Social Good

Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Toni L. Griffin
I strongly believe—and have seen firsthand—how shared ownership in creating a vision plan inspires greater collective action.


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Chelsea Mauldin
“Most broken government systems are not designed—they accrete, bits and pieces stuck on to address problems.”


Steven Heller
Closing New York’s Penal Colony
How design is playing an integral role in the campaign to close Rikers Island.


Toby Bottorf
Past Security: Notes on the Experience of Airports
Airports are designed to feel deliberately like nowhere. It’s sterility as a design choice.


Adrian Shaughnessy
The Politics of Desire and Looting
The part designers have played in the London riots.


Mary Badon
Red Light, Green Light: The Invention of the Traffic Signal
The traffic light — invented in 1912 by a policeman in Detroit — has radically impacted the way transportation rules have developed over the past 100 years, all over the world.


Kathleen Meaney
Wing It: Testing Out Exhibit Design Using Virtual Reality
The field of environmental (or experiential) graphic design is young and on fire.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 77: Cape to California
Cape Town’s water crisis, Los Angeles’ first chief design officer, Lubalin 100, Walter Dorwin Teague’s Design This Day


Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and The Book of Numbers
The Book of Numbers by Herbert and Mafalda Spencer was aimed at children, but its intriguing visual approach is more “photobook” than “schoolbook.”


Jessica Helfand
Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here
Working with Florence Knoll, 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, Léger and Le Corbusier.


Ken Gordon
Jane Jacobs Took It to the Streets
So much of our legendary urbanist’s accomplishments involved bringing the design of cities down to earth from the soaring views of modernists.


Julie Anixter
Speaking of Home: Saint Paul Skyways become Immigrant Portrait Gallery
“The goals of empowering new Americans, supporting diversity, and teaching tolerance are all critical to the long-term health of our city.”


Thomas de Monchaux
Something Elemental About Something Artificial
Exploring the complex space between the formal and informal, the formed and formless with LOT-EK.


Bill Shaffer
Modern Survivor
An enormous, glorious, digital clock: a quintessential expression of the design ethos of the 1960s.


Steven Heller
Victims of the Image: Yellow Peril
Visual hazing in popular art and design of Asians was long maintained for different purposes.


Komal Sharma
What's Old is New Again
How computational design and long-standing traditions can work hand in hand.


ThoughtMatter
Work Worth Doing: Branding the 100 Gates Project
Ambition, art, activism, and empowerment.


Steven Heller
State of the Union Rats
“Scabby,” as it is appropriately nick-named, is the labor movement’s most effective protest icon and guaranteed to grab the attention of even the most blasé passersby.


Ashleigh Axios
A Standards Manual Reprinted With a New Purpose
Can we go back to the 1977 awareness and ensure the protection of the EPA’s legacy and the environment it protects?


Cheryl Heller
Conflict as a Tool For Social Change
To be passionate about change requires unconquerable optimism, fed by a vision of the better thing ahead.


Eric Heiman
Necessary Frictions
Want to get an immediate, on-the-ground sense of a new city in all its multicultural glory? Use its public transit.


Mariana Amatullo
People to People ­­: Fresh Eyes on a Changing Cuba
The power of visual metaphor and design’s aesthetic dimension as a way forward for cultural rapprochement and social transformation.


Jessica Helfand
Paris One Forty: Week Eighteen



Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S1E8: Leslie Koch
Leslie Koch was the president and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island.


Jessica Helfand
Paris One Forty: Week Sixteen
The Louvre, visting cats, taxidermy’s magical world, street typefaces, cafe chairs.


Cheryl Heller
A Definition Five Years in the Making
What we mean when we say “design for social innovation”


Jessica Helfand
Paris One Forty: Week Fifteen
There are moments and places in Paris where the visual evocation of time’s inevitable passage is simply meaningless.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S1E1: John Bielenberg
John Bielenberg is a designer, entrepreneur and imaginative advocate for a better world.



Adam Harrison Levy
The Wood Stacker
All his work, from cutting the wood during the summer, to stacking it in early fall, through to burning it in the winter freed him from a dependency on oil. His heat is local.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Andy’s Food Mart by Tibor Kalman and M&Co
The virtue of the vernacular


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


Mark Lamster
How to Design an Iconic NY Fast Food Joint
Design secrets of New York fast food icons.


Rob Walker
A Designer Runs For Office
Matt Tomasulo was a successful tactical urbanist. Then he ran for public office.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Assicurazioni Generali by Tošo Dabac
The textual unconscious of Zagreb


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Commuter in Tokyo by Michael Wolf
How to cope with compression


Rick Poynor
Stephen Bayley: Death Drive
Style, money, class, glamour, sex, and the car crash


Timothy Young
Dispatch from La Lagunilla
Where old design treasures are the new new


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Domestic Interior by Nicole Bachmann
Design for everyday life?


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Wintery Forest by Yang Yongliang
Building the new China


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Cabaret de l'Enfer by Harry C. Ellis
The ghoulish cavern in the villa of Ormen


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Oildale by Rudy VanderLans
The dismal beauty of an oil field


Debbie Millman
Doug Powell
On this episode Debbie talks to Doung Powell about how designers can use their skills beyond the confines of the profession.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Copacabana Beach by Thomaz Farkas
A pioneer of Brazilian photography


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Bar in Valparaiso, Chile by Sergio Larrain
The ambiguity of soft focus


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Suburban House at Night by Todd Hido
The pleasure in not knowing


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Man with a Bandaged Head
The aftermath of extreme weather


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Portrait of Space by Lee Miller
Frames within frames in the desert



Debbie Millman
Robin Petravic + Catherine Bailey
Debbie talks with Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey about running Heath Ceramics.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: American Hermit by Alec Soth
Alone in the great outdoors


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Kreuzberg Tower in Berlin by Hélène Binet
The aura of a building


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Beauty Salon in Kraków by David Hlynsky
The Surrealism of window displays


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Crime Scene in Paris by Alphonse Bertillon
The killing of a bank messenger


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Children at Play in the City by Shirley Baker
The freedom of the street


Rob Walker
Human-Scale Intervention
How Rotten Apple’s human-scale design interventions use built-environment cast-offs to enhance the built environment


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Woman Mailing a Letter by Clifton R. Adams
The spell of vintage color


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Dysturb poster in Paris by Jeanne Frank
Taking photojournalism to the street



52-Blue
(in)Fringe 05: Hushed Spaces
POPOS and the public


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Bookstore in Barcelona by Gabriel Casas
A new vision of the book


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Newport Baths by Max Dupain
Sun, sea, and disconnection


Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Eiffel Tower by Germaine Krull
A Paris icon made abstract


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Salvation Army Barracks by Jack London
Down and out in early 20th-century London


52-Blue
(in)Fringe 04: Dissident Noise
Ai Weiwei in Alcatraz


Rob Walker
Defending The Standpipe
A curious concentration of designs to discourage people from sitting on standpipes.


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Surface Transit by Eva Fuka
The shock of New York in the sixties



Bryan Finoki
Architecture vs. the People
How anti-homeless measures diminish a city’s responsibility to its most vulnerable citizens


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Rue du Temple, Paris by Gail Albert Halaban
The lure of a lighted window


Rob Walker
Scalies in the Spotlight
The uncanny figures populating architectural renderings get some fresh scrutiny


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Lens bookshop in Sutton by Lloyd Rich
The rediscovery of lost moments


Debbie Millman
Morley
On this episode of Design Matters Debbie Millman talks to Morley about her songs of social change.



52-Blue
(in)Fringe 02: Ghost Ecology
Bullets and birds


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Restaurant de la Réserve by Jean Gilletta
Wonder and yearning by the sea


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Berlin scene by Wolfgang Zurborn
The hidden order of the random


52-Blue
(in)Fringe 01: The New Mission Soundtrack
The first audio episode of (in)Fringe


Rick Poynor
Exposure: The Colossi of Memnon by Francis Bedford
Mysterious emanations from the desert


Rick Poynor
Exposure: El Paso Street by Stephen Shore
The street corner: an uncommon place


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Striporama street scene by Vivian Maier
How good was the photographer nanny?


Rob Walker
Watch Where You Walk
Everybody is pro-walking these days. But here’s a project that reveals the value of stopping and looking.


Rick Poynor
Tracking the Locations of J.G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes
A photo-essay on the futuristic marina and business park in the south of France that inspired Ballard’s disquieting fantasy about corporate crime


Rob Walker
The Art of Redaction
A batch of visually "redacted" photos, courtesy of the FBI.


John Foster
A Mississippi Delta Road Trip
Photographing the South on a week long journey.



Sara Jamshidi
Black Hand: Iranian Banksy?
Black Hand is one of the numerous underground artists in Iran and his exhibition is neither the first nor the last underground exhibition.


Véronique Vienne
Taylor Holland’s Scenic Tour
A photograph is at first a document. Crop it, and it becomes a picture. Trim it further into a square and you’ve got a “sign” — a potential icon.


Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.



Observed
Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award
Sylvia Harris is widely recognized as a pioneer, a generous mentor and a vital inspiration to the field of social impact design. In that spirit, the Sylvia Harris Citizen Design Award has been established to honor her legacy by supporting other vanguards dedicated to public design.


Adam Harrison Levy
The Last Unknown Place in New York
If you want to see a version of the future you could try to take a boat to an island off the coast of the Bronx.


Rob Walker
Danger, Nostalgia, and Playgrounds
Brenda Biondo's photographs of mid-century playgrounds document the classic, the dangerous, and the nostalgic.



Observed
More Botany
Avery Thatcher is one of the emerging designers from the oft-lauded creative class in Portland, Oregon.


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


Laura Tarrish
Hunter | Gatherer: Botanicals
Each of us has a connection to nature — a primal response to certain landscapes — yet we don’t always use it as raw material for our own work.



John Thackara
Food As A Commons
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.



