Monthly Archives: July 2008

Come Ride With Me

Rush-hour streets of New York

Rush-hour streets of New York

 

With fuel prices on the rise and the effects of global warming becoming more apparent each day, many commuters are turning to greener ways of transportation.  In New York, cab sharing is becoming a popular and cost-effective way to get from place to place.  Websites such as RideAmigos.com allows New Yorkers to search for fellow riders with common destinations and arrange to share a ride.  In Washington D.C., a program called SmartBike DC allows commuters to rent bicycles by the hour to efficiently get around the Capitol.  In Paris, a similar bike rental program, called Velib, allows Parisians (and tourists) access to public bicycles, creating an effective alternative for reaching destination points between Metro stations.  Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA takes the concept of rental bicycles one step further by providing “trailer bikes,” bicycles equipped with carts, as an eco-friendly way for shoppers to transport their flat-packed goods back home. These innovative methods of alternative transportation are gradually beginning to take off in many major cities.

Velib bike rental station in Paris

Velib bike rental station in Paris

In New York, a crowded city where traffic congestion and delayed subway trains are a daily nuisance, it would be refreshing to find other (greener) means of transportation. However, a recurring problem is that most urban roads were not designed with cyclists in mind.  The lack of separate bicycle lanes in many cities heightens the risk of accidents for cyclists, and also deters many from considering biking as an alternate form of commute.  This trend for sustainability is still relatively new, and many people are only slowly beginning to adapt to the mindset of a sustainable lifestyle.   Thus, predictably, it will take a while before cities such as New York are able to fully embrace change for a more sustainable society. WU

Eddie Bauer’s Mountain

Eddie Bauer is going back to its original roots by hiring mountaineer legend Jim Whittaker for insight on its expedition outerwear. The goal is to revive the brands sense of adventure and produce better performing products. Also to move away from its focus on indoor casual apparel in hopes of a big comeback.

When conservative companies hire athletes as design consultants they take a pronounced risk. In my opinion it is a great way to get the inside scoop on athletic apparel. Athletes know best what works and what does not. Brands that hire designers who live and breathe the brand are more successful.

Eddie Bauer’s new line of apparel will be put to the test when their new collection is launched in 2009. Their goal is to sell $450 per square foot, which is far from their $260 per square foot from last year. If sales increase for Eddie Bauer, these types of partnerships may become a more common occurrence. HANNA

Première Vision Inquisition

Premiere Vision: The Premier Textile Workshop

July 17, 2008 – NEW YORK
Today, I visited Première Vision’s “Preview New York.” Held in Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion, textiles companies from around the world gathered to present their finest fabric samples at this textiles tradeshow. I was looking forward to this event. While stuck in traffic en route, I speculated on all the wonderful new things I would find. Like Indiana Jones on a treasure hunt, I was eager to discover some avant-garde, never-before-seen textile, or a radical new way of producing fabric from recycled tires.

After receiving my visitor’s pass, I checked the guidebook to plan my course of action. The exhibitors were categorized into four “style universes,” with the names Seduction, Distinction, Relax, and Pulsation. There was also a catering table, but the lack of a cocktail bar narrowed down my options. No matter, I decided to start in the universe of Relax. Streetwear is my field of expertise, so I was immediately drawn to the stone-washed, sand-blasted denim booths. I struck gold at my first stop, a Turkish company called Birlik Mensucat. The manager informed me that their cottons were 100% organic, even the dyes and production process were certified eco-friendly. Sounds good to me. We traded cards and I moved on, encouraged to find more organic textiles.

I wandered through the various textile universes on the hunt for innovation, making stops here and there. One of the more noteworthy visits was at Hasegawa, a Japanese textile manufacturer. Their tissue-thin silk/cotton jerseys were the finest I had ever seen. I was also intrigued by a platinum-colored jersey, which, upon inquiry, discovered it was actually metallic ink printed on fine-gauge silk jersey. I immediately ordered a swatch book.

Premiere Vision Preview New York

Premiere Vision Preview New York

After a couple dozen booths, I realized that the majority of the gorgeous fabrics that I had seen were simply not organic or sustainable. In fact, sustainability didn’t even seem to be an issue, since there was no indication of it anywhere on the maps, booths, or trend displays. It was becoming tedious to have to enquire whether or not every company I visited produced eco-friendly textiles. Just as I was ready to admit defeat, I spotted a shirt with the words “100% Organic Cotton” hanging outside a booth. The booth belonged to French company Siat & Lang. The manager showed me some beautiful shirting fabrics, all 100% organic and made in France. I ordered some last samples before heading out.

