Design Love: Vol. 1
Write about what you love. That's what they always say to do, right? Well here are some brands, books, apps, products, and ideas I've been loving lately, for their aesthetic appeal or design functionality:
Twin Six | As a designer, it was important to me early on in my cycling journey that if I was going to squeeze into form-fitting lycra, it should at least look well-designed and not have corporate sponsor logos plastered all over the kit. Enter Twin Six, a Minneapolis-based cycling gear and equipment company that makes some of the best looking race and casual apparel I've found on the market. They also make a line of drool-worthy bikes. I've acquired more pieces of T6 gear than I care to admit, but it's all high-quality, USA-made apparel that makes me look faster than I actually am. Plus, they have a line for the little cyclists in your life, which I had to jump on for my son, Griffin.
Earny | I'm a sucker for a good deal, but what happens if a better deal comes along after you've made the purchase? Earny automates the process of making price adjustment claims for you to your credit card provider, a feature I didn't even know existed before I started using the app. Since December 2016, Earny has gotten me over $400 back from Amazon, Target, and other online retailers, making claims on my behalf to Chase. We do a ton of shopping on Amazon, and it's nice to know that if diapers or clothing or whatever we buy goes on sale for a lower price within 90 days, that I'll get a check in the mail for the difference. Earny takes a 25% cut of reimbursements, which is great for them and worth it to me.
Apps organized by color | This was in no way an original idea, but for well over a year now, I've organized my apps by their color, and not their function. I found that it was far faster for my brain to remember the icon color than it was to track down the folder it was in. I'll never go back! The hardest part is when an app icon gets a refresh and has a significantly different color scheme (looking at you, Netflix and Instagram), but you get used to it.
The World Shines For You | I'm a huge fan of Don Clark's work and the last book he illustrated, so now that I've got a kid, I was excited to get his newest board book. It's massive and gorgeous and Griffin (and I) love the color and texture. It's glossy and bright and the embossing and foil really make it a special book for kids and adults.
Fair State Brewing Co-Op | Everything that this little brewery in Nordeast Minneapolis is doing lately is awesome. And everything that Little is designing for them is awesome too. The brand is bold and bright and thick-lined, and the beers are weird and innovative and unique. Big fan.
JL Jeep Wrangler | I have and will forever be a car guy. I've always been interested in the industry news and following the design process of new models from concept cars to spy shots to debuts. One of the cars on my shortlist of win-the-lottery purchases would be a Jeep Wrangler, and this iconic off-roader was just redesigned for 2018. The Wrangler is an American institution, so the pressure on FCA designers to evolve the classic must have been immense, but they did a phenomenal job of adding new technology and aesthetic refinements, while keeping the soul of the truck intact. And it seems to be paying off, as the new model (plus remaining 2017 JK models) nearly outsold the Toyota Camry last month.
OXO Avocado Tool | I was once asked in a job interview what kitchen tool/appliance I would be, and without skipping a beat I said "the avocado tool!" I then had to explain what this gadget was, and to me, it's a highly-specialized, multidisciplinary tool that executes it's job with excellence, which is how I'd like to describe myself as a creative. This thing is amazing. Sure, you could use a chef's knife to halve the avocado and even get the pit out, but then how do you get the flesh out? You need a spoon. This cuts, pits, and scoops, all in one. I'm a huge fan.
USPS Informed Delivery | I love getting mail. Maybe it's just a hit of dopamine, but I really enjoy getting something tangible like letters or cards or whatever. The Postal Service introduced a really cool feature last year that sends you a daily email of scans of the mail you're receiving that day, so it's kind of like getting the mail twice! It's been helpful when you see that you're supposed to receive a certain piece of mail on a day and if it doesn't arrive, you can mark it as missing. This has been helpful when waiting for checks from clients to come in. It does, however, create a little anxiety through the day when you see an IRS letter is supposed to come...
Strava | The best workout tracking app if you're a little competitive. I love the Segments feature as a way to challenge myself to pick up the pace on cycling commutes or areas I ride frequently. It gives you opportunities to race against everyone else who's ridden/run a short section of road before you for the best time. It's one of the few apps that I happy pay for the Premium subscription as well. Follow me!
Tile | Lauren and I lose stuff. Often. And it's usually one of three things: Keys. Wallet. Phone. And so we bought a pack of Tiles and now we don't lose those things as much. A little bluetooth-enabled tag goes on your keyring or in your bag or in or on whatever you lose, and then when you lose it, you press a button in the app and you find it. Simple as that! But what if you lose your phone? You double click the button on your keys, and it activates the phone. Probably the coolest feature is the network ability should your item get stolen or lost. You can mark the item in your app as missing, and then you'll be alerted the next time it comes in proximity of someone else's Tile-enabled item. So basically, just by walking around I am doing my part to thwart crime. Pretty cool.
Open Branding Project: Baseball New Zealand | Lastly, gotta give a shout out to Brian Gundell and Brandon Moore, two phenomenal designers I look up to who launched a transparent design project as a way to demystify the process a bit, and show the world what it takes to create a successful sports brand (all with no guarantee that it would be successful!). It's a bold, vulnerable look at their approach to design, and the importance of a ton of research and sketching to come up with a mark and a visual language that represents the true heart of the organization. They post their progress pretty frequently over on Chris Creamer's Sportslogos.net. It's a great means for teams, corporations, and the general viewing public to see the value that a professional designer can bring and it's a super helpful to designers to see ways that their process, communication, and presentation can be improved to make a really successful delivery. As of this writing, they are nearing the final presentation stage to the client for approvals. It's been so cool to watch the evolution. Truly inspiring work.