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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: MAY 12, 2011


Philosophy, Graphic Design and Virtue of Clarity

FEATURED THIS WEEK : ADRIAN SHAUGHNESSY

Philosophy, Graphic Design and Virtue of Clarity

I spend a lot of time looking at the work of undergrad and post-grad visual communication students. The best work is frequently distinguished by an abundance of well-intentioned and sophisticated thinking around social issues. But I notice something else; it can be described as a reluctance to express ideas with clarity and brevity. It’s as if there is a fear — a loathing even — of simplicity.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Manhattan Museum Musical Chairs

Manhattan's museums switch sites: Met to the Whitney, Folk Art to MoMA.
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PLACES : NICK SOWERS

Soundscapes: Atlantikwall

Earlier this week we featured selections from Architecture in Uniform, a new exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture that investigates the role of architects during the Second World War. We're pleased to follow with several soundscapes recorded by architect Nick Sowers during a journey along the Atlantikwall, the line of coastal fortifications built by the Nazis to defend western Europe against invasion by the Allies. Sowers found an evocative mix of ruin and renovation: some of the old bunkers are decaying, while others have been repurposed as museums and, at one French resort, as beachfront cabanas.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

Energy: A Sense of Loss

Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves. In extremely high voltage lines, so-called corona discharge losses (as shown in the image above) can offset the lower resistance losses.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JULIE LASKY

Chandigarh to Create Inventory of Corbu/Jeanneret Furniture

A committee convened by the government of Chandigarh, India, is assessing the value of site-specific furniture pieces designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret a half-century ago.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

Books Every Graphic Designer Should Read

I have contributed a list of 20 books every graphic designer should read to the Designers & Books website, which is rapidly growing into a wonderful resource. The Dictionary of Visual Language, first published in 1980, is one of the titles. This durable classic shows that effectively redeemed clichés are the crux of graphic communication.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

Juiced in Lyon: Jakob & MacFarlane's Orange Cube

One of the flat-out coolest buildings I've come across recently is Jakob & MacFarlane's Orange Cube, in Lyon. It is, surprisingly, not a museum or cultural institution, but an office building. I'm typically not one for formal effects for their own sake, but this building, while inventive, escapes that kind of navel-gazing trap.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : CLAIRE LUI

Can't Live With It, Can't Get Rid of It

"Plastics are amazing materials, though that can be hard to remember when you’re looking at photos of seabirds with bellies full of trash."
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PLACES : MIRKO ZARDINI & JEAN-LOUIS COHEN

Architecture in Uniform

Sixty-six years ago this week the Nazis surrendered to the Allies, ending the European hostilities of the most destructive war in history. On this anniversary of the treaty signing, we present selections from Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War, a new exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture that investigates the effects of the war on the built environment and on the field of architecture. As historian and curator Jean-Louis Cohen argues, architects "proved to be as strategically indispensable as did the scientists and engineers."
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OBSERVATORY : JESSICA HELFAND

Mothers Day Special: Baby, It's You!

Before everyone had cameras, the baby picture was the purview of Mom and Dad, and among so many other things, we have them to thank for remembering to capture us as we once were: smaller, rounder, goofier, balder. (Although, in some cases, less bald.)
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

Paul Stiff, the Reader's Champion

This week I was reminded again of the British design educator, writer and editor Paul Stiff, who died in February, by the arrival of a collection of design essays that has just been published in Poland. It contains an article titled “Stop Sitting Around and Start Reading,” a rigorously argued riposte to the claims made about reading in the 1990s by experimental typographers.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

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Spoken Word Broadcast

All spoken word show featuring poems, prose and a short story.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Give a Minute

Report on Local Projects' Give a Minute initiative to improve urban life.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2005

Superneighborhood 27: A Brief History of Change

From hot tubs to bodegas: a Houston subdivision built for the '60s singles lifestyle has found new energy as a multi-ethnic neighborhood.
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Change Observer

RECENT BOOKS RECEIVED

Inventario 01: Everything is a ProjectInventario 01: Everything is a Project
Beppe Finessi, editor

Explorations in TypographyExplorations in Typography
Carolina de Bartolo with Erik Spiekermann

Ex Libris: The Art of BookplatesEx Libris: The Art of Bookplates
Martin Hopkinson

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