Date Archives February 2012

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Celine Loup

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Celine Loup

Celine Loup

For those who’ve been following along, you may know of my ongoing fascination with the tale of Urashima Taro. For those who aren’t familiar:

It’s about a young boy who helps a sea turtle who’s being harassed by a group of children. The next day a giant sea turtle rises up from the ocean to greet Urashima Taro, who unknowingly saved the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea, Ryojin, who wants to see him to thank him. Urashima Taro is brought to the bottom of the ocean where he meets the princess again, only this time she is a beautiful maiden. He stays for a few days but then wants to go home, as his mother is ill. The princess then gives him a mysterious box called tamatebako which will protect him from harm but which she tells him never to open. When he gets back to the surface, nothing is the same – his mother and his village gone. It turns out that 300 years had passed while he was underwater, though it only felt like a few days. Distraught, he opens the box given to him by the princess, only to find that it contains his age, instantly becoming old and grayed. From the sea comes the sad, sweet voice of the princess: “I told you not to open that box. In it was your old age …”

This week is British illustrator Celine Loup, who provides the scene where Urashima meets the princess for the first time. Celine has created a fantastic illustration with tons of details. If you look at Urashima’s jacket you’ll see what I mean. It’s also great that she was able to include the fish swimming around, a subtle nod to the fact that they’re chilling underwater without being heavy handed. A big thanks to Celine for continuing the tale.

You can see the other Urashima Taro wallpapers by clicking here.

Beautiful music posters by Timothy Farrell

Laura Marling poster by Tim Farrell

ASIWYFA poster by Tim Farrell

LaFaro poster by Tim Farrell

I discovered the work of Timothy Farrell through his sharp editorial design for the Belfast-based AU magazine. I was intrigued to see more of what he does, so I checked out his portfolio and I’m happy to say that the rest of his work doesn’t disappoint. I could really share any number of his projects with you but it’s his music posters that really caught my eye.

Crisp, clean and beautiful imagery – Tim’s posters are the type of thing you’d love to buy at the merch-stand of your favorite band. I’m particularly fond of his poster for Laura Marling’s Summer tour, which you can see at top. Not only is it a beautiful image, but I think it translates the feeling of Marling’s music quite well. The image was also rolled out across t-shirts and tote bags, which I can imagine worked nicely as well.

You can check out more of what Tim does online here.

A town of Germans hate Peter Zumthor’s pants

Peter Zumthor gate design for Isny Germany

Peter Zumthor gate design for Isny Germany

The small, bavarian town of Isny, Germany does not want a giant pair of glass pants welcoming people to their town. I know this because recently a majority of the townsfolk have voted to block the design of Peter Zumthor from moving forward. The town invited Zumthor to design an entry gate for their town, except once the design of the gate was revealed the townspeople came up with various nicknames including “glass underpants” and “giant molar.” Now the town has voted to kill the project, which is sad because a project from one of the most celebrated practicing architects has died. Still, it’s hard to look at a model of the project and see anything other than a pair of pants. Surely, in the hands of Zumthor, it would have been the best giant pair of glass pants anyone could have imagined.

‘Wool’, a series of sci-fi zines by Hugh Howey

Since its inception, science fiction has been under attack. Considered mere “genre fiction” by your favorite antagonistic English professors, it can contain some of the finest phonies in literature. It’s tough to find a serious writing program out there that will let the students engage in “genre fiction” as it may distract from the fundamentals of storytelling, such as character development, metaphor and setting. But somehow there is acceptance of Shelley, Wells and Jules Verne (who are rarely taught) while Herbert and Heinlein are taboo. As Harry Potter and Twilight gently whisk fantasy into the mainstream, there appears to be some small chance (outside of the movies Star Wars/Trek and Phillip K. Dick) that the genre will be taken seriously. Maybe science fiction’s biggest enemy is science itself. On a day by day basis we learn about teleportation, phasers, and new planets, all science fiction staples that are now reality. So outside of the pulp world, where are the new science fiction writers who can bring the writing into mainstream acceptance?

Few people on this planet know who Hugh Howey is. His novels are mostly self published, available in a digital format. But something has caught on here and I got the bug as well. The Wool series has generated a fast-growing cult in the self-publishing and sci-fi communities. All of a sudden you are climbing the steps to a world where…

Each step was slightly bowed from generations of traffic, the edge rounded down like a pouting lip. in the center, there was almost no trace of the small diamonds that once gave the treads their grip. Their absence could only be inferred by the pattern to either side, the small pyramidal bumps rising from flat steel with their crisp edges and flecks of paint.

And soon you are in the silo that is Wool. One part Fallout and a dash of the Allegory of the Cave, the story is a cracker. Howey’s DIY attitude and aesthetic to writing goes to show you don’t need a publisher to build a following. Wool accelerates chapter by chapter and Hugh Howey’s emergence as a writer might be one of the best stories of 2012.

You can grab Wool for your Kindle here. If you don’t have a Kindle simply download the Kindle app to your cell phone and proceed to make your bus/subway/train trip that much better.

Beautifully bold branding for Attido by Bond

Beautifully bold branding for Attido by Bond

Beautifully bold branding for Attido by Bond

Beautifully bold branding for Attido by Bond

I don’t tend to post about branding often because I find it difficult to write about. I tend to like design that sways toward the minimal end, so how do I expound upon simplicity? Well, I’ve been sufficiently inspired to do so by this branding project for Attido by Bond.

Attido is a company that handles business information systems, which is an important but not quite glamorous profession. What Bond has done with their branding is short of a miracle, in my opinion. Many of you might remember the old black and yellow days of Kitsune Noir, which I personally loved. This though, is a whole other level. The super bold typeface stops you in your tracks, the A mark could poke your eye out and the yellow demands your attention at all times. I’m not sure it says “business information systems”, but it’s absolutely memorable.

