BMW Stumbles

2021 BMW M4: before and after design suggestions

BMW decided to change the face of their vehicles. They went from subtle double-kidney grilles to massive gaping mouths. In their attempt to go for a menacing look, they went too far and landed on a face that not even a mother (or father) would love.

Car and Driver magazine agrees: “Do whatever it takes to ignore the new BMW M4’s toothy grille…”

Sometimes designers go too far on purpose to push the envelope. Over time, what was outrageous becomes acceptable.

I have to eat my words on Kia’s design decisions (see this post). Two years ago, when their Telluride large SUV came out, I thought it was quite ugly. Now I’m used to the look.

I’m not sure if I will ever get used to BMW’s new face.

So I did a little work in Photoshop on James Lipman’s photo and made the grille more the size that God intended. (See above.)


Let’s push the envelope, but not too far.

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Environmentalism – two steps forward and four back

bamboo forest

I love to do what I can to help our planet.

Recently, I’ve been hit with ads for bamboo toilet paper and paper towels on Instagram.

Another set of ads features an environmental advance hitting the world of laundry soap. You can buy soap for washing clothes that comes in sheets. Buying those prevents manufacturing and disposing of those giant plastic containers the soap comes in and shipping 80% of the product’s water to your local emporium.

But there are two serious problems with these products:

  1. Cost: they are way more expensive than most alternatives.
  2. Shipping: it’s a big environmental cost to ship those things one-by-one (or even two-by-two) to your door.

We bought a “make your own shampoo” kit from a small company recently. It came in a nice cardboard package with no plastic. It consisted of a small bar of soap that we broke up, melted over the stove, added water and shook vigorously.

The shampoo is nice – very silky, and it makes our hair nice and clean.

But it was shipped to the US distributor from New Zealand!

So the two principles of bad cost and worse shipping definitely applied.

I know that early adopters must help fund cultural change. But count me out, in these cases. When they finally hit the supermarkets, I’ll be 100% on-board.

For now, at least, we are buying cardboard boxes of powder laundry soap – you know, the way it used to be sold.


Footnotes:

  1. I wrote these posts on bamboo toilet paper: one and two.
  2. That lovely photo of a bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan, is courtesy of Adam Dillon on Unsplash and is used by permission.
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Hidden details

Inside the cuff of a Lululemon shirt

My daughter loves Lululemon.

She worked at a Lululemon store for a few months over winter break and got the inside scoop on the Lululemon Life.

She has almost made more money buying used Lululemon apparel at the Goodwill and reselling on Poshmark than she made working at the Lululemon store. (Well, not really.)

During one of her Goodwill excursions, she discovered and very kindly bought me a long-sleeved Lululemon shirt at a fraction of the original price.

I like it.

After wearing the shirt about five times, I discovered words inside the cuffs!

“FIND YOUR FOCUS” was inside one sleeve and “LOOK INSIDE” graced the other. (And I just realized the double-entendre of “look inside.”)


What a great idea – giving customers a hidden feature to add a tiny bit of extra delight.

If you’re in business, think of ways to give hidden delight to your customers. You could convert a peripheral customer to a loyal fan. (Don’t worry – that’s not really going to happen for me with Lululemon.)


p.s. I thought it would be hilarious if Lululemon put “EXERCISE REALLY ISN’T THAT GREAT” inside one of its sleeves.

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Kia woke

the faces of Kia vehicles

Kia woke up and came back to the mainstream.


Kia’s design department went through a recent rough patch, during which they headed in a rather oblique direction with the look of the front of their vehicles.

The 2017 Kia Sportage typifies their ugly period. (Let’s just be honest.) You’ll see that in the left side of the photo montage above. Think of a carp’s face.

They finally decided to come back to the rest of the automotive universe. The right side of the photo montage is the 2021 Kia Sorrento.

The face is the most important part of any car design. We can relate to a car’s mouth (grille) and its eyes (headlights).

For the 2021 Sorrento, they decided to go in a more snarling mean-looking direction. It works. SUVs are supposed to be rugged.


The left photo is courtesy of Car & Driver. The right photo is courtesy of Kia. Both are not used with permission.

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Letters and privilege

A letter sitting on a desk

The pandemic has forced us to slow down. And that’s a good thing.

One of the slow-downs has sped up life for many… delivery services are overloaded. A good friend drives for Amazon. He has been regularly been putting in 60-hour workweeks. Knowing him makes me very thankful to all the delivery drivers out there.

