SpearTalks: Capacitor Design Network

Josh Brown and Jeff Rooney, founders of creative agency Capacitor Design Network, formed their roots at a well-known Vermont studio called JDK. Sometime in the middle of working on some minor stuff — like working on the Xbox logo (in conjunction with cinco design) — the two boys decided they were ready to branch out on their own. Perhaps I should say two branch out on their own, because the resulting company landed Josh and Jeff in separate locations, and almost 3,000 miles apart. Over the next few years, Josh (in Vermont) and Jeff (in Portland) slowly gathered clients, and soon they were doing some of the things they’d dreamed of doing — like album covers and branding for the biggest snowboarding company around.

Now, over a decade after Josh and Jeff first opened shop, CDN can take credit for a large amount of notable work. Probably their biggest accomplishment to date is a three-years-running relationship with Anon, Burton’s optics division. Anyone who’s spent time on the mountain would know this relatively new line of eyewear killed it from the moment it was born, and much of the credit lies with CDN, as well as the great branding they did — and continue to do — for the company. Another area in which Capacitor shines is album design, a few of the results of which we’ve even written up before (the beautiful His and Hers artwork, for instance, was theirs).

We had a chance to toss a few questions Jeff’s way, and he responded with some very candid answers…he even threw in a few pictures from his incredible sketchbooks for good measure. Read on for a closer look into the sometimes exciting, sometimes gruelling world of marketable creativity.

Joshspear.com: Tell us a little bit about yourself: what led you to design; what keeps you in design; what’s on your to-do list for the future?

Jeff: I got into design by accident in school. I didn’t make it into the architecture program and fell into design as Plan B. Luckily for me, I loved it. Once out of school my biggest influence as a designer was working at JDK in Vermont. There were so many talented designers there who I got to work with. It certainly shaped the way I think as a designer today and the kind of work I’ve been involved with since. (more…)

blik: Happy Anniversary!

It’s all too overwhelming. Carmel posted about blik and Threadless yesterday, and we already have more to tell you about these re-stickably amazing decals. And what news! Today we actually have a reason to celebrate blik other than just liking what they do — it’s their fifth anniversary, and they’re celebrating by throwing a party in Venice, California. The main event of the party, which you’re invited to, is a live art installation from Undoboy.

Now, undoubtedly blik’s tacky (no, not that kind of tacky) designs are one of our favorite things in the world, but of all of the blik decals that we love, we might just love Undoboy’s the bestest. The tireless Spear Collective member has done quite a variety of work for blik "” some of his decals look like they come from the Candyland, while others look like rhinoceros poop. Rainbow-colored rhinoceros poop. The important thing is that all of his decals are colorful and innovative, so his performance today in Venice isn’t something you’ll want to miss.

By the way, the venue for blik’s party? Appropriately enough for a sticker company, it’s being held at Epoxy Box. Good sticking to you all.

Organic Fast Food

From time to time, I come across an artist who blows my mind in a way I can’t totally explain and there’s no way to deal with it except getting other people amped about on him/her on a much grander scale. Say oi to Brazil's Apo Fousek, everyone: in his art show, Organic Fast Food at backpack brand Eastpak's concept store in Sao Paulo, the soft-spoken artist forces viewers to think about our relations with time, money and how we impact nature through our consumption in a scrupulously rendered story line of drawings centered around a village and its inhabitants. In one scene, a family has nightmares about the beef they ate for dinner (Fousek's a vegetarian); on his Volcom-commissioned organic cotton tees, the messages are more blatant, like one of a bike rider with a cartoon bubble emanating from his mouth, filled with not words but pictures of cars. Fousek's calling attention to our penchant for excess, even if it's just for the moment that we're spending looking at his pieces before returning to our everyday lives. But speaking about consumption: in just a few hours of the show's opening, several pieces were already marked as sold.

Eastpak is hosting the show as part of their ongoing program that invites artists to a month-long residency in their gallery space. If you're around, there’s an open invitation for you to walk in and talk to artists or view their work in progress.

Green Storage

Portland is getting another storage facility, and you’re probably thinking, “just what America needs…more mini storage,” but in this case, hell yes! The proposed Portland City Storage facility will likely be the most energy efficient storage facility in the world, if the plans come to fruition. Designed to house large-ticket like boats, cars, and PODS, the 22-story facility will be built on just 3 acres of land — a tenth of what most storage facilities need — and will utilize 175,000 square feet of solar panels, producing a surplus of energy which will be sold to the local energy company; also planned for the facility is a rainwater collection system on the roof to supplement city water supplies.

In addition to its green design, plans are in the works for bike paths and walkways to connect Portland’s nearby neighborhoods to the downtown area. The question remains as to how Portlanders will react to what may be considered an eye-sore, although it really isn’t any worse than a tall office building…because if anyone can get behind a green cause, it’s Portland.

