Ben and I have spent the last week in Rancho Mirage, California, overseeing the installation of the mural we have designed for MGA Partners, Architects’ Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert. Consisting of over 4,000 nine inch square aluminium tiles, the mural has a base image of eyes, the predominant mechanism of discovery, to create an inviting facade for visitors. Over time, each of the gray tiles will be replaced by a donor portrait, carefully matched in overall density to the tile it will replace, keeping the base image intact. Thus an initial image without any indication of age, gender, or ethnicity will be seen on close inspection to be a muticultural mosaic of the Museum’s visitors. If you are interested in becoming a donor, or sponsoring a child or family member, the cost of a tile is only $225, and is a fully tax-deductible contribution. You can contact the Museum for details. We will be returning to the Desert in a few weeks to oversee the installation of the first portraits and will post pictures of the completed mural at that time.
For those of us who have to deal with symbols and icons on a regular basis, and there can’t be many of us who don’t nowadays, Mies Hora’s new publication Official Signs and Icons 2 is a wonderful resource. It comes both as a book and a CD (containing outline EPS files) which you can buy separately or as a set.
In eleven chapters, it brings together in one volume, pretty much every symbol you will ever need to wrestle with, including highway and transportations signs, safety symbols, recreational symbols and some nerdy stuff for electronics, computers, meteorology, and labelling. Most fun is the chapter which shows each character of the alphabet in signal flags, semaphore positions, Morse code, American Sign Language, and Braille.
There have been several such books published from time to time since Henry Dreyfus’ 1972 Symbol Sourcebook, which still contains the most fascinating and esoteric selections, such as hobo signs. But for symbols with everyday applications, if you aren’t planning to jump a freight train, Mies has excelled himself in putting together this exhaustive collection (although I must admit I gave him a little help with some of those relating to accessibility).
Last week in Central Park, a gingko tree in full color. This week, the last leaves are falling.
We were presented with this dialog box while updating to Adobe CS2 this week. I was so disappointed that the OK button didn’t say UPDATE instead.
Photographed in London last month, these two new footbridges over the Thames are very much worth checking out and have really made access to the newly developed South Bank of the Thames more inviting. The Millennium bridge, by architects Foster and Partners with sculptor Sir Anthony Caro ran into some early bouncing problems and was closed until the installation of monster shock absorbers. Leading directly from St. Paul’s to the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre it provides some wonderful vantage points of the River and the City. The new Hungerford footbridges, one on each side of the rail bridge, by architects Lifschutz Davidson replace an old, dangerous, and creepy footbridge I often used during trips back and forth from the National Film Theatre when a student. Take the tube to St. Paul’s, walk over the MIlennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, then west along the embankment, and return to Trafalgar Square via the new Hungerford bridge (the west side is best). Great views and some stimulating modern design. All paid for by a publc lottery. Is this a way to go for paying for much needed public space improvements in the US?
We featured a wonderful Wendy House a few weeks ago, designed by UK Architects Sanei Hopkins for their daughters. They have followed up this success with an equally wonderful project for their sons. (Before we start, we have to explain that Pig Arcs in the UK are arched corrugated galvanized steel shelters for pigs to live in – like mini Quonset huts). To quote their own words:
“As there was no precedent for a ‘Peter Pan House’ we based the design on a Suffolk Pig Arc for ‘Flying Pigs’. This concept captured the imagination of all our children as they were all intrigued to know when the pigs would come? In fact, most of the design decisions could be explained to them simply by referring to the needs of the flying pigs. eg. the structure is suspended between two trees because the pigs need good clearance around them when they are coming in to land. Also, the structure is only six feet off the ground as flying pigs can’t fly very high etc. The boys have permission to use the structure only when the pigs aren’t there.”
Who said minimalism is no fun?
Bored with your minimalist Apple Cinema Display? Try this mean green apple monitor (shown with doors closed). Bored with your beige CRT? How about a lobster, or Buzz LIghtyear, or fries? These and many, many, other mindboggling alternatives available from Hannspree. (For those suffering from Flashophobia, there are, thankfully, many well-placed skip buttons on the website). Maybe its about time we designers loosened up a bit.
As designers, we are more used to clients throwing this stuff at us, so the basket of fruit above which arrived at our studio today, politely and in edible condition, and from a very wonderful client, was very much appreciated. It is particularly nice when clients appreciate (presumably) what we do for them. In this particular case, an annual report for the Literacy Assistance Center in New York (we also designed their website). One unique aspect of this piece is that to keep costs down for this not-for-profit organization, we put the President’s letter and financials on an insert slipped between the staples and displaying the concluding two numerals of the year. Next year we simply print a new insert with a new letter and financials, and with 05 on it, and insert that into another thousand copies of the base document that the printer has kept in storage. Two annual reports for the price of one. That’s worth a banana or two.
I have noticed recently that a new street artist has been around New York stencilling aircraft silhouettes (P-47 Thunderbolts more or less) on mailboxes. This one photographed near the Apple store in Soho.
One of the great perks of being a designer, particularly of identity and branding programs, is that you become closely involved with some wonderfully interesting people you might otherwise never get to meet. A case in point is with an identity program we are just starting for Brooklyn Friends School. Last week, Ben, Saki, DK Holland and I spent a sweltering but fabulous day visiting the School, and were amazed that the entire building was packed with art projects of a level that was difficult to believe came from lower/middle/upper school students. It was no easy task to choose the three pieces shown here, a puppet, a mosaic, and a mural, from literally hundreds of equally accomplished examples. This work is done by kids just like any others, who, with the proper encouragement and nurturing were capable of achieving extraordinary results. The sad thing is that this is extraordinary where in fact it should be ordinary. All high schools could demonstrate the same achievement and vision if they wished. Art programs, including both the visual and performing arts, cut from one curriculum after another, are an essential element in the development of fully balanced and fulfilled individuals. It is a tragedy that so few other schools in New York or elsewhere aren’t following this remarkable example.