The blog for the untrained but discriminating design eye.
P.R.A.D.E. covers anything from architecture and interior design to sneakers, gadgets, furniture, clothing, culture, media, movies, magazines, and museums.
PRADE Is Back With More Tape Creations
PRADE apologizes for the lack of updates recently, but we're back with an update on a PRADE favorite - street installation artist Mark Jenkins.Mark's latest work Embeds is another variation on his series of works based on human forms made from clear tape. This time Mark opts for a more severe approach that seems to speak to the aggression and violence of urban life. It is a thematic departure from the hopeful innocence of the infants from the Storker project, but no less engaging.
(image) Needless to say, the works are inspiring a plethora of double takes from passers-by.I'm a huge fan of Mark's work, and it is fantastic to experience an artist while he is producing such inventive and original work.As always, check in on Mark's website for updates on all his projects.
Two For Tuesday
This Tuesday, two fantastic albums drop on the same day. While the styles vary between the two, they are both solid releases from proven innovators in the music world.
(image) First up is the much discussed release from Cee-Lo and DJ Danger Mouse, collectively known as Gnarls Barkley. Really, this purchase is a no brainer. While Crazy has the potential to become the overplayed hit of the summer, there are plenty of other great tracks on the album that you can put on your own permanent rotation. Smiley Faces alone is worth the price of the CD in my opinion. But on top of the few slammers, you also get some noteworthy hip hop innovation from both members of the tag team. Cee-Lo claims he doesn't "sing" but he can "sang" and I have to agree. His voice is just melodic, and his vocal delivery spans the gammit on this album. I have been a huge fan of both of Cee Lo's solo albums, and Gnarls Barkley really showcases his abilities as a songwriter more than just an MC (love him or hate him for it, but he penned the Pussy Cat Dolls' hit "Don't Cha"). But don't get it twisted, the rotund one can still spit fire, so be on the lookout for the Goodie Mob reunion album later this year. Meanwhile, Danger Mouse continues to evolve, not falling into any one signature style despite the successes of The Grey Album, his work on the recent Gorillaz album, or his critically acclaimed effort on the DangerDoom album. While many producers wait for success and then become nothing but beat factories churning out versions of the same style, Danger Mouse claims he is constantly learning and improving. Word from Gnarls Barkley's recent 14-piece ensemble, Wizard of Oz-themed Coachella performance also indicates that their innovation will carry over to their live performances as well. The album is called St. Elsewhere and is in stores on Tuesday.
(image) Also hitting shelves on Tuesday is the new double album from PRADE's favorite rock band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, called Stadium Arcadium. I listened to the album while it was streaming on VH1 last week, and it is another in a long line of fantastic RHCP releases. While some fans chide the Peppers for straying from their early punk/rap/rock style, I enjoy the fact that each of their albums has its own unique sound, while still retaining elements of the band's signature style. This release is no different - with some tracks continuing the sound explored in 2001's By The Way, but others pushing new funk-rock boundaries and giving guitarist John Frusciante room to flex his musical inventiveness. The Peppers will also be touring to promote the new album, so look for them at a Stadium near you shortly.
Scion Dashboard: San Francisco
Scion recently opened set up shop on Hayes St in San Francisco, opening up a gallery space for one month that will have weekly showcases of some of the most promising emerging artists.There is a Saturday opening night event every week, and I went last Saturday to drink Heineken and wax intellectual with the hipsters and indie rockers. Apparently, you really shouldn't come in unless you have tattoos, cool sneakers, and some type of hat. I squeaked in because I went with two girls, and combined the three of us met all of the prerequisites (because you know my sneaker game is tight).Below is by far the coolest piece I saw at the show - and to be honest, one of the most disturbingly original pieces I've seen. The artist's name is Michael Hussar.
(image) All in all, it was a great event - good music, free beer, and plenty of people watching to undertake. While Scion is obviously trying hard to associate their brand with the cutting edge of the art world, I think they tastefully reserved their marketing efforts and let the art take the main stage.Tons more info here and here.There are two more opening night events left, so if you are in the area, definitely try to make it out ot Hayes St. Although, I suggest making sure to come correct with your tats, hats, and kicks.
