The best productivity apps for getting things done

Humin app

Apps are more powerful than ever.

From fan favorites to cutting-edge newcomers, it’s never been easier to sketch out an idea, take detailed notes, or stay in touch with your team.

There’s even an app that acts like your digital butler.

Whatever your day consists of, these apps will help you get more done, faster.

Letterspace is our new favorite note-taking app.

Letterspace is our new favorite note-taking app.

Letterspace is a beautiful note-taking app that uses hashtags to organize your thoughts. It also has a handy swipe bar that lets you move your on-screen cursor without moving your hands from the keyboard, which makes editing your notes much easier.

Price: Free

Humin acts like your digital butler.

Humin acts like your digital butler.

Humin is an app that remembers all the tiny details about how and where you met someone, so you can focus on the moment instead of remembering. All you need is someone’s number, and Humin will do the rest. You’ll then be able to search through your contact using familiar phrases like “met last week” or “lives in Brooklyn.”

Price: Free (iOS)

Workflow is a powerful way to save time.

Workflow is a powerful way to save time.

Workflow lets you customize your phone so that you can skip time-wasting tasks. By telling your phone what to do when it notices a certain action, you can instruct your phone to call an Uber before your next calendar appointment, upload your latest photo to Twitter, and virtually any other string of actions you can think of.


Microsoft Outlook is one of the best mobile email apps around.

Microsoft Outlook is one of the best mobile email apps around.

Microsoft made a killer email app with Outlook, and it easily trounces Google’s Gmail app for iPhone. An integrated calendar makes emailing your availability a cinch, and you can swipe to archive, delete, or schedule emails to return to your inbox at a later time.

Price: Free (iOS)

Paper by Fifty Three wants to become your virtual sketchbook.

Paper by Fifty Three wants to become your virtual sketchbook.

Paper is just as useful as it is beautiful. The app lets you draw out ideas and sketches on your iPad, and you can store them away in various virtual notebooks. It comes packed with a variety of brushes and pens for your ideas, and there’s even an official Pencil stylus that responds to the pressure of your input. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can check out the Mix ecosystem within the app, which is a creative commons space for remixing ideas.

Price: Free (iPad)

Evernote is your online notebook for everything.

Evernote is your online notebook for everything.

Evernote is an online collection of everything you want to remember. It’s like digital notebook that stores photos, web pages, notes, PDF files, audio clips, and to-do lists. What’s great about Evernote is its indexing feature. Once you add things to your notebook they’re completely searchable and can be accessed on your desktop, the Web, or your mobile device.

Price: Free (AndroidiOSWindows PhonePCMacGoogle Chrome, and the Web)

Timeful learns your behaviors in order to help you change your habits.

Timeful learns your behaviors in order to help you change your habits.

Timeful is an intelligent calendar app mixed with a to-do list. The app’s algorithm learns how you get stuff done and smartly suggests ways to build new habits and get things taken care of, all on your own terms.

Price: Free (iOS)

Vesper is an elegant way to record your thoughts.

Vesper is an elegant way to record your thoughts.

Vesper is a note-taking app that takes a lot of the hassle out of organizing your thoughts. You can easily tag each entry so you can search for a specific thought by keyword later, and all your notes will be synced to your Vesper account, free of charge. Reorganizing your notes is made simple with a hold-and-drag motion, and if you want to prevent a cluttered collection, a simple swipe archives your entry.

Price: $2.99 (iOS)

Mailbox will help get your inbox down to zero.

Mailbox will help get your inbox down to zero.

Mailbox is a clean and minimalistic take on mobile email that uses gestures to help you quickly get your inbox to zero. It works in tandem with Mailbox for Mac, and one of the coolest features is the ability to “Snooze” an email with just one swipe, which will send it to the top of your inbox at a designated time like “Later today,” “This evening,” and “Next week.”

Price: Free (iOSAndroid)

Sunrise is a calendar app that performs flawlessly.

Sunrise is a calendar app that performs flawlessly.

