Mastering Mobile

It’s 3:30am. The team  I’m a member of, The Blue Shakamakas, just won a quiz. I came up with the Shakamakas part of the name: it reminded me of when I was eight or nine, and my younger siblings and I would invent random tunes, infuse them with meaningless words, then belt them out like rockstars using a stick or a doll for a microphone and jumping on dining furniture for rockstar effect.

So yeah, Shakamakas.

We really felt like champs tonight, a productive winning energy that I channeled into tackling the challenge of getting minku.com to look good on mobile (you should know, I’m the Minku web designer and developer). It so happened that I broke the code a while ago while trying to achieve this very goal. Not prepared to upgrade my desktop design knowledge with some responsive web design skills, I switched back to the safe desktop version, something that resulted in a dreadful user experience for mobile: expanding text; dealing with increased cognitive load; horizontal scrolling!!!

I know, I know, I apologize.

At university, I learned several programming languages. Still, we were more likely to do a project in Prolog (to understand the structure of artificial intelligence programming languages) than we were to build a site. The latter was something you did in your spare time, or learned at a technical institute.

I had a lot of self-developed web development experience, because I was drawn to the immediate rewards it offered vis-a-vis, say, C++. So I had picked it up on my own in the late 90s… it also helped that we had a computer at home as early as 1998/1999, an Apple iMac G3 — one of those green, curved and translucent-backed beauties.

One thing that caught us millennial programmers by surprise was the advent of web for mobile. I remember even Facebook struggling with a mobile strategy as late as 2014 [article]. All my programming to date has been for desktop. Yes, the company I worked for as early as 2009 was already starting to develop mobile-friendly sites for our clients, but those were the cool kids brandishing the fine steel of their cutting-edge government projects, while most of us did conventional desktop web enhancement and expansion.

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I don’t approach things thinking they are hard. Well, except reading maps, a task that’s easy to delegate, and at which I’m even getting better. So I knew I would upgrade my webdev skills; I just hadn’t dedicated time to it yet.

Coding always takes time: you do, you undo, you save versions, you redo, you keep trying until it’s how you want it. Now the mobile version of minku.com is up and running. I still need to make some tweaks, which you will notice when you visit the site. Nonetheless, @media query is fast becoming my bff, and the site on a mobile device is fast looking how I want it. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you like the mobile-friendly site :-)

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Verstappen and other quirks at F1’s Spa-Francorchamps

Where does one start in reviewing a race that felt like those season premieres that give you two episodes of your favorite show in one sitting? Belgian GP, with its two starts including one brought on by an epic (safe) crash that triggered a red flag, a safety car, and a 17-minute mid-race recess to repair a guardrail, was just that.

I’ll back-pat myself for calling that Alonso and Hamilton’s teams would take advantage of their back-of-grid starts, to place them on medium tyres for the start of the race. Track temperatures were 40 degrees celsius, afterall, and since they didn’t qualify in top ten at Saturday’s Q2, they could choose their starting tyres for Sunday’s race.

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So 2pm and the race starts — start 1 of 2, though we don’t know this by then. Don’t know what opening-lap strategy Vettel was pulling off in the starting seconds, but it somehow put his Ferrari teammate Kimi in Verstappen’s way early in the race, something I’ll rather not see happen at all because, well, Kimi is a nice guy. After Kubica, he was racing’s best poker face. And I don’t like to see him angry, but Verstappen seems to bring it out in him all the time. He was so angry during this race that the swear-filter was too slow to catch the stream of expletives he directed at li’l Max via team radio. I saw a commenter refer to Max as Vercrashen, by the way. I’m trying to be nice, but he needs to be schooled on F1 racing etiquette. However I don’t expect Red Bull to take the bull by the horns, unfortunately. Let’s hold that thought…

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In the 90s we had cable TV and thus it was that I got a catchy Heinz baked beans ad stuck in my head, one that ended with “Heinz Buildz Britz.” Sainz had one of the best race starts of his F1 career today, but his car began to disintegrate following a puncture… tyre, then rear wing, till he had to retire. Jenson Button had to retire too. So did Wehrlein of Manor Racing, a driver whose style I’ve started to warm up to. F1 is like a TV series in yet another way: gradual character development. You start the season just seeing the new drivers’ names and teams; and admiring their cars’ livery. Especially drivers of cars that usually don’t finish in the points. Then as the season progresses, you catch a rare interview, see the driver walk disappointedly to the pits after a crash or celebrate an uncharacteristic podium win, and suddenly there’s a personality beneath the helmet and livery. Wehrlein will still have some great races ahead of him despite today’s disappointment, I’m sure. It sucks that he took out Button’s McLaren too.

