Social media is a mirage. More often than not, what you see or experience is not reality. But every now and then, you come across authenticity, and you are reminded of the goodness of the Internet. Like yesterday, after following him for years, I met up with former Apple software engineer and designer extraordinaire, Ken Kocienda. Unsurprisingly, I found it easy to have a conversation with him — his tone and his way of discussing things he cares about are pretty much the same in real life as they are in his tweets. Though in real life, he is even more eloquently expansive.

We had a nice simple lunch, sitting outside Flour & Water Pasta Shop, and we talked about everything except what he did at Apple and what he does at the highly anticipated and exciting stealth mode company, Humane. We spent a significant amount of time discussing our love of watches and photography. Ken shared with me about this time studying photography at Yale and what he learned there. One of his professors — the name slips my mind now — told him that lived experiences are what really allow you to make photos from your heart and mind. A full life is a key to visual transcendence.

And then he asked me a question no one has ever asked before (and that I have never bothered to ask myself): what is my photography? Is it a moment? Is it a memory? Is it an artifact? Is it art? Stumped by the question, the best answer I could come up with was that my photography is an expression of what I am feeling at that moment. It was a tremendous example of the value of IRL interactions, which provide such powerful, unexpected opportunities for thought and reflection.

Another topic we touched on that I still find myself mulling over was the idea of living with the weight of a legacy. Success should help free one from the various chokeholds of life. Instead, ironically, it can force us into a trap of perfection, when often all we should be considering is hitting the big reset button. 

Our conversation, while meandering, often returned to our common passion for “stories” and how they define our interactions with products, places, and people. For instance, I told Ken about my early love for German watchmaker Nomos, and the Bradley Price watch startup, Autodromo. (Read my interview with Price.) He told me about Erika’s straps, his love of the 1970s watches, and his affinity for independent and obscure upstart brands. 

The lunch went by too fast. As a parting gift, Ken gave me a signed copy of his book, Creative Selection. I look forward to reading it and learning about his journey toward two products he worked on that touch billions of people everyday: the iPhone and the WebKit. But the real gift was the conversation, held over a small table with some good food. Highly recommended.

Ken wrote about our lunch on his blog as well.

July 8, 2021. San Francisco.

As you might (or might not know), I have a particular predilection for mechanical watches. I have always been fascinated by watch faces and the design philosophies behind those dials. And that is why I was pretty thrilled to read this deep dive into iconic watch faces that found their way into the Apple Watch. Arun Venkatesan, co-founder of Carrot, and a designer, breaks down the Apple Watch from a design perspective. He looked at various iconic watch faces, and the watch models inspired them.

“With the watch faces, Apple could have taken the easy way out by merely mimicking existing watch archetypes at a surface level,” he writes. “When designing each face, they took into account that history and the constraints and opportunities afforded by modern technology.”

This lengthy article might be the best way to spend half an hour. Please read it.  

I came across an article about a Rado watch designed by British-born and London-based designer Tej Chauhan. Rado watches are not to my taste. But his approach to design caught my eye.

It combines our visual language with an optimised functional experience; the way we use form, colour, and material to elicit joy in broad audiences. It’s specifically designed to engage people, and to invite interaction.

The PORT Magazine. 1

His comment made me wonder — isn’t (or shouldn’t) all design by emotive and do all the things he aspires in his work. Still, I couldn’t help but notice how his time at Nokia might have influenced his design philosophy. His work has that typical Finnish design appeal — unhurried, non-fussy, functional minimalism.

While you are checking out Tej’s work, I encourage you to listen to this album from a decade ago. Have a great weekend.

March 6, 2021, San Francisco

  1. PORT is a British Magazine, hence British spellings[]

The Decimal Clock

If we had ten hours in a day, instead of 24, and if each of these hours had 100 minutes instead of 60, and if every minute had 100 seconds, our clocks would look like this, and the time would be …

Why do we have to restrict ourselves to the 60 minutes and 60 seconds as a construct for time? I would love to see a watch design based on 10-100-100 logic.

Read article on Decimal Clock

Worth Reading: 7 Recommended Stories

What a week! Last presidential debate! Internet melted down, thanks to a devices-based bot-net. AT&T planning to buy Time Warner for about $85 billion. I mean, things are anything but boring these days. Except, to be honest, one needs to step away from the river of news, sit down and read some good stuff. And that is why I am here – to share some of the top stories I have read in recent days and are worth your time and attention.

If you need to find peace and quiet, I highly recommend the Bose QC35 headphones — which are amazing. I speak personally and I made my decision to buy them after reading this fantastic review. And if you need a place to sit down, find a great coffee shop. Who knows, your city might be in this list of best US cities for coffee addicts.

All set? Here we go with some recommendations: Continue reading “Worth Reading: 7 Recommended Stories”