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Category Archives: new york

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• We are very curious about Google’s introduction of the Chromebook (with their typically great animated demo video.) We’ve known that a laptop that runs on Chrome and executes everything within the browser was in the works. What’s more peculiar is the introduction of laptop rental services for business and education. With Adobe also introducing a subscription service for their Creative Suite 5.5, is leasing the future of hardware and software? Most likely it is a way to ensure that cash-strapped college students can afford the hardware and software to begin forging a brand bond as early as possible.

• And speaking of college students, a new study finds they are addicted to media.

•  On the same week that it releases a Best Practices Guide for Marketing on Facebook, the company is in PR hot water. Facebook paid a PR firm to smear Google. Leaked emails reveal Burson-Marsteller attempted to get USA Today and other titles to write criticizing Google’s privacy policies. This from the company that is constantly telling us what we should think privacy is.

• We loved this week’s Google Doodle, created by Ryan J. Woodward, paying tribute to Martha Graham. The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance has annotated the works behind the doodle and knowing that many people would be searching for more information has cleverly incorporated fundraising campaigns to the page.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• Whenever I hear anyone talking about cloud computing I think the cloud is were turbulent weather happens. This became obvious yesterday when an outage of Amazon Web Services brought down many websites and services for most of the day, disrupting social media and your check-ins.

Is the Amazon outage Skynet’s first attack?

iPads are more widely used than Linux.

• An internal review of a project led to a debate on how many characters can the longest possible email address have. Try to guess before you read the answer.

The web goes green for Earth Day.

• And lastly, colorful, eye-popping photos of Easter eggs splattering.

Years ago, before I moved to New York City, I developed a mantra – that as a designer, it’s your duty to change your style frequently. In the search for transformation, some designers might find solace in the variety of media and side projects (filmmaking, photography, painting, etc.), while others may deliberately change their individual creative patterns and methods of working. This approach helps you to motivate; it helps you to remain excited; and most importantly, allows you to remain valid in an industry that depends on fresh ideas and not just a rehash of yesterday’s stuff. It was this axiom that enabled me to come to New York City…

…as a young designer, I had shown my portfolio to a Cleveland-based agency in a job hunt. They tactfully told me that while they liked my work, without a specific & identifiable style, I would not be a “salable” creative; fitting into their corporate system. In other words, they wanted a singular style to sell instead of substance. I explained to them that my portfolio had creative solutions which were based on what the client’s audience required to identify with a brand, and had very little to do with my own personal visual style. I changed my personal visual styles when I got bored, or needed to feel revitalized. It was this response that empowered me to get in my car, drive from Cleveland to New York City, and take my first New York job at the now defunct (yet highly influential Web design consultancy) methodfive.

At The Police’s final concert last night in Madison Square Garden, I was reminded of the importance of transformation by Sting, who acted out a creative metamorphosis onstage. Arriving and playing most of the show with a shaggy gray beard – he appeared as a grizzled, aging musician instead of the symbol of health and vitality expected from the leader of the pop trio. Just before the encore, he publicly changed his appearance backstage (and onscreen) with a shave. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of a long tour and interpersonal battles within the band, he changed his persona during the intermission – emerging revitalized and new; shaved and young – delivering a two act play as an example of how first, the long tour had aged and tested him – and on this final night, revitalized him – as he moves once again past the shadow and drama of The Police, into the next phase of his career.

Was this overplayed and dramatic? Of course, but rock n’ roll should always have an unpredictable element of bombast. And possibly, so should you.

Dave Fletcher is the Founder / Creative Director at theMechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. He is also a fan of music and believes that a sign of old age is going to see the “final concerts” played by bands that formed after his birth.

In the atomic aftermath of Amercian television shows like “Friends” and other wannabe roommate pap, came a glorious comedy from the U.K. from 1999-2001, called Spaced. Overloaded with more clever and hidden pop-culture references than 100 episodes of The Family Guy, this show – that only filmed 2 seasons – is a classic rivaled by very few modern comedies. Starring and written by Simon Pegg, as a comic book artist (who wants to be a graphic designer someday – see, you knew there had to be a design reference in here somewhere!) and Jessica Stevenson as a perpetually unemployed writer, the show features an unzipped bunch of characters all living at or in the vicinity of 23 Meteor Street outside of London.

Just like the toys and gadgets that litter our desks at the office, Spaced will gleefully litter your creative brain with clever and unhinged plots, quirky direction (by Edgar Wright), twisted acting, and an occasional zombie thrown in for good measure.

Margaret, now residing at the London office, turned the American creative bunker on to the show long before it was available in the states, and I couldn’t be more happy that I’ll not only be able to pick up a copy of the DVD later today (with a wry nod to the poster art of Star Wars on its cover), but I’ll also get to have a copy signed at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square by Simon, Jessica and Edgar – all who were in the East Village a few hours ago (that’s Sharon with Simon before the screening) – treating us all to three episodes on the big screen, and some interesting insight afterward.

Dave Fletcher is a self-admitted Spaced junkie and Founder / Creative Director at theMechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa.

Plump Dumpling“Plump Dumpling,” a tiny hole-in-the-wall dumpling hut in the East Village has a good following and some tasty dumplings to boot. However, close examination of their current branding reveals strange werewolf-like bloody scratches on their otherwise “happy vernacular” identity mark. I’m not certain why the scratches are prominent as part of the branding, but one could speculate that the logo took some lumps from rival Lucas Lin’s “Dumpling Man” back in the dumpling wars of 2005.

Dave Fletcher is a Founder and Creative Director at theMechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. He prefers his dumplings with a side-effect of lycanthropy.

