Thursday, October 31, 2013

High-End Fashion Line Inspired by Vintage Coke-Branded Clothing

Bottling company delivery shirts, denim jackets decorated with Coke patches, even vintage premium catalog styles--these are the building blocks of a new high-fashion clothing line.  Designer Dr. Romanelli was inspired by seeing the Coke logo emblazoned across all sorts of vintage clothing culled from thrift shops and yard sales.  His line joins others that reference company logos in acknowledging the beauty and design of logo-branded and decorated clothing, especially for hipsters and the glitterati.

As one of the world's most recognized logos, Coke appears on $1 billion in branded clothing annually, and has already adorned fashionable clothing from such celebrated designers as Dolce & Gabbana and Marc Jacobs. But this is the first line to focus on retro looks from 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s streetwear.  Coca-Cola has already established a hashtag to identify the line on social media, #CokeByDRx.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Ad Week

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Per the Atlanta-based soda giant, Romanelli's 200-piece 'Coca-Cola by DRx' collection was inspired by Coke clothing he sourced from flea markets and vintage stores from around the world. Items have been stitched together from multiple Coca-Cola-branded garments and entail higher-end bomber and biker jackets and vests, ranging between $450 and $1,650, while T-shirts are available at $35-50.

The streetwear harkens back to the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s. The collection, Coke says, also represents an homage by Romanelli to Japanese designers Jun Takahashi, who has done work for Nike, and Junya Watanabe, who has fashioned sneakers for Converse.

The line is debuting in select stores in New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Toronto, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Marketers for the beverages company will push a hashtag, #CokeByDRx, in the coming days to generate Twitter buzz around the clothing.

While the vintage take appears new, Coke has collaborated with many designers in recent years, including D&G, Jack Spade, JCDC, Uniqlo and Marc Jacobs."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No, ArcLight Cinemas is Not Owned By the Church of Scientology

Photo: Hunter Communications
ArcLight Cinemas is high-end, beloved, and can sometimes be a little weird.  The language that management uses in describing systems and goals can sound a bit strange, especially when taken out of context by current or former employees and posted on blogs. And the devotion to the company's central mission can make it all seem a little cult-y.

This has led to a rash of questions and speculations online whether all this slight weirdness can somehow be an indication of a nefarious connection between the Cinemas and Hollywood's other strange, seemingly cult-ish institution, the Church of Scientology. But just because the two institutions are strange and both based in Hollywood does NOT necessarily mean that they are somehow secretly connected.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Curbed LA

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Earlier this week a rumor popped up on Reddit Los Angeles: "Is the Arclight Cinemas chain owned by Scientology?" This rumor's been going around the internet for a few years now--it seems to have started with Arclight employees complaining (in blog comment sections or to friends) about the weird training they get and the strange language the higher-ups use, but it's slowly been seeping out into the general population (there was a tiny flurry on Twitter about it around the time The Master came out). The beloved and terrific Arclight chain is owned by the Decurion Corporation, which is based just south of West Hollywood, and which also owns Pacific Theatres, developer Robertson Properties Group, Pacific Swap Meets, the Vineland Drive-In, and Mini-Pac Storage. Decurion Corporation definitely sounds like the name of a business established as a front for a cult, and its website says stuff like this: "Decurion's purpose, the fundamental reason it exists, is to provide places for people to flourish. We believe that every human being has something unique to express. We seek to create the conditions in which that expression will emerge ... We expect to create conditions for this through our work." But it has nothing to do with Scientology.

A rep for Decurion gave us this statement: "Arclight is not affiliated with Scientology in any way." And ditto for Decurion. There's also no apparent connection between any of the company's officers and the CoS. Decurion explicitly lists on its website the people who've influenced its "operating philosophy" and it's a pretty standard collection of corporate psychology types, none of whom have any obvious connection to Scientology (or to Landmark, a quasi-cult whose name has also been thrown around in all this Arclight chatter). And if you pick apart the creepily anodyne language of the website, that's really all it is: standard, common corporate bullshit written to make workers think their bosses care about them so that they'll work harder."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Self-Driving Cars, Arriving One Bit At A Time

The concept of a car that makes all the decisions and drives itself has always been intriguing, and a distant look into the future of technology. But while we were dreaming of that future computer-controlled robot car, more and more intelligent sensors and computer assisted steering, braking, suspension and navigation have crept up on us.  By now, top-end luxury sedans are not exactly self-driving, but definitely
a collaboration between the car and driver.

The latest generation of the Mercedes S-Class is the best example out there in the market. It comes with a suite of features, some standard and others extra-price options, called Intelligent Drive.  This system can work wonders, spotting and distinguishing between humans and animals in the road ahead, sensing potholes, and using radar to read any anomalies in the movement of the car ahead and even the car in front of that.
It then takes command of suspension hydraulics, speed control, braking, and even the headlights to adapt to every variation that would normally be left to the driver's senses and reflexes.  The future isn't here yet, but it's close enough for us to get a good look at it.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The truth is, autonomous cars have been arriving in bits and pieces for years. Bristling with sensors and microprocessors, cars — especially at the top end of the price spectrum — have long been lightening the driver’s workload and improving safety with features like parking assist, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and various crash-avoidance technologies.

More bits of autonomous driving technology are arriving in the new model year.

'We’ve given the vehicles senses,' Ralf G. Herrtwich, director for driver assistance in the advanced engineering group of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, says in a video presentation for reporters. 'They can see and do so much more.'

The car Dr. Herrtwich speaks about is the 2014 Mercedes S-Class, which arrived at United States dealerships this month. The car makes a significant step toward the ability to drive autonomously, using many types of sensors to gather data about driving conditions, including a stereo camera that lets it 'see' by providing 3-D images, akin to human vision.

The new S-Class — an S550 and S63 AMG are first to arrive in the United States — offers a package of technologies, some of which are extra-cost options, that Mercedes calls Intelligent Drive. Among its many components are systems that can steer, brake, cover blind spots and watch for pedestrians and animals. One function monitors the road ahead to ensure that passengers are not jolted by potholes.

