The Graphics of Finland II: The "Green" Sled Design 芬蘭的圖像之二

I love fashion design but I am not a fashionista. I am not here to talk about the season's must-have "green" fashion product out of a brand strategy. We have seen so many sustainable products from bag to shoes to clothes and on and on, emerging from fashion companies jumping on a savvy marketing opportunity. Here, I am just pleased to share a simply wonderful green (sustainable) design with you.

On an icy afternoon in March, I passed Cafe Regatta where I often take my afternoon break. I was heartened when I saw this salvational type of sled dutifully standing by for passengers on the snow. From an aesthetic point of view, this sled is far from a true design sensibility, and is too much
of hippie-ness and naive. We all know that no matter how "green" this red sled design is – will not really help combat global warming or reduce our collective carbon footprint. But it was delightful to see that the manner of the builder was paying attention to a simple design with the existing materials from the surrounding. Things with contrast messages always attract me. Take this sled as an example: The red color reveals a green concept; the not-so-cool design warms your heart and makes you smile. After all, a good design doesn't have to come from a big concept.

According to the report from New York Times: some 2,670 new green products were introduced in 2006; the number has almost doubled since then. But the reality is that – most people say they want to do the right thing when making purchasing decisions but not ALL people actually do.
However, I think the idea of simply creating more greener products is a good starting point. And the more of us out there doing, the better.

The Graphics of Finland I: Cherries On The Ice 芬蘭的圖像之一

In Alain de Botton's book, The Architecture of Happiness, he mentioned about the French abbot St. Bernard of Clairvaux traveled all the way around Lake Geneva without noticing the beautiful lake was even there. I still can remember how astonished I was when I first read it – Alas, St. Bernard.

As a graphic designer, I truly feel sorry for St. Bernard's determined efforts to scorn visual experience. Nature is divine, and I believe we always can find something more in nature than in books or galleries. Perhaps sensing that Nature is the best creative resource, and that walking has made me discover some significance about myself – I take a walk, rain or shine. Even under the harsh winter climate of Finland, I am bundled-up and march on the snow.

There is no shortage of ideas from Nature in any seasons. One day, while I was walking along the Baltic Sea under the weather of -7°C, my eye got caught by some delicious "cherries" sitting on the top of ice (in fact, they are buoys). I stopped and suddenly realized that I was exploring the discovery of visual analogy: "cherries on the ice" versus "buoys on the water".

Ideas come from anytime and anywhere. I was intrigued by the graphic landscape I saw that day and decided to work on a series of photography project to portrait Finland.


Are You At Home or Somewhere Else? 你在家還是在外頭?

"How Are You?" vs. "Where Are You?"

Since I have been known as a nomad in my circle of friends, I have noticed that most of the messages from my cell phone usually begin with "Where are you?" instead of "How are you?". Frankly, I have no problem with my dear friends being so getting-to-the-point with me, but I found it amusing that modern cell phones have affected our social exchanges. Just like what
the American scientist Steven Pinker claims: "We make tools, and as we evolved, our tools make us".

Giving a choice between ideology and cool design , I usually surrender to the first. The substantial, stocky form of home phones (especially from the 60s) exude a sense of mystery, and offer an unexpected experience. But the light, ever-smaller design of cell phones allow people to be connected when they do not wish to be.

Regardless of how "being connected" has become essential to our idea of lifestyle comfort, we all know that the future is not necessarily better. To me, life would be very dull indeed without mysterious, and what would be left to strive for if everything were known?



The Memories of Kyoto 京都的回憶


In the hot Kyoto afternoon,
the old puppeteer with his puppet
and the audience
reflected so much of the history and charm
of this thousand-year-old city.


The Memories of Kyoto 京都的回憶


Nothing was moving
but the scent of kimono
and the shutter of my Canon.



The Memories of Kyoto 京都的回憶


The ancient temples and famous garden
may define the rarefied soul of the old capital,
but the dark façades of machiya
are the marrow of its bones.

Scented Memory





Scented Memory
I loved it when he picked a big red camellia for me from the garden, and when he played Taiwanese or Japanese folk songs from the old record player. I loved it when he took me out for a bicycle ride, and when he hand-made winding toys for me from mango seeds. I loved it when he bought me fresh resin buns to stop me crying after a doctor’s visit, and I loved to sit on his lap to listen to his conversation with his friends. When I was a little girl, I loved to ask for a horseback ride or to lie down next to him, to smell his smell, and to touch his waxed black hair.

But what I loved most was sitting by his side and watching with heartfelt admiration as he was writing Chinese calligraphy with a brush. On many a late afternoon, as he sat on the tatami and practiced calligraphy on a low desk, I would grind an ink stick on a grinding stone to prepare ink for him. Each time he filled one sheet of rice paper, I would move the sheet and place a new one in front of him right away. Together we made a good team, and being so close to him, even the peculiar smell of the ink made me happy.

Years later, on a balmy evening on the deck of a restaurant in Kyoto, I was having a drink and gazing at the full moon and the stars. The beautiful calligraphy on the label of the sake bottle caught my eye, and suddenly I smelled the longing. And that first stab of longing came with the scent of my father’s writing.

For the first eight years of my life, we shared many wonderful moments. I loved him dearly, and nothing brings back these moments like my scented memories of our happiness.