The Editors
A Mother’s Work is Never Done
This year, for Mother's Day, Design Observer collected photos of women designers and their offspring in varying forms: we received entries in the form of then-and-now contemporary photos, of generational divides, of mothers as children (next to their children, as — no surprise —children) and even, because we're impatient and couldn't wait, one father and his lovely brood.


Adam Harrison Levy
The Oldest Living Things In the World
Climate change — once a distant fear — is already upon us, Rachel Sussman’s glorious, and vitally important book could not have come at a more crucial moment.



John Thackara
Presence and Encounter — How We Meet Is As Important As Why
I’m not suggesting that we abandon social media — just that we cultivate a hybrid approach so whenever someone says “online” someone else says, “and what about offline?”. Or when we find ourselves inside, someone else says: “and when do we go outside?”


Owen Edwards
Rizzoli Erased
Owen Edwards remembers the elegant old Art Nouveau building that housed the Rizzoli bookstore, just what a bookstore ought to be.


Rob Walker
Object in the News: The Face Privatizer
Tabloid-press subject Vanessa Stiviano makes fascinating (mis)use of a sun visor as media-age privatizer.


Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Alex Knowlton reviews this year's ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach.



Observed
Charity Ball
A short film about Ethan King, a 15 year old from Michigan whose dream is to give soccer balls to kids all over the world.


Owen Edwards
A Michelangelo, at 100 mph Plus
The recent death of Italy’s Massimo Tamburini brought to an end the glittering career of perhaps the greatest motorcycle designer ever and one of the greatest industrial designers of recent decades.


John Foster
The Focused Obsession of Photographer Rob Amberg
Rob Amberg is an award winning a documentary photographer who lives with his wife live on a small farm in the same NC county where he makes his photographs.


Alexandra Lange
Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).


David Morris
The Public Library
“The public library is a singularly American invention.” An excerpt from the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.



Observed
Bistrophobie Poster
Can a poster shut people up? Locals in a bistro-dense corner of Paris would like to think so.


Anne Quito
Anne Quito on Quiet
Anne Quito will graduate in May 2014 from SVA’s MFA Design Criticism program. In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in Visual Culture from Georgetown University.


John Thackara
Keep Your Stuff Alive
What would fashion be like if it was more than a an act of consumption with no meaning beyond the point of sale? What kind of system would improve the quality of our fashion experience without increasing the quantity we consume?


Paul Polak
An Open Letter to Larry Page
Paul Polack responds to Larry Page's statemet that he'd rather hand over his cash to Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City) instead of donating it to a philanthropic organization.


John Foster
The Greenville, NC Daily Reflector: 1948 to 1967
One of the best ways to investigate the life and times of a region is to look at the local photo files from the daily newspaper.



Observed
See America
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
A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem.



Observed
Deventer
In Deventer, the Netherlands, a routine real estate deal and demolition became the site of innovation and new intelligence in urban design.


Mark Lamster
The Astrodome and the Challenges of Preservation
The Astrodome and the future of preservation.


Rick Poynor
The Filmic Page: Chris Marker’s Commentaires
The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.





John Thackara
A ‘Wild Mirror’ For Desk-Bound Workers
A new scheme in England connects office workers with living systems by means of a ‘wild mirror’: each workspace is twinned with an equivalent area of ecosystem regeneration.


Rob Walker
Boris, Subverted
The Neighborhood Watch symbol Boris The Burglar is powerfully familiar; what does that mean when it's subverted?



John Thackara
Summer Xskool in Sweden
This year’s Doors of Perception Summer Xskool explores what it can mean in practice to move from a ‘do less harm’ approach to sustainability to a practice of leave things better.


Alexandra Lange
Not Afraid of Noise: Mexico City Stories
A photographic tour of Mexico City, house by house, wall by wall.


John Thackara
Energy: Thriving On Five Percent?
Energy requirements per person in modern times are 60 times higher than our ancestors. How do we sustain that need as populations also increase?


Rob Walker
A Security Camera Worth Looking At
A thoughtful take on what security cameras should look like, and why.


Observed
Very Cool Playgrounds
Over on Wired, Liz Stinson profiles Monstrum, a Danish design studio that specializes in fantastic wooden playgrounds.



John Thackara
Caloryville: The Two-Wheeled City
In China, ‘battery-bikes’ are outselling cars by four-to-one. Pedelec sales are soaring in Europe, too. Is this the start of system-wide phase-shift in transportation?


Rick Poynor
From the Archive: Surface Wreckage
Why do photographs and images of torn street posters exert such a powerful hold on the imagination and emotions?


Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
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
An in-depth look at Hale County, Alabama, an accidental social-design laboratory.



John Thackara
Shoe City vs Sole Rebels
Two radically opposed models of development are being born in Ethiopia at the same time. One is small, local, socially fair, and ecologically respectful. The other takes the globalisation of fashion to a new and more destructive level.



John Thackara
A Whole New Cloth: Politics and the Fashion System
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.


Liz Gerber
The Trifecta of Feedback
The value of feedback and a proposal for the best ways to receive it.


John Thackara
Ecuador, Open Knowledge, and ‘Buen Vivir’: Interview With Michel Bauwens
John Thackara interviews Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation, is to lead a strategic policy project for Ecuador’s government called Free/Libre Open Knowledge (FLOK), also known as the social knowledge economy project.


John Thackara
Dementia: Care Before Cure
The downside of declaring war on a disease like dementia is to diminish social solidarity. But there are solutions.


John Thackara
John Thackara on Avatar
John Thackara is a writer, speaker and design producer, and director of Doors of Perception. In addition to this blog, he is the author of twelve books including In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Wouldn't It Be Great If….


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



Paul Polak
End Poverty or Bust
Five years ago, Steve Bachar and Paul Polak decided to create a venture capital fund that would only invest in socially responsible companies. There was only one problem. There were no companies to invest in that met the criteria



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



Steven Heller
Lettering Large
An excerpt and gallery from Steven Heller and Mirko Ilić's new book: Lettering Large: Art and Design of Monumental Typography.



Paul Polak, and Mal Warwick
How to Solve India’s Poverty Crisis
A new look at how to end poverty in India.



John Foster
Extraordinary Spanish Art Environments
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
A Kickstarter for an upcming exhibition on the wotk of Deborah Sussman in Los Angeles.



William Drenttel, and Michael Mossoba
Winterhouse Fourth Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
An review of the Winterhouse Fourth Symposium on Design Education and Social Change.


Mariana Amatullo
Mariana Amatullo on Honesty
Mariana co-founded Designmatters in 2001. As the head of the Department, she is responsible for the strategic leadership of a dynamic portfolio of global and national educational projects, research collaborations and publications at the intersection of art and design education and social innovation.



Mark Lamster
Can the Doomed Astrodome Save Modernism?
The Astrodome and the Future of Modern Preservation



Observed
Feeding Young Brains
AIGA Portland and The Right Brain Inititative have partnered on a new project to encourage kids to think creaively.



Rick Poynor
Belgian Solutions: The True State of Things?
The foul-ups or “Belgian solutions” in a new book of street photographs are simply the way things are.



An Open Letter to AIGA
Status Quo or Transformation? A False Choice
An open letter to AIGA.


Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.


David Womack
David Womack on Space
David Womack is the executive creative director of experience design in the mobile and social group at R/GA. He is also on the faculty of the MFA in interaction design program at School of Visual Arts in New York.


Rick Poynor
New York: City of Spectacular Doors
For six years, Allan Markman crisscrossed New York taking pictures of remarkable doors for a new book.



Andrew Shea
Shaping Design Education at LEAP Symposium
A review by Andrew Shea of the recent, September 19-24, 2013, LEAP symposium at Art Center College of Design.


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


Alexandra Lange
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.


Natalie Foster
Natalie Foster on Sharing
Natalie Foster is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Peers.





Cheryl Heller
Forget Poverty. Let’s Talk Business.
In a recent article on the future of design, I used Paul Polak as a case for why generalists are so important to the world right now.


John Thackara
Speed? What Speed? The Belly-Dance Drummer, by Matthias Rieger
Matthias Rieger with some remarks about speed from a belly-dance drummer’s point of view.


Nicholas Christakis
Nicholas Christakis on Networks
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a social scientist and physician who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity.


John Thackara
Flyways
A meditation on the migratory patterns of birds and sheep.


Alexandra Lange
A World of Paste and Paper
Today's obsession with digital renderings sparked two exhibitions that suggest a handmade, but far from quaint, corrective.


Rick Poynor
The Hotel that Dreamed It Was a Museum
The Walpole Bay Hotel: Living Museum, junk-clogged bane of hotel inspectors, or Wunderkammer?



John Thackara
Between Sorrel And Supertanker
John Thackara reviews the recent Doors of Perception xskool.



Observed
From Dance Hall to Design Studio to Dance Hall
Jeremy M. Lange photographs the inaugural dance held in the restored barn that used to be his grandfather's design studio.


Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?


Rick Poynor
David Maisel and the Apocalyptic Sublime
David Maisel’s photographs are visions of the Earth as we have never seen it full of beauty and terror.



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


Rob Walker
Looking Better, All The Time
Alexandra Horowitz' book On Looking offers a framework, and specific tactics, for smarter seeing.


Alexandra Lange
Nevermind the Masterpiece
What's your "Masterpiece of Everyday New York"? A broken umbrella? A shirtwaist? Discarded gum?



John Foster
A Street Photographer of 19th Century London
Selections from the work of a largely unknown Nineteenth-century photographer named John Thomson.



Observed
Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age
An exhibition of 118 socially, environmentally, and politically-motivated print posters by an international cadre of artists and designers.


Manisha Sharma
Gendered Arrangements: India
Girls are considered a burden in Indian society, the issue is popularly known as the “missing girls” phenomenon.


Observed
A Book for Two
A new design for a shared reading experience from designer Soofiya Chaudry.



Observed
The Documerica Project
DOCUMERICA was a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency from 1972-1977 in order to “capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities and everyday life in the 1970s”.


