FEATURED THIS WEEK : JESSICA HELFAND
In 1911, Ezra Winter marries, wins the Rome Prize, and heads to Europe for three years of study and travel: ridiculously young, instantly celebrated and hungry for adventure, he is also stunningly blind to the explosive shifts in visual expression around him in what were, arguably, among the most fertile years of the new century.
PLACES : ALEXANDRA LANGE
We’re surrounded by buildings, says Alexandra Lange, but we don’t know how to talk about them. We chat about real estate instead of having a real conversation about the urban environment. As architecture criticism fades in the daily newspapers, it’s time we take matters into our own hands: “We need more citizen critics,” she writes, “equipped with the desire and the vocabulary to remake the city.” So how do we learn how to talk about buildings? Lange suggests starting with “Sometimes We Do It Right,” Ada Louise Huxtable's classic review of the Marine Midland Bank Building in New York.
OBSERVERS ROOM : JOHN THACKARA
Zurich has a thriving urban eco culture: tweleve working organic farms, a biodiversity project so large it's called "Seed City", over 1,200 edible plants native to the city, 1,224 water fountains, and numerous businesses and organizations supporting green, renewable food and energy sources. A report on Zurich discovered in planning a "social harvest festival that will reconnect Zurich with its natural ecosystems and grassroots social innovators".
FROM OUR SPONSORS
This spring Sappi is hosting a national road show, in collaboration with 826 National, to launch Special Effects, Volume 5 of The Standard
. Issue 5 shows designers how the creative use of special effects can make a printed piece dimensional, tactile, intriguing and sometimes interactive. The next event is on March 7 in Los Angeles.
More about Volume 5 of The Standard >>
View the road show schedule and registration details >>
Find out more about Sappi here >>
Study graphic design and typography this summer in Rome: the birthplace of the Western typographic tradition is a not-to-be-missed experience. A unique way to learn about type, book & lettering design, as well as architecture, art, archeology, epigraphy & even Italian cuisine.
Masters Workshop >>
Study with some of the best designers in Italy >>
SVA Website >>
OBSERVATORY : ADRIAN SHAUGHNESSY
Lower unemployment numbers and the Dow cracking 13,000 has some of the more starry-eyed pundits claiming the economy's finally getting its legs back. But since the banking crisis of 2008, business has been anything but "as usual" – including the business of design. The economy coupled with the relentless rise of social media outlets has designers worrying about their own economic shutdown. Is less is the new normal?
PLACES : BELMONT FREEMAN
For years the Cuban National Art Schools in Havana have been attracting the attention and admiration of architects worldwide. Belmont Freeman argues that the dramatic story of this remarkable complex — begun in the heady early days of Castro's revolution, abandoned and left to ruin, and rediscovered decades later — has served unwittingly to obscure the larger and richer narrative of post-revolutionary architecture in Cuba.
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. This week's focus is firearms.
OBSERVERS ROOM : RICK POYNOR
A new book collecting Independent Group member John McHale’s writings describes him as artist, graphic designer, information theorist, architectural critic, sociologist and futurist. This should immediately identify him as a forerunner of the kind of super-versatile, shape-shifting maker and thinker that many contemporary figures in art and design aspire to be. It
’s time to reassess an innovator who deserves to be much better known.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
In this audio interview with Debbie Millman, Wolff Olins CEO Karl Heiselman discusses the controversial London 2012 logo, designing the culture of Wolff Olins and his views on branding and popularity.
OBSERVERS ROOM : ROB WALKER
"Dancing about architecture" is supposed to be a dismissive swipe at a certain kind of writing. The problem, to me, has always been that “dancing about architecture” sounds perfectly awesome. What a great thing to do! If the dancing, or the writing, results in genuinely fresh expression, that’s not pointless or invalid — it’s creativity.
PLACES : DAVID SCHALLIOL
For several years sociologist David Schalliol has been documenting the dramatic transformation of public housing in Chicago — the demolitions of the city's infamous projects and their replacement with mixed-income communities. Following Lawrence Vale's account of the troubled saga of public housing development in Chicago from earlier this week, we're pleased to present a slideshow of Schalliol's photographs.
Design Indaba and COMMON present "A party to fix the world".Learn More >>
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on One World Futbol produced by Hope Is a Game-Changer.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2005
How to turn a lackluster midwestern campus into an international cultural destination.