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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: OCTOBER 01, 2012


Let

FEATURED THIS WEEK : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Let's Talk About Women in Architecture

At the close of Nora Ephron's 2010 book, I Remember Nothing, she included a list titled "What I Won't Miss." Down at the bottom, between "Small print" and "Taking off makeup every night" was this zinger, "Panels on Women in Film." I like the way she capitalized the letters, capturing the organizers' formal sincerity while maintaining her distance from the whole enterprise.

On October 3, I find myself playing both roles.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 09.30.12

Earlier this week the exhibition Art Without Artists opened at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at North Carolina State University. Almost a year of curatorial planning went into this wide-ranging exhibit, which includes 19th-century firefighting respirator masks, handmade game boards, signage, scientific devices, anonymous snapshots, quilts, and natural objects such as minerals and rocks. The exhibit’s focus includes objects never originally intended to be art — objects that today hold mystery and extraordinary design.
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NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS

Being sustainable has never been so profitable. See how the country's most innovative companies are improving their bottom line by staying the course on sustainability. Look into Sappi's paper mills that are setting a new standard for environmental responsibility.
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SVA's MFA Designer As Author is predicated on the growing need for content providers throughout the visual media. On October 13th an information session will be held that will allow you to learn more about the program.
Register today >>
MFA Design Program >>
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OBSERVATORY : JESSICA HELFAND

Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Nine

It is now three years after the stock market crash, and with the nation besieged by a deeply paralyzing economic depression, Ezra Winter has never been busier. Between 1929 and 1931 alone, the artist produces murals for the Birmingham Public Library, The Rochester Savings Bank, Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University, The Union Trust Building in Detroit and the Savarin Restaurant in New York. And then, five days after his forty-sixth birthday, Winter wins a commission to produce a mural in the main lobby of Radio City Music Hall. Everything is about to change.
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PLACES : MARK ROBBINS & NANCY LEVINSON

Student/Teacher

In summer 2011, Mark Robbins, then dean of architecture at Syracuse University, traveled from upstate New York to Rwanda, to visit the Kigali Institute of Technology. There he took a series of photographs of students and their parents or guardians in their houses, part of an ongoing investigation into what Robbins describes as "questions of culture, space, decor and the body." We are pleased to present a selection from this portfolio.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN THACKARA

Old Growth

If you were a mega-company founder who had spent the last 20 years not only growing your business, but helping to change industry practices for the better, yet you still needed to move to a more sustainable production model, could you? Could you do it without firing anyone, without consultants, without lectures and without training? Yes, you could. There is a simple solution so effective it would make not changing inconceivable.
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

Crowdcrit vs. Apple Maps

Can a Tumblr compiling images from far-flung contributors, with very little text and no real attempt at traditional analysis, really be considered a form of “criticism”? Yes. And in this case the response to Apple's new Google Maps alternative includes a collection of accidentally pleasing surrealist cityscapes.
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OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER

Joy, Illustrated

I've been stuck in bed for the past week, an unpleasant circumstance that kept me from the highly anticipated opening of a friend's latest project. I refer not to the Barclay Center (Hi Gregg!), which you can read about elsewhere, ad nauseam, but to P!, a new experimental gallery that is the vision of Prem Krishnamurthy, one of the three principals of the design firm Project Projects.
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PLACES : JEFFREY HOU

Beyond Zuccotti Park: Making the Public

The recent wave of citizen protests — from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park to the streets of Athens — has brought renewed attention to the role of public space in democratic society. Here Jeffrey Hou shifts the emphasis from physical space to citizen action. We need to focus not just on ensuring the right to public assembly, he writes, but also on "the making and mobilization of the public as an actively engaged citizenry."
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

Demonstrations, Democracy and Design

Barcelona, June 2011: The Plaça de Catalunya has become a carnivalesque village of protest. If the construction of shelters around the square represents a rudimentary form of building — a re-learning of a basic skill in the absence of architects — then the hundreds of handmade banners, signs and messages that cover everything show, just as clearly, an untutored but inevitable need for something akin to graphic design.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 09.23.12

From time-to-time I enjoy finding an image that I like and letting that image inspire the next image in a sequential path. Sometimes the sequences are difficult and other times they fall into place like garden stones. Often I hit a dead end and have to back up or start over. I search far and wide for the right image, and for today’s post we begin with a lovely painting by the master painter Cy Twombly.
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OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Just Keep Typing

For the just-published book Breakthrough! Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination I looked at my everyday practice for hints on how to keep the new ideas coming. For me, that involves Post-It notes, legal pads and baking. 


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OBSERVATORY : FERNANDO AGUIAR

Ecologic Sonnet

Here is some visual poetry: the benches look like rhymes — neat, parallel, along the lines of concrete; the trees like themes, scattered, repeating with different leaves; the three rectangles of grass and the smaller one in the background like the three quatrains and final couplet of a Shakespearean sonnet. This is easy to see, which makes it easy to lose track of its strangeness. Most photographs represent life, not art, let alone abstract relations between the sounds of words — yet the photograph's title gives the park the abstract form of a poem.
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PLACES : PLACES EDITORS

Recent Awards from ASLA and AIANY

Places contributor David Heymann received ASLA’s 2012 Bradford Williams Medal for his article “Landscape Is Our Sex.” Kate and Andrew Bernheimer and their collaborators received an AIANY Design Award for their series “The House on Chicken Feet: Fairy Tale Architecture.”
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

Card Tricks

The digital does not annihilate the analog. It glorifies it. Paper books and vinyl records were once quotidian; today they are objects to defend, romanticize, venerate. Consider this example: the humble business card. Here are the ways digitalness does not "doom" this form, but rather gives it new life.
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PLACES : JONATHAN MASSEY & BRETT SNYDER

Occupying Wall Street: Places and Spaces of Political Action

One year ago Occupy Wall Street set up camp in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan; at the same moment activists were deploying digital media to connect the movement globally. Jonathan Massey and Brett Snyder survey the physical and online protest spaces — the "hypercity built of granite and asphalt, algorithms and information" — and explore their potential to create "new publics and polities that might open up futures beyond the neoliberal state."
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PLACES : JONATHAN MASSEY & BRETT SNYDER

Mapping Liberty Plaza

From September 17 to November 15, 2011, activists and anarchists occupied Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. Here, in a sidebar to their essay on the physical places and online spaces of Occupy Wall Street, Jonathan Massey and Brett Snyder present their maps of the park. Drawn at six different moments, these maps "track the transformation of a staid corporate plaza into a testing ground for radical ideas about the reorganization of society."
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Cheryl Swanson

Cheryl Swanson, founder of Toniq, applies her background in anthropology and psychology to branding.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

BOOM

Report on a visionary residential complex for aging gay boomers.
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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2008

The New U.S. Embassy in Berlin

In creating a new U.S. embassy in Berlin, architectural design is just one of the challenges.
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