Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Mac Mini Concept

With rumors of a new Mac Mini on the horizon, designer Sait Alanyali, a proud Mac Mini user, decided to throw in his 2 cents. One of his gripes with the current machine are the I/O ports. It’s a pain to plug things in/out and so the “V” shape brings the ports within reach while keeping cables at bay. The shape also improves cooling as air moves freely thru the heatsink now that it’s not sitting on a flat surface.

Hard drives are hot swappable with one 2.5″ one installed and an empty slot to use at your leisure. There’s one HDMI port for you multimedia junkies and say bye bye to the power brick because this one has it neatly tucked inside. One last new feature is the embedded logo display. There’s a sensor inside that detects its orientation making sure the logo always faces up. Brills!

The New Mac Mini Concept from Sait Alanyali on Vimeo

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

InCase Power Slider doubles battery life of iPhone 3G without making it ugly

Finally, there's an iPhone auxiliary battery pack that isn't clunky. This Incase iPhone 3G Power Slider battery pack solves the iPhone's greatest weakness by doubling its battery life to 5 hours of talk time/330 hours standby, and doesn't spoil the pleasing design of the most popular phone in the U.S. in the bargain.

Peek around the back and you'll see five indicator LEDs that leave no doubt about how much juice is left. And, you can plug it into the iPhone's dock connector for charging and syncing.

We've run up against the iPhone's battery limitations so frequently, we'll gladly plunk down the Power Slider's steep $99 price when it hits Apple Stores (and elsewhere online) in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thom Browne: A Study of the All-Encompassing One-Man Brand

Reading GQ's 'Men of the Year' profile on Thom Browne, American designer of his eponymous line as well as Brooks' Brothers' niche 'Black Fleece' upscale line, revealed insights about a man whose clothes I have admired, but now look at with greater reverence in the way he has defined himself as a walking one-man brand. I think the future of branding lies in the idea of a mastermind selling a trademark through embodying the brand/product/concept in every aspect of their life. Life as performance art? Perhaps, but what grander stage is there than the street...

A comparison of how the 'one-man' brand works in different ways could be illustrated through a comparative look at Thom Browne and Rick Owens, two designers who create clothes that are somewhat autobiographical, if not of their experiences, at least their worldview. Both are excellent at getting themselves out there in their respective way. Rick Owens' clever use of life-scale models of himself placed in his stores, t-shirts where he is featured in provocative gestures like blowing his brains out, etc. illustrate how a man can sell an entire brand based on selling the world through his eyes packaged in an attractive and interesting manner. The difference between Rick and Thom, however, strikes me as being quite subtle (or maybe it's not?). Rick's gestures of self-promotion are all through the vehicle of aesthetics related to his brand and how he defines its ethos. Thom's vision seems to be pervasive through every aspect of his existence, in the way he seems to speak in interviews, his tastes in decor, or gestures like the precision of daily routine in meals/dressing/rituals Thom goes through to demonstrate the world he is trying to build. I think Thom Browne lives "Thom Browne" more than Rick Owens lives "Rick Owens" in this sense of totality.

Thom Browne's clearly talented; I think he does the best grey OTR suit in the world today (Sorry Tom Ford, comes close but doesn't quite have the character of Thom's contradictorily subversive take on conformity). I think the interesting thing he said in the interview was how he presented clothes based on an imaginary version of the 60s/Brooks Brothers/JFK era that was what he wanted to view that time as, but most likely wasn't the same as it happened...actually some kind of fragmented, inaccurate recollection of the past. In Thom's ideal world, it's always the early 1960s, Manhattan, New York City, everywhere, with everyone wearing the same Grey Suit and operating within the same stark, minimal interior spaces, whether they are an IBM technician or a real life Madison Avenue Don Draper. It's this inconsistency in 'selective perspective' of viewing or romanticizing an ideal based on the past that suddenly makes Thom's entire body of work seem so much more human to me. On the ground-level of product, Thom's communication of his vision is unlike the overt decadence and debauchery pervasive throughout Tom Ford's brand, to compare him to a contemporary classical sartorialist. Ford's 'image' is presented mostly through marketing, advertising and a superficial glance of Ford himself as a debonair and glitzy international man, rather than the clothes, most of which look quite plain and unassuming on the rack, even if well made. Thom's seasonal shows, always based on the same drab early-60s salaryman grey suit and his infinite takes on mutilating, reinventing and essentially redefining it makes him a visionary of a designer, in the context of the runway. On the rack, in stores, the clothes might be suits, sweaters, shirts, oxfords that could be the templates of any menswear brand, but something about Thom's jumps out at me, for a reason I can't really put my finger on. It feels stiff and rigid on a glance, but I can definitely see through Thom's own photos how the right person can make the clothes come totally alive and rock and roll (I'm sure Thom himself wouldn't relate to that last phrase, but it felt apt in my case). Despite the structure and recurring theme of 'restraint' which Thom himself has said underlines his entire body of work, the brand has been shaped in such a way that few designers offer clothes with such a sly suggestiveness that is so open to imagination and interpretation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Abu Dhabi Plans World's Leaniest Building