Rick Poynor
The Incidental Pleasures of Street Art
Sprawling, evolving, accreting: a collection of recent street art photos from Portugal and Spain.


Alexandra Lange
How To Unforget
The straightforward logic of “A Handbook of California Design” makes it the first step in unforgetting two generations of makers.


Rob Walker
Staring Back at Security Cameras
Why the ubiquitous security deserves as much scrutiny as it gives.


John Thackara
Xskool, Sweden, August
Overview of a Doors of Perception xskool that takes place in August as part of the FuturePerfect Festival in Sweden.


Rick Poynor
Inkahoots and Socially Concerned Design: Part 2
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
The Australian design team Inkahoots is a model of community-based graphic design practice.


John Thackara
Green Tourism: Why It Failed And How It Can Succeed
At a conference with 300 travel industry professionals, John Thackara ponders the successes, failures and potential in the Green Tourism industry.


Mark Lamster
Lost Landmarks in New York and Fort Worth
Modern landmarks, in New York and Fort Worth, are destroyed before preservationist can act.


Alexandra Lange
Every Little Thing
Cranbrook: A campus where the designers have thought of everything.


Rob Walker
Street Life
In praise of street art that draws attention to more than just itself.



Observed
Transform 2013: Design Innovation in Healthcare
Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation Transform Symposium will take place September 8-10 2013, in Rochester, MN.


John Thackara
Trust Is Not An Algorithm
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
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
Self storage centers are places of private and public fascination and I always knew that one day I would succumb.



Debbie Millman
Maggie Macnab
Designer, educator and author Maggie Macnab talks about what designers can learn from nature — and what they can give back.



Observed
Be an AIGA Design Star
Command X — the AIGA live design reality show that happens on stage at the biennial design conference — is back for its fourth season.


Alexandra Lange
The Fork and the World: Design 101
If you had to explain design to the uninitiated, where would you start?


Rob Walker
The Hyperdocumented Sunset Strip
Using Google Street View Hyperlapse to revisit Ruscha’ Sunset Strip.


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



Paul Polak
The SunWater Project: Advanced Solar Technology for Poor Farmers
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.



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.



Paul Polak
Transforming Solar Pumping to Eliminate Rural Poverty
Paul Polak explores how we might reduce water shortages by employing solar pumping and eliminating rural poverty.


Daniella Zalcman
New York + London: A Vision of Home
Daniella Zalcman created a series images that are part New York, part London, and collectively represent her vision of home



Observed
Change of State
"Change of State" — a site specific projection on the facade of the New Museum during Ideas City Festival, Saturday, May 4th, 2013.



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



John Thackara
A Roof, A Skill, A Market
The Nubian Vault Association has evolved a unique approach to housing in West Africa that creates three kinds of value within local economies: a roof, a skill and a market.



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


Rob Walker
Cover Story
A book vs. its cover: Why Colubmia GSAPP students treated this year's architecture annual like garbage.


John Foster
The Imagination of Playgrounds
A look back at the playgrounds of our youth, as captured by artists and photographers — and ourselves.


Alexandra Lange
What It Costs (to Buy a Bench, to Extend a Curb)
Participatory budgeting lets communities put their own urban priorities in order.



Observed
Welcoming Dr. Paul Polak
Welcoming Dr. Paul Polak as a Design Observer contributing writer.


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


Alexandra Lange
Portlandia + Timelessness
No better place to consider what looks timeless now than downtown Portland.



Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: Curatimus Maximus
“Curatimus Maximus” is a beautifully curated group of imagery dedicated to color street photography.



Observed
1920s Chicago Transit Posters
Chicago-L.org has a small, but gem filled collection of Chicago transit posters from the 1920s.



Observed
Free Desk Here
Free Desk Here is a collaboration initiative set up by Nick Couch to encourage collaboration between design professionals.


John Thackara
The Ecozoic City
How humans are reintegrating their endeavours into a larger ecological consciousness.



Observed
Google on the Mountain
On Monday, March 18, Google released Street View images from four of the seven tallest mountains on earth.



Observed
2012: The Year in Construction
Engineering News-Record, a weekly technical magazine that traces it's roots back to 1874, has announced the winners of their "2012 The Year In Contruction" photo competition.


Alexandra Lange
Instagramming Around Australia
Lessons from contemporary Australian architecture, plus what I saw on Instagram.


Owen Edwards
My Month as a Mocker
A remembrance of London in the 1960s. Rockers rode motorcycles and Mods rode scooters.



Observed
Found: National Geographic
In honor of their 125th anniversary, National Geographic is showcasing photographs that reveal cultures and moments of the past.



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



Philip Nobel
Oops: Understanding Failure
A review of To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure, by Henry Petroski.



Observed
Flickr Collection of the Week: Signs of Pittsburgh
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.



Observed
Atrocity Prevention Challenge
USAID, Humanity United and OpenIDEO have partnered to pursue ways to prevent mass atrocities – that is, deliberate mass violence against civilians.





Chris Calori
Six Feet Under: Mapping Tangled Transit Networks
A review of Underground Maps Unraveled: Explorations in Information Design by Maxwell J. Roberts.


Rick Poynor
The Experiential Thrill of Driving in Films
A new book, Drive, shows how the car scenes in movies help us understand the experience of modernity.


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



Observed
A Campaign to Save The Post Office
Tucker Nichols is campaigning to save the Post Office.


John Thackara
Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City
Dehli's many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs. How can that be traslated to European cities?


Alexandra Lange
Why Bernadette Fox Is Scary
The heroine of Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an award-winning female architect. Don’t envy her life.


Rob Walker
What Are You Looking At?
The maps of the future will tell you what to look at. Sometimes, you should look elsewhere.


John Thackara
Healing The Metabolic Rift
John Thackara on the possibilities and issues global business leaders will face at the 2013 World Economic Forum.



David Stairs
Journeying through the Sacred Profane
David Stairs chronicles his trip through India.


Alexandra Lange
Kicked A Building Lately?
That question, the title of the 1976 collection of Ada Louise Huxtable’s work for the New York Times, embodies her approach to criticism.


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: Shooting the Past
Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past, set in a fictitious photo library, is a film that could haunt you for years.


Rob Walker
13 Striking Landscape Fictions
Thirteen “landscape fictions,” photographs of the natural world — made distinctly unnatural.



Debbie Millman
Christopher Simmons
Christopher Simmons discusses his lastest book, Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, and reflects on why designers should be continually redefining their profession.



Observed
Neon: Bright Lights, Big City
Collector's Weekly interviewed architect Kirsten Hively, the created of the free iPhone app Project Neon.


John Thackara
German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents
Overview of the 400-page report World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability from the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WGBU), the heavyweight scientific body that advises the German Federal Government on ‘Earth System Megatrends’.


John Thackara
Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion
A review of the options that Venice faces in trying to shore up the city.



Observed
Visualizing Mass Transit
Andrew Walker has visualized the mass-transit systems of major cities.


Rick Poynor
Herbert Spencer and the Decisive Detail
In Herbert Spencer’s most memorable photographs, signs of official communication fray into visual poetry.


Mariana Amatullo
If You Believe You Can Fly
A report on the Social Enterprise World Forum.



Observed
Celebrate World Toilet Day
2.6 billion people don't have access to a toilet. For them poop can be poison.


Rick Poynor
Robert Brownjohn: Photos at Street Level
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
Knolling your polling place: for the next election, a little spatial organization would go a long way.



Observed
One World Futbol
For children in impoverished countries, where soccer balls donated by relief agencies often rip and quickly deflate, Tim Jahnigen has developed a ball that can last for decades.



Observed
Climate of Doubt
A documentary on the remarkable — and sometimes bizarre — debate over global warming and climate change that has gone on since 2008.


John Thackara
From Autobahn to Bioregion
A review of the projects submitted to the Audi Urban Future Award.


Rick Poynor
True Stories: A Film about People Like Us
Ambiguous but prescient, David Byrne’s film True Stories is a classic piece of postmodern pop anthropology.


Mark Lamster
High (Line) Anxiety
Is the High Line above criticism?



Observed
Design Indaba Online FilmFest
Design Indaba's online film festival features 10 of the Focus Forward short films.



Observed
Public Works
PUBLIC WORKS is a poster exhibition created by PUBLIC, a design based bicycle company with a mission to improve the quality and character of our cities and public spaces.


Alexandra Lange
Having Fun at the Museum
Blocks, rocket ships, playgrounds and balls: the hidden meaning of playthings at the Museum of Modern Art.


Rick Poynor
The Museum of Communicating Objects
Orhan Pamuk’s The Innocence of Objects is an illuminating guide to his Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.


John Thackara
How To Manage a Constellation
To solve complex and interconnected human-environment challenges, like the death of the Baltic Sea, we need to build ‘social-ecological coalitions’ or ‘constellations’.


Alexandra Lange
Let’s Talk About Women in Architecture
A panel on Women in Design, and questions about whether such panels should exist.


John Thackara
Old Growth
The tale of a furniture giant and the possible ecological happy ending.


Rick Poynor
Demonstrations, Democracy and Design
After demonstrations in 2011, Barcelonas Plaça de Catalunya became a carnivalesque village of protest.


Rick Poynor
Why the Activist Poster is Here to Stay
Digital communication has given posters produced to contest an outrage or support a cause a new lease of life.



Scott Boylston
Designing Design into Society
A report on the Design Ethos 2012 DO-ference.


Rick Poynor
It’s Smart to Use a Crash Test Dummy
The image of the crash test dummy has traveled from the subcultural fringes to the pop culture mainstream.



Alexandra Lange
Art Matters to Architecture
In Indianapolis, a restored Milton Glaser mural allows us to see its Brutalist home as its architect intended: with color!


John Thackara
Top Down Nature
An overview of Bordeaux 55,000: a project to explore ‘how best to transform 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) into natural areas’.


Rob Walker
The City In Your Dreams
A blog collecting stories for mapping the "collective unconscious" of NYC.


