Archives: August 2005
The Guy On The Left Says Design Competitions Are Worthwhile. We’re Inclined To Trust Him. Obviously.
The ever-salient kids over at Design Observer have totally finger-pulsed on the culturescape with a piece on design competitions. We’ve always been all psyched about our logo contest. And all the competitions we tell you about. And encourage you to enter. Thinking it will make you famous and then, one day, some upstart blogger will interview you and ask “What were your inspirations?” and you’ll say “You know, it’s funny, but we really owe our phenomenal career to a little blog that could. We forgot its name. But we’re pretty sure it was really integral.”
The saving grace of design competitions, even at their most superficial and cosmetic, is that they return a bit of attention to something that’s become easy to ignore: the design artifact. Our work, in the end, isn’t about making manifestos or strategies or ideologies. All those things are important, but only in that they help make a real piece of graphic design that real people can experience. And those real pieces of graphic design, as empheral as they are, don’t have many homes other than these much-derided design annuals.
In short, it’s a historical design record.
I have no doubt that 50 years ago there were people who felt that the 34th Annual Competition of the Art Directors Club was silly, trivial, an empty exercise in self-congratulation. But because of that seemingly trivial exercise, today we have a record of what design was like then. If that’s not good for us, what is?
Explains a lot. About Spugbucket.
We know you’re all incredibly busy, spending hours and hours (some of you up to 60!) on our logo contest, but we thought we’d point you in the direction of another, even bigger redesign contest. Bigger only in that you get to do the whole website, not “just” the logo. Free-form radio station WFMU wants you. To redesign them. Deadline is the same as ours, September 1, and the prize is “two copies of ‘WFMU In A Box.’” Maybe you know what that means. Sounds nice, though.
We’ve been avid (rabid?) fans of the Daily Show since we realized that there was a saucy and packaged way to get the news that our country was going to absolute pot, but we lost our TV in our divorce. Thankfully, we have other packaged news (not quite so saucy) to turn to, to help alleviate the curiosity we’ve been plagued with ever since Michael Bierut told us about Jim Biber and Paula Scher’s redesign. Today, we found a nice big article that explains everything.
In keeping with a talk show that’s not a talk show, they scrapped the couch. Guests now join host Jon Stewart at an ovoid conference table, sitting on an Eames-designed Herman Miller Aluminum Group chair. Turn the sound down, and it looks vaguely like a crisp, sober sibling of Washington Week in Review.
“I thought it was important to get Jon more at the center of things, so that he was more clearly the epicenter of the visual set,” says Biber. “And to strip away a lot of the talk-show cues, like the couch. It’s not a talk show.”
The couch’s removal has spawned everything from a blog to bring it back, to one reviewer’s assertion that since the redesign, Stewart’s questioning had grown more probing and incisive.
Wait. So…design sometimes…can influence the way people behave???
Kids, our work here is done. Our polemical point proven, our raison d’etre revealed.
And for a second there, we forgot we’d signed our reality away.
Archinect, oh archinect, what happened? You swervelessly stopped pimpin’, starting making more connected, and now you’ve got features that even we, who are in some way nominally paid to read, can only skim the introductions of:
UpStarts is a series of features on the foundations of contemporary practice. It will have a global reach in which practices from Europe, North America, Asia, and beyond will be asked to address the work behind getting the work, and the effect of cultural contexts. The focus will be on how a practice is initiated and maintained. In many ways, the critical years of a fledgling design partnership is within the initial five years, after the haze and daze of getting it off the ground. UpStarts will survey the first years of practice as a tool for tracking the tactics of the rapidly evolving methods for sustaining a practice.
The interview, with Studio Sputnik, is actually interesting. Mostly the snooze hypothesis. Which looks cute and cartoony but is actually, like, in terms of the theoretical history of architecture thought, quite, well, adventurous in a way. Which is so typically cute and Dutch and Rem-y.