The battle for the world's tallest building is already a fiercely contested one. How else can you get in the record books? How about picking another category? Developers Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) are working on Capital Gate, a building that will enter Guinness Book of Records as the "World's most inclined tower." The building leans at an angle of 18 degrees, a small amount perhaps but compare that the the most famous askew building, the leaning Tower of Pisa which leans less than four degrees. Creating a building with a lean like this is no easy feat, it requires extra steel reinforcements to compensate for the gravitational, wind and seismic pressures caused by the tilt of the building. The tower is part of a $2.2 billion business and residential project.

[Source: Luxist]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comme des Garcons: A Retrospective of Mainstream Avant-Garde

In the context of the recently released Comme des Garcons X H&M collaboration, which seemed to be a wild success for a reason I cannot really fathom, I began to think about what I admire most in the brand and its visionary, Rei Kawakubo. She is not my favorite designer, but as a social and cultural architect who can mold the audience of the moment to her vision, the CdG corporation excels in its Warholian methods of operation.

Her designs, and the clothes themselves, are not consistently on a level of quality adhered to by a Yohji Yamamoto or Issey Miyake in his prime, to compare her to her contemporaries. Yet CdG is probably the most successful of this trio - Rei has been a master of invention and reinvention. More importantly, the value of the CdG brand name may have diluted amongst purists, but from a commercial standpoint, her openness to work with every and practically anyone has managed to keep an avant-garde design house relevant and at the center of attention going on three decades now. Whilst Yohji's signature lines are appreciated mainly by a niche audience (I do not include Y-3 in a discussion of Yohji as a designer), and the current Issey Miyake even more so, CdG still feels young and fresh, as if it was an upstart brand from the present decade.

The H&M collaboration was probably partly bought by young admirers of CdG, for whom the main lines are out of affordable range. I wonder, though, how many people who lined up all night actually understood, appreciated and wore CdG history before this? Like the previous H&M designer collaborations, perhaps they were just trying to get something with a 'high end design' label attached to it. The designers who collaborated with H&M previously may have been of a higher profile than Rei in the mainstream fashion media. Yet the present collaboration is undoubtedly the smartest and most successful move so far by both parties, when viewed from a marketing standpoint. It has bridged the conceptual with the accessible, the abstract with the commonplace, meeting in a perfectly compromised middle. Like some of the CdG lower end diffusion lines, the pieces may maintain some trace of classic CdG 'traits' like deconstruction and asymmetry, but are ultimately disposable and lack the statement or technique that is usually reserved for the mainline. The clothes themselves, quality and craftsmanship aside, do touch on one point about CdG and Rei that I admire, and it is something more intangible.

Rei's collections are the only ones I can think of, amongst anyone known enough to have their runway shows featured on Style.com, that are entirely devoid of context and meaning. Rei has once admitted to not following what is going on in the fashion world around her. Hence, she operates outside the boundaries of trends or 'key' colors, fabrics and items that often times swing the collective design world's direction each season. Whether or not this is actually true, I'll probably never know. But unlike Raf Simons or Miuccia Prada, whose collections are the most scrutinized for some hint of meaning or intention amongst fashion followers on the internet, the media, the intellectuals, there is an unspeakably enigmatic quality that has remained constant throughout Rei's collections. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. But CdG has maintained a funny kind of appeal which resonates with me - I can't quite explain why I would be attracted to some of her designs, when I am - but at the same time, to intellectualize or explain her work is an exercise in futility. Rei contradictorily innovates in her appropriation of existing concepts. And that's why I think she succeeds – neither here nor there, the clothes just are, as if they were created out of pure whim. Bravo.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Penthouse Office by Benthem Crouwel Architects

Located on top of the Las Palmas building in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, this Penthouse Office by Benthem Crouwel Architects have created a space for the lucky executives who get to overlook the city. Wouldn't it be nice to go to work here.. doesn't really matter WHAT you do, just looking out the window really meddles your worries away.

(Click for larger pictures)

[Source: Elanso]

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pagani Zonda S Roadster can be for girls too!

Who says Pagani Zonda S Roadsters were just for the big boys? It could very well be for girls too with a colour like this one. This daring baby was spotted outside of Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore. Paint job alone costing $100,000USD is something that could not be missed.

The young, media shy, 37 year old owner Mr. Yeo ; flew his 2004 Pagani Zonda S Roadster to Italy in order to have it repainted Pink and then he parked it outside the Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore in hopes of getting peoples attention for the official launch of his new luxury sports car the Wiesmann GT MF4 ($225,000 USD).

"The Pink Cadillac has historical significance. I wanted a colour that was different from the normal red and yellow sports cars people normally see."

[Source: Carzi]