30 May, 2013

Designer Toys

Designer toys, also referred to as art toys, plastic designer figurines, urban vinyl figures, amongst many other names, are static (with movable parts or removable parts, or not) figures, predominately from some form of plastic that aim to please your sight, show some attitude, or boost your ego (when you are a collector). Designer toys first appeared in the 1990s with the proliferation of plastics in the toy industry, as newer, more advanced materials became cheaper and more available to the independent designers, to mold and experiment in new forms and project their creativity.

Designer toys mainly are toys and other collectibles produced in limited editions (as few as 10 or as many as 2000 pieces) and created by artists and designers. Designer toys are made of variety of materials; ABS plastic and vinyl are most common, although wood, metal, and resin are occasionally used. The term also encompasses plush, cloth and latex dolls. Creators of designer toys usually have backgrounds in graphic design, illustration or self-described low brow art; some are classically trained in art and design, while others are self-taught. [1]

The concept of urban vinyl was pioneered by an artist named Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s.  Other artists who started creating urban vinyl figures included Japanese artist/designer Takashi Murakami, Australian designer Nathan Jurevicius (Scarygirl), Los Angeles based Craig Anthony Perkins (Broken Heart Robot), and former graffiti artist KAWS. An urban vinyl toy is made of soft vinyl that is hollow on the inside like a rubber duck.  Soft vinyl figures are made of soft PVC which are produced by a process called rotocasting or centrifugal casting. These toys are essentially a medium where art is exhibited as a toy in limited editions. Artists use this kind of collectible toy as a platform to make their art more affordable. In stead of paying $20,000 for an original Pop Surrealism/Lowbrow Art painting, why not just pay $50-$100 for a limited edition toy and add that piece to your ART collection ? [2]

Qee (pronounced "key") are a collection of designer toys created by Hong Kong-based company Toy2R, which was founded by Raymond Choy in 1995. Qee figures vary in their design. The original Qee has a body that resembles an extremely simplified human form, somewhat similar in appearance to Playmobil or LEGO figures, though distinctively round and squat.

A Dunny is a type of vinyl designer toy created by Paul Budnitz and Tristan Eaton, and produced by Kidrobot from 2004. The toy is based on a rabbit figure with distinctive tubular ears. The origin of the name Dunny came from a combination of street slang and one of the early "Devil Bunny" prototypes.

From Kidrobot also came Munny. A Munny is a figure made out of vinyl with movable joints. The figures are sold blank and the owner can decorate them using pens, pencils, markers, paint, and other supplies. Alternatively, many people commission artists to design Munnys for them, or artists design them to sell.

The Designer Toy Awards (DTAs) is the leading award honoring excellence and innovation in the Designer Toy community. Established in 2011, the DTAs are presented by the Clutter Media Group — a leading informational organization within Designer Toys, an industry that after more than a decade has become a prominent and legitimate form of artistic and commercial expression as well as a leader in global trendsetting. Each year, the DTAs bring together the Designer Toy community all over the world.

There are various books out there that try to collate all different figures and toys created over the years, by the so many designers and artists. Two are my favorites : "Dot Dot Dash!: Designer Toys, Action Figures and Characters" from Robert Klanten and Matthias Hubner, and "I am Plastic" (vol.1&2) by Paul Budnitz. Check out also ARTOYZ, a french company dedicated to sell, promote and produce Designer Toys and Urban Vinyl Figures. The company based in Paris was founded in December 2003 and started as a website (still growing as from today) including a retail webshop, a magazine featuring news, articles, interviews, a message board, and a news blog.

29 May, 2013

the Peking to Paris motor challenge

"The early-morning mist that rolls down the hills of the Great Wall of China began to clear just as the band started playing. Cars with eager drivers keen to get away lined up ready to park up under the giant arch in front of the wall, as first a local children’s brass band, and then a terrific demonstration of Chinese dragon-dancers took centre-stage. The 14-litre aero engine of Car Number 1, the La France, was drowned out by the clashing of giant cymbals and big drums. Rarely has a rally start been as colourful – or, filmed by as many TV news channels." [1] Since the early pioneers first drove Peking to Paris in 1907 the ERA (Endurance Rally Association) has organised three further editions of this remarkable event. The Peking to Paris is the longest and toughest challenge anyone can drive in a vintage or classic car.

