Use This, Not That

Chicago Tribune
Use This, Not That
By Tiffany Meyers, September 27, 2010

What’s on designer don’t lists? Five designers share their list of verboten materials — along with the alternatives they use instead.

Never say never? Well, not unless your hand is forced. Think chinchilla fur. Or popcorn ceilings. Sometimes, “over my dead body” is the only reasonable option. We asked five designers to name the one material that they would never, ever, not for a pile of money and a lifetime supply of cake, use in an interior. Then we found out what they’d go for instead. The common thread: authenticity. Each in their way, these designers confirm the importance of honesty in materials.

Use this: Authentic materials
Not that: Counterfeits

Tom Polucci, director of interior design, HOK Chicago, can’t say there’s one specific material he’d rule out altogether. Rather, he believes in using authentic materials wherever possible, whether reclaimed or locally sourced. “What’s great is that, today, we have so many products available to us,” he says.

For wood flooring alone, Polucci can choose from solid wood, end grain wood, cork or bamboo. But not every budget can accommodate wood flooring. What then? Polucci finds a different but equally authentic solution: He might leave the concrete floors exposed, for instance, or recommend linoleum, a floor covering made of renewable materials.

“Using an authentic material in an unconventional way is also a great way to create more impact,” he adds. For HOK’s office, the firm reclaimed some teak flooring, using the warm, salvaged wood to create a striking wall panel at the entrance. And in a beneficent twist, it would have cost more to make custom veneer panels than it did to repurpose the solid teak flooring.

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Marketing to Kids Under Attack

Special Report: Kids Marketing
Marketing to Kids Under Fresh Attack
By Tiffany Meyers, February 21, 2005

Assuming that it’s ok to market to 11-year-olds as if they were 16-year-olds is shocking to some media and advertising critics who have taken up the battle against marketing to kids.

Marketing efforts playing into tweens’ aspirations to adopt attitudes of much older teens are one alarming development that author Susan Linn sees. “The message they’re getting,” she says, “is that playing with toys and not being interested in the opposite sex is babyish and they ought to be acting out in sexual ways.”

Ms. Linn, associate director of the Media Center at the Harvard-affiliated Judge Baker Children’s Center, sees such efforts as part of a marketing maelstrom surrounding kids that puts normal childhood development at jeopardy. The question of whether marketing to children does them harm isn’t new, nor are efforts to curtail it. In 1978, the Federal Trade Commission earned the moniker “national nanny” by calling for a ban on ads to children under age 7, a proposition Congress overruled.

More than 20 years later, that concern has spread to even the most cutting-edge marketing tactic of “word-ofmouth.” The National Institute on Media & the Family this month called on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association to prohibit the “exploitation” of young people, after the association released a draft of an ethics code. Among the institute’s concerns are word-of-mouth campaigns that take place in Internet chat rooms.

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Creating Green Infrastructures

Metropolis Magazine
Infrastructure Activism
By Tiffany Meyers, November 12, 2009

To introduce his panel at last Thursday’s Infrastructures for Change Workshop, in Chicago, Giles Jacknain reminded us that the ancient Greeks had two words for city. The first was asty—or the inanimate bricks and mortar. The other: polis, or the city as a human entity. The conversation we were about to have, he suggested, was about moving from “asty to polis.”

Jacknain is the founder of the consultancy the Oikos Collective and a faculty member of Archeworks, which sponsored the day-long Infrastructures for Change event. The conference offered a mash-up of bottom-up and top-down projects designed to make cities of the future sustainable “before it’s too late,” as more than one speaker put it. It’s the first in a series of Archeworks workshops that will showcase design alternatives to the waste-intensive, auto-dependent, low-density infrastructures of the 20th century.

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Freshly Feathered Nest

Chicago Tribune
Freshly Feathered Nest
By Tiffany Meyers, May 23, 2010

When the kids move out it’s time to make a home you, your spouse and even the family will love.

When you walk through the front door of Frank and Sandy Gelber’s home, the experience is something like taking a sip of ice water — only to discover a mouthful of kicky ginger ale instead. From the porch of the clapboard farmhouse, which dates to the 1890s, any sensible person would expect a traditional interior. Wainscoting. Victoriana. Pooled drapery.

Then the front door opens, revealing the living room. Instead of chintz, you get crisp, cool lines. A palette of red, white and black. A large work by British artist Richard Galpin, who explores the line between abstraction and representation, hangs above a white leather sofa.

Sandy Gelber asked her designers, architecture and interior design firm Morgante Wilson Architects (MWA), to redo what was then a traditional room in 2005, when the Gelber’s youngest daughter left for school. Gelber had been warned of the “empty-nest syndrome.” It would be lonely, people said. Full of longing and boredom. Remember Y2K? The catastrophe never transpired. “I think the ’empty nest’ is the best-kept secret in life,” says Gelber, who’s as connected to her children as ever. “Our nest actually filled up with possibilities. I like to think of it as a time to re-feather the nest.”

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Green up Your Office

Entrepreneur Magazine
Making a Green Office
By Tiffany Meyers, March 2009

Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, and office buildings are guilty. They binge on more electricity than any other type of commercial building, representing about 25 percent of the sector’s total electricity consumption. The natural gas they guzzle accounts for almost 14 percent of consumption in nonresidential buildings. But if you take a few simple steps toward a more sustainable office, you’ll see payback in many shades of green—from money saved to increased employee morale and retention.

