A full deck

The (un)Made in China exhibition at Beijing Design Week explores the delights of working in a foreign culture, namely the many grand projects by Western architects that were proposed in the white heat of China’s economic explosion and then, for whatever reason, fell by the wayside. Meanwhile, the country is producing innovations in the of speed and efficiency, not aesthetics, with the likes of Zhang Yue’s Broad Sustainable Building, an aircon manufacturer turned Minecraft-esque purveyor of near-instant buildings. And not just pre-fabs, but stacked towers of hitherto unimaginable heights. BSB’s innovation is pretty much the polar opposite of parametric design and the fluid landscapes conjured up in the abandoned projects in the first link.


Other things. Why modern maps put everyone at the centre of the world, a lament for the art of getting lost aand the random discovery. Includes a link to Londonist’s Hand Drawn Maps of London series / sort of related, A Guide to London’s Classic Cafes and Fish and Chip Shops / Peter Berthoud’s Discovering London links to last month’s London Sale at Christies. A list of lots.


China’s high speed railways, “the biggest single financial scandal not just in China, but perhaps in the world.” / Skyhook, the balloon-launched rescue service for downed pilots / Drone Shadows, a project by James Bridle, a project shown as part of Adhocracy, itself a part of the current Istanbul Design Biennial. Adhocracy:

The world of people who make things is in upheaval. If the last revolution was about making perfect objects—millions of them, absolutely identical, produced to exactingly consistent quality standards—this one is about making just one, or a few. Its birthplace is not the factory but the workshop, and its lifeline is the network. In the place of standardised, industrialised perfection, it embraces imperfection as evidence of an emerging force of identity, individuality, and non-linearity.

Play Architecture – Playing Cards, published by Rakennustieto / RIP Mike Singleton, creator of Lords of Midnight / ‘Every dot on the map interests me, especially the little tiny ones. Some “towns” are no more than an intersection, possibly with a store or a town hall. A few towns seem to be gone without a trace, though sometimes the tiniest evidence remains. I have photographed over 300 towns, mostly in Minnesota and North Dakota‘. Via MeFi.

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From Russia with love

Rodcorp is embarking on a re-reading of the Ian Fleming James Bond books: Bond 1: Not Stirred, with ultra-pithy plot summaries (‘Doctor No (1958) is the one with guano, claw hands, Honey Rider and Jamaica.’) and an acute eye for the archaic:

‘And despite Fleming’s obvious love of travel – you could easily imagine Bond as a columnist for Monocle, sampling the best Scandinavian cocktails and Austro-Haitian hollow-point ammunition – the books are fundamentally socio-politically isolationist and fearful.

Bond 2: Zeiss is coincidence looks at Fleming’s obsession with the ‘eyes and looking’ / sort of related, but not really: a fine collection of Russian Art and Books. The above is a detail from the book ‘Manners of Rasteriaeva Street‘, 1964.

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The WOW for the way out

WOW is billed as ‘the most minimal record ever made’: ‘The WOW happens when you play several records simultaneously. Since each record player is unique, the tone will alter slightly depending on its mechanical components. In combination these tones create a powerful sub sonic wave field, which you can control by changing pitch on the record players and by touching the spinning records.’ You can hear a sample here, headphones are recommended. The project brings to mind both the Flaming Lips’Zaireeka‘ (still available) and the drone genre. There’s an oft-told story of a test pressing of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Wedding Album, accidentally sent out for review to a UK publication (the sources differ). Faced with a wall of solid, unwavering tone, the reviewer took a deep breath and plunged in to what they presumed was part avant-garde statement, part exploration of deep, primal sound. According to Wikipedia, Ono and Lennon were delighted and sent the following telegram:


The story is also referenced in this BBC review of the similarly monotonal ‘Ström by Carl Michael von Hausswolff.

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Unethical photography

Another gallery of evocative/depressing/stunning ruined architecture (delete as applicable), this time it’s photographs of abandoned mid-century modern homes at Flavorwire. We’ve mentioned the photography of Chris Mottalini before, but we’re new to the work of Mikael Olsson. The images shown are from his project Södrakull Frösakull. From the blurb:

This book explores the heritage of Bruno Mathsson, one of Swedish modernism’s leading designers, through two of his architectural works. In Frösakull a house that Mathsson both designed and lived in Mikael Olsson invaded, colonised and interacted with the remains of the house. In Södrakull, on the other hand a second house that Mathsson designed and lived in Olsson acted like a Peeping Tom, sneaking around the exterior of the house with his camera. This unethical method of trespassing a private space reveals something even more unethical, namely the fact that nobody, not even the Bruno Mathsson firm, took care of his property after his death. Frösakull was later sold, fixtures, furniture and other possessions included, while Södrakull was refurbished and turned into a glossy and artificial space.

