Chaos Theory

// In the past 20 minutes I have started a load of laundry, gone to the corner store, researched a band I’m going to see tonight (Civil War Rust) and read an article from Fast Company (This is Generation Flux).  First, I completely disagree with the article's premise that our economy is in an unpredictable state of chaos.  I think it is actually very predictable, just not by traditional business metrics which are focused on looking to the past.  Second, I think I like this band.  I’ve seen them before and I look forward to seeing them again.

The point of this is not to try to show you how “smart”, “informed”, or “cultured” I am.  Instead, I hope to illustrate the lengths I will go to to avoid writing this, my first blog post as a member of Modern Industry.  Frankly, this level of procrastination goes back at least three months.  To better understand how this came about, I should probably tell you a little about where Modern Industry came from.

I am about to enter my last semester (hopefully) in the Industrial Design Masters Degree program at the Academy of Art University here in San Francisco.  This program culminates, as most Master’s programs do, with a thesis project.  At the Academy, this project takes an eternity (2 years) to complete.  My initial proposal centered around the development of a conceptual middle school environment for 2020.  The goal was to show my chops in a variety of areas in order to prove my value to hiring design agencies.

How does this relate to Modern Industry, a personal accessories brand for grown ups who don’t think they should have to sell out to become successful adults?  Well, based on my initial premise, I came to the conclusion that my original thesis would never be implemented.  What a shitty realization.

While incredibly disheartening, that realization was inevitably fortius.  I reframed my goals with two things in mind: developing a concept that I could fully realize (without alot of money) and to give back to the people and the culture that helped me become the person I am today.   With that in mind, I proposed to show “How design can help counterculture youth successfully negotiate the transition to adulthood.”

This convoluted thesis topic was aimed at selling the topic of a bunch of designers who a group of designers who do not understand the culture and are incredibly wary of any kind of lifestyle based project. It worked.

Armed and invigorated with new thesis project, I dove deeply into the culture I was designing for.  In doing so, I hoped to approach the subject with new eyes in order uncover fresh new insights.  I emerged with three key findings (among others).  First, people who grew up buying things from action sports brands are woefully underserved as adults.  Secondly, the bike messenger centric trend that birthed brands like chrome and timbuk2 was dying, or at the very least oversaturated.  Finally, there was a real business potential to this thesis topic.

What was I to do with this new found knowledge? Well, as a risk taking member of Generation Flux (see aforementioned Fast Company article), I decided to try to start a business.  Because, fuck it, why not.

Upon making that decision, I knew I needed to form a team.  This is not necessarily an easy task because I don’t get along with many people, I have very high expectations of the people I work with, and I needed people with a clear understanding of the culture I was designing for.

Despite these difficulties, I knew putting together team was necessary if I hoped to be successful in this venture. As an individual, I am woefully unequipped to handle some of the things I needed to do to be successful (i.e. write a blog post). Beyond that, I knew that working with people would make this project infinitely more fun. 

One of the first challenges we faced was understanding what would be necessary to spread the word about our project.  For this task, We are largely reliant on Taylor, our social butterfly and social media wunderkind.  We also realized that being successful would be as much about selling ourselves as it was about selling our products.  Enter my trepidation.  That was three months ago.

Historically, I avoid most forms of social media.  I’m loud and obnoxious around people that I know and situations that I find comfortable, but I’m incredibly insecure and shy around strangers... at least while sober.  This is true when I can see the people with whom  I’m interacting.  Sharing my thoughts with the uncontrollable world is a  terrifying prospect.  I’ve never admitted it before, but I’m actually pretty envious of friends who set up... and actually used... LiveJournal back in the day.  That shit is terrifying.

Now that I’ve taken the first step toward conquering my fear, my aim is to make this a regular “column.”  In it, I hope to explore a variety of topics that in some way inform the Modern Industry, which is as much an extension of my business partners and I as it is a product line or business.  These columns will inevitably ramble a bit, border on being preachy (and by border I mean dive head first into the pit that is my belief system), and be potentially divisive.

My intent  is not to offend, but is instead to be a portal for ideas.  I am of the firm belief that anything relegated to the depths of my mind is inherently worthless.  This belief is one of the founding principles of the way work here at Modern Industry.  Here I hope to allow these ideas to escape, mature, and evolve into something that will contribute to making Modern Industry better in every way.

This is so unnerving that I’m going to send it to Taylor to publish because otherwise it will not happen. I need a beer.

// Patrick

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