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Archives: August 2009

And Then There Were 20: Dyson Award Semi-Finalists Announced

gesticulating dyson.jpgThe plot thickens as the competition thins for the 2009 James Dyson Award, which challenges industrial design students (and recent graduates) from around the world to “design something that solves a problem.” A panel of Dyson design engineers has narrowed the field of 200 projects to 20 semi-finalists. Representing the United States is Nicholas Riddle‘s Prio Paper Cast, a woven paper splint for use in disaster response. The lightweight cast packs flat for easy shipping and storage, and can be installed in minutes with no prior experience. “The inspiration behind the Prio Paper Cast project comes from our current issue with packaging, both in over-use and over-abundance,” noted Riddle in his entry, which included this video. “Instead of looking at this issue in a derisive way, I identified the ubiquity of packaging materials around the globe which opens up the possibility that certain products could be created anywhere in the world, inexpensively and quickly.” Now it’s up to the international judging panel (Axel Enthoven, Frank Tyneski, Stephanie Watson, and Yoshiyuki Wada) and, ultimately, James Dyson himself to decide how Riddle’s cast stacks up against the other semi-finalists, which include an ergonomic wheelchair brake from Ireland, a folding electrical plug from the United Kingdom, and “Khumbu,” a backpack for carrying skis—from Switzerland, of course.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Braille Label Maker Named U.S. People’s Choice Winner in James Dyson Awards
  • James Dyson Awards Releases Very Lengthy Shortlist
  • Dyson Awards 2008: A Rake’s Progress
  • Dyson Awards 2008: Smart Biking Gear Takes Top Honors
  • Quote of Note | Tobias Frere-Jones


    “We see type as the clothes that words wear. You have more than one outfit in your closet, because you don’t wear the same thing to the office that you wear to the beach.”

    -Tobias Frere-Jones, designer of more than 500 typefaces for retail publication, custom clients, and experimental research

    Miodrag Mitrasinovic Is Strategic Choice for Parsons Deanship

    Miodrag Mitrasinovic.bmpIn a move that makes Parsons the easy winner of the “Coolest Named Dean” competition, architect and scholar Miodrag Mitrasinovic will take the helm of its School of Design Strategies (SDS). The school—one of five at Parsons—addresses the intersection of cities, services, and ecosystems through undergraduate programs in integrated design, design and management, and environmental studies, and is developing a slate of graduate programs in fields such as design management and urban design studies.

    “I am deeply confident that in this new position Miodrag will successfully lead the ongoing development of the School of Design Strategies,” said Parsons Dean Joel Towers, who led the formation of SDS. “Miodrag is highly qualified for this role. He is a significantly accomplished academic, has provided invaluable service to Parsons and The New School, and brings a collaborative, respectful, and visionary personality to the job.” Plus, among his recent architectural achievements is designing Belgrade’s first Montessori school, complete with a novel modular furniture system. Mitrasinovic, who previously served as chair of urban and transdisciplinary design in SDS, will hold his new decanal post until January 2011.

    A Quick Tour Through the Empty Holes of Unfinished Architecture Projects


    Remember back in April when we were finally given the very-usable phrase “Accidental Architecture,” refering to buildings that were never fully completed? Or our post last December talking about Nick Paumgarten‘s New Yorker piece, “The Pits,” about what NY would look like once the financial crunch had fully taken hold and construction stopped throughout the city? We bring these refreshers back up as we return to both topics in turning to John Hill‘s always fantastic A Daily Dose of Architecture, as he recently took a tour to check out what was supposed to be built, but hasn’t yet. It’s a small handful of “what could have been” shots of walled-up non-construction and one, Norman Foster‘s Sperone Westwater Gallery, falling into that “what might be, but not any time soon.” It’s a great way to put a face to what’s happened to big architecture during this economic fall from grace.

    Andrew Bernheimer Responds to Nicolai Ouroussoff ‘No Good Architects Left in NY’ Claims


    Design fight! We’re getting as sick of this whole Prince Charles Vs. Modernism thing as much as you are, so we were really hoping for some other battle to spring up, like those glory days of Cannell vs. Moss earlier this year. Fortunately, the internet has delivered and we are given a classic “Who Hates Nicolai Ouroussoff Now?” (part of an ongoing series). This time, it’s Andrew Bernheimer over at Design Observer responding to the NY Times‘ critic’s recent piece about how, with the death of Charles Gwathmey, New York is now lacking in brilliant architects and architectural thinkers. In response, Bernheimer presents a solid list of talent throughout the city, claiming there are even “more than I can name here.” He asks that Ouroussoff get off his pedestal of gloom and instead starting spending a little more time looking around him to see what’s out there. Granted, it’s not the most vitriolic argument, with absolutely no cursing and hardly any instances of Bernheimer writing “I hope you choke, jerkwad,” but in dry patches like these, when everyone seems to be kind of getting along, we’ll gladly take it. Now the real issue at hand is to see if this response is enough to get Clark Hoyt to apologize.

