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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: JANUARY 05, 2012


A New American Picture: Doug Rickard and Street Photography in the Age of Google

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JOHN FOSTER

A New American Picture: Doug Rickard and Street Photography in the Age of Google

In a telephone interview that lasted well over an hour, Doug Rickard told me that the idea for his recent photographic work emerged as a sort of “epiphany” within 24 hours of using Google Street View. The project was, he explained, the result of a sort of “perfect storm,” in that it combined his love of photography and its history with his background in American history and sociology.
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OBSERVATORY : JAMES BIBER

Vestige(s) of Empire

The 1972 Commonwealth Institute building in London is in the spotlight again as the Design Museum's choice for its new home. In Berlin there was a similar monument to Empire, the now-demolished Palast der Republik in the former East Berlin.The buildings share more than an architectural vintage; they both had, or will have, lives as art museums, and they each celebrated, in their prime, an empire that is both gone and almost impossible to remember.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Design for Girls: Put A Heart On It

Along with more "realistic" figures, more domestic settings, and more role-playing about animals and food, the new Lego Friends collection, aimed at girls, includes more accessories. Front and center in the spread for "Stephanie's Cool Convertible" is another pink purse. And she's got a mirror, with a heart on it, in the backseat.

Maybe I should just give up now.
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PLACES : MICHAEL P. BRANCH

The Hills Are Alive

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Environmental writer Michael Branch describes a day hike in the Great Basin near his Nevada home, where his young daughters reenact the opening scene of The Sound of Music. Along the way he reflects not only on the difference between the brown hills of the arid West and the green Alpine meadows of the famous movie (which he despises) but also on how deeply the "stylized, controlled and color-corrected representations" of nature in photography and film have "conditioned our landscape aesthetics."
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OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR

On My Shelf: Jean-Luc Godard Anthologized

This collection of essays was one of the first books about Jean-Luc Godard  to appear in English. Its one of a kind cover by the late Lawrence Ratzkin, almost an anti-cover, feels cerebral yet improvised, considered yet casual, just like one of Godard’s exhilarating, mold-breaking, unclassifiable films. The separate layers form a series of masks — who is Godard? — that never quite resolve into an immediately legible image.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER

Swoosh. Repeat.

The Swoosh is one of those rare logos that can serve as a sort of metalogo, signifying branding in general, for better and for worse. So is it the ultimate example of why graphic design matters? Maybe the more compelling reason for this logo’s iconic status is the mysterious power of repetition.
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OBSERVATORY : DONALD HALL

Green Farmhouse Chairs

In the back chamber, discarded things
of family jumble together,
nothing thrown away since we moved here
in eighteen sixty-five. I foresee
an auction of broken rocking chairs...
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

Beware of the Man in the Glass House

In a post on his Front Row blog, New Yorker film critic Richard Brody remarks on the ferocious velocity of David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a narrative momentum required to pack into the confines of a commercial thriller the great mass of material from Steig Larsson's sprawling, detail-suffused book.
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OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA

Why Walls Need Floors

When he was sixteen years old, Floor van Keulen made a wall painting in the stairwell of his mother's beauty salon. For the next 43 years, the artist has worked with the knowledge that most of his site-and time-specific specific works are destined to disappear. Why?
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OBSERVERS ROOM : MARK LAMSTER

Andrew Geller: 1924–2011

At the risk of turning this into the obituary corner of Design Observer, I don't want to let the death of architect Andrew Geller yesterday go unremarked here. Geller isn't a household name in architecture circles, but he created many warm and wonderfully inventive modern homes in the 1950s and 1960s, most of them summer residences on the beaches of Long Island. These were not the megamansions one now expects out in the Hamptons, but inexpensive and modest homes with playful shapes that radiated a sense of post-war optimism.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 12.25.11

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 : RICK POYNOR

How We Learned to Live with Zombies

Are the tasteful precincts of Design Observer, where most writers’ thoughts usually run to saving the planet, the place to admit to an interest in zombie films? Perhaps we can see these grotesque fantasies of a world on the brink of collapse as the dark, unmentionable flipside of the same philanthropic coin. Who could have predicted 20 years ago that The Walking Dead, a TV series about survival after the zombie apocalypse, would become such a hit?
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Gael Towey

Gael Towey is the editor and founding creative director at Martha Stewart Living.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

BOOM

Report on a visionary residential complex for aging gay boomers.
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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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