Emmanuel Quartey

Curious about cities, patterns, media, and marginalia.

What do car designers have in common with horse breeders and horticulturalists?

Bloomberg Businessweek has a short profile of Mitja Borket, the guy who designed Porsche’s latest addition to its product line - the Macan.

Something struck me about the language used here:

As a category, the crossover is already popular among women and young urban types and is one of the hottest segments in the industry. Twenty years ago, there was no such thing. The Subaru Outback, which first hit showrooms in 1994, was the closest relative. A strange mutation in the evolution of the automobile, it sold well and hinted at the species to come. In the first half of this year, one in five vehicles sold in the U.S. was a crossover, according to Bloomberg data.

"Mutation"

"Evolution"

"Species"

I like to think this language reveals something about the way in which car designers think about their craft. It’s almost as if they have more in common with fruit tree grafters and animal breeders than graphic designers and architects.

When you’re in the business of sculpting literally tons of metal into miracles of precision engineering, you probably think about the creative process a little differently.

Now I’m wondering what it would mean for other creative fields to adopt a similar way of thinking about their own work.

What would it mean, if, like a horse breeder, a user interface designer had to make design decisions based on some concept of pedigree? If literally every intervention had a gestation period of many months or even years?

What would it look like in the other direction? If a car design were able to iterate as quickly as a graphic designer, how would that change the way she works? What are the supply chain implications?

Or is this not even a useful line of inquiry? You could argue that it’s foolish to attempt to introduce something of the industrial designer’s process into the graphic designer’s method, because they deal with entirely different sorts of material and legal constraints…

Mk - one more addition to the things-that-made-me-go-huh pile.

*hits publish*

“ He asserts that, increasingly, effective design means engaging with the messy politics – the “dark matter” – taking place above the designer’s head. And that may mean redesigning the organisation that hires you. ”

- Blurb for Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses

A lesson I keep relearning: the type and quality of work an organization produces is entirely a function of how it is set up internally.

All the good intentions in the world cannot withstand processes optimized for a conflicting outcome.

  1. What outcome do we say we want?
  2. Is our current system optimized for that outcome?
  3. If not, what new muscles must we build to be able to effect that outcome? What skills must we learn or unlearn? What prosthetics must we acquire?
Don’t know why, but this “Games You May Like” thing in my Facebook desktop newsfeed caught my attention and made me go “Huh”. Maybe because it’s a content type I haven’t encountered before?
I’d completely forgotten that it was possible to play games on Facebook.
Maybe the objective here is to up the number of FB casual gamers?
*shrug*
Posting here as a datapoint that might fit into a story later.

Don’t know why, but this “Games You May Like” thing in my Facebook desktop newsfeed caught my attention and made me go “Huh”. Maybe because it’s a content type I haven’t encountered before?

I’d completely forgotten that it was possible to play games on Facebook.

Maybe the objective here is to up the number of FB casual gamers?

*shrug*

Posting here as a datapoint that might fit into a story later.

The Art and Science of Big Food

Vox pulls back the curtain on the fascinating cast of chefs, future forecasters, and executives who decide what’s on the menu in millions of restaurants and food aisles around the world.

Here’re some of my favourite parts:

The kale salad, in her opinion, was the twenty-first century’s Caesar salad, an international staple that began in the 1920s in a Tijuana hotel and snowballed into the most popular salad trend the world has ever known. “Slowly but surely, the kale salad will make its way to TGI Friday’s menu, then McDonald’s, Kraft, and, eventually, as a Doritos flavor.”

Kale salad actually sounds like a fantastic idea! Throw in a bit of sriracha and pork and you might as well take all my money right now.

There are supplier-originated trends, backed by branding campaigns, like the POM-driven pomegranate craze, and the recent upswing in avocado use, pushed by the Avocado Board, which has helped chains such as Subway develop a popular avocado sub for their menu.

This is so interesting. I remember the Subway avocado campaign. It tasted good, but even then, I was confused by why Subway was pushing avocado so hard. It seemed so random. Guess the Avocado Board (!) had a hand.

image

And now I’m deeply curious about the politics of single-handedly making a certain food a “thing.” How do you even start to do something like that?

