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Design Observer

WEEKLY EMAIL: MAY 16, 2013


Ben Chestnut and Aarron Walter

FEATURED THIS WEEK : DEBBIE MILLMAN

Ben Chestnut and Aarron Walter

On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to Mailchimp's CEO Ben Chestnut and User Expereince Lead Aarron Walter about how they arrived where they are, why and how email marketing is fun, Freddie the monkey and how to create creativity.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : PAUL POLAK

The SunWater Project: Advanced Solar Technology for Poor Farmers

Farmers need a reliable, low-cost water pumping system so that they can grow cash crops to increase their incomes. They also need electric power to add value to their crops (grinding, processing, etc.) and for household use. Current pumping systems cost too much or are unreliable.How can we radically reduce the purchase price of solar PV powered pumping systems along with technologies that efficiently transport irrigation water from the source to the plant?
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

The Conceptual Posters of Boris Bucan

What still seems surprising about the posters Boris Bućan designed in the late 1960s and early 1970s for the Student Center Gallery, the Zagreb Drama Theater, and other Croatian clients is how confidently reductive they are. If this is not quite anti-design, it is certainly design gripped by a powerful sense of restraint. I recall my first impression of the posters in a gallery. The images seemed sharply defined, cerebral and enigmatic.
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NEWS FROM DESIGN OBSERVER GROUP SPONSORS

Taking place in the French capital of Champagne province, the SVA Products of Design summer immersive workshop is a delicious foray into the growing field of food design. Emphasizing a maker-driven, cooking-centric approach, the program will reveal new perspectives unto the ways that we engage and identify with our food.
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Products of Design >>
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

Finding The Story

When Emily Spivack points to product descriptions on eBay, and reveals them to be funny, poignant, or otherwise surprisingly meaningful stories and narratives, she’s up to something effective, and affecting. What looked to the rest of us like mere detritus, the marketplace vernacular of a virtual nation trying to hustle a buck from used goods, gets transformed. Now these are tales of love, of memory, emotion, misadventure, family, fame.
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OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE

Anxiety, Culture and Commerce

In recent years, it has become a slam to say, of design collections and exhibitions, that they looked like a shop. When I take my son to the MoMA design collection, he looks in their glass fronted cases and sees the same Massimo Vignelli for Heller plates we have in our glass fronted cabinets at home. Should the difference be obvious? Or is the ability to experience design as a consumer how we spark an interest in history? A series of panels I've organized at MAD examines these questions in the past, present and future.

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OBSERVATORY : KIT HINRICHS AND DELPHINE HIRASUNA

The Alphabet Card

The year 1913 marked the peak of the picture postcard craze. Even though the population in America was less than 100 million, nearly 970 million picture postcards were sold in the U.S. alone. At a time when most people did not own a camera and color commercial printing was in its infancy, the little picture postcards were a delight to view. Collecting and displaying picture postcards in scrapbooks became a popular pastime. Manufacturers encouraged this by issuing postcards in sets so that the public would want to own the whole series.
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PLACES : BELMONT FREEMAN

Digital Deception

The technologies of representing architecture have advanced steadily over the years, from drawing to photography to digital rendering — and have lately taken a new leap. As Belmont Freeman argues, "the crafts of architectural rendering and photography have now merged into a common activity of digital image-making — so completely that one can conceive a work of architecture and produce a 'photograph' of it without having to go through the expensive, tedious and corrupting intermediate step of actually building the building. Welcome to the world of architectural photography without architecture."
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OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER

The Tower that Beer Built

Somewhat unwittingly, I have embarked on a series of pieces on skyscrapers born of alcoholic beverage magnates. The Seagram Building was the product of the (bootleg) whiskey fortune amassed by Sam Bronfman. In Dallas, we have the Kirby (nee Busch) Building, now a residential apartment house but originally a spec office tower financed by the St. Louis beer barron Adolphus Busch. Like the Woolworth in Building in New York, it celebrates its centennial this year.
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CHANGE OBSERVER : CENTER FOR AN URBAN FUTURE

8 Ways to Grow New York's Design Sector

New York City is home to more designers than any other U.S, city and a top location in the world for cutting-edge design. NYCxDESIGN — the city’s first citywide design festival, launching this week —builds on much of that activity to increase awareness about what design is and what it can do. But there is more the city can do to solidify New York’s claim as a capital of design.
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OBSERVATORY : ROB WALKER

The Medium Is The Mail

Something surprising arrived in the mail not long ago: actual mail. Jill Stoll's "random acts of mail art" combines artistic ritual, creative reuse, and the postal service as unexpected connector. It's a distinctly analog project — with a digital twist. And it made my day.
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OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR

The Age of Wire and String Rebooted

The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus is a fiction of incomparable strangeness. What and where is the world that its stories describe with such dedicated observational precision? A new edition from the London literary publisher Granta has pulled off the improbable feat of making the book seem even stranger. Its visual interpretation by British artist and illustrator Catrin Morgan goes way beyond the norm for an illustrated book.
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PLACES : THOMAS JORION & JOSH WALLAERT

Temple of the Vanities

A century from now, when architectural historians consider how humans lived in the 20th century, most will look to the commercial centers of great cities and read therein a story about the rise of global capitalism. But perhaps a few will take a cue from archaeology and look instead to the modern temples: defense towers, nuclear reactors and industrial facilities sited in remote forests and on rocky coastlines, wherever there was oil to extract or a shipping lane to defend. Paris-based photographer Thomas Jorion has been documenting these structures in a series about vanity; here we present a portfolio of recent work.
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Audio: Design Matters Archive

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Ze Frank

Ze Frank is a writer, designer and host of The Ze Frank Show.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE

Project

Transensing: Glassware for the Blind

Award-winning glassware for the visually impaired.
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OBSERVATORY ARCHIVE

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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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Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and MuseumsNegro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums
Mabel O. Wilson

Maynard L. Parker: Modern Photography and the American DreamMaynard L. Parker: Modern Photography and the American Dream
Jennifer A. Watts, Editor

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