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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: MARCH 28, 2011


Why We

FEATURED THIS WEEK : LAURA WEISS

Why We're All Designers

Without an appreciation of the design process, it is difficult for someone who has a stake in the outcomes to be a productive participant.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JULIE LASKY

Chandigarh on the Block

Furnishings designed for Corbusier's urban masterpiece are being sold at auction. How outraged should we be?
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PLACES : MARK LAMSTER

The Architectural Monograph: A Defense

What is the future of the architectural monograph? In a provocative column for Architectural Record, Martin Filler laments what he describes as the "steady devaluation" of the format, to the point that such volumes have become "little more than glossy hardcover promotional brochures to entice an uninformed and impressionable lay clientele." Mark Lamster defends the monograph, and also looks forward to promising alternative directions, "as a new generation takes on the medium."
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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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OBSERVATORY : ALAN THOMAS

Calcutta: Bookland

An election is coming in April, and the hammer and sickle is everywhere in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, a city established by the East India Company and once capital of the British Raj. The Maoist insurgency controls large parts of the countryside just to the west of the city. At the Kolkata Book Fair last month, I find Mao less in evidence than Che, whose iconic image adorns several publishers’ displays, including the Latin American pavilion.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 03.27.11

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Dominique Browning

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Dominique Browning discusses her tenure as Editor in Chief at House & Garden, her recent book, Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness, and the effects of love on a stuffed animal.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

An Unknown Master of Poster Design

Karel Teissig might just be the best poster designer you have never, or barely ever, heard of. An exhibition of his work opened in Prague on March 24, organized by the indefatigable Terry Posters, and I’m using that event as an excuse to show a few more Teissig posters, not that I need any prompting.
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PLACES : ALEJANDRO CARTAGENA

Lost Rivers

Earlier this year we featured Fragmented Cities, a portfolio by photographer Alejandro Cartagena documenting the effects of urbanization, especially exurban housing, on his home city of Monterrey. Here we present another in his series, this focusing on ecological damage to the region's rivers. As Places photography editor Aaron Rothman, who curated both portfolios, says, "Lost Rivers depicts places poised between loss and beauty, acknowledging the price of urbanization while seeking to reclaim a sense of connection with these natural spaces."
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OBSERVATORY : ROBERT PINSKY

"ABC"

Any body can die, evidently...
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PLACES : ANNE PIERSON WIESE

Sutliff Bridge

Earlier this week we published Kristi Dykema Cheramie's study of the Mississippi River Basin Model, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to predict and control the workings of the great river system. Here is a different way to understand the complexities of nature: Sutliff Bridge, by poet Anne Pierson Wiese, inspired by the destruction of the historic bridge that once spanned the Cedar River near Iowa City, which was "grabbed in the river's fist, twisted and dragged downstream," in the floods of 2008.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : ERNEST BECK

Creative Support for Japan

The design world is pitching in with a truckload of inspired items for sale.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOSH WALLAERT

Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names

No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

Collapse of Civilization Tango

Choreographer Valerie Green and Dance Entropy, a New York City-based experimental dance troupe, will shortly premier a new work, “Rise and Fall,” that's about collapsing civilizations, the raw ugliness of industrialization and gross consumption.
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PLACES : KRISTI DYKEMA CHERAMIE

The Scale of Nature: Modeling the Mississippi River

From the 1940s to the '70s the Army Corps of Engineers operated the Mississippi River Basin Model, an ambitious 200-acre hydraulics model of the largest river system in North America — and an amazing embodiment of midcentury technocratic confidence in our ability to control nature. Today the abandoned Basin Model is a ruin, and that confidence all but gone. Kristi Dykema Cheramie explores the model-world, pondering its unwitting role in the perilous state of the delta today. "The model endorsed a dangerous abstraction of real material," she says, "and an unrealistic ability to contain and isolate variables in an infinitely complex natural system."
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OBSERVATORY : FRED A. BERNSTEIN

More Is Less

New York City officials have to decide to stop the demolition of a small, brick house, in the East Village. The Federal style house, which has stood at 35 Cooper Square since 1825, is scheduled to be replaced with a new building. Preservationists, under the gun, have been combing through records of the building’s past to build the case for saving it — as an important artifact of nineteenth century Manhattan.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

From Bankster HQ to Start-up Central in Iceland

Made by two young Icelandic women, The Start-Up Kids is a documentary about young entrepreneurs who have founded web and media startups in the US and Europe.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 03.20.11

Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : GESTALTEN

Erik Spiekermann - Putting Back the Face into Typeface

In this video, Erik Spiekermann discusses his process and methods for designing type, his life's work and how sometimes graphic design can change lives.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JULIE LASKY

Lit from Above

Designers and Books is a website that presents the reading lists of eminent tastemakers.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Bad Faith Towers

Never let it be said that Bruce Ratner is not an avid follower of architectural trends.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

Slicing Open the Surrealist Eyeball

Surrealism codified a poetic principle that has always existed as a possibility and still exists in life and art “after Surrealism.” “There is another world,” said Paul Éluard, “but it is in this one.” This, for me, is a guiding principle — the illuminating essence of the Surrealist revelation.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Luke Hayman

Luke Hayman is a designer and partner at Pentagram Design.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

BOOM

Report on a visionary residential complex for aging gay boomers.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

past post past post past post

PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008

Mythologies of Placemaking


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Change Observer

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Beatriz Colomina & Craig Buckley, editors

Holderlin: A Play in Two ActsHolderlin: A Play in Two Acts
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