28 August 2008

The Young and the Banging

My friend Heron has been working on this project for a long time. The Young and the Banging is a yearbook of the young and creative people of interest in NYC; the party is next week. Nike is providing the space for the reception at their very own 255 Elizabeth.

The Young and the Banging
Once you start living downtown, it can begin to feel like a big kids high school. It’s like never never land, a place where one can stay young forever. The taxis begin to feel like the school buses. The restaurants are like our cafeterias. The bars and clubs are like our school dances and the streets are like our high school hallways!

But if downtown NYC were really a high school, what would it look like and who would the school body be?

Inspired by both the traditional American high school yearbook and Ezra Petronio’s book "Bold and Beautiful" of Self Service, 15 girls were invited to partner as co-creators to make a downtown NYC yearbook through artistic collaboration. They were asked to highlight the young and creative people around them through Polaroid photography to act as their class photo and given spreads in the book to design in a way that best represented the lifestyle and creativity of those people. Extended beyond the actual yearbook is a month long gallery show in support of its idea. THE YOUNG AND THE BANGING provides a playful look into downtown NYC as if it were really a high school through elements that made those four years a unique, terrifying and memorable experience for all of us.

See you there xx

25 August 2008

Brutus, in English!

As promised, the guys at Naked Tokyo have been so kind as to translate the Brutus Magazine article on Naked NY. Thanks, guys!

"The ideas that lead the advertising
industry are born in such a greenhouse" *


Naked Communications is based in the residential loft building in the middle of SoHo. Reflecting its characteristic as the advertising consulting company who is known for progressive marketing strategies, the office is unique and different based on the “house” concept, having two floors. On the lower floor, several people are having brainstorming, and others are meditating, in the ‘greenhouse’ within the building. In the next ‘living room’, other staffs are enjoying video gaming on a couch. On the upper floor where actual work is done, appr 40 people are focusing on working, sitting side by side in front of the long, aligned desks. Because of the philosophy that imagination would be stuck when staff get used to routine, the management shuffles seating at random, which helps free flow of communications amongst staffs. The office environment is considered to prioritise ‘Flexible mindset and unique idea construction’, and it represents peculiar business model of this unique company. Whilst belonging to the advertising industry, Naked neither produces advertising nor functions as a traditional agency, but just generate ideas for clients. If you look at the huge chalkboard in the meeting room, you see their corporate philosophy, ‘Naked Truth 6 clauses’, such as “everything communicates”, “the world of communications is bigger than the world of advertising”, etc.

You will never know what this company is doing by just looking at the office, however, it is certain that such cool working environment helps establish Naked as ‘the agency to watch’ just within three years since the launch of the NY office. By the way, they are looking for new office, as the number of the staff is being increased too quickly.

Brutus Magazine piece

1. ‘Greenhouse’ is the place to think, isolated from noisy working areas.
2. Many signs of generated ideas on the chalkboard in the meeting room.
3. ‘Living Room’ for the people who want to relax and refresh.
4. Bunch of tennis balls used for the event, and polaroid of people.
5. Quite congested working floor due to the increase of staffs.

Brutus Magazine piece

Naked Communications was born in London in 2000, and launched NY office in 2005. Partner Paul Woolmington and Neal Davis are enjoying foosball. They sell media strategy and branding strategy. Recently opened the office in Tokyo. http://www.nakedcomms.com

• Lease
• Location - SoHo
• 2F/3F of five-storied residential building
• Scale – 464 sqm
• Facilities – greenhouses, meeting rooms, etc.
• Built in 1879
• Loft type, renaissance revival design
• With boutique on the ground floor and artists’ SoHo in other floors.

* I can see other agencies that dislike us really hating this headline!

22 August 2008

Exposing the Camorra

VICE just ran a fascinating interview with a guy named Roberto Saviano. He wrote an internationally best-selling book called Gomorrah, mixing a fictional story with a nonfictional investigation about the Camorra. From what I understand, it's the least talked-about and most dangerous Mafia in the world.

"The Italian Mafia has a strong international appeal. Most of the world’s Mafias, besides maybe the Russian and the Chinese, are inspired by it."

