TTL Baby

Check out these awesome stickers you can get with any order when you buy stuff at Turntable Lab right now.  If you don’t get the reference, then you must be a much more intelligent, deep and cultured person than I am.  Or maybe you just live under a rock with no cable.

*Fist pump to Shota who works at TTL and wants you to start spending that money grandma gave you over Christmas on records now.

Banksy’s Pop-Up Premier

Photo by FRANTZESCO KANGARIS for the Independent

British street artist-turned-global-brand Banksy struck publicity gold again this week with the limited pre-release screening of his super-hyped film, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop‘, in a cold, dank pop-up cinema hidden in a tunnel underneath Waterloo train station.  Called The Lambeth Palace, the temporary 150-seat theater is screening the film for 10 days prior to its nationwide release on March 5.  Needless to say, tickets sold out instantly and are now being scalped online for upwards of £200.

It’s truly brilliant (and ironic) how marketing-savvy Banksy is.  Despite never having abandoned his anti-corporate, f*ck-the-man message in his art, and never having actually sold out to the powers that be, the man simply cannot avoid having everything he touches turn into solid unobtanium.  Just when you think, “Oh my god, that fratboy has a Banksy poster on his wall,” the artist does something absolutely genius like quietly open an animatronic petstore in the village as he did in late 2008, making you smack your forehead and repent for ever having considered thinking he was passé.  The Lambeth Palace is yet another one of these surprising moments of Banksy brilliance that make him nothing short of an inspiration.

New Banksy work @ The Lambeth Palace

So Much Teux Deux

I know I’m way more than a day late and a dollar short in keeping up my blogposts, but whatever, I was in sunny Los Angeles with better things to do.  And speaking of things to do, I’ve long been meaning to recommend this wonderful little browser-based to-do app called TeuxDeux designed by Tina Roth Eisenberg, a.k.a. swissmiss, everyone’s favorite design blogger.  TeuxDeux is truly life-altering for an avid list-maker like myself.  Finally, a well-designed alternative to my mountain of post-its and neglected task pad on my iGoogle!  No ugly widgets all over the place–just a clean white space in which I can list my tasks, only to cross them off one by one with a great sense of accomplishment.  Proof positive that simple really is best.  They’re currently hard at work on an iPhone app, which promises to make everyone’s busy lives even more organized and beautiful.

Truck On!

Niiice.  Finally, an iPhone app that helps me zero in on a nearby food truck!  The free app called StreetEats lets me know which vendors are out and about based on my location.  Makes life easier since going onto Twitter to follow each one individually and deciphering their coordinates is kind of a pain when you’re standing on a freezing NYC sidewalk, craving food off a truck.  I see already that our friends over at the Bistro Truck, Treats Truck, Van Leeuwen, Wafels & Dinges, and Cravings are all participating–so heck yeah, sign me up!

Improving Coffee IQ

Coffee Cupping at Intelligentsia's NYC Training Lab

I went to a coffee cupping session the other day at Intelligentsia Coffee‘s NYC Training Lab.  Cupping is similar to wine tasting and is mainly used professionally in the industry as a way to evaluate coffee quality.  I’ve seen it done before by a roasting expert on an innovation tour I led last year in Tokyo on the topic of connoisseurship, but this was my first time trying it out myself.  Our Intelligentsia coffee educator showed our little group how to evaluate three types of ground coffees in multiple stages, from dry to wet, stirred (called “the break” from when you puncture the upper crust of grounds that forms), and to finally tasting  after most of  the floating grounds have been scooped out.

I felt totally smell-deaf at first as the only descriptive word that came to my mind when smelling the grinds was ‘coffee’.  But with increased focus and some imagination, I eventually managed to find some more nuanced descriptions to write down on my chart of aromas and flavors, like ‘almond cookies’ and ‘molten chocolate lava cake.’  (Perhaps I was just hungry?)  It was encouraging to realize at the end of the session that despite the group consisting mainly of first-time amateurs, in general people seemed to be writing down descriptions that were roughly in the same ballpark.  My favorite description given by a fellow attendee about a particularly complex coffee was, “like a winter wonderland in the spring!”  Sort of makes you think  about coffee in a whole new way, doesn’t it?  Like wine, cheese and chocolate, coffee is well on its way to becoming better known for its origins and artisinal qualities rather than as mere commodity.

It’s a shame that Intelligentsia doesn’t yet have a coffee shop in NYC.  Luckily you can still get their superior coffees in many cafes around town like Kaffe 1668 in Tribeca, a beautiful shop owned by Swedish twin brothers.  Not only is the coffee amazing, courtesy of Intelligentsia, they have delicious pastries and the shop’s Svenska design aesthetic is utterly charming.  Anyway, the cupping session costs only ten bucks and it’s open to the public so if you’re a lay coffee-freak like myself, I highly recommend it.  And from a marketing perspective, what a lovely way to get consumers to interact with your brand and foster brand loyalty!  I for one am totally sold; especially on their Rwandan Bufcafe.  Upgrade your life!  Go buy some good beans!

MUJI in Motion

It’s not often that I find myself mesmerized by a brand website but then again MUJI is not like any other brand.  Check out their Play MUJI site here and tell me you don’t find it intoxicating!  What an unbelievably beautiful way to showcase a ton of products without boring or overwhelming the viewer.  I love the way they use movement in each of the frames but in deliberate timing that leaves some frames still so as not to bombard you with too much stimuli at once.  It’s also clever how you can change the music if a particular tune is driving you crazy while you scroll through and lust after all the genius products displayed.  Given that MUJI is all about great design that combines simplicity with high functionality, it’s perfect that they’ve figured out a way to showcase those qualities so seamlessly in this site.  I know there are a bunch of MUJI stores in NYC now, but I am still counting down the days until my next trip to Japan because there really is no comparison to their flagship store in Yurakucho.  They sell everything from MUJI food, plants, eyeglasses and bikes to entire houses.  If there ever was a reason to visit Tokyo, the MUJI flagship store would be it.  Seriously.

And while we’re on the topic of well-designed brand websites, check out Uniqlo’s Uniqlock if you want to find out what time it is anywhere in the world while watching random Asian women dancing.  Right now they happen to be dancing in Paris but they switch it up from time to time.