Dr. Herrtwich points out that the car’s computing power, in the form of processors and algorithms, is highly developed.

'Our Intelligent Drive Systems these days are capable of analyzing complex traffic situations, and they have developed an understanding for what to do,' he says.

It is a network of sensors that makes the analysis possible. Most perform multiple functions, generating data for a number of driver-assistance systems.

Included are numerous cameras, mounted front, rear and side. Among them are two forward-facing infrared cameras for night vision, and a stereo camera — actually two cameras in a single housing — that provides 3-D imaging crucial to the system’s decision-making powers."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Does Robot Coffee Pose a Threat to Starbucks?

Student tries out the new Briggo coffee kiosk
It's doubtful that a robot will remember how much foam you like on your cappuccino, or that you like an inch of room at the top to add your own cream. But for fast, precise brewing of coffee drinks at drive by pick-up stations (where the coffee you ordered via smartphone will be ready the minute you stop by), the casual coffee drinker who just wants a great quick cup with minimal hassle may have a new option soon.

Now being tested in one machine on the U of Texas campus in Austin, the new technology from Briggo has a lot of future possibilities.  And the reports from users are mostly glowing, with reviews like “love my robot coffee!” and “the most delicious coffee I’ve had in a very long time.”

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article: 
Briggo Coffee Robot: Should Starbucks Replace Baristas with Machines?

Excerpt: "Robot-brewed coffee might sound like a bizarre, even retrograde concept in an industry that fetishizes the artisanal and eschews mass production. Anyone who has tried coffee from an office vending machine can vouch for the value of the human touch. But, contrary to what you might expect, Briggo’s goal in automating coffee is not to make it cheaper or more portable. It’s to make it better.

Here’s the concept, as explained to me by Briggo CEO Kevin Nater: 'There’s this unbelievably beautiful supply chain for coffee,' he says, from the way the beans are painstakingly cultivated and harvested in countries like Honduras to the way they’re packed and shipped and roasted to perfection—'and then, at the last step, when you’ve spent all this time and money trying to make the perfect product, there’s a person brewing the coffee. And that has the potential to really just kill the customer experience. So why not automate it?'

As Quartz’s Mims points out, Nespresso machines, which automatically brew a cup when you insert a vacuum-sealed capsule, have topped hand-brewed coffee in tastings. Briggo applies similar concepts on a larger scale. Each 50-square-foot, Yves Béhar-designed kiosk is stocked with fresh milk, beans, and other ingredients, and whips up frothy, made-to-order cups according to a process the company developed with the help of an award-winning barista."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween 2013's Hottest Costumes

Sexy costumes will still be inescapable
Here we thought everyone would be Honey BooBoo this year! But apparently, though pop culture references rule the costume scene this year, the looks that you will see to the point of nausea come from such topical figures as "Game of Thrones" dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen, "Breaking Bad" antihero Walter White, pop bad girl Miley Cyrus, pre-pregnancy Snooki, the men of "Duck Dynasty" and "Despicable Me"'s cute yellow Minions.

Halloween started out as a holiday for kids, but the last few decades have seen grownup parties for the holiday starting to eclipse New Year's Eve as an excuse for an all-out blowout.  So you can also expect to see lots of "sexy ___" costumes, especially for women, where anything and everything from Teletubbies to parking meter maids can become fodder for the g-string, pushup bra and lace-up corset treatment.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
The News Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Unless you’ve been living under a Styrofoam tombstone, you’re already familiar with Daenerys Targaryen, minions, gyrating Miley, Harley Quinn, Walter White and Abby Bominable.

If you aren’t, you will be. The most coveted Halloween costumes this year are inspired by pop culture references.

At Jokes R Wild in New Castle, owner Bill Wilson sees young customers clamoring for 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' armor, 'Monster High' plaid onesies and those squat yellow cylindrical creatures from 'Despicable Me.' That’s right, 'minion' is the most frequently searched costume online, according to recent data from Experian Marketing Services, followed by Wonder Woman, Batman villainess Harley Quinn and Minnie Mouse.

Other popular choices: Reality show icons Dog the Bounty Hunter, Snooki (pre-mommy) from 'Jersey Shore,' and those zany duck-calling enthusiasts from 'Duck Dynasty.'

Nearly 66 percent of adults celebrate Halloween, according to the latest survey by the National Retail Federation, spending an estimated $6.9 billion this year. That includes $2 billion in candy and $330 million in animal costumes (for actual animals). The average consumer will spend about $75 this year, down from $80 last year.

A complete outfit, including shoes and accessories at Jokes R Wild, can top $100, according to Wilson. Costumes are typically priced from $35 to $50. Licensed apparel can be more expensive.In an uncertain economy, some customers try to skimp by recycling items from the back of their closets and simply refreshing accessories, Wilson says. One young woman came into Wilson’s shop recently searching for a Wonder Woman headband and belt (they are not sold separately). It was back to the drawing board."



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why It Takes IKEA 5 Years to Design a New Kitchen

IKEA products are known for being simple, scaled-down, minimal, and relatively easy to build on a DIY basis. So why does it take the company up to 5 years to come up with a new set of designs for a kitchen?  The short answer is that it takes a lot of work to look easy, and a lot of complexity goes into making it simple.  

Kitchens are the new living room, and most homeowners would rather take pride in showing off their kitchens as a place for family and visitors to relax and hang out than in their living rooms or dens.  So IKEA has to come up with something beautiful, comfortable, striking, and yet relaxed and casual.  It's a tall order, and it takes time.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal

Link to article:

Excerpt: "It takes car companies about three years to design a sedan, and handset makers can churn out a new smartphone in six months. But an IKEA kitchen takes half a decade to create.

The Swedish company uses a painstaking development process to produce cheap and sensible home-design items, all of which have quirky names and many of which must be assembled at home from kits. IKEA’s dogged pursuit of engineering products to bring down the price is helping fuel growth in emerging markets such as China and Russia.

IKEA has cut prices for decades, and plans to shave prices 1% in the fiscal year that began Sept. 1. But sales at the world’s largest furniture maker’s aren’t growing as quickly as they once were, and one of the challenges for IKEA’s new chief executive, Peter Agnefjäll, will be to protect the long lead times built into IKEA product design, such as those five years of development on a single kitchen.