Sunrise is a gorgeous calendar app that pulls directly from LinkedIn so you can see the picture and profile of who you’re meeting with. It supports multiple Google Calendars in addition to iCloud and Exchange, and its Quick Add Event works just like Fantastical for quickly adding events as you type them in. Microsoft just bought the company this month.

Price: Free  (iOSAndroid)

BONUS: A close second is Fantastical, which is an iPhone calendar app that’s ridiculously easy to use. Besides keeping you organized, the app’s best feature lets you enter simple phrases, which it will then translate into a calendar appointment automatically. For example you can type, “Meet with Steven for lunch at Chipotle at 3pm” and Fantastical will handle the rest.

Price: $4.99 (iOS) and $14.99 (Mac)

Quip is an alternative to Microsoft Office for iPad.

Quip is an alternative to Microsoft Office for iPad.

Quip is a mobile word processing app created by Facebook’s former chief technology officer, Bret Taylor. Quip infuses a messaging element into the app to make collaboration a breeze. You can use the app to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can also use the app to collaborate on blog posts, manage projects, or even share a grocery list.

Price: Free (iOS)

Day One is a classy app for keeping a journal.

Day One is a classy app for keeping a journal.

Day One brings the daily journal into the modern age, and it’s great for micro-journaling or whatever you want your daily writing to look like. The app can record the weather conditions and location of your entry, and if you’re particularly proud of a day’s journal, you can upload it easily to Facebook in a gorgeous webpage format.

Price: $4.99 (iOSMac)

Slack revolutionizes team communication by doing away with email.

Slack revolutionizes team communication by doing away with email.

Slack is a great way for keeping in touch with your team at work without sifting through dozens of emails. It is a chat room of sorts, and you can tag users and create multiple channels for smaller team projects. The desktop client sends non-intrusive desktop notifications to the corner of your screen, allowing you to stay on top of what’s happening while keeping your eyes on your work.

Price: Free (iOS, MacAndroidWeb)

NotesPlus is note-taking app with an emphasis on natural gestures.

NotesPlus is note-taking app with an emphasis on natural gestures.

If you’re a fan of old-fashioned, pencil-on-paper notes, NotesPlus is as close as you’ll get to the real thing. The app’s intuitive vector-based system turns your handwritten notes into text, and you can select multiple drawings and notes together by simply drawing a circle around them. There’s a built-in web browser that you can swipe right to access, which makes grabbing images and details a cinch.

Price: $9.99 (iOS)

Clear is a simple, well-designed, to-do list to help you stay on track.

Clear is a simple, well-designed, to-do list to help you stay on track.

Clear is one of the simplest ways to keep track of what you need to do. You can easily drag and re-order your to-dos, and adding a new item is as easy as pulling down your list and typing it in. When you’re done with a task, just swipe right.

Price: $4.99 (iOSMac)

GoodReader is your trusty app for reading virtually any file.

GoodReader is your trusty app for reading virtually any file.

You never know when you’ll need to open up a random PDF or annotate a text file, and GoodReader is meant to process them all, and quickly. With the ability to add annotations, text boxes, sticky notes, highlights, and drawings, you’ll never be caught with a file you can’t fiddle with.

Price: $4.99 (iOS)

Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are your best bets for storing files online.

Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are your best bets for storing files online.

Dropbox lives on your desktop as a virtual folder. You can drag and drop files into your Dropbox and they’ll appear on all of your devices. You also have the option to store files in a public folder so you can easily share them with a simple download link.

Price: Free (iOSAndroid, Mac & PC, Web)

Google Drive is an online productivity suite that can be accessed with any device that’s connected to the internet, either through an app or on the web. You can share and collaborate on documents and presentations, and it’s great when multiple people need to poke around a file at the same time, as you can always see who else is viewing or editing a document.

Price: Free (iOSAndroidWeb)

OneDrive is a great place to store all of your documents, photos, and videos, and you get 15 GB of free storage when you sign up. Since OneDrive is a Microsoft service, you’ll always know that your files will play nicely with other Office apps, so you don’t have to worry about if a document will open in Word or not.

