27 posts categorized "Design"

Dombra Spring = Melody & Rhythm


MARIMEKKO fabric: Dombra Spring: Yellow; Designers: Maija Isola and Kristina Isola

Orange, coral, and deep pink on deep yellow. This fabric makes me happy. It was originally designed by Maija Isola in 1960. Maija's designs were inspired by traditional folk art, modern visual art, nature and by her trips around the world. I wonder if she went to Kazakhstan where a long-necked, stringed instrument called a "dombra" is the national instrument? It is similar to a lute and played by either strumming or plucking the strings. "Kazakhs developed the art of solo vocal and instrumental music to a high level. Narrative pieces called kui ("frame of mind," "mood") tell stories or represent specific images, feelings or qualities of human character through melody and rhythm alone. Kuis are most commonly performed on the dombra..." (National Geographic)

See David Baker playing a dombra and singing here; see  a close-up of a man playing a dombra here.

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Whimsical and Subversive


Cover: The Good Citizen's Alphabet by Bertrand Russell / Gaberbocchus Press, illustration by Franciszka Themerson, 1953

"the ABC, that gateway to all wisdom, is not made sufficiently attractive to immature minds."
    -- Bertrand Russell

I love letters and I am intrigued by alphabet books. What words has the author chosen to represent each letter? Is there a theme or just random words? What type font is used to display the letters? The Good Citizen's Alphabet, by Bertrand Russell, first published in 1953, is a creative and ... subversive alphabet book. The Design Observer writes:

It is fascinating to think back to the early 1950s. A couple of Polish émigrés, having studied physics, architecture and painting, and having made a few art films and started a publishing company, sit down with a leading philosopher to make something whimsical and subversive. That an alphabet book was the outcome pleases me to no end.

Russell's citizen's alphabet ["A" (asinine) to "Z" (zeal)] is full of words important to political and social discourse. Each has a wonderful illustration and, though it is over 50 years old, the words and definitions are oh so relevant in the world we live in today ["O" is "objective"--a delusion which other lunatics share]. View a slide show of the book here.

To effect change through design


The Hurricane Poster Project / Scott Laserow, Zygo; Wyncote, Pennsylvania

I saw a wonderful display of posters at Moore College of Art and Design last night. The colorful, thoughtful posters, like the one shown, are all part of The Hurricane Poster Project (THPP) "conceived as a collective effort by the design community to unite and effect change". Limited edition copies of the posters are for sale and the goal is to raise at least $1,000,000 for the Red Cross to help victims of hurricane Katrina.

For the New Year: Imperial Lounging-Cap


Imperial Lounging-Cap, 1864 / NYPL Digital Collection, Call Number: PC COSTU-Lou

You don't feel quite so much like a couch potato if you are wearing one of these!

Lounging or smoking caps were popular informal wear for gentleman from the late 1840s through the 1880s. They were frequently hand-made of wool, silk, or velvet, and often topped by a tassel (read the description after the jump).


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Assam Tea Glass (20 oz.) from Bodum ("give up bad design for good")

This glass is the perfect way to drink tea. It is made of double-walled, lightweight borosilicate glass that keeps the tea hot and your hands cool. The way the top curves out, it's as if the tea is being offered up to you. I had a wonderful peach-ginger tea in one of these glasses at the Remedy Tea Bar at 1628 Sansom St. in Philadelphia.

"Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life." - from The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

Is Junk Your Ultimate Landscape?

What is the crowning glory of your civilization . . .
the symbol as clear a statement as the pyramids,
the Parthenon, the cathedrals? What is this symbol?

What is its name? Its name is Junk.

Junk is the rusty, lovely, brilliant symbol of the dying years of your time.

Junk is your ultimate landscape.

George Nelson (1908-1986; considered to be a founding father of American Modernism), at the International Design Conference in Aspen, 1965

I am resolving to try and de-junk and de-clutter my life so that beauty is my ultimate landscape . . .

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"Stay on the Book Beat" Floorcloth


Stay on the Book Beat Floorcloth / New Jersey July 2006 / vinyl, newspaper, Modge Podge

This summer I took an online "design-aerobics" course from DesignBoom. The course was called:D.I.Y. do it yourself  the past, present and future of making your own surroundings

Our first project was to used recycyled newspaper to make a piece of furniture or a home furnishing. This floorcloth, "Stay on the Book Beat" uses pages from the New York Times Sunday Book Review and a checkerboard pattern turned on the diagonal (the checkerboard or diamond shape is a classic floorcloth pattern). I like to think it will inspire me to read more.

Floorcloths were very popular in this country as a floor covering until the Industrial Revolution made mechanical replacements in the form of things like linoleum cheap and easy. A well-constructed floorcloth is very useful and will provide years of wear. They are water and stain resistant and a great way to express yourself artistically.

To make the floorcloth, I started with a black vinyl fabric (this eliminated the several coats of gesso and the black paint that I would have needed to apply to the heavy-weight cotton canvas which is frequently used to make floorcloths). In keeping with DIY-aesthetic I spent very little money, paying only USD $1.30 for one piece of vinyl fabric that I cut to make two floorcloths; I had all of the other materials in the house. I taped off my boundaries and cut images and text from pieces of the New York Times. Using Mod Podge (a white glue used for decoupaging) I glued the newspaper pieces to the cloth and then coated the whole thing with another coat of the glue.