Brainy nonprofit TED is turning its passion for “ideas worth spreading” into slim volumes that it hopes readers will consider worth downloading. The technology, entertainment, and design mavens today launched TED Books, an imprint of short nonfiction works that will be available as Kindle Singles in Amazon’s Kindle Store. “TED Books are to Books as TED Talks are to lectures,” wrote TED curator Chris Anderson in an e-mail to the TED community. “They’re short, pithy, riveting. They’re designed to express a single big idea in a way that can be absorbed in a single sitting.” At between 10,000 and 20,000 words, TED Books fall between a TED Talk and a traditional book. They are priced at $2.99 each. The first three titles (pictured) are by TED conference alumni who detail an idea—promoting well-being on a national and personal level, a bold new world of human-directed evolution, and why you shouldn’t worry so much about the previous two ideas—alluded to in each of their talks. Six more TED Books are in production, and discussions with other authors are underway. Might we suggest that TED tap one of the design minds that have graced its stage in years past? The digital covers of the TED Books, which place their gesticulating authors against a spotlit black ground, have a goofy Sesame Street-meets-Instructional-Language-Video aesthetic that makes us flinch.
Archives: January 2011
The nominations are in for the annual Costume Designers Guild Awards. In the contemporary film category, voters will have to choose among leotards and a deranged ballerina’s progression from pinky to inky togs (masterminded by Amy Westcott for Black Swan), hoodies (Jacqueline West for The Social Network), bespoke suits, sans contrast collars (Ellen Mirojnick for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), and dream-infiltrating apparel (Jeffrey Kurland for Inception), or face the meta-choice: the glitzy stage costumes and clubwear of Burlesque, as designed by Michael Kaplan. Other familiar names among this year’s nominees include Colleen Atwood (for Alice and Wonderland) and Janie Bryant (for Mad Men), but it’s a dark horse in the final category—Excellence in Commercial Costume Design—that’s got us most excited. Michelle Martini is nominated for her brilliant outfitting of Maria Bamford in the role of a demented yet steel-willed mom training for holiday shopping in Target’s Black Friday commercials. Can a cherry red track suit paired with gumball pearls and heels best the costumes featured in the chic commercials of Chanel and Dior? We’ll find out on February 22, when the Costume Designers Guild reveals the winners at a gala in Beverly Hills hosted by actress Kristin Davis.
Do you like books and what’s in them, but don’t really have the time to read them yourselves? Do you wish that your book club only had another person in it and they did all the talking and were super smart about stuff? How about Los Angeles? Do you like that? If you answered yes to all of those questions (even if you didn’t, we’re still going to continue), then you’ll appreciate and enjoy the project the LA Times‘ resident architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, has just launched. Called “Reading L.A.”, he’ll be “reading through 25 of the most significant books on Southern California architecture and urbanism, moving chronologically and posting a series of brief essays as [he goes].” While the Los Angeles area has long been an easy punchline for catty people like us who live in well-known architecturally significant cities, that’s far from the truth. And if you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know what huge fans of Hawthorne’s we are, as should you be as well. His current plan is to read two books per month, and up first are 1927′s The Truth About Los Angeles and 1933′s Los Angeles. We can’t wait.
Somewhere, perhaps in a cave lined with turn of the century doll heads, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have gotten together to drink, weep, and scream, “Why didn’t we think of that?!” The “that” in question, of course, is a movie based on the life of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that a German-Australian financed production of a film about the artists’ life is preparing for production, with Alan Cumming in the title role and directed by Australian director, Philippe Mora (whose IMDb listing is a hoot, a mix of high-brow documentaries and slightly less cultured fare, like Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. While the film’s budget is low, coming in at a reported $15 million, the current plan is to shoot it in 3D, a variation on the stereoscopic images the artist himself enjoyed creating. Shooting is to begin this summer in locations around the world. Here’s a bit about the plot:
The screenplay unfolds not as a linear narrative but as a series of dream-like, fantasy sequences intersected with reality, and is profoundly evocative of Dali’s art. The story – not a bio-pic but without doubt a life story – begins with the painter in a hospital bed, recovering from near-fatal injuries after a house fire.
…Chronicled in the film are his friendships with his mentor, Picasso, and the poet Lorca, his bisexuality and obsession with Gala. He was also infatuated with the controversial singer and performer Amanda Lear, whose mysterious mix of masculinity and womanly beauty has intrigued Europe for decades.