This interview really helps you understand how the three major Mafia families in Italy operate – they are commonly referred to as the Camorra (Campania), the ’Ndrangheta (Calabria) and the often talked-about Cosa Nostra (Sicily). Apparently Italy – and in some part, Europe – would be in trouble if these three families didn't operate. I had never thought of it as a business operation before, because the media in the U.S. sensationalizes the murder and "he has crossed me so I will kill his son" part of the Mafia so much. Just check these figures out:
The net turnover of the three Italian Mafias—the Camorra in Campania, the ’Ndrangheta in Calabria, and the Cosa Nostra in Sicily—is something like $230 billion per year. That’s just their direct business. If you add all the other aspects, you could say they are linked to around $800 billion annually. Consider the $230 billion figure. The FIAT group, Italy’s largest industrial group, has a turnover of around $80 billion a year. In other words, the Mafia is the single largest Italian economy, and one of the largest in Europe.
Saviano also talks about how the intense success of his book has brought the kind of attention he doesn't want – for the past few years, he's had to go everywhere in a bullet-proof car and is followed by three policemen /bodyguards, 24/7. He now regrets writing the book because he has had to stop almost all communication with his friends and family; this type of publicity makes human relationships difficult when there is a person like Saviano in the picture, because who associates with you says a lot.

Saviano said that it's not so much writing about the Camorra that's the problem, but reaching this many people (100,000 people in only a few months) that they doesn't like. In his words, "Only stupid dictatorships ban books without understanding that you just give it publicity by doing so. Real democracies censor you by ignoring you." So basically, the Camorra is going to sit tight and wait it out until the publicity dies down. Then... he might have to up the bodyguard count to six :\

Here is the link to the interview again, check it out.

20 August 2008

Brutus writes about Naked

Back in April, there was a team of very nice and gracious Japanese photographers on Naked's 2nd floor. I knew it had something to do with a "cool offices" piece they were working on for a magazine, but I didn't have much other information. Well, today we were sent a copy of Brutus Magazine:

Brutus Magazine

You can click on the images to blow up, but unless you can read Japanese characters (help me out with this at least: is this Hiragana or Katakana? Or KANJI?), all you'll be able to understand is that they called us a World Hip Office.

If you do choose to click, you can see me on one of the couches in photo #3. Hooray, this is the second time I have been in a Japanese magazine (barely any American ones, though)!

"World Hip Offices"

We e-mailed our friends at Naked Tokyo for help in translating the article. Until then, enjoy the photography (^_^)//

x-posted to House of Naked.

19 August 2008

A Facebook personality test

Today I have a treat for you guys: my good friend and roommate, Laura, has agreed to guest-write for me. We had a conversation about this a little while ago and she had an interesting theory about Facebook layouts and personalities. Here she is...

Johanna and I were talking over dinner a couple of weeks ago, and the new Facebook layout came up. She mentioned that she didn't have it yet, but had seen it, adored it and couldn't wait until it became available to her account. I said that I tried it, hated it, and switched back to the old one. We realized that the way we felt about these Facebook layouts was pretty indicative of our personalities.

For people who are not on Facebook, or haven't seen the new layout, I will tell you about both of them. The new layout breaks information down into smaller pieces. There are tabs that you have to click on to access information in people's profiles. You cannot see a person's entire profile all at once anymore--you have to choose which section you want to see ("wall," "work info," "applications," etc.) and click on the appropriate tab. The old layout just let you go to a person's profile and see everything on one page. You could scroll to find what you wanted.

Johanna and people like her (likers of the new layout) prefer information to be broken down into categories and organized. They are detail people.

I and people like me (likers of the old layout) prefer information to be combined to create one whole. We are big picture people.

I think a lot of it is about ways of interpreting information. I don't know Johanna's way*, but when I want information--and let's stay with the theme and say that the information I want is "What is person - from - high - school - who - found - me - on - Facebook - doing - with - her - life?"--I am a skimmer. I glance. I glean. I don't have the patience to think about what I want to know specifically and then select an appropriate tab. I want to see everything all at once, because it's the combination of things that is telling. You have a Little Green Patch and you are interested in hanging out with friends and partying and you like the Dave Matthews Band and instead of listing books you say that you're a magazine girl and you play parking wars and you lose every game of Scramble (RIP) and all your wall posts are about drinking and you are married to a balding man and you work at a company I've never heard of as an associate in a small town in the West? It's the combination of those facts that sum you up. Individually, they don't tell me what I want to know. I synthesize. I am unable to find meaning in small pieces of information. I have to see it all at once.

"Johanna people" probably do this in a completely different way that is equally valid and probably would have them arrive at the exact same conclusion.

