I love the NBA. Always have and always will. As a kid we all perceived the league's stars as gods with an untouchable cool. Making fun of Michael Jordan in the 90's!? Unthinkable. What platform would one even have had for that back then? Players, teams and agents all mostly controlled their own narratives with traditional media chiming in but leaving little impact. That was all before the internet. Now, not only are the cameras always on from every perceivable angle, but the internet loves a good laugh and knows how to take a quick screenshot. Not something athletes think about while on the court of course, but they must know — if they flop and it's obvious? You're getting turned into a GIF asap by the World Wide Wobs/Timothy Burkes of the world. And if its really bad!? Yikes...have you seen this James Harden/Manu Ginobili video? I mean...someone spent some real actual time and energy making that! It's impressive. But it's also weird. Here we have the world's most elite athletes performing night in and night out at the highest levels for our entertainment being reduced to stupid (funny, but stupid) internet memes. It's kind of fascinating! I always think about how lucky pro athletes who played in the pre-internet era were to completely avoid this phenomenon. Just think - if Charles Barkley had played during the Twitter-era, you would forget what he looked like because he'd have had Crying Jordan Photoshopped on his face every game. (Although he's a weird example since he's part of TNT's incredible 'Inside the NBA' which has itself become a bit of a factory for memes and mocking) On the flipside, most players today understand this is simply just part of the way this generation communicates and often love getting in on the fun themselves. Regardless, I find it super interesting that what was once a borderline unfuckwithable institution has, over the last several years, become one of the funniest sources for laughs on the internet.
As a repeat purchaser myself - I’ve always been fascinated with the extremely obvious design flaw with white sneakers. White leather - or worse - white canvas, white soles, white laces, white everything. In a product that is knowingly designed to touch the dirtiest surface of our daily activity - the ground. Dirt, oil, trash, piss, rain, snow, spit, and whatever else you’d never think would be acceptable to get any other piece of our clothing or really any object you own get close to, right? I kind of love it. They’re aesthetically pleasing - yeah - but I’ve always thought it was kind of an incredible expression powered by some genetic desire in humans to be royalty of some sort. Sounds crazy, but honestly?! Is it the appearance of achieving the “impossible” for a short period of time that gives them something beyond just their visual appeal?? Like a magic trick maybe. It’s fairly affordable expression in decadence - for better or worse. I could probably keep rambling - but I’ll sum up white sneaker as: a perfect absurd / paradoxical design flaw that ends up articulating something else entirely about the human condition. ANYWAY…I’m just as guilty as the next. I’ll take another pair of all white Sambas. ***WAIT. They don’t have them on Mi Adidas anymore. Someone at adidas help?!
Bráulio Amado is Portugese-born, NY based graphic designer and illustrator whose work has been everywhere lately, and with good reason. With the last few years of his career including time spent at some amazing places like Pentagram, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Weiden+Kennedy NY, Amado is now in arguably the best position of his career to seriously flourish as an independent designer. I really geek out over super talented people pouring all their efforts into doing their own thing. Anyways, Bráulio's work has such a cool range of influences and aesthetics. At times you'll find his punk rock background shining through with 80's hardcore-tinged xerox influence, then an almost Milton Glaser-esque/Peter Saville/Factory Records meets some kind of damaged Blue Note Records album cover meets mmparis, but through the lens of someone who grew up with the internet...if that makes sense. What I love about it is it's entirely original and its own, with a nod to his influences but never, ever too on-the-nose. You've probably seen some of his most recent work for Frank Ocean with the cover of the 'Lens' single, one that's been written about all over the internet, with writers pondering if it was inspired by the paintings of Kerry James Marshall and then most recently, the artwork for ASAP Rocky's single ''RAF'. It's fun, very "now", and a joy to see a creative person doing what they love for such great clients. Amado has a new book out you can get here. See more of his work @ the link below.