On 28 May 2013, the flag fell at the start of the 5th Peking to Paris Motor Challenge ; it will be the start of a remarkable adventure and the chance to explore the drivers' powers of resolve and the extent of the human spirit. Ahead will be thirty-three days of living an extraordinary adventure driving through some of the remotest places on earth. The route is plotted to take the cars and drivers, mechanics and entourage, through the following places : Peking – Great Wall of China – Inner Mongolia – Gobi Desert – Outer Mongolia – Ulaan Baatar – Telmen Lake – Russia – Novosibirsk – Omsk – Tyumen – Samara – Ukraine – Kiev – Lviv – Slovakia – Kosice – Bratislava – Austria – Schladming – Switzerland –  Gstaad – France – Troyes – Paris.

The 2013 Peking to Paris route drives from China, through Mongolia, then into Russia and westwards to the Ukraine, Slovakia and Europe on route to the triumphal finish in Paris. The will be free days in Ulaan Baatar, Novosibirsk, Samara and Kiev. Total = 12247 kms (7610 miles).

Few car rallies can compete with the stunning backdrop provided by the Great Wall of China.Some 96 vintage and classic cars are setting off from the historic setting in a race to Paris that spans more than 12,000 kilometres. See the EuroNews coverage here.

VANMOOF city bicycles

VANMOOF bicycles is a young ambitious Dutch company that originated out of love for bicycles and hunger for change. In their own words : "At VANMOOF we pursue only one goal: help the ambitious city dweller worldwide move around town fast, confident and in style. We stripped the traditional Dutch bike from redundant hoo-ha, that can only break or frustrate, and added sensibility instead. The result? Simplistic striking bikes so smooth that they fit your style demands, yet so functional they make you go to work whistling. The no-nonsense VANMOOF bike is the ultimate urban commuter tool, anywhere around the globe. Be aware cause we shake the unshakable!"

VANMOOF try to keep everything as simple as possible, including the materials. Hence they avoid unnecessary combinations, layers and coatings. The frames are anodized, making the pure Aluminum stand out even better, and making sure it stands the test of time. Together with Philips a fully integrated lighting system has been developed, that enables the rider to be seen, while at the same time lighting the road around the bike. 

the Drake equation

While working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, Dr. Frank Drake (currently on the Board of the SETI Institute) conceived an approach to bound the terms involved in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy. The Drake Equation, as it has become known, was first presented by Drake in 1961 and identifies specific factors thought to play a role in the development of such civilizations. Although there is no unique solution to this equation, it is a generally accepted tool used by the scientific community to examine these factors. [1]

In the BBC website under the "future" section, there is an excellent interactive infographic, that allows visitors to tamper and play with the factors of the equation, in order to yield different potential results, that help to quantify - if not to visualize - the question at hand. How many other civilizations are out there ?

It is not a rigorous equation, offering a wide range of possible answers. Instead it is more a tool used to help understand how many worlds might be out there and how those estimates change as missions like Kepler, a telescope that is currently searching for Earth-like planets, begin to discover more about our universe. Until ground-based observations, space telescopes and planet-roving robots uncover any tell-tale signs of life, what better way to speculate on how many intelligent alien civilizations may exist than to explore the universe with our interactive version of the equation. [2]

As many skeptics have pointed out, the Drake equation can give a very wide range of values, depending on the assumptions. It is essentially a very simple model that does not include potentially relevant parameters, and many changes and modifications to the equation have been proposed. [3]Criticism of the Drake equation follows mostly from the observation that several terms in the equation are largely or entirely based on conjecture. Star formation rates are on solid ground, and the incidence of planets has a sound experimental basis, but as we move from the left to right in the equation, estimating each succeeding factor becomes ever more speculative. The uncertainties revolve around our understanding of the evolution of life, intelligence, and civilization, not physics. No statistical estimates are possible for some of the parameters, where only one example is known. The net result is that equation cannot be used to draw firm conclusions of any kind, and the resulting margin of error is huge, far beyond what some consider acceptable or meaningful. [4]

