Thursday, November 30, 2006

I feel like a sad robot sick. Its the annual post-thanksgiving-family-visit-to-the-niece-and- nephew-green-snot- sickness. Sweeet.

Slouching in front of the 'puter, absently trying to muster the strength and focus to do some work.

What happened to the freezing rain? So much hype. Has anyone seen the pictures of the cat5 hurricane bearing down on the Philippines? They are screwed. If the American media would cover it, we'd probably seen some serious damage. So many people living in grass houses- already suffering infrastructure....I hope they are ok. If anyone out there is still in doubt on global warming- your an idiot.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I need an SUV

Take a quick look at this little link...
Someone has put together a bunch of pictures of people using bikes/two wheels for transporting stuff that is HUGE or fragile...I don't think the baby in a laundry basket on a scooter is really that smart necessarily, but it proves at the very least that our ideas of what is necessary is skewed.

On the other hand, I'm also really glad that lawyers, consumer groups ,et al have made things like bridges without planks illegal and non-existent in this country (see the first picture on the link). I know from first hand/personal experience as a kid visiting the Philipines, that bridges made out of bamboo poles tied together with hemp makes for a dodgy bridge that little kids fall off of pretty easily. Then again, I watched alot of other kids climb coconut trees thirty or forty feet with a machete, barefoot, and with no protection for fun and profit. Maybe I was just a soft nerd with a bowl cut...I said maybe.

Anyway, when you are commuting home today in an SUV or anything with more than three wheels, think about these folks striving everyday- carrying alot more than a briefcase and thank your lucky stars you are where you are- unless its in which case, get a bike!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ugandan bicycle

I came across this picture this morning, as I browsed the design blogs...I felt compelled to post it. It was taken by David Stairs, who was in Uganda with Designers Without Borders. The picture is from a short article on furniture makers/designers in Uganda published on the Design Observer- an interesting read.

For me, the nagging subtext of 'design' as it now known in our country, often speaks less to the accessibility of things thoughtfully created, and more to things opulently created. Like everyone else (or nearly everyone else) I appreciate nice things. Indeed, one of the reasons I began designing was that I felt that I had a talent, or ability to create nice things. But I often struggle with what we do as designers. If one stops and puts the frenzied rush to create, and recreate things to be manufactured and sold in a global context- an environmental and social context- would we like the answers? Is the return for the work equal or greater than the costs? Do we do more damage in creating things than improving? And what of the granite countertops, the stainless steel skins on our refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and coffee makers, our SUV's for carrying babies and strollers (....I could go on)?

What is really at issue for me is that the other reason I went into design was to create a better, more livable world through design....and that doesn't mean more high priced is about creating a world of goods and environments that is affordable to more than just the wealthiest of our society. To work exclusively for that end is an activity equal to the crimes of those who mass the wealth at the cost of the rest of us. While as designers we absolve ourselves of being party to this over consumption by believing that we are only providing the service that is being asked for- we are often passive in our roles as visionaries for something better. Truly, we are not the problem, the problem is far greater than just one group or segment, the problem seems to be our business model. So how do we change? Better yet, how do we change the conversation? Because that's really the problem, right? -That we are involved in a conversation that will not end with a resolution. Instead of asking what 'thing' can I produce that is better, we should be asking what kind of world do we want? But then that might require a consensus.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Its Fall! Time to start training

This was taken just a few days ago, in the southeast. I was riding my bike past this amazing tree near my neighborhood and luckily I had a camera on me. Even though the weather has really taken a turn, the fall has been fantastic here. After a couple of years on the east coast I got a new standard for what a fall turn could look like..and I wasn't even in Vermont in the true midst of the changing leaves. Nonetheless, Portland has impressed me.