John Thackara
What Is, Or Is Not, a ‘Green Job’?
Discordant information amplifies confusion about what is, or is not, a ‘green job’.


Alexandra Lange
Hiking the Museum
Ennead Architects’ new Natural History Museum of Utah works to make natural history seem like the ongoing process of discovery that it is, layering geology and topography, paleontology and interactivity.


John Thackara
The Other Green Economy
People the world over are divided between radically different conceptions of their future: resource-intensive production on the one side, versus regenerative land-based enterprises, and mosaics of micro-enterprises, on the other.


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


Rob Walker
Observational Instruments, Observed
Peeping at the Venue project's delightful gear, and Google's Seussian Trekker



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


Rob Walker
The Built Villain
A Dallas condo dispute considered as a monster movie, starring a built villain.






Observed
30 Posters for a Sustainable World
30 Posters for a Sustainable World brings together international designers to visualize the UN RIO+20 summit goals.



Observed
Leonard Ross : Photographs of Social Change
Leonard Ross was a distinguished photographer who believed that the camera had the power to transform society.



William Drenttel, and OBlog
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path
Adélia Borges, a Brazilian curator has now published a remarkable book on the intersection of design and craft, artisanal objects and social innovation.



Michael McGriff
When the Spirit Comes to Him as the Voice of Morning Light
A poem by Michael McGriff.



William Drenttel, and OBlog
Update: Design For Change Goes Global
Design For Change, the international design project that gives young people a chance to make a design contribution in their villages and cities has now reached 34 countries, launched a new website and conference, as well as school and communities challenges.


Alexandra Lange
The Well-Tempered Environment
Water features, old trees, food trucks. Three elements of the architecture of outdoor civic life in North Texas.



Observed
The Hypothetical Development Organization
The Hypothetical Development Organization will be included in the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.


Rick Poynor
The Strange Afterlife of Common Objects
In lstanbul shops like The Works: “Objects of Desire,” the novelist Orhan Pamuk found the artifacts for his newly opened Museum of Innocence.


Alexandra Lange
The Mother of Us All
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
Public spaces can be charged politically because they enable citizens to gather, to represent themselves and to transmit messages.


Alexandra Lange
Against Kickstarter Urbanism
You can Kickstart an edible spoon, but not a city.



Andrew Shea
Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions
How a disruption in routine (potentially by design) can alter the environment.


John Thackara
Istanbul: City of Seeds
Rather than dream up exotic visions of “what could be”, an xskool looks for social and natural assets that already exist – and grows from there.


Rick Poynor
Studio Culture: The Materialism of Matter
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?
Fighting over Ben Thompson's postmodernist landmark Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. Should it stay or should it go?



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


Constantin Boym
Extra National Journey
What happens when a Russian-born American professor takes a group of his Arab students to a workshop in Amsterdam to work with a designer who has a Canadian passport but lives in Berlin?


John Thackara
‘Beyond Good Intentions’ – The Movie
A new documentary hopes to answer the question "What happens in a disaster area after the initial wave of support?"


John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities curated by John Foster, highlights images of design, art, architecture and ephemera brought to light by the magic of the digital age. This week's focus is St. Louis Bus Passes from the 1940s.


John Thackara
Oil-Powered Thinking
Why is it that countervailing facts don’t change things in our evidence-based world? And what might we do about it?


Rick Poynor
On Display: Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb is a public space consecrated to a universal experience of sadness and loss.


John Thackara
It’s Not Just The Bags
Design + Craft: The Brazilian Path by Adelia Borges explores the complex relationship between designers from the Northern hemishphere and indigenous artists in the Southern hemisphere, specifically craft communities in Brazil.


William Drenttel
Designing for Social Change
Designing for Social Change is a toolkit of strategies, case studies, and stories, offering new opportunities for approaching social design in our communities.



Center for an Urban Future
NYC Design Schools: Catalysts for Economic Growth?
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.


Alexandra Lange
City of Shoes: Is Urbanism Scalable?
Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh scale his online shoe business into a city?


Rick Poynor
Typographic Stories of the City Streets
Characters, a new book by Stephen Banham, investigates the stories behind Melbourne’s street signs.


Nancy Levinson
Design Indaba 2012
Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.


John Thackara
Zurich Eco Lab
A report on the Zurich's thriving urban eco culture.


Alexandra Lange
Reassembling the American Dream
"Foreclosed" at the Museum of Modern Art asks what people really like about suburban living. And then, Can they do that with less?


Rick Poynor
The Unspeakable Pleasure of Ruins
“Ruin porn,” a reductive tag that makes any photograph of ruins seem suspect, ignores the cultural history of the ruin.


Alexandra Lange
Downton Abbey: Fell In Love With a House
Downton Abbey, for all its melodrama and dropped teacups, is really the story of falling in love with a house.


John Thackara
Design In The Light of Dark Energy
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.



John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Mario Monti
A (mostly) online list of readings for the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, and anyone else who is ready for a cold hard look at our energy resources and options.


Alexandra Lange
Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited
Old designs, new tricks: updates on lawsuits filed against the new Nest thermometer, and on behalf of midcentury masterpiece Manufacturers Hanover.


John Thackara
Virtual Boring Agent
The Virtual Boarding Agent Orly Airport in Paris. It's spooky, clever and very well executed — and most people seem to ignore it after a first casual glance.


John Thackara
Navy Yard, GradComD, Brown Bag, Hard Hat
Talks and encounters in the US next week. I hope to see some of you there.


Alexandra Lange
A Memorial to (Random Access) Memory
What does "RAMAC Park" mean to you?


John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Monti
When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Italian Senate before Christmas, he used the word "growth" 28 times and the word "energy" — well, zero times.



James Biber
Vestige(s) of Empire
Comparing the repurposing of two monuments to lost Empire: London's Commonwealth Institute and Berlin's Palast der Republik.



John Foster
A New American Picture: Doug Rickard and Street Photography in the Age of Google
When Google launched Street View in 2007, it was just the ticket for photographer Doug Rickard.



David Stairs
Demythologizing Design: Another View of "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES"
David Stairs reviews "Design with other 90%:Cities"


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


John Thackara
From Druids to Biorefineries: Innovation in a Small Nation
Small nations can be flexible in ways that big one cannot.



Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch With The Critics: Second-Annual Year-End Awards
From Twitter to Apollo, Barbie to Occupy Everywhere: The best and worst moments in design for 2011.



John Cary
Shelter for Those Who Served
On the unconscionable number of homeless veterans.



Michael Erard
What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The author writes about the genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay.


Alexandra Lange
Decorating Brutalism: The Interiors of Kevin Roche
How do you decorate a brutalist building? For architect Kevin Roche, the answer was brown, mirrors, and trees.



Phil Patton
Audi Urban Future Summit 2011
Report on one of the latest conferences to take on the global theme of the city


Rick Poynor
The Infinite Warehouse of Images
The more photos we collectively produce, the more ruthless we need to be about bestowing our attention.


Alexandra Lange
Who Are We Competing For?
At the "Zoning the City" conference, planners insisted cities were in competition? But why are we so focused on the people who want to leave, rather than those who want to stay?


Alexandra Lange
Lessons from the High Line
How can the High Line become a new paradigm, and not a dead end?



Mark Lamster
Majority Report
Review of Design with the Other 90%: Cities


Alexandra Lange
Tell Me a Story, ‘Urbanized’
A city is not a font or a toothbrush, so why, in Urbanized, does director Gary Hustwit treat them the same way?



Courtney Drake, William Drenttel, and Deirdre Cerminaro
Design and the Social Sector: An Annotated Bibliography
This bibiography surveys the literature of social design — the spectrum from design process and thinking to the zones of social innovation.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Program Description
This symposium, sponsored by the Winterhouse Institute, was held October 17-19 2010 in Falls Village, Connecticut. This was the initial information shared with participants.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participants
The Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, was held August 14-16, 2011 in Falls Village, Connecticut.


William Drenttel
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Program Description
The original program description for the Winterhouse Institute symposium at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, August 2011 on social design in education.


William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Winterhouse Second Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
The final report from a symposium held in Connecticut, August 2011, where 28 participants from a variety of design and education programs discussed the challenges of social change initiatives within their schools, museums and programs.


Rick Poynor
On Display: The Kirkland Museum
If I had to pick just one Denver museum to revisit, it would be the fabulous Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.



Alexandra Lange
Architecture Research Office
Interview with Stephen Cassell and Adam Yarinsky on the occasion of their National Design Award


Alexandra Lange
TWA: Still Kicking
Not a disappointment: a first thrilling visit to Eero Saarinen's legendary flight center.



Julie Lasky
Media Design Matters
Art Center offers a new graduate track in social design that combines communications and technologies strategies with field work.



Ramsey Ford
Expert Thinking About Global Aid
Suggestions for a crash course in development economics for social designers


Alexandra Lange
What Makes Architecture Useful?
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
Young architects struggle to update the face of Cuba.



Photo by Iain McKell
The New Gypsies
Photographer Iain McKell documents England's romantic travelers



Rachel Signer
Don't Flush Me
Prototype for urban system to detect and prevent sewage overflows



John Thackara
Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live?
Exploding the myth of Iceland's "green" energy — with alternative suggestions



Phil Patton
The Green Dashboard
The design of instrument panels reflects the new technologies of hybrid and electric vehicles


Rick Poynor
Funerary Portraits: Snapshots in Stone
The portrait sculptures in the Cimetière du château in Nice resuscitate their subjects with a frequently startling vividness.


Alexandra Lange
Reading in Public
A new book club with an unusual topic: architecture and design.



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



Alexandra Lange
Welcome Back, Overbite
Albert C. Ledner's mid-century scallops and portholes have staying power.




Barbara Flanagan
The Dissing of Summer Lawns
How one Californian was forced (and inspired) to exchange sod for low-water plants.


Alexandra Lange
Jane Austen, Landscape Architect
Trapped by a ha-ha: bad romance and good landscapes in Mansfield Park.



