OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR
The street art that grabs me, if street art is even the right term, is much looser and messier than the work celebrated by devotees. It’s less a resolved image with a clearly stated intention and definite physical boundaries, and more a sprawling, evolving process of layering and accretion. It’s often the work, over time, of multiple hands, most likely to be anonymous. A collection of recent street art photos from Portugal and Spain.
OBSERVATORY : MARTHA SCOTFORD
Ernst Reichl, one of the top book designers of the 20th century, was also a prolific writer. Midway in his career he began to reflect on many of the books he designed. In the end, there were over 500 index cards on which he hand-wrote his thoughts about typography, binding design and jackets, illustration, publishers, the publishing industry in New York, design colleagues (revered and annoying), production triumphs and problems, how well the book sold, his opinion of the book and his philosophy of book design as applied to that title.
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OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE
Desipina Stratigakos's recent essay "Unforgetting Women Architects: From the Pritzker to Wikipedia." serves as a digital call to arms to get more women into Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias. But digital means are not the only ways of unforgetting. A Handbook of California Design, 1930-1965
published this spring as a companion and follow-on to a 2012 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offers another means of unforgetting, one which suggests that a group biography, emphasizing connections, collaborations and collective design advancement, might do just as well as a monograph.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie Millman talks to designer and writer Michael Rock about his book: Multiple Signatures
, being both a writer and a designer, self-hatred in design, the benefits of being an outsider, branding and the complexity of design as an activity.
PLACES : JOE DAY
Joe Day compares the proliferation of American prisons and museums since the 1960s and finds intriguing parallels in how institutional architectures have responded to cultural movements from Minimalism to post-Millenialism. Art and crime collide in buildings from Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon through Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim to contemporary work by Peter Zumthor, Rem Koolhaas and others.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
At the onset of World War II, almost every business or manufacturer who did work for the war effort required employee ID badges for permission to enter the premises. These curious photographic objects are collectible examples of a time before the high-tech security, fingerprint and iris scans we have today.
CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA
What are social-ecological systems? How do you design in them? What new skills do we need to do so? Stockholm’s Archepelago is looking for ways to grapple with an array of complex issues — waste, water, forests, sewage, sanitation, and so on. These issues have one thing in common: they are all situations in which people interact with other living systems. Climate and social scientists describe these interactions between people and living systems as social-ecological systems.
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CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
Paul Polak on SunWater: a radically affordable solar water pump that will transform small plot agriculture and help bring the world's poorest families out of poverty.
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2000
New York City photographer Elizabeth Felicella focuses on what she calls "landscape of security."