Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We still think this Apple ad is one of the best ads ever, maybe one of the few great meetings of art and commerce.

Burning Man 08!

"Put blame aside, let humor thrive, and dare to contemplate a larger question: What can America contribute to the world?" Theme of Burning Man

Burning Man 08 is in full swing in the Black Rock desert in Northwestern Nevada. Since its inception in 1986, people continue to meet annually in a celebration of invention, art, design, architecture, fashion, community, environment, social studies, dance, comedy, and joy in the 107 degree heat.

This week 48,000+ people come together to build a city from scratch. Thirty days later the last participants will depart from the site, leaving no trace of their celebration. It is a festival of startling scale and power---a journey of thousands attempting to envision and share utopia. Burning Man is not without controversy, but it is not without deeper meaning and aspiration. Wish we were there!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

House on the Roof

USA Today points to the "Upside Down House," part of the Upside Down project in Germany. Here's the article. Apparently, there is another upside down house in Poland. Somehow we don't think this is going to catch on. Right?

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Early Public Art

"Running Fence," Sonoma and Marin Counties, 1972-1976.

Fully measuring the effect that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have had on the larger community's sense of the environment and the sheer pleasure of art is like trying to assess the impact of Laurie Anderson on visual and performance arts. The effects have been thoroughly absorbed into the creative culture, as if there was no "Running Fence" installation or "Big Science" album, no beginning point. Fortunately, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) keeps our focus on the work that changed everything.

SAAM has just acquired the most lyical and spectacular of the Christo and Jeanne-Claude's epic projects "Running Fence," Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-1976; a white fabric and steel-pole fence, 24 1/2 miles long and 18 feet high, across the properties of 59 ranchers in Sonoma and Marin Counties north of San Francisco. The “Running Fence” existed for only two weeks; it survives today as a memory and through the artwork and documentation by the artists.

Here is the scoop from Unveiled at the Bi-Centennial of the nation in 1976, it convinced ordinary Americans of the transformative power of art. We will have to wait until April 2010 for the formal exhibition to open. Patience is required.

Monday, August 25, 2008

An Architect Looks at Shanghai.

"View from my balcony of demolition in preparation for another large development.
While I understand that new development is inevitable and necessary, I believe it's a
cause for concern that the vast majority of it completely destroys the old urban
fabric without a trace."

The roving architect, Stefan Schwarzkopf, is working in Shanghai. He has taken a whole slew of gorgeous photos of the architecture of the city. In the face of the 24/7 Beijing 2008 Olympics media splurge, we thought it would be interesting to look at Shanghai, a city in the making. We think Schwarzkopf's photography provides a trained eye on everything from the the loosely vernacular to the peak of modern spectacle. His comments (click on the photo for "info") are often like found poetry.

This from the Wiki:
Shanghai is one of the largest urban areas in the world with over 20 million residents and is home to the world's largest port...The city is an emerging tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and Xintiandi, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a cosmopolitan center of culture and design.
Shanghai has been referred to by the press as a "global city" and the "showpiece" of the world's fastest-growing economy. Here is Stefan's point of view in his Flickr slideshow. Check out the bamboo scaffolding!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kitchen Wear

Johnny Cupcakes has opened his first store in Los Angeles. Mr. Cupcakes had the audacity to cross-ventilate the fashion store with uber-retro diner conceit.

A must-see virtual tour awaits you dear reader. In case you are wondering just who Mr. Cupcakes is, this from the Los Angeles Times:

Started in 2001, clothing line Johnny Cupcakes has quickly grown to become a popular and fashionable clothing line with its bright color tees combined with its iconic baking figures. Providing items from key chains and stickers to T-shirts and underoos, Mr. Cupcakes proves that there is no end to his success. Accordingly, Johnny Cupcakes recently opened a store on Melrose (next to Tarina Tarantino, no less) and customers already can't get enough.
Despite the LA Times cheesy cliches, e.g. "no end to his success," " can't get enough," we are contemplating the underoos!

Post Modern Prosthetic

For all the Eames fans out there, here is a stylish Eames-inspired response to a typically cumbersome and unattractive medical device. Designer Johanne M Hawley deserves kudos for re-thinking a prosthetic that tends to look like a runaway industrial elevator part, rather than an integrated, graceful piece of art.

We have read that Charles and Ray Eames actually designed some orthopaedic devices out of plywood. So we looked around. Here is a Flickr photo of one such device that "dbalsuto" took on tour at the Eames studio. Back to the future, again!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Putting the Wind to Work

This is a funny schtick, this video. Why should the wind just blow around aimlessly, knocking hats off, etc.? Why shouldn't it be put to work? It seems so obvious. Eh?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kyoorius Designyatra 2008

St. Cajetan Church, Goa, India

Flea Market Anjuna, Goa, India

For the world traveling designer, India again holds the Kyoorius Designyatra (yatra means "festival" or "celebration"), September 13 - 15. This year's festival is being held in the amazing city of Goa, India. Goa was settled by the Portuguese and is home to a unique blend of western and India cultures. Guess who's gonna be there...Paula Scher (Pentagram), Karim Rashid, Tyler Brule (Monocle Magazine) to name a few! The closest we can get to it right now is the Facebook page. What a hoot this would be! Nameste, Goa!

Germaine Greer Unloads on the Eco-house.

Germaine Greer, noted feminist, takes on architects and the eco-movement in a recent Guardian op-ed. We didn't realize she was an architect critic. Bully for her!

If you are thinking eco-house, the Villa Savoye is a better model than a Devon fisherman's cottage. The new eco-houses should be proud to be different. So far, the difference is in hidden extra cost; if less energy was spent on faking sameness, the costs could be kept down. If you are building a house out of hemp and sheep's wool, it is a pointless extravagance to trick it out in stone.
The article presents an articulate perspective on the "ditsy" nature of an aspect of the eco-house movement, everywhere.

