debbie millman

Friday, March 30, 2007

Invisible Magic

When I interviewed Stefan Sagmeister on Design Matters back in 2005, he recalled his experience of moving to Hong Kong and how, before arriving there, he wondered what his life was going to be like. On the flight over, he told himself that the first thing he saw upon landing would give him a sign as to how his new venture would turn out. As his flight came in for its final descent, he saw a billboard advertising a brand named “Winners.” And in that telegraphic instant he predicted his foray into this unknown territory would be a positive one. And it was.

I couldn’t help but nod in agreement as Stefan described this deal he made with himself via the visual indications surrounding him. I, too, depend on what I consider objective signals from impartial sources to forecast or forewarn how a particular situation or encounter might unfold, and I consider all forms of communication fair game. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, snippets of eavesdropped conversations, fortune cookies, newspaper headlines, errant flyers, songs on the radio: these are all potential messages specifically targeted to foretell the future ahead of me.

I think most people participate in some sort of similar behavior; in fact I suspect we engage in a raft of puzzling rituals far more than we even realize. Who among us hasn’t crossed their fingers or knocked on wood or avoided walking under a ladder or tossed salt over their shoulder in the hope that somehow these corny compulsions could protect us from doom or despair?

These superstitions ultimately signal an utter disregard of reason. The superstitious person is under the false assumption of a divine or paranormal influence or form of control over the universe. But superstitions work both ways, for all of the little rituals one might engage in to ward off evil, there are as many that instill a belief that nothing will ever change, and that all the luck we are levied will continue flooding in forever. As a result, the athlete on a winning streak might not change his socks or shave and a gambler might need to sit in a certain chair in order not to break the spell of good fortune. Why do we do this? What is the reason we instill so much power in these signs, these rituals, these amulets of supposed power or protection?

In the case of athletes, sports doctor Richard Lustberg states that “superstitions create a confidence inside a player or coach. Athletes begin to believe, and want to believe, that their particular routine is enhancing their performance.” Wanting more control or certainty is the driving force behind most superstitions. Freud called superstitions "faulty actions." Modern psychologists call this “magical thinking.” Some consider superstitions expressions of inner tensions and anxieties. And still others believe superstitions are signs of a mental disorder.

Mental disorders notwithstanding, lately I have had a hard time not feeling particularly superstitious. There seem to be signs all around us of impending doom. While most days I try to buoy myself up with optimism and high hopes, there are those intermittent spates of days that pop up and challenge all facets of idealism. When is the war going to stop? When will the troops come home? When will the Katrina victims all be housed? When will we find a cure for Aids? Or Alzheimer’s or Multiple Sclerosis? It seems narcissistic, even mad to consider that an enthusiastic billboard or encouraging fortune cookie message can instill a sense of joyful anticipation. And it seems glumly unrealistic as well.

But I believe that the need to believe in superstitions is akin to the hope or wish to believe in magic. Who doesn’t want to live in a magical universe where only good things happen to good people and bad things don’t exist at all?

According to the New York Times, “The brain seems to have networks that are specialized to produce an explicit, magical explanation in some circumstances, such thinking is only one domain where a relevant interpretation that connects all the dots, so to speak, is preferred to a rational one. Furthermore, it seems that children exhibit a form of magical thinking by about 18 months, when they begin to create imaginary worlds while playing. By age 3, most know the difference between fantasy and reality, though they usually still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. By age 8 they have mostly pruned away these beliefs, and the line between magic and reality is about as clear to them as it is for adults.”

Last night, as I was walking home from work, I felt desperate for a sign. I peered into shop windows, searched for newly hung street posters and listened to couples fleeting conversations as I passed them by. But the messages were indecipherable. My gloom grew. All I could see were the bulging stacks of garbage bags, the needy eyes of passersby, the sad sack reflection of a middle-aged woman in the window of a dry cleaner. When does life get easy? When does life become fair?

I have no answers this Friday afternoon, other than to share one last image on yesterday’s journey home. One unmistakable sign of encouragement: that of the sprouting buds. The fledgling shoots and unfurling bulbs have arrived. As I turned the corner to my apartment I remembered: Spring is upon us. Whatever lack of magic I could muster in my mind, signs of life remain, unfettered in their self-sufficiency, unruly in their cheer.

