Art, Design

and random acts of creativity.

cote-brasserie-cambridge

Cambridge left a lasting impression and influenced the way I work. To unsuspecting tourists, the English city is a profound dichotomy inasmuch it hardly seems like a technology hotspot. From the Medieval architecture and cobblestone streets that characterize downtown to the cows who roam freely around Kings College, Cambridge is unique. Drive five miles outside in any direction and you'll be surrounded by sarcastically provincial terrain complete with thatched houses, the smell of dairy farms and billowing hills peppered with soggy sheep.

These memories define the sweetest years of my life.

Côte Brasserie was the first place my husband and I ate after we arrived in Cambridge on August 22, 2011. The movers had packed up my house in Asheville, NC three days earlier after our wedding. We were newlyweds in one of the most beautiful places in the world on a cool summer evening, having a beautiful meal and holding hands. But my foremost memory of that night was of our waiter. (This is nothing like the scene from Eyes Wide Shut when Alice goes into lascivious detail to Bill about her fantasies of the hotel bellboy on their honeymoon.) The reason I remember the waiter is because my husband asked him if he had ever heard of QR codes. When he said he hadn't, my husband invited him to sit down with us and proceeded to show him a QR code I had just configured for a client. The waiter must have been 20 years old with poignant candor: "This will never take off." He laughed and we asked him what was so funny.

"Look, this is just completely useless. People might use them in America, for now, but this is a trend that will come and go. Nobody's even heard of them here." And then, calling over fresh-faced colleagues, "Have you ever heard of QR codes?" We got the point. 

My husband begged to differ but I listened carefully; in the world of marketing, we understand the merit of early adapters and focus groups, which was what our date had turned into. (Early adapters are young people who are the first to latch on to new trends. Our waiter had the latest iPhone, the trendiest haircut, the brand new trainers and confidence that oozed innovation. He said he was a student at Kings College, which was no surprise as he clearly appeared to be on his way to great things, along with the menagerie of fellow servers who had also never heard of QR codes.)

Seven years later, they were right: QR codes didn't take off. They were cumbersome, annoying. While they might have been able to take you to a website, they offered nothing in the way of engagement. Perhaps the most significant cause of the QR code’s demise was Siri’s debut in October of 2011, merely weeks after our dinner at Côte Brasserie.

The point is simplicity: It's all about end user experience. In the world of web development, that’s the most important thing.



Honey & Vinegar for Shiny Hair

  • Clary Pollack
  • Blog

Understand this: the beauty products industry is filled with lies. Take a peek at The Beauty Brains—a blog run by scientists—and you'll find some amazing links to studies and evidence debunking every line from "smooth cellulite" to "bring dead hair back to life" (which is especially untrue because hair was never alive in the first place. It's keratin).

That said, it's always fun to stumble across a trick that is backed by science. And I'm here to share my latest discovery, the honey and vinegar recipe for shinier hair.

DIY Honey and Vinegar Mask for Shinier Hair
My Results: DIY Honey and Vinegar Mask for Shinier Hair

First, it's important to understand what hair is and what it isn't. Human hair is usually comprised of three layers: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. Fine hair, on the other hand, often lacks the medulla. Coarse hair, such as the hair found in beards, can have a double medulla. And some medullae are continuous while others are striated.

My hair is fine and, thanks to my son's most awesome Christmas present (the AMScope-Kids Microscope Kit), I was able to confirm this by zooming in with 300x magnification. See the lovely medulla that runs down the center of my hair? Of course you don't. Because it isn't there. Because my hair is fine and lacks this layer altogether.

Fine Hair Under Microscope 300X Magnification No Medulla
A Strand of my Hair under a Microscope at 300X Magnification

Despite years of bleaching, heat styling, etc., you will notice how smooth and unscathed the cuticle appears. This is partially due to the honey vinegar trick: once hair is damaged, you really can't repair it. What you can do is make it appear healthier by smoothing the cuticle. Vinegar is acidic but gentle enough to remove buildup from even the finest, frizziest and most damaged cuticles. Honey is a humectant, making it ideal for forcing moisture back into the cuticle while smoothing it.

Ready to try it? Here's what you'll need:

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey (Make sure it's real honey and not honey-flavored syrup. And, while you're at it, choose honey from local sources made by beekeepers who are kind to their bees.)
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar (You can use apple cider or white vinegar.)
  • Non-Metal Bowl
  • Non-Metal Stirring Utensil (I use a plastic fork.)

Instructions:

Wash your hair and rinse. Turn off the shower water (because you're a good conservationist). Being careful not to get the honey vinegar mixture into your eyes, pour it over your hair and massage it in gently so that it coats your hair from roots to ends. Let it sit for 10 minutes while you shave, sing, whatever. Now work a little conditioner through your hair and rinse. Dry and style as you normally would and boom! Super shiny hair.

 

Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons—The Masters Collection
Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons—The Masters Collection
Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons
Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons

Millennials spend less money on clothing and accessories than previous generations. I won't belabor the statistics, and am too lazy to dig up sources, but it really is true. (Do you believe me?) Regardless of socioeconomic background, there's kind of a competition amongst many of us Gen-Y-ers to see who can spend the least money on our wardrobes. We young ladies pride ourselves on being women of substance and don't fall for the same marketing tactics previous generations did (unless you want to discuss wine) and it looks like Louis Vuitton took notice: The Masters Collection debut—a collaboration with artist Jeff Koons—is about as woman-of-substance as it gets in the world of luxury handbags.

For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the last twenty years, Jeff Koons is kind of a big deal. The artist is best known for quirky pop culture representations, namely, colossal balloon animal sculptures made of stainless steel with mirror finished surfaces.

I like this collection because of the marketing and not in spite of it. While it isn't really my thang to schlep my credit cards and car keys around in paintings by the old masters, it is a fun twist in the fashion world that begets a special kind of curious inspiration. And the marketing video's about as cool as it gets.