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The Ship of Riddles and the Full Scale Falcon Project

Full Scale Falcon is a quest to build the ultimate Star Wars prop: a 1:1 scale ESB/ANH hybrid Millennium Falcon with complete, correctly scaled interior. Yes, I have completely lost my mind, just like most of my friends and family say.’ Going one step further than the members of the Millennium Falcon Builders Club, the FSF Project is almost a piece of land art:

I own a secluded 88 acre tract of wooded land where we’ll be building. We have selected a site on the property that is low enough so that the top of the Falcon can be seen easily from several vantage points. A flat area roughly 400? x 400? is being cleared. And yes, I am aware that it will eventually show up on Google Earth and Google Maps. I’m counting on that.

But that’s not all. For the Falcon is a spatial impossibility, a House Of Leaves/Tardis that shows the fundamental trickery inherent in cinematography and the perils of subjecting a film set to intense, relentless scrutiny over a period of decades (someone did this last year for The Shining, neatly rebutted by John August in Cinematic geography and the problem of genius). Back to the Falcon:

‘Perhaps the saddest day of my Star Wars fan-life was the realisation that the Millennium Falcon interiors CANNOT be matched to the exterior. The rush job, sadly, meant that glaring inconsistencies arose between the interior and exterior of the vessel. The exterior set was built BEFORE the models were finished, and ended up about 40% too small!’.

That last link is from an exhaustive (and archived) site, The Ship of Riddles. In the years since it was archived, much of its visual source material has been reproduced elsewhere, at larger scale. Check Wookiepedia for an exhaustive page of Falcon info and a simple image search yields untold visual riches. while sites like i09 host huge galleries taken from books like Starwars: the Art of Ralph Mcquarrie. These 1978 sketches (see image above) show the production company was aware of the spatial disturbance in the force represented by the ship’s interior and exterior. Whether the Full Scale Falcon team can reconcile spatial geometry and fandom remains to be seen.

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‘… the Isabella; a kind of whitish-yellow-dingy.’

Something compelled us to revisit Spamula.net, home of the incredible Giornale Nuovo, a short-lived weblog that lives on as the closest approximation the internet has to a dusty old book, forgotten on a distant library shelf, offering up unceasing wonders to those who find it. For example, we’d never visited the entire subsite devote to Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, ‘a compilation of book-lore whose first volume was issued in 1791, with further instalments added in 1793, 1807, 1817 and 1823.’ Every page is rich with miscellany: Anecdotes of Fashion

Fashions have frequently originated from circumstances as silly as the following one. Isabella, daughter of Philip II. and wife of the Archduke Albert, vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken; this siege, unluckily for her comfort, lasted three years; and the supposed colour of the archduchess’s linen gave rise to a fashionable colour, hence called L’Isabeau, or Something compelled us to revisit Spamula.net, home of the incredible Giornale Nuovo, a short-lived weblog that lives on as the closest approximation the internet has to a dusty old book, forgotten on a distant library shelf, offering up unceasing wonders to those who find it. For example, we’d never visited the entire subsite devote to Isaac D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, ‘a compilation of book-lore whose first volume was issued in 1791, with further instalments added in 1793, 1807, 1817 and 1823.’ Every page is rich with miscellany: Anecdotes of Fashion

Fashions have frequently originated from circumstances as silly as the following one. Isabella, daughter of Philip II. and wife of the Archduke Albert, vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken; this siege, unluckily for her comfort, lasted three years; and the supposed colour of the archduchess’s linen gave rise to a fashionable colour, hence called L’Isabeau, or the Isabella; a kind of whitish-yellow-dingy.


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The mist closes in

A Thief in the Night, the classic 70s-era tale of global rapture / Penguin is taking a leaf out of Channel 4’s book, translating its logo into giant three-dimensional objects / images from the Danse Macabre (via BibliOdyssey – ‘no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all) / paintings by Jen Ray / The Oddment Emporium, a fascinating tumblr / bikes and planes and architecture and more at Le Container / It’ll be a challenge to reach 54.5 MPG as Americans get heavier.


Remash, an architectural tumblr / Subtilitas, also architecture / pop-up cards and more by Bankladen / Discovery News, a tumblr / Ink Maps, a tumblr about literary relics / Moon Rocks Magazine / a history of the LED / The 50 Most Dangerous Cities In The World / the trustworthiness of guitars / Toblerone House by Studio MK27 through the eyes of a cat (via Dezeen).