Jane Margolies
My Block NYC
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.



William Drenttel
William Drenttel at Design Indaba




Phil Patton
Boosting the Urban IQ
Summary of National Building Museum's "Intelligent Cities" symposium


John Thackara
Knife Sharpening
Last week I was taught how to sharpen our kitchen knives by a wood carver, Howard Raybould, who's been honing his technique for 30 years



John Foster
DART St. Louis
On DART St. Louis, a charitable photo project that brings overlooked neighborhoods to life.


Alexandra Lange
Jane Austen, Architect?
Why is Austen next to Ballard on the Designers & Books lists?



The Editors
Sappi Ideas That Matter
Trio of 2010 Sappi Ideas That Matter grant recipients


Rick Poynor
On the Threshold of Sebald’s Room
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?



Ernest Beck
San+Co
A pilot project developed for India provides santiation and electricity in a single venture.



Barbara Flanagan
Epiphany of an Ocean Swimmer
Essay on in the insights that come with immersion in the deep, cold sea.


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



Jane Margolies
How to Start a Movement
Interview with movement entrepreneur Jeremy Heimans, founder of Purpose.com.



Alexandra Lange
New Apple HQ, 1957
Wouldn't it be more radical for Apple to move back to town?


John Thackara
Sweat Equity Infra
The Millau Viaduct is a tourist attaction in the making. Future vistors will gawk at it and wonder: “how *did* they build that?”


Alexandra Lange
An Atlas of Possibility
The Institute for Urban Design's By the City/For the City project provokes crowd-sourced possibilities for New York's future.



Julie Lasky
Ringing in the New Air
Nendo's Bell-Orgel collection for Tokyo's Isetan department store.



Maria Popova
A Voice for LGBTQ in the Middle East
Interview with Esra'a Al Shafei, founder of Ahwaa, a portal for LGBTQ issues in the Middle East


John Thackara
From Ecstasy to Exergy: Running Out of Easy Copper
The days of abundant resources and falling prices are over forever, the consequences for many so-called “green technologies” will be devastating.



Alexandra Lange
On GOOD: Why Are Car Seats So Poorly Designed?
If you want parents to use public transportation, first you have to fix the car seat.



Joanne Chew
China: Brooms, Mops and Chairs
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.



Julie Lasky
Everything Must Go
A new blog speaks to our current interest in shedding material goods.



Adam Harrison Levy
Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs
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.



An Xiao Mina
The Ultra 10 Challenge
Report on ULTRA, a sustainable fashion company founded in Kuala Lumpur.



Alexandra Lange
Manhattan Museum Musical Chairs
Bye, bye Museum of American Folk Art. Hello the forward march of the Modern.


John Thackara
Energy: A Sense of Loss
Whenever electricity is transmitted from one place to another a certain amount is simply lost. In older grids, energy is wasted overcoming resistance in the lines themselves.



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



Claire Lui
Can't Live With It, Can't Get Rid of It
Interview with Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story.



Phil Patton
Another Wrong Turn for Chris Paine
Review of the documentary film Revenge of the Electric Car.




Gavin Browning
Community Hero: Queens Museum of Art
Queens Museum of Art, a model for community service, breaks ground on new addition.


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Heyer’s The Back of Beyond, made for Shell Australia in 1954, is one of the country’s finest films.


John Thackara
From Eds & Meds to Farms and Watersheds
Eds & Meds behemoths that bestride Pittsburgh's skyline are not the only game in town. Even a small meadow contains a lot of plants.



Ernest Beck
Benefit Corporations
The B Corp designation ensures that companies adhere to triple-bottom-line standards.


Alexandra Lange
The Only Thing There’s Just Too Little Of
What parenthood and artistic endeavor have in common: not enough time.


John Thackara
Rotterdam: Where Time is no Longer Money
Twelve-year-old children in Rotterdam have never known a time when their city was not being rebuilt around them.



Phil Patton
Sustainable Gold
Phil Patton on the conference “Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance."


Rick Poynor
Wim Wenders’ Strange and Quiet Places
The massive photographs in film director Wim Wenders’ new exhibition work best when they serve his painterly eye.



John Thackara
Off-Grid Water
Strategies and resources for water conservation.


Alexandra Lange
City Beautiful of Kazakhstan
Why is Norman Foster the go-to guy for new capitals?



Maria Popova
Coffee Common




Ramsey Ford
Design Impact Fellowship Program
Announcement of Design Impact Fellowship Program in India.


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



John Thackara
Does Bilbao Need Another Guggenheim?
Ideas for remaking Basque country that go far beyond fancy architecture.


John Thackara
Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.



Julie Lasky
Chandigarh on the Block
Furnishings designed for Corbusier's urban masterpiece are being sold at auction. How outraged should we be?



Ernest Beck
Creative Support for Japan
Creative responses to the crisis in Japan.


Josh Wallaert
Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.


Alexandra Lange
Bad Faith Towers
Atlantic Yards trades titanium dream for prefab reality.


Rick Poynor
The Secret History of the Edgelands
These transitional zones, places of “possibility, mystery and beauty,” can be found anywhere that urban development meets open land.



Julie Lasky
Alex Steffen: Worldchanging II
Interview with Alex Steffen on the new edition of his book Worldchanging


John Thackara
Work Faster, India!
“Work faster, get time for life.” I just got back from a short trip to India where this insane slogan adorned a poster at a bus stop. It pretty much sums up a febrile mood in Delhi where it was announced during my stay that India's economy will grow by nine percent next year.



Maria Popova
D-Build
A streamlined approach to dismantling and recycling buildings.


William Drenttel
Homework
A plastic axe, a left-over prop from a Halloween costume, tracked from a Connecticut store back to a California distributor back to a Chinese manufacturer.


John Thackara
What Kind of Design Institutes for India?
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.”



John Thackara
Africa: Where Events Are King
John Thackara interviews Mugendi M’Rithaa.



Julie Lasky
DesigNYC, Round 2
Report on second round of pro bono design initiatives fostered by DesigNYC.



Mark Lamster
An Empire State of Mind
Join in a running commentary on Andy Warhol's film "Empire," at MoMA.


Mark Lamster
Cities from the Sky
A new exhibition of urban photographs by Sze Tsung Leong.


Rick Poynor
Solitude in Dark Trees
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
A weekend visit to MoCA, and barren downtown LA.



Ernest Beck
BOOM
Report on a visionary residential complex for aging gay boomers.


Alexandra Lange
Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
Why has the dinner party become an endangered species of entertainment?



Ernest Beck
GlobalTap Update
GlobalTap water station update.



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


John Thackara
Ultra Modern
I dislike the word “Glocal,” I also dislike the word “Creative,” now a new word has come along to bug me: “Sustainism.”



Ernest Beck
Hester Street Collaborative
Report on Hester Street Collaborative's pro-bono design model.



John Thackara
Renewable Energy: Salvation or Snake Oil?
Critique of The Energy Report published by the World Wildlife Fund, which asserts that the world's energy needs could be met by alternative sources.


John Thackara
If It’s Not the Destination and It’s Not the Journey...
A team at Rutgers University, uses ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers and cellular networks to find empty parking spaces. While technically impressive, this is an absurdly over-complicated answer to the wrong question.


Alexandra Lange
The Moms Aren’t Wrong
Why planning cities for children would make them better for us all.



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


Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: Nairn’s London
Inside the architecture critic Ian Nairn’s classic, idiosyncratic guide to London’s buildings and spaces.



John Thackara
I am Compost
Something special is happening in France. A 73 year old Algerian-born farmer, philosopher and environmentalist is beginning to impact not just on the electoral process, but the culture of this resolutely human-centered, nature-dominating country.



Ernest Beck
Mensch at Work
Review of The Power of Pro Bono


John Thackara
Spaced Out in a Flat World
Tom Friedman's book The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) is filled with anecdotes about change in different parts of the world that threaten our fat-cat lifestyles in the North.



Maria Popova
The Age of Coworking: Collaborative Consumption for the Creative Community
Report on the new (golden) age of coworking.


Rick Poynor
Discovered by Chance in a Paris Arcade
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?



Edited by Julie Lasky
Social Design in Three Dimensions: Four Examples
A business-school case study inspires MFA design students.



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



Photo by Milton Rogovin
The Poetry of Simplicity
Pablo Neruda on the photographer Milton Rogovin


John Thackara
The Service Ecology of a City
Milan has approved a new Territorial Government Plan (Piano di Governo del Territorio) in which public services, and the way they are planned, are at the centre of the whole project.



Julie Lasky
Bushpunk and the Future of Africa
Why Maker Faire Africa is a model for economic development



John Thackara
The Gram Junkies: In Transportation Design the Key Issue Is Not Speed, but Weight
In the matter of mobility and modern transportation we all need to become gram junkies.



Steven Heller
My Big Fat Fast Food Feast at Eataly
A comparison of the vast differences of Italy's Eataly to New York's.



Alexandra Lange
Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?



Julie Lasky
Index Names Design Challenge Finalists
Among the seven projects dedicated to schoolchildren are educational games, classroom furniture and products that support comfort and hygiene.




Photo by Jason Orton
Built Not to Last
Photo of prefab London housting development slated for demolition.



Gail Anderson
Gail Anderson’s Collection of Salt and Pepper Shakers
Gail Anderson shares her collection of Salt and Pepper Shakers.



Phil Patton
Charging Double
Comparing two new electric-car chargers: Blink and WattStation


John Thackara
Afghan Culture Museum
A project to create a virtual museum of Afghan culture has been launched in Paris by an independent producer, Pascale Bastide.



Julie Lasky
MSC Greenhouse Project
On learning about science, nutrition and politics at the Manhattan School for Children.



Maria Popova
Rise of the Micro-Medici
On the value of microfunding creative ideas that stem from a single mind.



Marian Bantjes
Plastics: An Apoplexy
I woke up in the middle of the night stewing about plastics. In particular, the continuing, insidious use of excessive and totally unnecessary plastics in packaging.



