Friday, November 12, 2010

MIY Make-it-yourself

The dreams of many science fiction writers like Philip K.Dick and Neal Stephenson are getting closer to becoming reality. 3D printing is closing the gap between prototyping as a very exclusive and expensive manufacturing method and just making. Earlier this year I wrote about the RepRap that makes prototyping more affordable. Some of the most recent endeavors in prototyping show that it's possible to hack, crack and rethink the equipment one needs to prototype, what materials prototyping comes in and what purposes it serves.

Behrokh Khoshnevis developed a concept to 3D print houses out of concrete on architectural scale. Already in 2005 actually, but I only discovered lately, he calls his machine a contour crafter. It would be able to print a house in just 24H. If that comes to live it will revolutionize the construction industry in many ways. First of all it will make house-building much cheaper, secondly it will create much less waste that the traditional construction methods do today.
via Inhabitat
via Inhabitat

During this years designweek in Milan, Tim Knapen and Unfold where showing an experiment. A virtual pottery-wheel that the spectators could use to craft a vase out of thin air. They where literally waving with their hands at a laser-projection to shape a vase. The hand-movements where being tracked with motion-tracking software, and all the vases created being saved in the computer. The last 16 created being projected on the wall. Every now and then a creation would be printed with a 3D clay printer (modified RepRap). Again this turns the creation and manufacturing process upside down. The spectator becomes a participant in the creation process, and even if he cannot make pottery at all, he can still create one of these vases. Also the visual language that goes with these vases is different. The wireframe that CAM software uses to build the vase creates traces in the clay-print. It creates a new type of facets. 


l'Artisan Electronique, Virtual Pottery Wheel from Unfold on Vimeo.

But what maybe impressed me most was the Endless chair-printer robot devised by Dirk van der Kooij, on show during the Dutch Designweek in the new lifestyle shop by PietHein Eek. 
Dirk has imported an old robot from China and reprogrammed it into a 3D printer, it takes polymer granulate and injects that into a 3D form, by exhausting a continuous (endless) string of hot polymer, that gets stacked on-top of itself, and eventually forms a chair. This new system of production breaks with the idea of mass-production because it is not constrained to a mold, every chair can be different to the previous one. each production loop can be used to test and improve previous types. The robot can also be used for up-cycling end-of-life consumer products, by re-using their plastic waste.

These are great signals of change, change that will be impactful in many ways. Production, distribution and consumption will be turned up-side down once these methods develop into consumer friendly propositions. There is still some way to go, and this may all seem quite experimental, but once when the raw edges get sanded off then our system will change. People will first have to become aware that they can have a high level of influence on their new products, and then they will have to step into the creation and production process to participate. I'm sure in the beginning many will feel slightly uncomfortable doing this, but soon it will be normal. And don't we hear all the time, that people are craving to customize and personalize. I'm sure they will learn quick.

And then we can all live the Philip K.Dick and Neal Stephenson dreams.

Friday, November 5, 2010

e-mail antidote

Over the last period of time I have been receiving mail. Real mail. Snail mail. Real letters from real people. 

I know some people that I would call letter artists, whenever I receive a letter from them, they have clearly spend considerable time writing me something that makes sense, and decorating the letter with illustrations and clippings. Impressive and one of the only reasons I look forward to my birthday every year.

But lately I have also been receiving real letters from people, institutes and companies that want my attention. It's very different from e-mail. It's so much more tangible. First of all, you might find your own name and address in handwriting as well as maybe a real stamp on the envelope! Then there is the un-packing or opening experience, you have to tear or cut through the paper to open the letter. Inside you find carefully curated, tactile paper-sorts, finely handwritten with a real pen, or typed in type-faces originating from a pre-computer era. It causes an emotional reaction; I feel nostalgia of those passed days when messages where passed on with care. When they where sincere and really meant for me. Me only. I'm touched.

