Tell me more

screen-shot-2017-10-08-at-11-03-37-pm.png

As a creative person, there’s no better feeling than a wave of inspirational energy. It’s the most motivating power to suddenly feel moved to create. I think that explains why I’m so excited this week. After a 6+ month build, I’m finally at a place where I can openly admit to my latest project, a semi-autobiographical narrative of a social experiment released in a coffee-table-sized lookbook detailing all my favorite things and how they’re connected.

Before you go…”wait what?” Hear me out. The working title of this mess of a project is:

More Interested: An essential field guide & inspiration engine for those searching for more

If you’re still lost, here’s the Amazon-books-style pitch:

This book is for anyone that dreads being asked, “so what are your interests?.” And this book is especially for anyone that’s watched, with respect and a  hint of jealousy, someone else take that question and transform it into a spelling binding conversation.

Wellness, acting with intention, clean eating, meditating, fitness, self-awerness, natural beauty, peace of mind — The desire for gaining greater control of our bodies and mental states has never been higher. The desire to more deeply understand why we’re drawn to certain TV shows, people, vacation destinations, etc, is equally fascinating and valuable, yet who’s investing great swaths of time to gain deeper self-awareness of one’s interests? We let Netflix or Spotify tell us what we’ll probably like, but what if we could better be our own “discovery” engines? 

This coffee table book is an essential field guide toward helping people do exactly that — become their own discovery engines, told through the narrative of one girl that started from scratch. 

(Image source: The Curated Life)

Hygge: A Danish way of life, now trending worldwide

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 8.03.23 PM.png

What: Hygge 2016 was a rough year, and 2017 is off to an interesting start. Maybe that’s why more people worldwide are embracing hygge, “the Danish idea of coziness” (Vogue). Though difficult to succinctly describe, The Little Book of Hygge author, Meik Wiking, elaborates that hygge is about “being with the ones you love, about indulgence, good food, gratitude…all those things mixed together” (Vice).

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 8.06.17 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 8.05.52 PM.png screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-7-23-12-pm

Why it matters: Because its popularity continues to grow The magnitude of hygge’s power can best be summarized in the publishing industry: “More than 20 books on hygge were published last year in America alone, and more are due out [in Europe] in the coming months.” One author reported to The Guardian, “it is the most striking publishing trend I can remember, in terms of the sheer number of titles published at the same time” (The Guardian). Hygge is no stranger to social media either. “Look up hygge on Instagram and you’ll find 1.7 M posts,” (Vice) and on Pinterst the term’s presence has spiked 285% from 2015 to 2016. Fashion also loves the concept of cozy layering.

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-7-23-56-pm

During this year’s Milan Fashion Week, “Max Mara models came down the catwalk wearing thick, warm camel colored cable knit sweaters, oversized shearling teddy-bear-like coats, and velvety trousers [that the brand itself describes as] ‘wearable Hygge'” (Yahoo).

When: Given today’s cultural climate, the desire for hygge makes sense In the US, interest in self-care, relating to values including health, relaxation and comfort, has been on the rise since 2010 (Iconoculture). Therefore, Americans’ adoption of the long-standing nordic version of indulging in “me” time should come as little surprise. That said, the reason for hygge’s rise to prominence might also have to do with the polarizing nature of the political landscape, the stress of a workforce under pressure from automation, the never-ending barrage of information, the impacts of urbanization, and other draining factors that have been cause for more people to turn inward. TIME may have said it best, explaining that “people are feeling very nervous about the future, and feel a deep primal need to start looking after themselves. We can’t control outside events, but we can control ourselves – hygge is about savouring that and not getting drawn into the maelstrom of craziness that’s going on in the world” (TIME).