If you use the internet, which you do, you've saved images you've found interesting for whatever reason somewhere at some point. Inspiration for a current or future project, how to arrange the books on your office shelf, inspiration for an outfit, a haircut, a party, whatever. The most primitive way to do this, of course, would be to actually save the image from website to folder on your desktop, or worse, screenshot it directly to your desktop into a sea of tiny thumbnails unlikely to be referenced ever again. Back in 2007, Japanese design firm Tha, responsible for projects with Wonderwall and MUJI among others, launched what soon became the solution to this disorganized approach for many creative types by launching FFFFound.com, in their words, a "web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!!" I know a lot of designers whose desktops became a lot neater after FFFFound launched, which if you used it consistently, effectively kept all your 'inspiration collection' in one neat web-based place. Kind of a godsend if you ask me, and consider Pinterest didn't launch until 3 years later in March 2010(!). So - FFFFound was pretty ahead of its time and had a great BRILLIANCE-esque barebones design, very content-first, website-second. Fast-forward to 2017 — the beloved FFFFound will be shutting down 24 hours from now as I write this on Monday, May 15 according to a note currently posted on the site. This A) bums me out, because FFFFound was great, and B) got me thinking about how I harvest imagery from the internet that's worthwhile to me now. I tried Pinterest for a minute, even had the little Chrome plug-in, but it just didn't really stick. It does the job, but...I don't know. It's like this BRILLIANCE update - we painstakingly designed our backend CMS to look and feel just like the front-end. The environment in which you play is important. Instagram recently added a Bookmark feature which you can sort into Collections, which is cool but limited to the Instagram platform, not the web. Twitter...I mean, I just like way too many posts to ever effectively reference anything back. Actually, I realize I often 'like' Tweets simply as an acknowledgement to the author so I don't have to reply...maybe Twitter needs to design an "Acknowledged" icon to live next to the heart icon, lol. Like, "Yup, saw your Tweet. Cool" as opposed to "Wow, I actually love this". But anyways...if you're specifically part of the art/design/creative set looking for something, Designspiration is a solid go-to, but still not quite as all-purpose and easy as FFFFound was. So, I'll hold out hope that FFFFound is resurrected someday or hope someone comes along with another dead simple, brutalist Drudge Report-like anti-design image bookmarking/sorting platform. Until then, it's back to drag-and-drop.
Of course we could all be ultra pessimistic and say no, but look at what just happened real quick. My friend Acyde just retweeted "A label without a recording studio, is just a marketing company" - Richard Russell. There's no more barrier to entry to get studio time. An artists own Instagram and friends are their personal marketing agency. So record labels today don't seem like record labels of the past. That legendary Travis Scott Terminal 5 show, Migos touring Coachella, Lil Uzi stage free falling 20 feet, Sampha selling out US shows etc. all feels like music has less gate keepers than before and the baton has been passed to a new generation. I love anything new. We're in good hands. Bless streaming. Remember it was just a second ago the streaming concept seemed "weird". Now we don't second guess it. Your iPhone is the radio. The radio is no longer "the radio". That's wild.
The more time I spend in the start-up / business world the more I think a lot of it is based around luck. So I suppose I consider my current situation as a bit of a “hat trick.” I was lucky enough to be in a position in life to be able to start a business when I was very young. Then, I was lucky enough to have one of those business do well - though the majority sputtered into nothingness. And finally…I was lucky to be invited to then work in venture capital as a bit of a culmination of the previous two bits of luck. To help others in their search for luck. Perhaps the Irony in all this is that the venture capital world, or any form of highly speculative or intuition based investing, requires a bit of luck. My definition of luck isn’t simply blindly having things fall in your lap… It’s some sort of 4 way intersection of preparedness, intuition powered by exposing yourself to as many different things in the world as possible, decisiveness, and the luck part…timing. If anyone is familiar with the Damen, Milwaukee, North intersection in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood it looks something like that - but add another street. Quite messy. (And oddly enough in the startup and VC world people tend to dress the same as kids in that area, lol.) It’s a tenuous place to hang out honestly. You either love it or find all the lack of structure incredibly uncomfortable…and honestly, even when you’ve fallen in love with it…its still can be really uncomfortable. I haven’t - or anyone I work with in the VC or startup world - become “wealthy” from the specific projects we work on yet. Would I like to? Yes. The concept of “fuck you money” isn’t one I am against achieving. That said…the value I derive from working in the space is the firehose of new ideas, information, concepts, solutions, and people I get to stand in front of every day. So fun. Shout out to all the lucky kids trying to catch the lucky waves… ***btw, I’m still out there, starting projects/business, looking for those “lucky waves” too…still in the line-up!!