Architecture on Film: Sketches of Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry is one of a handful of contemporary architects whose work has transcended his field and permeated popular culture. Even those that might not recognize his name will likely have read about his work or even seen it in person. His use of dramatic curved surfaces and shiny metal exterior skins are trademarks of Gehry's style that every novice could point out.So, it was particularly exciting for me to learn that an architect of Gehry's fame and prominence was going to give the public a window into his creative process. In a new documentary directed by Sydney Pollack entitled Sketches of Frank Gehry, viewers get a glimpse of a renowned architect at work. For instance, many viewers might be surprised to learn that Gehry's geometric complexity evolves initially from a messy doodled drawing not a hi-tech 3-D model, as Gehry is not very computer literate.
(image) I'm sure an architect on Gehry's scale is a skilled bullshit artist - at that level, you have to talk the talk about your "creations" if you want others to buy into the hype and pay you untold millions for your name brand. What surprised me, however, was that this documentary appears to be extremely candid in its portrayal of Gehry (at least, if the trailer is any indication). Pollack is a personal friend of Gehry, and, while I doubt there would be anything too scathing included in the film, it appears Pollack's access to Gehry allows for a much more intimate portrait of him than would otherwise be possible. And it seems that Gehry is enough of a character to make that portrait extremely interesting.Check out the trailer here. I know this film is now high on my "must see" list.
My Kingdom For A Paperclip
(image) Would you be able to find someone to trade you a house for a red paperclip? Sounds highly unlikely, but that is just what Kyle MacDonald is attempting to do. Kyle started with one paperclip and is making a series of trades in the hopes of eventually receiving a house in return. He is documenting all his transactions on his blog, One Red Paperclip. While Kyle obviously doesn't have a career in web design (the site is SLOW), his ingenuity and sales skills are already paying off. Through a series of trades, Kyle is already up to a rental apartment for a full year in Phoenix (which he got by swapping a recording contract, which he obtained in exchange for a moving truck, etc.) His story has been covered on Good Morning America, and in a host of newspapers, and I'm sure that house is just around the corner. If the story interests you, definitely keep an eye on Kyle's website. That is where he lists all the competing offers he has on the table for any given item. So far for the Phoenix apartment he has offers for a 24 hour lapdance, a low rider, and a summer rental in Hollywood complete with a Porsche. I'm still amazed he found anyone willing to trade anything for a red paperclip, but it seems like the biggest jump was when someone traded him a snowmobile for a keg of beer and a Budweiser sign. That is a significant change in value in my eyes.
To me the most genius aspect of the project is that it correctly predicts that people are willing to sacrifice material goods to be a part of something bigger than themselves. That, and the fact that Kyle is getting a once in a lifetime experience for free, and will be a homeowner long before me!
Small Is The New Big
Two interesting media explorations into efficient modern living in cramped quarters.The first comes from Apartment Therapy's Second Annual Smallest, Coolest Apartment Contest. What I enjoy about this resource is the variety of design ideas and styles exhibited by the entries, and the fact that many of the ideas are actually within reach of the average design fan. Not everyone can afford $4,000 Knoll couches, Sub Zero fridges and Ligne Roset storage units. There are a number of entries that show creativity in both their materials and their budgets that is inspiring for amateur design enthusiasts. Of course, there are also some drool worthy entries thrown in for good measure. Gideon and Tracy's Pocket Knife gets my vote as the most inventive, as they have an entire wall that pivots to alternately open up the living space or provide privacy for the bedroom. However, my favorite is probably Jane and Darko's Cozy Thicket - it is one of the few entries that looks lived in. The bold use of color and graphics are fun and interesting, and it has just the right amount of "modern" for my taste. James and Margaret's Iconic Studio should also get a shout out for best transformation - they transformed a confining floorplan into a comfortable living space.Winners are annoucned on April 20th, but, for me, the contest is more about just perusing the entries.