Price: Free (iOSAndroidWindows PhoneWeb)

Boris Nemtsov murder: the man who might have been king

Nemtsov studied physics at State University of Gorky and earned a PhD in Physics and Mathematics, pictured during his time studying

It is a quirk of fate that the leading Russian opposition leader gunned down outside the Kremlin might once have become President himself, instead of Vladimir Putin

Nemtsov, 55, had been out for dinner with his Ukranian model girlfriend Anna Duritskaya (pictured)Mr Nemtsov was shot four times in the street

Mr Nemtsov, 55, (right) had been out for dinner with his Ukranian model girlfriend Anna Duritskaya, 23, (left) in the hours before his death. The couple had been dating for several years, according to reports

There was a moment when it might have been Boris Nemtsov who would go on to become the most powerful politician in post-Soviet Russia.

The former research officer of the Gorky Radiophysical Research Institute with his daughter Zhanna in 1986

In 1999, his health in decline, President Boris Yeltsin reportedly considered appointing the career politician as his successor. Instead he picked the-then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, believing him to be the moderate that Russia needed.

Now, sixteen years on, Putin is President of Russia and Nemtsov is dead, gunned down just metres from the walls of the Kremlin.

Boris Nemtsov (right) with Presidents Boris Yeltsin (centre) of Russia and Geidar Aliyev of Azerbaijan (left) after a signing ceremony for a basic treaty of friendship, cooperation and security in the Kremlin in July 1997

Such were the two men’s divergent fates that while Putin consolidated his power as president, the man who might have succeeded Yeltsin became one of his rival’s prominent opponents.

Among mounds of flowers and candles left on the bridge in central Moscow are signs reading 'Je suis Boris' and 'We are all Nemtsov' in Russian claiming the 55-year-old was killed for openly criticising Putin in an attack on free speech

Nemtsov, 55, who according to those who watched his rise had been an accomplished orator from an early age, was one of the key speakers at mass opposition rallies against Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012.

A physicist by education, Nemtsov – who worked in a research institute during the last years of the Soviet Union – had been among the generation of academics and scientists swept up by the political upheaval of the perestroika reform movement.

Protesters held up signs reading 'Putin killed by friend' in Russian at the scene where Mr Nemtsov was killed

He began his political life as a young reformer working in the industrial centre of Nizhny Novgorod, where he became regional governor at the age of just 32.

After serving in the post for six years, he moved up the career ladder during Yeltsin’s presidency, coming to Moscow to serve as first deputy prime minister in 1997-98.

President Putin meets the leaders of the State<br /><br />
 Duma lower house of parliament, including Boris Nemtsov (far right) in 2002

While Nemtsov initially backed Putin’s presidential run, calling him “responsible and honest”, he quickly changed his mind and became one of his most bitter enemies.

A distressed woman was seen crying at the site where the popular politician was assassinated

He was one of the founders of Russia’s Union of Right Forces liberal party, and its leader in the early 2000s, serving as an opposition MPs in parliament, where he was a vocal opponent of Putin’s early attempts to curb political freedoms.

Along with other opposition leaders, Nemtsov unsuccessfully sued Putin after he said Nemtsov and others “wreaked havoc” in Russia during the 1990s, pillaging it of billions of dollars.

Russian investigators said it was following several lines of inquiry but world leaders have demanded transparency as the investigation into Mr Nemtsov's death continues

His activities earned him the hatred of pro-Kremlin groups, who routinely put him on their lists of “traitors”. He had been a victim of hacking and wiretapping, and pro-Kremlin websites had written reports about his personal life and alleged affairs.

Russian opposition leaders Ilya Yashin (left) and Ksenia Sobchak (right), arrive at the scene. They alleged he was killed for openly implicating Putin in the Ukrainian crisis

Perma-tanned and rarely without a smile on his face in public, Nemtsov had the image of a rock star and was known for his colourful love life.

The father-of-four was shot four times by assailants in a white car as he walked across a bridge over the Moskva River

In recent years he compiled a series of pamphlets exposing corruption under Putin, focusing on the gas behemoth Gazprom, the residences allegedly owned by Putin, and the corruption around the reparations for Russia’s Olympic Games in Sochi last year.