Maria Popova
Helping People Help Their Narratives
Interview with Andrew McGregor, founder of The Tiziano Project



Constantin Boym
Out of Sight: Qatari Workers' Housing
Constantin Boym reports on efforts to improve the living conditions of Qatar's migrant workers.



Adam Harrison Levy
Sustainable Christmas Trees
From artificial firs to rented spruces, a report on alternatives to the chopped-down Xmas tree.


Rick Poynor
The Impossibility of an Island
Atlas of Remote Islands might look like a celebration of distant paradises. Its beauty masks a darker purpose.


John Thackara
Use Fewer Words — Or Less Ink?
Various projects to develop environmentally friendly and non-toxic printers' ink are underway.



Julie Lasky
Acumen Sexy Sanitation Challenge
Acumen Fund announces winners of its "Sexy Sanitation" challenge.


John Thackara
Has Venice Cracked the Bottled Water Conundrum?
Italians are the leading consumers of bottled water in the world, the solution to the waste was to created a brand name for Venice’s tap water — Acqua Veritas.



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



John Thackara
Green Issues in Communication Design
Why do companies get environmental awards for polluting less, even though they are still polluting?


Mark Lamster
The Ugliest Object I Have Ever Owned
What's the ugliest object you've ever owned (and loved)?


John Thackara
Jellyfish Farm
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.



John Thackara
In the Air of Madrid
Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.


Alexandra Lange
New City Reader: Sidewalk Sale
How Atlantic Yards became Barclays Center and disappeared from Brooklyn in the process.



Edward Morris, and Dmitri Siegel
Destroy This Book
The Green Patriot Posters project looked to the graphic design and artistic communities for ways to invigorate and mobilize people to remake our economy for a more sustainable future.



Maria Popova
CEOs for Cities Community Challenge: Robust Public Life
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
A conversation with WORKac architect Dan Wood about design, food and cities.


John Thackara
Is an Environmentally Neutral Car Possible?
The future of the car has been electric for what? Five years now? Ten? The answer is 110 years. The new Riversimple, makes us look again at the feasibility of the electric car.


Alexandra Lange
You Have to Pay for the Public Design
Does a preference for design for private consumption threaten our public space?



Renna Al-Yassini
Roudha Center
Report on Roudha Center, a proposal for a one-stop hub for Qatari women to learn the nuts and bolts of launching a business



William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Final Report
The final report from a symposium held in Connecticut, October 17–19, 2010, where 13 educators from a variety of design and business programs discussed the challenges and objectives of social-change initiatives within their schools and universities.



Meena Kadri
Conflict Kitchen
Report on Conflict Kitchen, a project by artists affiliated with Carnegie Mellon to foster cross-cultural understanding through food.



Jonathan Schultz
Solo Kota Kita
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.



Photo by Taslima Akhter
The Raveled Sleeve of Care
Photo by Taslima Akhter showing living conditions for Bangladesh's garment workers.


John Thackara
Leave Nothing But Footsteps
“Take nothing but memories” Kalack concludes “and leave nothing but footsteps”.


John Thackara
A Lesson from Cornwall
I've always loved lichen. I found this one in Cornwall’s Biodiversity Action Plan and chose it as a beautiful asset that already exists in the county.


Mark Lamster
Trabantimino
The idea: fuse a Trabant, that iconic East German junkmobile, with an El Camino, the classic American musclecar.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participant Case Studies
Participants of Winterhouse Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, October 17-19, 2010, each contributed case studies of a class, project or program that bridges design and social innovation.



William Drenttel
Winterhouse First Symposium on Design Education and Social Change: Participants
This outlines the participants of the Winterhouse Symposium on Design Education and Social Change, which was held October 17-19 2011, in Falls Village CT.



James Lapides
Graphic Intervention
A slideshow containing images from Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters 1985–2010, now on view at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.



Photo by Andy Drewitt
Forty Angles and a Mule
Photograph from series by Australian Andy Drewitt of donkey rescue facility.



Ernest Beck
Safe Agua
The first collaboration between Designmatters at Art Center College of Design and Chile’s Un Techo para mi País creates fresh ideas for water usage in a Santiago slum.



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



Phil Patton
The Meek Shall Inherit the Market
Phil Patton writes in praise of frugal engineering, and not just for developing markets.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Update 09.25.10
Dateline Aspen. An on-going report on progress on the six projects developed at the Aspen Design Summit in November 2009.



Jade Dressler
Degrees of Temporary
Interview with Claudia Zanfi, co-founder of the cultural organization aMAZElab in Milan.



Jane Margolies
Renewing the Riverfront

Report on an exhibition showcasing efforts to revitalize a derelict patch of Brattleboro, Vermont.




Dana Thomas
132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE
The latest material (and sustainability) adventure from the great Japanese fashion designer.


Michael Bierut
Mr. Vignelli’s Map
Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.



Mimi Zeiger
Food Not Bombs
Report on Food Not Bombs, an activist network, now about to turn 30, that distributes free vegan meals.



Sculpture by Mara Haseltine
Pearl River
Oyster Island, Mara Haseltine's sculpture created to revive the oyster reefs that once flourished in and near New York City.



Photo by Teun Voeten
Hell Under Wheels
Photo from Teun Voeten's newly reissued book on New York's Tunnel People.



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate Update
Update on Climate Change Chocolate and other ideas for offsetting carbon. Originally published August 17, 2009.



William Underhill
Somali Documentary Project
Report on the Somali Documentary Project.



William Drenttel
Case Study Use: Teaching History and Notes for Educators
A record of where case studies in Design and Social Enterprise series from Yale School of Management have been used or taught.



Ernest Beck
SELCO: Case Study Synopsis & Teaching Objectives

This case study about SELCO, a solar energy company in India, provides an opportunity to examine the strategy of a business with a social purpose and a heavy reliance on innovative design.





Ernest Beck
Design and Social Enterprise: A New Model for Case Studies
Not many business school case studies have considered the role of design in social innovation or social enterprise management. Yale School of Management, in collaboration with Winterhouse Institute, has created a series focusing on Design and Social Enterprise, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.



Phil Patton
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car
Review of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric car.



Photo by Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project
Hot Mountain
Photo documenting the effects of climate change in Peru, by Susannah Sayler of The Canary Project.



Alexandra Lange
Damned Icons
Terminal 3 sits there, empty, next to JetBlue’s so-so Terminal 5, as an object lesson about how preservation and redevelopment have to operate in tandem.



Ernest Beck
Ripple Effect Update

Update on the Ripple Effect initiative launched by IDEO, Gates Foundation and Acumen Fund to distribute fresh water in the developing world. Originally published July 30, 2009.





Alexandra Lange
Simple Pleasures
In all these new parks, I feel like I am searching for atmosphere, a designed quality above and beyond the ordinary spaces for children, and I am not finding it.



Meena Kadri
Tinkers, Hackers, Farmers, Crafters
Interview with Emeka Okafor, founder of Maker Faire Africa.



Photo by Greg Constantine
Nubians Then and Now
Image of Nubian homes in the Kibera area of Nairobi by Greg Constantine.



William Drenttel, and Julie Lasky
Reasons Not to Be Pretty: Symposium on Design, Social Change and the “Museum”
In April 2010, 22 designers, historians, curators, educators and journalists met at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy to discuss the museum’s potential role in relation to design for social change. This is a report on their conversation.



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



John Thackara
Could Green Energy Kill the Desert?
Large scale wind power might not be as green as you think.



Maria Popova
The Language of Design Imperialism
Essay on the flawed language used to describe humanitarian design efforts and what it indicates.



Photo by Pieter Hugo
Permanent Error
Photo by Pieter Hugo of Ghana's Agbogbloshie slum.



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



Alexandra Lange
Archpaper Review: Our Cities Ourselves
Does one size fit all, even when it is oh-so-hot bikes and buses?



Alexandra Lange
Culture Shed: Where’s the Neighborhood?
CultureGrrl 
offers a critique of the NEA grant for Culture Shed, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group design for a Kunsthalle with retractable roofs over at Hudson Yards.



Ernest Beck
The World as Our Studio
Report on Worldstudio's hybrid business model for collaborating with for-profit and not-for-profit clients (while supporting a foundation).



Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project Part II
How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? The results of these questions, part II.



The Editors
Humanitarian Design vs. Design Imperialism: Debate Summary
Bruce Nussbaum started a firestorm with the question "Is humanitarian design the new imperialism?" — and the conversation has spread through the blogosphere. Here, a digest of essays and related posts on this subject.



Robert Fabricant
In Defense of Design Imperialism
Weighing in on a controversy, frog design's Robert Fabricant supports global design interventions.



Phil Patton
Murray T.25 City Car
Report on Gordon Murray's conversion from revolutionary race car designer to creator of one of the greenest city cars ever.



Vera Sacchetti
"But Teacher! That’s Not Design!"
Interview with Portuguese communication designer Barbara Alves about teaching in Mozambique.



William Underhill
Boatanic
In the Netherlands, designer Damian O'Sullivan conceives of floating greenhouses converted from tourist boats.



Alexandra Lange
The Personality of Parks
Until Pier 6 at 
Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks


Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
New Visions of Home
Report on new housing models for the elderly.


Kenneth Krushel
Bukhara: A Traveler’s Notes
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.



Mark Lamster
Coming to America: The Extraordinary Journey of Morris Moel
From Poland to New York, the story of Morris Moel.



William Underhill
D-Rev Blue Star Jaundice Treatment
Report on Blue Star, D-Rev's affordable jaundice treatment for newborn babies in the developing world.


Steven Heller
Fascist Seduction
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.



Ernest Beck
Teach For All
Report on Teach For All, an $8.6 million program to expand educational opportunities throughout the world created by Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America, and Brett Wigdortz, founder of Teach First in the U.K.



