show

Rob Walker
Watch Where You Walk
Rick Poynor
Tracking the Locations of J.G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes
John Foster
A Mississippi Delta Road Trip
Sara Jamshidi
Black Hand: Iranian Banksy?
07.31.14

Black Hand is one of the numerous underground artists in Iran and his exhibition is neither the first nor the last underground exhibition.

Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
07.17.14

Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.

Rob Walker
Danger, Nostalgia, and Playgrounds
Rob Walker
Infrastructure Field Trips
05.19.14

The Macro City conference in the Bay Area includes "field trips" to examine "overlooked networks of infrastructure that surrounds us," firsthand.

Observed
See America
03.27.14

Over 75 years ago the government first commissioned posters to showcase the country's most stunning natural features under the banner "See America".

John Thackara
Cloud Commuting
Rick Poynor
The Filmic Page: Chris Marker’s Commentaires
03.22.14

The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.

Alexandra Lange
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
03.06.14

A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.

Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Surface Wreckage
02.14.14

Why do photographs and images of torn street posters exert such a powerful hold on the imagination and emotions?

Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
02.11.14

The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.

Rob Walker
Hale County Revisited
John Thackara
Ecuador, Open Knowledge, and ‘Buen Vivir’: Interview With Michel Bauwens
John Foster
Japanese Municipality Logos
12.08.13

A look at the forward-thinking, abstract logos that symbolize Japanese city municipalities.

Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards
12.06.13

Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.

Alexandra Lange
Art On Campus
11.18.13

A review of the renovated Blaffer Art Museum and James Turrell's latest skyspace, "Twilight Epiphany."

Paul Polak, and Mal Warwick
How to Solve India’s Poverty Crisis
11.12.13

A new look at how to end poverty in India.

John Foster
Extraordinary Spanish Art Environments
11.10.13

Jo Farb Hernández spent close to fourteen years surveying the elaborate fanciful worlds, idiosyncratic sculptures and unique visionary creations of 45 self-taught Spanish artists.

Alexandra Lange
L.A. Loves Deborah Sussman
11.08.13

A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.

Rick Poynor
Belgian Solutions: The True State of Things?
10.30.13

The foul-ups or “Belgian solutions” in a new book of street photographs are simply the way things are.

Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
David Womack
David Womack on Space
10.14.13

On this episode of Insights Per Minute David Womack considers space.

Rick Poynor
New York: City of Spectacular Doors
Observed
Wheat Paste Graffiti in Detroit
10.03.13

Graphic Design students of Dan Sinclair at Eastern Michigan University wheat pasted their posters in a sanctioned area of Detroit

John Thackara
Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger
09.06.13

Matthias Rieger with some remarks about speed from a belly-dance drummer’s point of view.

Rick Poynor
The Hotel that Dreamed It Was a Museum
08.29.13

The Walpole Bay Hotel: Living Museum, junk-clogged bane of hotel inspectors, or Wunderkammer?

Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Observed
Perspective-Localized Art
08.09.13

Swiss artist Felice Varini recently installed a new perspective-localized street art piece in Paris.

Alexandra Lange
Nevermind the Masterpiece
John Foster
A Street Photographer of 19th Century London
07.21.13

Selections from the work of a largely unknown Nineteenth-century photographer named John Thomson.

Rick Poynor
The Incidental Pleasures of Street Art
07.10.13

Sprawling, evolving, accreting: a collection of recent street art photos from Portugal and Spain.

Alexandra Lange
How To Unforget
Rob Walker
Staring Back at Security Cameras
Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
07.02.13

In the mid-1990s, Inkahoots became a graphic design studio with its sights set on social causes.

Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 1
Alexandra Lange
Every Little Thing
Rob Walker
Street Life
John Thackara
Trust Is Not An Algorithm
06.07.13

By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?

Observed
AIGA (Re)design Awards
06.04.13

The AIGA (Re)design Awards is an international graphic design competition celebrating the most influential designs that advocate for strong communities, sustainable environments and thriving economies.

Rick Poynor
The Irresistible Attraction of Self Storage
06.02.13

Self storage centers are places of private and public fascination and I always knew that one day I would succumb.

Rob Walker
The Hyperdocumented Sunset Strip
05.25.13

Using Google Street View Hyperlapse to revisit Ruscha’ Sunset Strip.

John Thackara
Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem
05.21.13

John Thackara reviews new products, services and ingredients needed to help a cycle commerce ecosystem flourish in India’s cities, towns and villages.

Center for an Urban Future
8 Ways to Grow New York’s Design Sector
05.10.13

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.

Daniella Zalcman
New York + London: A Vision of Home
Observed
FILMography
05.01.13

FILMography, a blog dedicated to matching scenes from movies with their real life locations

Alexandra Lange
Beyond Gorgeous
04.24.13

Is prettiness a distraction? Yes, when it comes to taking Alexander Girard seriously.

Alexandra Lange
What It Costs (to Buy a Bench, to Extend a Curb)
04.09.13

Participatory budgeting lets communities put their own urban priorities in order.

Rick Poynor
The Practical Virtue of Works That Work
04.08.13

Works That Work magazine reclaims the word “creativity” from the stultifying embrace of branding culture and design thinking.

Alexandra Lange
Portlandia + Timelessness
Mark Lamster
How to Design an Iconic NY Fast Food Joint
Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: Curatimus Maximus
03.27.13

“Curatimus Maximus” is a beautifully curated group of imagery dedicated to color street photography.

