This Town

It amazes me when I hear about the endless hours involved with graphic design. When I was in school it was common for everyone to pull all-nighters and then drag in with something that made no sense. I didn’t have time for that. I had nightclubs to attend. My life in the early 80s was like this: go to school, do the assignments, buy shirts at Cowboys and Poodles on Melrose, eat dinner at Pages in Encino or Café Casino in Beverly Hills, buy liquor, and go to a club. I was very groovy. This was confirmed by the collection of Wet magazines I had.

Wet was a magazine dedicated to bathing. This may seem thin for a monthly magazine, but it was a center for “new wave” culture. Hip designers created the ads and covers. The articles covered hot tubs, but they also covered Eraserhead and KROQ. The zeitgeist of this time in Los Angeles was rather, and yes this is embarrassing, Less than Zero. This was a city with an amazing amount of faux ennui. Cities have their time: New York in the 1930s, Miami in the 1950s, and Seattle in the 1990s. Los Angeles was in the midst of its time in the 1980s, and everyone here knew it, and knew it wouldn’t last.

G.I. Jive

The Camp Beverly Hills jacket, photo Penny Wolin

Before I graduated from college, I worked as a photo assistant with a remarkable photographer, Penny Wolin. At one point, we spent a summer traveling through the Rocky Mountain states to shoot a project, The Jews of Wyoming: fringe of the Diaspora. It was an incredible experience. One evening, we took a break and stopped into a bar near Laramie, Wyoming for a beer. When we walked in, I realized this was the local bar for the service-men and women at the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base. I felt pretty nifty because I was wearing my nylon bomber jacket and had aviator sunglasses. “Yep,” I thought as we talked with people, “I’m fitting in just fine here.”

Now, here’s where this post takes a left turn. When we left and I threw my jacket in the back of the VW bus, it occurred to me that the bomber jacket was good, but maybe having Camp Beverly Hills stitched across the back was a little out of sync. For those of you wondering, “What the heck is that?” Camp Beverly Hills was a cool place to shop off of Rodeo in the 1980s. The store specialized in pastel colored t-shirts and outfits, with a few military items mixed in. Everything had the Camp Beverly Hills logo, which, hard to believe, is now cool again. In retrospect, the people we met at that bar from Warren Air Force Base were pretty impressive. They were friendly and chatty, and I didn’t get beaten up.

What I was trying to emulate, no luck

Drew Barrymore, ET years, Camp Beverly Hills

Vals, and Goldie Hawn, Camp Beverly Hills

More vals, 1980s, Camp Beverly Hills

Camp Beverly Hills today, retro 80s cool

Oh, To Be 80 Again

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Blake Little photographer, 1997

It’s Wednesday, and I’m on the road to the AIGA Make Think Conference in Memphis. I’ll do my best to post about the conference (and not the standard press release stuff) over the next several days. Yesterday, I needed to find some images for a Japanese magazine including a portrait of Noreen and me. Now we have the official AdamsMorioka headshots that have been forced down everyone’s throats, but I came across all of the old images as well. So for a walk down memory lane, we will prove that we’re not so vain that we won’t remind people what we looked like 15 years ago (thinner and darker hair).

Noreen named the image above, "The War Bride" photo. We were trying to be serious in the hopes that people would believe we weren't just happy and clueless nitwits.

This photo was made for a Strathmore case study promotion. They asked us to look "professional". I think we look more like extras on LA Law.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Penny Wolin photographer, 1995

We were working on a book for David Hockney. On our first visit to his studio on Mulholland, Noreen asked for Gin and Tonics and for him to take Polaroids of us and make art. He gave us the Gin and Tonics, and kindly took Polaroids and made cool printouts.

David Hockney, Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, 1998

When we spoke at the Aspen Design Conference, we brought matching sweater without any planning. Being from LA, we aren't sweater rich, and these were the ones we bought at the Norway pavilion at EPCOT. In the middle of this bike ride, Noreen passed out in front of the Jerome Hotel. She begged for us to leave her, but it seemed wrong to leave a half-conscious woman lying on the sidewalk.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Aspen, 1996

A large French design company had expressed interest in merging with us. We thought this was a good excuse to go to Paris for a few days. The highlight of the trip involved Noreen, the Louvre, off-limits areas, security guards, and a chase. After meeting us, the French company owners politely said good-bye with a terrified look on their faces.

Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka, Michael Boshnaick photographer, 1999.

Jump forward to last year and our trip to South Africa for the Design Indaba conference. We spent several days on safari which was truly life-changing. I was concerned that Marian had been given the rifle, but was reassured that it only had 2 bullets, so she couldn't take us all out.

Donald, our ranger, Marian Bantjes, Michael Boshnaick, Sean Adams, Noreen Morioka, Rattrays South Africa, 2008

Surprisingly, the media in Capetown was deeply involved with the Design Indaba conference. It was great to see mainstream media cover all of the design arts and designers so passionately. The Design Indaba staff were incredible at organizing the interviews. As you can see, we have graduated to looking very mature and professional. Or we look like morticians.

Noreen Morioka, Sean Adams, TV crew, Capetown South Africa 2008.