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-7-29-11-pmScreen Shot 2017-03-05 at 7.29.41 PM.pngscreen-shot-2017-03-05-at-7-29-26-pm

How: To capture the spirit of hygge brands need to understand what it stands for At its worst, hygge has become a word to slap onto cable knit sweaters, cakes and candles, or to simply prove something is Danish. In other words, “just as ‘chic’ is the thing that everyone knows about the French, the word hygge must now be affixed, almost by law, to any media story about Denmark or, indeed, anything remotely Scandinavian, whether the subject is clothes, furniture, cookery, travel, or working hours” (The Guardian). For brands to fully leverage the emotional power behind the hygge philosophy, they must remember that the term celebrates “resilience and making the most of what life has to offer you” (TIME). At its best, when brands authentically speak to the word’s ethos, hygge-identified goods become more than mere “products with a particular and practical use, but rather transcend into magical objects that might summon up feelings and emotions: of safety and solace, of comfort and calm, of a being-in-a-time-before” (The Guardian). In short, buying hygge is buying an antidote to outside stresses and uncertainty. Who wouldn’t want to buy that?

Sources: 

  1. Vogue, Forget Hygge, 01/05/17 http://www.vogue.com/article/hygge-trend-lagom-2017
  2. Vice, The Scandinavian hygge lifestyle is taking the world by storm, 02/19/17 https://news.vice.com/story/the-scandinavian-hygge-lifestyle-is-taking-the-world-by-storm
  3. The Guardian, The Hygge conspiracy, 11/22/16 https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/22/hygge-conspiracy-denmark-cosiness-trend
  4. Yahoo, Hygge has taken over fashion week, 2/23/17 https://www.yahoo.com/news/hygge-has-taken-over-fashion-week-235057970.htm
  5. TIME, Hygge, the Nordic Trend That Could Help You Survive 2016, 12/05/16 http://time.com/4579894/hygge-denmark-nordic-trend-survive-2016/
  6. Iconoculture, The self-carevolution, 08/16/16

 

Preying on your losses, fears and inaction

Let’s get real. Sports brands have all sold us on the inspirational story about finding our grit, strength, or winning streak. But what about owning up to our moments of weakness? This seems to be the latest trend coming from the likes of Under Armour, Gatorade and Nike.

Check out these three very different takes on the the theme of “strength from weakness:”

Pushing past a loss

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-3-20-47-pm

Brand + ad: Under Armour – Make that old
Insight: There’s no point in dwelling on a loss: Soon it will be old news. Even the good news gets old. 
What: The spot turns Stephen Curry’s loss at the NBA Finals into a story about constant reinvention. The ad repeatedly reports on a fact/accomplishment relating to Curry and young fans respond with “that’s old news.” To conclude, the ad reports on Curry’s loss and the same fans urge, “now make that old.”
Business aim: Sell Curry 3 trainers and bring awareness that true fans stand by Curry through his highs and lows.

Fighting fears

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-3-25-24-pm

Brand + ad: Gatorade – Nightmares
Insight: Fears don’t have to be bad. They can become your motivation…your “fuel” pushing you to the next level.
What: Kevin Durant dreams his dunk is blocked by rival, Dwyane Wade. The dream inspires vigorous training. To conclude the dream is replayed with Durant making the shot: This time the dream, or rather nightmare, belongs to Dwyane.
Business aim: Bring awareness to Gatorade’s range of products, by show the brand’s relevance before, during, and and post workout.

Stop sitting on your screens

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-3-15-52-pm

Brand + ad: Nike – Time is precious
Insight: If time is limited, don’t waste it doing useless things on a screen.
What: The spot opens with a black background and white text, reading “time is precious.” Then a robotic voice narrates all the ridiculously unproductive, yet popular, activities we partake in when we fall victim to the internet, TV, social media, apps, etc. The spot ends with, “time is precious, are we running today?”.
Business aim: Align Nike with the things in life that really matter to peoples’ lives, like healthy habits and self-improvement.

 

 

Athletic edge: Why a data field may be better than a home field advantage

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 3.05.25 PM.png

(Image source: The Washington Post)

“Sideline replay is allowed in high school football to a degree more advanced than what’s legal in college or the NFL, so throughout the country, coaches and players can be seen jabbing their fingers at tablets, smartphones and TVs, breaking down film from a play that happened seconds earlier.” 1

“Researchers call this era of high school football ‘a technological arms race’ over who has the newest gadget, and the sideline replay technology is opening a wider gulf between scholastic sports’ resource-rich programs and those struggling to get by.” 1

Popular options like Hudle, Echo 1612 and SkyCoach go for at least a few grand. 

