Mars

I’ve been a huge fan of the new Jamie xx album In Colours. I personally feel like it’s far better than anything he did with The zz, *achem*, The xx. Adding to the grandeur of his new album is this epic music video directed by Erik Wernquist, who you may remember from his video Wanderers, which follows intergalactic explorers breaching the undiscovered parts of our universe.

For this music video Erik takes a similar approach yet this time he plots the potential of humans inhabiting Mars. It’s kind of a slow burn, the real juicy stuff doesn’t start till about the 2 minute mark, but I promise you it’s worth it. This should be watched full-screen on the largest monitor/TV in your office.

And if you haven’t listened to the new record yet, get on it.