Category: Design - AM Musings
Kenji Hasegawa, a master Japanese craftsman, has just completed a new restaurant in San Francisco.  Click here to go to his website .

The Little Red Tea Cup
Seen at Rainbow Grocery store in San Francisco, there is a new brand of tea.  The striking package design conjures up a multiple of thoughts.  Even though economic growth and modernization in China has brought prosperity to many people, many have been left behind.   And many have been perplexed with the complexities of modern life and yearn for simpler times -- even hard times.

This socialist worker is holding up what would have been Mao's Little Red Book is now holding up a cup of tea -- all in the service of capitalism - only $7.99. 

Nothing expresses the personality and human touch like cursive writing.  As I was sorting though old papers of my Dad, I was struck by the simplicity and elegance of his handwriting.  Although he is no longer here, seeing his handwriting evokes his presence as much as a smiling photograph.

The practice of cursive writing is fading.  With electronic transfers, even checks are going by the wayside.    Is a person's written signature doomed as well?      
Hup Seng Cream Crackers
I was walking up and down the aisle at 99 Ranch Market the other day checking out all the "exotic" stuff.  I like the old time graphics from Asia. 
When simple things work well they make the day start better. This squeegee is completely covered with silicon covering the inside metal structure making it comfortable in the hand. The soft grip easily attaches to the tub spout. A thoughtful design making a daily chore made better.
Wasara Single Use Tableware
Paper plates can be convenient, but have an ugh quality that doesn't make the cut for any special occasion. The Japanese company Wasara has solved it with a line of single use biodegradable dishes shown above.  Pretty nice huh?
Kim Chee Seasonings
Hawaii has absorbed Asian culinary influences for well over one hundred years.  This seasoning packette produced in Hawaii helps the novice kim chee maker along the Kim Chee path.  I'm still a grasshopper myself, but I don't rely on pre-packaged mixes.  

I show this image more for the graphics as I remember this brand in the Farmers Market  grocery store from my childhood in Reedley, CA.  The yellow blue and red bands evoke a typical Korean aesthetic.  The NOH with the "Chinese" character at the top is instantly recognizable to my eyes.  I saw this at a Chinese grocery store on Clement Street in San Francisco.
Sig Zane Aloha Shirts
Aloha shirts are fun, particularly old silk collectibles that sell for hundreds of dollars.  After this golden age of aloha shirts, the look devolved into ticki-tacki tiki shirts - some good, but most not so good.  I've been looking for good contemporary aloha shirts and I've found Sig Zane, who sells nice ones on-line at with a store located in Hilo, Hawaii. 

I particularly like these two - both with simple bold graphic images with taro leaves or carp.  The taro leaf has a charcoal background and the carp has a black background.   I don't like all of their designs, but every so often I see one that is striking.  They also have women's and children's clothing in similar patterns.  The productions don't seem to last long, so if you see one you want, you'd better order it before you forget or else it will be gone.

Happy Thanksgiving All - We have a lot to be thankful for.

The gift of a little pale blue box usually promises something special - especially if it comes from this store.  Before the iconic Apple Stores, there were the Tiffany Stores that also boasted an simple elegant facade.  Apple stores draw from a minimalist modern tradition and the Tiffany stores draw from the  art deco era.  Long a symbol of elegant living, it encourages the thought that Audrey Hepburn may be stepping out at any moment.

This locked entrance grille clearly shows that the store is closed and it is protecting valuable stuff. Tiffany's had a small branch store on Grant Avenue in San Francisco for many years before establishing a grander presence with a new granite clad building on Union Square.  Now there are Tiffany stores in many "high-end" shopping areas.  This one is in Carmel.  

Two Versions of the Oxo Dustpan and Brush
I went to buy another Oxo dustpan and brush like the one at the left that I admire.  At the store, I found they didn't have the same model, but offered another larger version by the same manufacturer.  Compare the two.

The design of the left one is complete and integrated in every sense.  Ostensibly the right one should be equally good as they are very similar -- but they are not. The right one seems to have suffered  from middle age spread, the bloated dustpan shares little relationship with its brush.  The handle seems disjointed.  Gone is the matching hole in the handle of the dustpan and the brush that clearly announces the joining of the two.  The white extension of the brush handle on the right is visually isolated from the black handle and raises the question of where the handle ends.  This design asks questions rather than answers them.

Interesting how two ostensibly similar objects can be so different.