LA Trance by Ben Radatz

I’m going to date myself with this post. Back in the early 1980’s, probably 80 or 81 I was at a shopping mall and happened to be in some store that sold home furnishings like plates, containers, small appliances, glassware and such.

The reason I remember this so well is because at the time I was blown away by row after row of teal, baby blue, and cinnamon-colored plastic items that looked like a mash-up of 1930’s art deco, and mid-century modern. It was as though the designer of this particular line of products had been channeling 1930’s Raymond Lowe and 1950’s George Nelson, and filtering them through 30 to 40 years of separation.

It was as though a faded memory of what these periods were like, or a memory that somehow blurred the line between the two periods and imposed a kitschy rendition of what it must have been like to have been there a few decades back.

This was common in the early 1980s. Look back at TV graphics from this period and you’ll see the same 1950s aesthetic applied with loads of pink, black, and teal all run through a New Wave blender creating a unique look that lasted a few years. Maybe I’m feeling more aware of this because of the album covers of bands I listened to back then.

Ah New Wave records from the early 1980s. 1980 to 1985 was such a good decade.

The reason I bring this up is that the video below brought all of this back to me this afternoon. The video itself is really well done, featuring some solid animation, great illustration qualities, and an electronic music soundtrack by Four Tet. The thing is though, it feels like a 2020 take on a 1980’s take of something from the 1950s. And there is nothing wrong with that. It just got me to thinking about all of the trends that get resurfaced, reworked, and filtered through decades of separation and made into something new.

The timing and transitions to the changes in the music are fantastic. The style of the illustration while reminiscent of something familiar to the late 1970s and early 1980s is original to Ben Radatz with an elegant look to them. The color pallet enhances the feeling of the 3 minute short and captures the city of Los Angeles. He even features Miss Donuts and Circus Liquor (an LA icon you should go if you are ever in the San Fernando Valley area)



Creating something with a minimalist style is harder than you think. It’s more than just stripping away superfluous decoration, pattern, and color. It requires that keen ability to create something visually balanced, visually appealing, stripped down to bare geometry and form. 

Earlier today I had an email from a friend pointing me to this stunning table from Jay-Design. The Chiuet table is a masterpiece of balance, line, and form, abstracted from the shape of a pond or perhaps a water lily floating in it. The table top becomes both the shape of the pond and the lily, while the thin steel legs become the roots. 

Executed in a high grade steel the table is at times almost invisible, especially in profile. The legs disappear beneath, creating a floating surface that appears to hover. Chiuet is realization of minimalist finesse, that is representative of his Asian aesthetic mixing nature and minimalism, in a deep black. No word on where to get this, or if it was ever produced. If I find out more, I’ll post an update.






Anabella Vivas 100 Percent Sand Vases.

Anabella Vivas has created a series of vases that investigate how the design process is benefitted by using natural materials during the creation of the object. Vivas, wants to create a balance between the materials used and the final outcome. To reach that goal on this project Vivas has mixed concrete and glass, both reliant on sand for their existence.  Each vase is a balance of 40 percent glass to 60 percent concrete in materials use.  Working with the most amount of sand possible in her concrete mix, Vivas was able to blow glass into the concrete vessel, because of the slightly cooler than normal temperature which helps to fuse the pieces together. Each piece is hand made and no two are truly identical. Each one has a unique textural qualities to it in both the concrete and glass components. I love the subtle tonal color ranges in the cast concrete combined with a minimal aesthetic. And the balance between the heaviness on the concrete and the lightness of the glass is simply sublime.











Media Centers, Decent Audio, and Aesthetics

I keep looking for a good media center solution for the new house. I want something that looks great, and preforms well. Something that won’t cost me an arm and a leg like the Beo Sound 5, which clocks in at over 5 grand not including speakers. Plus the Beo Sound only handles audio. I want something that does all media types.

So as I have been looking, one of the things that has been driving me crazy is just how butt ugly most media components are. That and the fact that they all seem to be missing something. I thought when Apple introduced the Apple TV they would have been smart enough to first include a cable card slot and or a tuner. Second I thought they would have been smart enough to make sure the audio out ran through the HDMI cable and not component. If they had done this, it would have been a killer system. On September 9th they have an upgrade announcement, and I hope it shows a giant leap forward for them. On the other hand almost all Windows based media systems just look bad. They look like the hardware was an after thought. I have to say that in most cases this is true for almost all stereo and home theater gear. It’s like lets just take this stuff and cram it in a black box and give the user a cheap remote.

Chinese designer Jean Hong has come up with a small media center concept for Harmon Kardon named “Sowl” this unit would connect wirelessly probably through Wifi to your local network, and locates or updates different files to download  onto the system for playback. All you have to do is to place yourself comfortably on your sofa and control the system with the universal remote control. And look, it’s not ugly! It’s a stylish piece of equipment that appears to be well thought out. Even the remote looks nice. It’s the kind of hardware that you wouldn’t mind having out in your house. I like the idea that this could look nice enough that it isn’t hidden in some oversized cabinet that houses all your media gear.

Now if someone could just come up with a decent way to do wireless speakers that sound really nice then I would be so happy.