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Monday, September 07, 2009


We've only just caught up with the IKEA font controversy (via the New York Times and also referenced in this expansive question 'What do the Makers like?', giving examples of art forms that are abhorred by the masses by held in high esteem by the (self-described?) elite). Back to IKEA - it seems the adoption of Verdana is a delayed, mass-market version of 'the new ugly,' epitomised by relatively low circulation, high concept magazines like 032c, where an apparently casual and spontaneous approach appears - to the uninitiated - to be deliberately anti-design.

Nothing is ever as simple as that. IKEA's adoption of a font designed for screen reading has been predictably savaged by designers ('This is a disastrous move by a company that's supposed to be design-led! The use of Verdana has the unfortunate effect of making any design look as if it's been quickly knocked out on a home computer with no thought or effort, just because it's (usually) the default typeface on any Windows machine. Pages from IKEA's catalogue now look like rubbish flyers for a backyard sale.').

Ultimately, the company's claim to be purveyors - nay, torch-holders - of modernism no longer stands up to scrutiny. Ignore the type issue, what's most interesting about the IKEA 2010 catalog(ue) is the lack of stylistic cohesion of the catalogue as a whole, no longer a definition of 'modern design' but rather a visual shorthand for the contemporary understanding of what 'good taste' means, as filtered through a thousand style magazines, put through the wringer of consumer choice and then scattered with the visual pluralism of modern times. It's chaotic.

Related, IKEA 1965, and the company's own history pages.

*

VW is mooting mini domestic scale power plants (we think). See also Honda's Home Energy Station. It's not too much of a stretch to see more car manufacturers muscle in to this sector of the market in the next decade: micro-generation that doubles up as fuel source for their products. Without an industry standard to work to, the idea of locking in consumers to several decades of vehicle 'upgrades' that are compatible with the (presumably hefty) capital outlay of a piece of domestic-scaled energy-generating plant is a very attractive one.

Other things. The animated gif continues to haunt the internet, the closest the medium will ever come to the stilted movement of the silent slapstick movie: Three Frames (via Regular VIPs (both occasionally nsfw)) / Ugly House Photos, including the World's Largest Louis Vuitton Purse / Plan 59. Retro illustrations that seem to have been polished. We're always losing this link so here to remind us. Also links to Shorpy / What We Do is Secret, architecture and design / Colonize the Borderland, a tumblr / Raspera, 'Super Real Animal's Paper Craft. Rasterized Peramodel from Japan.'

Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons / as yet unfamiliar with The Awl / The London Review of Breakfasts / FWA, favourite website awards. This is where all the intense flash sites went / Etherpad, an online collaborative word processor / 9000's photostream is filled with interesting things.

Inevitably, Poundbury, Spillway weighs in on the design blog subject of the week, Dorset's most famous model village and the debate about its merits, 'psychedelic urban experience' or otherwise / a fine weblog, Nutty, Dry and a Hint of Vanilla (thanks for the Pelican link) / A collection of sounds from the sea, including the mysterious Bloop (more info) / Aeron chairs for seats / Could the UK drive on the right? Why?

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