Monday, December 28, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

For the fourth year in a row, here is Kyality's Top 3 Favorites of the Year in the categories of Music, Movies, TV, Cars and Design. Feel free to check out some of the previous years' picks from '08, '07 and '06. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Top 3 Favorite Albums

3. Monsters of Folk: Self Titled Debut Album - The term "supergroup" is used pretty liberally these days. Cuz let's face it, Chickenfoot... not a supergroup. Monsters of Folk on the other hand is a group of some seriously super folk-rockers, namely Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes and M. Ward. This album is a stellar jam-session set by a bunch of guys who just wanna rock in the most folksy way possible. Standout track: Ahead of the Curve

2. Metric: Fantasies - If "favorite" is gauged by what I've listened to the most this last year, Metric's fourth album Fantasies definitely makes the list. I mean, between the number of times I listened to this album in the Clubman, rocked its tracks on my exercise mix or watched Emily Haines shake her booty in the Gimme Sympathy video—this is easily my most-listened-to album this year. Check out Upto12's live concert footage of the Metric crew here. Standout track: Help I'm Alive

1. The Dodos: Time To Die - Alrighty, gotta thank young Spencer Tweedy for this one. Due to a random vid he posted to his fantastic blog, I discovered my new favorite band. Between Meric Long's frantic guitar thumping and Logan Kroeber's relentless drum beating you got yourself a combo group with a serious wall of sound. Time To Die is everything you want in a follow-up album. It's got all the life and spunk of Visiter, but takes drive of that album and cranks it up a few notches. This one will not disappoint. Standout track: Fables

Top 3 Favorite Movies

3. Star Trek - You cannot deny the action, the humor and stunning visuals of JJ Abrams' re-imagined vision of Star Trek makes for one helluva fun flick. Honestly, it's got it all. Casting? Perfect. Cinematography? Beautiful. Story? Tighter than tight. Just pounded through all the behind-the-scenes footage and I was so stoked to discover more about JJ's filmmaking philosophy. Whenever possible, he relied on good, old-fashioned in-camera tricks and real-life locations to ground this sci-fi flick in as much realism as possible. In my opinion, it worked. Standout scene: Opening battle sequence / the birth of James Tiberius Kirk

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox - So I usually root for Pixar in the race for the Oscar for Best Animated Movie, but this year I'm breaking ranks. I was completely blown away by the unreal attention to detail, its perfectly timed sense of humor and most of all the pure emotion communicated through this gorgeous stop-motion animation. I'd never realized before just how much of George Clooney's personality was communicated via his voice, but it makes for an incredibly rich character. Standout scene: Ash's climactic, Whackbat-style dash

1. (500) Days of Summer - I have no idea why people always think my favorite movies are chick flicks. They are most definitely guy flicks and (500) Days of Summer is like the ultimate guy flick. Marc Webb's Sundance film-gone-mainstream features Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the perfect hopeless romantic. This one defines exactly what Kyality-style movie is: ultra-tight script, clever production design, a stellar soundtrack and a whole lotta Zooey. Easily my fave flick of the year. Standout scene: Tom Hansen catching a glimpse of a Han Solo reflection

Top 3 Favorite TV Shows

3. Mad Men - Okay. I know. Duh. Of course this one made the list. I mean seriously, advertising, mid-century modern furniture, no-brainer right? Well, it made the list for reasons you might not suspect cuz in all honesty I'm not a fan of these people. Sure they're flawed, but most of them aren't just flawed they're also just awful people. But what I love about the show is the straight up dialog. I love the craft of the words that come out of these characters and the way they deliver their lines. Zingers. That's what I've got a fever for and Mad Men is the cure. Standout episode: Three Sundays (Yeah, it originally aired in 2008, but no one watched it that year anyway.)

2. Modern Family - Alrighty, gotta thank Upto12 for turning me onto this one. Modern Family is built right on top of a foundation of doc-style sitcoms laid by the now-faltering Office franchise. They've taken this genre and brought it to new heights. With standout performances by Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet—Modern Family is so awesome that I recently discovered that even my mom's a fan. No Joke. The best part is Ty Burrell's character is like a clone of my own parenting techniques, so double awesome on that one. Standout episode: Run for Your Wife

1. LOST - Naysayers, time to zip it. Sure, LOST has felt a bit lost in previous seasons but no one can deny the total coolness that was LOST Season 5. Deep philosophical discussions on Back to the Future-style time travel, re-writing Empire Strikes Back and seeing Sawyer take charge all made for some smart and fun territory. You gotta hand it to JJ and Damon for keeping things together this season despite all the craziness of directing and producing a flick like Star Trek. Can't wait for the 6th and final season! Standout episode: Some Like It Hoth

