Posts tagged with los angeles:

Why I Curated a Design Exhibition/Pop-Up in Los Angeles

It seemed only natural to say yes when my friend and bike-riding partner, Ilan Dei, asked me to curate a design exhibition at his pop up retail shop focused on human-powered movement.

Ilan is a Venice-based furniture and environment designer. We share similar passions and run in the same professional circles. We’ve been riding buddies for 20 years, and for a long time we’ve wanted to collaborate on something. This seemed like an opportune time to finally do it.

We decided to bring design to the streets, sourcing the most innovative “people-powered” products designed and or manufactured in SoCal and highlighting them in Ilan’s pop up store on Abbot Kinney Blvd., where crowds perusing this strip of funky high-end shops and gourmet restaurants could wander in to view a colorful collection of products all available for purchase.

Our goal was twofold: to educate people about the innovative design happening here in our hometown, and to improve the health of our community. With that, we came up with the name “Moving LA: People-Powered Design.”

The double entendre encapsulated everything we wanted the exhibition to be about: the people of LA are physically moving about/around with the products on display, and LA moves us, or inspires us, to create and design.

Focusing the exhibition on physical movement was a perfect connection to my personal passion, as well as to Karten Design. My consultancy has been innovating in the health care industry for over 28 years, creating products that meaningfully improve people’s health experience.

The products on display at Ilan’s store are designed to get people moving across or in Los Angeles, from bikes and skateboards to hula-hoops and yoga equipment. They engage people to physically move and be active in their bodies and in their communities as they enjoy a healthy lifestyle. At Karten Design, my team and I are made aware every day through our work that not everyone has his or her health. To further promote wellness in our local community, Ilan and I decided to dedicate a portion of the proceeds from the exhibition to the Venice Family Clinic – a community health clinic that provides affordable, quality health care to 24,000 low-income, uninsured, and homeless patients each year – so they can help others operate a full power.

As a business owner and innovator, I also appreciate living and working in a hot bed of innovation. Los Angeles, where I’ve lived and worked for nearly 30 years, has deeply influenced my creativity, my perspective, and my mindset. The city is a hub for trends and groundbreaking ingenuity; it breeds freedom to create and innovate unlike anywhere else.

It wasn’t difficult to find fitness, health, and recreation products that are designed and manufactured in Southern California. This place is an incubator for innovation, particularly in these categories. Our temperate year-round climate and miles of beaches and mountain paths as well as the athletic community our environment has fostered drive creativity and ingenuity.

Over the past month, I’ve enjoyed learning about and meeting local, leading innovators who are creating positive experiences for active people. The common narrative, I learned, amongst these innovators is that they turned their hobby or passion or an experience they were missing into a business. The advantage with having this kind of story is that they are true insiders; they are incredibly in touch with their users and the values of their communities. In turn, they create meaningful, useful products that they themselves need and want to use. Some who participated in the exhibition even created new experiences through their products, such as surfskating and elliptical cycling.

The products we selected not only keep us active and introduce new functionalities, but they also look good. As seen in this design exhibition, Southern California innovators have combined the best of functional and aesthetic innovation; these are the kinds of creative thinkers powering LA.

To read more about the inspiration behind the exhibition and the innovation that came from local companies, check out the featured coverage in LA Weekly.

And thank you to all the companies who participated: Arbor Collective, Athletic Propulsion Labs, Carver Skateboards, ElliptiGo, Ellsworth, Hoopnotica, IntelliSkin, Loaded Boards, Malibu Kayaks, Poseidon Boards, Predator Cycling, Quickblade Paddles, Scott Anderson Surfboards, Sip N’Go, Valo Brand, and yogitoes.

Question of the Month: Community Health

California has a reputation for being healthy, having consistently good weather, and promoting outdoor activities – but in reality we have just as many health problems as the rest of America which cannot be ignored. Some of the notorious problems affecting California include childhood obesity, asthma due to poor air quality (especially in Los Angeles), heart disease and diabetes.
As designers, we believe that innovation can change the way we live and our overall quality of life. With this in mind, we asked the studio:

What innovations at the state, city or individual level would improve the health of our community?
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DownWithDenim – Press Materials

5 Lessons from Pop-up Businesses

Pop-up businesses achieve success by being temporary, hard to find and transient– qualities that seem to fly in the face of traditional business logic. Yet since 2008, businesses such as food trucks and pop-up shops have emerged by the hundreds and, despite a recession, grown revenue at a rate most brick and mortar establishments would envy.
We’ve followed this trend at Karten Design and, in the latest event in our Conversations series, decided to explore the strategies that have propelled pop-ups to prosperity. We invited the owners of Los Angeles’ most prominent pop-ups, including CoolHaus, Green Truck, NomNom and Royal/T, to join us and share their stories. Although there are many different strategies these businesses employ to stand apart, we’ve outlined some common threads that any business, mobile or not, can take away.

