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Archives: July 2006

Photoshop Gets Into the Wrong Hands, Terror Ensues

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Allow us to indulge our Hollywood roots, just for a moment, as we admire this stunning showcase of the potential of commercial graphic design software. US Weekly, always the visionary of the tabloid world, has created this fake cover to showcase their photo-editing skills in imagining what celeb spawn will look like in 2026. They even hired “forensic imaging specialist Joe Mullins” to help create the professional-grade “If They Mated.”

But wait–that’s not all. Technology has also allowed for the time-lapse “morphing” of these children with well-groomed eyebrows into adult celebrities. We’re not sure how this will be useful to your design work today, but you could always show this to your parents as yet another example of “what you do.”

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We Can’t Pronounce It, But We Love It

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Living up to their promise to showcase “emerging design talent across an array of disciplines,” SFMOMA mounts a number of exhibitions like this one: “Xefirotarch/design series 4,” featuring the LA studio Xefirotarch.

These kids take blobitecture to new sci-fi heights, making for a fantasyland of forms that’s every bit as visually dramatic as “Alien,” but prettier. It all seems to tell a story: there are prickly skeletal shapes that look like otherworld carcasses, and shimmery animations that recall encounters with intelligent life. Their use of sleek materials, almost all in red, white and black, makes it even more surrealist and scary–they render red Ferrari paint into what feels like drops of blood (the piece is even called “Sangre,” and you can take a guess at what that means). It’s the perfect companion, actually, to the Matthew Barney show upstairs.

If you can’t make it to SFMOMA, pick up the book.

What Do Bjork and Petroleum Jelly Have in Common?

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Lucky enough to be in San Fran for a day, we made our way to SFMOMA for the Matthew Barney show “Drawing Restraint.” This is a project he’s been working on since 1987, subjecting himself to all kinds of physical limitations while making art in the ultimate exploration of “artist as athlete.” A large-scale installation-in-progress has him sketching while rappelling down the museum’s inner atrium.

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Another room explored sporting-like rituals in Japan with photos and drawings of whalers and fishermen (and, yes, his muse and wife, Bjork) and weird sculpture forms like the excavation of a whale carcass from petroleum jelly in huge shuddery blocks. This interactive feature from SFMOMA answered some of our questions–we get the jelly-oil-whale connection and plastic-lubrication-athleticism link–but in the end we were most thrilled–and haunted–by a film of wrestling minotaurs duking it out in the baby-blue interior of a limo.

London: Where The Smokestacks Puff Rose Pedals And The Cars Run On Love

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Proving once again that, if you want to “go green,” you’d be wise to pack your bags and head to Europe, where the phrases “progressive” or “environmentally-concious” aren’t considered dirty words, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, announced earlier this year that he’d like to start forming an “eco city” in a section of the city. Powered by the wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, creating something as close to zero emissions as possible, the place would have 1,000 homes to start, then hopefully growing into something more substantial. Here’s some more:

Livingstone made the announcement while in China reviewing plans for Dongtan, a city which will be powered by renewable energy. Located on the island of Chongming at the mouth of China’s Yangtse River and designed by Arup, Dongtan is being planned as a self-sufficient community for 500,000 people. Its first phase for 80,000 residents will be complete by 2020.

To Build A Better Plastic Box

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This writer hasn’t made any sort of “switch.” He works on PCs at home and at the office, but also works on Macs, at the home and at the office. While he feels both have strong points, there’s never been, nor will there ever be, that weird, rabid allegiance to either side. But, if there was one mention of a big weekness in either camp, it would certainly be on the PC end in terms of design, both inside and outside the box. While everything in Windows is wonderful to use (that’s right, he just said “wonderful”), the design is famously clunky and uninspired. And that’s what made this lengthy article in Business Week, “Microsoft, Design Guru,” so interesting, because it’s about the company’s desperate attempts to right all their design wrongs with this new, one-day-to-be-finally-released operating system, Vista, as well as trying to influence the makers of PCs. Clearly bitten by the OS X and iPod bugs, they’re eager to start being a part of products that look nice, feel nice, and stay nice. Here’s some:

So far, microsoft is using a soft sell with PC makers. The Windows Vista Industrial Design Toolkit, hand-delivered to about 70 designers, contains everything a PC maker needs — color palette, suggested materials, even graphics for icons and power buttons—to create computers, laptops, and peripherals that hew to Vista’s look. A separate booklet exhorts hardware makers to eschew drab, utilitarian boxes. Microsoft is providing the toolkit for free and vows not to strong-arm any company into incorporating the concepts.

Update: though it appears as some, like Brian Phipps over at Core77, see this whole thing a little differently.

