Date Archives October 2012

Trick or Treat: SOM drops an outlandish doughnut into Manhattan

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

When I first saw renderings of SOM’s proposal for Grand Central Station, I didn’t even bother to read about it. It looked… not that great. SOM (along with others) was asked to submit an architectural intervention for the area surrounding Grand Central Station. The folks funding this design work are hoping to generate the public support needed to have the area rezoned. This rezoning would allow greater density and taller towers, somehow preventing the area from becoming a soulless jumble of chain restaurants. So my initial disappointment with the proposal was due to the towers themselves: they are fine, but nothing more. The aren’t exciting, they’re boring. And what was this halo perched between them?  It’s a pretty ostentatious connection for two unambitious towers. And doesn’t it just look like a clear version of that Olafur Eliasson museum extension in Denmark? But then I realized that the halo had an impressive trick: it moves.

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

Up and down, up and down, this urban-scaled doughnut is an elevator that climbs from the cornice of Grand Central to the… to the… top of the towers. Towers that I no longer even care about because that moving thing is too exciting. How awesome would it be to ride in this thing? Frightening, sure. But just pretend to be standing inside, watching the city sink below you as unprecedented mechanics pull you toward thinner air. I can imagine watching this precarious contraption from ground level in awe, and I can wonder how movies will use this spectacle as a setting for romance or crafty criminals. But this design work is not a design proposal. It’s supposed to help us imagine a new reality for the neighborhood around Grand Central station, sure– but I quit caring about the neighborhood around Grand Central Station the moment I found out this metal circle could lift folks away from it.

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

And that’s a larger problem. In trying to garner support for a rezoning effort, this proposal distracts from what’s really happening on the streets of the neighborhood. It’s exciting to imagine a novel attraction for the city, but if we’re trying to reinvigorate a small portion of that city’s urban fabric, it doesn’t help to shift focus toward a pie in the sky. Or here, a doughnut. I absolutely agree that this doughnut is “saccharine, overwhelming, and nutritionally suspect” even if I still fall into the trap of wanting it to happen immediately.

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Braden Graeber

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Braden Graber

Braden Graber

We’ve reached the end of the series of Halloween Desktop Wallpapers so why not end the week as Halloween night ends for most kids? With razors in chocolates, shitty “healthy” candy, and a peanut butter cup or two that you eat immediately because it’s the best candy you have. The final wallpaper is by Braden Graeber and is an homage to Halloween candy culture. There’s a little bit of grandma hard candy we all hate, broken Pixy Sticks because Pixy Sticks always break, and some Tic-Tac looking pills that are undoubtedly treats for the parents: it’s all a part of Halloween. Braden’s has laid it all out in a colorful, humorous, and somewhat entrancing way to remind you of that Halloween isn’t just about frights and fun–it’s also about terrible candy.

Back from the dead: the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

Next month, the Parrish Art Museum will open a new building on the Montauk highway in New York. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the finished museum is not what the architects originally intended to build. That initial design was much more complex and nearly triple the budget of the long and low structure that now stands. Not too surprisingly, the budget was axed back in 2008 when the economic crisis was reaching fever pitch. Things did not look great for the building. However, the paring down has made the building better. The formal complexity eschewed by the realized design has not lessened how impressive the standing structure is. According Architectural Record:

Inside, it’s one success after another. From a circulation spine that resembles the nave of a very elegant cathedral, roof beams rise to heights that make the galleries feel grand, but never grandiose. Most of those galleries have the kind of perfect proportions that create a sense of calm, and at the same time a feeling of exhilaration. And they are large enough for big works, including John Chamberlain sculptures, yet intimate enough to make even small, 19th century paintings feel cossetted.

Not bad for a building that only four years ago had one foot in the grave.

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Spencer Harrison

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Spencer Harrison

Spencer Harrison

We’re nearing the end of our week of Halloween wallpapers but the momentum isn’t slowing down. Today we have a fun wallpaper from Spencer Harrison a designer from Melbourne who founded Happy Stüdio. For his wallpaper he took a smattering of everything that makes this day Halloween-y and laid it out in a clear, concise manner. This is the wallpaper for the designer who likes their Halloween to be clean and minimal, don’t you think?

Thanks so much to Spencer and check back tomorrow for our final wallpaper!

Mysterious Beauty in Daniel Evans’ Series ‘3 Months in Another Place’

There’s something strange and mysterious about these photographs by the Liverpudlian photographer Daniel Evans. Taken between September and November of 2010, the photographs come from a much larger series of images called 3 Months In Another Place.

Evans says that the series is made up of photographs of the things that he finds interesting. He created the series while out with friends, on his bike or getting lost in the woods. “The project combines both portraits and still life images of people i know and spend my time with” he says, “[it combines] objects that I use or go past on a day to day basis.”

Despite this simple description of the work it feels to me that this series somehow becomes greater then its parts. Looking through the photographs it’s easy to draw a connections between many of the images; from the crumpled metal of the car, to the girl holding tinfoil and onto the tinfoil-covered furniture. There’s almost a Lynchian surrealism about them and whether intentional or not, these thematic elements seem to hint at a strange unsettling narrative. You can view the full series of work online here.

