The Brilliance!

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#INTERNET Ah, we're back! Like we said, we were just "chilling out" for like 3 years. Feels good to have the team back writing. Still us three: Chuck, Benjamin, and Virgil. Got new interviews coming up, and hopefully we'll be posting on a regular basis, who knows. We also interviewed each other, check: CHUCK, BENJAMIN, VIRGIL...

Interview! > Benjamin Edgar

No college, putting water into a well-designed box and getting it into the hands of everyone from festival kids to a mom stopping at the market to celebrities & cultural icons, a knowledge & taste for art, design, and fashion that rivals anyone I've ever met, its "that dude" Benjamin Edgar. One of my oldest friends and one of the funniest guys you'll ever meet, Benjamin is constantly experimenting, tinkering, and taste-making through his ideas. Whether its Boxed Water, his fashion label Benjamin Edgar, THE BRILLIANCE!, entrepreneur/VC/Start Garden stuff (read on), or his side job as a rollerblading mall security guard, he's always got something good to say.

follow benjamin on twitter @benjaminedgar

VIRGIL: Kids know youve been busy. Care to say what you’ve been busy doing?

BENJAMIN: Man - sometimes I’m not ever sure what my main focus is!  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Been doing: sculpting the social scene of Grand Rapids with my friends here, its one of my favorite projects.  Learning a ton about how different “niche” business is from “big” business at Boxed Water.  I’m work with a venture capital project called “Start Garden”  - thats crazy to me when I stop and think about it.  I feel like what we are doing is genuinely moving and changing the way new American business is working, starting, growing.  What else.  Still doing the fashion stuff - slower than I’d like.  Oh yeah, I’ve been “creative direction” stuff with bands that my friends are in - so fun.  Rock and roll specifically - my favorite thing about rock and roll is that its perpetually cool - always in fashion - just ask Hedi.  And Margaritas with jalapeños are my favorite new drink.  Or whatever.


VIRGIL: BOXED WATER? Can you speak a bit about it?

BENJAMIN: It’s interesting when a project gets big.  In the beverage industry we learned that you effectively HAVE to be big - especially in the nonalcoholic space - you have to be national for everything to operate at maximum efficiency.  This is crazy for a kid like me - you know, it was a “project” at first - everything really is - but in our case I went so left-field with the design.  I was literally uninhibited by investors, preexisting notions on the industry, etc.  It was created entirely in my head - and then placed on a shelf.  I love that.  I’m humbled by the support that the market has given us.  Zillion lessons learned - not out of the woods by any means yet.  Ha, no one has gotten rich off it despite the rumors on the street.  At like 3 years old, we’re an infant in the beverage game - but in internet years thats like decades!!  I love the company/project a ton - still makes me smile every time I see someone I don’t know with one - I feel star-struck almost.  Shout out to Kevin Hockin for everything.


VIRGIL: What was the last .mp3 you added to your iTunes?

BENJAMIN: An RL GRIME mix.  !!!


VIRGIL: BENJAMIN EDGAR, OR WHATERVER has dropped some pretty infamous t-shirts. Any plans on a re-release?

BENJAMIN: Yeah man!  I’m taking long than I thought.  I think I let the weird success of the first collection kind of cloud my vision for the second.  It’s en route.  It’s actually going to be smaller - more thoughtful this go around.  It’s weird that its a men’s line but all I want to do is dress women in it for the shoot.  Maybe I will, who cares.


VIRGIL: Do you think twitter will have the same fate of myspace? Will Facebook turn into Myspace? Does instagram have a ceiling?

BENJAMIN: What’s interesting is that I look at Twitter as a protocol - not a social network.  Like how phones, fax, text, etc, they are all protocols in a sense.  FTP is a protocol.  They are all frameworks for communication.  I always say people look at Facebook as a utility - like heat, water, electricity, etc.  And that perception is kind of becoming reality.  Facebook isn’t a brand like Apple or even Google for that matter.  It’s just this “thing” we have.  I think Mark Zuckerberg is super interesting - he’s not Steve Jobs, he has a different focus.  Instagram is pictures = 1,000 words in a split second.  Instragram is literally a game.  And I dig it.  Ceiling - don’t know - they are part of Facebook now, you know?


VIRGIL: Kids often say that Apple is no longer the same since Steve Jobs passed away. Do agree? You think he left a roadmap of what to do next?

BENJAMIN: I think he left a legacy, a roadmap, etc.  But human nature gets in the way of that.  Accountants get in the way.  Being rational gets in the way.  He wasn’t rational, he was something entirely else.  Is it different?  Yeah, took like 9-12 months and you could start to tell.  When the new iPad came out and the tagline was “Resolutionary” I was just like…come on man.  So corny.  I love my iPhone 5, its the best phone out, but its an incremental improvement to what we know - not some exponential “holy shit” product like we’ve seen in the past.  You also simply can’t be the best forever - and it’s important to remember that Apple’s insane growth and innovation came from them being in last place - they had to hustle.  Maybe they need to feel failure again?


VIRGIL: Say an iPhone was off limits what would you get? Samsung galaxy? Vertu? What? LOL.

BENJAMIN: Blackberry I guess.  Actually maybe a windows phone?  I don’t know.  Nothing at all, ha?


VIRGIL: Vans or common projects?

BENJAMIN: Vans!!  I still never have bought a pair of common projects.  That shoe is the worlds biggest mystery to me.  I look at it like, that is perfection!!!!  Put it on my foot and I feel like I photoshopped a shoe on my foot.  Doesn’t work for some reason.


