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Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)


LEO the Maker Prince is a children's book by NYC native and designer Carla Diana that could well enlighten anyone, young or old, about the growing 3D printing community around us. Not only does it humanize the mechanical process of 3D printing but it breaks down the different subcategories of 3D technology and the types of materials that are out there. I bet some of you didn't even know there was more than one way to get the job done (no shame).

Although utterly fictional—as most children's books are—this story is oddly relatable, especially for New Yorkers. "I wanted to pay homage to the blossoming creative technology scene in New York City, Diana says. "In particular, I wanted to highlight Brooklyn as the birthplace of a lot of the first DIY 3D printing kits like the MakerBot." Set on the stormy night of October 29, 2012, the main character finds herself in trouble on the her way back to Manhattan, when she's looking to beat Hurricane Sandy home and her bicycle chain breaks. I won't spoil the plot, but a tiny, personable MakerBot named LEO shows up, asks Carla to draw a sheep while guiding her through the various methods of 3D printing. Trust me, it makes sense in the most adorable of ways.




Posted by erika rae  |  16 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)


In proper book review fashion, Designers & Books have given us enough 2013 design copy to last us years in their end of the year round-up. According to the site, their list consists of 47 architecture/urban design books, 23 graphic design books, titles in fashion, interior, product/industrial design, general design inspiration and a standout fiction novel featuring the past of future of automotive design as told by Paula Champa.

The list includes a total of 99 titles from last year, a couple of which we featured here on Core—Steve Portigal's Interviewing Users and the Kelley Bros' Creative Confidence—as well as dozens of others that caught our eye. Categorized by month, each group covers topics ranging from traditional (opera house design) to the downright niche (ancient hanging garden design).


Posted by core jr  |  14 Nov 2013  |  Comments (6)


In his new book Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products (Portfolio / Penguin 2013), longtime tech reporter and current editor/publisher of Cult of Mac Leander Kahney has penned the definitive biography of the company's Senior Vice President of Design, affirming his as-yet-unfolding legacy. Even as the late Steve Jobs took to the spotlight as the singularly charismatic force behind Apple, he acknowledged the brilliance of his colleague Sir Jony Ive, who is easily among the most famous industrial designers of the contemporary era.

This is an excerpt from the book, which hits shelves today, relating his activities immediately following his graduation from Newcastle Polytechnic—now Northumbria University—including a memorable first visit to America, just before he started his first job at Roberts Weaver Group in London.

Summer 1989 saw the departure of Jony Ive, together with David Tonge, for America. Freshly graduated from Newcastle Polytechnic, their RSA prize money in their pockets, the two were booked to spend eight weeks at Pitney Bowes in Connecticut.

If Jony expected to be impressed by what he saw at the company's headquarters in Stamford, about forty miles northeast of Manhattan, he was disappointed. "He did not find it very interesting," Grinyer remembered with a laugh. Jony was much more excited about traveling to San Francisco and touring some of the up-and-coming design studios in the Bay Area.

When their stint at Pitney Bowes was finished, Jony and Tonge split up. Tonge traveled to the offices of Herman Miller, Knoll and a few other firms in the office furniture business, and Jony hopped a flight to California to make the rounds in Silicon Valley. He hired a car in San Francisco and drove down the Peninsula to visit a couple of studios, at one point going to ID Two (now IDEO), where Grinyer had worked, and then Lunar Design in downtown San Jose, which was run by Robert Brunner, a fast-rising design star. He and Brunner established an almost immediate connection.

Brunner was born in 1958 and grew up in San Jose in Silicon Valley, the child of a mechanical engineer father and artist mother. His father, Russ, a longtime IBM-er, invented much of the guts of the first hard drive.1 Until he reached college, Brunner had no idea there was such a thing as product design. He was on his way to join the art department at San Jose State University when he fortuitously passed a display of models and renderings by the design department.

"I decided there and then that's what I wanted to do," he recalled happily.

While pursuing a degree in ID at San Jose State, he interned at what was then the biggest and fastest-growing design agency in Silicon Valley, GVO Inc. After graduating, in 1981, Brunner joined the firm but grew unhappy, feeling the company had little ambition or vision.

"There was no editorial style at GVO," he said. "They just wanted you to crank out the renderings and keep the clients happy."2

In 1984, he tried another tack, teaming up with a couple of other GVO employees, Jeff Smith and Gerard Furbershaw, and another designer, Peter Lowe. The four pooled their money—about $5,000—and leased space in a former helicopter factory. They rented a photocopier and shared a single Apple IIc computer. They named their new firm Lunar Design, a moniker Brunner had been using for his moonlighting work while at GVO.

The timing was perfect. In the mid-eighties, Silicon Valley was just starting to get into consumer products, resulting in a high demand for design agencies like Lunar. GVO also came to the game with a difference—most of the firms in the Valley were run by engineers who had little expertise in design.


Posted by erika rae  |  29 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)


History books are not meant to be read for fun. They belong in stuffy classrooms with class pets and broken wooden desks that squeak too much. Until The Infographic History of the World and Alternate Histories of the World came along. For someone who struggled through overtexted course books all through school, I took on this review without hesitation and hopes for brushing up on the history I missed out (ok, skipped out) on years ago.


The Infographic History of the World

Not only is this book a chock full of rich visuals, but the organization is an artform in itself. Small details—like a slowly evolving figure in the bottom lefthand corner guiding you through the decades—make this a delightful read from cover to cover. Complicated academic topics such as the United States' ever-changing GDP and planet sizes in ratio to the universe become elaborately simple figures for right-brained types. Designer Valentine D'efilippo and journalist James Ball form the perfect team for teaching the date-illiterate millions of years of history in one book.