27 May, 2013

quick tips to a longer life

The American comedian, George Burns, who lived to be 100 years old, was asked about the secrets of his vigor, prosperity, and longevity. He answered in one word, “Attitude. If you have a problem getting a twenty-two year-old girl, get a twenty-four-year-old," he wrote when he was eighty-six years young. [1] That serves as a right introduction to a subject toiled over by numerous writers, and explored by scientists and doctors all over the world. The truth is that nobody knows how to combat ageing, and in a greater sense how to achieve longevity. It could be a simple genetic malfunction, or a multitude of factors and life parameters, that you need to get right and in the right mix, to achieve a long and good life.

No matter how daunting the task may seem to us, or however vain, the words of the people that have actually reached a long age, or the result from scientific and medical research, can actually help in shedding some light to the workings of that miraculous machine, the human body. Ranging from life altering perceptions, like a change in attitude towards everyday things, or a shift of the pace and the intensity of life that surrounds, to the more trivial, like what we eat, or how we eat it, or the amount of sunlight we get each day, there are certain things we can do to aid ourselves towards achieving a longer life.

Reproduced from the original article, find below a comprehensive list of tips that could help you in your quest to achieve longevity. [2] For the complete list, please go to the original article. :

Read a magazine upside down

Consciously going outside your comfort zone every day, such as reading upside down, puts the brain under mild stress, damaging the cells — in repairing this damage your body also repairs age-related damage, says Dr Marios Kyriazis, a U.S. ageing expert. He suggests writing with your non-dominant hand, arguing the opposite to what you passionately believe, even listening to music you loathe.


Eat something red

‘A red pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange, beetroot contains nitrates that help to relax blood vessels, and tomatoes are packed with lycopene (a powerful antioxidant), especially when cooked, which may help protect against cancer, heart disease and other health problems,’ says Dr Susan Jebb, of the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research unit in Cambridge. ‘And red grapes are rich in resveratrol, thought to have anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing and cholesterol-lowering properties.’ 


Run a mile as fast as you can

The speed at which you can run a mile in your 40s and 50s is a spooky prediction of heart disease 30 or 40 years later, according to a study by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. For men, eight minutes is good; for women, nine. But if you struggle to do it in ten minutes (12 minutes for women), you have 30 per cent greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Try walking the distance briskly first. When this becomes easy, break into a jog for a few yards at a time, gradually building up.

Have a banana

Reduce your blood pressure (and risk of strokes and heart disease) by increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, fruit juice and dried fruit. ‘Potassium helps counteract the damaging effects of excess salt in the diet,’ says nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker. The recommended daily dose of potassium is 3.5g; to lower blood pressure, you need 4.7g — found in precisely one banana.

Practise squatting

squatting — lowering yourself as if to sit on a chair, hovering, then standing again — is widely regarded as the single most effective muscle-strengthening exercise of all (and the closest one movement gets to a full-body exercise). It’s important to keep agile so you can get out of a chair (or off the loo) in old age, and to prevent falls. 

Drink one tea a day

This has been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and even boost survival rate following a heart attack by 28 per cent. Researchers at Harvard Medical School believe antioxidants in tea may help the blood vessels relax. 

Go to bed an hour earlier

Just one extra hour in bed could be enough to lower your blood pressure in as little as six weeks. A recent study from Harvard Business School of people who slept for seven hours or less a night found that going to bed an hour earlier led to a significant drop in blood pressure (and risk of heart attack and strokes). The researchers think too little sleep affects the body’s ability to deal with stress hormones. 

Floss every day 

Don’t just floss when food gets stuck. 
‘Flossing nightly can make a significant difference to how fast you age,’ says Dr Michael Roizen, a leading U.S. anti-ageing expert.‘It can take as much as 6.4 years off your age.’ Bacteria that cause tooth decay trigger inflammation, which in the arteries is ‘a significant precursor of heart disease’ (flossing may also protect against diabetes and dementia). 

