30 September 2009

Helping the homeless

There are lots of things I'd like to see go away in the world. Cancer, AIDS, and homelessness are just a few of them. Recently I came across a wonderful Europe-based charity called Shelter. Although at first it was the logo that garnered my attention (fantastic use of visual typography converting the H into a house!), upon delving deeper, not only did I discover a wonderful organization that provides advice and practical assistance for families in the UK faced with homelessness and bad housing, but a talented group of artists wanting to help. Launched last year to raise awareness of the housing insecurity facing millions of families in the UK, Shelter created the House of Cards campaign. Comprised of TV commercials, posters, and a deck of 53 playing cards designed by artists, which were also part of a gallery exhibit, Shelter believes that everyone needs a home in a place where they can thrive. And I fully agree! Give Shelter a look, then find out more about what we all could be doing in our communities to help those in need. A good place to start is Volunteer Match.

Photo from Shelter website.

28 September 2009

Photo of the week

Newbury Street, Boston MA. Since I'm thinking about that 'magic number' for my beloved Red Sox these days, a fun photo of the Back Bay is required today. One can easily fall in love with the history and architecture of Boston altogether, but personally I think the Back Bay is pretty special. Literally the 'Back Bay' for Boston before extensive landfilling in the 19th Century, its blend of Victorian brownstone buildings and Boston's tallest skyscrapers has something for everyone. If you're interested in a little more history, try the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay and the Back Bay Association.

26 September 2009

Get outdoors!

So it seems I've got something for movies lately. My last couple of posts have been about some great films, so why not add another to the list! But this one you can stay home for because it's on PBS. Because I was born and bred in New England, I'm a bonafide outdoor lover, so the subject of parks and open spaces is always intriguing for me... and that makes the new series debuting tomorrow night a must! Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, The National Parks: America's Best Idea is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and it's going to be spectacular! I don't think we'll ever think about parks the same again. My hope is we all (including myself) get out and support our National Park system and pay homage to the 'people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved.' We have some of the most amazing landscapes right here in our backyard and we owe them the honor for protecting such beautiful environments. So watch, get inspired and go visit! Who doesn't love a road trip!

Photo from PBS website.

23 September 2009

Movie lovers and architects unite

As a follow-up to my movie post yesterday, I must mention there is one last film in the 2009 Cinema Orange series at the Orange County Museum of Art. And again, it's another must see film! Brought to us by the great folks at the Newport Beach Film Festival, Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner, delves into the lifelong visionary genius of Lautner to create 'architecture that has no beginning and no end.' Who could forget the Palms Springs Elrod House (shown above), one of his most famed commissions, in part because of its appearance in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever! So make sure to mark your calendars for the film screening on 29 October.

And don't forget to mark your calendar for 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival running 22 April - 29 April. The festival features over 350 films from around the world, including feature length narrative, documentary, short, animated and student films that will compete for a series of Jury, Festival Honors and Audience Awards. Film entries are being taken now, check the website for more details. Good luck and see you in April! (Don't worry, I'll be sure to post a reminder for everyone).

Photo from John Lautner Foundation website.

22 September 2009

Now playing

For all you architecture and photography buffs, this is a must see film! Winner at the Austin Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Lone Star International Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival, the documentary Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman is a beautiful exploration that celebrates the monumental career of 98-year-old architectural photographer, Julius Shulman (b.1910-2009) who populated his photos with human models and striking landscapes. The film, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, defines Shulman's images which epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California's modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. Combining the organic with the synthetic, melding nature with revolutionary urban design, Shulman is perhaps the world's greatest architectural photographer. Sponsored by the Newport Beach Film Festival, you can catch the film this Thurday, 24 September at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach. See you there! And if you want to read up on Shulman, here's a great article from the LA Times and another from The New York Times.

Photo from Visual Acoustics website.

21 September 2009

Pillow talk

Who would have thought? Really! A pillow to rest your head after an exhausting day of Tweeting, Facebooking and updating your LinkedIn. Get them here while they last! I'll take one in the Ai please.

Photo from Mashable website.

