Wednesday, October 4, 2006

World-of-Coffee, Bern, Switzerland

The beverage industry seem to be having a hard time reaching the youth you observe if you have a look at all the more recent products launces attempts at pleasing the youth. Cola Blak, a coffee essented soft drink or CafĂ© Fresco ice coffee in a ready-to-go cardboard cup from the cool-shelve. The youth allegedly dislike warm drinks because they are not refreshing and dislike the bitterness of coffee preferring sweet. 

Speaking about coffee, there was certainly something boiling at the World-of-Coffee in Bern in May, something that must be reaching out to another audience than the Bacardi Breezer youth. The World-of-Coffee is an annually returning fair, every year it takes place in a different city, this year 9300 attendees. At the fair The world championship of Barrista and the world Championship of latte art is held, yes you heard me right! Complete with fan-crowds in supporter t-shirts, real-time big screen projection, jury and participants from different countries.

The Crowd
The Crowd

This year Klaus Thomson from Denmark won The World Championship Barrista. Now Denmark is not exactly the first country that comes to mind when one thinks about sophisticated coffee drinks, theatrical coffee bars and coffee connoisseurship. And what may also sound unbelievable is that that Stockholm has one of the most vibrant of coffee cultures in Europe according to the Wallpaper Navigator. So the phenomenon of the new coffee culture is reaching far beyond the borders of the traditional caffionista countries like Italy, France and Spain. And the new coffee drinking seems to be about something quite different to the traditional coffees served in Mediterranean countries. The new coffee culture includes drinks like Frappuccinos (milk slush w/instant coffee) or Expressionista (ice expresso w/jasmine and maple syrup) something that would only make the head of an Italian shake disapprovingly. The Italians are all about refining the classic recipes to perfection.

UK’s Jame Hofman during WCB

The Jury evaluates
Cafe Latte Art

OK, back to the world-of-coffee even if we still fail to understand how this event is sponsored, it certainly is for sure it does a good job at pulling coffee drinking to another level, a level beyond the social lubricant, inoffensive, breaking-the-ice-drink that coffee is often tagged as in Northern Europe. Firstly there was the already mentioned hyped World Championship Barrista, there was the coffee tasting panels, coffee conferences, coffee workshops and as it suits a fair; exhibitions by different companies and producers of hard- and software.

The coffee tasting panel was a row of tables of people in white jackets very laboratory like. Different crops of coffee was tasted and given points. The jury would not just sit and drink coffee cosily, they where tasting the coffee in a way that could only remind me of how a wine-connoisseur would taste a glass a wine, carefully noting down all the different sensory experiences that the coffee would cause. Talking about the origins of the coffee using wine-like vocabulary: Cru and Grand Cru. An activity obviously being taken very, very serious by the panel members.

The coffee conferences where arranged around 3 themes; Traceability, Origin Countries, how to be a winner and the best cup; all offering a day of lectures around the theme. We had the opportunity to attend 2 lectures; the history of Cappuccino and CoSIC, the worldwide panel of coffee scientists. Joanne Smits sr. product designer for Espresso listened to “the history of cappuccino” and learned that the current coffee rave has a lot to thank to the Italian immigrants in the North-West of US. They imported Italian espresso machines with dual boiler systems and re-interpreted Italian coffee culture to a US-version that includes softening the taste by increasing the use of hot milk, making the drinks healthier by using low-fat milk and creating a cosy atmosphere with sofas that invite for longer visits.

I listened to CoSIC, the worldwide panel of Coffee Scientists that statistically proven does a great job at converting the public opinion about coffee. Whenever some bad publicity is in the media the panel of coffee scientists step forward and publish their scientifically correct contra propaganda; the not assuming but really researched knowledge about coffees effect on the human body etcetc.

The where workshops in the areas of roasting and grinding, brewing, Barista grinding, tasting, ingredients, home equipment and coffee recipes etc. co-ordinated by experts in the filed. The workshop “cooking with coffee” was given by Chefs from “Cercle de Chefs de Cuisine de Berne”, who taught how to create coffee-flavoured sauces to serve with your roast.

