Date Archives January 2012

Microbiology: It’s Pretty!

Luke Jerram's intricate glass sculpture of SARS

Luke Jerram's intricate glass sculpture of HIV

Luke Jerram's intricate glass sculpture of a Bacteriaphage

These delicate and “oooooh pretty” glass sculptures are actually quite terrifying. Why? Because they represent some very nasty stuff– bugs- that have cause a lot of people a lot of pain. From top to bottom, Luke Jerram has made for us the SARS corona virus, HIV and (my personal favorite) a bacteriophage. Bacteriophages work by attaching to the surface of bacteria, drilling through the bacteria’s wall and injecting genetic material from the portion of the bacteriophage that looks like a head. It’s like a terrifying, microscopic hybrid of a spider, a needle, and the baby head from Toy Story.

It is significant that these are made of glass, and not something else, for a few reasons. For starters, science labs use a lot of glass. Not as much as they used to, since disposable plastics have invaded many bench tops, but glassblowing used to be an indispensable skill for microbiologists. Another reason, and I did not realize this until I read it on Jerram’s website, but viruses are too small to have any color. That is, the wavelength of light is larger than a virus. All the color on the images from electron microscopes is made up: some are colored for scientific reasons and others are colored just to look pretty. So even though the viruses rendered in glass are in ways more accurate, they’re also, in a strange way,  prettier.

Editor’s note: Related but different, here’s a great piece on the micro bacteria which lives on the human body, and how they outnumber your cells by ten to one / Found via Kottke

Space Suit of the Week

Spacesuit of the Week - Afronauts by Cristina De Middel

Spacesuit of the Week - Afronauts by Cristina De Middel

Spacesuit of the Week - Afronauts by Cristina De Middel

Spacesuit of the Week - Afronauts by Cristina De Middel

Cristina De Middel is a photojournalist. Her series “Afronauts” captures the narrative of Zambia’s failed attempt to put man on the moon in a dignified, triumphant light. Her dossier reads:

“Afronauts’ is based on the documentation of an impossible dream that only lives in the pictures.”

Zambia didn’t put space boots on the moon, but these photographs show a quilted portrait of not shattered, unattained dreams, but nationalist hope and determination. There’s some published pieces out there that tries to paint Zambia’s space ambitions in the 1960’s as an absurdity. If you wish to see Zambia unattained goals in that light, I can only wonder want you think of Newt Ginrich’s ambitions for a moon colony while running for office in a country that isn’t funding lunar exploration either. We all have ambitions. Here’s to the dreamers.

‘Kolchoz & Sovchoz’ – The incredibly insane work of Sam Vanallemeersch

Sam Vanallemeersch

Sam Vanallemeersch

Sam Vanallemeersch

Sam Vanallemeersch

The work of Belgian artist and illustrator Sam Vanallemeersch is just incredible. Each of his images are filled with a crazy amount of energy and spontaneity. His work often leaves you dazed as you attempt to take in everything you’re looking at. After browsing through his portfolio(s) I was left feeling both overwhelmed and in awe.

The Antwerp-based artist also has an interesting approach to how he works – creating illustrations in two very different ways. Sometimes he works under the name of Kolchoz – working digitally and with gouache to create graphic-based illustrations with sharp lines and beautiful colors. Other times, he can be found working as Sovchoz – a looser and wilder version of himself, like an illustrator trapped in some coffee-soaked acid-trip. Both approaches to his work are amazing and envy-inducing. I’d thoroughly recommended you take the next half-hour off and simply gorge yourself on this mans incredible work.

Ditch Helvetica, try these 5 contemporary sans serif typefaces

Ditch Helvetica, try these 5 contemporary sans-serif typefaces

The other night I took to Twitter to see if anyone had any good suggestions for a contemporary feeling sans-serif typeface for use in a project that I’m working on. I received a number of suggestions, so I thought I’d share five typefaces which were my favorites. They’re listed out in alphabetical order, not by preference, in case you were wondering. And if you were curious what the typeface in the image above was, it’s Avenir.

You can click the titles of each font to get more information/purchase them.

Alright Sans by Jackson Cavanaugh

Alright Sans by Jackson Cavanaugh

Alright Sans by Jackson Cavanaugh
Alright Sans is a contemporary sans-serif. Inspired by both grotesque and humanist models, it’s clean and prudent with a warm, friendly tone.

Alright Sans is a modest design that doesn’t feel at all stiff or bland. It has open apertures and roundabout economy that works exceptionally well across media and at reduced sizes. And with shorter-than-normal capitals and a tall x-height, it’s functional without becoming distracting, goofy, or unprofessional.

Apercu by The Entente

Apercu by The Entente

Aperçu by The Entente
Aperçu is a sans-serif typeface designed by Brighton based studio The Entente. Aperçu was started in December 2009, and has been trialled and tested through a number of design commissions taken on by The Entente through 2010. The conceit behind Aperçu was to create a synopsis or amalgamation of classic realist typefaces: Johnston, Gill Sans, Neuzeit & Franklin Gothic.

Calibre by Klim Type Foundry

Calibre by Klim Type Foundry

Calibre by Klim Type Foundry
Calibre is a geometric neo-grotesque, inspired by the rationality of Aldo Novarese’s seldom seen Recta. The now-defunct Nebiolo foundry released Recta in the late ’50s, designed by a team lead by Aldo Novarese. Like Novarese’s Microgramma & Forma, Recta seems to be an attempt to rationalise the genre. Unfortunately it’s marred by over optical correction and awkward branching—neither smooth nor sharp. However, Recta’s rationalisation of the neo-grotesque genre appealed to me and was a logical starting point for Calibre.