John Lush, coach of Lackey High in Indian Head, explains, “if you’ve got athletic and coachable kids and you’ve got them ready, regardless of what technology you have, you can win a game.” 1

But is he right? Many high school coaches are realizing data and devices truly do offer an advantage: “With each new piece of electronics on the sideline, players and coaches can quickly solve pet peeves. [And] those fixes, added up, can mean games won and games lost,” 1 urges Ann Pegoraro, director of the Institute for Sport Marketing at Laurentian University.

In-game use of footage isn’t new, but it is catching on: Back in 2013, The National Federation of State High School Associations, the governing body of public high school football, officially made replay technology legal. And as Tom Dolan, the assistant director for compliance at the Virginia High School League, explains, “[the technology] became something where the rules committees said,‘we’re not going to be able to stop this train, so let’s get out in front of it and control it.’” 1

While the technology may be a bother to regulate, is it fair for “the haves” to indulge in a paid-for advantage?

“‘The way that technology enters into [high school sports] is almost entirely based on the financial wherewithal of the individual schools,’ said Galen Clavio, a professor of sports media at Indiana University. ‘That’s problematic if you think everyone going into the competition has the same thing.’” 1

Sport brands, including Adidas, Gatorade, Nike and Under Armour, love to tell the story of athletes emerging from unlikely places. To protect the potential of that narrative, how can brands help fight inequality across the sports space? Or should brands embrace a future where technology becomes part of the victory narrative?

1 The Washington Post, ‘A technological arms race:’ New replay devices widen the gap on high school sidelines, 11/14/16

Additional reading:

BBC, The wearable tech giving sports teams winning ways, 04/15/16

The Mindful Athlete: Mental Fortitude through Meditation

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 8.50.24 PM.png

“Ervin, three-time All-American gymnast in the floor routine and vault, as beholden to rigorous fitness, practice, and nutrition routines. Every morning, however, he carved 15 minutes from his busy schedule to practice meditation, actively training his mind to remain present by focusing on his breath. It’s a habit he still continues today.” 1

“Ervin’s approach to mental health is truly proactive, not reactive. He did not wait for a psychological crisis to arise. He simply adapted a technique he learned via Athletes Connected, a mental-health initiative and research program for student-athletes at Michigan. ‘I wasn’t really going through any particularly stressful period of time. But I figured if there’s anything to give me a mental edge in my sport, or life in general, why not take advantage?’.” 1

“While athletes are constantly seeking ways to one-up the competition, Ervin’s attitude toward mental health is still a somewhat uncommon sentiment—but perhaps not for much longer.” 1

Meditation and wellness concerns may seem antithetical to the world of sports, where success is often defined by manly values like sheer will power, strength, and fighter mentalities, but increasingly pro and “student-athletes [alike] are starting to realize that there is perhaps an edge in being able to be mentally fit,” 1 explains Dr. Nohelani Lawrence, a University of Southern California sports and clinical psychologist.

The reason for the rising interest in meditation from a sports perspective comes down to focus. Rituals training the brain to find calm and quite allow athletes to “remain present in a stimuli-choked society.” 1

But in spite, of meditation’s growing appeal, a “stigma still surrounds mental health, especially in the hypercompetitive world of sports [because] a perceived deficit in psychological strength can still be [seen] as a deathblow for an athlete.” 1

Fortunately, a few high profile advocates are helping normalize the notion that mental training can be just as impactful as physical. Take New York Knicks president Phil Jackson, who’s  “already a believer. The longtime NBA coach had George Mumford, a sports psychologist and mindfulness expert, work with his title-winning Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers teams in the 1990s and 2000s. While Jackson was sometimes derided in the press with the nickname ‘Zen Master,’ some of his best players became mindfulness converts.” 1

“To wit: the first time Kobe Bryant met Mumford in 1999, he was immediately suspicious. He couldn’t believe that Jackson was using practice time to have his players sit on the floor—in the dark, no less—and meditate. Over time, however, Bryant came to consider Mumford one of the most influential figures in his life, someone who had helped him learn how to better cope with the intense, consuming pressure of his long and successful basketball career.” 1

And sure, it might seem counterintuitive for brands built for athletes, with action-urging tag lines like “Win from within,” “I will” or “Just do it,” to celebrate the sedentary power of mediation, but hey, there’s a first time for everything, right?