Besides being beautiful, it's also historian endorsed: Amazon reviewer Michael Kinnear weighs in, "Both my wife and I had read it cover to cover before we gave it to her—we are both professional historians—and rated it A+." The tone is perfectly snarky and quite liberal. I found myself particularly engrossed in the Keith Haring-like depiction of mental illnesses and the most prominent disorders. The thought-bubble rendition of the language tree came in as a close second. As you turn the pages, the font becomes more modern as you get closer to present-day.


A quick glance at the visual index is more than enough to pull you into the book's four parts: In the Beginning, Getting Civilized, Nation Building and The Modern World. Every infographic is presented by a lead question on the page that will tell you about the data you're looking at.



Posted by core jr  |  15 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

TomandDavidKelley-CreativeConfidence.jpgImages courtesy of IDEO

If a recent segment on 60 Minutes is any indication, IDEO's David Kelley is among the design superstars who have crossed over into mainstream recognition. David and his brother Tom, also a partner at the leading innovation consultancy, are pleased to present a new book, Creative Confidence, to prove that deep down (or perhaps not so deep) inside, "each and every one of us is creative." We had a chance to catch up with the Kelley Bros. to chat about their latest page-turner and how each of us can tap into our own creative potential.

Earlier this year, Bruce Nussbaum published a book called Creative Intelligence. To what degree is this premise—that anyone can be creative—a new trend, and why do you think that is? Or alternately, if the idea has been in the ether for some time, why now?

While creativity is timeless, trends like Maker culture open up new opportunities to unleash creativity. Our great friend and IDEO cofounder Bill Moggridge strongly believed that most people were vastly more creative and capable than they knew. We agree, and we're glad more people around the world are starting to agree, too.

We define creative confidence as the natural human ability to come up with breakthrough ideas and the courage to act on them. Since everyone was creative at some point in their lives (consider kindergarten), the challenge for us is more about unlocking creative potential than generating it from scratch.

Both in David's work at the and in IDEO's collaborative work with client teams, we've witnessed many personal transformations when people who do not self-identify as "creative" get exposed to design thinking methods—and then surprise themselves with just how creative they really are. We've seen over and over that when people experience a series of small successes, they gradually gain confidence in their own ability to generate creative ideas and act on them. Creative confidence, what eminent psychologist Albert Bandura would call "self-efficacy," comes down to a belief system about your own ability to have positive impact in the world.

Creative confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and practice. In our experience, the best way to do that is through action, one step at a time.

The anecdote about Akshay and Ankit [engineers who end up in a class] definitely rings true: We often hear from engineers who realize they'd rather be designers but don't know where to start. Do you have any advice for them?

If you're an engineer, then you're a problem solver. The way to move in the design direction is to move from pure problem-solving to need-finding. That's the empathy part of it. So instead of just doing your normal job, look for ways to reframe the problem that you're working on, ways it might be solved in a different or a better way. Complete the task you were asked to do and then do it again in a more creative way using design thinking tools. Present both directions to the boss.

What you need is a bias toward action, to jump out into the world. Engineers tend to shy away from the messiness of the human part. So if you're working on a new cell phone, instead of just considering the circuits or the software, go out and watch people use cell phones. Watch people use cell phones in extreme situations. Watch unusual phone use, and watch regular phone use. Ask people questions about it. Ask people to draw their cell phones. Do whatever it takes to get deep into understanding what's meaningful to people about cell phones, rather than just working on the technology.



Posted by Ray  |   8 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)


I'd regretted breezing through the NY Art Book Fair this year—I braved the crowds on Saturday afternoon, and the hour I'd allotted myself was not nearly enough time to filter the sheer visual (and yes, tactile) onslaught of printed matter. But a souvenir from Beijing Design Week more than made up for it, and for all the limited editions, handmade zines and other rarities available at MoMA PS1, nary a booth would have had a copy of A Little Bit of Beijing. In fact, I haven't been able to find any information about Li Han and Hu Yan's three-volume graphic novel anywhere online: The book is published by the Luminous City imprint of Tongji University Press— was offline as of press time—while the website of Drawing Architecture Studio (Li and Hu's practice) is currently "Under Construction."



So it was a happy coincidence to discover A Little Bit of Beijing at 751 D.Park, in an appropriately charming venue to boot: Luminous City had set up shop in a passenger train that had been converted into a gallery. (To further compound the confusion, the expository text also credits architects Li Xiangning and Atelier Bow-Wow's Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, who are behind Made in Shanghai and its progenitor Made in Tokyo respectively.) Along with framed prints along the walls, translucent reproductions of the artwork had been set in the windows of the train to striking effect; even magnified several times over, it's quite clear that the vibrant line drawings are painstakingly detailed.




Chris Ware's signature style is the obvious reference point, and indeed the artists acknowledge a debt to Ware, as well as Jean-Jacques Sempé, as source of inspiration. I gleaned as much from the introductory text to A Little Bit of Beijing, but I'm not too proud to admit that my reading ability is far too limited to attempt proper perusal of the book. (Limited though my vocabulary may be, I do know that the third character of the title, 儿 [er], is an untranslatable reference to Beijing's local dialect.) Thankfully, the illustrations effectively speak for themselves, and their richness transcends language, even in the case of the conventional comic-book panels that depict short vignettes.

LiHanHuYan-ALittleBitofBeijing-3.jpgAs far as I can tell, the captions are descriptions of the scenes


Posted by core jr  |  18 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)


When we last heard from Bruce Nussbaum, on the occasion of the HarvardxDesign Conference, he mentioned his forthcoming book, Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect and Inspire (HarperBusiness 2013). Available now, it makes for a surprisingly good beach or travel read (Kindle version recommended, as the print version comes in hardcover), at least for those of you who prefer nonfiction for leisure reading.

