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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: OCTOBER 12, 2012


The Museum of Communicating Objects

FEATURED THIS WEEK : RICK POYNOR

The Museum of Communicating Objects

A while back, I wrote here about The Museum of Innocence created in Istanbul by the Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. This beautifully realized display is a parallel project planned for many years by the writer as a development of his 2008 novel, also titled The Museum of Innocence. The Innocence of Objects, a richly illustrated book about the museum, has just come out, with an illuminating text by Pamuk.
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PLACES : RICHARD CAMPANELLA

What the Nation's Best-Educated Amateur Planners Learned from Hurricane Isaac. And Gustav. And Rita and Katrina. And Cindy, Ivan, Lili, Isidore, and Georges.

In recent decades New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have been hit by one powerful hurricane after another. As geographer Richard Campanella writes, "Few regional societies have gained a more rigorous — if unwilling — place-based education. The past two decades have imparted, to nearly two million people, advanced lessons in geography, hydrology, climatology, engineering, civics, disaster recovery, sociology and urban planning." And as Campanella argues, the toughest test is yet to come.
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PLACES : JEREMY TILL

Scarcity contra Austerity

What is the difference between scarcity and austerity? Here Jeremy Till contrasts the political ideology of austerity — imposed reductions of public services and social benefits — with the physical condition of scarcity — the measureable dwindling of finite resources — and explores how this distinction might enable designers to grapple with big-scale challenges. A keener understanding of scarcity, he argues, "might inspire us to widen the field of practice and allow us to operate more creatively."
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NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS

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OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Having Fun at the Museum

As one moves through the exhibition "Century of the Child" at the Museum of Modern Art one experiences a melancholic undertow. Toys, schools, books, films, and playgrounds reveal themselves as vehicles of adult propaganda. The show makes clear that design responds to needs, but it also fills different kinds of voids. Many of the artifacts on display seem to have been designed as much to save adults from the workaday, violent, consumerist realities of the twentieth century as they were for child’s play.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER

Accidental Mysteries, 10.07.12

The Japanese tradition of kintsugi — the artful repairing of damaged objects — is a practice that continues to fascinate me. In our society today, most things are not repaired if broken. If a toaster quits working, the normal practice is to throw it away and get a replacement. Still, shoes get repaired. Automobiles do — probably more than we’d like — and iPhones can be repaired if the damage is not severe. This week’s post looks at things broken, repaired and/or mended — and the beauty of such.
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

Listening to Retail

We all spend time in retail/service environments, without spending a conscious second thinking about the sound around us. Some of that sound is designed; much of it isn’t. Our ears process the mingling, but usually not in ways that focus attention. Certainly I used to tune it all out, but I’m listening differently to retail lately. Here’s why.
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PLACES : MELISSA DITTMER

Lafayette Park: Living in Ordered Exhibition

When architect Melissa Dittmer moved from New York City to Detroit, her reaction was a "year-long panic attack." Where, she wondered, were the people? "Where was the density, the sense of connection with strangers?" But then Dittmer and her family bought a townhouse in Lafayette Park, the modernist development created in the early '60 by Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Alfred Caldwell — a place where the design itself encourages "a shared sense of intimacy that fosters community."
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OBSERVATORY : JUDE STEWART

The World's Smashing-est Kids' TV Show

The mission of Karambolage is to promote cross-cultural understanding, at first between the famously quarrelsome French and Germans, then broadening to include each country’s growing immigrant populations. Rarely does a cultural product of any kind handle such a delicate task with greater verve, sensitivity or smarts. Its particular genius? Storytelling that arises from things, well-chosen objects that unspool our longings for us, that tether the wordlessness of experience to something concrete that positively compels us to talk.
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OBSERVATORY : JOHN THACKARA

How To Manage a Constellation

Over the last hundred years the ecosystems in the Baltic Sea have been poisoned almost to death by outputs from a multitude of industries and farming activities in the nine countries that surround it. To bring the sea back to life something more than good intentions will be needed. To solve complex and interconnected human-environment challenges, we need to build ‘social-ecological coalitions’ or ‘constellations’.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka

Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka: their client list includes MTV, VH1, Sundance and Nickelodeon.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Ripped from the Headlines

Johnny Selman is a third of the way through his year-long project to graphically enliven the news.
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PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2005

Campus Design as Critical Practice

How to turn a lackluster midwestern campus into an international cultural destination. 
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