You can read a long and extremely interesting essay on the creation of Calibre, and it’s counterpart, Metric by clicking here.

Knul by Jonathan Hill

Knul by Jonathan Hill

Knul by Jonathan Hill
An elegant modern typeface with a subtle monoline appearance. The simplicity of the design creates clean forms best suited to identity, editorial and advertising uses.

Supria Sans by Hannes von Döhren

Supria Sans by Hannes von Döhren

Supria Sans by Hannes von Döhren
Supria Sans and Supria Sans Condensed is an extended family of 36 fonts designed by Hannes von Döhren. It contains two widths, six weights and three styles, including the curvy, feminine Italic as well as the more conventional Oblique. Although it is inspired by the utilitarian clarity of Swiss type design, subtle curves and fine detailing impart a more playful character to the whole Supria Sans family.

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Denise Nouvion: Day 4

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Denise Nouvion: Day 4

Denise Nouvion: Day 4

Day four of our series with Denise Nouvion has arrived, and another beautiful desktop along with it. Today’s image, for lack of a better term, is pretty epic, a cloudy mountain range off in the distance. I get a big Miyazaki vibe from this image, it’s spooky and cool. If you’re looking for an image to make you feel all zen like, this might be the one for you. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for the last image in the series.

You can click here to see the other days:
Denise Nouvion: Day 1
Denise Nouvion: Day 2
Denise Nouvion: Day 3
Denise Nouvion: Day 5

Preppy superheroes invade Thom Browne’s Fall 2012 runway show

Preppy superheroes invade Thom Browne's Fall 2012 runway show

Preppy superheroes invade Thom Browne's Fall 2012 runway show

I respect Thom Browne because he just doesn’t give a fuck. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true, I think he doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks and has a lot of fun doing it. The images above are from his Fall 2012 runway show and boy what a doozy this collection is. To me the models look like preppy superheroes, which as it turns out, look pretty rad. You’ve got the ‘roided out HUlk types, which totally crack me up because you know those models weigh like 120 lbs. And then you’ve got the masked vigilantes, outfitted with leather, studs… and bow ties. I don’t claim to know what it means, but I certainly do enjoy it.

To see Thome Browne’s full Fall 2012 collection, click over to GQ.

A garden shed or a home away from home?

A garden shed or a home away from home?

A garden shed or a home away from home?

A garden shed or a home away from home?

A garden shed or a home away from home?

I came across these lovely photos over on Anthology and was totally surprised to find out that this is not a lovely bedroom, it’s actually a garden shed. The styling that was put into this, while minimal, made me think this was some sort of outdoor vacation lodge that you could camp out in during the warm summer months. And maybe you could? It would certainly be romantic and not entirely impractical. If you’re interested in learning more about this garden shed, you can click here.

Architects Have Answers

Architects Have Answers

Architects Have Answers

The video above is made from snippets of 20 interviews with architectural luminaries. Conducted by Luca Farinelli, the interviews are published in the latest issue of Log, and it’s funny to see how the architects’ answers compare to each others… or maybe it’s not surprising that Peter Eisenman thinks that only architects make architecture. And then there are other kinds of surprising answers: When asked if he prefers a Mac or PC, Rober Stern (Dean, Yale School of Architecture) answers: “Never turned on a computer my entire life.” But maybe this just means that he has someone else to turn a computer on for him.

This issue of Log also has an article by Nicholas de Monchaux (remember him?) writing about the painted and unpainted fuel tanks of the space shuttle program. And much, much more.

Why hasn’t anyone created a better web-based email provider?

Creating a better email provider

For me personally, I use and love Gmail. The team behind the service has to be one of the best, hardest working teams in tech, as they’re constantly rolling out new changes and improvements, especially on the mobile front. The big problem is, they’re a part of Google. Lately Google has been getting pretty shady, like adding in Google+ results into search, and now their policies are being updated as of March 1, 2012, which means a few things. The good is that you’ll have a unified “profile” across all of their divisions. The bad being that they’re going to start using even more of the data we input to further sell more advertisements. Remember, Google is not here to help you, it’s here to make money. So why isn’t anyone taking this opportunity to make some money on their creepiness?

I’m the first to admit that I have no idea what it takes to create an online email provider. I’m sure you’d need all sorts of server clusters and cloud membranes and yadda yadda, but isn’t that stuff getting cheaper by the second? So imagine that we have the backend figured out, and it all works like magic. Couldn’t someone design a cleaner, more human version of Gmail that doesn’t use your information to sell ads? You’d probably have to pay for it, but don’t we all pay for things that make our lives easier? I pay for Rdio, I pay for Dropbox, I pay for my water and electricity. I don’t know about you, but I’d put email up there with all of those essential services.

As far as I can tell there are about 3 or 4 major web-based email providers, namely Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc. But where’s the cool, design driven alternative? Perhaps I’m being to flippant about this, and maybe it’s way too hard to actually do, but I feel like there’s a serious gap that could be filled by a strong team with a great product. As Google (and Facebook, can’t forget about them) start to creep their tentacles around our lives, shouldn’t we start building our own alternatives

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Denise Nouvion: Day 3

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Denise Nouvion: Day 3

Denise Nouvion: Day 3

I’m a bit late in the day on this, but here is our third wallpaper from photographer Denise Nouvion. I really like today’s wallpaper because it’s so abstract and how vibrant the colors. You can clearly tell that it’s a window, but then around the edges everything gets a bit fuzzy and the whole image gets really interesting. It almost looks like oil in water, with lots of beautiful, murky colors.

You can click here to see the other days:
Denise Nouvion: Day 1
Denise Nouvion: Day 2
Denise Nouvion: Day 4
Denise Nouvion: Day 5