But the insights and learnings from Nussbaum—a former editor at BusinessWeek and current professor at Parsons The New School for Design—are applicable for a broad audience, from recent grads to practicing designers to C-suite execs. We had a chance to speak to Nussbaum about those very insights.

Core77: What is Creative Intelligence?

Bruce Nussbaum: Creative Intelligence is a way of amplifying our creative capacities. It's a series of five competencies that we can all learn to bolster our skill at generating originality that has value, often economic value. Individuals and business organizations can increase their Creative Intelligence by getting better at Knowledge Mining, Framing, Playing, Making and Pivoting or Scaling. The concept embraces the notion that creativity is crucial to capitalism and the source of most economic value.

You write about "creativity anxiety, noting that "creativity scares us." Why do you think that is?

We have false notions of creativity. We are taught that creativity is rare, random, and reduced to special brains. We feel we should be creative but can't perform creatively. Rubbish. We are all born creative and can easily learn to be more creative and innovative. Creativity is a social activity, an ensemble or team play, not an individual gift of genius.

Many of us picture so-called creative types sitting alone in a studio or office, either filled with inspiration or waiting for it to strike, yet you write of interactive creativity and collaboration. Is there a difference between the two?

The "Aha" moment of insight, when we connect the dots of different things to come up with something new, are often done alone, walking or running, taking a long shower or slowly drinking your morning coffee. These insights come after intense social interaction and observation. They come after the research, the learning, the gathering of information and the engagement with the world. You need both.


Posted by Ray  |  17 Apr 2013  |  Comments (0)

DSRatNYPL-viaArchidose.jpgImage via Archidose

In celebration of the recent release of Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account (Damiani 2013), the New York Public Library recently hosted Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro, principals of the eponymous architecture studio—stylized as Diller Scofidio + Renfro, or DS+R—in conversation with MoMA's Curator of Architecture Barry Bergdoll. Among other topics, the participants attempted to define the object itself, only to conclude that the beautifully-printed tome is beyond categorization: it is at once an art book, literally overflowing with beautiful full-bleed photography (more on that shortly), and a scholarly record of the decade-long redesign of one of New York City's iconic public spaces. Indeed, Diller offhandedly characterized Lincoln Center Inside Out as "an architectural porno book," though Bergdoll contended that it is as encyclopedic as it is eye-catching.


So too can the book be perused in a number of ways: At over 300 pages, Lincoln Center Inside Out is comprised almost entirely of gatefolds—which, as the panelists noted, might very well be a first for a comprehensive visual and quasi-technical document of such size and scope. The first tenth of the book consists of introductory text and a series of nicely laid-out conversations between DS+R's Ilana Altman and various, followed by some 30 gatefolds, each of which spans eight normal pages. The exterior panels of the pages invariably feature photos—interiors, exteriors, details, wide angles and even a few process shots—by Iwan Baan and Matthew Monteith, concealing explanatory text and images within. Suffice it to say that Lincoln Center Inside Out (pun most certainly intended) is about as comprehensive as they come.



DillerScofidioRenfro-LincolnCenterInsideOut-gatefoldCOMP.jpgPhoto at top: Alice Tully Hall, Iwan Baan, 2008

Bergdoll lauded the book's built-in experience of discovery as Scofidio acknowledged that the design serves as "a metaphor for the travails [of the project]," which looks immaculate on the surface but actually goes several layers deep. In fact, he later disclosed that the "archaeology of the space" was a challenge unto itself: By some accounts, upwards of half of the total cost went into bringing the woefully neglected substructure up to code (fun facts: there is a full gas station in the parking garage and there is a river underneath Juilliard).


The metaphor applies not just to space but to time as well: Diller commented that the highly tactile, physical construction of Lincoln Center Inside Out serves to slow readers down and take their time absorbing the dense vignettes, which cover everything from grass species for the 'hypar' (hyperbolic paraboloid) roof lawn to the form studies for the prow-like geometry of the new Juilliard building.



Posted by Marina Garcia-Vasquez  |  18 Jan 2013  |  Comments (1)


In the midst of the Mayan calendar predictions, prophecies came and went and on 12-12-12 in New York, the Mexican architect Fernando Romero released his book You Are The Context at the Guggenheim Museum. The launch was a celebration of what comes next, a young career full of potential and a designer with the means to create change in and out of Mexico.

Romero and his firm FR-EE published the book as a catalog of architecture projects erected and for consideration around the world. In an email he writes, "It is a manifesto of today's context for designers." The book reads like an architecture self-help guide: a serious investigation of trending topics in building and social design: museums, mixed-use, responsible vertical, cities, convention centers, bridges, etc.

The book starts "Since the mid-1960s, as a reaction against the formalism and functionalism of Modernism, the word context has seen a common and frequently used term in architectural discourse." Romero and FR-EE are pushing an agenda with regards to careful attention to the key elements of site, culture, time and society. These are considerations for a future architecture.


You Are The Context is self-published and reads as part calling card/part industry resource. FR-EE hopes to ignite conversations around key issues, shed light on the positive developments in Mexico, and also to bid for some US territory or at least make it's voice more laudable.

Romero won international acclaim for designing Museo Soumaya in 2011, a sequined hourglass of a museum housing Carlos Slim Helú's prestigious art collection in Mexico City. Romero is prone to organic shapes and experimental forms. His mentors include Enric Miralles, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas.


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |   6 Nov 2012  |  Comments (1)


Though over-packaging is often seen as the epitome of excess, it's really only the tip of the iceberg of a resource-hungry process. According to Laurel Miller and Stephen Aldridge, authors of Why Shrink-wrap A Cucumber? The Complete Guide to Environmental Packaging (Laurence King, 2012): "As is befitting in a convenience society, [packaging] is a convenient, high-visibility target that deflects attention from less palatable forms of environmental action, such as reducing our dependence on high-carbon fossil fuels and heavy industry." In their remarkably thorough new book, Miller and Aldridge debunk the common myths of sustainable production, introduce new materials, and help designers navigate the often treacherous waters that lie between manufacturers and the client, providing plenty of case studies for inspiration.


