Up To Speed

Product design reacting to increasing use of bike share systems

Product design reacting to increasing use of bike share systems.

Bicycling in general, and bike sharing specifically, is taking off. Cities all across the country are experiencing gains in this mode of transportation. The Queen City is no different, and will add a bike share systems of its own later this year. But you really know a trend has been fermented into culture when fashion and product design starts to react. More from The Atlantic Cities:

The manufacturers of the Bixi — that ubiquitous bike-share technology in a dozen cities, including New York, D.C., and Chicago — are proud of the “attractive and practical luggage rack” they provide for the front of each bike. But it turns out that 17-pound front rack has pretty awkward proportions. It’s narrowness makes it tough to stuff your backpack in there. And the bungee cord that secures your items goes over the top, squashing tall bags.

Never fear. In the next few months, two companies (one inspired by New York’s Citi Bike, the other by Chicago’s Divvy system) are rolling out new bags specifically designed for this urban commuting challenge.

Business News

PB&J attributes firm’s ongoing growth to quality design

In 2008 Micah Paldino started a public relations and branding firm out of a coffee shop. Since that time he has grown his workforce, client base and office space in downtown Cincinnati, and has merged with another small startup company. Now as Peanut Butter Jelly Co. (PB&J) settles in to their new 2,700-square foot creative space on 7th Street they hope to continue that growth.

PB&J just completed the relocation of their firm from a 300-square-foot office space on the ground floor of the Ft. Washington Hotel on Main Street. Paldino first moved into that space on his own and eventually added more employees as the company’s client base quadrupled. The new 7th Street space (map), in the former Provident Camera building, gives PB&J’s five employees room to be creative and room to grow.

The focus of the two companies that have merged now includes design, installation, public relations, social media, marketing and advertising – an effort Micah says forms a truly multi-disciplinary design firm.

PB&J partners, Micah Paldino [LEFT] and Emmit Jones [RIGHT], have begun settling into their new creative headquarters space on 7th Street.

“I had always yearned for a business partner but could never see how it fit in my business or who it could be,” explained Paldino. “When I met Emmit Jones in November of 2010, through an employee who had interned for his company Syn/Tax Ltd., we immediately hit it off.”

What is more unique about PB&J than its name is perhaps the company’s focus on Cincinnati’s urban core. They represent companies like Yagoot, Landor, Adam Miller Homes, Sloane Boutique, and Such & Such, and encouraged Cincinnati-based Busken Bakery to dive into the MidPoint Music Festival with a new targeted marketing campaign.

“You just can’t match the energy of downtown,” Paldino exclaimed. “I love more than anything walking to get my 4th coffee at Coffee Emporium or Tazza Mia and seeing someone I know, and starting up a conversation. I love the interaction.”

As the company attempts to grow the burgeoning “lifestyle” market focus, they also take to the city streets. A tangible example is found near the intersection of 7th Street and Race Street downtown where PB&J has coordinated PR efforts for Landor as the company fills their street-level windows with active and engaging displays.

“Personally, I enjoy walking downtown and seeing more and more street-level businesses using their windows to appeal to consumers. I’ve seen Saks Fifth Avenue, Losantiville and Atomic Number 10 really take pride in presenting themselves in their street level bill boarding. This type of appeal is more than marketing; it is a gift to street culture, arts and our community.”

Over the next two years Paldino and Jones hope to grow PB&J’s staff by approximately 40 percent, further establish their presence in new regional markets such as Chicago and New York, and ideally open an office on the West Coast in addition to their Cincinnati headquarters.

“Our desire is to keep the boutique feel of our agency while continuing to work on large-scale campaigns, and of course, maintain good quality customer service to our clients,” Paldino detailed. “Good, thoughtful and inspired design shouldn’t be reserved just for the Fortune 500 companies with grand budgets. Every element, every product, every experience in your daily life should be carefully considered, inspired and have a good designer at the helm.”