John Thackara
The Ecozoic City
Alexandra Lange
Instagramming Around Australia
03.18.13

Lessons from contemporary Australian architecture, plus what I saw on Instagram.

Observed
Parking Meter History
03.12.13

The history of the parking meter — originally designed to have a positive affect on traffic flow and shopping.

Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: Signs of Pittsburgh
03.08.13

Bright cursive hope and rust-covered despair, sigils of titans and corner store shingles, the quick and the decaying done for, encomiums to vanished glory and the name of an immortal beer-and-a-shot bar.

Rick Poynor
The Experiential Thrill of Driving in Films
Alexandra Lange
Patterns of Houston
02.17.13

How do you critique the urbanism of Houston? Look for patterns.

Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and The Book of Numbers
David Stairs
Journeying through the Sacred Profane
01.09.13

David Stairs chronicles his trip through India.

Alexandra Lange
Kicked A Building Lately?
John Thackara
Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion
12.05.12

A review of the options that Venice faces in trying to shore up the city.

Observed
Visualizing Mass Transit
12.03.12

Andrew Walker has visualized the mass-transit systems of major cities.

Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and the Decisive Detail
11.30.12

In Herbert Spencer’s most memorable photographs, signs of official communication fray into visual poetry.

Rick Poynor
Robert Brownjohn: Photos at Street Level
11.18.12

The Victoria and Albert Museum has put 18 of Robert Brownjohn’s photographs on display for the first time.

Alexandra Lange
Knolling Your Polling Place
John Thackara
From Autobahn to Bioregion
10.23.12

A review of the projects submitted to the Audi Urban Future Award.

Rick Poynor
True Stories: A Film about People Like Us
Mark Lamster
High (Line) Anxiety
Rick Poynor
The Museum of Communicating Objects
Rick Poynor
Demonstrations, Democracy and Design
09.24.12

After demonstrations in 2011, Barcelonas Plaça de Catalunya became a carnivalesque village of protest.

John Thackara
Top Down Nature
Rob Walker
The City In Your Dreams
08.21.12

A blog collecting stories for mapping the "collective unconscious" of NYC.

Alexandra Lange
Hiking the Museum
Alexandra Lange
The Shape of Lunch
06.29.12

"Lunch Hour NYC," a new exhibition at the New York Public Library, defines the midday meal as an urban invention.

Observed
CRITICAL: Lisbon
06.20.12

CRITICAL: Lisbon is a one-week workshop in July dedicated to talking, writing, and publishing critically about architecture.

Rob Walker
The Built Villain
06.16.12

A Dallas condo dispute considered as a monster movie, starring a built villain.

Michael McGriff
When the Spirit Comes to Him as the Voice of Morning Light
05.18.12

A poem by Michael McGriff.

Alexandra Lange
The Well-Tempered Environment
05.17.12

Water features, old trees, food trucks. Three elements of the architecture of outdoor civic life in North Texas.

Rick Poynor
The Strange Afterlife of Common Objects
Alexandra Lange
The Mother of Us All
05.11.12

Reyner Banham on Esther McCoy: "She speaks as she finds, with sympathy and honesty, and relevantly to the matter at hand." Could there be a better definition of the role of the critic?

Julia Novitch
Public Space and Citizenship: An Interview with Elihu Rubin
05.03.12

Public spaces can be charged politically because they enable citizens to gather, to represent themselves and to transmit messages.

John Thackara
Istanbul: City of Seeds
Rick Poynor
Studio Culture: The Materialism of Matter
04.26.12

Studio, print shop, dance club and store: a photographic essay on Matter's design HQ in Denver.

Alexandra Lange
Fixing South Street Seaport: Is New Architecture Enough?
04.23.12

Fighting over Ben Thompson's postmodernist landmark Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Should it stay or should it go?

Observed
Flyover Farm
04.18.12

A Kickstarter Project: Flyover Farm is a food project in Mumbai, India by Fresh & Local to transform an unused rooftop into a thriving urban farm and community space.

Alexandra Lange
Carlo Scarpa, Quilter
04.17.12

Olivetti and Doges: How Carlo Scarpa updated the Venetian treasure chest.

Rick Poynor
On Display: Museum of Broken Relationships
Center for an Urban Future
NYC Design Schools: Catalysts for Economic Growth?
03.18.12

Design schools may be the real engines of New York City’s innovation economy, according to a new report published by the Center for an Urban Future.

Rick Poynor
Typographic Stories of the City Streets
03.09.12

Characters, a new book by Stephen Banham, investigates the stories behind Melbourne’s street signs.

John Thackara
Zurich Eco Lab
03.01.12

A report on the Zurich's thriving urban eco culture.

Alexandra Lange
Reassembling the American Dream
Rick Poynor
The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins
02.18.12

“Ruin porn,” a reductive tag that makes any photograph of ruins seem suspect, ignores the cultural history of the ruin.

John Thackara
Design In The Light of Dark Energy
02.14.12

A shortened version of a talk on why the world has to reduce energy consumption, the five per cent energy solution and some of the people around the world who are leading the way.

Alexandra Lange
A Memorial to (Random Access) Memory
01.17.12

What does "RAMAC Park" mean to you?

David Stairs
Demythologizing Design: Another View of "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES"
12.19.11

David Stairs reviews "Design with other 90%:Cities"

Rick Poynor
Saul Leiter and the Typographic Fragment
12.16.11

In Saul Leiter's color photographs, the fragment is infinitely more mysterious and suggestive than the whole.

Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch With The Critics: Second-Annual Year-End Awards
12.05.11

From Twitter to Apollo, Barbie to Occupy Everywhere: The best and worst moments in design for 2011.

Rick Poynor
The Infinite Warehouse of Images
Alexandra Lange
Who Are We Competing For?
Alexandra Lange
Lessons from the High Line
10.31.11

How can the High Line become a new paradigm, and not a dead end?

Alexandra Lange
Tell Me a Story, ‘Urbanized’
10.28.11

A city is not a font or a toothbrush, so why, in Urbanized, does director Gary Hustwit treat them the same way?

Rick Poynor
On Display: The Kirkland Museum
Alexandra Lange
What Makes Architecture Useful?
10.04.11

At Experimenta Design 2011, the buildings of Lisbon make the best argument for the ongoing usefulness of good design.

Julia Cooke
Cuba Libre: Contemporary Architecture in Havana
10.04.11

Young architects struggle to update the face of Cuba.

Rachel Signer
Don't Flush Me
09.12.11

Prototype for urban system to detect and prevent sewage overflows

John Thackara
Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live?
09.05.11

Exploding the myth of Iceland's "green" energy — with alternative suggestions

Rick Poynor
Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
Adrian Shaughnessy
The Politics of Desire and Looting
08.15.11

The part designers have played in the London riots.

Alexandra Lange
Reading in Public
08.10.11

A new book club with an unusual topic: architecture and design.

Barbara Flanagan
Sleeping with the Fishes
08.08.11

Review of "Waltzing with Brando," an account of the actor's effort to inhabit and protect a Tahitian atoll.

Jane Margolies
My Block NYC
07.18.11

My Block NYC, a new video-mapping website, invites residents, tourists and videographers to upload clips they’ve taken on the streets of New York.

Rick Poynor
On the Threshold of Sebald’s Room
06.22.11

Daniel Blaufuks is haunted by a picture of an office in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. Where did it come from and what does it show?

Rick Poynor
Lost Inside the Collector’s Cabinet
06.14.11

The Collector’s Cabinet at the Frederic Marès Museum in Barcelona is a mind-bending, sense-bedazzling palace of artifactual wonders.

Alexandra Lange
New Apple HQ, 1957
06.11.11

Wouldn't it be more radical for Apple to move back to town?

Alexandra Lange
An Atlas of Possibility
Joanne Chew
China: Brooms, Mops and Chairs
05.26.11

Considering everyday objects like mops and brooms within China's broader historical context reframes the relationship between Chinese people and their streets and is, for that matter, a testament to their communal living habits.

Adam Harrison Levy
Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs
05.23.11

Close to a decade ago, a man caught sight of a battered suitcase: inside it, he found photographs of a bombed out Hiroshima. A unique slideshow of 100 photographs.

Julie Lasky
Chandigarh to Create Inventory of Corbu/Jeanneret Furniture
05.10.11

A committee convened by the government of Chandigarh, India, is assessing the value of site-specific furniture pieces designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret a half-century ago.

Rick Poynor
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Thackara
From Eds & Meds to Farms and Watersheds
John Thackara
Rotterdam: Where Time is no Longer Money
04.25.11

Twelve-year-old children in Rotterdam have never known a time when their city was not being rebuilt around them.

Rick Poynor
Wim Wenders’ Strange and Quiet Places
Alexandra Lange
City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
04.19.11

Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?

Alexandra Lange
Muddying the Waters
04.05.11

Explore New York's watery edges with the graduating class at D-Crit.

John Thackara
Does Bilbao Need Another Guggenheim?
03.30.11

Ideas for remaking Basque country that go far beyond fancy architecture.

Julie Lasky
Chandigarh on the Block
03.28.11

Furnishings designed for Corbusier's urban masterpiece are being sold at auction. How outraged should we be?

Alexandra Lange
Bad Faith Towers
03.18.11

Atlantic Yards trades titanium dream for prefab reality.

Rick Poynor
The Secret History of the Edgelands
03.04.11

These transitional zones, places of “possibility, mystery and beauty,” can be found anywhere that urban development meets open land.

John Thackara
What Kind of Design Institutes for India?
02.21.11

An influential group of design thought-leaders has launched a campaign called VisionFirst that calls for a “rigorous co-creation process to bring clarity to the models of design education that India should seek.”

Mark Lamster
An Empire State of Mind
02.18.11

Join in a running commentary on Andy Warhol's film "Empire," at MoMA.

Mark Lamster
Cities from the Sky
02.17.11

A new exhibition of urban photographs by Sze Tsung Leong.

Rick Poynor
Solitude in Dark Trees
02.15.11

Was this structure the idle amusement of some loggers, or an art piece by someone at the academy nearby? Gingerly testing each rung, I climbed up into it.

Mark Lamster
MoCA Loco
02.14.11

A weekend visit to MoCA, and barren downtown LA.

Magda Biernat
The Hard Sell
02.09.11

Images from "Betel Nut Beauties": photos by Magda Biernat.

Alexandra Lange
The Moms Aren’t Wrong
Jonathan Schultz
Give a Minute
01.31.11

Report on Local Projects' Give a Minute initiative to improve urban life.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Nairn‘s London
01.27.11

Inside the architecture critic Ian Nairn’s classic, idiosyncratic guide to London’s buildings and spaces.

