Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thought for the Holiday

Frank Lloyd Wright - Lake House

"A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart." Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, November 21, 2008

Art in a Time of Crisis

Acclaimed, British novelist, Jeanette Winterson, awarded the OBE in 2006, was besieged with the requests to write about what art means in a time of crisis.  Her response here is fulsome and energizing.  A Winterson thought on creativity:

Art will be doing what it always does; asking us to rename what is important.

Let's get at it.


The International Guerrilla Video Festival (IGVFest) is a mobile festival integrating video art with the urban and social environment. Removing the technologically complex medium of video out of the institutional situation, it is re-positioned as a approachable medium in the public domain.

The works engage and reflect the unique architectural, historical, and interpersonal context of each site in the festival.

Guerrilla Video challenges attempts by advertisers to transform the urban setting into a homogeneous landscape in every city around the globe with ubiquitous billboards and advertising. The festival aims to re-occupy that space infusing it with a reflexive locality showing work created in concert with the community and focusing on issues related to the site. A self-contained, transportable GPU (Guerrilla Projector Unit) facilitates the incursions into the public realm, projecting the videos onto the facades of buildings, monuments, and temporary structures. One form of street art, guerrilla video transforms architecture and public space into a fertile ground for experimentation in the relationship between art and society.

Start shooting!

Europeana Launches

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and the ministers of Culture of the European Union attended the launch of “"Europeana"” in Brussels, Belgium. Europeana, the Eurpean “virtual museum” offers free access to more than two million books, paintings, videos and other digital documents from the cultural centers all over Europe.

The good news, and bad news,
is that 10 million hits on the first day
crashed the system!

People are excited about and hungry for these resources. Viewers who go to the page now, can cursor down the page and enter their email address to receive updates about the status of the digital phantasmagoric resource. This is another site we are going to want to bookmark. You too?

Green is Blue is Green

Left, Rainwater HOG, installation view; right, a Rainwater HOG (Courtesy of Rainwater HOG)

Alison Arieff writes about water in today's NYT. The article offers an urgent message about water and also offers solutions for the retention and capture of the essential blue gold. Though 70% of the earth is covered with water, only 3% is fit for consumption.
Because water is cheap (at least for now) and seemingly in infinite supply, efforts to improve its use — or deter its overuse — have been inadequate. And it’s not just water itself that’s being wasted: there’s the energy required to transport and deliver it (particularly in such cases as Atlanta’s bizarre arrangement to get its water from Alabama and Florida, or any of us buying bottled water from Fiji). But there are innovations, large and small, now available that would provide for systematic management and optimization of our nation’s water.
Accompanying the article are some good photos of green roofs and greywater solutions. You can follow the link in Arieff's article or this link to Greywater Guerrillas. Greywater Guerrillas is a collaborative of educators, designers, builders and artists who educate and empower people to build sustainable water culture and infrastructure. Arieff provides an effective overview of the challenges and emerging solutions to water issues.

Don't miss the comment section following the article---informative and always entertaining.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

LIFE Photo Archive Available on Google

GOP Convention, Baltimore, Maryland 1952, Time, Inc.

We think you are going to want to bookmark this extraordinary collection of over 10 million LIFE magazine images, now available on Google. LIFE Magazine was committed to the philosophy that a picture can tell a story...and mastered it. Thousands of photographers contributed to this amazing collection that spans from 1750 to today. Many of the images were never published!

For gathering a sense of history and place, this collection provides a good excuse for hours of online exploration. (Just for fun, we searched "bowling" and wonderful energized images appeared.) The images in the collection run the gamut from mundane to iconic. As much as we LOVE Flickr, and we do, we applaud the collection's simple interface and the refreshing absence of self-consciousness.

The humanity of this collection dazzles.

Everything Old is New Again : Chipmusic Phenomenon

Blip Festival 2008: The Promo from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Vimeo.

Blip Festival 2008
NYC Dec 4-7

In an effort to keep our readers, and ourselves, current, we wanted to let you know about the newest graphic and musical emergence. To do so we are posting information about the Blip Festival. Blip Festival highlights the chipmusic phenomenon and its related disciplines. Talk about recycling! In this case, designers and musicians collaborate to take us back to the future.

The festival aims to showcase emerging creative niches involving the use of legacy video game & home computer hardware as modern artistic instrumentation.

Devices such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Game Boy and others are repurposed into the service of original, low-res, high-impact electronic music and visuals — sidestepping game culture and instead exploring the technology's untapped potential and distinctive intrinsic character.

If you are going home for the holidays, you may want to fish out that Commodore 64 and dust it off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Design Idea of the Week


1) small baby carriage
2) drill

Get started.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Real Photoshop

by Wanda Kamarga
Click for a better view of this.

Designers, this is what it looked like before it was made into software!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Architecture of Cakes


So THIS is how cars are built. Detroit, get your cake on!

Alternative Uses of Architecture

Parkour, or Free Running, hit the global scene with the making of Jump London, in London in 2003. Since then, the skills of the art have been practiced vigorously on both high and low architectural structures. There is some contention that Parkour, founded by Frenchman, David Belle and Free Running, founded by Sebastien Foucan are really the same sport. However, the founders insist that there are distinct differences. Parkour as a discipline comprises efficiency, while free running embodies complete freedom of movement — and includes many acrobatic maneuvers. Although the two often look physically similar, the mindsets of each are vastly different. Parkour, strives for efficiency and humility, while Free Running strives for self-development and freedom. However, to make things simple, most in the West refer to all such activities as Free Running.