Miller and Aldridge begin by discussing how poor packaging choices are linked with global climate change by breaking down every step of a product's life cycle, from its production to its recycling or disposal. There's even a refresher that's helpful for anyone interested in sustainable design, from the lords of the LCA (life cycle assessment) to the everyday concerned citizen. Miller and Aldridge have included Futerra's invaluable "10 Signs of Greenwash" and they take the time to define terms that are as common as they are misunderstood: green, sustainability, and environmentally friendly.


And for designers struggling to "negotiate the environmental maze [while] balancing profitability and creativity with sensitivity to the environment," there are few first steps you can take to address your client's concerns about brand identity while delivering a design with low environmental impact. The case studies are grouped by packaging categories like shape and weight. The iconic Orangina bottle, for example, evolved from a nondescript glass jar to its current shape as a result of a design that took both branding and cost effective packaging into consideration. The Heinz ketchup bottle, too, has changed from a glass bottle to a plastic squeeze bottle for similar reasons. Weight has also played a huge role in packaging design, especially in metal drink cans, which have become 77% lighter since the 1960s, from 60g down to just 14g.


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |   1 Nov 2012  |  Comments (0)


Perhaps it's my personal obsession with nautical shirts, but when I think of stripes I think of my dangerous addiction to Petite Bateau and handmade espadrilles. Design editor Linda O'Keeffe, however, takes stripes to another level in her new book Stripes: Design Between The Lines. In it, O'Keeffe traces the history of stripes from cave paintings through the Middle Ages, when they were used to identify different social classes, and past their appearance as "dazzle camouflage" during WWI, proving that stripes really are "the simplest and most ancient of decorative markings."

By Daniel Buren, image copyright D.B - ADAGP Paris

Divided into eight chapters according to theme or mood—Jovial, Paradoxical, Tribal, Directional, Optical, Vertical, Horizontal, and Structural—O'Keeffe takes the reader from the Mojave Desert to the South Pole, visiting Elvis's "Jail House Rock," the paintings of Paul Klee and the evolution of circus culture along the way. Many of O'Keeffe's historical references are certainly interesting and will be new information to many readers, but her well intentioned text (cursory at best) simply can't compete with the page after page of stripy eye candy. Her books, however, like last year's Brilliant: White in Design, are easy flip-throughs, thematic romps, if you will, and aren't meant as anything more serious, so we certainly can't hold the fact that this is design light against her, especially when the pictures are so good.

Image copyright Deidi von Schaewen

Hit the jump for more...


Posted by Tobias Berblinger  |  29 Oct 2012  |  Comments (0)


Hidden Forms explores Franco Clivio's obsession with objects, particularly those considered banal by most. He finds considered design and innovations in what he refers to as, 'unremarkable, everyday things.' These anonymous objects have had a remarkable impact on design, culture and technology.

Clivio assembles his beloved artifacts in collections, creating poetic juxtapositions that tell stories about their manufacturing processes, their functions, their scale and their interaction with each other. Each collection has been harmoniously arranged and photographed by Hans Hansen. Clivio prefaces each individual collection, explaining the significance to him and then comments on a few select items or processes that exemplify his reasons for collecting them. Pierre Mendell and Annette Kröger developed the layout and complimentary illustrations.


Although Hidden Forms was released in 2009 in the United States, it's clear that it went well under the radar. At press time Hidden Forms' page on a major bookseller's website is neglected: it remains unreviewed, and the official description has fragments of visible html in it. We wanted to give it a second look as it's been a steadfast favorite here at Hand-Eye Supply.


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  23 Oct 2012  |  Comments (0)


Design of the 20th Century is one of those books that ought to be on the shelves of every designer, design student, teacher, historian, enthusiast or newbie. Hefty and sweeping yet affordable and compact, this veritable Bible that covers design from the past hundred years is, at the very least, 750 pages of pure eye candy. At its best it's an approachable wealth of information that "highlights the pluralistic nature of design and the idea that, historically, design can be viewed as a debate between conflicting opinions about such issues as the role of technology and the industrial process, the primacy of utility, simplicity and affordability over luxury and exclusivity, and the role of function, aesthetics, ornament and symbolism in practical objects for use."


Written by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, who've penned several of Taschen's comprehensive design tomes (including 1000 Chairs, Industrial Design A-Z, Graphic Design for the 21st Century), define design "in its most global sense as the conception and planning of all man-made products." With that in mind the duo takes the reader through the entire 20th century from Aalto to Zsolnay, a journey that includes design movements like Art Deco, Arts & Craft and the International Style as well as profiles on the most significant designers in every field, from furniture and lighting to typography and graphic design. Design of the 20th Century is an accessible introduction to design for newcomers as well as an indispensable desk reference for design professionals. Even veterans in the field who think they've learned it all in school and seen it all over the course of their careers will enjoy rediscovering old favorites and perhaps even stumbling upon something new.

Design of the 20th Century is available from Taschen for $19.99.


Vico Magistretti's Atoll lamp


Marcel Breuer's cantilevered wicker and wood chair


Wolfgang Tumpel's Teamaker


Posted by Mark Vanderbeeken  |  17 Oct 2012  |  Comments (0)


The people of the Pittsburgh-based LUMA Institute have published an excellent collection of methods for practicing Human-Centered Design—the discipline of developing solutions in the service of people.

The thirty-six methods in this Innovating for People handbook are organized by way of three key design skills: Looking, Understanding, and Making.

