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The Borobudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Indonesia, and is one of the great wonders of the world. We chose this monument to shoot for our first Ad Campaign in 2014. This temple directly reflects the brands ethos and inspiration. As you look upon the breathtaking Javanese Buddhist architecture, one can see the connections between our design inspiration and this ancient architecture. Ancient temples such as this one are gifts to us and point the way to an integrated world culture.

 

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The monument is both a shrine to the Buddha and a place for pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument and ascends to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology. Everyone ascends through the world of desire, the world of forms and the world of formlessness. the Borobudur stupa is also a replica of the universe. It symbolizes the micro-cosmos, which is divided into three levels, in which man’s world of desire is influenced by negative impulses; the middle level, the world in which man has control of his negative impulses and uses his positive impulses; the highest level, in which the world of man is no longer bounded by physical and worldly ancient desire. To this day, temples such as this one are still used for meditation and for people to experience other realms of awareness.

Imagine living during this ancient time, away from the distractions of contemporary materialism, you’d experience a connectedness to the earth, energy, and the cosmos. I personally feel that these temples were created to send a message to us that illustrate an evolution of consciousness.

We strive to tell a story of a singularity of consciousness and have created this platform to help us deepen that connection.

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The pine cone (fractal form) symbol is one of the most mysterious emblems found in ancient art and architecture. It wasn’t just used by one culture but many around the world. It cant be denied that this symbol has meaningful significance.  It can be found in the ruins of the Indonesians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Christians to name a few. It has been said to symbolize the “pineal gland” or “Third Eye.”  This gland is said to lie at the geometric center of the brain. The French philosopher Descartes famously referred to the pineal gland as the Seat of the Soul. The Third Eye seems strange, even downright alien to us in the West, even today, despite our living in the “information age.”  It has been said to be the gateway to other dimensions of consciousness

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These ancient architects create fractal pineal gland like structures that can perhaps be pointing the way to further self discovery. The pineal gland is the axis point to higher dimensions of consciousness.

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When Dolly Singh first met Elon Musk, it was 2007, and SpaceX had already seen its share of rocket launch failures.

Singh had spent the past six years as a recruiter in southern California, matching those who could build rockets with the companies who wanted to enter the next frontier. Then there was Musk, who to the aerospace community was the software guy from Silicon Valley, and he wanted Singh to come work for him and give up her own independent business and clients.

She knew his résumé, but she also knew rockets were hard.

Musk drew her two lines, Singh said, reenacting it for Business Insider on a Starbucks table in San Francisco seven years later.

One line slanted up, showing the acceleration of Silicon Valley, “better, faster, cheaper.” The famous Moore’s law. The other line was flat. The U.S. rocket industry, Musk told Singh, pretty much hadn’t moved over the last 50 years.

Singh says Musk told her: “It’s not a leap of faith to say that you can take these technologies and pull this laggard industry into the 21st industry.”

Singh took the leap of faith, and spent the next five and a half years touring candidates through the SpaceX campus and watching Musk try to pull the rocket industry forward.

After years of walking around the hard factory floors, Singh realized there was a different industry that needed to be pulled forward, whose line had likewise remained stagnant.

For Musk, it may have been rockets. For Singh, it was the high heel.

“To me, when you’re surrounded by some of the smartest people on the planet, building some of the biggest and most badass machines on this world, the idea that my shoes are such crap became really obnoxiously unbearable,” Singh said.

Singh had been thinking about her high heel problem for about a year and a half before she approached some of her friends at SpaceX, former astronaut Garrett Reisman and rocket scientist Hans Koenigsmann.

Instead of asking for help with high heels, she approached them with an engineering problem: how would they redesign a chassis to support a human’s weight and range of motion?

Thesis CoutureDolly Singh, founder and CEO of Thesis Couture

They took a cue from Musk and broke the problem down to the fundamental laws of physics acting on high heels, or chassis depending on your approach. When it comes to high heels, there’s three: how the shoe distributes weight, what happens when it hits the ground and the friction between your foot and the shoe.

Those are the only design constraints, Singh said. The basic shape of the high heel and its materials — a metal plate, a metal shank and compressed cardboard — haven’t changed in many years.

“A skinny metal rod and cardboard is basically all you’re standing on when you’re wearing stilettos, so it doesn’t take a lot for scientists to see that it’s not a particularly sophisticated structure from an engineering standpoint,” Singh said.