“It’s five years of work into finding ways to engineer cost out of the system, to improve the functionality,” Mr. Agnefjäll said of the company’s 'Metod' kitchen, a new model, during an interview at a store in his hometown of Malmo, located on Sweden’s southwest coast.

The Metod kitchen (translated as 'Method' in English), is the brainchild of a clutch of designers sitting near IKEA’s headquarters here. The goal is to achieve'democratic design,' products that will work in homes whether they are located in Beijing, Madrid or Topeka.

IKEA—known for minimalist design—packs enormous complexity into a kitchen. Metod consists of 1,100 different components, and distilling them all into a cheap, green and easily shippable package has proved arduous."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adding Stronger Scent Can Create New Marketing Opportunities

Sometimes, not smelling bad is not enough.  The original formula for Febreze was marketed with the goal of capturing bad smells in the air and neutralizing them.  But Procter & Gamble soon found that its innovation didn't really appeal to anyone.  Consumers didn't want a product that just eliminated odors.

But when they added fragrance to end up with a product that cleared out the bad smells and replaced them with pleasant ones, the company Had the makings of a hit product.  Now cleaning and laundry products are routinely released in a range of aspirational fragrances like "Spring" and the scents are made to last.  Want a laundry softener that you can smell on your clothes for weeks?  Apparently, a large percent of consumers do!

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Chicago Now (Marketing Insider)

Link to article:

Excerpt: "In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg relates the story of how Febreze came back. Consumer psychologists learned that consumers didn’t just want to eliminate odors—they craved a sense of accomplishment from making their environments smell nice. As one consumer explained her use of Febreze, “It’s a nice way to make everything smell good as a final touch.”

As a result, P&G added more perfume to the formula to give it a unique scent. The branding team changed the marketing approach to portray Febreze as “the nice smell that occurs at the end of a cleaning routine.” After the product relaunch, sales doubled in two months—and the brand created a new category of products that provide a “finishing touch” to consumers’ cleaning routines.

In fact, around 60% of people say they like to add fragrance to their home, using products like scented candles, fragrance spray or other scented products. And, whether or not they want to add fragrance, 60% also feel that their home should smell good...

P&G further reached out to this 'scent-lover' segment through a recent product innovation. Downy Unstopables In Wash Scent Booster achieved distinction as a Nielsen Breakthrough award-winner in the category for 2-year revenue between $145-155 million. As reported:
'Downy Unstopables dramatically expanded the laundry detergent additives category… by drawing in a neglected pool of consumers seeking long-lasting fragrance.'
Downy Unstopables 'keeps laundry fresh for 12 weeks' and is offered in five highly aspirational scents such as, 'Spring – A lasting boost of the fresh, sun-kissed scent of early spring.' A review from customer Brandy states:
'I love it! It makes my whole downstairs smell great and the clothes, too. I just want to bury my nose in them and keep smelling it.'
Certain categories, like candles, perfume and air fresheners have focused on scent, as it is central to their business. But scent can play an important role in other categories where the role is less obvious, such as automotive leather."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Duolingo Uses Crowdsourcing to Build Free Language Learning Apps

Go to any library or bookstore (if those still exist) or to the pages of Amazon and search for the foreign language learning courses. You'll find tons of material to teach you Spanish, or Spanish speakers English.  A bit fewer courses in French and German, then maybe a smattering of Russian and Italian.  Depending on the demographics of where you live, possibly a Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean course.  But that's about it.  Even Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone have lots of the simplest traveler-oriented basics, but then thin out when it comes to moving beyond asking where to find the Metro and how the weather is today.

Duolingo starts from the common task of learning 3000 of the most essential words in any language, and the grammar rules to make them work.  They are building this model into a library of courses to achieve low-level mastery of dozens of languages, and concentrating on the ones that aren't so well-represented by other approaches.  And each language course is put together by unpaid volunteers who are fluent in the two languages the course is using ("from Dutch to Portuguese", for example).  And then Duolingo makes the information available free to any user.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
CNN

Link to article:
Duolingo "Incubator" Aims to Crowdsource Language Learning

Excerpt: "Duolingo's plan is to appeal to collective intelligence and 'crowdsourcing' to recruit an army of volunteers to develop these courses.

'There is only going to be one course for each language; and for each language, we will choose between two and three moderators through an application system and a selection process. Then these moderators can choose teams of people to help them,' explains Luis von Ahn, the Guatemalan creator of Duolingo and one of the pioneers of crowdsourcing.

According to Duolingo, one person working 40 hours per week would require about four months to develop one of these courses, so bringing together a good team will be necessary for the initiative to succeed, something that von Ahn is not concerned about.

The task of creating a language course seems to only be within the reach of expert linguists, but the method that Duolingo has developed is 'pretty restricted, with a concrete lists of words and the order in which they must be used, with easy phrases,' says von Ahn.

The language incubator guides the user so they only have to follow a few standardized steps to create any course.

The system has a number of consistency algorithms that verify the quality of the courses. Once finished, they start out as beta versions that will improve according to user feedback. If the established learning metrics are not achieved, Duolingo closes the course and invites the moderator to improve it until it is effective.

What's the incentive? It seems like creating a course on Duolingo will be hard work, but the company is clear on the fact that it will not pay any of the collaborators who participate.

'Our objective is to teach the world languages for free, so we also expect others to collaborate for free,' says the creator of Duolingo. At the moment, Duolingo is financed by $18 million of venture capital and with translations that the system generates."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Google Leaks New Nexus 5 on Google Play

For gigantic corporations, these guys don't seem to know how to keep a secret, do they?  After the last few years of our seeing Iphone prototypes left sitting in bars, etc., now it's Google.  The web giant has twice accidentally given eagle-eyed viewers a sneak peek of its Nexus 5 Android phone, which is expected to be released October 28th. First, a YouTube look at the new version of Android, the "KitKat" revision, used a Nexus 5 as the demonstration device--whoops!  Now the Google Play store listed the device, its specs,  photos and list price well in advance of the phone's launch.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Business Insider

Link to article:
Google Accidentally Leaks Nexus 5 Phone at $349

Excerpt: "When Google's Nexus 5 is released in a few weeks, it will hardly be a surprise. The new Android device leaked again last night in the Google Play store, where users saw a 16GB version being advertised for $349, Engadget reports.

