Friday, February 13, 2009

Microsoft: The Retail Store


At Cornish, most of the design department uses Macs except for a few of us lowly interior design students who have PCs. So a lot of my time is spent in full-on Mactopia. But as pretty as Macs are to look at, I've never found them to offer any significant advantages to Windows PCs. They have some things that are nicer (sleek design, um... and I'm sure there is more) and some that aren't (I'm not a fan of their operating systems and they always feel slower to me). I also recently traded in my iPod for a Zune and I've been really happy with that decision so far.

Since my partner is a diehard Microsoft fan (and employee) I've got a slightly more inside perspective on the "software giant" and easy access to their products. Although I like a lot of their stuff (Zune, arc mouse, Office 2007, even Vista), on the advertising front Microsoft as a brand always appears to be clunky compared to Apple. So I'm curious to see what they do with this new foray into operating a retail store.

A lot of the comments on the article I linked to were negative, but I don't necessarily think it would be an automatic failure. My advice would be to really think about the overall concept for the look and feel of the stores and products that will be sold there. Apple's success comes as much from their products as their commitment to a consistent design aesthetic, whether in their iPod nano or their retail stores. Both of these things offer a similar experience. Microsoft has been all over the place and even though the company is around thirty years old at this point, it still doesn't have a strong brand identity in the public sector.

Will they orient it around the X-box? The software? The Zune? The keyboards and mice they offer? I'm curious to see how this will turn out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meatloaf Valentine

Bryn made a Valentine's Day meatloaf with red food coloring so it would look "pink" and candy sprinkles on top. Although he makes really tasty meatloaf (and this one was no exception) it was still rather creepy. Like when Heinz made green ketchup.

I'd gotten him a book as his gift and decorated the bag for it at a friend's "Valentine's Craft Party" earlier this week. So that's what the second picture is.

Self Portrait Sick Day

I was supposed to go to the State Capitol to lobby for the current interior design legislation but I've come down with something and thought it would smarter not to go. It is annoying because I'm not throwing up or have a high temperature, but I feel generally crummy and have no appetite (which is how I KNOW that I'm sick).

So in an attempt to still get something done today I was working on making a self-portrait. Originally I was only going to make one and use it for two things, but I did the watercolor one first and didn't like it so well, which prompted me to do another one with color pencil. Of course now I think I like the watercolor one better, but whatever.

One of them will be mailed to the Eiteljorg Museum for their Facing West exhibit. Anyone can make a self-portrait for this and I thought it would be fun to do. (If you want to participate, more info here. You should totally do it!) Or maybe I'll send them both efforts.

The other thing making me do self-portraits was more important. Had to come up with one for the Worldstudio/AIGA Scholarship I'm applying for. I'll probably use the watercolor one for that, even if I don't have long hair anymore.

They were pretty easy, and I totally cheated and based them on photographs of myself. But it was fun to do and a nice break from designing things to actually making things.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Haven't felt much like blogging lately. In the absence of anything to write about I figured I would throw up some thoughts and facts about whales. Because I can.

Wouldn't it be cool to go swimming with a whale?

Blue whales (pictured above) are the current largest living animals and quite possibly the largest animals to live on Earth ever! There also used to be an estimated 200,000 to 350,000 Blue Whales before they started to be hunted in the early 1900s. Now there are about 8,000 to 14,000 Blue Whales worldwide.

As much as whale songs have gotten a bad rap by being added to "new age" music, they are actually pretty interesting.

Whales have "spindle cells" which are a type of brain cell related to intelligence found only (also) in humans and certain primates. Hmmmm.

Beluga Whales are pretty! And the few I've seen in person (whaleson?) seemed very friendly too.

Personally, I think that a high degree of curiousity is a sign of intelligence. It makes sense then that dolphins and whales are considered likely candidates of high intelligence.

Whales rule!

Dolphins are cool too, as long as they aren't put on t-shirts in a cheesy way. Same goes for whales. *Shudder* at art by Wyland!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Saw this today at Kobo on Capitol Hill. (The title is "Enfoodle.") LOVED IT! It is by Bellevue artist Ken Taya.

A cool riff on Andy Warhol's soup cans with a Japanese flair.

The nice thing about prints is that they tend to be fairly affordable. This one was 11" x 14" and only $40 unframed (edition of 100).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MS built a better mouse(trap).

Bryn surprised me today with a random gift. Of course, it also just happens to be a Microsoft product he picked up at the MS Company Store. But I really liked what he got!

Meet the "Arc Mouse." Compact, stylish, and portable. Has a tiny USB dongle that magnetically will attach to the bottom of the mouse when not in use. The curved shape is comfortable (so far) and folds for travel. I have it in red (shown above) but I guess it also comes in black.

I didn't need this at all, but I'm very happy to have it. It has a cool and sleek design that doesn't seem like a rip-off of an Apple product with the dark color and sharp edges (although it will work with Mac OS X v10.2-10.5 in addition to Vista/XP). Plus, the current travel mouse I use still has a retractable cord so this will be a little more convenient.

And did I mention that my current mouse I use with my laptop came with terrible glowing LED lights? I'm really thankful that the Arc won't distract me by changing colors every five seconds or make it look like I'm holding a rave when I work in a dark room.

The Harsher Side of Noguchi

I really like Isamu Noguchi's work, from his iconic furniture (that really cool coffee table) to his artwork (like the "Black Hole Sun" sculpture at Volunteer Park in Seattle). But I was looking through a book in class today and ran across the above photo. It is a sculpture he made in 1934 and is called "Death (Lynched Figure)."

Definitely the most representational of his work that I've seen. And the most disturbing!

But pretty powerful too.