Tuesday roundup


Looking back over the week that was, and sharing  a collection of stuff that grabbed my attention

1. Paris video

Escape to the moodiness of a black & white Paris in this lovely “Focused” series by Shy Collective. All about the little things.

2. Never give up

The idea of never giving up and fighting to the final bell can sometimes feel like a cliché in the sporting world. And then along comes something like this. A tremendous come-from-behind win by Phil Healy from University College Cork (UCC). She’s not even in the picture until the last 80 yards. And the commentary is suitably excited as well, with great lines like… from the depths of hell. If you pick up the video at the 3 minute mark, you’ll see the crazy last lap.

3. Ikaria – The island where people live forever

Watched this beautiful little short documentary this past week (available on iTunes). In an all too brief 22 minutes, there’s much to find as inspiration – especially when appreciating the benefits of genuine community life, and taking the time to live in the moment. I’m sure the setting doesn’t hurt either.

4. Crazy golf

Love this idea being proposed for London Design Festival in Trafalgar Square. A collection of emerging designers and architects are being called upon to each design a golf course of their own. As well, the late Zaha Hadid also designed a course, and its construction will be managed by her practice in her memory.  You can check-out the Kickstarter campaign that was launched to help bring the idea to life.

5. Ten literary magazines everyone should read

Really enjoyed this feature from the clever people at Stack Magazines. They profiled 10 new literary magazines worth reviewing. Proving once again that there is still value in print magazines when they focus on quality content and thoughtful design.

6. A life well lived

This beautiful tribute to David Attenborough has been put together by the BBC to celebrate his 90th birthday. I’m sure the hardest decision was selecting the best bits from decades of stunning footage.

7. NASA – Graphics Standards Manual

If you want to get your hands on NASA’s classic 1970’s graphic standard manual,now’s your chance.


Tuesday roundup


Once again, looking back over the week that was, and sharing  a collection of stuff that grabbed my attention – usually focused on branding, behaviour change, strategy and creative. But really, it could be anything.

1. Three Ad Delusions

A few choice words by The Ad Contrarian. He cuts through some of the worst tendencies of the ad industry. I especially liked his comment on the industry’s obsession with millennials.

“You know all the awesome millennials we see in car ads? In the US, people aged 75 to dead buy six times as many new cars as people aged 16 to 24. Do you really think it’s a good idea to avoid these people?”

2. Why I write

I stumbled across this interview via Slate Culture Gabfest. Horatio Clare answers the question Why I write. It’s 13 minutes of great storytelling – honest and inspiring.

3. Road painters

It turns out watching paint dry can be incredibly beautiful. This new film profiles the craft of painting traffic instructions on roads.

The background behind the video is just as impressive. Glasgow based design studio O Street wanted a new brand that would better reflect their focus on “authenticity, collaboration and getting our hands dirty”. So they engaged with a local roadliner crew to create an entirely new font. There’s a great write-up of the new brand design elements over at It’s Nice That

4. Doctor’s prescribing novels

From the UK comes an innovative new scheme where Doctors will be able to prescribe novels for teenagers with mental-health issues. Chosen by mental health experts, there are 35 books included in the scheme. The Reading Well for Young People is aimed at 13 to 18 year-olds and provides a recommended reading list for support on mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, self-harm, bullying and exam pressure.

5. Escape to the Artic

A stunning video showcasing the incredible wildlife photography of Vincent Munier. Worth escaping for just a few minutes

6. The Alphabet of Light

A modular way to build an alphabet of light. Stunning design by Artemide


Looking back over the week that was, and sharing  a collection of stuff that grabbed my attention – usually focused on branding, behaviour change, strategy and creative.

1. Distracted driving

A very smart idea, perfectly executed. I love how it makes the invisible visible. It’s also using the power of social norms to change behaviour. While it’s showing that this behaviour is far more common than people might imagine, it’s also reinforcing the fact that the majority of people aren’t doing these things. The takeaway – if you are someone who texts, talks on the phone etc, you’re part of a dangerous minority.

2. Call a random Swede

A client who is being rewarded for embracing a genius idea.


3. Tackling obesity

When it comes to healthy eating and nutrition, food labelling can play an important role. Unfortunately it’s an area where there’s a distinct lack of clarity, and, let’s be honest, an embracing of confusion. Of course, people are free to eat what they want, but that choice should be an informed one. And labelling can help. So the idea that resurfaced last week of using exercise comparisons to help people translate the impact of calories would be a wonderful initiative. It’s been talked about before – I wrote about it a few years back. Let’s hope we can start employing simplicity and smart design to make it easier for people to make healthy choices.

4. Sports Talk Radio and men

I stumbled upon this fascinating little podcast via the CBC’s Podcast Playlist. The good, but mostly problematic side of the industry.

5. Good design and healthcare

A great little episode via CBC Spark on how we can make healtthcare more human.