Each featured method includes a brief description; a pictorial example; a listing of benefits; a sampling of method combinations; and a quick guide with helpful hints for initial application. The full collection of methods is small enough to digest quickly, yet large enough to address myriad challenges.


The book does not prescribe a formulaic innovation process. Rather, it introduces a versatile set of methods for practicing Human-Centered Design as a daily discipline in order to be more innovative and drive sustainable growth.

Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  10 Oct 2012  |  Comments (0)


1.pngTverrfjellhytta - Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion, by Snohetta in Hjerkinn, Norway, 2011

Urbanism—the omnipresent buzz word that encompasses every aspect of our lives affected by the space crunch that grows along with the global population—is on the tip of everyone's tongues these days, from developers and city officials to architects and designers. And as we've heard a hundred times before, the need for undeveloped, natural outdoor space will only increase with the number of people streaming into cities. This has resulted in frustrations for cramped city dwellers, but it's also pushed cities to become more creative with their use of public space. In Going Public, Gestalten's latest publication, editors Robert Klante, Sven Ehmann, Sofia Borges, Mathias Huber, and Lukas Feireiss selected the most innovative and exciting uses of public space from around the world, from dense city centers to forgotten freeway underpasses to distant forests and fjords.

In the last five years, urban planners have moved well beyond traditional notions of public space. New outdoor environments are less focused on plopping a nice piece of sculpture in a plaza and more about creating "flexible frameworks for social, political, and cultural change...[with] a common thread in their affirmative endeavor to transform abstract spaces to concrete place." This involves "activating" spaces to "add value of experience and meaning." In his preface, Feireiss notes that this have become a much more collaborative effort than in the past, and signs off with a quotes from activist Jane Jacobs' seminal 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities that still resonates today. "Cities," she said, "have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when they are created by everybody."

The book is divided into six chapters, Gimme Shelter: Public Architecture As Place-Maker, Constant Gardener: Green Space In the City, Walk With Me: Modes of Spatial Mobilization, Benchmarks: Accommodating the Cityscape, Between A Rock and A Hard Place: Architectures of Intermediate Status, and Why Don't We Do It In The Road?: New Forms of Engagement In the City. Here's a look at some of the best projects from each chapter.

Gimme Shelter
This is the meatiest chapter and includes everything from Luminous Field's ten day-long digital light show projected on Anish Kapoor's famous Cloud Gate sculpture (aka the giant mirrored bean) in Millennium Park, Chicago, earlier this year. It's shown alongside several other installations with swooping, globular forms, but whether they're smooth and bean-like or rigid and made from wood, built in city plazas or in remote locations, these structures either provide visitors with shelter or a new vantage point from which to experience the landscape, or both.

2.pngEnvolver - Entree Alpine Panoramic Structure, by Alice (Atelier de la Conception De L'Espace) in Zermatt, Switzerland, 2009

3.pngWinnipeg Skating Shelters, by Patkau Architects in Winnipeg, Canada, 2010-2011


Posted by Ray  |  17 Sep 2012  |  Comments (0)


The twofold characterization of Sebastian Errazuriz as a designer and an artist has bedeviled his endeavors for over a decade now. This much is apparent in the dialectical introductory texts to his first monograph, The Journey of Sebastian Errazuriz (Gestalten 2012), to say nothing of the work itself, which resists characterization as a tightrope walker hovers between life and death. So too does the prolific 'creator-of-things' (for lack of a better term) walk a taut line of irony—navigating a narrow space between understatement and overstatement—and make it look easy.


Yet Errazuriz is also glad to show us that unerring lines of reasoning often lead to the absurd results. To mix the metaphor, he picks at the seams of a reality that is ready to burst, only to discover that nothingness trickles out. This sheer viscosity of meaning—i.e., its essential fiction—is precisely what drives the Chilean-born, UK- and US-educated, NYC-based polymath to simultaneously subvert and elevate objects, ideas and symbols into, well, art.

TheJourneyofSebastianErrazuriz-AutopsyDesk.jpgAutopsy Desk (2009)

Thus, the "Autopsy Desk" marks a felicitous opening to the survey of his oeuvre, organized loosely by medium to suggest a retrospective taxonomy to his broad practice. I would have preferred to see the work in chronological order... albeit partly because I was (pleasantly) surprised, every few pages or so, to discover works that I had never seen before. Nevertheless, the desk—commissioned by none other than meme-friendly persona Keanu Reeves—is an easy metaphor for Errazuriz's morbidly incisive body of work.


The Journey of Sebastian Errazuriz is available now in Europe and will be available in the U.S. shortly. Those of you in London for the festivals can see some of the work in person at the exhibition of the same name at Kenny Schachter / Rove Gallery, which runs through September 23; the book launch and reception will be this coming Wednesday, September 19, from 7–11PM.

Whether or not you make it to Hoxton for the opening, Sebastian has also obliged us with an exclusive Q&A on the occasion of the book and exhibition.

TheJourneyofSebastianErrazuriz-BuyNothing.jpgNada de Nada (Nothing at All) (2002)

Core77: First of all, congratulations on the new book. How does it feel to realize the first of what will surely be many monographs?

Sebastian Errazuriz: It feels great, but It's funny you mention it, since the book is out I can't help thinking of the next one. Don't get me wrong: this is a really a fun book jammed with 10 years of projects and ideas; but as you pointed out every monograph is timely and therefore incomplete. It's impossible not to wish you had been able to include the latest project you finished yesterday or the one you are planning next week. Maybe digital books in the future will automatically upgrade to the new, latest version like our current computer software do.