On the sixth lap, Magnussen’s Renault spun from 180mph to a smoky high-impact halt in a tyre barrier. Besides being a long circuit (4.35 miles; most of the season’s other circuits are a bit under three miles), Spa is also a hilly circuit, undulating in places and giving less-experienced drivers a run for their Petrobras fuel.  It was in one such spot, by Eau Rouge corner, that Kevin’s yellow R.S. 2016 rammed dramatically into a tyre barrier, sealing how the Renault team would be spending the half-fortnight before Monza GP: rebuilding his chassis. Formula 1 is such a beautiful sport in how safe it is today. Kevin immediately moved to signal that he was conscious, and then nimbly jumped out of his cockpit, as he was approached by race stewards coming to check the extent of the damage. I recently tried to watch clips of some road cycling championships and if Formula 1 is a thriller to watch these days, road cycling is a horror movie.

Guardrail repair followed on lap 10, with teams taking advantage of the 17-minute recess to get their cars in tip-top shape. Hamilton, whose mediums had served him so well in his ascent from back-of-grid to fifth place, now switched to softs as track temperatures cooled. Verstappen was having a bad day, having started on supersofts (teammate Ricciardo got the lucky softs in this split-choice tyre strategy), and having picked up some front-wing damage in that opening sandwich in which he was preventable top bread (what this time, Max, your brakes didn’t work? or you need a tutorial on how to time their use?). He’d be a cantankerous old man, but chap’s only nineteen. Either way, an angry Max on the track is to be avoided, for the whimsical damage he might do to your  rear wing or tyres or self esteem.

Am I player hatin’ on Verstappen too much? Ok, I’ll stop. See, I was screaming into my screen circa 2009 when Schumacher, on his comeback to F1, squeezed Rubens Barrichello into a wall before backing off. Damon Hill can tell you a few stories too, though their rivalry was before I became an F1-er. The teams and maybe even the FIA are saying nothing, possibly because rivalry is “good for the sport.” Rivalry, yes, but not reckless racing, which is what Verstappen is building his young brand to be known for.

All in all, with its two race starts, red flag, scenic setting, and the temperature at Spa throwing in an unknown variable that meant the guys in the back who were smart enough to see it got some little starting advantage, this was a beautiful race. Why do I love F1? Let me count the ways. Listed near the top will be the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.

Winners:
3rd place: Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes
2nd place: Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing
1st place: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes

F1 Racing’s Driver of the Day: Lewis Hamilton

Minku Fifth Anniversary Pop-up event in Lagos – pictures

Here are the pictures from the pop-up event held in Lagos on April 9, 2016. It was at Stranger, our stockist in Lagos. There isn’t much to say besides thank you to all the amazing people who came, saw, and interacted with the products. It felt like hosting a day-long interactive museum (see the pictures to understand what I mean), and as someone whose thesis work was the exploration of meaning-making via an interactive installation, that couldn’t make me any happier.MinkuPopUp5 MinkuPopUp4 MinkuPopUp3 MinkuPopUp2

Kayode (not pictured), Tunde (above), and I did the set up in the morning, while Kachi photographed us at work. She also created an 8-second video collage of the space (new window), that lets you get a 360 degree feel of it. I had this whole idea of hanging some bags from the ceiling, but in the end I was lazy and didn’t feel like climbing and reaching. I still did, but it was easier to hang bags off the wall than it was to hang them from the ceiling. I really wanted to incorporate the chairs, and Kayode and I finally devised a way to do so that fit with the flow of the rest of the exhibit, while beautifully showcasing our bracelets and notebooks.

MinkuPopUp8MinkuPopUp14Tunde could immediately see the essence of each bag, and devise how best to showcase that. By essence, I might simply mean interior. He knew that a black backpack is a black backpack until you flip it inside out, turn it upside down, and hang it by its straps like S&M gear, so people can see, feel, and interact with all the love that went into making it. Even something as little as flipping a buckle strap so people could see its aso-oke flip-side, made all the difference to how the work was communicated, and the exhibition enjoyed.

