Archive for Quiet design

I love… Jim Denevan’s land art

14 May 2009

Not joyful, exactly, but wonderful! I especially love Denevan’s process shots. There’s something so charming about art made simply, just a man and a stick, and the results are unexpectedly clean and graphic.

Laconic beauty

13 May 2009

I’m back! And I have lots of thoughts on joy to post over the coming days. But right now I just want to share the beauty of this wonderful, simple site. It makes me smile every time I type the name into the firefox window: islostnewthisweek.com.

Toy Fair 2009: Not so joyful

18 February 2009

I managed to score a pass to sneak a peak at this year’s New York Toy Fair today. (Thanks, Rikki!) If anything’s going to be joyful, you’d expect it to be toys. So why wasn’t the experience joyful?

First off, I met some sad, sad exhibitors today. It seems like smaller independent toy manufacturers are really hurting these days. Even after I fessed up that I was a designer and not a buyer, I still had plenty of people who wanted to talk. So that made me feel a little sad. Then of course the Toy Fair is at the Javitz Center. Trekking out there in the freezing rain is enough to make a grouch out of anyone. And thirdly I did not manage to score a free sample of the amazing edible play dough, which I clearly needed.

But mostly, the reason Toy Fair wasn’t joyful was that there’s just too much. I don’t know how kids think anymore with all the chaos of today’s toys. Don’t get me wrong—I did see some incredibly interesting and well-designed toys. A lot of the advances in robotics and the science kits just look so much cooler than they did when I was a kid, and a lot of manufacturers are trying to weave in green messages which I think is just great. A few companies are trying to strip out the clutter and make simple things with great sensory appeal and tactile value, like these plush balls I found so irresistible (though I can’t seem to remember the manufacturer’s name) but mostly it’s just a big, loud, overwhelming landscape.

I spoke for a little while with a guy at a booth displaying no-spill bubbles. I asked him why bubbles were joyful. He thought for a second and said, “I think because they’re just so simple.” There may be something to that, and may explain why I left Toy Fair intrigued and stimulated, but not joyful.

Greenmarket peeler salesman passes away

3 February 2009

Anyone who’s ever seen this guy will never forget him, or his mesmerizing demos of how to make the most perfect carrot slivers with a $5 peeler. My favorite line of his shtick was always, “One for $5, 5 for $20. I know you don’t need 5 peelers but they make great gifts!”

I myself have bought two of them, though one is still unopened in case the first one ever breaks or goes dull. (Or perhaps one day as a gift for a very deserving foodie.) As Mr. Ades promised, it is the best peeler I’ve ever owned and one of my favorite things in my kitchen. I love the simplicity of it, the spare nature of the design. No ostentatious elastomeric grips or stylized arcs. Just a straightforward ribbon of steel, indented where the fingers go, beautiful in its utility.