No shortage of conversation occurs after experiencing a film like HER. High waisted pants, well-worn mustaches, dependency on technology, the future of video games, all make the conversational check list. And while all are valid and worthy of discussion, the film’s design aesthetic is what really sets it apart. It’s safe to say Spike Jonze is the consummate creator of art(y) films, and there were no punches pulled with HER. The set, the wardrobe, his view of a future Los Angeles are all done so well, and perhaps more important, feel natural.
Jonze enlised the help of Geoff Mcfetridge to build a world that’s artificial, yet realistic. With much of the landscape consisting of a blend between Shanghi and L.A., the Los Angeles creator took ques from designers past. In addition to creating the drawings inside the offices of Theodore Twombly along with the computer interface and handheld device graphics, and the films credits, Mcfetridge was also responsible for the elaborate transit map that’s found in the back ground throughout several scenes.
The retro aesthetic was inspired by Massimo Vignelli’s 1970s New York Subway map. Vignelli, originally from Italy, came to America and attracted attention for his work designing signage for the D.C. metro and New York subway, the latter eventually hiring him to design the system’s map. Although Vignelli’s map met mixed (unfavorable) reviews from New Yorkers for its diagrammatic approach and lack of scale geography, it remains a favorite amongst graphic designers and modern lovers alike (it still draws significant bids on eBay and the like). And like Vignelli, who worked on just about every type of design that exists, Mcfetridge’s modernist approach spans the life of the film, woven into its fabric. But it’s a glimpse at L.A.’s future transit system where the most influence can be felt with its broad use of geometric shapes and vivid color.
So now that HER is soon to be available online, you’ll have one more detail to search out, one more box to check. For a look at similar design work, visit Champion Studio.
In 2009, Unionmade opened their doors. Located in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, it didn’t take long to get attention. And deservedly so. By many accounts Unionmade, with Todd Barket (of Gap fame) at the helm, can be given credit for bringing the menswear scene west. In a city with a significant lack of the brick & mortar found out east, there was high demand for a place that carried a large selection of good, well made things under one roof. Unionmade fit this bill, offering a full roster of quality infused brands whose relationships would later develop into collaborations, setting the selection completely apart from any coast.
Today the brand list tops 100, and includes all the crowd pleasers such as Alden, Barbour and Filson, but while great, these aren’t why you shop here. The rest of the lineup is choked-full of goods from England, Japan, Italy, and of course good ol’ America. The Sunspels, North Sea Clothings, Drakes, Kapitals and Boliolis are all on the team and ready to play. And the collaborations we mentioned run deep, so a lot of what you see isn’t going to be easy to find elsewhere. I paid a visit to Unionmade when they opened in ’09, and make it a point to visit whenever in town, and I’m always impressed.
Now just over four years later, Unionmade continues to carry the torch, and is expanding, again. After first out growing and expanding the S.F. store, they opened two additional locations, one in Los Angeles and another in Marin (just north of S.F.). Both the second and third locations carry the aesthetic and branding that made the first store so successful. The sights are now set on a fourth location, again in Los Angeles. The new outpost will be seated in the Grove shopping center and is sure to do well – the Grove may be one of the busiest places on earth. The new location will be large enough to carry most of what you’ll find in S.F. and has the same vibe. If you’re nearby, pay a visit.
Check out Unionmade at The Grove: 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.
In the last couple years, it seems there’s been an influx of centennial celebrations by companies making just about everything. This is a good thing. It not only means that there are a decent amount of companies which still exist stateside, but that they’re continuing to produce good things. Spiewak is amongst this contingent.
With 110 years under their belt, Spiewalk has continued to produce high-quality outer wear for dockworkers, the armed forces, city and public workers alike. Their jackets and their stories continue to be inspirational. While the word iconic isn’t amongst my favorites, there isn’t a better word to describe a lot of what Spiewak has created. The infamous WWII Navy deck jacket, snorkel parka and one of the first double-breasted pea coats all fall under the Spiewak label.
Kicking off the new year in good form (and temperature appropriate timing), Spiewak is set to premier their latest collection at Pitti Uomo in Florence. With Maurizio Donadi of Levis & RL fame at the helm, the New York native label is taking a new approach and creating a collection suited towards today’s lifestyle, while maintaining quality consistent with products past. Additionally, a Golden Fleece collection is slated to launch in the near future, which will take cues from its 1920’s predecessor and consist of pieces from the company’s archives.
Visit Spiewak for the full story and a glimpse at the complete collection.
Images via: Spiewak
In short, 2013 was a good year. New people, new places, great experiences. While there was a lull in posting to this forum, there was no shortage of creative outlets. This past year has opened the door to what should hopefully be a great 2014, full of even more memorable moments. I made a point to live life a little more this year, and I feel proud to say that I think I managed to pull it off.
These photos are a collection of my favorites images and moments from throughout the past year. It’s always fun and interesting to look back at photos, especially considering nearly everyone travels with a camera of some kind in tow and visual catalogs life’s experiences. I’m no exception. I hope you enjoy and have a great new year.
The holiday season has always been a bit weird to me. Since I’ve always lived in a large city and been surrounded by hordes of eager shoppers, carolers, santas, and all things holidays, my view and opinion may be a little skewed. For the better part of the last decade I’ve elected to spend Christmas alone on the East coast, or alone in some capacity in my hometown, Chicago. I touched on this in a post last year, and again, blame Home Alone.
Changing things up this year, through some persistent persuasion, I’m headed West for the holiday and will be kicking around L.A. Not being in a cold environment during Christmas is probably one of the strangest things I can think of, so it’s bound to be interesting. Nonetheless, we’re locked and loaded, palm trees and 80 degrees it is. To everyone else out there, I hope you have a safe and happy holiday, thanks for tuning in.