The married father-of-four was shot four times by assailants in a white car as the couple walked across a bridge over the Moskva River

Nemtsov was shot four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.

Like most in the opposition, Nemtsov was a prolific user of social networks, and he died just hours after using his most recent blog entry to call on Muscovites to attend an opposition rally, on Sunday, against the war in Ukraine.

Russian police officers stand next to traces of Boris Nemtsov's body on a bridge in central Moscow

Ironically, although he continued to be a key figure in opposition events in the Russian capital, Nemtsov had gradually withdrawn over the past decade as a younger generation of opposition leaders stepped forward to take the helm.

An unidentified assassin shot Mr Nemtsov (above, in 2010 at an anti-Kremlin march) four times while he was walking with a woman near the Kremlin


November 1998: Less than four months after Putin took over takes at the KGB, Galina Starovoitova, the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic was murdered.

The politician, who was State Duma deputy at the time, was shot to death in the stairwell of her home in central St Petersburg in what appeared to be a ‘politically motivated’ attack.

March 2000: Putin was elected as leader and Russian ordered attacks in Chechnya. Opposition leaders, especially those who reported on the conflict in Chechnya were killed.

Reporters Igor Domnikov, Sergey Novikov, Iskandar Khatloni, Sergey Ivanov and Adam Tepsurgayev were all killed in 2000 alone.

April 2003: Sergei Yushenkov, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia political party was gunned down at the entrance of his Moscow apartment block.

Viktor Yushchenko (left), anti-Russian candidate for the presidency of the Ukraine, was poisoned by Dioxin in 2004 and Galina Starovoitova, the most prominent pro-democracy Kremlin critic, was shot in 1998

He had been serving as the vice chair of the group known as the ‘Kovalev Commission’ which was formed to investigate charges that Putin’s KGB had planted support for the war in Chechnya.

July 2003: Yuri Shchekochikhin, a vocal opposition journalist and member of the Russian Duma and the Kovalev Commission contracted a mysterious illness.

Witnesses said he complained about fatigue, and red blotches began to appear on his skin. They said: ‘His internal organs began collapsing one by one. Then he lost almost all his hair.’

June 2004: Nikolai Girenko, a prominent human rights defender, Professor of Ethnology and expert on racism and discrimination in the Russian Federation is shot dead in his home in St Petersburg.

July 2004: Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition Forbes magazine, was shot and killed in Moscow.

Forbes reported that at the time of his death, Paul was believed to have been investigating a complex web of money laundering involving a Chechen reconstruction fund and the Kremlin.

Former spy Alexander Litvinenko (pictured) was killed in 2006, leading to a clouding of relations between London and Moscow.

September 2004: Viktor Yushchenko, anti-Russian candidate for the presidency of the Ukraine, was poisoned by Dioxin.

September 2006: Andrei Kozlov, First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Central Bank, who strove to stamp out money laundering was shot and killed in Moscow.

November 2006: Former spy Alexander Litvinenko was killed in 2006, leading to a clouding of relations between London and Moscow.

The 43-year-old had been an officer with the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, but he fled to Britain where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin.

October 2006: Anna Politkovskaya, author of countless books exposing Russian human rights violations in Chechnya and articles attacking Vladimir Putin as a dictator was killed in Moscow.

She had written: ‘I have wondered a great deal why I have so got it in for Putin. What is it that makes me dislike him so much as to feel moved to write a book about him?’

January 2009: Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer, was shot after leaving a news conference less than half a mile from the Kremlin in January 2009.

He was appealing the early release of Yuri Budanov, a Russian military officer convicted of killing a young Chechen woman.

July 2009: Leading Russian human rights journalist and activist Natalya Estemirova was abducted in front of her home in Grozny, Chechnya, taken across the border into Ingushetia where she was shot and dumped in a roadside gutter.

THE $10 BILLION CLUB: Meet the 9 most valuable startups in the world

Drew Houston
Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox

There used to be a time when a $1 billion valuation was considered a massive success for tech startups. Then it was $5 billion.

But in recent months, there have been so many huge rounds raised that these numbers almost seem routine.

