FEATURED THIS WEEK : RICK POYNOR
The 12 essays selected here, a reminder of what is salted away in the Design Observer archive, represent only a fraction of Bill Drenttel’s writing for the site. They cover his literary and intellectual interests, his education, his working life, his civic commitment, his bibliophilia, his curiosity, his sense of outrage, and his deeply held political convictions. A lot of the man Bill was can be found, remembered and enjoyed in his posts.
OBSERVATORY : CHRIS PULLMAN
In the mid 60’s, when I was just learning about design and typography at Yale, Modernism was the style du jour. I was intellectually turned on by the minimalism (one font, usually Akzidenz in just a few sizes), the rules (flush left, ragged right, the logic of the grid) and the idea of a “universal” aesthetic where content of any variety could be accommodated in this rational system.
OBSERVER MEDIA : DEBBIE MILLMAN
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to legendary designer Bob Gill about coming up in the prfoession in the 1950s, working with the Beatles, and the problem with many designers today. "The vast majority of designers, their idea of a wonderful job is something that's beautiful, they're jus not that interested in expressing an opnion."
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PLACES : DAVID HEYMANN
Every year, the AIA chapter in Austin, Texas, sponsors a tour of new homes — “The kind of thing I hate,” says one architect, who nevertheless finds himself awkwardly discussing bedroom design in a Shaker-Italianate villa. To ring in the New Year, we present a story about the incongruency of client desires and the “hope many architects secretly harbor, that architecture is a conduit to the real.”
CHANGE OBSERVER : JOHN THACKARA
In fashion, despite more than 400 eco labels, an incremental ‘do less harm’ approach has addressed the symptoms, but not the principal cause, of our difficulties: an economy based on perpetual growth in a finite world. A new and global ‘leave things better’ politics affirms our co-dependency with living systems and the biosphere. The Commons, and the sharing or Peer-to-Peer economy, give shared meaning to this new politics. It is beginning to take practical form in the creation of foodsheds and fibersheds at the scale of the bioregion.
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
Each week, John Foster shares with Design Observer readers his curated discoveries from various online resources. Foster spends hours mining digital collections at museums and hundreds of other sources for objects of interest and curiosity that present the kind of high design and graphic qualities he thinks readers will enjoy. Presented here are his top ten galleries of 2013.
OBSERVATORY : RICK POYNOR
While preparing a recent post about the late Martin Sharp, it occurred to me that I had never seen the book People, Politics and Pop: Australians in the Sixties
, published in 1968 with 13 of his illustrations. Thanks to the online convenience of the ever more telescopic “long tail” I now have a copy of this enjoyable period piece. Sharp’s drawings and collages, which he worked on en route from Sydney to London, live up to expectations.
OBSERVATORY : OWEN EDWARDS
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the formidable weapon that has supplied armies and revolutionaries and good guys and bad guys for more than six decades, died last week about as close to an official national treasure in Russia as Lenin. And for good reason. From the time his invention, the AK-47, went into production until now it has reigned as one of the most successful industrial designs in history.
OBSERVATORY : ADAM HARRISON LEVY
Only in the layered, interconnected culinary world of graphic designer, artist, cookbook author Jake Tilson could huevos rancheros eaten in Los Angeles inspire someone to cook Baid Masus
, or Baghdad Special Eggs, a 13th-century Arab dish that looks perfect for New Years Day.
OBSERVATORY : ALEXANDRA LANGE
As the year-end and best-of lists rain down, I have been thinking of my own highlight reel. For me it was a year of women. I've always believed that you have to choose your own heroines, and this year I made mentors out of a few new ones, as well as finally writing something personal about the woman that inspired me to be an architecture critic in the first place. Ada Louise, I miss you.
OBSERVATORY : MARK LAMSTER
Pictured here is the City Hall desk of Michael Bloomberg, roughly 60 hours before the conclusion of his twelve year term as the Mayor of the City of New York. As the box suggests, the departure process has already begun. You can approve of his performance or you can lament it, but there is little question he has been an effective manager, working from this distinctly unceremonial open-plan space, known as the "bullpen."
OBSERVATORY : JOHN FOSTER
From Russia with Doubt
is the true story about brothers Ron and Roger Pollard, two amateur collectors who enjoyed going to flea markets and estate sales, picking up objects, paintings — anything they happened to like. One day in 2004, while skimming eBay for a painting to hang in their house, Ron spotted what looked to be pretty good representation of a Russian avant-garde Suprematist painting. The painting arrived a week or so later and, upon anxious inspection — it looked very
old. Fake or not, it looked great and Ron and Roger were happy.
CHANGE OBSERVER: PROJECT ARCHIVE
New women's fashion collection celebrating history of labor
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2001
High Line photographs from Joel Sternfeld.