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  31 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)


If you were ever once a kid chances are there was something you loved to collect. For me it was Archie comics, for my brother it was lead soldiers and baseball cards, for my BFF up the block it was miniature spoons (don't ask) and for some kids who were of prime collecting age in 1962 it was the graphic Mars Attacks trading cards. Before Tim Burton directed his 1996 film version (inspired by, methinks, the series' 1994 rerelease), Mars Attacks was a trading card series produced by Topps, a company better remembered, perhaps, for their baseball cards packaged with a bright pink piece of Bazooka Joe brand bubble gum, which was manufactured onsite at their headquarters in Brooklyn. The Mars Attacks card packs also came with a heavily powdered slab of the delightfully difficult-to-chew gum, but unlike Topps' other long-running series, Mars Attacks' saga of alien destruction was considered too controversial and was shut down soon after production began.


The scenes depicted on the cards were actually toned down from even more gruesome images of dogs set ablaze by laser beams and battered corpses, human and alien alike, but parents, teachers, reporters and the local DA thought the battle scenes were still too bloody and the women way too buxom for young children's eyes.


After printing ground to a halt the cards' value soared; A full set of 55 cards is worth $25,000 today—more if you throw in an original wrapper or two. Adding to its cult classic status is the fact that the artwork for Mars Attacks was painted by Norm Saunders, "one of the most lauded pulp cover illustrators of the 40s and 50s." Since every card needed to pop with the action and intensity of a pulp book cover, Saunders' contribution was instrumental to the cards overwhelmingly popular reception amongst kids and teenagers as well as the adoration of fans that lives on today.



Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  24 Jul 2012  |  Comments (0)


Taschen's latest release is a hefty, two-volume tour of, as the title suggests, "100 Interiors Around the World." Organized alphabetically, the set gives the reader a peek into a hundred breathtaking houses, apartments, penthouses and villas from Acapulco to Zurich, fourteen of which are located in Paris alone. You'll see many familiar names—both the homes' owners and their architects and interior designers. No interiors or architecture compendium would be complete without Mies van der Rohe's beautifully spare, gridded Barcelona Pavilion that he designed in 1929 in marble, onyx and travertine and filled with his signature furnishings. His aesthetics are echoed throughout many of the pages, as are those of Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and interior designers Louis Kahn and Tadao Ando. The pages brim with prime examples of Modernism, NeoClassical, Colonial and Art Deco; We even get a glimpse of the NeoGothic in the Red House, "the cradle of the Arts and Crafts movement," built in the English town of Bexleyheath in 1859 for William Morris, who sought to counter the influx of inferior industrial products at the time with high quality craftsmanship.


Aside from access to products and materials of the highest quality and premium locations, another thing that sets these homes apart is the generous communal seating areas for receiving guests as well as spacious, indulgent bathrooms - freestanding tubs that overlook jaw-dropping vistas straight out of an issue of National Geographic. There are gilded bathtubs, claw-footed basins—even one that sits in a wooden boat—but the best of the bunch belongs to architect Ken Crosson, who designed a tub on wheels for his Coromandel, New Zealand vacation house. Conceived as the ultimate getaway, there's no dishwasher, TV or computer—sounds like paradise. The home is equipped with two exterior facing walls that can be raised and lowered like drawbridges to become outdoor patios, as well as the aforementioned bathtub that can be filled indoors and then rolled outside for a soak under the stars.


Other homes of note include Chris Boros' penthouse, which resides atop a four-story above ground air-raid bunker in Berlin that he uses to store his art collection, which he makes available to the public. His sparse, contemporary furnishings and large artwork contrast beautifully with the bare concrete walls. "Only art has the power to turn a bunker into something that is relevant to us today," he said of the space.



Posted by Robert Blinn  |  17 Jul 2012  |  Comments (5)


In this digital age, an encyclopedia seems downright archaic. Especially in the context of modern manufacturing techniques like EBM ("Electron Beam Machining"), where a beam of electrons bores holes denominated in tens of microns through thin materials—in a vacuum no less, because the electrons could be thrown off by air molecules (!). Into this neo-futurist world, Chris Lefteri has provided the second edition of Making It: Manufacturing Technologies for Product Design to catalogue all of the manufacturing tools modern designers have at their disposal. While it may be possible to find more detailed or technical information on the processes he describes, Making It stands as a robust resource for a product designer looking into a new manufacturing technique, an eye-popping compendium for a scientifically minded student, or, perhaps most valuably, as a vehicle for increasing designer awareness of new innovation in manufacturing.


Designers live in a mildly cloistered world where they can concentrate on form factors with a vague awareness of parting lines and minimum thicknesses, but really leave it to the engineers to complete their visions. Making It reads like a layman's engineering primer, not a product design book. Each manufacturing technology gets its own 2–4 page spread with a glossy product shot, accompanying text, our favorite buzzword "process shots," and a highlighted info box of the characteristics of the technology.




Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  30 May 2012  |  Comments (2)


Did you know the reason traditional classrooms were originally laid out like cubicles (a long hallway with room after enclosed room) is because the idea was that those children would grow up and work in a cubicle themselves one day, so what better way to prepare them than to educate them in one? That probably explains why so many people leaving their offices feel that same sense of freedom we all did as kids leaving school, but the larger problem with this model is that we're seeing less and less cubicle-based offices in today's workplace and more open floor plans and collaborative spaces, yet we're still educating our children using the old boxed-in method.


While that's true for most schools, Learn for Life: New Architecture for New Learning profiles 150 kindergartens, elementary schools, universities, playgrounds, cultural centers and corporate offices. On the early childhood education side, standard classroom walls are replaced by colored areas that are used to divide an open floor plan. "By mixing elements of more formal design restraint with areas that inspire participation and group play, these schools instill students with a feeling of academic responsibility."

