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Archives: August 2008

Feed Your Brain with Photoshop Fundamentals

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Our friends over at the learnin’ side of mediabistro have just let us know about a valuable class running out there on the east coast in NY that should help increase your smarts by at least a factor of ten. It’s the Fundamentals of Photoshop for Mac workshop, aimed for beginners and it runs for two days, Saturday, September 6th and Sunday, September 7th. They’ll go over all the things you’ll need to learn to get up and running with Photoshop, so you can start inserting your family members into old Soviet era photographs (or perhaps something more practical, but that’s really up to you, isn’t it?). What’s more, if you enroll in any mediabistro class in September, you’ll get a free one-year AvantGuild membership, which is beyond worth it (just hurry because that promo runs out on August 31st). All the details on the class can be found here.

Chicago Fashion Designer In The Spotlight at Democratic Convention

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Michelle Obama is on the front pages of scores of newspapers after her speech at the Democratic Convention. Many have raved about her dolmain-sleeve dress which is by Chicago fashion designer Maria Pinto, who has opened a new store in Chicago’s West Loop this month. Here’s what the Los Angeles Times’ Elizabeth Snead wrote: “First off, the dress, thankfully not a skirt suit, was sleek and minimal. The hem length was appropriate, but not dumpy. It had a flattering V-neck with three quarter-length sleeves that made Michelle’s broad shoulders and strong arms look less threatening. And the teal blue color coordinated nicely with the blue/violet hues of her daughters’ outfits.” Amen.

We’re thinking Obama has finally made Pinto, a long-time mainstay in the Windy City design community, a national name in households across the nation. It’s about time that Cynthia Rowley, another Illinois fashion designer who has hit the big time with all her stores, products and books, has gotten a little competition. Can a perfume named Maria be far behind?

One Product Behind Dara Torres’ Success

bilde2.jpg So perhaps you watched Dara Torres last night, dazzling in a sleeveless white sheath on “The Tonight Show”, chatting up post-Olympics life with Jay Leno. You might also know more than you care to about the unique and rigorous stretching regimen she uses to keep limber and lithe. But did you know about the Power Tower? You didn’t see it at the Water Cube in Beijing or even in Singapore where Torres trained prior to the Games. But she and other champion swimmers use the tower, a 9-feet tall aluminum machine with cables that attach to two 20-gallon barrels and a pair of swimmers. When the swimmers move away from the apparatus, they lift the weight of the water in the barrels. Resistance can be altered by fine-tuning the water levels in the barrels. Frank Busch, head swim coach at the University of Arizona, created the machine. He brought the idea to Ontario High School Coach Sam VanCura, who builds it and markets it.
Olympics coach Mark Schubert apparently wanted the Power Tower for his swimmers, alas it couldn’t clear customs in time for his team. Still Janet VanCura managed to get Torres to send her husband a personal birthday card in time for his 60th birthday party. Isn’t that sweet? In any event, we’re hoping that more mainstream swimmers get a chance to use this special equipment in their own quest to get more fit.

Step On It: Design and Sell Your Own Custom-Designed Shoes

keds.jpg Consumers can design their own custom Keds Champions classic canvas sneakers on Zazzle, where they choose colors, add photos, graphics and text for a pair of shoes unlike any other. Wait! There’s more: They can also select from an array of colors for different sections of the shoe, as well as details such as stitching, binding and lining. That’s not all. These same customers can upload, drag and drop their own artwork, graphics and text to their design. Can’t think of something unique on your own? Pre-made designs from artists such as Sarah Singh and Gen Art will be up for grabs; each month a series of limited-edition designs will also be available. We’re thinking these shoes would be a great way for some of the more well-known bloggers out there to establish their brand in a way that custom tee-shirts can’t. They’d be fantastic for family reunions or groupies who want to walk the walk and not just talk. One last thing: these sneakers can be sold through the Zazzle Marketplace.

Profiles of Designers Off the Beaten Path: John Peterson and Lebbeus Woods

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A quick couple of interesting profiles to share. First from the Boston Globe about John Peterson‘s non-profit firm Public Architecture, which bucked the trend on the path to starchitecture by going after clients with needs instead of money and have begun building an empire of goodness, employing a real, observable method of using design for social justice, instead of just talking about it or building mega-yachts. Here’s a bit:

…what Public Architecture and groups like it are after is also distinctly new. They are challenging their entire profession to take the high design standards usually reserved for elite clients and systematically deliver them to society’s most vulnerable: to design hospital rooms that give the chronically ill a sense of control over their lives, libraries that will make children spend hours with a book, or simple structures that grant working immigrants new dignity. In other words, to convince ordinary people and those on the margins that architects don’t just make giant, radical shapes. They can make giant, radical change.