John Thackara
Spaced Out in a Flat World
Rick Poynor
Discovered by Chance in a Paris Arcade
01.23.11

What better way to pass a couple of spare hours in Paris than to visit the covered arcades that were, for the Surrealists, some of the best places to encounter the marvellous?

Meena Kadri
Meena Kadri’s Collection of Indian Street Graphics
01.20.11

It started quite innocently — as most obsessions do. A snap of a painted truck here and spot of rural advertising there, on annual trips to the ancestral homeland.

Steven Heller
My Big Fat Fast Food Feast at Eataly
01.12.11

A comparison of the vast differences of Italy's Eataly to New York's.

John Thackara
Afghan Culture Museum
Rick Poynor
The Impossibility of an Island
12.10.10

Atlas of Remote Islands might look like a celebration of distant paradises. Its beauty masks a darker purpose.

Photo by Thomas Struth
Vanishing Point
12.02.10

Bukseo Dong, Pyongyang, North Korea 2007. Photo by Thomas Struth

John Thackara
In the Air of Madrid
11.29.10

Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.

Maria Popova
CEOs for Cities Community Challenge: Robust Public Life
11.19.10

A CEOs for Cities conference held in Detroit in November 2010 sought to define and quantify the magnetic force of a metropolis.

Alexandra Lange
Dan Wood
11.17.10

A conversation with WORKac architect Dan Wood about design, food and cities.

Alexandra Lange
Uncommon Ground
10.07.10

Exhibition review of "Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement," Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Michael Bierut
Mr. Vignelli’s Map
Jen Roos
Cup of Heroes
08.02.10

Thoughts on design, sports, and the author's return to a South African township during the World Cup.

William Underhill
Map Kibera
07.26.10

Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.

Kenneth Krushel
Bukhara: A Traveler’s Notes
06.28.10

Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of the legendary Silk Road. Presented here is a slideshow of design and architecture from one traveler's visit.

Steven Heller
Fascist Seduction
06.21.10

A visit to Mussolini’s Esposizione Universale Roma makes evident that one can be fervently anti-fascist and still admire — indeed savor — aesthetics for their own merits.

Adrian Shaughnessy
Safety and Comfort: A Walk with Paul Davis
04.19.10

Davis has asked me to write the introduction to his latest book. I told him I didn't want to write about the usual stuff. He agreed and suggested we go for a walk instead.

Mark Dery
Bunker of Broken Dreams
04.12.10

Review of "Landscapes of Quarantine," Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York. March 9–April 17, 2010.

Mark Lamster
What Am I Doing Here? Tall Buildings and High Anxiety in Las Vegas
02.19.10

I spent three days in a new entertainment complex, CityCenter, in Las Vegas. What follows is a diary of my experience in that time.

Jane Margolies
Rising Currents
01.14.10

Report on "Rising Currents," an exhibition of New York City design solutions to the flooding predicted by climate change experts, which will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art, March 24–August 9, 2010.

Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Moshe Safdie
01.11.10

Review of architect Moshe Safdie's Mamilla Alrov Center in Jerusalem.

Rachel Berger
A Makeover for the BART Map
01.08.10

Unlike the notorious 1972 Massimo Vignelli redesign of the New York City subway map, the new BART map didn't make much of a splash in graphic design circles.

Michael Erard
Notes on Being Born on Soil
12.14.09

At times you hear stories about patriots in exile who want their children to be born in the motherland and supplement by putting dirt from said place under a woman who is giving birth.

Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: Hale County Rural Poverty Project
11.23.09

At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Hale County Rural Poverty Project conceived of a socio-economic model of resource allocation through an online platform for accelerated regional development in the Black Belt counties of rural Alabama.

James Wegener
Metabolic Dark City
11.18.09

In 1993, the City of Darkness, or the Walled City of Kowloon was demolished. To the 35,000 people living in this dense urban slum, the change was the end of a lawless existence.

Jonathan Schultz
DESIS
By Alexis Rockman
Hot Times in the Old Town
Steven Heller
Why Does John Baeder Paint Diners?
11.03.09

John Baeder's goal for the past three decades has been to record on canvas and paper just about every diner and roadside eatery.

Ernest Beck
Medellín, Colombia
10.22.09

Report on the city officials who turned around a notorious drugs-and-murder capital, winning the 2009 Curry Stone Design Prize for Transformative Public Works.

Alexandra Lange
Small Wonder: 41 Cooper Square
10.14.09

I never thought I would say this about a work by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, but I think 41 Cooper Square is too small.

Steven Heller
People in Glass Apartments
10.01.09

People in glass apartments shouldn’t throw stones or other projectiles. Nor should they engage in private acts directly in front of their floor to ceiling windows.

Bradford McKee
New Grub Street
09.29.09

Interview with photorapher Jonas Bendiksen following the opening of his exhibition "The Places We Live."

Jeff Speck
New Words on the Block
09.09.09

Jeff Speck reviews the Street Design Manual of the New York City Department of Transportation.

Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
08.21.09

Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.

Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
08.19.09

Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.

John Thackara
Get Out of Your Tents!
08.17.09

In an interview with OK Do, John Thackara urges us to do real things in the real world.

Lena Dunham
On the Street in Tokyo
07.09.09

The major internal conflict I experienced on my recent trip to Japan was whether to explore the old-world: Zendos, philosopher's paths, Kabuki, tatami mats, visits to ancient spaces — or the new one: anime, arcades and bars that serve liquor while also selling puppies.

