Saturday, October 17…1:44am
Sitting in the dark in my black Prior “Whistler Built” hood with my foot up hoping my big toe isn’t broken where I smashed it walking to the bus after work on those damn uneven paving stones after the throbbing woke me up. Still thinking about design…
‘By design’…there is nothing by chance, nothing random, nothing meaningless. The new Masters of Design edition of Fast Company was sitting on a very few selected shelves waiting for me. By design, I suspect, that magazine over the years has been surprisingly difficult to find. 7-11, no, local book shop (Armchair) no, Whistler in general, no. Of all the forward thinking, leading edge cutting, technology savvy, social media throbbing, sustainability seeking, should I say it? ‘progressive’…no, seemingly progressive communities and cultures to live in and I can’t find a copy of Fast Company. Whistler, the outside world is calling…are you there? Or are you screening your calls?
Where is it then? The never fully self proclaimed but equally understood and accepted (by anyone who has ever picked up an issue and wondered “why aren’t I reading this?) source of progressive thinking in the generation X Y revolution of small business is Fast Company, and more notably, the now annual Masters of Design issue – of which the current cover shot was spammed to me by the way by one of those dudes from the know?show (and if you don’t know what that is you are likely either over 40 – at highest risk a baby boomer – or living deep in the Midwest wondering what those boxes with #THTH are doing in Columbia, Missouri…and what the hell is this Tony Hawk?).
Insert – battery dying…had to stop for a moment and plug in my HTC Pro where I’ve been typing on my backlit slide out keypad on Windows Word Mobile…beat that i-Phone.
Rewind almost a decade…and I had never heard of it either. In fact, the magazine was created in 1990 something, I hope! Being born just months into the last era of life before computers and men on the moon it’s important to bridge the generation gap which sets me apart from my parents – aka the ones who created this mess, etc – and why it somehow made sense to drop out of university and pursue a career with the Gap (which when I left in 2000 something was still the highest paying job I have ever had…hopefully in the spirit of Don Fischer I pay myself more this year.) You know what Mencius said, ‘do not seek to follow in the footsteps of those who came before, seek what they sought.’ Enter The Gap and one of the 6 or 7 district or area managers in fewer years to come and go whose name I regrettably can’t recall (sorry) who gave me a copy of Fast Company and a year’s subscription for Christmas…or in those days ‘Holiday’ to be politically correct. Do they still call the day Jesus was born Holiday? or have they moved past that? Had it not been for that gift, I might have never known, likely like many of you reading this, what I was missing.
So years later…married, at that time with one little boy, a new home in Whistler (courtesy of the WHA) and a belt full of real inside experience as a buyer and manager for an independent turned corporate- likewise seemingly progressive – retail company from Norway…you do the math…I shift gears and decide to pursue a 2 year business plan in the making and open my own shop where on my first official business flight to meet with the Whistleresque – re. not so progressive – folks at Patagonia I pick up the 2007 Masters of Design issue of Fast Company at YVR and sit down for a beer before my flight (yes…independents can do that and expense it). By design, with the help of that magazine, in a few short months – September through November 2007 – I created, designed, built and opened my business.
In no uncertain terms, that magazine influenced all aspects of shape and design from my final business plan, to buying my Thinkpad (from Lenovo for those of you in IBM withdrawal); to drafting my floor plans and selecting sugar maple laminate flooring and IKEA small business fixtures. I would like to take all the credit, I admit, and go on about how every detail was the genius and genesis of my creative spirit but 2 years later looking back in earnest, I opened that spam message, saw Coke’s David Butler on the cover and remembered how a magazine, a couple Kokanees and few hours in airports and airplanes brought it all together.
…and if that is not enough to get you to pick up that magazine, if you can still find it, open the funky fold-out split cover page (annoying for OCD type A’s but cool) and check out the Porsche Panamera ad…a four door Carrera, WTF!
Masters of Design is right. …some day!
By design, Fast Company isn’t on every table, or every corner convenience store magazine rack…or any in Whistler shop that I can find (please correct me if I’m wrong). I found my latest copy at Chapters on Granville and West Broadway, arguably the ever evolving showcase street of west coast lifestyle design; Chapters mega store with Starbuck’s, Restoration Hardware with ridiculous US$ pricing?, the original home of now defunct Caban, another Starbuck’s, Ming Wo, and that funky deli grocery…you know the one, another Starbuck’s…I count 4?, all of these alongside a fringe list of must see independents.
Truth be told, I would have driven to the airport to pick it off the shelf there just because, just for the discovery, for the smell of the fresh news print of a dozen cities that reads success, for the buzz of a building full of people all going somewhere and for the pure tangible ‘I’m down’ satisfaction of knowing ‘I know’ that you just can’t get ordering a good book you can’t find like ‘Let My People Go Surfing’ from Amazon.com even if they do have the best price. (And if you want to know how ‘they know’ what books and music and DVD’s and clothes and furniture…you get the picture…to post on your Facebook page or what ‘random’ tweet to drop on @tonyhawk? Pick up the magazine and get ready to load up the firewalls.)
There is something there still, beneath it all, by design, about being true to the source that this ridiculous search taught me, or better yet reminded me I forgot. In this age of Facebook friends and counting followers on twitter, of outlet malls and discount websites that let us save those precious pennies for five dollar chai lattés, grande americanos, and trips to Maui between trips to Wal-Mart for diapers, there is still a place for Fast Company, for progress. Not the dirty ‘progress’ of Jet Rink, tar sands and AIG’s, but the progress of ‘being progressive’. Thankfully, I read into that, there is still a place for independents, for me and my business of giving a hand full of people a hands on eyes open experience of this place we call home, of Whistler. It may not be what you see on every corner, or down the strip in the big boxes and no I don’t sell it online for less, and that’s OK. It is mine and if you look hard enough you will find it and keep coming back.