Top 3 Favorite Cars

3. Porsche Panamera - It could be the perfect vehicle for any situation and its end is already in sight. It's got the handling of a Carrera, the five-door hauling power of a sport wagon, the all-wheel drive of an SUV and the acceleration of a supercar. Honestly, it's simply amazing and we already know that this car will no longer exist after this run. This six-figure machine with a brutally divisive appearance just came at the wrong time. Shabby-chic is in and flaunting your cashflow is out. But you have to admit it takes some serious cajones for a car company to make a car like this, letting function dictate form and for this reason... I love it. Standout feature: The junk in its trunk

2. BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept - Adrian van Hooydonk takes the BMW design reigns from Chris Bangle with bang. The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept is a riff on the M1 Homage Concept but with an eye for efficiency. This wild four-seater supercar concept is powered by a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo diesel hybrid spooling at 356 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It goes to all four wheels via two electric motors located on both the front and rear axles. The 0 - 60 sprint time is 4.8 seconds and peak velocity is electronically limited to 155 mph. The car's acceleration and top speed performance are stunning considering it gets 75 miles to the gallon. Standout feature: Front and rear access Lambo-style doors

1. MINI E - Leave it to MINI to get the next gen of true electric production vehicles from a major car manufacturer into the hands of its drivers. The MINI E is an all-electric Cooper that was tested this year in NY, NJ and CA amongst a group of very enthusiastic and richy rich lessees (the lease amount on this thing was comparable to some folks' mortgages). Nevertheless, someone had to pioneer the next EV program and I'm so stoked that MINI chose to be the ones to do it. This car is 100% MINI though it is missing its rear seats. But may not be a problem in the guise of the new two-seater MINI Coupe. Standout feature: Whoever would have thought a car could look so cool without tailpipes?

Top 3 Favorite Designs

3. Magic Mouse - As you digest the years and years of Apple's industrial design, they've always had an Achilles Heel: mouse design. Even the most diehard Apple fanatics have been known to rock a clunky Logitech mouse. That is until now. Leave it to Jony Ive to FINALLY elevate a mouse to near iPod-status on the gadget lust-o-meter. This sleek device eliminates the nice-thought scroll ball with an elegant, almost iPhone-like glass touch pad. What's brilliant is if you look at the design trajectory of when Apple is headed, in the not too distant future you can imagine this glass surface becoming a monitor of sorts that perhaps allows users to launch apps from it. Standout feature: Seamless Multi-Touch Surface

2. Globe Roll - I actually saw this one coming. Prior to this year, Globe was just Specialized's commuter bike brand. Now it's a movement and the Roll is their flagship product. What's cool about the Roll is that it's a massive exercise in minimalism. With a perfectly geometric frame, a pared-down component set and an ultra-clean aesthetic, you can't find a more minimalist, yet inspirational bike on the market. Everything about it whispers: just ride me. Standout feature: On the front of the frame there's a cool little bracket you can slide a picture into to personalize your whip.

1. Where The Wild Things Are - Spike Jonze's epic reinterpretation of Maurice Sendak's classic kids book was definitely worth seeing in theaters, but for me it wasn't the script or dialog that was the draw. It was the sheer beauty of the thing. From its amazing creature design, to its subtle incorporation of CG, to its gorgeous cinematography and production design, simply put WTWTA is awe-inspiring. It was without a doubt the best-designed work of art this year. I saw it twice in the theaters and prolly watched the HD trailer like 50 times on my Mac. Every shot was so carefully crafted to elicit your senses and emotions all at the same time and for that it takes the design prize. Standout feature: The amazing, nest-like architecture of the fort

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yet Another Kyality Christmas

Another amazing Kyality Christmas has just concluded with an array of sa-weet and even epic gifts. It all began with a few awesome Star Wars-themed gifts that made my son straight-up jealous. Mrs. Kyality first hooked me up with a set of Star Wars action figures based on the initial illustrations of Star Wars characters by legendary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Right on the heels of that was the same belt buckle based on Han Solo's blaster worn by Ewan McGegor on the cover of the June 2005 Esquire... so aws. Click here to enlarge the pic above. Santa also supplied a variety of flicks including: Up, (500) Days of Summer, It Might Get Loud and Star Trek.

The gift giving was rounded out with two amazing prints: first an original screenprint poster for The Life Aquatic, very cool. And the final piece was a print by the amazing Leah Giberson called Calumet Series (three). It's a limited edition giclee print and I got number 6 of 100. I was SO stoked. I discovered this artist's eye for amazing paintings of modest, modern abodes earlier this year and her work's been the wallpaper on my desktop and iPhone ever since. I LOVE the print and opening that gift was indeed... epic. Thanks Mrs. Kyality, well done indeed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rivercity Bling

I'm loving SWhittingam's Flickr Set of this custom whip dubbed Rivercity Bling. This is a sweet, modern take on classic lines. I really dig the aesthetics, components and innovations such as disc brakes, custom pedals and incorporated LED lighting. This is a refreshing reprieve from my current fixie fixation. Thanks again @bicycledesign.

