PLACES : JUSTIN PARTYKA
"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.
OBSERVATORY : STEVEN HELLER
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.
OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA
“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.
OBSERVATORY : MICHAEL RUSSEM
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.
OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER
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.
CHANGE OBSERVER : MARIA POPOVA
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.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE
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?
PLACES : MOHAMED ELSHAHED
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."
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
OBSERVERS ROOM : WILLIAM DRENTTEL
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.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JULIE LASKY
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.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
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