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Essays


04.17.14: Rick Poynor

The Conceptual Advertising of J.G. Ballard
J.G. Ballard’s conceptual ads anticipated the emergence of culture jamming, subvertising, design fiction and speculative design.
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04.16.14: Francisco Laranjo

Critical Graphic Design: Critical of What?
A review of the current state of critical graphic design.
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04.11.14: Adam Plunkett

How to Visualize Poetry — And How Not to
Design Observer's poetry editor, Adam Plunkett, gives us a primer on visual poetry.
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04.08.14: Alexandra Lange

Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).
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04.03.14: Adam Harrison Levy

Data Loss
Adam Harrison Levy on losing everything he had stored on his phone for three years.
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04.01.14: Chris Pullman

How Can One (Re)make Swiss Typography?
Chris Pullman on the 1970's covers of Typografische Monatsblätter, a monthly journal serving the Swiss printing and typography industry.
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03.23.14: Mark Lamster

The Astrodome and the Challenges of Preservation
The Astrodome and the future of preservation.
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03.22.14: Rick Poynor

The Filmic Page: Chris Marker's Commentaires
The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.
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03.18.14: Adrian Shaughnessy

Open Source Politics/Open Source Design
A review of the identity for the radical new Danish political party, Alternativet.
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03.12.14: Rob Walker

Boris, Subverted
The Neighborhood Watch symbol Boris The Burglar is powerfully familiar; what does that mean when it's subverted?
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03.12.14: Adam Harrison Levy

Artist’s Cookbook: David Levinthal
David Levinthal's recipes of choice, his mother's brisket and her chocolate roll, are both nostalgic and riddled with more complex meanings.
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03.06.14: Alexandra Lange

Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.
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03.06.14: Chappell Ellison

You’ll Never Guess the Amazing Ways Online Design Writing and Criticism Has Changed
A call to support better desgn journalism.
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02.27.14: Michael Bierut

What Bill Knew
A 1991 speech by William Drenttel revealed what he knew about the business of design.
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02.26.14: Adam Harrison Levy

Artist’s Cookbook: Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith takes the body and turns it inside out. She makes art from innards. But she eats salad.
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02.23.14: Mark Lamster

Squaw Valley: America's Instant Olympic Village
How the Winter Olympics became Modern.
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02.19.14: Rob Walker

A Security Camera Worth Looking At
A thoughtful take on what security cameras should look like, and why.
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02.14.14: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Surface Wreckage
Why do photographs and images of torn street posters exert such a powerful hold on the imagination and emotions?
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02.13.14: Owen Edwards

The Quickest Fix
A suggestion for an easy & quick design tweak that could help reduce concussions in the NFL.
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02.11.14: Alexandra Lange

Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.
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02.05.14: Rob Walker

Personal Packaging
Fondly revisiting the look and feel of the mixtape.
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02.04.14: Rick Poynor

Why Tatlin Can Never Go Home Again
Raoul Hausmann’s photomontage Tatlin at Home is much pinned on Pinterest, but what has become of the original?
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02.01.14: Alexandra Lange

Criticism = Love
Why you have to love design to be a critic.
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01.18.14: Rob Walker

Hale County Revisited
An in-depth look at Hale County, Alabama, an accidental social-design laboratory.
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01.14.14: Alexandra Lange

Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur
Add Fredun Shapur to the pantheon of modern designers making winning and sculptural objects for children.
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01.13.14: Rick Poynor

The Compulsively Visual World of Pinterest
I have always liked Pinterest’s exclusively visual focus and unlimited boards structure. A week ago I joined.
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01.08.14: Chris Pullman

Joseph Muller-Brockmann’s Typographic Re-boot
Chris Pullman on a jolt of Swiss Modernism from 1960.
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01.03.14: Rick Poynor

Martin Sharp: People, Politics and Pop
Martin Sharp rediscovered: drawings and collages from the book People, Politics and Pop: Australians in the Sixties.
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01.02.14: Owen Edwards

For Better or Worse, This Design Endures
Owen Edwards on the enduring qualities of the AK-47.
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12.31.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Designer’s Cookbook: Jake Tilson
Only in the layered, interconnected culinary world of graphic designer, artist, cookbook author Jake Tilson could huevos rancheros eaten in Los Angeles inspire someone to cook Baid Masus, or Baghdad Special Eggs, a 13th-century Arab dish.
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12.30.13: Alexandra Lange

Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.
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12.29.13: Mark Lamster

A Tour of City Hall in the Waning Hours of the Bloomberg Administration
A tour of City Hall in the waning hours of the Bloomberg Administration.
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12.28.13: Rick Poynor

The Writings of William Drenttel
Essays from the Design Observer archive show the wide scope of William Drenttel's interests and concerns.
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12.26.13: The Editors

The Ten Most Popular Essays of 2013
Our most popular essays of 2013 range in topic from design criticim to punctuation, surrealism to fast food restaurant design, Rem Koolhaas to South African towns, and of course, the heated debate on the future of the AIGA.
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12.25.13: Michael Bierut

And May All Your Christmases Be Carefully Staged So As To Appear White
A backstage story from George Balanchine's production of The Nutcracker dramatizes how difficult it is to create magical effects.
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12.19.13: Rob Walker

Mona Lisa Selfies
Inevitably, the famous Mona Lisa has crossed paths with the selfie — and the results are charming.
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12.17.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Designer’s Cookbook: Louise Fili
Lousie Fili on her love of Italy, type and food.
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12.10.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Artist’s Cookbook: Joel Meyerowitz
Photographer Joel Meyerowitz's story of marriage and pasta con le sarde.
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12.06.13: Rick Poynor

Martin Sharp: From Satire to Psychedelia
The late Martin Sharp was a visual innovator whose work erased artificial distinctions between applied image-making and fine art.
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12.06.13: Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange

Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards
Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.
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12.03.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Artist's Cookbook: April Gornik
Artist April Gornik taught herself to cook from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
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11.27.13: Rob Walker

Is Design Benign?
Why taking a 3D-printed gun seriously is helpful way to shake the design-is-benign paradigm.
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11.26.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Artist’s Cookbook: Alex Katz
When it comes to food, Alex Katz keeps it simple.
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11.25.13: Mark Lamster

On the Line with God's Tailor
A tailor questions Moses's aesthetic judgement.
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11.19.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Designer's Cookbook: George Lois
George Lois designs iconic Esquire covers, but you should hear him talk about food.
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11.18.13: Alexandra Lange

Art On Campus
A review of the renovated Blaffer Art Museum and James Turrell's latest skyspace, "Twilight Epiphany."
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11.08.13: Alexandra Lange

L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.
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11.06.13: Mark Lamster

Can the Doomed Astrodome Save Modernism?
The Astrodome and the Future of Modern Preservation
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11.05.13: Rob Walker

Seeing The Problem
How a graphic communication campaign could help us address a real electoral map crisis: Gerrymandering 2.0.
READ MORE

10.30.13: Rick Poynor

Belgian Solutions: The True State of Things?
The foul-ups or “Belgian solutions” in a new book of street photographs are simply the way things are.
READ MORE

10.24.13: Chris Pullman

Remembering Alvin Eisenman
Alvin Eisenman received the AIGA Medal in October, 1991. Chris Pullman, a student in Eisenman's class of 1966 — and a member of the faculty ever since — gave these remarks at the event.
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10.21.13: Alexandra Lange

Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.
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10.15.13: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Brian Eno, Artist of Light
An early profile of ambient musician and producer Brian Eno’s parallel career as a visual artist.
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10.14.13: Alexandra Lange

MoMA's Modern Women
The Museum of Modern Art's new installation, "Designing Modern Women," could have made a bolder statement about the transformative role of women in 20th century design and architecture.
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10.10.13: Rick Poynor

New York: City of Spectacular Doors
For six years, Allan Markman crisscrossed New York taking pictures of remarkable doors for a new book.
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10.03.13: Alexandra Lange

Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.
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10.02.13: Rob Walker

Scenes from the Crowdcrit Revolution
Assessing the crowdcrit revolution of the past decade, and what  it could mean for serious thinking about design.
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09.30.13: Elizabeth Guffey

Design For the Rest of Us: Where Are Design Museums’ Benches?
What a lack of benches in design musems means for the exhibits.
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09.25.13: Stephen Eskilson

Heteronormative Design Discourse
The question of sexual identity, a central focus of a great deal of thought in recent decades, has received scant attention in the design world.
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09.24.13: Alexandra Lange

Learning New Tricks
Harvard doesn't have any design courses, but I've found new friends in "material culture." What it's like for a critic to go back to school.
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09.20.13: Roshanak Keyghobadi

Composing in Space: Tactile Poetry of Farhad Fozouni
A review of work by Iranian graphic designer Farhad Fozouni.
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09.16.13: Rick Poynor

Bohumil Stepan's Family Album of Oddities
Bohumil Stepan’s Familienalbum presents a series of surreally equipped and irreverently modified collages of his family.
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09.16.13: Jude Stewart

The Tricky Science of Color Perception
Color is subject to a thousand kinds of distortion as it travels from an object, through light, through your eye to your brain. Yet the tricky, interwined science and art of color perception still goes under-appreciated.
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09.09.13: Mark Lamster

High Net Space: The New International Style
High Net Space: The New International Style
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09.07.13: Rick Poynor

Bohumil Stepan's Gallery of Erotic Humor
Mapp Editions has released a digital version of Bohumil Stepan’s Galerie (1968), a surreal collection of collages and drawings about the relationship between the sexes.
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08.31.13: Rob Walker

No. 1 Object
A brief appreciation of a perfectly absurd object: The Number One Hand
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08.30.13: Alexandra Lange

A World of Paste and Paper
Today's obsession with digital renderings sparked two exhibitions that suggest a handmade, but far from quaint, corrective.
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08.30.13: Mark Lamster

Architecture's Proto-Blogger
G.E. Kidder Smith, forgotten master of architectural criticism.
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08.29.13: Rick Poynor

The Hotel that Dreamed It Was a Museum
The Walpole Bay Hotel: Living Museum, junk-clogged bane of hotel inspectors, or Wunderkammer?
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08.22.13: Rick Poynor

Collage Now, Part 1: Sergei Sviatchenko
In a crowded field, Sergei Sviatchenko’s highly reductive photo-collages look like his own and no one else’s.
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08.22.13: Rick Poynor

Collage Now, Part 2: Cut and Paste Culture
Cut-and-paste culture is booming and collage-making is rampant: paper-based, digital, and all points between.
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08.20.13: Alexandra Lange

Rural Vacation/Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?
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08.15.13: Rick Poynor

Keld Helmer-Petersen: Pioneer of Color
An accessible edition of Keld Helmer-Petersen’s 122 Colour Photographs, a landmark 1948 photobook.
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08.12.13: Rob Walker

An Accidental Time Capsule
Snapshots of late-September 2001 signage reveal a tentative American moment.
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08.09.13: Rick Poynor

David Maisel and the Apocalyptic Sublime
David Maisel’s photographs are visions of the Earth as we have never seen it full of beauty and terror.
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07.30.13: Rob Walker

Looking Better, All The Time
Alexandra Horowitz' book On Looking offers a framework, and specific tactics, for smarter seeing.
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07.29.13: Mark Lamster

A Coda on Party Wall
Thinking about MoMA's PS1 installation, Party Wall.
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07.29.13: Rick Poynor

Soft Machine's Dysfunctional Mechanism
An alternative cover for the French release of The Soft Machine’s first album alludes to the history of the machine in 20th-century art.
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07.23.13: Alexandra Lange

Nevermind the Masterpiece
What's your "Masterpiece of Everyday New York"? A broken umbrella? A shirtwaist? Discarded gum?
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07.22.13: Mark Lamster

The Lost Architectural Muse of the AIDS Generation
A new book recovers the history of beach house maestro Horace Gifford, who built for a gay generation lost to AIDS.
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07.10.13: Rick Poynor

The Incidental Pleasures of Street Art
Sprawling, evolving, accreting: a collection of recent street art photos from Portugal and Spain.
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07.10.13: Martha Scotford

Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer
Ernst Reichl, one of the top book designers of the 20th century, was also a prolific writer who wrote more than 550 comments on his book designs.
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07.08.13: Alexandra Lange

How To Unforget
The straightforward logic of "A Handbook of California Design" makes it the first step in unforgetting two generations of makers.
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07.08.13: Rob Walker

Staring Back at Security Cameras
Why the ubiquitous security deserves as much scrutiny as it gives.
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07.03.13: Phil Patton

Niels Diffrient: The Human Factor
Phil Patton remembers Niels Diffrient. Photographs by Dorothy Kresz.
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07.02.13: Rick Poynor

Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
In the mid-1990s, Inkahoots became a graphic design studio with its sights set on social causes.
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07.01.13: Alexandra Lange

An ABC of the ABCs
Were you a child? Did you read books? Then the NYPL's "ABC of It" serves as a portal back in time.
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06.26.13: Rick Poynor

Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 1
The Australian design team Inkahoots is a model of community-based graphic design practice.
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06.24.13: Mark Lamster

Lost Landmarks in New York and Fort Worth
Modern landmarks, in New York and Fort Worth, are destroyed before preservationist can act.
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06.21.13: Alexandra Lange

Every Little Thing
Cranbrook: A campus where the designers have thought of everything.
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06.20.13: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Upgrade Yourself!
If appearances matter more than ever, as we are constantly told, the personal makeover has become our most fundamental design task.
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06.13.13: Rob Walker

Street Life
In praise of street art that draws attention to more than just itself.
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06.12.13: Francisco Laranjo

The Whitney Identity: Responding to W(hat)?
A review of the new identity for the Whitney, designed by Experimental Jetset.
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06.10.13: Alexandra Lange

That Personal Touch
In the age of the digital signature, what does script mean?
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06.05.13: Owen Edwards

The Best Management Memo … Ever!
Owen Edwards on the most effective eight words he's ever read.
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06.04.13: Alexandra Lange

Praise the Partner(s)
Salute Denise Scott Brown because she deserves it, but let's not forget the other partners.
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06.02.13: Rick Poynor

The Irresistible Attraction of Self Storage
Self storage centers are places of private and public fascination and I always knew that one day I would succumb.
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05.30.13: Mark Lamster

The Family Store
An old menu prompts a rumination on the nature of food, cities, and the source of Babe Ruth's power.
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05.28.13: Alexandra Lange

The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?
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05.25.13: Rob Walker

The Hyperdocumented Sunset Strip
Using Google Street View Hyperlapse to revisit Ruscha's Sunset Strip.
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05.18.13: Alexandra Lange

Dream Weaver
On a retrospective of the work of midcentury sculptor Ruth Asawa at Christie's, her first solo show in New York in 50 years.
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05.15.13: Rick Poynor

The Conceptual Posters of Boris Bucan
Boris Bućan’s little known early posters, produced in Zagreb, were reductive, sharply defined, cerebral and enigmatic.
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05.15.13: Rob Walker

Finding The Story
Emily Spivack's exhibition of unexpectedly interesting stories from eBay.
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05.14.13: Alexandra Lange

Anxiety, Culture and Commerce
Is the museum store a distraction or an enticement?
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05.13.13: Mark Lamster

The Tower that Beer Built
A review of the Kirby (nee Busch) Building in Dallas, now a residential apartment house but originally a spec office tower financed by the St. Louis beer barron Adolphus Busch.
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05.10.13: Rob Walker

The Medium Is The Mail
Jill Stoll combines artistic ritual, creative reuse, and the postal service as connector.
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05.09.13: Rick Poynor

The Age of Wire and String Rebooted
Granta’s new edition of The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus is a landmark of experimental illustration.
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05.08.13: Jessica Helfand

Our Shopping Lists, Our Selves
Jessica Helfand on lists: from the mundane to the historical, the shopping list to the Bill of Rights.
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05.07.13: John Thackara

Paranoid But Pretty
A review of Matthias Megyeri's new show at the German Architecture Center, and a review of the question the exhibition inspires: "Are we safer?"
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04.30.13: Owen Edwards

The 99 Factor: A Man About Town & Country
Owen Edwards reminisces about Frank Zachary, former editor-in-chief of Town & Country magazine.
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04.27.13: Rick Poynor

On the Trail of The Eater of Darkness
The Eater of Darkness is a collision of science fiction, murder mystery, Surrealism and experimental typography.
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04.24.13: Alexandra Lange

Beyond Gorgeous
Is prettiness a distraction? Yes, when it comes to taking Alexander Girard seriously.
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04.23.13: Mark Lamster

The Bush Library
A review of the Bush Library.
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04.18.13: Alexandra Lange

Architecture Without Signs
If you can't find the entrance, there's a problem with the architecture.
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04.17.13: John Thackara

Big, Hairy, and Agile
The UK government’s digital services platform, gov.uk, has won the Design of the Year award.
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04.15.13: Rob Walker

Cover Story
A book vs. its cover: Why Colubmia GSAPP students treated this year's architecture annual like garbage.
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04.09.13: Alexandra Lange

What It Costs (to Buy a Bench, to Extend a Curb)
Participatory budgeting lets communities put their own urban priorities in order.
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04.08.13: Rick Poynor

The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
Works That Work magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.
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04.08.13: Mark Lamster

The Story of Seagram
The story of the Seagram Building, the world's most beautiful washing machine, and the woman who made it happen.
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04.03.13: Alexandra Lange

Portlandia + Timelessness
No better place to consider what looks timeless now than downtown Portland.
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04.02.13: Rob Walker

Bill for a Bowl
Considering dollar value as one of many things a bowl might contain.
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04.01.13: Mark Lamster

How to Design an Iconic NY Fast Food Joint
Design secrets of New York fast food icons.
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03.19.13: Mark Lamster

Berlin: Then and Now
Two exhibitions with works that look back on life in Berlin.
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03.18.13: Owen Edwards

My Month as a Mocker
A remembrance of London in the 1960s. Rockers rode motorcycles and Mods rode scooters.
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03.13.13: Kate Cullinane

The Original Paradox
The value of creating new designs, rather than being "original".
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03.11.13: Mark Lamster

The Dallas Way
I am pleased to announce that next month I will become the new architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News.
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03.10.13: Rick Poynor

Utopian Image: Politics and Posters
By celebrating political posters for their design do we collude with the established order they seek to challenge?
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03.08.13: Rob Walker

The Panic Option
A rental car's key fob design emphasizes "Panic" over all other options. Is that really a good idea?
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03.07.13: Alexandra Lange

After the Museum: The Tumblr
To create metamuseum.tumblr.com, a multi-museum, multi-curator Tumblr @MADMuseum, I saw it as a kind of curatorial game: Show Me What You’ve Got.
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03.05.13: Mark Lamster

Inventing the Modern Library
A new exhibition of Henri Labrouste, the French architect who invented the modern library.
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03.05.13: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Fin de Copenhague
Asger Jorn and Guy Debord’s book Fin de Copenhague is a Situationist classic and a brilliant piece of design.
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02.28.13: Rob Walker

Overshareability
Evernote's introvert focus raises a question: Has digital design become overly obsessed with extroverted behavior?
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02.22.13: Rick Poynor

The Experiential Thrill of Driving in Films
A new book, Drive, shows how the car scenes in movies help us understand the experience of modernity.
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02.20.13: Mark Lamster

Orange City
That the orange could be an antidote to the travails and toxins of the city has been a theme in their history and propagation, and one not unconnected to the development of architecture.
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02.17.13: Alexandra Lange

Patterns of Houston
How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.
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02.15.13: Rick Poynor

A Dictionary of Surrealism and the Graphic Image
An alphabetical guide to graphic designers influenced by Surrealism and to some key Surrealist concepts.
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02.13.13: Michael Bierut

Chromatophobia
Michael Bierut on his chromatophobia.
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02.12.13: Rob Walker

Let's Make A Mark
Ellen Susan proposes a new punctuation mark, the ElRey, for the digital-text era.
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02.05.13: Mark Lamster

The Imaginary Worlds of Stephen Talasnik
The extraordinary work of Stephen Talasnik.
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02.04.13: John Thackara

Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City
Dehli's many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. How can that be traslated to European cities?
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02.04.13: Alexandra Lange

Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary
The heroine of Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an award-winning female architect. Don’t envy her life.
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01.30.13: Rob Walker

Branding By Numbers
Emblemetric backs its assessment of the American Airlines logo with "the data." Of course, that's open to interpretation.
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01.29.13: John Thackara

An Open Design School for India
Plans in India for for a nationwide network of 20 Design Innovation Centres, an Open Design School, and a National Design Innovation Network.
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01.28.13: Mark Lamster

Grand Central Turns 100
Grand Central Terminal celebrates its centennial.
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01.26.13: Rick Poynor

Herbert Spencer and The Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers by Herbert and Mafalda Spencer was aimed at children, but its intriguing visual approach is more “photobook” than “schoolbook.”
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01.22.13: Adam Harrison Levy

Dylan Stone: 100 Years
Adam Harrison Levy reviews Dylan Stone's exhibition of 100 years of personal pocket diaries at Ruth Phaneuf Fine Art.
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01.21.13: Alexandra Lange

Balthazar Korab, RIP
Tribute to architectural photographer Balthazar Korab, and a discussion of what made him different from contemporary Ezra Stoller.
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01.18.13: Rob Walker

What Are You Looking At?
The maps of the future will tell you what to look at. Sometimes, you should look elsewhere.
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01.17.13: Mark Lamster

Clear the Promenade
The NYCB needs to be a better steward of Philip Johnson's landmark theater.
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01.15.13: Rick Poynor

Socialism and Modernity: A Hidden History
A new book documents the unfamiliar history of socialism and modernity in graphic design from former Yugoslavia.
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01.14.13: John Thackara

Healing The Metabolic Rift
John Thackara on the possibilities and issues global business leaders will face at the 2013 World Economic Forum.
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01.14.13: Michael Bierut

Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Michael Bierut on logo redesign outrages, what they mean, and why we should demand more.
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01.08.13: Alexandra Lange

Kicked A Building Lately?
That question, the title of the 1976 collection of Ada Louise Huxtable’s work for the New York Times, embodies her approach to criticism.
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01.07.13: Alexandra Lange

George Nelson in Two Dimensions
Ignore the Coconuts and Marshmallows, admire George Nelson's modular graphics.
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01.07.13: Michael Bierut

Positively Michael Patrick Cronan
Michael Bierut remembers the late Michael Cronan.
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01.03.13: Rick Poynor

On My Screen: Shooting the Past
Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past, set in a fictitious photo library, is a film that could haunt you for years.
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01.02.13: Rob Walker

13 Striking Landscape Fictions
Thirteen "landscape fictions," photographs of the natural world — made distinctly unnatural.
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12.31.12: Mark Lamster

I Love New York at Night
A Visual Celebration of the City that Never Sleeps
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12.28.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Twelve
In the end, Ezra Winter was a man whose devotion to the classical world virtually underscored his every move: it explained his ineffable pursuit of youth, his enduring worship of women, his unyielding obsessions with fantasy and grandeur, lyricism and scale, theatricality and costume, fable and myth.
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12.24.12: The Editors

Ten Most Popular Essays of 2012
Our ten most popular posts of 2012.
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12.20.12: Mark Lamster

Norman Foster's NYPL: Not Good Enough
The new plans for the NYPL lack architectural distinction.
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12.20.12: Rob Walker

What Does 'The Cover of Time' Mean?
The cover of Time Magazine may not speak with authority in the nonstop news cycle. But what does?
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12.19.12: Alexandra Lange

Bad Taste True Confessions: Erté
True confessions about my own bad taste. I loved Erté. Did you?
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12.13.12: Rob Walker

Tracking War Drones
Online projects that seek to make the drone war comprehensible.
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12.10.12: Mark Lamster, Alexandra Lange

Lunch With The Critics: Third-Annual Year-End Awards
Idiosyncratic awards bestowed on architecture, design and media.
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12.09.12: Rick Poynor

Dom Sylvester Houédard's Cosmic Typewriter
Dom Sylvester Houédard: Benedictine monk, champion of concrete poetry, and master of the “typestract.”
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12.07.12: John Thackara

German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents
Overview of the 400-page report World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability from the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WGBU), the heavyweight scientific body that advises the German Federal Government on ‘Earth System Megatrends’.
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12.05.12: John Thackara

Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion
A review of the options that Venice faces in trying to shore up the city.
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12.03.12: Rob Walker

The Latest In Journo-Comics
The New tablet magazine Symbolia debuts, a worthy additoin to today's vibrant nonfiction comics scene.
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12.03.12: Alexandra Lange

Reintroducing the Tilletts
If you are interested in textile design, mid-century style, or creative partnerships, I would urge you to go visit “The World of D.D. and Leslie Tillett” at the Museum of the City of New York.
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11.30.12: Rick Poynor

Herbert Spencer and the Decisive Detail
In Herbert Spencer’s most memorable photographs, signs of official communication fray into visual poetry.
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11.30.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Eleven
The 1930s would prove to be an enormously fertile period in Ezra Winter’s life: following the success of the Radio City murals, the artist embarked on major commissions for the United States Supreme Court, the Federal Reserve Building and the Library of Congress, and in 1939, he debuted his mural for the New York World's Fair.
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11.27.12: Mark Lamster

The Other Ezra Stoller
No achitect is unfamiliar with Ezra Stoller, the pioneering photographer whose clinical eye defined modernism and shaped our vision of the built world for much of the twentieth century.
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11.24.12: Rob Walker

Real Space, Imaginary Stuff
Some lessons from organizing a show about the marketplace as medium
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11.21.12: Alexandra Lange

3rd Annual Holiday Card Review
Holiday card designs for 2012 reveal the social media preoccupations of their buyers, whether it is Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or old-fashioned (perhaps Downton Abbey-inspired?) stationery.
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11.21.12: Mariana Amatullo

If You Believe You Can Fly
A report on the Social Enterprise World Forum.
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11.21.12: Mike Weikert

Thoughts on SEWF2012 and the Social Enterprise Lab
This year, the theme of design at SEWF2012 was given a significant, if not prominent role.
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11.18.12: Rick Poynor

Robert Brownjohn: Photos at Street Level
The Victoria and Albert Museum has put 18 of Robert Brownjohn’s photographs on display for the first time.
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11.14.12: Mark Lamster

F*ck Elegant
A single word is destroying design communication. We must stop it.
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11.13.12: Alexandra Lange

Knolling Your Polling Place
Knolling your polling place: for the next election, a little spatial organization would go a long way.
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11.13.12: Rob Walker

Lulz and Pedagogy
On using funny videos to start serious classroom discussions
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11.07.12: Alexandra Lange

“I Have Seen the Future”: Designer as Showman
The exhibition ldquo;I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America,” hits all the high spots of industrial design within a single man’s oeuvre.
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11.02.12: Rob Walker

On Dapper Dan
A look at the spectacular logo-remix aesthetic of rap-culture style pioneer Dapper Dan.
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11.01.12: Mark Lamster

Lebbeus Woods & John Johansen: Memories of Architecture's Lost Visionaries
Remembering two of architecture's great but very different visionaries, Lebbeus Woods and John Johansen.
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10.31.12: Alexandra Lange

Dot Supreme
On the enduring power of the simplest shape, from corporations to children’s books.
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10.29.12: Michael Bierut

Style: An Inventory
Style: An Inventory by Michael Bierut
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10.26.12: Rob Walker

System As Photographer
System as photographer, and photographer as system.
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10.23.12: John Thackara

From Autobahn to Bioregion
A review of the projects submitted to the Audi Urban Future Award.
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10.23.12: Rick Poynor

True Stories: A Film about People Like Us
Ambiguous but prescient, David Byrne’s film True Stories is a classic piece of postmodern pop anthropology.
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10.22.12: Mark Lamster

High (Line) Anxiety
Is the High Line above criticism?
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10.17.12: Rob Walker

Killing for Beautiful Objects
A report on the ivory trade reminds us of the uniquely human willingness to kill for beautiful objects.
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10.16.12: John Thackara

Transition Dogville
A review of this year’s Transition Conference in London.
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10.15.12: Mark Lamster

Nick Tobier Will Make You Smile
The wondrous and inspiring installation work of Nick Tobier.
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10.14.12: Alexandra Lange

Shopping With Sandro, and Other Tumblr Delights
Digitizing the Miller House Collection, and other museum and corporate visual archives on Tumblr.
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10.14.12: Rick Poynor

The Art of Punk and the Punk Aesthetic
Punk has two new graphic histories: Punk: An Aesthetic and The Art of Punk. What conclusions do they draw?
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10.08.12: Alexandra Lange

Having Fun at the Museum
Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.
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10.06.12: Rob Walker

Listening to Retail
Disquiet Junto has been listening to retail, and it's changing my ears.
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10.05.12: Rick Poynor

The Museum of Communicating Objects
Orhan Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects is an illuminating guide to his Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.
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10.04.12: Jude Stewart

The World's Smashing-est Kids' TV Show
A review of Karambolage, a kids’ television show produced by ARTE, a French-German arts and culture channel.
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10.02.12: John Thackara

How To Manage a Constellation
To solve complex and interconnected human-environment challenges, like the death of the Baltic Sea, we need to build ‘social-ecological coalitions’ or ‘constellations’.
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09.27.12: Alexandra Lange

Let's Talk About Women in Architecture
A panel on Women in Design, and questions about whether such panels should exist.
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09.26.12: John Thackara

Old Growth
The tale of a furniture giant and the possible ecological happy ending.
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09.25.12: Rob Walker

Crowdcrit vs. Apple Maps
An instant Tumblr responds to Apple's maps app, and demonstrates the art of the creative takedown.
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09.24.12: Mark Lamster

Joy, Illustrated
A new gallery for experimental art and design opens on the fringes of Chinatown.
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09.22.12: Alexandra Lange

Just Keep Typing
An excerpt from the new book Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination that involves Post-It notes, legal pads and baking. 
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09.17.12: Rob Walker

Card Tricks
The digital doesn't annihilate the analog, and business card creativity proves it.
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09.15.12: Rick Poynor

Why the Activist Poster is Here to Stay
Digital communication has given posters produced to contest an outrage or support a cause a new lease of life.
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09.10.12: Alexandra Lange

Someone Else's Shangri La
An exhibition of Doris Duke's Honolulu mansion, Shangri La, proves a "Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex" works as theater.
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09.10.12: Jessica Helfand

Bill Moggridge 1943-2012
Jessica Helfand remebers Bill Moggridge.
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09.09.12: Rick Poynor

John Stezaker: Images from a Lost World
John Stezaker’s collages, recipients of a major photography prize, achieve great resonance with limited means.
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09.07.12: Mark Lamster

Mr. Wright Comes to Moloch
Frank Lloyd Wright comes to New York
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09.06.12: Rob Walker

Making "Making" Mass
A visit to an outpost of TechShop, the aspriing "Kinko's for geeks," in North Carolina.
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09.02.12: Rick Poynor

It's Smart to Use a Crash Test Dummy
The image of the crash test dummy has traveled from the subcultural fringes to the pop culture mainstream.
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08.29.12: Rob Walker

Focusing On 'Optics'
Optics: The indispensible buzzword for those who analyze pseudo-events.
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08.28.12: Alexandra Lange

Art Matters to Architecture
In Indianapolis, a restored Milton Glaser mural allows us to see its Brutalist home as its architect intended: with color!
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08.28.12: Mark Lamster

Unconventional Imagery
The GOP goes Soviet
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08.28.12: Owen Edwards

Homage to Helen Gurley Brown
Owen Edwards remembers Helen Gurley Brown.
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08.26.12: Rick Poynor

The Never-ending Struggle against Clutter
Clutter and design are inseparable as concepts because clutter is the negation of design.
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08.22.12: John Thackara

Top Down Nature
An overview of Bordeaux 55,000: a project to explore ‘how best to transform 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) into natural areas’.
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08.21.12: Alexandra Lange

Critics Critical Criticism
Meta-criticism all over the blogosphere (but why only about books?)
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08.21.12: Rob Walker

The City In Your Dreams
A blog collecting stories for mapping the "collective unconscious" of NYC.
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08.19.12: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: André Breton's Nadja
The Livre de poche edition of André Breton’s Surrealist classic Nadja remains the best visual interpretation of the book.
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08.16.12: Rob Walker

High Caliber Expression
Reading Richard Ford's response to a critic (by shooting her book) as an expressive act.
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08.16.12: Mark Lamster

Literature's Harshest Criticism
What is the harshest architectural criticism in literature?
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08.09.12: Rick Poynor

Sending Signals about Political Graphics
Issue two of Signal, a journal about the visual languages used around the world to support political protest.
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08.09.12: Mark Lamster

Celebrating the Undecorated Shed
What an undecorated shed says about signature architecture.
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08.09.12: Michael Bierut

The Typeface of Truth
What are the implications when Errol Morris declares the typeface most likely to induce credulity is Baskerville?
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08.07.12: John Thackara

What Is, Or Is Not, a ‘Green Job’?
Discordant information amplifies confusion about what is, or is not, a ‘green job’.
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08.01.12: Rob Walker

Secret Lives Of Things
Ian Bogost explains why it's important to try to understand what it's like to be a thing.
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07.31.12: Alexandra Lange

The Critical Olympics
What the best sports commentary does is just like criticism: it makes you care about the previously abstract.
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07.30.12: Rick Poynor

Pierre Faucheux and Le Livre de Poche
A masterclass in book cover design: Pierre Faucheux’s work for the French paperback publisher Livre de poche.
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07.28.12: Alexandra Lange

Hiking the Museum
Ennead Architects’ new Natural History Museum of Utah works to make natural history seem like the ongoing process of discovery that it is, layering geology and topography, paleontology and interactivity.
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07.28.12: Rob Walker

De-weaponization by Design
Riffing on their weird resonance of a violent object: brass knuckles.
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07.26.12: Mark Lamster

The Barnes Foundation and Corporate Space
The Barnes Foundation and the corporatization of public space.
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07.23.12: John Thackara

The Other Green Economy
People the world over are divided between radically different conceptions of their future: resource-intensive production on the one side, versus regenerative land-based enterprises, and mosaics of micro-enterprises, on the other.
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07.20.12: Mark Lamster

The Once & Future Library
The Library, declared dead, is more popular than ever.
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07.18.12: John Thackara

Why Bill Gates Needs To Listen To More Gamelan Music
In developing countries, as in our own, we cannot speed up development faster then the ecological systems that are required to support it.
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07.11.12: Alexandra Lange

Obama's New Fonts
Obama bets on American nostalgia, shrinking Gotham and picking a script.
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07.10.12: Mark Lamster

The Architect & The Critic: An Epistolary Tale
An architect & a critic fight it out in the mail.
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07.09.12: Rob Walker

Interface Runes
Revisiting the Palm Pilot's uncanny interaction-design alphabet.
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07.06.12: Rick Poynor

Design a Cover for Eno's Music for Films
LA architect John Bertram has set a competition to design an alternative sleeve for Music for Films by Brian Eno.
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07.05.12: Rob Walker

Selling Stories With Stuff
What Significant Objects suggests about the relationship between stories and stuff.
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07.03.12: Mark Lamster

Summer Reading Special: An Interview with P.D. Smith
Summer reading on the city.
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07.03.12: John Thackara

Love vs Power In Iceland
The imposition of heavy industry onto a fragile ecological-social situation is an easier sell when the alternatives on offer can be portrayed as feeble.
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06.29.12: Alexandra Lange

The Shape of Lunch
"Lunch Hour NYC," a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, defines the midday meal as an urban invention.
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06.28.12: Rick Poynor

What Does Critical Writing Look Like?
A report on work by the first graduates from the Royal College of Art’s Critical Writing in Art & Design MA.
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06.27.12: Rob Walker

Observational Instruments, Observed
Peeping at the Venue project's delightful gear, and Google's Seussian Trekker
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06.27.12: John Thackara

The Hidden Costs of Tiger Water
We need new ways of thinking about water.
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06.26.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Six
In the Spring of 1926, publisher George Palmer Putnam organized an 8,500 mile expedition to Greenland in quest of specimens for the then-new Hall of Ocean Life in the American Museum of Natural History: the ship’s roster included an eclectic mix of specialists, including an ichthyologist, a taxidermist and an artist by the name of Ezra Winter.
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06.25.12: Mark Lamster

Pennsylvania Modern
A glass box done well.
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06.18.12: Mark Lamster

Permanent Way: An Interview with Brian Sholis
The railroad, the camera, and the American Landscape.
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06.18.12: Rick Poynor

Updating the Maps of Graphic Design History
Graphic Design: History in the Writing is a heartening sign that graphic design history is attracting a new generation.
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06.16.12: Rob Walker

The Built Villain
A Dallas condo dispute considered as a monster movie, starring a built villain.
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06.15.12: Alexandra Lange

The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
Identifying the "charismatic megafauna" of design and the critical uses of their popularity.
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06.13.12: Mark Lamster

Underappreciated in Ft. Worth
In praise of the Amon Carter Museum of Ft. Worth.
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06.09.12: Alexandra Lange

Introducing Strelka Press
On Strelka Press, a new "digital first" publisher of longform architecture and design criticism.
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06.08.12: Rob Walker

The Bizarro Storytelling Exercise
The Bizarro Story Exercise: The value in thinking hard about the worst.
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06.07.12: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: A History of the Machine
Erik Nitsche’s New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention is a landmark of modern, low-cost, mass-market, educational book design.
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06.05.12: John Thackara

Why White Is Wicked
While we associate white clothes with cleanliness, the damage done to the environment by the whitening process is very, very dirty.
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06.04.12: Mark Lamster

The Occupy Movement's Accidental Monument
The Arcelormittal Tower: the ideal reflection of a confounded age.
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06.04.12: Michael Bierut

I Love the 80s
Miami Vice: the quintessential postmodern design artifact, in all its glory and all its disgrace.
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06.01.12: Rob Walker

The Infrastructure of the Cloud
On the material structures we depend on to deliver us the immaterial digital world.
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05.31.12: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Graphic Metallica
Heavy metal’s extremity, as a set of aesthetic choices and as a way of life, exerts an enduring fascination.
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05.30.12: Alexandra Lange

Dress Your Family in Formica and Faux Bois
The materials of architecture and interiors in the fashions of Schiaparelli and Prada.
READ MORE

05.30.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Five
In 1920, Warren Harding was elected President on a “Return to Normalcy” platform. But for Ezra Winter, nothing was normal.
READ MORE

05.24.12: David Cabianca

Graphic Design is Dead, Long Live Graphic Design
A review of Graphic Design: Now in Production, opening May 26, 2012 in New York City.
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05.23.12: Rick Poynor

Jan van Toorn: The World in a Calendar
Jan van Toorn’s provocative 1972/73 calendar for the printer Mart.Spruijt has been reprinted by a Dutch design company.
READ MORE

05.21.12: Adam Harrison Levy

The Geometry of Time
Francesca Woodman's notebook, entitled Some Disordered Interior Geometries, is featured in a retrospective of her work at the Guggenheim Museum.
READ MORE

05.18.12: Rob Walker

The Theater of Making
What videos depicting the story of stuff-being-made are really about.
READ MORE

05.17.12: Alexandra Lange

The Well-Tempered Environment
Water features, old trees, food trucks. Three elements of the architecture of outdoor civic life in North Texas.
READ MORE

05.17.12: John Thackara

Who Is the Arne Jacobsen of Urban Food?
Urban farming is a cool design topic these days – but if we’re to make a serious impact on the global food system, we need to show meaningful solidarity with its victims in distant places, too.
READ MORE

05.15.12: Rick Poynor

The Strange Afterlife of Common Objects
In lstanbul shops like The Works: “Objects of Desire,” the novelist Orhan Pamuk found the artifacts for his newly opened Museum of Innocence.
READ MORE

05.15.12: Mark Lamster

The War Against Sixties Architecture
An unbridled assault on architecture of the 1960s continutes.
READ MORE

05.14.12: Rob Walker

Managing Digital Durability
Learning to manage the disconcerting durability of digital objects.
READ MORE

05.05.12: Rob Walker

Assignment Creativity
A chaotic and entertaining collection addresses "the art of the art assignment."
READ MORE

05.02.12: Alexandra Lange

Against Kickstarter Urbanism
You can Kickstart an edible spoon, but not a city.
READ MORE

05.02.12: Rick Poynor

Career Prospects in the Pain Business
Freedom from Torture’s “torture recruitment ads deliver perfectly calculated moments of cognitive dissonance.
READ MORE

05.01.12: John Thackara

Istanbul: City of Seeds
Rather than dream up exotic visions of “what could be”, an xskool looks for social and natural assets that already exist – and grows from there.
READ MORE

04.30.12: Mark Lamster

Another Imperiled Paul Rudolph Landmark
Renovation threatens the integrity of Sarasota High School.
READ MORE

04.30.12: Michael Bierut

The Poster that Launched a Movement (Or Not)
In the age of social media, does political graphic design matter?
READ MORE

04.26.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Four
Ten months before the 1929 stock market crash, Edna Murphey was one of America’s foremost experts in health and beauty: she was also extremely wealthy. Three years later she became Mrs. Ezra Winter.
READ MORE

04.26.12: Rick Poynor

Studio Culture: The Materialism of Matter
Studio, print shop, dance club and store: a photographic essay on Matter's design HQ in Denver.
READ MORE

04.25.12: Mark Lamster

NYPL: Where's the Model?
The NYPL should make its architectural plans public.
READ MORE

04.24.12: Debbie Millman

Hillman Curtis, 1961-2012
“I met Hillman Curtis for the first time in February 2006 when I interviewed him for my radio show Design Matters.” Debbie Millman remembers her friend, Hillman Curtis.
READ MORE

04.24.12: Rob Walker

Dancing About Ruins
Dancing about ruins: Can debris, detritus, junk, be useful creative material?
READ MORE

04.23.12: Alexandra Lange

Fixing South Street Seaport: Is New Architecture Enough?
Fighting over Ben Thompson's postmodernist landmark Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Should it stay or should it go?
READ MORE

04.20.12: Mark Lamster

A Century at the Ballpark
Baseball's greatest ballpark celebrates its centennial.
READ MORE

04.19.12: Rick Poynor

Phil Sayer, Designer of Photo-Portraits
Phil Sayer’s photographic portraits for Blueprint gave the magazine great visual impact and presence.
READ MORE

04.17.12: Alexandra Lange

Carlo Scarpa, Quilter
Olivetti and Doges: How Carlo Scarpa updated the Venetian treasure chest.
READ MORE

04.17.12: Constantin Boym

Extra National Journey
What happens when a Russian-born American professor takes a group of his Arab students to a workshop in Amsterdam to work with a designer who has a Canadian passport but lives in Berlin?
READ MORE

04.13.12: Rick Poynor

The Closed Shop of Design Academia
Shouldn’t it be part of a design academic’s brief to communicate more widely with the design profession and public?
READ MORE

04.11.12: John Thackara

'Beyond Good Intentions' – The Movie
A new documentary hopes to answer the question "What happens in a disaster area after the initial wave of support?"
READ MORE

04.10.12: Mark Lamster

The Whitney Museum's Other New Building
Lot-ek puts a pop-up studio in the Whitney moat.
READ MORE

04.09.12: Rob Walker

Where We Work
The computer-screen desktop, considered as a category of work space.
READ MORE

04.06.12: Rick Poynor

The Enduring Influence of Richard Hollis
An exhibition of Richard Hollis’s work provides the first public opportunity to assess the entire shape of his output.
READ MORE

04.05.12: Alexandra Lange

Frank Lloyd Wright + Katniss Everdeen
On photographing architecture as sculpture and telling stories via architecture.
READ MORE

04.04.12: John Thackara

Oil-Powered Thinking
Why is it that countervailing facts don’t change things in our evidence-based world? And what might we do about it?
READ MORE

04.03.12: Laura Weiss

Woody Allen, Creative Management Genius
Woody Allen's movie-making process offers three insights that have application to anyone who leads a creative enterprise or manages a creative process.
READ MORE

04.02.12: John Thackara

Blood Minerals and Cellphones
Exploring the social and environmental back-story of electronic products and potential solutions.
READ MORE

03.31.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Three
In his first post-Academy professional pursuit, Ezra Winter is hired to design camouflage for the United States Shipping Board, using a reductive visual vocabulary of bold stripes and patches of solid color that is far closer to the language of Klee and Kandinsky than of the Renaissance masters he loves.
READ MORE

