Monthly Archives: May 2009

SoiSong Origami

soisong_octagonal_oragami_cd1SoiSong is the new music outlet for Peter Christopherson, formerly of Coil (which he founded with the now-deceased John Balance).

Brainwashed has an interview from 2008 where “Sleazy” discusses his decision to collaborate on music again, this time with Ivan Pavlov.

Maybe the most exciting thing about SoiSong is the design of their xAj3z album release. 

The die cut octagonal CD (it will only play in horizontal trays, not vertical computer-slot-players) is encased in an oragami-like, biodegradable case, on which is printed imagery and artwork.

Very attractive, and probably worth the € 22 as an objet d’art.

Their landing page for their website is not badly designed, either. (If you’re going for cryptic minimalist, which they are!)

Dis-Patch-Work

dispatch1More on LEGOs: Jan Vormann is a German artist who “patches” holes and decay in buildings with Lego bricks!

This makes for wonderfully interesting juxtapositions of the brightly colored plastic rectangles with the old, graying, non-uniform stones and cement of old structures.

Jan has created this artwork — which, in true German-language style, he calls “dispatchwork” — to several cities, including Tel Aviv, Israel, Bocchignano, Italy and Berlin, Germany.

The work has a very different feel in each of the locales, and all are intriguing.

dispatch2In Berlin, most of the patchwork was done on bullet holes and destruction left-over from World War II. In Italy, near Rome, I imagine the decay was simply from age. In Israel, the artist was specifically invited to “repair” some old walls by the curators of Darom Gallery in Tel Aviv.

It would be fun to revisit the sites in 50 years and see the relative effects of time on the newer plastic vs. the old stone.

UPDATE: Where could we do this in Philly?

[Via Wired and Twittter]

LEGO Architecture

wright lego Legos rule. Let’s get that out of the way straight off. Hours of endless fun, for kids and (if you are so lucky as to be around a kid who has them) for adults.

And in the grown-up vein, just announced: Frank Lloyd Wright Collection® LEGO® Architecture Building Sets.

Released on May 15 at the opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Guggenheim, these are the first sets available from the new LEGO Architecture division (which is so new their website isn’t fleshed out yet).

Playing with legos as a kid, I always felt torn when building from “sets” — those boxes of bricks and special parts that could go together to create a specific structure (castle, helicopter, working tow truck, etc.). I kind of preferred building free-form instead.

But these new Wright sets, and presumably others in the Architecture series, really can teach the user about good architecture! And because of the beautiful way legos are designed — with uniformity in the interlocking parts — nothing says you can’t also use these sets in free-form manner.

A great direction for this iconic toy company.

[Via prairie mod and core 77]

Don’t Crease the Cup

shuttle VABThe design of space travel technology, even the limited space travel we do today, is huge and complicated. 

Here, a rarely photographed but critical part of any shuttle flight, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where the shuttle body is attached to the fuel tanks and boosters. Photo via Boston.com’s awesome “Big Picture” feature.

From some folks working at the Kennedy Space Center (via email):

The VAB was built for the Apollo program, and never reconfigured for the shuttle, hence the lift over the structure, up, over and down to mate with the tank and boosters). 
 
The certification for the persons operating the crane is awesome; I was lucky enough to be working in the VAB while they were certifying a fellow. In the early days they put a spray can on an upside down wastebasket sitting on VAB floor and the fellow operating the crane is up 467 ft., working blindly. A fellow on the floor with a Walkie Talkie guides him, the last foot or so  just going down in increments of 1/16th of an inch. The operator has to lay the crane on top of the spray can and empty the contents. One day they decided that the can might explode, so they went to an upside down styrofoam cup, the operator can’t crease it. The crane, by the way, weighs 50,000 lbs.

Big Belly

bigbellyJust spotted a whole bunch of the new BigBelly trash cans — actually solar powered trash compactors, lining Broad from City Hall to South Street.

These will eventually replace all of Center City’s 900 wire trash cans, which are truly a mess.