VIRGIL: Why do you think Trap music hasn’t died like kids thought it would?

BENJAMIN: It’s kind of got that punk/rock vibe, right?  Energy?  Same reason maybe dance music and R&B never really die?  I also think there is something fairly magical happening in the past 2-3 years that has been largely led by Diplo, in my opinion, that all genres of music like each other and with that we get constant innovation.  Those lex luger drums are on everything now!


CHUCK: What are your top 3-5 favorite funny internet videos of all-time? Where does cat-gate rank in there?

Still number one.  Honestly.  Its just the funniest video possible.  I think it should be shown at art museums - honestly.  Hmmm.

That “Beyonce Clown” one still like the most “internet” video in a while.  Like, why are you filming yourself?  Why do you have a mask?  How did it end up online??  LOL.


CHUCK: You’re in front of the internet first thing in the morning. After you realize you have no good emails, what sites are must-reads to kick off the day?

Hmm.  I hated instagram’s logo when it first came out so I never used it.  I just hate distressed fonts.  But now its like one of my favorite things to check in the morning - pictures obviously being easier to consume than text, quicker.  I actually check my RSS feed via the “Reeder” app, which is honestly one of the more useful and beautiful apps ever created.  Drudge Report, Business Insider (Gawker of business, I swear.)  Yeah, but mostly I’m in the Reeder app.


CHUCK: What were your favorite websites 10 years ago? Any sites you miss that aren’t around anymore or sites that have changed so much and you miss what they used to be?

BENJAMIN: Oddly enough, probably NikeTalk.  And I hardly wear Nikes and have never posted on the site.  There was something fascinating about the weird “culture” on that site.

Yeah, remember when The Cobra Snake was helping define a given look for a moment in time?  That was interesting.  Hmmm - I don’t know, its weird how I’ve switched over to RSS and I used to hate it - so I don’t “see” many of the sites I check.  I really don’t like the new Gawker layout that they have on their blog.  I DUNNO CHUCK!!!

CHUCK: You keep an ‘inspiration folder’ on your computer. How many images are in it? How old is it? Can I see it? Can I have it?

BENJAMIN: YEAH U CAN HAVE IT, LOL, NBD.  Folder says “1,787 items” when I hit Get Info.  First photos are like 2007 I think?  I’m so stoked to have it.  It’s probably like 75% off JJJJound though, ha.  That and pictures of chevron floors.  And Porsche 911s, even though I don’t know if I’d really get one.

CHUCK: Hotels you’ve stayed in: Favorite? Craziest? Smallest room? Best soap brand in the bathroom? Funniest hotel story?

BENJAMIN: Honestly, its probably The Public in Chicago.  It’s not the nicest, but its the one I feel the most chilled out at - probably stayed there like 15 times.  I go for Christmas in the afternoon and stay by myself - people say its weird, but I dig it.  One of my favorite details of the hotel is how they painted over the old linen wallpaper with white paint, ton of coats, but you can still see the texture.  I love that. 

Smallest room??  With you in NYC on our first trip staying at the Hudson, ha.  Shit man, its was so small.  Hilarious. 

Best soap?  Stayed at this hotel in Minneapolis of all places called Graves that had Hermes soap.  Pretty nice hotel too.

Funniest story??  Hmm, for Virgil’s bachelor party we trashed a room in Madison, ha.  Man - too many stories from that trip.  But I think throwing a Philip Starck chair at you in NYC was pretty funny…sorry.


CHUCK: What’s your favorite restaurant/store/neighborhood in Chicago & NYC?

Chicago its used to be Hejfina, but its certainly RSVP now.  Though Maria at the Barney’s downtown is one of the best sales-people I’ve ever interacted with.  She always gives me a coconut water cause she can tell I had too much fun the night before.  Gold Coast of Chicago, the few blocks that The Public Hotel is in - the best, very quiet.  BIG STAR in Chicago cause sometimes I like simple stuff - plus those spicy margaritas man.


CHUCK: I know how much you love Audi as a product and a brand but what other car companies are getting it right these days? Any non-luxury brands doing things that really excite you from an innovation or design standpoint?

BENJAMIN: FORD!  Honestly.  If this was back when we started THE BRILLIANCE there would be no way I’d say that, you know?  But the Ford Focus kind of started it all.  They started paying attention to detail!  The materials could still use some work - but at the cost they are delivering, its better and more thoughtful than the Jetta.  Seriously, who would have thought??  Telsa is cool, but I don’t like any of their designs.  The Telsa S kinda looks like a Sebring - sorry!!!  Don’t just put LEDs on the headlight - do something interesting!!


CHUCK: Describe your perfect 3-course dinner + what you’re drinking.

BENJAMIN: It’s certainly starting at THE GROVE here in Grand Rapids, uptown.  Kenton is the best service/bartender around.  Sit at the bar, thats the trick.  I love how they setup their 3 course menu.  I have the tendency to get the same stuff all the time…so its like: a super kind of artful salad of sorts to start, then the chicken livers and waffles thing, then the crazy Otto’s chicken - all with a rose wine they have called “spaceman” and talking to Kenton the whole time about car detailing, ha.

CHUCK: Coconut shrimp or mozzarella sticks? Coors Light or La Fin Du Monde? Orchids or roses? Gmail.com or Gmail through Mail app? You can only wear one: black tee or white tee?

BENJAMIN: Shrimps duh.  Actually I’ll take both.  Coors Light, honestly.  Orchids.  Mail app.  Black.

> Website: http://www.benjaminedgar.com/