Photographs of Tempelhof by Matthias Heiderich, a true colourist / Behold is a new photo blog from Slate. A sample post on the elaborate photo collages of Jean Francois Rauzier: ‘Hyperphotos are to panoramic photos what Google Earth is to a globe. You can keep clicking and zooming and clicking and zooming, seemingly endlessly, until you find yourself on a dramatic balcony, looking up a statue’s nose.’

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Another point of view

Rorik Smith paints remarkably dense architectural images, full of twisting viewpoints and multiple perspectives / the art of Simon Laurie / Lunch hour pops, a tumblr / The Coolhunter discovers the hidden peril of relying on social media: When Facebook disables your fan page / Very Bad Poetry / the origami house, an installation by Peter Kostelov.


Other things. Find a smartphone within the pages of Entertainment Weekly (via MeFi). 1000 special copies of the American magazine contain a ‘basic’ Android phone to pipe live text into a (nearly flat) advertisement / a lovely collection of illustrations by Ernest Howard Shepard (via MeFi) / Odiseo, ‘an independent publication for adult entertainment appealing to the confident and intelligent man of today. It includes a selection of stories with an erotic point of view, paired with the most cutting edge ideas in an exquisite uncoated smooth paper’. From Folch Studio / trials riding a racing bicycle, with Martyn Ashton. Some of this was filmed on the Isle of Wight, by the looks of things.


Betaville lets New Yorkers play real-world Sim City; sounds intriguing but the Betaville info has been pulled off the The Brooklyn Experimental Media Center (BxmC) website / The rise of megacities, an interactive guide / The Renault Car Collection / What Art?, a weblog / Anthrax guitarist turned master watchmaker / photographer Stephane Couturier’sMelting Point‘ series has a fragmented, unreal quality. Below image: Toyota Factory

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Ways of seeing

Above: 6 Robots Named Paul is an installation by the artist Patrick Tresset as part of the Merge Festival: ‘Gallery visitors will be able to have their portrait sketched by 5 of Tresset’s robots. Each robot will draw the sitter from a different point of view; the drawings will then make up an exhibition in the space. The public will be able to pre-book a slot to come and sit for a portrait.’

Above: Taken on trust: Presence: The Invisible Portrait is a series and monograph by the photographer Chris Buck: ‘I, _____, can testify to observing and being attendant for Chris Buck’s ‘Presence’ photo session with DAVID LYNCH. And can vouch for the subject’s being within the photographer’s frame despite not being visible.’

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Blue skied an’ clear

Above, Hyde Park in the rain. La Palette de Londres, the city broken down into its constituent Pantone numbers / Birds in London, Heraclitean Fire on an 1868 book by W. H. Hudson exploring the city’s avian population / Ulverston, then and now. Over at I like / Glossy magazines ain’t so glossy. No real surprises here, sadly. At The Rex Features Diary.


A collection of gas bag vehicles at Low-tech Magazine / Mananarama, now a tumblr / Mail Call, An Audio Message by Mail System from 1967 / The Beauty of the Airline Baggage Tag / Japanese party poppers, handmade at the 7yume corporation / high-risk link-baiting: deface a Rothko, watch visits to your website soar.


The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy.

Companies like Ikea have literally designed products around pallets: Its “Bang” mug, notes Colin White in his book Strategic Management, has had three redesigns, each done not for aesthetics but to ensure that more mugs would fit on a pallet (not to mention in a customer’s cupboard). After the changes, it was possible to fit 2,204 mugs on a pallet, rather than the original 864, which created a 60 percent reduction in shipping costs.

Pallets, or the consequence of a world using pallets, presumably feature in SimCity, a new version of which is about to be released. Watch a short gameplay movie here and imagine a thousand town planners either gnashing their teeth in frustration and/or jealousy.

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We very much like the look of Mark Dion’s Oceanomania: Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas from the Expedition to the Aquarium, published by Mack (and apparently sold out, although here’s an Amazon link). Found via Mapping the Marvellous. Dion’s ‘Thames Dig‘ (1999) was cited in things 11.

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Pie in the sky

How to Build a Flying Saucer. ‘The above illustration was discovered in the pages of a document titled “Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report” (d.1956) The caption reads “USAF Project 1794”. However, the Air Force had contracted the work out to a Canadian company, Avro Aircraft Limited in Ontario, to construct the disk-shaped craft. According to the same report, it was designed to be a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) plane designed to reach a top speed of Mach 4, with a ceiling of over 100,000 feet, and a range of over 1,000 nautical miles.’

