Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

A year of ideas: Thanks for a nice 2006

A year of ideas: Thanks for a nice 2006
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“Holy crap.” That’s pretty much all I have to say about a year that’s quickly coming to a close. I often find that New Year’s Eve is filled with regret for things I haven’t done. This year however, I can only be grateful. Personally, professionally, and just all around, this past year has been a very nice one. Let’s quickly look over some of the things we noted and experienced in 2006.

We were looking

If you are anything like me, your bookmarks folder is a black hole that absorbs everything. I used to spend time cleaning it up, but later found that it was simply more than I could manage. Nevertheless, over the past year, we’ve been researching, renovating, and trying to keep abreast of all of the great design out there. Here is a brief list of a few sites that captured our attention for one reason or another.

Tom Hingston Studio
Ted Talks
Design Finland

And we were listening…

We are always listening to music in the studio, but creating a list of our favourite music from the year just felt too adolescent. So, we’ll limit ourselves to one note. Whenever we tire of our mp3s, we go to CBC Radio3. Aside from the unnecessary “hipster-ism”, it is consistently good.

And then there’s talk. For this, we like to think about Debbie: chatting with people we envy her for being on a first name basis with. She’s the voice behind Design Matters. I download almost every one of these podcasts and listen to then on walks to the studio. Looking at the 2007 lineup, you’d be mad to not do the same.

We coveted books

Russell Fernandez and the folks at Princeton Architectural Press have been kind enough to send us some wonderful books for review, including Rick Poyner’s Designing Pornotopia. In fact, they accidentally sent two copies, so I’m now reading one at home, and one at the office.

Ours is a studio where books are sought-after. If it were up to me, we’d rework the bank account to finance the acquisition of a design library. I think my business partner would likely kill me though. (He’s a great guy, but does feel that I have a book problem.) When I was able to squeeze in some orders behind his back, these were a few of the ones that changed how we work and think.

Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist by Peter Hall and Michael Bierut
tellmewhy by Clare Jacobson, Jan Wilker And Hjalti Karlsson
Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

We also did a few things: Getting smaller and having more fun

Back in the summer I posted about our desire to shrink the firm. Since then, we have done just that, and I have to note that it’s one of the best changes we’ve ever made. It has clarified our focus; brought us back to the things we most enjoyed in the first place, and allowed us to consider some new projects that interest us. I can’t quite articulate how important it is to not grow in to a position that suffocates what you find joy in.

We’re currently working on the most important project we’ve taken on, and hope to launch it early in the new year. (We’ll let you know when it’s live, and how you can be a part of it.) Additionally, we’re starting to indulge ourselves with fun little projects. Most recently we prepared some gift cards with no commercial purpose whatsoever. It was great fun. You can read some of Luke Magee’s notes on them here. 2007 promises to allow us some work that’s equally self-indulgent and we think that’s a nice way to kick things off.

Thank you

I’d like to wrap this post with a few words of thanks. First of all, for Peter Pimentel. Over the past two years, he has proven himself to be one of the few designers who can handle the demanding pace of a little studio like smashLAB. Aside from putting out some strong work, he has put a great deal of effort in to generating interest for ideasonideas while building relationships with other design blogs. He has helped us reach a wider audience than we had ever imagined.

On that note, we really do appreciate the support that has been lent to us by a number of blogs who have mentioned our articles and sometimes started additional discussions resulting from these posts. A brief and incomplete list of these fine resources include: Design Observer, UnBeige, SwissMiss, Crit, PixelSurgeon, Airbag Industries, SpeakUp, Creole, Andy Rutledge and many others. Thank you. We owe you coffee, beer, or some kind of beverage that crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Our biggest “holy crap!” of the past year is simply related to this blog. When we first toyed with the notion creating it, the best we had hoped for was that someone might read it. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the many members of our community who have taken part.

So finally, we would like to thank you for reading, sharing and spreading the word. We hope you’ll join us for another year of ideas!

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