Month: July, 2010

Richard Renaldi — Touching Strangers

Photographer Richard Renaldi is working on an ongoing portrait project.

The premise of this work is simple: I meet two or more people on the street who are strangers to each other, and to me. I ask them if they will pose for a photograph together with the stipulation that they must touch each other in some manner. …. Touching Strangers encourages viewers to think about how we relate physically to one another, and to entertain the possibility that there is an unlimited potential for new relationships with almost anybody passing by.

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via Bobulate

More than just pretty packaging

“A cover, like it or not, sets the mood for a book,” says John Lundberg in a recent article on Huffington Post entitled, Sometimes It’s Okay To Judge A Book By Its Cover.

True story. While I’ve never not bought a book I already wanted because of the cover, I have certainly felt less pleasure from handling a book that I find to be dreadfully designed. And on the flip side, I have bought a book because of its cover. Lundberg speaks specifically about poetry books:

That’s because reading poetry is something of a ceremony for me. I want it to be quiet. I want to feel stress free. And, at the risk of seeming high-maintenance, I want to do it with a hot cup of coffee. All of this helps me to meditate on poems, and great poems should be meditated on. Here’s how Wallace Stevens put it in his poem “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm”:

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

At the end of the day, it comes down to content, sure. But sometimes things just make you happier the way they’re presented… and the way they’re presented can affect content. Most people work better (and are in better spirits) when they are free of the cold cubicle—even if they have the same materials available to them. I get more satisfaction from sitting in a big comfy chair listening to music with headphones and flipping through the cd packaging than I do downloading anything from iTunes. And I would rather not sip coffee in a shop that’s blowing serious air conditioning with hotel paintings on the wall. It’s all the same content, but the presentation can sometimes weigh the most on your experience.

I’ve had a couple conversations recently regarding the whole ebook convert thing. And we’ll see what happens… but I just simply don’t see it as an equally pleasurable experience to holding the paper in your hand, with the carefully typeset words on the paper, with the (hopefully lovely) cover that encases the words on the paper. It’s a whole package and I like it that way.

Just Us collective

Just us was set up in late 2008 by three final year Graphic Design students, Mark Grant, Simon Zinn and William Hibberd.

We showcase young and emerging creative talent from universities and colleges across the UK through exhibitions, live projects and online presence. We aim to give students the confidence to network with industry creatives, whilst encouraging integration; boosting communication and collaboration.

Among other things, they’ve also got a super active blog and some fun (and free) wallpapers for your desktop.

And of course, there’s the work of their collective’s members. Here’s some favorites of mine:

catkin_pritchard
Catkin Pritchard

evgenia_barinova
Evgenia Barinova

joe_hinder
Joe Hinder

alexander_prior
Alexander Prior

carl_partridge
Carl Partridge

Design history for the masses

Looks like this site has been all over the blogosphere the past couple weeks. Design is History is a project from designer Dominic Flask as part of his graduate thesis in design at Fort Hays State University. While most of the material is from Wikipedia, it still provides a nice hub of design history from cave paintings to Bierut. Flask plans on continually adding information to the site (and surely he will now that everyone’s watching him), so we’ll see if the plan stays at covering a lot of information at surface level or if he dives in a bit deeper. Regardless, it’s a great spot to point folks who say, “oh you do design? Like advertising?”

design_is_history

Comic Sans fights back

From the June 15th post of McSweeney’s Short Imagined Monologues (with one of the best last lines I’ve seen in a while), I give you:

mcsweeneys_comicsans

I was tipped off to this treat with Friday’s post from GraphicHug.

Summer reading list

Ok, so perhaps we can’t all knock these out in the next month. BUT. I am pretty excited to have come across this reading list from University of Washington. It’s brought to all of us on the internet from their Visual Communication Design MFA program. This is exciting to me for a few reasons:

1) Reading lists (from people/places you can trust) are great as all the curating is done for you.

