Friday, February 27, 2009

The Way We Live Today Series

Click for larger image.

Homeless Shelter from Packing Peanuts

Thinking of the stimulus package, could someone give this kid a billion and let him loose, please.

12-year-old Max Wallack stole the show at the PBS Design Squad’s Trash to Treasure contest with his “Home Dome.” The contest asked kids to repurpose trash into practical inventions.

The dome provides shelter for the homeless and is made from plastic, wire and packing peanuts. Pretty much, trash.

The trash-plex looks like one of Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes, and let Max walk away with $10,000 and a Dell laptop. He also got a trip to Boston out of it. But Max had this to say, “I don’t really care about the money. I care about helping people.”

This isn’t his first big win. “When I was six,” Max said, “I won an invention contest that included a trip to Chicago. While there, I saw homeless people living on streets, and beneath highways and underpasses. I felt very sorry for these people, and ever since then, felt that my goal and obligation was to find a way to help them. My invention improves the living conditions for homeless people, refugees, or disaster victims by giving them easy-to-assemble shelter.”

Congratulations and thank you, Max!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

PoMo is dead?

Nicholas Bourriaud, Curator, Tate Britain
The Tate Britain, part of the Tate network of galleries, opened the Tate Triennial 2009 on 3 February. French curator and art critic, Nicholas Bourriaud, curated the show. With this show, Bourriaud is announcing that Postmodernism is dead. A statement certain to cause a stir. The show is entitled "Altermodern," designating a name for what he believes is replacing Postmodernism.

Postmodernism stood as a rejection of elitist, bourgeois culture, a movement propelled by the 1960s. Bourriaud declares that we are living in the unique, global context of a world-wide maze from which we are trying to draw meaning.

The maze is pervaded by multiplicity and otherness, unlike modernism which was principally a creation of the western world. Through it, artists and innovators are moving away from standardization and commercialism.

The question Bourriaud asks is what is our modernity in the 21st Century? What is the post-postmodern world?

Laura Cumming, critic for the Guardian UK, has some interesting thoughts about the Bourriaud exhibition.
Altermodernism, if I understand it, is international art that never quite touches down but keeps on moving through places and ideas, made by artists connected across the globe rather than grouped around any central hub such as New York or London. You might take the worldwide web as a model and think in terms of hyperlinks, continuous updates and cultural hybrids. It is most definitely postcolonial, transitional and to some extent provisional, but what it is not, I don't think, is anything as grand, or significant, as a movement.
We believe something has died. PoMo? Probably. But, assuredly, we are seeing the end of the ideas of distance, familiarity, stasis, borders. When we think of how this effects a sense of place, we are awed. This period in the 21st Century may not end up being referred to as the "altermodern" age, but we value the attempt by Bourriaud to get a handle on this amazing diaspora to which we have seemingly been teleported...and tweeted.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Evoking Puerto Rico : A sense of place

Librado Romero/The New York Times
Rincon Carillo is a casita in the United We Stand community garden.
The clubhouses offer a rural Puerto Rican tradition

The New York Times published an intriguing article on the casistas (tiny houses) of the South Bronx. The 16' x 16' house pictured above is one of many scattered throughout the Bronx that are meant to evoke the Puerto Rican countryside, where low-roofed buildings surrounded by gardens, known as casitas, “little houses,” are a common sight. These houses serve as clubhouses, mostly for men, although there are some women's quilting/sewing groups that meet in casitas.

Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr., the Bronx borough president, who last week was appointed to a position in the Obama administration, has urged the New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in a report issued last month to declare Rincon Criollo, along with other casitas, as city landmarks.

This is an unusual slant on historic preservation which usually includes only older, richly historic, long standing buildings. One could argue, at the least, that these are transient, and "merely" modern structures.
Emphasizing sites that have cultural significance, like the casitas, “is very, very different from how we normally have done things, but it is important to broaden the definition,” said Bernd Zimmermann, a former planner in the Bronx borough office who headed the task force that created the list.
We are certain that there is a lively debate about to arise. If culturally significant buildings are designated as landmark buildings, where would that stop?

hat tip: l.young

Friday, February 13, 2009

What Do Kate Spade and Valentine's Day Have to Do with Each Other?

Designer Ellen Lupton's Valentine contribution for Kate Spade.

If you are looking for a cool, last minute way to say "I love you" to your Valentine, designer Kate Spade makes it is oh so easy.

Spade asked 24 artists and designers to create custom valentines. Baltimore's own Master of Design, and DIY Queen, Ellen Lupton, Director of MICA's Design Department, is one of the honored designers. You’ll see watercolor paintings, photographs, brightly animated clips, and cheeky quips. Cheeky quips! Our lips quiver.

Send love now. It's FREE!

Eco-Future : The Paper Bottle

Designer, BrandImage Industrial Design Department offers a sustainable drink container.


Each day, Americans throw out 60 million plastic bottles. Only 14% actually get recycled meaning 86% become garbage or litter. We looked at this as a radical problem requiring an equally radical solution. Could we design a container that would leverage sustainability, be easy to transport, and enhance the consumer’s drinking experience?

The 360 Paper Bottle is a sustainable vision of the future. It is the first totally recyclable paper container made from 100% renewable resources. Versatile in its range of consumer applications and made from food-safe and fully recyclable materials, it decreases energy consumed throughout the product life cycle without sacrificing functionality. It is paper packaging that stands up to all liquid categories."

Via: The Dieline

Eco-Future : The Mud Clock

Many innovative people are happily at work imagining sustainable solutions for our future. Here is one. The Mud Clock.

This clock functions through the chemical engagement of soil/water/metal. And, its nicely designed. The designers are Francesco Costiglioni and Tommasco Chesci. Questo e grande! We love the those Italian designers.

10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites

For all our friends out there who are involved in website design or thoughtful content management, here is a succinct review and an engaging critique of this effort.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Laughable Design

BLAMBOT, a very interesting site for comic-book grammar and traditions, offers a nice review of typographic conventions in comic-book lettering. There have been increasingly interesting design changes in comic book conventions as comic books, or rather, the graphic novel, has mushroomed in popularity. We thought the one above, concerning how to affect a whisper, was worth a post.

WHISPERING: Traditionally, whispered dialogue is indicated by a balloon with a dashed stroke. More recently accepted options are a balloon and dialogue in a muted tone (grayed-out), or with a lowercase font in conjunction with small dialogue/big balloon. Italics are a possibility as well.

We want to keep you, dear reader, on the leading edge, even of the comic world. WAP@! Blam!@%# on you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Let'er Blow!

Wind power continues to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient sources of sustainable energy available. However this simple technology has been perfected over the years and new and improved models continue to emerge. Design Boom offers a look at the state of wind power today, from the biggest most ambitious projects to small and humble designs for personal use.