The Nexus 5 is Google's upcoming Android device which is supposed to have a vastly-improved camera. It's expected to be released in the next few weeks.

A few days ago, a video of the Nexus 5 leaked. A few months ago, the Nexus 5 was spotted in another accidental leak by Google. The phones were seen being used by Google employees in a promotional video for Google's new operating system, KitKat. When Google found out about the leak, it yanked the video from the web.

Similarly, Google was quick to yank the listings last night after the leak was exposed."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Android Logo is Open Source of Delight

The little green Android gets a life of his own
When Irina Blok was working as a designer at Google in 2010, little did she know that her whimsical little robot with antennae would become one of the most recognizabe tech logos in the world.  The instructions for potential designers of the Android logo  were to use a robot image to create a product identity thatusers could immediately associate with the operating system and the devices that use it.  Blok found her inspiration in the man and woman pictograms used in universal symbols for restrooms.

But since Google chose to keep the logo open source, rather than protecting it with a trademark, companies and designers have had a field day decking out the little robot in a variety of guises, from a superhero to a Frankenstein's monster, and even a limited-edition Kit-Kat bar.  But Blok and her fellow designers at Google prefer letting their little logo out into the world like a growing child, to take on an identity of its own.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: " Irina Blok may have drawn one of the most recognized logos in the world, but her association with the green Android has not made her famous. Blok can think of only one incident when she garnered the public’s attention for designing it. In 2010, she and her 6-year-old daughter were in a movie theater waiting for “Alice in Wonderland” to begin when an Android logo flashed on the screen. Her daughter, Blok recalls, suddenly stood up and yelled, 'My mommy invented that!' Everyone in the row in front of them turned around to stare. Blok was so embarrassed, she says, that she sank down behind her tub of popcorn.

The Android logo was born three years earlier, when Blok worked as a designer at Google. As Google prepared to endorse the Android software platform for mobile devices, Blok and her design-team colleagues were told to create a look for the software — something that consumers could easily identify. The logo, she was told, should involve a robot, and so she studied sci-fi toys and space movies — anything that might help her create a character. In the end, she took inspiration from a distinctly human source: the pictograms of the universal man and woman that often appear on restroom doors. She drew a stripped-down robot with a tin-can-shaped torso and antennas on his head.

While Blok worked on her design, she and her colleagues agreed that the logo, like the software, should be open-sourced. 'We decided it would be a collaborative logo that everybody in the world could customize,' she says. 'That was pretty daring.' Most companies, of course, defend their trademark from copycats, and million-dollar lawsuits have been filed over the rights to corporate insignia. This one would remain free."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

IKEA Not Currently Planning to Expand Solar Panel Sales to US Locations

Along the aisles of flat-pack desks and tables, brightly-colored plates and linens, IKEA consumers have the option of picking up a house worth of photovoltaic solar panels that will pay for themselves within a few years.  But wait, that's only in the UK, not here. Still, the success of IKEA's pilot program across the pond may accelerate or delay plans for someone (if not IKEA, "at this point in time") to be the first retailer in the US to sell solar panel installations over the counter. The 17 British stores of IKEA will roll out their solar energy products within the next 10 months.

Hunter Communications Official News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
IKEA to Sell Solar Panels in British Stores, But US Must Wait

Excerpt: "The Swedish home goods giant will offer photovoltaic solar panel packages in its 17 British stores within the next 10 months. The systems, from Chinese manufacturer Hanergy Solar Group, will cost roughly $9,200 for a three-bedroom home.

With the help of British government subsidies, panel purchasers should be able to see returns within seven years, according to Ikea.

Last year, Ikea paired with Hanergy to install rooftop photovoltaic modules on Ikea stores in China.

The retailer has for years pursued an eco-friendly philosophy, offering energy-efficient appliances and LED bulbs while also pledging to rely on renewable power for all of its energy needs by 2020.

In the U.S., nearly 40 Ikea locations -- including distribution centers -- already use solar panels to generate power.

But the company said in a statement that 'at this point in time Ikea US has no plans to sell solar panels.'

And so far, no other retailers in the country stock solar panels on their shelves, according to the Solar Energy Industries Assn.

'But it’s coming,' the trade group said in a statement. 'And if Ikea is successful in the UK, it’s likely to happen sooner than anyone thinks.'

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Rivals in Staredown With Google Glass

Vuzix M100 is a bluetooth Glass imitator that pairs with smartphone
It hasn't even hit the market yet, and still Google Glass is emerging as the market leader that all the new kids in town want to confront and take down.  A gaggle of smart glasses are due to hit stores around the same time as the consumer launch of Google's groundbreaking product, that allows users to combine the real and virtual worlds through an embedded projection in an eyeglass lens that appears to hover just in front of the wearer's face.

So far, most of the rivals are more specialized, like athlete glasses that display times and physical monitoring, or a Google Glass on steroids that has two projected images that form a 3D virtual reality including virtual keyboards in thin air. But as soon as the original hits store shelves, you can expect to see the cheaper and dumbed-down imitators to join the fray.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Many of the new glasses from Google rivals will have a different look from Glass and be aimed at specialized markets, said Shane Walker, an analyst at the research firm IHS, who is preparing a report on an expected surge in smart glasses and related products.

Recon Instruments, for example, has engineered smart sunglasses designed for the tough wear and tear of triathlons and other harsh situations that may not be suitable for the more sedately styled Glass. Recon’s sunglasses, called Jet, display heart rate and other physical data, as well as step-by-step directions if cyclists become lost on the way to a race.

The double-decker SpaceGlasses from Meta have two projectors — one for each eye. (Glass has one projector.) The two projectors can create 3-D images of virtual objects like keyboards that hang like holograms in midair in front of the wearers. Then, with the help of a hand-tracking feature, wearers can type on a virtual keyboard or play virtual chess. A lot of the new glasses will have features similar to those of Google Glass, including text notification and hands-free photography.

