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Product Design


04.08.14: Alexandra Lange

Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).
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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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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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01.02.14: Owen Edwards

For Better or Worse, This Design Endures
Owen Edwards on the enduring qualities of the AK-47.
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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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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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08.31.13: Rob Walker

No. 1 Object
A brief appreciation of a perfectly absurd object: The Number One Hand
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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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07.08.13: 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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07.03.13: Phil Patton

Niels Diffrient: The Human Factor
Phil Patton remembers Niels Diffrient. Photographs by Dorothy Kresz.
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06.03.13: Alexandra Lange

Home Improvement
The Sweethome, where Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews meet.
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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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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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03.13.13: Kate Cullinane

The Original Paradox
The value of creating new designs, rather than being "original".
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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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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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10.21.12: John Foster

Accidental Mysteries, 10.21.12
Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. This week's focus is Time.
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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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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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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.
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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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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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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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12.14.11: Alexandra Lange

Reinventing the Thermostat
What the designer of the new Nest thermostat didn't learn from Henry Dreyfuss.
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12.12.11: Eugenia Bell

Eliot Noyes
Eliot Noyes' under-recognized reputation deserves appreciation.
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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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12.01.11: Alexandra Lange

Cooking with the Eameses
A new book chronicles one family's life with nine pieces of Eames.
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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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07.15.11: Alexandra Lange

Making Dieter Rams
Why is Braun still the best?
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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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05.21.11: Alexandra Lange

Vicarious Thrifting, via Twitter
On the lively, effective and erudite thrifting community on Twitter.
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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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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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04.04.11: Constantin Boym

True East
Meditations on the Middle Eastern incense burner.
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03.14.11: Phil Patton

Just My Typewriter
Commemorating the IBM Selectric, which turns 50 this year.
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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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01.10.11: Alexandra Lange

Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?
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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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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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12.06.10: 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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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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11.05.10: 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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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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10.01.10: 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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09.28.10: 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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09.17.10: 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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09.08.10: 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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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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05.27.10: Ernest Beck

New Meaning at ICFF
A review of the 2010 International Contemporary Furniture Fair.
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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

Why do Most Designer Toys Suck so Badly?
Though they exude an organized playfullness, designer toys are rarely as practical as they look.
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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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05.02.10: Alexandra Lange

Please Stop Coloring
I was exasperated when I saw the new citrus Hans Wegner wishbone chairs.
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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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03.15.10: Julie Lasky

Superbeauty
Essay on the revival of beauty in 21st-century design.
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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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01.13.10: 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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01.06.10: 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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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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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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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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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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05.10.09: Ernest Beck

Olive Drab: BKLYN DESIGNS 2009
Ernest Beck reviews Brooklyn Designs 2009.
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04.27.09: Julie Lasky

Back to the Garden
Report by Julie Lasky about the 2009 International Furniture Fair in Milan.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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04.21.08: Allan Chochinov

"Ode To My Toaster"
Ode To My Toaster, a poem by Allan Chochinov.
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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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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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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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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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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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07.31.06: William Drenttel

Dangerous Beauty: The Art of the Shiv
A shiv is a weapon crafted from the limited resources of a prisoner's closed world. Crudely constructed from such things as spoons, shoelaces and upholstery tacks, shivs are about masked utility: it's an innocuous object with improbably toxic intent (whether used to attack others or to protect oneself...).
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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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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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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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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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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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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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04.03.05: 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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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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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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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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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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