CHANGE OBSERVER : ALEXANDRA LANGE
This is the museum’s second foray into the world of social and sustainable design, after last winter’s successful "Rising Currents
." While it contains a number of worthy (if occasionally over-exposed) projects, the inability of “Small Scale” curator Andres Lepik to define his terms means the exhibition fails to move the conversation forward.
OBSERVATORY : LEONARD KOREN
If you have this book in your hands, you’re most likely a creator or culture worker who, on any number of occasions, has been seized by the desire to wrestle the terms “aesthetic” and “aesthetics” to the ground and strip them of their pretensions. This has probably occurred when you’ve heard or read “aesthetic” or “aesthetics” used in some vague or ambiguous way whose main purpose, it seemed, was to fill semantic dead space, as in I really like his uh, uh, ummm, aesthetics
CHANGE OBSERVER : MARIA POPOVA
Malcolm Gladwell's take on social media is like a nun's likely review of the Kama Sutra — self-righteous and misguided by virtue of voluntary self-exclusion from the subject. But while the nun's stance reflects adherence to a moral code, Gladwell's merely discloses a stubborn opinion based on little more than a bystander’s observations.
OBSERVATORY : AIGA AND WINTERHOUSE INSTITUTE
Two writers have been selected to receive the fifth annual AIGA Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing & Criticism — including a $10,000 prize and a $1,000 student award. Winning topics include Southern California-inspired architecture in China, dormitory design, 9/11 and Lady Gaga.
CHANGE OBSERVER : PHIL PATTON
The iPod Nano is an example of frugal engineering as much as the Tata Nano
— the $2,200 Indian “people’s car,” whose single windshield wiper sums up the impulse for austerity in product design. Versions of the tiny music player did away with the screen and controls of other iPods in an effort to lower the price as well as increase portability.
PLACES : WILLIAM W. BRAHAM
Is self-sufficiency an illusory goal for architectural or urban design? As architect William Braham says: "Environmental design these days can be seen as the scaling-up of survivalism — as moving beyond the purchase of a backup generator, some tanks of water and a photovoltaic panel to the design of autonomous buildings." To Braham this raises key questions: How independent can a household or a building really be? Is environmental design just another form of disaster-preparedness? Or can it offer something different, more expansive?
OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL ERARD
The one book you'll find on the shelves of writers, editors, and publishers, The Chicago Manual of Style
used to be a bible of the bibliocentric universe, with its slugs and leads, quads and ems, versos and rectos, compositors and copyreaders. I write "used to be," because all that's changed now.
OBSERVATORY : STEPHEN VINCENT BENéT
It rained a lot that spring. You woke in the morning
And saw the sky still clouded, the streets still wet,
But nobody noticed so much, except the taxis
And the people who parade. You don't, in a city.
The parks got very green. All the trees were green
Far into July and August, heavy with leaf,
Heavy with leaf and the long roots boring and spreading,
But nobody noticed that but the city gardeners
And they don't talk.