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Out of Office: Bound for the Boot

This writer stuck it out through a long, hot summer without a vacation, always keeping an eye on this very day, October 26th, for it finally meant the delivery of some much needed R&R. That said, we’ll be headed to Italy later today, away until November 5th (and presumably back on the 6th, depending on the jet lag and/or wine consumption). In the interim, and as always, you will be well taken care of by the extremely remarkable writing talents, impeccable wit, and general brain goo power of your beloved co-editor, Stephanie Murg. Be very nice to her or we won’t bring you back any pizza or saint medallions.

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Sign Your Famous Architect Name on the Dotted Line

It’s a slow Tuesday at the end of summer, so let’s take a little break from all this serious news business for a second and turn our attentions to something a bit more relaxed and fun, shall we? Life of an Architect has put up this great post, “Architects and Their Signatures,” offering up tongue-in-cheek handwriting analysis for a handful (puns!) of famous architects. What does Frank Lloyd Wright‘s compact lettering or Renzo Piano‘s four, tight wavy lines say about them? You surely won’t have an answer to those questions from this post, but it’s a fun time and likely just as valuable as real handwriting analysis regardless. Here’s one of our favorites:

What can you say about the signature of Richard Meier? Completely illegible (does it say “Texas” at the end??) which is a clear indication of assumed stardom and self-importance … but the squiggly line embellishment at the bottom (closely resembling a sad clown smile) is an attempt after the fact of a strong desire for our love and acceptance. Meier has built a career based on the theories of others – particularly Le Corbusier – and the casual self-importance and self-loathing present in the beginning, middle and end of this signature speak volumes … and a love of the color white.

Sicilian Jail Puts Ban on Prisoners Wearing Designer Labels

If you’re a member of the mafia who is currently imprisoned in Sicily, let us first say a) thank you very, very much for reading our site and b) we’re tight-lipped and not here to cause any trouble. Let us just consider this a friendly note, shall we? In an interesting/fun story, the Telegraph reports that the new head of a jail in Palermo wants to put in place a rule that will not allow the prisoners to wear clothing or accessories from designer labels. Apparently, because prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothes, members of the mafia imprisoned there have been “showing off their status with Louis Vuitton jackets, Valentino silk shirts and Adidas and Nike trainers,” which the new head of the jail is tired of. Here’s a bit:

“Why should the authorities be allowed to dictate what my husband wears?” one woman told La Stampa newspaper.

Another complained: “My husband will have to walk around naked because he only has designer clothes, not to show off but because they’re of better quality and they last longer. Why humiliate him in this way and make me go and buy all his clothes in street markets?”

Our questions is: how do you stop it? Couldn’t the prisoners simply transition into less flashy, but still designer-made clothing, with the logos a bit more subdued? And if that happens, will their be regular fashion checks and a registry of brands that are deemed less showy? And if that list gets out, will it ruin the fashion industry?

When An Architect Spends $36,890 on Shots at a Bar, How Bad of Shape Could the Industry Really Be In?

Maybe we’ve been too reactionary over the past couple of years when it’s come to news of the struggling architecture industry. We’ve sounded the alarm bells whenever the AIA‘s Architecture Billings Index plummets and felt sorry for all those sad graduating architecture students, but maybe it was all for naught. Reason being is that the Australian is reporting that “an architect working for the US government,” Kaz Miura, had to shell out a record-setting $36,890 for rounds of shots at a bar in Tokyo. There’s explanation of how this all happened, how one can spend that much on alcohol in an evening, but it involves a leather drum at an establishment whose theme likely wouldn’t fly here in the States, and we don’t understand it entirely. Not that we entirely care either, as the meat of the story, to us, is how an architect in 2010 can so relatively-nonchalantly blow close to $40,000 on booze for people he doesn’t know and not be a Gehry or a Stern or a Hadid (the paper quotes him as saying “No bonus. No windfall. I’m just paying for it out of my pocket and hoping that my wife understands,” which seems decidedly less than how we would have reacted in that situation, which is, “Oh sweet lord, what have I done?!” followed by pounding our head against the bar until we passed out). So either this architect in particular has done very well for himself in the midst of a recession, Tokyo is the place to make lots more money in the business of building than it is over here, or we’ve been completely wrong about how difficult this recession has been on the industry. Whatever the case, we need a shot.