03.31.12: Rob Walker

What To Make Of It? A Contest.
Inventing meaning for junk, through a Studio360 and Significant Objects story competition.
READ MORE

03.29.12: Rick Poynor

On Display: Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb is a public space consecrated to a universal experience of sadness and loss.
READ MORE

03.28.12: Mark Lamster

A Letter to a Critic, Departed
Herbert Muschamp is informed of developments in his absence.
READ MORE

03.26.12: Alexandra Lange

'Deco Japan' + Designing Women
The Japan Society's new exhibition "Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945" displays the surprising globalism of this little-known period in Japanese design, when pent-up post-1923-earthquake desires for new goods and new traditions met up with a new openness to Western arts and the rise of industrialization
READ MORE

03.23.12: Rick Poynor

The Covers of J.G. Ballard's Crash: An Update
Some recent covers of J.G. Ballard’s disturbing Crash, a notoriously hard novel for designers to interpret.
READ MORE

03.21.12: Rob Walker

"Screenshots of Despair"
Considering practica interactive-design elements as plaintive expressions of isolation.
READ MORE

03.20.12: John Thackara

It’s Not Just The Bags
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path by Adelia Borges explores the complex relationship between designers from the Northern hemishphere and indigenous artists in the Southern hemisphere, specifically craft communities in Brazil.
READ MORE

03.19.12: Mark Lamster

Johnson and the Void
On the architectural vocubulary of Philip Johnson
READ MORE

03.14.12: Rob Walker

Stealth Iconography: Pinwheel of Death
Apple's "pinwheel of death" of stealth icon of machinery having a problem.
READ MORE

03.13.12: Jessica Helfand

Audrey Real Helfand: Designer Manquée
Fifty years ago, my mother Audrey was a prolific visual maker: today, she’d be running her own studio.
READ MORE

03.10.12: Alexandra Lange

City of Shoes: Is Urbanism Scalable?
Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh scale his online shoe business into a city?
READ MORE

03.09.12: Rick Poynor

Typographic Stories of the City Streets
Characters, a new book by Stephen Banham, investigates the stories behind Melbourne’s street signs.
READ MORE

03.09.12: Nancy Levinson

Design Indaba 2012
Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.
READ MORE

03.08.12: Mark Lamster

The Most Beautiful Hostel in the World
A rare minimalist gem for the other 99 percent.
READ MORE

03.06.12: John Thackara

Regarding The Pain Of The Planet: A Reader
Do you simply love iPhones, wind turbines, cloud computing, and electric cars? Good, because the following may be of interest.
READ MORE

03.05.12: Rob Walker

The Ekphrasis-y Critique
Further thoughts on "dancing about architecture."
READ MORE

03.02.12: Rick Poynor

Motif Magazine: The World Made Visible
Motif magazine, founded in 1958, anticipated a new way of seeing, documenting and appreciating the “visible world.”
READ MORE

03.01.12: John Thackara

Zurich Eco Lab
A report on the Zurich's thriving urban eco culture.
READ MORE

02.29.12: Adrian Shaughnessy

When Less Really Does Mean Less
Since the banking crises of 2008, designers fromWestern nations are learning painfully to adapt to the new reality: less is the new normal.
READ MORE

02.29.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Two
Chapter Two, Pilgrim : In 1911, Ezra Winter marries, wins the Rome Prize, and heads to Europe for three years of study and travel.
READ MORE

02.26.12: Rick Poynor

John McHale and the Expendable Ikon
Artist, graphic designer, information theorist, architectural critic, sociologist, futurist: it’s time to rediscover John McHale.
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02.23.12: Rob Walker

Dance About Architecture (Please)
"Dancing about architecture" might sound pointless, but to me it's shorthand for creative potential.
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02.22.12: Alexandra Lange

Reassembling the American Dream
"Foreclosed" at the Museum of Modern Art asks what people really like about suburban living. And then, Can they do that with less?
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02.21.12: Jessica Helfand

Yoshiko Sato 1960-2012
Jessica Helfand's personal remembrance of the Japanese architect and designer Yoshiko Sato, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this month.
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02.20.12: Mark Lamster

Beauty from Junk: The Floating Genius of Harvest Dome
Harvest Dome, a whimsical installation for New York.
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02.18.12: Rick Poynor

The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins
“Ruin porn,” a reductive tag that makes any photograph of ruins seem suspect, ignores the cultural history of the ruin.
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02.17.12: Alexandra Lange

Downton Abbey: Fell In Love With a House
Downton Abbey, for all its melodrama and dropped teacups, is really the story of falling in love with a house.
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02.15.12: Rob Walker

A Place Called "Space Available"
How a collection of "Space Available" signs functions as an involutnary monument to the sluggish economy.
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02.14.12: Mark Lamster

At Home at the Edge of the World
The immodestly modest architecture of Peter Bohlin. 
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02.14.12: John Thackara

Design In The Light of Dark Energy
A shortened version of a talk on why the world has to reduce energy consumption, the five per cent energy solution and some of the people around the world who are leading the way.
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02.14.12: John Thackara

A Reading List for Mr. Mario Monti
A (mostly) online list of readings for the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, and anyone else who is ready for a cold hard look at our energy resources and options.
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02.13.12: Alexandra Lange

Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited
Old designs, new tricks: updates on lawsuits filed against the new Nest thermometer, and on behalf of midcentury masterpiece Manufacturers Hanover.
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02.10.12: John Thackara

Beer and Solidarity
If beer brewing wastes can enrich food chains, the craft brewing community can also be a source of solidarity for small farmers in trouble.
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02.08.12: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: A Classic by Berger and Mohr
John Berger and Jean Mohr’s A Fortunate Man brilliantly fuses words and photos to examine a doctor’s life.
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02.07.12: Mark Lamster

An (Overdue) Memorial for New York
Finally, an AIDS memorial for NYC.
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02.06.12: Rob Walker

Beautified Words
Further thoughts on the romance of the hand.
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02.04.12: Alexandra Lange

Want to Buy A Valentine?
You can buy a valentine handmade by someone else. You can send your beloved a vintage card using an app. But where's the romance in that?
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02.01.12: John Thackara

Roasted by a Chicken
Jobs and money are in short supply — probably forever. Are there ways that design can add new value to sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, exchanging & swapping?
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01.31.12: Rick Poynor

The Evil Genius of David Shrigley
British artist David Shrigley, subject of a major exhibition in London, is forever tempting and testing the viewer.
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01.30.12: Jessica Helfand

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter One
Jessica Helfand, who teaches the seminar "Studies in Visual Biography" at Yale, shares her year-long exploration of the American muralist Ezra Winter: this is part one.
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01.30.12: Owen Edwards

Designers Leap, Users Lag
Trying to meet the challenges designers and engineers set for us is pretty much hopeless, though we can have a lot of fun trying.
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01.28.12: Rob Walker

Santorum's Tragic Sweater Vest
The visual meaning of Rick Santorum's sweater vest, considered.
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01.27.12: The Editors

New Season of Design Matters with Debbie Millman
Announcing the newest season of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, premiering with a video of Design Matters Live filmed by Hillman Curtis. Debbie Millman discusses the launch of Malcolm Gladwell's illustrated collection of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers. Guests included artist and illustrator Brian Rea, and designers Paul Sahre, Josh Liberson and DeeDee Gordon.
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01.27.12: Rick Poynor

In Response to An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Alexandra Lange’s article in Print about the sacred cows of graphic design sidesteps the issue it raises.
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01.26.12: Alexandra Lange

Married at Moss
Farewell to Moss, the Soho design shop that let buy (if not touch) our museum-quality dreams.
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01.25.12: John Thackara

Virtual Boring Agent
The Virtual Boarding Agent Orly Airport in Paris. It's spooky, clever and very well executed — and most people seem to ignore it after a first casual glance.
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01.23.12: Mark Lamster

Project Project Japan
A review of Project Japan, Rem Koolhaas's history of Metabolism
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01.20.12: John Thackara

Navy Yard, GradComD, Brown Bag, Hard Hat
Talks and encounters in the US next week. I hope to see some of you there.
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01.19.12: Rick Poynor

Ernst Haas and the Color Underground
Has Ernst Haas, an early master of color photography, received the credit his ground-breaking pictures deserve?
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01.17.12: Alexandra Lange

A Memorial to (Random Access) Memory
What does "RAMAC Park" mean to you?
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01.14.12: Mark Lamster

Rethinking Roosevelt Island
Thoughts on the new plan for a tech campus on Roosevelt Island.
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01.12.12: Rob Walker

Package It Black
Marlboro Black cigarettes: Connotating dangerous allure with graphic design jujitsu.
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01.11.12: Pat Kirkham

Reassessing the Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock Collaboration
The evidence, scholarship and debates: Saul Bass and the famous shower scene in “Psycho.”
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01.09.12: Rick Poynor

Read All That? You Must be Kidding Me
Ellen Lupton’s essay about reading and writing for Graphic Design: Now in Production misses some key points.
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01.09.12: John Thackara

A Reading List for Mr. Monti
When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Italian Senate before Christmas, he used the word "growth" 28 times and the word "energy" — well, zero times.
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01.06.12: Mark Lamster

Life Support: Can Architecture Make Us Healthy?
Thoughts on 'Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture,' and the CCA.
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01.05.12: James Biber

Vestige(s) of Empire
Comparing the repurposing of two monuments to lost Empire: London's Commonwealth Institute and Berlin's Palast der Republik.
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01.03.12: Alexandra Lange

Design for Girls: Put A Heart On It
If you give my baby daughter a purse, couldn't it look a little more like mine?
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01.01.12: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Jean-Luc Godard Anthologized
Lawrence Ratzkin’s cover design for an early anthology about Jean-Luc Godard is almost an anti-cover.
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12.29.11: Rob Walker

Swoosh. Repeat.
The enduring success of the Nike Swoosh, and the mysterious power of repetition.
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12.28.11: Mark Lamster

Beware of the Man in the Glass House
The Provocative Architecture of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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12.27.11: John Thackara

Why Walls Need Floors
The artist has worked with the knowledge that most of his site-and time-specific specific works are destined to disappear. Why?
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12.26.11: Mark Lamster

Andrew Geller: 1924–2011
Remembering Andrew Geller, Long Island modernist of wit and charm.
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12.23.11: Rick Poynor

How We Learned to Live with Zombies
Zombie films, zombie walks, zombie shops, zombie TV series: our darkest fears are now mainstream.
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12.22.11: Alexandra Lange

Girard the Magnificent
Is it enough to be gorgeous? If so, Todd Oldham and Keira Coffee's 15-pound Alexander Girard wins Book of the Year.
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12.21.11: John Thackara

From Milk to Superfoods: Supping with the Devil?
The social and ecological crimes Big Food is committing, in other parts of the world, so that you and I can eat what we damn well feel like.
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12.18.11: Mark Lamster

Remembering Gene Summers, 1928–2011
Remembering Gene Summers, and a lesson from Mies.
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12.16.11: Rick Poynor

Saul Leiter and the Typographic Fragment
In Saul Leiter's color photographs, the fragment is infinitely more mysterious and suggestive than the whole.
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12.15.11: Rob Walker

Anonymous Identity (Seen and Heard)
Investigating the visual identity of the non-organization called Anonymous.
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12.14.11: Alexandra Lange

Reinventing the Thermostat
What the designer of the new Nest thermostat didn't learn from Henry Dreyfuss.
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12.13.11: John Thackara

From Druids to Biorefineries: Innovation in a Small Nation
Small nations can be flexible in ways that big one cannot.
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12.12.11: Eugenia Bell

Eliot Noyes
Eliot Noyes' under-recognized reputation deserves appreciation.
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12.11.11: Rick Poynor

Another Design Voice Falls Silent
As design criticism takes off as a branch of academic study, design publications such as Grafik keep closing.
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12.07.11: Alexandra Lange

When Modernists Get Crafty
The Museum of Arts and Design's Crafting Modernism makes a good case for bringing back macrame.
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12.07.11: Rob Walker

Image of the Year

The image of the year is one that's never been made public: At this point, there’s nothing more surprising than an image people might want to see, but can’t.


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12.01.11: Rick Poynor

Man in a Bowler: Illustration after Magritte
By copying Magritte’s subject matter and method, illustrators ended up making a great artist look hackneyed.
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12.01.11: Alexandra Lange

Cooking with the Eameses
A new book chronicles one family's life with nine pieces of Eames.
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11.28.11: Mark Lamster

It's Not (Just) About the Bikes
The plight of public transit.
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11.28.11: Owen Edwards

Hair Apparent
Who will be the Republican hair apparent?
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11.25.11: Rick Poynor

How to Cover an Impossible Book
Tadeusz Borowski’s book This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen poses a visual challenge for designers.
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11.23.11: Rob Walker

Postcards from Portfoliopolis
Nobody likes to move, but I’d pack my bags tomorrow if I could figure out how to become a citizen of Portfoliopolis.
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11.23.11: Michael Erard

What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The author writes about the genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay.
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11.22.11: Alexandra Lange

Decorating Brutalism: The Interiors of Kevin Roche
How do you decorate a brutalist building? For architect Kevin Roche, the answer was brown, mirrors, and trees.
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11.21.11: John Thackara

How Do You Make a Website for Transition?
A new book, The Transition Companion, ia an online directory of Transition Ingredients and Tools and a set of Ingredients and Tools Cards.
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11.17.11: Patrick Cramsie

The World's Best-Known Portrait
The world's best-known portrait is the iconic portrait of Dr. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
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11.17.11: Rick Poynor

The Infinite Warehouse of Images
The more photos we collectively produce, the more ruthless we need to be about bestowing our attention.
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11.16.11: Alexandra Lange

Who Are We Competing For?
At the "Zoning the City" conference, planners insisted cities were in competition? But why are we so focused on the people who want to leave, rather than those who want to stay?
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11.15.11: Rob Walker

Shower Head As Moral Crossroad
A hotel presents travelers a moral crossroads in the form of a dual shower head.
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11.14.11: Mark Lamster

Tower Heists
Tower Heist and the architecture of spectacular consumption.
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11.10.11: Adam Harrison Levy

Disaster with a D
The famous movie Star had twice failed to show up for the interview. The crew passed the time by sending emails, making phone calls and gorging on the food. I paced.
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11.10.11: Rick Poynor

Literary Horror from the Chapman Brothers
British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman have created an image of sublime horror for the cover of Granta magazine.
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11.09.11: Rob Walker

A New Kind of Capture
The Lytro camera creates a new form of photographic object, one that fits with and exploits picture-consumption in the digital era.
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11.07.11: John Thackara

Design and Health: Flipping the Pyramid
It's easy for two people to look at the same information — such as this chart (above) about health costs — and perceive totally different things.
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11.05.11: John Thackara

Turn-Key Food Hives
There's almost no contact between the health apps crowd and the food system crowd.
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11.03.11: Rick Poynor

This Post has Been Declared a Link-free Zone
Links can greatly enrich an online text, but are they also a counterproductive distraction from reading?
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11.01.11: Rob Walker

Questions About 'The New Aesthetic'
Questions for, and answers from, James Bridle, on his online project examining screen culture, robot vision,and related matters, "The New Aesthetic."
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10.31.11: Alexandra Lange

Lessons from the High Line
How can the High Line become a new paradigm, and not a dead end?
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10.30.11: Mark Lamster

Where New York's Medicis Store their Junk
An extraordinary warehouse is a three-dimensional map of New York culture.
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10.28.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Continuum's 33 1/3 Series
The 33 1/3 books about classic albums are a perfect example of how design can help focus an editorial idea.
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10.28.11: Alexandra Lange

Tell Me a Story, 'Urbanized'
A city is not a font or a toothbrush, so why, in Urbanized, does director Gary Hustwit treat them the same way?
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10.27.11: Owen Edwards

A Demanding Man: Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was more like a great architect than a corporate CEO. Yet, there are those who ask, "Isn't the ultimate measure of a human being the way they treat other people?" In the case of Steve Jobs, this requires some reflection.
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10.23.11: Rob Walker

Imagine To Me
Creative writers respond to MoMA's "Talk To Me," imaginatively.
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10.22.11: Rick Poynor

On Display: The Kirkland Museum
If I had to pick just one Denver museum to revisit, it would be the fabulous Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.
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10.20.11: Mark Lamster

Watching Movies about Architecture (and Design)
What makes a good film about architecture and design?
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10.19.11: Rob Walker

More Google Image Fun
Parsing Google Image search results for fresh meaning — and fun.
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10.19.11: Alexandra Lange

TWA: Still Kicking
Not a disappointment: a first thrilling visit to Eero Saarinen's legendary flight center.
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10.18.11: John Thackara

The Compost Candidates
The movement for a global democracy is an ecology, not a single homogeneous movement.
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10.16.11: Rick Poynor

Did We Ever Stop Being Postmodern?
Like it or not, argues the V&A's exhibition about postmodernism and design, we are all postmodern now.
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10.14.11: Mark Lamster

Art, Architecture & the Museum
It's time for a new avant-garde that isn't purely driven by formal experiment.
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10.12.11: Alexandra Lange

Should We Boycott the New Barnes?
More ethical quandaries about buildings and food.
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10.06.11: Cheryl Yau

Rediscovering A Stereoscopic World
The widespread allure of stereoscopy lasted throughout generations, producing an abundance of retro artifacts that eventually brought an original plastic View-Master into a flea market, where it sat among other vintage trinkets until I serendipitously discovered it.  
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10.04.11: Alexandra Lange

What Makes Architecture Useful?
At Experimenta Design 2011, the buildings of Lisbon make the best argument for the ongoing usefulness of good design.
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10.03.11: John Thackara

Carrot City: Design's New Shtick
John Thackara reviews a new book from Monacelli Press which marks the coming of age of urban agriculture: Carrot City: Creating Places for Urban Agriculture.
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10.03.11: Kevin Walker

Design Research and Research Design
January of last year, I found myself with a group of new students — many of them better designers than I ever was — and I had to teach them how to be researchers.
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09.30.11: Rob Walker

Pictures of the Familiar
Why do we photograph extensively documented icons and monuments?
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09.29.11: Mark Lamster

Juliaan Lampens: An Architecture with Jaws
The idiosyncratic genius of a chapel inspired by a crocodile's jaws, and other works by a wonderful modern architect you don't know, but should.
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09.29.11: Rick Poynor

Should We Look at Corrosive Images?
What do violent photographs of war do to us as viewers?
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09.23.11: Rob Walker

Quirky and "Design" as Entertainment
Quirky tries to make "design" into entertainment. Is that a good idea?
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09.22.11: Rick Poynor

Jan Svankmajer and the Graphic Uncanny
Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design opens at the Kunstal in Rotterdam on September 24.
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09.21.11: Mark Lamster

Up from Zero
Progress at Ground Zero, reviewed.
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09.19.11: Alexandra Lange

What the Cooper-Hewitt Needs: More Design, Less Talk
My six suggestions for how to fix the National Design Museum.
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09.19.11: Alice Twemlow

Remembering Richard Hamilton as Design Critic
Alice Twemlow remembers Richard Hamilton, artist and design writer.
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09.15.11: Rick Poynor

Richard Hamilton, the Great Decipherer
The artist Richard Hamilton, who died this week, was an acute observer of design and the contemporary world.
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09.14.11: Josh Berta

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Design School?
Josh Berta offers sage advice, for the burgeoning designer.
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09.14.11: Rob Walker

Styles of Likeness
The meaningful photograph as object — and non-object.
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09.13.11: Alexandra Lange

Thinking in Tumblr
Don't write a book, make a Tumblr.
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09.12.11: Mark Lamster

Rubens as Architect
An excerpt from Master of Shadows on the Rubens House, on the occasion of an exhibition celebrating Rubens as architect.
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09.09.11: Rick Poynor

A Swedish Perspective on Critical Practice
The Reader, a recent book from Stockholm about critical practice, has some smart insights while missing the bigger picture.
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09.08.11: Rob Walker

Stealth Iconography: The Waveform
The rise of the waveform as a visual signifier of music.
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09.07.11: John Thackara

World Capital of Wellbeing
Aalto University in Helsinki has made wellbeing their spearhead project in next year's World Design Capital [WDC] festivities.
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09.06.11: Mark Lamster

The Steampunk Para-Architecture of Second Avenue
A generic dreadnaught takes over a stretch of Second Avenue. Can architects redeem it?
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09.06.11: Alexandra Lange

Stop That: Minimalist Posters
Make a minimalist poster, see your work travel the digital world.
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09.02.11: Rob Walker

Monkey or Drone?
Photography settles into the era of Annoying Facebook Girl, the drone, and the monkey.
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09.01.11: Rick Poynor

Chris Foss and the Technological Sublime
Is cult science fiction artist Chris Foss’s work just highly effective illustration, or can it be seen as a visionary form of art?
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08.31.11: Alexandra Lange

Announcing LetsGetCritical.org
My new blog collects the best arts & culture criticism, essays and reviews.
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08.30.11: Fred A. Bernstein

The Next World's Fair: A Proposal
Fred Bernstein makes a case for New York City to be the host of the next World's Fair.
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08.28.11: Rob Walker

Graphic Design, Valued
Is an aesthetically pleasing annual report a signal of financial health?
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08.25.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: The Metallization of a Dream
The best designed book about the artist Eduardo Paolozzi was compiled in 1963 by a student at the Royal College of Art.
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08.24.11: Alexandra Lange

Up From Zero, the Novel
A post-9/11 fiction scooped by reality.
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08.23.11: Mark Lamster

Andrés Duany's Asian Problem
Andrés Duany and the Asian skyscraper boom. 

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08.22.11: John Thackara

In Praise of the Feral: Update on Xskool
Convention centres are expensive, filled with hard surfaces, and tend to foster groupthink — and abstract groupthink at that.
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08.22.11: Adam Harrison Levy

A Clean, Well Lighted Place
Walking into Jeff Koons’s studio is like entering a medical laboratory crossed with an open plan office. It’s an ER room for art.
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08.18.11: Alexandra Lange

A Stitch in Time
Sewing for your daughter, circa 1965.
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08.17.11: Rick Poynor

Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
The portrait sculptures in the Cimetière du château in Nice resuscitate their subjects with a frequently startling vividness.
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08.16.11: Mark Lamster

Renovations at the Museum
Balancing old and new at the AMNH.
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08.15.11: Adrian Shaughnessy

The Politics of Desire and Looting
The part designers have played in the London riots.
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08.15.11: Rob Walker

Wear And Tear
Designing something that is meant to be lived with vs. designing something that is meant to be replaced: How to think about wear and tear.

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08.10.11: Alexandra Lange

Reading in Public
A new book club with an unusual topic: architecture and design.
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08.09.11: John Thackara

From Powerpoint to Permaculture, From Me to We
On Sweden's first Future Perfect festival.
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08.09.11: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Raging Bull
A response to Michael Bierut’s essay about the relationship between bullshit and design, and the discussion that ensued.
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08.08.11: Rob Walker

Ruscha Vs. Street View

Car as medium, rotating motorized camera, a series of contiguous horizontal images of buildings and the street on which they are situated: Ed Ruscha, or Google Street View? 


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08.05.11: Alexandra Lange

Welcome Back, Overbite
Albert C. Ledner's mid-century scallops and portholes have staying power.

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08.04.11: John Thackara

Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future and How To Survive It
I have never encountered a book that is so hard to characacterise yet so hard, despite its weight, to put down.
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08.03.11: Rob Walker

A Simple Tool, or the Value of "Oh yeah"
In its not-noisy way, the simple Flickr tool Time Capsule pushes back against a problematic side-effect of digital culture.
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08.02.11: Nancy Levinson

A Dream House for Architect Barbie
Just in time for the midsummer heat, Architect Barbie's got a competition-winning new dream house in Malibu.
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08.02.11: Rick Poynor

From the Archive: Down with Innovation
Designers have too readily accepted the caricature of themselves as airheaded stylists. Visual form is a vital expression of culture.
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08.01.11: Mark Lamster

Cacophony
Brief thoughts on MoMA's Talk to Me.
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08.01.11: Jiwon Lee

What's "Crystal Goblet" in Korean?
On the scarcity of design book translations and the poor consequences for design culture
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07.30.11: Julie Lasky

Happy Birthday, Handsome
Getting tired of praise for the IBM Selectric? What else do you expect from writers?
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07.29.11: Alexandra Lange

The Uses of Cranks
Maybe comedy isn't Larry David's calling.
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07.28.11: Mark Lamster

Are You Ready for Some Football?
The unseemly intrusion of corporations into public space.
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07.27.11: Rick Poynor

Andrzej Klimowski: Transmitting the Image
Andrzej Klimowski, author of a new book, On Illustration, has used the medium to create a compelling alternative reality.
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07.26.11: Rob Walker

The Work of Art in the Age of Googled Reproduction
Ask Google for an image of "Mona Lisa," and what do you get? Maybe the answer is an artwork unto itself.
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07.25.11: Jessica Helfand

Remembering Sylvia Harris
Sylvia Harris passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 24th, 2011: she was 57. Jessica Helfand remembers her friend.
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07.22.11: Alexandra Lange

Jane Austen, Landscape Architect
Trapped by a ha-ha: bad romance and good landscapes in Mansfield Park.
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07.21.11: Michael Erard

Notes on Getting the Daily Newspaper
Michael Erard tells of the experience of sharing the physical newspaper with his son.
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07.21.11: Rick Poynor

J.G. Ballard's Terminal Documents
A speculative visual interpretation of one of the surreal image lists in J.G. Ballard’s experimental novel The Atrocity Exhibition.
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07.20.11: Mark Lamster

Shigeru Ban in New York
Shigeru Ban's recently completed Shutter House condo in New York City.
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07.18.11: John Thackara

Life is a Picnic in the Fertile City
If you're in Paris before July 24, a spectacular exhibition called The Fertile City: Towards An Urban Nature is well worth a visit.
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07.15.11: Alexandra Lange

Making Dieter Rams
Why is Braun still the best?
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07.14.11: Owen Edwards

Packing it In
On the new FDA-required health warnings, for cigarette packs
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07.14.11: Rob Walker

Rarified Air
Can air (like water) be commodified, or at least physically and/or intellectually packaged in some manner that gives it measurable monetary value? So it would seem.
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07.13.11: Rick Poynor

The House That Design Journalism Built
Printed design magazines continue to fail and close. Where does that leave design writing and criticism?
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07.12.11: Mark Lamster

Bjarke Ingels Has Something to Sell
Can Bjarke Ingels's pragmatic idealism save the world?

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07.11.11: John Thackara

Edible Architecture
Today seems to be the day when, once a year in this part of France, every spider in the region spins her best possible web at the same moment.
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07.09.11: Rob Walker

On Slate: Branding with badges
Foursquare's badges as a stealthy form of graphic branding: subconsciously familiar, without being overtly advertised or highlighted.
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07.08.11: Mark Lamster

The Technicolor Dream of Make-Do Urbanism
Can supergraphics be an answer to urban problems?
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07.07.11: Adam Harrison Levy

Jump Cut: Thoughts on Editing
What can designers, architects and writers learn from the art of film editing?
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07.07.11: Alexandra Lange

Would You Like Words With That?
A meditation on how we shop, organize and get rid of stuff online.
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07.06.11: Rick Poynor

The Dictionary as Art Concept
A new Magritte exhibition catalogue is not the first to take the form of a dictionary. How important is originality when it comes to book design?
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07.05.11: John Thackara

Knife Sharpening
Last week I was taught how to sharpen our kitchen knives by a wood carver, Howard Raybould, who's been honing his technique for 30 years
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07.04.11: Jessica Helfand

The Look of Freedom
It was the American novelist William Faulkner who once observed that we must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. So who am I to take issue with more contemporary interpretations of commemorative form?
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07.01.11: John Thackara

Shoe Town to Brew Town
Could small resource-sharing breweries be a centerpiece of a regional economic development?
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06.30.11: Mark Lamster

Big Red: Antwerp's New MAS Museum
Antwerp's dramatic new MAS museum, an extruded Chinese puzzle in red standstone.
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06.29.11: Rob Walker

Order, chaos, order: Jennifer Shaw's 'Hurricane Story'
Order, chaos, order: An introduction to Jennifer Shaw's personal narrative in photograhs, Hurricane Story.
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06.29.11: John Thackara

Geeked-out Gardening
A “computer that runs your garden” also known as an Automated Garden Facility (AGF), also known as Garduino.
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06.28.11: Alexandra Lange

Welcome to the Hall of Femmes
How should we celebrate women in design, past, present, future?
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06.28.11: Rick Poynor

Speculative Fiction, Speculative Design
The cover of England Swings SF is one of those prescient imaginative leaps that vaulted so far it disappeared from the historical record.
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06.27.11: John Thackara

Open Season on Dutch Cultural Innovation
In a memorandum titled More than Quality the Dutch Arts Minister Halbe Zijlstra has announced savage cuts to the country's arts budget
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06.24.11: Mark Lamster

This City Is Driving Me Nuts
A new study correlates city living and craziness.
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06.23.11: Rob Walker

The Right Stuff
Tumblrs The Burning House and Everyday Carry aim to tell personal stories with objects.
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06.22.11: Alexandra Lange

Jane Austen, Architect?
Why is Austen next to Ballard on the Designers & Books lists?
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06.22.11: John Thackara

Kick-off!
This was a first for me: witnessing first-hand a Kickstarter project cross the line and go live.
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06.22.11: Rick Poynor

On the Threshold of Sebald's Room
Daniel Blaufuks is haunted by a picture of an office in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. Where did it come from and what does it show?
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06.20.11: John Thackara

Bad taps, Good taps
Continuing our theme of systems thinking and the need for a new aesthetics — oh, what the heck, let's talk about taps.
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06.18.11: Adam Harrison Levy

A Tattoo, A Toothbrush and A Pipe
Adam Harrison Levy writes three stories for Father's Day: about being a father, about father-hood and about his own father.
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06.16.11: Jessica Helfand

The Public Face of Disgrace
The funny thing about lying is that it's about as far as you can go from the expectation of trustworthiness with which we characterize public leadership. 

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06.16.11: Rob Walker

Stealth Iconography: The Google Maps Pin
Asssessing the stealth icon status of the Google Maps pin.
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06.16.11: Elliott Earls

Make/Do
The vainglorious Mediocrity displayed by “artists” of every stripe.
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06.15.11: Alexandra Lange

Let's Go! World's Fairs of the 1930s
"Designing Tomorrow" at the National Building Museum showcases the optimisim, futurism and dreamy design ideas of the 1930s.
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06.14.11: Rick Poynor

Lost Inside the Collector's Cabinet
The Collector’s Cabinet at the Frederic Marès Museum in Barcelona is a mind-bending, sense-bedazzling palace of artifactual wonders.
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06.13.11: Louise Fili and Steven Heller

For the Love of Scripts
“No one person ever invented an alphabet,” wrote Type-maven Tommy Thompson. Script typefaces are no exception. During the letterpress era they were in such great demand that many people “invented” them, and many others copied them.
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06.11.11: Alexandra Lange

New Apple HQ, 1957
Wouldn't it be more radical for Apple to move back to town?
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06.09.11: Mark Lamster

Philip Johnson's Synagogue Problem
Is there a remedy for Philip Johnson's troubled synagogue?
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06.08.11: Rob Walker

Dedigitization
“Digital goods” are increasingly seen as having real value. Increasingly, though, things from the digital world are crossing over into physical manifestations that can be bought and sold.
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06.08.11: The Editors

Announcement: Rob Walker Joins Design Observer
We are pleased to announce that Rob Walker is joining Design Observer as a contributing writer — and as the newest blogger in our Observers Room.
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06.07.11: Matthew Stadler

Publication Studio: What’s It Like?
On any given day the storefront is home to book production, bookstore, endless packing and shipping, a half-dozen hangers-on, curious drop-ins, lost tourists: a composite day in the life of Publication Studio, Portland.
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06.06.11: Rick Poynor

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
A DVD cover for the classic film noir Kiss Me Deadly uses the blindingly obvious symbol that just keeps on giving.
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06.03.11: Jessica Helfand

Meet Our Intern: Paul Rand!
Our surprise upon receiving the Facebook mailer shown here, addressed to Paul Rand.
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06.02.11: John Thackara

Sweat Equity Infra
The Millau Viaduct is a tourist attaction in the making. Future vistors will gawk at it and wonder: “how *did* they build that?”
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06.01.11: Alexandra Lange

An Atlas of Possibility
The Institute for Urban Design's By the City/For the City project provokes crowd-sourced possibilities for New York's future.
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06.01.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Stefan Lorant's Lilliput
Stefan Lorant’s use of photos in pairs could be wry, funny, bizarre, whimsical, satirical and not always kind.
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05.31.11: Mark Lamster

World War II and the Challenge of the Rational
Systems of rational management and the pursuit of irrational malevolence.

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05.31.11: Helen Walters

Design and Business Education: The System Is Not Good Enough
In the past few years, there have been interesting attempts from within both business and design schools to elevate the potential of design and creative thinking as drivers of differentiated value.
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05.31.11: John Thackara

From Ecstasy to Exergy: Running Out of Easy Copper
The days of abundant resources and falling prices are over forever, the consequences for many so-called “green technologies” will be devastating.
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05.27.11: Alexandra Lange

On GOOD: Why Are Car Seats So Poorly Designed?
If you want parents to use public transportation, first you have to fix the car seat.
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05.26.11: Rick Poynor

A Dream World Made by Machines
Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a complex, demanding, audacious piece of television.
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05.26.11: John Thackara

From Participatory Mapping to Coastal Livelihoods
The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, finalist presentations are taking place in New York City on Wednesday June 8, 6-8pm.
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05.24.11: Mark Lamster

The Unsung Genius of Flemish Architecture
The New Flemish Architecture should not be underestimated, though it usually is.
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05.21.11: Alexandra Lange

Vicarious Thrifting, via Twitter
On the lively, effective and erudite thrifting community on Twitter.
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05.20.11: Julie Lasky

Tribute to Tobi
A year after Tobias Wong's death, the exhibition "Brokenoff Brokenoff" opened in New York.
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05.19.11: Susan Roy

Better Homes & Bunkers: The Fallout Shelter for the Nuclear Family
An excerpt from the book Better Homes & Bunkers: The Fallout Shelter for the Nuclear Family by Susan Roy.
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05.19.11: Rick Poynor

Unearthly Powers: Surrealism and SF
Richard Powers, auteur of the paperback cover, was a key figure linking science fiction and Surrealism.
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05.17.11: Michael Bierut

Seven Things Designers Can Learn from Stand Up Comics
Stand up comedy, a high-risk creative enterprise, has interesting lessons for designers.
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05.16.11: Mark Lamster

Aimez-Vous Braem? Antwerp's Little-Known Master
Introducing Renaat Braem, Antwerp's Unknown Modern Master
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05.12.11: Alexandra Lange

Manhattan Museum Musical Chairs
Bye, bye Museum of American Folk Art. Hello the forward march of the Modern.
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05.11.11: John Thackara

Energy: A Sense of Loss
Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves.
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05.10.11: Julie Lasky

Chandigarh to Create Inventory of Corbu/Jeanneret Furniture
A committee convened by the government of Chandigarh, India, is assessing the value of site-specific furniture pieces designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret a half-century ago.
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05.10.11: Rick Poynor

Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read
The Designers & Books website has published my list of 20 indispensable books about graphic design.
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05.10.11: Mark Lamster

Juiced in Lyon: Jakob & MacFarlane's Orange Cube
Lyon's most unusual, and orange, office building.
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05.10.11: Adrian Shaughnessy

Philosophy, Graphic Design and Virtue of Clarity
What can designers learn from exposure to philosophy?
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05.07.11: Rick Poynor

Paul Stiff, the Reader's Champion
For the late Paul Stiff, design educator, writer, editor and skeptic, typography must never neglect to serve the reader.
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05.05.11: John Thackara

Open: A Survival Issue
A new book from the Dutch publisher Bis, Open Design Now, includes essays, cases and visuals on various issues of Open Design.
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05.04.11: Mark Lamster

The Architecture of the Secret Lair
On lairs, evil and presidential.
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05.04.11: Alexandra Lange

Science Gets Around to Architecture
Why are we still privileging scientific studies over visual thinking?
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05.03.11: Mark Lamster

Towers in NY
Two New York Towers, considered.
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05.03.11: John Thackara

A Smooth Journey
Two images have preoccupied me in recent days.
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05.02.11: Mark Lamster

Justice for the City
Some justice for the city.
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05.01.11: Mark Lamster

Forgotten New York: The Lenox Library
Memories of the Lenox Library, and NYC's most inappropriate memorial.
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04.30.11: Julie Lasky

Hug a Worm
Curated by Laetitia Wolff, ExpoTENtial is a collection of 10 design labs that investigate ideas for a smarter, livelier and healthier New York.
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04.29.11: Alexandra Lange

In T: High Fiber
"Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010" opens new territory in midcentury design – upholstery – and shows us more than a few new female designers.

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04.29.11: Jessica Helfand

The Royal Tweet
Long criticized for not being relevant in contemporary culture, the British royal family announces the engagement of the future King of England via Twitter.
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04.28.11: Rick Poynor

On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Heyer’s The Back of Beyond, made for Shell Australia in 1954, is one of the country’s finest films.
READ MORE

04.28.11: Cathy Huang

The Bibliophile
Meet Tim Young, the Beinecke Library’s curator of eight years.
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04.27.11: John Thackara

From Eds & Meds to Farms and Watersheds
Eds & Meds behemoths that bestride Pittsburgh's skyline are not the only game in town. Even a small meadow contains a lot of plants.
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04.26.11: Alexandra Lange

The Only Thing There's Just Too Little Of
What parenthood and artistic endeavor have in common: not enough time.
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04.25.11: John Thackara

Rotterdam: Where Time is no Longer Money
Twelve-year-old children in Rotterdam have never known a time when their city was not being rebuilt around them.
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04.21.11: Rick Poynor

Wim Wenders' Strange and Quiet Places
The massive photographs in film director Wim Wenders’ new exhibition work best when they serve his painterly eye.
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04.19.11: Alexandra Lange

City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?
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04.18.11: Mark Lamster

Yesterday's Future, Today
Yesterday's future, today. (aka, a trip to the Biosphere, in Montreal)
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04.18.11: John Thackara

Why Does Laura Bush's Friend Want to Poison Our Water?
Dr Martin Schuepbach from Dallas, Texas, has the following plan, concerning natural gas, for the Cevennes region of France, where I live.
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04.15.11: Mark Lamster

Postmodernism Returns (Or Maybe It Never Left)
Postmodernism returns (or maybe it never left).
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04.12.11: Alexandra Lange

All That Glitters (and Swoops)
What reviews of aberrant design and Van Cleef diamonds have in common: the death of the design show.

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04.12.11: Rick Poynor

Stewart Mackinnon: Ruptured and Remade
Why, at the height of his early success, did a brilliant British illustrator decide to walk away and what happened next?
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04.11.11: Alexandra Lange

Making the Modern House Home
The Miller House, designed by Saarinen, Roche, Girard and Kiley, has been largely out of sight to the design world since its publication in House & Garden in 1959. Until now that is...
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04.09.11: Mark Lamster

What Baseball's Hall of Fame and a Communist Museum Have in Common
History, Propaganda, and Baseball's Hall of Fame Museum
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04.07.11: Rick Poynor

Starowieyski's Graphic Universe of Excess
In Franciszek Starowieyski’s posters, desire, sexuality, monstrosity, madness and death conjoin in some of the most outrageous images found in graphic design.
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04.07.11: Rob Walker

On Radiolab: the Sound of Science
“Radiolab,” a public radio show that breaks from public radio sensibilities, not least in its striking sound.
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04.05.11: Mark Lamster

The Plight of the Political Artist
On the plight of the political artist.
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04.05.11: Alexandra Lange

Muddying the Waters
Explore New York's watery edges with the graduating class at D-Crit.
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04.04.11: Constantin Boym

True East
Meditations on the Middle Eastern incense burner.
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04.03.11: William Drenttel

Design of Crime, Evil and Death
Buried in our Winterhouse library are numerous books with "design" in the title — things like Death by Design, Design for Dying and Design in Evil.

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04.01.11: Rick Poynor

Wim Crouwel: The Ghost in the Machine
Far from suppressing his own creative personality in the way he advised, Wim Crouwel was expressing it to the full.
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03.31.11: Alexandra Lange

Onesies and Crime
Ruffles, butterflies and bows: this is how we ornament our girl babies.
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03.31.11: Helen Walters

The Rotman Design Challenge: A Review
In recent years, calls for a more creative or innovative approach to, well, pretty much everything.
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03.30.11: Julie Lasky

Search for the Obvious: Challenge #2
Once again, Acumen Fund is looking for creative solutions to social problems. This time the focus is on mothers.
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03.30.11: John Thackara

Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.
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03.29.11: Mark Lamster

Paul Rudolph's Knock-Up Masterpiece
Paul Rudolph's mid-modern masterpiece on the Sanibel beach. 

