Weekend Adventure in So-Cal

June 4, 2012 — 11 Comments

I went to Southern California last week on a working holiday to visit the Bosch Experience and Design Center to take a look at  Bosch appliances and BLANCO sinks and faucets. These trips are really fun but there is typically a lot of work involved. The people who put on these events spend a lot of time culling through who should come since it costs them a small fortune to put on an event like this … and let’s be honest, most people want me there in hopes that I write about their product here on the website …

… which is why I turn down 90% of all the invitations I receive. For the record, if it’s not of value to my clients or a benefit to my ability to practice architecture, I don’t go. Part of the reason I turn so many invitations down is that I have to take personal – vacation – time to go on these trips, the super-mean people I work for don’t give me time off for “boondoggles”. I am a big fan of both of these product lines and who isn’t a fan of Southern California? What this means to you is that I took a trip, brought my wife, my daughter, and a camera.

What did I learn?

Bob and Kate sitting on a rock

That I like climbing out on rocks.

Bob standing on a rock

and my wife likes taking pictures of me out on rocks.

Bob standing on a rock

A lot.

Bosch Rapid Prototyping

But that wasn’t the only thing I learned. I spent a ridiculous amount of time learning about rapid prototyping and the how Bosch uses it to determine how different dials feel in your hand – specifically how people of different ages and with different levels of motor control can use these dials. I think too few people spend enough time thinking about aging in place but when you build a product that will easily last 15 to 20 years, you have to think about such things. For that reason, Bosch decided to put us through some of the same tests that their designers go through.

Bosch Aging in Place experiment

Yes – that is my giant monkey hand but you have got to give me props for those nails! They aren’t dirty OR yellow (fungus free high five!)!! I got my finger joints taped up to limit my mobility and then I slid on a pair of rubber gloves (seen lying on the countertop below my hand) to impair my sense of touch. After I was “prepped” I ran through a series of tests where I filled up pots, put them on the stove, turned it on and off, changed temperatures and settings, set timers, etc. You would be surprised how much insight you can get going through this process.

Nick in a pregnancy suit

This was another test we went through … thank you grilled cheezus that it’s not me in the pregnancy suit (we’re still not sure who the father of that child might be). That’s Nick (aka @cupboards) sporting a horrific look in loafers, fake baby belly and cantaloupe sized man-breasts. In this exercise, we evaluated how the relative ease of loading a dishwasher gets complicated if you are pregnant.

[man shudder]

Nick was a good sport about wearing the suit and had to endure the near hysterical laughter that came at his expense. Based on the number of flashes popping and people with cellphones jockeying for position, you would have thought Justin Bieber had just dropped his pants down in front of the paparazzi.

After it was all over, I had spent the better part of two days with the designers from Bosch and BLANCO talking about their process of design and it was incredibly enlightening to me to see how these industrial designer go about their business of making greatness even greater. My opinions are my own and I did not receive compensation to write this post but if you aren’t familiar with Bosch and BLANCO, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

Exploring Crystal Cove at Laguna Beach

Kate exploring at the beach

After the working part of my trip was completed, I was able to enjoy some of the benefits Southern California has to offer. We stayed at The Tides Laguna Beach Hotel which was pretty groovy and had a well-informed couple that ran the office that gave us solid advice on where to explore and where to eat. On Saturday we drove 90 minutes down the road and spent the entire day at the San Diego Zoo. I didn’t make any architecturally related side trips – nothing – just me and the family at the zoo.

San Diego Zoo - photo by Bob Borson

That’s what made this particular trip a holiday. Well, that and the weather is a lot nicer than what we have going on here in Texas.




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  • Dickson, GNU Group

    Bob, this is a great idea mixing a little work with family pleasure! Did it for the first time this Spring in Santa Barbara. Loved coming back from meetings to a full room family exuberance rather than an empty one with hopes of a phone call.


    • Yes – it was nicer to come back to my daughter bouncing on the hotel bed and going for family walks exploring the neighborhoods around our hotel. I think everyone enjoyed this trip

  • Kyle

    You should have stopped at the Salk on your trip down the coast if you’re a Kahn fan. Next time.

    • I thought about it but since I had my family with me (and spent about 60% of my time away from them) I figured I’d let them choose what they wanted to do … my daughter choose the zoo over the Salk Institute (but give her time, she’s only 7)

  • Great post, but I just couldn’t stop scrolling back to those pictures of Nick. LOL.

  • I have family in LB! Hope you ate at the Lumberyard. Was the Sawdust festival open yet? Did you check out the farmer’s market?

    • Awesome
      I didn’t
      It wasn’t
      I didn’t

      I worked, went to the beach and climbed on rocks and then went to the zoo. In some ways, that defines everything in my life 🙂

  • Man Love! sounds like a great trip Bob! cheers!

    • Thanks JB although I am not really sure how to respond to your comment – those are two phrases I didn’t ever think would show up on my site.

      Nice work!

  • Garrrrrgggh, Laguna is only 3 hours from us, if the traffic isn’t too bad. What a bummer. We would have loved to blackmail you OR Nick in that pregnant lady outfit.

    • I am un-blackmailable so you would have to focus your attention on Nick (I think he would be okay with that BTW)