Beyond Underwear

There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.
— Milton Glaser
 eames chairs

eames chairs

In my last blog post, “Let’s Talk Underwear”, I attempted to show the importance of design at a most basic level. If you’re a designer of Ralph Lauren’s notoriety and scale, how do you come into the studio one day and say, “We’re going to design a pair of men’s boxer shorts so amazing it will be worthy of our signature polo player embroidered on the garment.” I guess it’s the attention to detail.

Now, thinking bigger: is there anything we see, use, play with or consume (afterall we are “consumers”) that has not been designed?

Design fascinates me. Because, it is built of some of my favorites things: inspiration, ideas, creativity, motivation, trial, error, success, failure, beauty, function and simplicity.


Design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.
— Paul Rand

In addition to mentioning underwear in the last post, I made a glancing reference to the #2 pencil, specifically the Ticonderogo Dixon. Look at the beauty and complexity of its design! A wooden shaft hollowed and filled with lead, just the right lead to make a #2. Shaped on a lathe and cut to a hexagon so it won’t roll off the desk and comfortable in the hand. Made of wood that can be sharpened extending its use. With an eraser on the other end, because stuff happens.

Dixon-Ticonderoga-Wood-Cased-2-HB-Pencils-Pre-Sharpened-Box-of-30-Yellow-1.jpg

Let’s think about ultimate design—big C, Creation. Everything we know about the creative process and the inspiration behind it we know from the Creation process. Some will think me narrow-minded because I believe in Divine Creation. Frankly, I see myself as being so open-minded that I believe I am creative because I am made in the image of the Creator. 

There is so much to learn here when you dream on this scale. Let’s take a look at just one element of design: integrity. For certain, one of the elements of great design is integrity. Here’s the test: It is what it purports to be, it delivers what it promises, it is honest and reliable.

How does Creation show the integrity of design and the Designer? Consider a banana. Have you ever peeled a banana and found anything but banana inside? This wonderful, self-packaged, portable fruit is well-designed for a number of reasons, but the one we’re considering right now is its integrity. It promises to be a banana and it is—every single time.

Just a suggestion or two: 1. Have a banana today. 2. Pay attention today to the design of the things that are a part of your life. Imagine the design process of the designer behind it.

Let's Talk About Underwear

NORMALLY I DON'T take pictures of my underwear, but hey it’s the 2000s right? So, here it is.

boxers.jpg


LET’S TALK ABOUT GOOD DESIGN. Sometimes it’s about aesthetics, or at least it is to me. Sometimes it’s about function. Sometimes you get both.

 THE ICONIC KITCHENAID MIXER

THE ICONIC KITCHENAID MIXER

Fashion design is big business, and I’m guessing that when most people talk fashion design they are speaking of the aesthetics, the form and then the function.

Fashion design for me is first and foremost about comfort. For many years I’ve worn Polo® boxers. Not because of that little polo player embroidered somewhere on the garment, and not because I want to wear “designer” underwear. I don’t know Ralph Lauren personally, but I hope he reads my blog. As far as I know he still lives in New York City and I do have readers in New York, but I don’t know who they are (in most cases).

So Ralph, if you’re reading this: WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU CHANGE THE DESIGN OF YOUR TRIED AND TRUE BOXERS? 

One of the reasons I’ve worn overpriced undies for years is the quality and comfort. I tend to wear my boxers until they are so threadbare they are reduced to molecules holding hands. My favorite feature has always been that the fabric is wrapped around the elastic waistband and then sewn. Soooo comfortable. [see my underwear photo above for a comparison of the two waistbands]

Dixon-Ticonderoga-Wood-Cased-2-HB-Pencils-Pre-Sharpened-Box-of-30-Yellow-1.jpg

Maybe it’s the spirit of “back to school” but for whatever reason, I felt compelled to go shopping for #2 pencils, new jeans and underwear. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the package and saw the irreverence for good design in this new style.

The last thing you want in the hot, humidity of an Oklahoma summer is uncomfortable underwear—especially an itchy, scatchy, prickly, bare waistband. 

A few days later

They’re not as bad as I had feared, but still… Come on Ralph! Can’t you put your design energy into something new and leave a great design like your boxers alone?

Remember that time Coke tried to change their recipe and pass it off as “new coke”? That could happen to you Ralph.

Vlogging--Fun for all ages?

THE KIDS ARE DOING SOMETHING these days called vlogging. Best I can tell it hasn’t set off danger alarms and warning flags among parent groups and religious fundamentalists like poor little Harry Potter did, or Ouija boards, or Chubby Checker and The Twist, or the Hula-Hoop, or The Beatles. It does involve social media, a device with a screen, and putting-yourself-out-there, so it does come with those typical inherent concerns.

It’s kind of a fun word to say—vlogging. Rhymes with clogging, which, by the way, sounds like something you might see: someone vlogging about clogging.

Best I can tell, it is sort of a mix of journaling and home movies; except for the fact that probably few people care to read my journal, and if I remember correctly, no one wants to see anyone’s home movies. I may recall that there were times when we would have company over that didn’t seem to want to leave, even though it was “getting late.” So, Dad would say, “Let me get out the old slide projector and show you the shots of our vacation to the painted desert.” Within minutes you could see the hazy red of their taillights glowing through the exhaust of the family sedan.

 Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Home Movies. Stevan Dohanos (1907 – 1994)

Here’s an official definition:

A vlog (or video blog) is a blog that contains video content. The small, but growing, segment of the blogosphere devoted to vlogs is sometimes referred to as the vlogosphere. Definition from WhatIs.com

I like to journal. I like to write a blog. I like taking pictures and shooting video. And although I’m an introvert, I have enough arrogance and creative drive to put-myself-out-there. Do I have delusions that anyone would watch an on-going vlog called About Pops? None! I can imagine someone saying, “WOW, would you look at the time! Honey, better gather up the kids. We gotta get home.”

It’s kind of like this blog. I created AboutPOPS.com in August 2013. Five years ago (and my sixth grade teacher told me I couldn’t stick to anything). I didn’t start this blog with aspirations of a huge readership. As I’ve said before, it was mostly about a motivation to write. I love to write, but without a deadline, an impetus, a spark, I lean to good intentions but no words on the paper.

Now, five years later, I enjoy looking back over the posts and remembering the births of grand-kids, a marriage, trips, good times, uncertain times, silliness, making people mad, making people question my sanity, questioning my own sanity.

The other day I got a call from our son Corey: “It’s time to renew your URL for About Pops. I’m assuming you want to do that?” I didn’t think about it. I just said yes. Had I thought it over, I might have said, “Five years is long enough.” I’m glad I didn’t. It’s still fun.

Blogging is one thing. Vlogging is another. My 8-year old Grand-Girl, Karlee, showed me a few videos by vloggers. Then I found a few on my own. I find it fascinating. If I were 17, I would definitely start vlogging. At 67? Why not?

Hold on while I set up the movie projector.

Remembering

Everything changes and nothing remains still. You cannot step twice into the same stream.
— Heraclitus

LAST AUTUMN, my Amazing-Missus and I attended her high school class reunion. I wrote a bit about it.

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While at the reunion I was visiting with a lady who had been married to one of my schoolmates. As we visited I was struck with a spell of melancholy. For some reason I have no connections with anyone that I went to school with. It’s not that I didn’t have friends; maybe I’m just not a good cultivator, which is a little weird to me because a role I truly cherish is that of being a creative catalyst—one who brings creative people together in collaboration.

But then a pop on Facebook, the social media thing. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you’ve been politically manipulated by it. A name I recognized was there on the FB, the name of a girl that I considered to be a friend in grade school, junior high and high school. Not a “girlfriend” though. Her sights were set much higher.

One thing lead to another and a few weeks ago, we met for lunch. Karla, Arlene and me. What a gift it was. She was able to tell me about many of our classmates. I felt reconnected somehow. And at the same time I realized that Heraclitus was right. You cannot step twice into the same stream. 

Karla told us there was a group of Trojan alum having a meet-up at the Methodist church if we wanted to stop by. So we did. We walked into the church and followed the signs to the Fellowship Hall. We could see through the open doors the group gathered. “This isn’t them”, I thought. “This is the church’s senior adult group.” And then it dawned on me. All these people other than me have aged, and come to find out, many are gone.

I dug out my old yearbook, from my junior year 1968, and scanned the pictures of my classmates, pausing on some to recall a memory or two. Some of these, I realized, I had sat in class with year after year and I knew very little about them. Missed opportunities no doubt.

The tradition back then, when the yearbooks were handed out at the end of the school year was to hand your book to others for them to sign. I read the entries in my book through a much older lens. For the most part, we didn’t look to far ahead: “Hope you have a great summer!” Some entries were nostalgic: “Well another year is behind us…” Some prophetic: “Stay just the way you are and you’ll go far,” words I’ve never seen on one of those motivational posters.

We didn’t know it at the time but things were simpler and yet they weren’t. 1968 is notorius for riots, protests, and culture quaking moments. But without the WWW, 24-hour news outlets, a strange innocence prevailed; or at least that’s the way I remember it.

On the 50th anniversary of my senior year, I wonder about the Senior Class of 2019. Are they having a good summer? Are they aware of the crap-storm in Washington D.C.? Do they care? Have the active-shooter drills at their school become as common place as the atomic bomb drills did for us? Is there a thread or two of innocence left? Is there someone writing words of encouragement on the flyleaf of their yearbook? 

If I could write a prelude of sorts in their yearbook, I might say something like this:

Make a new friend this year. Not one of those social media “friends”, but a real one, maybe one that is different from you: race-wise, sex-wise, faith-wise—you know, different. When you get together with your new friend, put away the phones and talk. Talk about the future, your fears, your faith.

Be creative. Make a contribution. Express gratitude. Do something that makes your palms sweaty. Pay attention—not just in class but to what is happening around you. Remember: “Everything changes and nothing remains still. You cannot step twice into the same stream.” — Heraclitus


Just a note: I attended school at Jenks Public Schools through my Junior year, but transferred and graduated from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

P.S.: Thank you Karla Newman Taber for being a friend.