The second is far more quiet and insular. It’s the NY Times profile on Lebbeus Woods, the cult figure in design and architecture who would have Frank Gehry‘s career in unusual projects if anyone would build anything he had designed or if he had any real interest in his ideas being built in the first place. Instead, he seems relatively happy creating countless renderings of brilliant structures that will likely never see the light of day (save for selections in the “Dreamland” exhibition on now at the MoMA). Here’s a bit:

Architecture is big business today. While most of his friends and colleagues have abandoned their imaginary cities to chase lucrative commissions, Mr. Woods has shown little interest in building. Instead he continues to work at a small drafting table in a corner of his downtown apartment, a solitary, monklike figure churning out increasingly abstract architectural fantasies…

Job Listing: New Media Manager at Philip Johnson’s Glass House

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Years from now, you’ll look back at your wonderful new life and remember the little design blog that helped deliver it to you. Yes, for one lucky person, you’ll thank us profusely for pointing you toward this mediabistro job listing for a New Media Manager at The Philip Johnson Glass House. As you probably know, we talked ourselves to death about the house once it was re-opened last year and if you’re a design-y person, you can’t help but immediately begin to wonder, “Should I consider the move to New Canaan for this?” And of course you decide, “Yes, dear lord, yes, yes!” And hey, you could even move into the other Johnson house just down the street and you’d be doing Cristina Ross (and architecture in general) a big favor. So polish up that resume and send it along quick, as we’re sure this is going to be a red hot listing. Here are the details of the gig:

The Glass House New Media Manager will provide leadership to establish a new standard for how museums and historic sites can leverage the web to develop and launch new programs and audience building tools. The Glass House’s on-line scholarship, programs and forums will be central to becoming a “Center for Modernism” nationally for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and link directly to the organization’s web initiatives. This position will manage the overall brand for the Glass House, its design application across all media and print projects and develop and manage the marketing & communications strategies to enhance overall audience development.

Blair Kamin Offers Up a Quick Tour of Denver’s Architecture Highlights

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Now that our attentions have all collectively switched from China to Denver, what’s an architecture critic to do? If you’re the Tribune‘s resident man-about-buildings, Blair Kamin, you switch focus on a dime and offer up posts, both old and new, about what to look for in Denver when you aren’t trying to hobnob with politicos or escape from angry adolescent protesters. Starting with “Bye-Bye, Beijing,” Kamin kicks things off by talking about the old buildings, like Philip Johnson‘s One United Bank Tower (“the cash register”) and goes from there, even answering comments after the post by sending readers off to other areas, like his review of Daniel Libeskind‘s Denver Art Museum. He still doesn’t think too highly of Denver’s architecture scene, but he tries to highlight the things he likes. Here’s a bit going back in history (and tying in some local connections):

Looking for a Chicago angle? Our town’s Edward Bennett, co-author with Daniel Burnham of the 1909 Plan of Chicago, shaped Denver’s Beaux-Arts Civic Center Park, a visually striking but lackluster public space. And there are buildings by Chicago firms like C.F. Murphy and Associates (now Murphy/Jahn) and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

An Old Theater Grows in Brooklyn

618[1].jpg For more than 40 years, the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre has been used as an athletic gymnasium for Long Island University. Thousands of seats were removed in 1962 to make room for basketball games, which were, oddly enough, accompanied by the original Wurlitzer organ, one of the world’s finest, according to this web site. Now the university has announced that a theater will once again grace the premises since it has built a new athletic facility elsewhere. Apparently the grand lobby, now the student cafeteria, and the original ceiling remain, giving movie theater buffs hope that the building can be restored to its 1928 appearance. More on the theater, with a 1960s-era photo of the gym conversion can be found here.

A Wiki for Future Project Runway Designers

74bac8ebb2248b0128065311a014e711e24b18b4[1].jpg There is a wiki for just about everything these days. This writer knows about a vintage pattern wiki, so isn’t it timely to have one all about pattern-making? Interestingly enough, we found out Drittofilowiki by way of BurdaStyle, an open-source sewing web site where sewers and sewists can download patterns ranging from dresses to pants to bathing suits all for free. We’re thinking that there’s going to be a lot more free sewing patterns online as the cost of paper rises which may mean the 99 cent pattern sales at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Hancocks could go the way of the T-Rex. In any event, we think the pattern wiki is a good resource (it even has job listings)for designers who aren’t near a fashion school.

Not The Sartorialist

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This is Mary Beth Klatt, filling in for Stephanie Murg. Now a lot of you may have The Sartorialist on your Google Readers, but what about The Sortorialist? This French weblog is a spoof of Scott Schuman’s popular daily fashion photo commentary. Instead of seeing the latest runways as interpreted by leggy New York or Parisian models on the streets, you’re more likely to see mullets and thongs where they modestly don’t belong. We just hope that Sarto is amused, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Sorto should at least see a significant amount of traffic since his URL is only one letter different than his more famous counterpart’s.

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