Critics have raised concerns that computerized eyewear will become yet another technological distraction — a way for people to choose the virtual world over the real one. Such glasses also risk raising hackles in social situations. 'They won’t be the best thing to wear when you’re at a party,' said Clive Thompson, author of “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better.”

But Mr. Thompson says he thinks the coming generation of smart glasses will offer unusual benefits, too, as apps are written that let them display not just texts, e-mail and newsfeeds, but also a range of useful data alongside what people are actually viewing in the real world. Mechanics peering into a car engine to repair a carburetor, for example, might see a virtual page from a manual or a computer animation explaining which part should be adjusted, and by how much."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Starbucks Free WiFi Uses Clever (Deceptive?) Design to Encourage Ad Clickthroughs

Just about everyone has used Starbucks free WiFi.  With 11,000 locations nationally, it is one of the largest providers of free wireless connectivity in the US.  So when the process of logging on includes a neat design trick to encourage users to click through to an advertiser, it could very well become a model for other companies.

The logon for Starbucks WiFi is indeed clever. After the initial redirect and acceptance of terms, all users have to watch at least a few seconds of an advertising video.  The next screen is a full page ad for the sponsor, with a large bright button that invites the user to "WiFi connect and learn more", which leads to another advertisement for the sponsor.  But on that same page, in unobtrusive pale-blue lettering, is the option to choose “No thanks, just take me online.” At least the first few visits, most visitors are likely to choose the big pretty button and suffer through the ad.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
Forbes

Link to article:
Starbucks Designs to Monetize Wifi

Excerpt: "There’s a lesson here for all marketers – if one choice is more profitable or preferred, you can design your website, form, or other vehicle in a way that greatly favors it. In this case, the preferred choice is brightly colored and put in the form of a 3-D button that tells the user, “I’m something you can click.”

To further increase the probability that users will choose the ad option, the text leads with 'WiFi Connect' and continues with the innocuous-sounding 'Learn More.' This text will draw far more clicks than, say, 'Visit our Sponsor’s Website.'

The final step in maximizing the conversion rate is to de-emphasize the less desirable (non-revenue) choice. So, the option to proceed directly to the internet (in this case, the Starbucks portal) is put not in a clickable button but rather in a plain text link. The font is mostly lower case and the color is pale blue. The design isn’t deceptive, though – the text is underlined, which suggests clickability, and it’s placed in proximity to the big connect button. Some may find this manipulation of user choice problematic, but I have no issue with it. I’m a consumer of their free Wi-Fi, and I understand that maintaining this service is a considerable expense. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the commercial interruptions during Breaking Bad, but they enabled AMC to deliver great entertainment. At least Starbucks gives you the choice of bypassing the ads, even if they don’t do so with a big orange button."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Type:Rider is a Video Game for Typography Nerds

Guiding the little wheels through the wordplay world of Type:Rider
Video game nerds are not known for being the coolest guys you might run into.  But a new game for the iOS and Android platforms requires a very specialized geeky taste to appreciate.  Type:Rider is a two dimensional side-scrolling game where the player guides a little vehicle that resembles two disembodied wheels through a landscape of letters.  Your journey is a chronological one, from the beginning of the written word to modern computerized typography.  And all through the various levels of play, your progress and scoring earns rewards in the form of facts and tidbits about the history of fonts and typefaces. If you are looking for a cheap gift for a typography and design-obsessed friend, the $2.99 game should give them a nice cheap thrill.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
PC World

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Type:Rider is more than just a clever play on words. It's a 2D side-scrolling platformer that not only looks cool, it teaches you about the history of typography. Everything from Garamond to Comic Sans is included in this tour of lettering. Type:Rider was designed with font nerds in mind, and that's not something you can say about many games.

The game is organized historically starting in the prehistoric past with the roots of the written word, then progressing through pictographs and finally to the modern font. The levels in Type:Rider actually use gigantic letters matching the level's theme as platforms. You might roll up a 'G' and launch yourself across a chasm, eventually coming to rest in a nice, safe 'U.'

You control a pair of dots in this game that behave like a little car. Tapping on the left and right sides of the screen sends the car-thing rolling in that direction. Tapping with a second finger while moving triggers a jump. It's a simple control scheme and it works pretty well.

Throughout each stage you'll collect glowing icons on your way to the exit. These will unlock more of the backstory in your book. You can page through it to read up on font history and design, or just power through and enjoy the game. Type:Rider uses a very cool ambient soundtrack that makes the game feel introspective and epic. You could say it's good reading music.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Shopping Malls Most Resilient After Recession

Burbank Town Center's traditional enclosed mall
The 2008 recession was part of a one-two punch that clobbered retail shopping.  At the same time that consumers had less disposable income and were shopping less, the explosion of online retail made low prices and an almost unlimited selection available to everyone.  So brick and mortar stores, in downtown areas, open-air shopping centers, and traditional enclosed malls all suffered equally at first.

Now, during the recovery phase, an interesting pattern is taking shape.  Though standalone stores and open shopping centers are still feeling the pinch, enclosed malls are rebounding at a much faster rate.  Part of this has to do with the upper end retail apparel options at malls, merchandise that consumers prefer to see, try on and buy in person.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Wall Street Journal

Link to article:
Large Shopping Malls are Recovering from the Downturn

Excerpt: "The vacancy rate of U.S. malls in the third quarter declined to 8.2% from 8.3% in the second quarter, according to new statistics released by Reis Inc.,  a real-estate data firm. Mall vacancy was 8.7% in the third quarter of 2012, said Reis, which tracks the top 77 markets in the U.S.

But the improvement hasn't been as strong with shopping centers—typically open-air retail strips that face parking lots. The average national vacancy rate for neighborhood and community shopping centers held steady in the third quarter at 10.5% from the previous quarter, down from 10.8% in the third quarter of last year.

The national average asking rent at shopping centers was $19.25 per square foot, up just 1.5% from the recession low of $18.97 in 2011. The average asking rent for malls in the largest 77 U.S. markets rose to $39.77 per square foot in the third quarter, up 1.4% from the same quarter last year, according to Reis Inc.

