Sunday, March 30, 2008

the "low"down

There are few blogs I read frequently. As you can see, I rarely update my own (that is going to change I promise). The blogosphere is littered with so many design-centric blogs that I get dizzy just trying to keep up with them. One exception I make is for designer Abby Clawson Low's brilliant Hi + Low, where she relays her creative musings to loyal readers. Here's the best part: Abby is a successful design director who's designed for Kate Spade & Jack Spade, West Elm, and Chronicle Books. Recently, I was lucky enough to get to know Abby a little better through a casual email-interview. For all you future designers out there, here is definitely someone whose career is worth emulating.


1. Aside from hosting one of the best design blogs on the net, what do you do on your downtime when you're not designing?
Once a week, I teach a senior portfolio design class at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. And about twice a week I spend time with a Latino youth group (teenage girls) in Midwood, Brooklyn doing various activities -- all of which is a lot of fun. And other than that I hang with the husband (he's great).

2. When and what was your first interaction with design?

I would say in my childhood. I was surrounded by all kinds of interesting and thoughtful design at home. My mother is an artist/designer/teacher and my father, though a doctor, has always had an eye for graphically compelling objects (he even has incredibly beautiful handwriting). His record collection alone (several hundred albums) was inspiration enough for me -- with the many incredible album cover designs and amazing music. My mother's taste in fashion and design has always been inspiring, as well. I remember several incredibly graphic and unique wallpapers from our first home that I am still trying to get her to remember the make! And throughout my childhood, I observed my mother reupholster, sew, paint, and refurbish almost every piece of furniture in our home. There was always a project.

3. And now, which current designers/artists (other than yourself) are "on your jock", doing incomparable work?
There are several -- many I have worked with in the 9 or so years I've been in New York City. JP & Allison Williams, Yael Eisele, Ludovic Drouineaud, Alan Dye, Paulina Reyes, , Cheree Berry, Gillian Schwartz, Katie Hatch, Mordechai Rubinstein, and Anisa Suthayalai. There are, of course, others.

4. I know you've done work for Kate Spade & Jack Spade, what do you like and dislike about fashion-related design?

Fashion is a tough one. I love the interconnectedness it has with art and design. There is always a strong corrolation with one or the other in each developing fashion season. And being able to rethink/reinterpret a brand along the lines of each new season is always exciting and challenging. Things never get boring in fashion.

On the flip-side, fashion can often times be a very shallow and catty world. Hopefully, in those instances you are surrounded by amazingly thoughtful and wonderful people (as was my experience at Kate/Jack Spade).

5. Typeface that best describes your personality is…?

Courier. It is a generic, modern, traditional all-in-one font. And I trust the look of it.


6. Design motif that inspires you…?
Good question. Just about everything inspires me.

7. Ice cream vs. gelato, why? (I work at a food magazine and this is something I always am curious about)

Ice cream (although who doesn't also like gelato?). My Grandpa Barlow made the best homemade strawberry ice cream EVER (with strawberries from his backyard). I became hooked at a very young age.

8. Is there such thing as bad design? If so, what is it?
I know bad design exists, but I believe that to be a very subjective call to make. Which brings to mind the advertisements in the NYC subway cars -- I spend way too much time thinking about who the designer was behind each ad and what inspired them, what their background is, why they took that particular job and why they chose to solve it the way they did. You never know where they may have been coming from and if it was at all successful with the target audience.

9. Top 3 albums of all time…(Sorry, was watching High Fidelity last night.)

Arthur Russell, Calling Out of Context
Beatles, Rubber Soul
Henryk Górecki, Symphony No. 3

10. You're the bomb. Thanks for putting up with my overuse of the word "design".
No problem. This was fun.

(all images courtesy of http://abbyclawsonlow.com)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

asian Maxwell

Back in the States. Refreshing, yes, but it was definitely a bittersweet homecoming. I truly miss Taiwan this time. I've been there a million times now but this trip was certainly the most memorable. The presidential election fervor has inspired me to involve myself more deeply in the upcoming November situation. But before all the pictures get put up, here's a little sumpin sumpin I picked up while I was there: 方大同, or who I refer to as the Asian Maxwell. If you ignore the obvious differences like skin color, hair style, uhh..like everything, you can kind of hear where Asian Maxwell gets his inspiration. Take a look:

Asian Maxwell:

Non Asian, Actual Maxwell:

More on Taipei, Taiwan in a second.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

making the mos of it (not a typo, sorry)

I've been meticulously planning my vacation to Taiwan, nailing down every restaurant I plan to try but of course there are so many others I can't plan for (street. food. baby). I leave tomorrow evening (YAY!) and can only think about the delightful treats to be had. One thing for sure, I will head on over to MOS BURGER, which I have been reading about on all the Taiwanese-food-centric blogs. A few snippets from the website.

