// BarryBlog //

A creative dumping ground for issues that interest me personally and professionally, with the thought they may interest you too. Issues such as the business of design, the design of business, the design of objects, design strategy, creative direction, innovation, creativity, thought leadership, observations, as well as recommendations, mid-century modern decorative arts and architecture, and the state of my thinking (and currently the state of my heart).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

West Chicagoland Thrift / Resale Driving Map

Thrift stores and resale shops are plentiful in the West Chicagoland area. Those who follow BarryBlog know of my thrift scores. And it's almost every day I'm asked where to find these stores. So, below is a list of some of my favorites, with comments about the experience each store offers from my perspective. I will add more stops as I learn of them. If you know of other stores in this general vicinity, leave a comment on this post with the name and address and I'll be happy to add it here. Just bookmark this page, and/or subscribe to the map via RSS and you'll be notified in your reader if anything's added. It's my hope that you'll enjoy and get good use out of this map. I highly recommend that you go to a larger view of the map from Google's page by clicking this link, or the link right below the map which says "view larger map."

If you appreciate this map, and you're feeling charitable, feel free to
leave me a tip.

UPDATE: Scott from the awesome journal ars longa has also shared stops for Decatur, Springfield, and Indianapolis IN to the comments section below this post.

Update to my update: I forgot to mention my friends at Jubilee Furniture (Hi Dave and Susan!).

View Larger Map

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great Flickr Set: Mid-Century Graphic Design of Olivetti

ninonbook has very little in his Flickr stream, but what he lacks in quantity he more than makes up for with the quality of his contribution. His one and only set is a bunch of amazing Olivetti marketing and promotional graphic design efforts smack dab from the mid-20th century. Absolutely inspirational work. I know very little about how he got the work, and know a great deal about the work itself, but since my schedule is a bit upside down, I will pass on explaining the Olivetti design empire, trusting if you are interested you will pursue that further. Google Olivetti and you will quickly learn what a powerhouse this design driven company was. From a previous post of mine (in which a person named Neil McBean ripped off my image), Dieter Rams is quoted as saying this about Olivetti...

Today there is only Apple and to a lesser extent Sony, but not to the same degree as was the case with Olivetti and BRAUN, or Peter Behrens at AEG, or Herman Miller and Charles Eames, Florence Knoll with Saarinen and so on. These kinds of connections are missing today.

I am fortunate to own the Olivetti Lettera 36 and am constantly on the prowl for the Valentine by one of my favorite designers, Ettore Sottsass.

Enjoy nonenbook's Olivetti Set.

A special thanks to Neil McBean. The stated purpose of his blog is to "inspire filmmakers, designers and artists (like me [him]) to develop and produce their own work." Ironically however, he refuses to remove my image that he stole, which he is using to ask the question..."So is Jonathan Ives merely a rip-off artist?" Then he states..."We always build on what came before, and sometimes all that's required is the adaptation of a great design for a new purpose." Then he goes on to state..."When developing storyboards it would be irresponsible not to find out how similar scenes have been shot in earlier films."

Guess McBean doesn't feel it's at all irresponsible to steal. Sweet.

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George Nelson Exhibition at Vitra Design Museum

Anyone who reads my blog with any frequency knows I am a Herman Miller and specifically George Nelson admirer. In fact as I watched this video, I felt a real connection with him for the way he thinks, and his passion for the integration of design into all areas of business. He was a lifetime educator in and out of the classroom. He was a leading writer on design. He was also a designer. And an architect. And to me the most value he added to the world at large was his abilities as a thought leader. He was so ahead of his time. I suspect part of what made him successful was Herman Miller's leadership and their desire to have someone of his caliper involved in the decisions of the company. The rest of his success I'm sure can be chalked up to vision, passion, intensity, and a spirit to innovate that I bet was really contagious. Hope you enjoy this video as much as I have.

( via whatwedoissecret )

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Stevie Wonder: Christmas Time, or Anytime.

Admittedly I'm a big Stevie Wonder fan. We both have roots in Lansing Michigan, and, well, he's famous. So as we approach a wonderful season of love, grace and anticipation, I give you Stevie wonder.

( Seaqpod recommend by colleague DJ Mark Lane )

SeeqPod - Playable Search

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Neocon and The Big Three

: : : : : : : : : : : : R_E_P_O_S_T : : : : : :: : : : : :

Ugh...Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are kinda IN THE NEWS lately, so for those who never heard my perspective on this, here it is (again).

( Begin original post from June 11, 2008 )

So I'm in Chicago at NEOCON 2008. Everywhere I look, I'm amazed. And it made me think. People are genuinely friendly, knowledgeable, and seemingly happy to see me as I walk into their space. I'm not asked if I'm "looking for something special." I'm not immediately apprised of sale items. I am not even asked for my email. Well in a couple I am.

All that said, "The Big Three" come to mind. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. But also the Furniture Big Three– Herman Miller, Steelcase and Haworth.

These Big Three couldn't be more different.

I'm reminded of how amazing the contract furniture market is. It is so obvious that the Furniture Three see design as THE product they sell. They are selling experience and story. Unlike Pontiac's Driving Excitement®– the Furniture Three are genuinely excited and passionate about furniture. So much so that talking to them about it is more like going to lunch with a friend than arm wrestling a car salesman would be.

