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Archives: April 2006

Let’s Just Make Sure We Keep the Tophat and the Mustache

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This writer was always more of a Sorry person growing up. But when he got older, and once drinking was involved, he came to appreciate the fun of Monopoly. Particularly when a couple of friends, back home from other colleges, came by and introduced him to dozens of rules they’d made up (largely based on modified versions of Risk), wherein alliances were crafted, closed door meetings took place, and seven hours later, once the game was finished and all the yelling had ceased, most of us didn’t want to speak to one another for a few days. Well, that legacy is sure to continue, but in an announcement this week, it looks like, as is the trend it seems right now, the game is getting its first major facelift since 1935 and they’re asking players to help. Not so much with the redesign, which we’re anxious to see, but until May 12th, people can visit the Monopoly site and choose which old-timey places get the axe and what replaces them. Makes us a little sad, sure. But, eh, what are you going to do?

Emphasis Would Be Lost Without Him

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In the interest of saving face after that embarrasing Chalet disaster, we were digging around today and found a really good biography, as well as a handful of resourceful links, on Aldus Manutius, the publisher responsible for italics (it was actually Francesco Griffo who did all the work). And what luck, as this year marks the 510th anniversary of the release of the typeface, in a book by Roman scholar, Pietro Bempo, called De Aetna. So the next time you’re at the bar and typography talk comes up (which happens to us all the time, we swear), raise a glass to Manutius and Griffo. Then you should probably fake an excuse to leave, because everyone is going to look at you weird after that. Here’s some:

One of the many great talents working for Aldus was Francesco Griffo, a gifted type designer. Griffo created many innovative type designs that are still admired for their beauty and readability.

Their collaboration broke up over a copyright dispute, primarily over the ownership of the cursive type face that Griffo developed under the direction of Aldus. Although Aldus even had a papal decree to protect this style of alphabet, it was as difficult then as it is now to protect a typeface design. The alphabet was widely copied, and the style is known as italic, after its country of origin.

The wikipedia entry on Aldus is also really good. Turns out the guy also developed the semicolon. So he’s the one you can blame when you’re thinking, “When the hell do I use a semicolon?”

Virginia San Fratello Named NextGen Winner

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Virginia San Fratello is $10,000 happier tonight after winning Metropolis’ third annual Next Generation award. San Fratello, who is an architect and professor at Clemson University, will use the winnings to seed her protoype of the Hydro Wall, a concrete and thermoplastic architectural element that collects rainwater. Says Metropolis:

“This layered wall will facilitate solar collection, thermal storage, and supplement the existing water supply used in and around a building. Panels could be used in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. Fire stations could use the recycled water from the Hydro Wall to fill trucks. Schools and municipal buildings could use the water for heating and cooling, watering the landscape and as gray water for the building.”

The proposal will be featured at NY’s ICFF conference next month and featured in the June issue, out May 15.

They’re Good People

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After you’ve trundled through the job postings available on this very site, or if you’re looking for more items of the webbish variety, or if you want a highly qualified applicant who might be reading design blogs in his spare time, do check out the new Signal vs. Noise job board by 37signals. Since we checked yesterday, the number of listings has doubled.

The Few, The Proud, The Tupperware-ers

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In a case of perhaps the longest and most important sounding name for something that is, essentially, pretty silly, the Translations in Tupperware Global Design Contest is now accepting entries. Hitting all the major demographics, the contest is encouraging designers and tupperare enthusiasts to, you guessed it, make stuff out of their product. We love these kinds of things, because it seems more pure than other marketing efforts. Instead of cramming it down our throats “TUPPERWARE PRESENTS the beatles back together and on tour,” or a tv or print spot, and really not having any direct connection to their consumers, this type of silliness says, “Hey, here, use our stuff and make something absurd.” Or maybe it’s just because we like that maybe now our Tupperware parties will start having some renewed interest. Here’s the scoop:

The second annual Translations in Tupperware Global Design Contest invites consumers and designers from around the world to create a piece of art or unique functional product inspired by Tupperware. Channel your inner artist and create a Tupperware-inspired work of art that could send you-and your masterpiece to New York City! Inspiration may come from a sculpture, in the form of a painting, a functional product or a fabulous pair of shoes. All entrants are encouraged to produce original pieces that take Tupperware out of the kitchen and into the art gallery.

Applicants will compete for the chance to win a trip to New York City, a $5,000 U.S. cash prize and the chance to see their work included in a worldwide traveling exhibit, set to launch in 2007.

Deadline for submissions is Thursday, August 17th, 2006.