MinkuPopUp1 MinkuPopUp10 MinkuPopUp9aMinkuPopUp38 MinkuPopUp37 MinkuPopUp36If I had known that Simi was asking which notebook was my favourite one so she could buy it, I would have thrown her off the scent, he he :-)

MinkuPopUp35 MinkuPopUp34 MinkuPopUp33 MinkuPopUp32 MinkuPopUp31 MinkuPopUp30 MinkuPopUp29 MinkuPopUp28 MinkuPopUp27 MinkuPopUp26 MinkuPopUp25 MinkuPopUp24Here (center) is the amazing person that co-runs Stranger, the space that has been our stockist for a while now. He is wearing red instead of black because he knows that on show day, the designer wears black :-) Or maybe just a case of late laundry. But, really, he seldom wears colour.

MinkuPopUp23The MVP (most valuable product, winning product, star interactivity player…) may have been our notebooks. Prior to show day, we had them wrapped up in the store, with details on their inspiration and design on an information card that you can see if you squint at the bottom of the picture above. Unwrapping them on show day really helped get people to interact with the vegetable tanned leather, banana paper, bamboo, wood bark, and in some cases aso-oke that went into making each one. Needless to say, Stranger now stocks them unwrapped. We still wrap them upwhen we mail to you via our online store, but only because they make such great gifts.

MinkuPopUp22 MinkuPopUp21Each guest left with a box containing a cupcake (or two) that said Minku at five. They got to choose from three cupcake flavours, including red velvet and chocolate. A fun souvenir that showed up on more than a few Instagram feeds that evening.

MinkuPopUp20 MinkuPopUp19Uche and I are always entertaining eachother. A livelier friend, I think it is not possible to find :-) And she has a bag line now that is simply amazing.

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Our new catalogs were an integral part of the exhibit, and in some pictures, you can see guests flipping through them. There’s a flipshow of it on our instagram (new window). Still, feeling the evanescence of the decomposing leaf-collage exterior in your hands is the only way to truly experience it, and the cool news is that we mail one to our clients with each order.

MinkuPopUp40 Shop Minku online at minku.com. Some pictures made it to our instagram, but aren’t on here. I hope you check them out too.

Fadaka bags

In Yoruba class in secondary school, there were certain topics on the annual syllabus. There was phonology, where we were taught which parts of our mouths and vocal cords moved and touched to make the different sounds in the Yoruba language. There was history, where we learned things like the 7 sons of Oduduwa, father of the Yoruba language. I still have the memory-aid song I composed to remember Name – Town – Gift of each son, in my head. You could always be sure this would be on the exam fill-in-the-blanks style, so I made up a song to remember it, and taught it to many of my classmates: Olowu – Owu – aso; Alaketu – Ketu – ade; Oba – Benin – owo; Orangun – Ila – iyawo; Onipopo – Popo – ileke; Onifade – Fade – eran; Oranmiyan – Oyo – Ile. There were also orikis and proverbs.

Ahhh, proverbs. For the longest time while I lived in the States away from my folks, my mum’s voice would remind me of proverns in my head. Proverbs about hard work, about honesty, and about life in general.

I have a huge smile on my face just typing all this. I also want to share one basic Yoruba proverb with you: ‘Oruko rere san ju wura ati fadaka lo.’ This one came to mind because I was working on names for new bags, and I was thinking precious metals. Wura is gold and fadaka is silver. I am getting the names of more precious metals. In the meantime, I am happy to share with you, the Minku Fadaka bags:

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Anyone who has seen me in the past month would have seen me rocking my Fadaka bag — the one at the bottom. I enjoy carrying it. It’s a deep and practical holdall, and people love touching it and commenting on how soft the leather is, and playing with the fringes.

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Call this a pre-collection or a resort collection if you like; I thought it would be cool to keep on working and to keep on sharing with you what I am working on, instead of waiting for two seminal collections to land in your laps twice a year.

Not all of them have their straps sewn on yet. I am still working on that; it is not very interesting to sew straps :-) But if you would like one of the bags above, contact me with your preference and I can customize the strap: (a) a single adjustable strap so you can wear it as a shoulder bag or a cross-body bag; or (b) double straps so you can carry it as a tote bag. Otherwise, I would just start putting the straps on next week, however I see fit.