Stand for something. Each of the businesses we spoke with stood for more than just food or shopping. CoolHaus’s founders, both architecture enthusiasts, name their ice cream sandwiches after LA’s most influential designers to stimulate conversations and build awareness. NomNom has a mission of bringing authentic Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches to neighborhoods outside of Little Saigon. Green Truck started to give construction workers access to healthy, organic food on the job site and continues to operate all trucks on renewable fuel sources. Royal/T presents its customers with an authentic contemporary Japanese experience and introduces the cosplay style of performance art. Yes, customers gravitate to their delicious food. But having a mission and offering an experience that people can feel good about is a recipe for customer loyalty.

Build a recognizable brand. Without a fixed location, pop-up businesses need to promote themselves, their current locations and their new offerings continually. One key to their success under these circumstances is a strong brand with instant visual recognition. NomNom in particular uses its trucks as visual billboards that are visible on the street from the freeway. One consistent graphic Royal/T uses to identify themselves, despite changing sales, is the pink crown. This ensures customers recognize a consistent brand, even through Royal/T’s content might change.

Know your customers intimately. The business owners we spoke with closely monitor customers’ response to their brands, products and services. Susan Hancock, owner of Royal/T, reads every review on Yelp and frequently responds to customers. Freya Estreller of CoolHaus uses customer photos from Twitter to ensure quality of service, making sure that each ice cream sandwich served is big, beautiful and highly satisfying. Because they’re flexible by nature, pop-ups can quickly make changes based on customer needs.

Turn customers into stakeholders. With Twitter contests for naming the newest addition to the NomNom fleet or to coin the next NomNom Word of the Week (last week’s winner: “Nom-nivore”), Jennifer Green and Misa Chien offer customers the opportunity for emotional investment into their brand. CoolHaus similarly adapts their offerings to the needs of the customer; at the Conversations event, SKD’s logo was printed onto the edible wrappers and we were able to provide input on which flavors we’d like them to offer. In essence, CoolHaus was infused with SKD for the evening.

Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. “Throw a bunch of shit on the wall and see what sticks.” Though Green Truck’s Kam Miceli quickly recanted this remark, we think there’s something to it. Pop-ups, with all of their impermanence, have the chance to re-invent themselves whenever necessary. Kam himself has served food to audiences and locations from construction sites to Century City office parks to production catering in the desert. CoolHaus is moving into new cities and moving beyond its food truck roots through retail partnerships with locations like Whole Foods. With each partial reinvention, pop-up businesses are using a key part of the design process: iteration. Or course, most brick and mortar businesses have more constants and constraints than pop-ups, but they can still benefit from an iterative process for integrating new ideas, practices and products.

Spotlight on: Pop-ups!

Companies like food trucks and pop-up retail and art spaces have achieved success by being temporary, hard to find and other qualities that seem to defy traditional business logic. SKD’s Rob Tennant blogged on this phenomenon here.

These transient spaces are part of an emerging business model that has found tremendous success in a city full of change. We’ve reached out to LA’s best food trucks + pop-up retail spaces and are

Spotlight on: LA

LA: A Cultural Mash-Up

In this special to Orange Juice, Nina Arshagouni shares her experience living and working in Los Angeles’s creative community. 

As a native Angeleno, I’ve heard many opinions on our fair city – some favorable and some less so. Critics complain about the traffic, the opportunists who will do anything to make an extra buck, and the lack of decent public transportation. Supporters appreciate the weather (how can you possibly hate the sunlight?), eclectic neighborhoods, great restaurants, and the plentiful offerings of art/music/design activities. While taking advantage of one of these opportunities, I recently discovered another reason why I love this city.

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Flights of Fancy

Trends and crazes, fads and manias- I seem to be weaker than most at divining which ones will fly. Some take flight, some take orbit, and some take off the propeller when they crash and burn on the runway.

Living in L.A., I find it difficult to separate the relevance of my personal likes and dislikes from those of the greater public. For example, just because I’m fed up with fedoras (a hat trend I call The Fadora), it doesn’t mean that people elsewhere in the country have even noticed it. These creations of fashion, once they grow legs, can walk an awfully long way.

Some interesting insights can be scalped from the financial world of equities trading—a world where questions of conscience are quickly settled with axioms like “Be the shark or feed the shark.” They’re looking to catch a cresting wave, and ride it as long as possible, to that rich life on the beach. The more skittish traders leave the final glide to shore to someone else, in what’s known as “The Greater Sucker Theory” (sell high to someone who thinks it can go higher still).

Therein lies the challenge to forecasting: how much further can this thing fly? I seem to be the Great Sucker, caught with my trucker hat on long after the trend has reached its peak and fizzled.

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