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03.25.11: Rick Poynor

An Unknown Master of Poster Design
Karel Teissig might just be the best poster designer you have never heard of.
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03.22.11: Josh Wallaert

Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.
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03.22.11: John Thackara

Collapse of Civilization Tango
They say that the last days of Rome were culturally rich — and the same seems to be the case in our own times.
READ MORE

03.21.11: Fred A. Bernstein

More Is Less
New York City officials have to decide to stop the demolition of a small, brick house, in the East Village.
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03.21.11: John Thackara

From Bankster HQ to Start-up Central in Iceland
The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe.
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03.18.11: Julie Lasky

Lit from Above
Kindle be damned. The love affair between designers and printed books is a smoldering thing. Consider the outcry that followed AIGA’s proposal to fold its 86-year-old “50 Books/50 Covers” show into the broader stewpot of an annual multidisciplinary design competition. Or consider Designers and Books, a website that publishes the reading lists of eminent tastemakers.
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03.18.11: Alexandra Lange

Bad Faith Towers
Atlantic Yards trades titanium dream for prefab reality.
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03.18.11: Rick Poynor

Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball
Surrealism codified a poetic principle that has always existed as a possibility and still exists in life and art.
READ MORE

03.17.11: Chappell Ellison

650 Quilts
You've never seen quilts quite like this.
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03.14.11: Mark Lamster

The Changing Face of American Architecture
The explosive rise of the minority architect is shaping the profession anew.
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03.14.11: John Thackara

Can Thermal Perception Change Behavior?
A premise of Joseph Giacomin's new book Thermal is that global warming is hard to ignore when you view the world through thermal eyes.
READ MORE

03.14.11: Phil Patton

Just My Typewriter
Commemorating the IBM Selectric, which turns 50 this year.
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03.11.11: Rick Poynor

What Does J.G. Ballard Look Like? Part 2
There is increasing interest in the relationship between the writer J.G. Ballard and the visual arts. Have Ballard’s admirers and critics overlooked the most Ballardian artist of them all?
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03.11.11: Mark Lamster

Jugaad Urbanism and the New Architectural Modesty
The make-do spirit of jugaad architecture comes to New York.
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03.10.11: Andy Chen

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Cub
Is design strictly a set of rules?
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03.09.11: John Thackara

Images de Pensée
Darwin, Freud, Descartes, Goethe, Klee, Beuys, Marinetti, Nabokov, among others, left behind these “images of thought.”
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03.08.11: Mark Lamster

The Baseball Card as Design Inspiration
Baseball cards: the gateway drug to graphic design.
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03.07.11: Mark Lamster

What Makes a Moral Practice?
How do we choose our clients?
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03.07.11: David Antin

Bomb Hanoi: The Andy Warhol Cover
Art critic David Antin remembers working with Andy Warhol on the "Bomb Hanoi" cover of some/thing in 1966…
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03.07.11: Alexandra Lange

Reading Out Loud
The disappearing physical on-ramps to reading.
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03.04.11: Rick Poynor

The Secret History of the Edgelands
These transitional zones, places of “possibility, mystery and beauty,” can be found anywhere that urban development meets open land.
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03.03.11: Steven Heller

Souvenirs as Nazi Propaganda
Part three in a three part series on the design practices of the Third Reich.
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03.01.11: John Thackara

Work Faster, India!
“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India's economy will grow by nine percent next year.
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02.28.11: Mark Lamster

A Special Kind of Pleasure: Toccata for Toy Trains
Lessons from the 1959 Eames film Toccata for Toy Trains.
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02.28.11: Alexandra Lange

Something Old, Something Green
The Ball jar: could this be our classless package?
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02.26.11: William Drenttel

Homework
A plastic axe, a left-over prop from a Halloween costume, tracked from a Connecticut store back to a California distributor back to a Chinese manufacturer.
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02.24.11: Julie Lasky

Horseman, Pass By!
I’ll admit right now to a fleeting dream of appearing on Antiques Roadshow.
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02.23.11: Jessica Helfand

New Lives for Old Paper
It's difficult, perhaps impossible to imagine a designer whose eye is not drawn to ephemera — the flimsy, forgettable, never-meant-to-survive bits of two-dimensional matter that circumscribe our daily lives  — and by conjecture, to paper's wondrous reincarnation in collage. Does this not make collage the most sustainable of art forms?
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02.22.11: Alexandra Lange

ISO The Digital Sidewalk Critic
Why is it so hard to say, "I hate my iPad"?
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02.22.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Richard Neville's Playpower
Martin Sharp’s cover design is a garden of queasily decadent delights where the joke is probably on the reader.
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02.21.11: John Thackara

What Kind of Design Institutes for India?
An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for a “rigorous co-creation process to bring clarity to the models of design education that India should seek.”
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02.21.11: Alexandra Lange

Neat Freaks
Organizing things neatly = what IBM, Ray Eames, Herbert Matter and Tumblr have in common.
READ MORE

02.18.11: Nancy Levinson

Architect Barbie
Architect Barbie: the world's most famous doll has a new career.
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02.18.11: Mark Lamster

An Empire State of Mind
Join in a running commentary on Andy Warhol's film "Empire," at MoMA.
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02.17.11: Mark Lamster

Cities from the Sky
A new exhibition of urban photographs by Sze Tsung Leong.
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02.17.11: John Thackara

Bangkok Cable Ways
One of the reasons we underestimate the sheer physical mass of our power and information networks is that they're hidden from view. But not in Bangkok.
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02.17.11: Alexandra Lange

I Was an Unhappy Hipster
In a renovation by an architect, for a critic, the bookshelves can be a battleground.
READ MORE

02.17.11: Steven Heller

Hitler’s Poster Handbook
Hitler’s Poster Handbook: a follow-up to “The Master Race’s Graphic Masterpiece.”
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02.15.11: Rick Poynor

Solitude in Dark Trees
Was this structure the idle amusement of some loggers, or an art piece by someone at the academy nearby? Gingerly testing each rung, I climbed up into it.
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02.14.11: John Thackara

UK Design Policy Becomes Multi-Scalar
An interesting rebound effect of public spending cuts in the UK is that the UK Design Council and CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) are to merge.
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02.14.11: Mark Lamster

MoCA Loco
A weekend visit to MoCA, and barren downtown LA.
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02.12.11: Jessica Helfand

The Little Savages
A century ago, art and design juries often favored the same participants, year after year, a corruption of power that was anything but fair. Especially when jurors favored applicants made in their own image.
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02.11.11: Michiel Schwarz & Joost Elffers

Like the Word or Not, the Era of "Sustainism" Is Here
The idea of sustainism deserves more than a discussion about what we (dis)like about nomenclature.
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02.11.11: Rob Walker

Fun Stuff
A result of the wrenching economic downturn is that we just don’t care about stuff anymore.
READ MORE

02.10.11: Alexandra Lange

Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
Why has the dinner party become an endangered species of entertainment?
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02.10.11: Michael Bierut

Five Years of 100 Days
Five years of a 100 day workshop taught by Michael Bierut at the Yale School of Art.
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02.10.11: Rick Poynor

A Journal with No Fear of Flying
The Drawbridge’s change of visual direction is one of the most dramatic ever ventured by a literary magazine.
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02.09.11: John Thackara

Ultra Modern
I dislike the word “Glocal,” I also dislike the word “Creative,” now a new word has come along to bug me: “Sustainism.”
READ MORE

02.07.11: Mark Lamster

"I'm Staying at the Eero"
Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal slated for conversion to boutique hotel.
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02.07.11: Steven Heller

The Master Race’s Graphic Masterpiece
Steve Heller hunts down a Nazi graphics standards manual – it had been right under his nose all the whole time.
READ MORE

02.04.11: Rick Poynor

What Does J.G. Ballard Look Like?
J.G. Ballard was one of those rare writers whose vision inspired a new adjective. What is a “Ballardian” image and how have designers and image-makers interpreted it?
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02.04.11: Rob Walker

Go Figure
A recurring feature in architectural renderings: the little human figures who inhabit the rendered world.
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02.01.11: John Thackara

If It's Not the Destination and It's Not the Journey...
A team at Rutgers University, uses ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers and cellular networks to find empty parking spaces. While technically impressive, this is an absurdly over-complicated answer to the wrong question.
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02.01.11: Alexandra Lange

The Moms Aren't Wrong
Why planning cities for children would make them better for us all.
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01.31.11: Julie Lasky

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Hype
After sitting through two dozen aerial stunts, accompanied by a score with a U2 pedigree, and by something that might be described as a plot, I emerged astonished by only one thing: that no one has actually died while making this musical.
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01.31.11: Michael Bierut

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mentor, Or, Why Modernist Designers Are Superior
Does a strict upbringing make you a better designer?
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01.27.11: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Nairn's London
Inside the architecture critic Ian Nairn’s classic, idiosyncratic guide to London’s buildings and spaces.
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01.27.11: Jessica Helfand

When Do We Call it Art?
Back in the pre-Banksy days of big cars and even bigger hair, there came a cultural moment noted for its prevalence of large-scaled words and symbols, a comparatively brazen visual trope that flirted with modernity by celebrating overscaled visuals in the interest of commerce.
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01.27.11: Alexandra Lange

Objects Fall From the Sky
What's more important: crediting a designer or the designer credited?
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01.26.11: John Thackara

I am Compost
Something special is happening in France. A 73 year old Algerian-born farmer, philosopher and environmentalist is beginning to impact not just on the electoral process, but the culture of this resolutely human-centered, nature-dominating country.
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01.25.11: Jessica Helfand

Certificate of Approval
Jessica Helfand writes about her favorite piece of design.
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01.24.11: John Thackara

Spaced Out in a Flat World
Tom Friedman's book The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) is filled with anecdotes about change in different parts of the world that threaten our fat-cat lifestyles in the North.
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01.23.11: Rick Poynor

Discovered by Chance in a Paris Arcade
What better way to pass a couple of spare hours in Paris than to visit the covered arcades that were, for the Surrealists, some of the best places to encounter the marvellous?
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01.23.11: Chappell Ellison

Ultraflo: Plumbing of the Future
Once upon a time, Ultraflo was the plumbing of the future.
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01.20.11: Mark Lamster

Gerd Arntz: Design Icon
Gerd Arntz: A design icon who designed icons.
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01.20.11: Jessica Helfand

Does It Have To Be A Lightbulb?
You know that joke about how many graphic designers it takes to screw in a lightbulb? To which the answer is: does it have to be a lightbulb?
READ MORE

01.19.11: Alexandra Lange

What Should Food Look Like?
Food packaging and what it says about class.
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01.19.11: John Thackara

The Service Ecology of a City
Milan has approved a new Territorial Government Plan (Piano di Governo del Territorio) in which public services, and the way they are planned, are at the centre of the whole project.
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01.19.11: Jessica Helfand

Bring In Da Ponk!
There is a reason that most Americans don't think of roasted millet as a dietary staple, and it may have something to do with the fact that extracting it requires actually thrashing the wheat stalk from which it hails.
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01.18.11: Jessica Helfand

You Never Go Down The Candy Aisle
I used to believe that the true secret of extraordinary success in the kitchen lay in skillful grocery shopping. I was doomed, it seemed, the minute I hit the market, where I was hardwired to revisit the same aisles, to buy the same ingredients, to make the same dishes, over and over and over again.
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01.17.11: John Thackara

How the Banks Want to Make China Sick — and Broke
Is it me, or are some banking people incredibly stupid as well as being venal and sociopathic?
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01.14.11: Rick Poynor

In Praise of the East European Film Poster
Czech film posters of the 1960s are some of the most extraordinary graphic creations ever put on paper.
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01.12.11: Alexandra Lange

Bring Back Braids
The True Grit of hairstyles: braids.
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01.12.11: Steven Heller

My Big Fat Fast Food Feast at Eataly
A comparison of the vast differences of Italy's Eataly to New York's.
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01.10.11: Mark Lamster

The Greatest Building in New York
What's the best building in NYC?
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01.10.11: Rick Poynor

Out of the Studio: Graphic Design History and Visual Studies
Graphic design history’s best chance of development now lies in an expanded conception of the rapidly emerging discipline of visual studies.
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01.10.11: Alexandra Lange

Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?
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01.09.11: Rob Walker

Ghosts in the Machine
Everyday we are busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff. What happens to this “stuff” when we die?
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01.07.11: Julie Lasky

Index Names Design Challenge Finalists
Among the seven projects dedicated to schoolchildren are educational games, classroom furniture and products that support comfort and hygiene.

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01.07.11: Rick Poynor

How to Chew Gum while Walking
We go round in circles but the central issue doesn’t change: what can a designer add to a project beyond fulfilling the client’s brief?
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01.05.11: John Thackara

Afghan Culture Museum
A project to create a virtual museum of Afghan culture has been launched in Paris by an independent producer, Pascale Bastide.
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01.04.11: Jessica Helfand

Sweet Spot: Cake as Craft?
Within the broad genre known as reality television — in between the astonishing displays of amateur talent and the atrocious tales of teenage pregnancy — are nearly half a dozen programs devoted to extreme displays of, well, frosting.
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01.04.11: John Thackara

Plan B "Best Architecture Book of the Year" in the Netherlands
My book Plan B: Ontwerpen in een Complexe Wereld (Plan B: Designing In A Complex World) has been selected by the influential magazine de Architect as their best architecture book of the year.
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01.03.11: Alexandra Lange

From the Cabat to the City
Is Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier an industrial designer trapped in the fashion world?
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01.03.11: John Thackara

UnBox: Where Next for Design in India?
UnBox, a three day festival in Delhi, in February, brings together creative collectives from around India.
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12.31.10: Alexandra Lange

Designing with Cookies
Arranging cookies could be the first sign of a design sensibility.
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12.30.10: Rick Poynor

Surrealism in the Pre-School Years
A poet described postcards as a “Lilliputian hallucination of the world”: he must have seen the surreal babies.
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12.30.10: Rob Walker

Global Entertainment
Entertainment via web-based geography.
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12.23.10: Mark Lamster

The Once & Future Whitney Museum
The Whitney: An Architectural Tour.
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12.23.10: Chappell Ellison

How Do I Know It's Faux?
If you want to go faux, you might have to call in a fur expert.
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12.22.10: Alexandra Lange

Shopping D/R at Etsy
Want to recreate D/R this Christmas? Etsy provides the goods.

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12.22.10: William Drenttel

WikiLeaks: Design Proposals by Metahaven
The Dutch design research studio, Metahaven, took a bold, newsworthy step last weekend in Amsterdam by proposing new graphic identity options for WikiLeaks.
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12.22.10: Marian Bantjes

Plastics: An Apoplexy
I woke up in the middle of the night stewing about plastics. In particular, the continuing, insidious use of excessive and totally unnecessary plastics in packaging.
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12.21.10: Rick Poynor

W.G. Sebald: Writing with Pictures
How do the great German writer's notoriously tricky visual fictions compare with reality?
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12.21.10: Julie Lasky

"Do Not Touch!"
An art-gallery chair plays hard to get.
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12.20.10: William Drenttel

I (still) Love Amsterdam
Dutch design events in December 2010, including the Prince Claus Awards and graphic design conferences.
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12.20.10: John Thackara

The Unwatched Swatch?
If it is true that the world’s information base is doubling in size every 11 hours then a lot of eco-design information, that could be valuable for professionals, presumably goes un-noticed and thus unused.
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12.20.10: Jessica Helfand

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones but Print Can Never Hurt Me: A Letter to Fiona on First Reading "The End of Print"
In 2000, Jessica Helfand wrote a letter to her daughter Fiona, giving her a primer on graphic design.
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12.17.10: Mark Lamster

Holiday Books Redux
Suggested reading for the architect/designer in your life.
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12.17.10: Julie Lasky

AIGA on the Rebound
Kerfuffle over a design blog post about Dribbble
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12.17.10: Rick Poynor

Everything has Become Science Fiction
Is science fiction's most crucial task to envision the future or to understand the present?
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12.16.10: Rick Poynor

Agency or Studio? The Dutch Design Dilemma
Dutch graphic design, once so original and innovative, now looks increasingly similar to everyone else's graphic design.
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12.16.10: Alexandra Lange

On Boring
Are architecture and design boring? Or have editors just chosen other boring topics — countertenors, pickling, math — to champion?
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12.15.10: Jessica Helfand

Be Careful What You Wish For
What happens when you combine People's Sexiest Man Alive with GQ's Hottest Babe? They get married!

Then they split up.
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12.15.10: Mark Lamster

British Incursion
Stirling, Foster, and a new association with the Architectural Review.
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12.15.10: Jessica Helfand

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman!
The Canada Post announced last month that it is enlisting the public's help in designing a new stamp to raise awareness for mental health issues.
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12.14.10: Alexandra Lange

Throw Pillows As Character
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand shows how novelists can use decor, and development, as character.
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12.13.10: John Thackara

What Should Design Researchers Research? Report from 2020
I went to Birmigham prepared. I asked the design researchers to imagine, with me, that a Doors of Perception University had been established and that in 2020, a degree-awarding ceremony was about to take place.
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12.13.10: Mark Lamster

Beauty on the Border
Stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty on the US/Canada border.
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12.10.10: Nancy Levinson

Pillow Culture
Beyond sleep: the exhibition Pillow Culture looks at the pillow as designed object and technological artifact.
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12.10.10: Michael Bierut

At the Movies with Javier Mariscal
Chico & Rita is a new animated film by Spanish designer Javier Mariscal and director Fernando Trueba.
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12.10.10: Rick Poynor

The Impossibility of an Island
Atlas of Remote Islands might look like a celebration of distant paradises. Its beauty masks a darker purpose.
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12.09.10: John Thackara

Use Fewer Words — Or Less Ink?
Various projects to develop environmentally friendly and non-toxic printers' ink are underway.
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12.08.10: Alexandra Lange

No Rest at the Last Supper
"Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision by Peter Greenaway" is indeed a dud: cheese-tastic, bombastic, didactic.
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12.08.10: Chappell Ellison

The Would-be Words of 2010
Ecotistical, doga, and auxer are just a few of the new words you should know in 2010.
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12.07.10: John Thackara

Has Venice Cracked the Bottled Water Conundrum?
Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world, the solution to the waste was to created a brand name for Venice’s tap water — Acqua Veritas.
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12.07.10: Steven Heller and Elaine Lustig Cohen

Designer as Author
In 1954, Alvin Lustig gave a lecture titled “What Is a Designer?” at the Advertising Typographers Association of America. It was his first speech after he lost his eyesight.
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12.06.10: Alexandra Lange

Little Boxes
AMAC Plastic Boxes are back at the Container Store: a rainbow classic sold at Design Research, part of the MoMA design collection, and starting at $0.39.
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12.05.10: John Thackara

This is Not an Object
Well, I know these things “look” like objects, but that's because you have not read a new book called Nonobject about the design philosophy of Branko Lukic.
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12.03.10: Rick Poynor

On My Screen: Bill Morrison's Decasia
The avant-garde classic Decasia, assembled from decaying film stock, is a sublime vision of another reality.
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12.02.10: Jessica Helfand

Oh, To Be An English, Um, Person!
Within the space of one hour yesterday, these two images flashed upon my screen — both of them curiously billed as "Englishmen."
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12.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Networks Before the Internet
A new exhibit at the Noguchi Museum shows how small and intertwined were the worlds of mid-century art, design and architecture.
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12.01.10: Mark Lamster

The Ugliest Object I Have Ever Owned
What's the ugliest object you've ever owned (and loved)?
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12.01.10: John Thackara

Jellyfish Farm
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.
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12.01.10: Rick Poynor

Where Is Art Now?
Leaving the art world to decide what art is doesn’t resolve the issue of quality.
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12.01.10: Rob Walker

Inside the Wild, Wacky, Profitable World of Boing Boing
How four people who do exactly what they want run one of the most popular blogs on the planet.
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11.30.10: Chappell Ellison

Story Time With Starbucks
This holiday season, Starbucks and Whole Foods aren't selling coffee and organic food.
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11.29.10: Nancy Levinson

Art Talks
Adam Lowe and Peter Greenaway at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City; Justin Partyka and Sir Terry Farrell at Eleven Spitalfields in London,
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11.29.10: John Thackara

In the Air of Madrid
Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.
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11.29.10: Alexandra Lange

Sans Serif Seasons Greetings
The market in "modern" holiday cards grows every year, but the choices--Helvetica, brown and baby blue, color blocks--still seem dated.
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11.26.10: Jessica Helfand

Pretty Pictures, Bad Judgment
If a picture's worth a thousand words, a publically broadcast picture is amplified, multiplied and cast out into a world where it can go anywhere.
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11.24.10: Mark Lamster

Chaos & Classicism in NY
A short review of the Guggenheim's Chaos & Classicism exhibition.
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11.24.10: Alexandra Lange

Criticism Kerfuffle 2010
There are people trying to write their way to a future of architecture criticism. But it isn't just the writing that's the problem.
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11.23.10: Alexandra Lange

New City Reader: Sidewalk Sale
How Atlantic Yards became Barclays Center and disappeared from Brooklyn in the process.
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11.22.10: Nancy Levinson

News/Print
The Last Newspaper, New City Reader, Newsstand: Print news may be dying, but it's alive in the galleries.
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11.22.10: Rick Poynor

Rethinking Conceptual Type Design
In Copenhagen last week, the organizers of “Conceptual Type — Type Led by Ideas” posed the question: “Where are the idealistic fonts, the fonts that are frontiers of new belief?”
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11.22.10: William Drenttel

Imagining Menorahs as Peacocks?
That designers want to "re-imagine" the menorah every year is worthy of discussion and critique. That they want to make them out of recycled bike chains needs to be challenged someplace, by someone.
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11.18.10: Alexandra Lange

My Marimekko Uniform
Wearing Marimekko is like being a walking work of art.
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11.17.10: John Thackara

Look — Or Connect?
In a photography and book project called Shelter Henk Wildschut documents found shelters. Perhaps we should not judge these images by what they make *us* feel, but by which they cause to connect, with the people they portray.
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11.17.10: Mark Lamster

Road Trips: Louwman Museum and Powers Field
Thinking about new(ish) projects by Michael Graves and Rafael Vinoly
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11.15.10: John Thackara

Is an Environmentally Neutral Car Possible?
The future of the car has been electric for what? Five years now? Ten? The answer is 110 years. The new Riversimple, makes us look again at the feasibility of the electric car.
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11.15.10: Alexandra Lange

You Have to Pay for the Public Design
Does a preference for design for private consumption threaten our public space?
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11.15.10: Steven Heller

Miss Branding: A Cautionary Tale
The 1957 film Blood of Dracula: A cautionary parable about the diabolical power of advertising and branding.
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11.13.10: Mark Lamster

Design Writing: Vital Field or Museum Piece?
Is traditional architectural criticism dead?
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11.12.10: Alexandra Lange

Ornament & Time
Another loss to the digital age: the architectural clock.
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11.11.10: Rick Poynor

What Does H. P. Lovecraft Look Like?
In a gilded age of adaptations: films, TV series, theatrical productions, H. P. Lovecraft’s short novel At the Mountains of Madness, is re-envisioned for a new generation.
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11.10.10: John Thackara

Of Popes, Pixels and Micropayments
For the Popes of culture and media, who met last week for the third Avignon Forum, a shallow cultural scanning is a reprehensible downside of “culture for everyone.”
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11.09.10: Mark Lamster

Glass Houses
A new blog on architecture, design, art, new york, books and sport by Mark Lamster.
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11.09.10: Adrian Shaughnessy

Minotaurs in Suburban England
English designer Vaughan Oliver met Adrian Shaughnessy to show him preliminary work on a deluxe Pixies box set called Minotaur.
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11.09.10: Alexandra Lange

Super 8
Is BIG's 8 House just another version of the 'burbs?
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11.08.10: The Editors

Announcing A New Channel: Observers Room
We are delighted to introduce our newest channel: Observers Room — and new blogs by Mark Lamster, Alexandra Lange, Rick Poynor, John Thackara, and OBlog, a blog by the editors of Design Observer.
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11.05.10: Mark Lamster

LOMEX: Paul Rudolph’s Plan for Lower Manhattan
Does anything not look great as a model? Paul Rudolph’s proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway modeled by Cooper Union architectural students.
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11.05.10: Alexandra Lange

Keeping Faith
A church and a cemetery reawaken my faith in a higher architectural standard.
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

Adventures in the Image World
This is a blog about visual culture. It reflects my interests, enthusiasms, concerns and bêtes noires across the spectrum of visual phenomena.
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11.05.10: John Thackara

Unplugged, But Not Alone
I was snooty in suggesting, in my comment on Doug Rushkoff's new book, that he should get out of the city more.
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11.05.10: Nancy Levinson

Greenaway at the Armory
Peter Greenaway's Leonardo's Last Supper: A Vision, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.
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11.05.10: Julie Lasky

Design Your Own Life
Ayse Birsel's Destruction Reconstruction method and workshop.
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

Danzig Baldaev’s Prison House of Flesh
Fuel’s Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia, which appeared in 2004, was a shrewdly judged piece of publishing. The meticulous ink drawings of tattoos made by Danzig Baldaev, a prison guard from 1948 to 1986, had a horrible fascination for viewers safe in the knowledge that they would never have to endure anything as harsh, perilous and sadistic as the Soviet penal system.
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11.05.10: Alexandra Lange

GourmetLive: The Architecture of Food
Now that we know we produce too much waste, now that aesthetics are suspect, now that we must compost or perish, how do design and architecture retool themselves for less, or better, or tastier consumption?
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11.05.10: John Thackara

Design Steps to Heaven
I recently visted Luzern, in Switzerland, for a workshop at the oldest art and design school in Switzerland, Hochschule Luzern. My host, Andy Polaine had asked me to set students in the first semester of the MA Design, a challenge.
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

Design Writing from Down Under
A new issue of The National Grid arrives in the mail. You’ve never seen it? You are missing a treat.
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

On My Shelf: Surrealism Permanent Revelation
This post is the first in an occasional series. The idea is to revisit a book from my bookshelf.
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11.05.10: Rick Poynor

An App for the Self-Replacing Book
British artist Tom Phillips’A Humument, must be one of the most successful artist’s books ever published. Now, in an entirely logical development, comes The Humument app for the iPad.
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11.01.10: KT Meaney

The Library: A Museum
The library at North Carolina State University is laden with gold. Books that seem "rare" or simply too special for public shelving have been, in my mind, erroneously stacked and "dewey decimaled".
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10.28.10: Andy Chen

Not Queer, But Human
As a gay man and a designer, Andy Chen believes that part of the solution of homophobia lies in creating images that redefine the very way sexual orientation is understood and discussed.
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10.27.10: John Thackara

Leave Nothing But Footsteps
“Take nothing but memories” Kalack concludes “and leave nothing but footsteps”.
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10.26.10: Alexandra Lange

What I Would Have Bought in Sweden
While the Swedish modern architecture we saw ran to blank surfaces of stone, glass and stucco, every store was bursting with color and pattern.
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10.26.10: John Thackara

A Lesson from Cornwall
I've always loved lichen. I found this one in Cornwall’s Biodiversity Action Plan and chose it as a beautiful asset that already exists in the county.
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10.25.10: Alexandra Lange

Join the Conversation!
I am hosting this week's Glass House Conversations, inspired by the comments (on and off the blogosphere) in reaction to my negative review of the Museum of Modern Art's "Small Scale, Big Change" exhibition.
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10.25.10: Marian Bantjes & Jessica Helfand

The Bantjes Covers
Marian Bantjes exposes the long process that led to the cover of her new monograph, I Wonder.
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10.25.10: Mark Lamster

Trabantimino
The idea: fuse a Trabant, that iconic East German junkmobile, with an El Camino, the classic American musclecar.
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10.25.10: John Thackara

From Easter Island to Three Mile Island
You don't need to know how a combustion engine works to drive your car to work. Why should you need to know anything about the programming behind the pixels just to get around the web?
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10.22.10: Alexandra Lange

AN Friday Review: Harry Weese
I review the new book The Architecture of Harry Weese. I was dreaming of a monograph on Weese only a few months ago. Unfortunately, this book was not what I had in mind.
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10.22.10: Mark Lamster

Chased
Chase has shuttered its iconic bank branch at 43rd and Fifth, and I’m pissed and sad about it at once.
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10.21.10: Alexandra Lange

Northern Highlights
I don't usually do photo posts, but while I am mentally processing my trip to Denmark and Sweden, I thought I would share some architecture, design, foliage moments from the trip. I think the theme is texture.
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10.21.10: Mark Lamster

Modern Views, Home and Abroad
What would Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson have thought of sharing the billing in Modern Views, the new book celebrating the Farnsworth House and the Glass House?
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10.20.10: Alexandra Lange

In Dwell: Platner's Opulent Modernism
I see Warren Platner as a missing link between modernism and post-modernism, and another hero of the interior ignored by architectural history.
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10.19.10: Alexandra Lange

On Design Observer: Girard + Folk Art
Alexander Girard fascinates me as an architect who refused to play the skyscraper game, focusing his considerable talents on restaurants, textiles, exhibitions and murals.
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10.19.10: Alexandra Lange

Designing with Folk Art
Alexandra Lange examines Alexander Girard's work at the Deere & Co. Administrative Center, which he completed in the 1960's.
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10.18.10: Mark Lamster

Wavefield: Maya Lin at Storm King
I went out with the family to see Maya Lin’s Wavefield up at Storm King Art Center over the weekend.
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10.16.10: Alexandra Lange

FT Weekend: People in glass houses
UUsually it feels churlish, biting the hand that feeds, to draw back the curtain on reporting. But in the case of my story, “People in Glass Houses,” for FT Weekend, every step of the process of spending the night in two National Trust properties was such a contrast to my assignment to experience living in a glass house and an 18th century plantation, I just can't help it.
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10.15.10: Mark Lamster

Stirling's Gold
James Stirling's drawings on view at Yale are extraordinary — it’s a shame that this skill, which was obviously so central to the design process, has become all but obsolete.
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10.11.10: William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand

An Introduction to Graphic Design
Graphic Design 101 by William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand.
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10.07.10: Alexandra Lange

Change Observer: "Small Scale" Reviewed
My review of the Museum of Modern Art's first foray into socially conscious design: Small Scale, Big Change.
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10.07.10: Leonard Koren

Which “Aesthetics” Do You Mean?
An excerpt from Leonard Koren's new book Which “Aesthetics” do You Mean?: Ten Definitions
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10.06.10: Alexandra Lange

Yummy Too
Missing from my previous post on the Cooper Union exhibit Appetite (closing Saturday) were images of Milton Glaser's work for Grand Union.
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10.06.10: Mark Lamster

Center of Controversy
By now you’ve surely seen the new renderings by SOMA architects for Park51, the Muslim cultural center in Lower Manhattan.
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10.04.10: Alexandra Lange

Family Business
I've often alluded to my designer grandparents on this blog, and here is visual proof: two posters by my grandfather, John R. Scotford Jr., during his long career designing for Dartmouth.
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10.03.10: Alexandra Lange

Not Afraid of Color
Alice Rawsthorn and I think alike on the Le Corbusier palette.
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10.02.10: Mark Lamster

Upside Dome
Gijs Van Vaerenbergh’s “Upside Dome” installation at St. Michiel’s in Leuven is so beautiful I can’t help but post a picture of it here
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10.01.10: Alexandra Lange

In T: The Zootopian
In early August I had the pleasure of traveling (by plane, train, local train and subway) to Sonneberg, Germany to interview toy designer Renate Müller.
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09.29.10: Alexandra Lange

This is A Thrill...
Design Research reviewed in the New York Times.
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09.29.10: Adam Harrison Levy

The Wood Stacker
All his work, freed him from a dependency on oil. His heat is local.
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09.28.10: Alexandra Lange

Yummy!
I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition Appetite, curated by Alexander Tochilovsky at the Herb Lubalin Center at Cooper Union, not least because it was bite-sized.
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09.28.10: Mark Lamster

Dishing on Design Research
As a kid in 70s-era New York, I wasn’t especially attuned to home decor. But there was one thing I did notice: virtually all of my friends’ parents had the same tableware.
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09.26.10: Alexandra Lange

Masdar: So Many Questions
I was not planning to post anything about Sukkah City. It all just looked like an architecture studio: so much effort, such worked-over results, and an inability to see the forest for the trees.
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09.24.10: Alexandra Lange

Rendering v. Reality in Sukkah City
I was not planning to post anything about Sukkah City. It all just looked like an architecture studio: so much effort, such worked-over results, and an inability to see the forest for the trees.
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09.21.10: Alexandra Lange

The Still-Expanding Airport
In 1958, after some failed attempts by the Saarinen office to make a stop-motion film of their model for Dulles Airport, Eero Saarinen called upon his old friend Charles Eames to help him out.
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09.18.10: Jan Conradi

Looking Back, Thinking Forward: A Narrative of the Vignellis
Vignelli Celebration: Jan Conradi on Lella and Massimo Vignelli and the opening of the new Vignelli Center for Design Studies at RIT.
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09.18.10: Mark Lamster

Sukkah City
The sukkah, a (green!) temporary structure erected to celebrate the Jewish harvest festival, is an ideal form for an experimental architectural competition.
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09.17.10: Steven Heller

Heller on Heller
Vignelli Celebration: Steven Heller talks about the redemptive qualities of having the same name as Vignelli's Hellerware.
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09.16.10: Alexandra Lange

Shall I Complain About the New Yorker?
Once again, The New Yorker embarrasses itself by not fully contextualizing design in it's Style issue.
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09.16.10: Jessica Helfand

The Kindness of Strangers
Vignelli Celebration: If charity begins at home, how can we proclaim new and progressive agendas of social change without examining ourselves, our students, our profession?
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09.15.10: Alice Twemlow

Massimo Vignelli’s Desk
Vignelli Celebration: Alice Twemlow snoops around Massimo Vignelli's desk.
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09.15.10: Steven Heller

Vignelli’s Herald (or Heralding Vignelli)
Vignelli Celebration: Steven Heller remembers the Herald.
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09.14.10: Michael Bierut

Mr. Vignelli's Map
Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.
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09.14.10: Alexandra Lange

NYT Opinionator: If These Walls Could Talk
ABC's Modern Family presents three different families, each defined by the design of their living rooms.
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09.14.10: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: The Paperback
The paperback of Master of Shadows hits the stands on October 6, but advances are in, and if I do say so myself, it looks fantastic.
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09.14.10: Lorraine Wild

The Black Rule
Vignelli Celebration: Lorraine Wild examines The Black Rule as a graphic device in the work of Massimo Vignelli.
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09.13.10: Alexandra Lange

My Franzen, Freedom Review
Here I present to you my page-by-page review of Franzen's Freedom.
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09.13.10: Michael Bierut

Lella Vignelli
In my ten years at Vignelli Associates, I came to understand the relationship between the two brilliant designers who ran the office. Massimo would tend to play the role of idea generator. Lella served as the critic, editing the ideas and shaping the best ones to fit the solution.
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09.12.10: AIGA

Lella and Massimo Vignelli: The 1982 AIGA Medal
Vignelli Celebration: In 1982 Massimo and Lella received the AIGA Medal for their many contributions to the design world, here is an article which originally appeared in the 1983 issue of AIGA Graphic Design USA 4.
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09.12.10: Mark Lamster

The Old Ballpark in the Bronx
The new Yankee Stadium is heading toward the close of its second season, and though I can't say I love it, I think I've come to terms with its existence.
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09.12.10: The Editors

Lella and Massimo Vignelli: A Celebration
Vignelli Celebration: The opening and dedication of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, set to open September 16, 2010 at Rochester Institute of Technology.
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09.11.10: Mark Lamster

Highboy Hullabaloo
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the Sony (nee AT&T) Building, as I research my Philip Johnson bio.
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09.10.10: William Drenttel

Arial vs. Helvetica
A great visualization showing the differences between Helvetica and Arial.
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09.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Make It Bigger
Anthropologie, the latest tenant of the Design Research Headquarters, simply doesn't get it.
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09.10.10: Alexandra Lange

An Honor Just to be Mentioned...
It's all about etiquette, as I find myself included with the likes of Edith Wharton and Jane Austen.
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09.10.10: Rob Walker

Hearing Things
I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it’s merch. Of course, band-branded merchandise has been a major part of the music business, big and small, for years.
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09.09.10: Jessica Helfand

Fat Chance
There's a long grounding for the appreciation of zaftig beauty in painting and sculpture — from the baroque beauties of Peter Paul Rubens to the geometrically rotund figures of Fernando Botero. So why is it so difficult to talk about people who are really fat?
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09.08.10: Alexandra Lange

In Dwell: Hands Off the Icons
In the October 2010 issue of Dwell, which celebrates the magazine’s tenth anniversary by revisiting its own (generally happy) homeowners, I offer the following Argument.
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09.07.10: Alexandra Lange

Coming to the V&A: Tower of Power
It is not often that a museum blogs about Postmodernism, Michael Sorkin (one of the great take-downs) and credits the (female) renderer who made the AT&T Building look the best it ever has.
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09.07.10: Jessica Helfand

The Real Skinny on the Real Skinny
The is the first of two essays on the visual nature of body image.
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09.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Kitchen Godjets
The psychologists-cum-decorators in the NYT Home section “analysis” of the new rug are creeping me out.
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09.01.10: John Thackara

WeWare [September 2010]
Report on John Chris Jones, cooperative traditions of Finland, a new "green" school in London, changing the weather, The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, and more.
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08.30.10: Alexandra Lange

Lunch with the Critics: Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza
In my second critical lunch with Mark Lamster, in the creepy climes of the Hotel Pennsylvania, we discuss the urbanism, politics and skyline posturing of Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza.
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08.27.10: Alexandra Lange

NYT Opinionator: What's Cooking in Kitchen Design?
In Mad Men, Betty Draper has wall ovens and a stove-top island, both desirable today; the differences are the brown plaid wallpaper and cabinets made from dowdy knotted pine.
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08.26.10: Alexandra Lange

The War at Home
My brother Jeremy M. Lange is a photojournalist who works for the Independent, in Durham, NC, where he has been able to photograph a number of funerals, with family permission every time.
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08.25.10: Alexandra Lange

This is a Terrible Poster
I saw the poster for the Facebook movie, The Social Network, at the Bergen Street station yesterdayand all I could think was, This is a terrible poster.
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08.24.10: Mark Lamster

At Home with Bob & Denise
Over the weekend I had the very good fortune to spend an afternoon with Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown at their home in suburban Philadelphia.
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08.22.10: Alexandra Lange

The Language of "Kids Are All Right"
Finally escaped my house for an evening Saturday night and saw The Kids Are All Right, which I loved.
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08.21.10: Alexandra Lange

D/R, Back in the Boston Globe
Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe’s architecture critic, takes a look at Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes and declares that Cambridge lived the modern life first.
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08.20.10: Mark Lamster

Eero Saarinen at 100
Eero Saarinen, who died prematurely in 1961, would have been 100 years old today.
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08.17.10: Alexandra Lange

The Imperfect Imperfectionists
Last week I felt disgusted with myself for becoming one of those parents who no longer reads so I bought Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionistsat Book Court.
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08.16.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: When Shopping Was Sociable
What do Design Research, the Apple stores and the Brooklyn Flea have in common?
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08.15.10: Alexandra Lange

When Shopping Was Sociable
Design Research and Apple, a comparison of the two stores that have brought design to the masses.
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08.14.10: Alexandra Lange

Modern Houses and Doomed P.M.s
In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer Ewan McGregor sleuths instead of writes.
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08.12.10: Mark Lamster

The End of the Worldport as We Know It
A couple of weeks ago we learned that I.M. Pei's JFK Terminal 6 was slated for replacement. Today comes news that the Delta (originally Pan Am) Worldport, aka Terminal 3, is to meet the wrecking ball.
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08.12.10: Alexandra Lange

Damned Icons
Terminal 3 sits there, empty, next to JetBlue’s so-so Terminal 5, as an object lesson about how preservation and redevelopment have to operate in tandem.
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08.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Simple Pleasures
In all these new parks, I feel like I am searching for atmosphere, a designed quality above and beyond the ordinary spaces for children, and I am not finding it.
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08.09.10: Alexandra Lange

Mid-C Decor Striptease
Don’t you love that Matthew Weiner is now teasing us — on Mad Men, of course, what else — with period decor?
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08.09.10: Mark Lamster

Philip Johnson's "Lost" Archive
Yes, there's an archive of Johnson material for sale. Was it unknown? The Times seems to think so, and just about anyone who knows anything about Johnson was aware of it.
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08.08.10: Robert Grudin

The Bakers Table
Those tables taught me something. I realized that by designing them I had turned impoverishment into enterprise. I had transcended my own inhibiting academic world and briefly explored the material presences of daily life.
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08.02.10: Mark Lamster

Lou Kahn's Trenton Bath Houses: The Best Buildings in New Jersey?
Lou Kahn's Bath Houses in Trenton, NJ, the best buildings in the state?
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07.28.10: Mark Lamster

Do-Gooder Architecture: Then & Now
I don't think Philip Johnson would much care for Croon Hall, the new and very green building for Yale's school of forestry and environmental sciences.
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07.27.10: Mark Lamster

Lunch with the Critics: Lincoln Center
Over on DO, Alexandra Lange and I launch our new feature, Lunch with the Critics.
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07.27.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: Lunch with the Critics
Please weigh in on Mark Lamster and my new Design Observer feature, "Lunch with the Critics," in which we observe the new Lincoln Center.
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07.26.10: Alexandra Lange

Culture War Begins at Home
I got this polite but slightly alarming email in response to my Opinionator piece "Easier Living, By Design," on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright.
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07.26.10: Mark Lamster

The Complexity of Simple Design: A Note on the Shakers
When I think of the Shakers I think of a kind of homespun simplicity: ladderback chairs, straw hats, an unfettered (if somewhat loopy) relationship with the almighty.
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07.25.10: Michael Bierut

Jerry Della Femina, Mad Men, and the Cult of Advertising Personality
A review of Jerry Della Femina's From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor, published in a new edition on the occasion of the debut of the fourth season of the AMC series Mad Men.
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07.24.10: Alexandra Lange

Archpaper Review: Our Cities Ourselves
Does one size fit all, even when it is oh-so-hot bikes and buses?
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07.24.10: Alexandra Lange

NYT Opinionator: Easier Living Through Design
The easier living the Wrights described — both in the book and their lines of domestic products — was revolutionary.
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07.23.10: Alexandra Lange

Better Living by Design
In 1950, industrial designers Mary and Russel Wright published the Guide to Easier Living, a revolutionary handbook for the modern home.
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07.22.10: Mark Lamster

The Constructed Landscapes of Chris Berg
With digital imaging technology so advanced and widely accessible, the photo-collage has reached a level of almost baroque absurdity.
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07.21.10: Christopher Mount

Wild at Heart: Tadanori Yokoo
Essay adapted from the catalog for "The Complete Posters of Tadanori Yokoo," an exhibition running through September 12, 2010, at the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan.
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07.20.10: Alexandra Lange

Culture Shed: Where's the Neighborhood?
CultureGrrl offers a critique of the NEA grant for Culture Shed, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group design for a Kunsthalle with retractable roofs over at Hudson Yards.
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07.20.10: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: Paperback
Behold the very dashing cover for the forthcoming paperback edition of Master of Shadows, design by the great John Gall.
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07.19.10: Alexandra Lange

Hung Ceilings: Mystery Solved
Through the wonders of Google maps, I see 300 East 42nd Street, built in 1963 and designed by William Lescazeis a glass curtain-wall building directly across the street.
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07.18.10: Alexandra Lange

Hung Ceilings
Mad Men returns, and now it's time to speculate on the evolution of Peggy’s hair and the meaning of Betty’s dress choices
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07.16.10: Rob Walker

When Funny Goes Viral
Taking Lulz (Sort of) Seriously.
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07.16.10: Rob Walker

The Song Decoders
Pandora, is convinced it can guide you, to music that you like. The premise is that your favorite songs can be stripped to parts and reverse-engineered.
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07.13.10: Alexandra Lange

Time to Move On
A very nice house in Montauk embodies the most recent cliches in architecture: floating staircases, pocket doors, and glass floors.
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07.13.10: Gerry Shamray

Harvey and Me
A remembrance of comic artist and graphic novelist Harvey Pekar by an illustrator who worked with him throughout his career, fellow Clevelander Gerry Shamray.
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07.12.10: Alexandra Lange

Up in the Air
For spires in New York, height doesn’t matter, style does.
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07.10.10: William Drenttel

Periodic Table of Swearing
This is a favorite intersection of ours: periodic tables and swearing.
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07.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Heavens
I finally managed to visit back-to-back versions of my idea of heaven: A Single Man — Tom Ford’s tribute to 1960s style — and Dia:Beacon
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07.10.10: Mark Lamster

Spain vs. Holland: The Eighty Years War in 90 Minutes
Spain and Holland will re-enact the Eighty Years War in tomorrow's World Cup final.
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07.07.10: Alexandra Lange

Out of Love with Piano
After reading Reading Martin Filler’s review of Renzo Piano’s proposed addition to the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, I was struck again by how Piano’s critical reception seems to have curdled.
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07.06.10: Alexandra Lange

Below Black Rock
While the plaza around the CBS Building in Manhattan has always seemed perverse, it is now made worse with the addition of a bank.
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07.02.10: Alexandra Lange

The Personality of Parks
Until Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks
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07.01.10: Mark Lamster

Philip Johnson's Plan for America
We Americans are a can-do, optimistic lot.
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07.01.10: Alexandra Lange

Fix the Car Seat
Having just returned from a vacation where the logistics of the car seat were a primary part of trip planning, I have a plea on behalf of all parents, and a challenge for industrial and car designers: FIX THE CAR SEAT.
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07.01.10: John Thackara

From Doomers to Do-ers [July 2010]
Report on peak oil, a way to live longer, a raw materials crisis in green technology, food and finance links, the death of the local food movement, and more.
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07.01.10: Alexandra Lange

Whatever Happened to Architecture Critique?
Sometimes it feels like everything is shrinking: the magazines, the word counts, the outlets, and especially the critics.
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06.28.10: Alexandra Lange

Bag Ladies
John Ptak explores the history of the handbag after seeing a photo of 1920 woman, who couldn’t seem to put one down.
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06.28.10: Mark Lamster

Coming to America: The Extraordinary Journey of Morris Moel
From Poland to New York, the story of Morris Moel.
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06.25.10: Alexandra Lange

THE Bite THATS Rite
A photograph by John Szarkowski from Looking After Louis Sullivan at the Art Institute.
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06.25.10: Alexandra Lange

Where Have All the Windchimes Gone?
What is a beach rental coming to when the dishes are without fish?
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06.22.10: Alexandra Lange

A Return to Modern Roots
I finally got a chance to see the new North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, by Thomas Phifer & Partners, which opened this spring.
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06.17.10: Alexandra Lange

Diana Center & Architectural Bull----
Though rave reviews (Architect, Metropolis, previously New York) are rolling in for Weiss/Manfredi’s Diana Center at Barnard College, every review has praised two things that I quickly dismissed as the most basic architectural bullshit: the copper glass and the street-level transparency.
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06.16.10: Mark Lamster

Terminal City: I.M. Pei & Philip Johnson at JFK
Back in the day, when the airport was a destination in and of itself.
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06.16.10: Alexandra Lange

In Metropolis: Blue Sky Thinking
What’s really happening at Inland Steel?
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06.14.10: Alexandra Lange