Dedicated to Luba Lukova

Design Matters Today with Luba Lukova

luba
Design by Luba Lukova


Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Luba Lukova.

Luba Lukova is a renowned artist and designer working in New York. Her distinctive art utilizes metaphors, juxtaposition of symbols and economy of line and text to succinctly capture humanity's elemental themes.

The Bulgarian born Lukova has won many awards including the Grand Prix Savignac at the International Poster Salon, Paris; the Golden Pencil Award at the One Club, New York; Honor Laureate at the International Poster Exhibition in Fort Collins, CO; and ICOGRADA Excellence Award at the International Poster Festival in Chaumont, France. She is widely regarded for her New York Times Op-Ed illustrations and has received commissions from the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, Adobe Systems, Sony Music, Harvard University and The War Resisters League.

Visually engaging and powerful, Lukova’s work is exhibited around the world. Her solo exhibitions have been held at UNESCO, Paris, France; DDD Gallery, Osaka, Japan; La MaMa, New York. This year her work will be on display at Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali, Trento, Italy and in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Lukova’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Bibliotheque nationale de France. In 2007 Clay & Gold Editions will publish the first comprehensive book about her art.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 67 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Drawing A Perfect Circle (really)



From The Kircher Society Blog, and once again via my favorite website VSL.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thou Shall Always Think For Thyselves



Performed by the always awesome Dan Le Sac VS Scroobius Pip.

Via the always enlightening VSL.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ode To The FInale

All Madonna All The Time: A Commercial History

Director's Cut H & M Commercial, 2007


Unreleased Max Factor Commercial, 1999


Banned Pepsi Commercial, 1989


Bit of 1985 triva--Madonna was rejected by Revlon to sponsor her first tour...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Her Story Is Strange

fit 3
Illustration by Maira Kalman

In a recent episode of the popular television show Grey’s Anatomy, central character Meredith Grey laments the state of her personality. Tired of being considered “dark and twisty,” she resolves instead to be “bright and shiny” because life is good. She further insists that the sheer intensity of her anticipated state of future happiness will make her friends teeth hurt.

I couldn’t help but nod in agreement in regard to Grey’s noble quest. As far back as I can remember, I have longed for the ability to laugh at myself instead of agonize over what I would consider a perpetual state of drama and, frankly, what “bright and shiny” people would likely consider outright strange. In short, I longed to be happy and shiny and to fit in.

There have been brief stints at my passing for what could be considered fairly normal, but this behavior was primarily displayed during job interviews, first dates and most recently in a dreaded middle seat on an airplane. Instead of pulling out my brand spanking new issue of Bitch magazine, I instead chose to play solitaire on my computer for the entire flight while the two rather large men on either side of me peered at pie charts and played Suduku.

In actuality, I suppose I have lived a sort of odd existence. I was the only daughter of divorced parents decades before divorce was acceptably mainstream. My splintered family moved four times before I made it to third grade and with each transplant I had no choice but to leave all my hard won friends behind. I was married and divorced twice before I was forty and now, instead of a big suburban home filled with a brood of teenage children, I live alone in Manhattan with four furry friends—my two beloved cats and dogs.

Mostly, I have been sheepishly ashamed of this. But over the last few years I have begun to experience a growing sense of comfort in my ever so slightly alternative lifestyle and have discovered that I am much more relaxed in my own skin than I’ve ever been before.

But I still remember the painful moments of adolescence and young adulthood as I attempted to twist myself into someone that at least looked like they fit in. There was the Farrah Fawcett haircut that went horribly awry—with one side of my hair perfectly feathered and the other side sabotaged by an unruly hair lick. This resulted in a sad and bizarre gigantic unfathomable curl jutting out from the left side of my head. And then there was the unfortunate attempt by my seamstress mother to design a shirt for me indicating what SHE thought of me. Realizing my deep despair at what I considered my “too numerous to count” flaws, she bedazzled a t-shirt for me with the word “Perfect” on the front. I wore it proudly to school the next day. But to my utter horror, most people thought the shirt read E R F E C, as the letter spacing of the word P E R F E C T was too wide, resulting in and the first and last letters—the P and the T—being bunched up, squished and concealed under my armpits. Needless to say, the message was so far from perfect, the boy I had a crush on at the time thought it was an uproarious joke.

