Gung hay fat choy! February 5 kicks off the Year of the Pig, but you probably already know that. Even nations that don’t celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year pay homage to its significance by issuing their own commemorative Pig postage stamps. The Pig is the 12th and last animal symbol on the Chinese Zodiac calendar, which runs in 12-year cycles in approximation to the 11.85 year orbital period of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.
According to Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor organized a race and invited the animals in his kingdom to participate. Twelve showed up. The emperor told the contestants that he would name a year of the zodiac after each one, according to who came in first. The cunning Rat saw it didn’t have the stamina to swim across a rapid stream and convinced the kindly Ox to let him ride on his back. Once across, the Rat leapt off the Ox without even saying thanks, and scurried over the finish line. The easily distracted Pig got bored and stopped to eat and nap, coming in dead last. That’s why the Zodiac calendar begins with the Year of the Rat and ends with the Year of the Pig. The Pig is a symbol of wealth and good fortune as well as jovialness and honesty, but it is also known for being a bit of a slob. The Pig symbol applies to those born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019.
Gung hay fat choy! Especially if you are a Pig, this is your year. Read More »
If you think that when you’ve seen one Starbucks cafe, you’ve seen them all, you need to visit the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve Tasting Room in Shanghai. The Starbucks signature mermaid and green brand elements are underplayed to the point of not being noticeable. Elegant wood and gleaming copper finishes adorn the 30,000-square-foot establishment, staffed by 400 employees. The place feels like “Disneyland” for caffeine lovers.
The sights are awesome and entertaining! A towering copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops (stamps) hand-engraved to narrate the story of Starbucks and coffee. A ceiling made out of 10,000 handmade hexagonal wooden tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine. A Roastery featuring three wood-carved bars, one of which is 88 feet long, where customers can watch beans being roasted and baristas brewing coffee using six different methods and beans from 30 countries. If that isn’t enough, an integrated AR system, built with an Alibaba web app, lets customers immerse themselves in the space through their smartphones. There is also specially crafted nitrogen-infused teas at the tea bar, and an on-site bakery offering scrumptious artisanal baked goods by famed Italian baker, Rocco Princi acclaimed from Milan to London.
With a population of 24 million people just in the city of Shanghai, even a gigantic Starbucks store can’t serve all the locals. Shanghai already has 600 other Starbucks cafes in the city, and 3,000 locations in 136 Chinese cities, with one new Starbucks location opening in China every 15 hours.
Plastic may be cheap and convenient, but there is mounting evidence that it is killing the planet and all the inhabitants on it. According to Ecowatch, today there are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. Plastic constitutes about 90 percent of the trash floating on the ocean’s surface. One million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastics in the ocean. Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by humans too – 93 percent of Americans age 6 and older test positive for BPA, a harmful hormone-altering plastic chemical. Some retailers are not giving up in despair, but are addressing the disposable plastics problem one aisle at a time.
For centuries, wall posters have been a favorite means to publicize events, products, causes, political movements and the like. It is a sad commentary on the 21st century that we need to use this public vehicle to draw attention to an idea as basic as Tolerance. Unfortunately, we do.
“Tolerance” is the name and theme of a traveling poster show that is now circling the globe. Organized by Bosnian-born and now New York-based, Mirko Ilic, the Tolerance Traveling Poster Show features the contributions of renowned designers including Milton Glaser (USA), Chaz Maviyana-Davies (Zimbabwe), Yuko Shimizu (Japan), Manuel Estrada (Spain), Tarek Atrissi (Lebanon), Jianping Ha (China), and some two dozen others.
To keep the exhibition accessible to a broad audience, the posters are shown in public plazas, shopping malls, parks, and other open venues instead of in art galleries and art museums. Conceived to be electronically produced and hung anywhere in the world within a week, the Tolerance posters show is expected to run for two years. To date, it has been shown on nearly every continent, with illustrators and designers from exhibiting countries contributing their own Tolerance poster to the show.
Pantone, the authority on all things color, has announced that Ultra Violet – aka, Pantone 18-3838 — will be the Color of 2018. Pantone didn’t come up with this pronouncement arbitrarily, although it would seem that funereal black or pukey orange would be more fitting to the times. Pantone color gurus, however, are more philosophical and optimistic – and less snide. The Institute describes Ultra Violet as associated with “mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world.” Pantone vice president Laurie Pressman says, “Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design, it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in the world today.” Considered in that light, I would nominate “Pussy Hat Pink” or Fire Rescue Red” instead.