My friend Jake also posited quite rightly that what you choose to do about hating the new layout on Facebook serves as another personality test. He chose to keep it because it is a fact that that is how Facebook looks now. He rolls with the punches. I refuse to keep it because I hate it and I'd rather have an outdated layout I like than a current layout I hate. I resist change and am the kind of person who'd keep a Betamax movie watching device long past the early 80s. Not that I had one. I do, however, use the old LiveJournal layout instead of the current one. I hate that for similar reasons to why I hate the new Facebook--tabs! No! I want to see all the links at once!

* With me (this is Johanna talking), it depends on whose profile I am looking at. I tend to use Facebook a lot for industry-related things. So, usually I would like to go straight to the "info" tab (on the new layout) to see where they work, how long they've been there, where they worked before, etc.

If I click on Laura's name, I only do it to see her "current" status and photos. Since I tend to already know someone who is my Facebook friend, I personally don't need to see everything because I already have a general feel for them.

If I am friended by someone I peripherally know (someone like the writer of a blog I read daily), I will read every single word on their page, but the tabs just make it feel better for me. I panic when everything is on one long scrollable page. I like compartmentalizing bits of information as much as possible until there is no logical way to break it down farther. Stuff on my computer follows the same type of thing:

Another thing I didn't like about the old layout: I hated having to scroll to find what I wanted, because people have the option of moving boxes around. Non-custom-layout MySpace pages are fine for me because by now I know where each section is, and I can therefore just go straight to that section with my eyes; a sort of intuitive tabs already there in my mind.

Which is your way of thinking?

18 August 2008

Mister Impossible

There is a very interesting and insightful mini-interview with Philippe Starck in the September 2008 issue of WIRED Magazine. It starts out with the inspiration for his latest chair, Mr. Impossible, and goes into "green" philosophy (he's actually smart about it too).

Interview with Philippe Starck

What was the inspiration for Mr. Impossible?
The speed of evolution of our civilization and the dematerialization that rules all our production. Take the computer: It was the size of a room, then a briefcase. Now it's a credit card. You cannot dematerialize a chair completely because you must continue to st on it. But you can make it invisible. That's why I made the Mr. Impossible with a double shell – it's basically made of air.

Recently, you have begun to look at the environmental impact of your designs. How does a plastic chair fit in?
The stupidity of the ecological movement is that people kill trees for wood. It's ridiculous. The best ecological strategy is to make products of a very high creative quality, so you can keep them for three generations. I prefer to make a very good chair in the best polycarbonate than make any shit in wood that will be in the trash one year later.

Why not use recycled plastic?
It's a little joke of a material. You can do almost nothing with it. And I also refuse bioplastic, which comes from something that people can eat. Scientists agree that we have a real food problem, a famine approaching. It's a crime against humanity to take something you can eat and make a chair – or use it as gas for your SUV.

How do you reconcile those principles with your position as creative director for Virgin Galactic?
Every project should fit the big image of evolution. You can consider Virgin Galactic as something only for rich people, but you can also analyze the incredible help that it will give us. The exploration of space is a vital part of our evolution. We don't have any future if we don't go into space. This world will explode in 4 billion years. We have time, but not so much.

12 August 2008

1000 Journals

Most of us have heard of the 1000 Journals project by now. It started nearly a decade ago, in San Francisco. For those who might need a refresher, "The 1000 Journals Project is an ongoing collaborative experiment attempting to follow 1000 journals throughout their travels. The goal is to provide a method for interaction and shared creativity among friends and strangers."

So, 1000 journals were sent out in the world. People added to them, little by little, sharing thoughts and inspiring each other. Think of it as a mobile version of bathroom wall graffiti, which in part sparked the idea for this. Last year, a book was released containing snippets from the journals that made it back.

I was delighted to come across the following video on Notebookism this morning:

A documentary about the project! It premiered at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco at the beginning of the month, and will slowly be making its way around the world from there. The NY screening is apparently at HDFest in October; I signed up for e-mail updates.

A few hours later, I got a personal email from the producer/director of the film herself, Andrea Kreuzhage. She thanked me for signing up and pointed me towards 1001 Journals, a type of 1000 Journals extension in which I can participate. Wow! I am so excited. Being a natural gatherer who has been journaling /pasting things into books for the past 19 years... I'm totally excited for this.

I am going to close with some voiceover from the documentary trailer that was so true and inspiring that I felt like jumping out of the window (in a good way).
What happened to us; where did our creativity go?

If you ask a group of Kindergarteners, "Raise your hands if you're an artist," every single one of them will raise their hands.

And you can ask the same question of a group of sixth graders, and maybe a few of them will raise their hands.

And then you ask the same question of a group of high school seniors. And you'd be lucky to get one or two of them to raise their hands.