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Pierre Riviere

A short appreciation of the collage art of Pierre Riviere:

Above: Pierre Riviere, Composition Course Poursuite, 1961

Above: Pierre Riviere, Composition LIA 9, 1961

Above: Pierre Riviere, Composition à la pagode, 1962

Above: Pierre Riviere, Composition aux taches vertes

Above: Pierre Riviere, Composition, 1962

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Tunnel visions

A view of the tunnel under the Thames: as it will appear completed, 1828. Another view: ‘The expanded view shows pedestrians, horsemen and vehicles inside the tunnel. The enormous engineering feat which this tunnel represented generated a great many souvenirs, of which this is one of the earliest examples.’ The latter is found at the incredible resource that is ThamesPilot, ‘a unique collection of images and documents that chart the rich history of the River Thames, from source to sea’.


black and white gifs made from old films / architect Renzo Piano no longer an architect, says UK’s ARB / ‘Practoplast’ imitation wounds training kit, Norway, 1960-1985 (original link) / ghostly (ghastly?) guest house / dogs in cars, a photo essay taken from Martin Usbourne’s forthcoming book, The Silence of Dogs in Cars / iPhone alarm clock / Crease and Co make wallets and have a tumblr. A thoroughly modern company.

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Strange Sisters

Tereska Torres died last month, aged 92. A writer and diarist, she joined Charles de Gaulle’s Free French forces in London in 1940. When her wartime memoirs, Women’s Barracks, were published in 1950, they were swooped upon by the American imprint Gold Medal Books. Gold Medal, set up by Wilford Hamilton “Captain Billy” Fawcett’s Fawcett Publications in 1950 (ten years after Captain Billy’s death), was one of the first of the pulp publishing houses, bringing luridly-covered paperback originals to the American market. Torres’ rather tame book was of course packaged with more than a hint of suggestion. It sold millions, kick-started a genre and a rich seam of collectables in the decades that followed. Lesbian pulp fiction is part of the fabric of pop culture (see Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction, 1949-69). Unsurprisingly, Torres wasn’t happy with a legacy that said little about her very full and interesting life.

“I look on the internet and I learn that I am the literary queen of the lesbians, the person who wrote the first lesbian, erotic pulp novel. I hate it. I hate it,” Torrès told The Independent in 2007. “If you look at Women’s Barracks, there are five main characters. Only one and a half of them can be considered a lesbian.”

She died in the same room in an artists’ colony in Paris that had been her bedroom when she was six. Her daughter Dominique Torrès said: “Something very strange and moving happened in the minutes before she died. Two little girls from next door came to sit on her doorstep directly below her room. This was not at all their usual behaviour. The last sound that mummy heard was the sound of children laughing and singing where she had herself lived as a little girl in the 1920s. It was as if life had gone full circle.”

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Would you like branding with that?

Kickstarter is not a store: Archinect reports that Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced venture raising outfit, has banned renders: ‘Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development. Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.’ The site added that ‘To clarify, we mean photorealistic renderings of a product concept. Technical drawings, CAD designs, sketches, and other parts of the design process will continue to be allowed. Seeing the guts of the creative process is important. We love that stuff. However renderings that could be mistaken for finished products are prohibited.’ It’s an approach that hasn’t gone down too well in the KS community. (via Visual Communication)


Giles Turnbull on the search for storage beyond the cloud: ‘The only way to ensure your data’s long-term survival is to organize extraterrestrial backups. That’s not as dumb as it sounds.’ / we think that Postcards from Above takes snapshots from Google Maps and adds Instagram-y filters to them. But we can’t be sure / The Penguin Blog, official, with musings on design as well as publishing. It’s hard to imagine a more classic example of a company transforming its visual identity into a commodity, from the obvious tie-ins like postcards through to mugs, flasks, tea towels and more. Only Pantone comes close, with their mug collection and tins and other ephemera

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Maxwell J. Roberts’s article Henry Beck Rules? Not OK: Breaking the Rules of Map Design (previously linked) is now a book, Underground Maps Unravelled: Explorations in Information Design. Billed as a psychological investigation into the art, purpose and fitness of schematic maps / beautiful scans of film posters, ads, corporate, commercial art an more at X-Ray Delta One’s flickr stream / facadism gone wild in Washington D.C. / Opera is a quirky, almost gothic, travel trailer.


The Hall of Unwanted Dotcoms. Asbury & Asbury delves into ‘a certain sub-group of domain names that remain available for a minimal fee, even two decades into the age of the Internet. They are all one syllable, easy to pronounce and seven letters or fewer: qualities that are gold dust in normal circumstances. Yet they are presumed so awkward, ugly and uninspiring that nobody – not even the dotcom squatters – can bring themselves to go near them.’

