The End

montauk
Even though earlier posts got a fair amount of traction, I completely abandoned this genre after feeling personally dissed by Lena Dunham’s belittling of travel guides during an episode of Girls. Anyway, I’m over it. Here are my picks for a fab day or two in Montauk, NY all rolled up into a loose itinerary. (PS you might notice that these recommendations match very closely to other’s. That bc there are only like 10 establishments out there. Quality not quantity.)

Where to Stay

Preface: Most places generally sell out well before the start of the summer season and/or require a two-night min on weekends. Going right before Memorial Day or right after Labor Day is a good option. That said, if your looking to venture out during prime time, I recommend calling around as there are always cancellations, and you won’t get very far with most of the related 1997-style sites.

The Breakers is my go-to spot. Don’t get too sketched out by the pics. It’s clean, relatively inexpensive, and right across the street from the beach. They also have a pretty badass retro motel sign for photo ops.

Camping at Hither Hills could also be super fun, but it very crowded in Summer and booking is COMPETITIVE. No joke, you need to book that shit a year in advance. Makes sense since it’s only $35/night and right door are $500+/night hotel counterparts. If you’re up for an adventure, you can just show up here early on a Saturday morning (like 5 am early) and, again, ask about cancellations. There are about 2-3 last minute openings every week, but 8-10 cars waiting to jump on them.

Lunching It

Activities

More Eating!

More Dranks!

Glamping

anthro_bag

This Anthro sleeping bag had been making the blog rounds. So cute right?!? , Though the price tag might have you feeling expedition-ready, the product description’s lack of specificity casts doubt on any functional merit. That said, if the sub-sixty summer evenings have you freezing, at least you’ll be freezing in style.

This would make a perfect addition to last-summer’s must have’s:
http://nicelookin.com/2012/08/5-star-girls-guide-to-camping/

h/t:
http://www.designsponge.com/2013/06/sleeping-bags-weekly-wrap-up.html

Late-Season Picks

winterize

I dropped the ball on getting my “Winter Essentials” out in time but, according to the weather, it’s not too late! Snow! Second chances! Both = yay!

OK, so you’d probably survive the remaining 3.5 days of the season without these, but why not up your cold-weather cred before dreaded impossible-to-dress-appropriately-for limbo of Early Spring sets in?

Here’s what I’ve got to keep you the envy of before, during, and après ski (<~ get it??):

1. Monday after a weekend ski trip is a total buzzkill. As this post from Portland Monthly explains, “the atmosphere back here in town is not so pristine,” so bring some of those powder memories into your apt with a vintage-inspired print. Hit up HomeGoods or something (we’re going for effect over quality here) and remain engulfed in a delusional fantasy until the last of that gross brown slush has finally been tracked into someone else’s place.

2. Defect against the attack of the Hunter boot clones and stay dry in-style with Sorel Plaid Rain boots. Not feeling those exactly? There are a ton of similar options at Zappo’s. I opt for the shorties since, you know, how often is +10″ really a thing?

3. Do you know what this is? It’s this. Nestle-Abuelita is apparently a not-so-secret ingredient for making bomb Mexican hot chocolate. Stay-tuned for detailed instructions in a subsequent post.

4. Ahhh the original protagonist that made it acceptable to wear heavy, leather boots with shorts in 90 degree weather is back. You can finally dig those Doc Marten’s out of the basement, but why not try a new style before inevitably reverting back to your 7th grade wardrobe full on. You know once you’re down there, the chain wallet is coming out of the box too.

5. Alpine Replay App – Finally someone executed this well. It seems like not too many people are using it, but don’t let that stop you. They are missing out. Accurately track and map your runs including with stats including speed, distance, calories, jumps, air time, and vertical trop. Start it at the beginning of your day and you are set. It automatically accounts for lifts and maps them too! I haven’t tried the video feature with stats overlay but that looks pretty cool too.

6. Salon Effects – For nails like woah. These things are my fav. Styles appro for all occasions, surprisingly durable, and bold enough to detract from your helmet hair.

7. Best for last! GoPro Hero3 White edition is my new fav toy and with 6-month financing from Best Buy I totally suggest you get one. It’s super small, takes clear HD video and sick wide-angle stills. Just make sure you allow for some setup time so you don’t miss out on any footage opps. You need to have you micro-SD card ready to go and update the firmware before you can use it. It doesn’t take long, but it’s kind of a pain to realize in the car while turning into the lo-signal mountain parking lot.

UX Week

Hey peeps! I want to tell you a little about my summer wrap-up trip to SF.  I hit up Adaptive Path’s UX Week and had a fab time meeting new people, eating dope chinese food, and caffinating at Blue Bottle (West) EVERY DAY.

While the conference itself spanned a variety of topics, from the curriculum I chose,  I extrapolated two major themes.

1. Cross-Channel Consistency

Content does not necessarily have to be replicated across platforms, but does have to feel like it is a part of the same experience in terms of quality and feel.

In his talk, Rob Maigret (@grapesmc), highlighted a failure to completely uphold this cohesion.

Apparently Porche has this pretty sick program that allows buyers to completely customize a new car then, once it’s built, actually travel to Germany and test-drive it around the countryside. While nearly everything about this exclusive experience lived up to the excitement built by it’s dramatically-lit promotional video, everything from the Rodeo Drive ‘customization center’ complete with an endless supply of buttery leather options to the Wall-E-esque German factory tour, a few touchpoints broke the grandiose illusion and caused an unfortunate, though temporary, snap back to reality.

For one, the current website (Porsche European Delivery) is meh at best and certainly does not aid anyone’s self-justification for dropping tons of cash.