Paul Isabella: Portfolio Update

Paul Isabella, the furniture design student at SCAD whose ambitious portfolio has impressed us before, has recently updated his site with more of his well-executed homework. Nothing gives us a nastier case of the warm fuzzies than watching a new designer grow into his/her own, so we’re more than thrilled to report that Paul has some great new concepts posted, as well as a few nice pics from his “Strung Out” Fibers Exhibit. Paul should be graduating in 2008, so keep keeping your eyes peeled for what’s next to come from this exciting young gun.

Groupe 16sur20: Sale!

Summer is counting down its last days, which generally means a mad scramble to pack the weekends with activities you haven't quite gotten around to yet. If these activities are the type that requires a fashion statement — like hitting the race track or a little jaunt to the “country” — you'll be happy to know that Groupe 16sur20 is having a giant sale. Located in New York's Nolita and an offshoot of the custom high-end Seize sur Vingt, Groupe 16sur20 conceptualizes, designs, produces and wholesales some seriously posh ready-to-wear lines for both men and women. Twill pants, strategically deconstructed shoes that "will hold up to an especially rough game of pétanque," and seersucker suits are just a few of the items that will be discounted; you can take a peek on the store’s blog. All are perfect for some high class summer fun or, perhaps, just sitting in the sun sipping mint julep and spouting Mark Twain quotes. Ahem (brow blot with linen hankie), "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” if you’re into that sort of thing…although, we’re sure they’ll look great on you while you’re sitting in your office, kicking yourself that the only worthwile thing you did this summer was hit up this sale, too.

Talk Shop Fridays: Whatchoo Watchin'?

A certain someone just told me he couldn’t help me come up with a TSF topic because he’s too busy watching Domo-Kun on YouTube. That got me thinking — there are times that I tell people I’m “too busy right now,” when really I’m just watching the same five episodes of Planet Unicorn over and over again or participating in drinking games based on SoCal-based MTV reality shows (it’s a shot for every “like,” “bro,” and “Daaaaaaaddy!” if you have to ask) via AIM. So, I’m wondering what everyone else is watching when they’re allegedly swamped, because if you ask me, procrastination is always better when it’s a collaborative effort. It’s Talk Shop Friday…go ahead and share your viewing habits it the comments — after all, sharing is caring, etc.

Raleigh: 2008 One Way

It shouldn’t be a surprise after the Boxfresh collaboration, but Raleigh has been turning lots of heads lately. If I asked you, even a year ago, to give me the top five companies in cycling for 2007, I doubt Raleigh, an English bicycle manufacturer that has been around since 1887 and have changed ownership a few times, whose heyday ended in the late 80′s, would have appeared on that list. Fortunately for them — and us — those conditions were ripe for a return.

Cyclists are returning to their roots, yearning for simplicity; the fixed-gear phenomenon is spreading from San Francisco to New York, and other large cities overseas. More people bike than ever and for some it’s an alternative to burning fossil fuels on their commute to work and for others, it’s simply fun. The soon-to-be released 2008 Raleigh One Way is an incredibly classy machine — it has a flip-flop hub with a fixed gear, meaning if the bike is moving, your feet are pedaling, and a freewheel on the other. A single gear means no fancy shifters to deal with, no extra parts to break or maintain; it also means you’re always in the right gear at signals and leads to increased muscle memory. The One Way comes in a beautiful British Racing green with front and rear fenders to protect you in the rain and from those pesky wet potholes. One new feature this year is that the One Way comes with a pre-softened Brooks leather saddle and matching bar tape standard — truly a return to it’s European heritage as well as the days when people cared less about The Tour and more about just riding.

Via Raleigh Commuters

Helvetica The Film: Pre-Order Me

Last August we raved about the trailer for Helvetica: The Movie, a documentary focused on the world’s most popular (and arguably most powerful) typeface. Finally, the DVD version is now ready for pre-order, with a delivery date of November 6th. The DVD for $20 includes the entire 80-minute feature film, plus more than 80 minutes of interviews with incredible people like Massimo Vignelli, Matt Carter, and Herman Zapf. There is also a limited-edition boxed version — naturally — for $76 that includes the DVD, three letterpressed mini-posters, a color C-print signed by director Gary Hustwit, an actual Helvetica metal type piece, and a handful of other awesome goodies. The collector boxes are limited to 1,000 copies and will not be available in any stores. My inner typography nerd is officially out now — I can’t wait to get my hands on this film!

Six Months of TEeA Party

One of the most exciting times of my hectic mail openage each month is when my new Momimomi TEeA Party T-shirt arrives. Don’t remember? It’s the sexy subscription t-shirt program where every month I receive an uber-exclusive, sickeningly soft and beautifully designed t-shirt from the geniuses over at Momimomi. They’re now celebrating the first six months of t-shirt love, but there is still time to join the party with either 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions. This first year’s run (6 months left) are of a mere 100 tees per design for us members. Pop by the site and check them out — it’s a great gift opportunity for yourself, if you’re a t-shirt hound like myself.

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