6. Remembering Zaha Hadid

Vitra Fire Station – 1994. Zaha Hadid’s first built project

Zaha Hadid was an inspiring and creative force in architecture. I was lucky enough to visit the Vitra Design Campus last year. While there, we did a tour of the Vitra Fire Station that she designed in 1991 – a remarkable building. In this story from The Guardian, architects speak out about her success and the sexism that she confronted.

7. You’re alive. Do you remember?

And from Germany, this wonderful campaign for Hornbach. Refreshing, unique, hilarious, and inspiring. They’ve got to the emotional core of what it means to build and create something yourself. To Do-It-yourself.

8. Words I hate

It’s not enough that we have to endure the word disruption in countless presentations and talks from so called Futurists, trendspotters and the like – as if it’s something new. Now we get to enjoy fancy acronyms.

Tuesday roundup

An ode to the little things


I’ve long been a fan of the talented Clive James – writer, humorist, broadcaster, and much more. His passion and curiosity for life is contagious, and he is a wonderful observer of things. Just hearing him talk makes you slow down and think a little more deeply about life and all it entails – joy, regrets, lessons learned.

Five years ago he was diagnosed with Leukemia, but thanks to experimental drugs, he continues on with his writing today, describing himself as “unreasonably well”.

During that period, he was inspired to write a beautiful, moving and inspiring poem called Japanese Maple. It’s a wonderful reminder to look up and appreciate all that is around us.

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.”

By Clive James

Are you building a classic brand?


On a tour of the wonderful Vitra Design Campus last year in Germany, I came upon this perfect little definition of what it means for something to be classic. It’s by Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra Chairman Emeritus.

Of course, he’s referring to “classic” in the context of design. But I think it works as a simple and powerful philosophy for your own brand or organization. Brands built around a unique product or service, brands built upon honesty and passion, brands that lead rather than follow, and brands that stand for something beyond the trend of the day.

What is a “classic”

“A classic is not a classic from the very beginning. It starts by breaking the mould. It doesn’t become a classic by confirming to established norms; instead, it questions these established norms. A classic becomes a classic because it wins the battle; first against the products that already exist and then against all of the new products that it must beat out. A classic comes from a different era and yet is contemporary and current. It is iconic without trying to be iconic. It has the qualities of a piece of art without trying to be art. It is forever fresh. When it was presented for the first time, it was new – and it will stay new until another product breaks the mould and challenges it and questions the established norms. It is important to Vitra to produce these outstanding products from the past until they are no longer relevant. At the same time, we develop products together with the most talented people of our age – in the hope that one of them will one day become a classic”

Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra Chairman Emeritus.

A few of my favourite podcasts

I’ve been addicted to podcasts for years. A well curated list can provide a constant well to dip into whenever I need to fuel my curiosity for travel, politics, journalism, culture, or ideas. I listen to them doing the laundry, the washing up, the evening walk to the ferry, or on long drives. I’ve yet to put my iPhone in a ziplock back and use in the shower – but I hear that works too.

This year, I’ve recently expanded my weekly library, and thought I’d share. All of these are of course available on iTunes.

I’d love to know your thoughts? Do you listen to any of these? What are your favourites?

  1. The Stack. Monocle Magazine’s podcast on the latest niche print magazines from around the world.
  2. Slate’s Culture Gabfest. From the team at Slate, this has been one of my favourites for years. Smart, thoughtful people talking about all things pop culture.
  3. Slate’s Political Gabfest. Another great one from Slate. Right now, it’s both fascinating and frustrating as they chit-chat through the insanity of the US Presidential Race.
  4. CBC’s As it Happens. One of the best shows on radio. Each night during the week they focus on both the big and small stories, including live chats with everyday people from villages, towns and communities anywhere in the world. It’s endlessly inspiring and charming. Carol Oft’s authentic and empathetic interviews are a big part of its genius.
  5. Fresh Air. Terry Gross is arguably the best interviewer on radio today. Honest, straightforward and probing, her chats with celebrities and artists are never rushed, always revealing.
  6. On the Media. A great podcast on the state of media, advertising and journalism.
  7. KCRW’s The Treatment. Interviews with actors and directors, hosted by Elvis Mitchell.
  8. The New Yorker Radio Hour. A great hour of radio, presented by David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker.
  9. Surprisingly Awesome. Find out the hidden awesomeness in everyday things – from broccoli to concrete
  10. CBC’s The Sunday Edition. There’s usually one or two great interviews by Michael Enright each week.
  11. Writers and Company. For a lazy Sunday afternoon, there’s nothing better then this show on CBC radio. Even if I’m not a fan of the author being profiled, I always find Eleanor Wachtel’s interviews captivating.

So that’s a few that I like. Other’s that I’m just getting into include The Night Time Podcast, 99% invisible, The Takeaway, Ice Cream for Everyone, Start the Week, and Slate’s The Grist.