Make Me A Mini Monograph
The thing I found most depressing was the sense I got that one could only write a book about designers that were already famous.
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06.14.10: Alexandra Lange

"We Can't Really Pay"
All of you print people who scorned bloggers but have moved into blogging and helm publications that “blog,” earth to you: You don’t pay.
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06.14.10: Mary Badon

Red Light, Green Light : The Invention of the Traffic Signal
The traffic light — invented in 1912 by a policeman in Detroit — has radically impacted the way transportation rules have developed over the past 100 years, all over the world.
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06.12.10: Mark Lamster

Oh, Culture: A Koons at the Seagram Building
I imagine Mies would not have been pleased to see Jeff Koons's kitschy pink balloon dog standing guard in the lobby of the Seagram Building, his masterpiece of pristine austerity.
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06.11.10: Alexandra Lange

Op Art Eye Candy
I’m lucky that I get to live with a Julian Stanczak painting, bought by my father-in-law in 1968, when Op Art was really something.
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06.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Pomo Time Machine
I’m writing more about Warren Platner, my favorite terribly wonderful or wonderfully terrible architect.
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06.08.10: Alexandra Lange

Girl Power?
I saw this photo in the New York Times this morning and thought that Carly Fiorina’s campaign poster seemed kind of… girly.
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06.08.10: Mark Lamster

Walk the Walk, Take the Design
A few years ago I did an interview with ESPN magazine and was forced to subscribe to read the online version.
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06.06.10: Mark Lamster

An Empire State of Mind
Everyone seems to be weighing in with pieces on the new edition of the AIA Guide to NYC, which is as it should be.
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06.04.10: Alexandra Lange

AIA Guide, Family Style
Page 627, upper right corner, of the new AIA Guide mentions my husband, Mark Dixon.
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06.04.10: Alexandra Lange

Marigold, Goldenrod, Egg Yolk
I think of this color yellow as being so 1960, like Kodak Carousel boxes, made famous all over again by Mad Men.
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06.03.10: Alexandra Lange

My .02 on the Whitney
Everyone has taken their shot at outrage regarding the Whitney's move to a Renzo Piano building at the base of the High Line.
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06.03.10: Mark Lamster

Lady Di of 117th Street
My first encounter with the work of Manfredi/Weiss came more than a decade ago, at a lecture at the Architectural League of NY attendant with their winning the League's Emerging Voices award.
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06.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Bloggers in the Archive
Geoff Manaugh’s announcement, on BLDGBLOG, that he would be blogging from the CCA this summer irritated me, partly because the idea is not brand new.
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06.01.10: John Thackara

Whole, Whole on the Range [June 2010]
Report on the degredation of Earth's grasslands, using mobile devices to help Uganda, lies about food production, composting in London, a new food co-op, and more.
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05.28.10: Mark Lamster

BEA 2010: A Recap
The future of the book was, as per usual these days, on the minds of publishers and retailers.
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05.27.10: Alexandra Lange

The Plastics
This month’s Vogue, which had several enraging features, is not yet fully online except for Blake Lively, bathing suits, clear plastic.
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05.24.10: Alexandra Lange

Modernism on the Range
I was amused that the Incredibles lived in a little Marcel Breuer butterfly-roof box, one much like the 1948 House in the Museum Garden.
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05.22.10: Mark Lamster

Ballet Schooled
The latest alterations to Lincoln Center were rolled out to the press at the end of last week.
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05.21.10: Alexandra Lange

On Fast Company: Why Do Designer Toys Suck?
Spare me the good-looking trophy toys. I’ll take an operational plastic garbage truck any day.
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05.21.10: Alexandra Lange

The Anti-Enthusiasts
Design Blogs: The Vacuum of Enthusiasm, my Design Observer manifesto on what the world of design on the internet needs, lives on in the comments.
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05.17.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: 'Please Give' and Design People
You can imagine my glee at the second scene in Please Give, starring Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt as the owners of a vintage modern furniture shop.
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05.16.10: Alexandra Lange

The Naive Tumblr
The recent changes on Tumblr are brilliant and not intuitive.
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05.16.10: Mark Lamster

Rubens and the Right
A couple of weeks ago I went up to Cambridge for a symposium on Rubens, hoping to catch up on the latest scholarship and check in with friends in the art history game.
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05.14.10: Alexandra Lange

It Was All Yellow
In Buying In, author Rob Walker avoids talking about the aesthetics of the Livestrong bracelet.
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05.14.10: Mark Lamster

SOM: They're #1
What is the top architectural firm in the United States? The friendly staff at Architect magazine established a set of criteria, surveyed the profession and crunched the numbers.
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05.12.10: Alexandra Lange

In Metropolis: The Visceralist
I spent a day and a half with Peter Bohlin in deepest Pennsylvania and New York State, and was very impressed with his house projects and attitude toward design.
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05.11.10: Alexandra Lange

Jane Jacobs Is Still Watching
Despite my dislike of Jane Jacobs's beef with architects and planners, so many points seem strangely prescient.
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05.10.10: Mark Lamster

The Outlier: Philip Johnson's Tent of Tomorrow
The latest World's Fair, Expo 2010, opened earlier this month in Shanghai. The US entry is pretty weak (someone and I can't recall whom, recently commented that it looks like a Lexus dealership).
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05.10.10: Alexandra Lange

On Inksie: Good Design is Aesthetic
I was asked by the editors of Inksie to write about Dieter Rams and his ten principles for good design. Luckily they assigned me my favorite
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05.10.10: Eric J. Herboth

Eames the Typeface
A look at the new Eames Century Modern typeface, designed by Erik van Blokland, and developed by House Industries in collaboration with the Eames Office.
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05.07.10: Alexandra Lange

On Archpaper: Saccharine Design
My review of Marcel Wanders’ exhibition Daydreams at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for The Architect’s Newspaper just went online and let’s just say I was not impressed.
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05.06.10: Alexandra Lange

Straw Men Redux
I can't help but compare and contrast Nicolai Ourossoff's opening sentences of his recent work.
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05.05.10: Alexandra Lange

Category Error
My son is now at the age when he wants to put things in categories, and I struggle to define the categories of automobiles that extend beyond SUV or sedan.
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05.04.10: Alexandra Lange

Icon Review: Attila
At the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Attila, the applause starts before the curtain rises.
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05.02.10: Mark Lamster

Dandies at the Ballpark
What, you ask, did the well-dressed gentleman wear to the ballpark in 1870? The sartorially inclined team outfitter might have turned to the lovely "New York Fashions" lithograph above for inspiration.
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05.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Please Stop Coloring
I was exasperated when I saw the new citrus Hans Wegner wishbone chairs.
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05.02.10: Alexandra Lange

What I Learned @dcritconference
The D-Crit Conference is just a memory, so as a tribute to the afternoon presentations I saw, I offer a set of tangents.
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04.29.10: Alexandra Lange

The Ur-Paperback
This great handmade layout for what now seems like a ubiquitous mass produced series—maybe the ur-paperback—reminded me of a piece I wrote for Metropolis long ago on remaking the Penguin line, Penguin Goes Punk.
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04.29.10: Elliott Earls

The Sentient and the Bag of Meat
In most cases, design education takes place within the larger context of this thing called “art school.” Students can be grouped into one of two categories: the Sentient and the Bag of Meat.
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04.28.10: Alexandra Lange

For My German Readers
As time goes on my negative impressions of Morphosis's 41 Cooper Square are coloring my previous positive feeling about all of Mayne’s work.
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04.27.10: Alexandra Lange

Now What? Or, Beware Panels
Last night after I got back from The Changing State of the Design Press: Now What? I wrote a long crabby post about how boring it was, and also tweeted to that effect.
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04.26.10: Alexandra Lange

Confessions and Criticism
I am not a fan of TMI, the confessional mode, or the sense one gets that the best way to make it as a woman in the media business is to write about yourself.
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04.23.10: Mark Lamster

Gores House
Of the many individuals who found themselves in the orbit of Philip Johnson over his long life, Landis Gores stands as one of the more fascinating.
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04.23.10: Rob Walker

Hitting Rewind on the Cassette Tape
The romance associated with vinyl seems to apply to its longtime analog rival, the cassette.
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04.22.10: Alexandra Lange

Fischer Price Airport
I bought this from Ebay for my son for Christmas — the toy my friend had that I always wanted to take home with me.
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04.22.10: Alexandra Lange

Junior Critics
One of the pleasures of teaching is when your students actually surprise you.
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04.21.10: Alexandra Lange

Via bobulate: New York City as business
Mayor Michael Bloomberg runs New York City like a business.
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04.21.10: William Drenttel

After the Volcano, the First Flight Out of Healthrow (or Shame on American Express and British Airways)
Stuck in London by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökul, I flew one of the first flights out of Heathrow. Sadly, the flight was empty.
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04.20.10: Alexandra Lange

Carolina On... (No, I Just Can't Do It)
Everything cool that has happened in Durham and environs has happened since I left.
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04.20.10: Alexandra Lange

Approving of the Approval Matrix
Now that Bravo just bought the TV show based on New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, who says criticism is dead?
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04.19.10: Adrian Shaughnessy

Safety and Comfort: A Walk with Paul Davis
Davis has asked me to write the introduction to his latest book. I told him I didn't want to write about the usual stuff. He agreed and suggested we go for a walk instead.
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04.19.10: Mark Lamster

Staggered Profiles
The Whitney has never given up its dreams and now has its eyes on a plot at the foot of the High Line in the Meat Market, with Renzo Piano as designer.
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04.15.10: Alexandra Lange

All in the Execution
Ian Baldwin's review of The Grid Book calls out the coffee-table book format and it's middlebrow achievements.
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04.15.10: Jessica Helfand

Every Poem an Epitaph: The Protestant Cemetery in Rome
One does not have to be a poet to write heartbreaking words on a piece of eternal stone. Or perhaps the opposite is true, that all such memorials are lyrical remembrances — that every poem, as TS Eliot once observed, is an epitaph.
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04.15.10: Alexandra Lange

Sometimes You Just Want to Eat
I have been thinking recently that food fetishism is eating our culture.
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04.14.10: Alexandra Lange

Please Join Us
I'm looking forward to the upcoming D-Crit Conference on April 30, 2010.
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04.13.10: Mark Lamster

The Guru Track
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, win the Pritzker Prize and Denise Scott Brown’s “Room at the Top? Sexism and the Star System in Architecture,” becomes a topic of discussion.
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04.11.10: Alexandra Lange

Governors Island, ca. 2014?
We finally receive an image from the long-under-wraps West 8 master plan for Governors Island.
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04.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Every Thing Design: Can I Play Too?
Alice Rawsthorn, whom I generally want to grow up to be, writes in today’s T about Every Thing Design, Dutch designer Irma Boom’s latest book based on the collections of the Museum of Design, Zurich.
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04.08.10: Mark Lamster

Philip Johnson: A Biography
This seems like an opportune moment to make public the news that I am at work on a new biography of the late architect Philip Johnson, to be published by Little, Brown.
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04.08.10: Alexandra Lange

On Knowing Where The End Is
I showed my NYU architecture criticism class the recent documentary on Julius Shulman, Visual Acoustics, last week.
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04.07.10: Alexandra Lange

Anthony Lane Fugs Too
Anthony Lane pans The Clash of the Titans.
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04.05.10: Charles & Ray Eames

India Report, April 1958

Fifty years ago the National lnstitute of Design was born in Ahmedabad India. It's backbone was a manifesto developed by Charles and Ray Eames.


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04.03.10: Alexandra Lange

Has the High Line Ruined Us?
I went to Brooklyn Bridge Park on opening day in the pouring rain with stroller.
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04.03.10: Rob Walker

Slightly Used
A line of axes from the Best Made Company. These are lovely objects, remarkable for the colorful painted patterns on the handles.
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04.02.10: Mark Lamster

A Very Good Book
Anyone who sees fit to pontificate on the status and future of the book should be legally obligated to see the MET's exhibition of the Limbourg brothers' Belles Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry.
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04.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Design Adjacent
There’s a theme in the comments on my Design Observer piece on design blogs, The Vacuum of Enthusiasm, that there is little for me to say about.
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04.01.10: John Thackara

Requiem For A Species – And For Lunch [April 2010]
Report on farmed meat, transition towns, carbon emissions, economy, 01SJ Biennial, and more.
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03.31.10: Alexandra Lange

In the Family
Beautiful work by my brother, Jeremy M. Lange, in the New York Times Sunday.
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03.31.10: Alexandra Lange

Moynihan on Design
At tonight’s lecture at D-Crit, Casey Jones, director of design excellence and the arts for the U.S. General Services Administration, quoted from Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, written in 1962.
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03.30.10: Alexandra Lange

Texts Without Context
I keep thinking about Michiko Kakutani’s piece, Texts Without Context, that begins the discussion of what is being lost to culture by the supremacy of the web.
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03.29.10: Alexandra Lange

Reciting Modernist Architects
She hated it when Daddy made her recite modernist architects.
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03.29.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: Design Blogs: The Vacuum of Enthusiasm
As part of my new strategy of writing the conversations that go on in my head, I critique design (and architecture, to some extent) blogs today on Design Observer.
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03.29.10: Alexandra Lange

Design Blogs: The Vacuum of Enthusiasm
I want to give full credit to the men and women who were there first, and established some of the most popular, provocative and adorable blogs. But now the launch moment is over. 
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03.29.10: Mark Lamster

Terror and Resilience on the Moscow Metro
The last time I was in Moscow, in 2004, there were a number of subway bombings — though outside the stations, not on the trains or platforms — and a couple of airliners were bombed.
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03.28.10: Alexandra Lange

My Favorite SANAA
It is thrilling that SANAA has won the 2010 Pritzker Prize for many reasons.
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03.25.10: Alexandra Lange

The World's Foremost Female Architect
Not to belabor the point, but Martin Filler takes up the discussion of female architects and puts Denise Scott-Brown in her rightful place.
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03.23.10: Alexandra Lange

Scarano's School for Scandal
What was so terrible about Robert Scarano’s practice is what is terrible about Scarano’s practice.
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03.22.10: Alexandra Lange

Times Op-Ed: Hole Earth Catalog
On the New York Times Op-Ed page today, my suggestion for an adopt-a-pothole program for New York City.
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03.21.10: Mark Lamster

Quarantines, Physical and Otherwise
I suppose it was ironic, but mainly just unpleasant, that I was kept from the opening party of Storefront's Landscapes of Quarantine exhibition by a case of pneumonia.
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03.19.10: Mark Lamster

Artist! Lover! Swordsman!
“No man could outfight him — No woman could resist his charm.” So reads the copy on this pulp cover from 1953.
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03.17.10: Alexandra Lange

Doing Addition
When I tweeted yesterday on the rumored short list for the San Francisco MoMA expansion competition, Curbed SF called me sour!
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03.16.10: Alexandra Lange

Things of Beauty
Saul Bass matchbook covers are about the most beautiful things I have seen in some time.
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03.15.10: Alexandra Lange

Playground Apps
I wonder if the young, male inventors of foursquare haven’t missed a big market: moms.
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03.15.10: Julie Lasky

Superbeauty
Essay on the revival of beauty in 21st-century design.
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03.15.10: Andy Chen

The Lines That Divide
The debate continues over who will be the new Head of Department for the Communication Art & Design course at London's Royal College of Art.
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03.14.10: Alexandra Lange

Tearing Down
At the end of a session at the Architectural League's On Criticism reading group, the non-journalists in attendance began to ask the journalists whether architecture critics had any power.
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03.13.10: Rob Walker

Valuing $0
Lewis Hyde wrote The Gift decades ago for an audience of artists, writers and other people who create. Chris Anderson, cited Hyde’s work in his book Free, published last year.
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03.11.10: Alexandra Lange

Critical Mass
Not to be overly self-referential, but I have to highlight this paragraph of Places editor Nancy Levinson’s response to the comments on her response to my Nicolai Ouroussoff piece.
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03.10.10: Sze Tsung Leong, David Burdeny

A Matter of Perspective?
The Vancouver Sun has run a long follow-up story, by Jennifer Moss, to my Los Angeles Times pieceon the plagiarism charges leveled by Sze Tsung Leong against David Burden
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03.10.10: Mark Lamster

Bruce Graham, 1925-2010
It's been a tough stretch for muscular, brooding architecture. Last week, Raimund Abraham, the uncompromising architect of New York's Austrian Cultural Forum was killed in an automotive accident.
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03.09.10: Alexandra Lange

House Upon House
There’s now much more to drool over online regarding Herzog & de Meuron’s 12 gabled VitraHaus in Weil am Rhein.
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03.08.10: Alexandra Lange

Not A Learning Experience
The Privileges finally gives a real satire of almost-present day New York City, in which money is discussed and no one has to learn their lesson.
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03.07.10: Alexandra Lange

Bluestockings Unite!
My new favorite word, from Virginia Heffernan’s NYT Magazine column this weekend: marmish.
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03.05.10: Alexandra Lange

Mad Swatches
One of the aspects of Alexander Girard’s career that is most newsworthy, is the restoration and reopening of the J. Irwin and Xenia Miller House.
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03.05.10: Mark Lamster

Raimund Abraham, 2010
Herbert Muschamp often griped that New York was allergic to "serious architecture," a refrain frequently aped by his successor, Nicolai Ourousoff.
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03.03.10: Alexandra Lange

The (Architectural) Anthologist
After some digressions weird and wonderful, the Nicholson Baker I loved from The Mezzanine and U and I and Room Temperature seems to be back, cranky and at sea and procrastinating.
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03.02.10: Mark Lamster

Writer's Voice
My interview with Francesca Rheannon of NPR's Writer's Voice is now online.
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03.01.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: Why Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough
Well, it took me about six month to work up to this, but here goes: If the death of the architecture critic is nigh, we really need better ones than Ouroussoff occupying the top spots.
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03.01.10: Alexandra Lange

Welcome to Fort Brooklyn
Let us sincerely hope that the Atlantic Terminal Entrance in Brooklyn, a gateway to the LIRR and the hub’s many subways, marks the end of empty transport monumentality.
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03.01.10: John Thackara

Who Will Control Global Urine Flows? [March 2010]
Report on "poor washing," sustainable sewage systems, defence spending, book events in the Netherlands, the Open Green Map iPhone app, and more.
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02.28.10: Mark Lamster

Double Vision: Did David Burdeny Copy Sze Tsung Leong?
When does inspiration cross over the line into plagiarism and copyright infringement?
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02.26.10: Mark Lamster

The New Barnes: Triumph or Travesty?
There's been no more contentious subject in the art world over the last decade than the status of the Barnes Foundation and its decision to forsake its suburban home for a new museum on Philly's Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
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02.26.10: Alexandra Lange

Coloring Book
I loved Jane Campion’s film, despite my feeling that it might not be true, and it must surely be anachronistic.
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02.25.10: Mark Lamster

Three Days in Vegas
My stab at narrative travel journalism.
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02.25.10: Mark Lamster

London Calling
Back in my old life as an editor at Princeton Architectural Press, I had the great pleasure of editing (and designing) the Architecture of Diplomacy, which remains the definitive history of the American embassy building program.
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02.23.10: Alexandra Lange

Disney, Without Sneering
Designed by Rockwell Group, the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco opened to little buzz.
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02.23.10: Steven Heller

Becoming a Designer in the Age of Aquarius
On rereading S. Neil Fujita’s 1968 job manual, Aim for a Job in Graphic Design/Art.
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02.22.10: Alexandra Lange

The Future of Snacks
I spent the last week in the Bay Area, and I can’t help but think that all trends related to kids and food start there.
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02.19.10: Jessica Helfand

Prisoners of Logic
For five or six years now, I have led a double life as a painter. Until recently, I viewed this other identity as a kind of dirty secret.
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02.10.10: Alexandra Lange

Beyond Bodoni & Corb
In college, it was all about Le Corbusier, though by senior year, if I had to hear “Garches” one more time I might have screamed.
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02.09.10: Alexandra Lange

Serious Fun
I am headed to California this week, and realized I might be passing by the Nut Tree, a roadside restaurant on the highway from Sacramento to San Francisco.
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02.08.10: Alexandra Lange

The Extinction of the Unisex
Now I have a toddler of my own, I'm wishing that children's clothes were more simple, without all the trimming.
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02.06.10: Alexandra Lange

On The Moment: Plastic Fantastic
“Bakelite in Yonkers: Pioneering the Age of Plastics,” an exhibition at the Hudson River Museum, showcases 300 objects from the 1910s to the early 21st century.
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02.05.10: Mark Lamster

Overkill, Design Publishing Dept.
I have a piece out in the new issue of Dwell, a peek at a modest kitchen reno in Brooklyn. It's not online yet.
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02.03.10: Alexandra Lange

In AN 02: As the Tide Turns
In MoMA’s Rising Currents exhibition, certain tropes of contemporary waterfront design immediately surfaced.
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02.02.10: Alexandra Lange

All Rubble Is Not Alike
I watched Manufactured Landscapes in the weeks before Christmas and it was just too depressing to post about in the run-up to gift day.
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02.01.10: Alexandra Lange

Wives of the Architects
The beginning of a short story I have been writing in my head for years.
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02.01.10: Mark Lamster

Observing Design
I'm pleased to announce that I've joined the distinguished slate of contributing editors to Design Observer, what I consider to be the premier site on the web for writing on design in its many disciplines.
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01.28.10: Alexandra Lange

The Mysteries of Retail
I don’t spend more than $100 easily and certainly not for something breakable, without function, or something for my kid that costs more than anything I own.
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01.27.10: Alexandra Lange

Write What You Know
My handwriting should be a font. That’s what everyone has been saying since I was about 12, and while I agree it is true, it never seems like a compliment to me.
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01.26.10: Meredith Davis

Who Owns Student Work?
The prevailing opinion at many design schools is that faculty and the university have some “ownership rights” in the output of any class. In other words, students don't own their own work. An opposing viewpoint.
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01.26.10: Alexandra Lange

More! Women! Architects!
A lot of attention — in Chicago, at least — has been given to the fact that Aqua is the tallest building in the world designed by a woman.
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01.26.10: Andy Chen

Left Me Speechless
Our work should not merely address the political injustices wrought by discriminatory laws: it should register the sense of loss inflicted on those who suffer them.
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01.25.10: Alexandra Lange

Suburban Design
Lester Beall, was always my favorite of the cadre of mid-century corporate identity designers for the color, energy and sheer American-ness of his design.
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01.25.10: Mark Lamster

(Not) Basic Training
The J-E-T-S are out of the playoffs following a valiant effort yesterday afternoon. That's not a shocker, though their appearance in the AFC Championship Game certainly was surprising.
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01.24.10: Alexandra Lange

Pay No Attention to Me
In one of those strange topical coincidences, this Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section has a profile of Iwan Baan, a Dutch architectural photographer who is the post-Stoller-Shulman-Molitor savior of architectural photography.
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01.21.10: Alexandra Lange

Buildings That Aren't There
Photography needs to prove itself again as an interpretive medium for architecture somewhere this side of art.
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01.20.10: Alexandra Lange

Hands-On: The Gropius Touch
I couldn’t believe no one else had noticed that Ati Gropius Johansen was coming to the MoMA, and it seemed like a piece of history.
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01.20.10: Alexandra Lange

A Real Modern Monument
Peter Behrens’ AEG Turbine Hall is still in use and is still as striking as the day it was completed — so shouldn't that be the goal for every building?
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01.18.10: Alexandra Lange

Love and Flatware
A scene from Sleepless In Seattle makes me wonder about the idea that shared taste = true love.
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01.15.10: Alexandra Lange

Trip Down Memory Lane
In my ongoing project to give my son as much of a 1970s childhood as possible, we recently ran across all of the 1968 animated film, Yellow Submarine.
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01.13.10: Alexandra Lange

Inappropriation
This Urchin Pouf is an expensive contemporary design object I truly adore, hence my shock at seeing an extremely cheap version in the new CB2 catalog.
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01.13.10: Alexandra Lange

The Yuck Factor
Watch District 9 as a palate cleanser after the visual feast of Avatar.
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01.12.10: Michael Bierut

Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.
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01.12.10: Alexandra Lange

Snip Snip Snip
The Museum of Arts & Design’s Slash: Paper Under the Knife, is the must-see of the winter season.
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01.11.10: Mark Lamster

Big City, Big Game
As a kid, I was never one for the dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. I preferred the darkened precincts of the Hayden Planetarium, specifically the giant mechanical spider that was its Zeiss Mark VI projector, a truly amazing contraption.
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01.11.10: Sarah Williams Goldhagen

Moshe Safdie
Review of architect Moshe Safdie's Mamilla Alrov Center in Jerusalem.
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01.10.10: Alexandra Lange

It's Not Just Me
Way back in the beginnings of blogging in July, I praised the French film Summer Hours.
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01.08.10: Rachel Berger

A Makeover for the BART Map
Unlike the notorious 1972 Massimo Vignelli redesign of the New York City subway map, the new BART map didn't make much of a splash in graphic design circles.
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01.08.10: Alice Twemlow

Howling at the Moon: The Poetics of Amateur Product Reviews
Amazon reviews can be seen as an example of a democratizing impulse in design criticism.
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01.07.10: Julie Lasky

I.D.'s Executioners
Julie Lasky, shares her experience at ID magazine.
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01.07.10: Alexandra Lange

On DO: Skating on the Edge of Taste
The American Restaurant in Kansas City, designed by Warren Platner, is subject of a long essay on that architect and interior designer’s career.
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01.06.10: Alexandra Lange

I Heart Huxtable
Ada Louise Huxtable is still the most knowledgeable, elegant, thoughtful critic out there.
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01.06.10: Mark Lamster

Ralph Rapson: Forgotten Hero of Design Merch
If you're familiar with Cambridge, or just Harvard Square, you probably know Ben Thompson's wonderful Design Research building, now celebrating its 40th anniversary.
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01.05.10: Alexandra Lange

About A Boy
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is one of my favorite contemporary novels, but Manhood for Amateurs made me like him much less.
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01.04.10: Alexandra Lange

Size M
Nicolai Ouroussoff, Paul Goldberger, and Ada Louise Huxtable may live here in New York, but in general they have become too big to pay attnetion to the small stuff.
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01.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Annotated Avatar
Avatar is itself a hack, James Cameron is less auteur, more sci fi magpie.
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01.01.10: Mark Lamster

Criticizing the Critics
The two men who controlled the architectural conversation in New York (and hence America and the world) for better than two decades have recently published collections of their criticism.
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01.01.10: John Thackara

Line Loss [January 2010]
Report on greener paper, virtual presence, the problem with videoconferencing, Avatar, innovation in France, and more.
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12.31.09: Alexandra Lange

Last Post of 2009: Interview, Casey Jones
I interviewed the GSA’s newish head of Design Excellence, Casey Jones, earlier this month about the future of this government program to ensure better architecture for government buildings
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12.30.09: Alexandra Lange

After Buildings
Looking over the 10 Best architecture lists for this year and this decade I notice one thing: no buildings.
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12.23.09: Rob Walker

The End of the 00s: Noted, Without Noteworthiness
An event that embodies so many 21st-century events: Something is happening, somewhere, and it has no particular effect on you whatsoever. The latest details in a moment.
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12.22.09: Alexandra Lange

The Women
While Manohla Dargis rants about the lack of women in charge in Hollywood save for Nancy Meyers, Zaha Hadid similarly represents the dirth of women in architecture.
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12.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Exciting Multi-Generational Moment
An essay and slideshow on the design of James Joyce’s Ulysses by my mother, Martha Scotford, appears on Design Observer, where I was recently made a contributing writer.
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12.19.09: Alexandra Lange

Want to Make an Architect Cry?
Want to Make an Architect Cry? Give him (or her, but she’s less likely to mind) Robert A. M. Stern’s latest monograph, which, at 600+ pages, covers just his last five years of work.
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12.19.09: Mark Lamster

Rubens for the Holidays
Snow is falling hard on the Eastern Seaboard. It's cold out there. A good weekend to stay in before a fire with your warm drink of choice and a good book.
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12.18.09: Mark Lamster

Good Night Old Friend: ID Magazine Closes After 55 Years
After 55 years, ID Magazine, the grand dame of American design publishing, has shuttered. It's a terrible blow to the design world, and especially to those of us in the extended ID family — I was a contributing editor, and wrote for the the magazine for many years.
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12.17.09: Rob Walker

Stuffed
The scariest reading of the A&E reality show Hoarders, is that these freakish piles of stuff it documents simply reflect what plenty of us consume as a matter of course.
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12.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Making A List...
The New Yorker has a rather expansive round-up of lists online and I particularly like Judith Thurman’s memorable fashion statements of 2009.
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12.16.09: Mark Lamster

Talking Rubens with Leonard Lopate
I'll be appearing on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show this afternoon.
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12.15.09: Alexandra Lange

Playing House
The three living rooms on Modern Family are used as a structuring device, luing us into the character of each respective family.
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12.14.09: Alexandra Lange

In a F.O.G.
I am thinking about adding films to my undergraduate class at NYU, namely Sketches of Frank Gehry.
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12.14.09: Steven Heller

Harsh Words from T.M. Cleland
Design criticism may be comparatively new, but critical designers are not.
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12.14.09: Michael Erard

Notes on Being Born on Soil
At times you hear stories about patriots in exile who want their children to be born in the motherland and supplement by putting dirt from said place under a woman who is giving birth.
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12.11.09: Alexandra Lange

Seasons Greetings
Is there anything less contemporary than a Christmas card?
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12.11.09: Alexandra Lange

Where Have All the Type Geeks Gone?
Set in Helvetica, the title for Up In the Air looks plain wrong.
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12.10.09: Mark Lamster

The City in Pictures
Every great city is unique. Each has its own special character, a certain cosmopolitan energy that is its own, the product of its people, its history, its culture, its physical form.
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12.10.09: Alexandra Lange

UN, Now and Then
On the United Nations five-year renovation, systems and sustainability upgrade and preservation effort.
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12.07.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: A Telegraph Book of the Year
The distinguished British historian Michael Burleigh has named Master of Shadows a Book of the Year in the Telegraph.
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12.05.09: Alexandra Lange

Dumbing Down DIY
DIY Anni Albers Strainer and Paper Clips Jewelry Kit is dumbing down the DIY movement.
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12.03.09: Alexandra Lange

DoubleX: Kid Made Modern Reviewed
My review for Todd Oldham's Kid Made Modern for DoubleX is much less happy happy, joy joy than most of the other coverage.
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12.03.09: Alexandra Lange

Making Kids Modern: Or is it Their Moms?
An informal experiement aims to determine whether or not kids have an interest in the likes of Alexander Calder or Alexander Girard.
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12.02.09: Alexandra Lange

DWR = D/R?
Like D/R in the late 1970s, DWR is suffering from over-expansion, loss of specialness, and the lack of a leader with personal design vision.
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12.01.09: Mark Lamster

"Compelling" & "Important": The L.A. Times Praises Master of Shadows
Good book reviews are rarities to be prized in these days of shuttered newspapers and diminished book coverage. By good I don't simply mean positive.
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12.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Skating on the Edge of Taste with Warren Platner
Viewed today, the work of 70s and 80s interior designer Warren Platner seems just one reflection away from disco, one black room away from S&M. Each of his projects comes with the question, can he hold himself back? Can he convince us that brass is back? Is there any such thing as bad taste?
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12.01.09: Steven Heller

Christmas Schmaltz
I adore Christmas schmaltz — the sounds, the smells, and the graphics. I don’t mind that the clichés of the season pop up earlier and earlier every year.
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12.01.09: Alexandra Lange

XL
On the High Museum of Art's tribute to John Portman, Atlanta’s ur-architect and greatest claim to urban influence.
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12.01.09: Owen Edwards

Busted by Colombo, or, the Impediments of Style
The restrained high style of the ad men in Mad Men has revived a painful memory of one of my life-changing moments.
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12.01.09: John Thackara

Letters From Sri Lanka [December 2009]
Report on King Parakramabahu, ethical fashion, H&M dispoable fashion, ethical cotton, fair trade, and more.
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11.29.09: Alexandra Lange

Look Again
When visiting the Eero Saarinen exhibit at Museum of the City of New York, be sure to look at the photographs from Look Magazine.
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11.28.09: Alexandra Lange

See the USA
My husband and I took a three-week modern architecture tour of the Midwest.
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11.25.09: Alexandra Lange

This Is Just To Say
From the Florence Knoll Bassett papers: congratulations on their marriage from Ray and Charles.
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11.25.09: Mark Lamster

Dankuwel Antwerpen!
This is a good week to be thankful and I am especially grateful to everyone who made the launch of De meester van de schaduw in Antwerp such a success.
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11.24.09: Alexandra Lange

Stuffed
We are hosting our first Thanksgiving, so I'm too busy thinking about food.
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11.22.09: Alexandra Lange

Another New York
Every time I get an issue of New York Magazine lately I ask myself: is Adam Moss turning it into a men’s magazine?
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11.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Texan Capitals
I don’t usually like to write about architecture that isn’t there, but I can't resist commenting on Zaha Hadid's MAXXI and Robert A. M. Stern Architects' design for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
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11.19.09: Alexandra Lange

D/R on WGBH
My last post about D/R before the book comes out next September.
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11.18.09: James Wegener

Metabolic Dark City
In 1993, the City of Darkness, or the Walled City of Kowloon was demolished. To the 35,000 people living in this dense urban slum, the change was the end of a lawless existence.
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11.17.09: Alexandra Lange

Paper Revelations
Reading a lot of architecture criticism for those same classes, I also start to develop a running mental list of the writerly tics of critics like Paul Goldberger.
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11.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Smaller Wonder: Brooklyn Children's Museum
My first encounter with the expanded Brooklyn Children’s Museum made me ask several questions.
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11.12.09: Alexandra Lange

Love & Architecture
My somewhat racy, somewhat serious take on one of the first architecture power couples, Aline and Eero Saarinen
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11.12.09: Alexandra Lange

The Modernist State
Watch “Living Modern in Connecticut” tomorrow night at 9 on CPTV for a short history of modernism in Connecticut.
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11.11.09: Mark Lamster

The Big Stage
'll be giving a talk on Rubens and his diplomatic career at the Ringling Museum's extraordinary Asolo Theater.
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11.11.09: Mark Lamster

Adoration: Library Journal on Master of Shadows: "An Exceptional Book"
A nice synopsis and very generous assessment of Master of Shadows appears in the forthcoming issue of Library Journal.
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11.10.09: Alexandra Lange

Word on the Street
We have begun a bit of a study of Sesame Street in our house.
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11.09.09: Alexandra Lange

Kicking Down the Door
While I love Mad Men, season 3 was not my favorite.
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11.06.09: Alexandra Lange

Review: The Price of Fitting In
My review of the new exhibit at the Center for Architecture, Context/Contrast: New Architecture in Historic Districts, 1967-2009.
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11.04.09: Alexandra Lange

Back to School
If you stand in a certain spot in the second room of the MoMA’s new exhibition Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity you can see Marcel Breuer becoming modern.
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11.04.09: Alexandra Cardia

From Cabinet: Jacket Required
In April 2009, one of the earliest known dust jackets was found at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.
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11.03.09: Mark Lamster

From Bauhaus to My House
Nearly thirty years ago, Tom Wolfe made quite a splash with his reactionary little attack on modern architecture.
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11.03.09: Steven Heller

Why Does John Baeder Paint Diners?
John Baeder's goal for the past three decades has been to record on canvas and paper just about every diner and roadside eatery.
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11.02.09: Mark Lamster

A Renaissance Who Dunnit
Tomorrow the Metropolitan Museum will put on display a sculpture of a boy archer that made headlines about a decade ago when a New York art historian claimed it was the work of Michelangelo.
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11.02.09: Alexandra Lange

Bauhaus + Betsy
New York Magazine covers two of my favorite topics: the Bauhaus and Betsy-Tacy books.
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11.02.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: Highbrow + Brilliant
Master of Shadows appears in the privileged upper-right quadrant — that would be "highbrow" and "brilliant" — of New York Magazine's weekly Approval Matrix
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11.01.09: John Thackara

In Halifax With Antigonishts [November 2009]
Report on Four Days in Halifax, peak oil, Center for the Built Environment, Lifeboat Workshops, the Hub Halifax, and more.
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10.31.09: Mark Lamster

The Shadow Master — Live on Halloween Eve
I'll be discussing the original Shadow Master, Peter Paul Rubens, on the John Batchelor Show.
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10.29.09: Alexandra Lange

Tableaux Vivants
If someone asked me to write a profile of Wes Anderson, I would start with corduroy.
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10.28.09: Alexandra Lange

D/R Love
There is much online excitement about the D/R exhibition, opening tomorrow.
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10.28.09: Alexandra Lange

More Hell (Beige Edition)
I thought the Kelly Wearstler fan-fest was over last month, when both Vogue and the New Yorker treated her to long profiles.
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10.27.09: Jessica Helfand

All Things Matter
His name was Herbert Matter, a man even the ornery Paul Rand described as possibly the least pompous person on the planet. When I was a junior in college, he taught me how to make a Photogram. He was 74 years old.
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10.27.09: Mark Lamster

Half King Reading
Many thanks to all who came out to my son-et-lumiere extravaganza last night at the Half King in New York.
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10.26.09: Alexandra Lange

Small Wonder: 41 Cooper Square
41 Cooper Square might as well be set in the middle of a parking lot in Mayne’s native L.A.
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10.25.09: Michael Bierut

Designing Obama
Although much has been made — rightly so — of Barack Obama's ingenious and adaptable "O" logo and the rigorously executed graphic campaign that surrounded it, the candidate himself was his own best logo.  A preview of the introduction to Designing Obama, a new book from Scott Thomas, Design Director of New Media for Obama for America.
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10.24.09: Alexandra Lange

Petting Zoo
On Thursday I took my class on a field trip to One Bryant Park, the sustainable skyscraper that is almost complete at the northwest corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue.
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10.22.09: Mark Lamster

Good Morning Cleveland!
I'll be on drive-time radio tomorrow morning in Cleveland.
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10.22.09: Alexandra Lange

Love & Architecture
When Aline met Eero in January 1953, she was the associate art editor and critic for the New York Times. A little over a year later she would become Aline B. Saarinen.
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10.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Houses of the Future
Excellent article on the various single-family housing initiatives going on now in New Orleans.
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10.21.09: Mark Lamster

Rubens & Obama: Birds of a Feather
What can our current Nobel-winning diplomat-president learn from the career of Peter Paul Rubens?
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10.21.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: Reception
It was a great honor last night to celebrate publication of Master of Shadows with a small gathering at the residence of the Belgian Consul General in New York, Ambassador Herman Portocarero.
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10.20.09: Alexandra Lange

Buy It Now
I watched two episodes of the Sundance Channel’s new advertisement for Anthropologie, Man Shops Globe, and failed to be caught up in the drama.
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10.20.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows — In Stores Now — New York Event
After so many years of working and waiting, the day has finally arrived: "Master of Shadows" has been released into the world, and is available at a bookstore near you.
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10.19.09: Mark Lamster

Peter Paul Rubens: Graphic Designer
In his day, Rubens was also revered as a diplomat, an architect, a classical scholar, and even a graphic designer.
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10.18.09: Alexandra Lange

Love Among the Figurines
I finally got my hands on Important Artifacts by Leanne Shapton.
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10.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Architecture in Transit
An SVA student of mine from last year, Frederico Duarte, alerted me to the New York NOW exhibition, which opened October 7 in the West 4th Street subway station.
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10.14.09: Alexandra Lange

The Sound of Waves
There’s a lovely confluence of modern architecture and waterfalls on the east side of Manhattan, and we managed to hit three excellent examples of the type during Open House New York.
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10.14.09: Steven Heller

Ramparts: Agent of Change
Ramparts magazine has been dead for almost two decades, but to look back at it, it stands out as one to remember.
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10.14.09: Alexandra Lange

Small Wonder: 41 Cooper Square
I never thought I would say this about a work by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, but I think 41 Cooper Square is too small.
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10.12.09: Alexandra Lange

Unhappy Homes
In Revolutionary Road and Away We Go, the characters lack believable emotion because they fail to convince us that they are in a house, rather than a set.
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10.12.09: Alexandra Lange

The Wall Vanishes
Just another contemporary house in the East Village.
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10.10.09: Mark Lamster

The Art of Diplomacy
It's a rather satisfying bit of parallelism that the excerpt of my book on the political career of Peter Paul Rubens appears in the Wall Street Journal on the same day that Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is the paper's lead story.
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10.09.09: Mark Lamster

A Bibliophile's Revelation
Domenichino's St. John the Evangelist seems, as much as anything, a celebration of the act of writing and the ecstasy of the written word. 
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10.08.09: Alexandra Lange

Home Range
I write about three contemporary houses by up-and-coming New York firms for The Architect’s Newspaper
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10.07.09: Owen Edwards

Irving Penn, 1917-2009
Irving Penn, who died on October 7th at the age of 92, marks the end of the great age of glamour in magazines, a remarkable period when brilliant photographers who happened to make their livings in fashion and advertising were finally recognized for the artistry of their eyes.
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10.07.09: Rachel Berger

100 Colors, 100 Writings, 100 Days
Every day for one hundred days (from October 30, 2008 to February 6, 2009) I picked a paint chip out of a bag and responded to it with a short writing.
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10.06.09: Alexandra Lange

The Ladies' Paradise
In “Souvenir,” Mad Men welcomes back Joan, looking lovely.
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10.05.09: Owen Edwards

Not the Same Old Same Old
It’s hard not to agree that cars, though better designed and engineered than ever, are often pressed into plebian duty.
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10.05.09: Alexandra Lange

(Women and) Children First
Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is one more way New York City is attempting to be child-friendly.
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10.03.09: Alexandra Lange

White Knight
With the opening of Less and More, the new exhibition of Dieter Rams' work, I'm reminded of how frustrating it is that his past work is not in production.
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10.02.09: Mark Lamster

Tiepolo Pink
I'm happy and honored to report that Master of Shadows has been named an Indie Next Notable Book for November by IndieBound.
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10.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Cutting Remarks
I'm not so sure that Lonny, the online-only magazine from the former editors of Domino, is such a good thing.
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10.01.09: Steven Heller

People in Glass Apartments
People in glass apartments shouldn’t throw stones or other projectiles. Nor should they engage in private acts directly in front of their floor to ceiling windows.
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10.01.09: John Thackara

Letter From Poznan [October 2009]
Report on Poznan, Polish agriculture, EU policies, ecological food systems, fish systems, and more.
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09.28.09: Alexandra Lange

D/R Rising
Jane Thompson, Ben Thompson’s widow and former partner, has organized an installation with a number of former D/R employees.
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09.28.09: Roger Martin

What is Design Thinking Anyway?
Most companies today rely on analytical thinking. Roger Martin applies these principles to business practices.
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09.26.09: Alexandra Lange

Lost Research
My nostalgia for box numbers and call slips was provoked by the news in yesterday’s Times that years of files from industrial designer Gilbert Rohde’s office were found in an unpaid storage unit,
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09.25.09: Michael Bierut

The Figure / Ground Relationship
Designing is the most important thing, but it’s not the only thing. All of the other things a designer designer does all day are important too, and you have to do them with intelligence, enthusiasm, dedication, and love. Together, those things create the background that makes the work meaningful, and, when you do them right, that makes the work good.
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09.24.09: Mark Lamster

We Regret to Inform You That Love Will Not Save the Day
The big story on East 7th Street these days is the opening of Thom Mayne's new student center for Cooper Union, on Third Avenue.
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09.24.09: Alexandra Lange

My Idea of Hell
There is no upside in criticizing Kelly Wearstler, since her press machine just rolls on, as she changes outfits hourly and houses annually.
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09.23.09: Karen Stein

The Plain Beauty of Well-Made Things
Judd worked as an art critic in his early years in New York as he established himself as an artist. From 1959 until the mid-1960s, his art criticism was his primary, if not only, source of income
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09.22.09: Mark Lamster

Ron Arad at MoMA
I'm not sold on Arad as an architect, but his material experimentation is certainly admirable
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09.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Nothing Runs Like A...
A note about Deere & Company’s foray into the consumer market.
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09.21.09: Mark Lamster

