Design


In this clip from his 1980 television series “The Shock of the New,” now being re-shown by the BBC, Robert Hughes peels apart how design is wielded as a tool by those in power to tell a story without words. The iconic buildings of post-World War II America (e.g. New York City’s Lincoln Center and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center) mirror the aesthetic of Mussolini’s Italy, a style combining “the myth of ancient Rome and vision of a technocratic future”:

All the ingredients of an architecture of state power as imagined by the totalitarians of the twentieth century are also present in what used to in the fifties be called the architecture of democracy…[expressing] the centralization of power. What comes out is not the difference between America and Russia, but the similarities between the corporate and the bureaucratic states of mind.


Are life support machines on loop all we are? The Immortal is a divine, Rube Goldberg-esque contraption concocted by artist Revital Cohen:

A Heart-Lung Machine, Dialysis Machine, an Infant Incubator, a Mechanical Ventilator and an Intraoperative Cell Salvage Machine…are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure.

The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering. The organ replacement machines operate in orchestrated loops, keeping each other alive through circulation of electrical impulses, oxygen and artificial blood.

The interpretation of anatomy with a mechanical vocabulary reflects strongly on the Western perception of the body. Defining the body as a machine – where dysfunctional parts can be replaced by mechanics – speaks of how we understand life.

 





Boing Boing on a bizarre, pioneering musical instrument, suppressed in its day, which built on occultist concepts and attempted to unify the senses:

You don’t play the ANS synthesizer with a keyboard. Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, trigging a wide range of tones. It’s a nearly forgotten Russian synthesizer designed by Evgeny Murzin in 1938. The synth was named after and dedicated to the experimental composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (1872–1915).

Today it sits behind a rope at the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture, almost forgotten and seldom used. A few artists have recorded albums with it over the years, mostly notably the late occultists/electronic musicians Coil who traveled to Russia in 2002:



Dotsies is a minimal, dot-based alternate version of the Latin alphabet. Why have we not evolved past using a 3,000-year-old character system? Since latin letters (a, b, c, etc.) are optimized to…


Gary Goddard, CEO of entertainment design firm The Goddard Group tells the story of how a full scale Starship Enterprise very nearly came to Las Vegas in 1992, only for Paramount Pictures’ CEO Stanley Jaffe to ruin every Trekkie’s wet dream:

…We learned everything we could about the Starship — its actually size and dimensions, how it would exist in “dry dock” on the planet if indeed such a situation had been possible. We imagined what it could be, and how we might achieve it. We got Ken Ball (former head of engineering at Disney’s MAPO) involved to figure out how to engineer and support it. (Ultimately we realized we would need to add some supports on the outer edge of the “disc” section due to the extremely high wind conditions in Vegas. For this we created a high tech “scaffolding structure” that gave the ship more of the appearance of being in an open-air dry dock. I have not yet located that sketch, but I’ll try to find it.)

Source: The Goddard Group

The “big idea” was building the ship itself at full-scale. That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of “show” on board…




Japanese erotic hotels famously offer themed fetish rooms that transport guests to the oddest of locations. Artist Ai Hasegawa hopes to go further by creating plans for an Extreme Environment Love Hotel…


A building, that uses historical rubble a main building component, is causing rumblings in the architecture community. What implications does this have on building a sustainable future? Via Inhabitat: The 2012 Pritzker…


To be unveiled in New Orleans — a home equipped with a drone synthesizer that produces pleasing tones reflecting the surroundings. I hope this architectural innovation catches on everywhere:

Demonstration of latest Quintron invention called THE SINGING HOUSE. This is an analog “drone synth” can be installed into any building in order to provide its inhabitants with a pleasing chord that is constantly changed by the weather. Preliminary studies have show that these soothing sounds can bring mental relaxation and healing to the modern home or institution. The music is actually played by the skies above. No two days sound the same.



The immersive ugliness of our everyday environments in America is entropy made visible. We can’t overestimate the amount of despair we are generating with places like this…the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world…there’s not enough Prozac in the world to make people feel okay about going down [these] blocks.”

In a classic TED talk, James Kunstler tears apart the architecture and public space design of post-World War II America, with pictorial examples of egregiously dismal cases, and explains why the suburbs are a sham:


feelometerInstalled in Lindau Island, Germany, the Feel-o-meter sums up the populace’s collective consciousness. Pass by with a frown, and you could slightly dampen its smile. (You wouldn’t want to do that, would you?) Via Information Aesthetics:

Fuehlometer (Feel-o-meter) by Richard Wilhelmer, Julius von Bismarck, and Benjamin Maus is a light installation consisting of a giant smiley face that reflects the average mood of the people living in the city. The average emotional value is calculated through the computational analysis of the faces of people passing a camera located in a specific part of the city.



50 Watts has a jaw-dropping collection of seemingly hallucinogen-inspired illustrations culled from 1970s science textbooks, revealing striking new ways of understanding biology, psychology, and sex ed concepts. School was truly trippy back…



In 1977, Swiss graphic designer Hans-Rudolf Lutz conducted an interesting experiment by stripping all language from a daily newspaper — I’d like to try this process with some contemporary publications: This book…


Via Information Aesthetics:

Normally architects organize space to make the experience as efficient as possible. At IKEA though, however, the (almost ‘urban’) designers deliberately set out to confuse people. See this phenomenon analyzed [with] various (heat)maps, 3D reconstructions and other illustrations, in a talk (the IKEA case in starts at the 24:30 mark), by Alan Penn (University College London).

The presentation focuses on how architects use space to sell things, by demonstrating how space creates patterns of movement, bringing people into contact with goods. It starts off with how spatial quality influences spatial behavior, which is then applied on urban environments, retail and shopping spaces in general.


Architecture and design made specifically to control and easily subdue populations is nothing new; architects and urban planners have long recognised the inherent ability of design to affect mood, temperament, and even…


Break free from the tyranny of the square! The pleasingly odd Octagon House Inventory is “a permanent record of locations and histories of all known octagon houses (nearly 1000) built in the…