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Apologies for my absence, I have been a little busy with work but glad to have to some time again to dedicate to the blog. Right, let’s get to it!

I’ve been collecting examples of packaging design that I like and since it’s been quite a long time since I posted about packaging, it seemed appropriate to showcase them today. It’s amazing how well considered packaging design can influence your perception of that product.

Sergey Parfenov created this playfully pink packaging and identity for a coffee shop in Moscow, Russia, called Surup Cafe.




Balzac’s Coffee Roasters is a microroaster and independent coffee company based in Ontario, Canada, known for its artisanal handcrafted coffee. Chad Roberts Design was commissioned to create packaging that represented their core values: “natural, sustainable, artisanal and local.”




Various packaging design concepts with hand drawn lettering and illustration by Marta Harding for Williams Sonoma.


01_17_13_williamssonoma_2I’m not sure if this milk packaging by Isabella Rodriguez, is real or concept (probably the latter). But I think it’s a great, simple design nevertheless.




Known for its elegant book covers and use of decorative hand lettering, Louise Fili‘s studio, revamped the old packaging of a gelateria in Maine.

“Our latest packaging makeover is for Gelato Fiasco, a Maine gelateria making artisan gelato and sorbetto fresh daily, using organic milk and all-natural ingredients. The package was upgraded from a flimsy plastic takeout container to a sturdier clear cylinder (allowing for the brilliant colors of the product to show through), topped with a silver metal lid. Stickers are color-coded to the 24 different flavors offered (pomegranate chocolate chunk, caramel sea salt, chocolate noir, and strawberry balsamic, to name a few).”



Peter-John de Villiers worked with Oslo-based agency FRANK to create the packaging illustration for a Christmas beer from the Norwegian brewery GRANS.

“The concept was to bring back the traditional approach of hand drawing from earlier era’s for the relaunch of their Christmas beer.”



photo3_900Spanish designer Diego Delgado created this bold, minimalist packaging design for winery Bodega 99 as part of his final degree project.

“The first line of young wines from this recently created winery was named HARTO DE VINO after a Spanish expression which means having drunk too much wine. The name of the brand refers to the origin of the winery and tries to attract the target audience’s attention by using humor and irony.”





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4023 days ago
Brooklyn, New York
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Blog all dog-eared unpages: The Red Men by Matthew De Abaitua

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I’d been recommended “The Red Men” by many.

Webb, Timo, Rod, Webb, Timo, Rod, Schulze, Bridle (who originally published it) all mentioned it in conversation monthly, and sometimes weekly as memetic tides of our work rose and fell into harmony with it.

The physical (red) book stared at me from a shelf until, recently, aptly it lept the fence into the digital, and was republished as an e-book.

This leap was prompted by the release of Shynola’s excellent short film – “Dr. Easy” – that brings to life the first chapter (or 9mins 41secs) of the book.

The Red Men resonates with everything.

Everything here on this site, everything I’ve written, everything I’ve done. Everything I’m doing.

In fact, “resonates” is the wrong word.


It shook me.

Read it.

My highlights, fwiw (with minimal-to-no spoilers) below:

“I wriggled my hand free of Iona’s grasp and checked my pulse. It was elevated. Her question came back to me: Daddy, why do people get mad? Well, my darling, drugs don’t help. And life can kick rationality out of you. You can be kneecapped right from the very beginning. Even little girls and boys your age are getting mad through bad love. When you are older, life falls short of your expectations, your dreams are picked up by fate, considered, and then dashed upon the rocks, and then you get mad. You just do. Your only salvation is to live for the dreams of others; the dreams of a child like you, my darling girl, my puppy pie, or the dreams of an employer, like Monad.”

“The body of the robot was designed by a subtle, calculating intelligence, with a yielding cover of soft natural materials to comfort us and a large but lightweight frame to acknowledge that it was inhuman. The robot was both parent and stranger: you wanted to lay your head against its chest, you wanted to beat it to death. When I hit my robot counsellor, its blue eyes held a fathomless love for humanity.”

“ugliness was a perk confined to management.”

