Thursday, July 31, 2008

I hate Bluetooths

Okay, I know it's "the law" to drive with a hands-free headset of some sort, but from a design perspective, I'm boycotting until conditions improve. I refuse to purchase something that is not only incredibly ugly and awkward, but emits substandard sound quality.

According to CNET's reviews online, they rate the top new Bluetooth’s on the market.

First, we have the Aliph Jawbone 2 ($120) that received a 8.7 out of 10 and boasts a "fashionable" design, and excellent sound quality. The fashionable design looks like a bad inner-lobe earring from 1985 with an industrial imprint and gaudy metallic colors (silver, gold) and in reading some chat room discussions, the sound quality isn't that great either.

Next we have the BlueAnt Z9i (where the fuck to they get these names?) which received a 8.3 out of 10 ($70) and boasts being stylish, comfortable, easy to use and affordable. Since I have not personally tried using this product, I can't speak for the ease of use or comfort level, but I can easily say it is not stylish. It's large and chunky and the inexpensive black plastic does nothing for inspiring sleekness or style and the buttons are too large and overstated. This looks like a large old-fashioned hearing aid for people with varying degrees of autism and/or giant hands.

Third, we have the Jabra BT8040 which received an 8.3 out of 10 ($80) and claims to be small, offers lots of features, has good sound quality and is affordable. Blah, blah, blah, I'm not even going to review something that looks like my old Nokia cell phone hanging from the side of your face.

Basically, I have yet to see a truly well-designed Bluetooth, so I'm holding out. They all resemble either jumbo hearing aids, ground control headsets or 1-800 dentist contraptions. A small part of me wants to rebel by wearing a large Bose headset with a giant boom microphone just to make a statement. Or I'm going to go all out with Hernan Diaz Alonzo’s version from the Xefirotarch exhibition, which covers half your face like a skin like some villain in a batman movie. However, I have every confidence that Yves Behar or David Kelley will come up with something brilliant soon to inspire me to go the extra mile and actually comply with the law (sigh...) --

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Green design gone literal: I dig it!

Ann Demelmeester's store in the Gangham district of Seoul, South Korea is one of four concept stores showcasing the fashions of the Flemish designer. How exciting is this? Great design meets fashion!

As if one needs another reason to love the vertical gardening movement--this buildings facade is entirely covered in living, breathing green matter. Even one of the indoor stairways is entirely lined with moss. The building is so spectacular; I wonder whether it overshadows the clothes that are on sale inside.

The space, a "synthetic organism", took four months to design, and another six to construct. Seoul architecture firm Mass Studies headed up the project, led by Minsuk Cho (whose ‘Heyri Dalki Theme Park’ was exhibited at the 2004 Venice Biennale). Although obvious considerations to environmentally-conscience design choices are evident, it is unclear exactly how "green" and efficient the building actually is. For example, how much water does it take to keep the building looking that green, inside and out?

The outside building material is primarily a geotextile planted with a herbaceous perennial to form a living façade, while the other three sides that face bamboo borders are clad in steel sheets are finished with propylene resin.

"Mass Studies was founded in 2003 by Minsuk Cho in Seoul, Korea, as a critical investigation of architecture in the context of mass production, intensely over-populated urban conditions, and other emergent cultural niches that define contemporary society. Amid the many frictions defining spatial conditions in the twenty-first century, namely past vs. future, local vs. global, utopia vs. reality, and individual vs. collective, Mass Studies focuses on the operative complexity of these multiple conditions instead of striving for a singular, unified perspective."
--Marcus Fairs dezeen, design magazine.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Series: This is Where I Want to Be, Eze

Eze, France. One of the many charming and enchanting villages that dot the Cote d’Azur.

One of the oldest fortresses on the Mediterranean, the town of Eze and its’ inhabitants go back to the Neolithic era, towards 2000 BC on the Mount Bastide built high on the top of a rocky cliff overlooking the sea. It's small and rife with saccharin charm and expensive hotels and restaurants, but the view is breathtaking.