This is what you get when you click on an item off the photo-menu. With an enlarged version of your favorite snack food, you also get a detailed chart of nutritional info. And check this out: The Mos burger bun is made of rice mixed with barley and millet. If our own fast food restaurants had clever websites like this one, I think I'd actually be enjoy the food more.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

call out

One day, someone brilliant decided to make high fashion affordable and thus, way more attainable. When Target decided to run with the idea, it reached critical mass, and the trend blossomed, spilling over into different arenas. Beyond fashion, you see these collaborations in the tabletop, cookware, and homeware markets.
But fashion-wise, the lines between low and high culture design have become totally blurred. And while everyone is still talking about Proenza Schouler x Target, many important marriages between x brand and y designer have flown under the radar. It’s also not really about affordability anymore. These days, designers focus on balancing function and form by giving a functional object/accessory unexpected flair. And naturally, a product–once totally ignorable–becomes runway ready.


via Cool Hunting
Yohji Yamamoto + Adidas =Y-3
In its fifth year, the brand just keeps getting hotter. Remember when Y-3 first launched Spring ’03? No? Me neither. Regardless or its “humble” beginnings (I’m being sarcastic here), it has since become a relevant brand for all the young hip kids with disposable incomes. And now with its New York storefront (see this NYT article), it’s official. This streetwear/high-fashion hybrid has become it’s own genre and style, shedding the former identities.

Raf Simons + EastPak = 08 S/S ‘Material World’ collection
Raf Simons is a fan of working with other brands, but this is one of those more unexpected fusions. EASTPAK? Really? If I had this in the 5th grade, I would have never dumped the ‘Pak for a Jansport. With Raf leading the way, Eastpak’s road to conquering form over function has been paved. Just socking it to all the 12 years old and under Jansport fans.

Comme des Garçons + Speedo = Fastskin LZR Racer
Woah… Rei has been posting up on her throne drawing out next victims out of a hat labeled "total world domination". Chrome Hearts, Lacoste, Fred Perry–the list goes on. Rei has paused the high brow crossbreeding for an off the beaten path production. I mean, Speedos are the epitome of low brow. It gets such a bad rap at the public pool and beach. On the other hand, it’s worn by professional athletes. Anyway, Rei has given it a mini-makeover. It’s still functional (apparently more so, supposedly it feels like you’re not wearing anything at all). But it’s also updated and for what it is (SPEEDO), stylish.

Longchamp + Jeremy Scott = Le Pilage Stomp
Released last month, another “fun” take on the travel bag. Ok, I get it now. Longchamp wanted to revise its business plan and has been targeting a new audience with Jeremy’s designs. I think it worked. But it’s not couture and definitely travel-friendly. It’s actually got a lot of room for edible contraband and illegal dvds. Just kidding.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cat Power, Girl Power, Star Power

I had the pleasure of catching Cat Power perform at the Wiltern thanks to my AWESOME AWESOME friend Alice (which subsequently led to a splitting headache/gum-ache unrelated to the show). And fyi¬– Alice is SO cool that Cat, Chan Marshall, sent her a text message before stepping on stage. Alice is SO cool, that she inherited Ellen Pompeo’s Blackberry.

*Just a side note, since I’m on the topic of celebrities. I used to live in the same apartment complex as Benicio Del Toro. In fact, my parking space was adjacent to his. We talked once. He also hit Paul’s car once and then decided not to leave a note.

While I was already familiar with much of Cat Power’s earlier works, I hadn’t heard anything off her newest album, Jukebox . She performed newer material but surprised us with a few unreleased songs. I can’t remember every song that was sung, but I loved each one. The songs she selected really highlighted the ethereal quality of her voice and her signature, unabashed delivery. She wasn’t that wild though- apparently she’s toned down since her alchie days. But she was poifect. Absolutely poifect.