If Singh had stopped there, however, she joked that her friends could’ve helped her design a great chassis, but not a great shoe. She adapted Musk’s approach to building a team, one that had become her own when she helped expand SpaceX.

“Elon isolated to say, ‘Find me the single best person on the freaking planet, then convince me why out of how many billion people on the planet that this is that guy,'” Singh said. “And he does that even if it’s the cook. When we built a yogurt booth inside of SpaceX, he said, ‘Go to Pinkberry and find me the employee of the month, and I want to hire the employee of the month.’”

Realizing that there was potential in remaking the high heel, Singh left SpaceX in June 2013 to join the Founder’s Institute, an incubator, to launch Thesis Couture. As soon as she left, though, Nate Mitchell of Oculus reached out and brought on Singh as Director of Talent where she stayed until the company was acquired by Facebook.

Thesis CoutureA model of the Thesis Couture high heel

While working double duty at Oculus, Singh recruited Amanda Parkes, who has degrees from MIT and Stanford, to be the company’s design director. Her role was to help transform the initial engineering work and vision into something that doesn’t look like an orthopedic shoe, but something a woman would want to wear.

Part of the process, Singh explained, has been finding a way to manufacture heels and prototype them cheaply. Most heels traditionally can’t be manufactured without a mold, but it’s hard to shell out the tens of thousands required to make one if you don’t have a prototype to try to make sure it’s correct.

This is where those lines Musk first drew came back in.

“When something hasn’t changed for more than 50 years, it doesn’t take more than a leap of faith to say I can take the technology and everything that has matured and go back and apply them,” Singh said. “High heels are a $40 billion a year plus industry.”

Singh brought on Matt Thomas, who had done work with Oakley’s military team and had worked at Oculus, to help with the architectural elements and turn the company’s designs into something that can be manufactured.

Thomas also has a background in plastics, which is what the team decided to make the heel out of instead of the old metal and cardboard.

Thesis CoutureA working design of the heel

Thanks to 3D printing and computer programs, the Thesis team has been able to prototype faster and without the high cost initial investment. The company is also going to experiment with manufacturing in both Brazil and Italy.

The mother of four kids has been making the rounds with investors, trying to raise $1 million in angel funding. So far, she’s raised $700,00 from investors including Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Tom Mueller, co-founder of SpaceX. Musk has not invested in the company, although he did review the slide deck, Singh said.

While they are still in the R&D phase, the company’s first 1,500 pairs will be available for pre-order in the fall. The first pairs will be sold for about $925. After that, the initial selection of Thesis Couture heels will range between $350-950 for different styles.

When it comes to the pre-orders though, Singh has a Musk-like goal: “I want to have it sell out in 60 seconds.”

 

Via Business Insider: “A former SpaceX exec is reinventing the high heel with the help of an astronaut and a rocket scientist”

Greubel Forsey

Imagine a wristwatch that costs $815,000. Imagine a wristwatch that costs $815,000 and contains no diamonds or precious jewels. Imagine a wristwatch that costs $815,000, contains no diamonds, but in some alternate universe of watch geekery may even be considered, yes, a bargain.

The watch is question is the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon, of which there are four models.

The Quadruple Tourbillon is not only the signature watch of Greubel Forsey, one of the world’s most exclusive watchmakers, based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, it is also one of the rarest current-production timepieces. The tiny company, founded in 2004, produces only five or six Quadruple Tourbillons a year.

Even so, how does a single watch command the price of about 100 Rolex Submariners, or maybe 10,000 Casio G-Shocks (not to mention a five-bedroom house in certain New Jersey suburbs).

I recently spoke to the company co-founder Stephen Forsey to find out why the watch costs so much. The answer begins with its engineering.

To translate, a tourbillon is a tiny rotating mechanical cage, available in only the finest mechanical timepieces, that helps the watch combat the effects of gravity and deliver better time.

Putting four (or, technically, two sets of two) into a single watch to smooth out even the tiniest fluctuations is unprecedented, Mr. Forsey said.

The result is a performance gain that may seem infinitesimal to an outsider (the watch’s accuracy is designed to vary by less than 2.5 seconds over the course of a day), but is a landmark achievement in the world of mechanical watches. Compare the Quadruple Tourbillon to many Swiss chronometers, which vary by a maximum of 10 seconds over the course of a day.

