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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: DECEMBER 15, 2011


Another Design Voice Falls Silent

FEATURED THIS WEEK : RICK POYNOR

Another Design Voice Falls Silent

I was planning to write a post responding to a special feature about design criticism published in Grafik when the news broke that the magazine had abruptly ceased publishing — its second demise after closing in 2010 and then rising from the ashes in February this year. Nothing could highlight more glaringly the precarious position of design publishing and criticism today.
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PLACES : KATHLEEN ROBBINS & MARY CAROL MILLER

Cotton Farmers

For several years photographer Kathleen Robbins and writer Mary Carol Miller have been focusing on the cotton farms of their native Mississippi. Theirs is a changing landscape and vanishing livelihood, the cotton farmers, in Miller's words, "as scarce now as the hulking, steel-framed gins that once dotted the flatlands between Memphis and Vicksburg. Most of the gins are now empty, rusting shells, and the men who steered their wagons under the canopies have died or retired or moved on to a more forgiving crop."
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER

Anonymous Identity (Seen and Heard)

More stealth iconography: the visual identity of Anonymous. Despite being a kind of non-organization, its logo and its hijacking of the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta have established a familiarity-through-symbols that many multimillion-dollar brands and richly funded political campaigns would kill for.
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Two great MFA programs: The  Interaction Design program, which explores the role of design in shaping everyday life and the Graduate Program for the Designer as Entrepreneur. 
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The Designer as Entrepreneur Podcast >>
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PLACES : AMY BEEDER

Country Life

A poem about Eastern European immigrants in the American Midwest: "They came for land. For hog-high wheat to Dixon, Weeping Water, Garland Falls; / came to Midland hamlets, made their farms from bogs & marshes, / fens & bottomland: immigrants from Kraków, Darkov, Lasko ..."
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN CARY AND WILLIAM DRENTTEL

Give the Gift of Design this Holiday Season

There are countless holiday gift guides circulating this year, including many aimed at design lovers. We’d like to recommend ten opportunities to donate to worthy endeavors and growing organizations. Give a gift that can have impact.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Reinventing the Thermostat

It is not just the iconicity of Henry Dreyfuss's 1952 Honeywell Round that the new Nest thermometer reinvents, but a number of Dreyfuss's insights about intuitive interactions and Honeywell's marketing insights about the place of the thermostat in the home. A hat-tip to Dreyfuss isn't just common courtesy, it's revealing.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

From Druids to Biorefineries: Innovation in a Small Nation

How best do you help a resilient economy emerge in a region that has one foot in ancient ways and traditions — its other in the world of global universities and nuclear power?
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PLACES : DAVID HEYMANN

The Evil, Evil Grain Elevator

In the third and last installment of this latest series on buildings and landscapes, David Heymann analyzes the very different ways in which works of sculpture and works of architecture occupy the landscape. And he looks closely at a grain elevator, and shows how a form which we usually experience as a familiar and even neighborly presence can come to seem evil.
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OBSERVATORY : EUGENIA BELL

Eliot Noyes

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Selectric typewriter, I was reminded not only of my first Selectric memory (green, my father's oak-panelled office on Long Island, circa 1975), but of the heavy nostalgia it wrought one summer day on the banks of the Mississippi when on a roadtrip, I stopped in the Quad Cities for lunch, and came across a typewriter repair shop in Davenport, Iowa (or was it Moline, Illinois?). The shop was packed with beautiful and obsolete machines of all vintages, but it was the mint condition taupe Selectric for $35 that found it's way to the trunk of my car for the long drive back home.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 12.11.11

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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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Peter Mendelsund

In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Peter Mendelsund discusses how he became a book designer, what makes a great book cover, rebranding classic books and his fear of the Kindle and iPad.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Doyald Young

Doyald, typographer and author of The Art of the Letter and Logotypes.
Listen >>
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

COMMON

Report on Alex Bogusky and Rob Schuham's COMMON project marrying capitalism and social change.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

past post past post past post

PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 1983

In No Order Whatsoever

Just before his death in 1984, the influential urban planner Kevin Lynch compiled a list of topics he thought important for the future of cities. The list is as relevant as ever.
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Change Observer

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