The philosophy of belonging -- to a family, group, or community – is a fascinating study of our primary need to connect. Psychologist Leon Litwinski has analyzed the psychology of' belonging' at great length. He described ‘belonging' as a unification of the individual with some aspect of the world, initially a passive unification with the mother or the family, then an active domination of possessions, and ultimately an independent and free belonging to oneself. Psychologist Dyrian Benz-Chartrand, a doctor who practices relational somatic psychology, believes that “We can hold surprisingly clear attitudes about right and wrong, and it’s astonishing how we can suspend those beliefs because we want to fit in and be part of some group. Conscience seems to monitor this basic need to fit in. Our desire to be included and belong is immense.”

Last year I had the distinct good fortune to attend Maira Kalman’s opera “The Elements of Style,” which was based on the landmark tome written by William Strunk and E. B. White. This also coincided with the release of her illustrated version of the book. The opera was being presented for one night only at the New York Public Library and the show was entirely sold out. In an effort to manage the large crowd, ushers holding way-finding signs were situated all along the snaking line. But interspersed among the directional posters were whimsical signs, handmade by Maira, featuring quirky and fanciful lines from the book. This pre-show exhibit was enchanting. But my heart stopped when I noticed a young woman holding a sign that simply stated what I considered to be the most mesmerizing line of all. The sign, handwritten in Maira’s sweet, unmistakable script read as follows: “Her Story is Strange.” I couldn’t help what I did next. I ran up to the young girl and asked if I could have the poster. She replied no, she needed it until the show began. I then asked if I could have it after the show was over and offered her all the money I had in my wallet. She looked embarrassed and suggested that I try to find her after the show. In the meantime, she would ask the people in charge if she was allowed give the poster away. After what could only be described as a truly magnificent opera, the audience gathered for a post-show reception. I scanned the room searching for the young usher and when I finally found her I inquired again about the poster. She responded that she had forgotten to ask her boss and told me she would go and try to find her. After what seemed like an eternity, she returned and explained that before giving away the poster, her boss needed to ask Maira’s permission to part with it. And as a result, Maira had a question for the person who wanted the cardboard sign. Since the poster read, “Her Story is Strange” Maira wanted to know if indeed my story was strange. I looked this affable young usher right in the eye and without missing a beat I gleefully and proudly stated that yes!, most assuredly, my story was strange. And with that my new friend smiled wide, pulled the prized poster from behind her back, and replied, “Then yes. If your story is strange, then yes, Maira said you could have it.”

Design Matters Today with our very own National Treasure: MAIRA KALMAN!

Hello dear friends, family and colleagues!

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Maira Kalman.





Maira Kalman is a National Treasure. She is also an illustrator, author and designer whose artwork is featured in a new edition of Strunk and White’s, “The Elements of Style.” She has created many covers for The New Yorker, including the famous map of “Newyorkistan” (created with Rick Meyerowitz). Ms. Kalman’s 12 children’s books include “Max Makes a Million,” “Stay Up Late,” “Swami on Rye” and “What Pete Ate.” She also has designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company and, with her late husband Tibor Kalman under the M&Co. label, clocks, umbrellas and other accessories for the Museum of Modern Art. Ms. Kalman's work is shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in Manhattan. Ms. Kalman lives in New York City and teaches graduate courses in design at the School of Visual Arts. Maira Kalman's illustrated essays, "The Principles of Uncertainty," is a monthly column on New York Times Select. It has been running since May 2006, and will be published as a book this coming October. You can see more of her work at www.mairakalman.com

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 69 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Once again, the tables are turned

From Core 77

I had the distinct honor of being interviewed by the always fabulous Steve Portigal for Core 77.

From the site:

"Steve and Debbie traverse a lot of topics in this one, with stops at cultural anthropology, behavioral psychology, commerce, and creativity—and a nice discussion on the commoditization of the term "strategy"...bringing it back to Michael Porter's classic definition, "deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value." (Debbie asserts that strategy is ultimately owned by the smart people in the process: smart designers, smart brand people.)

Around minute 27, she talks about the monologues at the start of the DesignMatters shows—always a highlight for listeners, and, in our opinion, reason enough to tune in to her weekly show: How does she prepare them? What makes for good topics?

Then things wrap up with a discussion of Maira Kalman and her recent work at the Times. Ironic, since next week's Core77 Broadcast will be with Maira, hosted by Steve Heller."

I love serendipity.

