Tag Archives | Design

A Nation Of Places Not Worth Caring About

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:
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Giant Emocon Reflects The Mood Of The City

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.
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The Evils Of A World Filled With Touchscreens

111103_TECH_many_ipadsAll signs point to our heading towards a future in which we will exist surrounded by software-enabled touchscreens. Why this could be a grave mistake, via Slate:

What touchscreens lack is something called affordance — an object’s built-in ability to tell you how it works. A doorknob affords turning. The button on a car stereo affords pushing. A touchscreen affords nothing. It relies on software for any affordance, which in turn relies on total immersion for the user.

What we want, apparently, is to surround ourselves with touchscreens of varying size—tiny ones in our pockets, medium-size models for our laps and dashboards, and massive versions for our walls. We want tomorrow’s vintage shops to be lined with identical, blank, anonymous slabs. We want things to be vessels for software, and nothing more. Immersion is a fantastic quality while flicking virtual birds at digital pigs in your smartphone. Immersion at 80 mph is less desirable.

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Psychedelic Art From Science Textbooks

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 then. Most of the art come from materials published by Communications Research Machines, including their titles Life and Heath, Psychology Today, and Developmental Psychology Today.

science

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How To Protect The Future From Our Nuclear Waste?

dangerPasta&Vinegar on a fascinating 10,000-year design conundrum: how to house our radioactive waste in such a way that the next 400 generations will understand the danger, and not try to tamper or remove the markers. One would assume that over that period, most of our civilization, language, symbols, and physical structures as we know them will cease to exist:

“Permanent Markers Implementation Plan” is a project initiated in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Energy in order to provide a permanent record which identifies the location of nuclear waste repository and its dangers.

This report described the task handled by one of the expert group made of an anthropologist, an astronomer, an archaeologist, an environmental designer, a linguist, and a materials scientist. The brief for them was basic:

“The site must be marked. Aside from the legal requirement, the site will be indelibly imprinted by the human activity associated with waste disposal.

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The Non-Verbal Newspaper

edmonton_20In 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 consists of an inventory of all the non-verbal information contained in a daily newspaper. All of the words have been cut out of the Edmonton Journal of 16 August 1977 (the day on which Elvis Presley died). How do we ‘read’ pictures with no verbal context or information? What is the informative value of typographical structures and orders when stripped of meaning? The visual material in this publication provides a basis for the debate on these questions.

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IKEA: The Architecture Of Consumer Confusion

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.
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The Architecture of Control

Presidio ModeloArchitecture 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 the physical and social properties of people. Prison design is one such exercise that directly engages the dialogue between space and social control. Via Web Urbanist :

Should architecture be used as a punishment in itself, made as harsh and cruel as possible in a bid to make inmates sorry for what they’ve done, or should it uplift and rehabilitate them, showing them that there’s more to the world than a life of crime?

While some architects boycott prison design altogether so as not to participate in what is often seen as a corrupt and immoral system, others produce (often controversial) designs that revolutionize prisoners’ relationships with their environment, each other and the world at large – for better or worse.

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In Support Of Octagon Houses

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 U.S. and Canada between 1848 and 1920″ with photos, descriptions, blueprints, and newspaper clippings (although many of the links are dead).  Here’s hoping that octo-houses, which offer panoptic views and the ability to be clustered in all sorts of formations, will someday return to their rightful place in the architectural vanguard.

octo

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‘Non-Visible’ Art Sells For $10,000

fracsGenius or madness? Surly acting hunk James Franco sold an intangible, undetectable work of conceptual art, created in collaboration with the design duo Praxis, to a Montreal collector for $10,000. Paste reports that the masterpiece is titled "Fresh Air" and is described as thus:
A unique piece, only this one is for sale. The air you are purchasing is like buying an endless tank of oxygen. No matter where you are, you always have the ability to take a breath of the most delicious, clean-smelling air that the earth can produce. Every breath you take gives you endless peace and health. This artwork is something to carry with you if you own it. Because wherever you are, you can imagine yourself getting the most beautiful taste of air that is from the mountain tops or fields or from the ocean side; it is an endless supply.
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