Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bathroom Door

[If you've come to view my portfolio, see the Design Portfolio and Resume/Bio tabs.]

Good evening!  I hope you are all staying safe and dry on this rainy, gross day.

Today's blog post branched off of my Cafe Interior post from Saturday (below).  As I was picking out my cafe colors, textures and furnishings, I began to imagine what sort of a brand I would want throughout my cafe/shop.  Would it be a cute polka-dotted strategy of whimsy? A modern streamlined approach? Ponder, ponder. 

[If you are unfamiliar with exactly what branding means, here's a definition:
Creating a unique name and image for a product/company in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.]

For some reason, my mental journey of "branding" for the cafe started with the signage on the restroom doors.  I began to sketch different graphics, but this sketch-session strayed further from the cafe to more of a "what would this bathroom door say about the establishment?"-session.  

Here are my concepts, their applications and what kind of an establishment I think they may be seen in. [Click each to view larger.]


Modern Twist :: laser cut from stainless steel; mounted onto dark-stained wooden door. 

Where :: a trendy, modern office/studio or restaurant.

Unique/Artsy :: bright-colored decal applied to a funky door that has a bold pattern.

Where :: a hip local clothing store or cafe/coffee shop; comic book shop or record store.

Metaphoric :: sand-blasted (deep) on frosted glass window set in a dark-stained wooden door in a mood-lit bathroom hallway

Where :: classy lounge bar/restaurant

Whimsical :: wooden door; laser-cut bright-colored acrylic bows; face circles are set in the wood - stained a different color than the rest of the door.

Where :: a cafe/coffee shop/hangout where customers have wide-rimmed glasses, and dress like Zooey Deschanel.

Minimal :: laser-cut from numerous materials - metal, wood, plastic, etc.

Where :: an easy placement in many trendy places.

Realistic :: decal printed to contrast door color

Where :: classy spa/wellness center or gym; where there is focus on the body

Also, I love this branding experiment, and felt it was relevant. Click, and enjoy! 

Thanks for reading!

Source: (definition of branding)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Cafe Interior

[If you've come to view my portfolio, see the Design Portfolio and Resume/Bio tabs.] 

One day last week, I started to draw the layout of what I hope will one day be an awesome store where I sell my own products, after having manufactured them in my shop out back, after having designed them in my window-walled studio upstairs via a spiral staircase.  A girl can dream, right?

I also plan for this place to have a cafe featuring my BFF's recipes.  For the sake of the blog, and not completely publishing our awesome idea, I decided to do a post concerning only the cafe and hang-out area of the establishment.  The following images are guidelines for the layout, color scheme and overall vibe of the unnamed cafe (to be honest, we've thought of a very cute name, but I'm keeping it under wraps).  

The more I designed, the more I exclaimed loudly in my best Liz Lemon expression, 
"I want to go to there."

Quick Floor Plan

I know that this is usually the job of an Interior Designer, but who doesn't like shopping and piecing together a color palette? I started picking out my furnishings for the cafe, the outdoor patio and the lounge.

Larger View of Floor Plan with Call-outs

Cafe View

There you have it!  Perhaps you've just had a glimpse into what will someday be my cafe + design shop.

By the way, a little explanation on my fixation of manufacturing and selling my own product in-house:  In the field of design, I feel like so much is disposable and wasted these days.  I am really striving to be a part of something that is treasured and lasts for a while, rather than ending up in a junk pile in the garage after a season.  In my dream-job-search, I've narrowed that passion down to two possible dream-positions.  One being to design and sell individually-crafted products, perhaps with a small local firm, or to work at a multidiscipilnary firm alongside Architects, Interior Designers and Graphic Designers to design custom, specialty spaces [this project began to explore that].

Thanks for reading! Check out my resume and work in the above tabs!

List of Furnishings by Space ::
Cafe and Patio ::
Magnus Stained Chair - Restoration Hardware [9 Indoor / 20 Outdoor]
Bertoia Bar Chair - Knoll Studio  [10]
Min Table (Sm) - Design Within Reach [3]
Petal Dining Table - Design Within Reach [5]
Copper Shade Pendant - Tom Dixon at [3]
Clear Globe Pendant - West Elm [6]
Scrapwood Wallpaper - Peit Hein Eeek [Sq. Footage of Floating Wall]
Corian Solid Surface "Designer White" - DuPont [Bar]
Corian Solid Surface "Ethereal Azure" - DePont [Cafe Register/Coffee Counters]
Outdoor patio to be stone laid in radial pattern with moss between cracks 

Lounge ::
10' Lancaster Sofa in Brompton Cocoa Leather - Restoration Hardware [1]
Professor's Chair in Brompton Cocoa Leather - Restoration Hardware [4]
Contemporary Block Coffee Table in White - Furniture Depot [1]
Immer White Wood and Steel End Table - Casual Home Furnishings [2]
96" Boulangerie Extension Dining Table - Restoration Hardware [1]
Copper Shade Pendant - Tom Dixon at [2]
Magnus Stained Chair - Restoration Hardware [10]
Bertoia Bar Chair - Knoll Studio  [9]
Corian Solid Surface "Designer White" - DuPont [Bar Along Window]

Entry / Throughout ::
Bocci Suspension Lamp - Houzz [Entry]
Tobacco Road Acacia Handscraped Wood Flooring - Lumber Liquidators 
Brick Arches painted in an Antique White similar to Magnus Chair Stain

**Again, a girl can dream, right? What's a budget? =p


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shark Navigator :: Product Review

 Happy New Year, everyone!  