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Spare the rod

The 10 best fictional architects. We always thought the Woody Harrelson/Indecent Proposal quote was paraphrasing Louis Kahn / Grasshopper 3D is where all the parametric guys hang out / generative paintings by Sergio Albiac. We also like his conventionally-painted series, Emotional Fields / important room names / ‘Every two minutes, we take more pictures than the whole of humanity in the 1800s‘ / Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Mastaba Project has been in the works since 1979. Image here:

… made from 410,000 multi-colored barrels to form a mosaic of bright sparkling colors that echoes Islamic architecture. The sculpture will be 150 meters (492 feet) high, 225 meters (738 feet) deep at the 60 degree slanted walls and 300 meters (984 feet) wide at the vertical walls.

Inside Marina City, a photo essay about Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City in Chicago, by Andreas E.G.Larsson and Iker Gil. The building was recently featured in Monocle with photographs by David Robert Elliot (via Dan Gray). Larsson’s photographs make a deliberate contrast between the iconic modernity of the buildings and the relatively conventional domestic interiors / Franck Allais takes photographs, including the manipulated environments of Series 2 and Series 3.


Risinghill was a British comprehensive school, based in North London (now Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, once visited by Michelle Obama). As Risinghill, it was seen as progressive – too progressive, in fact (Wild School is Tamed by Love – he banned the cane was one contemporary headline). The new regime was overseen by ‘wartime tank major’ Michael Duane and lasted just five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the boys were shipped off and the school became girls only, under a different name. Duane’s ‘soft’ disciplinary methods were soundly criticised by the education establishment of the time. Found via Found Objects’ collection of Skool-related books. Sadly we don’t have Risinghill in The Pelican Project, although education was a frequent Pelican topic (The Comprehensive School and A Guide to English Schools, both from 1967, The Underachieving School from 1972, Student Casualties from 1973).

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Spotting, improvising and mapping

A selection of Grateful Dead Fan Art at an ambitious project collapsing, from the Grateful Dead Online Archive, assembled by the University of California Santa Cruz / Toby Ziegler’s installation The Cripples, set in a car park beneath Mayfair / the Edgley Optica was an observation plane designed back in the 80s. It still looks slightly out of time (via Xplanes) / quirky Soviet architecture at DRB / The Statistical Atlas of the United States, 1874, and the The National Altas of the United States of America, 1970, two amazing pieces of cartography separated by a century revealed in all their glory at Codex 99/ vote for my daddy, 1992.

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Elementary, but imaginary

The weekend link selection. A review of Black Metal: Beyond the Darkness (via Mountain 7) / after the recent post about the ‘hotel of doom‘, here’s some more images of North Korea / Paroneiria, a weblog / the brick and mortar legacy of a fast-vanishing technology: abandoned video stores at Flavorwire / The Flooded Church of St Nicholas Submerged in Mavrovo Lake, Macedonia, at Urban Ghosts Media / a quirky but endearing Japanese interior at The Selby – the home of Hideto Irikawa, consultant and sports car aficionado.


The Kid Should See This, a site we must check more often / Mapping London, a site we weren’t previously aware of but will re-visit regularly / exploring the byways of the Isle of Wight at JSBlog, a walk that traverses a stretch of road cut off by a 1928 landslip on the Undercliff. Amazingly, there’s an actual photograph of the landslip taking place: the great cliff fall, 26 July, 1928, at the postcard collection at Back of the Wight.


Three photographers visit Chonqing, China, a photo essay at It’s Not a Cabaret / buy affordable art photography at Photo Democracy, a new website / urban landscapes by painter Anna Schmidt / the Alvar Aalto Aapp / instant abstraction with Triade, a new app from the folk behind Kosmograd / Madam Bottwright’s Bureau by Mike Kann and Tim Burrell-Saward, at Mocoloco: ‘a restored reproduction Victorian bureau embedded with LEDs, potentiometers, rotary encoders and piezo transducers to playfully help tell the story of its owner, a Victorian-era madam’.


The 9 circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno recreated in Lego, at Monoscope / Life without Buildings on the Mystery of 221B Baker Street, ‘Architecture, Fiction, and The Replicating Flat of Sherlock Holmes’. ‘To recap: a fictional flat in a real city has been made a reality at a fictional address in the real city near the real address of the fictional flat.’ Read on, or visit Russ Stutler’s celebrated 221B Baker Street illustration.

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