Look just behind that Alaska sign: That’s a chock holding it in place.

Alaska 8 at dusk. Epic.

Too cool: My Alaska Airlines flight to Newark is aboard a 737-800 painted in vintage (c. 1940?) Alaska livery. Star on the nose, grey paint, blue cheatline, “Boeing” in a cursive script below the cockpit windows.

Nothing like airports at dawn.


Narrow bottles, stocked upside down. Specifications, standards, interlocking relationships. The soda bottle as local TEU. The implications for brand identity and ease of sales when methods of distribution mean your brand must be obscured. (How many brands can you identify from color and typographical elements alone?)

Also: A green LCD screen, a light blue arrow. The incorporation of color trends into long-lived urban furniture. (And check out all that Evian on the bottom rack!)


Vertical and horizontal candy/snack distribution. Unlike American vending machines, which vend sweets and savories almost equally, Parisian vending machines tended to vend sweets at the exclusion of savories (although you can see some potato chip bags in the upper-right). How product offerings follow public eating norms—eating a candy bar may be acceptable while eating potato chips is not. (Parisians aren’t fans of to-go products, whether food or beverage.) Expected/intended audiences—who’s buying these products? (And how many American brands do you see?)

The interoperability of machines, the simplification of product types: The internal layout of these two vending machines looks so similar that I’m tempted to think that they are identical machines put to use selling different products. This is a significant break from American vending machines, where beverage and snack machines have very different purposes, and therefore internal architectures. But ice-cold drinks is an American thing and its possible that in Europe the same (unrefrigerated) vending machine is used to sell both snacks and beverages.

THIS MATERIAL WORLD will be on a Thanksgiving hiatus in Paris this week. Entries will robo-post while I’m gone; expect a glut of travel- and Paris-related posts on my return. Have a great holiday!

Big-Ass Fans” is a brand name for large fans; the one pictured was spotted at a local IKEA. Colloquialisms, informality, a relaxed public sphere. Shocking? Profane? Normal?

Is this different, really, from the name of the National Pipe Bending Company? The names of each company simply describe their products—one bends pipe, the other manufactures very large fans. Corporate names as windows into the zeitgeist.

Compound brand identities: Did IKEA consider what it might say about its brand image to use someone else’s big-assed product?

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