Photo of the week

San Diego Wild Animal Park, San Diego CA. During my first visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, I came across this enormously beautiful flower blooming. The juxtaposition of color against the dark base of the tree it was growing from was a stop in your tracks kind of moment. You just couldn't miss it nor not capture it on film. I'm always amazed by the colors and combination of colors nature gives us and all seem so perfectly suited to their environment and place.

16 September 2009

How do we achieve harmony?

In this overwhelming, over stimulated, not so nice world anymore (Kanye, Serena, and Wilson come to mind for that), just how do we achieve harmony? Our harmonious friends at GOOD magazine have a little interactive lesson us all. Check it out. Get ideas and inspiration and let's see if we can do just a little more to make the world a better place. Bottom line, we've got to action, big and small.

Photo from GOOD website.

15 September 2009

Here TODAY, gone tomorrow... hopefully

Has anyone noticed the new horrifically designed Today Show graphics? Well I have and I must say, they are not pretty. What are they thinking? White bars stretching across the screen, sometimes stacked, taking up practically half the view, with every little piece moving and animating they could find. Bottom line, it's too distracting, too white and overdone. The elements don't integrate well together at all, especially when a second lower bar is added. Really NBC, who designed these graphics, someone's 10 year old kid? Obviously they were home sick on the day the teacher discussed the less is more concept. Thankfully, NBC has a few places for me to post my feeling about the new graphics on Facebook and Twitter. Seems I'm not alone in my thinking.

Photos from Today Show website.

14 September 2009

Photo of the week

Sculpture at Paragon Shopping Centre, Orchard Road, Singapore. Sculpture always catches my eye when the work imbues great lines and great texture. Singapore has some of most interesting and beauitful sculptures in front of almost every shopping center, hotel and corporate building in the main city area. After the Paragon Shopping Centre underwent a major restoration, they placed some of the most beautiful sculptures around the main entrances. They were full of life in so many ways, the curves, the color, the size. They were just beautiful, although I'm still trying to figure out who the artist is...

11 September 2009

9/11 Memorial.

Photo from 9/11 website.

Fast food trash art

Love this! Grease laden fast food wrappings have become delicate art thanks to New York City based artist Yuken Teruya. And anything goes! Pizza boxes, a McDonald's bag, flags, desserts, even toilet paper rolls. I love when artists take something so mundane (even, ur... trashy) and make something so incredibly beautiful.

"... when these items become artworks, they also easily become political, maybe because they are taken from daily life. But if you find unexpected shapes and colors from the toilet rolls, they become something else. It's not about politics anymore, and you can take out the idea of toilet paper roll to your house." On the image above... "I cut out one side of disposable paper bags. Then I assemble a tree from the cut-out-part, stand each tree in the same bag that it came from. When you see it under the natural light, the delicate tree shows inside a paper bag, shows us the strength and the proof of existence of living tree."

I can only imagine what she would do with the now extinct styrofoam clamshell containers from the McDonald's of the 80's.

Photo from Yuken Teruya wesbite.

10 September 2009

Even the Annual Report is slick

Nothing like sleek modern design. Audi is all over it. Nice! Oh, and the annual report received the ‘BCP Best of Corporate Publishing Award 2009’ for the 2008 Annual Report, for the second time. Read more and download the report here.

Photo from Audi annual report.

London brand calling

Back in August, the Greater London Authority (GLA) issued a tender (or Request for Proposals) asking for a substantially big and complex rebranding and redesign project. That project, London itself. The brief detailed the rebrand should create a unified brand for London, set the vision for London post-2012, (obviously to pick up the pieces after the horrendous pink 2012 Olympic logo) lead stakeholders around a shared brand and develop international promotion into a powerful policy mechanism. Tall orders indeed. One of the front runners for the possible rebranding was Moving Brands (with offices in London) who posted their design progress and asked the public for feedback. Unfortunately, their brand proposal was not accepted. It will be interesting to see who does win the bid, what the rebrand visuals will look like and how the new brand will embraced by Londoners. Let's just hope there will be one solid, definable brand for London, once and for all. Stay tuned.