William Drenttel
Report from Hale County, Alabama
07.05.09

Greensboro Alabama is a city of contrasts, and a place where new design thinking is revealing itself in a surprising number of ways. An occasional report from Winterhouse Institute on its Design for Social Impact & Innovation Project.

Mark Lamster
No More Neon on the Novy Arbat
06.30.09

In legislation somewhat reminiscent of Mike Bloomberg's restaurant smoking ban, Vladimir Putin isshutting down all casinos in Russia, effective tonight.

Mark Lamster
MAS Macho
06.25.09

Behold the Museum aan de stroom (MAS), Antwerp's new municipal history museum. The building, designed by the Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk, is due to open late next year.

Mark Lamster
The Most Beautiful Crapper in the World
06.24.09

In 1772, the Antwerp alderman Adrien van den Bogaert purchased a historic property in the center of the city and then hired architect Engelbert Baets to renovate the place.

Mark Lamster
Kosher in Antwerp
06.23.09

This is the first in what will be a series of posts generated over my recent trip to Belgium. Call it an appetizer, served with pleasure.

Mark Lamster
Lamsterdam
06.23.09

Master of Shadows will be published in Europe this November, and I'm hoping my distinguished Dutch publisher will undertake a guerilla art project to promote it in Holland.

Michael Bierut
When Design Gets in the Way
06.19.09

When it comes to fulfilling simple human desires, can design get in the way? A call for more incrementalism in design.

Mark Lamster
Moscow's Jewish Museum
06.11.09

Earlier this week, plans were released for the new Jewish museum in Moscow.

John Cantwell
Trump, The Logo
05.07.09

The logo above the Trump Tower's main entrance, huge and gleaming in 34-inch brass block letters, bluntly announces Donald Trump’s presence on the street. It’s crude, perhaps, but undeniably effective. In a neighborhood filled with names like Bergdorf, Cartier, and Tiffany, none is more prominent than Trump’s.

Mark Lamster
Tbilisi's Hotel Iveria: A Defense
05.07.09

There's a piece on Oobject today that lists what that site claims are the fifteen worst “housing projects from hell.”

Jessica Helfand
Land in Crisis: The Antelope Valley Story
04.14.09

Can the County of Los Angeles claim adverse possession, and rescind residents' rights to their own water? One plaintiff is fighting for the rights of landowners who are currently not pumping from the aquifer, and has mounted a class action suit in order to do so. She also believes that design can help solve the problem. Can it? What is at stake is the degree to which designers can lend their ingenuity to find a way to cut through this mess. And, in so doing, to help restore water to its rightful recipients.

Mark Lamster
Look Both Ways: On the Streets of Philadelphia
04.07.09

Last week I found myself with a couple of hours to kill in Philadelphia and decided to spend them at the art museum.

Mimi Lipson
A Place For Ribs
03.16.09

The Broad Street Diner may be the worst diner in Philadelphia. When I first moved here, I was excited about having a 24-hour diner on my block. I imagined Saturday morning pancakes, late night snacks on my way home from louche outings. Boy, did I ever have a lot to learn.

Alexandra Lange
Standard Operating Procedure
03.02.09

From the earliest days of the High Line hoopla, the park’s future was literally entwined with that of Andre Balazs’s first ground-up hotel, the Standard New York. The reason the Standard is so good is that it is a 21st Century mash-up of one of Marcel Breuer’s most destructive ideas and one of Morris Lapidus’s best tweaks of the U.N. model of modernism.

Mark Lamster
Pastrami on Rye
02.05.09

A new project: documenting some favorite New York dining establishments.

Lawrence Barth
A Response to "A Babylon of Signs"
02.01.09

John Kaliski & Lorraine Wild’s thoughtful post posits the reasons why such a group should think about restricting some types of advertising signage in Los Angeles. And, if one buys the predicate, they makes a good case. The predicate troubles me, however. Let’s pause before continuing down the road of making design decisions by committee

Alexandra Lange
Rebooting the Festival Marketplace
01.21.09

The plans for New York's South Street Seaport aren't terrible. But the question to ask, now that the project is one hold, is: does New York need a fake fair?

Lorraine Wild
A Babylon of Signs
01.19.09

For a generation, since Venturi and Scott Brown’s Learning From Las Vegas, most Angelinos neither did not notice the steady proliferation of signs along their Southern California landscapes and strips, nor perhaps cared. With the turn of the century, that changed. For the last eight years Los Angeles has been engaged in a war with the outdoor advertising industry. 

Kerry Saretsky
Movable Feast
01.05.09

We all must eat; we all must drink. Together, these form the two most basic requisites of our existence. The restaurant is the watering-hole, the center point, the necessity. And yet restaurants do not just serve dinner; if you read between the lines on the menu, you’ll find they offer dinner, and a show.

Tom Vanderbilt
Fanfare for the Common Commuter
10.22.08

I’ve become a regular morning commuter on the city’s splendid Metro — the first in the world to employ only rubber tires on its cars. It didn’t take long for me to notice, as the trains departed, a curious trilogy of tones that echoed, along with the hum of the engine, through the concrete-chambered station. The notes, I realized with a start, were the beginning of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

Glen Cummings
Athos Bulcão, The Artist of Brasilia
08.11.08

Athos Bulcão was a public artist, interior designer, muralist, furniture and graphic designer who collaborated with Oscar Niemeyer and others to define Brasilia — one of the 20th century’s most radical and controversially received urban experiments. Bulcão died on July 31 at the age of 90, and left behind an astonishing body of work.