Cape Town Gets The Ball Rolling

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Geez. We’re slowly picking up on that thing we in the US kept hearing during the World Cup: the rest of the world can’t get enough of it. Hence why, it seems, every couple of days we’ve been finding reports about the 2010 games, even before these last ones were over with. But that’s neither here nor there, as, even if you don’t like football, soccer, or as we call it, “roundy kicky ball,” building six brand new, gigantic stadiums in South Africa to prep for the games (heck, building multiple really big anythings in four years) is interesting news. That said, the first look at the big idea for the Cape Town stadium, while will seat over 68,000 people, was just unveiled this weekend. Not blueprints or a model or anything, just some artist’s renderings of the thing. Only found this one possible look at the drawing, but if you do find yourself at the Cape Town Civic Centre, the article does state that the rezoning report is now available. On your flight over to go take a look, in addition to us talking about them a few weeks back, here’s a story about gmp, the architects who are working on the new stadiums.

WSJ Jumps On Design Bureau Bandwagon

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WWD reports that the Wall Street Journal is adding a fashion and design bureau:

The beefed-up coverage won’t become a separate section in the paper, though it will be given its own name and there will be fashion and design articles every day the Journal appears, according to Journal sources.

Okay, well, maybe it will be a little more “fashion” than “design”:

In response to questioning from WWD, Journal publisher L. Gordon Crovitz issued a statement Monday afternoon, calling female Journal readers “the most affluent and most influential, style-setting women, and we’re delighted now to be able to serve them even better with our expanded coverage.” He added that the Journal readership purchases “more women’s fashion items than do all the readers of the women’s magazines–combined.”

Wow. Actually, we’re most excited about seeing how they get someone like Donatella Versace into stipple.

More News From That White House Brunch You Might Have Heard Of

The Cooper-Hewitt just released two more photos from the respectfully boycotted National Design Awards reception with Laura Bush on July 10.

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Mrs. Bush poses with the 2006 National Design Awards Winners in the Blue Room, July 10, 2006. From left: Michael Gabellini, John Hoke, Maria Cornejo, Paul Warwick Thompson, Syd Mead, Mrs. Bush, Paolo Soleri, Paola Antonelli, Thom Mayne, Martha Schwartz. White House photo.

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Mrs. Bush poses with the 2005 National Design Awards Winners in the Blue Room, July 10, 2006. From left: Sergio Palleroni, Eva Zeisel, Burt Rutan, Mrs. Bush, Isabel Toledo, Paul Warwick Thompson, Ruben Toledo, Richard Gluckman. White House photo.

2005 and 2006 winners also missing from the photos:

Bill Stumpf
Katherine & Michael McCoy
Anyone from Patagonia
Diller, Scofidio or Renfro
Ned Kahn

Were they busy…or boycotting? According to this article from the Washington Post, Thom Mayne attended the brunch prepared to air his grievances about the administration–but didn’t have a chance to:

A leading practitioner of “green” technology, Mayne says he was eager to respond to Laura Bush personally but didn’t get the chance.

“I was next in the receiving line when they pulled her away,” he said. “I was going to say to her: ‘You should encourage your husband. This administration isn’t exactly famous for that.’ ”

“Design Matters” Named to Top 100 Podcasts List

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After covering the radio appearances of Jim Coudal and Steven Heller this week, we couldn’t believe the good audio-meets-design news we heard today. Debbie Millman wrote to tell us that her show, “Design Matters” was named as one of the Top 100 Business Podcasts by iTunes–number 55, to be exact. And with some brief UnBeige analysis, we discovered not only is it the highest-rated design podcast in the Business section, it’s the only design podcast listed in the top 100.

Congrats to Millman and all her guests this past season. We had fun listening in.

The Only Game to Ever Take the #1 Position of Free Cell

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Please allow this writer to geek-out for a minute. Back in, geez, probably more than a decade and a half now, this writer didn’t play too-too many video games, except for his wild obsession with anything Lucasarts put out. They were amazing games, these whole complex stories, with rich animation, incredibly clever writing, and a level of intelligence that you really weren’t getting anywhere else in that gaming climate. The best, greatest, of all time was Sam and Max, this weird game about a dog and rabbit detective squad. Just riddled with absurd, non-sequitors, it spoke to every sensibility this writer needed speaking to, and is likely one of the reasons for who he has developed into today (someone people don’t like to be around). So, with that sort of introduction, it goes without saying that we were super happy to read this interview with Dave Grossman, the Senior Designer on the upcoming, very long-awaited sequel, Sam & Max: Season One. It’s terrific and, if you’re at all a fan, will likely make you drool with anticipation.

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