    Study Finds Consumers Like Beating Designers at Their Own Game


    It’s not available online yet, but the latest study from the Journal of Consumer Research sounds like an interesting one. It’s C. Page Moreau and Kelly B. Herd‘s “To Each His Own? How Comparisons to Others Influence Consumers’ Evaluations of their Self-Designed Products” and the press release associated with it says it looks into how consumers enjoy rejecting professional design in favor of things of their own creation. The researchers also report that “consumers enjoy intentionally competing against professionals.” So not only does the buying public like to make its own stuff, it likes to flaunt that in the face of working designers? Seems like an interesting bit of research. However, though we haven’t read the study yet, we’re a little concerned about its definition of “design,” as the press release seems to infer that people like working purely with the aesthetics (in this case, “skins” are mentioned several times) of an object, which is certainly not the only thing “design” does in “design.” Does your average Joe like researching the best types of thread to use to stitch together those shoes? Or the most usable build of that MP3 player’s operating system? Sounds as though the study is really about consumers like being given the illusion of “design” by a product’s creators by letting them tinker around with the base aesthetics. But, again, this is just reading into the press release. We’re eager to read the full piece.

    Vicki Goldberg Takes a Closer Look at Farrah Fawcett

    mcbroom.jpgWe once complimented a historian on the photo captions in his latest monograph. Each one, we explained, revealed information that wasn’t in the main text and made us scrutinize the photo anew. “Bravo on the close reading!” When he greeted our compliment with a quizzical expression, we ran for a Vicki Goldberg essay to help explain the postmodern turn of phrase, born to the world of literary theory and now used to describe a thorough analysis of any creative work. Goldberg is a master close reader. In the September/October issue of American Photo, she turns her attention to the Bruce McBroom photo of Farrah Fawcett (above) that sold millions of posters and made Fawcett a star. Watch and learn:

    In the 1976 poster, her bathing suit coolly covers her, but her erect nipple turns the heat up. She radiates high-voltage good health, with a smile so large it could rival the white keys of a piano. Her extravagant hair, which inspired women all over the map to try (and fail) to match her allure, broadcasts female sexuality, as abundant hair always has. And the Indian blanket behind her, a seat cover grabbed from his car by Bruce McBroom, the photographer, tilts the image toward a symbol of the All-American young woman—a yankee Venus transplanted from Olympus to the walls of a dorm near you.

    This Weekend: InDesign 101

    indesign.jpgWant to add InDesign to the list of skills on your resume (after “Adobe Illustrator” and “British accent,” and before “shuffleboard”)? What are you doing this weekend? That’s when the mothership is hosting “InDesign for Designers,” a class in New York City for designers ready to make the switch to Adobe’s page-layout flagship. Art director and graphic designer Patricia Ryan will guide you through InDesign’s myriad features and capabilities to get you up and running quickly. And by the end of the weekend, you’ll be able to lay down an Inner Glow, an Outer Glow, and a Drop Shadow with the best of them. Click here to learn more and register.

    Oldies But Goudys: An Online Tribute to Type Couple Fred and Bertha


    We’ll admit to a protracted love affair with Goudy Stout (Jason Castle‘s recreation of the typeface that Frederic W. Goudy admitted to having created in “a moment of typographic weakness”) that endowed all of our high school papers with a festive circus air. Now typographer Goudy and his graphic designer wife, Bertha, are a few giant steps closer to immortality thanks to Goudy Fonts, a new web site that pays “tribute to two former bookkeepers who impacted American design and typography for all time.”

    Created by a team of Goudy fans at Ascender Corporation,” the site is much more than a virtual storefront of Goudy fonts and their derivatives. There’s a blog for Goudynews (including a downloadable version of Steve Matteson‘s recent TypeCon talk on the couple’s work) and a slideshow of Goudy artifacts, among them a rather creepy plaster cast of Fred’s right hand. In the collection of historical press clippings, we found a 1933 Time magazine report from a gala celebration in New York City to honor Goudy as the country’s greatest type designer.

    Read more

    Jim Jennings’s Splendor in the Sand

    (Joe Fletcher).jpgStuck in the office in these, the waning and steamy days of August? Who needs St. Tropez or a hideaway on the Cape when you have fresh episodes of Bravo’s Flipping Out (say what you will, Jeff Lewis has impeccable comic timing) and a stack of September issues (not to mention the film version, out in limited release this Friday)? There’s something for everyone in the latest Architectural Digest, which is devoted to Designers’ Own Homes. While we can’t quite fathom Timothy Corrigan‘s overhaul of an 18th-century Loire Valley château (“It had no bathrooms, no kitchen, no modern electrical system,” says the adman turned designer), we were utterly fascinated by Christopher Noto‘s Asian-infused Paris pied-à-terre and the striking Palm Springs retreat of architect Jim Jennings. With its intimate scale, painted concrete-block grid, flat floating roof, and nautical touches, the house conjures Donald Judd and Carl Andre on a yachting trip in the desert. Learn more and savor Joe Fletcher‘s smashing photos of the place here.