Michael Bierut
There is No Why
07.31.08

The year's best design movie is not about a typeface. It's Man on Wire, the new documentary about Philippe Petit's 1974 high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center.

Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do
07.23.08


Andrew Blauvelt
City and Suburb: Worlds Away?
06.16.08

The mutual dependency of city and suburb is both physical and psychological. City dwellers and suburbanites need each other to reinforce their own sense of place and identity despite ample evidence that what we once thought were different places and lifestyles are increasingly intertwined and much less distinct.

Michael Bierut
The (Faux) Old Ball Game
03.31.08

Since 1992, every ballpark in America has been designed on the nostalgic model of Baltimore's Camden Yards, including the new parks for the Yankees and the Mets. Why is it impossible to build a baseball stadium that looks like it belongs in the 21st century?

Rick Poynor
Lost America: The Flamingo Motor Hotel
02.17.08

I found this old photo in a box at the back of my attic. It shows a motel in Flagstaff, Arizona where I stayed for a couple of nights in May 1978. I was 20, it was my first visit to the US, and for three weeks I had been touring around on Greyhound buses.

Dmitri Siegel
Learning from North Philadelphia
01.27.08

Dmitri Siegel visits Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour's post-modern classic Guild House in Philadelphia and rereads Learning from Las Vegas.

William Drenttel
Burma (Myanmar), 1989
09.28.07

This slideshow of photographs from 1989 is offered in solidarity with the people of Burma — as they again confront one of the most brutal regimes in the world.

Steven Heller
The Designer As Gumshoe
08.30.07

The aim in this essay is not to raise mass consciousness about gum pollution. Over the past year, I've been something of a gumshoe, investigating and documenting patterns of gum goop, and talking to perpetrators and victims alike. Now I'm ready to share my findings.

Jessica Helfand
Cock-a-Doodle-Don't
07.10.07

Where food is concerned, the relationship between what things look like and how we respond exists at its most primal level: what is a gut reaction, after all, if not something that attacks your gut?

Adrian Shaughnessy
The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
06.06.07

Designers often bemoan the lack of coverage given to graphic design in mainstream media. Yet when design catches the attention of journalists and commentators it usually results in a vicious mugging rather than hearty praise.

Eric Nevin
Love Letters to Sub-Antarctic Islands
05.20.07

Assigned a page of an atlas for a graduate class in graphic design at the Yale School of Art, Eric Nevin created a log of love letters to the islands of the sub-Antarctic. The writing charmed us and the history adds something to our understanding of this desolate part of the world.

William Drenttel
Koolhaas and His Omnipotent Masters
04.09.07

Koolhaas recounts the story: he chose between working on NYC's Ground Zero and the Beijing CCTV project based on a fortune cookie he was given at a Chinese restaurant — in it, the goofy prognostication "Stunningly Omnipresent Masters Make Minced Meat of Memory." Instead of responding to fortune cookies, Rem Koolhaas could have changed the world.

Rick Poynor
Dancing to the Sound in Your Head
04.03.07

We might not appreciate advertising conducted like a saturation bombing campaign in public spaces. Yet now, to complicate things, the personal stereo is being used as a way of reasserting spontaneity, exuberance and passion in over-controlled public places.

Kurt Andersen
Heyday
03.16.07

Courtesy of the Kurt Andersen, Design Observer is pleased to present two excerpts from this new novel, Heyday,both involving the dazzling Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute). Portrayed is the tumultuous world of 1848 — and the beginnings of modern retailing, branding, trademarks and American commerce.

David Stairs
That (Other) 1970's: The Last King of Scotland
03.01.07

The Last King of Scotland, Kevin McDonald's film about Idi Amin's notorious presidency, opened in Uganda to great fanfare. The VIP screening took place at Kampala's Cineplex, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Forest Whitaker in attendance. The premiere was not targeted to the average Ugandan...

Lorraine Wild
Sister Corita: The Juiciest Tomato
01.09.07

In Daniel Berrigan's words, Sister Corita is a "witch of invention." And there is no doubt that at least in those tumultuous years of the 1960s, her powers of invention seemed supernatural, if not divine... Corita's work stands for its sheer graphic invention, the riot of letterforms and color, and the immediacy of its connection to her time and place.

Alissa Walker
War Is Over! If You Want It
12.29.06

When the star of the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon is asked by a reporter what he thinks Nixon should do to end the Vietnam War, Lennon stares incredulously into the camera. "He should declare peace." As if this was the most obvious solution in the world.

William Drenttel
Voting & Religion in America: A Slideshow
12.23.06

The reality, contrary to my perception, is that millions vote in religious settings all across the country, casting this important act of citizenry in distinctly non-secular environments.

Michael Bierut
New House
11.20.06

In 1967, just after my tenth birthday, we moved from a cramped 1940s bungalow in an older Cleveland suburb to up-and-coming Parma, Ohio. I had been walking the earth for a full decade, but that fall I felt I was finally assuming my birthright as an American: a brand new house.