Arts & Entertainment News

Cincinnati Fashion Week offers seven days of style

Cincinnati Fashion Week, a celebration of all things couture in the Queen City, is finally upon us. The event launched for the first time in 2010, and was a uniquely grass-roots movement. Over 200 people came together – volunteers, retailers, media, sponsors and partners – to produce a series of events that drew over 2,000 participants from all over the region.

The five-day fashion marathon included unique retail experiences at seven high-end boutiques, VIP Parties, a Tribute event with Landor Associates, a merchant fair with Future Blooms and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, and two full-length runway productions. The collaboration for the event experience was born as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the wealth of young and professional design talent in the area, highlight local non-profits, and increase local revenue.

This year the producers aim the bar higher, with one event each night of the week aiming to please fashionistas all over. The week sees male-oriented fashion on Tuesday, Japanese-inspired couture from an expert at the Art Museum on Wednesday, Graphic design inspired windows at the Shillito lofts on Thursday, a fund-raising dinner on Friday, and a fashion show finale Saturday night. Phew!

Ten designers, including local favorites Amy Kirchen, Laura Dawson, and Lindsey Lusignolo, are displaying their creations during the week. The styles range from women’s ready-to-wear to socially conscious fabrics, and everything in between.

The next wave of design talent is alive and well in Cincinnati, and Fashion Week helps bring the creativity front and center. Be sure to check out one or all of the events to get a taste of global design in the heart of the Queen City. For more information on designers and events, head over to the Fashion Week website.

Cincinnati Fashion Week 2010 photo for UrbanCincy by Thadd Fiala.

Business News

City of Cincinnati begins rollout of complete website overhaul

Less than two years after starting the rollout of its new logo, the City of Cincinnati is rolling out a brand new website geared towards interaction and engagement. City officials say that the intent is to make the website friendlier and easier to find information, while also increasing the site’s functionality.

“We know that people may be interested in engaging with the city, but may not be able to do it during regular business hours,” explained Assistant to the City Manager/Communications Meg Olberding. “We hope to get to a place where that can happen more and more through technology, with the website anchoring that.”

Olberding says that the city is also working to incorporate additional maps, interactive forms and self-service features that will allow users to find the answers to their questions. The goal dovetails with Cincinnati’s new online service request system – The new service system came in part due to recent budget cuts which impacted the number of staff at the city’s call center.

“While this is a difficult measure to take, the government is using this as an opportunity to move to other means of meeting customer service needs, namely through technology,” City Manager Milton Dohoney said in a prepared release.

Cincinnati tapped West End-based Topic Design to develop the new website design which incorporates much of the new design feel the new logo inspired in June 2009 when it was released.

The website redesign is still a work in progress as staff continues to build and update information. The new homepage launched on February 2 and, according to Olberding, the rest of the pages will be updated until fully compete by the end of the summer.

One of the striking new features of the city’s new approach to the web is its use of social media. Prominently displayed on the city’s main page is a Twitter stream of all the city departments using the social media tool. As a result, citizens can now find up-to-date information on snow removal, economic development, public safety and health.

“Sometimes it takes government a while to get there, but we are trying to use social media more to engage with citizens,” Olberding stated. “We hope to have mobile apps soon as well.”

Officials say that input on the new site design is greatly welcome and appreciated. To share your thoughts on how the city can improve the functionality or design of its website can do so by visiting the city’s comment section online.

Arts & Entertainment News

Organizers now accepting registrations for region’s first TED event

Registration is now available for Cincinnati’s first locally organized Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) event.  Organized by individuals from LPK and Procter & Gamble, TEDxCincy will offer tickets for this experience will cost $55 for individuals, $35 for students.

Along with featured speaker Dhani Jones, the day’s lineup is expected to include a contingent of the region’s leading thinkers, innovators, artists, philosophers and entertainers representing diverse professions and backgrounds.  Event organizers say that additional speaker announcements will be made soon that fit into the event’s theme of passion.

TEDxCincy is scheduled to run from 8:30am to 5:30pm on Thursday, October 7 at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati.  Stay up-to-date with the latest news on the region’s first TED event by following along on Twitter @TEDxCincy, or by becoming a fan on Facebook.  Tickets can be reserved now through the event’s website.