During my cab ride back to the office, I reviewed all the companies I had visited. Unfortunately, I did not find as many interesting textiles as I anticipated, and was hugely disappointed by the lack of eco-consciousness in the overall exhibition. Perhaps there is a separate textile show out there specifically for sustainable materials. However, I think that if Première Vision wants to continue labeling themselves as “the premier textile workshop,” they should expand their vision and look at current issues of sustainability that are increasingly relevant to the world of fashion. WU

All photos courtesy of Première Vision. http://www.premierevision-newyork.com/

iPhone Odyssey

Apple's new iPhone 3G

Apple's new iPhone 3G

iPhone Odyssey
One New Yorker’s quest for Apple’s new iPhone 3G

Monday, July 7, 2008 – WASHINGTON

12:45 – Visit local AT&T store to check phone upgrade status. Everything is cool, but the sales guy warns that I should get there early on Friday if I want the iPhone. Last time they sold out before lunchtime. I didn’t think it would be a big deal.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 – NEW YORK

10:00 – Download and read gizmodo.com’s “iPhone Survival Guide.” It says to go bring energy bars and bottled water and be prepared to camp out. Also, the AT&T account holder must be present. Since I’m on a family plan, that means I have to go back to DC and persuade my mother to wake up early on Friday and camp out at AT&T with me. I decide to make a weekend vacation out of it.

17:30 – Book bus ticket to DC, check AT&T’s website for iPhone checklist.

Thursday, July 10, 2008 – NEW YORK

16:30 – Leave work early and go to Penn Station. The bus is jam packed. After being stuck in traffic for an hour, the bus finally exits out of NYC.

22:35 – Finally arrive home.

00:45 – Set alarm for 6:30. Go to bed early in preparation for the long day ahead.

Friday, July 11, 2008 – WASHINGTON

7:45 – Arrive at local shopping mall. The parking garage seems rather full for 8 in the morning. I get a little nervous.

7:50 – Enter mall and run to AT&T store in time to see a long line snaking around the corner. We queue up behind a skinhead with major tattoos. He says he’s not worried. He’s gone through all this a year before for the first generation iPhone. He’s an iPhone veteran.

8:00 – The doors open exactly at 8, and the line finally moves. An AT&T salesperson walks by, explaining that they only let a few people in at once, and you must register your phone in the store, which takes about 15 minutes. I do the math; it’s going to be a long morning. I survey the barely moving line. Judging by appearances only, it looks to be mostly comprised of young/middle-aged professionals. I idly wonder if they are all skipping work this morning.

8AM queue at AT&T

8AM queue at AT&T

Getting closer!

Getting closer!

10:00 – Two hours later, we are ushered into AT&T. The sales rep asks what can he do for us today. I reply that I’m here to buy an iPhone. Like, duh, as if he didn’t know that already. He hands me my new iPhone 3G, but tells me that I can’t use it yet since it’s not activated. Apparently, the computer systems are down so everyone has to activate their phones at home through iTunes. Okay, that’s cool, as long as I can still get my phone.

10:20 – I walk out of AT&T feeling accomplished. The line is even longer than when we arrived over two hours ago. I proudly hold my yet-to-function iPhone. I’m dying to try it out to see if it lives up to all the hype.

11:00 – I try to set up my phone as per the instructions. I hook it up to my MacBook Pro and watch it connecting to iTunes. Ten minutes later, a memo box pops up. The network connection has timed out. I guess it can’t handle a million people trying to activate their phones all at once. Looks like I’ll have to wait to try out my new phone.

17:30 – I attempt to activate my phone again. This time I am lucky as it hooks right up to iTunes. Fifteen minutes later, my phone is finally activated! I set it up so that all my emails, contacts, and calendars are seamlessly synced to my phone. Then I upload music, photos, and videos.

Syncing iPhone to laptop

Syncing iPhone to laptop

18:20 – Eight hours after leaving AT&T, my new iPhone is fully loaded and ready to go. Now I can enjoy spending the rest of my weekend customizing my phone.

