As textile designer and illustrator Lena Corwin points out in the introduction to her new book, Maps: Illustrated Cities, the process of map making involves a “mix of accuracy and fantasy.” For me, the fantasy element is key to the design appeal of Corwin’s maps, whereby she filters her portrayal of each city’s topography through her distinct aesthetic.
Maps features 20 maps of cities in the United States and 20 maps of select cities from around the world that represent over seven years of illustrating cities in a style that takes its cue from vintage books. Providing another perspective on each urban subject, the book also features interviews with shop owners who give their own impressions of their local city. Topographical perfection is irrelevant, these are the maps I want to use to get around. You can grab your own copy of Maps through Other Books.
I came across these great collages on Archive of Affinities and thought you might like them. They are the work of Danish architect Nils-Ole Lund, author of Collage Architecture. It’s hard not to smile at the top collage “the Fashion of Architecture,” but it raises a point: architecture is never timeless. Fashion relies on seasonal trends; while there’s a big difference between concrete and cotton, gold lamé isn’t terribly different from gold-tinted window film. Lund illustrates this in his collage. (Incidentally, the gold-tinted portion of the building even has a name that sounds more like a textile— the curtain wall.) Of course, time scales for seasonal fashion trends and decade-long architectural trends are very different. You can throw away your jelly shoes, again, much more quickly than you could throw away the conversation pit in your living room, or even the asbestos there. Still, both Fashion and Architecture are cultural artifacts specific to the the technology, time period and trends that produced them.
Supercollider by Radiohead
The Butcher by Radiohead
I was totally shocked to get an email (not personally) from Radiohead saying:
So here are two tracks for your listening pleasure: Supercollider and The Butcher. We released these as a limited edition 2 track 12inch vinyl to mark Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, April 16 … so in case you missed out and didn’t get a copy here they are.
So since Radiohead decided to share these tracks, I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve listened to these a couple times and I’m definitely more of a fan of The Butcher. I think Supercollider kind of sounds like something off of Hail to the Thief, which is ok, but not my personal favorite period. The Butcher sounds like something off of In Rainbows. It’s a really nice song, kinda’ dark and definitely rad sounding.
The folks at Everynone are back with another beautiful video, this time around the idea of Symmetry. You may remember their last video, Words, strung together visual depictions of common worsd, creating a montage that flowed from one scene to another. Words was a video you had to watch multiple times to catch all the nuance, and their new video Symmetry is the very same way.
It’s a montage of things with their symmetrical (sometimes obvious) pair, like cookies and milk or laughing and crying. I don’t know how they do it but every time I watch their videos I get emotional. There’s something about the editing, the sound, the proper imagery, that makes their videos seem so magical. This video is absolutely worth 3 minutes of your time.
I’m loving these photos by Los Angeles based photographer Matthew Brandt which takes his work to a conceptual level. The idea for his Lakes & Reservoir series is pretty straightforward, he takes color photographs and then soaks them in the specific lake or reservoir water that they represent. But the results are totally fantastic, with colors leaking and swirling around, almost like tie-dye gone wrong. In other photos the effect is almost like the reality of the world pictured is starting to fade away. Such a beautiful technique.
The Spanish city of Seville is old. This 2000-year past lures tourists to historical sites across the city, but the scorching summer sun is not the most welcome travel companion. Especially in June, when the average high is nearly 100 degrees. A newly-completed Metropol Parasol by J. Mayer H. adds some much-needed shade to a parcel that used to be a parking lot between historic sites. This novel, urban-scaled umbrella is made of concrete, steel, wood and “super strong glue.” But if you’ve had enough shade, you can walk on top of the sprawling structure and eat at a restaurant perched in the wooden, waffle-lattice cloud.
There is an excellent article by Rowan Moore about the new structure. In the funny and smart article, Rowan answers a question I have always wondered about the architect: “Jürgen Mayer H, a rising Berlin-based architect, now aged 45, who for reasons of effect has shifted his middle initial to the end of his name.” He goes on to discuss the disconnect between the old city and its very new icon, saying that the public space can feel more like an inside-out mall. Which, to me, is better than a parking lot outside the mall entirely.
