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WMD what's on my desk | v.1 | Andy

Hopefully the first in a semi-regular series. A peek into the madness genius that goes into retail commercial design. Our first submission comes from designer, Andy Drake, we asked him, "what's on your desk?"

1. hand drawn sketches
My desk is ALWAYS covered with sketches, traces and other sorts of hand-graphics. It's just part of the design process for me, and will always be so. It's very typical for me to grab a piece of paper and just draw something, not knowing what will come out of it. Very often, the finished product will reflect my early drawings that I did during the very first step of my designs. In this case, fixtures for a flower stand, the corresponding plans and another fixture are taking up space on my desk.

2. watercolor sketchbook
My watercolor art follows me everywhere. I keep a sketchbook on me most of the time I'm out of the office for doing quick hand sketches and watercolor art. Its just a hobbie, but often I blend it with projects or use past drawings for inspiration during design.

3. tools of the trade
Just as a musician will get very particular about his instrument, I am very particular about my pens… they are an extension of my hand, afterall, and I am only as good as my tools will allow me to be. Watercolors: Windsor and Newton in travel case. Pens: Black micro uniball for notes and quick sketches, uniball waterproof pens when watercolor will be applied.
4. snacks
I can't lie, I nibble… Hey! I break a mental sweat!

5. tape measurer
When fixtures or spaces are being designed, you can never forget you're designing for the human body. I constantly measure things to see if heights, widths and distances are claustrophobic, hard to reach or move around in. Having this tactile experience of special sizing is key to good design.

6. books
I keep an assortment around the office. Most of the references I go back to fall into two categories. Books like Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw focus on how we humans think and interact. Psychological studies are very important in decifering how a customer is going to act in a space. Paco Underhill has done a lot of research in this narrow field. Other books focus on design, and are written by people both smarter and more eloquent than I… which may be why I idolize them. My design bible: A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander, et all.
7. material samples
Along with sketching, having materials to apply to projects gets the creative wheel cranking! Here nice tiles are cluttering up my desk. I really like natural and honest materials the best. If the project is more modern, I will adjust these materials to be more refined… I don't decide what the project wants to look like; the project will reveal itself to me during the design process..

8. reusable mug (and coffee)
I don’t think there’s anything to explain. Science defines living things as made up of cell(s). I define living based on, “Have I had my coffee yet?”

9. headphones and iPod
Sometimes I just need to tune out what's going on around me. The design area can get pretty hectic at times and being tuned out of that anxiety/stress is key. Plus it helps the creative pursuit. Don't believe me? Change the vibe of your kitchen next time you have taco night: Salsa music in the background, lime wafting in the air and no shoes on. Doesn't that make you dive into the experience? The same is true for design.

10. magazines
Constantly keeping up with trends, learning about new products and seeing what others are doing is important.  Most of my design precedents and early inspirational imagery comes from magazines and photo journals. Plus, I’m a fiend for great photos.

11. color books
Pantone is my friend.  Without color, the world would be oh so dismal! Color is something to be played with, and I love matching and creating palettes! 


KRS Root Root Roots for the Home Team

We recently held a baseball night for our crew, families, friends, and kids. It was a gorgeous Oregon evening for our local team the Emeralds to take on the truly evil Spokane Indians. Hotdogs and brewskies flowed like water. Peanuts and cracker jacks flowed like champagne. We ate, we smiled, we rooted for the home team.

No one will ever forget Rick the Rocket and Ira aka Fast Eddy's stellar (::side eye::) performance building a human burger (we are the team on the left).

Lightning Lance threw out the first pitch.
Here's some more of the fun.
Oregon gear in the house. Featuring Dan and Ryan left and center.
KRS, the next generation. Keeping in mind that we are designers. Yes, we have designed our offspring to be extra cute.
Least appetizing burger in the history of the world. Most awesome burger in the history of all time.

Needless to say, it was an all around good time. We loved seeing over 200 KRS employees and their friends and family come out for the event! Final score was Emeralds: 8, Indians:2.


