Umbra, Toronto-based global design company

Umbra is a Canadian design company. I have bought a few home decorative items including its signature garbage cans (Later I learned it is called Skinny Can and was designed by Karim Rashid and David Quan). Interestingly, Umbra items are not expensive. Its affordable price might have allowed me to try several different items. Every single item I have…

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Ubud Bali to boost creativity

Ubud is a small town on the Indonesian island of Bali. “Eat, Pray, Love” was filmed in 2010 in this town. IMDb explains this movie; A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to find…

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Two different ways to design a better fire extinguisher

Since we spend most of our time in buildings, we are literally surrounded by fire extinguishers. It consists of a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent which can be discharged to extinguish a fire (Wikipedia). In general, we do not pay attention to them until needed. For me, I have never used any fire extinguisher…

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Standing desk: New way to work

I suffered from minor shoulder – and wrist pain for a long time. In order to lessen the pain, I decided to train my left hand for using the computer mouse a few years back. Certainly, using mouse with my left hand was very challenging in the first couple of years. However, 3-year of intensive practice…

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Reducing eye pain in a shopping mall

In a large scale indoor space, people need breaks to reduce pains. In a shopping mall or at an exhibition, for example, people often take micro breaks on a bench to reduce the pains in the legs or feet. At a recent exhibition, I met a relatively new solution for the pains that have been little articulated: pains in…

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Electronic Vehicle Charging Station in Seoul

An EV charging station stands in the parking lot at my university. Probably, the department of automotive engineering installed it and owns the electronic vehicle. My first impression about them is that they do not interfere the traffic flow inside the busy parking lot because the charging station occupies a tiny space and it charges…

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Pillow preference

Pillows are important for a good night’s sleep. Regardless of whether innate or learned, people have their own preferences for the firmness of pillow. When they go to hotels or visit their friends’ places, however, they cannot help but accept the given pillows. Some of my friends who have a strong preference carry their air pillows.…

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Old is good intuition

Although we are always attracted by something new, we sometimes try something old to enjoy its authenticity. For instance, when a restaurant places an nostalgic vintage signboard outside or when it serves dishes in an ugly pot or on the old-fashioned plates, we infer that the restaurant must have been loved by many people previously. This “old…

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Sterilizer in beauty stores

Must buy items in Korea are skin care products. As the Korean entertainment programs including TV programs, movies, and music videos became highly popular in Asia, the beauty products made in Korean enjoy its strong brand power. Many cosmetic stores in Seoul are crowded by foreign visitors. I have noticed in the stores that many foreign…

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Mobile messaging apps in Asia

Short / Instant / Mobile messaging apps compete fiercely. It has about 5 year history and has a numerous players (e.g., WhatsApp, Line, Wechat, QQ, and Kakao Talk, Snpachat, Telegram, and Viber, to name a few). Some focus on simple communication and others provide interesting features including stickers and animated figures. I visited YongPyong ski…

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Verbal instructions do not work

People often use verbal signs to give instructions to others. The store owner posts a sign on the window saying, “This is a window, please use the door.” Government officers paint “Look Right” at the pedestrian crossing. However, I have observed numerous store visitors and pedestrians mistakenly push or slide the window and look left…

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Break: take a rest vs. get inspired

We need breaks from our everyday work. Although they have a single objective, breaks have at least two different forms. For instance, some of my friends want to take a rest without having interactions with others. They turn off mobile phones, go to an all-inclusive hotel, and then spend time on doing nothing but reading…

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Train experience: Mechanical vs. Electronic

I recently traveled on trains in UK (London – Edinburgh) and in Korea (Seoul – Busan) and found two interesting differences. First, I used a physical train ticket in UK and used an electronic ticket in Korea. In UK, I collected a paper ticket at the station and then physically showed it to the conductor…

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Advantage of popular first name

First name (or given name) is the name that identifies a specific person. It differentiates a person from other members of a group, such as a family or clan, with whom that person shares a common last name (or family name). While last name is normally inherited, first name is “free to choose” and thus can…

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Make public communication points useful

Nowadays, people rarely use pay phones or mailboxes run by government. Instead, they prefer to use private services when communicating with others; they use mobile phones or gmails. As people find the contemporary public services slow and inconvenient, they avoid public communication points. Ironically, most of the public communication points such as pay phone booths and mail boxes are…

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Pay toilet, spoiled customer, and mental accounting

I have seen pay toilets at train stations or tourist spots in London. Since paying money to use public toilet was new to me, I simply thought making profits by victimising tourists is unethical. However, one of my friends who has been living in London for a few years said money should be collected to maintain toilet clean.…