(Image is from an eco-house community in England. Location unknown.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


We have been trying to come up with one good reason to post this terrific photoshopped shoe on the blog. We can't. So, we just thought we'd tell you about our dilemma.

How to Write Like and Architect

If you have noticed your handwriting deteriorating, this could help.

How Much is Your Roof Worth?

"RoofRay is a fantastic new Google Maps hack that allows you to zoom in on any American address' rooftop, specify the surface area available on that roof for solar panels and then calculate the potential power of the system, in total and per square foot. You need to know some arcane details — like the roof angle, a good guess will do— but it's an excellent resource if you're trying to get a rough independent gauge on whether an investment in solar power would pay for itself any time in your lifetime." Boing Boing

AIA150 Project

Library, Philip Exeter Academy,
New Hampshire
Louis Kahn, 1967–72

The American Institute of Architecture (AIA) offers the Shape of America as part of its AIA150 series. This series features familiar, as well as little known structures in America, structures that form the fabric of our communities and our sense of place.

We think this video of Louis Kahn's Phillip Exeter Library is a a terrific architectural inspiration. Also, this video of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, winter home and school in the Sonora Desert is a treat, too.

The structures that Shape of America features are chosen through a "conversation" with the web community. Join the conversation.

Fashion : London

Enclothing, Daijiro Mizuno, PhD, Satin, organza, 500 x 1000 x 450 cm
2008 Royal College of Art, London

We think that we don't do enough coverage of fashion, but maybe a little goes a long way. Choosing carefully we decided to post these photo samples from the annual Summer Show at the Royal College of Art in London. Because we believe that clothing is also architecture, it behooves us to look for the best we can find to show you. We think this is one of the bountiful, gems.

Design Inspiration

It is hard to beat the design style of Loraine over at grijs. Here is one of her Flickr slideshows of inspiring textiles and objects that soothe and excite.

2008 Design Innovation Triumph

TOASTABAG! Say it outloud: Toastabag!

Leave it to the Austrailians. Just when you thought we may have attained the outer reaches of innovation, along comes the Toastabag. We want one! Slap your bread, cheese, ham together, slide it into the Toastabag and produce your own croque-monsieur, madame or madmoiselle.

It's a guess that a drunken chef came up with this idea. We're not sure what it has to do with our blog, but we couldn't resist fitting it in. If you link to the Toastabag page, you will see other innovations, including tattoos for your toast. Who can resist?!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shop 'til the car bursts.

We want to post the lists DesignSponge offered of fleamarkets along the east coast. Because everyone is out there traveling, we thought we would help direct you to the best recycling options. These are offered by the DesignSponge mavens, or is it divas? Absorb.

(The lists include: connecticut, new york, vermont, new hampshire, rhode island. maine and massachusetts. Yeah, Baltimore is not on the list, yet. Does anyone know a great flea market in Baltimore? I would be happy to forward them to DesignSponge for their, possible, future reference.)

What a difference a dig makes!

We thought this photo offered some happy insights into the progress of cities. Boston's Big Dig was a massively expensive urban engineering project that put Boston's Central Artery underground, freeing up space on the earth's surface for parks and businesses. The photo above provides the astonishing images of the effect to the city scape that was achieved by putting the artery underground.

It is heartening to see that such salutary effects can be achieved when cities dare impossible feats for the preservation civil life. Although the project met ridicule and falling public support (not to mention falling ceiling tiles) the long term beneficial results seem worth the short term suffering.

Olympics : Interactive

The New York Times has posted a wonderful interactive map of Beijing Olympics 2008. For all of us who may be riveted by the event this summer, here is a way to get a larger sense of the space in which the events are taking place. If you click on the "New Architecture" option, you can hear Nicolai Ousoussoff, the NYT architecture critic, provide insights into various structures, along with an image slide show. Very nice.

We have to say, of all the daily newspapers, it seems to us that the NYT has been the most successful in using its online media in a very graphically sophisticated and fulsome manner. Yum.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tribeca Roof Decks

Summer brings us all out of doors and onto the patio or deck. Here's a Flickr slide show of a bird's eye view of some roof decks in the wealthy Tribeca neighborhood in NYC, to give you a few ideas for your pied-a-terre. Heh.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Sky

The night sky in Big Bend National Park in Texas
(click for beautiful larger image)

We grabbed this photo from a blog we read. It was sent in by an unnamed reader. This is the reader's "office," because this is where he works. Good assignment! We considered, when pondering this irresistible image, how "at home" one feels in such a gorgeous, vastness, how this sense of place opens one up, while most of our environments close us down. While we love the shelter of home and buildings, we need to occasionally reconnect with the sheer open, beauty of the majestic natural world, which is also our place.

We hope your summer is going beautifully.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wooster Collective

Gorilla Designer

The grab shot of a phone booth in Ann Arbor, MI with the paper cup and string is offered by the Wooster Collective. Wooster Collective celebrates the ephemeral art placed in streets around the world. Anytime you need a design "pick-me-up," and a hearty Cabernet just won't do it, tune into to this sight.


Bauhas, Peter Behrens

1928-1929, Germany
Nickel plated metal, black bakelite
220-240 Volts/500 Watts

We try to bring you the unusual in design and this is another attempt. For all of you collectors out there, here is one of the great sites for, yes, toasters. The Toaster Museum provides sublime photos of one of our most mundane delights. Don't burn yourself!

How many architect interns does it take to... a scale model of Shanghai in the year 2020?

NeatoRama provides some photos and some insight into this 1,000sf, gargantuan project. Even if we were to disregard the Beijing Olympic 2008 marvels, the Chinese seem to revolutionize the architectural world in new ways everyday.