An upside to overloaded delivery services is that we have to wait. Amazon Prime used to mean next-day delivery. Now it can mean two-week delivery.

Some of the things we “need” we really don’t need.


We have some friends in South Africa. They live near Cape Town, a beautiful place that would be fun to visit. That’s on my list of dream destinations… if only the airfare was less. (Sigh.)

I sent them a letter last summer and received it back a month later. A stamped message on the envelope informed me that South Africa no longer has any mail service.

Wow.

I take for granted the privilege that mail is.


Before the pandemic, one of my sons lived in Sicily, Italy. Two months was the normal time for my letters to reach his mailbox.

Living in America is a privilege.

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Keratin Something

"Keratin Something" - a fictional hair product

It was early. I was in the shower. My eyes weren’t quite focused yet.

“Keratin Something” is what I saw.

It was really “Keratin Smoothing,” but how much more fun would it be if the product was actually named “Keratin Something?!”

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Space

dining room table with saturday morning coffee and reading

You have to find space in your life.

Life has seasons. When our kids were seven, five and zero years old, we had little space in our lives to think, plan or relax.

Now that we’re semi-empty nesters,* there’s more space.

* Our college-age daughter is temporarily home on break and staying busy with work and friends. Our two sons are no longer living under the same roof.

No matter the season, I’ve always tried to carve out space to let my mind recover from the stresses of the week.

Saturday morning has been that time for many years. I wake up at the same time as on weekdays, so the house is quiet for about two hours before anyone appears.

I enjoy the newspaper. (Yes, we still have it delivered. There’s something about consuming information on paper that is more satisfying than looking at a screen, especially on the weekend.)

I love my coffee-press coffee.

I savor the quiet.


I would encourage you to carve out some space in your week. Let your mind breathe.

Maybe it’s just a five-minute walk around the block.

Enjoy.

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Japan

Sit-down small restaurant in Japan - courtesy of bantersnaps on Unsplash

I’ve always been fascinated by Japan.

Japanese culture is so different than American culture. Here are just a few examples that capture my imagination:

  • In Tokyo, living and shopping spaces bring efficiency to levels never achieved in the USA.
  • Artisan culture is expressed in fascinating ways, such as extreme pour over coffee methods that have migrated back to the USA. (See this article at Boutique Japan.)
  • One person’s trash is another person’s treasure… more than twenty years ago, my friends Eric and Sheryl, who lived in Japan for at least a year, told me of how their neighbors would put perfectly good stereo equipment on the curb to be picked up by the garbage collectors after they bought newer and better equipment.
  • Even though the salaryman concept is losing ground, Japan’s often unquestioning commitment to work lives on. (See this article at The Lily.)
  • When I was in college, I picked up a photo calendar featuring Japan’s beautiful and rugged mountains. I think Japan has more mountains per square kilometer than my beloved Colorado. (Check out Kamikochi.)
  • Japan loves bizarre little cars that will never find their way to the States, such as the Honda N-WGN and the Nissan Roox. I’d love to feature one in my driveway.

Even post-pandemic (if we ever get there), I may never get to visit. But it’s nice to dream.


Photo courtesy of bantersnaps on Unsplash. Used by permission via a Creative Commons license.

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The post I couldn’t write

blog post not written - screenshot

I started writing. I stopped.

It’s hard to be a voter in this election cycle.

Telling you why I voted one way or the other in a blog post is impossible. It’s so easy to be misunderstood or judged.

Our world has become so polarized that it’s hard to be fully heard. If a sound bite heading features what you don’t believe, you probably won’t read the whole article. And even if you read the whole article, you would probably read your own meaning over the words. I often do the same.

Face-to-face discussion is the only way to really understand what the other person means. (And yes, discuss at a safe distance.)

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Get those other perspectives

Wall Street Journal Columnists - photo of magazine spread

Every month or so, The Wall Street Journal publishes WSJ Magazine, which I thoroughly enjoy.

One of the best sections is “The Columnists,” where six different people share their thoughts on a single-word subject. The most recent feature focused on time.

A wonderful aspect of this feature is that WSJ always pulls people from several different disciplines. For “time,” Bill Nye represented science and an actress shared how time affected her life. A chef is almost always represented, an author talks, and at least one celebrity pontificates on their brushes with the topic.

In the same way, it’s helpful to get different perspectives on what we’re facing in life. One viewpoint will rarely provide all the answers we need. Even when we know we disagree with a particular approach to life or culture, it’s good to hear from that side to help us shape our views.

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