Jessica Helfand
My Cup Holder Runneth Over
10.22.06

When we're not hiding behind our nail-technician-primed hands, drinking our barrista-blended beverages, IMing, text-messaging, and push-button withdrawing more money from the ATM to pay for all of these things, who are we?

David Stairs
Charles Eames Among the Bullrushes
10.19.06

What interests me is the tendency for even uneducated Ugandans to observe and learn from their surrounding world, a fundamental hallmark of design thinking.

Tom Vanderbilt
Small Worlds
09.13.06

One of the first things I like to do upon visiting a new city is to visit the scale-model version of itself. From Havana to Copenhagen, I've hunted down these miniature metropolises in dusty historical museums and under-visited exhibition halls. Surely one reason for their ineluctable allure is that simple Olympian sense of being able to consume as large as entity as Beijing or New York in a single eyeful.

Jessica Helfand
Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here
09.04.06

Working with Florence Knol, Lucille McGinnis convinced her husband, Patrick B. McGinnis, that the New Haven Railroad needed a new logo. Enter Herbert Matter, Swiss-born designer, photographer and Yale professor whose own education was framed by apprenticeships with Cassandre, Leger and Le Corbusier.

William Drenttel
What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon?
08.29.06

But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, Half.com was hot. And it did something quite remarkable. As a publicity stunt, it bought a town and renamed it. Someplace in Oregon. I wondered what ever happened to Half.com, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?

Adrian Shaughnessy
Living Without The Internet
08.03.06

The "community" that I find on the internet is the communality of shared enthusiasms for marginalised subjects.

William Drenttel
Move It Down . . . A Little to the Right
07.14.06

That some years ago, some poor sign installer went to put the first letter of the name of the museum up on the wall, and someone screamed, "No, you idiot! Lower! Much Lower! Get it down close to the edge. And a quarter-inch to the right." That the building is the Guggenheim Museum, and that the architect was Frank Lloyd Wright, makes this photographic detail especially interesting.

Jessica Helfand
"Oui, Oui, Oui" All The Way Home
06.01.06

On a sweltering day last August, my daughter and I embarked with a friend on a 6-day tour of Paris: Kid Paris, the Paris of candy stores and carousels and more than a few weird new ice cream flavors.

Jessica Helfand
Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
04.30.06

Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.

William Drenttel
Weather Report: 53 Degrees F. Heavy Snowfall Predicted
04.18.06

The weather is fucked up. "Science is a way of making sense of the world. Design is a way of making the world make sense."

William Drenttel
Meet Me in St. Louis: The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
04.03.06

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts makes the radical assumption that the experience of art is about contemplation. Take your time. You are alone here. The light will change if you stay long enough.

Kenneth Krushel
Santa Fe Diarist
03.28.06

But there seem to be equally vigorous efforts to commercialize this distant past in Santa Fe, embracing a design esthetic that advertises itself as the "essence" of what had been thought to be lost. Then, in re-introducing this historical narrative, an efficient assembly line manufactures it into a commercially lucrative design creed.

Lawrence Weschler
Languorous Bodyscapes
03.16.06

"The long, languid spread of her body makes the first and most lasting impression." And more on these sorts of landscape-bodyscape slippages by this seasoned The New Yorker writer, and recent author of Everything That Rises : A Book of Convergences.

Jessica Helfand
What We Talk About When We Talk About Design History
02.16.06

At the end of the day, being a design historian means being observant and fearless, stubborn and driven, principled, passionate and anything but lazy. It means going where you have to go to get what you need.

Jessica Helfand
Civilian Typography: The Power and The Fury
01.08.06

Without a cell phone, or in a flood, or barred from public transportation, the thing that separates human beings from the animal kingdom is our ability to communicate verbally. If we can't do that, we do it graphically. When all else fails, the pen isn't just mightier than the sword: it is the sword.

Julie Lasky
Edward Hopper, Village Person
01.05.06

My friend opened the door to a minimally furnished skylit room. It had a pot-bellied stove, a painter's easel, and photos framed on the wall of a grim man with long legs. The room was the studio of Edward Hopper. (Slide show by Duane Michals.)

Lorraine Wild
Think Regional, Act Annual
11.27.05

Flying from New York to Los Angeles last week, I spent the long hours at 35,000 feet doing something I had not done in years: I read the Print Magazine's "2005 Regional Design Annual" cover to cover. Here are some of the things I learned:

Michael Bierut
Looking for Celebration, Florida
10.13.05

An assessment of Celebration, Florida, a town built by the Walt Disney Company on "New Urbanist" planning principles in its tenth anniversary year.

Michael Bierut
Four Years After
09.11.05

After four years of ambiguity and contention and the World Trade Center site, Ellsworth Kelly's 2003 proposal seems wiser than ever.

William Drenttel
Small Town Meetings
08.05.05

Zoning regulations are how a town designs its future. They determine what kind of development is encouraged, and what kind is discouraged. In Meetings, Paul Shambroom visited 150 local government meetings in 32 states. The photographs are remarkable in presenting the physical details by which towns gather to determine how they live.

Rick Poynor
Vladimir’s House and Garden of Earthly Delights
07.27.05

Spending two weeks in Vladimir Beck's house on the island of Vrnik in Croatia made me question, yet again, rigid distinctions between artist and designer. Here, it's impossible to separate the two. Beck has designed every feature with a high degree of thought for what might make a domicile located in such a setting pleasurable and practical to live in.

Debbie Millman
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon + Jake Gorst
06.24.05

Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon and Jake Gorst talk about Gorst's new documentary Leisurama.