The ones on Broad are paried up with recycling containers, the city’s first. Good step forward.

Visually, the dark brown of these compactors is a good look, much better than the busy green patterns that the initial test cans sported. Perhaps the cans will be different colors for different neighborhoods.

As far as usability goes, I don’t like touching trash cans, so that is the drawback. You have to pull open the top drawer to throw away something.  But that’s a necessary part of the design, allowing the compactor to work. Officials also hope this will stop the common habit of “tossing” trash towards the basket… and the common habit of missing.

Perhaps we’ll have less of a Philthadelphia?

Update: A foot pedal! Wouldn’t that solve the touching-the-dirty-handle issue? I suggested this in comments on several articles around the web…

Blackface

Diesel’s new watch design kicked up a bit of a kerfluffle, what with it’s completely smooth black stainless steel face.
diesel_dz9044_watch 

Detractors decried the watch as style winning over functionality, a sentiment on whose side I usually come down. Even those who like the way it looks talked about how it was not very useful.

dz9044_watch_side1But the DZ9044 does have four watch faces, actually, two small squares on each side of the main slab. They can be set to separate times, showing up to four time zones. 

What the physical design does allow, however, is glances at your watch without the signature wrist twitch that lets others around you know you’re checking. At a boring meeting, for example, or just during a conversation on the street.

It also most likely does not cause the annoying reflection that can shine in others’ eyes when you’re wearing the watch in the sun.

For $400, I’d be buying my man something different, though.

Scotch

scotch tapeThese days, I drink scotch more often than I use Scotch Tape. 

Only at Christmas, I think. 

Even so, I want one of these.

A winner in a student design contest at Ontario College of Art & Design, in partnership with 3M Canada, this will go into production next year.

Hopefully also available stateside. [Via]

Why We Design

Just a poignant note on how designing is a privilege, and important at the same time, by John McWade, publisher of Before & After Magazine.  He writes of a reader writing in from Haiti, a farmer-cum-desktop publisher, who says:

“I am coming to believe that pleasing design needs no apology, even, if not especially, in scientific publications. Our societies are now at the stage that a great number of us can not only appreciate the pleasures offered by good design, but almost demand that artistic expression be placed on the same level as informational expression. I’m not sure why, but it has much to do with why we are human.”

And John notes:

Such contrasts these are! Here is a reader, a farmer, who has worked 15 years in a nation where half the children are undernourished and 1 in 10 will die, 7 of 10 adults are illiterate, half the urban population has no access to safe water . . .

. . . pause here for a moment . . .

. . . writing to a magazine subtitled “How to design cool stuff”. . .

. . . inspired by what we do.

What accounts for this? How does design even exist in such an environment, much less inspire?

You might look again at what you do. You sit with a full tummy in your warm office at a blank screen with an ad to make, and you’re thinking, “Jeez, I have to come up with something original and clever and it better be soon.” That’s not how to think. As a designer you have a privilege, one that others do not. It is the privilege of making visible that which others can only imagine, feel or think. When you do this, you open a window through which your audience can see, know and understand.

Full post here.

Roots

root_promoAn interesting new liquor is about to hit the market.

In fact it was at the Headhouse Farmers’ Market that I ran into the promotional table for it.

It is Root, an 80-proof liqueur based on Root Tea. From the promotional card:

Root Tea goes back to the 1700′s, when settlers picked it up from Native Americans. Over generations, Root Tea grew in potency, particularly in Pennsylvania, where the ingredients grow in abundance. During the Temperance Movement at the close of the 19th century, a Philadelphia pharmacist removed the alcohol and rechristened it (ironically) Root Beer for hard-drinking coal miners and steelworkers.

RootI didn’t realize previously that Root Beer had its roots in Philadelphia, so to speak. Charles Hires, that pharmacist,  first sold commercial root beer to the public in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.

Brought to you by Art in the Age, an offshoot of Gyro ad agency, with great designs featuring gorgeous illustrations by Reverend Michael Alan.

Should be available in PA State stores this summer. Interested to try it!