Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page

Lenovo X300 Parody Ad on MacBook Air

Whether you’re an Apple fanboy or a PC die-hard, a good commercial is a good commercial. Here’s a clever parody portraying Lenovo’s edge over the Apple MacBook Air – showing off its integrated DVD-Drive, Ethernet ports and 3 USB ports and driving home the message: Lenovo’s machine is not a compromise, but a complete machine that still fits within that small envelope.

In almost every post this would inevitably draw fanboys on the Mac and the PC sides, claiming the superiority of their preferred choice while mudslinging the ‘enemy’. Sometimes it makes me wonder – with the marketing adage that apathy is worse than hate/love – so, what if everything you use has some crazy zealous fan/enemy? All the way from the choice of your breakfast cereal, to the file you use, to the USB cable that you carry – what if each and everyone of them has such polarizing camps?

If that sounds too scary or faraway, then what exactly is the essence that makes a product more polarizing than others? What is it about operating systems, MP3 players, computers and cars that bestow upon them this natural (?) sense of territory and boundary, of ‘me’ versus ‘the rest’?

Neocube Magnetic Balls

While the Neocube (fancy name!) are really just magnetic balls, they aren’t any ol’ magnetic balls. They are VERY-magnetic balls. Formed of 216 high-energy rare-earth magnets, their very strong magnetic field gives rise to very interesting behaviors as you fiddle with it, creating multitudes of shapes, planes and volumes.

If you’re interested, the online shop’s here.

Wall Cleat

Coming from a place that inherited the British wall plug (that comes default with on/off switches, eliminating the need to unplug), I never quite understood why’d anyone decide to have sockets without switches. Of course, that’s how a big chunk of the world operates, embedded in legacy lock-in – and as such it is up to individual designers to attempt to accommodate such decisions.

The Wall Cleat, designed by Karl Zahn, has very simple extensions above and below the standard socket – allowing one to coil extra cables around it. While particularly useful when the cable is unplugged, I could also see it as a simple yet effective device to manage cables that are almost by their very (evil) nature, messy.

A simple solution for a (not-so) simple problem.

[via NOTCOT]

Pixelated Water

Thought this hack on the street was pretty cool – bringing that Mario-gaming world into the bland cityscape. I think if there was a few pixelated turtles I’d probably be skipping over them each time I walk pass…

Library: Borrow a Person

I thought this idea that is being implemented in libraries in UK is a really brilliant an interesting one:

The idea, which comes from Scandinavia, is simple: instead of books, readers can come to the library and borrow a person for a 30-minute chat. The human “books” on offer vary from event to event but always include a healthy cross-section of stereotypes. Last weekend, the small but richly diverse list included Police Officer, Vegan, Male Nanny and Lifelong Activist as well as Person with Mental Health Difficulties and Young Person Excluded from School.

It’d certainly be fun to chit chat with a living person – being with a real person, relating to actual experiences will certainly lend a great degree of empathy and sensitivity to the topic on hand, beyond what the pages on paper can convey.

Probably as much fun would be to (if not more) be the ‘book’ waiting to be checked out. I think if this idea ever comes where I am, I’d definitely sign up for it.

Burning Through Oil

I think New York Times is getting a habit of churning out informative and well-designed graphic aesthetics – here’s another one on oil consumption. Even as I know how much Americans drive, it still somewhat surprises me that there are 154 drivers who drive alone for every 5 commuters. Click through for the full view.

Speaking of infographics, I’ve also just stumbled on this great list of what can be described as the Holy Grail of of infographics links right here – sit back and drool over those cool graphics that make information sexy.

Flogo – Cloud Logos

Flogos are flying logos – a company has found out how to make these puffy white things and set them up into the sky, bearing whatever marques you wish to have through stenciling. The sizes aren’t too big now – from 24 inches to 48 inches – so you aren’t about to see a giant logo hanging on the horizon over the city’s skyline, yet. So for now, they’re still cute, funky little things that’d be great to spice up your launch event or what-have you.