Alexandra Lange
Diana Center & Architectural Bull----
Though rave reviews (
Architect, Metropolis, previously New York) are rolling in for Weiss/Manfredi’s Diana Center at Barnard College, every review has praised two things that I quickly dismissed as the most basic architectural bullshit: the copper glass and the street-level transparency.



Krista Donaldson
The Real Cost of Free
Do you give the poor farmer a pump if you know it will transform her crops and move her family from just scraping by into the middle class? It’s hard to say no, isn’t it? But you should.



Alexandra Lange
In Metropolis: Blue Sky Thinking
What’s really happening at Inland Steel?



Ernest Beck
Catapult Design: How to Run a Design Firm for Social Change
Catapult Design’s nonprofit model offers a new way to think about how designers can engage social innovation projects.



Zara Arshad
How to Green an Embassy
Working at the British Embassy Beijing with zero budget means that even straightforward solutions, such as implementing a recycling system, pose a challenge.



John Thackara
Whole, Whole on the Range
As a juror on the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, John Thackara reviews the highlight.



Elizabeth Helman Minchilli, and Annie Schlechter
Rome Sustainable Food Project
Alice Waters has been working tirelessly to change the way we eat in America. Four years ago, she sent chef Mona Talbott overseas to reform the kitchens of the American Academy in Rome.


Kate Andrews
Dori Gíslason
Interview with design educator Halldór Gíslason about his work in Mozambique.



Allan Chochinov
Bellagio Design Symposium: Core77 Report
Allan Chochinov of Core77, sums up his experience at the Bellagio Design Symposium, the annual Salone Del Mobile Furniture Fair in Milan and being hostage to the whims of a volcano.



Mark Lamster
The Outlier: Philip Johnson’s Tent of Tomorrow
The latest World's Fair, Expo 2010, opened earlier this month in Shanghai. The US entry is pretty weak (someone and I can't recall whom, recently commented that it looks like a Lexus dealership).


William Drenttel
Design for Change Contest
Kiran Bir Sethi is a designer, teacher, principal, advocate and social entrepreneur. Now her “Design for Change Contest,” a recent initiative that swept India in 2009, is expanding globally.



Michael Bierut
The Bones of Francois Robert
Francois Robert has spent hundreds of hours arranging the bones of a single human skeleton into a series of striking iconic shapesto create a series he calls "Stop the Violence."  






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



Jane Margolies
The Laugh Bug
Is Volkswagen's Fun Theory campaign anything more than a turbocharged marketing stunt?



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






Michael Erard
The Dream Job Project
How do you conceive of the future work to shoot for, and how you'll do it? I invite you to weigh in.



Amanda Hurley
Hold Your Sawhorses!
Brazilian architecture firm StudioMK27 creates a controversial furniture collection based on the designs of construction workers.



Azby Brown
Bent by the Sun
What a longtime American-born resident of Japan has learned about his adopted country's ancient practice of sustainability.



Ernest Beck
Es Tiempo
Report on Es Tiempo, a campaign designed to encourage Hispanic women in Southern California to seek annual screenings for cervical cancer.






Phil Patton
One Car Per Family
Report on Yves Béhar's design for a new "people's car."



Jason Orton
Tinder Boxes




Kaomi Goetz
Kopernik
Report on Kopernik, a new website for funding technology to assist populations in the developing world.



Justin Kemerling
The Volunteer Design Chronicles (Lincoln, NE)
Community-focused pro-bono design activities in Lincoln, Nebraska.



Mark Lamster
What Am I Doing Here? Tall Buildings and High Anxiety in Las Vegas
I spent three days in a new entertainment complex, CityCenter, in Las Vegas. What follows is a diary of my experience in that time.



Jessica Helfand
Better Living Through Artistry
SEWA, a cooperative textile manufacturing company in Ahmedebad, India, is a network of self-employed women.



Meena Kadri
Finding Innovation in Every Corner

Interview with management expert Anil Gupta, who seeks to reduce poverty by finding, broadcasting and nurturing examples of innovation among India's poor.





Ernest Beck
The Cotton Club
Report on the complex, and sometimes muddled, standards for certifying organic cotton.



Julie Lasky
DesigNYC
DesigNYC is the latest grass-roots organization to match socially minded designers with nonprofits.



Ernest Beck
GlobalTap
Report on prototype for GlobalTap water refilling stations.



Mitch Epstein
Why Not in My Backyard?
Mitch Epstein's photo of Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004, from his book American Power (Steidl, 2009).



Alexandra Lange
A Real Modern Monument
Peter Behrens’ AEG Turbine Hall is still in use and is still as striking as the day it was completed — so shouldn't that be the goal for every building?



Tony Whitfield
Prepared for Haiti
Tony Whitfield meditates on the assistance designers should give in Haiti following the earthquake, and in future catastrophes.



Ernest Beck
State of Shelter
Relief organizations still rely on the same basic options for emergency housing, but new ideas are taking hold.


Jane Margolies
Rising Currents
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.



Michael Bierut
Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.



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



Rachel Berger
A Makeover for the BART Map
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.



Jason Orton
All That Remains
Jason Orton's photograph of a tree in Dartford, Kent, one of few left over from a lush arboretum.



Michael Erard
Notes on Being Born on Soil
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.



Jane Margolies
St. Augustine School Chicken Project
Report on the sustainability program at St. Augustine parochial school in the South Bronx.



Eve M. Kahn
Green Sleeves
Review of “Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion” at Pratt Manhattan Gallery, November 20, 2009 - February 20, 2010.



Alexandra Lange
UN, Now and Then
On the United Nations five-year renovation, systems and sustainability upgrade and preservation effort.



Jane Withers
In Praise of Shadows
Essay adapted from "In Praise of Shadows: New European Lighting Design," presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 19–October 18, 2009.



Julie Lasky
CO2 CUBES
Description of CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change, a multimedia installation created for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties (COP-15), held in Copenhagen in December 2009.



Jennifer Ehrenberg
Chicago Welcomes You
On designing a resettlement process for Burmese immigrants in Chicago.


Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF Menstruation Challenge
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Menstruation Challenge Project proposed an “eco-system” whereby sanitary pads became a linchpin for local economic growth, for educational programs about health and hygiene and for research into materials that could be adapted to other countries.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF and Early Childhood Development
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Early Childhood Development Project proposed a new approach to emergency kits that would be more precisely tuned to young children’s intellectual and emotional needs, as well as outlined a basis for the next AIGA/INDEX: Aspen Design Challenge.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: Sustainable Food and Childhood Obesity
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the Sustainable Food Project focused on accelerating the shift from a global, abstract food system to a regional, real food system via a robust portfolio of activities — including a grand challenge and a series of youth-engagement programs.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: CDC and Healthy Aging
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the CDC Healthy Aging Project began with the initial premise to enhance the ability of public health entities to determine whether adults 50 and over have received recommended preventive health services. The Project developed a “5 over 50” concept and brand name, and a new goal: to double the current number of people who are “up to date” with these preventive measures.



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



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Participants
The Aspen Design Summit, November 11-14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, involved 64 participants — designers, experts, researchers, educators, and representatives of NGOs, foundations and businesses. This the complete attendee list of participants.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Initial Report
Initial report on the 2009 Aspen Design Summit, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute.



James Wegener
Metabolic Dark City
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
Report on the Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability project's latest home at New York's New School.



Hal Clifford, and Jason Houston
Stone River: The Passion of Jon Piasecki
Landscape architect Jon Piasecki, talks about nature, the woods, and a recent multi-year stone works project in New York State — Stone River



Mark Dery
Dawn of the Dead Mall
Mark Dery surveys the landscape of failing malls and speculates about the future means and venues of mass consumption.


By Alexis Rockman
Hot Times in the Old Town
East 82nd Street, 2007, painting from Alexis Rockman's American Icons series depicting future landscapes ravaged by climate change



Steven Heller
Why Does John Baeder Paint Diners?
John Baeder's goal for the past three decades has been to record on canvas and paper just about every diner and roadside eatery.



Julie Lasky
88Bikes
Report on a foundation that distributes bicycles to children in the developing world.


Ernest Beck
Medellín, Colombia
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.



William Drenttel, and Jon Piasecki
The Stonework of Jon Piasecki
"Stone construction is one of the most enduring traces of human activity. Any effort to quarry, cut and stack it is one that requires a powerful incentive, extensive planning and specialized skill." The Stone River project of Jon Piasecki.



Adam Harrison Levy
O Tannenbaum!
People are talking differently about Christmas trees this year. They’re downscaling or simplifying their annual rite.



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


Bradford McKee
Float House
Report on a floating house designed by Morphosis and UCLA architecture students for the Make It Right Foundation,



Justin Partyka
The East Anglians
Image from photographer Justin Partyka's series, The East Anglians, about the decline of rural culture in the UK.



Alexandra Lange
(Women and) Children First
Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park is one more way New York City is attempting to be child-friendly.



Ernest Beck
Emergency Response Studio
Report on artist Paul Villinski's mobile studio, which he converted from a trailer of the type used by FEMA to house victims of Hurricane Katrina.



Steven Heller
People in Glass Apartments
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
Interview with photorapher Jonas Bendiksen following the opening of his exhibition "The Places We Live."



Jane Margolies
Skin
Report on maternity clothes made in Colombia with local labor. (No seamstresses under the age of 50 need apply.)



John Thackara
John Thackara Answers Your Questions
John Thackara answers questions from the readers of DESIGN 21.



John Thackara
Design & Development: Interview with 4baq
John Thakra discusses sustainability, design and development with 4baq.




Jonathan Schultz
Better Place
Report on Better Place, winner of the 2009 INDEX Award in the Community category.



Ernest Beck
Peepoobag
Report on Peepoobag, a new self-sanitizing, single-use, biodegradable container for human waste.



Kerry William Purcell
The Art of Psychographics
Each and every graphic design signifies a memory. A familiar sign, map or poster can often trigger a set of associations in the viewer, a series of thoughts and feelings that have their own unique trajectory. 



