The Brilliance!


We’re really internet and we’re really back. A website about things Benjamin , Chuck , Virgil , and various friends & guests think are interesting. Little-to-no specific focus, a bit odd, speling errors, and incredibly culturally relevant.

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808s & Heartbreak, Press Conference Time!!!

Ultra-real, not-really-politically-correct press conference of the thought process behind 808s and Heartbreak. Super funny. Just like that the album has been out for one week. It’s all I have been listening to for the last month or 2, really. For me it sonically fits my lifestyle and current taste level. Sounds good loud and quite, out at night or on the ipod. Going back to how I consider THE BRILLIANCE a timeline for important stuff, I wasn’t gonna let this slide without bookmarking this album. For the simple fact that its an album that hit a void on so many levels it deserves a spot on this blog. Part of the fun of a new Kanye album is the press conferences that come out surrounding it. I just got sent this video of a press conference in New Zeland thats got a ton of fresh classic Kanye lines in it. Just put it on while your at work or something, its entertaining.

“I wouldn’t be completely opposed to wearing Hammer slacks at some point.” - Kanye

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Patrik Ervell, good as gold!!

So ever in search of the perfect jacket I came across this fine piece of work by New York Designer, Partik Ervell. Sure its not for the faint of heart but my attitude is your only live once so act like you are somebody. I am a fan of Patrik’s overall design aesthetic. Easy to wear clothes with a touch of fashion. Like if Banana Republic wasn’t gear toward the middle of the road and more like the alley that Freeman’s is in. Opening Ceremony stocks his stuff. It’s where I schemed Look 22 from Fall/Winter 2008. Too bad for me my arms are too long and it dosen’t fit. I might keep it in the archives tho, its kinda too perfect.

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Shine: Virgil Abloh’s Colette collaboration shirt!

Shine deserved! Virgil is too modest to post it himself…understandable…but we have to give shine where shine is due, right? A while back Virgil hit me up saying that he was working with Sarah of Colette on a collaboration piece for fun - soon to hit the sales floor. Just in case you’re not plugged into Colette - its pretty much the coolest current-culture shop perhaps in the world, located in Paris, France. Having your work (which I believe Chuck has as well) in their shop is quite the honor. So yeah, when Virgil let me know it was going down I was pretty excited for him. End result - Virgil’s tee, titled “Medallions en bleu”, went for sale on the 21st of October and sold out in about a week. Pretty impressive. But not really surprising, the design is nothing short of iconic…and I’ll be honest, I don’t care much for t-shirts. I love that he had it done on an actual champion ‘gym tee’ style shirt. The neck tag is too cool as well - check the back of it! And that’s that…its already sold out, but congrats to Virgil and a bonjour to Sarah at Colette from THE BRILLIANCE!, we love what you do. More coming soon? ***Check the link below for more picture at Hypebeast.

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HellBound - New Gothic Art!!!

Laurence King Publishing is one of my favorite book publishers, right up there with Phaidon, Taschen, and Gestalten who all publish the best in art and design books. They’ve got some really incredible titles under their belt and this new book, ‘Hell Bound - New Gothic Art’, is no exception. I just had a chance to check it out this past weekend at Lamb here in town and I was really impressed. You don’t have to be a fan of dark art and heavy metal to enjoy most of this book, although that certainly wouldn’t hurt. From the book description on the LK site, ‘Hell Bound highlights a new generation of contemporary artists who are increasingly obsessed with the darker things in life. Illustrators, street artists, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, installation artists and painters are all reflecting this renewed interest in gothic imagery.’ Now I personally wouldn’t typecast the artists in this book as ‘gothic artists’ and I wouldn’t pigeonhole the specific work in this book to that label either. Gothic, these days, makes me think of two things: architecture in Chicago and Hot Topic. This book doesn’t really have Chicago architecture in it and its certainly not filled up with work by artists who dress in mammoth fit black Jncos and Cradle of Filth t-shirts…and I personally wouldn’t have chosen this image for the cover as it kind of conveys a playful tone which the guts of this book certainly do not match. So don’t let any of that lead you away from checking this book out. It’s filled with smart, witty, slightly disturbing (some very) and dark art that is beautifully laid out and presented. Definitely check it out…and when you’re ready to get really goth, check this guy out.