Rick Poynor
Getting Louder: Chinese Design on the March
05.05.05

The “Get it Lounder” design exhibition in Shenzhen, billed as the first of its kind in China, reflected the lifestyle aspirations of its participants. Will Chinese design be able to confront social reality in more overtly critical ways?

Rick Poynor
Wisconsin Death Trip: A Psychic History
04.05.05

Michael Lesy’s book Wisconsin Death Trip documented awful events in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, using a town photographer’s pictures. Years later, it remains a spellbinding piece of literary and photographic alchemy.

William Drenttel
Moving the Axum Obelisk
03.10.05

In the mid-1990s, I saw an exhibition at the New York Public Library of the greatest illustrated books of the 19th century. One book stood out for me: a massive tome by Henry H. Gorringe, titled Egyptian Obelisks and dated 1882. It's in my design collection because of a dubious memory that it's the first book to document a from-start-to-finish design process. Of course, the process it documents is how one moves an obelisk.

William Drenttel
Stop The Plant: The Failure of Rendering
02.23.05

There is no single rendering ominous enough to create public fear; no image so compelling as to create political momentum; and no symbol so memorable as to unite the opposition. Whether through artistic renderings or compelling information design, no one has made a visual case against these plants that is wholly effective. This is, I believe, a fundamental failure of design.

Kenneth Krushel
The Gates
02.19.05

Much has been written about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "Gates" project in Central Park in New York City. In the past few days, though, we have received two further reports on this project which we want to share with our readers: an essay by Ken Krushel and a photographic portfolio by Adam Bartos.

Julie Lasky
Christo's Agent Orange
02.13.05

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Central Park gates lack that magnetic, landscape-transforming power. Could this be owing not just to the way the gates drive viewers to seek greater heights of sensation, but also to the off-putting emergency color, the subtle grid of the rip-stop nylon reminiscent of quick escapes from troubled aircraft?

Michael Bierut
The Comfort of Style
02.03.05

The design process at the World Trade Center site has attracted enormous interest on one hand, and marginalized the role of designers on the other, as described in Philip Nobel's book Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero.

Momus
Berlin Wheatpasting
12.26.04

"What is desirable in our field," said Milton Glaser in 2002, "is continuous transgression." Berlin wheatpasters know that. They're out there at night, come snow, come rain, risking fines or imprisonment to publicize semi-legal parties with amateur, exciting, semi-legal graphics.

Tom Vanderbilt
Pleasures and Pathos of Industrial Ruins
12.09.04

An account of a visit to the abandoned site of Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania.

Michael Bierut
Colorama
11.01.04

Grand Central Terminal's enormous Colorama displays by Kodak documented a suburban fantasy world for millions of commuters.

William Drenttel
Does Aspen Have A Future?
10.09.04


Jessica Helfand
Ask Not What Your Typeface Can Do For You: Ask What You Can Do For Your Typeface
07.08.04

"Manhattan-based architect Frederic Schwarz's memorial 'Empty Sky' WILL USE Times New Roman..."

William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away
05.05.04


Michael Bierut
Information Design and the Placebo Effect
02.28.04

It turns out that New York City is filled with buttons for pedestrians to activitate "Walk" signals at busy intersections that have never worked. Does pressing these useless buttons provide us with a sense that at least we're doing something?

Michael Bierut
(Over)explaining Design
01.18.04

From the murals at Rockefeller Center to the proposals for the World Trade Center site, designers demonstrate an eagerness to explain, and perhaps overexplain, their ideas. Can the explanations get in the way of the work? Should the work speak for itself?

William Drenttel
Rationalizing Absence
01.15.04

James Turrell's influence on World Trade Tower memorial design.

Rick Poynor
Stephen Gill: Behind the Billboard
01.11.04

Designers are battlers against entropy: a vital task, but taking the long view, often a doomed, quixotic mission. Stephen Gill’s photographs, showing the disorderly zones behind billboards, offer a reality check.

Jessica Helfand
Sign Language: Endangered Species or Utopian Uprising?
12.05.03

At turns provocative and peculiar, photographs of a new building in Birmingham, England, hint at a utopian uprising: No angles. No signs. In other words: no branding?

Rick Poynor
Remember Picelj
12.02.03

The English-speaking world knows little about the design history of Communist Europe. Few will have heard of the distinguished Slovenian Ivan Picelj. His prints ask us to remember; they are full of yearning.

Jessica Helfand
On Visual Empathy
11.22.03

In a world besieged by unpredictable atrocities, don't we all feel a little emotionally raw? Two recent articles in suggest that visual empathy may more critical to a productive imagination than we thought.

Rick Poynor
Those Inward-looking Europeans
11.09.03

Three American design teachers visit London and the Netherlands. European designers, they say, are not paying attention to design history. Maybe the visitors are missing local factors and broader global issues.

Jessica Helfand
Fatal Grandeur
10.30.03

Maybe design isn't going to kill you if it falls on your head. But if YOU fall, design is not exactly going to save you, either.

William Drenttel
Twin (Cities) Type in Flux
09.14.03

A new typeface commissioned for the City of Minneapolis moves when the wind blows. Is this what Gutenberg imagined when he invented movable type?


Creative Opportunities
  • Twitter Facebook Google+
    Tumblr Pinterest RSS

    Design Observer
    social media à la carte
  • Newsletter signup