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The Center of Milan

On Imported Blog

Upon my arrival to Milan, Duomo di Milano was my first stop . Duomo, the largest cathedral in Italy, is rich in history and architecture. This beautiful cathedral is the center of Milan (much like Times Square in NYC), and is absolutely breathtaking. Tourists were able to tour the cathedral and light candles for their loved ones.

While at Duomo, I worked up an appetite chatting with a friendly African-Italian model. He introduced me to Luini Panzrottie, an amazing bakery nearby. For some, the long lines can be off putting, but it was well worth the wait (even for just one bite of the panzerotti ham and mozerella). Just steps from Duomo we found one of the world's most exclusive shops, la Rinascente Milano Piazza Duomo. The name comes from the Italian word Rinascita, meaning 'rebirth." The giant Italian retailer included divine household products and features top fashion brands like Mui Mui, Prada and Dolce and Gabbana. As a makeup artist, this was the perfect place to stock up on familiar brands like MAC, Chanel and the latest in Armani Beauty.

As a beauty expert, I tend to be very hands on with my day to day look. While bouncing around the shops near Duomo, I stumbled upon Sephora and cashed in on frothy shampoos, creamy conditioners and dreamy serums. The shops around Duomo were also really well connected and wifi was available at the drop of a dime. I was constantly receiving Facebook messages, tweets and Instagram notifications.

Beyond the shopping and technology, I was able to really connect with the locals. Despite the jovial and overly expressive stereotypes of Italians, they were classy, conservative and friendly. I never felt strange or out of place. The truth is, I felt more at home there than I do in many parts of the US. The elderly locals often called out "Capella Bella" which meant "Pretty Hair." Some highlights of my stay in Milan included being invited to an american football game, soccer match and an Armani basketball where I taught the Rhino cheerleaders how to dougie (super fun!). If you are kind and open minded, Italians will send you home with a piece of La Bella Vita. Ciao!

Consequences of the Rise of Design

On Tynan

I was walking through the mall a couple days ago. My path took me past a bunch of stores and kiosks, including the Nike Store. I walked past it and looked at their window display. They had a really nicely photographed poster and some cool looking shoes in a bunch of different colors. The store was beautiful and looked like a fun place to be. At the same time, their shoes aren't particularly great, they aren't actually innovative, and they're made of cheap materials. There are many shoe companies that are way lower quality than Nike, but I don't know if there are any with such a disparity between their presentation and the actual product.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this isn't just nike or most of the clothes in the mall-- it's how our culture works now. Back in the day, if you wanted a pair of shoes you'd go to a cobbler. He would design a pair for you, or use one of his existing designs, pick out some nice leather, and make you a pair of shoes. His design work, his execution, and his materials could all be leveraged about equally, so I'd guess that you'd tend to have either poorly designed shoes that are poorly executed and made of poor materials, or well designed shoes that were well executed and used good materials.

These days, things have changed. Design can be leveraged almost infinitely, which has changed the whole equation. Mass manufacturing ensures decent execution, but supplying top quality materials is difficult. A cobbler who makes a hundred pairs of shoes a year can take the time to pick out the best hides to get the best leather. That doesn't scale to making thousands of shoes a day, so material quality drops. Execution has become more consistent, but the benefits of cutting corners is magnified. Saving a penny on making a pair of shoes didn't matter to the cobblers, but it matters to Nike.

So these days, most of what people buy is well designed, decently and consistently executed, and uses relatively poor quality materials. In the mall I walked past a kiosk of phone cases. There were some that were blinged out. Pretty good design in that they fit perfectly on the phone the're meant for, the rows of fake diamonds are all uniform, etc.. Each one looks the same and is okay quality. But the materials are crap-- cheap plastic painted to look like metal covered in lackluster plastic "gems".

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