OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR
The first cohort of students graduating from the Royal College of Art’s two-year Critical Writing in Art & Design MA have presented their final projects at an evening symposium and in a degree-show display. It was an opportunity to see early signs of the direction this unique course, open to writers coming from art or design or both, is taking. Their work is a reminder that design and production are inextricably linked to writing.
OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER
Instruments of topography are designed to see, not to be seen. But take a look at the charismatic gear being hauled around by the impressive Venue project, delightful design-comments on observational tools (that actually function as observational tools). And take a look as well at Google's Trekker, a thing designed to look at you.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN THACKARA
Here is a thought experiment to demonstrate how alienated we’ve become from water. Imagine emptying 500 litre bottles of water into a huge pot and carrying it 50 miles – every day of the year. That’s the weight and distance of water moved for a US citizen every day once her share of the country’s agriculture, manufacturing, car washes, window cleaning, laundries, ornamental ponds, health clubs, swimming pools and golf courses, are added together.
OBSERVATORY : JESSICA HELFAND
Educated at Columbia where he was declared something of a boy genius, William Beebe graduated just before the turn of the century and took a job at the Bronx Zoo. During a career that spanned more than half a century, he led more than sixty expeditions around the globe. Scientist, naturalist, zoologist and indefatigable adventurer, he was everything Winter wasn't — but aspired to be.
PLACES : REINHOLD MARTIN, RAPHAEL SPERRY, AMIT C. PRICE PATEL, LIZ OGBU & TOM ANGOTTI
Earlier this year Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream
opened at MoMA in New York. The exhibition quickly became controversial, with some decrying it as elitist and paternalistic, others defending it as powerful and ambitious. Here Reinhold Martin, co-organizer of Foreclosed
, and Raphael Sperry and Amit Price Patel, of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, continue the debate — in a virtual roundtable — along with IDEO.org fellow Liz Ogbu and urban planner Tom Angotti of Hunter College.
OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER
One tends to think of authors' museums as dowdy Victorian cottages with a lot of bric-a-brack laying about—the stuff of a writer's messy mind and varied inspiration. Not so for the museum of James Michener, author of historical epics—nearly fifty of them, with some 100 million copies sold.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
During the Vietnam War, the Zippo served the same utilitarian purpose, but was often personalized for soldiers by local street vendors in villages. GI’s could choose from any number of preset graphics and words, or they could design or write their own. From sentimental to disillusioned, patriotic to hopeless, these engraved lighters have a patina and voice that echoes still.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Report on Conflict Kitchen, a project by artists affiliated with Carnegie Mellon to foster cross-cultural understanding through food.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008
In creating a new U.S. embassy in Berlin, architectural design is just one of the challenges.