Like Rob’s Porsche experience, most interactions that span across platforms can be broken into a series of user emotional highs and lows. Some parts of the experience are likely easier or more enjoyable than others. As designers, our goal is to improve the problem areas thus narrowing the gap between positive and negative aspects creating an over all smoother, better system. Obviously, the problem areas need to be identified prior to making such improvements. Experience mapping is a good way visualize the lows and, fortunately, Adaptive Path’s Chris Risdon (@ChrisRisdon) and Patrick Quattlebaum ‏(@ptquattlebaum) lead a great UX week workshop on doing just that!

A few words on experience mapping from the workshop recap: (http://adaptivepath.com/ideas/ux-week-2012-recap-experience-mapping-workshop)

  • Experience maps visualize the intangible stories of the experience customers have with a product or service. When done well, they communicate what is really happening outside of the walls of an organization and incite action by the stakeholders who have the responsibility to exceed the expectations of their customers.
  • The core building blocks of an experience map are what the customer is thinking, feeling, and doing as she interacts with touchpoints across time and place.
And my team’s finished map (neatness doesn’t count considering the time constraints lol):

The hotel example we were given to think about during the workshop was great as most hotel experiences span several touchpoints and anyone can be interviewed for research gathering. How did the booking experience, getting there, checking in, room, staff, dining, etc. compare to each other and to the user’s expectations?

2. Think Small(er)

Basically, while no one wants to stifle radical innovation, don’t underestimate the impact a small gesture can have. Tom Coates (@tomcoates) spoke about the fact that while advance research being done in the realm of networked appliances, very little from the fruits of this research are seen in the consumer home. One reason for this is cost and another, perhaps less obvios reason, is demand. Complex products don’t led themselves well to widespread adoption. Many consumers actually don’t want the freedom of unlimited customization and would prefer a more “plug-and-play” solution that just does whatever it is supposed to do very well. Not every solution requires the invention of something never-before-seen. Instead look around and think about how something as inexpensive and readily available (at least in most parts of the world) as a network connection can improve the things we already use each day. Coates spoke about the slew of information that can be gathered from a connected coffee pot from performance stats to average usage and how that information can then be used to both deliver necessary alerts to the user and insights on product improvements to the manufacturer. Follow @houseofcoates to see what’s up with his networked home or start your own setup using Wemo.  This talk reminded me lot of what I learned at NYU’s ITP (@ITP_NYU) and, specifically, Tom Igoe’s work.

Similarly, Code For America Founder, Jennifer Pahlka (@pahlkadot) gave a powerful talk about the organization’s philosophy. ‘Interfaces to government can be simple beautiful and easy to use,’ and that doesn’t have to cost a lot or take a lot of time. While Code For America focues primarity on civic and govenment issues, the idea that simplicity, functionality, and accessibility are key should be applied when solving any problem. Learn how to build, code, design, write, hack. Become more DIY and just get it done.

I especially liked one very analog solution she highlighted. Bike lockers had been installed in Santa Cruz, but usage was very low. It was determined that the usage was so low because passers by did not recognize what these giant metal boxes were. Solution? Paint a bike on it.

 

Finally, I’d like to point out two other great speakers worth following up on. The first is Dr. Genevieve Bell (@feraldata). At UX Week, she spoke about the relationship between humans and machines past and present. A similar presentation she gave can be watched here: http://www.ixda.org/resources/interaction-12-keynote-dr-genevieve-bell-rage-against-machine.

Another speaker I’d like to point out, Stefan Sagmeister (@sagmeisterwalsh), is one of my favs. He spoke on the theme of design and happiness. Find out more about his film on the same topic here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thehappyfilm/the-happy-film

Hudson, NY

If you want to return home feeling absolutely repulsed by your current living conditions, this is the place to visit.

There are tons of antique shops, but I tend to stick to The Hudson Supermarket. It’s well-curated with a mix of old new and, unlike many of its counterparts, that ‘get me the hell out of this attic’ yard-sale stank is beautifully off sent by the visual and nasal appeal of Malin + Goetz.

I came to the realization here in Hudson that a few of my fav lighting and furniture pieces were all created for moooi (nice site and look book btw).

From the moooi lighting collection: (horsey lamp!)

 

 

… and their awesome stackables:

 

You could totally hop up to Hudson from NYC for a quick day of shopping (er… browsing?), but why not make a weekend of it? Fair warning, summer weekends, like every other 1/2 way cute town within a 3 hours radius of NYC are a total shitshow. My recco is to wait until winter. It will be a lot more pleasant… and the snow/fireplace ambience won’t hurt either.

 Where to stay:

Union Street Guest House

This has been my spot each time. The inn keeper, Mr. Wagoner, is super quirky in a good way. If you are traveling with a larger group of five or more, look into The Gallery Suite. It has a large living room, kitchen area, and three full bedrooms, plus, although I imagine this true of any room, the bathroom comes fully stocked with an Aveda product lineup so you can leave that Suave crap at home. Bonus!

A recent addition to the Guest House is the “U” Bar. A loft in the building adjacent tot he guest rooms, The U-Bar is basically a pimped-out chill space open to all guests. From the party lights, to the pay-what-you-wish stocked bar, to the intentional mix-and-match decor complete with DIY modifications (see WAG”o”NER sign above), this is the perfect place to cap off your evening… and not just because every place else is closed by 11. When asked how this space got its name, the response we received was something along the lines of, “Oh, I started having a lot of U’s lying around so it seemed like a good idea.” Indeed.

Photo credit: Alessandria Iannece