From a technical standpoint, the Quadruple Tourbillon is about “refusing to accept that everything had been achieved in terms of the mechanical watch,” Mr. Forsey said.

But the engineering is just part of the story.

The Quadruple Tourbillon comprises 534 components, which range in size from the 43.5-millimeter case to a microscopic screw with a thread that measures just 0.35 of a millimeter. And unlike many Swiss watches, even at the high end, many of the components are finished by hand to achieve subtle improvements in shape and texture.

This is the primary reason that each watch takes nearly one year’s worth of man-hours to produce, Mr. Forsey said.

“If you look at the piece one foot away, without any magnifying glass, then you would not be able to discern the level of hand finish versus a machine-made watch,” said Mr. Forsey, 48. “Even a specialist would have difficulty.”

“But as soon as you’re closer than that, then the whole thing changes,” he added. “You can imagine a fine oil painting, some of the best realism paintings there are. Initially you might think it’s a photograph, but as you get closer you will see the texture, the skill of the expert.”

Even a seemingly pedestrian part like the barrel bridge (a half-moon-shaped component that is visible through the Quadruple Tourbillon’s clear sapphire caseback) requires 15 hours of hand-beveling with a wooden wedge-shaped boxwood polishing stick a fraction of the diameter of a pencil, tipped with diamond paste, to give the surface the desired polish.

The value, in other words, goes well beyond the gold (several ounces) in the case or the black alligator strap with the hand-engraved gold clasp, Mr. Forsey said.

And this, in the end, may be the most compelling explanation for the extraordinary cost of the Quadruple Tourbillon: scarcity — not just of the watches themselves, but of the human capital required to make them.

Of the 100 or so people Mr. Forsey and his partner, Robert Greubel, employ to produce a total of about 100 watches a year in various models, 18 are not technically watchmakers at all, but specialists in hand-finishing.

“It’s taken us 11 years to build a team of 18 people,” Mr. Forsey said. “At the beginning, we had to start with people that we could find. There were just two or three in Switzerland who could do some of the parts.”

Another way of looking at it: To invest in a Quadruple Tourbillon is, at least for the watch aficionado with very deep pockets, a Medici-like act of patronage to support an art that is largely lost.

“If we wanted to double our production, we’d need another 18 people to do the hand-finishing, which is impossible,” Mr. Forsey said. “They do not exist.”

Via The New York Times: “Why Does This Watch Cost $815,000?”

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DIALOG Architects designed this beautiful Southlands Residence in Vancouver, Canada. The house is nestled into a corner of Vancouver’s historical Dunbar-Southlands neighborhood. A stream that flows year-round fills the basin below the house providing a wonderful landscape.

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What is luxury? A fur coat, a silk Hermes scarf, a vintage Chanel 2.55, or a Guerlain lipstick? Or is luxury time, or even knowledge? Ultimately, everyone has their own version of luxury, but the V&A’s new exhibitionexplores the history of the subject and questions the traditional norms of what is usually thought of as luxurious. By collecting a highly curated selection of objects—from furniture made of human hair, to a classic Hermes saddle—the exhibition investigates the future of luxury through culture, economics, art, fashion and design.

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Below, BAZAAR talks with one of the curators, Leanne Wierzba.

HB: How do you define luxury in terms of fashion?

LW: In terms of fashion, we’re really looking at the motivations of the designer and also thinking about the investment, time and application of skills that’s involved in the production or making of an object. So, it would be difficult to say that any one type of material could be considered universally luxurious. One of the fashion designers we included in the exhibition that we think epitomizes luxury is Carol Christian Poell. He’s Austrian by birth but based in Milan and does menswear, primarily. What’s interesting about Carol is that, unlike most designers who begin with the fabric, he begins with the thread. He spends a lot of time and puts in a lot of research in developing textiles himself. He’s developed a textile that is 15% glass beads—they reflect light in a particular way. Another interesting thing about his work is that he doesn’t use lining. You can actual see all the internal seams. All though there’s a very raw aesthetic, it’s completely precise because the lining typically hides a lot of mistakes or other fabric that hasn’t really been dealt with.

HB: Which fashion objects throughout time have represented luxury?

