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Verge Favorites: James Chae

Verge Favorites: James Chae


A true Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium Condensed fan

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The Verge staffers aren't just people who love technology. They're people who love stuff. We spend as much time talking and thinking about our favorite books, music, and movies as we do debating the best smartphone to buy or what point-and-shoot has the tightest macro. We thought it would make sense to share our latest obsessions with Verge readers, and we hope you're encouraged to share your favorites with us. Thus a long, healthy debate will ensue where we all end up with new things to read, listen to, or try on. Today, designer James Chae shares his picks.


I wasn’t allowed to listen to rap music when I was growing up. When I was in college, "conscious rap" was all the rage. So I missed out on a lot of classic rap, but Kendrick caught me up in his 2011 mixtape Section.80, a 60-minute long diary that takes you through the streets of Compton’s sociopolitical past. For anyone confused about the contradictions in hip hop culture, please listen to this tape.

Olympus XA

My first post-graduate apartment was broken into and my laptop and digital camera were both stolen. Rather than go out and get a new digital point-and-shoot, I decided to explore film cameras. I stumbled upon the Olympus XA after some flickr and Camerpedia browsing. This "professional’s point-and-shoot" is a great piece of hardware. For $30 it’s a much better camera than a Lomo and you get similar effects.


Designed by Günter Gerhard Lange, Akzidenz is a true workhorse typeface. Many will mistake it for Helvetica, but this is that Swiss whimp’s grandpa. Lange originally designed the family in 1896, and expanded it during the '50s to its current form. Not only is it a beautifully drawn typeface, it's got a wide range of weights (light, italic, bold, etc…) I use Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium Condensed on my personal business cards.

Anish Kapoor

The first time I encountered Kapoor’s work was at the Tate Modern in London. I was so perplexed by the dark blue box that I actually touched the piece! It was a deep blue rectangle that appeared to sink into the wall. I was terrified that my eyes weren’t working so I felt no apprehension in touching the piece. His work is simple and it really makes me rethink time. I’m always excited to see his work in person, which is increasingly rare in this Tumblr age.

Boiler Room TV

My second musical passion is house music. What started as a secret party in London has turned into a global music phenomenon. This party series is now active in four cities (London, Berlin, NYC, LA) and has hosted some of the most important DJs and electronic musicians of our time. My personal favorites of recent are: Apparat, Roman Flüegel, Kerri Chandler, and Groundislava. What I love about this show is that by being streamed online it celebrates the open-minded culture of dance music. The parties themselves may be exclusive, but everyone can tune in at home and dance.

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