Photo from Brand New website.

09 September 2009

Designing a better farmers' market

Follow-up to my last post on the farmers market.

How can better design ensure that food by local farmers is delivered and distributed to urban residents? That is the question GOOD magazine asked and there's no harm in asking right? Well, the designs rolled in from as far away as Finland, England, New Zealand, and Lithuania. A few days ago on September 3rd the winners were announced and they really are as fresh and juicy as they come! Congratulations to Mia Lehrer + Associates for their 'Farm on Wheels' program that brings locally grown produce to the people directly. Delicious! And don't forget to head to your local farmers market this weekend!

Photo from the GOOD website.

07 September 2009

Photo of the week

Rome, Italy. Ahhh... there's nothing like the farmer's market. Here in the US, it's a place we need to consciously decide to attend. But in many places around the world, like Italy, it's a way of life every day and the only place you'd even consider buying your fresh vegetables, fruits, cheese, fish, flowers, and herbs. And nobody shops for a week worth of groceries. I mean, can you imagine hauling your overstuffed bags across cobblestone pathways, up the stairs to your fourth floor apartment? I don't think so. They take it one day at a time and there's something to be said about that way of life, and it's not just about those fresh carrots and tomatoes either. It's about slowing down life just for a bit, building and supporting community relationships, then lingering at the table, the one and only real place to enjoy family and friends with the freshest most delicious food. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating wonderful food and knowing you contributed to sustaining those who were able to help put those wonderful ingredients and dishes on your table.

Now, I'm sure you've heard all the benefits of purchasing the locally grown produce at the markets, the most obvious reason, the freshness of the goods. But let's face it, the food tastes better, it's cheaper because there's no middle man, it helps the farmers make money and endure hard times like right now, nothing is injected or modified in any way for transport, and it really does strengthen the local economy. So just how do we get people to fashion the farmers market more? Stay tuned for my next post. And Happy Labor Day to all, especially the farmers!

03 September 2009

A sound graphic, literally

Take a close look at this amazing sound graphic by London-based Studio8. (Download the big version for all the detail listed as 27.05.09 'A Simple Twist of Fate' Poster)

'The poster, done in 2007, was in response to a brief where we were asked to 'visualise a song'. Using an audiogram which indicates where certain letters fall in a 'speech window' we were able to plot each letter of Bob Dylan's song 'Simple Twist of Fate' on an axis of hearing level (decibels dB) against frequency (Hz) to create this image.'

Music to my ears, um... eyes!

Photo from Studio8 website.

Not just the balls are green

As a follow-up to my US Open post earlier this week, I came across an interesting article from Fast Company regarding how green the US Open really is. And well, to be honest, it actually is quite green. The US Open launched a comprehensive sustainability plan last year, hired an environmental consultant, partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and started up a 16-person task force to keep the momentum going. What were they able to accomplish for this year's Open? Keep in mind what Fast Company observed, 'this is a 14-day event that involves hundreds of thousands of hungry and thirsty people cramming into a sports center to watch a game that uses intense lighting, giant television screens, and a blaring PA system.'

- The recycling of all 20,000 tennis cans and 60,000 balls used in the tournament
- 2,000 megawatts worth of renewable energy certificates from wind farms
- Biodegradable utensils, plates, and cups
- Composting pilot project
- A hybrid transportation fleet for players
- Concessionaire food from local farms.

Not bad for a first go at it, thanks to the U.S. Open and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center! Back to tennis, so who's winning?

Photo from Fast Company website.

02 September 2009

Copenhagen Design Week is here

If you can't get to Copenhagen this week for Design Week, not to worry. Some of the good stuff is online in a slightly shorter version. The theme for this years Copenhagen Design Week is design for a changing world and it explores social and environmental design and innovation. It presents design that matters - ideas, concepts, products and services that will come to play an important role in the professional and personal life of designers. Each element of the program explores the positive power of design, inspiring businesses and individuals. So go... go and do good design, design that matters! Be inspired!

Photo from Copenhagen Design Week website.
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