So when some people say that coffee drinking is on the way to becoming the new red wine one could follow the lead after having visited the world-of-coffee which certainly leaves one thinking that the art of coffee making and drinking is being elevated to a higher level involving sophistication and connoisseurship.

Monday, September 11, 2006

We all confess our secrets to google using search tearms, but will they misuse this information?

In the beginning years of internet it was all about the freedom of information, in the meanwhile it has become clear that information is not as free as we thought. Some big companies and service providers own the information and can use it for different ends, they can also actually control the flow of information as Google does in China where certain websites will not be found. Simultanously Google has to appear in court in US because they refused to deliver information to the state about the search words the public where using.

Both Google and Microsoft are 2 of many companies that aggregate a lot of information about their customers, when they sign-up for a service i.e. personal information is being submitted, but what remains mostly unnoticed for many people is that the companies are using some very advanced software tools to track the traffic an individual is doing when surfing the web. All of this information is off course is worth a lot of money to other companies that can use it for very targetted advertising. Google claims that it is using some of the information they collect such as search words to develop improved services. The spelling suggestions that Google give are based on the mistakes and corrections that they have tracked during some years.
Want some privacy? IT-gurus say kill your cookies!
(no guarantees provided, all actions that you may take based on this advise are your own responsibility)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Will the 60+ be the new trend-setters and inspirators for the young generation soon?

Just 3 months ago 68 year old Jane Fonda has been contracted to be the face of the new anti-wrinkle cream of L'Oreal. Just about at the same time Diane Keaton 60 years old has also been contracted to represent a similar type of product, just one month ago it was announced that Sophia Loren aged 71 will pose in the next edition of the exclusive Italian Pirelli calender where the models are usually nude. It seems that some companies are finally starting to talk to the 50+ generation directly through their own generational celebrities.

And of course it helps that these celebrities still look very good.

The 60+ will certainly become more and more dominating in society just because of sheer numbers. Many of them have quite a lot of money to spend, their needs and values are different to younger generations, so we are likely to see many new products and services popping up targeted to this generation.

What is also interesting to note is that many people in that generation may have a more modern or liberal view of the world than today’s young generation. This phenomenon has been quoted saffism named after Edinas daughter Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous. Edina, the mother is wild and seems to never grown up, Saffy is serious, moralistic and health-conscious, disapproving of the rebellious teenage behavior of her mother who's irresponsible, getting drunk, taking drugs and doing illegal things.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Coffee pop-up

I saw this nice coffee kiosk, espresso on wheels, coffee pop-up shop in Gent on a central square. Quite awesome that also coffee can be put into a little van and sold on-the-go. The little coffee kiosk is completely packed with products such as special coffees and taste-makers as liquors and caramels. By the way they also make hot chocolate and teas.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Open conversations on web 2.0

Kids seem to be behaving in virtual spaces in a way that is difficult for older generations to understand. On or on blogs an entire generation of teenagers are sharing with the public what we used to write in secret in a diary or only share with our closets friends. Today’s teenagers seem to perceive the internet space in a completely different way compared to older generations. The language is different and the rules of conduct are different. The older generation thinks of the internet as a public space whereas it seems that the young generation see the internet as one big platform where you can express yourself without (almost) any limitation. Internet probably creates a sort of anonymity and informality that inspires unrestrained behavior.

Self-healing materials

Nature has always been a great source of inspiration for designers and scientists. Now we have spotted some of the first commercial products on the market that have self-healing properties, comparable to how your skin heals itself. “It’s very exciting” says Sandy Spaan, Philips Designs Material & Finishing innovation consultant at Philips Design. “It means for example that if your car gets a scratch it can repair itself”.

