Pop Culture

USPS Releases Stamp by @Issue Design Director

On the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act of 1818, the U.S. Postal Service has released a first-class stamp designed by @Issue founder Kit Hinrichs.

The Flag Act of 1818 gave the country the basic design rules that dictate the look of the flag today– namely, 13 stripes representing the Original 13 Colonies and one star for each state in the Union. This 1818 Act superseded the Flag Act of 1794, which decreed that each state in the Union be represented on the flag with one stripe and one star. The folly of the 1794 design quickly became apparent when Kentucky and Vermont joined the Union and the stripes had to be made thinner and thinner and the stars smaller and more cramped. With more states slated to join the Union, it quickly became clear that the American flag would soon become a mess, with the number of stars and stripes changing so frequently that the public won’t recognize it as an official emblem, much less an iconic symbol of the U.S.

This stamp commemorating the Flag Act of 1818 displays 20 stars, the number of states in the Union in 1818. It is the second in a set of Forever flag stamps designed by Kit.

Advertising

Babbel Presents: An Alien Abroad

How better to illustrate how frustrating and isolating it feels to be a foreigner who can’t communicate with locals than to use a “real” alien. The funny commercial, made by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by David Shane, features a tourist named Alexi from who knows what planet explaining how Babbel, the language learning app, transformed his travel experience. He went from being treated like a strange alien to the gregarious, likeable individual he really is. The advert was charmingly “convincing,” except for the fact that on first meeting Alexi, the locals remained infinitely polite and patient and didn’t threaten to call the cops. Must not have been made in the U.S.

Advertising

Fanciful Humor of Apple iPhone Ads

Film director Dougal Wilson and Furlined, a global production company with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London, are sweeping the 2018 ad awards shows, including medals from the Art Directors Club, One Show, Webby Award, D&AD, and British Arrow. Their winning entry is “Barbers,” a quirky commercial promoting the Portrait mode on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. Previously available only on DSLR cameras, the Portrait mode uses the iPhone’s rear cameras to separate the foreground subject from the background, to secure impressive studio-quality lighting effects.

The location for showing the iPhone’s Portrait is set in a funky New Orleans barbershop, enlivened by “Fantastic Man” by Nigerian synth pop artist William Obyearbor. Apple says it had to do 24 haircuts to make the advert. It donated the shorn hair to Locks for Love, a nonprofit that helps provide hairpieces to disadvantaged children in need.

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Retail

Gentle Monster: New World in Shopping

At a time when online retailers are driving bricks-and-mortar stores out of business, Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster is transforming the concept of what a retail space should be. Gentle Monster’s retail interior closely resembles an abstract art exhibition that happens to sell stylish, futuristic eyewear. Founded in Seoul in 2011 by Hankook Kim, Gentle Monster has attracted a cultlike following, including renowned celebrities and fashion designers, and has spurred the opening of more than 41 Gentle Monster stores in South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the U.S.

Gentle Monster’s décor is surreal and experiential. Wild art displays provide the aesthetic theme for each space. The Singapore store is an interpretation of Nietzche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” In Chengdu, China, the retail space imagines the creation of a post-apocalytic world. The Los Angeles store leads shoppers through the stages of “Harvest,” and the Daegu, South Korea, space is disguised as a laundromat.

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business

Starbucks Grande Café and Roastery in Shanghai

If you think that when you’ve seen one Starbucks cafe, you’ve seen them all, you need to visit the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve Tasting Room in Shanghai. The Starbucks signature mermaid and green brand elements are underplayed to the point of not being noticeable. Elegant wood and gleaming copper finishes adorn the 30,000-square-foot establishment, staffed by 400 employees. The place feels like “Disneyland” for caffeine lovers.

The sights are awesome and entertaining! A towering copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops (stamps) hand-engraved to narrate the story of Starbucks and coffee. A ceiling made out of 10,000 handmade hexagonal wooden tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine. A Roastery featuring three wood-carved bars, one of which is 88 feet long, where customers can watch beans being roasted and baristas brewing coffee using six different methods and beans from 30 countries. If that isn’t enough, an integrated AR system, built with an Alibaba web app, lets customers immerse themselves in the space through their smartphones. There is also specially crafted nitrogen-infused teas at the tea bar, and an on-site bakery offering scrumptious artisanal baked goods by famed Italian baker, Rocco Princi acclaimed from Milan to London.

With a population of 24 million people just in the city of Shanghai, even a gigantic Starbucks store can’t serve all the locals. Shanghai already has 600 other Starbucks cafes in the city, and 3,000 locations in 136 Chinese cities, with one new Starbucks location opening in China every 15 hours.