Breathe with a straw

Take a few minutes each day to take deep, long breaths through a straw — with this simple exercise  you end up breathing more deeply, which can improve your lung function and capacity (which otherwise reduce with age), slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure, says Dr Mike Moreno, author of The 17-Day Plan To Stop Aging.

Walk every day

Research shows a short walk is enough to bulk up your brain — and slow down memory decline. One study of elderly sedentary people who covered six miles a week found they did better in memory and decision-making tests after six months — possibly because greater activity triggered new brain cells, as well as new blood vessels and connections between the brain cells.

Less on your plate

U.S. research shows rats, mice, flies and monkeys live up to twice as long when their food intake is reduced by a third. It’s thought eating less means the metabolism has less work, and so slows down, producing fewer damaging ‘free radicals’. 

Use an extra onion      

One 80g onion per person (in bolognese, say) is a sneaky way to add to your five portions of fruit and vegetables. Onions are thought to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer and ovarian cancer — they’re rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that prevents harmful enzymes from triggering inflammation, and contain sulphur compounds that boost the immune system.

Have sex at least twice a week

A study of men aged 45-50 in South Wales (the Caerphilly Cohort Study) found that regular sex has a protective effect — those lucky Welshmen who enjoyed frequent orgasms (twice a week) had a 50 per cent lower risk of early death than those who missed out. One U.S. expert estimates sex at least three times a week can add two years to your life (by increasing heart rate and blood flow) — do it every day and your life expectancy could increase by eight years! In addition to boosting circulation and reducing stress, sex releases DHEA, a building block of testosterone which helps repair and heal tissue; it’s also a natural anti-depressant, especially for women.

Forget something every day

Many age-related memory problems are not caused by shrivelling brain cells, but because we try to hold too much in our heads, says Dr John Medina, a leading U.S. brain researcher. ‘Middle-life brains have a really hard time blocking out unnecessary information.’ His solution: consciously dropping unimportant pieces of information to free up space — so let the bus timetable, the names of people you met at dinner, the plot of the TV soap opera drift from your mind.


Ditch the scales

It’s not so much your weight as the amount of fat around your middle that matters — waist measurement is a better predictor of heart disease than BMI (body mass index) because it can point to visceral fat, the dangerous fat around the organs. For a quick check, lie on your back on the floor — if your tummy flattens, your fat is mainly subcutaneous; a ‘dome’ or paunch indicates visceral fat that could shorten your life.

Build up your biceps

Anti-ageing expert Dr Miriam Nelson, of Tufts University, Massachusetts, says weight lifting is great for anti-ageing. In a study of 40 post-menopausal women who did strength training, twice a week for 30 minutes, she found after a year ‘their bodies had become 15 to 20 years younger (in terms of restoring muscle mass) and they all regained bone density instead of losing it, as women normally do at that age.’

Skip the sunscreen

The body’s ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight is reduced with age, and lower levels affects your immunity and bones. The over-60s are advised to have a daily 10mcg supplement as well as spending a little time in the sun (ideally 20 minutes a day).

One wine a night

Try stopping at one glass (125ml) of red a night (the equivalent of one unit of alcohol) — studies show this provides flavonoids and resveratrol, compounds which could reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. But drinking three units may be enough to increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and bowel. 

Argue with your partner

Don’t bottle it up — researchers at the University of Michigan found couples who suppressed their anger were 25 per cent more likely to die early. Over time, suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and could increase risk of cancer.

Chew 20 times

Not only is it a tried-and-tested weight-loss tip, but a study presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology last month suggested not chewing properly can double the risk of type-2 diabetes — partly because people then eat more but also because chewing helps break down the food, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.

Have children

Children may exhaust you, but they could save your life. A Danish study reported men unable to conceive were twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents — childless women were four times at risk. It’s thought they’re more likely to end up drinking, becoming depressed or ill. Adoption reduced the risk.

