Monday, October 15, 2007

Simplify Man!

In honor of "blog action day"'s global blog topic around the environment, I will prosethletize my personal feelings on the matter of sustainability, conservation, green-ness or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

As a consultant, I design tons of packaging for some of the largest consumer products companies in the world. I actually really enjoy the work as I have all the product and packaging design I've done over my 15 career. The part I have always felt sort of guilty about though is the fact that (at least moreso in the USA) everything we design is predestined to be ladfill fodder anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 months after purchase. I used to find it odd when I worked on technology focused products that I'd often be designing a product to replace the one that had yet to come to market. Planned obsolescence in action.

It seems that only in the last couple of years have the words "green" and "sustainability" gone from meaning color and consistency respectively to environmentally friendly and ethically conscious. It's sad that taking care of our planet has gone from a hippie craze to a niche market to a business trend rather than a true way of life. When Wal-mart is now pushing sustainability to its suppliers, a la P&G, Sony, etc, you know it's become both pervasive and marginalized. Just think about a fashion item being pitched in place of sustainability and you'll see how lame this sounds. And not their green push isn't valid or valuable, just that it's depressing that mankind could give a shit about the planet that we all share without a marketing message to prod them.

My inspiration on the topic of sustainability actually comes from a hippie character on the Simpson's who once eloquently told Homer to "Simplify man!" I tend to follow a more European mindset which is based on simplicity in the sense that I'd rather buy products that were made to last longer, less often. I'd rather pay more for better clothes, electronics, cars or whatever and get longer use out of them rather than to be constantly replacing shit with more but newer shit. Granted, globalization (which should really be called Americanization as long as we're renaming movements) is steadily creeping into more traditional European purchasing habits and way of life, but the point is this, sustainability, green or whatever you want to call it, should begin with simplicity - and by simplicity I mean quality over quantity.

To me, that's as good a place to start as any and simply put, I'd rather have 1 Prada jacket for 10 years than 1 Old Navy jacket every year for 10 years.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Parliament Cigarettes

I dont smoke. Never have. I hate how exposure to a smoky venue makes my clothes and skin stink and my eyes and throat burn. I dont quite understand why people do it or how someone even ever invented it, but funny enough, I think it looks cool; as do certain brands.

The classic cigarette box that tends to be recognized as a design icon is without a doubt, Lucky Strike. This was designed by Raymond Loewy back in something like 1940 or so and truly has withstood the test of time. With logos like Shell, Exxon and Coca-Cola to his name, Lowey's genius was easily applied to the cigarette box.

My wife used to smoke, which I hated. I hated more that she tried to hide it for so long, but that's another story. When she did smoke though, she was a fan of Parliaments, which I referred to as "janitor cigarettes" (I first was exposed to Parliaments by our janitor when I was in design school, hence my name for them). I didn't like that my wife smoked and I'm glad she quit, but I at least was ok with the brand because I really like the graphic look. The chevron is sophisticated, the wordmark is bold and the palette is regal - and it all comes together in a package that's approachable and affordable. I also like that the look is vaguely reminiscent of the old transistor radios from the 60s - lending a retro-futuristic appearance as well as appearing technologically advanced. See the influence?

Not being a smoker, I cant judge cigarettes by anything else than brand statement and graphic treatment. I actually dont have a clue how anyone can differentiate between any of them on anything other than that. I will say though, that if I did smoke, I would likely just pick the ones that looked the best and had a brand image that befits a handsome, stylish lad like me : )

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I travel alot and when I do I spend much of my time walking around and soaking in all the culture I can. Having grown up around Pharmacies all my life and being a product designer (and semi-hypochondriac), I have retained a fascination with the Apothecary. I particularly like Pharmacies or Chemists in Europe. They're more like Doctors who work at a store and can prescribe not only heart meds and axiety pills, but help you pick out a great foundation color or that right pair of sunglasses. It's great!

One thing I had not really thought about much until recently however is why do European Pharmacies use a green Greek cross as their symbol? The cross has become so synonymous with the Pharmacy, that I never really thought about why. To the internet I thought! I'm going to solve this inquiry right quick.

Well, things didn't quite turn out that way. I have searched for every possible reason and have come across everything from Taiwanese neon green cross manufacturers (surprisingly, more than 1) to Wikipedia entries on crosses and pharmacies and even symbology. But no one reason as to why. A specific Wikipedia entry about Pharmacies was particularly educational from several aspects and even provides a chart of various signs and symbols used in conjunction with the Pharmacy, but I was still left with no clear reason as to why. Now sure, I could come up with something clever or sacriledgious on my own, but I sure would like to know the real reason.

Limnos Montage

I recently returned from Greece where my wife and I were vacationing and visiting all my family. We spent most of our time in Limnos which is pretty much my favorite place on earth. I made a photo-montage of what I call My Limnos to summarize in images what Limnos is to me. Enjoy!