Hot off the heals of landing the high-profile and much sought-after St. Louis Arch grounds redesign project, the world’s most famous living landscape architect, Michael Van Valekenburgh, has won another big commission. This time it’s a proposed wildlife overpass over I-70 near Vail, Colorado. The project might sound familiar back from a few months ago, when the finalists’ renderings of their inventive plans to safely help keep animals away from the busy road, were the talk de jour of the design-interested internet for a short while. Though the ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition project, as it’s officially known, is pure proposal at the moment, with Colorado saying it doesn’t have the money to build such a thing, if anything, it’s still a nice additional burst of publicity for a landscape architect who seems to be receiving lots of it on a very regular basis. Here’s the original video created at the launch of the competition:
Following their high-profile acquisition of artist David Wojnarowicz‘s controversial A Fire in My Belly, the MoMA has just added some more to its collection, with these pieces a bit easier to interpret (or at least, easier to read). This week, the museum announced that it has acquired twenty-three digital typefaces for its Architecture and Design Collection, ranging from Erik Spiekermann‘s FF Meta to Neville Brody‘s FF Blur (and before you wonder, yes, of course Hoefler & Frere-Jones‘ Gotham is in there too). Previously, as Alice Rawsthorn points out, Helvetica had been the only piece of type the museum had picked up for the department, lonely among a collection of nearly 30,000 objects, so it’s nice to see they’ve see the typographic light. Here’s a bit from the official statement, as well as some quick info on what they have planned for the new acquisitions:
This first selection of 23 typefaces represent a new branch in our collection tree. They are all digital or designed with a foresight of the scope of the digital revolution, and they all significantly respond to the technological advancements occurring in the second half of the twentieth century. Each is a milestone in the history of typography. These newly acquired typefaces will all be on display in Standard Deviations, an installation of the contemporary design galleries opening March 2 on the third floor.
It’s a very familiar and widely acknowledged fact that large retail chains, shopping centers and casinos design their floor layouts to intentionally try and guide consumers along a somewhat confusing path in order to keep them away from the exit and get them to see as much of their merchandise (or slot machines, in the casino’s case) as possible. They’re are varying degrees of this general irritation, but a team of researches at the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London has discussed a study they’re working on that has found that Ikea is perhaps the worst offender. Exits are hard to spot, the only easy-to-navigate paths push customers through every inch of the store, and because the layouts are so confusing, consumers fear they won’t be able to find an object again and wind up buying it just so it won’t disappear. While, again, there’s nothing altogether new there, particularly if you’ve ever spent any time at an Ikea, Alan Penn and his colleagues at the Centre have established that Ikea pushes the maze-like design to levels significantly above the average, having one of the most difficult sets of floorplans in the business. In their defense, a spokesperson for the company told the Daily Mail that they’re just trying to give consumers options and for those who already know what they want, they” have created shortcuts.”
Back in December, to mark the debut of the newly-opened Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, IFC Films was hired to make six short films/commercials profiling some of people and firms involved in the lavish luxury hotel’s development. We were particularly keen back then to talk up the first of them, which featured celebrated designer David Rockwell, who handled the design of many/most of the room interiors. Now we’re back to being keen again, with the fourth in the series, which profiles the work of production house Digital Kitchen in creating a number of video-based columns in the hotel’s lobby. They’re absolutely stunning, and we say that not just because we’re pals with the guy being interviewed about them (full disclosure: this writer has known him for years and now works at the same place he used to work). DK has put up some behind-the-scenes info on the project, as well as watchable versions of each of the panels. And here’s the IFC-produced video:
Generally and comparatively speaking, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art weathered the financial crisis of the last few years relatively unscathed. Sure, there was that big to-do about their cutting back on their film program, but that eventually died down (even though issues remained) and they ended 2010 strong with the opening of their new Renzo Piano-designed Resnick Pavilion (never mind the other news from around that time that they’ve also decided to stop planned expansions until more donations start coming in). Through the smooth and rocky points, right in the very middle of it for the past five years, was LACMA’s president and chief operating officer Melody Kanschat, who has been with the museum for more than twenty years in various capacities. However, that’s to come to an end soon, as the LA Times reports that Kanschat has announced that she will be leaving the museum in May. A reason hasn’t been given, other than that she plans “to fully explore [her] own career interests.” The paper continues, saying that the museum plans to reorganize over the next few months and the organization’s higher-ups will soon report to Michael Govan.
“The It Bag is a totally marketed bullshit crap. You make a bag, you put all the components in it that you think could work, you send it out to a couple of celebrities, you get the paparazzi to shoot just when they walk out of the house. You sell that to the cheap tabloids, and you say in a magazine that there’s a waiting list. And you run an ad campaign at the same time. I don’t believe that’s how you make something that’s lasting—that becomes iconic as a design.”