Saturday, May 31, 2008
The objects of our interest were the works of Turner, Monet, and a bunch of other dead French-Dutch-American-Australian landscape artists.
I’d love to talk about the art, but my ignorance would show rather badly. Anyone heard of a guy called Van-goff?
Moving on, I leave you instead with this photo taken outside in the Sculpture Garden near Bert Flugelman's Cones. I call it ‘Sideways, Miss Jane’.
It reveals the deep landscape of the human face, Picasso-fied by my camera angle. I was struck by the realism of the piece, especially the careful placement of the lingua. The artist is unknown.
Here endeth the art lesson.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
When it's something produced by human hands, it seems we subconsciously apply criteria that we don't apply to the natural order.
To illustrate, if the line of telegraph poles I photographed in Bathurst was a line of naturally spaced trees, we would immediately overlook the slight abberation, and comment on the stunning straightness of the line.
But when it's a manmade line, our first remark might be: "That's not real straight."
Your thoughts? Why do we subconsciously apply different criteria to different designs / designers?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I know this bugs some people immensely, while others are pretty 'blah' about it. In any case, let's just be clear: this is not a straight line.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I have never had to work hard at getting employed – jobs have just kind of fallen in my lap when I needed them (sound familiar, Adriaan?). I have had part time jobs just crop up when I needed money, and many of the jobs I have had have been from word of mouth, from people just mentioning things when I wasn’t even actively looking. God has always provided for me financially, especially when I needed it most.
Another example is our children. The gap we have between our children was never meant to be that large, but for some reason unknown to medical science, it took a long time for us to be able to have Sebastian. This, however, has worked out for the best, financially and socially for us. The timing could not have been better if we had planned it ourselves. Obviously, our plan was wrong, which was why God took things into his own hands.
The most recent example, which may be familiar to those who read my blog, is the job I am applying for at the moment. I had given up reading the Seek e-mails because I had decided not to apply for any more uni jobs at the moment – I hadn’t read them for a few months, when one day I decided just to have a look, for no particular reason. I found a job that so suited my interests and abilities at the moment that it was almost as if it had been designed for me! Lo and behold, I now have an interview. More evidence that the Designer is at work in my life.
There are too many of these instances for me to count and it would be a far greater stretch of the imagination for me to write these off as chance than to see them as the work of God in my life. My life, itself is clear evidence of design. In many cases, had I got my own way, I would be a lot worse off now than I actually am. I am glad that such a great Designer is shaping my life and not leaving it totally up to me.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
In a short Q&A session with Georgio Armani, the master designer states, "I love things that age well - things that don't date, that stand the test of time and that become living examples of the absolute best."
It's nice to know I've invested in a pair of glasses which will still work for me in 2030 when I'm 55.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Along with the ubiquitous Verdana, bloggers the world over have succumbed to the charm of this late-bloomer font.
We're talking Georgia, okay?
Though the name might imply southern homestyle cooking, there's nothing homestyle about this sassy little font. Check out its sweet serifs, and the cool way it does numbers: especially 5, 2 and 3 (note the almost lyrical variation in the string 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
It reads nicely too, don't you think? So much nicer than this, or this. And infinitely nicer than this. (Do I hear even one dissenting voice on that last one?)
Georgia is a font born to be loved by computers. Created at the behest of a certain software company back in 1996, this font was a concession to the reality many of us live with: hours and hours each day behind a computer screen.
We need fonts that read well on the screen - because the screen is not the printed page. That was the charge given to a font designer in 1996: to come up with two sans serif fonts and one serif font for on-screen use. Matthew Carter, we thank thee.
For those who don't like it: relax. Go and bury your head in a book; at least you'll be safe from Georgia there.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
When you first walk into a [prospective] new house at inspection time, you begin to visualise what certain spaces might look like: the television cabinet can go here, the antique dresser will go there, the freezer would work well in that tight space.
Moving all your earthly belongings into that same new house provides its share of challenges to those dreams and ideals. The television cabinet won't go where you want it to, so it ends up in the 'wrong' corner. The antique dresser takes up too much space in the bedroom, so it's now in the hallway. The top of the freezer becomes the household workspace, occasionally moonlighting as a dining table when the dining table is covered in baskets of washing.