Milan Designweek 2006

“This years design fair in Milan was definitely in a different mood than a couple of years ago” says Shirley Muijrers, one of the Philips Design trend analysts that went to Milan this year to watch all the new stuff. “2 years ago, the mood was very romantic and decorative, this year it seemed less optimistic. There was still a lot of decoration but it was more bling-bling or baroque opulent, with lots of mirror-effects and Swarowski-crystals. The exhibition by Lexus was very impressive, there was a room full of threads that you had to dive through to find the cars, and it was a very sensuous and disorientating experience”.
Lexus “fiber space”
Lexus “fiber space” by tokujin yoshioka

“biscuit” Studio Jobs for Royal Tichelaar,

Garden design by Job Smeets at “Post Mortem”
by Design Academy Eindhoven,
“Perished” screen by studio Jobs at Dilmos Gallery

‘swarm chandelier’ by zaha hadid,
z.island kitchen by Zaha Hadid

Quin.MGX designed by Bathsheba Grossman
 and manufactured by Materialise.MGX.
One_Shot.MGX designed by Patrick Jouin and manufactured by Materialise.MGX.

The Conceptual age

In his book “the whole new mind” Daniel H. Pink un-folds the idea of the next paradigm; the conceptual age. He describes the drivers behind it, the 3 A’s; Abundance, Asia and Automation. A big part of the book is dedicated to the 6 senses that we need to develop to survive and thrive in the conceptual age; story, empathy, play, meaning, symphony and design. The book is easy to read and gives very hands-on ideas of how to develop the necessary survival skills.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Personal fabrication

The computer and internet revolution have had such a tremendous impact precisely because they allow a large number of people to be involved directly in the creative process of programming, manipulating and design of bits.
In the coming years we will see a parallel revolution in the ability of a large number of people to be involved in the creative process of designing,manipulating and building with atoms.
The FAB special interest group (SIG) hosted by the MIT Media Lab consists of a group of companies and research groups at the MIT Media Lab passionately working together to create and understand the implications of tools for personal fabrication.
FAB SIG has two basic goals. The first is to involve sponsor members in learning new fabrication techniques from CAD tools to 3D Printing to Laser cutting to vacuum forming to AFM assemblers to involve them with the latest developments in rapid and desktop fabrication. The second goal is to explore the future of the desktop fab. What does the future look like if each school on the planet or each person has a personal desktop fabricator?
FAB SIG is run to coincide with the final presentations for a course which we run entitled: HOW TO MAKE ALMOST ANYTHING.


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50 facts that should change the world

50 Facts that Should Change the World has a simple aim: to make people think twice about the world in which they live. Jessica Williams provides an
unashamedly popular but serious, original and angry survey of life on planet
Earth - and a powerful tonic to the idea that individuals can do nothing to
change it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Explosive growth in New Age Religions

New research shows that new age religions have grown explosively over the last 15 years. Today every fourth of Denmarks 130 new religious groups is inspired by new age, that among others is recognized by the belief in karma, re-incarnation and eternal development of the soul. New age is by far the largest group of new religions in Denmark.

Religion researcher Rene Dybdal Pedersen, who is affiliated with the Danish Pluralism-project at Aarhus University, has just counted the new religious groups and according to him, there is a boom in the loosely organized small groups and networks within new age, where the members can freely choose to join or leave.

First published on the web 8. marts 2006 kl. 00:00 by Kristeligt Dagblad, Anne Korsholm.

Thor, Odin and Freja thundering forwards

First published on the web 21. januar 2006 kl. 00:00, by Kristeligt Dagblad, Anne Korsholm

It all started with 3 worshippers of Odin and Thor that found each other on Amager (Island on which parts of Copenhagen lies, red). And the last 15 years the practitioning of the asa-faith has grown significantly, so today there are 30-40 groups of “heatners” as the asa-believers call themselves.

In a couple of years more than 30 new groups of asa-believers have appeared, shows new research from Aarhus University. “New groups are created all the time and I don’t think the heatheners have reached the top yet in Denmark says Rene Dybdal Pedersen, PhD Aarhus University DK and author of a new book. “ In service of the light – new religious and spiritual groups in Denmark”.

(asa is the old Scandinavian word for god, red.)
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