All systems go

Creative Community


Community-driven creative learning centers are popping up in U.S. creative capitals – Brooklyn, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Maker City LA – “a complete habitat for makers and creators,” gives members access to a Media Lab, Fabrication Lab, and Atelier, along with classes, workshops and networking events. Similarly, in San Francisco, Makeshift Society is a “coworking space/clubhouse” for creatives – providing a inspirational venue for learning, connecting and creating.

Office Movement


New research is showing that change is good when it comes to where you sit at work. A recent article in the WSJ notes that intermingling different work departments in seating charts – and switching up those charts every 6 months or so – has led to innovation in several companies, at a low cost. Temperaments also effect productivity, and can be contagious – two opposite ends – a calm, relaxed state and a nervous, stressed state are found to be the most contagious, effecting the people and work being done in proximity.

(Image of Tecno’s Office Design)

Easy Monitoring


Students at Brigham Young University created a pretty genius way for parents to keep an eye on their newborn’s vitals while they sleep. Owlet is a little bootie that fits comfortably onto babies’ feet, and includes sensors and an accelerometer. It connects to an app on parents’ smartphones, giving a visual read-out of the baby’s oxygen level, heart rate, skin temperature, sleep quality, and sleep position. The project was recently successfully crowdfunded, and plans to share essential gathered data with researchers working on SIDS.

Design Council Summit


The London Design Council 2014 Summit has been announced, with the focus – “Leading Business by Design.” Speakers and worksessions will address how to use design to “build brands, products, services, and a working culture that make them stand out in the marketplace.” Session topics include “Creating and sustaining an innovative culture: how to use design to build high performance teams,” and “Innovate and succeed: using design and technology to get ahead.” Tickets are available now.

Supporting Art and Design


A new organization in Brooklyn modeled after CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs, connects talented artists and designers with potential collectors, while providing the collectors with new creative goods. From 300+ applicants, the CSA + D jury selected 12 participating makers, who have been working away at their contributions. Collectors can choose to purchase a share of either 3 or 6 artworks, and on October 19, pick up their boxes of original art and design. Win / win.

(Image of Adam Frezza & Terry Chiao’s work)

Collaborative Healthcare


The Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo, NY is setting a new standard for innovation and healthcare with its considered and thoughtful design. Architects Cannon Design created the building and its various labs, departments and rooms, to encourage transparency and collaboration between typically silo’ed practices. The building is centered around a 2-story  “collaborative core,” where researchers and doctors connect and interact, sharing knowledge that can be passed on to improvements for patient experience.

Conscious Consumers


Many of us now keep tabs on where our food comes from – but what about clothing and other goods? Ethica is a new online retailer working to make it easier and more transparent where clothing comes from, and how it gets to your closet. They sell wares from socially and environmentally responsible sources, dividing each product into five ethical qualities – Sustainable; Made in the US; Trade Not Aid; Handcrafted; and Vegan. Everything they sell fits into at least one of these categories, making it a good buy on all fronts.

Back to Business!


What better way to start September than with new supplies. We are admiring the ingenuity and visually appealing experience of MobileGear’s online shop. Dedicated to the mobile workforce, with a slimmed-down selection of durable and multi-purpose goods, the site is smartly divided into function-based sections – like “Organize,” “Protect,” or “Home Office.” Best of all, the main navigation for each section is a beautiful, well-organized clickable layout of the goods (think Things Organized Neatly).

Know Your Sushi


A San Diego sushi restaurant is now including edible QR codes – printed with water-based inks on rice paper – with their sushi, giving diners access to information on the fish, where it came from, how it was caught, and whether it is threatened by over-fishing. Harvey sushi developed the QR code concept in an effort to promote transparency and sustainable fishing practices in the sushi industry. The code served with albacore tuna sends diners to this video, introducing them to the captain who caught the tuna and an interview with him on the fish and its quality.

Retail Experiments


It’s been exciting to watch as many of our Soho neighbors experiment with new forms of retail, merging brick-and-mortar and digital experiences. Warby Parker recently opened a store on Greene Street, designed in collaboration with Partners & Spade as a throwback to traditional libraries, with walls of shelves and bookcases and rolling ladders. The shop allows customers to try on glasses and get inexpensive eye exams, and includes an internet-connected photobooth allowing users to take pics in preferred styles, printing them out or sending to friends for advice. Orders are taken in the shop, but then delivered via mail. Kate Spade also recently experimented with a digital storefront in Soho, in which shoppers could order items displayed in the window, which were then couriered to them in Manhattan or Brooklyn within the hour.


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