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.+
This has little to do with design or technology or even unhinged rants about popular beverages, but I thought I’d share it anyway because it really left an impression on me.
Over the weekend, my wife, my daughter and I watched this episode of the PBS series “Nature” called “Animal Odd Couples” and it left me a sobbing wreck. It examines the emotional life of animals by looking closely at a handful of cases where mammals of different species have formed bonds — even friendships.
Despite the odds, there are countless stories of the most unlikely cross-species relationships imaginable: a goat guiding a blind horse; a doe who regularly visits her Great Dane surrogate mother; a juvenile gibbon choosing to live with a family of capuchins, and so on. Instincts gone awry? The subject has mystified scientists for years. Now, ‘Nature’ investigates why animals form these special bonds. Informed by the observations of caregivers and noted scientists Temple Grandin and Marc Bekoff, the film explores what these relationships suggest about the nature of animal emotions.
This sounds like a naïvely wishful realization of every talking animal Disney movie ever, but it’s much, much more affecting than that. The story of a “goat guiding a blind horse” mentioned above is monumentally heartbreaking, and could possibly change your understanding of what an animal is entirely.
The episode is available on streaming services like Netflix. Helpfully, since “Nature” is a PBS show, you can also stream it for free at the show’s Web site or, if the embed code is working, right here.
Make sure you have a box of tissues at the ready.+