The special things about the Fadaka bags are: their shape, their versatility, their colours, the variety of interior linings (they also have a zipped inner pocket), their ease, and those sexy fringes. I can also tell you from handling mine for a month that they are super durable.

I would love to hear your favourites, and what you think of the bags. Look out for Part II of this post for the adventures of the all-new Minku Fadaka bags :-)

Love,

Minku

Walls

Once I took a course in high school or university where we did an exercise in word associations. Teacher says a word, students discuss what associations come to mind on hearing the word.

Today´s word is Walls. Ahh, there´s Walls ice cream, ´the dream of ice creams´ if a TV ad that ran in Nigeria in the early 90s is to be believed (Wall’s Ice Cream – refreshing and creamy/ Wall’s Ice Cream such fun to eat/ Wall’s Ice Cream is good for you/ Wall’s Ice Cream the dream of ice creams). There are walls we put up when enough is enough. Then there´s the association I am forming between ´walls´and the city of Berlin.

A large part of Berlin´s identity is inextricably tied to the Berlin Wall, whose dismantling in 1989 was perhaps the most tangible sign of the fall of the ´Iron Curtain´. Visitors to Berlin are immersed in an intensive crash course on communism and what it meant to the Berliners who only had access to Trabant cars not BMWs, and for whom wiretapped homes were a sad normalcy.

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You can buy a piece of the Berlin Wall in any self-respecting souvenir shop in Berlin, from 2,50euros for a small piece. The shops I saw, like Berlin Story, were along Unter Den Linden, leading up to Brandenburger Tor.

Around the city, walls are put to interesting use. Perhaps I only notice it because I am now forming the associations in my mind as I write this article, but where other cities have an abundance of free-standing sculptures adorning public places, for example,  in Berlin, much of the self-expression and public art is on walls. Mosaics, relief sculptures, good-ole´grafitti.

Germany´s most-visited museum is the Pergamon Museum on Museumsinel in Mitte, a neighbourhood in Berlin. The highlights are, you guessed it, walls — excavated from Babylon, Iraq (Ishtar Gate, built circa 575BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II) and from Miletus in Turkey (The Market Gate of Miletus, likely built about 120 – 130 AD).

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Walls, erected and dismantled, abound in the Berlin physical space, but that is where the association between walls and Berlin ends. I found it to be an open and friendly city, whose inhabitants let their personal walls down to let other ideas, and people, in.

love
Minku

Festa Major de Gracia 2014

With Babita on calle Verdi (which was transformed to the Amazon forest), on the first day of Festa Major de Gracia:

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This was a fun night, on which a lot happened. For example, while going to see Travessera de Sant Antoni, a street whose theme was India/Bollywood and which had a giant (papier mache?) statue of the Hindu god, Ganesha, in the middle of the street, it began to rain and we ended up taking refuge in a… church. There was the lady who makes  dreamy wooden toys, the art exhibition opening where by chance a girl I know was one of the exhibiting artists, batucada bands, and swing dancing in Placa del Diamant.

Festa Major de Gracia is about seeing where the evening takes you. There’s still a lot to explore there, and the festivities are on until the 21st. Viva la fiesta.

love,
Minku

Yeah Mr. White, Science!

Years ago when I first got my camera and was contemplating what lenses to buy for this new toy, I stumbled on a post about home-made macro lens.

I finally tried it out today, after a discouraging trip to three camera stores to look at some macros.

Lens are so cool. I did dozens of experiments with them in Physics lab in high school, but today’s home experiment with my dslr and a steady hand totally had me channeling Jesse from Breaking Bad:

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The easiest explanation is that in reversing the lens’ direction, you reverse its effect. If it was giving you Sagrada Familia in a 2″ screen before, now it gives you ~1:1 close-up of the beads in your new men’s bracelet collection:

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It reminded me of when I was about 7 years old and, guided by the Basic Science book series my mum bought us (or maybe my sister Tosin’s science text book at the time), said sister and I made some homemade pinhole cameras. That was just one of our several home science experiments, where I was willing Jesse to her cerebral Mr. White. Even at that age, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believed in experimentation as the best way to learn, and a smart way to get results.

I’ve been experimenting with Nigerian-made powdered-glass beads. This was a result of months of pondering what to do with the beads, made by local craftspeople in Nigeria. The picture above is a preview but I look forward to sharing the full collection with you and hearing your favourites.

Love,
Minku