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Jen Bekman

Signing Off

Today will be my last day writing for mediabistro.

It’s been fun – I had no idea how much I’d love the blogging, but between the the gallery, the Hey, Hot Shot competition and my ever-demanding social schedule, it’s impossible for me to blog like a pro.

I’ll still be around – the gallery blog is updated frequently and I’ll soon be posting some musings at Personism. (Just as soon as I figure out which blogging software to install and how.)

Don’t forget to write!

jen AT jenbekman DOT com or
person AT personism DOT com

Just Don’t Do It


Apparently I struck a chord with my NikeiD rant the other day. Greg ranted righteously about the utter faux-ness of the iD’s supposed customization:

Customizing Nikes is to expressing your individual creativity what rhythmic gymnastics is to sports. Whatever the people who actually do it obsessively say, most sensible people can see it for what it is after a couple of colorful swooshes.

and links to a fawning NYT Magazine style section article about the store. (I know, I know, the cognitive dissonance of NYT + style + fawning all in the same sentence is just too much to bear.)

The Curbed kids did some creative editing and, stripped of my qualifiers, made it appear that I actually have opinions in their Calling Bullshit: NikeiD is for suckers. (Though they seem to think I’m some kind of anti-consumerist Marxist type. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a girl who loves her shopping.)

Also I got tons of kudos via the Anonymous Tips box, making me flush with the glow of my moment of blog glory. Aside from notes congratulating me on, you know, having an opinion, I also got some additional feedback about the aforementioned iD faux-ness. Reader Scott Walker wrote in and said:

The funny thing about this Nikeid stuff is that it is not even remotely “personalized”. It might be good marketing, but it is barely scratching the surface on design. Allowing a person to slap colors selected from a (very limited) palette on an existing set of products is midly entertaining, but not design.
Design would be adjusting width, choosing stability, choosing firmness, choosing tread patterns, and (oh yeah) selecting colors, materials, and printing cutom patterns, etc., etc….

Also weighing in, artblog Forward Retreat:

I thought now would be an exceptional moment to link to Jonah Peretti’s infamous Nike iD project (2001), as immortalized on Peretti’s email correspondence with the corporation is chronicled there, along with a timeline of the subsequent media explosion after Nike refused to honor Peretti’s request for custom-made Nikes with the word “Sweatshop” emblazoned on their sides.

Exceptional moment, indeed! I had forgotten about that fiasco, and it’s a timely reminder.

(Image courtesy of Forward Retreat.)

Take a Walk

seventh avenue

Wednesday Lore exposes the soft underbelly of misanthrope and self-professed “closet romantic” Miss Representation. In yesterday’s late entry he exhorts all of us to take a walk and recommends a few routes, an amble along Seventh Avenue being one of them:

The remnants of the Garment District are primarily physical, the hulking stone manufacturing centers of the teens and twenties. Rising to a uniform height, with a limited amount of set backs, as required, they form a striking wall illuminated by the gap that is Penn Station and the Garden. The upslope of Seventh is a great view, albeit a rather crowded one, as hordes muscle their way along to the terminal, most oblivious to the dusty hues above.

I took a long walk myself yesterday evening, from Tribeca to my home in the East Village. The evening light is perfect (it was just a bit after 6 when I took my stroll) and the weather is absolutely spot on for urban exploration. Clear and a bit crisp, and a little damp in a way that reminds me of San Francsico – the air seems to have dimension to it and the angle of the sunlight makes it almost tangible. So, yes, I agree: Take a walk.

Image credit: Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street. Dec. 5, 1935 – Bernice Abbott, from the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection

That Quotable Tibor


My hardback of Perverse Optimist had been long lost, left behind in California because I’d loaned it to a friend and forgotten that I had, and then he reminded me (fool!) and then *he* couldn’t find it. So he just sent me a new (to me) hardcover in the mail. Happy me, maybe happy you, if you can stand more Tibor quotes. Here are a few from the first few pages of the book.

Rules are good. Break them.

Good designers (and writers and artists) make trouble.

And another one that I really should tape to my bathroom mirror as a daily affirmation (except that’s not so much my thing.):

Eventually you’ll forget all this but there will be plenty of new ideas to choose from. And I believe that they’ll be better.

The image above is from Colors 4 (Race), published in 1993. (What if… Queen Elizabeth was black?)