GAP/RAG imageWhile returning from a client meeting on Thursday morning, I passed through the 42nd street subway station at 8th Avenue. Inside of that station is a somewhat puzzling and eerie strip mall, which has various poster/framing shops and a clothing store with branding resembling the GAP.

I was perplexed to see that they are using “RAG,” printed in their corporate typeface without further explanation.

My initial inclination was that they were promoting a clothing drive or other means of donating to the poor. Later I realized this wasn’t a GAP store at all, but a company that has been around longer than the GAP called RAG New York.

Regardless, this is a perplexing use of corporate branding of a clothing store without necessary explanation for a couple reasons:

  1. considering the short attention span of the average out of town subway traveler in New York City;
  2. considering that human fashion trends don’t yet dictate that we should be wearing rags.

Dave Fletcher is a Founder and Creative Director at theMechanism, a multi-disciplinary design agency with offices in New York, London and Durban, South Africa. After posting this entry, he’s fairly certain that either GAP or RAG will not be knocking at theMechanism’s door any time in the near future.

As Billy Idol once sang, “Hot in the City…hot in the city tonight.” Chances are if Billy was in New York this past week, he would change the words to include a few expletives and finish the song with his trademark sneer and perhaps a kick to the microphone stand before he sauntered off the stage sweating bullets in his trademark black leather.

As you already know, our country is going through a massive heat wave thanks to global warming (wheee!) Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I love hot weather. “Bring it on!” I usually say, as I countdown the days until mismatched socks and puffy coats are but a distant, chilly memory. However these days, in this ridiculous heat, I find myself longing for the days of fuzzy sweaters and chai tea lattes.

But wait a minute! I’m a summer baby…a Leo through and through. I must remind myself of all the things to LOVE about New York City in the summer. So here it is…my official list of The Top Ten Things to Love About NYC in the Summer (in no particular order):

  1. The Park Slope Pavillion – my favorite place to see a movie, it’s nice and cool with mushy seats, there’s theater seating upstairs and they have the most delicious popcorn with an array of shakeable toppings like white cheddar, ranch and jalepeno (pure genius!)
  2. Hurricane Hopeful – Can’t get to the beach? Get a little taste of it at this Willieburg eatery. Sand, surfboards and lobster omelettes = yummy summer fun!
  3. The Coney Island Mermaid Parade – Signaling the start of the summer season, the parade is a not to be missed event featuring a wide variety of mermaids, pirates and even an occasional squid. theMechanism was there in full force…were you?
  4. Smoothies – whether you get them at Dunkin Donuts or Burrito Bar, nothing beats a nice cold mango smoothie in this hot weather. Plus they are healthy…kind of.
  5. Museums – we have a lot of them…and they are all nice and cool. Plus you feel a little smarter after you visit them.
  6. Shopping – visit one of the Apple stores and dream about your next gadget or visit B&H photo and grab a cool accesory for your camera. Pop into any number of clothing stores and make the most of the end of season sales. This is prime shopping season, baby!
  7. The Lincoln or Holland Tunnels – which lead to New Jersey and ultimately the Jersey shore. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
  8. Kids jumping in sprinklers at the park – it’s cute…it looks like fun…you know you want to do it too. So do it already.
  9. Outdoor dining – OK, maybe not right now when it’s like 200 degrees out there, but in normal summer weather having dinner “al fresco” is unbeatable.
  10. Outdoor concerts – there’s something really special about seeing your favorite band under the stars rather than in a packed arena.

It became painfully obvious to me on Saturday night that regardless of how “foolproof and airtight” the internet might be, it still requires one important thing to produce the flowing sewage pipe of increasingly useless information we gleefully slurp upon on a daily basis: Electric charge.

This mighty electrical current is a necessity, empowering the servers which house this information. Without it, they are rendered as impotent as a champion stud mule two minutes past his prime. I learned this lesson first hand on Saturday night by following the weather trends in the Other Coast; the place known as “Not New York City” — Los Angles, Californication… The Land of Buttermilk and Funny.

It would seem that the folkies on the West Coast have been suffering at the hands of “Old Man Winters’” sour, inbred half-cousin, “Ol’ Ghoul Summer.” His hand-delivered nasty summer brush fires will likely be followed by killer bees, a rainstorm of frogs and possibly living, hissing snakes running amok on planes, attacking and cooking everything that’s not nailed down to the bottom of a fancy, petrol-chilled pool in the West Hollywood Hills.

Zuleyka Rivera from Puerto Rico collapsed in a pool of sweetly scented sweat in “Los Hades” after winning the crown of Miss Universe on Sunday night. Being a thinking primate for at least 1.2 hours of my 27 hour work day, I realized that much like human beings, without air conditioning, servers overheat and shut down — just without all that “complaining and dramatic passing out” nonsense. So horrific was this meltdown of servers in the cooled server hives in LA, LA Land, that the 2nd most frequented web site in all of cyberland, “mySpace,” suffered a shutdown on Saturday and finally came back up to full strength on Monday along with a million or so other sites.

So, we’ll have to be patient, strip down to our skivvies and wait to see how this heat wave ends. Usually, we can count on Fall and Winter in the Northeast, but with the certainty of Global Warming stinkin’ up the planet, we can probably count on an early ski season in Los Angeles as well. Until that happens, there’s one request from us New Yorkers for all you folks in the Los Angeles area: Turn off those air conditioning units that are cooling your pools, fancy pets, and Jetson-inspired drinking containers, and we’ll keep designing web standards compliant web sites to make your browsers happy and your designers filled with awe, then fear, and finally, rays of happy mayhem-inducing sunshine.