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Archives: July 2007

Even Though We Ain’t Got Money, We’ve Got Skills


Something tells us that as director of engineering for Smart Design, Eric Freitag hasn’t seen very hard times in the last few years. But life wasn’t always so easy, like when he gutted a Lower East Side loft by hand. Yesterday’s NY Times piece also includes the promise that Freitag made to his wife when they got married:

“I said to her: ‘I don’t earn a lot. I’m not going to be able to buy us a nice place to live. But I can build us a home. I have skills,’” Mr. Freitag recalled.

Spoken like a true designer.

Museum of Natural History, An Explanation for Two Years of Netting on 77th Street


If you’ve wandered by the American Museum of Natural History in NY recently, you’ve likely wondered what exactly they’re doing to it, given that it’s all strung up in nets. Well, the NY Times had this great piece yesterday about the current reconstruction effort, what it’ll look like when they’re all finished up with it in 2009 and, where the real meat of the story is, the entire history of the building process, starting back in 1888. Here’s a bit:

The museum’s consultant on the latest renovation is Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, an architectural and engineering firm with headquarters in Northbrook, Ill.

Timothy Allanbrook, a senior consultant at the firm, said that at least three different quarries — in New York State, Texas and Canada — had supplied the stone for the museum. This was understandable, he said, given the multiyear construction period.

Steven Reichl, a spokesman for the museum, said that the work would include restoring 650 black-cherry window frames and stone repairs using granite recently taken from one of the original quarries, in New York State.

The facade will be cleaned, Mr. Reichl said, “to make the stone look like it did originally” more than a century ago.

Full Review of Hadid and Flamand’s Dance Fever ’07


Following up on a story last week about the big Hadid-Flamand dance-off at the Lincoln Center Festival, “Metapolis II,” Apollinaire Scher over at Newsday has a full review of the piece. And, somewhat surprising to us, it turns out that Hadid gets all the high marks and Flamand’s choreography gets the harsh words. We just kinda figured it would be the other way around, given that Hadid was wandering around someone else’s turf with all this dance business, but we guess not. Here’s some:

Flamand, who has made a career of working with architects, cedes the space to his famous partner, who seizes it with megalomaniacal fervor. Besides an ever-shifting array of costumes in brilliantly odd color combinations and the constant rearrangement of the bridges (with the dancers doubling as stagehands), the back scrim never ceases its visual jabber. Letters fall like rain, space-age architectural models zoom in and out, carports go up in smoke and — most mesmerizing — live-camera feeds present the dancers in strange new settings.

On stage, a soloist may simply be wriggling on the floor. On screen, the floor becomes a tunnel of cars zipping by. Now a mermaid of the air, the dancer undulates mere yards in front of our windshield. Soon she will go splat! The live dancing can’t possibly compete with this drama.

Atlanta Puppetry Museum Amasses Entire Jim Henson Collection


The Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts has just announced that they’ve received the entire collection of Jim Henson‘s puppets. In order to house the more than 700 pieces they plan to display, they’re adding an entire new wing, which should be open to the public in 2012. It should be super cool and we’re already trying to come up with some excuse for why we’ll need to be in Atlanta five years from now. Here’s some:

A Kermit the Frog puppet is already on display at the museum. Other exhibits from the larger collection will be shown at the museum on a rotating basis until the new space opens.

The exhibition will also include character animation technology and experimental films such as the Oscar-nominated Time Piece.

Henson, who died in 1990, officially opened the museum 29 years ago with Kermit the Frog. The pair attended its 10-year anniversary in 1988.

Alec Rawls Still Fighting the Flight 93 Memorial


Just this past week we were thinking about a story we covered last year around this time, the fight by a lone man, Alec Rawls, to change the design of the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. We wondered what had happened since then and took a look. Turns out, Rawls is still at it and has spent the last year forcing the creation of advisory meetings, task forces, encouraged family members who lost someone in the crash to cry foul and requested research by professors of geospatial information sciences. He’s even written a book that is to come out soon, “Crescent of Betrayal,” which plays off the name of the memorial, “Crescent of Embrace.” He’s gotten his way in changing a few slight bits of Paul Murdoch’s original layout, but it looks like Rawls isn’t to get much more than that, as all of his theories and demands are no longer being reviewed and deemed nothing more than rants. To which we personally say, good riddance.