Invitation from the Future Laboratory for their Luxury Forum

Catalogue from Fattoria la Villa
This makes me think that this is the opportunity that internet and mail-order companies like Amazon and Yoox could grab. Because there is nothing more un-personal to receive than your book-order from Amazon. There is a huge opportunity for them to connect with their consumers in a highly personal way by just paying a little bit more attention to the way they package and ship their goods. Make it personal, make people feel that they are receiving something from their best friend Amazon, instead of just a big anonymous internet company; Amazon. Then for sure they will remember you.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lifestyle according to Piet Hein Eek

Piet Hein Eek has made a bold move, he has saved an old industrial heritage Philips building from demolition AND opened his own lifestyle shop. The old industrial entourage perfectly fits Piet Hein Eeks style and ambitions. Here he can house his production facility, his own shop and a cafe plus rent out spaces for other creatives as a sort of mecenas for young and up-coming talent, all under one roof. This is promising to become the new creative hot-spot, shopping and get-together space of Eindhoven.
Brilliant extension of the brand Piet Hein Eek from being furniture being made by himself primarily from old reclaimed wood to a space housing like-minded people and products, all hand-selected by himself. The idea of bringing production close to the sales is also interesting and very much in-touch with the spirit of the time, the designer is as much the craftsman and it's the person that comes with an idea. And the idea of local produce is appealing in these times of outsourcing and China being the factory of the world, it's a welcome and refreshing change, to be able to walk through this space and seeing where stuff is actually being made. It bring the making and the selling closer to each other, and creates a realistic picture in the mind of the consumer of how things are being made. New simplicity.
Piet Hein Eek lifestyle shop - ceramics and tableware

Piet Hein Eek lifestyle shop - lamps

Piet Hein Eek lifestyle shop
Piet Hein Eek lifestyle shop
Piet Hein Eek Lifestyle Cafe
Hosting Dirk van der Kooij - Endless chair
Philips industrial heritage

Friday, October 29, 2010

Muts Have

For the first time I'm tempted to write in Dutch. The Zeeman Muts Have Event was for Mutsen. For the Woolly Headed. For the Knotty. I had had the faint hope that Zeeman was smartening up, lately they have been up to stuff that had mislead me into thinking they where trying to become hip. Trying really hard to become the next Dirk. Or maybe even Hema. But no.

Goodiebag; one energydrink, two rolls of yarn, one set of knitting needles
We where welcomed by Nikkie, the best dressed woman in Netherlands, host of the event. First on stage is an English speaking guy who made the crowd spin a grand shawl by trowing yellow and blue balls of yarn through the air. That was actually quite a beautiful act of collaboration, the threads created a cob-web as big as the audience itself, eventually the audience lifted it up and rolled it up forwards to the stage, where the guy picked it up and threw it around his neck. Then Mirjam Tegels entered the stage, she can knit faster than her own shadow, and is the undisputed Dutch champion of speed knitting. She gave a knitting-for-beginners course from the stage. The audience dived into their goodiebags and grabbed knitting needles and balls and started knitting. The idea was to set a world record in simultaneous knitting. It is currently held by the Sock Summit in Portland; 937 knitters. In Leidse Rijn we where 415, maybe just enough to set an European record? Mirjam kept feeding us knitting tips and tricks and telling anecdotes to keep up the good spirit during these 15 minutes. After all this hard work, the crowd was rewarded by some singing by the X-factor winner; Jaap, finishing it all off with some happy singing along.
The Crowd is weaving a big shawl. Beautiful

European record knitting, 415 people knitting 15 minutes
Zeeman completely missed the point that has made knitting so hot. The New Knitting is an act of rebellion against prejudice role-models and social injustice and of a fashion system that exploits it's workers in ways that sometimes verges on slave labor. it's a new sort of feminist movement where the housewife's medium (knitting) is used to raise social critique. It uses humor and the street as canvas i.e. creating social knitting grafitti so it seems that lighting palls and cold industrial bridges are cuddled up in cozy sweaters. The Zeeman did just the opposite it confirmed all prejudices against knitting as being a dull housewife's activity.

