Strangely nautical

Trying very hard to escape from nostalgia, but its gravitational pull is colossal. Renault 4 Ever was a design competition hosted by designboom, looking at how the values inherent in a classic piece of functional design, the original Renault 4, could be revisited and upgraded for a contemporary vehicle. Unsurprisingly, many of the 3,000 entries took the original’s four-square appearance as their starting point, imbuing the – often highly technologically advanced – proposals with a whiff of nostalgia. That said, there is a welcome absence of laboured, expressive sculpture in these designs.


Manis Mastodon: a 13,800 year old Archaeological Site on the Northwest Coast, early human hunting and forensic archaeology / the 10 most valuable Lego Star Wars sets / Planet Earth, a stunning cutaway drawing by Casey Cripe / What if ET ever phones our home? In which we are introduced to Doug Vakoch, ‘Director, Interstellar Message Composition’ at SETI / Architecture Ryan Gosling / The Evil, Evil grain elevator, on the difference between site-specific and site-adjusted.


Pertinent: Cruise Line History, on the social and design history of cruise culture / previously linked, Kevin Hulsey’s cutaway drawing of RCCL Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas (warning, this is a link to an 11mb jpg cutaway drawing) / related, the dangers of super-sized cruise ships.


Wire: Sleeves Received, a tumblr of contemporary music design courtesy of The Wire magazine (via tmn). Lots of audio cassettes our there, as well as projects that revel in their obscurity (Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, ‘A series of field recordings made by Ernst Karel of Swiss mountain transportation, including chairlifts, gondolas, funicular railways and aerial tramways, some of which have now been removed from service.’) / also via tmn, Overheard on the Goldman Sachs Elevator. Patrick Bateman wishes he said half of these things / stuff the substance, hyperform presents page after page of the glossiest, most angular bits of contemporary architecture.


One has to be careful about drawing analogies between architecture and things or events that were not supposed to be inferred. The MVRDV fiasco was more about humankind’s ability to link pattern with meaning than any more sinister or irreverent manifesto. Likewise, a literalist might suggest that A Room for London’s stranded tugboat is conceivably in rather poor taste after the 2011 Japanese tsunami threw up similar striking imagery. But the London boat is more Fitzcarraldo-style labour than natural catastrophe. The structure, by David Kohn, is both prosaic and surrealist, out of place and yet also at home, as if the concrete cliffs of the South Bank were the last riverside remnants of a civilisation that has just drained away. We wonder what the ‘onboard’ atmosphere is like, whether there are creaks and groans from the timbers during the night, and whether the sounds of the city ebb and flow like noisy surf.

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2 Responses to Strangely nautical

  1. Sweetcorn Twin says:

    In your reflections on nostalgia/ephemera, Did you ever cover the Japanese concept of Mono no aware? –
    Kind regards

    • things magazine says:

      We’re aware of it but haven’t really touched upon it properly in a post. We like very specific cultural terms that define a universal experience.

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