Thank you, Steve. You're a great host.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ze Frank will be the new Jim Carrey

My prediction: Ze Frank will be a big Hollywood star. It is just a matter of time, which he will have a lot more time now that his show is over (sniff sniff). This is the last episode, which aired on Saturday:




And here is a recent Los Angeles Times article.

When he gets nominated for his first Emmy/Grammy/whatever, remember: you heard it here first.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Misty Water-Colored

Name an iconic song and I can tell you everything else that was occurring in my life at the time it was popular: for example, Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” had me in the front seat of Steven Bimini’s bronze Pinto, hot and sweaty, in white shorts, a Yes T-shirt, yellow flip-flops, legs covered in mosquito bites sneaking cigarettes and arguing about the effectiveness of Jimmy Carter’s cabinet. Led Zeppelin’s "Kashmir" had me at Eric Matthew’s pool party, his poodle drunk on bad beer, running in mad circles around the backyard while I tried to convince myself that the “I am beginning to” answer my boyfriend provided to the pointed question, “Do you love me?” was an acceptable one. Cut to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and I am back in the John Glenn High School cafeteria for my junior Prom, clad in a pale yellow Laura Ashley-esque prom dress, looking up at a ceiling covered in tin foil in order to match both the Prom theme and Stevie Nick’s lyrics “Mirror In the Sky.”

President Nixon’s resignation came the summer of Orlean’s “Dance with me” as I fell in love with a boy of 18 wearing an orange and white stripped tube top, gauzy white culottes and an armful of graduated plastic orange bracelets; my parents got divorced when the Beatles “Let It Be” topped the charts and my favorite outfit was a pair of white knee high plastic boots and a pink paisley mini-dress. The summer after I graduated college featured the albums "Synchronicity" by the Police, David Bowie’s "Let Dance" and my new Tower Records T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. In short, music has been a predominant marker in my life; the mere mention of a tune or hearing the first chords of a song creates a crescendo of images and sensory perceptions unlike any other stimulus.

These moments of sensory overload are frozen in time—I have but a scant memory of what might have come before or after, and I find that I can’t recall any other outfits or meals or parties with the same zeal without the benefit of my mental musical accompaniment. Time slows and then stops as this visceral sculpture pushes forth, replete with touch and smell and yearning and youth. The music is as much a part of the memory as the memory is of identity.

What is it about music that provides this shortcut to the minutiae of both our collective and individual histories? Dr. Oliver Sacks, who has spent his career exploring the workings of mind and brain, is intrigued with the indelible impression that music makes on our synapses. One patient’s bout with encephalitis wiped his memory clean, but left his ability to play and conduct music completely intact. Just minutes after a performance, however, he had no recollection of the music at all. Another patient, left without language after a brain injury, was still able to sing unimpaired.

According to Washington Post writer Shankar Vedantam. “Robert Zatorre, a McGill scientist, once hypothesized that because music is abstract, it must activate parts of the brain that process abstract ideas.. But when Zatorre asked people to listen to their favorite pieces of music as he ran brain scans on them, he found that music activated very ancient parts of the brain.”

What is fundamentally interesting about this is that there seems to be a duality to the relationship between music and memory. According to William J. Cromie, “Music activates the "temporal" lobes of the brain. The temporal lobes are involved in processing music and memory." Certain types of music may activate the temporal lobes and help people learn, process and remember information. As a result, music opens new pathways into the mind and abstract reasoning and conceptualization are enhanced by musical activities. Music also creates a connection between the two hemispheres of the brain." But the brain only remembers that information which is “hooked” to emotions. Music essentially increases our attention to sounds, timing and perception and enhances memory by attaching emotional context and activating multiple memory pathways. And because cognitive development, physical development and emotions are all intertwined; all brain systems are affected by music. What is most interesting to me is because of this inherent multi-faceted dependency, having music as part of an experience actually helps us remember it better.

