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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Patton’

More Highlights and Reflections From Cause/Effect

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It must be some kind of record: 70% of the speakers at the one-day AIGA NY conference Cause/Effect brought us to the brink of tears. But until the end, we really weren’t sure why.

We even found ourselves pretty much speechless at one point. The presentation that went beyond words, meaning a blog post really couldn’t do it justice, was Alan Jacobson’s powerful work on a memorial in Rwanda as part of the Barefoot Artists program. Read up on the project on their site and don’t miss a chance to catch Jacobson present in person.

Although we missed Steven Heller‘s propaganda parade, Seymour Chwast‘s poster-rama and Mark Randall discussing the Urban Forest Project (catch coverage over at Core77), we have more detailed reports about Carin Goldberg, Bobby Martin, Frank Baseman, Phil Patton, Nicholas Blechman, Marc Alt, Scott Stowell, and Chris Hacker, who were truly all great.

All the young designers were stars. Seth Labenz and Roy Rub presented the fascinating results of their experiment “Uniting.” And the final panel of the day, a three-fer of social entrepreneurship had the always delightful Randy Hunt and his Amazing Project, and two extremely eloquent show-stoppers: Kristin Johnson‘s Practical Small Projects, bringing solar energy to Mali, and Lara McCormick‘s Stop and Start Over (another Sappi grant winner!), an addiction recovery site and community that’s designed to appeal more to the young audience looking for help.

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The only minor disappointment was the One Laptop Per Child presentation by Lisa Strausfeld. Cute as they may be, we got little, if any, insight into how the laptops really work, and we’re still not sure why the beautiful interface is appropriate for kids who have never used a computer, especially since a CBS News story showed kids easily using regular laptops. Also puzzling was that they did no testing of the interface with African kids. They had just gotten their shipment of laptops that day, so maybe they need to play around with them some more before presenting again.

But overall, the day was expertly assembled and orchestrated by chairs Mike Essl (who doubled as an on-stage tech guy) and Emma Presler (wearing a tres snazzy scarf). We noticed a similar thread running through both Cause/Effect and Designism 2.0 (without the “banal-retentive,” of course): The most striking projects were really not about design in the traditional sense, echoing Milton Glaser‘s sentiments at Designism about the dissemination being more important than the device. In fact, we thought, these people didn’t really act like designers at all. More like MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients, Nobel Prize winners, UN ambassadors. And that realization was simply overwhelming.

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Phil Patton and the Case of the Red Cross

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Another speaker at today’s Cause/Effect, Phil Patton expounded upon his AIGA Voice article “Whose Cross to Bear?” about the ubiquity and meaning behind that little red cross. So iconic is the shape that furniture and fashion have embraced it, and the cross itself has become pretty much the universal symbol for just about everything: Blue Cross, the green cross, the New Mexico flag. And then of course, you have the crossover from Swiss flags to Swiss Army Knives.

He reported on the ongoing battle between Johnson & Johnson and the American Red Cross over use of that iconic little symbol. Yes, J&J actually sued the Red Cross for the rights to use it earlier this year. The case hasn’t been settled yet, although we wonder if another of this afternoon’s panelists, Chris Hacker, in charge of design at J&J, can enlighten us on that.

A Very Good Week In NY This December

It’s getting to be that season again when all the naughties and nices you’ve accumulated during the last 12 months start to count towards your end-of-year rewards. And if you’ve found yourself a little heavy on the naughty, there is a chance to redeem yourself before it’s too late. Actually, two. If you’re in New York between December 13 and 15 you could attend two big-name events focused on socially-responsible design. After immersing yourself in so much do-gooding, maybe you’ll even get moved to the nice list.