Always a sucker for old military images, the photo archive at the San Diego Air & Space museum is nothing shy of impressive. A visit will likely be a long one, and for good reason. With an untapped collection that numbers somewhere around 160 thousand images, it’s an excellent resource for all things air & space.
When initially put on the scent of the SDASM, I was surprised that it was housed in San Diego of all places. But on second thought it makes complete sense. As one of the most important naval outposts, San Diego has one of, if not, the best air & space museums in the world. And not just in scale, but in quality. Their physical collection is probably larger than some country’s entire naval fleet. I’ve posted about museums of said kind in the past, and my weird curiosities aside, San Diego’s tips the scale.
At the end of the day, photo archives are a dime a dozen, and there are plenty of good ones out there. The Library of Congress, NYPL, LIFE, etc. all stack up and keep folks busy looking for old photos of Papa (myself included). However, these tend to lack focus and can often become an endless search in a bottomless pool. They also make some of the more flattering candid images harder to find, another area where the SDASM does well. While I’m not totally sure, a lot of images appear to be from personal collections, possibly donated or discovered. Whatever the source, they offer a great first hand perspective of an officer abroad or with friends.
If you have a few hours to burn, check out the San Diego Air & Space archive for yourself.
Forged in Brooklyn and bred in Japan, Postalco makes good things. What began with paper products has grown into leather accessories, minimal apparel and other odds & ends. The beginning notebooks, letterhead and the such remain a personal favorite – so much so that I tend to hold off using what I have for a rainy day. The attention to detail and hunt for perfection has taken the Brooklyn bread stationer to Tokyo, where we paid a visit.
As the only brick and mortar location on the planet the Postalco store is well worth a visit if you find yourself in Tokyo. Seated on a third floor in Shibuya, Postalco is in a location that’s like most Tokyo addresses – impossible to find. However, the hunt is well worth the reward. Most of brand’s stockists carry a small assortment of products, typically a few notebooks here & there, whereas the Shibuya location expectedly has their full line of offerings on display. Clean lines, tight stacks, and appropriate curation are a few words that can be used to describe the modest store. If you appreciate paper it’s easy to spend over an hour combing through the inventory.
For Postalco , the move to Japan made sense. It’s a place where people appreciate quality to a scale unbeknownst to most cultures and there’s still an abundant amount of artisans still producing small quantities of products. This is the perfect environment for a company so focused on making good things. At the same time, the branding and overall style still have an air of Brooklyn, which works in their favor. At the end of the day, it’s the perfect balance of traditional, practical and fun. If you find yourself in Tokyo, you can find Postalco at 1-6-3 3FL Dogenzaka Shibuya, Tokyo [POSTALCO]
Factory visits are at or near the top of my list in terms of destinations. Call me crazy, but I truly appreciate witnessing how things are made. Be it boots, bags, cars, anything that requires production and assembly is o.k. in my book. And regardless of the product, each factory packs a different punch. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of different factories, making a lot of different things. Boots, bags, cars, chocolate bars, pipes, sweaters, bicycles, stationery, watches, among others have all made the list, and never does it get old.
As a change-up to the typical factory tour, I paid a visit to the Museo Piaggio which is housed in one company’s former factories. Located in Pontedera, about an hour outside of Florence, the museum stands in what is Piaggio’s birthplace and home to some of their most important creations. Founded in 1884, Piaggo’s roots lay in the maritime industry where they were considered one of the premier ship-fitting companies in Italy. They would later carry the same reputation in the railroad and aeronautics industries. Not until 1946 would the creation of the Vespa, change the face of Piaggo forever (with a little help from Gregory Peck).
Opened in 2000, and envisioned by the former chairman Giovanni Alberto Agnelli, the museum is a tribute to one of Italy’s most important mechanical companies. On display you’ll find a terrific timeline of Piaggio’s history alongside some of the rarest vehicles they’ve produced in their nearly 130 year history. While there’s clearly an emphasis on the Vespa, examples of Piaggio’s origins in the railroad and aeronautic industry stand present. A 1936 Treno locomotive occupies the entrance, an example of the first stainless steel trains made in Italy. And not far away sits a 1951 Aero P149, one of the first training planes developed by Piaggio in the late 40’s.
Obviously not a typical factory with production having long been discontinued, there’s no lack of creativity remaining in the building. The museum is the perfect example of how to appropriately convert a former industrial space for use today, integrity intact. And while you won’t necessarily bare witness to anything produced per se, you’re still offered the privilege to see the origins of where the ideas were started. [Museo Piaggio]
Spending an extended amount of time in a foreign environment is a very telling experience. It doesn’t take long before you start realizing what you need and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t need. After one or two legs of the journey, your bags are lighter, your routine is dialed, and a kindle is your only companion. While away, normalcies such as drinks with friends get replaced by drinks with strangers. And that’s just fine. If not for the embrace of the separation, it would not offer that familiar tingle of being somewhere different. Somewhere unlike home.
Over the last two months, I’ve been working on a project in Puerto Rico, or America’s 51st state. An island with two flags and two languages, it was much further out than I expected. Embrace was the only option. For a person from the northern colonies, island life takes a little getting used to. A lot less gas and a little more left pedal. The days are long and the waters are warm, I didn’t fight it.
A steady supply of local rum, work and distractions managed to keep me adrift and curious. Admittedly, this island swap also created a lull in contribution to this forum, albeit a steady stream of posts to instagram. And while an obvious supporter of the whole internet thing, sometimes it’s healthy to live outside the lens for a while. Returned, ready and refreshed, I’m looking forward to some new things in the works and to dust off a few things from the past. For now, here are a few snaps from San Juan.