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The Design Observer Group
Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: MARCH 15, 2013


Kodachrome Finds New Life

FEATURED THIS WEEK : JOHN FOSTER

Kodachrome Finds New Life

When young Fred Herzog selected Kodachrome slide film in 1953 as his choice for making photographs, he did it for two reasons: the intensity of the color which suited his eye, and affordability. Kodachrome had marvelous aesthetic attributes, but also a major drawback. The only way to make color prints with Kodachrome was to send the slide film to Kodak. But at age 23, Herzog didn't care. What he cared about was "making pictures." So Herzog kept his images safely stored as slides, and continued to shoot. Now 85 years of age, the elder Herzog has lived long enough for technology to catch up.
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OBSERVATORY : KATE CULLINANE

The Original Paradox

Originality is paradoxical in design. Because communication relies on producing what is recognizable, it is impossible to generate work that is not in some way referential. Being original has become an ambition for many designers, but perhaps the focus needs to shift. Designers should concentrate on creating work that is new, but not original.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA

Artefact as Campfire: Where People and Living Systems Meet

In what ways can design help people interact with living systems in ways that help both of them thrive? And, what small practical steps might one take to test the effect of small actions on the system as a whole?
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NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS

What are you doing this summer? How about studying design history, theory and practice in Italy — the birthplace of Western typographic tradition. You can at the Masters Workshop in Rome May 26-June 9, 2013.
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MFA Design Program >>
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PLACES : SIMON SADLER

Steve Jobs: Architect

What is revealed when we contemplate the late Steve Jobs not only as a technologist extraordinaire but also as a sort of architect? And if we then compare Jobs with another complicated virtuoso, Rem Koolhaas? As Simon Sadler argues, "Jobs and Koolhaas both seem to have been driven by the possibility that they can act inside, or around, a postmodern world resistant to purpose. Both share an attraction toward design as a type of hermeneutics — a will to learn about the world through the attempt to change it."
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CHANGE OBSERVER : PHILIP NOBEL

Oops: Understanding Failure

Fifty people are killed off in the first chapter of Henry Petroski’s To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure when a plane crashes en route to Buffalo. Thirteen hundred died when the levees failed in New Orleans. The number of victims grows with each example: the earthquake in Haiti; the collapse of the World Trade Center; the fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Even without mentioning Chernobyl, the body count reaches five figures. It’s those deaths — and the habits of thought, the human bungling, the pressures within the profession and beyond it that cause a thing to break and fall, to explode, melt or burst — that we are asked to understand ‘the nature of failure itself.'
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OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER

The Dallas Way

I am pleased to announce that next month I will become the new architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, and also a professor in the architecture school at the University of Texas at Arlington. This is an extraordinary personal opportunity, to say the least, and one that will place me in a city of Ewing-sized ambition and energy.
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

Utopian Image: Politics and Posters

While the interest of an institution such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in political posters has the aims of scholarly understanding and public education, this curatorial enterprise cannot escape the Atelier Populaire’s words of warning. To step back from the political struggle to study its products with detachment, as objects of aesthetic interest, is to accept the established order that makes this manner of study possible.
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OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Steven Heller

In this episode of Design Matters, Steven Heller discusses his new ebook, Design Cult, how design is both a cult and culture, the dirty decade, the death of a trend and what designers have in common with Harvey Weinstien.
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

The Panic Option

Thanks to a rental car, I found myself confronted several times a day with an unnerving Panic button that seemed more invitingly pushable than the more ho-hum options around it. Presumably it's supposed to make me feel safe. But really: How many times a day do you want to contemplate the panic option?
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

AUDIO: DESIGN MATTERS ARCHIVE

Alice Twemlow

Alice Twemlow is a design critic, SVA educator and author of What Is Graphic Design For?
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

IDEO.org

IDEO announces a new nonprofit organization.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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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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RECENT BOOKS RECEIVED

Guaranteed to Last: L.L. BeanGuaranteed to Last: L.L. Bean's Century of Outfitting America
Jim Gorman

A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonaldA Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald
Errol Morris

Collage Culture: Examining the 21st CenturyCollage Culture: Examining the 21st Century's Identity Crisis
Aaron Rose and Mandy Kahn

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