Along with it's unique history, it also boasts the history of luring artists and painters alike, who in search for optimal light and a break from the rapid and robust early 20th century Parisian pace; Picasso, Matisse, Dora Marr, Francoise Gilot, Man Ray, Stieglitz, Lee Miller and many more were often seen romping around the narrow alley ways and lounging on the beaches sipping pastis.
Ideally situated, you are located between Cannes and Monte Carlo (near enough to the yacht and helicopter in case you need to jet off in a hurry) You are also within driving distance to the town of Grass, where one can have a custom fragrance made to order at one of the many exclusive and renowned perfumeries in the region.

You can also visit some of the smaller and charming villages in the Luberon (a la Peter Mayle) and you Burgundy lovers can take in more than your fair share of wine tasting in the AOC of the Southern Rhône region of Chateauneuf du Pape that is currently enjoying a bit of popularity in the U.S. (it takes the Americans a bit longer to catch on.)

All in all, it's an ideal vacation spot; sun, water, leisure, antiquity and history, fine dining and wine tasting, unique gifts, (Eve's picks: custom made fragrances or an excellent bottle of
2001 or 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape) and a sensory escapade for all of your 5 senses. --Eve

Eve feeling blue (Thanks LC)

Series: This is Where I Want to Be, Marin County California

I apologize for the delayed post, but I was so busy enjoying Marin County all weekend that I didn’t have the chance.

Marin County is incredibly diverse and majestic. We have gorgeous wild beaches, grand old growth redwood groves, a huge regal mountain, rivers and streams, meadows and marshes, and hiking and biking trails galore, among so many other things.
I feel so lucky to live right here; there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful that I get to live somewhere so beautiful and yet so close to a big city that affords me the luxury to do what I love.

So after feeling under the weather all last week, I had a new found respect for my heath and finally felt inspired to start a new exercise regime. So, at 8:30 am on Saturday morning, I was already showered and walking into a new fitness studio for my first class of The Bar Method, which is a combination of yoga, pilates and ballet. I’ve heard horror stories about the intensity of these classes, but being that I do yoga regularly and feel I’m in pretty good shape, I thought I’d give it a try.

I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was tough, no doubt, and you work completely different muscles than you do with yoga or swimming. What I like the most, is that the movements are so minor, so refined, that the elongated and cut muscles come from precision and repetition.
After the class and still on an adrenaline high, I signed up for a month of unlimited classes (which must be why you pay at the end, coincidence? I think not) and I look forward to some fast results from taking 2 classes a week in addition to my once a week yoga.

After the class, I stopped by one of my favorite café’s for breakfast, The Half Day Café, which is usually insanely crowded, but at 9:30 am is pleasantly sleepy. I read the paper front to back, sipped a soy latte and reveled in my workout glow. Then I went into one of my favorite little family owned bookshops next door, First Street Books and bought “The Audacity of Hope.”
On the way home, I decided to stop into REI to get a new swim cap and ended up walking out with a new mountain bike that I’d been eyeing online for a few weeks.

Still high from the class, I got home and took my new bike for a spin (for 3 hours) up into Ross. It was the most gorgeous day. Mount Tam never looked more beautiful, evergreen and lush; the town of Larkspur smelled like wildflowers and clover. I rode as hard as I could up into the mountains and then found a patch of grass in the shade to collapse onto. I laid there on my back, breathing hard with my eyes closed. The smell of freshly cut and damp grass was intoxicating, humid and sweet. I listened hard for a moment, to the sound of a buzzing bee somewhere near my head, the distant shouts of kids in the park, of an occasional car in the distance, a gust of wind here and there, and the pounding of my heart and I felt very much at home. --Eve

Friday, July 18, 2008

Series: This is Where I Want to Be, Maldives

The sexy and sensual Maldives. It seems that the islands are already monopolized by eager and greedy developers and one island has already been claimed by the "W" hotel chain, called the "W Retreat and Spa, Maldives" with rooms starting at $735 a night.

Another Island/Hotel is Huvafen Fushi with a celebrity roster and rooms starting at $880 a night.

Apparently, these luxurious digs not only
offer paradise, but they offer fantastic restaurants, high speed internet, flat screen TV's, table tennis, table soccer, billiards, nightclubs with hot DJ's, a deluxe spa including fitness and yoga, kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing and the list goes on and on.

