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Monday, February 14, 2005
Designing Britain 1945-1975 at the University of Brighton, a history of Britain's post-war industry and the origins of consumer 'design', from the Britain Can Make It exhibition of 1946 onwards. The title of Andrew Jackson's essay From solving problems to selling products neatly sums up 'design's' narrative arc. By the 70s it had all gone to pot and the idea of 'design' as a social force was being challenged.

ManPlan was an iconic series that ran in the Architectural Review from 1969 onwards. The latest issue of Eye magazine re-visits the articles, 'a tactile reminder of a time when magazines lived dangerously' (via City of Sound). Manplan was the first 'official' kick against the dominance of modernism, and used stark photography by the likes of Magnum photographer Ian Berry, Patrick Ward and Tony Ray-Jones to illustrate a divided Britain, a landscape that was far from the modernist utopia envisaged by the profession (as photoLondon relates, this was a time when reportage photography was being accepted by the art institutions). The Manplan issues were hugely controversial as Simon Esterson explains in Eye, with gritty urban imagery that 'turned [the magazine's] back on large-format heroic photography of buildings'. Ultimately, however, the heroic clawed its way back and the architecture of the period still divides people.

Some more Ian Berry images, this time of Apartheid-era South Africa. See also London and Photography. More Ray-Jones. We must get into flickr, now one year old. Check the amazing flickrgraph. The BBC has some amazing pictures of the Madrid skyscraper fire. On the other hand, you could also use Flickr for instant reportage: I, II, III. The Edificio Windsor before the fire.

An interesting debate at autoblog: Do manufacturer sketches help or hurt the debut?. One could draw parallels with contemporary architecture's reliance on the computer-generated render, that most seductive of mediums. Although the apparent exaggerations of the concept car sketch are often close to the finished model (see for example, the Lexus LF-C concept sketch versus finished car), the sketch inevitably involves distortion for dramatic effect. CGI architecture isn't about distortion of form, but the abstraction of materials; glass becomes impossibly reflective, and the public realm antiseptic.

Elsewhere (it would be nice to discover a universal theme that binds all these links together. But I don't think there is one). multi-coloured night vision / John Bonham drum outtakes / Milton Bradley's hand-held games / take Jungle Larry's Safari / Coustau vs Zissou / concrete underpass / 16 Objects, ready or not, an online project by Michael Craig-Martin / today's metafilter selection: the story of the Lena Image.

The Penguin Collectors Society (via, naturally, I Like). As well as Penguin, there were Pelicans, Peacocks, Peregrines, Puffins, the decidedly non-avian Porpoises and even Ptarmigan Books. We found the very first Ptarmigan at the weekend, the snappily titled Ask me another, written, like almost every book in the series, by one Hubert Phillips.

What's that, Mr. Shuttleworth? You want to show the ladies and gentlemen another trick? / old but good, A visual history of whispering IMPS on magic posters. Very Carter Beats the Devil / the history table, the domestic application of electroluminescent displays. The irony of today's modernism is that technology is being used to apply surface decoration, once deemed the enemy of progress / the gates in New York (mostly).