This is how it usually goes down: I’m asked to speak somewhere. I send my bio and headshot. I am greeted at the conference by the organizer who has a look of horror on his or her face. Why does this happen, you ask? It’s because there is a huge disconnect between my headshot and the reality. This is the problem when you ask one of the best photographers in the industry to shoot you. Blake Little has made a long and successful career photographing entertainment and sports celebrities. He makes everyone look amazing and unique. Last week, I had a new headshot made. Primarily because that look of terror on people’s faces was increasing, as I was five years younger in the last headshot. And for those of you who still ask how I get my hair this color, I don’t. It happens by itself. Without the help of Gill Hodgson (Mick Hodgson of Ph.D’s wife) at Taboo Hair Care, it would be a wacky, crazy, wavy mess. So here’s the secret: get a haircut by one of the best people in town, have your photograph made by a famous celebrity photographer, and retouch the hell out of it.
Archive for August, 2009
One of our favorite clients and good friend, Larry Nicola, came to us recently and asked us to work on a new restaurant, Mexico. We had worked with Larry on Nic’s, Beverly Hills, and now Larry wanted to open a restaurant that would feature traditional Mexican food with the best ingredients, and Larry’s amazing culinary flair. In our first meeting, he said he’d like it to feel like a great evening in Puerto Vallarta or Tiajuana, minus the part where you wake up the next morning on the street with no recollection of what you’ve done. We approached the project with a low-tech philosophy. If we could do something by hand, we did, if we could manufacture something cheaper, we did. We did a huge amount of research, collecting Mexican restaurant menus from everywhere. Not surprisingly, they were wonderful. And we created a fictional person who would design everything. This person would be a restaurant employee with no design training, but a huge amount of enthusiasm and passion; someone who would give every piece her all with the very best intentions, but just get it wrong. We even convinced the off-the-shelf menu company to make the very low cost menu holders in turquoise, which they repeatedly reminded us might be garish. And?
I was reading a post recently about a Mohawk project we at AdamsMorioka designed. “I love the pop sensibility,” read one of the comments, and the others followed suit. I imagine this is the mark of self-delusion, but I didn’t design the piece with that in mind. I just used colors I like. Backtracking, I found the page in my color notebook that I made when I was working on the project. As it turns out, I was guilty. There is a little note, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” So I appropriated the color palette from the 1967 film. Coincidentally, Mary Blair, who designed It’s a Small World, was the color consultant in the credits. How often do movies have color consultants? The color combinations make the palettes unique: salmon and ochre, baby blue and burnt orange, magenta and avocado. And as a bonus, Robert Morse, who is the diamond of the Mad Men cast, is the leading man in a similar setting in the film. I am considering demanding that people take shoes off when they enter my office.(more…)
For those of you in the know, the hip, Atwater Village, Silverlake, Echo Park crowd, Dinah’s Family Restaurant is your secret code that says, “Yeah, I’m lo-fi and ironic.” At the beginning of Little Miss Sunshine, a bucket of Dinah’s fried chicken sits on the table. Since Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, two of the grooviest people I know were the directors, it makes perfect sense. I’m not hip, cool, or groovy. I’m like Fred MacMurray on My Three Sons. But I do like Dinah’s. It like the typography, and the early American décor circa 1958. And I like the fried chicken. I don’t have too many vices, but eating fried chicken is one of them. If I knew I wouldn’t drop dead, I’d eat fried chicken every day. If it comes in a very cool bucket with funky letterforms, flowers, and polka dots, all the better.
There are those who believe that speaking at a conference is like being a rock star; you trash a hotel room, demand sex, and then try to make an audience love you. Well for some designers it is. For us, not so much. Getting up there and speaking is fine, but the best part is meeting other speakers and attendees. We first spied Nobumichi Tosa from Maywa Denki on an incredible tour on the Blue Train in South Africa. He was wearing his signature turquoise jumpsuit, and we needed to know where to buy one. His work is a mixture of performance art and inventions. I especially love the Sei-Gyo, a fish controlled tractor. The vehicle moves in the same direction as the fish swimming in the plastic cross. It’s a little jerky and seems to have little thought, like me. And the Sava-O, a pistol grip operated ventriloquist doll head. Think of the fun at a party. Genius aside, Nobumichi was witty and warm, and became proof that, as my grandmother said, “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.”