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Archives: August 2008

What Happed to Nokia’s Design Legacy?

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Quickie story that got us thinking. PC World has up this review of some new Nokia cell phone which quickly moves away from the phone itself and turns into a “what happened to Nokia?” piece, wondering how they transitioned so quickly from being one of the great design companies into an organization that hardly anyone talks about anymore (save for bad reviews like the one above). The puzzled review made us remember that feature in the New Yorker from a few years back, “The Phone Guy,” which was in part about designer Frank Nuovo, but largely about how amazing Nokia was, how much time and energy they spent on designing the perfect product, and how much research they put into to everything deep within their flashy futuristic offices. We have no answer at all (maybe it was Nuovo’s decision to leave in 2005?), but it does make you wonder what has happened in lo these few short years to this once former king of the industry.

NY Finally Begins Roll Out of New Streetlight Design

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The streets of New York are potentially about to get much brighter in the near future, assuming the city government doesn’t take as long as it did to approve the project. Four years after launching the City Lights Design Competition in 2004 to find a better method of street lightery, the Department of Design and Construction has selected the firms The Office for Visual Interaction and Lighting Science Group to begin installing and testing six LED streetlights in miscellaneous parts of the city starting in the spring of next year (because it’s only been four years, why rush things?). Here’s a bit about the lights:

There are more than 300,000 streetlights in New York City, the majority of which are based on high-pressure sodium technology. Replacing a commonly used 150W high pressure sodium lamp with the proposed LED lighting solution will reduce the energy consumption by 25-30% to an estimated 105 W per LED module, LSG says.

The winning design developed by OVI combines hi-flux LED technology with state-of-art lensing optics in a small oval-shaped profile, which provides the structural framework and heat sink for the LED modules.

If you’re hungry for more, NY1 has this video up about the new lights.

Tiger Woods’ Dubai Designs Unveiled

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We’d heard stirrings about Tiger Woods joining his celebrity brethren in getting involved in Dubai and designing homes, hotels and a new golf course (his first ever design) since ground was broken for the project back in February, but nothing had been released yet until, thanks to Archinect, we found the first renders (maybe real photographs?) of the whole layout for Tiger Woods Dubai. As a part-time, horrible golfer, this writer thinks the course looks great (even though they will never ever let him play there, and with good reason), and even the private homes and the hotel looks good. Maybe a little too much like a slightly gaudy, high-end strip mall in Southern California, but hey, Dubai has never been known for its moderation. And if you’re still hungry for more, the International Herald Tribune has additional info on where they’re at in the building process.

Extreme Makeover, the Los Angeles edition: Moving Richard Neutra

41775100.jpg Developer Barbara Behm says she feels like she’s been pregnant for the past three years, according to this Los Angeles Times article. Her baby? A Richard Neutra house, which she had moved from one part of the city of Angels to another, all in the quest to save the home, which the city declared a historical cultural monument in 2005 to keep the bulldozers away. But that wasn’t enough apparently because the homeowners Jeffrey and Karen Brandlin announced that they wanted to demolish the residence, which famed architect Richard Neutra designed in 1941 for Sybil and Charles Maxwell. Enter Behm, who purchased the home alone in 2004 from the Brandlins. All legal hurdles were cleared this year, and the architectural gem was moved this past weekend from the tony Brentwood neighborhood to Angelino Heights, near the downtown area. Once re-assembled and renovated, real estate firm of Deasy/Penner & Partners will oversee the house’s sale. Anyone want to live in a Modernist ranch-style house in a sea of multi-story Victorians?

Crafty Challenge Alert: $40 and less DIY Projects

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Hankering for a new sewing machine? Well here is your opportunity to win a Singer 8763 Curvy! Venus Zine has teamed with the sewing machine company to bring you the fourth annual Craft-Off. You need to have a great DIY gift idea which costs less than $40 to make. Here’s some of what the editors are looking for, according to the site:
“We’re looking for jewelry, clothing, home decor, furniture, bags, accessories, bath and body works, pet goodies, and whatever else you can think of. Try to come up with unexpected uses for objects, or put a new spin on an old favorite. Surprise us with your boundless creativity. The mission is to create gifts to give during the holiday season, but your project doesn’t need to be holiday-themed.”
The best entries will be culled from the submissions; their designers will be featured in the winter issue of Venus Zine. Deadline for submissions is September 18, so get moving!