Besides Zeeman is very late in catching up. The first Dutch Stitch'n Bitch group was started15th Nov 2004 in Amsterdam. That's quite a while ago. That was when Knitting started getting really hot. Also I think that the effect of the day could have been of a more grand scale if it had been hooked up with the World wide knit in public day; 12th of June.
A mum and her 4 daughters. Proof that knitting is female powers that transcends generations
the hottest girls of the event, wearing soft and cuddly hats
I enjoyed the afternoon, but my intuition tells me that the Zeeman event heralds the beginning of the end of New Knitting. Unfortunately.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pink Milk

Can you catch a dream? Can you distill an emotion? And how about drinking an elixir that is drenched with the collective state-of-mind of unknown strangers? 
All of the above is presented to you like pink mother-milk on Pink Ribbon night in Bergen-op-Zoom. Meike Ziegler demonstrates that a Creatual; creative ritual can help people to give painful memories a resting place, and create hope for the future.

A table full of old-fashioned milk bottles set the stage for the ritual. The bottles are labeled with i.e. love, respect, dream, hope, inspiration, future. In the middle of the table lies a pile of strokes of transparent paper. All participants are invited to write down a wish, an emotion, or something that simply strike them at that moment. Afterwards they immerse their stroke of paper in the milk, and they slowly see the letters, their dreams and emotions dissolve into the milk. As if their feelings had been condensed into this one statement and then unleashed and transformed into milk by emotional alchemy.
After everybody have done their confessions and have seen these transform into pink mother-milk, the collected mental revelations are served as a drink that literally contains emotions. Some people chose to drink hope, others to drink inspiration and yet others take a nip of the future.
This creatual is part of a series of emotional interventions that Meike has created at several occasions. The Creatual is always in the form of interactive artistic installations, the audience is invited to participate in a ritual that transforms their emotional state. For some this might be experienced as slightly provocative, and that is also part of the intention, because to open up it is necessary to break down barriers.

I think events like these are a sign of New Spirituality, we need to give meaning to the events that happen to us in life. In the recent past the church helped us with that, but with the increase in atheism people are looking for new ways to get to terms with life-changing events and find strength and hope to get on with their life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slow Coffee, a contradictio in terminis?

It seems a contradiction in terminis? How could coffee possibly be slow? Coffee has grown to be a symbol of a lifestyle in the fast lane. So when the quintessence of our fast living society becomes slow, is that a symbol of a whole society that is slowing down? One where the intimate and local creates a new sense of being and belonging?

Ever since I lived in Italy in the beginning of the nineties, have I sworn to espresso coffee. The Italian way. When I lived in London (also in the beginning of the nineties) I would go out of my way to find a decent cup of coffee. Later life got easier because the espresso hype caught up with me, and it seems espresso is now everywhere to be found; on my kitchen counter, in the kitchen of the office, and even when I visited Shanghai in 2008, there was an espresso bar at every corner. For a long time Star Bucks even had a cafe inside the Forbidden City in Beijing. It was closed in 2007. The world-master barrista of 2006 was Danish, Copenhagen and Stockholm has some of the finest coffee bars.

Coffee has gone through a number of loops of reinvention and upgrading since the beginning of the nineties. Much like in other gourmet categories like wine and cheese a whole army of connoisseurs, experts and barristas have popped out of nowhere, and have taught us about coffee; understanding the fine details leading to a perfect cup; how important freshly grind beans are, exactly which pressure is right, and about the importance of the origins, type and treatment of the beans. Starbucks even gives Coffee masterclasses in HongKong. Coffee is no longer confined to being the social lubricant @ home that it used to be, it is now a culinary experience best enjoyed in specialized coffee houses. Coffee is no longer a bitter drink for old folks, it's almost a cocktail, and Starbucks will make it any way you want it. Caffeine has gone from being evil, to being an excellent provider of anti-oxidants, which makes it almost healthy.

