GOOD DESIGN/BAD DESIGN

Before I continue, Mr. Russ Bengston gave me another opportunity to bait purists with a top 50 Running Shoes list for Complex this week. It’s cut down from a list of 700 that I compiled over a couple of days, and is a curious mix of obscure tech, proper performance and poser shoes. That’s because I don’t run and just like the way shoes look. I’m sure the appointment of the Air Max 1 at number one will infuriate anyone who likes their sports footwear a little rustic, but it’s just one fool’s opinion. I’m disappointed in myself for forgetting the New Balance 997 — that was a dickhead move. Running footwear is a broad church — I almost felt I was larking around with something that’s borderline religion to many. Hopefully I won’t be at the receiving end of some kind of footwear version of a fatwa. You can see the list right here — get that click through forefinger ready. I think I’m officially all top-50’d out for the remainder of 2011.

Over the last few days I’ve seen extremes of design. There’s been remarkable showcases of the cutting-edge, but there’s also been a disturbing example of man’s inhumanity to pixels. In the quest to get that elusive nextness, I don’t think there’s two better examples of forward-thought showcased over the last couple of days than Errolson Hugh or Terius Nash. Like Conroy at Arc’teyx Veilance, Errolson is unashamedly futuristic with his vision of modular, protective functionality. Not to the point where he’ll have you bedecked in Ripley’s bitch-battling exo-skeleton, but in a quest to help the wearer interact with their clobber.

Errolson’s Stone Island Shadow Project presentation is tremendous, with the PARSEQ GRID (Proof Augment Resist Skin Equip) application channeling the spirit of Osti in a progressive antidote to the sea of handsewn-fetish photoshoots. Side entry pocket tees to prevent a BlackBerry from taking a death dive into the toilet bowl? Now that’s everyday performance.

The Dream is music’s equivalent of the Modular Down Vest. I was disappointed that Terius cheated on Christina Milian, feeling that the fat-necked Love King may have sailed too close to the sun like the Icarus of Blu-ray R&B, but he constantly delivers (go check out ‘Florida University’ from his last album for the most melodically long-winded “fuck you” in music history). Even when Terius calls his album ‘1977’, he’s incapable of taking a nostalgia trip. It’s all heartbreak, unexpected Pharrell MC skills, blog-complaints, codeine slurs, rock-outs, grunts and spacey synths around that amazing voice. Frank needs to fall back and The Weekend might have the fly packaging, but Terius owns his genre. His first album as Terius is a free download too, with some bronzed-out sleeve art that’s hood-lavish.

These gentlemen are making the threads and the sonics to listen to while donning those forward-thinking fabrics.

Just to bring you back to earth, Game’s “digital book” has a cover so poor that it defies belief. The image, the Comic Sans, the crude placement — this couldn’t look less like an officially sanctioned piece of work if it tried, with an aesthetic that defies digital. It looks like the hastily prepared pamphlet of a teacher trying to be down or an 11 year-old’s class project on gangster rap rather than the making of a solid LP that just knocked ‘Watch the Throne’ out its gold seat in the Billboard charts. Jay-Z had that Microsoft money and the elaborate dust jacket. This looks like it was knocked up on an Acorn Electron. Damn. If it wasn’t for Weezy’s half-arsed performance in jester trousers, this would have been clowned a little harder as the oddest misstep since Dr. Dre got his sci-fi Fonz on with a smedium leather in the ‘Kush’ video.

Non super-scientifical but still necessary, the khaki brown Albam sweatshirt looks tremendous. Albam’s work-in-progress to make the definitive crewneck sweat is a noble mission, and that gym key/stash pocket is another example of added function that works. I’ve noticed more and more good sweatshirts from Japanese (but I still find purchasing XLs a little soul-destroying) brands carrying unnecessary prints of seemingly non-existent sporting teams and fictional-sounding platoons that remind me of the finest moment in middle-class comedy courtesy of Armstrong & Miller: “I hate random things written on clothes — it’s just pointless.”

Everyone tweets about how hard done they are in the office. It’s not like they’re working all hours in a hospital ward of terminally ill kids. Most of the time the culprits are just writing shit presentations on shit brands. I like watching people when they enjoy their work, and this Boiler Room footage of Lunice at Notting Hill Carnival depicts someone having a fuckload of fun. I wish I could conjure up this kind of enthusiasm regularly. Just watching him is infectious.