People of the Book
I'll be participating in my first event to celebrate the publication of Master of Shadows on October 6th, here in New York City.
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09.20.09: Jessica Helfand

A Stitch in Time: A Review of 9
The comically repetitive date of 090909 iss thought to be a lucky day, a day of optimism and interconnectedness. It was also the release date for the new animated film, 9.
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09.20.09: Alexandra Lange

Crafting A City
Two of my favorite things came together this weekend: Dutch design and Governors Island.
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09.20.09: Mark Lamster

Underground Architects
The one question people often ask that I don't enjoy answering is, "Who's your favorite architect?"
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09.17.09: Alexandra Lange

White Columns
In Valentino: The Last Emperor, one dress is followed in all of its incarnations, while architecture is put in its place.
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09.15.09: Alexandra Lange

On the Grid
Mad Men makes use of grids, mixing them with bronze fronds and Harry Bertoia sculpture.
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09.13.09: Alexandra Lange

Higher and Higher
In his back-page New York Times Book Review essay on The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard, Jonathan Lethem makes many good points about Ballard’s visionary writing, “desolate landscapes” and his linkages with other arts.
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09.13.09: John Cantwell

The Big Screen in Big D
The brand new $1.2 billion home of the Dallas cowboys has a design feature that promises to turn football games there into a weird mashup of football and pinball.
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09.11.09: Alexandra Lange

Just Looking
My new favorite source of procrastination is Reference Library.
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09.10.09: Dmitri Siegel

Lost In the Supermarket
Dmitri Siegel gets lost in the Supermarket and encounters incredibly grippy toothbushes, spouts, nozzles, Thorstein Veblen and Adolf Loos.
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09.10.09: Kerry William Purcell

The Art of Psychographics
Each and every graphic design signifies a memory. A familiar sign, map or poster can often trigger a set of associations in the viewer, a series of thoughts and feelings that have their own unique trajectory. 
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09.09.09: Alexandra Lange

Healthy Home
My project involving vintage paper placements was featured on Ohdeedoh.
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09.09.09: Alexandra Lange

Grounded
Alexandra Jacobs's feature on Zappos didn't address my burning question: Why is Zappos so ugly?
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09.06.09: Alexandra Lange

First Flight
My two-year-old made his first interpretation of art on Saturday at the Storm King Art Center.
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09.03.09: Alexandra Lange

Won't Get Fooled Again
News of the redevelopment of the Atlantic Yards keeps getting worse.
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09.01.09: Alexandra Lange

The Tigertones
I was thrilled by the metion of the Tigertones in this week's episode of Mad Men.
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08.31.09: Alexandra Lange

Suspended Animation
Thirtysomething isn't exactly how I rembered it.
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08.30.09: Mark Lamster

Fire at Rubens's St. Charles Borromeo
An electrical fire has done severe damage to the interior of Antwerp's St. Charles Borromeo.
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08.29.09: Mark Lamster

The Lion of Belgium
In the history of strange maps, this image of Belgium as a lion, printed in 1611 by cartographer Jodicus Hondius of Amsterdam, is surely a classic
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08.28.09: Alexandra Lange

What's to Be Done with Governors Island?
I wish that the New Yorker had written a visioning story, talking about what role the Governors Island could play in the New New York.
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08.28.09: Mark Lamster

The Om in Home: Kripalu's New Dorm
I'm not a big yoga fan, and always looked at the Kripalu Yoga Center, in Lenox, with a fair degree of skepticism.
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08.27.09: Alexandra Lange

Family Business
Two other members of the Lange family, a photographer and a documentarian, are producing new projects.
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08.27.09: Steven Heller

My First Taste of Political Satire
On the sad day that Ted Kennedy died I came across a tattered copy of MacBird, the 1966 play by Barbara Garson.
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08.26.09: Alexandra Lange

Cooking for Crowds
Nora Ephron, or at least production designer Mark Ricker, must have spent a fortune on cute lamps for the set of Julie & Julia.
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08.25.09: Mark Lamster

Auto-Matic Abstraction
With their zippy vertical lines, these pictures I shot out of a car window remind me of Barney Newman.
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08.24.09: Alexandra Lange

Shiny and New
On this week's Mad Men, three words I never thought I would hear on a dramatic television show: Ada Louise Huxtable.
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08.23.09: Alexandra Lange

Blackboard Jungle
Tell No One turns out to be a snoozy French thriller while Entre les Murs (The Class) makes up for it.
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08.23.09: Mark Lamster

Rough-Cut Redux: Amazon Makes A Change We Can Believe In
Last week, I noted the strange appearance of the all-capped phrase "ROUGH-CUT EDGE" displayed adjacent to the title of my book on Amazon.com.
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08.22.09: Mark Lamster

On "Master of Shadows"
Peter Paul Rubens gives us a lot to think about in his canvasses of rushing color, action, and puckered flesh, so it’s not surprising that his work as a diplomat and spy has been neglected.
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08.21.09: Alexandra Lange

If You Can't Say Something Nice...
A contestant's dress on Project Runway looks no worse than Escada.
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08.20.09: Alexandra Lange

Rearranging, Part 2
I thought about the power of categories as I visited two exhibitions at the MoMA: Waste Not by Song Dong and No Discipline by Ron Arad.
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08.20.09: Mark Lamster

Barrington Fair
There's something romantic, eerie, and pathetic all at once about any work of abandoned architecture.
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08.19.09: Alexandra Lange

Eye Roll for Ice Cream
A piece in the New York Times discusses parents' objections to ice cream trucks.
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08.19.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: The Jacket
The design for the Master of Shadows cover is quite handsome.
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08.18.09: Alexandra Lange

Rearranging the Deck Chairs
I've been thinking about the third season of Mad Men in terms of furniture.
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08.18.09: Chappell Ellison

Compulsion: Where Object Meets Anxiety
At the age of 30, my brother turned to our mother and said, “I never thought I’d make is this far.” In his early 20s, he was officially diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
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08.18.09: Mark Lamster

Too Much Stuff
In one of his classic routines, George Carlin wondered that there could be a "whole industry based on keeping an eye on your stuff."
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08.17.09:

Is There Bauhaus in IKEA?
Is there Bauhaus in IKEA? A 90-year-old design philosophy may yet have something to teach today’s corporate mega-chain.
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08.17.09: Rachel Berger

Significant Objects: #1 Mom Hooks
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The third of five stories is by Rachel Berger...
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08.17.09: Teddy Blanks

Significant Objects: Porcelain Scooter
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fourth of five stories is by Teddy Blanks...
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08.17.09: Jessica Helfand

Significant Objects: Elvis Chocolate Tin
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fifth of five stories is by Jessica Helfand...
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08.17.09: Tom Vanderbilt

Significant Objects: Marines (Upside-Down) Logo Mug
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The second of five stories is by Tom Vanderbilt...
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08.17.09: Adam Harrison Levy

Significant Objects: Star of David Plate
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The first of five stories is by Adam Harrison Levy...
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08.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Shelf Life
Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery is a new book about rereading classic teen novels with an adult eye.
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08.14.09: Alexandra Lange

Between Buildings
Man on Wire is only so-so, but Phillipe Petit's personality and the imagery of his three major walks are not to be missed.
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08.12.09: Alexandra Lange

Fashion Plates
Do little girls still play with paper dolls?
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08.12.09: Michael Erard

A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention
We have a wide-ranging discussion about what is and what can't be free, which is basically about the future of profit. Maybe we should be considering a dilemma of a human nature: the future of attention.
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08.11.09: Alexandra Lange

Outsider Art
After watching Ride With the Devil, I discovered the common thread in Ang Lee's films.
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08.10.09: Mark Lamster

Rough Cut
It seems that some bibliophiles prefer a deckle edge to their books — when the pages opposite the spine are rough hewn.
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08.10.09: Alexandra Lange

Arks of Knowledge
My review of Yale University's Kroon Hall was especially fun to write.
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08.10.09: Mark Lamster

The Curious Architecture of Albert Spalding
The house that the Spaldings — of baseball fame — built for themselves was an oriental fantasy.
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08.06.09: Alexandra Lange

Speechless
Amongst my grandfather's things, we found a postcard of the Denver Art Musuem, designed by Gio Ponti in 1971.
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08.05.09: Alexandra Lange

D.I.Y.
There seems to be some questionable parenting in Caroline.
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08.05.09: Mark Lamster

Belgium: A Note on the Type
When you think about national schools of typography, Belgium isn't the first country that comes to mind.
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08.02.09: Alexandra Lange

Cooked
McDonald's McCafe Mocha is just one more reason that America is fat.
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08.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Summer As a Verb
The estate of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens is a lovely place to picnic while reviewing the artist's work.
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08.01.09: John Thackara

GDP As a Doomsday Machine [August 2009]
Report on reusing an office block in Sao Paulo, food stamps, California's education budget, urban farming, Slow Money, and more.
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07.31.09: Alexandra Lange

England's Next Top Model
In The Duchess, the gratuitous sex scenes were the least of the film's problems.
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07.31.09: Mark Lamster

Ballparks Redux
Metropolis has posted a slideshow of the outtake photographs by Sean Hemmerle for my story on New York's ballparks.
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07.29.09: Alexandra Lange

Waiting On the Dream
I wrote a piece on the (lack of) development in Midtown West , also known as the Hudson Yards.
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07.29.09: Sebastian Carter

Jan Tschichold — Master Typographer
Jan Tschichold was one of the most distinguished typographers of the last century, and has had many admirers, among whom he himself was not the least. Jan Tschichold — Master Typographer is, as its title suggests, intended as a tribute to it's subject, but it is one which would have displeased him greatly.
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07.29.09: Owen Edwards

Remembering Julius Shulman
Looking back on an afternoon of chocolate, pastrami, and Scotch with modern architecture's iconic photographer.
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07.29.09: The Editors

On Comments
Reader comments are an important part of our site, with many visitors enjoying them as much as the original articles. So keeping the discussion as interesting as possible is to everyone's advantage. Here are the rules for comments at Design Observer.
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07.29.09: Steven Heller

A Good Trademark: A Historical Perspective
Textile Brand Names Dictionary, included were more than 4,000 names of fibers, yarns, fabrics, and garments registered with the United States Patent Office between 1934 and 1947.
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07.29.09: Jessica Helfand

Can Graphic Design Make You Cry?
How can you create anything visually compelling if you don't engage at some fundamentally human level — a place where memory and feeling are as valued as form and execution?
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07.29.09: Mark Lamster

Peace + Joy
Well wishes to two of my old friends.
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07.28.09: Alexandra Lange

Kroon Hall
With its vaulted roof, communal spaces, and casual materials, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ new Kroon Hall is designed to float Yale into the 21st century, training the world’s future green leaders along the way.
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07.25.09: Mark Lamster

Blriot! The Centennial of a Historic Flight
A century ago today, Louis Blriot took off in an airplane of his own invention.
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07.25.09: Eric Baker

Today, 07.25.09

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07.24.09: Mark Lamster

The Photographs of Sze Tsung Leong
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of touring Antwerp with the photographer Sze Tsung Leong, who was there working on an ongoing project documenting cityscapes.
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07.22.09: Mark Lamster

Play Ball: The Last Word on New York's New Ballparks
My comprehensive, last word on New York's ballparks can be found in Metropolis.
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07.21.09: Mark Lamster

Advance Praise for Master of Shadows
The first notices for Master of Shadows are beginning to flow in, and I'm happy to report that the initial response has been very positive indeed.
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07.20.09: Mark Lamster

Ezra & Julius
Julius Shulman and Ezra Stoller were the alfa and omega of American architectural photography.
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07.18.09: Eric Baker

Today, 07.18.09
Each morning, before starting work, I spend 30 minutes looking for images that are beautiful, funny, absurd and inspiring. Here's Today.
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07.17.09: Mark Lamster

A Plea for Crazy in Architecture
John Beckmann of the firm Axis Mundi is promoting an alternative to the Jean Nouvel tower that looks like a half-baked amalgam of several MVRDV projects.
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07.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Cold Comforts
I can't but write about the objects in Summer Hours, Revolutionary Road, and Frozen River.
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07.16.09: Mark Lamster

Live Fast, Die Young
Dash Snow rests in a long line of dangerous, self-destructive artists who've captured the public imagination.
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07.15.09: Alexandra Lange

Numbers Game
In an attempt to skirt around the Landmakrs Preservation Commission, modernists in my neighborhood are declaring their taste through their house numbers.
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07.15.09: Mark Lamster

Sex or Biking?
A set of Tour de France photographs by Brent Humphreys indicates the short visual distance between agony and ecstasy.
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07.14.09: Mark Lamster

A Deal's a Deal: Significant Objects
Do you need any complicated theorizing to convince you to buy a totally awesome JFK bust that comes with its own backstory?
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07.13.09: Mark Lamster

Design Your Life
Written in collaboration with her twin sister, Ellen Lupton's Design Your Life is a joyful, thoughtful, rumination on the objects that occupy us, 
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07.12.09: Alexandra Lange

Handmade
I found Floyd Bennett Field, the decomissioned 1930s airfield on the border of Brooklyn and Jamaica Bay, to be a very strange place.
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07.10.09: Alexandra Lange

Sitting Pretty
Design Within Reach is selling a reissue of a Jens Risom chair for $1100.
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07.10.09: Mark Lamster

The Folly of Man
"All the evidence of history suggests that man is indeed a rational animal but with a near infinite capacity for folly."
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07.09.09: Alexandra Lange

Little Dictators
Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou makes a strong commentary on parenting.
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07.08.09: Mark Lamster

Architecture for Sale (Wright vs. Johnson)
Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House and Philip Johnson's Farney House are both on the market.
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07.07.09: Mark Lamster

Nazdorovye!
Barack Obama is in Moscow hitting the reset button on Russian-American relations.
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07.06.09: Alexandra Lange

Nostalgia Trip
I can't resist reading Colm Tóbín's new novel called Brooklyn.
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07.06.09: Mark Lamster

Antwerp Central
Built at the turn of the twentieth century, Antwerp's central rail station is a resplendent mash of neo-baroque forms and oriental detail.
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07.06.09: Steven Heller

When Satire Was More Than Funny
In 1901, Samuel Schwarz founded a satiric visual weekly, titled L’Assiette au Beurre, expressly poised to attack the functionaries who made their fortunes off the sweat of the citizenry.
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07.05.09: Alexandra Lange

Battle Lines
In Waltz With Bashir, director and protagonist Ari Folman makes amazing use of animation to tell a most unfunny tale of recovered memory and national guilt.
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07.03.09: Alexandra Lange

In Spite of Myself
I loved the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace for their message of feminism, love, and class.
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07.03.09: Mark Lamster

Ovid: On Picking Up Girls (Literally)
Ovid gives some un-politically correct advice on playing hard to get.
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07.02.09: Mark Lamster

Delayed Gratification: On Architectural Criticism
Caught up in the formal design aspects of a building, critics like Nicolai Ouroussoff overlook the social context.
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07.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Child's Play
Unlike the stories documented in the film Nursery University, my experience of enrolling my child in preschool in New York City was completely different.
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07.01.09: Mark Lamster

Really Great Gatsby
As Jeffrey Trachtenberg reports on the WSJ books blog, last week a 1925 edition of the Great Gatsby, with its vintage surrealist jacket, sold at auction for $180,000.
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07.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Pre-Blog Work
Here are links to writing published before I began this blog in June 2009.
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06.30.09: Mark Lamster

No More Neon on the Novy Arbat
In legislation somewhat reminiscent of Mike Bloomberg's restaurant smoking ban, Vladimir Putin isshutting down all casinos in Russia, effective tonight.
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06.29.09: Mark Lamster

Meet James Ensor
It's been some three decades since James Ensor has had a major museum exhibition in the US, which makes MoMA's new show a rare pleasure.
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06.25.09: Alexandra Lange

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
After viewing He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic, I need to effect my own romantic comedy ban.
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06.25.09: Mark Lamster

MAS Macho
Behold the Museum aan de stroom (MAS), Antwerp's new municipal history museum. The building, designed by the Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk, is due to open late next year.
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06.24.09: Alexandra Lange

Spoilsport
Though the BBC teen series Skins isn't boring, I find it icky. Too much sweat, too much drugs, too much barf, too much nudity.
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06.24.09: Mark Lamster

The Most Beautiful Crapper in the World
In 1772, the Antwerp alderman Adrien van den Bogaert purchased a historic property in the center of the city and then hired architect Engelbert Baets to renovate the place.
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06.23.09: Mark Lamster

Kosher in Antwerp
This is the first in what will be a series of posts generated over my recent trip to Belgium. Call it an appetizer, served with pleasure.
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06.23.09: Steven Heller

Take Me Out to the Old Yankee Stadium
The new Yankee stadium, like most retro stadiums, bears the burden of being faux, a recreation, like a Disney version of reality. It works and it doesn’t.
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06.23.09: Mark Lamster

Lamsterdam
Master of Shadows will be published in Europe this November, and I'm hoping my distinguished Dutch publisher will undertake a guerilla art project to promote it in Holland.
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06.22.09: Alexandra Lange

Perfect Pairs
Our admiration for Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy led us to Netflix her first film, Old Joy.
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06.21.09: Michael Bierut

Spoiler Alert! Or, Happy Father's Day
Dad couldn't help it. He was a natural born spoiler.
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06.20.09: Alexandra Lange

People in New Houses...
Why is every episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey set at an overdecorated Italian restaurant with a large parking lot?
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06.19.09: Michael Bierut

When Design Gets in the Way
When it comes to fulfilling simple human desires, can design get in the way? A call for more incrementalism in design.
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06.19.09: Alexandra Lange

The Beauty of a Park
My review of the High Line can now be found on Design Observer.
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06.18.09: Alexandra Lange

Aloysius is Missed
I took my chances to see if the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited was as good as the multi-part original.
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06.17.09: Alexandra Lange

Home Front
Good Neighbors is a cautionary tale, reminding us to focus less on what’s coming in to your home and more on the individuals already inside.
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06.17.09: Rob Walker

Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide To American Consumer Culture
Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture, is a book that I can recommend without hesitation — because after all, I was asked to write a forward for it.
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06.16.09: Alexandra Lange

Textile Psychology
In Brick Lane it is the fabric that does most of the talking, for while the novel is very interior, the film is not.
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06.16.09: Mark Lamster

European Holiday
I'm off to the Continent, which is a good excuse to dip into the family photo archive for a few reminders of a time when European travel was a bit more of a novelty.
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06.15.09: Alexandra Lange

The Beauty of a Park
The High Line in Manhattan, whose first section opened Monday, would seem to be Olmsted’s nightmare.
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06.15.09: Mark Lamster

Bottom of the Ninth
My review of Michael Shapiro's new book on the aborted life of the Continental League, a would be addition to the majors, appears in today's Los Angeles Times.
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06.14.09: Alexandra Lange

Why Plant Your Own?
In the constant quest for green space in Brooklyn, our neighborhood is relieved at the sight of the Urban Meadow.
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06.13.09: Alexandra Lange

Lost Loves
It's slowly dawned on me that the lead character of many shows — Sex in the City, Weeds, The West Wing — is actually grating.
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06.12.09: Mark Lamster

Red Star
The New York-Amsterdam connection has been much in the news of late, and rightly so, as this is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's Dutch-sponsored voyage of American discovery.
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06.11.09: Alexandra Lange

Dickens is Funny
In the best BBC adaptation of the last five years, Bleak House, Gillian Anderson gives a performance that should wipe Agent Scully permanently from the public mind.
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06.11.09: Mark Lamster

Moscow's Jewish Museum
Earlier this week, plans were released for the new Jewish museum in Moscow.
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06.10.09: Mark Lamster

All in the Family
My cousin Barbara Schaefer is having a show of recent work at Shop Art, on Bergen Street in Brooklyn.
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06.09.09: Alexandra Lange

Auto Pilot
While watching Chop Shop, I was bored not by the plotlessness, or even the purposely inartistic direction, but by the lack of acting.
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06.09.09: Eric Baker

Free Books
Everyone loves a good book, of course, but lets not forget that the books were FREE! 600 books given away in one day on the streets of New York City.
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06.08.09: Steven Heller

Mad Music
In 1962, I spent hours listening to Mad magazine’s first LP (Big Top Records), Mad “Twists” Rock ‘N’ Roll. Owning the record made me feel like I was part of a club, which latter evolved into the sardonic, ironic sixties youth culture. It brings me back to a time before art, design, and humor had to be sophisticated to be good.
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06.08.09: Alexandra Lange

Romance Is Dead
There are some movies so bad I can’t bear to put them in my Netflix queue, but He's Just Not That Into You somehow made it in.
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06.07.09: Mark Lamster

House in the Hills
We spent this past weekend at the beautiful weekend home of the Woo family, a masterwork of modernist architecture sequestered high in the rolling Vermont hills.
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06.06.09: Alexandra Lange

Dog Days
Wendy and Lucy may be the feel-bad movie of the year, but it is beautiful, terrifying and real.
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06.05.09: Mark Lamster

Tormented Youth
Next week the MET will put on display Michelangelo's "Torment of Saint Anthony," reputedly the artist's first painting.
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06.04.09: Alexandra Lange

Worst Case Scenario
Two of Danny Boyle's filme, Slumdog Millinaire and Millions suffer from a wavering of purpose from gritty realism to wish fulfilment.
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06.03.09: Alexandra Lange

Evil Ms
A fair number of journalists have mentioned the odd parallelism of the fall of the House of Merdle in Little Dorrit, and the real-life fall of the House of Bernard Madoff.
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06.03.09: Alan Rapp

Personal Space
Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design was published in forty years ago, and its compact title concept — an invisible but perceptible security zone surrounding an individual — caught on. But where is Sommer now? A recent study in Perception finds that listening to music on headphones alters our sense of sociospatial relations. Until these more contemporary strands of inquiry result in a truly new analysis of how we perceive our interpersonal zones today, Personal Space is now available in a new edition, with some additional commentary by Dr. Sommer, from Bosko Books in the UK
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06.02.09: Alexandra Lange

Doom
After watching all of the excellent contemporary TV shows, we are back to BBC with The Way We Live Now and The Mayor of Casterbridge.
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06.02.09: Mark Lamster

Bowery on the Beach?
Has Leigh Bowery, said to have died more than a decade ago, been hiding out on the Coney Island boardwalk sporting a mullet all along?
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06.01.09: Alexandra Lange

Why This blog?
I am starting a blog, because some opinions are too hot for casual conversation.
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06.01.09: John Thackara

Gone Transitioning [June 2009]
Report on transition towns in China, Monumento in Sao Paulo, Bernardo Secchi and Paolo Vigano, Norwegian architecture, foodprinting, and more.
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05.30.09: Mark Lamster

BEA Report: 10 Fall Books (+1) for Your Library
It has been a grim year for publishing, which accounts for the unusually restrained mood this past weekend at Book Expo America, the industry's annual trade show.
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05.28.09: Angela Riechers

Hot Ticket
To see a play or movie, or ride the Twentieth Century Limited, you needed a ticket, and the development of ticket-dispensing machines paralleled the growth of popular culture.

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05.27.09: Mark Lamster

Urban Camouflage
As the Magritte Museum was prepared for its unveiling, the building was cloaked by a brilliant trompe-l'oeil construction wall, very much in the spirit of the artist.
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05.25.09: Mark Lamster

Memorial Day
It's Memorial Day in America, so let's talk for a moment about memorials.
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05.19.09: Mark Lamster

How We Decide
In the latest episode of CBC's WireTap, "The Deciders," host Jonathan Goldstein walks me through one of those difficult decisions we all are faced with at some point: Should I go to the doctor?
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05.16.09: Mark Lamster

On Muses
Lee Siegel has a wonderful piece in today's WSJ on the history and decline of the muse in art.
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05.14.09: Mark Lamster

Triumph of the Will (Or, Everything Old Is New Again)
In the New Yorker this week, Jonah Lehrer writes about a psychological study suggesting that self control, or the ability to delay gratification, more strongly correlates with long-term success than intelligence.
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05.12.09: Steven Heller

How Much Is That Artifact in the Window?
Many of us have bought design objects for pleasure and / or scholarship. We’ve paid varying amounts — high and low. But what or who determines the value of a design artifact?
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05.12.09: Jason Grant

Cultured Graphic Hygiene
Regardless of how difficult, disobedient or messy their subject, museum posters are courteous and clean. Is there any reason why graphic design for museums shouldn’t be the measure of their exhibits?
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05.11.09: Mark Lamster

Back to the Future
Over on the Itinerant Urbanist, Karrie Jacobs recently wrote about her first impression of Daniel Libeskind's addition to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, in San Francisco.
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05.08.09: Rob Walker

If You Follow Me, I Will Follow You Back
“If You Follow Me, I Will Follow You Back” a talk revisited from the NYU “Blowing Up The Brand” conference.
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05.07.09: John Cantwell

Trump, The Logo
The logo above the Trump Tower's main entrance, huge and gleaming in 34-inch brass block letters, bluntly announces Donald Trump’s presence on the street. It’s crude, perhaps, but undeniably effective. In a neighborhood filled with names like Bergdorf, Cartier, and Tiffany, none is more prominent than Trump’s.
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05.07.09: Mark Lamster

Tbilisi's Hotel Iveria: A Defense
There's a piece on Oobject today that lists what that site claims are the fifteen worst “housing projects from hell.”
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05.01.09: John Thackara

With the i-Borg in New York [May 2009]
Report on idling fines in New York City, Hello Health, All Day Buffet, Hungry New York, the High Line, and more.
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04.29.09: Thomas de Monchaux

The Mystery of Peter Zumthor
Thomas de Monchaux on architect Peter Zumthor's disarming, and perhaps even dangerous, appeal. Pritzker Prize Winner 2009.
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04.24.09: Mark Lamster

Friendship's Offering
Behold the first known book jacket, for an 1829 literary anthology. It was discovered at Oxford's Bodleian Library, minus the book it once encased.
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04.23.09: Mark Lamster

Internally Yours
Is it me, or did the New Yorker just retroactively invent a new architectural movement?
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04.21.09: Michael Erard

Cedars
The wake of dead trees is thick behind me, and the others weep and gnash their teeth. Larger trees I leave for some chainsaw to come; I'm a writer, not a lumberjack. Michael Erand on cedars.
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04.21.09: Steven Heller

Father of Shrek, Grandfather of Tweet
William Steig was the father of vanity license plate abbreviations and the grandfather of the Instant Messenger, SMS, iChat, and Twitter shorthand.
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04.19.09: Margaret Wertheim

Susan Boyle and The Beauty of Crochet
I want to reflect here on Susan Boyle's massive appeal from a very personal point of view, for I have spent much of the last three years managing a project that harnesses the creative energies of hundreds of middle-aged female "nobodies": Crochet Reef Project
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04.16.09: Mark Lamster

Curse of the Bambino Strikes Again!
Good Lord! Is the new house jinxed?
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04.15.09: Michael Sorkin

On Paul Auster
The annual Lewis Mumford Lecture has become an intellectual rite of spring for urbanists, architects, and students of both. Here is Michael Sorkin's introduction to novelist and filmmaker Paul Auster.
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04.15.09: Mark Lamster

Auction Block
I'm not much of a buyer, but I do like to keep an eye on the baseball memorabilia market, a project undertaken with a combination of curiosity, envy, bemusement, and sheer stupefaction.
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04.14.09: Mark Lamster

Theirs Go to Twaalf
Meet Lamster (no relation), Belgium's ascendant metal goliath.
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04.09.09: Jessica Helfand

What's The Story?
And what becomes of all those dead tweets, anyway — all those long-expired, evaporated updates?
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04.09.09: Mark Lamster

Bronx Cheer
To say that I've been disappointed by coverage of the new Yankee Stadium by the design press would be an understatement, as noted in this "rant" column for ID magazine.
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04.08.09: Mark Lamster

Thomas Jefferson: (Henpecked) Jewish President
That Thomas Jefferson had an African-American lover is by now common knowledge. Few, however, realize he had a Jewish grandmother, a fact too often neglected by chauvinistic historians.
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04.07.09: Mark Lamster

Look Both Ways: On the Streets of Philadelphia
Last week I found myself with a couple of hours to kill in Philadelphia and decided to spend them at the art museum.
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04.06.09: Mark Lamster

Wiretapped!
Would you believe it's those shifty Canucks, and not the spooks at the NSA, who have the Lamster phonelines tapped? Outrageous but true.
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04.01.09: John Thackara

Design in a Therm-industrial Society [April 2009]
Report on connecting design with the green community, the connection between Britain's food and oil supply, Green Platform, author David McKay, Transition Towns, and more.
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03.31.09: Adam Harrison Levy

William Klein: Contacts
William Klein made a rare appearance in New York recently to promote his latest book, Contacts. American by birth, he has lived most of his life in Paris. He is now 81.
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03.29.09: Mark Lamster

UnMonumental
While it's true that the events of 9/11 have begotten a good number of ill-conceived memorials, the latest, set for unveiling today at the Yankees' spring training home in Tampa, might just be the least successful, artistically.
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03.27.09: Adrian Shaughnessy

Ten Graphic Design Paradoxes
I’ve just finished writing a book about graphic design. There are entries on kerning, the wisdom of using only lowercase letters, and the merits of Univers. But mostly it’s a book about the soft stuff — the stuff that we deal with every day and tend to take for granted.
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03.24.09: Mark Lamster

De meester van de schaduw
My esteemed Dutch publisher, De Bezige Bij ("the busy bee"), has released its summer catalog and De meester van de schaduw (aka Master of Shadows) is in there, billed as a non-fiction thriller and scheduled for a September release.
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03.23.09: Steven Heller

Japanese Face Masks
You may recall seeing in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, scores of surgical face-mask-wearing passersby navigating their ways through the dense futuristic metropolis that is a cross between Tokyo and LA. So I was totally surprised to find on my first trip to Tokyo that not only is it the custom to wear such masks everywhere, it's big business too, with a nod to graphic design.
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03.21.09: Mark Lamster

Fishin' for Glory
The King of Kvetch takes to the airwaves tomorrow; I'll be appearing on the latest episode of Jonathan Goldstein's brilliant radio program Wiretap, on the CBC.
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03.17.09: Sarah Couto

The Year Playboy Died
It is often forgotten that the rabbit figure depicted on the early covers of Playboy was very much male, as seen in the January 1954 edition of the magazine. Typically he was an unbridled man, out and about, in good company. The rabbit is first shown in the guise of a woman, upon the opening of the Playboy Club in 1960.
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03.17.09: Mark Lamster

Access Denied
In putting together the images for Master of Shadows, my publisher placed a permissions request to use a painting from the collection of the Norton Simon Foundation, in Los Angeles, only to be denied.
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03.16.09: Kenneth Fitzgerald

I Believe in Design
In each of the communities I’ve lived I’ve encountered one of these trucks. It’s always a white van, hand-inscribed by paint or permanent marker with a variety of Biblical verses and religious admonitions....
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03.16.09: Mimi Lipson

A Place For Ribs
The Broad Street Diner may be the worst diner in Philadelphia. When I first moved here, I was excited about having a 24-hour diner on my block. I imagined Saturday morning pancakes, late night snacks on my way home from louche outings. Boy, did I ever have a lot to learn.
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03.12.09: Mark Lamster

Splendor on the Grass
What makes a great tennis match great? I started asking myself this question while I was putting together a review of A Terrible Splendor, a new book hooked on a 1937 Davis Cup.
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03.11.09: Jessica Helfand

My Facebook, My Self
But as projections of ourselves, one's Facebook identity, made visible through one's photo albums, inhabits a public trajectory that goes way beyond who and what we are.


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03.11.09: Steven Kroeter

Untitled by Anonymous: An Ode to Branding
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “brand” as “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.” That’s a good place to start, but “goods or services” might be more accurate...
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03.07.09: Mark Lamster

Seattle PI: RIP
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was founded 146 years ago, when that city was an industrial backwater on Elliot Bay, a timber town with more logs than people.
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03.05.09: Mark Lamster

The Best of NY: Yours Truly
What I've always known is now established fact, as certified by the weekly record of this great city.
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03.05.09: Mark Lamster

Save the Library Redux
Could it be that the sour economy is the best friend of the good old library?
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03.03.09: Gabrielle Esperdy

Less Is More Again — A Manifesto
We have amazing electronic tools at our disposal; culture has modernized at staggering, computer processed speeds. But the tools are abused and cultural change is stupefying. Things are over-designed because new tools must be exploited; here, design says “look what I can do!”
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03.02.09: Alexandra Lange

Standard Operating Procedure
From the earliest days of the High Line hoopla, the park’s future was literally entwined with that of Andre Balazs’s first ground-up hotel, the Standard New York. The reason the Standard is so good is that it is a 21st Century mash-up of one of Marcel Breuer’s most destructive ideas and one of Morris Lapidus’s best tweaks of the U.N. model of modernism.
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03.01.09: John Thackara

Tweets From America [March 2009]
Report on the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) conference, the Sustainable Business MBA at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), IslandWood, Illuminate learning, Johnson and Johnson's social media strategy, and more.
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02.28.09: Mark Lamster

After Peter Paul Rubens (Long After)
Perusing the Christie's website a few days ago, I noticed a print attributed to William Pether "after Peter Paul Rubens."
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02.26.09: Mark Lamster

Save the Library
These are tough times for those of us who care about books. The publishing industry is in a tailspin; electronic readers and the Internet are challenging the primacy of the printed page.
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02.20.09: Mark Lamster

Planet M
My friend Gideon Lewis-Kraus's beautifully written Harper's piece on the last Frankfurt Book Fair is the talk of the publishing world.
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02.20.09: Mark Lamster

Defending Alice
The new Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center opens on Sunday — it looks great — and the reviews are starting to flow in. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and fairly dismissive of the original hall, by Pietro Belluschi and Eduardo Catalano.
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02.17.09: Mark Lamster

Michael Jackson, Automotive Designer
I know, Michael Jackson has done some terrible things. Tax evasion. Absconding with the Beatles catalog. Child molestation. We Are the World. But this — is design even the word for it?
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02.17.09: Mark Lamster

Annals of Branding, Redux
The design elves over at Pepsico have been very busy of late, as noted here last week regarding the (awful) new logo for the corporate flagship and the (much hated) new packaging for Tropicana.
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02.12.09: Rob Walker

A Successful Failure
Yiying Lu is an artist and designer in Sydney, Australia. One image in her portfolio is of a peaceful whale held aloft by a small flock of birds, aka as the “Fail Whale” of Twitter.
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02.08.09: Mark Lamster

Roid Rage
The baseball world is up-in-arms over the revelations that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroid use a few years ago. My suggestion: move along, folks.
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02.06.09: Mark Lamster

The Real Thing
Tropicana has been getting a lot of flack over its redesigned juice cartons. Steve Heller called the rebranding "a mistake." Jason Kottke simply dubbed it "sucky." Let me respectfully disagree.
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02.05.09: Mark Lamster

Pastrami on Rye
A new project: documenting some favorite New York dining establishments.
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02.01.09: John Thackara

Bottle Half-Full Edition [February 2009]
Report on In the Bubble, Experiencing Sustainability in Vancouver, the design of sustainable water systems, the Planning Center, City Eco Lab, and more.
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01.28.09: Rob Walker

Dumb and Dumber 2.0
American consumers have long shown an “exceptional willingness” to buy, for instance, technology products before their utility is clear.
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01.23.09: Mark Lamster

Complaint Dept. (Redux)
Most complaints in sixty seconds, a new world record. You've read the transcript. Now watch the video.
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01.21.09: Mark Lamster

A Letter to the President
A letter to Barack Obama the day after his inauguration.
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01.21.09: Steven Heller

The Good Books
Why can’t American publishers produce a series of good — no great — books on graphic culture like Die Bibliophilen Taschenbücher? Published in 1979 by Harenberg Kommunikation, Dortmund, Germany, each small usually full color volume was based on a visual theme, including American absurdist postcards, German political posters, French cigarette advertisements, vending machine cards, Soviet Posters, and Liebig’s Fleisch Extract advertising cards
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01.21.09: Steven Heller

That Pesky Television Test Pattern
What came first, television or the television test pattern? The origin of the pattern is a story of form following function. Aesthetics were irrelevant to the primary purpose, and the technical draftsmen who anonymously designed it could have never predicted that decades later it would become a nostalgic icon.
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01.21.09: Alexandra Lange

Rebooting the Festival Marketplace
The plans for New York's South Street Seaport aren't terrible. But the question to ask, now that the project is one hold, is: does New York need a fake fair?
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01.20.09: Dmitri Siegel

Paper, Plastic, or Canvas?
Dmitri Siegel explores the explosive popularity of canvas totes and the history of the plastic bags they aim to replace. From Anya Hindmarch to Ireland's PlasTax, Siegel examines the role of design in sustainability.
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01.15.09: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows: The Cover
Behold the cover for Master of Shadows, which releases this coming October.
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01.14.09: Mark Lamster

Who Needs Two?
In this brutal economy, the Yankees have enlisted Prudential Douglas Elliman to help them move high-end seats at their new stadium.
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01.13.09: Mark Lamster

Mooses
Billy Crystal is one of those guests talk show producers adore, and if you were watching Letterman last night you know why.
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01.11.09: Mark Lamster

If the Wire Cast Was a Football Team
The Baltimore Ravens look pretty formidable going into the AFC Championship game, but I wonder if this squad from Charm City could give them a run for their money.
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01.09.09: Mark Lamster

Complaint Dept.
The complaint has always been my great metier, the form in which I am a non-pareil master. Last night I became an honest-to-goodness world record holder in my favored idiom.
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01.08.09: Mark Lamster

Le Corbusier: Tres Grand
"Just how much personal history do we require to truly understand an artist’s body of work?" That's the question that launched my review of Nicholas Fox Weber's biography of the architect Le Corbusier.
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01.06.09: Murray Moss

Design Hates a Depression
"Design tends to thrive in hard times," says The New York Times's Michael Cannell. No, it doesn't. It tends to suffer.
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01.06.09: Mark Lamster

Malcolm and Alex
Just how much of an outlier is Alex Rodriguez?
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01.05.09: Virginia Smith

Two Dutch Logos
There are so many graphic designers in The Hague that it was a surprise when the city commissioned its logo from Anton Corbijn, a music video and film director.
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01.05.09: Kerry Saretsky

Movable Feast
We all must eat; we all must drink. Together, these form the two most basic requisites of our existence. The restaurant is the watering-hole, the center point, the necessity. And yet restaurants do not just serve dinner; if you read between the lines on the menu, you’ll find they offer dinner, and a show.
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01.01.09: Mark Lamster

Yankee Stadium: Remembered
Memories of Yankee Staidum vary for every fan, but the feeling of pure American nostalgia is the same for all.
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12.29.08: Mark Lamster

Memories of Yankee Stadium
The opportunity to sit in the Yankee Stadium cheap seats close to the field and to become a part of a community was very special. One of the things I find most troubling about the new ballpark is that this opportunity will be dramatically compromised.
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12.25.08: Mark Lamster

Practice Does Not Make Perfect
The J-E-T-S spent $75 million this year on a state-of-the-art new training facility designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but they may still miss the playoffs.
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12.25.08: Mark Lamster

A Horrible Machine
Check out my essay on the classic scout song "Dunderbeck" in the latest issue (no. 6) of the always gnaw-worthy Meatpaper.
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12.24.08: Michael Bierut

Designing Through the Recession
Here are three things that happen to designers in a recession, and five things they can do about it.
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12.20.08: Mark Lamster

How the West Was Lost
My reviews of two new photography books.
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12.17.08: Jessica Helfand

Ten Things That Need to be Redesigned
Lottery tickets, the hearse, monopoly money, IRS forms, airport design, children's ski jackets, political lawn signs, TV remotes, blister packaging and the state of New Jersey are examined for their design flaws.
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12.12.08: Rob Walker

Talk is Cheap
As the financial crisis snowballed this year, retail sales fell sharply. Curiously, many assessments of this development treated it as an exciting new trend.
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12.03.08: Steven Heller

My Dada
Way back in 1965, as a fifteen years old, I was an early EVOtee. I had stumbled upon one of the first issues at a newsstand. The cover, which I remember vividly, had a photo collage of a serpent emerging from battle fatigues worn by America's commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland. Haunting is not a strong enough word to describe the impact that this had on a teen just a year or two out of Valley Forge Military Academy, where, surprisingly, I had learned about the military impossibility of winning the war.
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12.03.08: Steven Heller

Draw Me Schools Of Commercial Art
Scores of advertisements, like the famous "Draw Me!" matchbook cover, offered willing aspirants the big chance to earn "$65, $80 and more a week" in "a pleasant, profitable Art career." Although the ads often shared space at the back of cheesy pulp magazines with offers to learn, well, brain surgery at home, they offered a legitimate way for anyone with a modicum of talent, limited means and an existing job to train in their spare time for a new profession.
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11.29.08: William Drenttel

A Design-Oriented National Endowment for the Arts
A proposal for a design-oriented National Endowment for the Arts.
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11.23.08: Chris Pullman

What I've Learned
After 35 years working for the same company, WGBH in Boston, legendary design director Chris Pullman reveals the ten things he learned.
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11.14.08: Steven Heller

History of Aggressive Design Magazines
Graphic design evolved during the late nineteenth century from a sideline of the printing industry into an autonomous field with its own lore, icons and personalities. The missing link in this evolutionary process is trade magazines. These magazines did not just reflexively report the current trends instead some aggressively codified key methods and mannerisms that in turn defined a profession.
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11.07.08: Jessica Helfand

Graphic Design Spam
Have you received any graphic design spam in your mailbox lately?
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11.03.08: Andrew Blauvelt

Towards Relational Design
Is there any overarching philosophy or connective thread that joins so many of today’s most interesting and increasingly diverse designs from the fields of architecture, graphic, and product design? I believe we are in the a third major phase in modern design history, moving towards an era dominated by relationally-based design activities.
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11.01.08: John Thackara

City Eco Lab – From Open Money to VeloWalas [November 2008]
Report on City Eco Lab Encounters, Velo Walas, Ecosoft, Design Imperatives, design for mobility, and more.
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10.27.08: Steven Heller

In Praise of the Anthropomorphic
Today I’m going to go out on a limb. I’ve decided that the next big thing in illustration, is one of the oldest conceits ever: Anthropomorphism, “the attribution of uniquely human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, natural and supernatural phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts.”
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10.23.08: Michael Bierut

The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman
For over 40 years, Lou Dorfsman designed everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Getting great work done in giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did he make it look easy?
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10.22.08: Tom Vanderbilt

Fanfare for the Common Commuter
I’ve become a regular morning commuter on the city’s splendid Metro — the first in the world to employ only rubber tires on its cars. It didn’t take long for me to notice, as the trains departed, a curious trilogy of tones that echoed, along with the hum of the engine, through the concrete-chambered station. The notes, I realized with a start, were the beginning of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.
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10.15.08: William Drenttel

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Working with Amnesty International, Woody Pirtle designed a series of posters that spotlights 12 of the individual articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We celebrate these, today, the 60th anniversary of the UDHR.
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10.15.08: Dmitri Siegel

Design by Numbers
Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.
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10.12.08: Michael Bierut

26 Years, 85 Notebooks
Since 1982, I have never been without a marble-covered composition book. I am now in the middle of Notebook #85. Together, these notebooks create a history of my working life that spans three decades.