Young Landmarks Event Tonight

Lever House

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is hosting their first event to benefit Young Landmarks, a newly formed subset of the organization with a Modernist bent.

The benefit is on the terrace of the Lever House, this evening from 6.30-9.30pm.

You can call the conservancy for more information about tonight’s event and/or becoming a Young Landmarks member: 212.995.5260.

Separated @ Birth: Bad Signage Edition


Clearly um, inspired, by this brilliant bit of branding:


Read all about at The Food Section.

via Curbed.

New From House Industries: Paperback


This came in from a tipster last week:

House Industries has some new fonts called Paperback that seem to be just right for publication design. Small caps and that kind of nice stuff. But what is going on with that weird illustration? Scary!

I’m not quite sure what illustration is being referred to, but I do like the small caps version!

Eames Office Events

charles + ray

Eames Office just sent out a comprehensive list of upcoming Eames-related events via their mailing list. It’s LONG, so check out the entire list after the jump.

One notable event: June 21, 2005 (Charles and Ray’s anniversary — a Tuesday this year) is their newly official Member Appreciation day. Eames House and the grounds will be open exclusively to them from 1 to 7 PM. A few of my siblings [ed note: Eames Demetrios, who runs the Eames Office in Santa Monica] as well as my Mom, Lucia Eames (Charles’ daughter) will be guiding Members through the first floor of the House and will be available all afternoon for conversation and questions.

Full schedule, including events in several major US cities, after the jump.

Read more

NikeiD: Bullshit


I’ve totally had it with this NikeiD crap. It’s been a simmering resentment since I’ve walked past their Elizabeth St store which is unsightly when closed and unwelcoming when it’s open. Then there was the anonymous tipster who tipped me off over and over (and over) again about the young geniuses who designed the store. Then Dana and I were politely but firmly turned away. Then the blogger contest started and I got more pissed off. Then Josh Rubin posted this morning about being “fortunate enough” to be invited inside their hallowed halls.

Josh’s site is great and I’ve discovered a lot of cool stuff there. It’s a site I visit every day, sometimes several times in one day. Sneaker culture is not so much my thing, but so far as I can tell, Josh is in the thick of it and is considered a reliable source of news in that arena. And so that makes him fortunate to see the store how? Isn’t it the other way around really? Nike is getting that word-of-mouth buzz that makes marketing wonks wet their pants. And they’re getting it for free.

Then there’s the whole blogger competition. Again, several bloggers who I enjoy reading are participating in the promotion and I mean no slight to them. But a promotion for Nike is what it is, not for the bloggers themselves. It’s painful for me to watch them shilling Nike’s sneakers, sometimes relentlessly, in return for what amounts to crumbs from Nike. 100 free pairs of sneakers? (Or is it 50? I’m sure someone is going to school me on this immediately.) That’s nothing to Nike – it’s like saying “OH MY GOD, I cannot even believe that this restaurant gave me these matches for FREE. How cool is that?!” (Granted if they’re matchbooks from Florent it’s something to get excited about.)

The NikeiD site certainly isn’t going out of its way to give the bloggers in kind promotion. I grudgingly went there yesterday to see what their end of the promotional bargain was, aside from tossing out a few pairs of sneakers. There’s a gallery of the designs, credited to each blogger who designed them, but there are no reciprocal links back to their sites. Getting free shit is fun, no doubt. (Remember how excited people were about the goodie bag from the Domino launch party?) But I’m just wondering why Nike is being vaunted for this competition and it’s stupid store which preys, rather transparently, on that Marx (Groucho, that is) adage: I’d never belong to a club that would have me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like being “allowed” to give Nike money for a pair of shoes is a badge of hipster honor.

A Bit of Tibor for You


I came across this demo site that chronicles many of Kalman’s designs, projects and products, along with lots of trivia that’s probably only interesting to a geek like me. (He collected egg beaters, for instance. Fascinating, I know.)

Tibor Kalman.

The image above is of a billboard that was part of the 42nd St Art Project. I was working at the Paramount, when it was a an Ian Schrager concern. (Now, much to my surprise, it’s been sold and is slated to become a Hard Rock Hotel. Classy.)

Anyway, I digress: the hotel is in Times Square, so I walked by that billboard frequently when it was up and really loved its presence on what was otherwise a rather desolate strip. (Now it’s utterly Disneyfied, I’m not sure what’s worse.)