Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NEMO Coat of Arms

Since the original NEMO “N” shield logo was designed to resemble a medieval shield, we’ve been itching to make NEMO’s very own coat of arms for a while. Last July, I started to design the crest, which we eventually put on a NEMO tshirt. Here’s a closer look at some of the details.

  1. I wanted to put in an airbeam because this is one of NEMO’s main technologies. On this upper part of the airbeam, you see the inflation valve and the deflator cap (pretty true to the real construction), which helps the airbeam from looking like a boring black tube. The poles on the other side (#4) make a good counterpart to the airbeam – and rounds out the symmetry in the crest.

  2. The upper left section of the shield is a graphic element that I thought fit in well with the rest of the shield elements. The diagonal stripes are one of the more common design details I’ve seen found in medieval shields.

  3. This radiating burst is another graphic element. It helps the shield look less empty up top. I originally tried an illustrated eagle head up there, but it looked a little weird and creepy.

  4. The aluminum poles are the counterpart to the airbeam. Originally, I had tried things like katanas (inspiration) and ice tools (more outdoorsy) there, but it made more sense to put the ‘weapons’ in NEMO’s arsenal – namely airbeam technology and pole technology. There’s a little sheen to the poles so they don’t look so flat. Here's what the ice tool version looks like. Ignore the dragon among the leaves...

  5. The upper right section of the shield are birch leaves. The color of our green tents is inspired from the green color of birch leaves.

  6. This is the original NEMO “N” shield.

  7. This black shield around the “N” helps the white “N” pop a little more. I didn’t bother making it follow the curves of the “N”; instead it’s a more elongated version of the bigger shield.

  8. These flourishes are inspired from a few details I had seen in other coat of arms. They are a standard graphic element from that era too.

  9. Adventure Anywhere™ is a NEMO tagline that we often use. I wanted to use a script font that was similar in style to the way “NEMO” is written in the center. Earlier, I had tried a more medieval font (like this) , but it started to look like something for Zelda.

  10. The compass represents NEMO’s attention to detail and design.

  11. The tail of the eagle is a lot more geometric than the wings. There was no real reason for this other than the fact that I thought it looked cool. The style is reminiscent of German/Russian/Eastern Bloc representations of eagles.

  12. The ‘NEMO’ was originally suppose to look carved in, but I played around with the style and liked this embossed look better.

  13. The edge binding on this banner is a detail that mimics the edge binding found on our tents.

  14. The banner is another common element found on many coats of arms. Here's one example that was one of my inspirations

  15. Bet you didn’t notice this barrel I snuck in here. There a some surfers here in the office and I thought this would be a good shout out. Originally, there was a lot more froth and detail in the wave but I decided that it would have been lost in the print job.

  16. The mountains you see here were originally the NEMO mountains. Before that, they were trees.

    In the end, I decided to simplify it all and make it a more symbolic representation of the mountains that we all play in and are inspired by.

  17. These are eagle wings (a flying eagle is a key part of the NEMO logo). They are fairly realistic (more so than the tail). They add some drama to the coat of arms.


A Night with the Presidents

Last summer I did my first 24 hour Presidential Traverse, which set into motion the goal of doing a section in winter. The Presidential Range is located in the White Mountain National Forest and includes Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce mountains.

I called my good friend and guide for Synott Mountain Guides, Steve, to see if he’d take me. Since his main job in the winter is to guide traverses and mountaineering courses in the Presidential’s, I figured he was my man. Steve regularly carries Tenshi and Moki for himself and his clients, but when I told him we needed to do some product testing, I think that sealed the deal.

Because I haven’t been able to do much backcountry skiing this season, we decided to bring our skis and see what kind of turns we could get. We started at Appalachia Trail via Valley Way to the Madison Hut. The air and trees were wet from rain the night before and temperatures were hovering around freezing. Once we hit tree line, there was a break in the clouds and the sun started to shine.

From the Madison Hut, we traversed around Mt. Adams to our campsite below the Israel Ridge, between Adams and Jefferson. We had covered approximately 6 miles on our skis and I was exhausted. It’s amazing how much harder and slower winter travel is. The site afforded phenomenal views of Mt. Washington and Jefferson as well as the valley below. Clear nighttime skies exposed billions of stars (although honestly, after a long day and a few nips of Wild Turkey, I was in my sleeping bag by 6:30). There is something to be said about camping under the stars far away from anyone else – it’s peaceful and encourages reflection.

Our night was uncommonly mild. Steve said he regularly encounters winds of 60-80 mph at his standard camp spot where we were. I must admit I was excited about the calm. In the morning we cooked up rice pilaf and tea and our water for the day. We then made our way up Jefferson via crampons and ice axes. Once we hit Mt. Clay, we were able to put our skis back on and skin to the summit of Washington.

Bright sunny skies made for nice spring corn – this is why we were here! After about 20 good turns below the West Summit Snowfields, we were hiking through dry ground over shrubs and rocks. Then, more good turns down Ray’s Cataract. The turns were soft and fun, even with a 40 lbs. pack. Once we got to the constriction, we decided not to take the rollover because water was flowing underneath and a big hole was visible, making for unstable conditions. So, we bushwhacked over to the Lion’s Head Trail where we once again donned crampons for the steep descent. A final 2 mile push skiing down the Sherburne Trail brought us to our car and the much anticipated six pack stashed.