Recently I was in a karaoke bar and watched as my friends belted out the greatest hits of the ‘80s in grand tradition. There was a rousing version of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Duran Duran’s “Rio” and bar-wide participation of Culture Club’s “Do You Want To Hurt Me?” After hours of urging me to join the festivities, I finally agreed under certain conditions. I would sing something that wasn’t from the ‘80s and a tune that I loved with all my heart. As I poured through the voluminous catalog, I stopped with assurance when I saw that they had the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” This was a song I could do! This was a song that would certainly prevent me from looking like an idiot! I sauntered up to the stage, hubris in hand. As I dramatically fiddled with the microphone, I realized I had left my glasses in my handbag and couldn’t read the karaoke monitor. But I brushed aside my worries when I remembered that this song was so imbedded in my personal history I could likely sing in backwards. But after the first stanza, I realized I was wrong. While I could remember exactly what I was wearing, thinking, dreaming and drinking the moment “Let It Be” first hit the airwaves, I realized that I had absolutely no idea what the actual words of the song were. What was the line after “And in my hour of darkness, she is standing there in front of me?” Was it “There will be an answer, let it be” or “Whisper words of wisdom, let it be?” I had absolutely no idea which one, nor of any of the lyrics that followed.

My friends laughed as I fumbled and I realized they thought I was just a reluctant performer. But I knew better. While the song helped form my memories, the memories obliterated the actual content of the song. As my friends roared with hysteria, I sheepishly smiled as I proceeded to make up my own words to the song. And then I realized that unlike the lyrics, I would never, ever be able to forget this moment. And if I tried, I knew that my friends would have enormous joy in reminding me every chance they could.

Design Matters Today with Jakob Trollbäck

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Jakob Trollbäck.

A self-taught designer from Sweden, Jakob Trollbäck leads an innovative and highly successful company, creates seminal and award-winning designs, and is an industry leader in branding and motion graphic design. Springing forth from seemingly unorthodox beginnings, Trollbäck + Company was born when the former DJ transferred his aural pursuits to the visual medium, aiming to create emotive pieces that take their audiences to purely sensorial planes. Jakob’s ambitions quickly moved his company to the forefront of motion design. Currently in its seventh year, Trollbäck has successfully expanded its creative output to film titles including the Oscar-winning “Capote,” television commercials, publication design, environmental design, music videos and short films. Clients include the television networks CBS, AMC, HBO, TCM, TNT and Sundance Channel; film companies HBO Films, Fox Searchlight and Miramax; and advertising clients Nike, Volvo, Fidelity and Jaguar.

Trollbäck + Company has received dozens of creative-industry awards, including those from the Primetime Emmy Awards, AICP Show, Art Directors Club, Broadcast Designers Association, British D&AD, Communication Arts Design Annual, The One Show, and Type Directors Club, among many others. Most recently, Trollbäck + Company has been named a participant in the upcoming 2006-2007 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Triennial. Jakob has also lectured and taught at a variety of universities, including the Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons, School of Visual Arts and Yale University. For more information, please go to www.trollback.com.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 74 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Albert Einstein: March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955

At the start of his scientific work, Einstein realized the inadequacies of Newtonian mechanics and his special theory of relativity stemmed from an attempt to reconcile the laws of mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. He dealt with classical problems of statistical mechanics and problems in which they were merged with quantum theory: this led to an explanation of the Brownian movement of molecules. He investigated the thermal properties of light with a low radiation density and his observations laid the foundation of the photon theory of light.

In his early days in Berlin, Einstein postulated that the correct interpretation of the special theory of relativity must also furnish a theory of gravitation and in 1916 he published his paper on the general theory of relativity. During this time he also contributed to the problems of the theory of radiation and statistical mechanics.

In the 1920's, Einstein embarked on the construction of unified field theories, although he continued to work on the probabilistic interpretation of quantum theory, and he persevered with this work in America. He contributed to statistical mechanics by his development of the quantum theory of a monatomic gas and he has also accomplished valuable work in connection with atomic transition probabilities and relativistic cosmology.

From NobelPrize.org

person of the century



Saturday, March 10, 2007

Why I Love Branding

my life

By Glen Le Lievre, as seen in the New Yorker

Via the always wonderful swissmiss

Friday, March 09, 2007

Shocker: Carson Cancels Design Matters Appearance

24 hours after confirming and a mere three-and-a-half-hours before showtime, Mr. Carson emailed me the following:

From: david carson
Subject: Re: Design Matters Today with David Carson 03.09.07
Date: March 9, 2007 11:33:34 AM EST
To: debbie.m@sterlingbrands.com

debbie,

im flying back today from

speaking to the denver aiga last night(sold out: )

sorry for th elate notice , but i will be in the air

at interview time. i hope we can reschedul...

my apoligies again,

david

* * * * *

But fear not, dear listeners! For the eagle eyed that saw my embedded text in the previous post, I anticipated this might happen. The jist of the cryptogram was this: Now we all know that David Carson is notorious for cancelling, but don't worry, I have a back up plan if he is a no-show. Oh, and my monologue is killer! Killer!

