Posts Tagged ‘design’
From the New School of Architecture and Design, “Failure by Design”– an infographic that charts major architectural blunders through the ages… Visit the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Tower of Pisa, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and other famously ill-conceived constructions for explications of the miscalculations at work and the lessons they teach.
* Frank Lloyd Wright
As we take up our t-squares, we might send exquisitely-wrought birthday greetings to the architect of “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges; he was born on this date in 1899. An accomplished poet, essayist, and translator, Borges is of course best remembered for his short stories. In reaction to 19th century Realism and Naturalism, Borges blended philosophy and fantasy to create an altogether new kind of literary voice. Indeed, critic Angel Flores credits Borges with founding the movement that Flores was the first to call “Magic Realism.”
There’s no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one.
[Readers may recognize that the title of this post is appropriated from Donald Norman's wonderful primer on smart design...]
As we endeavor to emulate the Eames, we might send a birthday snapshot to the father of modern photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson; he was born on this date in 1908. An early master of the 35mm format, he pioneered “street shooting” and more broadly, a form of candid photography that set the model– and the standard– for generations of photojournalists who’ve followed. Indeed, after World War II (most of which he spent as a prisoner of war) and his first museum show (at MoMA in 1947), he joined Robert Capa and others in founding the Magnum photo agency, which enabled photojournalists to reach a broad audience through magazines such as Life, while retaining control over their work.
To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.
- from his book The Decisive Moment (1952)
Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.
- from an interview in The Washington Post (1957; recounted here)
Brazilian designer Niege Borges is collecting, diagramming, and sharing the most famous (and infamous) dances from film and television. She explains:
In 1518, a bunch of people from a french town called Stransbourg were affected by something called dancing mania. It began with one lady named Frau Troffea dancing in the street and end up with, more or less, 400 people dancing on for days without rest, resulting in some deaths of heart attack, stroke and exhaustion. This project is, in some sort of way, a memorial for Frau Toffea. From the silliest little dance to the most elaborate dance sequence of the history of cinema, there were a lot of dancing in the last decades (not enough to kill anyone, I hope). Here are some of these dances.
From Tom Cruise’s BVD’ed turn in Risky Business, through Monty Python’s “Fish Slapping Dance,” to Monica’s and Ross’ “TV dance” (above), readers will find a growing set of instructive pictographs at “Dancing Plague of 1518” (and more of Borges work, here).
[TotH to CoDesign]
* George Bernard Shaw
As we measure off our rugs for cutting, we might send wondrous birthday greetings to Stevland Hardaway Judkins**; he was born on this date in 1950– prematurely. The incubator into which he was placed had an incorrectly-regulated flow of oxygen; too much flowed in, aggravating the retinopathy that was a function of his early arrival, and leaving him blind. As a young child, he turned to music, picking up the piano, harmonica, drums and bass, and singing in his church choir. At 11 he was discovered by Motown Records, where producer Clarence Paul bestowed what became the youngster’s trademark name after stating “we can’t keep calling him the eighth wonder of the world”: Little Stevie Wonder. Little Stevie released a single in 1961, two albums in 1962, but broke big in 1963 with “Fingertips (Part 2).” In the mid-60s he dropped “Little” from his name, and began to agitate for more creative control over his recordings.
In 1971, as he came of legal age, Wonder got that artistic freedom (and an unprecedented royalty rate) in a new Motown contract… and the hits began to roll. Over the next five years he released five albums– Music of My Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), and Songs in the Key of Life (1976)– from which come the vast majority of what most would consider to be his greatest hits, including “Superstition” (1971), “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” (1973), “Higher Ground” (1973), “Livin’ For The City” (1973), “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” (1974), “I Wish” (1977), and “Sir Duke” (1977).
He’s sold over 100 million recordings, won 22 Grammys (plus a Lifetime Achievement Grammy), earned an Oscar, and been inducted into the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame… among many, many other honors.
** Stevie was born in Saganaw, Michigan; his mother moved the family to Detroit when he was four, and changed the family name to Hardaway (her maiden name); later she changed Stevie’s last name to Morris– his legal surname ever since.
Through the month running up to the November election, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is featuring the responses of four design firms to the challenge of “re-branding America.”
This week’s entrant, MGMT, started from the observation that the U.S. flag is, in fact, an infographic, representative of both America’s history and its modern identity: 13 stripes = 13 original colonies; 50 stars = 50 states– good as far as it goes, but what else, MGMT asked, might a flag communicate…
Readers can find Mendes entries here.
As we stand to attention and salute, we might recall that it was on this date in 1962 that President John F. Kennedy took to television to report to the nation that Soviet nuclear missiles had been stationed in Cuba, and that in response, the U.S. was launching a naval blockade– and the Cuban Missile Crisis began.
Fifty years later, with the benefit of recently-declassified documents, it’s clear that the crisis was even more dangerous than it felt at the time… and as Ploughshares notes, its effects are with us still.
Knolling is “the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization.” It was coined by Andrew Kromelow, a janitor who worked for Frank Gehry.
At the time, Gehry was designing chairs for Knoll, a company famously known for Florence Knoll’s angular furniture. Kromelow would arrange any displaced tools at right angles on all surfaces, and called this routine knolling, in that the tools were arranged in right angles—similar to Knoll furniture. The result was an organized surface that allowed the user to see all objects at once.
Sculptor Tom Sachs, who spent two years in Gehry’s shop as a fabricator, adopted the term from Kromelow, and employed the phrase “Always be Knolling” (abbreviated as ABK) as a mantra for his studio; from his 2009 studio manual, 10 Bullets:
BULLET II: ALWAYS BE KNOLLING (ABK)
- Scan your environment for materials, tools, books, music, etc. which are not in use.
- Put away everything not in use. If you aren’t sure, leave it out.
- Group all ‘like’ objects.
- Align or square all objects to either the surface they rest on, or the studio itself.
As we hold the line on chaos, we might recall that it was on this date in 1923, that the 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding, died in the Presidential Suite of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. An “America First” proponent, Harding had promised a return to normalcy after World War I. In the event, he delivered an administration plagued with corruption– including the infamous Teapot Dome scandal; one member of his cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually tried, convicted, and sent to prison for bribery and/or defrauding the federal government. It’s no mystery then that Harding has consistently ranked at or near the bottom in rankings of Presidents. But given that Harding entered politics from a career as a journalist, it may come as a surprise that he earned this obituary comment from poet ee cummings: “The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.”