Manufactured Landscapes

April 6th, 2007

manufactured landscapes movie

Manufactured Landscapes is a stunning must watch documentary film created by legendary photographer Edward Burtynsky and award winning director Jennifer Baichwal that has received several awards this past year. The film visually captures China’s massive industrial revolution through Edwards camera while questioning our own human endeavors in impacting the planets future global proliferation, destruction, and waste.

I was not aware of this film until recently while talking with Edward at TED about his amazing slide show he gave at Poptech which previewed images used in this film. I missed the film when it was in theaters, but the DVD’s are available which I’d highly encourage everyone to buy (or the book) and share. (it’s a bit odd thinking about the movies message on massive product waste while using the exact same substance to distribute this film)

As an industrial designer I’ve been greatly influenced by the huge message Al Gore gave in Inconvenient Truth (meeting him pushed me as well) while also advocating Alex Steffan of‘s message that “your either in, or your wrong”. I’m stuck in a field where products and massive sales are king, yet the sustainable need for global changes is so uneducated in a cost driven but not globally aware or active field if not society. I’m not saying change is not happening, but time is not something you can pause… this change must happen, not sooner, but now. Perhaps I feel more like architect and famous product designer Philippe Starck when he was onstage at TED and said “I believe in general that my job is absolutely useless; but now, after Carolyn(Porco) and these guys, I feel like shit”.

Anyhoots, before I get ya’ll stuck in my own dilemma, give the trailer to Manufactured Landscapes a view and perhaps question your own actions in your own field, home, and surroundings and get motivated for some simple changes like recycling, changing to longer lasting light bulbs, or even reusing your CD spindles.

Trailer Preview
Manufactured Landscapes website

Movie: Black Gold trailer

April 5th, 2007

black gold movie trailer

Thinking about coffee after watching Bryant Simon dissect the Starbucks Brand Experience brings me to a somewhat disturbing but enlightning documentry film that reader Tomas has brought to my attention: Black Gold.

“Multinational coffee companies now rule our shopping malls and supermarkets and dominate the industry worth over $80 billion, making coffee the most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil.

But while we continue to pay for our lattes and cappuccinos, the price paid to coffee farmers remains so low that many have been forced to abandon their coffee fields.”

Watch the Youtube Trailer above or read more about this documentry on their website “” or on PBS here where you can find the TV schedule (airing in the Boston in April).(Would be nice if it were on Joost which I just received my invite to today ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) The PBS site also has a listing of troubling facts about certain companies to keep in mind the next time you buy yourself a cup of joe.

Taste3 Conference: Bryant Simon

April 5th, 2007

Here’s a wonderful and intriguing lecture during last years TASTE3 (wine, food, art) conference by Bryant Simon deconstructing the Starbucks brand experience. A great watch for any of ya’ll caffeine craving Starbucks addicts.

“Bryant Simon is professor of history and director of the American Studies program at Temple University in Philadelphia. Over the last year and half, he has visited over 300 Starbucks in eight countries and is currently working on a book to be published by Bloomsbury. This is not, however, just a study of Starbucks, but an exploration of American life both in the states and abroad in the 21st Century. His research explores the very desires of daily life as they are revealed on the comfy coaches and in the drive-thru of Starbucks. As he looks at what it means to consume Starbucks, he also investigates what Starbucks consumes of us รขโ‚ฌโ€œ our labor, our landscapes, and our politics.”

via TASTE3

2007 TED Prize Talks

April 4th, 2007

The must watch 2007 TED Prize talks are up! Above I’ve posted the powerful and captivating lecture by James Nachtwey that I urge all to watch, but be prepared for an emotionally disturbing yet moving photo journey.(I’d highly recommend watching this in full-screen or high definition 480p here) I’ve also posted the video lectures by Bill Clinton and E.O. Wilson who were also 2007 TED Prize winners after the jump. I’ll include the amazing bonus images taken in a secret location during each wish announcement.

via TED blog

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Bagel to Go CD Spindle Case

April 4th, 2007
bagel CD spindle holder

Woa…how cool, sustainable, and smart. I’m never throwing away those CD spindle cases again. Add a sheet of rubber on the bottom and I think you’ll have an airtight seal! I’m sure you could use this for some chips, cereal, or any other munchies….they would stack nicely too!

pwka’s Flickr (via core77)

Florence: Outs and abouts

April 1st, 2007
Florence landscape
Florence rustic painted chairs
Florence signage

Florence was a bit cloudy and rainy the few days I managed to sneak out of the office, but I caught a glimpse of the surrounding area including the many restaurant I’ve been posting about. Besides my complaints of tourists ruining the magical escape known as Florence I absorbed a great deal of culture and lifestyle rummaging around in the morning markets, late night bars, and street crowded corners. Food is fantastic and fresh though shady in some populated areas beaming with english menus.(if it has english words, it probably isn’t authentic italian) The ceramic landscape is breath-taking minus the touristy attractions and street dwelling purse sellers. Advertisements also known as expensive graffiti cascades over historical building and streetscapes in bothersome ways, but I guess money can buy many unsightly needs. The lifestyle of people breath fashion and simplicity yet seems complex in an unorganized chaotic way. They like to play it by ear and go by tradition rather than by new means and modern technologies. People are kind, friendly, and hospitable. They are proud of their culture, food, language, and love to share this knowledge.

