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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: JULY 14, 2011


On the Shoulders of Midgets: A Conversation About Reality TV

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JESSICA HELFAND & MARVIN HEIFERMAN

On the Shoulders of Midgets: A Conversation About Reality TV

They’re about survival, fantasy, self-improvement, humiliation, and, in some cases, creativity. So what's behind the enduring success of reality TV? And why does our obsession with it persist? What do all these shows — stories about hook-ups, competition, tiny people, over-determined cupcakes, raging egos and compulsions and makeovers of things both alive and inanimate — tell us? That we are as complex as we are predictable. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : NADINE BOTHA

Wheel Simple: Velokhaya Clubhouse

A suburb of Cape Town, Khayelitsha is the largest and fastest-growing semi-formal township in South Africa. Home to more than half a million residents, it offers few lifelines out of an endless sea of single-story corrugated iron shacks. The Velokhaya community road cycling and BMX hub is one of them.

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PLACES : DAVID T. HANSON

Colstrip, Montana

In the 1980s David Hanson was part of a generation of photographers who took to the skies to gain a new perspective on mines, dams, power plants and pipelines: the industrial earthworks of North America. His photographs of the massive coal mine and power plant at Colstrip, Montana, were made in the early 1980s, exhibited at MoMA in 1986, and finally published in 2010. Much has changed since Hanson took his photos, yet the economic forces that shaped Colstrip persist. The automobiles and color palette of the images date to the Reagan era. But how much have the politics of coal changed in the age of Obama?
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OBSERVATORY : OWEN EDWARDS

Packing it In

I don’t smoke, and I haven’t decided yet if it’s worth spending whatever a pack of cigarettes costs these days to get a close look at the new FDA-required health warnings. These little horror shows are designed to solve a powerful addiction through the magic of graphic ghastliness.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER

Rarified Air

There’s something in the air – and it’s the air! Can it (like water) be commodified, or at least physically and/or intellectually packaged in some manner that gives it measurable monetary value? A surprising array of examples suggest the answer must be yes.

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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

The House That Design Journalism Built

Design writing and criticism courses are in vogue, while the design magazines that would once have provided a platform for new writers continue to fail and close. Without high-quality, properly resourced outlets as bedrock and training ground, how — and even more to the point where — is this new “higher-level” criticism going to emerge?
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CHANGE OBSERVER : THE EDITORS

Sappi Ideas That Matter Extends Deadline for 2011 Proposals

Proposals must be postmarked by July 22, 2011, to be considered for this year's program.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

Bjarke Ingels Has Something to Sell

Bjarke Ingels is the golden retriever of contemporary architecture. He's adorable, he's full of energy, he always seems to be pushing up against your leg, begging you to toss his stick so he can show you what he can do.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : DANIELLA ZALCMAN

South Sudan: Birth of a Republic

Daniella Zalcman spent two weeks in Juba documenting the birth of The Republic of South Sudan, which officially became a country on July 9th. Her images capture the newly appointed capital city and its people, who have finally been granted political independence after decades of civil war.
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PLACES : MARK KLETT

Views Across Time

Over three decades the Arizona-based photographer Mark Klett has pioneered and refined the art of rephotography — of making new views of earlier and sometimes iconic vantage points. His latest works extend the process by blending media, not just photographs but also videos, old postcards, tourist snapshots, interactive maps, digital panoramas and audio recordings. Here Places photography editor Aaron Rothman interviews Klett and curates selections from his expanding rephotography project. As Rothman says, "The potential of rephotography is greater than simply tracking change; it can touch on the experience of time itself."
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

Edible Architecture

Today seems to be the day when, once a year in this part of France, every spider in the region spins her best possible web at the same moment.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 07.10.11

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.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER

On Slate: Branding with badges

A logo isn't the only way that a company can establish a graphic identity that's recognizable at a glance. That may be particularly true in the digital era—and Foursquare's system of "badges" is one example.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JAC SM KEE

The Color Yellow

In Malaysia today, the color yellow has inspired hope, mobilized connectedness, instigated arrests and aroused fears.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Angus Hyland

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Angus Hyland discusses how dyslexia led him to design, getting a job at Pentagram, the peace sign, Deutsche Bank, the play button, the London Olympics — and his new book.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

The Technicolor Dream of Make-Do Urbanism

A couple of months ago the Center for Architecture launched a show on the make-do, or "jugaad," architecture of India, the explicit suggestion being that this spirit should be applicable everywhere. "Painting Urbanism: Learning from Rio," now on view at the Storefront for Art & Architecture, bares that same message. 

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Mohawk
Almost one billion people don't have safe and clean drinking water
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Michael Hodgson

All music show with DJ and designer Michael Hodgson, co-founder of the design firm Ph.D.
Listen >>
More Design Matters Archive >>

CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Just Keep Truckin'

David Rockwell-designed truck for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

past post past post past post

PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008

On the Water: The New York/New Jersey Harbor

As the planet warms, rising seas will endanger coastal communities around the world. Engineer Guy Nordenson proposes a bold plan to protect New York City.
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Change Observer

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