After two days of traversing, we covered about 16 miles. My tired legs and blistered feet were relieved to be done. And the gear testing – a success. We were warm, dry and cozy all night. All around, a great experience that was long overdue.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

(RE)purposeful Design

These days, we’ve all been thinking here about how to do a little more with less. In some cases, ‘less’ doesn’t just mean less cost; it can also mean less raw materials, less waste, and less energy used. Our first major step in repurposing was the Ditto Tote Bag. Lately, we’ve been inspired by the furniture designs of Brazilian designer Zanini de Zanine Caldas, who uses both reclaimed and sustainable materials in constructing his very awesome/coveted furniture.

A favorite of mine is the surf bench/table made from the leftovers of surfboard manufacturers. Next time you break a board, remember to save it and make your very own bench/stool. Check out more of his designs at 2Z Moveis or the original post on Treehugger.

In the past month or so, we’ve been working on some new bag designs, made from repurposed Hypno PQs. The design isn’t finalized yet, but we've taken a lot of feedback we received about the original Ditto bag into account. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s on tap!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Garbage – An Afterthought of the Recession

The recession has got us all thinking a little differently. Money’s tighter, so how we spend it is changing. Many of us are looking for our dollar to go further. One way to do this is to consider the lifespan of the products we buy.

Here at NEMO we’ve been talking about planned obsolescence and the idea of creating a product that is made for the long haul. According to Wikipedia, planned obsolescence “is the process of a product becoming obsolete and/or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer.” (Vacuum cleaners come to mind as a great example of a product that doesn’t last as long as it used to.)

Americans might be the biggest offenders of closets full of "junk" and that’s not an idea we want to perpetuate. It’s always been essential to NEMO’s mission to use high quality materials and construction to create a product our customers will be able to use for camping season after camping season. Recently, we have been trying to take this to new levels in our product line.

Along these lines, a friend forwarded this article on foreclosed homes (NY Times) and the garbage that comes with them. Seeing as my husband and I just built a new home, this article hit ‘close to home’ as we talk about furnishing and moving in. Every time we make a purchase, we make a statement about what's important to us and what we’re willing to spend money on. I think consumers play a much bigger role than they realize in determining future products and their design.

BEACH CLEANUP UPDATE: On Friday, we picked up 178 lbs. of garbage from Jenness Beach.

Photo courtesy www.nytimes.com.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NEMO website spring 2009 update

NEMO’s new website is now live! We’ve been working hard here to launch the site complete with the dish about new products, green/sustainable efforts, community partners, etc. There's plenty to explore as we've doubled the number of products and added a pad/pillow line to the mix. We’ve also made the product pages easier to directly access from the main menu.

Drop us a line if you have any questions/feedback about navigation or content of the site.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Design is integral to every part of NEMO. We go through an intricate and iterative process every time we set out to create a new product. Every graphic element concerning NEMO from advertisements and catalogs to hangtags, product manuals, and stickers is designed by us. Our office is organized and decorated by the fun furniture we design and build. NEMO's marketing agenda is designed, not planned. Even our Director of Sales has a degree in industrial design.

It is therefore no surprise that we are excited about a new film debuting in Austin this week at the South by Southwest Festival. Objectified, from director Gary Hustwit (of Helvetica fame, another great film for design geeks), is about “industrial design, and the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It's about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It's about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.”

Personally I think great design, a solution perfect in its simplicity, function, and form, is rare to come by in the isles of our stores. But at those times when we stumble upon it or struggle through the process of extracting it, a design can be as beautiful as the outdoor world that inspires us.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Earth Day Celebrations

Celebrate Earth Day with NEMO Equipment, Alison Gannett (world champion freeskier, award winning environmentalist and NEMO ambassador), and Harpoon. There will be an inspiring presentation by Alison on Global Cooling accompanied by beer, food and raffle prizes. Raffle prizes include NEMO products, Harpoon schwag, EMS products, and Outside Magazine subscriptions. Stay tuned for more to come.

Who: Alison Gannett, NEMO Equipment, Harpoon, and you
What: Earth Day Celebrations and a talk on Global Cooling
Where: Rattlesnake Bar & Grill, 384 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116, 617-859-8555
When: Wednesday, April 22 6:00pm

Alison has spent most of her life working on solutions to global warming and has had a lot of incredible adventures along the way. These days, she travels the world as a global cooling consultant training many of the key players. Her many awards include being selected by Outside Magazine as a Green All-Star, alongside Willie Nelson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NEMO Office Dog Profile Part 1: Leroy Brown

Age: 12-18? The hips don’t lie; either an old man or an old, old man.
Breed: Dalmation mix
Favorite Snack: carrots
Pet Peeves: stairs
Favorite part of being at NEMO: Getting lots of attention from folks in the office
First thing people notice: my big toothy smile
Best known for: pretending to be deaf; dropping bombs and sneaking away
Greatest Fears: loud noises, loneliness
Favorite command to disobey: ‘Come here’, ‘Come now!’, ‘LEROY, COME!!’
Wishes NEMO would make: TUO sleeping pad for dogs for cold/hard floors OR bacon treats
Aspirations: to be let off the leash


Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring (Beach) Cleaning

NEMO's next monthly beach cleanup at Jenness Beach is scheduled for next Friday, March 20. As usual, we expect to be there around low to mid tide. For those locals who are interested in joining, please email journey@nemoequipment.com. Hopefully this new snow dump will disappear from the beach (but not the mountains) in time for some good ole' fashion trash picking!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hang Time

No, we're not talking about that great Saturday morning show on NBC; we're referring to the NEMO office's daily session on the hangboard. Armed with a stopwatch, there's nothing better to make 5 seconds seem like 30 seconds, 30 seconds seems like 5 minutes, and 2 minutes seem like a lifetime.

We keep a whiteboard with all our best times for motivation. Who knew it took strong hands and great core strength to make tents?