Just to emphasize the the importance of architecture to the sport, a new book "LA Climbs: Alternative Uses For Architecture" by author Alex Hartley, was recently released. The publication had a series of LA buildings analyzed not for architectural merit, but, rather, for how one might interact with the structure and space as field of unfolding sequences by someone running, hopping, climbing, as one would in Pakour or Free Running. The author provides a diagram of each structure he analyses for interaction. This use of architecture for sport could certainly give the planned functionality of the constructed world a wholly different slant. Heads up architects!

Earth Architecture

Ihlow House - Berlin, Germany
A vast legacy of traditional and vernacular earthen construction has been widely discussed, but little attention has been paid to the contemporary tradition of earth architecture. We liked this one featured at Earth Architecture. Earth Architecture focuses on building with earth in the modern era, particularly on projects constructed in the last few decades that use rammed earth, mud brick, compressed earth, cob, and several other interesting techniques.

Many assume that rammed earth construction is only used for housing in poor rural areas—but there are examples of airports, embassies, hospitals, museums, and factories that are made of earth. The Ihlow House, shown above, can be further explored here.

DESIGN ALERT: High Ceilings Spur Creative Thinking

Camino Restaurant, Oakland CA

We were intrigued by a recent study at the University of Minnesota, indicating that high ceilings spur creative thinking. The study concludes that people in a high-ceiling room are "primed" to think broadly because of the sense of freedom associated with the space... while the containment of a lower-ceiling room encourages people to think small and focused. Read the article. PDF

This study comes out of the emerging field of "atmospherics." Atmospherics, primarily used for retail / consumer studies, examines the ways in which people's environment affects their thinking and well-being, but until now most research had focused on sensory factors such as smell or background music, not structural aspects. This information about spatial relations, usually intuited by designers, is now a matter of science.

Financial Crisis cools the "Wow!" in Architecture.

Rendering, Burj Tower, Dubai

UK architect, David Chipperfield, a former Harvard University visiting professor has an explanation for the iconic-building frenzy. Architects, he says, are under pressure to deliver structures with "the `wow' factor'' that will attract funds and visitors. While the search for new form has been "liberating for the profession,'' it also `"produces a lot of rubbish,'' he says bluntly..."It's an architecture of excess, a consequence of there being too much money around,'' says the British architect. "At a time when people are worried about other things, those (projects) become really irritating, and probably less relevant. So I think we will see a mood shift -- a certain sensibility coming back.''

Here's his interview in

Maya Lin, architect or artist?

Maya Lin
The New York Times offers this video essay on Maya Lin's most recent "Wave Field" installation at the magnificent and pastoral, 500-acre Storm King Art Center in New York. She is best known for the deeply moving Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. Lin won the competition for the memorial as a 21 year old student at Yale School of Architecture.

The video offers an inspiring look at her portfolio of projects and the vision behind her large installations, as well as, her smaller experimental works. It was interesting to us that she addresses, in this video, the feelings she encounters in her struggle between architecture and art.

Other Links to Maya Lin:
Documentary: "Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision"
Peach Chapel
The Confluence Project

Blab! For Christmas? Pow!! Blam!!

This may be the gift for a design, comic / graphic
novel fan or historian in your life

BLAB!: A Retrospective
1 August – 2 November 2008

Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
Kansas State University
701 Beach Lane
Manhattan, KS 66506

OK. You are probably not going to be in Manhattan, Kansas anytime soon. But here's the design scoop.

This exhibition features an eclectic gathering of stylistically varied work by alternative comics artists, illustrators, graphic designers, printmakers, and painters from BLAB!, the annual anthology of visual art produced by Chicago-based graphic designer and art director Monte Beauchamp.

BLAB! began in 1986 as a self-published fanzine (fan-produced magazine) devoted to MAD magazine and other EC Comics publications. Today it is a significant outlet for a wide variety of contemporary artists. BLAB!'s influence has cut a broad swath across contemporary visual culture. It has helped launch many artists' careers. It has introduced American audiences to important contemporary European graphic and comics artists. And, it has contributed meaningfully to the blurring of boundaries between alternative graphics and mainstream illustration. All of the work in this exhibition has been featured in BLAB!

The good news is that the exhibition catalogue is available for the comic book fans in your life (rumor has it that President-elect Obama is a serious collector of comic books and graphic novels.) 128 pages; 84 color illus.; graphic design by Monte Beauchamp; essays by David A. Beronä, Mark Frauenfelder, and Bill North; in-depth interview with Monte Beauchamp by Matt Dukes Jordan.
ISBN-13: 978-1-890751-15-9; $20.

You can purchase this collector item by credit card, call 785-532-7718. Send check or money order for $20.00 plus $4.00 for shipping (via UPS) for the first copy, $1.00 for each additional copy, payable to Beach Museum of Art at:

Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
Kansas State University
701 Beach Lane
Manhattan, KS 66506