How to Watch the Final World Cup Games Like a Proper Designer


For a more immediate summer activity, and in particular for soccer fans, if you’re planning to watch the final World Cup games this Saturday and Sunday, we refer you back to our pal Michael Surtees‘ post from near the start of the games about his extra-focused method of watching. Using a combination of a large flat screen TV, two laptops, an iPad and his phone, it’s an insanely impressive control center that allows him to be aware of every possible thing going on on the field (that’s “pitch” for you purists). Granted, for most of us it might be a touch overkill, not to mention the costs associated if you want to watch the game as closely as Michael and don’t happen to own a couple of those items, but if you do have the want and the means, you’ll likely appreciate the precise setup information he provides. Though as he warns: “A command center like this is pretty cool, though if I was having a party I’m not sure how much fun I would be,” so use at your own discretion.

Architecture Degrees Lead Bryan Berg to Second ‘Cardstacking’ World Record

Currently making the rounds, and proof that you don’t necessarily need to use your architecture degree exactly as intended, in Las Vegas this week, Bryan “The Cardstacker” Berg just overcome his previous Guinness record for largest house of cards ever assembled to set a new record. The former student of architecture, who received degrees from Iowa State University and Harvard, had previously won the title in 2004 in Florida and “is the only known person to make a living building structures with freestanding playing cards.” Here’s video of his latest crowning achievement:

Out of Office: Off to Chilly Central Europe


We know it’s cold and soggy outside and you depend on the double-threat we provide of wholesome, warming design news, but sometimes we need a break. So this writer is heading out on vacation for the next week, off to soak in the cold and soggy portions of central Europe. Your beloved Stephanie, of course, will be here to guide you through everything you need to know about design happenings and has promised to keep your brains full, active, and appropriately dressed for the season. We shall return in full force on March 1st and this writer will try to remember to make sure he brings back enough German chocolate and Belgian beer for everyone.

Do David Stark a Favor, Name His New Puppy


There are a million contests centered around design out there, but among the good ones, many are either residing in murky spec territory, extremely crowded, or just seem slightly blah. We will share none of those with you, because we only delivery posts of the finest quality. That said, here’s the greatest design contest ever: name David Stark‘s new puppy. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a “design” contest and maybe more of the “sort of kinda branding” variety, but Stark is a designer, so that seems to fit. What’s more, he isn’t any old designer, he’s the guy we recently crowned “King of Event Design.” He’s put together gigantic, amazing spaces for events like numerous National Design Awards, the New Yorkers for Children Gala, West Elm openings, etc. So you wouldn’t just be naming an adorable puppy (which should be prize enough, you louts) but should you win, you’ll also receive bragging rights, so the next time you find yourself at one of his events, you can tell your slackjawed friends, “Know the guy who did all this? Yeah, I named his puppy. No big deal.” You’re welcome, America.

Auction-Failing T. Rex Finally Sells, Should Appear in Museum(s) Soon


While we may have been running far too many stories these past couple of weeks about the thrilling world of license plate design, let’s remember that we already officially claimed that 2009 is “The Year of Dinosaur Sales.” And despite our faith getting wobbly back in early October, worried that maybe the dinosaurs weren’t actually selling all that well after all, we have now been reassured. It’s being reported that that very belief-shaking T. Rex skeleton that hadn’t sold at a high-profile Las Vegas auction early last month, has now found someone to buy it. And to the tune of somewhere above $5 million. To an unnamed buyer no less, according to the AP. Here’s more:

An auctioneer says a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex that failed to sell at auction in Las Vegas last month has been bought by a private buyer who intends to have it displayed in a museum.

Tom Lindgren of auction house Bonhams & Butterfields told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the buyer is talking with several museums in North America.

Out of Office: Be Back in a Few Weeks


Just a quick note, dear readers, that this writer is headed back out of town for a couple of weeks to finish off the documentary project that took him to China back in May. This time around, we’re headed somewhere far more foreign and exotic: Iowa City, Iowa. This writer will return, corn-fed and tender, just like any steak you’ve ever had in Iowa, ’round about October 23rd. Until then, we leave you in the capable, friendly hands of Ms. Stephanie Murg.