Monday, July 14, 2008 – NEW YORK

10:00 – Back in New York and back at work. Everyone is talking about the new iPhone. The New York Times reports that Apple sold over one million in the first weekend. My co-worker complains that he waited for three hours on Friday at AT&T, only to find that it was sold out. Another co-worker says that on Saturday, the line at the 14th St Apple Store went all the way down past Jeffrey’s. Yeah, sounds like it was one hell of a weekend for all parties involved. But every time I pick up my new iPhone 3G, I remember that it was all worth it.  WU

The End

The End

Sent from my iPhone

Dress Detective Gone Green

Although this is a project, the design idea is interesting enough for us to cover. All around us, the push for going green is visible. But have designers gone too far to try and capture the “green market”?

Designer Stephanie Sandstrom developed a dress that detects harmful emissions in the air. You can identify the smoggy days and areas when crinkles and kinks start to form on the dress. Powered entirely through sensors incorporated into the fabric, the wrinkles stop with higher quality air. This idea will allow you to stray away from the harmful air that lurks in the most precarious conditions, or to even make a statement about our declining air quality.

The harmful effects of global warming are changing our world and it is time for everyone to notice. But do ideas like this help us achieve the goal of becoming more “green-friendly. Instead of replacing ones wardrobe with fashion that senses smog, which would increase the carbon footprint, we suspect there are better ways of addressing the problem of air pollution.

You can learn more about the Dress along with other imaginative designs at the San Francisco Exploratorium’s 2nd Skin Exhibition through September 7, 2008. HANNA

Green Racer

With fuel prices on the rise, and governments attempting to curb carbon emissions, it’s no surprise that the auto industry is leaning towards more eco-friendly cars. Recent auto shows revealed a new generation of cars that are more sustainable than ever before. What sets the new breed of hybrid cars apart is that, unlike past concepts, many of these vehicles are more practical and road-ready.

Toyota has introduced a new Prius that draws on solar energy for power, creating an endless source of renewable energy. The energy will power the car’s air conditioning unit, making for a more fuel-efficient ride. Fellow Japanese company, Honda, is not far behind, with a Civic hybrid that utilizes lightweight parts made from biodegradable materials. Leading French automobile company, Peugeot, has also been dedicated to developing sustainable vehicles. Their urban-friendly Citroen C-Cactus prototype debuted last year in Frankfurt, and they’ve recently introduced the 308 RCZ, a fuel-efficient car jointly produced with BMW. The 308 BioFlex represents a new wave of cars that run on eco-conscious biofuel.

What is innovative about these eco-cars is that the designers have more to consider than just performance and aesthetics. They must tap into a specific lifestyle and market where people want smaller, lighter, and more sustainable vehicles. Drivers are increasingly seeking cars that can reduce their environmental impact. As new technologies make way for a dazzling array of possibilities, it won’t be long before “green” cars dominate the roads. WU

The Future of Bottled Water is Dry


Saving our environment is talk. The sale of bottled water has not declined since its introduction. A few facts from the Water Quality Association:

* Bottled water sales and consumption continue to rise, according to statistics released April 9, 2007, by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC).

* Total US bottled water volume exceeded 8.25 billion gallons in 2006, a 9.5 percent increase over the prior year.

* Wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded $10.8 billion in 2006, an 8.5 percent increase over the $10 billion in 2005.

My goal as a designer is to inspire and lead. It is evident that people are still consuming bottled water. This may be the result of too few alternatives. Forget your Nalgene (www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store) water bottle at home and your next alternative is bottled water. Tap water has earned such a bad reputation, spending 2 dollars on 12oz of water seems normal.

As a solution, I propose:

* Providing consumers with easy Internet based access to the quality of their local water supply.

* A nationwide roll out of water fountains. Yes, water fountains. Prior to the ubiquitous plastic Poland Springs water bottle, your average citizen was happy to use a public water fountain.

Some disagree with me because there is no money to be made by giving filtered water away for free. My reply, because it is not in a bottle does not mean it needs to be distributed freely. An example:

A few visionary restaurants in New York and California have offered filtered tap water as an alternative to bottled water. The filtered water costs the same as bottled water, yet has none of the environmental set-backs.

As the cost of producing and shipping bottle water surges and consumer awareness towards the environment increases, the popularity of bottled beverages will decrease.

I am currently designing filtered water fountains for the public space and welcome the feedback of water drinkers, beverage companies, city planners or filtration companies everywhere. NATALIA

Interesting Links

http://www.globalpackagegallery.com/main.php/v/bev/bottled+water/

http://www.wqa.org