It’s New Years Day in University Place. It was cloudy early in the day, but now it’s cleared up and there are spectacular views of the Olympic mountains to the west and Mt Rainier to the east.

A close friend of mine and fellow artist brought an interesting site to my attention a few weeks ago. It is called Pinterest ( and is devoted to the appreciation of art, architecture, design, recipes, clothing, and anything else under the sun that comes out of great creativity. The concept is pretty simple. You create an account and post images of art, photography, or any other creative image that captures your fancy. They call it an “online pinboard”, which is an apt description, as it contains the kinds of visual art that I would pin to a corkboard in my kitchen so I could look at it often.

I created my Pinterest account shortly after hearing about it and have since posted 486 images that captured my imagination. I guess the best way to describe it is your very own custom art gallery that is available to share with the world.

In the short time I’ve been a Pinterest account holder, I’ve found scores of awesome art images on other Pinterest sites that I’ve added to my gallery. Here are some that I found particularly interesting and inspiring.

Cinque Terre, Italy - Awesome colors!! I want to go there and take pictures too.

Cool Pool with colorful glass art - Love the architecture of the ceiling and the gorgeous glass in the trough in the pool bottom.

Georgina Ferrans Art Journal - Great colors and imagination. She has other journals on this site also.

Painted Stairs - I LOVE the whimsical designs and the colors

Earthen wall with tree - So cool, organic, unique. No one else will have the same design that you make in your house.

Whimsical doors - I want doors with similar whimsical artwork for our house.

It’s a cold evening in University Place. No rain in the immediate forecast, so it might be a nice night for a walk.

Back in the 1980’s, the US Defense Department embarked on the development of a “stealth” aircraft that would be invisible to enemy radar. This would be accomplished by making the surfaces of the fuselage, wings, and control surfaces flat, but faceted at varying angles. The engine intakes and exhaust ports would also be shaped to minimize the radar signature. So here’s what the DoD braintrust came up with.

F-117 Nighthawk

Pretty cool, huh? Intimidating at the very least. This is the F-117 Nighthawk and was in service from the late 1980’s and was retired in 2008. The design and development of this aircraft was a pure engineering effort. Very little money, if any, went into aesthetic design. I’m sure the dark color wasn’t chosen because it looks cool, rather I’m sure there was some really good tactical reason for it.

Here’s a view of the back of another version of the plane, clearly showing the exhaust blended into the faceted fuselage.

F-117 Nighthawk

F-117 CTS

Here’s a close up of one of the exhaust ports. Again, you can see how the radar evading shape of the exhaust shroud is blended into the faceted fusel… hey, wait a minute. That’s not the exhaust port from the F-117. If I’m not mistaken, it’s from the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V.

2011 Cadillac CTS-V

By golly, it’s the Cadillac CTS-V alright. I’d recognize it anywhere. It’s interesting that body of the car is composed of facets like the F-117, although much more subtle. Even the taillights are stealthy. The radar signature on this car has to be tiny. Surely the stealthy resemblance to the F-117 is a coincidence. I mean, even though GM accepted a bailout from the US Government, they surely wouldn’t steal ideas from a project that cost billions of taxpayer dollars.

Cadillac CTS-V ad with subversive slogan

Of course they wouldn’t. They even say their car is “On Every Radar. Under None”, which is the opposite of stealth. So, Cadillac is denying in print and web advertising that they stole their design from a taxpayer funded project.
Well, I don’t want to be too hard on Cadillac, as they certainly aren’t the only organization borrowing design ideas from Department of Defense projects. Take the batmobile, for instance:

Batmobile ("Holy circa 1966, Batman!)

No, not that one…

Batmobile (modern day version, for now)

…this one. The designers of this one clearly were inspired by stealth technology.

This is hardly the first time in history that something that was 100% practical inspired the creation of something with aesthetic appeal. True artists seek inspiration wherever they can find it. Some find it in nature in the delicate petals of a rose or in the awesome power of the ocean. Others find it in the human form. I consider those relatively obvious sources of inspiration, though. I admire artists and designers that can find inspiration from unusual sources, like a stealth fighter for example.

“The curve is more powerful than the sword.” - Mae West

It’s dawn in University Place, Washington. On a clear day you can seen Mt Rainier to the east and the Olympic mountains to the west. If you are up high enough, you can see the Puget Sound.

Bus Stop sign

On this day, I could see none of the above, as I was walking down Grandview, which is not far from where we live. Grandview is the grand boulevard of University Place. It is about 5 miles long, lined with trees and homes, with a world class golf course at the southern terminus. It’s a nice road with bike lanes and sidewalks, and many of my fellow locals take advantage of those amenities. The trees and houses along Grandview generally block the views of the mountains and sound.

On this day, I am taking advantage of the sidewalk, and I come across the bus stop. I’m not taking the bus, but I am quite taken with the sign marking the designated place where passengers get on and off the bus. Take a look at the picture of the bus stop sign.

What do you notice about it? Ok, this isn’t a quiz, so I’ll give you the answer: The outer edge of the sign, the edge facing the street is curved.

Pierce Transit changed all of their signs a couple of years ago from white rectangular signs to this style with the curved edge. They also changed the livery on their buses in a similar way.

Pierce Transit Bus

They used to be all white with a thin green and yellow racing stripe down the sides. Now they have curves painted on the buses, rather than the stark racing stripe. They look much better in my opinion. It was obviously part of a comprehensive branding change because I see “the curve” on several places on their website and signage.

Transit Center Sign

But, the curve is not just a Pierce Transit phenomenon. It turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Take the case of the paper cutter. The traditional paper cutter is rectangular in shape. Imagine my surprise when I saw one with a curve on the outer edge, much like the new Pierce Transit branding.

Old style paper cutter on left, new curved on on right

It didn’t stop there though. A notebook I happen to have is rectangular like most notebooks, except the outer edge of the cover has “the curve”, as shown in this picture.

Notebook with curve on right edge of cover

Notice that the curve on the Pierce Transit branding, the paper cutter, and the notebook are about the same curvature. I’m not going to try to quantify the curvature of those curves. I know there are some fancy terms out there like radius, chord, angle of arc, and depth of bend. I don’t know what any of those terms really mean, but my eye tells me those 3 things have about the same degree of curvature. Why is that particular degree of curvature so appealing? It is simple thing, but adds value to the object/brand. Why?

Salma Hayak influencing the product design and branding world

My husband offers this theory. He referred me to the movie “Fools Rush In”, starring Salma Hayak and Matthew Perry. In particular he referred me to a scene where the character played by Salma Hayak is floating on a innertube in a river, wearing a very flattering white shirt and a sarong. Well, I couldn’t find any pictures of that scene, but here’s a picture of Ms. Hayak that illustrates his point. Her curves are the same as the Pierce Transit brand, the paper cutter, and the notebook. Clearly, the inspiration for a lot of design in the last decade was Salma Hayak. That’s my husband’s conclusion anyway.

I think it’s a silly theory myself, but it makes him feel smart.