December 8, 2008
Greek Cypriot industrialist and heavyweight European contemporary art collector Dakis Joannou has brought together an all star team to create the most unique watercraft on the sea. Named “Guilty”, the 35 meter long yacht is decked out with sleek, artistic interiors by Ivana Porfiri and a pop-art exterior camouflage design by Jeff Koons. This design experiment injects a dose of eccentric fun and innovation into the traditional design language of classic nautical architecture.
[via Life At HOK]
October 31, 2008
Creative Cities Summit 2.0 concluded this week in Detroit, Michigan, a three-day conference bringing together creative practitioners from across industries (from city planners to educators) in a discussion about the integration of innovation, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, arts & culture and business and their roles in our urban ecologies. Brand Avenue points us to one of the conference’s most enlightening panels - a talk between Who’s Your City?’s Richard Florida, COMEDIA’S Charles Landry, and The Creative Economy author John Howkins (moderated by Carol Coletta of Smart City Radio). As Brand Avenue retells, Landry brings up the important distinction between how big and small cities make a name for themselves:
Memorable was Landry’s commentary about icons and signature buildings, particularly for smaller cities that seek to raise their profiles: “rather than one icon, do 100 things well that together, become an icon.” In other words, avoid the overarching narrative, and look for ways to draw attention to the small, incremental, positive developments (architectural, economic, social, educational, etc) that together, make the image of the city greater than the sum of its parts. An interesting point vis a vis the potential fallability of a place branding approach.
An associated and similarly good point: that everything is a resource in the creation of place–every indvidual move… Or, to quote a conference organizer on Sunday, “you are a media channel:” your story is also a part; you are also an agent. Your small move is a resource, one that plays a role in the creation of place; and places are made out of, for, and by people.
Gawker and Gothamist report that New York City is putting their subway advertising program into overdrive. First off are plans to wrap entire subway cars with ads (as graffiti artists did in the early days of the art form). The next public transport-ad scheme involves placing a series of ads inside subway tunnels that will create a rough animation as the car passes by. Also up for grabs are turnstile arms and pretty much any available surface.
Although you would hope that all this surplus cash would mean a reduction in fare (it will cost advertisers $95k a month to do the tunnel animations), I wouldn’t hold my breath. And let’s stay positive about all this. Don’t think of it as more urban spam, think about all these ads as fodder for legions of Poster Boy style artists.
New York City is once again the recipient of more cutting edge advertising technology. The MTA is testing out digital screens that will display ads on the side of city buses. (Hooray! High tech urban spam!) The interesting angle here though, is that the ads will change as the bus moves through different neighborhoods. GPS technology will register when the bus passes into a new area and serve an appropriate ad. Content will also change based on the time of day - think coffee ads in the morning, beer at night.
October 9, 2008
Since September 9th, Southwest switched all in-flight payments to credit instead of cash. According to a spokeswoman, the goal for the company was to increase drink sales by an average of one beverage per flight. If this goal is achieved it would translate into a $4 million increase. In addition to getting rid of cash, Southwest added the sale of non-alcoholic drinks and energy drinks. It will be interesting to see if the impressive 8% jump in sales translates into other carriers adopting this policy. It’s nice to know that this airline’s profit-maximizing strategy has given us (credit card holding passengers, that is) more options instead of removing precious extras - like a single olive from a salad, which American Airlines did in 1987 to save a mere $40,000.
The death knell for branding has come in the form of exclusive car companies selling their image to just about anything. Everything from mundane Hummer shot glasses to arguably ridiculous NASCAR meat snacks. When Ferrari first threw its name on a laptop, it was a novelty and spurred many bad jokes about owning an exotic car, but just when it was wearing off other companies jumped on board.
The most infamous case, as highlighted by the fantastic British car show Top Gear, was Bugatti’s £1500 cologne. These other worst 10 products compiled by Jalopnik give cologne a run for their money. The slumping auto market has always been fast to catch onto gimmicks, but when it comes to branding, consumer products should be off limits. The addition of the brand name is a completely transparent marketing ploy that degrades not only the reputation of the car company, but the legitimacy of the product.
September 22, 2008
Earlier this week, we introduced Philip James of Snooth.com, a forward-thinking entrepreneur bringing location based services and personalized recommendations to the wine industry. For our second installment in our NYC innovator series, we sat down with Michael Sharon of Socialight, the urban navigation service for mobile phones and the web. Sharon shared a bit about his startup and how it’s helping users explore the world around them. In this video, Michael discusses the opportunities the iPhone presents for application developers and mobile advertisers as well as how Socialight is helping align brands with secret parties, art gallery openings and other local events.
August 25, 2008
Viking Line, a ferry service running between Finland, Sweden, and the Aland Islands, has recently introduced a new offering for its guests. In an effort to promote the on-ship dance halls, the company has created Dance Match, a purpose-built website that allows user to post videos of themselves dancing. There are several categories under which you can post your video including Disco, Boogie, and Salsa. When posting a video, you can rate your dance skills, and check out the moves of others, all in an effort to find the ideal dance partner. After filling out information on the application, users will receive a list of suggested matches. If you are happy with your match, contact will be established via email. As a prize, Viking Line is offering a free boat cruise for two, encouraging a face-to-face onboard meeting. An English version of the site is under construction and should be launched shortly.
August 11, 2008
Continuing with our Bay Area Innovators series, where PSFK chat with Bay Area-based entrepreneurs about their innovative new businesses, we bring you Zack Rosen. We met Zack last month while we were out in San Francisco; he is the co-founder of Mission Bicycles, an online retailer that builds custom fixed gear bikes. We asked Zack to tell us a little bit about his company and what makes fixed gear bikes so special.
What is Mission Bikes?
We build custom fixed gear city bikes. Our customers choose the components and colors they want and we build them their dream bicycle. We conceived the company in November, staffed up in March, and have fulfilled over a hundred orders since April. Our website has pictures of our bikes and a blog with a lot of the back story
Why did you start the company?
Last summer I was sitting in a park in San Francisco admiring really beautiful bicycles people were riding in on and started wondering aloud with friends why bike stores in the city were not selling bikes nearly as nice as the ones we were seeing on the streets. There wasn’t a good answer, bike companies simply didn’t manufacture them. Idle talk about starting a company that could build custom bikes turned in to soggy napkin planning and before long we were taking our first orders from friends.
What makes bikes from San Francisco unique?
Custom fixed gear city bikes are not a San Francisco only thing, they are becoming popular in cities all over the US and increasingly over seas. Aesthetically they are very ‘clean’ looking, eschewing big branding and having a minimum set of components; one or no sets of brakes and no derailleur. There are website galleries of tens of thousands of hand assembled fixed gear bikes:
What is it about fixed gear bikes that cause owners to develop such close relationships with them?
The best way to understand is to try riding one. It’s a very different experience from riding a ‘hybrid’ bike typically recommended for city biking. The geometry of the bicycle frame and the direct drive connection you have with the road makes it a much more involved experience. I personally went riding just to get around San Francisco and not particularly enjoying it to falling in love with cycling after starting to ride a fixed gear bicycle.
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