Posts Tagged ‘design’
Q1: What is, traditionally, the principal unit of measurement for measuring floorspace in Taiwan? Taipei 101’s floorspace of 379,296 square meters converts to about 114,737 of the unit in question.
Q2: If you’re playing Magic: The Gathering, what slangy verb (synonymous with poke, zap, and Tim) might you use to signify dealing one hit point of damage to a target?
Q3: Analogies: Rosalind is to Ganymede as Éowyn is to Dernhelm as Fa Mulan is to whom?
Q4: What fictional wanderer, introduced in a 1933 book often read by Captain Kangaroo, lives with “his mother and his father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins”?
Q5: What networking utility, first written for 4.2a BSD UNIX in 1983, sends echo request packets and reports on echo replies?
* Samuel Beckett, “Ping.”
As we sign up for the next pub quiz, we might spare a thought for John Baskerville, English printer and typefounder; he died on this date in 1775. Among Baskerville’s publications in the British Museum’s collection are Aesop’s Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770). And as for his fonts, Baskerville’s creations (including the famous “Baskerville”) were so successful that his competitors resorted to claims that they damaged the eyes.
“Design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society”*…
The Harvard Art Museums hold one of the first and largest collections relating to the Bauhaus, the 20th century’s most influential school of art and design. Active during the years of Germany’s Weimar Republic (1919–33), the Bauhaus aimed to unite artists, architects, and craftsmen in the utopian project of designing a new world. The school promoted experimental, hands-on production; realigned hierarchies between high and low, artist and worker, teacher and student; sharpened the human senses toward both physical materials and media environments; embraced new technologies in conjunction with industry; and imagined and enacted cosmopolitan forms of communal living. The legacies of the Bauhaus are visible today, extending well beyond modernist forms and into the ways we live, teach, and learn.
In its mere 14 years of existence, and across its three locations, three directors, and hundreds of students from around the world, the Bauhaus entertained diverse political and artistic positions, and served as hothouse for a variety of “isms,” from expressionism, Dadaism, and constructivism to various hybrids thereof…
Tour the collection at “The Bauhaus.”
* Walter Gropius
As we grapple with Gropius, we might spare a thought for another kind of utopian– physician and health-food pioneer John Harvey Kellogg, who died on this date in 1943, aged 91. For 62 years before his death, Kellogg operated a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan that was run along holistic lines: a vegetarian, he advocated low calorie diets and developed peanut butter, granola, and toasted cereals; he warned that smoking caused lung cancer decades before this link was studied; and he was an early advocate of exercise. For all that, he is surely best remembered, for having developed corn flakes (with his brother Will, who went on to sweeten and commercialize them).
Japanese match book covers… Many more at Agence Eureka.
* “Trois Allumettes,” Jacques Prevert
As we close the cover before striking, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that the Meiji Constitution went into effect in Japan, and the first Diet convened. Modeled on both the Prussian and the British models, the Meiji Constitution provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy that lasted until 1947. In practice, the Emperor was head of state, but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government.
This Nov. 8, even if you manage to be registered in time and have the right identification, there is something else that could stop you from exercising your right to vote.
The ballot. Specifically, the ballot’s design.
Bad ballot design gained national attention almost 16 years ago when Americans became unwilling experts in butterflies and chads. The now-infamous Palm Beach County butterfly ballot, which interlaced candidate names along a central column of punch holes, was so confusing that many voters accidentally voted for Patrick Buchanan instead of Al Gore.
We’ve made some progress since then, but we still likely lose hundreds of thousands of votes every election year due to poor ballot design and instructions. In 2008 and 2010 alone, almost half a million people did not have their votes counted due to mistakes filling out the ballot. Bad ballot design also contributes to long lines on election day. And the effects are not the same for all people: the disenfranchised are disproportionately poor, minority, elderly and disabled…
More– with some encouraging examples of remedies– at “Disenfranchised by Bad Design.”
