#yellowglass / Lego brings back the Galaxy Explorer.

From the product description: “This anniversary collectible edition of the Classic 497 Lego Galaxy Explorer model retains all the joy of the 1979 set but on a bigger scale.”

I never had this kit, but I looked at it over and over again in the Sear catalog. Instead I spent many, many hours of my life playing with the 920 Alpha-1 Rocket Base that featured a moon scape “crater plate.”

It’s great to see Lego dig into their archives and revitalize these works of art.

#Empty / “I just didn’t feel up to it.”

Ethan Marcotte writes,

I just haven’t really felt much like, I dunno, being online. I’ve mostly stepped away from my public Twitter account because — well, it’s like the horse said. On top of that, I haven’t felt like writing, or doing much design work, or tinkering with this little website. It’s not that I couldn’t have used a little time with my worry stone, what with the state of [gestures around], but I just didn’t feel up to it. I’d finish work for the day, then it’d be dinner with she, playing with the kittens, maybe a video game or two. Just didn’t have fuel for anything else.

You are not alone my friend. I just finished a small research effort and I got some insights to how people are doing right now. In short: We’re all wiped. Some more than others for an array of reasons. Even those who are trying to make a comeback to what we used to refer as “normal life” are drained.

Also, in the same post Ethan talks about his newly redesigned website. I dig it, especially the new version of the logo! Nice work Beep!

#design / Thibaut Sailly on a better way to create color variations.

This is required reading for anyone who considers themselves a designer. I only provide this quote as a means to entice everyone to click through and read—no, see—the post which includes images that will sell Sailly’s approach.

Before presenting it, let’s cover quickly the first solution that will naturally come to mind for the developers you work with: automating the production of color variants from a given reference by applying a mathematical formula. A formula is objective, stable, and can be automated - reassuring.

The concentric format offers a better visual perception of the variants progression than with the stacked rectangles.

Doing this exercise gives the feeling of shaping the progression and allows the link between intention and result to exist. The mental image I used to help me is that of concentric discs of varying thickness stacked on top of each other, seen from above. The smallest one being the closest to a zenith light source (therefore the lightest), and the largest the farthest away (therefore the darkest).

By increasing the number of variants, it is possible to refine the profile of this fictitious volume, and to ensure a choice of references in the areas of the spectrum that will be relevant to the project.

Good design is a craft, not a formula.

#everythingisfine

The incredible lack of empathy and poor aim from a cold and callous COVID patient.

I held out my hand, making the universal sign for “hey, toss that thing to me, and I’ll catch it.” The gesture is not only a signal but a reference point, a target made by the intended recipient to the provider or the thrower-of-the-thing.

It was an easy six-foot shot (the “social distance” recommended by the CDC for people to avoid COVID contamination) that required minimal effort and expenditure of energy. In other words, a three-year-old could have made the shot with their eyes closed.

The bottle of Ibuprofen made flight for two one-hundredths of a second (approximately as I did not have time to open and start a stopwatch) and hit the ground with a thud followed by the faintest sound of shaken maracas—a solid two feet short of the mark.

I looked at my empty hand, still outstretched, still ready to receive. The bottle finally came to a rest. What just happened? Was she trying a bounce pass? I’m pretty sure bottles weren’t designed to bounce. Perhaps this move was inspired by a few cricket matches we’ve recently observed? How can someone be so incredibly intelligent and not understand physics at the same time?

“What in the hell,” I asked in bewilderment.

She looked at me as if nothing was wrong or out of the ordinary. As if everything is fine. Dog-coffee-flames-fine. Through her mask, the COVID patient casually stated, “What? I wanted to make sure we observed distancing.”

As I recall, the COVID prevention guidelines stipulate the need for distance, but I don’t remember reading anything about the necessity for ground-based exchanges between people. And even if that had been the case, I would have ignored it because fifteen minutes earlier, I bent over the wrong way and mildly threw out my back.

“I asked for the Ibuprofen because of my back, and you just threw the bottle at my feet–and not even at my feet. Are you trying to kill me?”

“Oh yeah,” her laughter built to the point of coughing, “I forgot.” Her eyes started to tear up from the laughter. “And, stop making me laugh,” she said, still laughing, “it hurts to cough.”

And so began our weekend with COVID.

#futureofwork / The Cafe That Helps Beat Writer’s Block—by Fining You $22.

This is interesting: A cafe/co-working space optimized for a specific type of work to be done combined with paid accountability.

The cafe’s co-owner, Takuya Kawai, directs his customers to set a goal for the day and, if requested, prods them to get on with it. If they fail to meet it by the time they leave, they have to pay a fine equivalent to $22. It’s an honor system, says Mr. Kawai, but it seems to work.

It seats 10, and costs around $2 an hour, or $4.50 an hour for a premium seat facing a brick wall.

Students working on book reports, comic-book illustrators, authors, and corporate warriors with a presentation due have been flocking to the cafe, which opened in April in an artsy Tokyo neighborhood.

Whereas this place is optimized for writing, imagine if it was optimized on levels of trust and industry. It’s interesting to gather folks of the same vocation together, but way more intriguing when they have an additional shared trait. Add a level of safety and trust, and the interactions are far more meaningful.

I have witnessed this firsthand in two different settings—first, creating and hosting a retreat for studio or consultancy owners. Second, hosting Design Leadership Forum events for executive design leaders, not based on where they lived but by industry. In both settings, once a level of trust was established, the quality of discourse increased dramatically.

As remote or hybrid working conditions are here to stay, there are going to be more opportunities to explore in offering goal oriented, trusted spaces. I’d love to see more experiments with this idea.

#cyberpunk / Explore Akira’s Neo Tokyo through rare artworks by the legendary anime’s art directors.

Akira is one of a few stories that is amazing but as manga and anime. If you haven’t read the original manga, you’re missing out. If you haven’t watched the anime adaptation you’re, again, missing out. The story is amazing, but the look is off the charts. The film set a bar for science fiction—cyberpunk in particular—that remains to this day. Take a look at the It’s Nice That piece and you’ll see why for yourself.

#rad / VW to relaunch the International Harvester Scout as an EV.

Volkswagen is entering the electric off-roader scene, and in doing so will revive a legendary nameplate: the Scout. Made famous by truck and tractor maker International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s, the Scout moniker will return on an electric SUV and pickup truck designed for the American market, with production planned for 2026.

Wow! I can’t wait to see all of the design work that’s going to come from this endeavor.

#design / In-House In-Focus.

I completely missed the launch of a new publication by UnderConsideration. IHIF dives into “the great work being done by in-house teams or learn about how they work.” The results are far more detailed and exciting than a mere showcase of the work coming out of these teams. The nomination process begins with serious set of requirements. The results are phenomenal and a welcome addition to the UnderConsideration’s body of work.

For example, take a look at the MailChimp issue to see the goodness for yourself. I’d love to see these stories shared as a zine, but I’ll take whatever Bryony and Armin have time for.

It would be great to see the addition of Mike Abbink and his team at IBM, who have created a ton of great work with a thorough rebranding that includes the Watson design system.

#zine / Tuxsax:

A zine that exposes when the user experience is as shitty. Free of charge.