[If you've come to view my portfolio, see the Design Portfolio and Resume/Bio tabs.]

I hope you all had a wonderful stress-free holiday! c:

It's been about 3 weeks since my last post.  Since then, I have applied to more jobs, interviewed a little and pestered a million people via email.  Since I'm just playing a big ole waiting game, I figured it was time to actually blog on my blog.  

Today's blog is a product review; actually, it's my first formal product review outside of schoolwork.  What am I reviewing?  Well!  Along with a clothes hamper, Halo 4, and too much candy, I received a Shark Navigator Vacuum Cleaner for Christmas.  If you know me personally, you know that I am a not-so-closet-clean-freak.  You're going to know if I think you're messy.  You're going to raise your eyebrows at me as I stack plates and wipe off the table after a restaurant meal.  You're going to laugh at me as I cringe at fingerprints and dirty dishes and laundry.  Needless to say, I was embarrassingly jazzed about getting a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.

Because I'm no expert on cyclone vacuums, this review will be more of a product dissection, meaning it consists mostly of pictures of product parts and blurbs about the vacuum's user-friendliness, rather than its performance.  I didn't pull out any instructions or pamphlets until after I had assembled and used the vacuum.

First things first, I knew that Shark was a popular brand, but I didn't realize that it was a top competitor with Dyson.  In fact, as it turns out, 3 of the top 5 vacuum cleaners of 2012 were Sharks.  Who knew? Not I!  To be honest, I didn't notice that it was a Shark, or anything about the vacuum cleaner for that matter, because I was too fixated on the fact that my trusty new vacuum was my favorite color, lavender. That's always a plus. 

Unfortunately, I decided to do this product review AFTER I assembled the vacuum, so I don't have any pre-assembly pictures, but you can rest assured that the assembly was easy as pie.  (By the way, I have this problem where I mix up idioms.  Just then, I had to get my roommate to correct me because I had typed "easy as a piece of cake." If that ever happens in my spiels, please don't laugh too hard, and please please keep reading. Moving on.) The Navigator arrived in 3 parts: the base, the body and the handle.  The body just perfectly sat onto the base and clicked together.  The handle slid into place at the top of the body and fastened with two bolts.  I didn't need any tools other than a penny to tighten the bolts.  If you're a normal person, I GUESS you could use a screwdriver. 

After assembly. Me and my new, surprisingly lightweight vacuum cleaner. 

The first thing that I noticed upon assembly was that I forgot to remove the sticker that reads "Never loses suction," so I began to peel it off.  Little rant - its top layer of plastic film peeled off, leaving sticky paper stuck to my new pretty vacuum.  I realize how important marketing is, but really, WHY did that sticker have to be there?  Unless on display in a store, the sticker will never be seen until after purchase (the box had no peek-a-boo windows).  If a customer has already purchased your product, why must you continue to pitch it to them once they've un-boxed it?  If it IS that necessary, spend a little more on a sticker that will actually peel off.  I'll tackle it with some goo-gone tomorrow; just annoyed at that.

I really enjoy the clear instructions posted all over the vacuum.  As someone who has always owned "bag vacuums," I have been somewhat intimidated by the cyclone products.  (Cyclone, by the way, refers to the cyclonic chamber used instead of the traditional disposable bags.  How very green!)  One very minor tidbit, which you might have noticed in the nuts-and-bolts pictures, is that the hose storage covers the instruction "Dust Cup Release," but that is definitely not a deal-breaker.  I thought that the placement of the power button was nice and recognizable.  The power buttons on vacuums that I've used in the past have been almost hiding down the side, blending in with everything else.

That Cord Hook on the bottom right, by the way, is a nice addition.  It holds the cord at an angle that makes it near impossible to run over as you wheel backwards, and it frees up your other hand.  As a creature of habit, however, I still held the cord with my left.

I also thought that the subtle footprint clue for how to lean the vacuum was cute.  c: 
By the way, the Navigator leans back almost 180 degrees. Seriously, it's like 176 degrees.

Hose management is easy on the Navigator.  The bottom hook for the hose is an Anti-Tipping hook so that, as you vacuum your curtains, stairs or something that requires pulling, the vacuum will roll toward you instead of falling over.  That's nice.  When not in use for curtains, the hose wraps up the left side from the anti-tip hook to the peak hook, then through the hoop on the right side to fasten and create an air-tight suction.

Speaking of cleaning curtains and troublesome things, the hose pivots very nicely from its entry-point.

