Here’s a little piece of pro-bono work I did recently for CoffeeBar 10133 in Tallinn.

CoffeeBar 10133 has been the place that I’ve been going to for my after-lunch-coffee-and-a-cigarette breaks ever since I returned to Estonia. Liking their coffee and atmosphere, I talked to one of the co-owners, Kaspar, to see if I could be helpful. This is what came out of it – their customer cards:


CoffeeBar is located in Old Town Tallinn, and has a pretty distinct facade. That facade served as an inspiration for the design of their customer cards.


After a few discussions with Kaspar, we figured a technical-drawing-like front accommodating the stamps and the holder’s name, and a very minimal back with CoffeeBar’s logo and contact information would work best for their card. The deal was that if you got 14 coffees at the Bar, you got stamps for each of those, and then got your 15th coffee for free. The facade of the Bar accommodated the idea perfectly, given there are a total of 14 glass panes on it. Because the individual “windows” on the card ended up being pretty small, we decided that the stamp was going to be a single coffee bean from their logo – an elegant and clear solution to the “stamp problem”.


Nothing too special – I admit – but I was glad to help out a CoffeeBar with “Probably the best coffee in Old Town” Tallinn. If you ever find yourself in Tallinn, Estonia, I highly recommend paying them a visit. If you’re interested, you can also find out more about them here.


Dezeen published an article yesterday with Jony Ive saying that “Design Education is ‘tragic'”. Related to Ive speaking at the London Design Museum recently, the top part of the article is alright, but what I found much more informative was the lower portion, where they give some “edited highlights” from his speech, containing some invaluable general advice for designers. You can find the article here. Much recommended!


My new business cards. Based on a regular grid, with only an absolute minimum of information on them, they allow for a lot of flexibility and creativity, acting as a crossbreed of a business card and a sketch pad. I can draw designs as I go, and only include information I want, tailoring each card to the person I exchange it with. A touch of uniqueness, with trade-off being time.


You know, to a large degree, I think design magazines are a form of masturbation.

When I was in school, honestly, I hardly ever went to the library to look at magazines, except when looking for something very specific. I had a lot of ideas of my own, and a hard time realizing them all, so no time to look at whatever whoever else was doing.

Nowadays, though, that I am in “practice”, I catch myself enjoying those magazines more. And you know why? I miss design. I miss it when I could just create whatever for as long as I wanted (or needed to). There was never a shortage of work at OMA, or in school.

But right now, I have to admit: the “practice” – at least the way it works for me currently – is boring. Not because the office I am at is bad – I think it’s one of the best ones on this side of the world – but purely because there isn’t much to do right now.. And so I take my time browsing through design magazines, missing the good olde days, and looking at whatever whoever else is doing..

A sure sign something needs to be changed.


NEWS: my academic work of the last two years has finally come to its end, concluding in a Master’s Thesis book called “Exposing the Data Center”. Done and done!

Abstract of the thesis is as follows:

“Given the rapid growth in the importance of the Internet, data centers – the buildings that store information on the web – are quickly becoming the most critical infrastructural objects in the world. However, so far they have received very little, if any, architectural attention. This thesis proclaims data centers to be the “churches” of the digital society and proposes a new type of a publicly accessible data center.

The thesis starts with a brief overview of the history of data centers and the Internet in general, leading to a manifesto for making data centers into public facilities with an architecture of their own. After, the paper proposes a roadmap for the possible future development of the building type with suggestions for placing future data centers in urban environments, incorporating public programs as a part of the building program, and optimizing the inside workings of a typical data center. The final part of the work, concentrates on a design for an exemplary new data center, buildable with currently available technologies.

This thesis aims to:
1) change the public perception of the internet as a non-physical thing, and data centers as purely functional infrastructural objects without any deeper cultural significance and
2) propose a new architectural language for the type.”

If this sounds interesting, make sure to get in touch and request a copy of the publication. I believe you can also find it in the Virginia Tech library. Please don’t hesitate to shoot me an e-mail if you want to help me take this work further in the form of lectures, talks, advance research or actual construction.




P.S. A few snippets from the final “book”:


What is the "cloud"?

What is the “cloud”?


What we thought was ephemeral, is actually very physical: the rise of silicon materiality

The cloud – that we thought was ephemeral – is actually very physical. It signifies the rise of a “silicon materiality”.


Data centers, spread out across the city, form a rhizome. They contribute to their surroundings via their unique spatial features, and become public spaces.


They could be anything.


A case study of a new-age super-dense data center on Broadway.


As seen from Lafayette St…


…and from Broadway.


In section.


In plan.


Exposing the structure within.

It’s been bugging me for quite a bit and the more I get into it, the more interesting it becomes.

My thesis is: What is universally called “Good Design”, exists not for people; it exists for its own sake. (I know it’s an obvious statement for all of us people going to art and design schools. But should it be? – this is the question)

The more I look at design – be it architecture, graphics, web, or whatever – the more I see that design does not care about a person whom it is targeting as a “user”. Design cares about itself. Of cause, Design doesn’t just happen – it is created by someone. Design is someone’s own expression, which has nothing to do with who will become the object of that expression, that is, people. Design is an incarnation of an idea of its creator. Nothing else. And that idea, in the design world, is extremely rarely “a Human”. Human is not a part of design. It is a “program”, a number, a “flow”, a “particle”, an “agent” – anything, but Human.

I am not here to say that such design is bad. After all, Good Design IS pleasing to the eye. What I am trying to say is that Design does not want People. Design lives by itself and for itself. Design is design. We simply happen to use it. Is this the way it should be?

One of those truly great commercials indeed!