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10.03.08: Rob Walker

Subconscious Warm-Up
The Speedo LZR Racer suits worn byMichael Phelps and other world-class swimmers. Promoted as a design breakthrough and worn by the most victorious Olympian in history, it offers a potent blend of functional promise and emotional aspiration.
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10.02.08: Jessica Helfand

The Posters of Padua
In the sixteenth century the University of Padua initiated a custom that has prevailed to the present day — a custom which boasts, as it turns out, a very prominent design component.
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10.01.08: Steven Heller

Charles Peignot: Man Behind the Faces
This is but one example of Charles Peignot’s influence on type and typography, which made his professional life so important to the history of design...
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10.01.08: John Thackara

Tribal Currencies [October 2008]
Report on the money system, City Eco Lab, the high risk of flooding in London, what architects would design if they did not design buildings, the Bioneers conference, and more.
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10.01.08: Alexandra Lange

JetBlue Terminal 5 (and TWA Terminal)
It feels like JetBlue has lost its sense of surprise in its middle age.
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09.30.08: Adam Harrison Levy

The Inventor of the Cowboy Shirt
A few years ago, I found myself lost inside a shopping mall with Jack A. Weil, better known as Jack A, the man who, in 1946, invented the snap-buttoned cowboy shirt.
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09.30.08: Michael Bierut

Mad Men: Pitch Perfect
AMC's ad agency drama Mad Men, from the producer of the Sopranos, is beginning its second season. Like The Sopranos, the show finds human drama in an unexpected setting. And where The Sopranos had whackings, Mad Men has client presentations.
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09.16.08: Gong Szeto

Lehman's Bankruptcy Statement
I'm just a designer, but it doesn't take a genius to read a bankruptcy statement. Take a look at the Lehman Brothers statement dated Sunday, September 14, 2008. Read the whole thing down to exhibit A and the list of creditors — this is an historical document.
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09.15.08: The Editors

Books Received: Fall 2008

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09.15.08: Jessica Helfand

Second in a Series: Completions
The series, when shown on a single surface, carries with it a kind of implicit satisfaction that a series disseminated over time does not.
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09.12.08: Rob Walker

Shared Memories
Many of the images reproduced in Scrapbooks: An American History, by Jessica Helfand, date back 50, 80, even 100 years. Reproduced in color and spread across wide pages, the anonymous scrapbook creators could hardly have imagined such a fate for their work.
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09.04.08: William Drenttel

Whose Flag?
Nearly a decade into a new century, I believe it is unacceptable for a design organization, foundation, board of directors, magazine or other enterprise, to mount an initiative with an all male panel of judges. Such behavior is no longer acceptable and should not be tolerated by a community of designers (or any other community).
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09.02.08: Thomas de Monchaux

Remembering Yves St. Laurent
So what can we learn from the presence of fashion within design, and of design within fashion? For example, and more precisely, what can we learn from the work of Yves St. Laurent, the iconic French fashion designer who passed away this Summer?
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09.01.08: John Thackara

City Eco Lab @ 70 Days to Go [September 2008]
Report on City Eco Lab, Casino's green labeling scheme, In the Bubble book launch, sustainable architecture, John Michael Greer's The Long Descent, and more.
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08.28.08: Alice Twemlow

A Look Back at Aspen, 1970
The 1970 International Design Conference at Aspen provided the setting for a collision between two very different conceptions of design. The IDCA board members who organized the conference and a number of art and environmental action groups, many of which where from Berkeley, California and had made the 1,000-odd mile journey to Colorado in chartered buses.
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08.28.08: Adrian Shaughnessy

A Layperson's Guide to Graphic Design
Graphic design has been likened to a wine glass. When we drink wine we barely notice the glass it’s served in. It’s the same with graphic design: people absorb the messages that graphic designers use their skill, training and ingenuity to make, yet rarely stop to think how the message is constructed or how it affects the viewer.
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08.26.08: Steven Heller

Where Have You Gone R. Cobb?

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08.19.08: Jessica Helfand

Biblionomatopoeia
What do you call book jacket design that manipulates the book jacket itself in an effort to illustrate the content of the book? Answer: biblionomatopoeia.
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08.18.08: Steven Heller

Canned Laughter
The verbal and visual puns of porta-a-potties are copious throughout this indispensable industry. Manufacturers and suppliers go to great lengths to make the portable toilet experience clean and sanitary, as well as warm and cute. Portable toiletry is only second after hair salons (i.e. Mane Street, Clip Joint, Hair Today, etc.) for warm and cute, albeit excruciating, pun names. And yet this is a dirty job, so why shouldn’t those who attend to our bodily hygiene have the opportunity to practice a little wit and double entendre?
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08.11.08: Glen Cummings

Athos Bulcão, The Artist of Brasilia
Athos Bulcão was a public artist, interior designer, muralist, furniture and graphic designer who collaborated with Oscar Niemeyer and others to define Brasilia — one of the 20th century’s most radical and controversially received urban experiments. Bulcão died on July 31 at the age of 90, and left behind an astonishing body of work.
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08.07.08: Jessica Helfand

First In A Series: Cartophily
Mostly unified by their one-to-two format, cigarette cards revealed countless variation in topic and scope, style and personality, seriousness of purpose and goofball whimsy. If the ardent collector defines the amalgamation of disparate items by retaining a fundamental organizing principle, then what is it, exactly, that guides the maker? And enthralls the viewer?
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08.04.08: Steven Heller

Clipping Art, One Engraving At a Time
These books, universally known as clip art books, some edited by Dick Sutphen and many others published by Dover and Chelsea House, were owned by almost every American illustrator, designer, and art director who found solace in them when an idea was needed but their imaginations were not entirely up to the task. This is a personal remembrance and homage to them.
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08.01.08: John Thackara

Eating Spin [August 2008]
Report on In the Bubble in Italian, Climate Camp, British supermarkets and emergency food reserves, trash sorting, designing for resiliance, and more.
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07.31.08: Michael Bierut

There is No Why
The year's best design movie is not about a typeface. It's Man on Wire, the new documentary about Philippe Petit's 1974 high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.
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07.20.08: Michael Bierut

My Handicap
I've come to know a little bit about demographics, customer profiling and market segmentation, and I can tell I'm supposed to care deeply about golf. But I don't.
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07.17.08: Paula Scher

It's How You Said It
Paula Scher: "The problem with the New Yorker's controversial Obama cover is not that it's dangerous and tasteless. The problem is that it isn’t dangerous or tasteless enough."
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07.14.08: William Davies King

Collections of Nothing

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07.14.08: Jessica Helfand

Annals of Ephemera, Part III: Aging 2.0
Paper has a finite life span. It yellows and oxidizes and eventually disintegrates. But today, there are a host of specialty materials that protect and preserve paper so that, unlikely as it may seem, ephemeral materials may have found their very own fountain of youth.
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07.11.08: William Drenttel

I Was A Mad Man
Mad Men takes place in 1960. Just seventeen years later, I went to work at an ad agency and became a Mad Man. This is my story...
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07.08.08: Andrew Flamm & Michelle Hauser

Folk Photos
The onset of the digital revolution has made the period for using film finite. Processed prints are becoming obsolete. With the immediate option of discarding an unintended image, a rich library of our unselfconscious selves will no longer be recorded. But it lives here, in these beautiful, poetic and tactile objects.
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07.07.08: Randy Nakamura

Steampunk'd, Or Humbug by Design
In this time of cultural recycling, Humbug is a word perhaps best used to describe Steampunk, a subculture supposedly born out of a mash-up of DIY (do-it-yourself), Victoriana, punk, science fiction, Japanese anime and the urge to re-skin one’s computer as 19th century bric-a-brac. If the number of recent articles in the mainstream press is any reliable barometer, Steampunk is the next big thing.
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07.02.08: Steven Heller

Vanity Fair Type: 1930 Style

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07.01.08: John Thackara

Design for Resilience [July 2008]
Report on sustainability projects for under-16s, Energey Descent Action Planning (EDAP), learning from Africa, Australian treasury official Ken Henry, Hungry City, and more.
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06.30.08: Jessica Helfand

Reflections on the Ephemeral World, Part Two: Food
Ever since the 16th century Italian Mannerist painter Archimboldo made portraits from the detritus of his dinner, the relationship between the visual and the edible has been something of a puzzle. Welcome to the world of foodistry: design with food.
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06.30.08: Steven Heller

Homage to Velvet Touch Lettering
It was the wee hours of Monday morning some months back when my computer died while I was designing a brochure that had to be finished later that day. Without a computer what could I do? Dependency is a horrible thing. But rather than self-indulgently wallow in misfortune, I walked over to a flat file where I stored dozens of old press type sheets. It had not been open for a decade.
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06.30.08: Becky Neiman

Taking Things Seriously XIII

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06.30.08: Paul Maliszewski

Taking Things Seriously XI

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06.16.08: Andrew Blauvelt

City and Suburb: Worlds Away?
The mutual dependency of city and suburb is both physical and psychological. City dwellers and suburbanites need each other to reinforce their own sense of place and identity despite ample evidence that what we once thought were different places and lifestyles are increasingly intertwined and much less distinct.
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06.16.08: Ettore Sottsass

When I Was a Very Small Boy
Ettore Sottsass: "Everything we did was entirely absorbed in the act of doing it, in wanting to do it, and everything we did stayed ultimately inside a single extraordinary sphere of life. The design was life itself, it was the day from dawn till dusk, it was the waiting during the night..."
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06.05.08: John Thackara

We Are All Emerging Economies Now

I recently received an invitation to discuss design and development with a wonderful group of design peers in a beautiful location. But I have decided to decline the invitation. Why?


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06.05.08: Steven Heller

Branding Youth in the Totalitarian State
Youth may be wasted on the young, but under the totalitarian state they were not forgotten. For the state to prosper, youth was turned into a sub-brand that both followed and perpetuated the dominant ideology. Graphics played a huge role in making this happen in Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union.
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06.05.08: Alice Twemlow

Graphic Design at the Museum
The work of Graphic Thought Facility, a London-based graphic design consultancy, is on exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago until August 17. It’s the first time the Art Institute has staged a show solely on contemporary design...
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06.05.08: Andrew Blauvelt

Over the Rainbow
June marks the start of a month-long series of LGBT Pride celebrations in cities around the United States and the world, as well as the 30th anniversary of the rainbow flag — the de facto symbol of the LGBT community. While the visual and media focus of the celebrations have been the parades, the most enduring element is perhaps the rainbow.
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06.04.08: David Stairs

The Little Logo That Could
If it seems too hyperbolic to say that Obama stands as one of the most cleverly branded candidates in our history, look closer. Otheres have attempted to lay claim to the fifteenth letter of the Roman alphabet with mixed success. But to date, no one has been remotely as successful in so short a time as the Obama has with his campaign.
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06.01.08: John Thackara

Mapping Ecosystem Services [June 2008]
Report on City Eco Lab at the Cite du Design biennial, the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), FSC certification, Setting Standards for Sustainable Design, the Centre for Knowledge Societies' report on economic life in several countries, and more.
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05.30.08: Jessica Helfand

Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.
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05.28.08: Julie Lasky

Cranbrook Commencement Address
"I come to you, like all commencement speakers, as an emissary from the future." The commencement address delivered by Julie Lasky at the Cranbrook Academy of Art on May 9, 2008.
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05.24.08: KT Meaney

Greening the Grocery Store
It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.
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05.22.08: Steven Heller

O.H.W. Hadank
Paul Rand held Hadank in the highest esteem because he practiced modernist formal principles even though he did not follow its dogma or style. And most important, as Rand said “Hadank was then and always an original. A profile of O.H.W. Hadank by Steven Heller...
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05.19.08: Dmitri Siegel

Credit Where Credit Is Due...Or Not
Dmitri Siegel explores the various practices of design attribution.
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05.16.08: Jessica Helfand

Iron Man: The Screen Behind the Screen
Iron Man is the fulfillment of all the computer-integrated movies were ever meant to be, and by computer-integrated, I mean just that: beyond the technical wizardry of special effects, this is a film in which the computer is incorporated, like a cast member, into the development of the plot itself.
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05.15.08: Rosamond W. Purcell

Taking Things Seriously XII

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05.13.08: Michael Bierut

Fitting
Charles Brannock only invented one thing in his life: that metal thing in shoe stores that the salesman uses to measure your feet. Is it the most perfect invention of the 20th century?
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05.08.08: John Bowers

A Lesson from Spirograph
1967's "Toy of the Year" was the embodiment of controlled emotion in the face of that decade’s social unrest and conflict: John Bowers remembers The Spirograph.
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05.06.08: The Editors

Chicago International Poster Biennial
Contemporary posters published within the last two years are eligible for the Chicago International Poster Biennial and may be submitted by any poster designer in the world with no entry fee. Physical entries must be received in Chicago no later than May 27, 2008.
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05.04.08: Rob Walker

This Joke’s for You
In the movie Idiocracy, an average and unambitious guy played by Luke Wilson hibernates as part of a military experiment and wakes up 500 years later. The America he wakes up to has devolved radically.
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05.03.08: Jessica Helfand

National Scrapbooking Day
"Scrapbooks (like these) remind us that creating an album from saved matter does not necessarily provide an accurate self-portrait..." An essay by Jessica Helfand from her new book on the occasion of National Scrapbooking Day.
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05.01.08: Steven Heller

The Sky Is Falling
Where once the sky is falling scenarios would not, as Dr. Flicker said, “happen for billions of years yet,” the doomsday clock is steadily ticking away. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back to the days when fiction was not fact.
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04.25.08: Teddy Blanks

Errol Morris's Problem With Photography
Standard Operating Procedure is a gorgeous, pulsing stopwatch of a movie, and like all of Morris's best work, its structure is based on a rhythmic series of revelations.
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04.22.08: Adam Harrison Levy

The Passion of George Lois
How adman George Lois chronicled the sixties with his cover designs for Esquire magazine, with a peek behind the scenes at the legendary famous Muhammad-Ali-as-St. Sebastian photoshoot.
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04.18.08: Adrian Shaughnessy

The Design Observer Playlist
I’ve never worked in a design studio where music wasn’t played pretty much constantly. Nor can I recall visiting a studio where music wasn’t being played, or where designers weren’t wired up to headphones and bobbing rhythmically to unheard sounds. What is it with graphic designers and music?
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04.14.08: Luc Sante

Taking Things Seriously X

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04.10.08: Steven Heller

Underground Mainstream
Today, designers for mainstream advertising companies, weaned on alternative approaches, have folded the underground into the mainstream and called it cool.
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04.07.08: Lorraine Wild

100%
So, it’s 1966 and two guys are hanging around their Los Angeles apartment, musing about the sort of things that people mused about in the Sixties. The aesthetic philosophers in question were the artist Ed Ruscha and the artist/comedy writer/composer/performer Mason Williams...
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04.01.08: John Thackara

City Eco Lab [April 2008]
Report on City Eco Lab, the Dott 07 manual, Kate Fletcher's Sustinable Fashion and Textiles, a cashless economy with MTN Nigeria,Chris Bradshaw's opinions on transportation, and more.
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03.31.08: Michael Bierut

The (Faux) Old Ball Game
Since 1992, every ballpark in America has been designed on the nostalgic model of Baltimore's Camden Yards, including the new parks for the Yankees and the Mets. Why is it impossible to build a baseball stadium that looks like it belongs in the 21st century?
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03.28.08: Matthew Peterson

The Cuckoo Bird and the Keyboard
Designers are famously nauseated by novices' use of neutral quotes — or dumb quoes — in place of true quotes. Why do we care so much? Should we?
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03.27.08: Joshua Glenn

Taking Things Seriously IX

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03.24.08: Steven Heller

The Magic of the Peace Symbol
There was probably no more galvanizing nor polarizing emblem during the 1960s than the peace symbol. And perhaps few symbols have had origins surrounded in as much mystery and controversy
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03.21.08: Jessica Helfand

Viewer Discretion Advised
One of the great ironies of contemporary culture is the degree to which pro-forma warnings read as largely invisible. “Viewer Discretion Advised” tells us we’ve been warned...
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03.19.08: Matt Soar

Fail Again, Fail Better
So, what of productive failure with respect to graphic design and typography? The idea of failing again and again for a reason? Does it somehow help to define the limits of professional practice?
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03.18.08: Rob Walker

Can a Dead Brand Live Again?
Is it possible to revive a dead brand?
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03.12.08: The Editors

Marc Rabinowitz: Prostitution Facts
In spite of the tawdry glamour of "high-priced call girls," let's remember that this supposedly victimless crime takes a vast human toll that goes far beyond the embarrassment of powerful men. Marc Rabinowitz’s project invites us to imagine prostitution’s stark statistics...
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03.11.08: Michael Bierut

Would It Kill You To Smile?
Thoughts on the enduring influence of bershon, "how you feel when you’re 13 and your parents make you wear a Christmas sweatshirt and then pose for a family picture."
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03.06.08: Chip Kidd

The Learners
Chip Kidd's new novel, The Learners: A Novel. An excerpt courtesy of the author....
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03.04.08: Steven Heller

Swastika Humor?
Trivializing the swastika is not a crime, but it can be dangerous, particularly since it continues to be used as a weapon of hate. Perhaps this book would have best been titled, “We Have Ways of Making You Wince.”
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03.01.08: John Thackara

Travels in Uncanny Valley [March 2008]
Report on substitutes for mobility, the Dott 07 wrap event, the Dott 07 manual, Social Innovation Camp, Dam Nation, and more.
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02.21.08: Alice Twemlow

Some Questions about an Inquiry
“Critical design” is design that, through its form, can question and challenge industrial agendas; embody alternative social, cultural, technical or economic values; and act as a prop to stimulate debate and discussion amongst the public, designers and industry. As critical design gathers momentum, where is graphic design?
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02.17.08: Rick Poynor

Lost America: The Flamingo Motor Hotel
I found this old photo in a box at the back of my attic. It shows a motel in Flagstaff, Arizona where I stayed for a couple of nights in May 1978. I was 20, it was my first visit to the US, and for three weeks I had been touring around on Greyhound buses.
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02.14.08: Jessica Helfand

Animal Magnetism
Magazines are the sole industry in which you cannot help but judge a book by its cover.
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02.11.08: Michael Bierut

The Smartest Logo in the Room
The birth, death, and debate around one of Paul Rand's last logos: the "crooked E" he created for Enron.
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02.07.08: Adrian Shaughnessy

Look and Feel / Nip and Tuck
If clients are happy to refer to the output of graphic designers as look and feel, where's the harm?
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02.01.08: The Editors

Fifteen Minutes of Fame
If graphic design's become so edgy as a profession that we're getting name-dropped in hit movies, maybe it's time to get serious about how we're really being portrayed.
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01.31.08: Jessica Helfand

Woody Allen's Typography

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01.30.08: Jessica Helfand

Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II)
From July 19, 1977 to February 28, 1981, the security staff at New York's Roosevelt Raceway kept a fastidious record of lost property. The result — 152 pages of wayward mittens, misplaced wallets and hundreds of personal items — is as much a record of the social history of a generation as anything I've come across in a long time.
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01.27.08: Dmitri Siegel

Learning from North Philadelphia
Dmitri Siegel visits Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour's post-modern classic Guild House in Philadelphia and rereads Learning from Las Vegas.
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01.24.08: Steven Heller

Wilhelm Deffke: Modern Mark Maker
The modern corporate logo was born in Germany shortly after the turn of the twentieth century, the direct descendent of burgher crests, coats of arms, trade and factory marks. One of the most prolific of these mark makers is barely recognized in design histories today, except for the occasional footnote. His name is Wilhelm F. Deffke...
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01.21.08: James Traub

Art Rogers vs. Jeff Koons
James Traub on the Art Rogers vs. Jeff Koons legal case, perhaps relevant to recent discussions about Richard Prince's art.
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01.16.08: Andrew Blauvelt

The Work of Task
The presence of Task asks, How do you make a magazine for the post-critical, post-movement moment of contemporary graphic design?
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01.13.08: Rob Walker

Imitation of Life
Spend enough time looking at design and new-product Web sites and it’s easy to spot recurring themes. One of the most interesting is things that look like other things.
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01.12.08: William Drenttel

Polling Place Photo Project 2008
We are pleased to announce that the Polling Place Photo Project is continuing into the 2008 presidential primaries and election, supported by a new partnership of The New York Times, AIGA and Design Observer.
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01.11.08: Cheryl Towler Weese

Is Apple Soft on Crime?
Here's the real question: could a climbing crime rate and the rise of the iPod be related? Has the iPod's design increased its likelihood of theft, and if so, what role could Apple's designers play in developing solutions?
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01.08.08: Michael Bierut

Will the Real Ernst Bettler Please Stand Up?
In the late 50s, Swiss designer Ernst Bettler created a series of seemingly harmless posters that brought down a drug company with a Nazi past. It's a great story, but it never happened. Why do we need to believe in Ernst Bettler?
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01.06.08: Thomas Frank

Taking Things Seriously V

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01.03.08: Jessica Helfand

Remembering Paul Rand
This essay, a rememberance of Paul Rand, is taken from Michael Kroeger's book, Paul Rand: Conversations with Students, which will be published on January 3 by Princeton Architectural Press.
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01.01.08: John Thackara

Of Doomers and Bottle Fillers [January 2008]
Report on "doomers," Tools for Survival, the legacy of Dott 07, Dott's Eco Design Challenge, Pixelache University, and more.
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12.31.07: Carol Hayes

Taking Things Seriously IV

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12.27.07: Steven Heller

What's In A Name?
In only a few short years, blogs have significantly evolved. And if blogs, and the people who engage with them, are to be respected, then we should all know who everyone is, and everyone — whoever and whatever they have to say — should not hide behind the digital veil.
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12.22.07: Michael Bierut

The Most Hated Holiday Song in the World
Ten years ago, Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid attempted to create the most irritating song in the world. It's now available online, and it's perfect for the holidays!
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12.19.07: Steven Heller

It's Easy to Criticize. . . Not
Convention was disrupted last Thursday night in New York City at Designism 2:0 when the sometimes "self-congratulatory" nature of the Art Director Club's social conscience-raising event was upended by Vanity Fair media critic Michael Wolff's unforgiving critique of design's do-goodery.
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12.16.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

Graphic Editorship
Fuel's realization that they possessed the transferable skills and instincts to publish thought-provoking books with editorial depth, has allowed them to create a publishing venture that offers a fresh take on visual culture.
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12.16.07: Rob Walker

Handmade 2.0
The Handmade Consortium, Etsy and the DIY moment.
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12.13.07: Dmitri Siegel

Taking Things Seriously II

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12.13.07: William Drenttel

Taking Things Seriously I

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12.10.07: Joshua Glenn

Taking Things Seriously
Everyone we know reverentially displays in his home or workspace at least one oddball, funny-looking, apparently worthless item as though it were a precious, irreplaceable artifact.
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12.03.07: Jessica Helfand

Things, Part I
In an age characterized by elevated environmental awareness — reducing our carbon footprint, enhancing our sustainable output — we remain obsessed with our attachment to the material world.
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12.01.07: John Thackara

Tools for Sustainability: Sao Paulo Workshop [December 2007]
Report on the Doors of Perception workshop in Sao Paulo, the Dott 07 manual, the Dott podcast, tracking travel carbon emissions, the UK's NAtional Endowment for Scient Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and more.
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12.01.07: Rob Walker

Tobias Wong on Consuming Consumer Consumption
Tobias Wong on Consuming Consumer Consumption.
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11.30.07: Steven Kroeter

Design Thinking, Muddled Thinking
What does it mean when Harvard Business School makes a list of top design schools? Two words: muddled thinking.
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11.27.07: Tom Vanderbilt

Discipline and Design
On a sweeping and fully realized scale, Richard Ross's photographs probes the disciplinary dynamics in the cruel hidden places you would expect them, and in the banal everyday places you might not have even noticed them.
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11.24.07: Steven Heller

Curse of The "D" Word
Do you make things look nice? Do you spend more time worrying about nuance and aesthetics than substance and meaning? Do you fiddle with style while ignoring the big picture? If your answers are yes, yes, or yes, then you are a decorator.
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11.21.07: Jessica Helfand

Thanksgiving Day

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11.18.07: Rob Walker

False Endorsement
There is no shortage of logos in the world, no dearth of brands striving for consumer allegiance and no chance that the creation of new brands and logos will cease.
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11.11.07: Michael Bierut

How To Be Ugly
Whether reactionary spasm or irrevocable paradigm shift, the new trend is making design that looks ugly. The trick is to surround it with enough attitude so it will be properly perceived not as the product of everyday incompetence, but rather as evidence of one's attunement with the zeitgeist.
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11.07.07: Jessica Helfand

Type Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry
Designers make choices about the appropriateness of type based on any number of criteria, and "liking it" is indeed one of them. But is that enough?
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11.04.07: Nichelle Narcisi

Except You
Nichelle Narcisi, winner of last month's Command X competition at the AIGA Next Conference in Denver, presents "Except You," her proposed campaign to raise the voter participation rate for 18 to 24 year olds.
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11.01.07: Elizabeth Tunstall

What If Uncle Sam Wanted You?
What if I decided to apply design thinking to the U.S. military? What roles could design thinking play in war? A recent The New York Times article, "Army Enlists Anthropologists in War Zone," makes these questions especially relevant today.
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10.28.07: Rob Walker

Timeless Object
What makes a useless-seeming watch potentially more valuable — in identity terms — than, say, regular jewelry?
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10.25.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

The Designer's Virus
Perhaps he was right and I was wrong? Perhaps it is dumb of me to believe that the only design worth bothering about is design born out of a mixture of personal enquiry and intelligent intuition? I realized I was suffering from the designer's disease: empathy.
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10.23.07: Michael Erard

Babel's Nobel
Observers seem to track the nations, not the languages, of the 104 Nobel-winning writers. Yet parsing the list of 25 languages that they wrote in turns up many interesting instances of disproportion.
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10.22.07: Michael Bierut

Déjà Vu All Over Again

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10.16.07: Jessica Helfand

Science and Design: The Next Wave
Scientists probe and manipulate and channel and divide; they split and fuse and spike and engineer; but most of all, they look. As a designer, to spend any time with scientists is to become at once profoundly aware of our similarities and devastated by that which divides us.
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10.14.07: Steven Heller

Topanga, I Hardly Knew Ye
I've always wondered why anyone with taste would pay thousands of dollars to publish one of those text-heavy, type-awful, full-page magazine advertisements void of any semblance of graphic design nuance or sophistication.
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10.11.07: The Editors

Design Observer Party: Denver, October 12
It is now a Design Observer tradition to host the best party at the AIGA Biennal Conference. This year's event is in Denver at The Milk Bar @ The Shelter. Friday, October 12 from 9:00pm to 2:00am. 1037 Broadway, "South of Colfax Nightlife District."
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10.09.07: Michael Bierut

Rest in Peace, Herbert Muschamp
Officially published for the first time as a posthumous tribute: a loving parody of the writing of the late, great architectural critic Herbert Muschamp.
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10.06.07: William Drenttel

A Plea to The New York Times: Index Your Art
Why does the art that adds so much to the texts published in The New York Times disappear? Why cannot The New York Times simply index the art that it publishes, at least leaving the bibliographic tracings of the work in their newspaper?
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10.03.07: William Drenttel

Wood That We Could
Remember back in the late 1980s, when Minneapolis was a hotbed of creative energy? Back when brochures were tied together with braid and twigs? Minnesota was making a play for the next big thing: the North Woods look. Well, it's back...
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10.01.07: Jessica Helfand

Stan Brakhage: Caught on Tape
For Stan Brakhage, that concentration resulted in extraordinary explorations of many things, including the life cycle of a moth, caught on adhesive strips of tape, and subsequently captured on film where it regained — however briefly — the magnificent illusion of mobility. For designers, faced by budgets and clients and deadlines, the luxury of so much isolation seems a distant, if not an altogether perverse paradigm. But are these intentions really so mutually exclusive?
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10.01.07: John Thackara

Better Lives With Less Stuff [October 2007]
Report on the "Wouldn't it be great if…" Dott 07 debates, Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, Rick Bookstaber's A Demon of Our Own Design, Core77's Hack2School special, and more.
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09.26.07: Steven Heller

Decorative Books: The End of Print
Back in 1956, The Times promotion department provided a viable answer in the form of its 65 Ways to Decorate with Books in Your Home, a book/zine with a reasonable $1 cover price. Steven Heller looks here for answers to repurpose of these venerable materials into useful life-enhancing goods.
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09.21.07: Michael Bierut

May I Show You My Portfolio?
My art school portfolio has sat in a box, largely untouched, in the closets and basements of the three places I've lived in the last 27 years, sort of like a slowly decaying design time capsule. A few weeks ago, I opened it up for the first time in a long time.
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09.18.07: Dmitri Siegel

Designers and Dilettantes
Dmitri Siegel discusses graphic design authorship and the impending release of Elliott Earls' new film, The Sarany Motel.
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09.15.07: Meredith Davis

The Cult of ASAP
Before long, many designers burn out by promising unrealistic turnaround on projects, working at levels that don't accommodate a balanced life, and closing down any time for reflection on the work they're doing and on the world around them. I believe as educators, we need to consider how we introduce students to reflective practice, how we actually slow down and pace the physical execution of work in order to design smart.
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09.10.07: Rob Kimmel

Coney Island Bin Laden
In 2004, the paper targets at the Coney Island shooting gallery featured a hand-drawn Osama Bin Laden.
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09.08.07: Jessica Helfand

Back To School
Yet once Graphic Design is introduced in the classroom, how do educational offerings differ? Herewith — and in the spirit of "la rentrée" — is an extremely random sampling.
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09.05.07: Michael Bierut

You're So Intelligent
Wanting to be taken seriously, designers yearn to be respected for their minds. Yet they take their real gifts — a miraculous fluency with beauty, an ability to manipulate form in a way that can touch people's hearts — for granted.
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09.04.07: Jessica Helfand

Awarelessness

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09.01.07: Teddy Blanks

Olia Lialina & Relics of the Lost Web
Today, the comparatively prehistoric graphic vocabulary of the early web has either been forgotten, or is simply regarded with the facile mockery that comes of 20/20 hindsight. Instead, they are an important part of internet history, and have, intended or not, a strange beauty.
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08.30.07: Steven Heller

The Designer As Gumshoe
The aim in this essay is not to raise mass consciousness about gum pollution. Over the past year, I've been something of a gumshoe, investigating and documenting patterns of gum goop, and talking to perpetrators and victims alike. Now I'm ready to share my findings.
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08.26.07: Alice Twemlow

Design Criticism's Winding Road
To what extent does design criticism inspire a reaction; to whom is criticism addressed and what happens as a result of it being read? This article discusses the way in which an excerpt from a review of a 1955 Buick unexpectedly inspired a painting by one of the world's best-known Pop artists, Richard Hamilton.
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08.23.07: Jessica Helfand

Another Myth Brilliantly Debunked
The Folding Paper Box Association of America would influence more than just packaging regulations: a half century before the Poynter Institute would claim authorship for its revolutionary Eye-Trac research, the FPBAA was already tracking viewers' visual responses to packaging...
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08.20.07: David Stairs

Why Design Won't Save the World
After ten months in Africa, I recently visited the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum to see Design for the Other 90%. Here, I thought, was an exhibition I could enthusiastically embrace. Unfortunately...
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08.14.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

Tony Wilson: The Postmodern Mythmaker
Tony Wilson, founder of Factory records, died August 10. Wilson had many claims to fame: he was a successful television presenter; a music industry impresario of flawed and maverick genius; and he was one of the shrewdest patrons of graphic design there has ever been.
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08.11.07: William Drenttel

The Presidential Rash
It was reported this week by the Huffington Post that President George W. Bush has had Lyme Disease since last August — when he got the "characteristic bullseye rash" on his left shin. So what does a Presidential rash look like, anyway?
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08.09.07: Steven Heller

Confessions of a Book Catalog Reader
I read publishers' seasonal book catalogs the way some people go to the movies, in part to watch the trailers for coming attractions.
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08.02.07: Rob Giampietro

The Fonts of Summer
Why not summer fonts? I can't think of a good reason why not. Like all things summer, a summer font need only follow a few simple rules. Be catchy. Be simple. Be happy. And be gone soon enough to belong to a single summer only. It's the Summer of Grouch. ITC Grouch, that is.
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08.01.07: John Thackara

Dott Debates Announced + Custard Pies [August 2007]
Report on the Dott 07 debates, the debate on transport and tourism, design and sexual health, Dott 07's Alzheimer 100, food systems, and more.
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07.30.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

Barnbrook Bible: A Graphic Autobiography
Jonathan Barnbrook's new book, Barnbrook Bible, ranks amongst the most ambitious personal projects undertaken by any graphic designer...
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07.28.07: William Drenttel

Project M
It is clear that in the last decade, the rural poor in America have gotten poorer. But having safe water is not something most of us think of as a problem in our country. If you'd like to help, Buy A Meter.
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07.25.07: Michael Bierut

Donal McLaughlin's Little Button
In 1945, architect-turned-graphic-designer Donal McLaughlin designed a lapel pin for a conference in 1945 that became one of the most widely seen symbols in the world: the emblem for the United Nations. Tomorrow is his 100th birthday.
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07.21.07: Steven Heller

Leon Friend: One Teacher, Many Apostles
Leon Friend (born in Warsaw in 1902) was a career art teacher at the Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, with a special passion for what he called graphic design. This is his story and his influence.
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07.17.07: Jessica Helfand

Harry Potter and The Enchanted Letterforms
The most recent theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix includes a paradigm shift that warrants particular recognition, for the simple reason that this may be the first film in which mere letterforms, once the purview of the production designer, break free and actually join the cast.
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07.16.07: The Editors

Two New Contributing Writers
We are delighted to introduce two new contributing writers to our line-up: Steven Heller and Alice Twemlow will be posting regularly from now on.
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07.13.07: Peter Good

Remembering Sol Lewitt (1928-2007)
I first met Sol Lewitt in 1986, when he and Carol and their young daughters moved to Chester, Connecticut, a small town on the Connecticut River where I have a graphic design studio. We met at an opening at the Chester Gallery...
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07.10.07: Jessica Helfand

Cock-a-Doodle-Don't
Where food is concerned, the relationship between what things look like and how we respond exists at its most primal level: what is a gut reaction, after all, if not something that attacks your gut?
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07.07.07: Richard Turley

Off the Grid
When you abandon most of the rules, how do you define a mistake? How to art direct a newspaper from the middle of the muddy Glastonbury music festival.
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07.02.07: Steven Heller

Silas H. Rhodes, Founder of SVA
Silas H. Rhodes, chairman of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, died last Thursday at 91. He was a progressive educator who established a uniquely collaborative learning environment that delicately balanced creative independence with academic rigor.
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07.01.07: John Thackara

How High Is the Climate Change Bar? [July 2007]
Report on Public Available Specification (PAS), resource wars, slow trade, sustainable tourism, Jan Chipchase's thoughts on mobile essentials, and more.
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06.29.07: Alice Twemlow

When Did Posters Become Such Wallflowers?
What was odd about many of the posters Alice Twemlow judged in a recent competition was that they didn't promote an idea, event or product; their only purpose seemed to be entering numerous annual poster competitions.
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06.26.07: Jessica Helfand

Why Is This Font Different From All Other Fonts?
Earlier this spring, our local art-supply store closed its doors. The promise of discount art supplies looms large, so off I went. There was a paltry selection of picked-over goods, until a chipboard assortment of "birthday letters" caught my eye. Birthday letters? I think not. This is Faux Hebrew.
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06.19.07: Steven Heller

Martin Weber in the Third Dimension
You may not have heard of Martin J. Weber, but he was a graphic artist, typographer, art director, and most important, inventor of various photographic techniques that gave two-dimensional surfaces the illusion of being reproduced in three dimensions.
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06.17.07: John Hockenberry

My Life with A Dad Designer
On the University of Cincinnati diploma that hung in my parents' bedroom it said that Jack Hockenberry was an industrial designer. It said nothing about what an industrial designer actually did. It sounded very important, and when asked, my dad would tell me his job was to "figure out how to make things."
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06.13.07: Tom Vanderbilt

On the Squareness of Milk Containers
Do you know, or have you ever wanted to know, why milk containers are square and soft drink containers are round? This and other questions of design are answered in Robert Frank's new book The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas.
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06.11.07: Michael Bierut

Everything I Know About Design I Learned from The Sopranos
Last night, after eight years, 86 episodes, and untold quantities of gobbagool, The Sopranos finished its run on HBO. And this is what we've learned, from a design point of view.
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06.06.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
Designers often bemoan the lack of coverage given to graphic design in mainstream media. Yet when design catches the attention of journalists and commentators it usually results in a vicious mugging rather than hearty praise.
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06.03.07: Dmitri Siegel

Andrea Crews: Fashion Provocateur
Dmitri Siegel writes about Parisian fashion/art collective Andrea Crews.
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05.31.07: William Drenttel

Al Gore for President
Writing as a designer, as a writer, as a husband and father, but most of all, as a human being — I believe we should draft Al Gore to run for the Presidency of the United States.
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05.28.07: Jessica Helfand

My Dirty Little Secret
Gardening is its own infuriating design challenge. You fret and you rethink and you second-guess yourself constantly, and then for one delirious, thrilling moment something blooms and you feel utterly triumphant. And then it dies and you are back where you started.
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05.24.07: Michael Bierut

Why a Book?
Introducing 79 Short Essays on Design, a 272-page book about design with 80 typefaces and no pictures.
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05.20.07: Eric Nevin

Love Letters to Sub-Antarctic Islands
Assigned a page of an atlas for a graduate class in graphic design at the Yale School of Art, Eric Nevin created a log of love letters to the islands of the sub-Antarctic. The writing charmed us and the history adds something to our understanding of this desolate part of the world.
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05.17.07: Jessica Helfand

Ad Reinhardt, Graphic Designer
Ad Reinhardt fretted about the meaning of life. He agonized about the purpose of painting. He questioned everyone, critiqued everything, and worked incessantly. In other words, he was a graphic designer.
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05.12.07: Michael Bierut

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Typeface
Why choose a particular typeface for a particular situation? Here are thirteen reasons.
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05.08.07: Michael Erard

Languages as Design Objects
According to new book by linguist David Harrison, "Languages can package knowledge in radically different ways, thus facilitating different ways of conceptualizing, naming, and discussing the world." If languages package information, can they be considered design objects?
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05.04.07: Alice Twemlow

The Bandwidth of Books
Publishers are publishing artists' work and the research and ideas generated from thinking about art. They are passionate about their missions, mostly locally focused and non-commercial in attitude. The quality of their work is often very high; their books well conceived and produced, and innovatively designed. But the question is, who is reading them?
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05.01.07: Andrew Blauvelt

Design's Ethnographic Turn
Although I've been thinking about ethnography and its relationship to design for many years, it still seemed significant that the subject warranted the publication and distribution of its own little booklet to every member of the AIGA. Does this mark some of turning point in the profession at large?
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05.01.07: John Thackara

What Will Sustainable Tourism Be Like? [May 2007]
Report on Mapping the Necklace in Durham, the Dott Design Camp, the second meeting of Doors 9, the Picture House exhibition in England, Creative Communities, and more.
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04.28.07: Teddy Blanks

Small Potatoes
"I am attaching a picture of the bag of your usually enjoyable "Cape Cod Potato Chips" that I bought today. The objects sitting beside the bag were its full contents. You will notice that these include a few soggy chips and a full, shriveled potato..."
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04.25.07: Thomas de Monchaux

What If Apple Is Bad for Design?
Every commentary on the ubiquity of the iPod, or on the divertingly near prospect of the Apple iPhone, seems to emphasize that what distinguishes Apple is something called "Design." Design, or a particular understanding of it, has been good for Apple. But is Apple good for design? What if the answer is no?
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04.22.07: Jessica Helfand

The New Manifest Destiny
When does a picture solidify a news story, and when does it merely sensationalize it? Decisions about words and pictures are made by editors and publishers, designers and photographers — but they are consumed by a public fully capable of an entire range of emotional responses. After this week's events at Virginia Tech, words and pictures do a poor job of communicating outrage and pain. And no amount of compositional ingenuity can reverse what happened.
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04.19.07: Jesse Nivens

In Search of Stock(y) Photography
That's right: in the alternate universe of stock photography, attactive people outnumber fat people 84 to one. As a culture, have we taken the idea of "overweight" and completely blocked it out?
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04.15.07: Steven Heller

The Nazi Triangle
Somewhere in the bowels of the Third Reich's bureaucracy a designer who belonged to the graphics "culture chamber," the representative, official body that sanctioned Nazi designers, produced the basic templates for these camp materials and then turned them over to skilled inmates to produce.
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04.11.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

Are JPEGs the New Album Covers?
An audio file with a thumbnail JPEG of the album cover will never have the resonance — not to mention the commercial value — of a well-made piece of packaging. But if the corporate providers of downloadable music have their way, this is the future of recorded music. Who ever had a love affair with a JPEG?
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04.10.07: William Drenttel

Julie Iovine

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04.09.07: William Drenttel

Koolhaas and His Omnipotent Masters
Koolhaas recounts the story: he chose between working on NYC's Ground Zero and the Beijing CCTV project based on a fortune cookie he was given at a Chinese restaurant — in it, the goofy prognostication "Stunningly Omnipresent Masters Make Minced Meat of Memory." Instead of responding to fortune cookies, Rem Koolhaas could have changed the world.
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04.08.07: Rob Walker

Back to Basics Egg & Muffin Toaster
In a recent issue of The M.I.T. Sloan Management Review, Michael Schrage, a business writer and an M.I.T. researcher, challenged what Bruce Greenwald, has said about the fate of all innovative technologies: “In the long run, everything is a toaster.”
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04.06.07: Michael Bierut

Our Little Secret
The documentary Helvetica premieres in a world where everyone knows how to do something that once only very few did: how to set type.
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04.03.07: Rick Poynor

Dancing to the Sound in Your Head
We might not appreciate advertising conducted like a saturation bombing campaign in public spaces. Yet now, to complicate things, the personal stereo is being used as a way of reasserting spontaneity, exuberance and passion in over-controlled public places.
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04.01.07: John Thackara

Food Systems: The Design Agenda [April 2007]
Report on Doors of Perception "Juice," David Kester's parliamentarian brief, Torin Geodesign, Dwell on Design: The Intelligent House, Dott's Explorer's Club, and more.
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03.29.07: Dmitri Siegel

The New New Typography
French design duo Vier5 make new typography. The author raises questions about modernism and typography.
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03.26.07: Jessica Helfand

Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook
Book cover designers are visual choreographers who frame miniature narratives in order to tease prospective readers into wanting more. Which often means showing less. Or not.
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03.22.07: William Drenttel

International Polar Year
In what may turn out to be the biggest international scientific project to date, an army of thousands of scientists will spend the next two years studying the Arctic and Antarctic as part of the International Polar Year, which officially begins this week.
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03.19.07: Michael Bierut

Good at Art
Growing up in the sixties, I couldn't throw or catch a baseball with authority, punch someone in the face, or shoplift. But I had something I could call my very own. I was good at art.
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03.18.07: Rob Walker

TV Land
Buying, selling, updating, restoring and “flipping” for quick profits — it all ran together, but I watched even when I couldn’t remember if the title of a certain show was “Flip This House” or “Flip That House.”
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03.16.07: Kurt Andersen

Heyday
Courtesy of the Kurt Andersen, Design Observer is pleased to present two excerpts from this new novel, Heyday,both involving the dazzling Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute). Portrayed is the tumultuous world of 1848 — and the beginnings of modern retailing, branding, trademarks and American commerce.
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03.14.07: Jessica Helfand

Art Director Ken
Art Director Ken is is a charmed, if mildly cautionary tale, for it brings to mind the potentially superficial nature in which we judge a person, an identity — indeed, an entire profession.
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03.12.07: Rob Giampietro

Comedy of Errors: Graphic Design on Wikipedia
A few weeks ago, in a moment of distracted curiousity, I decided to look up "graphic design" on Wikipedia.
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03.08.07: Dan Nadel

This is Not My Design Life Now
In the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's current triennial exhibition, Design Life Now, the selections in graphics and pop culture are conservative and long out-of-date. To Dan Nadel, 2006 looks a lot like 2000.
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03.06.07: Michael Bierut

Jean Baudrillard Dies

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03.04.07: Jessica Helfand

Lost, O Lost

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03.01.07: David Stairs

That (Other) 1970's: The Last King of Scotland
The Last King of Scotland, Kevin McDonald's film about Idi Amin's notorious presidency, opened in Uganda to great fanfare. The VIP screening took place at Kampala's Cineplex, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Forest Whitaker in attendance. The premiere was not targeted to the average Ugandan...
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02.19.07: Jessica Helfand

The Illusion of Certainty
Artist Allan McCollum aspires to an unprecedented scale with this "Shapes" project: his goal is to make enough shapes, assuming a population of approximately 9.1 billion by the year 2050, so that everyone on the planet can have one. Shapes aside, what's truly fascinating is the idea of the system: what is it about them that we hate to love and love to hate?
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02.16.07: Michael Bierut

