Tag Archives: linkedin

But, Do You Like-Like Me?

Last week, the new LIKE button was announced at the Facebook Developers Conference (F8). Today you can like your friends, your friends photos, etc. Soon, facebook users will be able to like anything on the web. That includes shopping sites, articles, blogs…well anything!

Most are saying that this will “bring the consumer to the center of the web” and marketing depts will finally have to listen to the people!

Well, the web has never really been the democratic utopia some imagined. And, marketing depts exist to listen to and manipulate consumers towards a particular brand or item.

Why should companies care about the new like button? Image is everything. For now, we’re still in the trend cycle we describe as of I.D. (individual delineation). Everyone wants to be the apart of the right tribe, and in with the right crowd as a form of individuality–in a conformist kind of way.

Being able to easily see what others are in to is the fastest and easiest way to join the gang.

The pressure brands will be under to become or remain the most popular. But, that doesn’t translate to being the best. Brands and designers that stay focused on their own message and don’t react to the peer pressure of being liked will be in a stronger position as we move into the new cycle.

The trend is just beginning to move away from consumerism, forced immediately by the sharp economic downturn. But, as DIY evolves into true craftsmanship, as GREEN evolves into true sustainability, people will look for the best, not just the most popular.

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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 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.

Nikki S Lee…What are you??

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In our exploration of 2011, we talked about I.D. (Individual Delineations). Gender, race, sexuality, nationality are all up for debate. We are redefining ourselves outside of the old categories.

The question “What are you?” is all too familiar to many. I often tell the story of sitting across a table from a branch manager on my first business trip to Chennai, India. He just stared at me for what felt like hours. Then, he leaned forward and asked “Where are you from?” Just a variation of the “what are you?” question. He got very frustrated when I rattled off a list of American cities to answer where I and my father and grandfather and my great grandfather are from.

The portrait is the ultimate venue for exploring identity.  Artist Nikki S Lee does that very well through her photography.

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She moves into a community and lives with them.  During that time she transforms herself, physically blending into the background.  Since the late 90’s she’s been a NY Yuppie, a White Supremacist, a Punk, a Senior Citizen, an Exotic Dancer and part of Hispanic and Hip Hop communities.  Sometimes it takes a moment to find her in the snapshot.  But, once you see her, she simultaneously stands out and blends in.  Her phrase ‘assimilartist’ is really the only way to describe the result.  In 2006, she finished AKA Nikki S Lee, a mocumentary about herself that really isn’t about her.  Museums around the world have purchased her work as part of their permanent collections.

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Born Lee Seung-Hee in South Korea, Nikki Lee moved to New York in the mid-90’s, where she renamed herself and continuously explores and re-defines I.D. in the macro and microcosm.

Blasian invasion

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We talked about the true BRIC effect on the world in the Fall 2010 trend book. For Fall 2011, we focused more on the specific relationship between Asia and Africa.

My first glimpse into this was in Seoul several years ago. I wanted to buy a ticket to Phuket for a long weekend away from the office. I went to the ticket agency, took a number and sat and waited, and waited. Two very tall, very striking African men in traditional West African clothing walked in. They caught everyone’s attention. When the older man talked to the travel agent in fluent Korean, they got my attention.

The two continents have had a long history of which many in the US and Europe are ignorant.  During the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BCE to 256 BCE), many Africans settled in China.

Today, many talk about the Chinese invasion of Africa in both positive and negative economic and ecological terms. We looked at the personal side. Racial identity, like sexual identity, cannot be easily defined but still remains a necessary marker for communities.

In the US, we’re familiar with so-called war babies. Children born in Korea in the 50’s, in Vietnam and Laos in the 60’s and 70’s whose mothers are Asian and fathers are American, some are African-American.

Today, male Chinese workers in African countries take on wives and have children. Soon after a birth, the father is often sent back to China and the mother and child are left alone and often ostracized by the local community.

But isn’t this a “post-racial” world? Didn’t we all see Romeo Must Die?  Tiger Woods?  Kimora Lee Simmons!

LouJingSadly no. Lou Jing, a typical Shanghainese girl who happens to have a Nigerian father, is another current example of an old prejudice.   Her appearance on a reality tv show has prompted some surprisingly hate filled feedback from the audience to both her and her mother.  Although, the mother did reportedly have an extramarital affair that lead to Lou Jing’s birth, the reactions saying Lou is not a real Chinese seem inappropriate and inaccurate.

So, what’s the upside?  Will we add even more hyphens to fully describe ourselves?  Probably…in the short term.  But there are generations of people around the world who are becoming more vocal about not being forced into outdated categories.

How does this effect design? The Apparel Industry, especially in the US and Europe, doesn’t understand global diversity in body types.  Just shrinking patterns doesn’t work for the Asian market.  Just adding a little in the seat doesn’t work for African markets.  In Marketing, people are most often targeted through stereotype focused ads and products or obviously inserted as little more than a token.

Companies looking for longevity and relevancy in future markets need to re-look at the message they’re sending to consumers through product and advertising.  Things may no longer follow the Western European model set in the past.