Letterpress, The iPhone Game You Need To Buy This Second

Letterpress, The iPhone Game You Need To Buy This Second

I’m not one to play a lot of games on my iPhone, but every now and then I’ll randomly get hooked on something. Earlier today I saw mention that Loren Brichter, creator of the third party Twitter app Tweetie and all around smart guy, had created a new app called Letterpress. The best way i can describe the app is a word search crossed with a Command & Conquer style game. As you make words you being to take over the game board, which means you have to strategize against your opponent who wants to control the game board as well. I’ll admit this isn’t the best description, and the game has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the mechanics it’s easy AND fun to play.

What’s really impressive to me is the amount of detail and polish that Mr. Brichter put into this app. When you swipe between games the animations are fluid and stunning. When you pull up the Played Words list you can swipe it downward and it falls off the screen (always in a random direction). The sound design is flawless. Everything you touch and interact with has a reactive sound that fits the action. Basically everything you interact with has been thought about, carefully considered, and exquisitely refined. It may look like a simple spelling game, but it’s infinitely more complex.

It’s also been the first time ever that I’ve given a shit about Apple’s Game Center. The only way you can play Letterpress is by adding friends in Game Center, otherwise you can’t do squat. In the last 12 hours I’ve added about 7 friends, which is about 7 times more than I had before. For that act alone Mr. Brichter should be applauded. He’s also perfected the idea of the paid upgrade. You can unlock the “full version” for 99 cents which gives you the ability to play with multiple friends (something you’ll want) as well as giving you some new themes for the game (which helps to personalize your game). It’s such a common sense upgrade (that also takes no time at all) that makes you wonder if everyone out there will upgrade immediately.

To give you an idea of how much I love this game, I’ll admit that I’ve been playing this game for about the last 10 hours, non-stop. I’m telling you now, download this app, pay for the upgrade (and support an indie developer), and have fun with your friends, you won’t regret it.

Demon Hill #2 designed by Julian Hoeber

Demon Hill #2 designed by Julian Hoeber.

Demon Hill #2 designed by Julian Hoeber.

Demon Hill #2 designed by Julian Hoeber.

Demon Hill #2 is not the name of some haunted house that has appeared to greet and frighten visitors this halloween, even though the two may have something in common. LA-based artist Julian Hoeber created his installation (for a gallery in West Chelsea) which make visitors deliberately uncomfortable by distorting their sense of balance. Without the use of strobe lights or fake skeletons, Demon Hill 2 can make visitors queasy.

According to the gallery’s website, Hober has created the “free-standing structure based on the architecture of ‘gravitational mystery spots.'” These spots “usually lay claim to being sites of supernatural power or geological anomaly to explain a severe effect of disorientation and vertigo for the visitor, when in truth these effects are the result of an architectural trick. Hoeber’s version uses the same crooked structure as the roadside attraction, but reveals the device behind the hoax, while never diminishing the effect.” LA folks may be interested to learn (or recall) that  “Demon Hill #2 is a variation on Demon Hill, Hoeber’s outdoor sculpture made for the Hammer Museum in 2010.”

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Meredith Sadler

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Meredith Sadler

Meredith Sadler

It’s our third day of Halloween inspired wallpapers continues and the awesome art just doesn’t stop. Today we have the work of Meredith Sadler, a Toronto based illustrator who’s style is rough and textural with lots of bursts of color. She’s illustrated a wallpaper that feels like the quintessential Halloween look – spooky ghosts, haunted houses and a foreboding crescent moon hanging low in the sky. I love the way she played with colors on this piece, the way the sky blue lines of the house contrast really well with the background. And the ghostly trail weaving through the houses has such a great color shift as he makes his way through the neighborhood.

A big thanks to Meredith for a wonderful wallpaper and check back in tomorrow for another!

Beautiful illustrated textiles by Klaus Haapaniemi

These throws and bedspreads are really beautiful! Woven from hand dyed wool yarns and silk, they’re made by the artist and designer Klaus Haapaniemi alongside designer Mia Wallenius. The duo have created a fantastic range of textiles that not only include these throws but also shawls, cushions and scarves. On top of that they also make beautiful ceramics, prints and seasonal decorations. They’re certainly a busy studio!

Influenced by nature, Finnish folklore, fantasy and traditional decorative arts with a modern twist, they create some of the nicest textiles I’ve seen in a very long time. You can view the complete range on their website here.

Mollusk Surf Shop Raglan Crew

Mollusk Surf Shop Raglan Crew

Oftentimes it can be difficult to find a nice sweatshirt, something to throw over a heathered tee or button-up. When I spotted this raglan crew from Mollusk Surf Shop I realized that it would perfect for the impending cold. It comes in two colors, a Navy and a Faded Dartmouth (that means green), and is made in the U.S. from domestic materials. What I love about this sweatshirt is the V detailing in the neckline, the long cuffs which you know will be helpful to keep your hands warm, and the colors are perfect for the fall.