So I hope you listen anyway.
: )

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Suzie

My life has been book-ended with a nearly fetishistic love of animals.

For most of my early years, I didn’t own any pets; neither of my parents were “pet people” and as a result I never understood where my passion for domesticated animals originated. The only pet I ever had growing up was a frog dad found late one August evening while I was spending the summer in a Catskills sleep away camp. My brother and I insisted on keeping the frog through the fall, and we ingeniously named our new amphibian friend Jumpy. Together we decorated a big fish tank with twigs and leaves and pine combs. In order to feed the frog, my parents were forced to scour the neighborhood searching for bugs, but they had to do this alone as I was too squeamish to help them and my brother was too little. Invariably, when they found some living insects to feed the famished frog, I became distressed by the concept of killing the woebegone bugs and cried when the frog snapped up its prey in one fell swoop. Needless to say, Jumpy lived with us only a few short weeks. One day I came home from school and his tank was empty. Mom and Dad told me they had taken him to the park and set him free to live in what was described to me as a frog paradise. As revenge to my unreasonable parents, I begged them for a dog. They said no. Then I demanded a cat, and again I was refused. No one could understand why and where my passion for house pets came from and my perplexed parents tried to make it up to me by presenting me with a glass poodle with pink fur dad won at the annual Jewish Community carnival. They named the dog Suzie; I assumed it was because my middle name is Susan and as bizarrely cute as the glass poodle with pink fur was, I was nevertheless inconsolable.

I didn’t have the impetus to get another pet until five years ago, when I took in a gray tabby I call Rothko. Rothko is a magical feline. Shortly after he came to live with me, I began to feel guilty leaving him all alone when I went to work, and convinced he was lonely, I adopted a companion cat. Lucy hated both of us the moment she arrived, though I didn’t have the heart or the nerve to send her away. She has terrorized us both ever since. By the following year my furry family had grown four fold: I adopted two dogs as well: Scruffy joined us when I was suffering a depression and thought a dog could mend a broken heart (which it can, by the way) and Duff when she was abandoned at my dog walker’s home. It was at that point that my bewildered friends demanded I stop before I ended up a weird, middle-aged woman with no one to talk to but a vet. This was further compounded by the subsequent demise of the relationship I was in, as my then paramour demanded that the pets sleep no where near the bed, told me I had an unhealthy affinity for the furry four and insisted that I choose: him or them. Since I believe how a person treats animals is testament to who they are as people, I chose to keep my family intact, as heartbreaking as it seemed at the time.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 63% of U.S. households currently own a pet. In fact, this country is now producing more pets than people. In 2006, $38.4 billion was spent on our furry friends, up from $36 billion the year before. More and more companies traditionally know for human products are now expanding into pet fare. Companies including Omaha Steaks, Origins, Harley Davidson and Old Navy are now offering lines of products ranging from dog shampoo, pet attire and gourmet treats. Hotels across the country are adopting new pet friendly services including oversized pet pillows, plush doggie robes, check-in gift packages, and a turn down treat. Some hotels even have a licensed dog masseuse on staff.

According to Steve Dale’s Pet Central, animals are now members of the family, so it should come as no surprise that 54% of dogs and 43% of cats receive Christmas gifts. 65% of all dogs sleep anywhere they downright please, including sharing the bed with their owners. And noted cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken recently wrote a piece on his popular blog about a survey stating that 94% of owners believe their pets have human-like personality traits, 45% prefer talking to their pets compared to 30% preferring conversation with their spouse, and 56% surveyed admitted to very likely risking their own life for that of their pet.

So what is going on here? K.C. Cole, the director of UCLA's People-Animal Connection, has reviewed studies of the human-animal bond and is convinced there are many social, psychological, and physiological benefits. Her research reveals that when asked to perform a stressful math equation, pet owners showed less stress in the company of their pets than in the company of friends. Other studies have found that owning a pet relieves depression and reduces blood pressure. Cole believes that animals contribute to raising self-esteem and significantly lower anxiety levels, and most impressively, she states that heart attack patients with pet companions survive longer than those without.

