Design

Global Accessibility Awareness Day by Adrian Galli

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. It is something many of us take for granted but there are so many who don’t Those who can not see, walk, talk, hear, and some disabilities that are not as easy to identify, live everyday in a world slightly different.

Having worked at Apple for nearly sixteen years now, one thing that still stands out to me about what we do is in support of those who are occasionally forgotten. Apple’s products may sell to the masses with little difficulty but we are also keenly aware that our products are for everyone. Every iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, Apple TV, and all have a massively powerful set of accessibility features implemented into them.

While I was a trainer, some of my favorite people to work with were those with disabilities. They had incredibly stories, interesting perspectives, and were some of the most appreciative people—not only of the fact that they could come to Apple and receive training but the world of new opportunities a device like iPhone afforded them.

And from that, on today, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I share one of my favorite films Apple has released to date.

Join me and my team today at Apple Michigan Avenue for a special event exploring the world of sound as lead by Andy Slater. Music Walk: In Search of Audible Magic with Andy Slater.

Adrian’s Life Rule #74: Accessible design is good design.

MujuMaps by Adrian Galli

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Cartography has also fascinated me—not just from a details and information standpoint but also a design standpoint. Maps, by necessity, must be highly functional but with some good design, can also be beautiful.

MujuMaps takes the ancient art of cartography and merges it with modern, minimalist design. I’ve had my eye on them for some time and have a few cities I can’t wait to have hanging on my wall.

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Clean and simple and a few color options, prints start at 50 x 70 cm. Check out their site and get your favorite city printed.

MujuMaps

Price: $60

Images courtesy of MujuMaps

Fellow Stagg EKG by Adrian Galli

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Only last week I wrote my review musing over the Zero Japan Bee House tea pot I adore so. Despite having owned it for months, I was inspired to write its review because of what was coming to me.

While walking through a William Sonoma, I saw a kettle that really caught my eye. Sleek, black, modern, and minimalist design, it was one of those gut reactions that said, “you need that.” I already had an electric tea kettle. It was cheap, old, and really only did one thing: boiled water. Of course, it did exactly what it was designed to do—I am not faulting it but when making tea, not all are brewed equally.

Black tea, for example, is brewed directly with boiling water. Green and white tea, and some oolong, on the other hand, are brewed at much lower temperatures of 70° to 80° celsius (160-180° ferenhneit). Boiling water to 100°C then letting it cool is tricky without a thermometer.

Fellow is a company making some svelte coffee and tea appliances. The Stagg EKG is an electric kettle with a great design and a programmable base to set one’s temperature needs. Hence, I needed it.

Not only looking amazing, the technical aspects of being able to set one’s temperature is really important. If water is too hot, for coffee or tea, it will diminish the quality of flavor. While many might find that funny, a favorite tea of mine, Gyukuro Jade Dew Green, is very expensive, high quality, and to ruin such a tea is like cooking fillet mignon to well done. At fifty-three dollars a pound, one would be wise to take care of proper brewing.

Sitting nicely on the counter top, the black matte finished metal is quite striking. A pistol-grip handle that never gets hot is well balanced with the kettle itself, whether empty or full. The base for the kettle very nicely and, while plastic, matches the design and finished quite well. It is really the only negative item on my list. I would have loved for it, too, to be metal. The knob to the right both turns on the device and sets one’s temperature—one press to power on, turn to adjust temperature, and press again to power off. The monochrome display opposite the knob give a clear indication of the temperature and state of the device.

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Upon first using it, I boiled water for some black tea. I set the temperature to 100°C and walked away. For a few minutes I didn’t check on it but it soon dawned on me that I had no idea if it was boiling water or not. I returned to check in on the kettle to find it was only at 99°C. I did not time it but at least five minutes had gone by which was sufficient time to boil the .9L of water.

What was going on here? I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t getting me to the a full boil… or was it? It sounded like it was boiling so what the gauge inaccurate? Being a scientist, something dawned on me. Have I ever boiled water in Chicago at 100°C? That’s a funny question to a lot of people. Before I answer, I would like my readers to answer that question. If one is in Chicago, boiling water, will it ever reach 100°C to boil?

The answer is 'no.’ Chicago, to the surprise of many, is at approximately 182 meters above sea level and that is just enough to change the boiling point of water to about 99°C (probably more like 99.5). You likely didn’t expect a science lesson when reading this review but Hexagon isn’t just cool gear! And this is to the credit of the Stagg EKG—the temperature gauge actually seems to be quite good.

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With a beautiful silhouette, black matte finish, temperature controls, and a pretty spot on gauge, this electric kettle has found a home and will be much appreciated. Fellow had a sale so I was able to pick up this lovely device for $126. While it is normally $149, making it five times more than my old one, good things are worth the money and I foresee this Red Dot Design Award 2018 winner to never cause any regrets.

Price: $149

 

Bee House Teapot in Noble Black by Adrian Galli

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I’m not much of a coffee person. In fact, I think I can count how many cups of coffee I’ve ever drunk. But I am a tea person. I drink a lot of tea and have many types. At any given time, I usually have more than a dozen loose leaf teas: green, oolong, black, some flavored. As one might also expect, I also have an affinity toward a nice teapot.

Bee House is made by Zero Japan, a Japanese company, and it is one on fine teapot. Little do many people know, it is possible to be excited about a teapot. This really falls under my love of design. Bee House's minimalistic teapots are made out of high grade ceramic and come in many wonderful colors. Being the minimalist I am, I went with the 26oz noble black—a matte black finish that reminds me of carbon fiber than pottery.

Smooth to the touch, it not only looks fantastic, it feels great too. While functionally a teapot can do it job really well, part of good design, especially when it is something one will touch, the tactility of said object is very important. It not only adds comfort to an already ergonomic design but also one wants to use it—keep it clean, functional, and share it with others. And, tea, after all, is meant to be shared so should the experience of tea serving.

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The top is metal and clips on. Easy to remove, one can clean it and the pot itself separately. Inside, a metal, mesh basket allows steeping of loose leaf teas.

I have found that this particular ceramic holds heat very well. My old tea pot, also ceramic, would cool much more quickly. One tip, due tot he heat capacity of the pot itself, I tend to steep tea far less time. I use to keep tea in the old pot for hours and never had my tea get too strong. In my Bee House, black teas I rarely steep for more than three minutes, and green or oolong, for five minutes if the water is at the proper temperature. 

It has become a favorite kitchen item of mine. It is not only beautiful and functional but part of my daily life. There are thousands of teapots out there but ever since I saw these round globes at Argo Tea, I’ve loved them. And seeing the noble black in person, I loved them even more. One knows something is great when opening the box and softly saying, “wow.”

Price: $35