No late-night TV

After the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan, suggest scientists at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. It doesn’t matter if you exercise — it’s long periods of inactivity the body really hates.  Muscles aren’t used properly, sugars and fats are not adequately processed, raising risks of illness and early death.


Humour may boost levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland. A really good belly laugh improves blood flow by more than 20 per cent. Some studies suggest it can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Professor Provine has found we’re 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than alone — the social nature of laughter has more impact than physiological changes.

For more conventional wisdom, you may further read the following :

15 May, 2013

Me In My Place [MIMP]

As men we are constantly bombarded with visual stimuli of women's eroticism, that over the years - to my own dislike, and according to my opinion - have gotten all the more raw, unnatural, pretentious and overrated, leading in most cases to results that are not at all aesthetically pleasing either to the eye, or the rest of the senses, and needless to say neither sensual or stimulating. Taking out of the equation the editorial work, or art work of photographers, the bulk that remains is neither good nor sexy. Once in a while however, a fresh, unprocessed (I do not include in this the use of Photoshop) or unbiased view does distinguish itself from the bulk. Me In My Place (MIMP) is one of those ; an approach on women and their projected eroticism, that is suitably pornographic enough so as to arouse your fantasy and senses, and at the same time keep you at ease, relaxed, and very satisfied with regards to the quality of those visual stimuli you are receiving, without any feeling of pervasiveness or guilt on that effect. 

Michael Edwards, is a NY based professional photographer, that at some point decided to spin-off from his regular magazine and advertising work and center his keen eye on women ; those we know, as well as those that might live next door. In his own words : "I’ve started this project to celebrate the authentic beauty of every day women in the comfort of their own home. By creating evocative and alluring portraits of women with body types that have traditionally been left out of mainstream media, Me In My Place is redefining a genre that has been over-run with unrealistic expectations of what it means to be beautiful.  With full acceptance of the “male gaze”, the images promote not just acceptance, but also an aspirational message." For a recent interview of Michael go here.

The site has been a big hit so far, pushing up against the 5 million page views per month mark and growing. On that aspect his teaming up with Esquire Magazine was a decisive milestone, bringing his work, and particularly, his own view on the female psyche, a step closer to his male audience. Celebrities and everyday women are put side by side on the site, driving home the message that all women can be beautiful, and not just the famous ones. CoEd has a nice compilation of favorite photos so far. The rise of its popularity, has now led MIMP content to now essentially be offered through an exclusive application for iOS, Windows mobile and Android devices. Previews and part of the photo shoots are still uploaded and available on the MIMP site. However for the archives, you will have to dig deeper …

For a comprehensive list of those sensual everyday (and all around us) women of Me In My Place you can go here (click per your preference, to see more). In addition, for a comprehensive (again) video playlist from the MIMP and Esquire collaboration, go here.

14 May, 2013

Neri & Hu furniture for De La Espada

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu are the Founding Partners of Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, Shanghai-based inter-disciplinary design practice that embodies architecture, master planning, interior design, product design and graphic design, which won AR Awards for Emerging Architecture 2010 by Architectural Review, UK and was selected as one of the ten firms for Design Vanguard 2009 by Architectural Record, USA. Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu also founded Design Republic, a design platform which promotes and retails a unique collection of products created by the world’s best design talents.
New York Design Week 2013 marked the launch of collaboration between Neri&Hu and leading modern woodworker, De La Espada. A large-scale purpose-built installation by Neri&Hu set the scene for the debut of over ten new products born of their collaboration with De La Espada. Through this unique sensory environment, Neri&Hu communicates at once their unique approach to interiors and architecture, and their evolution toward product design. The new products launched at the event, utilise timber extensively and spanning the needs of the home from dining to living spaces.

TEDEd : lessons worth sharing

TED believes passionately that ideas have the power to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the world. This underlying philosophy is the driving force behind all of TED's endeavors, including the TED Conferences, TEDx, TEDBooks, the TEDFellows Program, and the TEDTranslations Project. With this philosophy in mind, and with the intention of supporting teachers and sparking the curiosity of learners around the world, TED launched its newest initiative, TED-Ed.