What happened? We were all creative people at one point in our lives, and now we all go to work every day and sit in traffic.
Click here for a bunch of related links & how to find the 1000 Journals film all over the web.

[Thanks again, Andrea!]

07 August 2008

Deerhoof's Fresh Born project

I first saw this on Cool Hunting: Deerhoof has released the sheet music for its latest single, Fresh Born (off of new album Offend Maggie). They are inviting people to interpret and record the music in whichever way they want, and upload it back to the site.

Deerhoof project

This is on a different level from I have seen before: bands like Beastie Boys, Radiohead, NIN and Beck have released the layers of already-released songs, inviting people to remix them. Really great stuff can come from these, of course (my personal favorite being Lauren Flax's interpretation of Heartsrevolution's C.Y.O.A.). In Deerhoof's case, however, you have to go a step further than that and create + record all of the music yourself, only with seemingly handwritten notes to go from. Fresh Born has not even been released yet, so you have nothing – no combination of instruments, for example – influencing your creativity. Some of the Fresh Born interpretations have already been uploaded to the site and you can see what I mean. The recordings range from beautiful piano instrumentals, to upbeat dance beats dripping with synth and the downright Dadaist.

This project will also give people the opportunity to get involved who maybe couldn't before. Those classically trained, who can sight read sheet music but not necessarily have any clue how to operate a mixing program.

I have had this post dancing around in my head for a couple of days, and reading my friend Kevin's description of another "you have to do more than just remix" idea – Telephono – pushed me to finally write it out. Kevin says of Telephono, "I love it because it's 'about the process'. I worry sometimes that we as a culture have become so used to mashing things together that we have lost touch with the craft that goes into bringing original ideas to life." Yes, exactly.

06 August 2008

The construct of loneliness & emotional bonds = ?

Let's say a guy (we'll call him Alex) goes on a business trip to a far away place and he misses his wife (let's call her Jenny). Alex emails Jenny a photo of himself waving to her from his hotel. Jenny responds with, "Great picture honey, but there's no substitute for the real thing, is there?"

"No substitute for the real thing." Is there?

What is it that lets someone form an emotional connection with someone /something else? Relatedly, in this case, what affects loneliness?

Physical proximity
So, Realdolls. You know what they are. And they are practically identical to the people they're modeled after. But with those, I bet money that their owners still feel lonely sometimes.

So is it the physical proximity of a real person (one who we know or feel a degree of closeness to) that influences loneliness (or lack thereof)?

Emotional proximity
Let's say Alex had not been physically near anybody he knew in a few weeks, yet he has not felt lonely when emailing with people from home who he knows (including Jenny). It's not physical proximity that lowers his loneliness in this case, but rather emotional proximity.

People vs. animals ; reciprocity
The hole with "physical or emotional proximity of a person" : it doesn't necessarily have to be a human-influenced thing. People form emotional attachments and bonds with their pets and sometimes don't feel lonely when they're around.

But some pets don't reciprocate attention or affection. Emotional bonds aren't as strong with fish as they can be with dogs, for example (I know there can be exceptions to this, but I'm writing in general terms here). So it is an issue of reciprocity, isn't it?

Cognitive processes
Surely reciprocity doesn't necessarily have to be present, as anybody who had a high school crush on the popular kid will know. What is it that people or animals possess that can cure loneliness or help an emotional bond form? Is it simply the presence of a certain level of cognitive processes; knowing that the possibility of reciprocity is always there?

Artificial intelligence
A.I. will get to the point where robots will engage in "advanced reciprocation" and be able to have complex conversations with people (maybe they already do in Japan). Yet, I just don't see substantial emotional bonds being formed with robots.

(Although it happened in that Spielberg movie.)

Maybe "cognitive processes" is too broad even still, since they will one day be mimicked very well. Is it about the neurological constructs that lead to that non-replicable thing that makes us human or animal? What is that thing?

I'm sure this has already been solved. I would love to hear everyone's opinion on this, get any leads to articles that talk about it, etc.

Photo credit: here.

05 August 2008

Polaroid mobile

Thanks to two of my favorite people, I have a new mobile.

Thank you Jeremy & Julie!
Dylan Trees saw the mobile in California and mailed it to me. I had mentioned that I wanted to try to make one; this took care of the skeleton and left the rest up to me: it just has little clips on it, from which one can attach anything.

My pen pal, Julie, has been sending me beautiful Polaroids every now and then, for the past two years. I chose ten from my now-sizable stack and clipped them on. The whole thing is so light that even the tiniest draft from opening my door can make them flutter around like silent wind chimes.

