April 13, 2011

Slowing Down the High Speed

Don't get us wrong. We are definitely all for technology and the new digital era we have found ourselves living in. But as we are always checking the latest tweet on our Twitter, updating our Facebook status, and typing away on our smart phones, all of this multi-tasking and excess of information sometimes calls for a break. And although we will usually never say no to high-speed anything, we are recognizing a growing trend of people beginning to value a more simplified, slower lifestyle. And amidst of what can sometimes be a busybody-like society, we can't help but agree with some of their decisions.

For one, we all know how much time we spend our work days reading or responding to emails -- it can sometimes take all day! So to help increase productivity at work, self-described "lifestyle designer" Tim Ferriss advises setting up an automatic e-mail reply at work that says you'll only be checking your inbox twice a day, at noon and at 4 p.m. It may sound ironic that checking your email less will be beneficial, but as this advise is coming from someone with two best sellers and often asked to speak at places like Google, Facebook and Harvard School of Public Health, his unordinary tips aren't something to be overlooked. When on a four-week vacation, Ferriss set up an automatic email reply that states "Thank you for your email. Sadly, it will be deleted. To regain sanity, I am taking a break from e-mail until March. If still relevant, please email me again in the month of March." (Perhaps his advise to his fans isn't too outrageous.)

photo via: GQ Magazine (UK)

We are seeing a growing number of people in all industries appreciating a longer, slower method of work, whether it's their final product or their business model.  No less than two weeks ago, avant-garde London boutique, Selfridges set up a temporary pop-up shop featuring Anya Hindmarch's Bespoke. The Bespoke collection was established in 2009 and offers a selection of classic accessories that can be personalized with an exclusive design font, along with hand written messages or drawings. Customers take part in choosing the various finishes and colors, making each product truly unique and personal to the recipient. The Bespoke shop and Selfridges pop-up location both have craftsmen on site to emboss and finish orders. As customers work closely with the makers, each product is a true labour of love, emphasizing the value of time and craft to redefine modern luxury.

 photo via: Style.com

The art of lacemaking is also making a comeback as lace is one of the biggest trends of the season. As each thread must be drawn by hand and then carefully embroidered by hand, creating a lace pattern has almost become a lost art in the fashion world and only recently it is slowly seeing a revival. Until the 1920s, there used to be hundreds of types of lace all over Europe. But sadly, as we moved on to a much fast-paced fashion inudstry where cheaper, mass-market lace made in China is preferred, the high-end lace industry has reduced to a very small area in France in a town called Caudry. Today, the lacemakers are continuing their work as design houses like Dior, Chanel, Gaultier, Jason Wu, and Valentino recognize that the intense labor of these few French women results in an incomparable product that cannot be compared to the cheaper alternatives.

photo via: FT.com

Italy has also recognized the dying trade of tailoring as the average age of tailors are 55 years old. Following Kiton's Naples tailoring school, design houses like Brioni, Bottega Veneta, and Ermenegildo Zegna have all recently founded tailoring schools to train the younger generation and raise them up as the art of tailoring is vital to the future of their businesses.

Everyday consumers are also taking note of today's fast culture and slowing down by using things until they're all used up, or reclaiming vintage. Whether it's a car, phone, computer, or toothpaste, today's research show a slowing rate of product life cycles and consumption. Consumers are holding onto new cars for an average 63.9 months, up 14 percent since the end of 2008. Cellphones are upgraded on an average of every 18 months, up from every 16 months just a few years ago. And laptops are being used for an average of 4 years and 4 months, a month longer than they did a year ago. These studies show that we are shifting from a throwaway culture to a preserving culture, even similar to the times of the Great Depression. And as the economy remains unstable, people are looking to make their purchases last.

photo via: WSJ.com

Vintage clothing has always remained popular in women's fashion. We even highlighted several flea markets in our last Los Angeles related blog post. Vintage and reworked vintage shops thrive in cities all across the nation. However, men are also picking up on the trend as vintage men's watches are growing in popularity. Often an heirloom that was worn from one generation to the next, many men today are looking not for just any kind of luxury, but one with real heritage and a story. Carefully crafted and simple in design, older, historic watches are being picked up by fashionable gents all over the world.
photo via: NY Times

"Type-ins" is also a new trend amongst the mono-taskers, as these meetings are sprouting up in cities all over the nation and even across the globe. "Type-ins" is a gathering of manual typewriter enthusiasts coming together at a bar or bookstore to type out snail mail letters and competing to see who can do it the fastest. Using machines that are often many years older than themselves, people have rediscovered the excitement of this simple, straightforward, and functional machine. Unlike today's computers where you can check your email, shop for your next outfit, and coordinate office meetings simultaneously, the typewriter limits you to focus all of your energy into simply one task. Matt Cidoni, 16, of East Brunswick, N.J., is an owner of ten typewriters and a proud member of the "typosphere," a global community of typewriter geeks. His typewritten messages are publicly shared on his Web site, Adventures in Typewriterdom. Teenagers and working adults alike are all finding a new found hobby with the old machine. And although they may be typing away on their typewriters, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are throwing away their latest technological gizmos. It's all a matter of balance.

In the end, we are not saying that we should all go back to the days of our grandparents when everything was frugally used to the last drop or tear, nor are we suggesting that we all return our laptops and smart phones. But perhaps we need to remember to that it's necessary, and even beneficial, to sometimes pause, step back, and not be so afraid of taking things slow. After all, we all need a breath of fresh air sometimes, don't we?


  1. An interesting and important idea -- It is also crucial to make face to face connections. Technology facilitates connection and, of course, expands connections internationally... But... Most collaboration is ultimately a person to person relationship.

  2. Great article; thanks for posting this. I can easily see eco-consciousness integrating with this mindset.

  3. An interesting and important idea -- It is also crucial to make face to face connections. Technology facilitates connection and, of course, expands connections internationally... But... Most collaboration is ultimately a person to person relationship.

  4. Great article here! Thanks for posting. I agree, people are beginning to realize that being a throwaway culture is only a means to an end. Long live the typewriter!!
    Also, if anyone happens to be in LA May 22, please join us for LA's first Type In for the typewriter enthusiast. Event URL: http://latypein.eventbrite.com


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