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Designism 2.0, December 13: The second go-round of this now-annual event at the ADC features three sessions. First, SEE, a survey of young’uns making a difference: Ellen Sitkin, Andrew Sloat and Ji Lee, moderated by yours truly. Then, TALK, the panel of masters including Milton Glaser, Janet Kestin, Elizabeth Resnick, Tony Hendra, and Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff, moderated by Steven Heller. And finally, ACT, a real-life call to action by Idealist.org to start work on immediately. All details here (scroll down).

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Cause/Effect, December 15: This full-day student-oriented conference orchestrated by AIGA NY brings together a dozen voices explaining the effects of their design in action. Lisa Strausfeld, Phil Patton, Chris Hacker, Seymour Chwast are among the luminaries, and Steven Heller will moderate this one, too (the man is a machine). Registration is only open for students (AIGA members or not) at the moment, but will open to AIGA members on 11/26. All details here (including those nice illustrations by Brian Rea).

This Phil Patton Show is Too Hot to Handle

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Just after our Clearview Commitment Ceremony where we’ll be beginning our new polygamous lifestyle with everyone who wrote pieces about new freeway signage prior to last week, a related exhibition will open that features one of our significant others, Phil Patton, and his collection of–what else?–coffee cup lids:

Humble and ephemeral objects, coffee cup lids–collected from delis, java huts and gas stations–are thoughtful and complex in their design. As a new technologies ranging from computer-aided design and manufacturing to scientific analysis of the ordinary act of drinking have converged on such simple bits of circular plastic, the hot beverage lid has developed an astonishingly complex geometry. We present these lids disassociated from their everyday place atop your coffee cup in order to highlight the variety of visual and sculptural forms conceived by designers en route to fulfilling a utilitarian mission. Despite their practicality and function, many of the lids are delightful, even beautiful, to look at–small-scale sculptures that enhance our day-to-day experience.

“Caution: Contents Hot” runs from September 1 to December 1, 2007 at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Apparently We’re Also Marrying Phil Patton

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After our effusive praise and offers of lifetime commitment to Joshua Yaffa for his excellent piece on the Clearview-ification of our freeways, it should be noted–as it was noted to us–that the piece “Road Signs of the Times” also discussed the development of Clearview in the NY Times more than two years ago.

That author was none other than Phil Patton, who we will also profess our undying affection to right here in this very public forum. Phil, always know we loved you first.

John Margolies on Abandonded Gas Stations and Giant Freshwater Fish

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If in NYC, the Architectural League has another of its thought-provoking panels coming up tomorrow night, featuring photographer of Americana, John Margolies:

Over 30 years, John Margolies has logged more than 100,000 miles, and taken some 75,000 photographs of about 15,000 buildings, signs, storefronts, and other commercial and civic structures, relics of a disappearing, uniquely American landscape. He has always had an instinct for the exotic in the mundane, the dreamy and prideful and curious in the everyday. He records what most of us either fail to see or take for granted.

Some of those items include the aforementioned gas stations and giant fish, miniature golf courses, motels, movie theaters, and, apparently, parrots. If you think that sounds fun, how about this to sweeten the deal even more: Margolies will be joined by Phil Patton and Michael Bierut. 6:30pm, all information here.

The U.S.’s First-Ever Design Criticism MFA Program Is Official

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We heard that SVA would be starting a design criticism program about six months ago and now we’ve got the official word: “The Master of Fine Arts in Design Criticism will prepare graduates for careers as design critics, journalists, curators, educators and design managers, by providing the intellectual tools for researching, analyzing, evaluating and chronicling all aspects of design.”

The program will be launched in Fall of 2008 and will be chaired by UnBeige fave Alice Twemlow, with a pretty exciting thesis plan: An annual public conference dedicated to design criticism (could it be the first ever, too?), to be inaugurated in the spring of 2009.

And would you look at this faculty? Kurt Andersen, Paola Antonelli, Michael Bierut, Ralph Caplan, Peter Hall, Jessica Helfand, Steven Heller, Karrie Jacobs, Julie Lasky, Cathy Leff, and Phil Patton. We’d say those MFA candidates are definitely getting the best in the business.