Malls are recovering faster because people go to them for high-end retail, entertainment and dining. People are more likely to go to shopping centers, on the other hand, for basic consumer needs that they can also satisfy online, real-estate economists and executives say.

'If you're more of a middle-income or lower-income household, you'll probably be looking for deals online, and that directly translates into why malls are doing better,' said Victor Calanog, Reis's chief economist.

Both malls and shopping centers were clobbered by the downturn. Mall vacancy rates are now falling partly because there has been little to no new mall development since 2006, Mr. Calanog said.

South Carolina-based Edens, which owns 114 centers, is making up for the contraction and closings of other tenants by focusing on fitness center operators like LA Fitness International and eateries such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CMG +1.79% and Le Pain Quotidien.

'We basically replaced those type of retailers with things that people can't buy on the Internet, or people aren't comfortable buying on the Internet,' said Terry Brown, Edens's chief executive. Malls, meanwhile, have seen an influx of luxury retailers. Aventura Mall, a 2.5-million-square-foot mall partly owned by Simon Property Group LP, the country's largest mall operator, has done deals recently with Louis Vuitton and Cartier, according to Donald Soffer, whose company co-owns and manages the property."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Buffalo Wild Wings' Sally Smith Transformed Restaurant Chain

When Sally Smith took over the reins of Buffalo Wild Wings in 1994, it was a small regional chain that had changed name from Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck (a reference to hometown Buffalo's blue-collar delicacy "beef on 'weck", a roast beef sandwich on German hard roll) to BW-3.

She navigated the chain to its current branding as "Buffalo Wild Wings", concentrated on certain common elements at all locations (a long back, reasonable prices, and dozens of TV monitors for communal sports-watching) and steered the brand into its enviable place as America's fastest-growing casual-dining chain.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Business Insider

Link to article:
Buffalo Wild Wings' Sally Smith Profile

Excerpt: "Smith maintains a hands-on leadership style even as the chain expands.

'I like to spend time in the field to make sure the decisions we're making in the home office are in the best interest of our guests and teams,' she said.

Her involved approach has helped the restaurant chain evolve and pull through difficult transitions, Donnan said.

In 2008, Smith officially changed the name to Buffalo Wild Wings from BW-3, which itself was an homage to the brand's original name, Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck. She also updated its logo to provide a more modern feel and changed the decor of the restaurants.

Some chains have floundered under that kind of drastic rebranding, but Smith 'has managed to pull Buffalo Wild Wings through these big transitions without losing momentum,' Donnan said.

ALL-TIME HIGH

Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings are up 29% in the past year and reached an all-time high September 30 after analyst Nick Setyan of Wedbush raised the price target, citing stable chicken wing prices and growing customer traffic in restaurants.

Buffalo Wild Wings is the fastest-growing casual dining chain in the U.S. by sales growth, according to a study by Nation's Restaurant News. In 2013, it drove its estimated sales per unit up nearly 10%, the publication reported.

The chain is also benefitting from a longer-than-usual NFL season this year, Donnan said.

CHALLENGES FOR EXPANSION

Buffalo Wild Wings' biggest challenge in growing globally will be marketing to cultures that aren't as fanatical about football as America, Donnan told us.

"Obviously, there are other sports that are popular overseas that people could gather together to watch,' Donnan said. 'But many other countries don't watch sports socially the way people do in the U.S., and watching sports together is a huge reason why people go to Buffalo Wild Wings.'

The chain will also need to make menu adjustments overseas in order to be successful, Donnan said.

But the retailer's biggest advantage for expansion is its signature chicken wing. 'Fortunately for Buffalo Wild Wings, chicken is a food that is popular all over the world,' Donnan said. 'They would be more challenged if they specialized in pork or beef products.' "

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flat Design Trend Claims Another Victim: Google Logo

Now that the "flat" look has invaded the home screens of Android, Windows 8, and recently iOS7, companies everywhere are scrambling to ditch their bevels, highlights and drop shadows.  When eagle eyes spotted a new Google logo stripped down to its flat essentials, the company first tried to deny that it was trying out a redesign.

The "flat" is out of the bag now, and the company is pleading interdepartmental ignorance of the new project.  Anyway, welcome Google to the two-dimensional brigade of 2013.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Quartz

Link to article:
Why Did Google Deny That It Had a New Logo?

Excerpt: "Earlier this month, a reporter spotted a new version of Google’s logo buried in the code of the company’s Chrome browser. That, alas, qualified as news in the tech industry, especially because the new logo was two-dimensional, or flat, which is the hottest trend in web design right now.

So we called up Google on Sept. 9 to ask about it.

The person who answered our questions asked to be identified as 'someone familiar with Google’s brand guidelines.' As it turns out, 'familiar' was a bit of a stretch.

We were told that Google had used the flat version of its logo in print for years, which is true, but that Google had no plans to use the logo online—'not at all,' said someone familiar with Google’s brand guidelines. It would be inaccurate, we were told, to say that Google had a new logo.

That, we just learned, was not true: Google unveiled a redesign of its flagship search product today, and it is replacing the old beveled logo with that new flat one.

We called back up someone familiar with Google’s brand guidelines. Yes, the person confirmed, Google has a new logo.

'What I did not know at the time was that we would be rolling out that logo as part of a separate initiative,' someone familiar with Google’s brand guidelines said, recalling our earlier conversation. 'The logo was a very small part of that launch, and I hadn’t heard about it.' "

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Holiday Shopping on the Rise this Year

Three business forecasters have published their outlooks for the holiday 2013 season, and everyone agrees that sales will rise.  The disagreement is, by how much.  National Retail Federation looks to a modest growth of 3.9%, while Deloitte LLP thinks 4.5 is a healthy figure.  Meanwhile Accenture is bullish on the holidays, and predicts an 11% growth in spending over last year.  In a year where consumer outlook remains gloomy, forecasters found their silver lining in the extra discretionary income many have on hand, as well as consumers' need to treat themselves after a tough year.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Link to article:
Holiday Spending to Rise as Black Friday Lures Shoppers

Excerpt: "Though people will spend more overall, holiday shoppers will be “keenly focused on discounts and sales,” Accenture said. Economic and political uncertainty, with the government partially shut down, combined with higher payroll taxes, rising mortgage interest rates and limited gains in employment, have kept consumers wary of overspending. Consumer confidence fell to a five-month low in September.