TED-Ed is a free educational website for teachers and learners. We are a global and interdisciplinary initiative with a commitment to creating lessons worth sharing. Our approach to education is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED's, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.

TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED's, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student. TED-Ed's videos aim to capture and amplify the voices of the world's greatest educators. To achieve this, extraordinary educators are paired with talented animators to produce a new library of exceptional educational videos. The TED-Ed website, similar to TED.com, is ever-evolving and TED depends on you, the TED community, to nominate inspiring teachers that have touched your life or clever animators who have the skills to bring a gifted teacher's lesson to life.

Best Flips are exceptional user-created lessons. A Best Flip is a stellar video from YouTube that has been surrounded by multiple choice questions, compelling writing prompts, a meaningful guided discussion, and a section that links to other pertinent resources. A Best Flip can be created by anyone, anywhere, at any time.  The important thing about a Best Flip is that it uses the TED-Ed website to showcase a video that has the potential to teach an incredible lesson and then it uses the modules built on the TED-Ed website to teach said lesson. All TED-Ed lesson creators have the option to nominate their lessons as Best Flips. Each nominated lesson is carefully reviewed by volunteer teachers and the TED-Ed tam. Lessons that are selected through this process appear on the official Best Flips page.

Video lessons are also grouped under a unifying or describing theme, and denoted as Series. Lessons that are categorized (under one theme or topic, etc.) appear on the official Series page. For a complete list (per educational subject) go here.

52 suburbs around the world

In 2009 Louise Hawson realised she was a stranger in her own city of Sydney. So she spent a year exploring and photographing one new Sydney suburb a week in search of the beauty in the ‘burb, sharing what she found on a blog. That blog developed a strong following and in 2011 evolved into a book and a major exhibition, as well as served as the inspiration for a second project, 52 Suburbs Around the World. Having discovered how incredibly interesting it is to nose around the backyard of a big city, seeking beauty in both the built environment and people, Loise went on to explore and photograph the "unfamous" side of some of the world’s most famous cities – their suburbs/neighbourhoods – and share what she discovered in weekly posts on a new blog.
January in Hong Kong, February in New Delhi, March in Istanbul. Then on to Paris, Rome and Berlin from April-August before heading to New York in September and October. Many of the photographs are presented as diptychs with a short caption ; a playful way of presenting images that allows Loise to make connections between seemingly unrelated things and to tell "mini stories". The interesting (and somewhat unconventional) thing, is that her daughter, Coco, followed Louise in her photographic voyage around the world. She ultimately began the project as an eight year old, used to the constant routine of school and friends and by the end of the year was nine and used to home schooling on the road and living out of a suitcase.

Budnitz bicycles

Most high-end bicycles are designed exclusively for racing. These bikes are very fast, but are impractical and uncomfortable for city use. On the other end of the spectrum, nearly all commercial city bicycles are either made with low-end components or are poorly modified versions of race bikes. Inexpensive city bikes are built to ride exclusively on flat ground, and are quite heavy and tend to rust or fall apart in just a few years. Paul Budnitz (also known from the creation of Kidrobot) began creating titanium bicycles for his own use in 2002. Almost immediately people began stopping him on the street to ask where they could buy a bicycle just like the one he was riding. In 2010 he started Budnitz bicycles.

Budnitz bicycles, according to their makers, incorporate only top-end components. Frames, forks, stems, and handlebars are handmade in the USA out of rust and corrosion-proof titanium, a super-lightweight and extremely strong metal originally developed for the aerospace industry. Frame design, geometry, and every component have been thought out to provide an exceptional ride. Instead of traditional greasy bike chains and gears, Budnitz offers a high-tech and lightweight carbon belt internal hub, which requires very little maintenance, lasts a very long time, and most happily cannot stain your clothing. Budnitz bicycles also feature integrated cables that run through the bicycle frame, but they do not incorporate any shock absorbers. Their trademarked "Cantilever Frame" absorbs road shock. Titanium also absorbs shock, as do the wide-slick tires which they put on all of their bicycles. Wider tires are chosen because under normal street conditions they are much faster than the skinny tires found on fixies and race bikes.

