Design | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

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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Obsession | P-51 Mustang "Cadillac of the Sky"

Feb 23rd, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Design, WWII | by Michael Williams

The P-51 Mustang is one of the most celebrated fighters of the 20th century. The WWII-era single seat plane was introduced in the middle of the conflict and served to tremendous success in both the European and Pacific theaters. The most widely produced of the P-51 models was the D variant, which was put into service in 1944 and would became the workhorse (bad pun) of the USAAF in Europe. Outside of its beautiful shape, speed and maneuverability, what made the P-51D special was the Packard built V-1650 engine. The fighter’s power plant was a North American made supercharged version of the illustrious Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. This gave the P-51 an incredible top speed and a ceiling of over 41,000 feet. Perfect for long range bomber support. After the war, the iconic fighter even inspired Ford designers to name their new sports car after the P-51.

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Fastener Infatuations

Feb 11th, 2009 | Categories: Design, Random | by Michael Williams

I feel like an idiot. Chad Lemke has been blogging about staplers since 2007 and I had no idea. I’ve never met Chad and don’t collect staplers or anything, but when I found his blog the sheer joy hit me like a ton of bricks. The first thing I did was email the Stapler of the Week link to Alex Olch — he’s a stapler lover like myself. The email went something like this. Subject: FUCK. ME. Body: This is why god created the internet. Olch agreed. I imagined him giddy and grinning as he inspected the online treasure-trove of paper connecting goodness.

Not only is Mr. Lemke an earnest and well versed stapler collector, his blog is exactly what you would expect from someone who is fixated with paper organizing devices. Text, coherent and exactly justified in tidy columns with beautiful photography on pristine white backgrounds. Layout simple and uncluttered. The blog is very well done. This discovery renews my sense of pride in Americans. We can obsesses over the most arcane subjects just as well as the Japanese. For that Chad, I salute you. Visit, bookmark and read Stapler of the Week.

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WWII Postage Meter Stamps

Feb 5th, 2009 | Categories: Design | by Michael Williams

Its the little things in life that are interesting. I bet you never even thought about postage meter stamps, well that means you are missing out on the Meter Stamp Society. This is one small dorky step above collecting coins (sorry Robbie), or even actual stamps.  Some of my favorite WWII varieties below.

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These Smokes Won't Kill You

Nov 6th, 2008 | Categories: Books, Design | by Michael Williams

My friend Rob in LA recently sent me a cool gift set of classic books in the shape of cigarette packs. The cleverly designed reading materials were produced by Tank Magazine and are aptly dubbed Tank Books. The set will make a great gift and won’t even cause cancer, unless you read them in front of the microwave that is.