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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: FEBRUARY 03, 2011


Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mentor, Or, Why Modernist Designers Are Superior

FEATURED THIS WEEK : MICHAEL BIERUT

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mentor, Or, Why Modernist Designers Are Superior

My first job was a place of rules: typefaces you could use, typefaces you couldn't and always on a modular grid. When I arrived there as the most junior of junior designers in 1980, my portfolio couldn't have been more eclectic. Filled with excitable homages to everyone from Wolfgang Weingart to Pushpin Studios, my college-era work begged for a diagnosis of Multiple Designer Personality Disorder. You might have expected me to rebel against the strictures to which I was subjected by Massimo Vignelli, my first boss. Instead, I willingly submitted to them. For ten years. And, as a result, I am a better designer today.
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PLACES : TIM CULVAHOUSE

The New Orleans Corner Store

In the second installment of a series on the built character of New Orleans, Tim Culvahouse explores a once common type: the corner store or bar or restaurant. These often humble and convivial places were the byproduct of design ingenuity and local experience, and as such they are "worth the consideration of designers working on the rehabilitation of the city." But many corner stores are now derelict, casualties of changing demographics and the post-Katrina hollowing out of neighborhoods like the Ninth Ward. Their revival, says Culvahouse, "affords a rare opportunity" to designers struggling to find forms that both respect the past and create the future.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Renewable Energy: Salvation or Snake Oil?

The Energy Report, published today by the World Wildlife Fund, asserts that the world's energy needs could be met by wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower and sustainable forms of bio-energy. Yes, but at what cost?
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PLACES : PLACES EDITORS

Great Places Awards Entries Due February 11

The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) is accepting submissions for the 13th Annual Great Places Awards for Place Design, Planning and Research. Entries are due February 11.

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CHANGE OBSERVER : MARIA POPOVA

COMMON

Can capitalism and social good co-exist? That's the question Alex Bogusky is answering with a wholehearted yes in his new venture, an open-source medium for social innovation.
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OBSERVATORY : JUDE STEWART

Grandma's Matchbook Collection

My grandma collected matches. She scooped them up on business trips from the 1940s through the 80s, while buying ladies’ dresswear for a department store in Louisville, Kentucky. An unapologetic little chimney herself, her rhythm was athletic as a baton toss: one matchbook for the purse, one for the table nestling the smokes. One book burned up on the spot; the other got shepherded into a tall glass jug, slightly larger than a lung, to wait out its unignited life in her basement.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

The Moms Aren't Wrong

Don't dismiss mothers' complaints as whiny and overprotective. In them lie the seeds of a greener, younger and more accessible city.
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PLACES : MIMI ZEIGER

The Interventionist's Toolkit

The great recession is causing some design firms to be downsized, bought out or shut down, and the longer range effects (inevitably personal as well as professional) are only just sharpening into focus. But it's also inspiring a wave of creativity — what Mimi Zeiger calls "provisional, opportunistic, ubiquitous, and odd tactics in guerilla and DIY practice and urbanism." As Zeiger reports, an emerging generation of architects, artists and urbanists is responding to the scarcity of conventional commissions by devising inventive ways to engage the city and the culture. Here we present the first of a series on what Zeiger calls "the interventionist's toolkit."
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JULIE LASKY

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Hype

After sitting through two dozen aerial stunts, accompanied by a score with a U2 pedigree, and by something that might be described as a plot, I emerged astonished by only one thing: that no one has actually died while making this musical.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JONATHAN SCHULTZ

Give a Minute

Local Projects's new initiative invites urban citizens to organize and act to improve their blocks, stoops, playgrounds, even exercise routines.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 01.30.11

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

Dee Dee Gordon

Dee Dee Gordon, renowned youth culture expert. Featured on PBS's Frontline Special Merchants of Cool.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Acumen Sexy Sanitation Challenge

Acumen Fund announces winners of its "Sexy Sanitation" challenge.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 1983

An Interview with James Turrell

A 1983 interview with James Turrell, then beginning his transformation of the Roden Crater. The monumental work is scheduled to open to the public in 2012.
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Change Observer

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