LW: One of the objects we have in the exhibition is a 17th Venetian lace chasuble, of course used in the church. Another fashion example that we have in the exhibition is Iris Van Herpen’s work. What we think is interesting about her is her compulsion to innovate and collaborate. Most of her work is done collaboratively, people from different fields—architecture, industrial design, or music, and she is bringing in knowledge and expertise and disciplines from other industries and applying them to fashion. We have a Savile Row suit in the exhibition, but it’s actually a military uniform. We thought that was incredible that the object is so heavily codified and it has so much cultural meaning—that’s luxury as well.

Snuffbox, Jean Guillaume George Krueger, Berlin 1775-1780

HB: Can luxury be inexpensive?

LW: One of the increasingly recognized luxuries in busy cities like London is time. Regularly, when we speak to people about luxury they say time is their biggest luxury. Time for yourself, time to spend with loved ones and family, and also time to develop knowledge and to become a connoisseur of luxury.

HB: Does sustainability play into luxury?

LW: One of the resources that will continue to grow will be human hair. In the exhibition, we have a project where they’ve created furniture and accessories using human hair, and resin. They’re quite beautiful, but once you look closely and realize its human hair, people are quite disturbed by that—which is interesting, because there’s a huge global hair trade at the moment. Having it re-contextualized as furniture is a really strong statement.

HB: What does the future of luxury fashion look like?

LW: It’s really tied up in supply chains and thinking of production. That’s really the focus of the exhibition. I think the supply chain will have to be more adapted to resolve ecological and ethical issues related to current fashion models. We agree that the future of fashion, especially pertaining to luxury is about small batch production and imbuing the kind of objects you’re creating with meaning and intention. Something that you would really want to invest in, value and hold on to. Luxury is something you’d want to repair rather than discard and replace.

What is Luxury is on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum from April 25th-September 27thand is in partnership with the Crafts Council and sponsored by Northacre.

The goal was, of course, to do an ollie. Then you knew you would have made it. As a wannabe skater in the 1990s, I could never manage this basic boarder move. Growing up in the not-at-all mean streets of Guildford, skating seemed like it could magic carpet me away from the weight of suburban apathy. Or at least make me feel cool. But I was impatient. Instead of honing my craft, I hung around the skateboarding shops, such as Route One, staring longingly at the skatewear. Those shops were so captivating for a teen looking for some trouble. I remember looking through the racks of sweatshirts and trainers looking for something, an identity I suppose. I must have picked up the same pair of purple Vans a hundred times, so many times, in fact, that I think the staff were convinced I was a shoplifter. In the corner there was a miniscule monitor on permanent loop, showing prolific skaters doing all manner of impossibly difficult manoeuvres. And the sound system blasted out Self Esteem by The Offspring.

The Palace store in Central London

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The Palace store in central London. Photograph: Palace

I was in awe of a world dressed by Dickies and Stussy. A world I could see but couldn’t really touch. Niall Kenny, a director and lifelong skater, unpicks the allure for me: “Skatewear is cool because it comes from a skill someone has,” he explains.

These days this cool has seen skater brands like Palace and Supreme pierce the mainstream as the fashion world co-opts its aesthetic. Marc Jacobs and Topmanhave attempted to put their own mark on skating culture while high-profile models like Cara Delevingne, Natalie Westling and Daria Werbowy also skate.

“Fashion has adopted the cultural values of the skating subculture,” says Maude Churchill, senior editor of streetwear and fashion website Highsnobiety. “Now it’s suddenly transferred into a mainstream way of dressing.” It’s a bone of contention amongst the self-sufficient skating community, as Kenny explains.

Palace's logoed hoodie
Palace’s logoed hoodie. Photograph: Palace

“Kenzo did a show in Paris with a model walking down the catwalk holding a skateboard the wrong way. They have no connection to skateboarding and are not doing anything for the industry. They just think it’s cool; that annoys me.” This “trickle down” economy is an important philosophy in the skating community. As Eirik Traavik, editor-in-chief of Dank magazine, explains: “Not only do skaters make the clothes but the skating brands also make the videos and the adverts, so it ultimately feeds back into the skating world itself.”