Cheap Music and Commercial Art
You wouldn't know it from Dreamgirls, but Motown staff songwriters Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland were examples of how art is created under pressure.
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02.12.07: Jessica Helfand

I'm Not Ready to Make Nice

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02.05.07: Adrian Shaughnessy

"I Sold My Soul And I Love It"
The current issue of Creative Review is "guest edited" by hip British advertising agency Mother. The theme, suggested by Mother, is I Sold My Soul And I Love It — a vastly contradictory statement, but one that invites debate over what it means to work in visual communication."
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02.01.07: Dmitri Siegel

Interface Space
Contemporary artists make physical versions of interface elements.
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02.01.07: John Thackara

Special "Do It" Edition [February 2007]
Report on the Doors of Perception 9 conference, accountability of politicians to recognize sustainable regions, the Necklace Park, the Dott 07 student design challenge, Dott 07 design camp, and more.
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01.26.07: David Cabianca

Why History? Why Bother
Architects list accomplishments in their biographies: the names of building projects, completed and uncompleted; competitions entered, winning or nonwinning entries. Graphic designers provide client lists. Why?
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01.23.07: Michael Bierut

Speech, Speech
The State of the Union Address is tonight. Messages, big ideas, careful details, second-guessing, refinements and revisions, anonymity: graphic design has a lot in common with political speechwriting. What kind of client do you suppose the President is?
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01.19.07: Jessica Helfand

The Karaoke Effect
The lure of American Idol, in these early weeks, lies in precisely this shaky space: that illusory bubble populated by thousands of fame-seekers who fervently believe in their own righteous, if highly fictional talent. It's cultural fallout. Just as the karaoke singer imagines him or herself live and in concert before the screaming fans, so, too, does the illusion persist once the microphone is turned off.
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01.16.07: Michael Bierut

The It Factor
In their 1983 book Quintessence: The Quality of Having It, Owen Edwards and Betty Cornfeld created an elegant and influential treatise in what makes something the real thing, a lesson that Steve Jobs has obviously absorbed.
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01.13.07: Michael Erard

Word Made Flesh
The forgotten discipline of sentence diagramming forces the structure of language to wear the clothes of images. A sentence diagram is less a map than a portrait, and in this vaudeville language is painted, corsetted and trussed.
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01.07.07: Rob Walker

Unconsumption
Getting new stuff can feel really good. Most everybody knows that. Most everybody also knows — that utility can fade, pleasure can be fleeting and the whole thought-that-counts thing is especially ephemeral.
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01.02.07: Thomas de Monchaux

Another Organicism at the National Design Triennial
Certain items on display at the current Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006 survey seem less like untouchable artifacts than the useful leavings of a thoughtful host. New organic practices may be a robust form of the domestic arts emerging in design discourse: the craft, the science, and the art of making oneself at home.
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01.01.07: John Thackara

Mapping the Necklace [January 2007]
Report on Doors of Perception conference "Juice: Food, Energy, Design," global food systems, Mediawalla Festival (MWF), Dott 07, the Move Me! project, and more.
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12.29.06: Alissa Walker

War Is Over! If You Want It
When the star of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is asked by a reporter what he thinks Nixon should do to end the Vietnam War, Lennon stares incredulously into the camera. "He should declare peace." As if this was the most obvious solution in the world.
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12.20.06: Michael Bierut

Now You See It
There was a message hidden in the illustration on the cover of the New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago. At least I think it was hidden. Did you see it? Why didn't I?
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12.17.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Pet Shop Boys — A Flawless Vision
During the past two decades, the Pet Shop Boys have developed a "brand image" that is nearly flawless. Other bands have moments of brilliance — the occasional great album cover or music video — but PSB pull it off repeatedly.
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12.15.06: Jessica Helfand

The Not-So-Golden Age of Zero Tolerance
When I was a student, the assignments and their expected outcomes were intentionally conceived as chore-like, specific and frankly, narrow. This was the age of zero tolerance: deviation from a designated format was neither an approved approach nor an acceptable method. Today, the opposite is more likely to be true: a student who does not expand his or her approach to a project is strongly encouraged to do so.
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12.11.06: Michael Bierut

The Graphic Glass Ceiling
A week ago, I was the moderator of a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y with Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers. Afterwards, someone asked, "Why do you — all three of you — suppose there are so few female graphic designers — or at least so few female 'superstar' graphic designers?" There was a moment of uncomfortable silence. What would your answer be?
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12.04.06: Dmitri Siegel

M...O...T...I...O...N
The work of directors PES and Kris Moyes leads to a discussion of the history of stop motion animation.
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11.29.06: The Editors

2006 Holiday Reading List
The holidays are always a great time to catch up with reading, and to make gifts to friends and relatives. We've put together a list of some of our favorite books...
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11.27.06: Jessica Helfand

How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe
Pixar and Animal Logic have mastered a particularly persuasive (and as it turns out, rather literal) form of spin that makes Road Runner look like dryer lint.
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11.20.06: Michael Bierut

New House
In 1967, just after my tenth birthday, we moved from a cramped 1940s bungalow in an older Cleveland suburb to up-and-coming Parma, Ohio. I had been walking the earth for a full decade, but that fall I felt I was finally assuming my birthright as an American: a brand new house.
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11.17.06: Jessica Helfand

Into the Pink
Co-opting a color and making it your own.
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11.15.06: Michael Bierut

Onserved: CR on Alan Fletcher

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11.14.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Listomania
The English design group Spin has produced a publication called 50 Reading Lists, which allows the reader the double pleasure of admiring the handsome presentation of 50 lists, as well as the chance to study the reading habits of 50 graphic designers.
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11.08.06: Jessica Helfand

What Makes A Good Poster?
From Nineteenth Century broadsides to Paula Scher's posters for The Public Theatre, the history of the poster is the history of modern civilization. So why are academics so hell-bent on poster board and bad typography? Why don't they ask us for help?
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11.01.06: William Drenttel

Polling Place Photo Project
The Polling Place Photo Project seeks to advance innovation in citizen journalism by documenting local voter experiences during the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, November 7...
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11.01.06: John Thackara

Stern, Monbiot, and the Tasks of Design [November 2006]
Report on global food systems, George Monbiot, climate change economics, the competition to design a stuff-o-meter, the problem with new flatscreen TVs, and more.
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10.29.06: Michael Erard

The G Word
Google has launched an effort to keep people from using their name as an all-purpose verb. Don't want to be evil? Then don't act as if you can win if you constrain the creative productivity of language.
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10.26.06: William Drenttel

Silk Road Typography
"This is the Silk Road at its worst: a kind of PC 1990s where each and every interest has to be fairly represented — a letter for every voice. The result is Babel, seven discordant voices singing in the wind." Commentary on new European Union 50th anniversary logo, and a look back at the 100th anniversary logo for the New York Public Library.
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10.22.06: Jessica Helfand

My Cup Holder Runneth Over
When we're not hiding behind our nail-technician-primed hands, drinking our barrista-blended beverages, IMing, text-messaging, and push-button withdrawing more money from the ATM to pay for all of these things, who are we?
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10.19.06: David Stairs

Charles Eames Among the Bullrushes
What interests me is the tendency for even uneducated Ugandans to observe and learn from their surrounding world, a fundamental hallmark of design thinking.
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10.15.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Graphic Design vs. Illustration
Graphic design's ability to deliver explicit messages makes it a major (if little recognised) force in the modern world: it is embedded in the commercial infrastructure. Illustration, on the other hand, with its woolly ambiguity and its allusive ability to convey feeling and emotion, makes it too dangerous to be allowed to enter the corporate bloodstream. Our visual lives are the poorer for this.
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10.12.06: Michael Bierut

What's That Crashing Sound, Or, Eisenman in Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture and Art, DAA, DAAP, Ivory Soap, Proctor & Gamble, P&G, Clifton, Louis Kahn, Crosley Tower, Pruitt-Igoe, le Corbusier, Paul Rudolph, TaB, Jay Chatterjee, George Hargreaves and Associates, Michael Graves, Harry Cobb, Henry Cobb, Pei Cobb Fried, College Conservatory of Music, Frank Gehry, Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, Thom Mayne, Peter Eisenman, The Aronoff Center for Design and Art,School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Wexner Center, New York Times, Paul Goldberger, Monacelli Press, Esther Bridavsky, Asya Palatova, Sarah Whiting, Kurt Forster, Silvia Kolbowski, Jeffrey Kipnis, Frank Gehry
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10.09.06: Michael Bierut

Vinyl Fetish
This past weekend, I went down in the basement and brought up three heavy boxes of records that hadn't seen the light of day in more than 20 years. A meditation on the joys of vinyl.
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10.07.06: Sue Nguyen

What I Did Last Summer
My Summer Job at McSweeney's: in terms of what I made, I got to work on a Believer cover (the games issue), scan a million photos of a senior citizen working in a mental hospital, add drop shadows to fan letters to Ray Charles, and design workshop certificates for the kids. All in all I had a great summer.
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10.01.06: Dmitri Siegel

More Rules
The artwork for Beck's new album The Information immediately brings to mind the work of Sol LeWitt and the question of where the creative act is situated: in making the work or making the rules.
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10.01.06: John Thackara

Juice, Fat, and Homeland Security [October 2006]
Report on Doord of Perception scholarships, Dott 07 schools projects, Joe Heapy's Journey to the Interface, the Dott 07 stuff-o-meter competition, McDonald's scannable food, and more.
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09.29.06: William Drenttel

Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing
In partnership with AIGA, we launched the Winterhouse Writing Awards for Design and Criticism, an initiative to increase the appreciation of design — by recognizing new voices in design criticism and commentary. Here are the 2006 recipients.
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09.27.06: Michael Bierut

Alan Fletcher: Living by Design
Remembering the late British designer Alan Fletcher, who once said, "I treat clients as raw material to do what I want to do, though I would never tell them that." For him, design was not a profession or a craft, but a life.
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09.24.06: Michael Bierut

The Golden Age of American Commercialism
The encroachment of commercialism into everyday life seems like a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Yet around one hundred years ago, America began a romance with salesmanship that today seems almost delirious. A 1922 business directory shows how great crass commercialism used to look.
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09.21.06: Jessica Helfand

Death 'N' Stuff
Smoking Kills: The label days it all. Or does it? Once the allegedly chilling skull and crossbones is marketed as a decorative pattern on a silk bowtie, its credibility as an mark of peril seems, well, somewhat questionable, begging the question: have we become so bored by life that we've inadvertently become inured to death?
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09.19.06: DJ Stout

Remembering Ann Richards
To create the famous Texas Monthly cover of Governor Ann Richards astride a Harley, art director DJ Stout used a body double. "For many years, I would run into Ann Richards at my favorite Mexican food lunch spot in downtown Austin and she would always thank me for giving her such a 'sexy body.'"
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09.16.06: Kenneth Krushel

The Face Of Oblivion
Faces on supermarket packaging conform to a research-based "psychographic" that hasn't essentially changed in more than two decades. What is it about our self-image that identifies, at least on a consumer basis, with such fictional, even farcical lifestyles?
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09.13.06: Tom Vanderbilt

Small Worlds
One of the first things I like to do upon visiting a new city is to visit the scale-model version of itself. From Havana to Copenhagen, I've hunted down these miniature metropolises in dusty historical museums and under-visited exhibition halls. Surely one reason for their ineluctable allure is that simple Olympian sense of being able to consume as large as entity as Beijing or New York in a single eyeful.
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09.09.06: Michael Bierut

This is My Process
Designers often describe our work processes in terms that are dated and ill-suited for the activities that we actually undertake. Is there a model for the way that artists work that would be intelligible in a business context?
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09.04.06: Jessica Helfand

Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here
Working with Florence Knol, Lucille McGinnis convinced her husband, Patrick B. McGinnis, that the New Haven Railroad needed a new logo. Enter Herbert Matter, Swiss-born designer, photographer and Yale professor whose own education was framed by apprenticeships with Cassandre, Leger and Le Corbusier.
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09.01.06: John Thackara

War as a Brand [September 2006]
Report on Doors of Perception 9, conference at the India Habitat Centre, service design principles, transfering knowledge from media labs, Picnic in Amsterdam, and more.
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08.29.06: William Drenttel

What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon?
But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, Half.com was hot. And it did something quite remarkable. As a publicity stunt, it bought a town and renamed it. Someplace in Oregon. I wondered what ever happened to Half.com, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?
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08.27.06: Rob Giampietro

On Arranging Books by Color
The central issue in arranging books, as Georges Perec warms us, is that "None of these classifications systems is satisfactory by itself," and he is right. But one idea from his list, "ordering by color," seems to be gathering a small following of late, particularly among the visually-inclined.
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08.23.06: Michael Bierut

Helmut Krone, Period.
One of the greatest designers that ever lived was an advertising art director: Doyle Dane Bernbach's Helmut Krone. A new book celebrates his life and work.
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08.20.06: Jessica Helfand

The Ovalization of The American Mind
Ovals — emancipated from circular restriction, freed of rectangular rigidity — are a perfect metaphor for the way we live now. They're out of shape and flabby, non-committal and generic — like sensible shoes, practical and monotonous and dull.
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08.17.06: Dmitri Siegel

World 6.0: Same as the Old World?
Edward Castronova's recent book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games sheds some light on the increasingly tangled relationship between MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) and the game of life.
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08.14.06: William Drenttel

Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.
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08.11.06: Jessica Gladstone

WHTARQT!* (Vanity, Thy Name Is Virginia)
The State of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles boasts more than 180 customized license plate designs, more than any other state in the nation.
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08.08.06: Michael Bierut

The Road to Hell, Part Two: That Elusive Silver Bullet
An online offer to teach anyone to do graphic designer raises the ultimate question: can we conclusively prove the value of design to the general public? We can't? Now what?
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08.03.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Living Without The Internet
The "community" that I find on the internet is the communality of shared enthusiasms for marginalised subjects.
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07.28.06: Jessica Helfand

A Good Pan Is Hard To Find
On baking a cheesecake and becoming a better designer: it's one big balancing act of artistry and skill.
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07.25.06: Rick Perlstein

What is Conservative Culture?
Ask a conservative activist to explain what anchors and unites their fractious movement, and he will point to ideas. They will not mention the extraordinary role the development of a self-contained and self-conscious conservative culture played in transforming the politics of the United States.
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07.23.06: Dmitri Siegel

Please CARE
CARE is a four-step process for learning design. Building a strong process is the best way to prepare students for the complex, collaborative work of the designer.
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07.20.06: Jessica Helfand

The Global Curse of Comic Sans
In this coastal region slung just below the Pyrenees, one might expect to see evidence of the enduring cultural tensions between Spain and Catalonia — different kinds of signs or symbols, for instance â€" but on the surface at least, no such rift is exposed. Instead, Catalonia clings to a visual language that celebrates the goofy: this is a country awash in Comic Sans.
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07.17.06: Michael Bierut

Where the Happy People Go
The ferociously positive letters column in Architectural Digest magazine demonstrates that design can make people almost unnervingly happy.
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07.14.06: William Drenttel

Move It Down . . . A Little to the Right
That some years ago, some poor sign installer went to put the first letter of the name of the museum up on the wall, and someone screamed, "No, you idiot! Lower! Much Lower! Get it down close to the edge. And a quarter-inch to the right." That the building is the Guggenheim Museum, and that the architect was Frank Lloyd Wright, makes this photographic detail especially interesting.
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07.10.06: Michael Bierut

Regrets Only
Five graphic designers have chosen to boycott a breakfast at the White House for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards. A principled stand or an empty gesture?
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07.07.06: Jessica Helfand

The Right Stuff
Prada is yet another in a long line of stories in which posessions loom large, at once shining beacons of material success and wagging fingers of moral turpitude. When will we have enough stuff?
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07.05.06: Lorraine Wild

Wassup, Beatrice
I've heard endless definitions and descriptions of graphic design: I can recite them all, and on any given day I can identify with one essentialism over another: e.g., "Today, I'm a conceptualizer." I can even be swayed by the argument that, in fact, we work in a moment when graphic design is devolving as a practice identifiable by any common standards. It makes me think of a woman who I have always found completely annoying in her assuredness — Beatrice Warde.
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07.03.06: Jessica Helfand

Absolut Signage
I'm deeply in touch with my inner schoolmarm, particularly when it involves typos set in stone — or in this case, emblazoned in metal. I call it: Absolut Boo-Boo.
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07.01.06: John Thackara

Doors 9 on "Juice" Call for Projects [July 2006]
Report on Doors of Perception 9 call for project case studies, doctor-patient interactions, the Aspen Design Summit, the Young Foundation's manifesto, Desins of the Time Explorers Club, and more.
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06.29.06: Jessica Helfand

Crafting All The Way To The Bank
Craft is a tricky word. When we feel ourselves pulled in by the unforgiving vortex of digitized everything, we plead for craft, throwing it out like a life preserver — a desperate appeal to the forgotten soul. In those moments, it becomes a metaphor for a kind of imperiled humanity. But what about craft, we ask?
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06.27.06: Dmitri Siegel

Designing Our Own Graves
What will be the role of the designer in a truly do-it-yourself economy? The more that our economy runs on people doing-it-themselves, the more people will demand opportunities to do so, and the more graphic designers will have to adapt their methods.
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06.25.06: Kenneth Krushel

A Talisman of Prosperity
The Edelweiss, and its architectural brethren down the road, might be found anywhere: from a Philadelphia suburb to the outskirts of Frankfurt. Eclectic and dense — and prone to decorative excess — this new international style is everywhere. Even, it seems, in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
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06.22.06: Michael Bierut

The Mysterious Power of Context
Some of the most effective graphic design is neutral and open ended, and acquires its effectiveness only through use and association. Is it possible to anticipate the power of context in design?
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06.20.06: Rob Giampietro

Kafka & Typography
For many, including myself, "The Trees" is about typography, and, in its first sentence, Kafka lets letters speak directly to the reader themselves: "we are like tree trunks in the snow." Picture a field after a recent snowfall. Think of the straight, almost runic lines of the fallen boughs. Approaching them, they seem like characters from an unused alphabet.
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06.16.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Werner Herzog and the Deeper Truth
For hardcore cineastes — and bug-eyed amateur movie buffs like me — DVD audio tracks are an invention of Guttenburgian proportions. Few technological advances in the realm of art and culture can equal the joy afforded by an articulate and perceptive commentary specially prepared to accompanying a movie.
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06.14.06: Michael Bierut

My Phone Call to Arnold Newman
Michael Bierut remembers a 25-year-old phone conversation with the late photographer Arnold Newman.
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06.12.06: William Drenttel

The Red Hand : A Graphic History
I keep thinking about the red hand. Where did this graphic metaphor come from? The many uses of the red-hand — it's metaphorically rich and graphic history — remind me that symbols do have meaning. Whatever I think of Congresswoman Nancy Johnson here in northwestern Connecticut, I don't think she got caught red-handed, whether in a cookie jar or pie or pool of blood. This is a bad use of an historical symbol, and trashy politics as well.
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06.10.06: The Editors

Redesign of Design Observer
We are pleased to present a new design for Design Observer.
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06.08.06: Lawrence Weschler

Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold
Hey, maybe that's the ticket for McSweeney's: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! What then to make of this month's cover of Vanity Fair? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, may be an occasion for some serious concern.
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06.04.06: Michael Bierut

The Road to Hell: Now Paved with Innovation?
A new magazine from Business Week on design and innovation was created through an unpaid competition. If this is innovation, to hell with it.
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06.01.06: Jessica Helfand

"Oui, Oui, Oui" All The Way Home
On a sweltering day last August, my daughter and I embarked with a friend on a 6-day tour of Paris: Kid Paris, the Paris of candy stores and carousels and more than a few weird new ice cream flavors.
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05.31.06: The Editors

Design Observer @ 10,000,000 Party
Design Observer began in October 2003, and thirty-two months and over four hundred posts later, we are fortunate to have an ever-growing audience of readers and participants. This week we have reached a new traffic plateau — 10,000,000 cumulative site visits. Come celebrate Design Observer @ 10,000,000 on Tuesday, June 13. Party from 7:00pm - 10:00pm at The Delancey Bar & Nightclub: 168 Delancey (between Clinton and Attorney streets), Lower East Side, New York City. Rooftop open-air views. Cash bar and $5.00 BBQ.
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05.25.06: Justin Good

What is Beauty? Or, On the Aesthetics of Wind Farms
What is beauty and how does it relate to ecology? A look at contrasting aesthetic intuitions about wind farms reveals a paradigm shift in how we understand beauty.
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05.19.06: Michael Bierut

Eight-and-a-Half by Eleven
An installation of over 10,000 tiled pieces 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper redeems what has often been dismissed as a banal graphic format.
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05.18.06: Julie Lasky

The Photography of Mark Robbins
Mark Robbins' Households is a collection of portraits in which the sitters are sometimes sitting rooms (or kitchens or bedrooms), and the people are polished, draped, and arrayed like furniture. Composed to resemble architectural plans or elevations — or in some cases the triptychs of medieval altarpieces — the images represent home dwellers and their environments. Flesh, bone, brick, stone, contoured torsos, and varnished chairs assume equal status. The message is simple: You may not be what you eat, but you most certainly are where you live.
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05.14.06: Alissa Walker

Why Scientology is Good for Hollywood
If you live where I do, in the actual city of Hollywood, just a few blocks away from where the Oscars are held, you see the Church of Scientology as somewhat of a savior. Within a two-mile corridor along Hollywood Boulevard, the Church owns eight historic buildings, four of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. In a neighborhood where architectural triumphs evaporate with little remorse, Scientology is the most ardent preservationist force in town.
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05.11.06: Michael Bierut

I Am a Plagiarist
Plagiarism is a hot topic in the world of publishing, What does it mean in the world of design? Michael Bierut pleads guilty.
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05.09.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

We're All Stellar Designers, Now
When it comes to ads aimed at designers, advertisers are targeting an audience that will look at their ads with hypercritical and informed eyes. They'll sniff out the half-baked, the clichéd, and the patronising. Or will they?
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05.04.06: Dmitri Siegel

It Takes a Nation of Lawyers to Hold Us Back
When the Smithsonian Institution recently announced a deal with Showtime to create a joint venture called Smithsonian Networks, documentary filmmakers and free-speech advocates were outraged by the prospect of a single corporation having exclusive rights to a public trust. This Smithsonian/Showtime arrangement demonstrates how thorny intellectual property and copyright law has become.
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05.01.06: John Thackara

Announcing Doors 9 and 10 [May 2006]
Report on Doors of Perception "Juice," Doors of Perception 10, The Young Foundation manifesto, monitoring a region's vital signs in real time, the Aspen Design Summit, and more.
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04.30.06: Jessica Helfand

Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.
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04.26.06: Tom Vanderbilt

Wacky Packages of the Global Economy
Why had this one-time Wacky Package, decades after the fact, landed in North Africa (I would later learn you can buy Crust in Libya as well) as a knockoff? Who was behind this strange bit of design deception? Welcome to the funhouse-mirror-lined vortices of the global economy: The Knockoff Zone.
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04.24.06: Willis Regier

In Remembrance of Richard Eckersley
Richard Eckersley died on April 16, having given the best years of his life to establishing the importance of high-quality book design for university presses. Here, a remembrance by Willis Regier, director of the University of Illinois Press.
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04.23.06: Rob Walker

Animal Pragmatism
A critter label is any label that features an animal. According to ACNielsen, 438 table-wine brands have been introduced in the past three years, and 18 percent — feature an animal on the label.
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04.21.06: Jessica Helfand

The Art of Thinking Through Making

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04.18.06: William Drenttel

Weather Report: 53 Degrees F. Heavy Snowfall Predicted
The weather is fucked up. "Science is a way of making sense of the world. Design is a way of making the world make sense."
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04.17.06: Mark Lamster

Return of the Prodigal Son
Can Alexander Brodsky reinvent Russian architecture?
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04.11.06: Jessica Helfand

The Propensity for Density
It's like design's been on a diet and finally gets to eat that giant cheesecake: shifting notches on the belt buckle, we're so happy for the sugar high that we don't realize we're slipping. And slipping we are.
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04.06.06: Michael Bierut

When Design is a Matter of Life or Death
When structural engineer William LeMessurier realized that his work on Manhattan's Citicorp Center was flawed, he was faced with a choice: he could keep quiet and gamble with thousands of lives, or he could speak up. What would you do?
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04.04.06: Jessica Helfand

A Sequence in Time
01:02:03 04/05/06 This number sequence in time will not occur again until 2106.
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04.03.06: William Drenttel

Meet Me in St. Louis: The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts makes the radical assumption that the experience of art is about contemplation. Take your time. You are alone here. The light will change if you stay long enough.
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04.01.06: John Thackara

Design Transformation [April 2006]
Report on an emerging design discipline, a British government report about Intelligent Infrastructures Futures, decision support tools, the Aspen Design Summit, robots for elderly people, and more.
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03.28.06: Kenneth Krushel

Santa Fe Diarist
But there seem to be equally vigorous efforts to commercialize this distant past in Santa Fe, embracing a design esthetic that advertises itself as the "essence" of what had been thought to be lost. Then, in re-introducing this historical narrative, an efficient assembly line manufactures it into a commercially lucrative design creed.
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03.18.06: Michael Bierut

Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content
Design is that it is almost always about something else. The more things you're interested in, the better your work will be.
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03.16.06: Lawrence Weschler

Languorous Bodyscapes
"The long, languid spread of her body makes the first and most lasting impression." And more on these sorts of landscape-bodyscape slippages by this seasoned The New Yorker writer, and recent author of Everything That Rises : A Book of Convergences.
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03.12.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Google and the Tyranny of Good Design
The Google logo — that scrap of oddball typography — is perhaps the most famous piece of graphic design in the world today. In its own small way, it's a little beacon of insurrection, in a world where graphic designers have become the agents of conformity.
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03.09.06: Dmitri Siegel

Broadcast vs. Broadband
Viral video is on the rise, spreading from broadband to broadcast and back again. What are the opportunities for designers in this new genre?
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03.05.06: Rob Walker

Original Tastemaker
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced a 650-home community near Raleigh, N.C., designed and built in a collaboration between Stewart and KB Home, a builder of residential houses.
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03.02.06: Jessica Helfand

Give Me Privacy or Give Me an ID Card
The proposed National ID Card further blurs the line between the privacy and full disclosure of personal data in the public domain. It's the Card's design that appears the final string that may either secure our rights as individuals or rip them apart.
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03.01.06: John Thackara

Utopias by Design? [March 2006]
Report on In the Bubble: Designing in A Complex World, a CustomerMade conference, car sharing, P.M.'s Bolo Bolo, Wayne A. Lemmon's defense of sprawl, and more.
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02.26.06: Michael Bierut

The Persistence of the Exotic Menial
25 years ago, writer Ralph Caplan said that designers are exotic menials: exotic because of the presumed mystery inherent in what we do, and menial because whatever we do is required only for relatively low-level objectives. Has anything changed since then?
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02.23.06: Julie Iovine

Dwelling on Dwellings

Julie Iovine wonders why so much fuss is made about fancy condominium apartment buildings that will be occupied by so few people.


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02.20.06: George W. Bush

I Don't Know Much About Designing Rugs
George W. Bush: I'll never forget the first decision I had to make as the president. I wasn't even sworn in yet and a fellow called me on the phone and he said: "What color of rug do you want to have in the Oval Office?"
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02.19.06: Rob Walker

The Story of O's
More than 60 years ago, CheeriOats were introduced to a cereal aisle far less abundant with choices than the one we know today. Cheerios — the shortened name, as of 1945 — remains a powerhouse.
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02.16.06: Jessica Helfand

What We Talk About When We Talk About Design History
At the end of the day, being a design historian means being observant and fearless, stubborn and driven, principled, passionate and anything but lazy. It means going where you have to go to get what you need.
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02.12.06: Michael Bierut

Design by Committee
"Design by committee" is usually thought to be a bad thing, but it has produced one great piece of architecture, the United Nations Headquarters Building.
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02.05.06: Jessica Helfand

Separated at Birth: Method? Or Madness?
Karim Rashid's method© cleaner is strikingly similar to that of a discount depot: coincidental congruousness?
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02.02.06: Jessica Helfand

Freedom of Speech or Filching of Style? The New Law of Eminent Lo-Mein
DIY design invading typography terrain: culture-jamming in the domains of freedom of speech, pharmaceutics, and pop-culture.
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02.01.06: John Thackara

If Pigs Could Fly... [February 2006]
Report on welfare and care systems seminar in Helsinki, KM3 from MVRDV, "emotional design," building regulations, sustainable transportation, and more.
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01.29.06: Jessica Helfand

The D Word
HGTV's sunny splendor of twenty-seven minute remodels and inexhaustible inspiration: fodder for the DIY devotee.
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01.26.06: Rob Giampietro

What Design Really Needs is a Good Scandal
Looking at the new I.D. Forty design awards through the lens of scandal -- and James English's outstanding, The Economy of Prestige.
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01.22.06: Michael Bierut

Wilson Pickett, Design Theorist, 1942 - 2006
Wilson Pickett's advice on hitmaking, "Harmonize, then customize," would make good advice for any designer.
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01.19.06: Adrian Shaughnessy

Robert Brownjohn and The Big Idea

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01.15.06: Michael Bierut

In Praise of Slow Design
Is there a such a thing as slow graphic design? A look at 80 years of barely perceptible design changes at The New Yorker.
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01.08.06: Jessica Helfand

Civilian Typography: The Power and The Fury
Without a cell phone, or in a flood, or barred from public transportation, the thing that separates human beings from the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate verbally. If we can't do that, we do it graphically. When all else fails, the pen isn't just mightier than the sword: it is the sword.
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01.01.06: Mark Lamster

Seeing Red
Red Bogart blamed technology and changing attitudes for the reason he sold Camp Tomahawk, but Mark Lamster knew there was something more to the story.
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01.01.06: John Thackara

The Diminishing Spaces of Childhood [January 2006]
Report on Designs of the Time (DOTT), Henry Jenkins's essay on the changing spaces of childhood, KM3 by MVRDV, Sweden's indepenence from oil, Building Schools for the Future (BSF) in England and more.<
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12.29.05: Michael Bierut

The Unbearable Lightness of Fred Marcellino
Remembering Fred Marcellino, the designer and illustrator who dominated the look of quality fiction dustjackets in the 1980s.
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12.24.05: Jessica Helfand

Calling All Angels
In the spirit of angels: an exploration of their various iterations and their presence today
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12.19.05: Adrian Shaughnessy

Charles Dickens and The BBC
Who would have guessed that a BBC costume drama would provide us with Exhibit-A in the defense's case — that a mass audience can be engaged without pandering to base instincts?
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12.16.05: Jessica Helfand

Face Value
Facial transplants mapping our future: how much is the world of design responsible?
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12.11.05: Dmitri Siegel

Bartleby™
In his classic story of Wall Street, Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville recounts the tale of a humble copyist employed by the story's narrator. Could Bartleby's perfectly crafted refrain be the appropriate response to a world where every choice and configuration has been designed?
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12.03.05: The Editors

2005 Holiday Reading List
The Holidays are always a great time to catch up with reading, and to make gifts to friends and relatives. We've put together a list of some of our favorite books — recent and not so recent. We hope you enjoy them.
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12.01.05: Jessica Helfand

Cease and Design
Where graphic design education is concerned, more doing and less asking is necessary.
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12.01.05: John Thackara

Designs of the Time (DOTT) [December 2005]
Report on the beginnings of Designs of the Time (Dott), Doors of Perception in Seoul, the Art Center Design Conference series, the Urband Eyes project, disposable diapers and more.
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11.27.05: Lorraine Wild

Think Regional, Act Annual
Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the Print Magazine's "2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:
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11.20.05: Michael Bierut

Innovation is the New Black
Innovation is the latest buzzword to overtake the design profession. What does it mean?
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11.17.05: William Drenttel

David Hughes: Caricaturist of Our Time
But my favorite, in recent years, is the British illustrator David Hughes. I yearn for his drawings, look for them in my favorite publications, and save them whenever and wherever I find them.
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11.10.05: Rick Poynor

Emigre: An Ending
Issue 69 of Emigre will be the last. In its heyday, it was the most consistently interesting design publication produced by anyone, anywhere. By 1990, it was one of those magazines you simply had to get hold of and read straight away.
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11.06.05: Michael Bierut

Designing Twyla Tharp's Upper Room
Jennifer Tipton's lighting design for Twyla Tharp's dance piece, In the Upper Room, creates a magical experience for the audience and brings her often unseen art to the foreground.
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11.03.05: Jessica Helfand

On Considering the Source
As primary sources of inspiration in art become a rarified reality, one is forced to wonder where are the original, the unmediated and the pure, sans cliche?
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11.01.05: John Thackara

Food Journeys [November 2005]
Report on Beyond Green, RED's Future Currents project, Contested Streets, Tom Peters, Bruce Sterling's Shaping Things and more.
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10.29.05: Michael Bierut

The Final Days of AT&T
The acquisition of AT&T by SBC will result in, among other things, the retirement of one of Saul Bass's most well-known logos. Does anyone care?
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10.27.05: Jessica Helfand

The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia
Placing Nostalgia: where in the design landscape does it fit? And should it be included in the first place?
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10.24.05: Michael Bierut

The Great Non-Amber-Colored Hope
A student design for a prescription pill bottle takes a metoric rise to mass production and becomes an instant icon in the world of graphic design.
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10.13.05: Michael Bierut

Looking for Celebration, Florida
An assessment of Celebration, Florida, a town built by the Walt Disney Company on "New Urbanist" planning principles in its tenth anniversary year.
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10.09.05: Alexandra Lange

Married with Tchotchkes
For many design-obsessed couples registering at Moss requires more strategy than playing the stock market.
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10.06.05: Jessica Helfand

On Citizenship and Humanity: An Appeal for Design Reform
Ruminations on the Citizen Designer: A human first, a designer second, but most importantly, one who responds to collective cultural needs.
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10.01.05: John Thackara

Design and Risk [October 2005]
Report on 'SAFE: Design Takes On Risks' at the MoMA, global export of weapons, natural disasters, Matchmaking in Norway, tourism in Barcelona, and more.
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09.30.05: Adrian Shaughnessy

"Can you make the type bigger?"

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09.25.05: Rick Poynor

Where Are the Design Critics?
There is no reason why design criticism shouldn’t take an oppositional view of design's instrumental uses and its social role, but few design writers seem motivated to produce this kind of criticism.
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09.22.05: Lorraine Wild

Decorum, RIP
Mid-century modern is associated — especially in California — with an easier time, a more casual lifestyle: it's the spatial expression of a loosening of Depression-era habits. We associate restraint with the style of the mid-century, but the contemporary interpretation of that restraint is to connect it to a sort of visual minimalism.
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09.19.05: Rick Poynor

The Guardian's New European Look
The Guardian's choice of the "Berliner" format, half-way between broadsheet and tabloid, is an inspired alternative. The paper is the first British title to adopt this European page size. Elegant, well-proportioned pages make its tabloid rivals look like poor relations.
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09.11.05: Michael Bierut

Four Years After
After four years of ambiguity and contention and the World Trade Center site, Ellsworth Kelly's 2003 proposal seems wiser than ever.
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09.10.05: William Drenttel

Katrina: Designer News & Resources (09.10 Update)
This updates our efforts to support relief initiatives for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
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09.08.05: William Drenttel

Katrina: Designer News & Resources (09.08 Update)
This post is an archive of news and resources to help designers devastated by Hurricane Katrina from the New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf States area.
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09.01.05: Jessica Helfand

Eye of the Storm
A re-entrance into the world: Following Hurricane Katrina, how should design continue?
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09.01.05: John Thackara

On Time [September 2005]
Report on building a 'Cellular Church,' MediaLab, natural disasters, flooding in India, Project Lifeline and more.
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08.29.05: Michael Bierut

You May Already Be a Winner
Are graphic design competitions worthwhile?
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08.25.05: Kenneth Fitzgerald

Martin Venezky's Beautiful Melancholy
Kenneth FitzGerald assesses the work of Martin Venezky and his new monography, praising his ability to "summon a particular, subtle mood that is unique in design."
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08.23.05: William Drenttel

Reading the News & Charting Death
The potential for terrorism is not a chart I can make in my head. The numbers are there, but the design alludes me.
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08.20.05: Rick Poynor

Sublime Little Tubes of Destruction
In a culture otherwise swamped with unregulated branding, the graphic counter-attack on the cigarette packet, on its visual integrity as a design and its brand equity, normally regarded as commercially sacrosanct, is a remarkable sight to behold. In Europe, in the US and around the world, outsized health warnings in ugly typography now disfigure and subvert the best efforts of the brands' designers to embody the fast-fading allure of the cigarette.
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08.16.05: Michael Bierut

Every New Yorker is a Target
The latest New Yorker magazine has only one advertiser: Target. The effect is disorienting.
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08.12.05: Jessica Helfand

A Mosaic of Vision and Memory
Language, in the service of the visual, is a conceptual catalyst: and in Umberto Eco's latest book, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, words meet pictures in a captivating and indeed, an astonishing way.
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08.07.05: Tom Vanderbilt

The Darwinian iPod
But for the sake of a late summer day's argument, I wonder what the Intelligent Design "controversy" would look like in the world of design.
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08.05.05: William Drenttel

Small Town Meetings
Zoning regulations are how a town designs its future. They determine what kind of development is encouraged, and what kind is discouraged. In Meetings, Paul Shambroom visited 150 local government meetings in 32 states. The photographs are remarkable in presenting the physical details by which towns gather to determine how they live.
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08.05.05: The Editors

Notice To Our Readers

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08.04.05: Adrian Shaughnessy

Self-Initiated House Music
It is perhaps stretching definitions to say that Julian House has become a musician, but with the help of sampling technology and an array of digital audio tools, he makes striking and compelling audio assemblages, which have strong stylistic parallels with his collage-based graphic design.
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08.01.05: John Thackara

Street Art Pro [August 2005]
Report on the Municipal Wirelss Conference in San Francisco, Label Rue in France, designs and government policy, the 2005 Assitive Tech conference, the 2005 Tactile Graphics conference and more.
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07.31.05: Jessica Helfand

Why Bugs Don't Belong on TV
On today's TV screens, the station-identification logo sits tethered to the surface, like an annoying rash that won't quite disappear. You think you've kicked it when — WHAMMMO — there it is again, blemishing the patina of an otherwise perfectly good viewing experience.
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07.27.05: Rick Poynor

Vladimir's House and Garden of Earthly Delights
Spending two weeks in Vladimir Beck's house on the island of Vrnik in Croatia made me question, yet again, rigid distinctions between artist and designer. Here, it's impossible to separate the two. Beck has designed every feature with a high degree of thought for what might make a domicile located in such a setting pleasurable and practical to live in.
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07.25.05: William Drenttel

Signs of Religion in the American South
I live in a country where religion has become not only a matter of faith, but increasingly the foundation for malevolent politics — ugly hostilities over abortion, what's on television, whether Darwin can be taught in schools, and who gets named to the Supreme Court. In the South, on every corner, is a sign, a plaque, a statue, a monument signifying faith. Jesus's name is invoked in the landscape to name beauty salons, to say this homeowner is a believer, and to give direction to non-believers.
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07.22.05: Michael Bierut

Credit Line Goes Here
Design is essentially a collaborative enterprise. That makes assigning credit for the products of our work a complicated issue.
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07.14.05: Michael Bierut

Rick Valicenti: This Time It's Personal
In his newly-published monograph Emotion as Promotion: A Book of Thirst, Rick Valicenti provides a glimpse into a designer's life that is at once accessibly seductive and brazenly idiosyncratic.
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07.12.05: Michael Bierut

My Favorite Book is Not About Design (or Is It?)
Act One, the autobiography of playwright and director Moss Hart, is the best, funniest, and most inspiring description of the creative process ever put down on paper.
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07.08.05: Jessica Helfand

New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto
eniac Link http://www.newyorker.com/ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/mauchly/jwm8.html http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001NBMAS/ref=pd_sxp_f/002-9888674-0621611?v=glance&s=dvd
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07.04.05: Lorraine Wild

Exhibitions by Renzo Piano and 2x4
Both architect Renzo Piano and graphic designers 2x4 are at the top of their respective games as designers, but the way they approach their own exhibitions (at LACMA and SFMOMA, respectively) places them at opposite poles of a style of communication, and maybe even belief.
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07.01.05: Rick Poynor

We Are All Editors Now. Or Are We?
Many designers aspire to be editors. But being an editor is not simply about choosing some things you like and throwing them together. Editing is about deep engagement with content and the construction of meaning.
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06.28.05: Michael Bierut

The Obvious, Shunned by So Many, Is Successfully Avoided Once Again
Does anyone devote as much energy to avoiding simple, sensible solutions as the modern graphic designer? Publications of designers' own work demonstrate what effort they go through to needlessly complicate what might be simple solutions.
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06.24.05: William Drenttel

Catastrophic Imaginings: The Design of Disaster
In the end, artificial disasters are designed to elicit and test the responses of participants. In their recording, both allow for a post-mortem evaluation. How did I do? How would I respond? Would I sit patiently in my car a mile up the road? Would I watch from my window, safe in my home?
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06.22.05: Jessica Helfand

The Adventures of Cynic Boy and Design Mom in 3D
Brainwashed I may be, but I distinctly noted an homage to Salvador Dalí — with perhaps a gentle nod to René Magritte — last night while sitting through Robert Rodriguez's ludicrous, yet oddly luscious new movie, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D.
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06.19.05: Michael Bierut

Call Me Shithead, or, What's in a Name?
Everyone has experience with naming, whether a baby or even a goldfish. The fact that it's so easy is what makes it so hard. The biggest problem, of course, is that new names seldom sound good at first.
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06.16.05: Rick Poynor

In Memoriam: My Manual Typewriter
The fully evolved typewriter is a 20th-century industrial archetype. It feels inevitable, almost elemental, like one of those object types, such as a chair or a fork, that simply had to exist in this universe of forms.
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06.10.05: Jessica Helfand

The Cut: When Life Imitates Art (I Mean Design)
CBS Television debuted its new series, The Cut, (modeled after other reality shows such as NBC's The Apprentice)about "16 aspiring designers."
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06.08.05: Adrian Shaughnessy

Decoding Coldplay's X&Y
At a time when invisible data streams of binary information fed straight to our desktops are doing away with the need for album covers, it's odd to find a record sleeve as the subject of media comment and speculation. Odder still that the album cover in question — Coldplay's X&Y — should contain binary data as its central motif. Prophetic or what? The X&Y cover is agreeably eye-catching. You wouldn't call it a classic, but it has an unexpected severity that lifts it above the anodyne and cosmeticised design currently favoured by multi-platinum selling artists. It has dark echoes of Peter Saville's ephocal Factory covers.
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06.06.05: Michael Bierut

The Man Who Saved Jackson Pollock
Herbert Matter, the designer who stored away a cache of recently-discovered Jackson Pollock paintings, deserves a similar rediscovery.
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06.03.05: Rick Poynor

Mevis and Van Deursen: Rueful Recollections, Recycled Design
In their self-edited monograph, Dutch graphic designers Mevis and Van Deursen turn their backs on their professed commitment to ideas and treat the book mainly as an opportunity for undemanding aesthetic play.
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06.01.05: John Thackara

Self-Service Economy [June 2005]
Report on international call centers, Neighbor Power: Building Community The Seattle Way, the marketing strategies of evangelical America, Fast Company's review of In the Bubble, the "Building Everyday Democracy" organization, and more.
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05.30.05: William Drenttel

Maps of Cyberspace
It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?
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05.26.05: Roy Behrens

A Designer Remembers the Writer Guy Davenport
Roy R. Behrens: A designer remembers the writer Guy Davenport.
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05.23.05: Jessica Helfand

Method Designing: The Paradox of Modern Design Education
When did we begin to allow, let alone forgive, let alone encourage work that is so rhetorical, so impervious to public engagement? The persistent evidence of impenetrable personal work in design schools across America is a serious epidemic, resulting in a kind of method designing that erroneously treats sentiment as substance.
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05.20.05: Rick Poynor