This is absolutely one of those projects I wish I’d have made.

A competition for architecture student projects

What happens to student projects after the final critique? Many projects languish in over-designed portfolios or on abandoned websites, dying very slow deaths. suckerPUNCH is hosting a competition to tease out the ten best projects from American architecture students over the past year. Students submitted their projects, ten will be selected for exhibition based on votes, and three of of the ten will be selected by a jury to have fragments prototyped at full scale. If it were up to me, everyone would vote for my friend Melissa Shin because her project is the bee’s knees.* Also, you should vote for Melissa because her model uses gold poché melted down from teeth she found on the ground in New Haven.**

* This statement is true.
** This statement is not true.

Emergent Behavior: An explosive photo series from Thomas Jackson

Emergent Behavior: An explosive photo series from Thomas Jackson

Emergent Behavior: An explosive photo series from Thomas Jackson

Emergent Behavior: An explosive photo series from Thomas Jackson

Emergent Behavior: An explosive photo series from Thomas Jackson

Last March I wrote about Thomas Jackson and his fantastic book of robots, appropriately titled The Robot Book. He emailed me a couple days ago to tell me he has a new series called Emergent Behavior. As he describes it, there were “no robots involved, though the mysterious hovering sculptures remain.” And it’s true, the mystery does remain as he’s created these immense photos with such interesting compositions. I want to say that he simply tossed everything into the air, but I doubt it’s that easy as these photos are almost too perfect.

You can see the rest of the set by clicking here.

‘Reign of Terror’, the new album from Sleigh Bells

'Reign of Terror', the new album from Sleigh Bells

I was and I wasn’t a fan of the last Sleigh Bells album, Treats. It had its high points with songs like “Tell ‘Em” and “Rill Rill,” but the noisy feedback ended up sounding the same after a while. I think Treats was the perfect name for the album; you don’t want to listen to it all the time, just when you’re in a certain mood. With their new album Reign of Terror, they’re back with more face punch rock, but with a bit more diversity.

The in-your-face guitars are still there and Alexis Krauss’ vocals are still as shout-y as ever, but there’s lots of great moments on this album that differ from their previous effort. The song “You Lost Me” sounds like a fire alarm going off on a Kate Bush track, which is honestly a compliment. I’ve only listened to the album one time through so far, but I’d say it’s certainly going to be a more solid album than Treats. You can listen to the three song preview above, or if you’re on Rdio you can click here to listen to the whole album.

‘These pixels are making me thirsty’ – A Seinfeld Tribute by Nathan Manire

'These pixels are making me thirsty' - A Seinfeld Tribute by Nathan Manire

'These pixels are making me thirsty' - A Seinfeld Tribute by Nathan Manire

'These pixels are making me thirsty' - A Seinfeld Tribute by Nathan Manire

I’m a big Seinfeld fan so when I saw Nathan Manire’s excellent tribute to the iconic 90’s television series I couldn’t help but share it! It’s a great-looking print, and trying to spot all the references that it makes is a lot of fun.

Nathan is a graphic-designer and illustrator from Michigan who currently lives and works in New York. His portfolio has a number of interesting projects in it, including some really nice portraiture which is also well worth checking out.

The print above is currently for sale through his website and I think its title, ‘These pixels are making me thirsty’ really deserves some kudos! If ever the title of a print needed to be screamed out loud in your best George Costanza impersonation, it’s this one!

Difficult Architecture

Frank Gehry presenting his design for the Eisenhower Memorial

I can’t stop thinking about this because it’s such a mess.

This weekend, I came across a sharply written essay by Leon Krier about the embattled design of the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. The memorial design is from the office of Frank Gehry, certainly no stranger to controversy, and when I first read the essay I thought it was pretty damning. Krier eloquently undermines the framework for Gehry’s approach to the memorial, citing the public’s (and Eisenhower’s) dislike of modern architecture and concluding that Gehry’s work “seems ‘innovative’ only to the ignorant.” Burn.

After reading the essay again, Krier’s argument bothers me. It’s difficult to defend Gehry when I think the Eisenhower Memorial is not his best work, nor is it evolving to become better, but Krier’s argument has some problems. To start, I don’t think that Gehry necessarily has a “distaste of a classical Washington, D.C.” just because he doesn’t emulate a neoclassical approach to buildings. One of my favorite painters is Hieronymus Bosch, but I don’t think every painting should resemble his panels that are half a millenium old and I don’t make holiday cards that appear to be cut-and-pasted from The Garden of Earthly Delights. So I must dislike Bosch, right?

Nor do I think that it is apt to say that “the remnants of the World Trade Center were eerily reminiscent of Gehry’s style.” It’s an inappropriate comparison.

It is confusing to read in one paragraph about the 99% of Americans who prefer classically-conceived houses, and in the next read that only ignorant people think Gehry’s work is innovative. Even if most Americans prefer not to live in Gehry’s work, or anything that looks like it, plenty of us think he is innovative. Does that mean ignorant people like classical architecture? Oddly, Krier tries to tarnish Gehry’s monument by declaring that Modernism has been “brain-dead for half a century.” If modernism has been brain-dead for only fifty years, then classical architecture surely has been brain-dead for much longer.

Finally, while some of Krier’s opinons are gratuitous, they aren’t free. Krier’s essay is part of a political machine larger than Krier, fueled by dollars from an “investment manager” who has distributed the essay through a PR firm to try and stop Gehry’s project from moving forward. The hullabaloo surrounding Gehry’s project has become the most exhausting puppet show to watch, and I don’t think Eisenhower would have watched it.