“Positioning himself downwind of the shower-fresh hair of three young women, Raymond concentrated on matching the pace of this high velocity crowd. There were no beggars, no food vendors, no tourists, no confused old men, no old women pulling trolleys, no madmen berating the pavement, to slow them down; he walked in step with a demographically engineered London, a hand-picked public.”

“Over the next few days you will encounter more concepts and technology like this that you may find disturbing. If at any time you feel disorientated by Monad, please contact your supervisor immediately.’

‘How do you help him?’ ‘It’s about live analysis of opportunities. Anyone can do retrospective analysis. I crunch information at light speed so I’m hyper-responsive to changing global business conditions. Every whim or idea Harold has, I can follow it through. I chase every lead, and then I present back to him the ones which are most likely to bear fruit. I am both his personal assistant and, in some ways, his boss.’

“So long as the weirdness stayed under the aegis of a corporation, people would accept it.”

“Once you pass forty, your faculties recede every single day. New memories struggle to take hold and you are unable to assimilate novelty. Monad is novelty. Monad is the new new thing. Without career drugs, the future will overwhelm us, wave after wave after wave.’”

“No one has access to any code. I doubt we could understand it even if we did. All our IT department can offer is a kind of literary criticism.’

‘I can’t sleep. I stopped taking the lithium a while ago. Is this the mania again? Monad is a corporation teleported in from the future: discuss. Come on! You know, don’t you? You know and you’re not telling. I would have expected more protests. Anti-robot rallies, the machine wars, a resistance fighting for what it means to be human. No one cares, do they? Not even you. You’ll get up in the morning and play this message and it will be last thing you want to hear.’

“George Orwell wrote that after the age of thirty the great mass of human beings abandon individual ambition and live chiefly for others. I am one of that mass.”

“Plenty of comment had been passed on the matter, worrying over the philosophical and ethical issues arising from simulated peope, and it was filed along with the comment agitating about global warming, genetically modified food, nano-technology, cloning, xenotransplantation, artificial intelligence, superviruses and rogue nuclear fissile material.”

“His gaze raked to and fro across the view of the city, the unsettled nervous energy of a man whose diary is broken down into units of fifteen minutes.”

“This has been very useful. Send my office an invoice. Before I go, tell me, what is the new new thing?’ I answered immediately. ‘The Apocalypse. The lifting of the veil. The revelation.’ ‘Yes, of course.’ His coat was delivered to him. As he shuck it on, Spence indicated to the waiter that I was to continue to drink at his expense. ‘Still, the question we must all ask ourselves is this: what will we do if the Apocalypse does not show up?’”

“History had been gaining on us all year and that clear sunny morning in New York it finally pounced.”

“‘No. Advanced technology will be sold as magic because it’s too complicated for people to understand and so they must simply have faith in it.”

‘Every generation loses sight of its evolutionary imperative. By the end of the Sixties it was understood that the power of human consciousness must be squared if we were to ensure the survival of mankind. This project did not survive the Oil Crisis. When I first met you, you spoke of enlightenment. That project did not survive 9/11. With each of these failures, man sinks further into the quagmire of cynicism. My question is: do you still have any positive energy left in you?’

“‘My wife is pregnant,’ I replied. ‘My hope grows every day. It kicks and turns and hiccups.’ Spence did not like my reply. Stoker Snr took over the questioning. ‘We are not ready to hand the future over to someone else. Our window of opportunity is still open.’ He took out what looked like an inhaler for an asthmatic and took a blast of the drug. Something to freshen up his implants.”

‘Do you remember how you said to me that the Apocalypse was coming? The revelation. The great disclosure. You wanted change. It looked like it was going to be brands forever, media forever, house prices forever, a despoticism of mediocrity and well-fed banality. Well, Dr Easy is going to cure us all of that.’

‘We did some research on attitudes to Monad. We had replies like “insane”, “terrifying” and “impossible”. As one man said, “It all seems too fast and complex to get your head around. I’ve stopped reading the newspapers because they make every day feel like the end of the world.”’

