is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
I’ve written about Francis Lam’s wonderful little world at db-db.com before, about how it’s an impressive feat of Flash engineering combined with some interesting ideas about online communities. Lam has just rolled out a beta release of db-db version 4, and with it he manages to outdo himself.In its previous state, db-db upended the notion of an online community by simply superimposing online chat and an avatar-driven cyberspace’ on top of what would otherwise be merely an expertly-rendered design portal.
With version 4, Lam has added another layer: an inverted portfolio of design noodlings. He’s splayed chunks of unorthodox Flash widgets all over the place, with no apparent regard for conventional information design principles. The result is a crazy kind of sketchbook, where everything happens everywhere at once.
This a triumph for design esoterica, and a real break from most of db-db’s peers. There are plenty of sites that feature esoteric design content, but they follow roughly the same formal information architecture constraints as the Fortune 1000 businesses that contract their design masterminds; i.e., they’re organized along some kind of software-derived hierarchical fashion. That db-db version 4 does away with this almost entirely, and that it does so with a terrific amounts of humor throughout, is a testament to Lam’s uncommon ingenuity.+