My journey around the city was brief but meaningful and delightful. I’d rather visit when it’s sunny, but I’ll be back in June when more tourists are lurking and blossoming gardens fill the summer sun. Besides all the great restaurants, I took several pictures here and there. I don’t really have a story to tell about the city, so enjoy the many pictures I’ve posted, with brief thoughts after the jump.
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Florence: Vini E Vecchi Sapori

April 1st, 2007
Florence I Due G Wine and Biscotti

After a few days of unsuccessful restaurant choices we went back to our reliable resource that first introduced us to the fantastico “I Due G” and asked for another find. This time the long words “Vini E Vecchi Sapori Osteria” were given, and upon a simple google maps search we were there.

Vini E, as I now call it, is a cozy 5 table space with high rustic wood-beamed ceilings, brick floors, one waiter, and a visual aroma for what was to come. This place seemed authentic, real, warm, and truly Italian with no need or care for tourists even though cradled near the populated Piazza della Signoria. The environment was stacked high in wine bottles and oils along with hollywood like beacon lights blistering the wooden fan ceilings. Our first sign of an authentic meal glimpsed at the daily hand-written menu which had no english besides the words “no pizza, no ice”. That was a good thing because our attempts at pizza in Italy proved poorly thus far.

More pics after the jump…
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Florence: Trattoria I due G

March 31st, 2007
Florence i due G chianti
Florence i due G charred steak

Right up near the Stazione di Santa Maria Novella train station and close to the Fortezza Da Basso is a hidden little gem of a restaurant called “Trattoria I due G“. I was hinted several times about this place having simply the best “fantastico” black truffles dish in Florence. I envisioned a crowded fancy over-plated dark environment but that perception quickly diminished after coming here 4 times. Yes, we came here 4 times in a span of a few days for many reasons. First off, we had to try the truffles, secondly we had to bring more people to experience the truffles, thirdly it was near our clients, and 4th, my group had little success in finding other good restaurants in Florence, hence returned here.

Imagine an extremely traditional, family run, local restaurant in Florence filled with only locals, wine staffed up high, pictures and paintings mounted on every wall, and a staff with much personality and charm almost from a book you had read when you were younger(maybe Lady and the Tramp) . Nothing too fancy, just simple, clean, and to the point. Cooks would come out to greet customers like family and serve dishes along with a story or joke each time. The environment was charming with bricks on plastered white walls, picture frames, checkered red tables cloths, and chandeliers draping from fairly high brick ceiling. Enough about the space, let’s see the food!

Food and pics after the jump!

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Florence: La Giostra Ristorante

March 30th, 2007
la giostra florence alleyway
la giostra florence mozzarella tomatoe

My first experience of an Italian restaurant brought me to a tiny cozy place called La Giostra Ristorante nearby the central Duomo and hidden in a small alleyway on Borgo Pinti Street. The cabin like space was lit up with a cascading assortment of flickering ceiling lights, aisles of rustic wine bottles, melting wax candles on every table, laughter, and a warm welcoming by the pirate like passionate owners. I came here my first day and last day, so I’ll be posting on both these occasions at this wonderful restaurant which I’d highly recommend for a tasty enjoyable meal. If you dig into their site, you’ll find a set of pictures taken by celebrities who have been there, which are also plastered on the restaurants interior.

More pics and yummy food after the jump.

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Florence: TASTE Conference

March 28th, 2007
Florence TASTE mozzerella

My first stop in Florence was at TASTE, a 3 day food gathering of Italy’s finest foods ranging from jams, wines, cheeses, meats, chocolates, and much more from over 160 select exhibitors. This mouth watering event allowed attendees to eat, taste, question and buy products from a wide range of creators and distributors around Italy, though many of them seemed to be small independent family run organizations, which I liked. The highlight of the event for me is pictured above….it’s buffalo mozzarella! Simply Amazzzing!!

More pics and info about TASTE after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Italy trip: getting there

March 28th, 2007
italy trip train station milan
italy map

My trip to Italy/Milan started off with a frustrating cancellation during a crazy winter storm on March 16th in Boston. Snow lashed in multiple directions at 45 degree angles and a foot of snow dropped within an hours time. My flight with Northwestern Airlines was cancelled while the Boston airport closed at 8pm though it opened up spontaneously after 9pm to allow some flights in and out. Upon my cancellation, I was booked on a NW flight 4 days later which I found ridiculous. 3 phone calls to different NW operators resulted to no resolution. I asked about getting booked on another airlines, but their policy does not allow this if it is due to weather. Oh crap I said… my client meeting is in 3 days..I can’t show up the day after.
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Italy update

March 24th, 2007
florence streets
egg noodle and mushroom truffles

I’ve been dancing and prancing around Florence for the past week and will finally have time to check out the city over the weekend. A stop by the Duomo, the huge galleries, and famous churches is a must. The architecture here is charming, unique, and fluent thriving with colors and hand made rustic materials. Food so far has been ok….a few amazing meals (truffles above, egg noodles, mozzarella(buffalo), meat, salads), and a few misses due to my trust in touristy areas. An endless supply of amazing wine, cheese, coffee, and gelato exists in every corner while the weather has been cloudy, rainy, but sunny at times. If the weather is nice over the weekend, I’ll probably rent a Vespa and cruise abouts the hills fashionably with my camera in one hand.

The people I have met so far locally are incredibly friendly, fashionable, jazzy, and passionate about Italy. Many of them smoke, all of them ride Vespas, and all must have coffee. The city of Florence is annoying to an extent that there are toooo many tourists and some local businesses take advantage of that in unkind ways. The nightly streets are packed full of fake brand goods, but it gives the place charm in a funny way.

I’m trekking over to Milan on monday, so if you have any must do’s there, let me know..otherwise, I only plan to visit a few churches and the Italian Design Triennale as my flight is the next morning back to gloomy yet good ole Boston.

I’ll have a more visual report once I return, but for now, I’m going to experience Italy and try to stay away from my laptop as much as possible besides work reasons. Ciao!