CITIZEN:Citizen Gets Creative


Our favorite cease-and-desisting design store-slash-gallery, CITIZEN:Citizen will start offering creative services in addition to its other integral role as a purveyor of gold-plated coke spoons:

We would like you help you tell your story, to provoke a response, to make a difference. We can do this through helping you create well placed marketing strategies, contemporary visual languages, making your conceptual thinking tangible.

Well, they’re certainly aces at provoking a response. CITIZEN:Citizen:Creative is now available for consultation on all your ideas, products and brands, even if they’re not drug related.

Adobe’s CS3 Interactive Wall Performs More Like Buggy Version of Photoshop 3.0


We were pleasantly surprised to see coverage of the newest component to Adobe’s “Creative License” campaign in the NY Times awhile back. The interactive wall, which launched July 13 in Union Square, allows people to move a scroll bar from left to right as the sound-enhanced graphics become more animated and colorful.

But over at Speak Up we learn that the much-ballyhooed interactive wall, which is the corporate branding accessory of the moment, is more Mac Paint than Minority Report. See this video review from a troupe of New York geeks who perform a stunning choreographed routine to demonstrate the wall’s features, followed by a very detailed and technical description by one bystander about how it works.

Young People, Just Hangin’ Out, Cuttin’ Loose and Not Talkin’ ‘Tech’


We love this Reuters story, which we found by way of PSFK, “Young Keep It Simple in High-Tech World.” Read it and try not to release a smug little laugh. The short and sweet of it is essentially, “Those young people are crazy!” It’s all about how a survey was recently taken that determined that the kids don’t use the stupid buzzwords we dumb adults concoct, things like “social networking,” that they don’t really think about “tech” stuff very much because it’s so ingrained in their lives and that they still enjoy doing other things like socializing in real life and watching tv. Not to be mean, but it’s sort of a big “and?” sort of story. Though you sort of have to figure that somewhere, at some company, this article is being printed out and passed around, later to be discussed at a meeting wherein the big focus is “this scares us, because we believed the young people were always jacked in to the cyberweb.” If your company is having one of these meetings, please, please, please invite us. We’d love to sit in.

Leeser Architecture Wins a Trip to Siberia


We don’t know about you, but the one thing we always look forward to doing over the weekend is learning about permafrost. So it’s understandable that, in a couple of years, we’re going to plan a quiet little getaway to Siberia to visit the World Mammoth and Permafrost Museum. The site Building is reporting that NY architecture firm, Leeser Architecture, has won the design competition to build the museum and will be heading out there soon to start the process of putting it together. Here’s the scoop:

Features in the building, which will sit at the foot of the Tchoutchour Mouran hill in the city of Yakutsk in the Republic of Sakha-Ya, will include a super-insulated double-glazed wall with filled with an energy conserving gel which traps gas and slows down the transfer of heat energy.

Facilities for visitors include shops, auditorium, conference rooms, media library, exhibition spaces, and a cafe in an indoor garden.

Other archictects on the shortlist included American firm Antoine Predock, Italy’s Massimilio Fuksas and SRL from Denmark.

Vinh and Coles Talk FontBook


The perfect, quick read to get this Friday morning started off right. Over at Khoi Vinh‘s site, he sat down and talked with Typographica‘s Stephen Coles all about the holy bible of typography, the massive and beautiful FontBook. We won’t waste your time jabbering about it, so you can get right into it, but here’s a little to taste:

Most digital type specimen books are temporary catalogs of a particular foundry. House Industries, Typotheque, and Emigre produce some excellent booklets for their font collections. “FontBook” is unique in that it compiles the typefaces of these and ninety other foundries into one objective reference. This allows the editors to be systematic in how the book is organized. Sans, serif, slab, and display typefaces are grouped together so you can find and compare fonts based on their characteristics, rather than the way they were released or promoted. There are also cross-references for almost every typeface to help you find designs that are closely related and discover new stuff.

And unlike the foundry catalogs, “FontBook” is intended to be a permanent part of a design library. It’s hardcover and very heavy. It makes an excellent door stop. Erik Spiekermann uses it to weigh down the scanner lid when scanning books.