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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".


On Wanderlust

Land of pizza and gelato!! I was lucky enough to travel to a few cities in Italy. My first stop was a short trip to the leaning tower of Pisa in Pisa Italy! It is a very cool building to check out but it is so packed with tourists that it’s hard to take a cliché photo of the tower. Also try and avoid the pizza from the carts here, its not very good and its pricey!

Next stop was down to Firenze!! A couple of my friends were studying in Florence for the semester and was able to show me the secret perks of the city. An incredible Panini shop that everyone needs to go to is called “Pinos.” Every sandwich is inexpensive and made with the freshest ingredients. Anything you try will not disappoint.

For some authentic incredible pizza, I recommend making your way to Gusta Pizza and get the classic margarita. You get a small pie to yourself and the sauce, bread, and cheese is amazing! After lunch you obviously need some gelato!! I went to probably ten different gelato places in Florence but my all time favorite with an incredible view of the Duomo was “mordilatte”. Try the Crème Catalina flavor its awesome!

For a fancy dinner I recommend making your way to Zazas. Sit outside and enjoy the freshly made bread and a nice tall glass of wine. Another great place to eat dinner is at “El Gato y El Volpe“ The portion sizes are huge and the pasta is so fresh! If you do the family option dining, you have unlimited wine as well! My friends and I probably went through 4 bottles by the time we made it to dessert!

Two tourist spots that you must visit is the Duomo cathedral and the bell tower. The Duomo is absolutely beautiful on the outside and the inside. The paintings and architecture is amazing. The walk up to the top is pretty crazy but it’s a fun experience! WEAR COMFORTBALE SHOES!! The bell towers hike is even more intense but the view at the top makes it all worth it. You have a 360 degrees view of Florence and its breathtaking.

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