More Future Thinking

I want to see a line of healthy, organic peanut butter in sensual and sinful packaging. What if a health brand was disguised as a guilty pleasure?

I want to see an interactive digital in-store display that shows my face mapped over the head of a digital figure wearing Google Glass or Apple Watch. What if retail displays were interactive and personalized?

I want to see eye-tracking technology integrated with retail displays. Working on this now.

I want to see a service provide guided tours through national parks for the UHNW individuals.  If an oil tycoon wants to go climbing, he contacts an expert climber for one-on-one lessons. But whom does he call if he wants a guided tour to the top of Half Dome?

I want to see a service that helps retirees reach hard-to-reach places in the world’s most phenomenal landscapes.

I want to see a windmill-themed resort hotel.

I want to see a series of competitions that unlock the artistic creativity of retired baby boomer engineers (currently researching this!)

I want to see an affordable idli bar (light, healthy steamed Indian snacks, quick and cheap to make) with colorful dipping sauces. Follow the business model of Vanessa’s Dumpling House. Decorate the interior with chic, clean early-century industrial.

I want to see …

Okay, talk minus action equals shit. I’m turning this franchise around and bringing some concepts to life. As that happens, you’ll see my blog posts appear less frequently. I enjoy posting on my blog and appreciate all of you who have shown support. But now it’s time to work.

The best stuff won’t surface on here until it’s out in the real breathing world.

Future Thinking: Eye Tracking and Retail Design

Josh Eckert - retail design - globe

The most remarkable part of this environment can’t be shown with a still image. As you approach the back shelves, discreet cameras track your eyes’ movements. When you look at a shelf, sophisticated software detects the object of your gaze and lights glow around that shelf. When your eyes drift left, the computer tracking your pupils dims the light on the last object of your attention and illuminates the next. The computer reacts so quickly to your moving pupils that light seems to follow your eyes in real time.

This system can track the eyes of only two people at a time, and the viewer has to be within a certain range for the system to work.

Tobii is working on this. It’s called passive eye-tracking, and it should be ready in 12 months or less.

Puff Daddy’s Breakfast Nook

Josh Eckert Joshua Eckert New York

August 2013

It’s either that or a luxury store interior.

I took a risk. Next to futuristic curves and lights fit for Tron, I set the sort of cobblestone you’d see along the slim alleys of a Spanish Mission.  Look at all the mix and match you get away with when you keep the palette monochromatic. Baby blue!

Unifying the Darks: How an Art Director Makes an Image Pop

 Cornelius Dämmrich - Mercury


Today, I’m picking on a talented German artist who works in 3DS Max.

His rendering’s crisp CG details draw me in, but then send my eyes to flit back and forth across the image in want of a strong focal point to stick to. Poor tonal organization=no focal point=weak visual punch. I respect the self restraint the artist displays with a limited palette, but he needs to organize, unify, and simplify these tonal shapes.

In a highly-complex image such as this, only focal points should have such severe light/dark contrast.

Violating this rule yields a too-busy image. That in mind, I spent 15 minutes retouching the image in Photoshop. (I’ll confess it’s rude of me to do this to a stranger’s work, but wait until you see the difference.) Notice how now the tones look correctly and coherently grouped, thereby uncluttering the image.



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Dolce & Gabbana’s brand positioning from an American Perspective

You’re not a billionaire designer, so what cautionary lessons are you going to take from DG’s tax scandal? Leave that story for the shock-starved tabloid hounds. DG’s brand positioning is so much more instructive and compelling.

Dolce & Gabbana sold us a modern Mediterranean aesthetic that’s more ornate, colorful, and sexually charged than Armani’s. I can absolutely appreciate the talent driving the DG brand. My American perspective differs from the Italian one because I believe “Mediterranean” is not the reason for DG’s appeal. This side of the Atlantic, I think consumers buy DG to go after an aesthetic I’d call Urban-Exotic, and Mediterranean imagery is a lukewarm expression of this quality. DG could broadcast its urban-exoticism with more impact.

Urban-Exotic means sensuous, foreign (including but not limited to Mediterranean), modern, exclusive, finely tailored and a bit dangerous. It means skinny flowers and glossy white marble like you’d see at Abu Dhabi’s White Mosque, the sexiest mosque in the world. And Urban-Exotic casts competitors as generic by comparison, since Hugo Boss and Band of Outsiders won’t go to the ends of the earth to bring home uncommon designs to New York clientele.

Joshua Eckert
That’s the vine Nasturtium at the foot of the mannequin. While this scene triggers an audience’s emotional reactions to the exotic East, it maintains the Mediterranean’s bold, clean lines and flooding light.

Here’s a second concept, less modern than the first:
Dolce & Gabbana Retail Design Concept

On a side note, DG’s decision to print retro-Americana shirts with Tyson, Coca-Cola, and Robots was bizarre, and WAY off-brand. Viewing this from outside the company, I can’t figure how these shirts are sexy, creative, or exclusive. They aren’t all bad-looking, but they dilute and decay DG’s brand.  I suspect that there’s an on-brand way to drive the same short-term revenues.

Retail Design Concept for a Mens Watch Store: Buoys and Feather Reed Grass

Boutique Watch Store Design Concept

The chrome lanterns are at once beautiful and industrial because they look like links of a chain.

The chrome lanterns are at once beautiful and industrial because they look like links of a chain.

The concept hasn’t been done before, and it’s perfect for a watch boutique with light foot traffic. The design diverges from the sort of Peter Marino glitz that usually characterizes luxury watch stores. Buoys, feather reed grass, and chrome give the space a “luxury missile silo” feel.

A wise move might be to simulate the water with resin on plexi. Real water would be expensive and would cause frequent maintenance challenges.