Although it is questionable whether the fashionistas taking note has been a good or bad thing, skatewear brands have also experienced a peak in mainstream interest. Palace, the DIY-spirited label started by skater Lev Tanju has just opened its flagship store in London. It follows in the wake of Supreme, the hip New York skating label, which opened its first London store a few roads down in Soho in 2011. The previously hard-to-get brand whose cool credentials were impeccable (collaborations with Larry Clark and Jeff Koons, worn by Kendrick Lamar) was suddenly easily available. “When they opened the store, everyone was wearing their clothes, not just skaters,” says Jamie Hopper, store manager of Slam City Skates in East London. “It’s really opened up and people who weren’t skateboarders started wearing the stuff.” Skatewear has now become streetware, worn by everyone including the HD (Hipster Dad) brigade, who can afford it. Adam Horovitz’s character, Fletcher, in While We’re Young is a case in point.

Model and skateboard fan Natalie Westling in September

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Model and skateboarder Natalie Westling in September. Photograph: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

Palace, for example, have seen a bump in interest after the likes of Drake andASAP Rocky sported their pieces. With their dreamy aesthetic (they work with VHS video and their designs have a hazy, nostalgic feel about them), Palace began as a grass- roots company, which is echoed in the vaguely affordable pieces – logoed T-shirts start at around £35. The story goes that founder Tanju was disillusioned with the way skate brands were going so he decided to start his own company. Named ironically after the dilapidated state of their living accommodation, Tanju and his crew began printing their own T-shirts.

“Lev just makes clothes he wants to wear,” explains Kenny, who directed a film about the brand in 2011. In it, Lev explains his own criteria: “I like people who wear whatever they want to wear and don’t give a fuck about anything.” He also echoes the food-chain ethos of the skating community. “All the money goes to the skateboarders to do what they do.”

Part of the reason their clothes became so popular was the fact that they were hard to find in the skating shops. “What’s so desirable is that they are elusive,” says Churchill. “You don’t know what’s going on, they don’t push themselves.”

Traavik doesn’t think the opening of their first shop will lose Palace any cool points. “They’ve got a good team and they’re not too serious about things,” he says. “I don’t think the store will have a negative impact on their credibility.”

The crowd outside the new Palace shop in Soho

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Crowds outside the new Palace store in Soho. Photograph: Priya Elan

On the day of the opening I pop down to see for myself. It’s located on Brewer Street, on the parallel road from the Supreme store and sort of opposite a sex shop. The location feels like its part of the old Soho and not the creep of gentrification that has plagued the area, which feels significant. The queue skirts round the block and the shop’s policy of letting no more than five customers in at any one time means that we’re left lined up for three hours after the 11am opening time. Everyone looks young: solvent teens from the home counties, as I was, dressed in a mixture of sportswear, bucket hats and Supreme gear who have travelled down especially for this.

“I was HYPED!,” says Jamie, 18, from Cambridge, who has somehow been in and out of the store three times already. He’s spent £300 on socks, keyrings, a couple of T-shirts and hats. I feel like he might do well on Supermarket Sweep. Like some of the others I talk to, Jamie’s not a skater. “There are two sides to Palace – the stuff that’s for the skaters and the stuff that’s for the other people,” says Alex,18, from Chelmsford. “That’s where their revenue is going to come from, the fashion side, so they’re going to have to keep going.” They both mention that the appeal of Palace is the simplicity and the “basic design” of the clothes.

Inside the Palace store in central London

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Inside the Palace store in central London. Photograph: Palace

When I finally get to enter the hallowed shop it is something that’s echoed on the shop floor: a minimal number of clothing racks, a monochrome marble floor and a feeling of scarcity. No wonder it felt as if everyone who entered the shop left with something. So do I. I’m surprised, though, after three hours of queueing, that I couldn’t feel less like buying into the Palace cult and yet my eye catches a couple of items: Palace socks and a long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with psych-country crooner Will Oldham’s snaggle-toothed image on it (one of his band monikers was, you guessed it, Palace). Incidentally, Supreme used an image of Neil Young. As I go into the changing room, I spy HRH on the wall. I kind of love these funny, self-knowing reference points. So I buy the T-shirt, feeling slightly as though I’ve fallen under a mass delusion. But maybe that’s OK. “Everything loses its exclusivity after a while,” Alex tells me “but for right now, Palace represents this culture.”

It strikes me that Tanju, his crew and what they’ve done is an actualisation of what I desperately wanted all those years ago. The appeal of Palace is that outlaw gang thing: doing what the hell they want to outside the mainstream, but being paid for it. For the teenage wannabe skater in all of us: who doesn’t want that?