Cord management is simple and self-explanatory.  The end of the cord has the ever-so-helpful hook.  There are rotating cord-wrap hooks on the back of the vacuum.  The hooks rotate down (making a terrible hey-don't-do-that clicky noise while rotating, I might add) to allow for easy, quick cord removal.

The Navigator can switch quickly from cleaning carpeted floors to bare tile/wood/cork/etc. floors with the flip of a switch.  If on carpeted floors, the brush roll is activated which works to separate tiny carpet fibers to suck up everything hiding between them.  On bare floors, only suction is used so as to avoid scattering dirt and particles while cleaning.  
For clarification throughout vacuuming, there is a Brush Roll Indicator light that glows neon green if it is in use.  There is also a convenient peek-a-boo window to the brush roll housing.  It's always cool to see how things work, and it doubles as roll-in-use affirmation.

The Cyclonic Chamber is housed inside the "Dust Cup Assembly."  The button to release the Dust Cup is opposite the power button on top of the body. I thought that its placement was kind of funny because any way that I pushed it felt awkward. Also, it required a little more than an index-finger-push.  I used my thumb, which actually felt more natural.  There's a chance they did that on purpose. Ooooh, ergonomics.

Upon removing the Dust Cup, it holds all dust and whatnot securely inside.  There is more button-pushing involved to release all that.  The connection from body to Dust Cup is simply the end of a plastic tube nested tightly against a rubber tube.  Putting the Dust Cup back into the body is really easy, and only requires a tiny bit of pushing down until you hear/feel a click into place.

The instructions posted behind the Dust Cup inform the user that they need to make sure their foam discs are cleaned every 3 months (assuming you use your vacuum regularly).  Upon reading that, I thought "Uhm. What foam discs?" then realized that the white base that I originally mistook for plastic was actually squishy and removable.  "Ah ha! THOSE foam discs!" she exclaimed.

To open the Dust Cup Assembly and clean its innards (ew), there are a series of buttons that are very ergonomic and easy to use without instruction.  Both the top and bottom of the Dust Cup Assembly release.  The bottom releases for removal and disposal of dust. 


The top houses the cyclonic chamber, which is released for its removal and cleaning.  (The instructions for which was pictured earlier.)

Note :: I noticed that there was a noise when I shook the Cyclonic Chamber.  I later found the culprit to be this...pebble? Maybe? I actually tried to get it out, but couldn't, so maybe it's important and supposed to be there.  Either way, my vacuum worked fine.

The Navigator comes with a few accessories.  I actually forgot about one of them when taking pictures, but here are two of the three.  The third is the pointed nozzle for hoses to get into corners and crevices.  On the right is the average cleaning attachment.  On the left is a specialty Pet Hair Power Brush that has a tiny little brush roller and a bottom of a felt-like material to attract hair, I guess.

I enjoy accessories, and the pet hair brush probably makes a lot of buyers choose this model over other brands, BUT there is no place to store it!  The standard nozzle and brushes have homes on the vacuum's back and side, but the awesome pet brush that you don't want to lose has no where to live.  An easy fix would have been just one more attachment hook.  It could've nicely sat on the front of the handle, I think.

The Navigator has a stylish, ergonomic, rubber-gripped handle.  Its wheels are small, but ample on its smaller-than-the-average-vacuum base.  I really like the size of the vacuum base.  I actually found that the average amount of distance that I put between my furniture was basically equivalent to the width of the base, so I hardly had to move any furniture while vacuuming.  Oh, product-research teams.  You're awesome.  c:

OK. SO. My thoughts overall. (Kudos if you're still reading, by the way.  This was a long entry!)  I REALLY like my new vacuum cleaner.  

Likes ::
- More sustainable than bag vacuums because the Dust Cup Assembly is reusable forever and ever.
- VERY easy assembly.
- Clear and concise instructions all over the product, with ergonomic buttons and button placement on most. 
- Perfect size and weight, and ease of use with extreme leaning and cord hook.
- Cord and hose management is very well-done, and anti-tipping hook is a big plus.
- Multiple floor settings! Easy to switch back and forth between the two settings.
- Peek-a-boo windows and clear Dust Cup Assembly for proof that the product is working, and it's just cool to see inside.
- Multiple accessories for various cleaning needs.
- Stylish product that works GREAT.  I vacuumed last night and my roommate said "The floors aren't even dirty?" and you should've SEEN the amount of dust that my Navigator brought up.  It was gross.  I am terribly sorry that I didn't take a picture.  =P
- Lavender!  Don't discredit that.  Favorite colors are always a wonderful thing.

Dislikes ::
- Noise in Cyclonic Chamber? (By the way, I didn't notice this noise at all during use.)
- Awkward button placement for Dust Cup Removal. (Just use thumb)
- Hose covers some instructional text. (Very minor)
- That daggum sticker. WHYYYY??  -___-
- No storage for the awesome Pet Hair Power Brush. Will be easy to misplace if you're not careful. 

The Shark Navigator
Would you Like It, Love It, or Leave It? 
You would LOVE IT!

Squidoo -
Shark Manual