Not long ago, I found the origin to my obsession with pets. While cleaning out my storage space on 11th Avenue, I came across an old wobbley box labeled ‘linens’ in my grandmother’s handwriting. I gingerly opened it up and saw a ramshackle stack of old sheets and pillowcases and shrieked at the fabulously outdated patterns. As I pored through the pile, I came upon a plastic storage bag containing some yellowed pillowcases. As I unzipped the bag, I realized what was in front of me: my first childhood pillowcases. The front featured a little girl with freckles and pigtails lying in a big fluffy bed surrounded by a dog, a cat, a turtle, a pig, and a bird under the comic sans-like headline “Friends You Can Count On.” The back featured a counting poem that read “One is for Suzie all curled up in bed, two is the bunny asleep on her head.” The pillowcases had been repaired many times, holes sewn up, ends frayed bare, and they were dotted with makeshift patches. Here was my whole life. I felt as if I was looking at a science project. And as I fingered the linen cases, I realized I was. Cats, dogs, frogs, pillowcases, people. Here, right in front of me was the lineage of my heart. Here was the evidence--and the effect--of love on a pillowcase.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Poetry Tuesday: Poem from a Podcast

I came across the blog Pilachi Sketch, written by Akindele Hickling and found a poem taken from the deconstruction of one of my podcast monologues.

This from Akindele's blog:

"Another experiment in narrative styling.

While listening to a podcast by Debbie Millman, a talk radio designer, I started to pick words out of her monologue. Then spaced them out, then made them bold, then went back to the top and added another layer, un-bolded. Then added thoughts on what she was saying, then added direct quotes, then stopped… and read it, to see if it made any sense at all."


I think it is terrific, and here it is:

DECONSTRUCTING A PODCAST INTRO
by Akindele Hickling

unabashedly

It seems I am lost

thought association development
reassure

nuance… ambiguity

maybe it is raining, maybe it is not

adjour

forestry

symbols and actions
interpretive medium

inadequacy



Retrospective tome Mark Rothko

interpretation

patterns in nothing. Is this… she made a mistake. she paused. “I just lost my way”

lack of conviction and clarity

philosophy of language

everyone understood.

where do you stand in the world

signs used



debbie millman uses really big words to show that she is smart while she talks about her own self involvement
association

jacque derrida… died last year… one of the tenents of his philosphy. deconstructivism.

who cares if Debbie Millman is in Tokyo.
that depends on what the definition of “is” is

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Gift From Carin: The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

Sunday, March 04, 2007

(New Feature) Designers I Love: Kate O'Connor

Designer I Love: Kate O'Connor

From Kate's Embroidery Collection

Designer I Love: Kate O'Connor

From Kate's Bookshelf Series Collection

From Kate's Flickr site at Kate O'Connor.

Kate O'Connor is an artist, designer and illustrator living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She's currently a fulltime member of Halifax based collective Co. & Co. after working three years as Art director at the local alternative weekly The Coast. She holds both a BFA and a BDes from NSCAD University.

"Losing Builds Character, Anyone Can Win"



Quote by Alan Arkin, in the opening sequence of the 79th Academy Awards by Eroll Morris. Via Design Observer.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Another Gift From Marian



The Master: Ira Glass on Storytelling

Design Matters Today with Andrea Dezsö

andrea and art

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters is Andrea Dezsö.

Andrea Dezsö is an artist, writer and educator. She is Asst. Professor of Media Design at Parsons School of Design, in the Communication Design & Technology department where she teaches MFA and BFA courses ranging from Interface Studio and MFA Thesis to Visual Narrative and Book Design. She has shown in international art exhibitions such as the New York Armory Show and Art Basel Miami, and her work has been included in prestigious public and private collections. Andrea's illustrations appeared on the cover of Print magazine and in the New York Times. Her writing and art was published in Print, McSweeney's, Blab and Esopus. Her most recent projects include a large-scale public art mosaic commissioned by the MTA Arts for Transit for the Bedford Park Boulevard (Bronx, NY) subway station. Andrea is the 2005 recipient of the Ucross Foundation's Lois Nellie Gill Award for Female Visual Artist of Exceptional Merit. She lives in New York City and you can see more of her work at www.andreadezso.com.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 80 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.
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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on DesignObserver.com. In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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