Tweetle-dom: Follow Diana Vreeland on Twitter

Diana_Vreeland_05.jpg People use Twitter for all kinds of things, mostly to promote products, or most annoyingly, to hawk blog posts. There are a few who use it cleverly. Penelope Trunk is one. She doesn’t write often, but when she does her 140 characters really count. She gives you the inside scoop on something that’s happened in her personal or professional life. She recently revealed that she actually has an editor who reads her Twitter copy before she hits the send button. Who’d thunk it? Anyhow, the other smart Twit is Erin McKean, who in a matter of days managed to get more than 100 follows for her Diana Vreeland twitter. A little more than 20 hours ago she wrote: “Why don’t you … carry a stash of lollipops, to hand out to cranky grownups?” Of course, we always love to read the UnBeige twitter. Otherwise, how would we know that Pierce Brosnan dropped out of school at 16 to apprentice at a London graphic design firm?

The Emotional Side of Jean Nouvel

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Starchitect and notable bald person Jean Nouvel was the subject of the Guardian‘s most recent reoccurring feature, “Portrait of the Artist,” wherein the artist in question answers a few questions on a more personal, emotional level than the standard, “Hey, how’d the heck you make that art thing?” He talks about sacrifice, disappointment, early successes, and everything in between. And it’s accompanied by a photo of Nouvel peeking out from behind some multi-colored French sculptures, proving once and for all that he truly is an adorable sprite underneath that all-black clothing exterior. Here’s a sad bit:

Is there anything about your career you regret?

Not becoming a painter or sculptor. My parents refused to pay for me to study to become an artist, so I studied architecture instead. But my first major job was as architect for the Paris Biennale in the 1970s. It allowed me to work very closely with artists, and partly made up for that sacrifice.

Solving Bad Ballot Design

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A while back, during the endlessly painful primaries, we spent a little time talking about the various woes of voting ballot design. And now that we’re rounding the corner and getting into what’s sure to be an endlessly painful general election run, here we are back to talking about it. This time around, we look to the AIGA‘s head Richard Grefe and Design for Democracy‘s Jessica Freidman Hewitt teaming up for an entry over at the NY Times‘ Campaign Stops blog to try and get to the bottom of what’s wrong, design-wise, with ballots across the country. While the post itself doesn’t get to solving much, instead focusing on how messed up everything is, their extra interactive feature is wonderful, highlighting where the problems are on a sample ballot and then offering up solutions in how to fix it. While it all makes complete sense and you might find yourself looking forward to seeing some redesigns such as these, keep in mind that we’re talking about the government here, so don’t count on much changing.

Building a Better UFO Museum in Roswell

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If screwball lunatics can spend $27 million on building the Creation Museum, then we find it wonderful that there are plans in the works to spend $15 million on a museum we’d much rather visit and believe in: the new home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico (where else would you put it?). Architectural Record has gotten the first concept renders and has spoken to the team behind it, including the firm designing the building, Boston’s Ahearn-Schopfer Associates, to get all the nitty gritty on the interiors and exteriors about the place (and wow does it look great). And it sounds like they might even be able to pull the whole thing off, as this new building would mean the third time they’ve had to move due to ever-growing visitor demand to check the place out.

Sagmeister and Droog Have Something Brewing in Amsterdam

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We have no idea what Droog and designmeister Stefan Sagmeister are up to, but if you want to hop a plane and be in Amsterdam from September 14th through the 20th, they’ve put out a call for volunteers to help them with some mysterious project they’re collaborating on for the ExperimentalDesign conference as part of something called the Droog Event 2: Urban Play exhibition. Here’s some of the details of what you’ll be doing from Design Week:

Volunteers are now being sought to help create a text-based installation of 300 000 eurocent pieces, to be displayed along the banks of the IJ River in Amsterdam. The team will create a 40x20m text field in four shades of copper.

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