Yes, that’s a subjective take. But it’s one that’s hard to argue with.
In a crazy world where fashion houses had to adapt, maybe no one brought us back down to earth more than Loewe artistic director Jonathan Anderson (also founder and lead designer of his namesake brand J.W. Anderson).
He introduced “Show in a Bag” where people invited to the traditional runway show were sent paper dynamos of the show.
Loewe Show in a Bag
But that is only the beginning.
The entire collections was grounded in extremely traditional artisanal ways of making, from basket weaving, to Shibori, to knitwear, and of course, to both classical and whimsical ways of creating leather goods, which Loewe is famous for.
When bag and clothing became one.This is showing the traditional Shibori method of coloring fabricA collaboration with basketweaving artist Idoia Cuesta
Sometimes we need not be bombastic in our efforts to adapt especially at a moment in time that is filled with so much uncertainty, anguish, and chaos.
Sometimes we just need to go back to craft, because there is something profoundly simply and beautiful in the act of creating itself.
What if We Approached Mental Health Like our Physical Health?
Olympic runner Alexi Pappas gets real in a New York Times video sharing her struggle with mental health. This is so revealing coming from someone who is the cream of the crop in performance, but Alexi also shares her mother succumbing to suicide before she turned five.
She asks, what if we treated mental health like we do with our physical injuries? Imagine the difference in people’s lives if we monitored, rehabbed, and let our brains heal with as much care and dedication as we do with our physical bodies.
I personally need to spend more time logging, rehabbing, and making sure I’m talking to the right people and making daily progress with my mental health just as I do with my physical health. And this one thing is probably the single most important thing I can do not just for my work performance but also in my relationships.
I appreciate this so much. Removing the stigma around mental health is so important and all of us could benefit from it.
Rewatched this inspiring talk from Walker Art Center’s Insights 2019 with Gail Bichler, the design director of the New York Times Magazine. She showed how they craft their weekly covers which have become something to follow because of its visual resonance and contribution to the broader societal conversation.
She dives deep into their typography, the different kinds of covers they do, the lengths they go for some concepts, and the grind that comes with having a handful of days to come up and execute ideas that will both personify the cover story but also communicate a powerful idea.
They’ve developed their own taste and style that is unique to NYT Mag. I’m a huge fan of their team and eagerly wait for every new piece they come up with each week. Also, their “Behind the Cover” shorts explaining how they arrived at each issue’s cover is a joy to watch for designers.
As a huge fan of magazines both print and digital, I was basically a fanboy watching how the sausage is made.
Cash App’s user growth has been strong, currently at 33 million monthly users at the end of Q3 2020, growing 3 million every quarter on average. But what’s more impressive aside from their staggering growth is the ability to monetize their users—a whopping $54 annually per user some analysts estimated compared to competitor Venmo’s $12 per user per year.
And this will only continue to increase as the Cash App product continues its expansion into stocks and Bitcoin, and now with things like merch. While this is the first time they’ve delved into clothing and accessories, they’ve been doing limited partnerships like an exclusive card designed by streetwear brand Hood by Air, with all proceeds donated to BIPOC, LGBTQ, police reform, and community arts charities.
Cash App by HBA
The difference that Cash App understands compared to other financial players in the space is that brand can be leveraged both in terms of acquisition and user loyalty and that this is a valuable point of differentiation that more established fintech companies have yet to take advantage of. Ultimately, most of the technology under the hood would be very similar, but the experience of the application and the brand as a totality can set it apart.
Venmo was able to capitalize on network effects, and they have 65 million users, more than twice as much as Cash App’s, but they don’t nearly have the brand equity.
This is a pure brand play and it’ll be hard to replicate because this has been in Cash App’s DNA since Day 1. It’s not forced. It’s authentic. And they understand their audience, or at the very least, know how to get their attention.
This is a shortlist of some of my earliest design fascinations.
Naturally, my taste is eclectic so there will be different sources in here for different reasons, but these are the things that opened my world to design:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This was probably the earliest I can remember when my brain exploded with true visual curiosity analyzing the concept, the type, and colors to new depths my brain hadn’t before.
It wasn’t just the cover of the classic Beatles album but the entire sleeve. There was such strong art direction and photography from front to back, the vinyl itself, and it also helps that it’s considered to be the greatest album of all time. To this day, I see this cover and I feel all kinds of sensations, it’s wild.
Not all design will achieve this (and it’s not only design that is responsible for it), but it certainly opened for me the possibility of what design can do. You can’t tell me that Sgt. Pepper’s would have had the same kind of critical acclaim, longevity, and power if it weren’t for its album cover design. It perfectly encapsulated everything that was inside, and it has an indelible mark on the psyche.
Who didn’t want to be like Mike? I wanted the shoes, I copied how he wore his shorts, his socks, I loved that deep Chicago Bulls red.
MJ wasn’t just a person, an athlete. He was a brand unto himself—the biggest of his kind. He was a living god.