Trends have births, and those can be strong births (a break-out, like Greek yogurt), stillbirths, and orphaned births, which is when a trend doesn’t have strong parents to champion it. Yes, food trends have parents, and like children, they need support and nourishment or else they’ll fail to thrive. They also need advocates and allies. Just as a trend is born, a trend can morph (whole wheat bread to multigrain bread to single-grain bread to ancient-grain bread), crash (the Atkins Diet becomes discredited), redirect (lactose-free moves from the mainstream back to a niche), and be killed by an adversary (GMO foods go from salvation to pariah, thanks to political opposition from the organic movement).

I firmly believe that there’s a world where shito - a shrimp/fish/spice sauce popular in West Africa - is as big as sriracha. I brought a jar of the shito to college and my Vietnamese roommate couldn’t get enough.

image

It’ll take a coalition of shops, restaurants, foodies, and maybe a thumbs-up from a celebrity or two, but I think it could be done. Right now, I’m betting on Essie Spice to make it happen.

image


The whole article is worth a read, if for nothing at all because it underscores the degree to which surprising parts of our lives are shaped, scripted, and intentional things.

Someone sees something cool during a trip to Thailand. She mentions it to her roommate, who posts the pictures on her food blog, which gets quoted in a food forecast. The next thing you know, heads are nodding around a table in a boardroom, Doritos is announcing a new flavour, and prices for a particular type of pepper triple overnight.

These things don’t just happen. Someone decides it should, and makes it so.

paperbits:


clarabeau:

henricavyll:

 Advice he’d give a 12-year-old version of himself"It might sound oversimplified, but I’d say, ‘Shhh.’ It’s so funny how noisy my brain is - it’s what it does, it makes thoughts. And the problem is, I think in most of our lives the root of suffering is listening to that brain noise and actually identifying with it as if it’s who you are. That’s just the noise your brain makes. And more often than not, it probably doesn’t have much to say that’s going to help you. I’ve felt my best are the moments that I’ve been able to pull that plug and say, ‘Chris … shhh … shhh.’ And it’s not quitting, it’s not giving up, it’s not washing your hands of the thought, it’s rising above it. All the time I’ve spent suffering as a result of brain noise, hours of my life wasted. So that’s what I’d say: ‘Shhh.’"

MILKSHAKE FRIEND STEVE ROGERS

I could have used this advice.
Zoom
Info
paperbits:


clarabeau:

henricavyll:

 Advice he’d give a 12-year-old version of himself"It might sound oversimplified, but I’d say, ‘Shhh.’ It’s so funny how noisy my brain is - it’s what it does, it makes thoughts. And the problem is, I think in most of our lives the root of suffering is listening to that brain noise and actually identifying with it as if it’s who you are. That’s just the noise your brain makes. And more often than not, it probably doesn’t have much to say that’s going to help you. I’ve felt my best are the moments that I’ve been able to pull that plug and say, ‘Chris … shhh … shhh.’ And it’s not quitting, it’s not giving up, it’s not washing your hands of the thought, it’s rising above it. All the time I’ve spent suffering as a result of brain noise, hours of my life wasted. So that’s what I’d say: ‘Shhh.’"

MILKSHAKE FRIEND STEVE ROGERS

I could have used this advice.
Zoom
Info

paperbits:

clarabeau:

henricavyll:

 Advice he’d give a 12-year-old version of himself"It might sound oversimplified, but I’d say, ‘Shhh.’ It’s so funny how noisy my brain is - it’s what it does, it makes thoughts. And the problem is, I think in most of our lives the root of suffering is listening to that brain noise and actually identifying with it as if it’s who you are. That’s just the noise your brain makes. And more often than not, it probably doesn’t have much to say that’s going to help you. I’ve felt my best are the moments that I’ve been able to pull that plug and say, ‘Chris … shhh … shhh.’ And it’s not quitting, it’s not giving up, it’s not washing your hands of the thought, it’s rising above it. All the time I’ve spent suffering as a result of brain noise, hours of my life wasted. So that’s what I’d say: ‘Shhh.’"

MILKSHAKE FRIEND STEVE ROGERS

I could have used this advice.

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