Still, Accenture said the projected rise in spending comes as consumers 'treat themselves after a tough year,' and enjoy increased discretionary income.

Accenture’s study, an online survey of 500 U.S. consumers conducted last month, is more optimistic than other researchers’, including the National Retail Federation, which said earlier this month that holiday retail sales could increase 3.9 percent. Deloitte LLP estimated last month sales could climb as much as 4.5 percent.

Accenture, however, said fewer consumers expect economic concerns to impact their shopping plans and only 18 percent said they would spend less than last year.
Trending Up

Still, shoppers will be focused on discounts, with 94 percent indicating it will be an important part of their purchasing decisions. 'Although retailers’ main draw on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday will be "doorbuster" deals, shoppers will be demanding discounts of 30 percent or more throughout the season,' Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice, wrote in a statement.

Thanksgiving Day is also marking itself as an 'established holiday season event,' with 38 percent of respondents saying they are likely to shop at four or more stores that day. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they had already started their holiday shopping or plan to do most of it by the end of November."

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Sunday in the Park with Walt" - Disney Hall's 10th Birthday (Hunter Communications Photo of the Week)


Photo of the Week for October 7, 2013
On the occasion of Walt Disney Concert Hall's 10th birthday (and she still doesn't look a day past 3) the LA Philharmonic presented a special Sunday concert featuring the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, the LAPhil, and Herbie Hancock. The free concert "sold out" immediately, but no one was turned away completely.  The Philharmonic outfitted the lovely new public space across from the Music Center, the Los Angeles Grand Park, with a large screen and state of the art sound system so that all the park-goers and picnickers could enjoy the concert in the lovely late summer California sun.

The dramatic facade of iconic Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in the LA Music Center

Here you can check out a flickr slide show of the hall and the people outside enjoying the concert and the day in the park.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ikea Hackers Project Makes Rolling Library Storage

Ikea Hackers is a project website that challenges readers to come up with custom pieces using existing IKEA products.  This week's project turns two laminated tabletops, a trio of  bookshelves, and a bunch of casters into a smart, space-utilizing desk/table that incorporates rolling library shelving that roll out when needed and tuck neatly back after you finish.  Reader comments even suggest expanding the project into a storage bed with 8 or ten rolling units tucked under the sides.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
IKEA Hackers

Link to article:
A Library on Wheels

Excerpt: "Materials: Expedit, Linnmon Description: I live in a duplex in which the upper floor has an inclined ceiling. In a corner I have my computer desk, and behind my back the ceiling is pretty low, and I need to make the most of it. So I thought of something like this, using three 2×2 EXPEDIT modules on wheels with a LINNMON table top on it.

So the list of purchase is:

From IKEA:
+ 3 2×2 EXPEDIT modules
+ 2 75cmx150cm LINNMON table tops

From a local DIY store:
+ 2 3cm x 3cm, 240cm long wood strip
+ 1 1cm x 3cm, 240cm long wood strip
+ 6 side casters (to be placed on top of the modules)
+ 6 small plastic caster (which will touch the sides of the top of the modules)
+ 12 medium rubber caster (under the modules, they’re a bit more expensive, but I do not want to leave marks on the wooden floor)

First I assembled the EXPEDIT modules, and placed them in place, and put the LINNMON table top above. As the wall behind my desk has a radiator, it restricts the length I have, so I had to cut the table top. Moreover, the corner is not 90 degrees, so I had to cut it accordingly. I used a circular saw for that purpose.

I also estimated the height I would need, and cut the other table top to use it as a side. Now LINNMON table tops have wood strips on four sides, but the middle is made of cardboard honeycomb, and I had to reinforce the side I had cut. For this purpose I had to reduce a strip of 3×3 to 3×2,8, and cast it inside the side. I then assembled the two table tops with three dowels."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Starbucks Refuses to Accept the Status Quo

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, self-confessed "not a coffee person", reveals new directions his company plans to take in the coming years. The recent acquisition of pastry company La Boulange and addition of custom-concocted fizzy drinks are part of a new emphasis on Starbucks moving beyond just being the corner coffee takeout place. 

Schultz' vision for the company dates back to his purchase of a small coffee bean company with the idea of turning Starbucks into the American version of a European cafe, where patrons drink, eat, meet and hang out.  It's a third place beyond home and work for people to feel relaxed and comfortable spending their time.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Wall Street Journal

Link to article:
Howard Schultz: What's Next Starbucks?

Excerpt: "Under Mr. Schultz's leadership, Starbucks has become a global consumer brand that isn't only a coffee shop but increasingly an all-day restaurant, design concept and health-food conglomerate. Mr. Schultz is the first to admit that rapid growth caused the company's crash a few years ago. He's determined not to let that happen again. 'In 2006 and 2007, I think growth covered up a lot of mistakes,' he says. 'Hubris and a sense of entitlement set in.'

Today Starbucks has more than 19,000 stores world-wide, including over 11,000 in the U.S. Thousands more are planned in Latin America and Asia combined. But Mr. Schultz is set on expanding their scope. 'We cannot be content with the status quo,' he says. 'Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.'

For one, Starbucks will be rolling out a series of new offerings in an effort to turn what used to be primarily a morning business into an all-day cafe. Some stores serve wine and many have started selling dishes with healthy fare like quinoa and kale.

The company plans to introduce some new design concepts, including a modern, modular drive-through made from reconfigured shipping containers. A drive-through window will be a part of 60% of the 1,500 new U.S. stores that are planned for the next five years. There will also be new "coffee tribute" locations, such as the recently opened Kerry Center flagship in Beijing, a two-story store with coffee bars, contemporary furniture, locally sourced Chinese artifacts and a series of coffee workshops. And last week the company announced the opening of a store within the Parisian shopping center Galeries Lafayette, as part of a planned move into more retail spaces.