And in case you’re curious, here are a few interesting products helping athletes hack the mind.

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 8.55.13 PM.png Halo sport

mindful  Lucid 

head Headspace

1 Vice Sports, The mindful athlete: Can preventative mental health improve performance too?, 05/24/16 (see here)

 

Fashion Trends: The Death of An Era?

Vogue christens this year’s September Issue, declaring:

We now live amid a democracy of images…How we encounter style has been irrevocably changed—and has irrevocably change how we dress. It isn’t about pronouncements from on high, it’s about rhythm and speed and individuality. It’s about egalitarianism. What follows, then, is a new kind of portfolio—one that brings together the designers, models, and personalities who, through their vision and the courage of their aesthetic convictions, are defining the fashion of our era. (1)

What I particularly love about this introduction is its avoidance of trends. There’s no mention of the materialistic side of this year’s looks. Instead Wintour’s words speak to a spirit. The editor openly downplays Vogue’s power by crediting today’s “personalities” as the true makers of the fashion world.

In recent years, trends have shifted from a source of replication to mere inspiration. Logos have lost their mass appeal and the notion of personalized style has become an overused cliché. Does that mean fashion trends are being replaced by individual interpretation? In 2015, it seems that a relationship between fashion and personalities has become so interwoven that instead of trending looks today’s fashion can most accurately be characterized by trending attitudes, such as Neo-Victorian, indicating nods to both “Californian street culture” and the “nineteenth-century queen” or Eighties Redux, which translates to mean the “glam good-times look of the eighties” (4).

Apparently others are contemplating similar questions. This winter, the Business of Fashion also asked: Do Fashion Trends Still Exist? and quickly makes note that “the word ‘trend’ is a little bit like the word ‘luxury’ — nobody really knows what it is anymore, where it starts, where it ends”. Pierre-François Le Louët, president of Paris-based trend forecasting agency, NellyRodi, goes on to explain that “trends are tools that might help you convince your clients how you and your brand understand how the world changes” (2) but are not always something that’s smart to emulate. The article goes on to explain that in replacement of trends, both people and fashion houses have been seeking out more life-style focused products, which offer lasting resonance and tap into personal style over trendy “it” items.

In ode to the spirit of the season, I’ve curated a collection of looks that are albeit having a moment but more importantly reflect looks that underscore my own tastes and preferences. Hope you enjoy & cheers to NYFW kicking off September 10th!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Key Influences:

Alessandro Michele: Gucci’s new creative director “When I started the first collection, I was thinking not in terms of fashion but in terms of attitude,” (5)

Margo Tenenbaum: the “unofficial muse of the season” (6) originally created by Wes Anderson in his 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums

Alicia Vikander: who played Gaby in the recent release, A Man from U.N.C.L.E

Sources:
1. Vogue, September 2015, page 697

2. Kristen Unscripted: Austin Way, Issue 4, September 2015, page 80

3. Do Fashion Trends Still Exist?, The Business of Fashion, Jan 2015 (link)

4. The Top 12 Trends of Fall 2015, Vogue, March 2015 (link)

5. Inside the House of Gucci, Vogue, June 2015 (link)

6. The Royal Tenenbaums’ Style Revives on Fall Runways, WWD, April 2015 (link)

3 Quotes: icons to insecurity

I love interviews. Well-spoken interviewees often understand what they’re expected to say and make a point to offer something new or curiously explained.

Then there are those that take the next step: not only do they offer a surprising thought but delivered it in an intentionally un-fancy, somewhat roundabout way. Their words are often entertaining, even witty. The tone isn’t, pre say, well-spoken so much as it’s spot on with the way people actually talk and think. It’s honest.

Well, as I was wandering through TED Talks, I came across an older, though, rather timeless interview with Lee Chow. It’s both the message and the delivery that make his responses so compelling.

On-the-Go Summary
Read Time: 0: 09 minutes
jpeg lee chow TedExU quotes

Full-length Video
Watch Time: 11:54 minutes

Lee Chow: TBWA/Chiat/Day Creative & "Godfather"

Lee Chow: TBWA/Chiat/Day Creative & “Godfather”