Over the months that follow, two things happen. Firstly, your dreams of grand but elegant design meet with reality. Secondly, you begin to unpack boxes, ever so slowly. You shift things around and begin to see what might be possible.
A litte bit of both happened in our home this weekend. I finally unpacked two small boxes which had been clogging up our vestibule area since January. Then we shifted some lounges around, and got rid of the coffee table. Okay, we still have the tumble dryer sitting on the loungeroom floor, but this is progress.
The difference is incredible. A few changes have made the loungeroom a really nice place to be in (now add some small, screaming children to complete the picture).
We loved this loungeroom when we first saw the place. We saw it as a space loaded with potential; a great room to share with friends, a welcoming place. Slowly, piece-by-piece, that 'welcome' is being unlocked.
Has anyone out there got a story to share about a space that you're slowly shaping, as your vision for it unfolds? (Thanks to my darling one for tonight's blogging inspiration.)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Okay, so shoes are only supposed to have one entry hole. I guess it probably is time for a new pair.
But how will I ever find another pair of shoes that fits with the precision of these seven-year-old beauties?
Not without the help of Charles F. Brannock. Charlie gave us that fandangled device that the shoe store clamps onto the feet of screaming five-year-olds to give an accurate indication of the shoe size required. You can read all about it here.
It's been 82 years since this device first saw the light of day, but it's hard to imagine a shoe store without it. How has it survived so long? Perhaps, as the article suggests, some things are so simply perfect in design that they can't be improved on.
For pointing out this article, I dips me lid to Jordan, friend from Christchurch (across the dutch). Well spotted, mate.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I guess I could hardly expect any other response; he is his father's son, after all.
I never did get the multi-tasking thing. I never could succeed at keeping several balls in the air at once; one on the ground was enough to absorb all my energies.
Then along comes Dr Michael Gurian asserting, "The male brain (like the female brain) is multifaceted and is capable of doing and being many things at many times."
It's a nice sentiment, but it's not my personal experience. One of my goals in the present Dale Carnegie course I'm doing (lamented in a previous post) is learning to be fully present to the conversations I find myself in. History records the sad fact that the slightest distraction renders me incapable of intelligent engagement.
Being able to do only one task well at any one time has its benefits. For all the things I don't like about the way my brain works, I do know I am capable of homing-in on a particular task and giving it all my energy to deliver an outcome. In some ways, the male brain is an aggravating design; in other ways, it does work well for so many of the tasks we blokes seem to end up doing.
But not all males of the species are afflicted with this 'single-mindedness'. And not all women are capable of a level of multitasking that Bill Gates can only dream of achieving with Windows. There's some give-and-take in the middle; it's nice to be reminded of this sometimes.
Maybe I'm more down the Governator-end of the spectrum (if only in the brain and speech departments!). But it's reassuring to know there are some women out there who can read maps (meet one of them), and some men out there who can chew gum and wash the car at the same time (perhaps you can provide the name of one to verify this bold assertion).
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Tree planting is not a good industry to be in if you're myopic.
Trees are one of those classic images of endurance. In ancient cultures, they symbolise wisdom, integrity.
One of the greatest joys of my work is meeting people of wisdom and integrity. They're not just wondering what the impact of their work will be in 6 weeks, 6 months or even 6 years. They're thinking 60 years down the track. They plant today with a long view.
I visited a site this morning which reflected this beautifully. In this particular Sydney council you have some people who really care about the long-term outcomes of their work. And the way they plant reflects that. Every tree is carefully located, goes in with care, and receives the appropriate follow-up treatment.
And the results show: nearly 100% survival, vibrant growth, and, over time, transformation of the local environment.
Alongside this careful, wise work, was the work of another group of planters. The difference was stark: trees were thrown into the ground everywhere, poorly planted, and slow to perform. Losses, I was told, have been of the order of 60-70%. Ouch.
When we plant what has the potential to grow into something majestic (which our grandchildren will climb in), our work calls for nothing less than the wisdom and integrity of good planning.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Too tired to blog, perhaps. Well, almost.
