Tuesday, September 29th
Fast Food on Feet, or Toad in the Loophole
The product Im putting in the spotlight today has been around in Germany for a while but gained additional international notoriety last week following the publication of an article and video by Nicholas Kulish on the New York Times website, that Tim Manners picked up on in his excellent Cool News newsletter.
The grillwalker is the brainchild of Berliner Bertram Rohloff. He thought up the idea back in 1997, having just lost his hotel management job. Hed wanted to open a food stand but, for reasons not revealed to or by Kulish, he couldnt get the necessary permits. Apparently the required permits in Berlin only apply when the stand touches the ground, so Rohloff decided to exploit this legislative loophole by designing a vendor's tray for the sale of fried sausages.
After some heavier prototypes, he eventually developed a portable grill device that the grillwalker wears like a tray in front of him, connected to a bottle of propane gas strapped in a frame on his back. The whole thing weighs in at around 15.5 kg. This is still pretty heavy, but operators usually work in teams of two, taking turns in carrying/selling and re-stocking.
Rohloff tells Kulish that he now has 15 employees selling sausages around Berlin, plus a number of subcontractors renting them in cities around the country. Hes also sold the equipment, at around € 5,000 a pop, to customers from Bulgaria through Colombia to South Africa.
Tuesday, September 22nd
Eindhoven by design
The only time Ive visited Dutch Design Week so far was when I was writing the English versions of the Dutch Design Awards catalogues, from 2005 through 2007. In those visits I only went to the Awards exhibition and award ceremony. Although I realized there were other design events going on in the city, there either werent as many as there are now or they just werent being very well promoted.
Having just finished the English version of the 2009 graduation catalogue for Design Academy Eindhoven a project that was similar to, though somewhat larger than, the work I used to do for the Designprijzen I checked out the Dutch Design Week website. Its well designed itself, which, surprisingly enough perhaps, is not something Ive come to expect from design websites. That made it easier than you might imagine to take myself on a tour around the no less than 280 events in 60 locations that are being organized in Eindhoven from the 17th to the 25th of next month.
Eindhoven has been shortlisted, along with Helsinki, for nomination as World Design Capital 2012, so no doubt this is one of the reasons all the stops are being pulled out this year. Every aspect of contemporary Dutch design will be represented by both commercial designers and design schools, and a number of interesting sounding concerts have been organized for those staying long enough to see more than a fraction of them.
The Dutch Design Awards exhibition is now held in the Brainport Greenhouse (photo from last year above) on the Stadhuisplein, a much more central and pleasant location than the StrijpS, where I used to visit it. The awards show is on the evening of Saturday 17th, and for the next eight days it can be visited from 11.00 to 22.00.
The 140 final year works of this years bachelors and masters graduates of Design Academy Eindhoven will be exhibited at the Witte Dame on the Emmasingel (photo from last year above). A number of projects will also be presented that have emerged from the academys collaboration with various companies. The Design Academy show is open from 13.00 to 18.00 on the 17th, and then from 11.00 to 18.00 until the 25th.
One of the many other items that caught my eye was an exhibition called Schat steek jij de BBQ eens aan, or Honey, put the BBQ on. Featuring products such as the intriguing looking Smokey Joe barbecue (above), Studio Niels & Sven is presenting a series of designs based on transience and alternative functionality at the Peninsula Centre for Contemporary Culture on the Bilderdijklaan. Its open each day from 12.00, and I fancy the idea of the BBQ on the evening of Friday 23rd.
Tuesday, September 8th
Heres to the next 10 years of La Pompe
There have been a number of blogs and other sites for some time that have focused on exposing copy-cat ads, but the best-known and most talked-about is Joe La Pompes site. Joe has been spotting remarkable coincidences and possible or alleged plagiarism in ads for the last ten years. Here in Holland, Adformatie magazine regularly features examples from Joes site, and even had a best of 2008 spread at the beginning of this year.
Despite or perhaps because of his growing fame or, to some creatives, infamy, he has managed to maintain his anonymity. Pompe is French for sneaker, as in shoe, but also has the meaning of rip-off, by the way. He has only revealed that he does work as a copywriter for an ad agency in Paris.
In a few interviews Ive heard, he actually tends to be quite generous to those who produce what appear to be straight copies of others work, saying that he thinks its often a problem of young ad people who just dont do enough research.
Whats inexcusable in my opinion is that so many campaigns that win prestigious awards around the world are amongst the worst examples. Even if some of them really are just coincidences, the judging panels should be experienced and diligent enough to check that the ideas theyre giving prizes to hadnt been used before.
This is especially important given the silly obsession that many agencies and, unfortunately, many of their major clients have with these awards. Joe was in Cannes again recently for the third consecutive year.
By all accounts the problem of multiply-reproduced ideas sometimes even repeated three or four times doesnt show any sign of abating, despite how easy the Internet has made it to check that something the same or very similar hasnt already been done.
The examples Ive featured here are just a selection from the last few months from the growing archive on his site. I just find them both amusing and amazing, but imagine how youd feel if you were the client whod paid thousands for a copy-cat ad. I think Joes providing a valuable service for both agencies and clients, so heres to the next ten years of La Pompe.