They are all part of Starbucks' recent efforts to extend its reach beyond coffee. In 2011, it bought the juice company Evolution Fresh for $30 million, and together they recently rolled out a new food and beverage line. Since then, Starbucks bought the San Francisco-based patisserie La Boulange for $100 million and the tea company Teavana for $620 million. And it has joined with the French corporation Groupe Danone to launch a line of Greek yogurt products.

Mr. Schultz doesn't think this kind of growth will result in the same problems as the company's past spurt did. 'These are all businesses we are already in, and these acquisitions will enhance our position as long as there is a heavy level of discipline and rigor attached to decisions,' he says. In the near term, he says that he isn't planning to make any more acquisitions. However, he says, 'I think there will be more strategic partnerships.' "



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Young Shoppers Still Prefer Shopping Centers to Online Retail

There are times when a computer simulation can't really compare with a real-life experience.  And one of the most common, and vexing to online retailers, is the simple joy or terror of the department store dressing room.  You can see a picture of an item of apparel on a website, and no matter how great it looks, you have that nagging doubt of realization that you don't REALLY know if it is for you until you find it hanging on a rack in a store somewhere, take it to a dressing room, try it on and check it out in the mirror.  This is one of the reasons that the shoppers of GenY,  brought up and raised on computers and the internet, still enjoy and rely on shopping in real-live, brick and mortar stores.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Baltimore Sun

Link to article:
E-commerce Hasn't Killed the Shopping Mall

Excerpt: "Just as video did not kill the radio star, the Internet won’t kill the shopping mall anytime soon. The shopping habits of Generation Y show why.

Buying almost anything online may be as much second nature as texting for many in the first generation to have grown up with e-commerce, but millennials still do most of their shopping in stores, especially those that keep their offerings fresh and make the experience social, according to research from the Urban Land Institute.

There are 80 million consumers between 18 and 35 nationwide. Collectively, they spend $200 billion a year across all categories. It’s little wonder Generation Y has become a key segment for retailers and shopping center developers alike.

'They’re hugely important, the largest demographic in American history — bigger than the baby boomers,' said Maureen McAvey, senior resident fellow for retail. 'The fact that there’s simply so many of them makes them important. Beyond that, they’re in the household formation part of their lives. Baby boomers are starting to downsize. They’ve acquired so much stuff, and they don’t buy as much. Gen Yers are just starting to get out of their parents’ houses and forming their own households.'

The report, based on an online survey of 1,251 Gen Y members and a focus group at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, found that nearly half of Gen Yers enjoy going out shopping, while 37 percent said they love to shop. Only 4 percent said they hate shopping. The research showed millennials are multi-channel shoppers — visiting retailers online and in person — with no real preference for one type of store or shopping center over another...

The research showed more than half of millennials go at least once a month to discount department stores (91 percent), neighborhood shopping centers (74 percent), malls and department stores (64 percent) and chain apparel stores (58 percent), though

45 percent spend more than an hour a day looking at retail websites. Pedestrian-oriented developments appeal to Gen Y, and 70 percent of the women — and half of the men — consider shopping a form of entertainment. Almost two-thirds of the survey respondents visit enclosed malls at least once a month."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How Time Flies! Disney Concert Hall Turns 10 Years Old

When the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003, Los Angeles was still fighting off two persistent, dismissive remarks from the world at large. One was that LA was a city without culture, that its only contribution to the world was the movie industry. And the other was that LA was a series of suburbs without any central city, that nobody goes downtown.  

In one fell swoop, the monumental success of architect Frank Gehry's crowning addition to downtown LA's Music Center set into motion a process that ended both of those bad raps on Los Angeles, once and for all.  Today, the LA Phil and its Disney home are lauded around the world, and downtown has even surpassed Hollywood as the booming, happening neighborhood that grows and blossoms before our eyes.  

The tenth anniversary of Disney Hall seems both a longer and shorter time away than it should.  The opening seems like yesterday, and yet the LA that existed before the completion of the iconic hall seems positively ancient.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "When Gehry was named one of the finalists in the competition to design a new building for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1988, he was keenly aware of the typical objections to his work. In an early presentation of his proposal, he made a point of saying that his buildings 'aren't from Mars.' He emphasized how much his career was 'bound to this city.'

He was, in fact, the only local architect among the four finalists. His initial design, quite different from what was ultimately built, imagined a small village for classical music at the top of Bunker Hill.

At the center was a conservatory holding a lobby and topped with a sloping roof. The auditorium was pushed back toward 2nd and Hope streets and clad in limestone. A pedestrian bridge reached over 1st Street to Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. A glass dome crowned a single-story restaurant along Grand.

Even in this embryonic form it was easy to see the influence on Gehry of Hans Scharoun's 1963 Berlin Philharmonic. Scharoun produced for postwar West Germany a low-slung, open-hearted concert hall that was determined to look anti-monumental and avoid any comparison to the Nazi landmarks of the 1930s.

Gehry aimed to do something similar, but for cultural rather than political reasons. He wanted his design to protect the idea of the concert hall as refuge — but also to embody the essential informality of Los Angeles. He wanted to demystify and democratize classical music, a goal that happened to match those of the leaders of the L.A. Phil, first Ernest Fleischmann and later Deborah Borda.

Getting from design to finished building was a hugely complicated process even by the standards of civic architecture in Los Angeles. Work on the hall stalled by 1994, and the project nearly collapsed for lack of money. Once it was restarted in 1997 — the year Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, opened to heaps of praise — it quickly hit another crisis as Eli Broad and others moved to hire a second architecture firm to handle the working drawings for the complex design. Only when Walt Disney's daughter Diane Disney Miller made a final gift contingent on Gehry's full control of the design was the impasse broken.

Those fits and starts matched what was happening in the city at large. During the period from design to completion, 1988 to 2003, Los Angeles negotiated riots and a major recession, rediscovered its downtown and cycled through three mayors. Gehry kept reshaping the architecture of a major civic building for a city that seemed to be trying to reimagine, if not remake, itself."