After a while, it just sounds like spring-break for so-called "adults." Whatever happened to reading, swimming, exploring and spending time with the person you love? Does it always have to resemble spring break?

There's something going on with my generation. I like to call it the "mentally 25 forever" syndrome. When people say, "yeah, I don't think I ever want to grow up." Well, there's a big difference between wanting to stay young and hip and wanting to perpetually stunt your mental development. The same people I partied with in College, are still doing the same thing, and acting the same way and somehow trying to find a way to drag it along with them into adulthood without anyone thinking it's odd.
It's as if they are trying to do something that no one else has tried before.

But inevitably, you end up looking over at your friend shit-faced at the bar who's 36 and red in the face screaming "more shots!" and attempting to grind with a girl of the same age. There's a natural progression in life for a reason.

Not that I'm saying one shouldn't take advantage of great food and yoga, but as my generation ages, they seem to be the one's putting off having kids so that they can party longer, as if dragging it out, will somehow keep their hairlines from thinning and graying and the wrinkles at bay. Hmmm, very odd indeed...

But honestly (and back to the topic at hand), I think that waking up and looking out and seeing nothing but turquoise water before you and feeling a warm breeze waft through your bedroom is something that one should experience at least once in your lifetime.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Series: This is Where I Want to Be, Santorini

Starting this week, I'll be posting new images daily that reflect where I would rather be than sitting at my desk in foggy-arctic San Francisco during the summer months. Today's post is the Grecian Island of Santorini in the Ionian Sea.

There's a mysticism (or μυστικός) about the Ionian. Its dark and mirrored waters hold ancient secrets; secrets of great civilizations, brutal battles, unknown cities and countless lost treasures. The air is sweet and dry, soft to the touch, the soil is ancient, volcanic and mineral rich due to a history of seismic activity that have produced great mythological stories and legends.

I still have, frozen in my mind, a time in 1999 on the Greek Island of Corfu, during a summer when I traveled through Europe for a few months. It was a pleasant warm day. I rented a scooter and spent the day driving all over the island. Although I had a map, navigating through the unmarked roads and odd language did nothing for directing my path. So, I ditched the map, knowing the island was rather small and that if I stayed on the main outside road, I would be back to the motel within 2 hours.

You know in life, there are certain moments that slow down and you become hypersensitive to your surroundings? This day was one of those. I'll never forget winding around the dry hilly mountains on my scooter behind old cars from the 1950's, feeling very much like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Passing donkeys lead by old men with no teeth, selling vibrant flowers off their backs, a woman selling melons along the side of the road. Driving by, all I could hear was the hum of my scooter and an occasional spit, and for a brief moment in passing, the sweetness of ripe melons in the sun.

Then, coming around a corner on a downgrade, the sudden clearing of Cyprus and olive trees revealed turquoise waters far below and a vast dark blue ocean for as far as the eye's could see. It was truly breathtaking. At that point I was so anxious to dive into the cool waters; my scooter simply couldn’t get me there fast enough. Finally I parked my moto on the side of the road and ran across the street, found a hot and prickly black volcanic rock to dive from and dove in head first. It was cold, invigorating and truly unbelievable. The water seamed to have a healing, nurturing feel to it that made you not want to get out. After a long while of floating in the salty and buoyant waters, I swam through the small fish that tickled my ankles and laid out on a rock to dry, feeling euphoric. I mounted my moto and continued on towards the hotel (who boasts the pinkest ouzo you've ever seen!)

About 20 minutes from the hotel, I realized I was starving and started to look for a place to pull off and grab a bite. I found the perfect place, just what I had hoped for. They didn't speak much English but gestured towards the balcony. Walking out, I was shocked, I had no idea this little hole in the wall had the best view of Gordios. I sat on a suspended patio surrounded by hills dotted with Cyprus and Olive trees that rolled down to the sea and the great rock of Gordios.

They had traditional Greek music playing a slow, meditative melody not unlike the Italian version of the theme song to The Godfather. I sat and ordered a whole bunch of food being that I was so hungry. When the platter arrived, I melted, the most gorgeous and amazing food I think I've ever had; local lemons the size of grapefruits, horiatiki salad (Greek salad) with homemade feta, fresh sardeles (salted sardines), pork and lamb souvlakia with fresh satziki, fresh kalamari and octopus and homemade baklava that was to die for! All in all, the whole meal was less than seven dollars.