The top scoring entrant and one runner up entrant from each of the 28 participating countries will be selected by local Tupperware contest directors in each market.

Revolving Door: Lorenzo Apicella’s Transatlantic Transfer

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It’s not really a Revolving Door, more like a Relocating Door, since Pentagram partner Lorenzo Apicella is moving from the firm’s London office to the San Francisco office.

Apicella, an architect, has been working with stateside clients for some time, including projects for Citibank for seven years. He’s also worked on a bunch of places overseas: the Clear Channel/Adshel center in London, the Clore Center at the Natural History Museum in London and the Hong Kong Tourist Authority mobile pavilion. And he designed one place that’s both stateside and overseas. Give up? The snazzy interiors of Virgin’s first class cabin (which we hear are worth every penny of that $3700 ticket).

The Semi-Competitive Winners

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We’re big fans of the site Design is Kinky round these parts and were waiting with bated breath (actual, honest to god, bated breath!), to find out who had won their Semi-Competitive contest. Well, bate our breaths no longer, as the winners have been announced and they’re fantastic. We figured they would be, given that the judges included, among several impressive others, MK12, one of our all-time favorite mo-graf houses, and terrific artist, Paul Pope. Looks like the grand prize winner was a fella named Alex Soto (one of three of his winning entries is over there on the right of this very text). We also really dig Simon Westlake’s motion category winner, with its blend of a glitchy track, and a blend of cut-out and 3D work. Very nice. Do yourself a favor and check out the rest of the winners. And keep hope alive that they hold this competition again.

The Grandest Hoax of All Time (or of this week)

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Well this writer has been successfully had. From a post the other day, “A Typographer’s Biography,” which we’d written as a tribute to learning about a typographer we’d never heard of, doesn’t so much exist. An astute reader dropped us a line to say that Chalet, the typographer in question, is a complete fabrication of House Industries, who created the font. Had we scrolled down a bit beyond the first few congraluatory comments, and a batch that clearly also fell for the ruse, we would have discovered the error. But hey, we love the tricks as much as the next batch of design editors. Plus it lead us back over to House, which, of course, does some amazing work and whose catalog, when it arrives in the studio, is always immediately flipped through and oogled. And also back to this review in Speak Up about House’s beautiful hardcover book, which also mentions the hoax and turns this writer’s face a blushing red. Here’s that section:

I’m not always enamored with their packaging and promotional efforts, and the contexts they create for their typefaces are sometimes downright dubious. For Chalet, a modern sans serif similar to Helvetica and Futura, House created a fictional character named Rene Albert Chalet, a supposedly unknown and forgotten designer from the 40s. The idea was to show how ignorant most graphic designers are about the history and activity of type design. The hoax was pulled off so convincingly, with the type specimens containing quotes about Chalet by some of the world’s leading contemporary type designers, that most people believed the story, and some design magazines even printed articles about the font and its inspiration without ever realizing that Rene Albert Chalet was a fictional character.

I never quite understood what purpose this prank served. It doesn’t take much to pull off a hoax like this since typeface design already suffers from a great deal of anonymity and lack of understanding. You can tell people just about anything about the origins of a font and they couldn’t care less. This was made obvious by the fact that no one ever challenged or questioned the existence of Rene Albert Chalet and House’s claims that the design of Chalet preceded Helvetica by 13 years. Obviously Chalet owes much to Max Miedinger’s Helvetica and Paul Renner’s Futura. I would have loved to see House give these two giants the same kind of treatment they gave Big Daddy Roth and Benguiat.

How did we miss all of this?!

Jane Jacobs Dies at 89

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Urban planning activist Jane Jacobs died today in a Toronto hospital. A self-taught writer, Jacobs wrote some of the most formative books on planning and design, including The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Her quest to protect the public spaces in New York City became the mantra for modern preservationists around the world. This piece in the Seattle Times tells about her most famous battle: taking down city commissioner Robert Moses.

The McCoys, For Real

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Since it’s Husband-and-Wife Design Team Day, we’d like to throw another dynamic duo in the mix: Katherine and Michael McCoy will be appearing in New York tomorrow night.

“Design Discourse: An Evening with the McCoys” takes place at Cooper-Hewitt (wow, it’s a Cooper-Hewitt afternoon). You’ll remember that the McCoys won the Cooper-Hewitt’s first-ever Design Mind National Design Award last year. They’ll be discussing their methods with three former students (who are quite the little Design Minds themselves): Andrew Blauvelt, Jamer Hunt and Lorraine Wild.

Wednesday, April 26
6:30pm
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue

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