Project
Kiva
Report on Kiva, the pioneering microfinance site, which won a 2009 INDEX award for humanitarian design.



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



Ernest Beck
Chulha Stove

Report on the Chulha stove designed by Philips to reduce indoor air pollution in developing countries.





Bryan Mealer, and William Kamkwamba
The Doers Club
Design prodigy William Kamkwamba recalls building a windmill to generate electricity for his village in Malawi, Africa.



Mark Dery
Paradise Fouled
Review of Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary film about a lawsuit filed against Chevron by denizens of the Ecuadorean Amazon.



Allison Arieff
WeCommune
WeCommune offers a technology platform for people who want to share resources and build community within particular subcultures.



Julie Lasky
Pizza Farm
Report on Project M at Winterhouse's Pizza Farm event in rural Connecticut in August 2009.


Phil Patton
Triple-Digit Inflation
Phil Patton questions GM's sustainability claims for its Chevrolet Volt electric car.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Ernest Beck
PACT Underwear
Report on PACT, an underwear company that embraces green manufacturing and donates a portion of its revenue to nonprofits.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Teun Voeten
Under Cover
Teun Voeten photograph of Kabul, Afghanistan, 2007. The situation for widows in Afghanistan is desperate...



Teun Voeten
Hell in a Horse Cart
Photo of coal merchant in Shanxi Province, China, by Teun Voeten.



John Thackara
Get Out of Your Tents!
In an interview with OK Do, John Thackara urges us to do real things in the real world.



Alec Appelbaum
FLAP Bag
Report on the FLAP bag, a multipurpose messenger bag for developing-world populations.



John Thackara
Fish Systems and Design
Though gloomy predictions say we could see the end of seafood by 2048, several initiatives are rethinking the way we acquire fish.



Jason Orton
Going Coastal
Photo of Holliwell Point, Essex County, England by Jason Orton.



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate
While environmentalists debate the ethics and effectiveness of carbon offsets, designers work to make them appealing.



Julie Lasky
When Worlds Collide
Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.



Alexandra Lange
Waiting On the Dream
I wrote a piece on the (lack of) development in Midtown West , also known as the Hudson Yards.



Taryn Simon
Blue Note
Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility Cherenkov Radiation, Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy, Southeastern Washington State. Photograph by Taryn Simon.



Alexandra Lange
Kroon Hall
With its vaulted roof, communal spaces, and casual materials, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ new Kroon Hall is designed to float Yale into the 21st century, training the world’s future green leaders along the way.



Mark Lamster
Blriot! The Centennial of a Historic Flight
A century ago today, Louis Blriot took off in an airplane of his own invention.



Ernest Beck
Ripple Effect

IDEO launched Ripple Effect in India to help communities with the arduous process of transporting water.





Lena Dunham
On the Street in Tokyo
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
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.



John Thackara
The Internet of Things
Should we be sprinkling technological devices across the planet like dust?



Mark Lamster
No More Neon on the Novy Arbat
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
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
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
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
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
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
Earlier this week, plans were released for the new Jewish museum in Moscow.



John Thackara
Make Sense, Not Stuff
John Thackara presents a three-step plan to connect design schools to the green economy.



John Thackara
Doctors with iPhones
The neighborhood doctor is back — and this time, he has an iPhone.



John Cantwell
Trump, The Logo
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
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
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
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
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
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
Save the Library
These are tough times for those of us who care about books. The publishing industry is in a tailspin; electronic readers and the Internet are challenging the primacy of the printed page.



John Thackara
The Innovator Next Door
Whether it's narrowly defining innovation as technology, or imposing solutions on communities, John Thackara discusses the mistakes made by large companies.



Mark Lamster
Pastrami on Rye
A new project: documenting some favorite New York dining establishments.



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



Mark Lamster
Practice Does Not Make Perfect
The J-E-T-S spent $75 million this year on a state-of-the-art new training facility designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but they may still miss the playoffs.


Tom Vanderbilt
Fanfare for the Common Commuter
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
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.



John Thackara
Alternative Trade Networks and the Coffee System
Alterative trade networks are emerging in the coffee industry, attempting to eliminate the middle man.



Michael Bierut
There is No Why
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




Andrew Blauvelt
City and Suburb: Worlds Away?
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
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
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
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
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
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.



John Thackara
Design for (Im)mobility: Interview with Domus
John Thackera defines and explains the importance of ethnoecology.



Adrian Shaughnessy
The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.



John Thackara
Global Place — Or is it a Hat?
We must view the world with a new slant and take advantage of a huge design opportunity to create sustainable structures for the future.



Alissa Walker
War Is Over! If You Want It
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
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
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
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
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
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.



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



John Thackara
Cities, Design and Democracy: Conversation with Sunil Abraham in Cluster
John Thackara and Sunil Abraham sit down for an in-depth interview with Cluster Magazine.



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



Debbie Millman
Grant McCracken
Grant McCracken is the author of Culture and Consumption IPlenitudeBig HairCulture and Consumption II: Markets, Meaning and Brand ManagementThe Long InterviewFlock and Flow, and Transforming Selves.  



Jessica Helfand
What We Talk About When We Talk About Design History
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
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
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.)



Mark Lamster
Seeing Red
Red Bogart blamed technology and changing attitudes for the reason he sold Camp Tomahawk, but Mark Lamster knew there was something more to the story.



Lorraine Wild
Think Regional, Act Annual
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
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
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
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
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
Andrew Geller, Alastair Gordon and Jake Gorst talk about Gorst's new documentary Leisurama.



Rick Poynor
Getting Louder: Chinese Design on the March
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
An account of a visit to the abandoned site of Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania.



Michael Bierut
Colorama
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?




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




Michael Bierut
Information Design and the Placebo Effect
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
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
James Turrell's influence on World Trade Tower memorial design.



Rick Poynor
Stephen Gill: Behind the Billboard
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?
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
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.



Rob Walker
The Guts of a New Machine
The iPod, a digital music player, it weighing just 6.5 ounces and holding about 1,000 songs.



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



John Thackara
Interior Design at War [April 2003]
Report on design in the war in Afghanistan, the Pearl River Delta in China, the Media Lab Europe (MLE), the 50th anniversary of the German Design Council, New Mobility, and more.



Observed | November 15

Juan Ángel Cotta’s work, especially a collection of hardback books he illustrated in 1960, is one of the missing links between South American publishing and the European modernist traditions. —Steven Heller. [BV]

Need some inspiration? 25 reasons to keep on making stuff “in this time of rampant assholery.” [BV]


Observed | November 13

Are we confusing readability with literary value? The case for difficult books. [BV]

Big Mike Takes Lunch” by filmmaker Nicolas Heller, is a documentary that captures a day in the life of Michael Saviello, manager for 40 years of the iconic East Village barber shop, Astor Place Hairstylists, who paints on his lunch break. [BV]


Observed | November 12

Artificial Intelligence is mapping the Pacific ocean’s secret soundscape in hopes of building the most comprehensive dataset of its kind – an enormous “sound postcard of the ocean.” [BV]

Metal band accused of quitting a tour because their logo was too small on the flyer responds with a tiny logo t-shirt. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 09

Brilliant Maps is “making sense of the world, one map at a time” and includes maps of “Countries Which Have At Some Point Claimed To Be Rome’s Successor” and “A Map of Superheroes in NYC & The Areas They Protect”. [BV]

Bob Neill’s Book of Typewriter Art” from 1982 contains instructions for creating a likeness of Queen Elizabeth, Elvis Presley, numerous cats, and a mystery picture all in ascii. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | November 08

Should I delete my social media? Five artists + writers weigh in. [BV]

Fabulous 1970s stock photo model shots: these were the archetypal 1970s faces and fashions. [BV]

What do our oldest books say about us? On the ineffable magic of four little manuscripts of Old English poetry. [BV]


Observed | November 07

The epic rise and fall of the name Heather. [BV]

Sixty-four extreme human emotions visualized, long before the emoji. [BV]


Observed | November 05

Almost published a number of times over the last 30 years, Julius Scott’s manuscript about slaves and sailors in the Caribbean has been an underground sensation and is finally being published. [BV]

While rumors of humans wiping out 60% of animal species been widely mischaracterized, the actual news is still grim. [BV]


Observed | October 31

“I see each commission as a challenge: write a piece of music which lasts between fifteen and twenty minutes, for an orchestra comprising the following 65 instruments, and we’d like it by this date.” Nico Muhly on designing music. [BV]

Boo! The spooky evolution of text message-based horror stories. [BV]


Observed | October 30

In case you need a distraction: A database of paper airplanes with easy to follow folding instructions. [BV]

The singular, cultlike status of the Kit Kat bar in Japan. [BV]


Observed | October 29

The use of skulls as design elements in American logos quintupled as the US went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 26

The question of whether time moves in a loop or a line has occupied human minds for millennia. Has physics found the answer? [BV]

Apple’s radical approach to news curation: have humans make selections rather than machines. [BV]


Observed | October 25

“What you do is you contribute these little background moments to people’s lives, and if you can do it in a way that brings a little beauty or pleasure along the way, it’s a home run.” Michael Bierut on his career as a designer. [BV]

The New York Times was one of the last American daily newspapers to add color to its news pages. Here’s why. (via Steven Heller) [BV]

Why are we still arguing for the business value of design? [BV]


Observed | October 24

Social media is not literature, and tweeting is not writing. Imagining Herzog as status updates. (via Arts and Letters Daily) [BV]

So. Is “hipster design” really a thing? [BV]


Observed | October 23

“Even after the word disruption lost its meaning from overuse, it still suffused our understanding of why the ground beneath our feet felt so shaky.” An alternative history of Silicon Valley disruption. [BV]

US political campaigns seem to be moving away from the traditional red, white, and blue color palette. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 22

Brutally Honest is a new book out from Emily Ruth Cohen with advice, insights, and best practice business strategies. [BV]



Jobs | November 18