Heartfelt thanks to both of you* for making the first thing I see when I wake up not a white ceiling and wall.

* And thank you to one Very Tall Boy for helping me with the ceiling hook and hanging it up there for me!

04 August 2008

New Next: Geotility

Thanks, Faris. He's the one who came up with that word just now upon reading the column. My title was originally The Journey is the Destination, not "The Journey's the Thing." Don't really know what happened there.
At the beginning of the summer, the third annual Come Out & Play Festival hit New York with a bang – people blanketed the city, turning themselves into game pieces and using space in a creative way to have a good time. From a New York City vs. London photo scavenger hunt to a multiplayer game in which GPS triggers from mobile devices reward teams with tools to help them win, Come Out & Play capitalizes on “city-size fun” by making a city the game board.

Games aren’t the only things that have made places the center of focus: over a year ago, we talked about Dodgeball and Helio's Buddy Beacon as location-themed examples of real time documentation. We’ve come a long way since then: combining geography with technology has progressed exponentially. And yet, our prediction is that it’s only a hint of what’s still to come.

Location-based services are nothing new to us: from package tracking to looking up driving directions, we’ve been using geographic information to help us do things for years. But the current wave of geographically aware technology that has the ability to literally know where we are adds a completely new dimension to our things.

Find a place
Mobile handsets like the iPhone and Nokia Nseries devices seem to be causing the biggest splash in mobile mapping, heightening services and behaviors that we are already familiar with. We use Yelp.com to find new restaurants, bars and boutiques, for example. Now when you’re in a new neighborhood and away from your computer, you can find out which restaurants are blocks away from where you’re standing, and how to get there (you can even add photos taken with your mobile device and write reviews while you’re still there).

Find your friends
Remember Twitter, the micro-blogging platform that let’s you know what your friends are doing? What about Dodgeball, where all of your friends registered on the site are notified on your whereabouts every time you text message? Picture these two services together and on steroids. A new Twitter client for the iPhone (and, probably by the time you read this, for other handsets as well) lets you to see all other users that are close by, so you can know what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.

Tag your photos
Geo-tagging is a behavior quickly becoming ingrained in our photo-uploading activity; now a GPS-enabled mobile device can tag your photos as you upload them directly from your phone so you don’t have to think about it. Handsets aren’t the only players in this space, either: Eye-Fi is a wireless memory card that automatically adds location labels to photos that are uploaded to the Internet, directly from your camera.
I had a ton of fun writing the October 2008 column I submitted last Friday; I'll be able to share at the end of next month.

I'll probably be cross-posting this on House of Naked in a few minutes...

Taschen maps calendar

Not sure why I've never written about this before, as it's one of my favorite things in my bedroom.

Taschen maps calendar

I got this ancient maps calendar at my favorite bookstore, Spoonbill & Sugartown. It's a small book shop that carries literature, handmade cards and postcards, artsy magazines, a huge collection of Moleskines and lots of design-related books. They definitely have a specific aesthetic and feel about them. There's a cute black cat that hangs out in there, too.

Taschen maps calendar

Taschen maps calendar

The calendar was made by Taschen, which is probably my favorite book publisher. They originated in Cologne, Germany and mostly produce art books, but sometimes creep into other themes as well. There is a store nearly across the street from where I work, and I have barely been in there... because their stuff is mostly very expensive. I have a few of their books at home, though, and I treasure them. The materials are always the best I've ever seen and felt. This calendar was no exception: the pages are thick and the colors rich. I'm delighted every month when I get to flip the page; each map includes beautiful illustrations and paragraphs about the region they highlight in English, German and French. Beautiful! I might have to go back to Taschen for next year's.

01 August 2008


I'd like you to meet a new friend of mine.


His name is Numero; my boyfriend bought him for me when he was in Chicago last month. When I read his tag, I found out that he is a Dooodoll. His friends on the site have names like Mr. Nerdie and Coco Man, and each of them is a different zodiac sign. Numero is a Scorpio, apparently.
Talk about competitive! Numero has never lost a game or competition in his life; in fact, he wins every contest there is! He has many trophies, of course, but he carries a special one on his chest for extra luck.
It looks to me like he's screaming, "HEY I'M HERE YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME RIGHT NOW." In a very endearing way, of course. According to the "doll master," Doodolls' vision is that "every Dooodoll™ we design and hand-stitch will enhance the life of its owner." I think Numero has enhanced mine for sure. I mean, look at his little face. Hand-stitched!
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