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The long now

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One of my favorite presentations at the Design and Film symposium last Saturday was Stuart Kendall‘s talk on the film Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. The documentary, directed by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, focuses on Goldsworthy’s site-specific sculptural work.

I was particularly interested in Kendall’s reading of this film, which he says it is not about making, but about modifying things. To Kendall, Goldsworthy’s work challenges an anthropocentric view of the world (as vindicated from Descartes to the multiculturalist agenda), the fetishism of the heroic creator or the question of artistic and environmental appropriateness.  Kendall’s lecture explored the concepts of modification vs. creation, of art – but also design – as disciplines that are part of a historical and material continuum he called long now.

This notion of a natural, physical continuum that contains humans, their actions and their consequences (as opposed to the notion of nature as a human construct) inspired a few questions asked by Kendall in his talk, such as: “What do I want to make today? What trace of my life can I leave here today? What can I do to improve existing matter and its environment?”. This is a fascinating, revolutionary way to look into human, material production. In the end, and as expressed by Goldworthy himself, “I don’t think the Earth needs me at all. But I do need it”.

Written by Frederico Duarte

March 23, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Old Navy’s SuperModelquins Kind of Freak Me Out

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I gave it a shot. I really tried. But I’d be lying if I said that Old Navy’s new ad campaign featuring plastic mannequins wasn’t creepy. The big smiles, back-stories and facebook profiles just aren’t connecting with me. The mega-retailer hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the same firm responsible for Burger King’s (also creepy) plastic king mascot, to implement a “multipronged marketing effort.”

I think I’ve figured out why I find them so unnerving. In past years, mannequins have gone in a more faceless direction. Sellers emphasize the product (and not the piece of plastic that’s wearing it). In a way, we expect mannequins to be monochrome and relatively unobtrusive. Some stores, like the Gap, have done away with the face completely.

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And oddly, we’re ok with that. It’s when they don’t blend in that we notice. If you’ve ever walked by a really old store and caught a glimpse of an eerily realistic mannequin, you know what I’m talking about.

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I get it, they’re creating characters and trying to connect with the core customers (which, interestingly, they have lost over the past few years. Blame it on slutty bathing suits and micro-mini shorts!). The company is trying to revert back to the old, family oriented Old Navy. That’s fine. But are SuperModelquins and Goga pants (yoga pants on the go!) the answers?

Written by beckyquintal

March 16, 2009 at 7:49 pm

So that’s what Twitter is all about…

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Written by Frederico Duarte

March 13, 2009 at 6:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading on the Web

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If you are the type of person who doesn’t like reading on web, then you’ll be happy to hear that designer Mandy Brown has heard your plight. Brown believes that the key to happy readers lies not so much in the quality of content, but in the design of the content.  A certain amount of “noise” must accompany online reading. For longer articles and text, however, Brown thinks that designers should eliminate distraction and emulate the uninterrupted qualities of print-on-page. In her article “By design,” she writes:

By design, a text makes a statement as to how it should be read – or if it should be read at all. We’ve all heard – and may have said ourselves – that much text on the web isn’t read, that users will look at the headings and the navigation and (maybe) the pictures, but they’ll skip right over that block of text in the middle of the page. And we’re right – they probably will – because the text has been designed to be skipped over.

Throw a bunch of text into a block with no attention to line length or leading, or the volume and voice with which the text should speak, and it will repulse even the most dedicated of readers. It’s the equivalent of asking a small child to walk into a room of crowded adults, head straight into a corner, and meekly whisper into the wall. Do not be surprised when no one notices her.”

Brown has a point. And it’s particularly refreshing to see her ideas put into action (her website, A Working Library, is awash in white space).   I highly recommended checking it out.

I certainly agree with the idea that designers are largely responsible for how people will read content on the web. But I’m hesitant to completely agree with Brown’s prescription of simple and straightforward presentation of text.  Designers should definitely be able to play with reader a bit. Let’s not take all fun out of reading!

Written by beckyquintal

March 10, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Far Out on the Edge of the Earth

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The new Petter Dass Museum in Alstahaug, Norway slices through dense rock and cantilevers out over the water.  Snøhetta built the museum with inspiration from Dass, one of the best writers and poets in Norway at the time (circa 1700). Architectural Record documents the curving, cutting building and how it seems to reflect Dass’ famous work, “Nordlands Trompet (The Trumpet of Nordland)”

It seems that, far out on the edge of the earth 

Old nature has found its good way to give birth 

To rare and splendid abundance.

Written by Wegener

March 8, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Detroit Frappuccino

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Andrew Zago’s Mercury Coffee Bar is a stimulating addition to the continuously declining Detroit.  The Architect’s Newspaper blog about its creation addresses how Zago chose to  “avoid reflecting Detriot’s troubled state” and I can’t blame him.  The bar is lively and colorful and described as a “third wave” coffee shop (not a diner or a living room type like Starbucks).  I only wonder who is patronizing this bar — certainly not the people that live around the desolate area that it occupies. I only wish there was something this imaginative where I live.

Written by Wegener

March 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Looking Around

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I was “looking around” Time.com and having difficulty finding Richard Lacayo’s blog on art and architecture. Somehow Mr. Lacayo has the time to write long essay critiques in addition to the regular columns he publishes. I’m not sure if I agree with how he addresses architecture (as it is closer to art than I might like) but it shows how difficult it is to get an audience for this stuff. There are rarely comments on his board (as opposed to the easy debate starting political topics). Is this the fault of the magazine? The audience? Or the content?

Written by Wegener

March 6, 2009 at 3:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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