FEATURED THIS WEEK : MICHAEL BIERUT
The premise of HBO's hour-long special "Talking Funny" is simple: invite four top-ranked comedians — Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Louis C.K. — turn on the cameras, and let them talk shop for an hour. There are laughs, of course, but the most interesting parts focus on the technical craft of getting those laughs. This is serious business. Stand up comedy is a high-risk creative enterprise, executed in real time in front of a critical audience. I didn't tune in looking for lessons for designers, but I found seven.
CHANGE OBSERVER : ERNEST BECK
For mothers and newborns, early medical testing is critical to health, especially for detecting HIV/AIDS. But in some developing countries, sending and receiving a blood sample from an extremely remote location can take between two and five months. Project Mwana is changing that.
PLACES : IAN BALDWIN
Like Kevin Roche — profiled earlier this week on Places — Harry Weese belongs to the mid-century generation of architects that dominated American practice in the postwar era but whose work has lately been neglected. Architect Ian Baldwin analyzes Weese's half-century legacy, and finds a committed modernist who was "neither a stylist nor an iconoclast, whose work and words responded to a set of progressive social values and a straightforward concern for bettering the built environment."
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OBSERVATORY : SUSAN ROY
In the 50s and 60s tens of thousands of Americans built family fallout shelters, and millions considered doing so. How could so many people believe that hiding in an underground concrete cube would save their lives during a nuclear attack? And then, if they somehow did survive, why did they believe they could function in a post-apocalyptic world with fires raging, cities destroyed, and a landscape littered with the dead and injured?
OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR
Richard Powers was a book cover auteur
who found opportunities — an astonishing quantity of opportunities — to express his vision for financial reward on the handy, ubiquitous tablets that paperback publishers duly provided. He is a vital link between science fiction and Surrealism and any future study needs to take him into account.
OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER
Do you like Renaat Braem? I'm guessing you've never even heard of Renaat Braem, which is a shame, as he was one of the more compelling architectural figures of the previous century. If he is familiar at all, it is probably from his Politie (Police) Tower in Antwerp, a skyscraping cathedral of brutalist form that locals tend to either love or loathe, and rarely leaves anyone feeling indifferent.
PLACES : BELMONT FREEMAN
Earlier this year the Yale School of Architecture staged an exhibition and symposium on the long career of Kevin Roche. In his review of the events and the companion book, Belmont Freeman assesses the value of a body of work overlooked in recent years. Today, he writes, "a growing number of younger architects are looking at the work of the so-called third generation of modernists and are finding much to admire. With his bold form-making, confidence in tackling problems on an urban scale and deft handling of architectural image prior to the media saturation of the profession, Kevin Roche stands out as a visionary."
CHANGE OBSERVER : AN XIAO MINA
A Malaysia-based company specializes in sustainable fashion. They promote their ethos in shows and online, in words and textiles, and through a challenge to wear only 10 items in a year.
OBSERVATORY : KIRSTEN HIVELY
When I first got a coffee with the unusual red slide-lock hole cover, it seemed such an ingenious and elaborate design, with such a satisfying “thunk” as it locks into the open or closed position, I couldn't throw it away.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Alissa Walker discusses, her experience in advertising and how it led her to writing, her love affair with LA, walking, biking, giving up driving and of course, gelato.
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008
In creating a new U.S. embassy in Berlin, architectural design is just one of the challenges.