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37Signals on the DRUDGEREPORT®‘s design!!

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Drudge Report. Even as an Obama supporter myself and with his obvious slant against him during the general election, I didn’t care. I knew I could consistently depend on Matt Drudge to have the biggest and best headline of the moment front and center. And if it wasn’t front and center, it would be later in the day, as most other news channels and sites would follow his lead.. Jason from 37Signals (who we apparently are very fond of as of late on here) has written a brilliantly accurate article on just why exactly, despite it’s aesthetic ugliness (which is also debatable), the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. Ben just sent this over to me and I was so glad someone had taken the time to put a spotlight on this. I’ve always felt like the Drudge Report worked so well because of how simple it was. Jason’s first point is that it has staying power which, if you ask me, the entire article could focus on that alone. He says “It’s generic list of links, black and white monospaced font, and ALL CAPS headlines have survived every trend, every fad, every movement, every era, every design do or don’t. It doesn’t look old and it doesn’t look new — it looks Drudge. It hasn’t changed since at least 1997…” He is so right on with this…it is not old, it’s not new. It’s a true example of ‘it is what it is’. When we were working on the design for the Brilliance, Ben and I went back and forth a lot even talking about Drudge and its effect on how we might approach this site. How it could just last throughout time, which is difficult to think about in terms of the internet considering what’s cool now is not cool 10 minutes from now let alone years from now. Anyways, this is a really great writeup you should check out. Really helps to understand how something can be good design even if it’s not “good design” at first glance…hence this statement from Jason that “A few thousand bucks a year in overhead that generates a few million a year in revenue. That’s good design.”

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Paper Route Recordz, Fear and Loathing in Hunts Vegas!

I posted about the PRGz (Paper Route Gangstaz) a while back - about their super weird track ‘Woodgrain’. Loved that track. Yeah, that was quite a while back - in fact I think I remember them only having like 5,000 plays on their myspace when that track dropped. Other than that track and few remixes Diplo has done - its been pretty hard to come by music from them or their camp - until today… DJ Benzi and Diplo of Mad Decent have dropped a mixtape/album of all their stuff - new remixes, etc. Tons of stuff. And…it’s pay what you want, I paid for the upgrade to 320kbps - come on, $5, have to do it. I’m actually just listening to it now…the production is super fresh, totally different - I imagine thanks to Diplo and the gang. I’d call it ‘tweaker rap’, weird but a bit refreshing. A nice side-step from current hip-hop, which I hardly listening to anymore anyway. If it’s your cup of tea check it out, there are some throw-away tracks but I know I’ll be playing a few at the next house party I hit. Do I still hit house parties?!

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Game changers: RED digital cinema cameras!

Alright, I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about video editing, cameras, or anything to do with film-making. I do have some friends, Dot&Cross, here in town that are quite educated in it…and a while back they’d mentioned to me this company called ‘RED’ that makes unbelievably high quality digital video cameras for equally unbelievably low prices. Allowing film-making shops to literally own the digital equipment at prices they were paying to rent real-film equipment for a week. The prices were still far beyond what the average consumer could afford - so aspiring, and starving, film-makers weren’t really effected by this…just the smaller/mid-sized shops. That was true until last week when RED, after taunting the public with teasers, finally announced their new Scarlet model which shoots big-screen, cinema quality, footage and will cost just $2,500. Literally, a true game changer. I think it was on TechCrunch where they mentioned the absolute fear this must have stricken in Sony and Cannon, etc. There is just simply nothing that competes with it. And their catch-phrase that they ‘render obsolescence obsolete’ in that every part of the camera is modular and works with any new products they might develop, etc. And similar to the iPhone, all firmware upgrades are free for owners. Pretty amazing. I really don’t have any interest in owning one - I may purchase one to rent out to local hipsters (ha, for real though) - but I love, LOVE companies that just shake their industry and literally create a whole new playing field. Always inspirational. What iPods are to music players I imagine RED will be to digital video. They’re branding and physical product design is well done too…very beautiful looking machines. Also, check this video shot using a RED. Awesome. ***Again, I’m not very educated in this stuff, so if I have anything wrong, shoot me an email!!