This Drake album is important. It's been out for like a month and is a soundtrack to the vibe of now. Genius level soundtrack with a "playlist" vibe. Interludes that aren't interludes. Features that are features. Raps! Melodies! Seriously tho. That Moodyman sample is deep before "Passionfruit" kicks off. What I love most about the album is that you can eat listen to it all point of the day. 6 am - 6 pm - 3 am. MURDA ON THE BEST SO IT'S NOT NICE!!
New things, new things! Literally and figuratively on this one…new project, via new objects. I’m feeling really fucking lucky that I get to do projects like these. For real. For the past maybe 5-6 years I’ve been playing around in the clothing space. Last 2-3 years I got super into materials and how things are made. So like, as a hobby I would dream up products in a given material. Sometimes the product came first and needed to find an interesting material to make it in - or the material came first and it was like: “what object would be wild to make out of this?!” Narrative was always like a playful bouncing back and forth between useful and useless. Irreverence can be romantic, no?
So now its a “business” - even though I love eternally calling things “projects” well after they are sorted as a business. Been lucky to take all the learning from previous projects I’ve worked on - some massive in scale, some corporate, some small, some playful, etc - and try and to not only build out a collection and NARRATIVE that makes sense - but a framework on the backend that allows it to be financially sustainable. I’m obsessed with that. Inspired by companies like Margiela and Visvim. Hotels like the Chateau. People like Marc Newson and Olivier Zahm. Who have a clear narrative but a super avant garde end result / product. Maybe no rules?? That sounds kind of corny - but I think its true. Those businesses, places, people are sustainable businesses that reinvest profits to even further remove themselves from rules while totally delighting their customers…you know??? I absolutely love that.
So this is me throwing my hat in the ring. From scratch. Experimenting, taking things stuck in my head and hustling to hold them in real life and see if people like them as much as I do. Yeah man, train has left the station, “AN OBJECT COMPANY” ~ link below.
I love learning how stuff is made and making stuff. meme font: “Everyone be like: what kind of stuff??”
Anything, I swear. It started when I was like 12-13 at the public library trying to figure out how computers work, which led to me learning BASIC and then kind of being able to make the computer “do things” - anything your imagination could come up with. That kind of freedom when you’re young is huge. But it was always stuck on the screen. I wanted to make things you could hold and touch, etc. Fast forward however many years - I started being able to do that with clothing. That was the first project. I knew nothing about the process of making a dress shirt. More samples than I can count and years later - I’m still learning, but I love it - love the learning part. It’s magical to watch a few boring materials on their own turn into an “object” than the sum of their parts.
It’s now become a hobby that consumes a decent amount of my daily life. Over the past 2-3 years I’ve learned a tiny bit about the process and had things made using: fine metal jewelry casting, slip-cast ceramic and porcelain manufacturing, marble work and the cutting/honing and engraving that can be done with it, light-weight cast concrete manufacturing, carbon fiber molding both wet-lay-up and pre-preg with autoclave, water jet cutting, and just starting to learn a bit more about CNC machines. I was super specific about those as they are all part of a very tiny “collection” I’m coming out with in a couple months - I hope.
Why the hell would you spend all that time and money learning those things to get a bunch of little trinkets, objects made - most which are fairly useless? Right now - because its fun and it opens your mind a ton. The more you learn and have things made - the more you think about the objects around you, how you could make them differently in a way that matters to you…maybe to other people, thus making it a business if thats what you’re after. It’s something I encourage people to try if you can - its like being an intern or an apprentice for a few hours or days…it reminds you how true this quote is:
“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Yeah. A post. It’s better the more random the timing is. This site is about noteworthy vibes. Immediately when I saw this video I thought of why we made this site and why I never really forget about this site called The Brilliance.
Yeah, Hype Williams. The director that defined the the generation of videos kids like me grew up with. Common the rapper that defined a genre of hip-hop I grew up in. Surging into 2014 with a video that caught me by surprise in the freshest of ways. I’m into the non-obvious. I love music videos without performance shots and that. At this point we have seen it all in terms of music videos. This video for ‘Kingdom’ by Common was a stoke of genius minimalism and very Chicago, ultra representative. Classic story telling in a modern way. This video deserves a lot of applause. So much so that I had to ask Chuck and Ben what my login password was for our site and toss this video in the random time capsule of our generation. Till next time. Soon.