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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: FEBRUARY 24, 2011


Africa: Where Events Are King

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JOHN THACKARA

Africa: Where Events Are King

John Thackara: What's the most irritating preconception we in the North have about Africa?

Mugendi M’Rithaa:  It would be the assumption that problems that occur in one place in Africa are typical of life for the rest of the continent. Pascal Eze coined the acronym PIDIC to describe such stereotypes: it stands for poverty, political instability, disease, illiteracy, and corruption. A group of us started Design With Africa as a counterweight to PIDIC attitudes. We want to facilitate a more informed and progressive dialogue. Africa is a far more dynamic and optimistic place than it is given credit for!
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PLACES : DOROTHY TANG & ANDREW WATKINS

Ecologies of Gold: The Past and Future Mining Landscapes of Johannesburg

In the late 19th century, Johannesburg was a boomtown, the setting for an extensive network of gold mines. Today many of these mines are played out, and they've become the site of informal settlements — communities now challenged by the ecological degradation that is the legacy of deep-shaft mining. Here — as part of Design Observer's focus on South Africa — landscape architect Dorothy Tang and urban designer Andrew Watkins explore how the defunct mines might be rehabilitated to create socially and environmentally responsible urban landscapes.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JULIE LASKY

Horseman, Pass By!

I hope my family likes it or it will be back to the secondhand shop, a treasure for some future scavenger of dislocated bits of peripatetic people’s lives.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JESSICA HELFAND

New Lives for Old Paper

It's difficult, perhaps impossible to imagine a designer whose eye is not drawn to ephemera — the flimsy, forgettable, never-meant-to-survive bits of two-dimensional matter that circumscribe our daily lives  — and by conjecture, to paper's wondrous reincarnation in collage. Does this not make collage the most sustainable of art forms?
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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Gail Anderson

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Gail Anderson discusses making little magazines as a child, having Paula Scher as a teacher, her first job at Vintage, working at Rolling Stone for fifteen years, leaving magazine work for theater work and what the next chapter in her life holds.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

ISO The Digital Sidewalk Critic

John Swansburg's Slate essay, "I hate my iPad" is just what design criticism needs to be.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

On My Shelf: Richard Neville's Playpower

I didn’t see the original 1970 hardback of Playpower until many years after I read the book. I bought it immediately. As with all Martin Sharp’s underground art, an ambivalent satirical malaise taints the liberated psychedelic fantasy and the joke is probably on the reader.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : MEENA KADRI

Yoza

Delivered in installments by phone, and later collected on a website, Yoza stories are directed to African youth who are book-poor yet mobile-rich.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

What Kind of Design Institutes for India?

A decision by the Indian government set up four new National Institutes of Design (NIDs) in the country has sparked a lively debate about the kinds of design they should teach.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Neat Freaks

Isn't organizing things neatly what modernists do?
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PLACES : LISA FINDLEY

Red and Gold: A Tale of Two Apartheid Museums

South Africa Week
 
In celebration of Design Indaba, the annual international design conference in Cape Town, the Designer Observer Group will post articles related to South Africa throughout the week. 
 
It has been almost two decades since the end of apartheid in South Africa, and since then, as architect Lisa Findley writes, the nation has been exploring ways to "commemorate and curate an era that will define all that came before and after." Here Findley analyzes two very different apartheid museums, both of which reflect the difficulties of memorializing a complex and terrible history.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 02.20.11

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : NANCY LEVINSON

Architect Barbie

Eleven-and-a-half inches tall, made of polyvinyl chloride and synthetic fibers, Barbie made her debut in March 1959 at the toy fair in New York City. With her zebra-striped swimsuit and top-knotted ponytail, Barbie looked ready-made for fun. But in fact she's always been a career girl: fashion model, ballerina, doctor, astronaut, firefighter, ambassador for world peace, McDonald's cashier ... you name it, Barbie's been it. But somehow she's never been an architect. Until now. 

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CHANGE OBSERVER : JULIE LASKY

DesigNYC, Round 2

The people who gathered at the New York Art Directors Club on a Thursday morning in January were nothing like a wedding party — and yet they appeared to be obsessed with marriage.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

An Empire State of Mind

This afternoon I will be participating in "The Empire Tweets Back," a program sponsored by MoMA and WNYC attendant with MoMA's recently opened exhibition Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures. The premise is this: a series of writers provide live running commentary on Twitter during a marathon screening of Warhol's 8-hour film "Empire," which is basically one very, very, very long shot of America's favorite skyscraper, the Empire State Building.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Not David Carson

A special interview about David Carson, featuring guest vocalist Simon Lince.
Listen >>
More Design Matters Archive >>

CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Acumen Sexy Sanitation Challenge

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

past post past post past post

PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2001

The High Line

High Line photographs from Joel Sternfeld.
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