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Inspiration: Birch tree forests!

One of those I’m-going-to-post-something-random posts. And actually, I’m probably signing to the choir with our design-focused readers. These trees are like the Nelson Bench of landscaping. But anyway, I think its fun to find really, really specific inspiration in things and nature seems to be a never ending resource, you know? I think my last post similar to this was about space, specifically galaxies…but this time around its Birch tree forests. I don’t know if any of you have ever searched Flickr for ‘birch tree forests’ before but its pretty amazing man. Something about the super white, often super straight trunks contrasting with their orange leaves in the fall or just the forest floor - really beautiful. What prompted me to do it is Rosa Parks Circle here in downtown Grand Rapids that has a bunch of birch trees that are framed by our amazing new art museum. Quite a sight. Well, thats it…a ‘far out’ post by Benjamin. Hopefully it inspires you too, one of my favorite examples at the link below.

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Quantum of Solace. Sorry, I couldn’t end it with the usual exclamation!

Ha. So I was all excited to go check the new Bond flick, got the tickets ahead for the 12:01AM show, opening night, etc. I was a huge fan of Casino Royale - an awesome new direction for Bond. It poked fun at some of the old traditions but almost giving them a nod rather than just omitting them and trying something totally new. Anyway, Quantum of Solace just…maybe went to far in that direction. Chuck asked me (he went too) what my thoughts were this morning. I kept it simple: ‘it was too dusty.’ Ha, thats my honest reaction. Yes, James messes up his suits, gets in fights, gets beat up, get a bloody noes, etc, it happens in all the classics…but he’s not like totally disheveled the entire time, right?? This Bond was just too much action, too much rock-em-sock-em fight scenes, etc. Casino Royale had that, but he still looked sharp, switched his suits, etc…he’s James Bond, the fashion is part of it! Beyond that, there were no gadgets except a fake iPhone with GPS - like a total ‘movie phone’ you know? Only one scene with an Aston Martin. A plot that was super difficult to follow - the bad guys had ‘people everywhere’ it makes it super easy to twist the plot on a whim. Lots of stuff was left unexplained, like how did he just get a Range Rover Sport out of no where? No gambling. No Bond song in the intro?? A slightly anti-climatic ending for a Bond film. Eh, I don’t know. It was a really entertaining movie…but it just didn’t feel very James Bond. Although the Gold Finger reference with the girl covered in oil was nice, well done. I’d still tell people to check it…but I walked away kind of like, ‘meh’.

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Jason Fried of 37signals, from the stage!

You may not like this guy - in fact, I personally wonder what he’d be like to hang out with, like just grab a beer with - but he’s co-founder of one of my absolute favorite companies and really knows how to communicate/manage/expand his own personal brand and the 37signals brand. I’m a big fan of what he does. Check out this video linked below… It’s a quick 15 minute video of him kind of ‘keynoting’ his thoughts on educating your consumer instead of marketing to them. Pretty insightful stuff…kind of common sense after you hear him explain it, but I guess thats what makes 37signals successful - boiling things down. Also really cool to hear him candidly talk about their income. Hmm…thinking about educating your consumer rather than marketing to them…makes your mind wander on what business could benefit from this more than others, especially the large failing ones here in the US right now. ***And am I the only one who thinks kind of looks like Aaron Bondaroff?