The above is an artful promotional video for Budnitz bicycles, where a recalcitrant bicycle thief falls in love with bicycles he's stolen, only to return it at the end of a great ride. You can see all their bicycles here.

07 May, 2013

Swami's surf boards

Swami’s is named after the infamous point break in Southern California where the founding members used to surf.  Established in NYC in 2000, the label is now based in London, continuing their reputed surfboard production as well as creating an ever growing collection of surf essentials and accessories. Swami’s is the Hindi name for Master, combined with a love of surfing the brand is set on a quest to ensure that their products won’t harm waterways and the ocean. Products are made with an emphasis on art, design and craft and produced in an environmentally sound way working with European craftsmen and supporting small initiatives in developing countries.

By focussing on the iconic board shapes that defined the modern era of surfing through 50s - 70s, the Monk is hand made in England with a back-to-basics celebration of classic board building technics; double wrapped patched decks, tail blocks, split gloss/wet n' dry finishes all in deep resin colored tints shaped with premium modern materials and processes. The Monk is Swami's quintessential single fin logging board - built for effortless glide. With plenty of volume and weight, flattened nose and tail widths are the key aspects together with round rails and rolled bottom to complimented the deep teardrop concave in the nose. The perfect solid platform for timeless nose riding, makes for catching the smallest waves early, with plenty of room to take a stroll.

This board is the cornerstone of our collaboration collection with Paul Smith. Available in a very limited edition of 50, each board is individually numbered and signed by Sir Paul Smith along with the owners' initials set into the deck.

Filmed on location in West Cornwall, Swami's short film profiles multiple British and European longboard champion Sam Bleakley: surfer, explorer and writer. An insightful glimpse into a surfer's state of mind, travel wonder lust and the ultimate draw back home. Directed by Stephen Langmanis and Alan Aboud. See behind the scenes pictures, and read about the story here.

Unter : a Karaköy gem in the rough

Unter, in Istanbul, Turkey, is located in the Karaköy area, in a three-storey 1960's building. At the ground floor, there is a wide bar, an open kitchen and 25 seated area for dining. The walls are left as originally built with its own old bricks. The two whole walls are constructed with big glass doors, and can be opened in nice weathered days that lets the venue to join the street with its seating.

The second floor is decorated more as a lounge area. This floor has a fireplace with a deer head, comfortable couches and a big "commune" table. "Unter Loft" is located at the top floor and has more of a cozy house styling to it. There is an open kitchen with a big island center that is surrounded by tall bar chairs and overlooks at the church and the sea from the top of Karaköy roofs. The loft is used for private parties for groups with 20 persons.

The menu has "gastro pub" concept and consists of rotisserie- style quails and chicken cooking before your eyes, hot dogs made with special produced sausages, home made seabass rilette, home made sour dough breads. It is essentially serving hearty fare from Istanbul's three favourite cuisines: Turkish (panfried liver and grilled octopus), Italian (prosciutto and lasagne), and American (mini burgers and pulled pork - a rare find in this city). With your stomach suitably lined, try Unter's signature Bloody Mary or draft Turkish Tuborg Gold. Open late into the night, Unter attracts urban upmarket locals, and the top two floors often host arty after parties and private events. Read some reviews here.
welcome dear reader.


What you are browsing through is the initial form of a gazette, realised at this stage by a collection of posts brought together, from various fields & selected topics, aiming towards your entertainment and information. Some are own generated, others are processed re-ups from the blogosphere. Please feel free to browse, read, and distribute the content here.


If you find what you read here as interesting, entertaining or thought-provocative, please tell it to your friends. New readers are always welcome. If you have copyright claims, please let us know, and we will amend accordingly.


Images presented herein, are the property of their originators, unless stated otherwise. The METRONOME gazette wishes to declare that to the best of its knowledge, all photos and information presented in this website are true and valid, however it carries no responsibility as to the accuracy of the depictions, or wording of the posts, that are not of its own origination.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with any inquiry or question you may have. See the Contact details section.












DIY projects