Story we love :: The Taqwacores


Back to our theme of ID (Individual Delineation) for 2011 trends-Taqwacores. This started as a fictional story about the islamic punk scene in 2003 written by Michael Muhammad Knight,. Then bands started to form creating real life inspired by art.

Not bound by stereotypes of what it is to be Muslim or to be Punk, these artists create their own identity and awesome music.

The book, which became reality is now again fiction as a movie that just showed at Sundance.

Bands to look out for:

Vote Hezbollah
The Sagg Taqwacore Syndicate


A place that inspires :: Poets House

Poetry has been inspired by stressful times; it’s found on walls in prisons and concentration camps throughout history and around the world-ranging from Angel Island (pictured-etched into the walls) to Auschwitz to Guantanamo Bay.

It’s also been a release for creatives in all eras; designers, dancers and architects have found new ideas between the lines of poetic verses. Poet’s have looked to new design and social movements to find their muse.

While in New York, I had to visit the new home for Poets House in BPC.  The building is transparent, airy and light. The freedom of space is felt by poetry lovers even if they never lift their noses out of their books.

It’s a beautiful oasis where you can recharge your creative batteries.

Person of interest :: Bill T Jones

“Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” is the latest piece from choreographer Bill T Jones.

This is an excellent example of a well designed piece. The first time I saw the show, I didn’t follow the storyline or even the set. I couldn’t take my eyes off the costumes. Does the red under Mary Todd’s skirt symbolize the blood of the nation, her slain husband or the children she loss? All of the above? The skirts flow gracefully with every step; the shirts billow and flutter as if on cue.

The second time I watched the show, I couldn’t take my eyes off the set. The stage and lighting design create excitement, awe, joy and sadness.

I haven’t personally been so excited about dance since watching the Moscow Ballet perform Paganini in the late 80’s. Hopefully, I’ll get to see this new production again soon and focus on the entire show.

Detroit Techno :: back to the roots

I finally listened to Terra Nova: Sinfonia Anarctica, the latest from Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky-that subliminal kid. It’s awesome! But, I’m a longtime fan. A few years ago he and Prof Lawrence Lessig held talks on the rise of censorship in music and media; enlightening and a little scary. DJ Spooky is “out there”. If you love Laurie Anderson, the Velvet Underground or early Yoko Ono, you’ll love this. His film of ReBirth of a Nation is definitely a must-see.

Techno is often the preferred inspiration music for many designers and artists today. In our continued exploration of the trend we call I. D. (Individual Delineations), we saw an opportunity to highlight the roots of techno. The music is most often seen as a Northern European invention. Even some techno snobs will declare that they ONLY listen to techno from Europe, since the American techno is inferior. Interesting how something that came out of Detroit, with mostly African American artists can be completely re-invented and re-categorized.

The Belleville Three – Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, along with Eddie Fowlkes, are the best known and most influential artists from that period.  In 2003, The Detroit Historical Museum was home to the exhibit Techno: Detroit’s Gift to the World for a year.

Other artists such as DJ Minx, aka Jennifer Witcher, Jeff Mills, Carl Craig-the genius behind the label Planet-E, the group Octave One continue the tradition.

Anyone who’s attended DEMF already knows this but so  many fans who don’t get a chance to visit the Detroit Electronic Music Festival may need a little reminder.

The newest wave in cinema : Han

Everyone’s talking about Avatar and Alice. Even ComiCon had it’s moments with a potential stampede when rumors about Depp stopping by quickly spread. At least that’s how I describe it, since I had to duck and cover. But, there’s something more interesting in theaters today.

I went to a screening of Bong Joon-ho’s latest film, MOTHER. It is a funny, creepy, exciting murder mystery that also explores the mother-son relationship. And, yet another example of the latest cinematic talent out of Asia.

Hong Kong dominated for years, giving the west stars like Jackie Chan and directors like John Woo to fall in love with. Hollywood has had a long relationship with Asian cinema. The Pang Brothers minimalist horror film, Gin Gwai was remade as The Eye. Andy Lau’s Infernal Affairs 1,2 and 3 were merged to become The Departed. And, Japan’s Takashi Shimizu brought us his own remake of The Grudge.

Korean Cinema, sometimes referred to as Han Cinema, brings something new to the mix. The latest wave of movies out of Korea cannot be held in a narrow category. One thing they do have in common is the unexpected angle used. Stories that have been told since cinema began are updated and given new and broader perspectives. The subject matter ranges wildly from romance-starring septuagenarian lovers, to horror-where the monster is revealed immediately, to history-taking on brotherhood, loyalty and the effect of history on the present during the Korean War in the 1950’s, to mystery-a woman in ancient Korea use forensic science to solve a murder.

Last year, Na Hong-jin premiered his first film, The Chaser. It was picked up by an American studio before it even hit the film festival circuit. I’m curious but wary of how American film will deal with a story with a sympathetic serial killer and corrupt ex-cop/pimp as the hero. But, it’s due out in 2010, and rumored to star DiCaprio. That’s a story that could only come out of Korean Cinema today.

This is inspirational for design, marketing, branding, etc, because it shows how a creative mind can tell the same old story in a new way. The old quote, “There’s nothing new under the sun” is often used to discourage designers and artists. It may be true, but how you look at and how you show the same old, same old can create something new.

Store (window) we Adore :: Maison Hermès-Tokyo

This visual merchandising event has been created by Tokujin Yoshioka. It’s more of an art installation than visual merchandising. The combination of the iconic Hermès scarf with a larger than life photo of a beautiful, local actress-the face of Maison Hermès, would have been enough. What makes this true design is the next step. Tokujin goes beyond 2D, or even 3D, to offer a live experience for the viewer.

Take a look…

The Princess and the Pea

Recently, I had an opportunity to see The Princess and the Frog in beautiful downtown Burbank, well close to downtown.

The movie is standard Disney fare. Tugs on your heart, makes you worry, makes you laugh, makes you cry, nice music, everything ends on a high note. The $50 price for a movie ticket did raise my eyebrow. Not a bad seat in the house though.

At screenings, I tend to watch the audience as much as the film. In a previous post, blasian invasion, we talked about our Fall 2011 trend books we talk about I.D (Independent Delineation). I couldn’t help but think about the missed opportunities to reach out to diverse markets. As well as the mis-steps. As I said, the Princess and the Frog is standard Disney. Nothing extraordinary. But, the reaction from the audience has been passionate.

Women of African heritage in America have not been treated as princesses by any definition. Popular television, movies and beauty pageants show that the only beautiful Black woman is one of mixed race…Dorothy Dandridge, Vanessa Williams, Halle Berry, etc. So, it’s no wonder that Black women across America are passionately flocking to this movie. I had conversations with Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers who seemed to find their second childhood. They finally got their own princess!

Being ignored, or even vilified, by mass media creates a sensitivity, even a desperation. This movie is the pea under the mattress for many.

As designers and marketers move towards acknowledging and creating for the true diversity that exists in the market, there will be some missteps. Many will applaud the mediocre as the product of the century just because they were recognized as a group.

But, just as greenwashing has been quickly called out, consumers will see bad product for what it is.