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Posted by Ray  |  20 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

Snohetta-Beaufort.jpgReddit-USD.jpgAt top: Designed by Snøhetta, the reverse sides of all five denominations of Norwegian kroners form a continuous pattern; above: A proposed redesign of the U.S. Dollar

By now, you've probably caught a glimpse of what were widely hailed as "the most beautiful banknotes ever." Somewhat less widely reported, at least in the first wave of press, is the fact that the Snøhetta-designed reverse side of the new Norwegian kroner is based on the Beaufort Scale for windspeed, or the fact that the jury actually selected Enzo Finger as the winner but that Norges Bank overruled their judgment and, um, split the bill between runner-up Metric System—who, in fairness, received credit for the obverse—and the architecture firm's PR-friendly abstraction. (A curiously contrarian interview with Snøhetta's Matthias Frodlund in Creators Project is perhaps the most interesting window into the process behind the pieces; "[Since] this might be the last [paper] money to be produced in Norway, [it's like] giving the digital world a little sneer—look we can be like you, digital and pixelated, just much more beautiful.")

NOK100.jpgThe front and back of the 100kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta

In fact, all of the entries are available for viewing in the exegetical catalogue [PDF] (published with the October 7 press release), which elaborates on requirements such as standardized dimensions and colors of the notes—these properties remain consistent with extant currency for easy identification by both blind and sighted users—and judging criteria. Taking the theme of "The Sea," each denomination was required to express a subtheme, i.e. "Sea that brings us into the world" (100kr); "Sea that brings us further" (1,000kr). Other considerations include acceptance by the general public, aesthetic longevity, and, interestingly, the fact that it will represent the national idenitity as "a businesss card for Norway."

NOK1000.jpgThe front and back of the 1000kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta

That much I gleaned from some de rigueur Google translating; the 64-page document (only about 15 of the pages have text) is a fairly straightforward outline of the competition, but I won't deny you the surprise of seeing Aslak Gurholt Rønsen's entry (pp. 16–21)...


Posted by Ray  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


Last we wrote about Black Eyed Peas' irrepressible frontman Will.i.am, he was dispensing nuggets of wisdom about logo design; earlier this year, he debuted a smartwatch on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which he unveiled in earnest this week at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Here's the debut of the as-yet-unnamed Puls from April:

Billed as a cuff, as in cufflink or handcuff, the wearable.i.am. was reportedly two and a half years in the making and is noteworthy in that it need not be paired with a smartphone. Like the Samsung Gear S and Timex Ironman ONE GPS (both released in August), the Puls connects directly to a data network so it can function as a standalone device. Although the user can send and receive calls and texts, "it's on the wrist, therefore it should not mimic a phone." So says Will.i.am in a product walkthrough with the Wall Street Journal, in a video that is a appreciably less surreal than his talk-show appearance:

Jimmy Iovine reference duly noted; not entirely sure why he's pictured with Dr. Dre though...


Posted by Ray  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

AerialBold-NOAA.jpgL: ABC Dataset Samples; R: Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium.

We've long been enamored with the Eames' Powers of Ten short film, which is as much an introduction to aerial photography as it is to the math behind astronomy and biology. Just as everyone now takes beautiful images (and the retina displays to view them on) for granted, there is also a sense in which we are collectively GPS-enabled: After all, digital cartography is perhaps the most practical application of constant connectivity, and we can thank one company for the ability to zoom out to god's-(or satellites'-)eye view with a pinch of the fingers.


Benedikt Groß & Joey Lee take it even further with Aerial Bold, the "first map and typeface of the earth."

The project is literally about "reading" the earth for letterforms, or alphabet shapes, "written" into the topology of buildings, roads, rivers, trees, and lakes. To do this, we will traverse the entire planet's worth of satellite imagery and develop the tools and methods necessary to map these features hiding in plain sight.
The entire letterform database will be made available as a "usable" dataset for any of your art/design/science/textual projects and selected letterforms will be made into a truetype/opentype font format that can be imported to your favorite word processor.


Posted by Ray  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (6)


First-world problems: As a frequent air traveler, I was confident that I had my pack-and-go routine dialed in, and it was only by the time that I was halfway to JFK—40 minutes behind schedule, due to e-mail exigencies—that I realized that I'd forgotten the power supply for my MacBook Pro. It wasn't so much the prospect of not having juice on the 13-hour flight but the fact that I was so hasty as to overlook the essential technological tether, at once a fuel supply and a fetter, and that I'd have a narrow window to get ahold of one in Beijing. I made it to the gate with time to spare; once I'd determined that none of the shops in Terminal 1 sold the 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (or a third-party surrogate), I looked up the closest pingguo store to the airport and planned to head straight there from PEK. CA982 was due to land at 6:20pm local time, which would give me about 3.5 hours to make it to the wraparound glass emporium that evening.

16 hours later, I was carefully unboxing a white plastic briquette at a nearby restaurant (with wattage taken care of, I sought food and wi-fi); chagrined that I had to buy one at all, I had it in mind to use it for that week and return it on the way home—my way of leaving no trace. Alas, it was all for nought: I only made it a few days before I ended up peeling off the last bits of protective plastic from the immaculate shell. Overpriced though it may have been, I figured that it never hurts to have a spare, and, insofar as my trip was predicated on being able to use my laptop, it was a justifiable acquisition.

An insipid anecdote, perhaps, about an unremarkable object—which is precisely why it may well represent the final frontier of third-party accessorization. As MeezyCube notes in their Kickstarter pitch video, there are cases galore for the iPhone, iPad and MacBook... so why not the MagSafe adapter as well?

A joke about the "Meh-zyCube" would be too... meezy.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that this is an outright parody of case creep: It's a grating conceit beyond the fact that I suspect that a sizable proportion of Macbook owners don't bother with the fold-out 'wings' for wrapping the cable; even the dubious durability of the cord can be solved with Sugru. What disturbs me about the MeezyCube is that it's yet another gyre-worthy plastic thing that no one really needs.

First-world problems indeed.

Posted by Ray  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


Basic though their purpose may be, water towers have long been a fixture of inhabited areas far and wide, from the brobdingnagian barrels atop NYC edifices (per 19th century ordinance for buildings taller than six stories) to sci-fi-worthy monoliths that rise from landscapes like alien flora. At best, they are as beautiful as they are iconic, abiding in the gestalt of the built environment as monuments to our collective engineering prowess, humble sentinels of our hydration needs.

On the other hand, those of you who see them as eyesores might change your minds when you see Maud van Deursen's "Chateau d'Eau" series of glass decanters. Inspired to highlight the quality of Dutch tap water, the Design Academy grad has created several tabletop water towers that serve as functional sculptures. "The quality of Dutch tap water is exceptional—regulations for tap water are stricter than those for bottled water. Yet bottled water is a thousand times more expensive, plus, it has a negative effect on the environment."