So we’ve raised the bar yet again. Looking at recent media reports and the WSJ’s “The Billion-Dollar Startup Club” list, we’ve created a list of tech startups that are worth more than $10 billion — or will be very soon.

#9 Dropbox: $10 billion

#9 Dropbox: $10 billion

CEO: Drew Houston

Founded: 2007

What it does: Dropbox allows users to easily store and share files on the web. It has over 200 million users worldwide.

Total funding: $1.1 billion

Notable investors: Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, Greylock Ventures

#8 Airbnb: $10 billion

#8 Airbnb: $10 billion

CEO: Brian Chesky

Founded: 2008

What it does: Airbnb offers a marketplace for people to rent out their homes to temporary residents. It’s currently available in 190 countries.

Total funding: $794.8 million

Notable investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners

#7 Pinterest: $11 billion (seeking)

#7 Pinterest: $11 billion (seeking)

Valuation: The company was valued at $5 billion in its last round in May 2014, but is reportedly seeking a new round at a valuation of $11 billion.

CEO: Ben Silbermann

Founded: 2008

What it does: Pinterest allows users to share/store stuff online by “pinning” images and content.

Total funding: $762.5 million

Notable investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, Rakuten

#6 Flipkart: $11 billion

#6 Flipkart: $11 billion

CEO: Sachin Bansal

Founded: 2007

What it does: Flipkart is an e-commerce site specializing in electronics and content like books and music.

Total funding: $2.5 billion

Notable investors: Digital Sky Technologies, T Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley, Vulcan Capital, Tiger Global Management

#5 SpaceX: $12 billion

#5 SpaceX: $12 billion

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks after unveiling the Dragon V2 spacecraft in Hawthorne, California May 29, 2014

Valuation: $12 billion

CEO: Elon Musk

Founded: 2002

What it does: Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, designs, builds, and launches vehicles for space exploration.

Total funding: $1.2 billion

Notable investors: Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Google

#4 Palantir: $15 billion

#4 Palantir: $15 billion

Valuation: $15 billion

CEO: Alexander Karp

Founded: 2004

What it does: Palantir is a software and services company that specializes in data analysis. Some of its biggest clients are government agencies like the CIA and FBI.

Total funding: $1 billion

Notable investors: Founders Fund, Tiger Global Management, Glynn Capital Management, Jeremy Stoppelman

#3 Snapchat: $16 to $19 billion (seeking)

#3 Snapchat: $16 to $19 billion (seeking)

Valuation: Snapchat was valued at $10 billion in its last round in December, but is reportedly seeking a new round at a valuation between $16 million and $19 million.

CEO: Evan Spiegel

Founded: 2012

What it does: Its photo messaging app allows users to send photos and videos that get deleted after a set period of time.

Total funding: $648 million

Notable investors: Yahoo, Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coatue Management, SV Angel

#2 Uber: $41.2 billion

#2 Uber: $41.2 billion

Valuation: $41.2 billion

CEO: Travis Kalanik

Founded: 2009

What it does: Uber’s taxi-hailing app connects its users with drivers of private vehicles under Uber’s contact. It offers different types of cars, from full-size luxury cars to smaller vehicles.

Total funding: $5.9 billion

Notable investors: Benchmark Capital, Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, KPCB

#1 Xiaomi: $46 billion

#1 Xiaomi: $46 billion

Valuation: $46 billion

CEO: Jun Lei

Founded: 2010

What it does: Xiaomi is one of the biggest Chinese electronics brands that makes smartphones. They’re considered among the best Android smartphones, and the company has hardcore loyalists a lot like Apple in the U.S.

Total funding: $1.4 billion

Notable investors: Digital Sky Technologies, HOPU Investment Management Company, DST Global, IDG Capital Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Morningside Group

Sweetgrass Productions’ VALHALLA – Trailer 2

Patagonia Presents, Sweetgrass Productions’ VALHALLA,  Starring Cody Barnhill, Sierra Quitiquit, Alex Monot, Pep Fujas, Zack Giffin, Eric Hjorleifson, Molly Baker, and Kazushi Yamauchi

Locations: Whitewater, BC; Rogers Pass, BC; Revelstoke, BC; Golden Alpine Holidays– Sentry, Meadow, and Sunrise Lodges, BC; Valhalla Range, BC; Haines, AK; Glacier Bay, AK; Juneau, AK; Eaglecrest, AK; Tordrillo Mountains, AK.

