PLACES : RYAN HARTY
In this latest installment of our August reading series, we present a story from Ryan Harty's Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona
, a collection of precise fictions exploring the emotional and physical terrain of the American Southwest. Here, the narrator flies from Phoenix to Las Vegas to join his ex-wife in cleaning out the condo of his dead sister. The cinder-block wall of the apartment complex and the lawn out front are "touched, like everything else, by the glow of the Strip."
OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR
The best designed book about Eduardo Paolozzi, the volume that captures his work with the greatest visual immediacy and graphic excitement, was published nearly 50 years ago and has never been easy to find. The Metallization of a Dream
was compiled with Paolozzi’s help by John Munday, a student at the Royal College of Art, designed by Munday, and printed, bound and published in 1963 by the RCA’s Lion and Unicorn Press.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE
Fiction can't trump the papers when the topic is rebuilding after 9/11.
OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER
Only ten years ago, in the wake of 9/11, there were many voices telling us that we had come to the end of the skyscraper era: that no one would want to work or live in tall buildings with the threat of terror ever-present, and that the Internet would so decentralize our lives that cities (and tall buildings) would be obsolete. Unfortunately for Andrés Duany, the truth was something altogether different.
CHANGE OBSERVER : AN XIAO MINA
Traveling around China in July, I found the daily visual reminders of the CCP more subtle than I had imagined. Celebrations of the Party's 90th anniversary felt closer to an advertising campaign than to traditional propaganda.
PLACES : BARRY LOPEZ
In thirteen books of fiction and nonfiction, and the marvelous dictionary Home Ground
, Barry Lopez has mapped new territory for environmental writers and located “a language for the American landscape.” Here, as we continue our August fiction series, Lopez follows field biologist Terrin Macdonald, with her dog and her semi-automatic pistol, into the Petersen Mountains on the Nevada-California border, where she has a strange encounter while collecting water samples at Dixon Marsh.
OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA
Convention centres are expensive, filled with hard surfaces, and — unless you're in the convention business — somewhere else than the subjects discussed in them. Being separated from the thing itself, they tend to foster groupthink — and abstract groupthink at that.
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 : RICKY JAY
Ricky Jay is an actor, a historian, a magician and a collector. He is also a superb storyteller with a keen eye for the most gruesomely enchanting detail, and he delights in tales of the most delicious oddity.
Design Observer is pleased to share a selection of recorded broadcasts — all read and authored by Ricky Jay — brought to you along with the visual catalyst that inspired its tale. This is the last of four installments.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE
A new retromania has overtaken me: vintage children's clothing patterns.
PLACES : ASHLEIGH PEDERSEN
We continue our August fiction series with Ashleigh Pedersen’s surreal family drama set during a flood in the Deep South. The narrator's family lives in a makeshift treehouse as they wait for floodwaters to recede, traveling by canoe to visit neighbors or gather food. Gossip surrounds the linguistics professor who has been newly appointed the neighborhood physician. Although it takes place in a fantastical world, Pedersen’s story rings emotionally true, and reminds us of the private moments that unfold even during times of public disaster.