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Projects & Perspectives

Be Distinct from the Crowd

By Commentary

I was reading the book You Are Not a Gadget by the computer scientist Jaron Lanier and came across this passage: “…there is no evidence that quantity becomes quality in matters of human expression or achievement. What matters instead, I believe, is a sense of focus, a mind in effective concentration, and an adventurous individual imagination that is distinct from the crowd.”

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Too Big to Fail

By Commentary

I recently finished reading Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big to Fail. I recommend it. He managed to recreate—in incredibly believable detail—the timeline, personalities, and backroom politics behind Lehman Brothers’ demise and the resulting financial market devastation. I was close to the situation in my own way because my employer at the time, Ross Culbert & Lavery, was the design firm that produced Lehman’s annual report and we did marketing and design work for many of the players mentioned in the book. These current and former RC&L clients are mentioned prominently: Lehman Brothers, Citibank, AIG, Evercore, Simpson Thacher, Debevoise, PwC, Och-Ziff, Wiley Rein Fielding, Barclays, Boies Schiller Flexner, Ameriprise… the list goes on.

I especially like the passage when Warren Buffett is trying to decide if he should invest in Lehman. He’s described vividly as paging through our annual report and writing notes in the margin of the book to keep track of his thoughts. Well, he may have liked the annual report design, but he did not like their numbers and passed up the investment opportunity.

The rest is history.

1250 Broadway “Night and Day”

By Favorites


I couldn’t resist the temptation to present the building this way since I had the photographer shoot it from the precise same location during the day and again at night. It perfectly illustrates two key attributes of the commercial space for lease: the building stands alone therefore offering terrific views, and the busy Penn Station neighborhood operates literally round-the-clock.

Firm: Ross Culbert & Lavery
Photography: Michael Paras

Interactive Proposal to Sun Microsystems

By Favorites

To renew engagements or to win new business, PwC needed a compact solution that included reams of information, video interviews, downloadable pdfs, and links to online presentations. These packages needed to be produced with a very short lead time and only 100 copies were produced. Each proposal would include an interactive CD and a book housed in rigid presentation packaging.

This example is from the pitch to Sun Microsystems.

On a technical level, this presentation was a challenge. Produced at a time before streaming video on the internet, or even DVDs for that matter. We shot and edited 24 videos, used aggressive compression codecs, and squeeze them onto a 700MB CD-Rom with interactive functionality encoded using Macromedia Director. A few days before the presentation, Sun called and said the disc had to play on their proprietary Solaris OS. Non-negotiable.

Our disk would not play on Solaris. To solve the problem we bought two different vintage Solaris desktops and re-worked our presentation to play seamlessly using Flash. We delivered the disks by NexJet NY>LA rush courier in order to make the meeting. Close call but we made it.

Client: PricewaterhouseCoopers
Firm: Calfo Aron LLC.

Entertainment Media and Communications Summit Intro Video

By Favorites

PricewaterhouseCoopers publishes an annual survey about trends in the entertainment, Media and Communications industry. They publish a 400-page book that contains forecasts for worldwide trends in internet, music, publishing and broadcast based on extensive interviews with leading CEOs, COOs and CIOs.

The day-long book launch event is a major event held every year at the Waldorf=Astoria Ballroom. Many of the industry’s glitterati show up.

Our responsibility included branding, marketing and production for all aspects of the effort including:

  • Introductory video montage
  • Set design
  • Email marketing and registration
  • Event wayfinding and dinner journal
  • Advertising in trade media
  • Design and production of the book

The video montage above features original music we composed, voice over recordings of the script we wrote, and visuals we produced.

Sound Design: North Forty Music
Design Firm: Calfo Aron LLC