The thought that keeps coming to mind is how amazing it might be if the Auto Big Three would begin to be more like the Furniture Three. As I shared before here. Even though we find ourselves in tough economic times, it is apparent the Furniture Three have not cut back. Yes, there was noticably way less printed brochures and flashy food, but the commitment to design quality seemed to have been taken up a notch. Everywhere I looked, I was blown away by the thinking, the execution, and the delivery of the products they were just then bringing to market. It was an amazing showcase of design ingenuity and commitment to high design.

I realize I have been picking on The Auto Big Three unmercifully here, some of which is unfair generalization, but the point of all this jabber is to point out one thing.

Those who see design as a function and process will lose. Those who see design as core to what they do, how they do it, what they sell, and who they are, will win.

If the automakers saw the world through the lens of design, and by design I don't mean this year's body-style, then I would likely be driving one of their products. Instead, I buy the product that promises me an experience, that I see as relevant, and that I want to see succeed.

NEOCON is amazing. It is a tangible example of why the furniture industry is a leader in so many ways. Design thinking, business strategy and marketing communication, product innovation, environmental impact, sustainability, and so much more. I maintain that the best marketing is simply doing business well, consistently and with integrity, and with the understanding that nobody cares about your marketing as much as you. Herman Miller gets this. As does Steelcase and Haworth. And each of these three companies, although they are part of a struggling economy like everyone else, rise above the rest and are able to ask a premium for their products. A fact that when you attend NEOCON you will begin to understand why this is no big mystery. It's truly a cradle to cradle way of thinking. A renewable enterprise.

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Making an Eames DSR Molded Plastic Shell Arm Chair

Eames Molded Plastic Chairs – the "making of" video, featuring the legendary Eames DSR Fiberglass Chair. This chair has been reissued to the exact same specs as the original, but is now being made with a more environmentally safe product called polypropylene.

Without question, this post is yesterday's news. In fact, a large percentage of those on my Newfire syndicated feed list have already pointed to this video. Having said that, this friendly reminder: BarryBlog is about sharing, and yes, that includes with me. Being a HMI fan, I could not face not having this on my blog, if for nothing more than posterity. I did post this video in the past. It really is an amazing video and it provides an even greater appreciation for just how much effort goes into making one of these design beauties. Surprisingly, this is one of Herman Miller's lower cost classics. But as I have said before, any Herman Miller product you buy will likely last as long as you do, or longer.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

History Repeating Itself? Banknotes by Herbert Bayer.

Finances reigned in as a result of a botched adoption, the global financial meltdown, and a permanent condition of frugality, I will admit that I have not had the pleasure of buying anything from eBay for quite some time. Even if the economy were at full throttle, some of the amazing items listed at eBay seller room-606 would be beyond my reach. But that has in no way stopped me from perusing his droolable items of rare mid-century modern design history.

In my estimation, eBay seller Matthew at room_606 is one of the premier sellers of 20th century decorative arts and design. Randall Ross of Modernism101 online and on eBay, who I have mentioned before, is also a treasure trove of history and one-off design wonders who I enjoy every bit as much when I am in the mood to learn, and maybe someday buy (or trade as he has so generously offered). If I'm not drooling and learning from Randall, I go to room_606, who as he puts it, "sells everything from art nouveau, art deco, the Modern Movement and beyond. Expect quality pieces by Christopher Dresser, the Wiener Werkstatte, the Bauhaus designers, Charles and Ray Eames and Alvar Aalto among others."

Right at the very moment of this post, room_606 has a full set of six super rare Emergency Million Mark banknotes for the Thuringian state government in Weimar, 1923, designed by Herbert Bayer at the Bauhaus. Original Bauhaus typography and a fascinating artefact from a dramatic moment in the history of the last century. These hyper-inflationary bank notes from Weimar Germany, designed by Herbert Bayer at the Bauhaus, comprises all six number and colour variations. The impoverished Weimer Republic government was producing emergency notes - increasingly dramatic denominations - in a desperate attempt to combat acute hyper-inflation.

Boy, does this sound like history may repeating itself here?
Anyway - the asking price for these rare notes? $899.99. A steep price on the surface, but a truly rare item that would be the envy of any Mid-Century design collector and/or history aficionado. Matthew has other amazing items for sale, and I recommend you check out his goods. I also recommend that you wear a bib.

As a believer and someone who tries to model a life in Christ, I realize that material things are of little importance—in this time in history especially, as many people are without basic food and shelter. I wouldn't want this post to come across flippant, unsympathetic or ignorant to the need that has reared it's ugly face, but share this as a way to share a larger picture of the joys surrounding what I and Rob Roy Kelly call "the hunt." It is really satisfying on many fronts, and can be enjoyed by spending little if any money, unless you choose to own some of these objects. Some people spend their money by going out to eat all the time. Some bet on football. Some buy movies or go to a theater. Instead of these things, I research all things mid-century modern and the people who have added significantly to this aesthetic. Through blogging, thrifting and research, I have developed a really special webnet of friends who share in this hobby. A few wonderful folk like Scott. And Dave. And Liz. And Jess. And Steve. And Chris. And Gerson. And Kent. And Stewf here and here, and Chris, and palebear, and many others. They selflessly share of their time and expertise, giving to the collective network of mid-century modern junkies like myself.

In tough financial times, design can be appreciated without spending money. Research, collaborate, share and grow. There's something really intriguing about well designed items from the past. The stories they tell. The history they represent. And the fun they are to pursue.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas List: One

Someone belly up to the bar and buy me this for Christmas. And don't forget to leave a tip in the jar.

UPDATE: My friend Marcus, in the comments section below, recommends another sweet book.

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