But I’d imagine them getting bigger as technology improves. New and bigger. From 48 inch to 48 feet. From white puffy things to multi-colored splendor (Flogos is already working on tinted versions).

The thought of having to you walk out of your house, and can’t even avoid advertisements and commercial-ness even in the skies is rather troubling. Right now we’re seeing them on billboards, signs, streets, buildings…imagine when the sky’s full of these clouds too. On one end of the sky you see a whole patterned formation of LV’s monograms; elsewhere you see McDonald’s arches and Apple’s half-eaten apple jostling for space and attention, each pretending to be a clever gimmick, a part of nature’s clouds – when they are patently not.

And if these cloud-logos are just that – a bunch of water vapor – how would a city district rule it? Can you classify it as a blimp that needs license for the airspace it permeates? “But it’s just a cloud!”. And it can probably be released anywhere, rather anonymously and difficult to trace.

Maybe I’m thinking too much.

Reproduction Artists Paints Themeslves

Apparently a village near Shenzhen, China called Dafen is responsible for 60% of the world’s reproduction oil printings. They operate by reproducing famous paintings at the request of clients, much like a factory, except that instead of factories the production is still done by hand.

REGIONAL collaborated with some of these artists to paint a picture of themselves, using the same technique and styles of the masters they reproduced:

REGIONAL productively collaborated with the otherwise commoditized community in Dafen by asking selected individuals, some for the first time, to imagine themselves in their professional medium. The final works show the technical, creative, and professional facets of the artists identities subsumed by the styles and relationships they maintain with specific famous artists. The hybrid result of original subject with derivative style comments on originality, global cultural production and REGIONAL’s cooperation with emerging enterprise forms that are internationalizing the village.

The product of the collaboration are sets of images (seen below) comprising a digital photo of the artist in his studio, an indicative painting of their usual output and an original self-portrait. While the final works contain both the creative signature of the original masters and the emergent self-consciousness of the Dafen artists, it is equally important to note that they derived great fulfillment from using their talents freely, and were remunerated at a rate commensurate with the unique international nature of the project.

If you think of a reproduction factory, perhaps the analogy that comes to mind is a photocopying machine. Painting in (original), painting out. But as these self-portrait clearly shows, there is an important but subtle difference. The artists mastered the technique to paint in a particular style, with as much skill level (painting technique wise) as Mr. Van Gogh, Renoir or Da Vinci. And it is this that gives them the ability to paint other (original) paintings such as these self portraits.

Which makes me wonder – what if these obviously talented/skilled artist came to to venture on their own? Would they be unable to paint anything that isn’t the exact derivative of the master-style that they’ve adopted? Would it probably be a question of social-connection rather than technical mastery that hinders them from being recognized as an artist in their own right?

[REGIONAL blog with several more examples]

I love the World!

A very cool spot from Discovery Channel – makes you go all mushy inside, be amazed and rekindles the love for the world’s wonders and miracles…

A case of Brand Over-extension?

Now, what do you think of when I say “Kellogg’s Cornflakes” or “Frosted Flakes”? Maybe breakfast, send-the-kids-off-to-school…generally the warm fuzzy young-family feel. So you might expect Kellogg’s to tie up with back-to-school-campaigns, tupperware, SUV, stationery, and all that.

But it was a surprise when I saw the new ‘Premium Licensed Apparel’ from Kellogg’s called ‘Under the Hood‘:

It is either the most innovative, surprising and daring reach-out, or (what I think) a really-awkward brand extension into a mood/category that is in the almost direct contradiction to the original brand image. Maybe a marketer looked at the demographics buying the cereals and thought – “Hey this group buys quite substantial amount – let’s appeal to them!”.

To me though, it seems like this will erode the principle brand equity that Kellogg’s has been building over the years. The street and almost ‘gangsta’ feel is really awkward on Kellogg’s. But who knows – maybe out there, Tony the Tiger can give you some street cred!