Updates from August, 2006 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Michael Krakovskiy 11:08 pm on August 31, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Alessi, , Boris Spassky, , , , Design Within Reach, , EUR, expensive chair, favorite steam pitcher, , Industrial design, Juicer, More, , Product design, , steam pitcher, Team America World Police, , , , , Whinston Churchill   

    Design Out of Reach 

    One of my favorite coffee shops, Joe The Art of Coffee, recently opened a new branch in an Alessi showroom at 130 Greene Street in Manhattan.

    Alessi is one of those funny companies that sell expensive “design”. There are really three approaches to selling “design”. You can go the Ikea way: hire really good designers, mass-produce their designs, use cheap materials and sell them cheaply. On the other end of the spectrum is stuff like the concept pieces, like the magnetically floating bed that recently got all the gadget blogs very excited. The scale model will set you back over 100K euros, and the real one is so fricking impractical that it’s not even built. You can’t deny the coolness aspect though.

    There’s the middle way that is tread by companies like Design Within Reach and Alessi. While a more proper description would be “Design Just Outside Most People’s Reach”, they do have a few items that are a relatively good value even for not particularly rich people like myself.

    For instance, I really want an Alessi steam pitcher. But while a perfectly well made knockoff costs 35 bucks, a genuine item costs 114. Ouch. I have the knockoff, and it’s my favorite steam pitcher right now.

    But when it comes to something that I use constantly, there’s really no alternative to getting the real thing. A Herman Miller Aeron chair is significantly better than most knockoffs that I’ve seen and usually sells only for 1/2 as much.

    There’s another chair that I really want, the Eames “Time-Life Chair”. Manufactured and sold by Herman Miller, it was created for the lobby of the Time-Life building in Manhattan (where I used to frequently have lunch in the company cafeteria before they stopped letting in people from other Rockefeller Center buildings). The chair was made famous by Bobby Fisher who required it as one of his numerous conditions when he played in the world chess championship against Boris Spassky. These days it cost about $2,500 new (about $1000 for a vintage one on eBay). Back then it used to cost about 700 bucks, and made all the newspapers whine about Fisher’s expensive tastes. I really don’t see a reason why someone who earns his living while sitting down does not deserve an expensive chair. Dot com companies got a lot of flack for purchasing Aeron chairs – but those were probably the most prudent investments they’ve made. Putting computer programmers in cheap chairs will literally cripple them, while the chair’s resale value is still pretty good.

    Eames Executive Chair made famous by Bobby Fisher / Time-Life Building

    Another “high design” item that I really salivate over is the Bestlite lamp. Bestlite was made famous by Whinston Churchill who had one on his desk. While the price finally went down on the floor model from $748 to $349.95 at Levenger, it’s still out of reach for me.

    Bestlite lamp

    I see a lot of companies putting famous Barselona® chairs in their lobbies. These are pretty expensive at $3,499 a pop (a friend of mine slept on two of these during the big blackout of 03. Anyway, these chairs are classy, but are becoming a cliche. Wouldn’t a Frank Gheary living room set look much cooler? It’s also much cheaper – the sofa is “only” $1200.

    But the item that really made me scratch my head is the Philippe Starck-designed fruit juicer sold by Alessi. It costs about 80 bucks. I really don’t know what to think here.

    The juicer is definitely cool-looking and original (well, unless you count T4 Bacteriophage Virus, lunar lander and Spaceship Moya, etc) which resulted it being featured as a prop in several movies.

    Interestingly enough, it usually ends up in the bedroom somehow. Here it is, masquarading as a lamp in the infamous puppet sex scene from Team America World Police:

    Team America World Police Juicy Salif Lamp

    I really don’t have 80 bucks to trow away on a Philippe Starck design, the question that bothers me is this: are all of those who say that the juicer is impractical right? From the looks of it, the juicer should work just fine and even be ergonomic. Also, is “Salif” even a word? And if so, what does it mean?

  • Michael Krakovskiy 8:20 pm on August 31, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , photo editor, Published Photographer   

    I Am a Published Photographer 

    time out new york article

    All those years of taking pictures and publishing them on my websites have finally paid off. My photo has been published in a print publication.

    See, because of my article about Graybar Building a Time Out New York photo editor asked me if she could use the rat picture. I sent her a hi-rez version (I can’t say that I’d crop it like that though).

    So, the moral of the story is – take your own pictures instead of using what Google image search or free sock photo databases give you and one day you’ll also be published in a magazine. There’s no money (or even a free magazine copy) in it and the photo credit is placed in an impossible to read location and did not include deadprogrammer.com url like I asked, but I feel very special anyway. The article is in this week’s Time Out New York – run and get this sure to become collectible issue.

    Anyway, if you know anyone who’d like to use some of my pictures, write me an email or something.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:10 am on August 30, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baggage, Bart Sells, Bart Simpson, Dimitri Mendeleev, Dmitri Mendeleev, , Luggage, luggage craftsman, , , , , storekeeper, ,   

    Street Use Luggage 

    Moe: Why don’t you try…Moe’s hobo chicken chili. I start with the best part — the neck — and then I add secret hobo spices.
    Marge: Ooh. Tres bien.

    The Simpsons, episode [3F02] Bart Sells His Soul

    Sometimes I want to post a simple, quick post, but the mad association engine that resides in my brain makes it much, much longer than it should be.

    Recently Kevin Kelly launched an awesome new blog, Street Use. It’s about various street hacks, from improvised fishing carts (I own a somewhat more refined one) to Soviet Era bootleg records made out X-ray film (I actually remember those).

    Here’s are some examples of “street use” that I encountered. It’s an amazing matching set of postal tape and cardboard luggage.

    Notice the variety of sizes, ergonomic features and uniformity of design.

    Hobo luggage

    This luggage set reminded me of Dimitri Mendeleev, the famous inventor of the periodic table of elements. A lesser known fact is that he’s also responsible for vodka’s standard 40% ethanol by volume content. An even less known fact about him is that he was a master luggage maker. I’ve encountered a story about Mendeleev purchasing leather in a crafts supply store: another customer asked the storekeeper – “that man looks familiar, do you know who he is?”, and the salesman saying – “Oh, he’s a very famous man. He’s the best luggage craftsman in all of Russia.”

    Hobo luggage

    Here’s another example of beautiful hobo design: this street dwelling is probably the most elegant one that I’ve ever seen. Clean lines, functional design. It could win a design award.

    Hobo cardboard bed

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