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Engineering smells of childhood memories

I visited an interesting exhibition. It was held by the Naeum, a project group of eight people who study fragrance for empathy. Differently from others interested in developing fancy and welcoming odors, they try to create a wide variety of unique smells and then enjoy them with others. In this exhibition, they introduced a series…

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Hands-on experience of 3D printing

Probably, I am one of few marketing people in the world who buy and use a 3D printer. I paid about $1000 and bought a printer called Rappy 32 from Stellamove two months ago and have been printing miniature buildings, animals, and mobile phone cases for fun. I want to share what I have learned about…

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OCT-Loft, Chinese design hub in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is known for manufacturing in China. However, it has a cool spot called OCT-Loft where designers and creative people with different backgrounds gather, chill out, and share their ideas. According to the Protocity.com, Located in the Nanshan District, OCT-Loft is a project of significant scope and scale. Largely designed by Shenzhen-based architecture firm Urbanus,…

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No skinny jeans, no skinny cans

Skinny means very thin or unusually slender. Although it is a highly popular word, marketers avoid it but label their “sassier” products differently because the word, skinny, reinforces the stereotypes of women and body images. Interestingly, some items go for skinnier whereas others do not.   Fashion items want to be skinnier. According to J. Crew Sells “Toothpick” Jeans, Because Skinny Jeans Just Weren’t Body-Negative…

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Traditional building with a modern twist in Korea

Toronto has many traditional buildings with a modern twist. The house previously used for Rotman Designworks studio was a good example. From the outside, it was a plain three-story house. However, it had interesting modern flavors inside: boards were installed on the white walls, desks and chairs ran on wheels, and newly installed toilette were…

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Paper product by Minimalist designer

People have their own favorite designers. My favorite “product” designer is Naoto Fukasawa. He is well known for the designer of the fan-shaped CD player by Muji. I love his minimalist design so much that I flew for his Tokyo studio, Plus Minus Zero, to consider buying a humidifier for the stimulus of my experimental…

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Toy made by wine corks

Although many people simply throw wine corks out, some reuse them creatively; they make art pieces, cork wreaths, bulletin board and gardening tools with used wine corks. For me, I bought a series of “corkers” to change them into toys. Simple and fun. 🙂

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Shopping experience at fashion store

Since fashion stores offer a wide range of clothing, they are often full of dust. I find many visitors leave stores because their eyes turn red. I recently found a fashion store with low dust level. Differently from other stores, it hung the whole clothing over the ground and maintained the floor clean. It was…

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Rooftop presentation of Seoul history

I attended an interesting event at the Art center Nabi in Seoul. At this event, Robert Fouser, Associate Professor of Korean Language Education at Seoul National University, introduced the history of Seoul with a series of his own black and white photos of Seoul. His Korean-speaking presentation impressed me deeply; his photos remind me of my…

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Apple logo-shaped fried rice

I ordered a fried rice after having BBQ at a local restaurant in Korea. Interestingly, She first shaped the fried rice like an apple and then placed a small fried cake on top to make it look like the Apple logo. (What if I am a fan of MicroSoft? :)) Strong brands such as Harley-Davidson and Nike…

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Traffic light labels on wine

People often do things while drunk that they regret when they sober up. Opening expensive wines is one of them. In order to solve this problem and, more academically speaking, to overcome the hot-cold empathy gap (proposed by George Loewenstein), I adopted traffic light system. I place red sticky notes on the definitely expensive wines…

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Container shipping company’s sponsorship for art project

MMCA (national Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) is a representative museum located in the center of Seoul, Korea. In the museum stood an eye-popping art piece. It is “Home within Home within Home within Home within Home” and sponsored by Hanjin Shipping, the 8th biggest shipping company following Maersk, MSC, and CMA-CGM. Probably, it will take ages for a shipping…

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Studying materials for design

Materials matter. Designers use biological materials to solve trade-off problems (e.g., strong and light-weighted chair). Consumers buy transparent products. When students join the Master of Product Design and Development program in the Segal Design Institute, Northwestern University, they should take Materials Selection course in the beginning before learning about accounting, negotiation, strategy, decision making, and…

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DDP, a controversial architecture

DDP (Dongdaemun Design Park plaza), designed by Zaha Hadid, is an extremely controversial architecture in Seoul, Korea. Some argue that it is neither functional inside nor goes well with neighbors; they view it as a dead space next to a naturally dynamic communities. Others, however, argue that this building cannot be judged by the contemporary…

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