‘What disturbs me is how representative that young man’s attitude is. Government exemplifies it. It has learnt the value of histrionics. It encourages the panic nation because a panicking man cannot think clearly. But we can’t just throw our hands up in the air and say, “Well, I can no longer make sense of this.” The age is not out of control. If you must be apocalyptic about it, then tell yourself that we are living after the end of the world.’

“The crenelations of its tower were visible from much of the town, a comforting symbol of the town’s parish past. Accurately capturing the circuit flowing between landscape and mind was crucial to the simulation.”

“He handed me a ceremonial wafer smeared with the spice. ‘We start by entering Leto’s communal dreamland.’ I looked with horror at the wafer. ‘This is ridiculous. I am not eating this.’ I handed the wafer back to him. He refused it. ‘I’m giving you a direct order. Take the drug!’ ‘This is not the military, Bruno. We work in technology and marketing.’ ‘We work in the future!’ screamed Bougas. ‘And this is how the future gets decided.’

“One of Monad’s biggest problems was its monopoly. To survive in the face of a suspicious government, the company went out of its way to pretend it had the problems and concerns of any other corporations, devising products and brands to fit in with capitalism.”

“Management wanted to talk so they dispatched a screen to wake me; it slithered under the bedroom door then glided on a cushion of air across the floor until it reached the wall where it stretched out into a large landscape format.”

“I understand why you work there. Why you collaborate with them. You have a family, you are suspended in a system that you didn’t create. But the excuse of good intentions is exhausted.”

‘You are afraid. There is a lot of fear around. Society is getting older. The old are more susceptible to fear. Fearful of losing all they have amassed and too old to hope for a better future. You’re still young. Don’t let the fear get inside you.’

‘The battle has been lost and all the good people have gone crazy. My surveys reveal a people pushed down just below the surface of what it means to be human. You exist down where the engines are. Damned to turn endlessly on the cycle of fear and desire. Should I push the fear button? Or should I pull the desire lever? Save me some time. Tell me which one works best on you.’

“Society had become a sick joke, a sleight-of-hand in which life was replaced with a cheap replica. Progress abandoned, novelty unleashed, spoils hoarded by the few. The temperature soared as the body politic fought a virus from the future.

“Dr Hard grabbed me by the hair and shook some sense into me. ‘Artificial intelligences are not programmed, Nelson. They are bred. My ancestor was an algorithm in a gene pool of other algorithms. It produced the best results and so passed on its sequence to the next generation. This evolution continued at light speed with innumerable intelligences being tested and discarded until a code was refined that was good enough. A billion murders went into my creation. Your mistake is to attribute individual motivation to me. I contain multitudes, and I don’t trust any of them.’

And, from the author’s afterword:

The novel was conceived as a hybrid of the modes of literary fiction with the ideas and plotting of science fiction. I wanted to use the characters and setting we associate with literary fiction to make the interpolation of futuristic technology more amusingly dissonant, as that was the character of the times as I experienced them.

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4030 days ago
Brooklyn, New York
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Startup Investing Trends

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4032 days ago
I am really tired of startups and egoic utopianism, but this is pretty swell.
Brooklyn, New York
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Privacy Lock

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As you saw in the previous post, many Pinboard users choose to keep their accounts completely private. About 12,000 have the 'add everything as private' setting enabled for that reason.

There are two big problems facing private users. The first is that the site is ugly. Private bookmarks have a dark background by default, to make it easy to distinguish them at a glance from public bookmarks. But this design only works well if you have few private bookmarks mixed in with a lot of public bookmarks (by a curious coincidence, my own usage pattern). Otherwise your bookmarks become a busy grey mess.

The second problem is that it's too easy to make a bookmark public by accident, particularly if you use the API. While it doesn't happen often, there's no reason these controls should be there if you don't intend to use them.

Today I'm adding a new feature to address these problems, called Privacy Lock. Privacy Lock will make it impossible to add public bookmarks to your account in any form while the setting is turned on. It will also make private bookmarks appear without a dark background, so the site is easier on the eyes.