Starry and Bold in Carlsbad

On a recent trip to Carlsbad, CA I visited the Hilton Resort and Spa for dinner and drinks. I was really impressed with the distinct energy and personality of this property and wanted to share some of the highlights.
Most notably, the backlit wall panel fixtures are striking. Wood panels are arranged with variously sized holes, randomly located, to give a starry effect.

The combination of modern design elements mixed with rich, comfortable textures makes the space at once welcoming and indulgent.

Another interesting aspect of this space is the choice of light fixtures throughout. Some are so bold they flirt with feeling almost out of place, but the furniture and décor pulls it all together in a way that feels intentional and polished.

images via 1, 2, 3 (iphone)


Andrew's Chicago Restaurant Picks for IRDC

This year the International Retail Design Conference heads to Chicago for its 2012 educational and networking event for retail design professionals. KRS' creative leaders look forward to attending the IRDC again this year fresh on the heels of winning VMSD retail renovation of the year in 2011 for our design of Robért Fresh Market, New Orleans.

Want to know where you MUST eat while in Chicago? KRS' EVP, Andrew Swedenborg, called Chicago home prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest, and shares his "Can't Miss" food spots for IRDC 2012 (all within a seven-iron of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel).

Top Choice... Mr. Beef (map)
This place is ideal for a classic Chicago beef. Also a classic instance of no frills function, not to mention beef, triumphing over form. Down and dirty and delicious. May we recommend the Breakfast Beef as the perfect pick-me-up meal after a late night out. Mmmm Mr. Beef.

Snacks and Vino... Bin 36 (map)
Lavish selection of wines, cheeses, meats, entrees, and desserts in a great space. The atmosphere is laid back and the menu extensive.

Fresh Produce and Prepared... Chicago French Market (map)
An in-door collection of over twenty local food stalls in the Euro fashion. The worst part about this eclectic space is choosing just one or two eateries to patronize, honestly. Favorites include Saigon Sisters Vietnamese food and Pastoral gourmet cheese and sandwiches.

For People Watching... Hub 51 (map)
Great food, great people, great club. Hub 51 was created by Jerrod and RJ Melman, sons of Lettuce Entertain You founder Rich Melman, and creating "ermagersh" gastronomic experiences is clearly in this family's blood. Hub 51 is at once a great restaurant, a great bar, and a see-and-be-seen spot all within a gorgeous space.

Coffee... Intelligencia (map)
 Best coffee in the city. Period. It's frickin' great.

Oprah's Old Stomping Ground... La Sardine (map)
Across the street from the old Oprah Winfrey show studios, La Sardine is a classic French bistro in the best possible sense. Rich sauces, fancy desserts, and spot on cuisine without pretention.

When in Rome Chicago... Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (map)
Order the butter crust.

Where Local Foodies Go... Naha (map)
Simple flavors executed to perfection. City folk frequent this modern American space for its crisp, polished ambiance, exciting cocktails, and most of all... amazing food.

For the Bubbly... Pops (map)
This longstanding Lincoln Park institution for champagne is reimagined here for River North and it's awesome. A posh vibe, live music, and an extensive drink selection make Pops a go-to place for late night gatherings in Chi-town.

Get Yo Lounge On... Redhead Piano Bar (map)
Old school piano bar where you can still smoke on the patio. Martinis flow while the piano man does his ivory-tickling thing. Yes, it feels a little worn but that's really just part of the charm.

Get Yo Noodle On... Slurping Turtle (map)
Beautiful modern space, heaping noodle bowls, and other Japanese fare à la Michelin-starred chef Takashi Yagihashi. Nuff said.

In Andrew's own words, "I could go on and on..." If you have any questions for KRS' resident Chicago tour guide, feel free to shoot us an email. Otherwise, we hope this list comes in handy for those of you traveling to the windy city and look forward to IRDC next week and hopefully seeing you there.

images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11