Wow, a kickstand... how novel!

UPDATE: This is a handmade bike from: Naked Bicycles and Design

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Airstream Redux

I've been a fan of Airstreams for very long time, ever since I fell in love with Juliette Lewis' Airstream-caravaning character in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I've also had an on-again-off-again, love/hate relationship with Dwell magazine. But they recently did a story for the rest of us on a fantastic Airstream redux.

This restoration by Andreas Stavropoulos turns this classic 1959 Airstream into a modern, streamlined sanctuary. I love the simplicity and functional use of space throughout the interior. If Dwell will please continue to showcase cool, attainable dwellings, I may actually consider reinstating my subscription (rather than paying way more for the random individual issues that I do now).

Hopefully someone can just marry this concept with the MINI Cooper S Clubman Airstream Design Study, then I'd be good to go.

I'm also a fan of the giant, stuffed octopus... you'll discover why very soon!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can MINI be a Mindset?

So, it turns out the all-new MINI Beachcomber Concept has had a real polarizing impact on folks. Some people love it while others seem to hate it, claiming that it betrays the basic concept of the MINI. Along with Doogs and others, I'm feelin' the need to sound off on this one. (By the way, this has totally postponed an awesome Airstream post I've been workin' on.)

I guess people, such as the chumps over at Wired's
Autopia blog, seem to think that off-roading isn't part of the MINI brand. They are obviously not remembering the original Mini Moke jeep-like vehicle, so there. But for me it wouldn't matter if they already had an off-road heritage or not. MINI has been constantly knocking it out of the park since the new MINI launched in 2002. In fact nearly every month this year, MINI's global sales were up by double digits. Just like R.E.M. with Monster and Radiohead with Kid A, I believe MINI has earned the right to shake things up a bit.

The real question is: Can the MINI philosophy successfully exist in an off-road-style vehicle? Can MINI be a mindset? Applying these questions to the Beachcomber Concept, I think the answer is yes. The new MINI SUV that arrives next Fall, on which this concept is based, is in fact miniature in comparison to oh say the Chevy Tahoes of the world. It's honestly not much bigger than a Clubman, check out the comparison photo here.

Despite whether or not you dig the design of the Beachcomber, you can't deny that it is in fact designed... meaning it's obviously been thought through with an eye for detail. And given both MINI and BMW's track records for creating ultimate driving machines, you can basically guarantee the thing's gonna be a blast to drive. Think about when BMW release the original X5, naysayers complained about how it would diminish BMW's motorsport heritage... right up until they got behind the wheel.

We've now been given a reason to slide a second MINI into the garage. And let's face it, more MINIs = more awesome.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Tis the Season

With all the snow that's been dumping on the good ol' SLC, I can't help but think about the MINI Traveller Concept that debuted just prior to the release of the Clubman at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. That year, MINI showed up to the four major international auto shows with four different versions of the MINI Traveller Concept. Here you can spot the concepts for Geneva, Tokyo and Frankfurt. The version created specifically for North America, simply dubbed the MINI Concept Detroit, was decked out for winter with a custom MINI ski rack and boot box in the... uh, er... boot. And my favorite part, side-mounted counter space to whip up a mug of hot chocolate (the beverage, not the color).

The first time I saw pics of this online, I was pretty stoked. It totally reminded me of a life-sized version of a random little Lego set I got for Christmas as a kid with a little skier dood and his ride. I mean this car makes me wish I actually skied. It's also cool to see how may features made it into the Clubman that's based on this very concept, such as the boot box.

The Clubman has a similar covered storage area in the back. In fact it's where I hide all my Christmas presents for Mrs. Kyality. I know she'll never find them because: 1) she'll never look there and 2) she DEFINITELY does not read this blog. So they're safe and sound. For sure.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Noblest Invention of Mankind

Came across these amazing 19th century bicycle posters via @bicycledesign on, an awesome collection of vintage bikes and advertisements. These fine art ads are from 1900 and 1899 respectively. Click here to enlarge them for a better look.

There are also some sweet bike designs, some of which look like they could have easily come out of a current industrial design shop. This example is circa 1889... very inspiring!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

An '02 Movie For the Masses

I've been following William Beaumont's "Vehicle Blog" for a couple of years now. Will, as he's known by his friends (not that I'm one of them, I've just blog-stalked him enough to know), is a design/film student in Britain. And he posts quite a bit about his cherry red BMW '02... one that's very similar to my former ride. Well he JUST posted this little flick cut to a tune that I actually needed to Shazam: The Night (In) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Anyways this automotive home movie is radical and believe me—his Bimmer is WAY faster than mine ever was!

Funny side note, it seems that the moving shots were recorded from the open boot of a MINI. Nice. Not to mention, LOVE the fogs.