2) The tired old saying that “designers don’t read” is, well, true for the most part. We were encouraged to read and told we should be reading in undergrad, but weren’t given a great deal of assistance on where to turn. (Which meant any reading we sought out on our own was likely limited to the usual suspects—Lupton, Heller, Meggs, etc…) I think most undergrad design programs are similar in their emphasis on concept and/or production. While it’s probably safe to say this is what most 19-year-olds are looking for and need from school in order to participate in the practical job market, it can leave you hungry after graduation (and also after entering into said practicality).

3) Hooray for sharing the wisdom! I love when I come across someone’s list like this or class syllabus online. They don’t even need to publish the actual articles like these folks. Just sharing the knowledge of where to go is super helpful.

Ok, three’s enough. The suggested reading list from UW is as follows:

The Poetics of Space Gaston Bachelard

The Pleasure of the Text Roland Barthes

For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign Jean Baudrillard

Flesh and Machines Rodney Brooks

A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful Edmund Burke

The Meaning of Things Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, E.

Society of the Spectacle Guy DeBord

Archive Fever Jacques Derrida

“Diacritics” Umberto Eco

Essays: First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson

Madness and Civilization Michel Foucault

The Uncanny Sigmund Freud

“A Cyborg Manifesto” Donna Haraway

Weird Tales E. T. W. Hoffman

The Philosophical Works of David Hume David Hume

“Download distractions: New, Pneu, Gnu, and Newed” Wes Jones

Flying Dutchmen Motion in Architecture Kari Jormakka

The Critique of Judgment Immanuel Kant

Love, Guilt, and Reparation and Other Works Melanie Klein

“The Social Life of Things” Igor Kopytoff

Écrits Jacques Lacan

Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Karl Marx

The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies Marcel Mauss

Genetic Epistemology Jean Piaget

The Savage Mind Claude Lévi-Strauss

Course in General Linguistics Ferdinand de Saussure

On Photography Susan Sontag

The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual Victor Turner

Playing and Reality D. W. Winnicott

________

Another promising source I came across the past few months is Helen Armstrong’s site. She used to teach at MICA in the Dept. of Art History, Theory and Criticism while pursuing her MFA, and is currently an assistant professor of design at Miami University in Ohio. Oh, and she wrote Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field (which was great). She shares student projects, blogs, reading lists, syllabi, the works.

So with that said and shared, I send a big giant thank you to all the generous people out there!

I love tiny letters

Last Friday evening while sitting around a friend’s kitchen table, we started talking about her bulk food purchase excursion—highlighting a jar she filled with little tiny alphabet pasta. Little. Tiny. Letters. In a clear jar.

alphabet
photo from Amazon and obviously not in a jar.

I have a small type fetish. It’s true. So why wouldn’t I have a tiny letter fetish? I would.

I can’t say exactly what it is, though surely it’s brought on by a certain professor during undergrad. But I think what keeps it going is the overly romanticized poetry of it all. Small letters are like the equivalent of a whisper or (in)significant gesture, or a photo with a sensationally low horizon line, or using white on white on white. All soft spots and all a very similar mindset to that of the pauses I talked about a couple posts ago.

And in related news, via a Design*Sponge post last week, I was introduced to this refinished/redesigned table from the sticks and bricks blog (they’re an “artist collaboratorium” and shop in Northampton, Massachusetts). The first photo below shows the table in its original state.

sticks_a

sticks_b

sticks_c

Their post states:

we sanded it down, hammered in ‘the summer day’ by mary oliver, rubbed black paint in & gave it a coat of furniture wax.

From checking out the comments, it looks like they used these letter stamps from Harbor Freight—which I DIDN’T KNOW EXISTED—to hammer in those teeny letters.

letter_stamps

Oh, letters. I like you.

Bookshelf porn

Yep, Bookshelf Porn: For whatever you fancy, there’s a good mix of homes, stores and staged arrangements all devoted to the art of arranging books.

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via swissmiss.