Its time again to start the preseason training program. For those of us not racing cyclocross, things are pretty slow. I'm starting to put in the base miles again. After getting married in August, I had, all told, taken two months off from riding. The last month has been spent just trying to feel comfortable on the bike again. I wasn't very fit this last season, my first season racing in eighteen years- worst of all, it followed two and a half years in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and hours of commuting (see previous post on Hummers)..So, I was a fat-ass. Got to Portland last year, lost ten pounds pretty quickly. Now just ten more pounds and I'll be back to my college weight.

So last year's training plan was basically 'just have fun', put in miles, and see what I could do. This year I plan to include 'doing well' at races in addition to the having fun part. I managed to exceed my expectations this year. After finishing 22nd in my first race back (cherry pie, mens cat 5), and three or four top fives and just missing the win at one of the old farts PIR cat 5 race by about a foot, I plan on being more prepared this upcoming season. I'll be a cat 4, so the racing intensity will be greater, the competition stronger, and the races will arguably be more dangerous. Thinking back to the Banana Belts, I wasn't fit enough to hang after doing a solid paced lap up those hills. So this year, those will be my first objective -I'd like to at least hang with the front group and finish. If I do reasonably well first race out, then I'll think about a good result for the overall. If not, then I'll just have as much fun as possible. That's not too much to ask.

I have a pretty good natural sprint, so I'll work on that too. I'm hoping that I'll get back some of that strength I had as a junior (my sprint was pretty good). So all that said, it looks like hill repeats and sprint intervals and weight lifting...yeah!

How many more?

This is not a cynical attempt to make money. What are we going to do?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

UCLA Grad-Student loves his/her biodiesel - hates everything else

That is one pissed-off grad student! (A diarist on the DailyKos) Who is very pleased with him/herself for converting an old diesel to a biodiesel..I'd be more impressed if they'd sold their gas guzzler for a bike- in L.A., that'd mean something.

This is all well and good- but I'm more inclined to paint more solid white stripes on the streets and highways for bikes. I truly believe that the answer isn't better cars, but a change in the way we all live*...and the only way is let the gas run out, let the internal combustion engine For the simple fact that the biomass required to make this biofuel revolution happen will screw the world up in a different but similar way. This diarist shames the oil companies for their antiquated paradigm- but this grad student isn't challenging the real paradigm- that we must own a car- that this partnership is necessary -evil or otherwise. Interesting to think about- if we don't change our ways in the next 35 to 50 years and the gas runs out (as stated by the gradstudent), our energy revolution will happen anyway...if the destruction of the ice pack and the environment is already underway we'll have our revolution alright - punkrock style.
Quoting from an article that appeared in the Washington post by Lester R. Brown - Sunday, September 10, 2006

Starving the People To Feed the Cars

In agricultural terms, our appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable: The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol would feed one person for a full year. If the United States converted its entire grain harvest into ethanol, it would satisfy less than 16 percent of its automotive fuel needs.
The crux of the article is somewhat different than the pull quote, but the message is there. Take all the arable land in the US and start making ethanol for cars and we'd only cover 16% of the current need (I know ethanol is different than biodiesel, and I don't pretend to know their comparative merits, but I think its an applicable quote nonetheless).

Don't get me wrong- I own a car, my family owns two. I spent two years (prior to moving to Portland) commuting at least two hours a day round trip in my car (car pooling). I know public transit and bikes doesn't always work. But then I made a choice that living meant being out of the car. Working and living should happen closer together in space, etc. etc. Here I am, I don't commute, I can't remember the last time I put gas in my Civic...

I guess, in light of the current population expansion in Oregon, and Portland in particular, the real question for me is what will it take for more people to make the switch to public transit or human powered transit? What is the critical mix that will make it happen? Obvious problems are many- but given what we have, how could these alternatives be more attractive?

*which brings up an interesting pro Pearl development argument for all those who speak of it with derision - they are living the closest of any of us to many of the downtown jobs.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Why do we allow these things on the road?

So- its not news, I know...But if anyone out there is actually reading this blog, you can read it here from another person who hates Hummers of all varieties. Yes, its true there are other SUV's that are bad- there is always something worse- but trying to put it in some sort of perspective is a flacid argument for having one, let alone letting them on the road. As the governator down south so aptly illustrates, the measure of one's character is easily judged by owning one of these cars. Like loud Harleys (don't get me started), nothing says 'fuck you' to the neighborhood than a car that consumes more energy, clean air, physical space, and visual presence than a Hummer farting its way around town. It makes me sad, as much as it makes me mad that people drive them, or any other large SUV for that matter.

If you drive one, doesn't it occur to you that you are insulting the rest of us? You maintain your 'safety' at the expense of the rest of us. Because, while you might have higher survivability in an accident, those you hit have a lower survival rate. Selfish. Cars are bad enough- but the high bumpers and huge mass represent the next level of ham-handed design solutions for keeping the driver and occupants safe.

I guess I wouldn't want to go through life being the person who is telling everyone and every thing 'fuck you'...Maybe that's it. All the environmental reasons, all the status seeking, all the compensation, and consumption aside. Do you really want to drive a car that has this website dedicated to your car?

And WTF! Why do we still allow this 'farm vehicle' $10,000 deduction for owning a Hummer? PORK! Brought to you by those who control congress.

The Hummer page at Wikipedia - just to see what their MPG is makes this worth the click.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

PlayStation makes kids feel good about themselves.

Get your kid this kind of playstation this holiday. They'll look and feel better about themselves.

Seriously, between video games and hi-fructose corn syrup kids need some help.

Stainless steel serveware

So, not too long ago, I designed this group of stainless steel serveware items for a client. Its a combo of a couple of lighting pieces, and the serveware. In the set there is a platter, large bowl (with clear plastic insert) chip&dip, and the votive candle holder and the hexagonal candle holder.

This was an interesting project, not because designing metal serveware is intellectually challenging, but because of the various challenges an independent designer faces working with a company.
Often, the aesthetics of the designer and client don't match (surprise), and often, there are conflicting directions coming from within the client's own structure. For instance, the head of the department, who supervises the project lead who contracted me to do the work can have very different ideas of what the project is going to accomplish. As a consequence, the project lead and the dept. head go back and forth over aesthetic (patterns, shapes, proportions, etc), leaving me, the lowly designer, stuck in the middle trying, like a person stuck in a dark room, arms outstretched, feeling around for the right direction. Despite these challenges, I think it turned out well. We'll see. We should be seeing the first finished pieces pretty darn soon. The Fall market is coming up next month in NYC, at which point, if the set has made the earlier cuts (which I think it did), there should be samples on their way from China any day now. Some time after that, I should get a set...I'll photograph it and you can see it. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CommonCause and Clean Campaigns

I was asked to create an invite for a non-profit organization who is trying to continue a grass-roots movement to clean up election financing. Their aim is to limit the influence and access corporate money has to our politicians and our political process- which in case you hadn't noticed is pretty much OWNED by corporate special interests...Insurance? Oil? Dow and Haliburton? You betcha!

Anyway- I digress. Here is the front of the invite. Unlike most fundraiser stuff out there, it wasn't designed on Microsoft hopefully, it looks a bit nicer than something with clip art in it!

Hawaiian spinner dolphins

Kauai. Catamarans, sun, and dolphins. Ok this was amazing. I think I've wanted to see something like this since I watched Jacques Cousteau movies on PBS as a leetle kid. Hawaiian spinner dolphins are amazing. The travel in large pods, up to several hundred members, that travel in a certain area, feeding, etc. In the mornings they hang by the coastline, in water that is about twenty feet deep or so, with a white sand bottom...That is what is pictured here. The water was beautiful, and the dolphins, who saw us coming, stopped what they were doing and swam over and started riding the bow waves. Pretty unreal.


Once upon a time, Dansk created a tabletop set called the BLT: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea. Apparently it was a great success. It consisted simply of a deep plate, about 10.5" diameter, a cereal bowl and a small mug. It was rough hewn, rustically glazed and a bit on the chunky side with thick rims, etc. Very nice. It was all tied up with a hemp line, like a Japanese package. Back in the day when being different, innovative and fun were understood as a good thing, not as risky (my cynicism coming out), you could do things like that- every body got what they wanted...The designers got to show their skill and fun thinking, the company showed their uniqueness, the retailers got the clientele and the business...So anyway. While I was at Dansk, they tried to revive the idea of the BLT. To my knowledge it was less of a success. I can honestly say I was not happy with how my designs for the pieces were produced, glazed etc., but I really like how my packaging concept came out. That part was developed by an outside graphics/packaging firm.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by cagampang.


Originally uploaded by cagampang.


Originally uploaded by cagampang.

Our Wedding Invitation Design

So, D and I got married on August 6th...It was an amazing day- it was pretty amazing to have so many loved ones there, all stepping up and bearing their hearts and souls for everyone there. More than a week later, both D and I still had raw emotional nerves- we'd tear up just thinking about it, let alone telling others about it or talking to each other about it. It was truly an amazing day...As we hoped it would be.

So these are some pictures I took of the invitation, RSVP cards, thankyou, and program for the ceremony. As I'm sure many graphic designers will attest, it is hard to truly do the work justice in photographs...Especially when its me doing the photography in the basement! Anyway, I adapted a concept by a friend of mine (a graphic designer, Nancy) who got married during art school. She and her talented husband created an invitation that I loved...In a profound way. So I can't take credit for the original idea- but the idea of originality is a different topic all by itself.

We produced about 130 of these - entirely by hand! Literally. My trusty Canon Pixma ip6000 home printer did ALL the printing. D and I did all the cutting, cropping, binding, finishing here at home. It was a huge job, but a labor of love. Being relatively new to the area, I don't have any printing contacts here, so I was hesitant to go out looking for someone to do it. And I couldn't afford the high end printers here in town (who I love).

The wild grass element was taken from our wedding site. At Skamania lodge, the wedding site is framed by small hill sides of wild grass...Which we loved.

The light grey background image is of willow branches, which were also taken from the area surrounding Skamania lodge. We wanted to emphasize the natural beauty of the Columbia gorge, and Portland and a foundation and backdrop for our union. The orange patterned band on the invitation packaged all the different elements together, rather than just stuffing them in the envelope. It created an intimacy with the invitation that really brings the viewer in contact with the object, not just the info inside it.

So check it out. Comments appreciated.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Originally uploaded by cagampang.
I designed this for Dansk about a year and half ago. It's finally on the market. I was asked to design a new trivet- rather than a mundane, static, patterned design, I created this- a trivet that fold out three sizes for whatever sized dish you have. I came up with a pretty good mechanism that, unfortunately, isn't so well executed on the production version- so its a bit sloppy...but thats the life of a designer, right?

Anyway, I think its beautiful.

I Bike Portland

I Bike Portland
Originally uploaded by cagampang.
so its got bumper sticker written all over it...but that wouldn't make much sense would it?

shameless commerce- get it here:

I Bike PDX

I Bike PDX
Originally uploaded by cagampang.
A variation on a theme...Cause I love bikes, and Portland

from the shameless commerce division...I was sitting in the airport the other day and came up with this...there are so many of the NY ones around, and they are so tired and frought with baggage now...This is my homage to Milton Glasser. Available on Cafepress:

I Tree Oregon

I tree Oregon
Originally uploaded by cagampang.
From the shameless commerce division...I was sitting in the airport the other day and came up with this...there are so many of the NY ones around, and they are so tired and frought with baggage now...This is my homage to Milton Glasser. Available on Cafepress:

worlds largest catfish- Thailand (?)

This is old now, but I still can't get over how big this thing is. Imagine if you put your foot down on this thing in a muddy river....eeech

First Post

Here it is.