Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

Radiohead — 15 Steps v2.0

November 23, 2008, 4:11 PM

Eye-popping video made by Kota+Totori for Radiohead’s song. They won the first prize in an aniBooM contest (along with 3 other videos — apparently Radiohead couldn’t make up their mind which one they like best).

This one reminded me a lot of FLCL‘s wacky world, but the one thing that made me grin with admiration was the inclusion of storyboard frames into the final animation.

Enjoy it on Youtube (embedding disabled, unfortunately).

(via CG Society)

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Building with light

September 28, 2008, 11:59 AM

Great article about the glittering, Vegas-rivaling, Tokyo pachinko halls on Ping Mag, made by Tokyo Odyssey (check their website for more projects).

Seeing these amazing lighting solutions proved me yet again that light is one of the most impressive means of building architectural volumes, but also one of the most underestimated. Strange how we, humans, as civilization depend so much on our visual perception and still are toying around like dumb kids with one of physics strongest energies. It also pains me every time I’m involved in interior design projects, on one degree or another, to see how of little importance the lighting is to the architects or the client (can’t blame the latter, though, especially in Romania).

One of the rare things that impressed me during college was the lighting lecture kept by a great designer (even if he was a former doctor and also a plastic arts graduate), Mr. Savel Cheptea, one of the founders of the Design College in Cluj. He taught us the importance of good lighting, the effects it has on our eyes and especially on our working/reading stamina—by extending, the huge importance lighting has on our mood (ever wonder why you’re grumpier on rainy days?—it’s the lack of strong, warm sun light and the omnipresence of cold, shadowless light, not the rain itself). I bought that week a 200 watt light bulb for our student room, it boosted our drawing efficiency by at least two times, being able to draw till 4 or 5 in the morning without our eyes feeling the fatigue. After two weeks we got used to it so well that we could sleep with the light on, as others were working.

Most of my 3D renderings were light studies, I could fine tune radiosity and light scattering for days, but got bored in modelling in just three hours tops. The biggest pain while working as an interior designer was that the company made just 3DSMax scanline rendering for the clients, with no real light simulation whatsoever. Sure real light took hours of rendering compared to the 20-30 minute basic renders, and of course clients were visually uneducated (and sadly, still are in Romania). But lighting is one of the most important parts in interior design. Build anything you like, using the most amazing materials, put a 50 watt bulb inside and you’ve got nothing. Use just plasterboards and LED lighting and you can suggest any mood you’d like, from burning hot to freezing cold. And even if the client is uneducated, presenting a light study rather than a washed out top view image will help you sell the project a lot easier. Engineers can easily make top views, an architect should sell concepts, moods, impressions (Monet anyone?).

Sadly, romanian architecture is in the dark. The majority of public-interest buildings are either washed out with cheap lighting (not cheap actually, cost-inefficient to be more precise) or totally “stealth”, like haunted houses on a creepy road.

Concluding, here are some examples of superb lighting. You can easily guess the succes they have as a retail marketing and branding tool.

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Fude Pen — no way back

August 30, 2008, 3:14 PM

This post has been updated, check the bottom.

Last year I had the pleasure of playing with a “brush pen”. The beauty of its lines blew me away. Writing and drawing with it was such a pleasure! Drawing type, logos, sketches, everything looked different from a normal pen, free, vibrant, ever-changing in thickness, ranging from hairline-thin to broad, thick brush strokes. And everything without the hassle of dipping it in ink every three or four strokes. Just cap it back and put it in your pocket. I had to have such a wonderful tool.

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Fude pen from Jlist

Several weeks of searching on the web only brought me frustration. Sure you could find it easily. But finding someone that would ship it to Romania was a different story. After a few months, a colleague told me she was going to Tokyo. You can easily guess my plea :) She brought me some brush pens—thank you Delia—and I was finally able to enjoy drawing with them every day (another friend brought back from Paris a big Corto Maltese poster, one could not ask for a better subject to copy and practice the brush pen). But the pleasure would’ve soon ended, since you can’t refill them (there are other refillable brush pens, a little more expensive, but the problem is the ink, you have to use special ink since other types would dry and make the brush tip useless).

Fortunately, last weekend I showed the brush pen to my sensei and he told me its real name: fude pen (“foo-day” pen). Searching again on the web, this time with the proper name, gave me the much expected results: someone that would ship fude pens to Romania. So here you are, JList ships almost everywhere in the world a lot of Japanese merchandise, fude pens included. Be sure to check out the wide variety of fude pens. I’d recommend the bold line one, the others I still have to test (the shipment’s on the way, can’t wait).

So, if you’re an illustrator, any kind of designer or artist, or just an asian-caligraphy enthusiast, the fude pen is a must have—no other drawing tool will ever compare (ok, fineliners excepted) :)

(foto taken from wikimedia commons)

———
Later update (Oct 2009):
I’ve found a much better and practical fude pen at MUJI (it’s called a calligraphy pen on their site, but with just one ‘l’), you can buy it online here. I bought myself half a dozen last time I went to London, they last at least two years without drying and they’re the best ones I’ve had so far (the tip is made of synthetic hair, not soft rubber).

Calligraphy pen from MUJI Online

———
Another later update (Jul 2012):

You can now find a wide range of ‘fude’ or brush pens shipped internationally by Cult Pens. Still, the Muji pen remains my favourite, as its brush acts more like a real hair brush, not a syntetic one. And they last for years (if you don’t use them daily, of course). My only gripe is they don’t come in other colours (red at least).

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Yoshida Kyōdai—shamisen reborn

August 10, 2008, 11:57 PM

Watch in awe as these two “kyōdai” (brothers in japanese), kimono&hakama-clad but hair-died, masterfully fuse the traditional shamisen with modern music. The Yoshida Brothers are celebrities in Japan and they’ve also begun to be promoted in US and the rest of the world as well. So much that some even compare their shamisen-skills to Jimi Hendrix’s.

Enjoy a simple tranquille ballad and a ravishing waterfall-like song:

(thanks go to otaku)

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Smoke on the Shinano*

June 11, 2008, 11:49 PM

I won’t give any hints, the title is enough—just sit back and enjoy :D

*You can find the video on several websites under the name “Smoke on the Yangtze”—however, the musicians are obviously japanese, not chinese, so I think Shinano would be more suitable (or Biwa, as somebody suggested).

(Thanks go to Maria “Anael” for the link)

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Tadahiro Uesugi's light

March 2, 2008, 9:19 PM

Shin hanga meets french style in Tadahiro Uesugi‘s beautiful illustrations. I love the way his light shines in a mediterranean kind of way, feeling like a stroll on a warm sunny sunday afternoon (reminds me of Kosuke Ikeda a bit). Either way, they’ve got charm. Tons of it.

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After a few searches, I also found a flickr set with Tadahiro‘s work. I forgot how I’ve found him in the first place (I think it was through this Amazon recommandation), but here’s a Drawn! article about him.

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Ukitakumunki – Deviantart

, 8:35 PM

Nice colours and compositions by Ukitakumunki.
Lim Ri Kai is his name, i think.

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(via Leinil Yu)

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Hidden

February 26, 2008, 1:49 PM

Beautiful. More photos with geiko from Kyoto.
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(thanks Alin for the tip)

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Escher's maddening illusions come to life

February 21, 2008, 4:09 PM

Echochrome is a new game by Sony for PS3 and PSP. Using Escher-like puzzles and environments, it seems to be “infinitely” fun. Made in Japan.


(thanks Arpi for the tip)

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Street Art In Japan

February 3, 2008, 6:25 PM

A very interesting Flickr set about street art in Japan.

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(via PingMag)

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