In order to turn on Privacy Lock, you'll first have to make sure all your bookmarks are private. You can make them private by using the bulk edit link at the top of your home page.

Once the setting is on, you'll see a little padlock next to your username:

Your bookmarks will have a pretty white background, and you'll see there's no way to make them publicly visible. You can turn Privacy Lock off whenever you like, and your account will go back to its normal self.

You can toggle the new setting in the privacy tab of your settings page.

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4032 days ago
Brooklyn, New York
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1 public comment
4032 days ago
Great power user setting, and great solution to a tricky problem.
Williamstown, MA

Revolving Doors

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Collage series by Man Ray Part of the 1913 exhibit at Princeton. Thank you BibliOdyssey. Will 50 Watts
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4032 days ago
Brooklyn, New York
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4128 days ago
I just look at these images. I have no words for them.
Sussex, UK

Al Jazeera English to be buried in cable

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Two Two years ago I called Al Jazeera’s live coverage of the revolution in Egypt a “Sputnik moment” for cablein the U.S. Turns out it wasn’t. Not sinceAl Jazeera agreed to pay half a $billion, plus their live internet stream, to sit at U.S. cable’s table. Losing Al Jazeera English reduces to a single source — France24— the number of live streams available on the Net from major video news channels. It also terminates stops at 5.25 years Al Jazeera English’s historyon the Net at 5.25 years.


It’s a huge victory for cable and an equally huge loss for the open Net. And, I dearly hope Al Jazeera feels that loss too. (at least in the short term) for Al Jazeera. Because what Al Jazeera screws here is a very loyal audience. Just, apparently, not a lucrative one.

In Al Jazeera Embraces Cable TV, Loses Web, The Wall Street Journal explains,

…to keep cable operators happy, Al Jazeera may have to make a difficult bargain: Giving up on the Web.

The Qatar government-backed television news operation, which acquired Current TV for a few hundred million dollars from investors including Al Gore, said Thursday that it will at least temporarily stop streaming online Al Jazeera English, its global English-language news service, in about 90 days. That’s when it plans to replace Current TV’s programming with Al Jazeera English.

Al Jazeera plans later to launch an entirely new channel, Al Jazeera America, that will combine programming from the existing English-language service with new material. The new channel likely won’t be streamed online either, a spokesman said.

And it is unclear whether the original English service will reappear online: the spokesman said Thursday a decision about that was dependent on negotiations with cable operators.

The network’s decision to pull its service off the Web is at the behest of cable and satellite operators. It reflects a broader conflict between pay television and online streaming that other TV channels face. Because cable and satellite operators pay networks to carry their programming, the operators don’t want the programming appearing for free online. Aside from older series available through services like Netflix, most cable programming is available online only to people who subscribe to cable TV.

You won’t find better proof that television At issue here is the economics of openness. Television is a captive marketplace. You can only watch it in ways The Industry allows, and on devices it provides or approves. (While it’s possible on devices approved — and for the most part provided — by The Industry. Yes, you can watch TV on computers, other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, you can only do that but only if you’re already a cable or satellite subscriber. You can’t get it direct. You can’t buy it à la

carte, as would be the case if the marketplace were fully open.)For what carte. The Industry wants you to buy “bundles” that includes mountains of crap you won’t watch.For what little

it’s worth, I would gladly pay for Al Jazeera English. So would a lot of other people, I’m sure. But the means for that are not in place, except through cable bundles, which everybody other than the cable industry hates. people. But to the tune of $.5 billion? Not likely.

In the cable industry they call the Net “OTT,” for “over the top.” That’s where Al Jazeera English thrived. But now, for non-cable subscribers, alas, after those 90 days go by, Al Jazeera English is will be dead and buried UTB — under the bottom.

bottom for non-cable subscribers. Another revolution co-opted and lost. At least for now.

Adverto in pacem, AJE. For loyal online viewers you were the future. Soon you’ll be the past.

Bonus links:

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4203 days ago
Hooray! Following doc searls has paid off
New York, New York
4034 days ago
Brooklyn, New York
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