Philippe Starck had an epiphany, after all these years: "Everything I have designed is absolutely unnecessary," the French star designer admitted in a recent interview with the German weekly DIE ZEIT. I had the dubious pleasure of hanging out in the Starck-designed Volar club in Shanghai last weekend, and my initial reaction to his statement was: yeah, right! I've never really liked his pompose celebrity design. But then I read his quote again in the context of the whole interview and realized: he is right, actually. In fact, his thoughts are so poignant and humbling that it … Read more
I just returned from a trip to Shanghai, and in case you didn't know anyway, here's my No. 1 insight: China scales.
Let's take QQ.com as an example, the leading Chinese online social network. The site is reported to have more than 300 million active accounts. That is eight times the member base of Facebook--and it's the same size as the U.S. population.
What's also remarkable (and different from the Western social networks) is QQ's monetization. Facebook posted revenue of $150 million for 2007 (and according to Plus8star a loss of $50 million); … Read more
Quite a kerfuffle has erupted over news in the last couple of days that Amazon is going to make print-on-demand (POD) publishers use Amazon's own internal printing service if they want to sell their books on the site.
Printing-on-demand has become a popular method for authors to bypass the large publishing houses with more niche or personal titles. And apparently the university presses have embraced it as well. So Amazon's announcement has some fairly wide-reaching effects.
Crowdsourcing has entered the mainstream big-time. It has become daunting to find a brand these days that does NOT have some crowdsourcing program in place.
My Starbucks Idea is just the latest example: Starbucks asks its consumers for advice, and besides certainly receiving a lot of good ideas, the troubled coffee chain makes consumers feel part of the brand remake.
It's the same template as usual: engage your community, harness its creativity, and let it create the content for you.
It works, sure, but it's getting stale. For some reason, marketing trends take two to three years before … Read more
I just read Ellen McGirt's poignant feature story on "The Brand Called Obama" in Fast Company, and my marketing head is spinning. "The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news," she writes, "but what has hardly been examined is the degree to which his success indicates a seismic shift on the business horizon as well." Indeed, Obama has introduced a new brand of politics, and he has caused a paradigm shift that goes … Read more
The focus on the micropreneur, he argues, is "understandably appealing, but thinking that everyone is, and should be, an entrepreneur leads us to underrate the virtues … Read more
The miniaturization of matter has long been a human desire, and viewing the world from a smaller perspective is the core of many novels and movies. The idea of shrinking people for the purpose of traveling inside another human's body, in particular, has been frequently used in animated cartoons, including The Simpsons, Futurama, Beetlejuice, and SpongeBob SquarePants.
One of the most entertaining pieces in this genre is Fantastic Voyage, a science-fiction movie from 1966, which -- albeit not free of some severe logical flaws -- has lost none of its original appeal. Fantastic Voyage tells the story of a … Read more
John Gruber (Daring Fireball) and Michael Lopp (Apple), made the case for cultivating discomfort as a designer: "Are you willing to be an asshole?" We took a trip back through the iconic designs (like IBM) of Paul Rand and examined the allure of the Apple logo (whether rainbow-striped or white, what makes it sexy is the bite. It's … Read more