So now when espresso has finally established itself in the mindset of mr. Average, automatic espresso machines have penetrated into even the most provincial kitchens, then comes slow coffee and turns the world upside down. The new Slow Coffee is made with drip filters. Cup by cup. The freshly grind beans are given time to soak in boiling water, until all the fine essences are extracted, then it slowly drips into the cup. That brewing process becomes a slow ritual of waiting and contemplation. The cups are big like tea-mugs, which turns drinking into sipping and carefully tasting every mouthful, to discover all the layers of the flavors. 

Now when coffee has slowed down, will we all slow down?

The Village Coffee serving Slow Coffee @ opening Cris

The Village Coffee serving Slow Coffee @ opening Cris

The Village Coffee serving Slow Coffee @ opening Cris

The Village Coffee serving Slow Coffee @ opening Cris

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Self-service shopping

AKG has installed self-service vending machine on Schiphol. This invites for impulse last minute shopping just before take-off, containing all the accessories that you could imagine you would need for a long distance flight.

This looks more like a boutique vending machine it is is sleak, black a bit glam techy. the product is exposed in a setting that you looks more like a jewelery shop.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


An institute of men’s fashion in the Netherlands has just opened his new shop at the Springweg in Utrecht. The street and the outside is as pretty as most of the old center in Utrecht. It doesn’t reveal anything of the industrial raw edges and glam decay that you find inside the shop. It looks like an abandoned building has been hijacked and covered with a eclectic perfect varnish, where decomposition seems to have been frozen, captured in this moment and stopped.

The space is vast, with a pleasant light bathed atrium in the middle. The floors have been stripped back to their most raw and primary state, it’s a patchwork of raw concrete, gravel filled cement and old planks. The simple bricks that are typically used for construction, lay uncovered; naked, brute and crude. The rawness and imperfections have been framed by perfect white walls and are being interrupted by perfectly geometrically shelving systems. The industrial feel is enhanced with simple uncovered fluorescent tubes in the ceiling, clothes are exhibited on iron carts painted in a subtle utilitarian camouflage green the only color that seems to have been used. Unpolished copper is highlighting details such as clothes racks, window frames and doorknobs of the change rooms. It is now already covered with fingerprints and with time it will continue to develop a varnish, and the parts that are outside will corrode into a beautiful green.

Men come from all over the Netherlands to shop at Cris, the careful selection of menswear reflects an eclectic urban casual style. The first Cris shop was opened in 1999.  The vision of Cris is described as honest advise, attention and care, small-scaled and authenticity. Cris puts emphasis on honest and approachable service; the atmosphere the personnel set in the shop is helpful and friendly it feels like a warm welcome.

The following brands are sold by Cris;
Menswear; Roberto Collina, Drykorn, Hope, Martin Margiela, Folk, Mauro Grifoni, Daniele Allessandrini. 
Shoes; Officine Creative, Moma, Superga. 
Bags; Corsia, Eastpak, DRKSHDW van Rick Owens

Cris Herenwinkel
Springweg 10
3511 VP Utrecht NL

Cris Outlet
Mariaplaats 3a
3511 LH Utrecht NL

Interior architect: √Člise van Thuyne
Restoration: Spijkers met Koppen by Thijs Ravenhorst
Furniture by Johan
Metalwork by Staalstudio by Roland Manders

Friday, October 1, 2010

... in a world full of crooks

Just opposite the City Movies at the Drift somebody has taken the opportunity to paint a large graffiti on the plywood that encases the scaffolding of some rebuild project. The scaffolding has been used as a canvas to draft something that looks like a modern Western sketched up in comic book style. Not unfitting for a graffiti situated next to a cinema. The whole looks a bit too unplanned for it to be accidental, so the thought strikes me, that it's commissioned work by City Movies. Complete speculation from my side. Some pieces of the comic has been left as blank canvases, an invitation for other graffiti artists to play along and help complete the story. Maybe when this piece comes to it's end, we will discover who was behind it, and what the plan was.
the SUPER adventures of a normal kid
living in a dark grey world full of CROOKS
BUT... there is someone coming out a nothing... ACTION HERO
and he's bringing things in life like: ART, BURNRS

without ANYONE

and from... to..
The End
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