Part way through the meal, I stopped and looked up, thinking the view before me looked like a faux backdrop; the sound of the music, the smell of the food, the soft warm breeze on my face and suddenly the hilarious and very loud squeal and hee-haw of a donkey nearby. "Wow", I thought, "what year is it and will I always remember this moment?" --Eve

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thoughts on Half Life of a Dream

(image: one from the series by Yang Shao Bins’ “Untitled" but not the one in the Half Life show, which I do not have permission to show)

7/11/08 exhibition, Half Life of a Dream
Jeff Kelley, Guest Curator, Writer, and Contemporary Chinese Art Historian

The exhibition carries an underlying and repetitive history of the psychological landscape in post-Maoist China. Marxist and totalitarian, socialist-realism was forcibly taught in Chinese art schools during the rein of Mao. Today the tradition of realism is still taught in the classical sense, but many choose to abstract within but mostly outside of China.

Bullshit theorists might argue that these abstractions represent a rebellion of tradition, structure, and oppression. However, although these contemporary works lack the political propaganda, they still leave deep scares of social oppression and fear induced prowess. A prowess that is aesthetically undeniable, but somehow overcompensates for a lack of emotional freedom where contemporary natives still feel the reverberations of a nation lacking individuality and political autonomy.

This disillusionment of a suppressed nation and society is a preeminent theme from which derives such raw and powerful works, many of which are a hybrid of two-dimensional works incapable of being contained as seen in Li Songsongs’ “Someday My Prince Will Come.” This large scale impasto oil painting is over an inch in thickness, and a diptych of different canvas depths, where it becomes inevitably three dimensional.

One of the most poignant and powerful pieces is a large scale painting by superstar artist Yang Shao Bins’ “Untitled.” The work depicts infants, self portraits of the artist, which although abstracted still evoke violence; a tearing of the self to pieces, of phantoms and apparitions, innocence and nightmares and ultimately, beauty.

The show is a reminder of what was, and still is today. A Half-Life, or state of semi-consciousness; a world between accepting a depressive fate and dreaming of a different and perhaps an idealized society.

Although eerie and odd, there are pieces that amuse, that amaze, and that inspire. However, they all seem to have an undeniable sense of sadness to them, of muted insecurity and fear. –Eve

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Rose Captain

This part's for my love of old
How the rose in your heart you hold
Still all the water in your wells won't make it grow
Oh the call of the nightingale
How I love beneath the ghostly sails
We move like gypsies 'neath the mist and beneath the gloom
Oh how the river flows
Under the ice and snow
The keeper of the flame
The rose captain knows my name
This perfume breath I breathed
For you my dear, my love will never leave
This part's for my love of new
How the bulbs in my heart are true
They send the shoots through my fingers into your bones
Oh the call of the collared dove
How I long to be your one true love
We'll move like gypsies 'neath the stars and beneath the moon
Oh how the river flows
Under the ice and snow
The keeper of the flame
The rose captain knows our names
This perfume breath we breathed
For you my dear, my love will never leave

Oh the rose captain knows, knows our names
Oh the rose captain knows, he knows our names

Sea Wolf "The Rose Captain"

Thoughts on pain

In the glorious and meticulous order of M. Proust by Eve Wickman.

If unconscious, pain presents itself as a mere mortal thought, an idea lacking comfort and logic until fully recognized, diagnosed and understood. Most prefer to experience pain in the full primal and unexplored sense that lacks all anatomical merit which lends itself to a completely acceptable fate, often difficult to embrace. Pain in this state is imaginative, exploratory and infinite.

Therefore, in its most primal of states, pain is luxury. A knocking on the door of mortality and fragility, of dire consciousness. Pain: inescapable, relentless, unforgiving, indiscriminate and licentious.

If conscience, we are forced to embrace our physical body as being connected to the consciousness in our head, our mind. It closes the gap between whom we see in the mirror and who we think we are. And in this glorious finality, awareness is heightened and either accepted or rejected. --Eve