At the university level, schools focus on "intertwining communal classrooms and social areas with individual practice rooms and study spaces" to get students ready for the rapidly changing 'real world' office environment, which is itself undergoing a massive retooling. Global "redesign of the traditional office space reflects this changing approach to the professional environment." The offices profiled in this section have increased access to the outdoors and areas dedicated to relaxation and work breaks.



Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  10 May 2012  |  Comments (0)


Though we may yet see the golden days of business again, I think I can safely say that time is, unfortunately, in the distant future. In this "multi-colored age of entrepreneurship," businesses must be more creative than ever when developing a brand strategy, and they shouldn't neglect their looks—a major part of that strategy is a visual identity.

Gestalten's recent publication Introducing: Visual Identities for Small Businesses profiles 151 business identities by 89 designers from all over the world, investigating start-ups and small business owners who know that "branding is personal identification as much as it is public presentation" and who have used a strong visual identity to drive their business. The kinds of businesses profiled range from bespoke perfumeries and bike shops to well known restaurants and bars.

Anna Day and Ellie Jauncy worked in the fields of fashion design and illustration before they founded a full-service flower shop. Jon Cantino and Matt Gorton quit their design studio to establish their own clothing line. Daniel Martnavarro teamed up with his sister, the designer Rocio Martinavarro, to develop a meaningful identity for his bakery shop. And the designers of the Studio Goodmorning Technology develop and sell bicycle parts under the label of a side project that they branded themselves.

The vis-id tome is split into four chapters according to aesthetic:
Sunny Side Up - a clean white slate with bright logos and lettering
Pretty Straight - black, white and gray color palettes with minimal text and linear forms
Everlasting - vintage-inspired
With a Twist - experimental, image-based, humorous or unusual materials



Amongst the best brand identities is the Amsterdam ice cream shop Frozen Dutch, designed by Ewoudt Boonstra. "Like the artistic movement De Stijl, Frozen Dutch stands for elementarism—in this context pure flavors and honest brand communications. The logo is the shape of an ice cream scoop, its colors are those of different flavors and the business card in an ice cream stick." The packaging speaks to the product itself. The only marking on the stark white ice cream container is a sticker with only the most straight forward product information printed with the color of the ice cream flavor, a clear indication to the consumer that Dutch Frozen adds no fillers or synthetic ingredients to their product and, likewise, to their product design.



The aforementioned Studio Goodmorning Technology's branding for Copenhagen Parts takes the cake in the Pretty Straight chapter. The stop sign red color and missing vowels in the brand name not only give you an idea of what the company is about, but it also performs a second task. In 2009 Copenhagen Parts wanted to expand their brand without weakening "their credibility as a supplier to the underground bicycle community. The result is a playful typographic interpretation of bike culture: Real bicycle connoisseurs are always on the lookout for special parts. Their bikes are subjects of an ongoing process of deconstruction and recombination and are never complete." It's win-win. Loyal bikers don't feel like their beloved local shop has sold out and Copenhagen Parts can bring in bigger clients - and how can you not love that Christmas card?



Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  24 Apr 2012  |  Comments (2)

Were you to arrange Phaidon's Wallpaper City Guides by color, the new Tel Aviv edition would sit directly beside New York, a happy coincidence for my bookshelf as my most recent travel took me between the two cities. Perhaps the similar shades were chosen because Tel Aviv is often referred to as the New York of the Middle East? Though New Yorkers like to imagine that everyone who lives anywhere else has city envy, a local who has lived in both cities confided to me that while he likes New York the best of any American city, he'd much rather live in Tel Aviv. "It's like New York with good weather," he said.

You can't exactly fault him. The weather in Tel Aviv is miraculously warm all year round. When I left New York on a 55° morning and landed in Tel Aviv on a 70° night, I dropped my bags at my hotel and took a leisurely stroll through the buzzing city streets, which are safe, even for a young female traveling alone. But even with a nightlife scene to rival New York's, the city's best spots are spread out; Having the City Guide with me (it came out the day after I landed back in New York) would have been a big help.

The Guide does a good job of illustrating Tel Aviv's strengths and struggles in an introduction that describes it as "the world's first modern Jewish city...blessed with many of the amenities needed to be a sophisticated global destination." Tel Aviv not only has a promising culinary movement and a growing art scene with plenty of bars, shopping and miles of beaches, but the city is "aggressively permissive, tolerant and open-minded—a blend of European progressiveness spices with Levantine and Arab traditions... resolutely Jewish but today as gay, multicultural and wealthy as many European cities."



Posted by LinYee Yuan  |  12 Apr 2012  |  Comments (0)


Tuesday night in New York City, our friends over at Sight Unseen launched their first printed edition, Paper View, a collection of stories and personal reflections that document the inner lives and studio spaces of designers from around the world. The book features 24 brand-new and archival pieces that exemplify two and a half years of studio visits and interviews and was published with the support of Karlsson's Gold Vodka's UNFILTERED project.


Paper View is divided into four sections— My Mother or Father Was An Artist, I Studied X and Now I'm Doing Y, Material Obsession and Strange Ephemera—each addressing a larger theme that emerged from their interviews with designers. "For us, it's always been about discovering the universal truths behind what it's like to be a maker, regardless of medium or discipline," the editors Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer explain in their foreword.


sightunseen_monica.JPGMonica Khemsurov, co-Editor of Sight Unseen

Studio visits, process deep-dives and inventories of favorite things fill the pages. My favorite subsection was more of a design interlude filled with an inventory of "8 Things"—from a who's who of design publications, brands and retailers that include the founders of Roman and Williams, Sebastian Wrong (Established & Sons), Nacho Alegre (Apartamento magazine) and Jade Lai (Creatures of Comfort).