As we pull the lever, we might spare a thought for Rex Todhunter Stout; he died on this date in 1975. A writer of detective fiction, he created master sleuth Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin, who were featured in 33 novels and 39 novellas between 1934 and 1975– earning Stout the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award.
But as importantly, Stout had a vital career as a public intellectual and activist: he was active in the early years of the American Civil Liberties Union and a founder of the Vanguard Press. He served as head of the Writers’ War Board during World War II, became a radio celebrity, and was active in promoting world federalism, and was the long-time president of the Authors Guild.
Where do patterns come from? While some might be computer-generated using the latest in image scanning and digital printing technologies, many more can be sourced to the Design Library—the world’s largest collection of patterns.
Located about 75 minutes from Manhattan in the Hudson Valley village of Wappingers Falls, the Design Library holds more than 7 million different documentary fabrics, original paintings, wallpapers, embroideries, and yarn dyes inside a huge, 12,000-square foot converted fabric mill. Designers hailing from couture fashion brands, as well as those from national chains and big-box stores, all travel to the library to find historical material to use, adapt, and remix in service of their own creative vision.
“The idea here is to get [the patterns] back out into the world and let the world see them recreated, even duplicated,” says Peter Koepke, the owner of the Design Library…
Browse further at “Inside The World’s Largest Pattern Library.”
* Paul Rand
As we agree with Charles Eames that “the details aren’t the details, they make the design,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1906 that Karl Ludwig Nessler (who changed his name for commercial purposes to “Nestle”), demonstrated the first “permanent wave” for hair in his beauty salon in Oxford Street, London, to an invited audience of hair stylists. The hair was soaked with an alkaline solution and rolled on metal rods which were then heated strongly.
This initial method had the disadvantages of being expensive, very lengthy (about 5 hours) and required a cumbersome machine beneath which the client was obliged to wear a dozen brass curlers, each weighing 1-3/4 lb.
But Nessler/Nestle continuously improved his process. With the outbreak of WW I, he moved to the United States and opened salons in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Palm Beach and Philadelphia, ultimately employing 500.
This solemn group of posters teaching safety to British citizens comes from the archive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The images are from the Wellcome Library’s website; I first saw them on the blog the Passion of Former Days.
The RoSPA displayed a series of its 20th-century posters in a 2012 exhibition, after rediscovering a small archive of them in an outbuilding. In the exhibition notes,RoSPA curators noted that the society, which dates back to World War I, focused on road safety and pedestrian awareness in the 1920s and 1930s (much like analogous American safety organizations).
From the redoubtable Rebecca Onion: “Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters.”
* Vladimir Nabokov,
As we put safety first, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that the Great New England Hurricane (AKA, The Long Island Express) dissipated. It had made landfall on Long Island on September 21. With impact felt from New Jersey all the way north to Canada, the storm was estimated to have killed 682 people, damaged or destroyed over 57,000 homes, and caused property losses estimated at $306 million ($4.7 billion in current value).
“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated”*…
Home to drawings, textiles, jewelry, furniture, and thousands of other design objects, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is taking increased advantage of the internet’s digital real estate. The museum recently completed a massive digitization project that places almost its entire collection online; nearly 200,000 objects are now accessible and searchable, allowing online visitors to see just how rich its holdings are. Many of these works currently reside in the institution’s storage facility, so the project is a means of placing them in the public eye on a platform that also offers background information on each one…
More at “From Tiny Stairs to Taxidermy Earrings, 200,000 Objects from Cooper Hewitt Go Online“; dive into the collection here.
As we shake out the duster, we might recall that it was on this date in 1940 that a teenager named Marcel Ravidat discovered the entrance to Lascaux Caves in southwest France. Following a dog down the narrow entrance and into the cavern, Ravidat and three friends came upon (part of) the now-storied collection of wall markings– 15,000- to 17,000-year-old paintings, consisting mostly of animal representations– that are among the world’s finest examples of art from the Upper Paleolithic period.