Then again, if Venturi‘s your only counterpoint…
A while ago, it seems oh-so-long, we informed you of the Architectural League’s sketchily open-ended call for entries, for “Architecture and….”. They followed this up with a call for wannabe rockstar architects, and just when we thought the good folks had finally lost their minds they sent out a short brief explaining that they had explanations. Seems there must have been some confusion, aside from the overarching “WTF???” that so many must have been thinking. We love the League, and we want them to have good stuff next year. Read the FAQs here and submit by September 12 to the Architectural League, 457 Madison Avenue.
We were starting to get nervous in between the Spugbuckets and the Freudian that we were going to have very little of any legitimacy to show our grand semi-incarcerated jury. Today, though, our trusty mailbox brought us a little something special. A logo, with an explanation. We’re so glad, because as visually astute as we are, we’re absolute dumbasses when it comes to articulating design through words.
We’re gonna give it a shot. We sense it must be something about how we are not beige. How being “unbeige” means that we’re the opposite of beige. So, maybe, the beige would be erased? Or, um, maybe we’re not supposed to read the beige part?
The strike-through of the word beige should be an obvious symbol and transforms the letters into a more interesting shape and form, somewhat tribal-looking, perhaps. The pink line signifies moving forward with the un-ning of the beige.
Un-ning! Obviously! We’re so embarrassed.
This weekend’s mammoth Gray Lady brought what at first glance seemed like a shockingly newsworthy story by none other than two-time WTC memorial competition entrant Fred A. Bernstein. In the wake of Thomas Shine’s lawsuit against SOM Goliath David Childs, it seemed the whole architectural profession might be taking a turn for the atypical, the entire gentilely understood process of “homage” and “reference” being taken for what it so often is: outright plagiarism. Bernstein writes:
When colleagues at SHoP/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli opened a copy of L’Arca magazine, they were struck by a proposal for a Marseilles, France, skyscraper by the architect Zaha Hadid. “We were shocked,” said Mr. Sharples, one of the firm’s partners. To their eyes, and those of some browsing the Internet, the tower bore an uncanny resemblance to one of their projects.
Mr. Sharples said he tried not to jump to any conclusions. Maybe Ms. Hadid had not see the SHoP project, he reasoned. But he assumed that someone had. “It could be one of her employees,” he said.
The project in question was a partition in a first-class lounge at Kennedy Airport. “It’s ridiculous,” Ms. Hadid said. “Do you really think I’m going to copy a screen in an airport lounge?”
But Gregg Pasquarelli, another SHoP partner, is standing his ground. “We’re talking about a leading figure in our profession,” he said, “and she at least owes us a phone call.”
Until we remembered that this all sounded kind of familiar to us. So familiar, in fact, that we remembered having written about it a few weeks ago. But that’s OK — we got our material from The Gutter (still waiting for the softball, kids), which we credited for having broken the story. Because that is how, in these rarefied journalistic circles, it is done.
We’re in the clear. But it looks like someone else forgot to do their homework.
And the Gutter is PISSED.
We started reading Lunar Park this weekend. Thirty-six hours later, help. We were fine with rounds one through four, but it’s started fucking with our reality a bit. Autobiography is one thing. Ellis-ography another. And we’re not even going to touch hagiography. Which is why we turned to the interwebs for a little solace. Something we could trust. Because Ellis is starting to freak. us. out. A street art photoblog, Streetsy, (via coolhunting) seemed like the perfect medicine. The realness quotient: photography? check. Street? check. Blog? double check.
We just bought ourselves ten minutes.
There’s some shit going down in New Orleans right now. Massive structural damage, according to CNN. Superdome, where 10,000 people who couldn’t get out are staying, got part of its roof ripped off. We’re not as up on it as we could be, but our, um, colleague over at fishbowl’s got a pretty tight sense of the minute-to-minute. We’ll return to regularly scheduled obscurity in a second, but for now, New Orleans-ites, our addled thoughts are with you.
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