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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: MARCH 03, 2011


Alex Steffen: Worldchanging II

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JULIE LASKY

Alex Steffen: Worldchanging II

Change Observer: How has the world changed in the five years since you published the first edition of Worldchanging?

Alex Steffen: The biggest change is that sustainability and the awareness of the need for sustainability are mainstream in ways they’re weren’t five years ago. Then, outside of specialized conversations, it was hard to find many ideas about sustainable design or green buildings. In the intervening years, we have not only seen a lot of really dire news that convinced many mainstream, credible people that these were important issues that deserved attention, but also social and cultural movements that have really taken off: the food movement, the trend towards walkable neighborhoods. Green building has rapidly moved from a hot topic to the way things are done.
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PLACES : JUSTIN PARTYKA

Black Fen

"From a distance, under the towering sky, Isleham appears like a mirage. It seems incongruous that a village should be located in the middle of such a flat desolate landscape," writes Justin Partyka, describing a visit to the fenlands of east England. "The presence of water is constant. Driving across this landscape feels like crossing a great sea. The road undulates from the ever-shifting land, tossing the car like a small boat." Here we present a portfolio of Partyka's photographs focusing on the fens and the vanishing way of life of the farmers who've worked the land for generations.
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OBSERVATORY : STEVEN HELLER

Souvenirs as Nazi Propaganda

Adolf Hitler made money off design. Thanks to his personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler earned one pfennig every time his face was used on a postage stamp and received royalties from all the postcards, posters and photographs using his picture that were sold to the public — and the public was encouraged to buy many and often.
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FROM OUR SPONSOR

Design Ignites Change announces 2010 award winners.
Show support with style, buy the limited edition "Feedback Loop" notebooks at Felt & Wire. All proceeds benefit the cause.
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Mohawk Fine Papers >>

OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

Work Faster, India!

“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India's economy will grow by nine percent next year.
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OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL RUSSEM

Postage Stamps by AIGA Medalists

The first stamp by an AIGA Medalist, was not actually a real postage stamp: it was probably a 1909 poster stamp meant to advertise the Society of the Friends of the Poster in Berlin which featured a graphic by Lucian Bernhard. The next stamp by an AIGA Medalist was not a real stamp either.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

A Special Kind of Pleasure: Toccata for Toy Trains

This afternoon I took my daughter to a program of Eames films at the neighborhood movie house. First out of the gate was Toccata for Toy Trains (1959), in which the Eameses take a great many beautiful old railroad toys and choreograph them to an Elmer Bernstein score.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : MARIA POPOVA

D-Build

An alternative to traditional demolition, which can be costly and dangerous, and traditional deconstruction, which is time-consuming, D-Build uses a hybrid process. A building is cut into pieces of manageable size and processed on the ground by an efficient, local crew. The site then serves as a hub for users to exchange materials salvaged from deconstructed buildings and sell industrial design products made with these materials.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Something Old, Something Green

In my search for the classless package, the Ball jar keeps appearing. Is this the 19th century solution to the 21st century problem of how to market and transport real food?
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PLACES : MOHAMED ELSHAHED

Tahrir Square: Social Media, Public Space

The international media have been eager to credit online social networking with inciting the January 25 Revolution that is transforming Egypt. And yet, as Mohamed Elshahed writes, the extraordinary events in Cairo and throughout Egypt have been empowered just as much by the occupation of public space. Elshahed, who is researching the urban history of mid 20th-century Cairo, argues "that the virtual is not enough: in the course of several historic days in Tahrir Square it became decisively clear that the occupation of physical urban space was, and continues to be, crucial to the success and continuity of the revolution."
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 02.27.11

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

Homework

A 7th grade history project tracks a plastic axe, a left-over prop from a Halloween costume, from a Connecticut store back to a California distributor back to a Chinese manufacturer.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JULIE LASKY

Rock Girl Benches

There’s nothing undemocratic about sexual violence in South Africa, where rape is a crime that crosses class, race, and gender. “It is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read,” states Rape Survivor Journey, a website that provides victim resources and statistics.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Alina Wheeler

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Alina Wheeler discusses branding, her father (who was a sea captain), strategic imagination, color coding souls, the Gap logo fiasco, how hard it is to be a client — and her new book, co-authored with Joel Katz, Brand Atlas.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Dave Eggers

Founder of McSweeny's and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity! and What Is The What.
Listen >>
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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

past post past post past post

PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2001

The High Line

High Line photographs from Joel Sternfeld.
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Change Observer

RECENT BOOKS RECEIVED

Design Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st CenturyDesign Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st Century
Alison J. Clarke

Worldchanging, Revised and Updated EditionWorldchanging, Revised and Updated Edition
Alex Steffen

The Cornell Journal of Architecture 8: REThe Cornell Journal of Architecture 8: RE
Cornell AAP, editors

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