How To Communicate Visually With Your Team

Visuals are the most powerful form of communication. Take a look at the fastest growing social media platforms at the end of 2014: Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram: all image-focused. Add that to the fact that 65% of people are visual learners, and you have a compelling case for why your business needs to incorporate visuals throughout your office—especially if you’re a technology company.

I write from personal experience. In growing a technology startup, tools like white boards, planning maps, timelines, and even gifs have been instrumental in company planning, brainstorming, and employee recruitment and retainment. Here are a few ways we’ve successfully leveraged visuals to improve business.


In business, choosing your next steps can be challenging. Not only are there various paths to take, but everyone in the company has a varying perspective—and since different departments have different priorities, all of those insights are invaluable. If you don’t capture all vantage points, you’re missing pieces of the puzzle.

A visual planning map coupled with a straw poll is a great solution. Here’s how it works:

At the start of every quarter, create a map that includes all the paths you and your team could take. In creating the map, you’ll realize that for some paths to be accessed, there’s a connecting road that must be charted first. Drawing these relationships creates a clearer picture of what’s possible and what’s required to achieve each goal.

After your map is finalized, invite each department to join together, discuss the options, and place a department-wide sticker of support next to their chosen priorities. Then, bring all the maps together to see where there’s alignment. While the stickers aren’t the be all and end all (there is veto power), the exercise helps get it all on the table.

Hang the maps after the final decisions are made. You’ll have a visual record of the company’s growth plan that existing and new team members can look to for historic reference and future expectations.


If there’s one office supply we can’t live without, it’s a whiteboard. On the walls that aren’t painted with whiteboard paint, we have hanging whiteboards. We don’t stop there. We have standing whiteboards, too, just in case.

Why? Two primary reasons.

  1. Share concepts
  2. Brainstorm

I’m not ashamed to admit that I would not understand our analytics technology if our chief technology officer didn’t break it down for me with stick figures and arrows. On the flipside, though, our CTO may not understand equity positions, partnerships, or proformas without my corresponding charts and sketches. Drawing is a universal language that helps different departments communicate.

In addition to concept sharing, whiteboard drawings also provide a space to work through half-baked ideas. Sometimes the “artist” needs to draw through his thought process to reach a higher understanding. During this thinking time, he can invite team members to help him. It’s like a game of Pictionary, except you don’t know exactly what you’re supposed to be drawing.


When I founded my startup Medalogix, I wanted to catalog the different moments—both good and bad—of the company’s young history, mostly to look back on as the company grew into the next big technology company.

I’d enter something candid like, “Medalogix website launched. My friend Ian did it for free, in exchange for beer,” and then categorize the event as either a high or a low by attaching a red or green color block to it. The document is now a pretty lengthy timeline with equal parts red and green.

Not only can team members see the entry of their hiring in the timeline, but they can also take a peek into my commentary on our company, learn our company history, and revisit the company’s journey.

I’ve since hung the timeline outside my door. It’s become a resource for newer team members who want a casual overview of the company history. This brings all employees up to speed and provides a reference for why the business operates the way it does today.

Also, all team members take a DiSC personality assessment. We display the results by adding each team member to a diagram of the personality spectrum. This way we all have a quick reference point for our coworkers’ work and communication styles. This helps with management and communication.

Visuals don’t have to be stationary. These days gifs are used by all generations to explain ideas. What better way to show off your core values than to find gifs that display them and then present them in a rolling slideshow?

For instance, one of our core values is “Live 360,” which means live a balanced life. A gif of a skateboarder achieving an inverted loop illustrates this, and it’s cool to watch. Gif-ed core values help reinforce company values in a creative, fun way.

Transforming your business into a visual organization can take time, but the reward is worth the effort. With so many different communicator types in a business, visuals can help everyone understand the company’s products and goals while staying on the same page.