Posted by Robert Blinn  |   1 Mar 2012  |  Comments (2)

The current era sees a great deal of cross-pollination between "interaction" and "product" designers, in part because their goals aren't that different. While one may push pixels and the other a mill, ultimately, they both serve users. What the iPhone and iPod demonstrated is that experience design trumps form factor every time. The iPod wasn't just a product; it was part of an ecosystem. Historically, product design also stood as a cousin to architecture, and 50 years ago Jane Jacobs observed that architecture itself could only be evaluated as part of an ecosystem, that of human behavior. Cross pollination doesn't end there.


Jon Kolko's new book, Wicked Problems tackles problems where the product itself is only part of the problem. Kolko aims to tackle are social and policy problems, and he subtitles his book "Problems worth Solving," though the very formulation of wicked problems undermines the notion of a particular "solution."

The solution is confounding in part because wicked problems are extraordinarily difficult to categorize or define. Indeed, in his original formulation, Horst Rittel listed ten characteristics of wicked problems, including the most troublesome first characteristic: defining wicked problems is in itself a wicked problem. From a philosophical standpoint, that's a vicious circularity... a paradox, not a problem. Basically, a wicked problem is one where (1) knowledge of the problem is incomplete (2) many stakeholders have varied opinions, (3) the economic impact is large and (4) the problem is interconnected with other issues, aka problems. Sounds like pretty much any issue working it's way through congress, right? Religion? Check. Healthcare? Check. Poverty? Check. Taxes? Check. War? Check.

Wicked problems are without a doubt interesting. That's why they make good dinner conversation, or why a discussion of global warming can turn to energy policy, post-colonial economics, war, puppet-dictatorships, and then the secondary and tertiary effects of the Russian conflict in Afghanistan, but it could keep going from there. While intellectually appealing, the very idea of a wicked problem suffers from reductio ad absurdum. Just like a four year old asking, "why?" any problem can be made or regressed into a wicked problem. Perhaps there's just one wicked problem: life.

Kolko, however, didn't "define" the term, he's trying to tackle it, which is only marginally easier/harder? In his appealing and insightful "Call to Action," Kolko derives a number of interesting conclusions, namely that social change requires companies to escape the constant drive for quarterly profits. Since most working designers get paid, and payment is a mode of capitalism, even the simplest activity takes place in a system of wicked problems. Quoting Kolko, "When designers have been in the workforce for 12–15 months, a curious thing happens with a tremendous level of regularity, and in equal measures in corporations and consultancies. These designers come to realize that their work is meaningless." We could certainly use a citation on that reference, but anecdotally, it's probably true. Kolko observes that even the simple act of designing a hammer can have diffused consequences, where the humble hammer designer may leave damaged fingers or deforestation as secondary results of an apparently simple act. He does not, however, explain how to resolve the question. Perhaps that's asking too much. When faced with an infinite regress, where does one stop?



Posted by Robert Blinn  |   4 Jan 2012  |  Comments (0)


We had the pleasure of meeting Paul Barbera at Creature of Comfort's beautiful shop on Mulberry Street. Against that backdrop, over a few glasses of senselessly fine tequila and surrounded a fastidiously attired fashionistas and artists, we chatted with Barbera about why he sought out moments in direct contrast with our carefully curated surroundings. For his new book Where They Create, Creature of Comfort's Paul observed that one of his biggest issues was getting his subjects not to clean house.



Each one of us presents a façade to the world, endeavoring to convey our idealized selves to others. Interior photography generally follows the same mold. Clutter is cleaned away and multiple photo exposures are taken to balance the light that comes through the windows without underexposing the detail against the walls. The creative process, however, is far messier. Barbera's early career included fashion photography, advertising, editorial and interiors, but it wasn't until a chance cancellation led him to shoot the working space of his friend Jeb's studio in Italy that he found that an abrupt and unguided tour of the workspace of creatives could offer unguarded insight into their process. Over the next two years, he photographed those spaces and posted them to his website until a chance meeting with Alexandra Onderwater led to the publication of his book. Inside, over 30 creative spaces are photographed using natural lighting and more importantly, without the help of a broom.



Posted by Robert Blinn  |  21 Dec 2011  |  Comments (2)


In her new book Design by Nature, Maggie Macnab addresses the importance of metaphor in communication using the natural world as a starting point. For an abstract thought or concept, meaning can sometimes be expressed faster by pairing two superficially dissimilar ideas than by trying to explain it directly using the physical sciences. Consequently, metaphor has existed as a tool for conveying thought since human beings first began to examine the conceptual relationships that underpin our world. Clearly, a mastery of metaphor in the visual arena can go a long way towards effective visual communication.


An early design example Macnab uses is the outline of an animal paw with a Band-Aid on it. Pairing two different concepts familiar to most viewers, she's able to (quite successfully) piggyback upon all of the associations we have. After seeing the logo, hearing that it's meant to represent an animal hospital should come as no surprise.

The idea of metaphor can be traced at least partly to Aristotle's Poetics, and it's no coincidence that the first scientists were called Natural Philosophers. In trying to make sense of the world, they tried to ascribe meaning (i.e. philosophized) about the natural world. Not surprisingly, when viewed through our modern lenses, be they telescopic or microscopic, they got a lot of it wrong. In our prior review for Macnab's Decoding Design, this reviewer expressed a great deal of consternation that she often spoke of both science and pseudoscientific interpretations as equally factual. In that book, however, the focus was on interpreting those concepts (or those of nature) to the artificial forms created by others.


We're happy to report that this time around, Macnab begins with nature and builds from the ground up. While many of the concepts she discusses (e.g. the four elements plus quintessence/ether) have now passed into pseudoscience, at one point they represented significant building blocks in the way that natural philosophers attempted to comprehend the universe. Consequently, even if they don't conform precisely to current scientific understanding, they remain accessible metaphors for communication, and the graphic designer's job is to communicate with a mass audience, not PhDs.