This is one of the worst rated Batman movies of all-time. I couldn’t care less. This Tim Burton-produced movie is filled with tones and colors that instantly sucked you into its crazy whacky universe.
90s NBA Logos
I still love these to this day. It was an era where design went 3D, loud, and a lot of color combinations. This bled into the player jerseys, team merchandise, NBA cards, and all kinds of things. It was an era of experimentation as the NBA attempted for a more global appeal and it worked.
Yes, the Spice Girls. Their songs were fun, their music videos were phenomenal, and their imprint on culture outsized. It was a Spice World indeed. (While “Wannabe” is their biggest hit, my favorite to this day is “2 Become 1.”)
This is so influential for me that Air Maxes are still my favorite shoes to wear to this day. As much as I’d like to attribute it all to comfort, nostalgia definitely plays a part as well as great footwear design with great branding and creative advertising.
Skateboarding culture was just cool. When I started skateboarding I entered a universe where design reigned supreme.
It had all kinds of brands that really felt different: Powell Peralta, Alien, Blind, Hookups, Element, Birdhouse, Zero, Santa Cruz, Girl, Anti Hero, Habitat, Spitfire, the list goes on. Each had truly unique logos, illustrations, art direction, and even cinematography with the skate videos.
This was proof that even if it was still a fringe sport at the time, skaters identified with respective brands based on feel (and also largely based on their favorite skaters).
To this day these brands are still going strong, still remaining true to their respective ethos.
The mobile technology we have in 2020 is really the stuff that people couldn’t even imagine. We run our lives on our phones, with microprocessors that are so powerful, screens that are ridiculously sharp, with camera technology that is no longer just an add-on but has pushed the boundaries of hardware and imaging software itself.
But the 90s and early 2000s were all about the hardware; about cool product design. The phones really couldn’t do much—it was the advent of SMS, we played Snake, and it was the early days of mobile emailing, and later, browsing the Internet (though terrible it may be).
This was the beginning of design and technology for me. Shoes started it, but phones really made my brain think in different ways. It was fashion, yes, but it was also about function. It was about brand, yes, but it was also about capability.
We are in a ubiquitous world with our phones today, dominated by Apple iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and occasionally, the Pixels, the OnePluses, and the Huaweis, along with the plethora of other Android phones in the wild.
But back then, we had our options. And hardware was just, if not more important than the software. And I don’t think that marriage of style and substance is over.
I have many more influences, especially as I delved deeper into graphic design, product design, architecture, and fashion, but without these, I wouldn’t have even developed a curiosity, interest, and eventually passion for design.
On the next one, I will post about some of my greatest influences.
I’m a designer and strategist fascinated by the power of brands, products, and businesses to positively affect people’s lives.
I was born and raised in the Metro Manila, Philippines.
From a young age, I was fascinated by design (though I didn’t know it yet as “design”). It was simply a way of playing for me. I was in my head a lot and imagined things often.
I drew a lot of things: cellular phones, rockets, houses, basketball shoes—things that had a technological component to it with a flair of aesthetic.
This passion was ignited further when I went to a technical school at the age of 10 to learn about the fundamentals of electrical and mechanical engineering, information technology, and architectural drafting.
My family moved to Yonkers, NY when I was 13. This was when my artistic side flourished further. I was essentially my class’s creative director, drawing our homecoming banner every year. I won the talent show with some friends, won best actor, and delved into poetry. I was a pretty active student which got me voted as Most Talented and Most Creative in my class. I used these to get a local scholarship, and it got me $500, enough to buy me a laptop for college.
But on the side, I was freelancing in high school, designing MySpace pages and Blogspot websites for rappers, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, and student clubs. I didn’t know it then, but I was already a “designer.”
I continued this in university, designing posters and websites for basically anything I can get my hands on (with really with no one prompting or asking me). I studied English and Journalism, and while I revered literature, creative writing, and narrative nonfiction, my passion was really in design, specifically as it relates to brands, technology, and having an impact to change behavior.
I was in marketing and advertising before deciding to join an early stage startup to get into tech. Soon after, I got my first real product design job designing enterprise and mobile applications. And through a stroke of luck and plenty of hard work, I got to design for my childhood dream company Condé Nast, building digital products for some of the most renowned media brands in the world.
I worked my way up from a designer to eventually leading teams. After a few years there, I quit my job to take a break and figure out what I wanted next. In the meantime, I consulted for companies big and small and helped them establish their design practice and scale their design systems while I refined my skills further in product, design, and engineering as well as studying business strategy, leadership, and philosophy a lot more.
The following year, at the start of the shutdown in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic, I joined the healthcare startup Thirty Madison to be the Cove brand’s first in-house product designer to lead all product design efforts.
Which brings us to today where most of my thinking revolves around how brands, products, and businesses are designed to create a positive impact in people’s lives.
Many aim to be profitable, memorable, and lasting. Few transform industries, become inspirational, and move culture.