12 Motorcycles That Trace the Evolution of the All-American Chopper

The art critic Robert Hughes called the custom motorcycle a distinctive form of American folk art, but “I would go further,” Paul d’Orléans writes in the introduction to The Chopper: The Real Story.

He calls the Chopper “the ultimate American folk art movement, a culturally explosive mashup of particularly American traits; the cowboy/outlaw,

free of family, property, or history, free to explore endless highways, free to express one’s individuality through dress and choice of transport.”

Distinguished by its extended forks, lack of rear suspension, and tall sissybar, the Chopper was preceded by styles like the bob-job

and cut-down, and grew out of efforts to make Harley-Davidsons and other bikes lighter, faster, and more agile.

But in d’Orléans’ telling, it was more than a question of mechanics. It was the culmination of decades of motorcycle culture, spurred on

by American societal shifts brought on by World War 2, changing race relations, and the explosive counterculture of the 1950s and ’60s.

The Chopper, published by Gestalten, tells the story of that evolution, from the 1904 bike believed to be the first “truly custom motorcycle”

and the bike gangs that terrified America in the 1950s, to Easy Rider and the 21st century takes on the iconic style.

Here’s a selection of bikes and riders, photographed over a stretch of 110 years, that helped lodge the Chopper firmly in the American public consciousness.

Deception Has Been A Part Of Architecture Since Long Before Photoshop

Whatever style you please … Soane’s designs for Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, in variously Norman, Gothic and neoclassical manners. All images courtesy of the Soane Museum 

Where now architects might use photoshop, Sir John Soane’s elaborate paintings once sold clients on big projects.

Renderings do not always tell the truth. Colors and materials change, trees placed into balconies and plazas disappear, and projects that looked bathed in a heavenly light on the computer screen end up looking more like concrete fortresses in real life.

Joseph Michael Gandy’s painting of Soane’s proposal for a new triumphal entrance to Downing Street, exhibited at the Royal Academy Annual Exhibition, 1825 

Computers have certainly made it easier to create perfect-looking, totally impossible architecture. But architects have been using visual trickery since long before digital software came onto the scene, as a new exhibit at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London underscores.

Building a Dialogue draws on archival drawings and models from John Soane, an English architect, to reveal the 19th-century equivalent of elaborate Photoshopping.

Soane’s scheme for the Privy Council Chamber … ‘magnificent and suited to such an assemblage as the Lords of the richest Treasury probably in the world,’ as one observer put it. 

Beautiful visuals—whether or not they match reality—have helped architects sell their case for years.

For instance, when Soane was hired to clean up and repair the exterior of the Bank of England, he instead drew up a proposal to redesign the entire block-length facade.

Elaborate paintings of his grand scheme by Soane’s draftsman, Joseph Michael Gandy, sold the bank‘s board, and Soane took on the role of the company’s architect for the next 45 years, during which he rebuilt almost every part of the building.

The Bank of England’s Tivoli Corner, built in 1807

In another case, Soane was asked to create alternative designs to his neoclassical proposal for the Holy Trinity Church in London.

He complied—but placed the concepts in styles requested by the client within the same painting, lined up one next to the other. Soane’s preferred neoclassical design shines the brightest, literally. It’s depicted bathed in sunshine, while the others fade into shadows.

Joseph Michael Gandy’s painting of Soane’s proposal for a new triumphal entrance to Downing Street, exhibited at the Royal Academy Annual Exhibition, 1825 

Detailed paintings illustrated future buildings in a flattering light, selling clients on expensive and time-consuming commissions—not that it was always a successful tactic.

Soane’s design for a monumental new entrance to the official residences at Downing Street in 1825 never became reality, despite gorgeous illustrations of its potential.

Engraving of Robert Adam’s Admiralty Screen, sold in the form of prints and postcards, which inspired imitation knock-offs 

Perhaps he could have made it happen if he had been able to Photoshop a celebrity into the foreground?

Building a Dialogue: The Architect and the Client runs until May 9, 2015, at the Soane Museum in London.

[via The Guardian]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 576 other followers

%d bloggers like this: