Design | A Continuous Lean.

Woodwarding the Internets

May 31st, 2012 | Categories: Automobiles, Design | by Michael Williams

The site Chromeography is the best use of Tumblr that I have seen in a very long time. (Thanks are due to Zach T. in Chicagoland for the heads up.) The collection of imagery (with an emphasis on the beautiful auto badges) rolls ever so perfectly across a screen it proves that the true magic of the internets is rooted in the simplest things. The page isn’t all car parts — espresso makers, padlocks, Leicas and even a Walther PPK all make appearances — but it definitely scratches the automobile itch with the perfect mixture of chrome dipped font nerdery. Not to mention an extra helping of Americana. [Chromeography]





Rimowa | German Luggage for the Ages

Mar 31st, 2011 | Categories: Design, Germany, History, Travel | by Michael Williams

When most Americans think luggage, they picture soft sided wheelie bags made from ballistic nylon. Nothing challenges an American’s preference for soft nylon bags more than a trip through customs at NRT. It happens quickly, only takes one trip to Japan to make a yank jealous of the ubiquitous Rimowa hard-sided cases that are the travel norm in Japan and the symbol of enduring German design.

Founded in 1898, Rimowa transformed itself from classic trunk maker into a modern metal case company that has stood the test of time. In our normal fashion, we reached out to the people at Rimowa and asked to see exactly what hasn’t changed and we were delighted with all of the historical reference material the company sent back. Light and strong have been the order of the day at Rimowa since the beginning, a philosophy that has continued to this day. It started with wood, eventually became aluminum and when technologies were pushed the company introduced a polycarbonate case to the world.





A Shiny New HIGH LIFE

Jun 23rd, 2010 | Categories: Design, Drinking | by Michael Williams

Over the past two and a half years I have tried like hell to get in touch with the people from Miller because I really love their flagship beer (old=flagship) — Miller High Life. I wanted to be involved, I wanted them to sponsor ACL, and well, shit, I wanted some free beer! In addition to obsessing over their super bubbly deliciousness, I have long been obsessed with the W+K produced / Errol Morris directed series of commercials. I think maybe the Errol Morris spots were ahead of their time. Especially when you consider the what is happening these days with this whole Americana thing. I also think that maybe the marketing folks at Miller don’t get it — just look at the “common sense” ads that the company has been running for the past few years. High Life is a gold mine of heritage, the best bottle shape in beer drinking and is a relatively unbiased product. When I say “unbiased” I mean — that while some people may view High Life as cheap and watery — they don’t attach the same connotations as the Bud Lights of the world.





The Santa Fe Super Chief

Dec 22nd, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Amtrak, Design | by Michael Williams

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Starting in 1936, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway offered service from Chicago to Los Angeles on their luxurious new train the Super Chief. The line was the Southwestern-colored-art-deco-themed flagship service that became known as the “The Train of the Stars” because it was the preferred mode of transportation by celebrities traveling cross country. The Super Chief —which by 1937 was offering daily service — was the first ever all-Pullman sleeper car train in the United States and featured fine dining in the exclusive Turquoise Room.





Made in North Carolina

Sep 10th, 2009 | Categories: Denim, Design, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

More than an other category, denim inspires people to dizzying madness. Take for instance the North Carolina based Raleigh Denim; the husband and wife team behind the brand — Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko — who over the past year have quietly built a loyal following among denim lovers and retailers like Barneys and Steven Alan. I first learned about Raleigh a few months back when my buddy from Cone sent me a list of new brands for The American List that are using the mill’s denim. I was intrigued, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when Victor and Sarah stopped by my office to give me a guided tour of the product that I was really convinced. There are a lot of denim brands in this world and I found it amazing that all of the design, development, pattern making, sourcing and even the construction is done by hand by Victor, Sarah and a small staff from their workshop down south. The folks at Raleigh pride themselves on the fact that 98% of what goes into the company’s jeans are from North Carolina. In fact, Victor even seeks out the original machines that are used in the production, traveling around the North Carolina and Tennessee border looking for old factories and needle towns. And he is into it. Victor’s eyes would light up when talking about an old chain stitch machine or another vintage mechanical acquisition. It was like a kid talking about his baseball card collection.

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Classic Goods from the U.S. Patent Office

Aug 25th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Design, History | by Michael Williams

You can find some serious gear from the U.S. Patent Office archives. It is amazing what turns up on the internet these days. A months ago I received an email from an ACL reader name Gary that included a few links to some clothing patent diagrams. I wasn’t moved at the time, but once I got a hang of the search procedures I uncovered some really interesting stuff and some serious Americana. A hat tip and a cold beer to Gary for the inspiration. Indulge in diagrams and patents for some classic gear, some of which is probably sitting in your place right now.

LL Bean Duck Boots c.1921

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Ace of Base

Mar 13th, 2009 | Categories: Design, Travel | by Michael Williams

To be honest, I haven’t put much thought into my retirement until recently. It wasn’t the stock market’s rally these past couple of days that sparked my interest in a pending “trip into the sunset,” it was my buddy Jay’s trip (livin’ the dream Mr. Carroll, livin’ the dream) to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. He sent back a whole bunch of photographs of the new design focused hotel — or should I call it a motor lodge? —  that instantly struck me as what I envision my retirement to look like, kitschy, cool and warm. And you know there’s no question as to what brand of beer I’ll be swigging poolside. Why wait for your retirement, book a flight and head to the Ace in the desert. An in-depth look at what’s waiting for you at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club after the jump.

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