In keeping with our series begun the other night on the cool invention of tears, tonight's installation features the incredible story of disposable nappies.
Marion Donovan, the woman who invented these, must be regarded as a hero all over the western world.
Marion has been gone for 10 years now, but barely an hour ago I carried four plastic bags full of her legacy out to the Otto bin.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
But what is it that makes a good pizza?
I would suggest that, for the most part, good pizzas rely on simple combinations of distinct flavours.
Forget your pizza crust stuffed with 5 different fat-laden cheeses.
Forget your pizza topping piled high with a compendium of ingredients to rival Aunt Mary's Christmas shopping list.
Forget it all and THINK SIMPLE.
Basil. Oregano. Tomato. Garlic. Prawns. Calamari. Fish. Dough. Cheese.
Yum. Sometimes less is more - agreed?
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Fascinating things, tears.
And a wonderful thing, the internet. When I grew up, our home was blessed with the presence of the expansive Everyman's Encyclopaedia (6 slim volumes, with Einstein's life, career, philanthropic work, and the theory of relativity, all in about 2 paragraphs). Herein lay the answer to all our family's questions.
Now it's Wikipedia. Where better could you hope to be schooled in the science of tears? Did you know there are 3 different kinds of tears, and that not all tears share the same chemical composition?
As a bonus, you'll love the picture with the caption, "A child producing tears due to emotional stress or pain." The picture says far more than the words.
One might also wonder what emotional stress or pain that particular child's parents just went through as well!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Brooke Hindle (1918-2001), in an article now 26 years' old, believed not. History - or at least the part of it he cites - appears to agree with his conclusions.
It's an interesting read on the role of 'design' in innovation, and it closes with a firm assertion: "The solution can come first, and it invariably comes in mental images."
So was this guy right? Or was he off his rocker on this one?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
I was somewhat skeptical of this Carnegie stuff and probably still am (can you tell?).
Words like 'influence', 'leadership', 'sincerity' don't enter my ears easily when I hear them used as means to achieve certain ends.
Nevertheless, Carnegie was onto something: we can be deliberate about who we are in relationships. We can make conscious choices to be deeply interested in people, to listen actively, to express genuine appreciation - or not. These things can profoundly affect the trajectory of our relationships, whether personal or commercial or both.
We don't have to exist in relationships as hapless bystanders waiting for serendipitous moments. There are decisions we can make about ourselves that stand to [potentially] reposition our relationships into much richer places for all concerned.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
As an adult, it can be hard to keep alive that ability to find a space and a book and say, 'These two belong together.' It helps to keep your wits about you.
We were in the company of some friends this evening, relishing some good food and wine in their delightful abode. As the evening wound to a close, I found myself in conversation with Jim in the loungeroom. Jim was cuddling my baby son, Elisha, as we chatted.
At one stage I looked around this large room with its leadlight windows, small bookshelves packed with ancient tomes and teddies and trinkets, the old upright piano, wide timber skirting and a winding staircase disappearing up into the aging ceiling.
The fire was burning low, and I said to Jim, 'This would be a fantastic place to read The Chronicles of Narnia.'
Jim gave a gentle chuckle and a knowing nod; he understands.
So which book and which space is it for you?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In the heat of it all - appointments disintegrating, screaming through roundabouts in the car, getting lost out the back of a golf course - the only thing you feel is the 'pain'.
You're thinking about face lost with clients, about the cost the businesses wear (theirs and ours) when appointments don't work out, about your inability to be fully present to your clients because your mind is already out in the carpark and heading for the next [rescheduled] meeting.
I don't have too many days like these. And when I do, they remind me of why most days on the job are pretty enjoyable. They help me appreciate why we work the way we do in our particular business.
But in even the thick of days like these, 'design' moments can emerge. Pieces come together. The last two meetings of the day, followed by a 4 o'clock lunch at Nando's with their famous Peri Peri sauce, redeemed some of the train wreck. Some good stuff 'clicked' in the last three hours of the day.
To reframe the old C.S. Lewis aphorism, pain is not always a bad thing; sometimes it is a megaphone reminding us of design - whether that design is our own, or the design of another ...