The multifaceted urban identity of Tokyo has been captured by a plethora of artists in a dazzling array of mediums. Although some creatives choose to focus on one element or characteristic of the city in their work, New York-based photographer James Ryang has not been restricted by one perspective, juxtaposing the serenity of the city’s natural landscapes with the saturated neon of its interiors.
Completely avoiding clichés, Ryang’s imagery is as diverse as the city and beautifully responds to both metropolitan chaos and moments of pause. Ryang’s Tokyo project is only a small part of what is an impressive portfolio, I definitely suggest you stop by and have a click around.
Hong Kong’s history as a port city and duty free mecca has often resulted in the view that it is a city of manufactured copies and international imports with little space for local creative endeavours. This is, of course, far from the truth. At the vanguard of Hong Kong’s local movement is HK Honey, “an organisation of Hong Kong beekeepers, artists and designers that aim to communicate the value of bees and benefits of locally produced honey.” A small network harvesting honey in the tight urban confines and roofs of Hong Kong is not necessarily an idea that would instantly come to mind when thinking about the city, which is what makes it so inspiring – not to mention admirable.
Going behing the scenes with founder Michael Leung, a product designer and beekeeper, the video by Kiku Ohe for Nokia’s E7 Success Redefined global campaign sheds light on the ethos and aesthetic of the organisation, their approach to fostering community, the concept of breaking down the division between producer and consumer and the manner in which the environment of Hong Kong impacts on production. It is a fascinating and uplifting journey.
A special thanks to Charis Poon for kindly passing on the link to the video.
I often complain about the design and look of websites. There’s a lot of sites out there that simply need some love and a few tweaks, and they’d instantly be much better off. There are also a lot of sites out there that have been around for so long that they’ve got digital junk laying around their site, like they could be on an episode of Hoarders. Instead of complaining endlessly about the matter I’ve decided to do something about it. So here’s my first try at redesigning an existing website to look and function better.
Let me be clear about my objective. I’m not trying to rethink or reinvigorate these websites, I’m simply giving them a facelift. Clearly these sites are popular for a reason, so I’ve made a list of simple suggestions on how they can improve their user experience. My version is meant as a critique of their current website, definitely not an attack on anyone in particular.
To start off my first redesign I chose a website which I use quite often… Netflix. I use Netflix quite often, and I love using it… on my television. The 10 foot experience is perfect for browsing movies on your couch. But when you use their website it looks like it hasn’t been updated in about 5 years. Is it functional? Yes. But could it look and function better? In my opinion, the answer is yes. I’m not here to make the whole damn site better, far from it, I simply have some ideas that I think would help. I should also make it clear that I have no relation to Netflix, this isn’t some kind of ad, I’m just doing this because I’m a weird-o. So what would I change? Read on to see my suggestions.
I can’t remember when or how I stumbled across Coolrunnings but I’m glad that I did. After releasing a string of enjoyable EPs and singles over the last few months, they finally put out their debut a few weeks back and it’s pretty damn good. Entitled Dracula Is Only The Beginning and featuring the picture of a hair-faced boy on the cover (thanks to Thee Ruiner), it’s fair to expect something a little crazy from this Tennessee four-piece.
Opening track Chorus is the stand-out for me. On this one, comparisons to Animal Collective are going to be hard to avoid but that’s no bad thing. Like the boys from Baltimore, Coolrunnings also seem to display an exotic range of influences that run through their sound and the album itself seems to be a cocktail of different styles and flavors. On each listen I’ve discovered a new vibe or a new similarity, and all this joins together to make for an album that’s a fun listen. If you like what you hear, why not head over to their bandcamp page where you can stream the whole thing or buy it for a mere $5. If, as the album title says, Dracula is only the begining, then hopefully we’ll get to hear more from Coolrunnings in the near future.