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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: DECEMBER 16, 2010


Agency or Studio? The Dutch Design Dilemma

FEATURED THIS WEEK : RICK POYNOR

Agency or Studio? The Dutch Design Dilemma

There was a time when Dutch graphic design led the world. It looked unequivocally Dutch because it came from a national modernist tradition of typography and montage to which it continually referred. Today, the country's graphic design is much less obviously Dutch. Instead, international conventions of advertising, marketing, branding, fashion and popular culture shape its graphic routines and styles of address. Designers offer the same rationales heard everywhere that a market-driven view of graphic design calls the shots.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

On Boring

I often get told that my architecture ideas are boring. But almost every publication I read publishes boring stories. They have just decided which boring they like.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JESSICA HELFAND

Be Careful What You Wish For

What happens when you combine People's Sexiest Man Alive with GQ's Hottest Babe? They get married!

Then they split up.
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PLACES : JON CALAME

The Roma of Rome: Heirs to the Ghetto System

"In Italy today, politicians have become the lead architects of a low-cost human-warehousing system designed to contain the minority Roma, or Gypsy, community," writes historic preservationist Jon Calame. Here we present a report, with a detailed slideshow, in which Calame tracks a network of marginalized housing camps  — what he calls the latest chapter in a long, dark history of state-sponsored ghettos.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

British Incursion

A bit of news: I am pleased to announce that I will be joining The Architectural Review as Associate American Editor. It's an honor to appear on the masthead of that distinguished publication, one with such a long tradition of excellence (Pevsner, Banham, etc) that it carries forward to this day.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JESSICA HELFAND

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman!

In it's first competition in nearly 160 years, the Canada Post announced last month that it is enlisting the public's help in designing a new stamp to raise awareness for mental health issues.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : CONSTANTIN BOYM

Out of Sight: Qatari Workers' Housing

Typical of Arabian Gulf states, Qatar is a complex multinational society, where many different cultures seem to co-exist without much interference. “Live and let live” is a defining characteristic. Yet the ways of “living” could not be more different.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Throw Pillows As Character

Most contemporary novels feint at design particularity with brand names, but Major Pettigrew's Last Stand offers a series of lived-in living rooms, golf clubs, seaside promenades and estates.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

What Should Design Researchers Research? Report from 2020

I was invited by the Design Research Society to speak at their symposium in Birmingham, UK. Their theme: 2050 and All That.

So first I did a quick scamper through Peak Everything: peak climate, peak biodiversity, peak oil, peak food, peak water, peak credit and so on; I touched on Adbusters' notions of a Doomsday Machine Economy and True Cost Economics; and I repeated my proposition that we are all emerging economies now.
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PLACES : DAVID HEYMANN

Site, Ascendant

"The role of site in various forms of Western cultural production has evolved dramatically over the past 50 years," writes architect and Places contributing editor David Heymann. "Roughly speaking, where once site was seen as setting, now it is seen as source." In the third and last (for a while) of his series on landscape and buildings, Heymann delves into this dramatic evolution, exemplified in landmarks of Land Art by Turrell, Smithson, et al., and in projects by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, Peter Zumthor, OMA, Zaha Hadid, et al., all of which underscore what Heymann calls the ascendance of site as "a primary form-driving factor in current architectural design."
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CHANGE OBSERVER : ADAM HARRISON LEVY

Sustainable Christmas Trees

Those who are needled by the wastefulness of Christmas trees can take comfort: the traditional tree is undergoing a redefinition. This change is in terms of production and marketing but also in the way trees are being bought and used. The shift is gaining momentum: a convergence of environmental consciousness, economics and emotion, now given an extra boost by a recession-inspired do-it-yourself sensibility.
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OBSERVATORY : CARL SCHOONOVER

Portraits of the Mind

Take a brain out of its skull, cut a thin slice, examine it under a microscope and you will see nothing but grey, barely differentiated matter. You might be astonished then, as late nineteenth anatomists were, to discover that when treated in the right manner the blank slate contains a universe teaming with small parts, thousands upon thousands of lines wrapping around each other in terrifyingly convoluted patterns.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

Beauty on the Border

Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han, of Seattle's Lead Pencil Studio, recently put up a piece along the Canadian border that is stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 12.12.10

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Marian Bantjes, Alexander Gelman & Michael Surtees

Marian Bantjes, typographer, Alexander Gelman, designer extraordinaire & Michael Surtees of DesignNotes.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Roudha Center

Report on Roudha Center, a proposal for a one-stop hub for Qatari women to learn the nuts and bolts of launching a business
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2009

Infrastructural Optimism

Learning from New Orleans, or why we really need a new New Deal.
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