1. COOL IT   According to the most recent statistics from the Center for Sustainable Systems, space cooling accounts for 11 percent of total electricity consumption in commercial buildings. If you’re in a mild climate, ask your landlord to consider adding an economizer, which conditions by bringing in outside air—not by using refrigerant—when it’s cooler outside than in. For optimal wintertime savings, experts recommend setting thermostats to 68 degrees during work hours and 55 degrees after hours. Stay on track with a programmable thermostat. HVAC maintenance matters, too: You and your landlord should seal leaky ducts, change filters and have your contractor come out to do annual tuneups.

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Westside Studio

Westside Studio: Profile (excerpt)
By Tiffany Meyers, May/June 2008

A unique business model allows 13 of Canada’s top photographers to work side-by-side and thrive.

During the early 1980s, Sandi Wall had a job with a Canadian photography studio, where she handled everything from wardrobes to props, casting to billing. So, too, did she find herself frequently clearing cigarette butts and banana peels off her desk in the morning.

An astute businessperson with an organized mind, Wall wasn’t exactly enthralled with all the creative disarray. But as the kind of work environment on which entrepreneurial dreams are built, it did sow the seeds for the future.

The complete article, in Communication Arts’ May/June 2008 Issue, is a subscription-only feature. For more information, please visit Communication Arts.

Sid Lee

Sid Lee: Agency Profile (excerpt)

By Tiffany Meyers
, March/April 2010 Interactive Annual

In 1977, Montréal-born Prime Minister and l’enfant terrible of Canadian politics, Pierre Trudeau, famously did a pirouette behind Queen Elizabeth’s back. It was the slapstick version of his oft-cited call to arms: “Let us overthrow the totems, break the taboos.”

Sixteen years later, in 1993, Jean-François Bouchard and Philippe Meunier founded Sid Lee (then called Diesel) in Montréal. They had between them: two degrees (law, design), zero advertising agency experience and no idea that, for the next 16 years, they’d overthrow every totem and taboo the advertising industry had to offer.

The recent graduates moved into a building that thugs loved to rob. Mainly, they stole the partners’ laptops, unloading them at the neighborhood pawnshop for cash. Pas de problème. Bouchard, now President, and Meunier, Chief Creative Officer and Senior Partner, would just take a walk to the same pawnshop, where their machines waited to be bought back.

The full Sid Lee story, which appears in Communication Arts’ March/April 2010 issue, is available to subscribers only. Please visit the magazine’s website for more information.


HOW Magazine

By Tiffany Meyers, January 17, 2008

While a typical company might hold its breath and launch a rebrand once or twice in its lifetime—then live with the results for better or worse—Minneapolis interactive firm space150 undergoes identity overhauls with unprecedented speed, devising an entirely new logo, website, business cards and bevy of self-promotional swag every 150 days. At first blush, it seems the off-the-wall hijinks of a free-spending startup without a business plan. But space150 is not your typical company, nor is its CEO/creative director, William Jurewicz, a man without a plan.

In early 1999, Jurewicz—computer whiz, astronomy junkie and entrepreneur—bought a home. It wasn’t a nesting impulse. Rather, with a mortgage to borrow $20,000 against, he launched space150 in March 2000–just as the dot-com crash slammed into the fragile bubble of the U.S. economy. “Those were the freaky-sweaty times,” Jurewicz says. “[I thought,] I have nowhere to go now. Open a window, and let’s jump.”

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Frugal Urban Drivers Buy Into Flexcar Formula

Advertising Age
Frugal Urban Drivers Buy Into Flexcar Formula
By Tiffany Meyers, June 08, 2007

Price the cost of car ownership lately? Even before you get to the guilt of adding carbon emissions to the atmosphere, car-sharing is proving to be an economical alternative for young drivers who have better ways to spend their money. Flexcar ads urge drivers to “join the transportation revolution.” It’s an idea whose time has come.

For a $35 annual fee, members in 12 cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle, can reserve and use a Flexcar vehicle parked nearby, paying an hourly rate (about $9) that includes gas and insurance. At the end of their reservation, members park it and walk away, giving new meaning to the term “low-maintenance car.”

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William Huber

William Huber: Artist Profile (excerpt)
By Tiffany Meyers, January/February 2006 Issue

It’s high noon, July 1995. For the past forty minutes, William Huber–driving a white Lincoln Continental through the badlands of South Dakota–has been engaged in a mental tug of war with himself.

Some 45 miles back, he saw, and somehow failed to photograph, a tin-shack watering hole he now can’t stop thinking about. He wants to return, but makes a last-ditch effort to capitulate to his sensible inclinations.

The harsh noon light would never yield a good shot, he tells himself, and the round trip would add 80 minutes, none of which he has to spare, to his travel time.

But Huber is there in the first place, driving alone after an ad shoot in Minneapolis, because of his love for Terrence Malick’s Badlands, a movie that “takes time to understand,” he says. “I love to carry around with me something that doesn’t reveal itself easily. I guess it’s like love in many ways. Compelling and impossible to completely understand.”

The complete article, published in Communication Arts’ January/February 2006 Issue, is a subscription-only feature. Please visit Communication Arts for more information.