The Best of the Best of 2014

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From articles to toys to bionic pop stars: Here are a few of my favorite things from 2014.

“On Creative Direction”: A straightforward article comparing positions of creative directors, art directors, and designers… and very well done at that. Written by Daniel Mall; probably one of my favorite leaders in the industry today, he finally offers clarity on the expectations of these roles, from the client to the agency owners’ perspective. We all know job titles in this industry are inherently vague, but this had so many great takeaways: ‘A great Creative Director has the answer to everything, not because she’s smarter than everyone else but because she’s spent more time thinking about all of the possible scenarios before everyone else even realized that was important.’ He also quoted another of my favorite leaders, Seth Godin, ‘Who is obsessed with creating delight, with building in remarkability, with pushing the envelope (every envelope—money, tech, policy) to get to the point where you’ve created something that people will be proud of, that will change things for the better, that will make a dent in the universe?’ That’s the job of the Creative Director. Here’s the article in its’ entirety: http://danielmall.com/articles/on-creative-direction/

box-open-top@2xKano: A computer kit. With the rise of women in computer science on our radar in 2014, I can’t help but love this children’s kit to build and code their own computer. The how-to is told in the form of a story rather than a dull manual, including characters and levels to keep kids super-intrigued. Back off, Legos. For $150, regardless of ram or rom or giga-anythings, this would be my number one choice for a young one’s first system. I’m just waiting for my little boo Leah to get a few more years under her belt before I make this arrive at her doorstep. http://www.kano.me/kit

Viktoria Modesta Moskalova: World’s First Bionic Pop Star. Her success came prior to 2014, performing live with Coldplay in 2012, but her December 2014 launch of the campaign Born Risky and Spotify release of the track Prototype put her in a new light. Viktoria is a stunner and an inspiration; after being born with a dislocated hip and leg and undergoing 15 ineffective surgeries, her left leg was amputated. The 26 year old is taking the world by storm with some of the most artistic and phenomenally engineered prosthetic legs I’ve ever seen. She takes her condition in stride strutting high fashion and higher heels, encouraging us all to follow our dreams regardless of obstacles. Forget what you know about disability.

Halt and Catch Fire: Series Premiere Underdog. It’s not the number one show on TV, and it’s not entirely revolutionary; some may argue it’s a Mad Men knock off. But Halt and Catch Fire certainly had it’s own identity when it came to technology, risk, and determination. With modest viewership and undeniably dark moments, it was still one of those shows I found myself closely attached to, like I could relate to the angst of the characters trying to break ground in a space full of competition yet desperate for innovation. Season 2 is premiering in summer of 2014, so you’ve got a bit of time to catch up.

z0wvghvtyyc4pmjiLEGO Architecture Studio: Not your kiddos’ building brick set. With 1,210 small, off-white bricks divided into 76 unique shapes, I’m dying to embrace the part of my childhood that was hoping to grow up and become an architect. A well-designed 250-page guidebook, written in collaboration with a number of leading architects, provides an introduction to architecture, but doesn’t provide structural plans; that part is up to the creator. Initially the set was only available in the UK and Europe, but it’s not available through Lego.com as well as Amazon. http://architecture.lego.com/en-us/architecture-studio/architectural-studio-product-info

The Disappearing Project: Environmentally Responsible Consumer Packaging Redesign: Created by Aaron Mickelson for his masters thesis from Pratt Institute; the challenge was to redesign every day product packaging with zero waste. How is that possible, you ask? Aaron was phenomenally innovative in thinking about how products are used, and pulled it off ingeniously. From Tide soap pods to Glad garbage bags, the potential to reduce our carbon footprint is here; now it’s just a matter of implementing the designs into production. Check out the concepts here: http://design-milk.com/aaron-mickelson-redesigns-consumer-packaging-eliminate-waste/

I could really go on; I feel inspired every day by articles and discoveries and the fabulous people in my life. But I’d love to hear from you; what was the best of the best in your year?

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