Marking time on design
Two recent dealings with Australian companies have left a sweet taste in my mouth, and a feeling that there are still some businesses that stand behind their products.
MoMA exhibition archive online
The Museum of Modern Art in New York has published an online digital archive of the exhibitions it has mounted since it was established in 1929. It is a searchable collection of documents including lists of works, catalogues, press releases, and photographs of installations. The PDF copies of catalogues—including many out-of-print collectibles—are wonderful.
Hints for visitors
Taking off your shoes, before you go into a room, can change your frame of mind. That simple ritual can concentrate your attention on the space you are entering.
Visitors to Mission House at Kerikeri in New Zealand are greeted by a sign that says These are New Zealand’s oldest floors. They will last longer if you take off your shoes. I was happy to comply with that polite request, and to save the floor from unnecessary wear. At the same time, my feet were sensitive to the texture of the floor, which prompted a discussion with the museum guide about the English and Māori workers who had pitsawn those boards in the early 1820s.
John Smeaton, on working solo
I am committed to Continuing Professional Development. I try to keep up with the current technical literature. Just now, reminded by John Smeaton’s birthday, I have been re-reading his account of the design and building of the third Eddystone Lighthouse. It’s a big book, full of fascinating detail. He wrote it at the end of his long career, as he looked back on his most celebrated project.
He explains why he chose to work on his own during the early stages of his work. He was stuck in London between meetings with various important people, as he grappled with the problem of securing the lighthouse tower to the wave-swept rock:
I found this delightful German word in Oliver Reichenstein’s fine piece Learning to see. He writes about design that combines functional and aesthetic value—You don’t get there with cosmetics, you get there by taking care of the details, by polishing and refining what you have. This is ultimately a matter of trained taste, or what German speakers call “Fingerspitzengefühl” (literally, “finger-tip-feeling”). He adds a photo of Jan Tschichold to illustrate.
The new website I have been building for Rex Addison is now live.»more»
Headcounting at Camp Delta
I have just found Jonathan Corum’s Camp Delta web page, subtitled Nationalities of enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, the “legal equivalent of outer space”. The page is dated February 2004. Old news. But still current.
Corum has drawn graphics to represent each of the men detained at Guantanamo Bay, standing in groups according to their nationality. One hundred and sixty men stand by the flag of Saudi Arabia. Eighty-five from Yemen. Eighty-two from Pakistan. One each from Sweden, Spain, Kenya. One from Iraq. And so on, to a total of six hundred and nineteen.
Two figures stand beside the Australian flag—I know they are Mamdouh Habib (who was released in January 2005) and David Hicks (who is still at Camp Delta). There is one figure holding an American flag, but he is not a detainee.
I admire the graphics, but deplore the facts they represent.»more»
Chinese furniture joints
I’m grateful to Curtis Evarts for the information about classical Chinese furniture on his website, including some animated images showing how joints were assembled.»more»
Dan Price’s moonlight chronicles
The Morning News has a delightful interview with Dan Price, artist, writer and publisher of The moonlight chronicles.
After working as a photojournalist for 10 years I sold all my cameras and began documenting my own little life instead of everyone else’s. Using a pen and paper I was able to document what I was seeing without a machine between me and the subject. If you draw lots you can become very addicted to that peaceful state of being. It’s definitely my drug of choice!»more»
Stopping the Kodak Carousel
I have seen this message posted to various internet mailing lists:
Eastman Kodak Company has confirmed plans to discontinue the manufacture and sales of slide projection products and accessories in June of 2004. This early disclosure is being made to key user groups in order to allow time for adoption of a replacement technology or purchase of backup slide projector products.
Another toaster museum
Here is another web collection of toasters to add to the one I pointed out last year.»more»
Sally made this at pre-school—beer bottle caps and slices of champagne bottle cork nailed to a piece of pine. She told me “It’s woodwork, Daddy”.»more»
Everything Bucky knew
Everything I know is a complete video, audio and text record of a Richard Buckminster Fuller talkathon:»more»
Japanese manhole covers
Thanks to the Museum of Online Museums for pointing out this collection of Japanese manhole covers. The text is in Japanese (which I can’t read) but the colourful covers speak for themselves. I have previously mentioned manhole covers in Chandigarh and other places.»more»
Small multiple skyscrapers
I’m grateful to Christina for pointing out the SkyscraperPage, a site with a collection of thousands of scaled images of tall buildings. You can select and sort them by location, height or age, and line them up for inspection. I think it’s a delightful use of small multiples, as Edward Tufte calls this form of display:»more»
The Institute for Applied Autonomy has developed i-See:
a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments. With i-See, users can find routes that avoid these cameras — paths of least surveillance — allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by unregulated security monitors.»more»
Precepts for designers
From ‘This is what I have learned’, presented by Milton Glaser at the AIGA National Design Conference some weeks ago:»more»
The Holiday Inn sign
Exploding with color, optimism and razzle-dazzle, the now-extinct Holiday Inn ‘Great Sign’ was a true design landmark of the American century.
See Andrew Nelson’s salon.com feature about the social history of the American motel.»more»
Bow tie instructions
I am past needing them, but I did admire the cleverness of these instructions: On a card designed to hang from the outside of your shirt pocket, the diagrams and directions are printed backwards, for reading in the mirror as you tie your bow tie.»more»
The Russian avant-garde book 1910-34
Thanks to Andy Crewdson for pointing out the website of this exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.»more»
A trug is a tough wooden basket, handy for fetching produce from the garden or carrying the firewood.»more»
Imagining large numbers
One thousand, eight hundred and six Americans of Japanese ancestry from Placer County, California were interned during the Second World War. To remember them ceramics teacher Anthony Gill laid out 1,806 hand made tea cups in an outdoor cage, about the size of an internment camp barracks. I thought we needed to find a way to visually show what the number of citizens from this tiny county looked like, Gill said.»more»
Origamist Joseph Wu writes about modelling the last white rhinoceros of Kilimanjaro with folded paper.
More manhole covers
German photographer Roland Mühler’s website includes a gallery of fine photographs of street manhole covers. Remember my snapshot of the one in Chandigarh? Roland’s are much nicer (and there are 45 of them).»more»