But Darling of Course it's Normal: The Post-Punk Record Sleeve
There have been collections of post-punk music and now, finally, there is British music critic Simon Reynolds' 500-page history of the genre from 1978 to 1984. It's a brilliant book. He argues that post-punk music's explosion of creativity equals the golden age of popular music in the mid-1960s, but that it has never received its full due. I think he's right.
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05.15.05: Momus

REDESIGNDESIGN
REDESIGNDEUTSCHLAND formed in 2001 and have an office on the Torstrasse in central Berlin. Their work is perhaps best seen as a Swiftian satire on design itself, a playful Postmodern prod in the direction of Modernism's tendency (especially in German-speaking countries) to reduce everything to a kind of Year Zero of irrational rationality.
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05.13.05: Tom Vanderbilt

Material Issue

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05.09.05: Michael Bierut

On (Design) Bullshit
Harry Frankfurt's book On Bullshit provokes the question: what is the relationship of bullshit and design?
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05.07.05: Lorraine Wild

A Design Annual Captures 1968
The title on the cover of the booklet is "Business as Usual" subtitled "Fourteenth Annual Type Directors Show—Typography Wherever It Exists"... On every spread of the book there are lovely pieces of typography, things most any of us would have been proud to have created, and then an image as brutal as a slap on the face. It was 1968.
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05.05.05: Rick Poynor

Getting Louder: Chinese Design on the March
The “Get it Lounder” design exhibition in Shenzhen, billed as the first of its kind in China, reflected the lifestyle aspirations of its participants. Will Chinese design be able to confront social reality in more overtly critical ways?
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05.01.05: John Thackara

"In The Bubble" Special [May 2005]
Report on the release of In the Bubble: Designing In A Complex World, talks, reading, signings, and more in support of John Thackara's book.
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04.28.05: Jessica Helfand

Greer Allen: In Memoriam
Designer, critic, pundit and historian, Greer Allen was Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. He designed publications for The Houghton Library at Harvard, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a number of other distinguished cultural institutions around the country. Greer Allen died last week after a short illness. He was 83.
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04.28.05: Momus

Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places
A little survey of the visuals being produced for some of Europe's independent labels just now.
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04.26.05: Adrian Shaughnessy

The Designer as Buffoon
The "Designer as Buffoon" phenomenon can be seen in two big-budget, prime-time advertising campaigns currently showing on British television. Both Ford and Ikea are promoting their respective products by offering us pumped-up caricatures of designers and inviting us to guffaw at them.
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04.24.05: Rick Poynor

Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.
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04.22.05: Michael Bierut

Me and My Pyramid
The redesign of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid is neither satisfying nor nourishing from an information design point of view.
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04.21.05: Jessica Helfand

Extremely Young and Incredibly Everywhere: The Public Art of Jonathan Safran Foer
Jonathan Safran Foer's emergent body of work includes film and video, public art installations, theatrical collaboration, expressive typography, and a fairly prolific jumpstart as a writer. Cumulatively, all of his projects — which range from collecting empty pages of famous writers, to constructing parabolas in a public park, to collecting anonymous self-portraits — seem to look for ways to formally address time and space and the human condition.
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04.18.05: Michael Bierut

The Supersized, Temporarily Impossible World of Bruce McCall
Illustrator Bruce McCall's vision of an exhuberant, overscale America is evoked by the opening of a new McDonald's in Chicago.
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04.13.05: Tom Vanderbilt

Leisurama: Design Within Reach
"Leisurama" was the name of a model second-home community, in Long Island's Montauk region, designed by members of the Raymond Loewy Corporation. The model house was sold by Macy's, which exhibited it in the basement of its flagship New York City store. Buyers of the house, which ran around $12,000, got not only a house, but all the trappings — right down to the toothbrushes.
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04.08.05: Lorraine Wild

The Scourge of "Tuscan"
Where whole new neighborhoods are still being constructed (i.e., Orange or Riverside counties in California) "Tuscan" is the style du jour. And now the mighty "Tuscan" encroaches at the global scale: new housing in places like Orange County, China, a recently constructed suburb near Beijing, and similar suburban developments adjacent to Bangalore echo the southern Californian template of total bogusness.
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04.05.05: Rick Poynor

Wisconsin Death Trip: A Psychic History
Michael Lesy’s book Wisconsin Death Trip documented awful events in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, using a town photographer’s pictures. Years later, it remains a spellbinding piece of literary and photographic alchemy.
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04.03.05: Michael Bierut

Homage to the Squares
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's exhibition Design is not Art provides a useful contrast to an simultaneous exhibition of the work of Josef and Anni Albers, and demonstrates differences between art and design.
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04.01.05: John Thackara

Lessons of Infra [April 2005]
Report on India's 'jugaads,' Ezio Manzini's "small is not small," the Doors of Perception conference in New Delhi, applications from China for the London school of Economics, the ExArchs and more.
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03.31.05: Momus

Paper Spends More Time With Its Family
I remember the first time I noticed paper coming back as a sort of small, particularised, opaque digital ghost of itself. It was in 1996. There was much talk, at the time, of "the paperless office". People were beginning to refer to paper mail derisively as "snail mail". But computers, as if they felt sorry for the displaced and humiliated paper, began to find other roles for the stuff. More ornamental, decorative, playful roles...
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03.28.05: Michael Bierut

No Headline Necessary
A wordless billboard depicting the purple-stained fingers of Iraqi voters makes a potent advertisement for that country's newborn democracy.
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03.24.05: Jessica Helfand

The Design Police
As unlikely as it sounds:  Graphic Junkies is a photo blog by  "an active law enforcement officer in the state of Georgia." The photographs are remarkable; the context compelling.
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03.21.05: Rick Poynor

Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot
Dot Dot Dot is the most stimulating and original visual culture magazine produced by designers since Emigre's heyday in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
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03.18.05: Tom Vanderbilt

A Pictograph Is Worth a Thousand Words?
As I wandered the streets of Seoul, noting any number of (male) symbols, it got me to thinking about the staggering ubiquity of — and inevitable limits of — pictographic communication, and what it suggests about globalization (and its discontents).
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03.17.05: Jessica Helfand

Scrapbooking: The New Paste-Up
"Craft-born embellishments," note one supplier of scrapbooking products, "are penetrating an unexpected market: graphic design."
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03.13.05: Rick Poynor

Why Architects Give Me the Willies
No matter how central graphic communication might be to our lives, architecture always dominates press coverage because it is very expensive, expresses the conditions of power, and is just plain big.
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03.10.05: William Drenttel

Moving the Axum Obelisk
In the mid-1990s, I saw an exhibition at the New York Public Library of the greatest illustrated books of the 19th century. One book stood out for me: a massive tome by Henry H. Gorringe, titled Egyptian Obelisks and dated 1882. It's in my design collection because of a dubious memory that it's the first book to document a from-start-to-finish design process. Of course, the process it documents is how one moves an obelisk.
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03.08.05: Momus

Mediation for the Masses
Rather than coming at the expense of the poor, mediation might be the next step for them too. If all goes well, we might be looking at a world in which everyone is a foolish tourist, a happy shopper, a postmodern self-mediator.
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03.03.05: Lawrence Weschler

The Aural As An Architectonic Challenge
What are the people over at Transom.org up to? As it happens, this month is a very good time to pay them a visit: for the next several weeks, Walter Murch — the phenomenally smart and inspired film and sound editor — will be continuing to hold court there.
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03.03.05: Rob Walker

For Kicks
A look at one facet of the sneaker phenomenon — that is, the way that fashion and brand loyalty can come together in what might be considered the folk art of a consumer culture.
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03.01.05: John Thackara

Emerging Economy Design [March 2005]
Report and Doors of Perception 8 pre-conference, the problem with b-schools, reality TV for the boardroom, a meeting of information design students and professionals on the Cape Verde Islands, mobile learning in Malta, and more.
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02.28.05: Michael Bierut

Fear and Loathing in Pen and Ink

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02.26.05: Michael Bierut

Designing Under the Influence
The similarity of a young designer's work to that of the artist Barbara Kruger provides the starting point for a discussion of the role of influence in design, and whether it is possible for someone to "own" a specific style.
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02.23.05: William Drenttel

Stop The Plant: The Failure of Rendering
There is no single rendering ominous enough to create public fear; no image so compelling as to create political momentum; and no symbol so memorable as to unite the opposition. Whether through artistic renderings or compelling information design, no one has made a visual case against these plants that is wholly effective. This is, I believe, a fundamental failure of design.
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02.21.05: Jessica Helfand

Our Bodies, Our Fonts
Body markings — piercings, tattoos and so forth — have recently evolved into a kind of marginalized form of graphic expression, yet one that sheds an unusual light on some of the more mainstream ways in which design often reveals itself.
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02.19.05: Kenneth Krushel

The Gates
Much has been written about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "Gates" project in Central Park in New York City. In the past few days, though, we have received two further reports on this project which we want to share with our readers: an essay by Ken Krushel and a photographic portfolio by Adam Bartos.
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02.18.05: Jessica Helfand

My Friend Flickr
Flickr is a digital photo sharing website and web services suite that was developed by Ludicorp, a Vancouver, Canada company founded in 2002. It's a utopian oddity — a culture enabled by a technology that in turn enables a culture — and it's a brilliant example of socially networked software because it's free, its easy, and it makes sense.
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02.16.05: Jessica Helfand

The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
On February 23, Christies in New York will auction more than 1,000 items dating as far back as the early 17th century, all of it tracing the history of cyberspace.
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02.14.05: Tom Vanderbilt

Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll Graphic Design
Has heavy metal graphic design run its course? Is the band logo as a species dead? And is there much of a future for the graphic representation of popular music itself?
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02.13.05: Julie Lasky

Christo's Agent Orange
Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Central Park gates lack that magnetic, landscape-transforming power. Could this be owing not just to the way the gates drive viewers to seek greater heights of sensation, but also to the off-putting emergency color, the subtle grid of the rip-stop nylon reminiscent of quick escapes from troubled aircraft?
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02.12.05: Rick Poynor

The Ikea Riot: Unsatisfied Excess?
When Ikea threw open the doors of a new store in London, the result was mayhem as customers stampeded. Evidence of social breakdown, or a sign that the utopian argument for low-cost modernist design has been won?
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02.10.05: Momus

The Strange Commercial
Some commercials rot slowly into strangeness, others seem born with their strangeness fully-grown. I've recently been intrigued by two sets of TV commercials archived on the web, one from late 1960s Germany, the other from early 1980s Japan.
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02.08.05: Michael Bierut

Authenticity: A User's Guide
Graphic designers take pleasure in simulation. This makes defining authenticity a tricky thing.
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02.04.05: William Drenttel

Chris Marker: La Jetée
For years, I've owned a copy of La Jetée, a book about the film by Chris Marker, the experimental filmmaker. Designed by Bruce Mau and published by MIT Press/Zone Books in 1993, this is one of those design books that has ascended into the realm of rare bookdom...
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02.03.05: Michael Bierut

The Comfort of Style
The design process at the World Trade Center site has attracted enormous interest on one hand, and marginalized the role of designers on the other, as described in Philip Nobel's book Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero.
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02.02.05: Rob Walker

Hyperreality Hobbying
“Reborning'” is the name that has emerged for a curious process of altering and enhancing a baby doll to look and even to feel as much like a human baby as possible.
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02.01.05: John Thackara

Street-level Innovation [February 2005]
Report on Solomon Kolkota's study of urban planning in China, Usman Haque's workshop on open source architecture, sustainable societies, the 'infra of sharing,' Project Clinics at Doors 8, and more.
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01.31.05: Jessica Helfand

All Rise!
On the scale of true confessions, this one lies somewhere between admitting I once wrote for a soap opera and divulging my complete incapacity to recall keyboard commands in Adobe Illustrator. But there it is: when I'm hopelessly stuck, a quick round of Destructomatch is just the ticket.
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01.30.05: Rob Walker

Surface Effects (re: Shepard Fairey)
When Shepard Fairey was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, a friend wanted to know how to make stencils. Fairey offered to show him, using picture of the wrestler Andre the Giant.
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01.23.05: Momus

The Vice Design Issue
The Vice Design Issue is not an anti-design tract, but the championing of an aesthetic that's already quite well-established, already wowing museum curators - a casual, trashy, porno-party style that celebrates tack, lo-tech and the good old bohemian values of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
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01.23.05: Jessica Helfand

Paris Dispatch: A Long Way Down
It is difficult, perhaps impossible not to contemplate death on the occasion of a funeral, but to do so in an environment of such remarkable beauty — and such ineffable sadness — amplifies our sense of here and now, of where and why and, of course, of what.
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01.19.05: Michael Bierut

The Best Artist in the World
Alton Tobey, a little-known commercial illustrator, created a body of work in the early sixties that continues to inspire.
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01.17.05: Lorraine Wild

New Year's Housecleaning

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01.14.05: Tom Vanderbilt

A Review of a Show You Cannot See
A review of the planned, but closed, "Terminal Five" art show at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, featuring art installations houses in the former iconic terminal designed by Eero Saarinen.
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01.09.05: Rick Poynor

The I.D. Forty: What Are Lists For?
How do we measure one kind of achievement in design against another to arrive at a ranking? The truth is we can’t. The real purpose of I.D.’s list was to underscore the magazine’s position as selector and taste-maker.
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01.08.05: Michael Bierut

Robert Polidori's Peripheral Vision
Robert Polidori's photographs depict contemporary architecture in the context of a decidedly imperfect world.
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01.03.05: Dmitri Siegel

Mysterious Disappearance of Carol Hersee
The story of Carol Hersee's portrait as Test Card F: since it first appeared in 1967 on BBC2, Carol's face has been on-air for over 70,000 hours.
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01.02.05: The Editors

Understanding and Action

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01.02.05: Rob Walker

The Good, the Plaid and the Ugly
Reborn dolls, is the name that has emerged for a curious process of altering and enhancing a baby doll to look and even to feel as much like a human baby as possible.
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01.01.05: Mark Lamster

The Collector
Jefferson R. Burdick transformed the act of baseball card collecting into a culture of commercialism, an achievement that haunted him throughout his career.
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01.01.05: John Thackara

Tools for Citizen Services [January 2005]
Report on designing knowledge, Doors of Perception 8 in New Dheli, the street as innovation, ethnography in innovation, enabling services and more.
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12.31.04: Jessica Helfand

A Blog Poem, Part II
Some call it "Graphics"; Others: "Art." (Occasionally, "Schlock.") Still we persist and we impart Good taste — on coated stock. ("How boring."— Clement Mok.)
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12.31.04: The Editors

2004 Book Recommendations

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12.29.04: William Drenttel

In Remembrance of Susan Sontag
In Remembrance of Susan Sontag: a designer's twenty-five years of interaction with the legandary writer.
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12.26.04: Momus

Berlin Wheatpasting
"What is desirable in our field," said Milton Glaser in 2002, "is continuous transgression." Berlin wheatpasters know that. They're out there at night, come snow, come rain, risking fines or imprisonment to publicize semi-legal parties with amateur, exciting, semi-legal graphics.
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12.23.04: Jessica Helfand

Code (PMS) Blue
Hospital rooms are architectural oddities: they're all function with no form. To the extent that, in matters of critical care, timing is everything, why should it matter? Then again, why shouldn't it?
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12.16.04: Michael Bierut

The Other Rand
The Fountainhead, a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand, continues to exert its influence over generations of architects and designers.
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12.09.04: Tom Vanderbilt

Pleasures and Pathos of Industrial Ruins
An account of a visit to the abandoned site of Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania.
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12.08.04: Michael Bierut

Just Say Yes
A seemingly legitimate news release from Dow Chemical on the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster was actually a hoax perpetrated by The Yes Men, who have created a new kind of civil disobedience uniquely suited to the media age.
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12.03.04: Jessica Helfand

Time, Space and The Microsoft Colonialists
If Microsoft displayed its marketing genius by introducing "Spaces" three weeks before Christmas, its failure as a compelling editorial product — as evidenced by its restrictive format, its templated narrowcasting, its uninspired design parameters — illuminates its ultimate weakness: these spaces have nothing to do with space, in all its rich, fascinating and deeply human complexity.
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12.01.04: Michael Bierut

The Whole Damn Bus is Cheering
The familiar yellow ribbons stuck to cars urging us to "support our troops" have lots of competition and are horribly designed.
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12.01.04: John Thackara

Skunk Space and Time [December 2004]
Report on Doors of Perception 8, the results of the Doors 8 Project Leaders' Round Table, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for information systems, Debra Solomon's quest to enable "nomadic banquets," the Chinese government's intention to build 1,000 new museums by 2015, and more.
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11.29.04: Jessica Helfand

Donald Trump, Art Director: Not The Real Thing
Not until now has Pepsi opened itself up to a public makeover on national television, a redesign in the hands of a smattering of aspiring capitalists, a group whose combined knowledge of design principles might be characterized as, dare I say it — negligible.
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11.25.04: William Drenttel

My Country Is Not A Brand
Branding was originally an approach for creating reputations for commercial products.
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11.21.04: Michael Bierut

Logogate in Connecticut, or, The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part II
A new logo for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism by Cummings & Good provokes a public controversy on the value of design.
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11.18.04: Michael Bierut

The World in Two Footnotes
Writing in Eye Magazine, Nick Bell observes that designers too often act as "agents of neutrality" or "aesthetes of style" and suggests that they focus more on their work's content.
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11.15.04: Jessica Helfand

The Designibles
What's incredible about The Incredibles is the art of design capture. Because when it comes to nailing design, the "Is" have it.
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11.13.04: Michael Bierut

First Person Shooter
News photographs from Iraq are eerily reminiscent of video game images.
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11.11.04: Rick Poynor

Who's In and Who's Out of the Dictionary
A Dictionary of Modern Design gives exemplary treatment to industrial designers, furniture designers, and the organisations that served them. Once again, though, graphic design emerges as the also-ran of design.
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11.03.04: Jessica Helfand

Am I Blue
Bumper stickers and lawn posters aside, Americans showed their concern on election day 2004 by standing in epic lines at polling centers around the nation, but also in certain subtle, discreetly visual ways. From dressing in all blue (or red) to wearing "I voted today" buttons, there has been a kind of silent visual communication effort steadily in play for the last 36 hours.
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11.01.04: Michael Bierut

Colorama
Grand Central Terminal's enormous Colorama displays by Kodak documented a suburban fantasy world for millions of commuters.
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11.01.04: John Thackara

New Dark Ages? [November 2004]
Report on the state of design research, Doors of Perception 8 in New Delhi, service design for health care, the "Used in India" exhibition, comparing design strategies between New York and New Delhi, and more.
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10.29.04: Rick Poynor

Fear and Loathing at the Design Museum
James Dyson has accused the Design Museum in London of ruining its reputation with frivolous exhibitions. For many bemused onlookers, his complaints were out of touch with evolving public perceptions of design.

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10.25.04: William Drenttel

On Making Things

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10.21.04: Michael Bierut

What We Talk About When We Talk About Architecture
Architectural critiques, such as those conducted at Yale University and documented in its student publication Retrospecta, can have the same drama as good theatre; like the public radio show "Car Talk" the subject at hand is merely a springboard for diverting digression.
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10.17.04: Rob Walker

Pattern Recognition
Realtree High Definition Camouflage.
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10.09.04: William Drenttel

Does Aspen Have A Future?

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10.08.04: Jessica Helfand

The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part I
We need to listen to people besides designers. We need to get in those boardrooms, those war rooms, those bastions of decision-making where no designer has ever been before. We need new legacies, better policies, richer histories for the next generation of graphic designers.
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10.01.04: Michael Bierut

I Hate ITC Garamond
ITC Garamond, a popular typeface designed in 1975, is quite simply ugly, and I hate it.
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10.01.04: John Thackara

Open Welfare [October 2004]
Report on Doors of Perception 8: New Delhi, Red at the Design Council in London, dimensions of patient experience, Bruce Mau's Massive Change exhibition, the U.S. project Gridwise, and more.
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09.24.04: Jessica Helfand

Gentlemen Prefer Blogs
Watching Annie Duke beat out a half-dozen male competitors in the World Poker Tournament this week, I experienced an odd case of déjà vu. It wasn't because of some Proustian memory of my own poker prowess — far from it, infact. Rather, what I felt was an odd sort of parallel universe with something I've been ruminating about for some time: namely, my presence here on Design Observer as the sole female contributor, and the scarcity of women who regularly participate in discussions here on this site.
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09.20.04: Michael Bierut

Graphic Designers, Flush Left?
Are graphic designers as a class predisposed to favor left-wing politics?
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09.09.04: Jessica Helfand

Under The Microscope

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09.01.04: John Thackara

The Time Thief [September 2004]
Report on Europe's train ticketing service, Doors of Perception 8: New Delhi partners, CK Prahalad, the impact of mediascapes on how we inhabit space, the 'New Design Cities' symposium, 'State of Mergebcy: Territorial Identity in the Post-Political Age,' and more.
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08.25.04: The Editors

Late Summer Reading: August 2004
Summer vacations are always a great time to catch up with reading, so we've put together a list of some of our favourite books — recent and not so recent — by Asimov, Auster, Ballard, Berliner, Brooks, Caine, Coetzee, Colwin, Coupland, Diamond, Dreyfuss, Dyer, Frank, Galison, Gibson, Hochuli, Hopkins, Houellebecq, Johns, Jullien, Krichevski, Norman, Oates, Orwell, Pessoa, Peyré, Pollan, Powers, Schwartz, Sebald, Sedaris, Slater, Sterling, Stilgoe, Truitt, Vonnegut, Warshow, and Weschler. We hope you enjoy them.
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08.23.04: Michael Bierut

The Graphic Design Olympics
The event graphics and pictograms created for the Olympics by designers such as Otl Aicher, Lance Wyman and Deborah Sussman are part of a historic tradition that continues to this day.
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08.17.04: Michael Bierut

What is Design For? A Discussion
Rick Poynor and Michael Bierut discuss the purpose and promise of graphic design, in a conversation moderated by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne.
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08.14.04: Michael Bierut

The Rendering and the Reality
The winners of a competition to redesign New York City's High Line, Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, created architectural renderings that demonstrate both the discipline's power and shortcomings.
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08.10.04: Jessica Helfand

Ladislav Sutnar: Mechanical Beauty

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08.08.04: Rob Walker

The Filth Epiphany (Dyson Vacuums)
The Dyson vacuum cleaner, a hit product in England and elsewhere in Europe, was introduced to the American market in 2002 by way of a commercial featuring its inventor, James Dyson.
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08.05.04: Jessica Helfand

An Instrument of Sufficiently Lucid Cogitation
The legendary French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died on Tuesday at his home in the South of France, always carried a sketchbook with him. Today's obituary in The New York Times alleges that he described drawing as meditative, while photography was intuitive: though certainly both activities might have been informed by a relentless need to observe and in a sense, preserve the world around him.
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08.01.04: John Thackara

Social Innovation Observatory [August 2004]
Report on Doors of Perception 8: New Delhi, the 2004 Open Doors Project Challenge, the 2004 Project Observation workshop, nuclear security in CrytoGram, an idea from Pieter Burghart at LogicaCMG, and more.
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07.31.04: Rick Poynor

Britain and America: United in Idiocy
What do Brits and Americans think of each other? In Us & Them, a book by the satirical British illustrator Paul Davis, the two countries have one thing in common: they are both equally stupid. That’s not saying much.
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07.25.04: Michael Bierut

The Bodoni Conspiracy
Eerie parallels between the cover designs of the reports of the 9/11 Commission and the Monicagate investigator Kenneth Starr suggest a conspiracy that can be traced back to sixteenth-century type designer Giambattista Bodoni.
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07.21.04: Jessica Helfand

Graphic Design: The Movie
Some time ago, I pondered about the future of graphic design as a reality show, but recently I've become convinced that its real future lies in its actual integrated presence onscreen: design as part prop, part protagonist.
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07.20.04: Michael Bierut

Pablo Ferro Offers You His Protection
The title design for the film Napoleon Dynamite, credited to Pablo Ferro [although designed in fact by actor Aaron Ruell], provoke an assessment of Ferro's influence in the world of motion graphics.
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07.16.04: Jessica Helfand

Design Gone Mad

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07.14.04: Michael Bierut

To Hell with the Simple Paper Clip
Answering the question "What's your favorite designed object?" with something humble and anonymous may be a tiresome cliche, but it's one that resonates with editors of the New York Times Magazine and curators at the Museum of Modern Art.
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07.12.04: Michael Bierut

Ed Ruscha: When Art Rises to the Level of Graphic Design
A retrospective of the drawings of Ed Ruscha raises the question: is he an artist or a graphic designer?
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07.08.04: Jessica Helfand

Ask Not What Your Typeface Can Do For You: Ask What You Can Do For Your Typeface
"Manhattan-based architect Frederic Schwarz's memorial 'Empty Sky' WILL USE Times New Roman..."
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07.07.04: William Drenttel

Posted Without Comment

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07.05.04: Michael Bierut

And the Gold Award for Design Goes to God
New NASA images of the planet Saturn reveal it to be a beautifully designed object.
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07.03.04: Rick Poynor

Where are the Design Intellectuals?
Prospect magazine has published a list of the 100 top British public intellectuals. A handful of visual art and architecture people make the cut, but no from design is included, reflecting its absence from public debate.
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06.29.04: Michael Bierut

The Tyranny of the Tagline
Advertising agencies put great stock in taglines, those simple phrases intended as the core of an evergreen ad campaigns. Now taglines are invading the world of branding, as a new corporate identity for the YWCA reveals.
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06.19.04: Michael Bierut

Barthes on the Ballpoint
Roland Barthes disliked ballpoint pens, suggesting that there is a "Bic style" suited for "writing that merely transcribes thought."
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06.16.04: Michael Bierut

The Idealistic Corporation
American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.
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06.11.04: Jessica Helfand

Designer by Day, Catwoman by Night

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06.06.04: Rick Poynor

Modernising MoMA: Design on Display
MoMA is broadening its approach to graphic design. Recovering this material history will assist us in understanding our broader cultural history and help to educate a more aware generation of visual communicators.
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05.29.04: Michael Bierut

McSweeney's No. 13 and the Revenge of the Nerds
McSweeney's No. 13, published by Dave Eggers and guest edited by Chris Ware, is a masterwork of publication design and an invaluable survey of today's best comic artists and graphic novelists.
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05.17.04: Michael Bierut

India Switches Brands
The 2004 elections in India were an exercise in branding as well as politics, as a well-funded "India Shining" campaign failed to convince the electorate to retain the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
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05.09.04: Michael Bierut

My Democracy Was Irretrievably Undermined by Reactionary Idiots and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
Will a designer t-shirt contest have any effect on the US presidential elections?
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05.01.04: Jessica Helfand

Time Waits for No Fan

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05.01.04: John Thackara

Research Governance [May 2004]
Report on who is respnsible for the consequences of design actions, Jun Rekimoto's lecture at CHI, emotion detecting software, anticipitory systems at Philips Research, Designing Bits & Pieces Symposium,Machinista, and more.
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04.28.04: Michael Bierut

Better Nation Building Through Design
A new flag design for Iraq may inadvertantly symbolize much of what is misguided in the US's occupation of that country.
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04.23.04: Rick Poynor

Critics and Their Purpose
Pulling a 1960s art magazine from the shelf, I opened it at random to find a long list of thoughts about art criticism assembled in 1966 by students at the Royal College of Art in London. Many of these ideas apply to design.
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04.22.04: Michael Bierut

Catharsis, Salesmanship, and the Limits of Empire
Nozone #9: Empire and a new promotional campaign for the radio station Air America demonstrate alternate ways that graphic design can engage political issues and their audiences.
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04.20.04: Jessica Helfand

One Person, One Vote, One MRI?

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04.17.04: Michael Bierut

I Hear You've Got Script Trouble: The Designer as Auteur
Screenwriter William Goldman has written about how difficult it is to ascribe authorship for a film. The same may be true for graphic design, which, like filmmaking, is essentially a collaborative activity.
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04.17.04: Rick Poynor

Theory with a Small "t"
A critical writing determined by the need to shape practice will be limited in the cultural insights it can offer. This is the last thing that design writing needs when ways to engage a wider public could be opening up.
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04.15.04: Jessica Helfand

Graphic Flanerie
Graphic Design's real power comes from its ability to reach us through any of a number of means, both real and virtual, now and later. This ability to transcend the everyday and resonate in the heart, the soul, the mind and the memory—this is graphic design's reality, its legacy, and it is, decidedly, a reality that is more than a sum of its parts.
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04.10.04: William Drenttel

El Lissitzky for Pesach

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04.09.04: Rick Poynor

How to Say What You Mean
There is a crucial difference between subtle and complex ideas and needlessly convoluted forms of expression. The challenge now for design writing is to move outwards into a world in which design is everywhere.
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04.03.04: Michael Bierut

Stanley Kubrick and the Future of Graphic Design
Stanley Kubrick's attention to the nuances of graphic design, typography, and branding went far beyond his well-documented obsession with Futura Extra Bold. 2001: A Space Odyssey in particular projects a perfectly designed vision of the future that has never been topped.
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04.03.04: Rick Poynor

The Two Cultures of Design
In the past 25 years, graphic design has separated into two distinct strands. On one side there is professional practice in all its forms; on the other a self-directed design culture that is finding a wider audience.
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04.01.04: Jessica Helfand

The Lying Game

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04.01.04: John Thackara

Quality Time At High Speed [April 2004]
Report on high speed train travel (HST), the modernization of Britain's west coast railway, the final workshop of Spark!, Prada's $40 million Manhattan flagship, CHI 2004, and more.
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03.24.04: Michael Bierut

Michael McDonough's Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School
Architect Michael McDonough delineates the difference between educational theory and professional practice with "The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School."
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03.21.04: Rick Poynor

Jan van Toorn: Arguing with Visual Means
Jan van Toorn’s designs embody an idea about citizenship. They address viewers as critical, thinking individuals who can be expected to take an informed and skeptical interest in the circumstances of their world.
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03.19.04: Michael Bierut

The Book (Cover) That Changed My Life
The deceptively simple 1960s paperback cover of J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" is redolent of a very specific time and place to readers who discovered the book then.
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03.16.04: Jessica Helfand

Blanket Statements

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03.13.04: Michael Bierut

George Kennan and the Cold War Between Form and Content
Diplomat George Kennan's "Long Telegram" of 1946 is a memorable synthesis of form and content, and a demonstration of how powerful form can be.
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03.06.04: Michael Bierut

1989: Roots of Revolution
"Dangerous Ideas," the 1989 conference of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) chaired by Tibor Kalman and Milton Glaser, introduced many themes -- social responsibility, political engagement, professional ethics -- that still resonate today.
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02.28.04: Michael Bierut

Information Design and the Placebo Effect
It turns out that New York City is filled with buttons for pedestrians to activitate "Walk" signals at busy intersections that have never worked. Does pressing these useless buttons provide us with a sense that at least we're doing something?
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02.28.04: Rick Poynor

Bruce Mau: The Aura of Power
Bruce Mau has constructed a formidable mystique around himself as a designer whose concerns and apparent brainpower put him in a different league from most other visual communicators. How did he do it?
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02.26.04: William Drenttel

Typography and Diplomacy

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02.24.04: Jessica Helfand

The Crisis of Intent

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02.18.04: Michael Bierut

The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
Comparing the magazine covers of today to those created for Esquire magazine in the 1960s by George Lois leads to only one conclusion: today's magazine ideal magazine cover is enticing, not arresting, aiming not for shock, but for seduction. And it stinks.
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02.11.04: Rick Poynor

Neville Brody Revisited
Forget passing questions of fashion. When future assessments of graphic design in the 1980s are made, Neville Brody will emerge as one of the most considerable designers of the period, working anywhere.
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02.05.04: William Drenttel

Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.
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02.04.04: William Drenttel

Uut, Uup and Away
What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?
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02.03.04: Jessica Helfand

You're Going to Hollywood, Baby

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02.02.04: Michael Bierut

Rob Roy Kelly's Old, Weird America
The late educator and designer Rob Roy Kelly has had a lasting influence on the profession of graphic design, particularly through his landmark book "American Wood Type."
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02.01.04: John Thackara

Landscape to Mediascape [February 2004]
When traditional forms of work and daily life disappear from a locality, what is to take their place? What are the success factors for design projects in real-world situations? How should we deploy, and exploit, "mediascapes"? A talk by Charles Leadbeater opens this workshop in Oslo.
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01.31.04: Michael Bierut

The Sins of St. Paul
Paul Rand is almost universally revered as the infallible father of American graphic design, which may have blinded his legions of admirers to his flaws: an overemphasis on logos as a communications tool, a lack of engagement in content, a detachment from history, and humorlessness.
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01.18.04: Michael Bierut

(Over)explaining Design
From the murals at Rockefeller Center to the proposals for the World Trade Center site, designers demonstrate an eagerness to explain, and perhaps overexplain, their ideas. Can the explanations get in the way of the work? Should the work speak for itself?
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01.15.04: William Drenttel

Rationalizing Absence
James Turrell's influence on World Trade Tower memorial design.
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01.13.04: Jessica Helfand

The Span of Casual Vision

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01.11.04: Rick Poynor

Stephen Gill: Behind the Billboard
Designers are battlers against entropy: a vital task, but taking the long view, often a doomed, quixotic mission. Stephen Gill’s photographs, showing the disorderly zones behind billboards, offer a reality check.
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01.11.04: Michael Bierut

Vladimir Nabokov: Father of Hypertext?
The innovative narrative technique developed by Vladimir Nabokov for his 1962 novel "Pale Fire" -- essentially a single epic poem with footnotes and commentary -- anticipated hypertext, the internet, and the interconnected world of blogs.
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01.05.04: William Drenttel

Adolf Wölfli Invents Design Brut?
Mr. Gomez has taken your basic 19th-century-madman-artist and turned him into a model 20th century graphic designer.
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01.05.04: Michael Bierut

The Forgotten Design Legacy of the National Lampoon
The rerelease of the National Lampoon's ersatz and hilarious "1964 C. Estes Kefauver Memorial High School Yearbook" is a reminder that the magazine's art directors, Michael Gross and David Kaestle, anticipated our profession's obsession with vernacular graphic languages by almost fifteen years.
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01.02.04: Jessica Helfand

Mind the Light, Light the Mind
As I began to describe Quaker Meeting for Worship — where one sits in silence for some period of time, in a large room with any number of other congregants, and where one stands to speak, on virtually any topic, when moved to do so — I realized that this presented a compelling metaphor for blogging.
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01.01.04: Mark Lamster

Notes From the Other Georgia
With a past of urban decay and trauma, the city of Tbilisi faces a precarious future.
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12.28.03: Rob Walker

The Lives They Lived: Making Us Laugh
Consider the machine that a television engineer named Charles Douglass, invented in the 1950's. It was called the Laff Box.
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12.21.03: Rick Poynor

Notes on Experimental Jetset
Experimental Jetset’s argument that design should have a certain autonomy and an inner logic separate from tastes and trends makes sense, but as a rationale for defaulting to Helvetica, is it convincing?
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12.17.03: Michael Bierut

Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.
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12.16.03: Jessica Helfand

A Blog Poem, Part I

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12.16.03: William Drenttel

Design URLs
As a service to our readers over the holidays, here is a list of the twenty URLs we found to be available, and more interestingly, the close to one hundred URLs we found to be taken.
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12.11.03: Rick Poynor

Adbusters in Anarchy
Adbusters’ once orderly pages are in a state of heaving agitation. The magazine seems to be seduced by the coolness of design as a gesture, even though this is part of the surface-fixated postmodernism it deplores.
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12.07.03: William Drenttel

Shallow Water Dictionary
A couple of years ago I stumbled across a little out-of-print tract called the Shallow Water Dictionary: A Grounding in Estuary English by John R. Stilgoe, a professor of landscape architecture at Harvard.
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12.05.03: Jessica Helfand

Sign Language: Endangered Species or Utopian Uprising?
At turns provocative and peculiar, photographs of a new building in Birmingham, England, hint at a utopian uprising: No angles. No signs. In other words: no branding?
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12.02.03: Rick Poynor

Remember Picelj
The English-speaking world knows little about the design history of Communist Europe. Few will have heard of the distinguished Slovenian Ivan Picelj. His prints ask us to remember; they are full of yearning.
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12.01.03: John Thackara

Presence and Embodiment [December 2003]
Report on late-confirming speakers for DoorsEast 2004, Sustainable Everyday: Scenarios for Urban Life, the Spark! 2004 conference, the Wearables for Health conference, Trandmediale in Berlin, and more.
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12.01.03: John Thackara

Now We Are 10 [December 2003]
Report on the 10th anniversy of Doors of Perception, the Doors East conference, how to think and act rural, ITC, Wireless Local Loop (WLL), and more.
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11.30.03: Rob Walker

The Guts of a New Machine
The iPod, a digital music player, it weighing just 6.5 ounces and holding about 1,000 songs.
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11.30.03: Rob Walker

Digital Tools for Making Brilliant Mistakes
The many options for digitally antiquing your 21st-century self-expression.
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11.24.03: Michael Bierut

Mark Lombardi and the Ecstasy of Conspiracy
Artist Mark Lombardi's intricate handdrawn diagrams describing the relationships behind contemporary political and financial scandals are both beautiful objects and extraordinary feats of information design.
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11.24.03: Rick Poynor

Missing Sleeve Notes
Nick de Ville’s Album: Style and Image in Sleeve Design is the best collection of album cover designs published to date. But where did all of this information come from, and why does he provide no references?
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11.22.03: Jessica Helfand

On Visual Empathy
In a world besieged by unpredictable atrocities, don't we all feel a little emotionally raw? Two recent articles in suggest that visual empathy may more critical to a productive imagination than we thought.
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11.16.03: Rick Poynor

Unnecessary Revival
As a first-time enthusiast for American Typewriter, I was happy to see it pass into history. Resurrecting the typeface now that the typewriter has given way to digital technology is just nostalgia ― soft at the core.
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11.12.03: Jessica Helfand

Implausible Fictions
At what point does the designer's interpretation threaten to skew, or misrepresent or somehow implausibly amplify information in a manner that might be considered irresponsible?
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11.10.03: Michael Bierut

Graphic Design and the New Certainties
Graphic designers claim to want total freedom, but even in this intuitive, arbitrary, "creative" profession, many of us secretly crave limitations, standards, certainties. And certainties are a hard thing to come by these days.
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11.09.03: Rick Poynor

Those Inward-looking Europeans
Three American design teachers visit London and the Netherlands. European designers, they say, are not paying attention to design history. Maybe the visitors are missing local factors and broader global issues.
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11.06.03: William Drenttel

Information Archaeology
Russ Kick is "a self-described 'information archaeologist...'" The revealing of state secrets through deconstructing a PDF.
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11.06.03: William Drenttel

Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician II
More on Edward Tufte and his critique of PowerPoint.
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11.03.03: Jessica Helfand

Color Me Kurt
Having seen Schwarzenegger as a black man before he was elected Governor, one can only imagine what's next for Colors under Kurt Andersen.
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11.02.03: Rick Poynor

It's a Man's World
Adam Parfrey’s book shows hundreds of men’s magazine covers from the 1950s painted by artists who specialized in depictions of tough guys abusing terrified women. Have we outgrown this kind of thing? Heck no.
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11.01.03: John Thackara

Creativity and the City [November 2003]
Report on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneve, Doors East, planning for the 2004 Spark! conference, psychogeography, Sublin Ad-hoc Wireless Network (DAWN), and more.
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10.30.03: Jessica Helfand

Fatal Grandeur
Maybe design isn't going to kill you if it falls on your head. But if YOU fall, design is not exactly going to save you, either.
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10.28.03: Michael Bierut

The New York Times: Apocalypse Now, Page A1
Michael Bierut on the typographic redesign of the New York Times, October 2003.
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09.22.03: William Drenttel

VAS: An Opera in Flatland
VAS: An Opera in Flatland is the first full-length novel by Steve Tomasula and Stephen Farrell.
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09.14.03: William Drenttel

Twin (Cities) Type in Flux
A new typeface commissioned for the City of Minneapolis moves when the wind blows. Is this what Gutenberg imagined when he invented movable type?
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09.10.03: Jessica Helfand

The Art of Elegant Abstraction
Bill Morrison's surprising 66-minute film is now playing on the Sundance Channel. For listings, see: http://www.sundancechannel.com/film_finder/index.php?startingLetter=d
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09.06.03: Jessica Helfand

The Real Declaration

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09.02.03: William Drenttel

Paul Rand: Bibliography as Biography
This is bibliography as biography, and a posthumous testament to the considerable scope — and ongoing life — of one designer's mind. A Selected Bibliography of Books from the Collection of Paul Rand
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08.01.03: John Thackara

From Movies to Moblogging [August 2003]
Report on the future of Kodak and Fuji, Moblogging, Japanese teenage girls and cell phone use, Alan Bradburne, mobile games, and more.
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06.01.03: John Thackara

Danger: Disappearing Computers [June 2003]
Report on the Disappearing Computer conference, "anthropocentric interfaces," Greger Linden's thoughts on "psychosocial computing," Convivio's 2003 design summer school,project LifeLog, and more.
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05.01.03: John Thackara

Life in Traffic [May 2003]
This free monthly newsletter starts conversations on issues to do with design for resilience — and thereby reveals opportunities for action
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04.01.03: John Thackara

Interior Design at War [April 2003]
Report on design in the war in Afghanistan, the Pearl River Delta in China, the Media Lab Europe (MLE), the 50th anniversary of the German Design Council, New Mobility, and more.
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03.01.03: John Thackara

The Promise of Proximity [March 2003]
Report on Marko Ahtisaari's thoughts on proximity as a design criterion, Massimo Banzi's restauraunt-from-hell analogy, Axel Thallemer, Dutch foundation Eternally Yours , The Futures of Everyday Life, and more.
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02.01.03: John Thackara

Remembering Ivan Illich [February 2003]
Report on the death of Ivan Illich, the Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF), the Sonic Lights festival, Politics of Code — Shaping the Future of the Next Internet, the 2003 International Architecture Biennial, and more.
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12.01.02: John Thackara

Trophy Buildings Are Over [December 2002]
Report on Doors 7, sociability as a new criterion for urban design, Data Knitting, the Future Cinema exhibition, the "user_mode symposium," and more.
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10.01.02: John Thackara

Oil As Yuppy Crack [October 2002]
Report on speakers at Doors 7, who is attending Doors 7, 'deep impact' changes, the Web Issue Index, Eindhoven, and more.
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09.01.02: John Thackara

Local Knowledge [September 2002]
Report on Mining Civilizaational Knowledge, Ezio Manzini, DoorEast, the second India Design Summit in Mumbai, Charles Leadbeater, and more.
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07.01.02: John Thackara

Time in Design [July 2002]
Report on Doors 7 speakers, pervasive computing, the relationship between time and design, BodyMedia, new models for interactive services, and more.
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06.01.02: John Thackara

Flow As a Design Issue [June 2002]
Report on the Doors of Perception Flow conference, the European ban on uncolicited bulk e-mail, Anna Tilroe's opinion on museums, the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), John Thackara's In the Bubble column, and more.
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05.01.02: John Thackara

Museum Hit by Love Bug [May 2002]
Report on the new Doors of Perception website, Doors 7 registration, "Unplugged: Art as the Scene of Global Conflicts," economic damage caused by computer viruses, the European Commission's Intellectual Property Rights help desk, and more.
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04.01.02: John Thackara

The Real-time Economy [April 2002]
Report on the real-time economy, Doors of Perception 7, Tom Kok, Project F, the Cybersonica festival at the ICA in London, and more.
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05.14.00: Rob Walker

The Way We Live Now: Me, My Brand And I
About a year and a half ago, a colleague of mine whom I'll call Steve Theory walked into my office, shut the door behind him and asked my advice about some recent job offers. Without a hint of sarcasm, he explained, ''I just want to do what's best for the brand Steve Theory.''
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01.23.00: Rob Walker

The Way We Live Now: Fauxhemian Rhapsody
Pastis, the Parisian-style bistro that recently opened in New York's meatpacking district, is a restaurant with an idea. The menu is unpretentious, ''simple,'' the owner has explained, and ''there will be no reservations.''
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