(image) A shot of one of the entires, James and Margaret's Iconic StudioAnd secondly, this month's issue of Dwell features several interesteing homes, all under 1700 Sq. Ft. While that is about double the size of my apartment, it is reasonably small compared to the expansive homes normally featured in the magazines. I really enjoyed the ingenuity of the Puzzle Loft and the natural emphasis of the Kozely/Farmer Residence in Venice, CA. (The latter of which was featured in this year's CA Boom Home Tours program)Is the Super-Size mentality of America changing? Unlikely. However, it is nice to hear about some designs that factor in efficiency as a desirable characteristic.
(image) Photo of the wet room shower in the Kozely/Farmer Residence, via Land + Living.
Hoyas the Team to Beat in '07
(image) "They easily play the smartest basketball of all the major schools, and he’s the best coach of a major school. They can play a Princeton (slowdown) style with athletes. That’s a rare combination."Word.
PRADE Weekly Update 4.3.06
Surprisingly, I think more people visit PRADE on the days when there are no updates. But in order to test this theory, here's what is catching my eye from around the "interweb." Feel free to shout out your responses in the comments. Skylines Beginning with 'S' Diserio.com posted its list of the 15 Best Skylines in the World. I can't say I agree with all the placements, but it is a fairly diverse list in terms of Western and Eastern cities. And all the pictures of the skylines are pretty spectacular. Although San Francisco is glaringly absent, Singapore, Sydney and Shanghai are probably my favorites on the list. I had never seen a picture of Shenzhen before, but the colorful lights definitely make for a unique skyline (pictured below). Photorealisim A Daily Dose has a great feature on a series of photographs by Chris Jordan entitled "In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster." The photos don't seem exploitive at all, but rather seek to unearth personal and intimate images set against the bleak backdrop of the destruction of the storm. One of my favorites appears below Baptist church, Ninth Ward neighborhoodde YoungianTropolism shares its take on San Francisco's de Young museum (which I am embarrassed to say that I've only toured from the outside).Drops of JupiterPruned gives us a new way to look at the heavenly body courtesy of recent images from the Cassini spacecraft.Snootchie BootchiesA humorous yet intimate story of drug addiction courtesy of director Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob. Smith relates the history of his buddy Jason Mewes' battle with addiction in the frank, conversational style he is known for - a great read. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4 still yet to come.Fishscales on The CornerTwo tidbits from the music world. XXL's Elliott Wilson has a great column on all the samples featured on Ghostface's new album, Fishscale. Sampling has a long history in hip hop, and the unwritten rule is that you don't blow up someone's spot by pointing out where they dug out a hot sample from. However, Wilson points out only the samples that have been officially cleared by the label.And if you dig music, be sure to check out the new blog from Thomas the Intergalactic Soul Child called The Corner. You can read about the first ever performance of Funk Sway (a supergroup featuring Erykah Badu, Questlove and Jazzy Jeff) or explore his feature on Taiwo Duvall - one of the most prominent figures in the history of African Drumming in the U.S.[...]
It's Coming And It's Gnarley
(image) Clinton Jacks works as a cook in a Waffle House restaurant near the South Carolina coast. “One night back in the year 2000,” he recollects, “I saw Danger Mouse come in here. Cee-Lo was with him. And they had this other dude with them, dressed up like H.R. Pufnstuf. Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo ate big meals, but H.R. Pufnstuf only wanted hash browns. Then they left, Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo, but H.R. Pufnstuf stayed around for hours. He must’ve had twenty cups of coffee. I went in the bathroom, and when I came out, he was gone. But he left a $500 tip on the table. And he left a little note that said,‘Compliments to the chef. Gnarls Barkley.’”
Working for a Living . . .
PRADE was launched over a year ago as a way to gather the design items I found interesting and comment on them when I had anything remotely intelligent or insightful to say about them. It was my first venture into the blog world, and overall I think it has been successful. PRADE has received visitors from around the world (even if some of them got here by misspelling some illicit search terms), and I've been fortunate to trade words and ideas with some of the best in the business.
Unfortunately, the vacation is over. I just started a new position that is going to take up a considerable amount of my waking hours, and the nature of the work eliminates blogging on the job as an option.
So PRADE is changing formats, and will instead become a weekly blog (or semi-weekly). I'll do my best to keep the content interesting, fresh, and relevant even though it won't be published as frequently. I hope you'll stick with PRADE, and drop in from time to time to see what has caught this untrained but discriminating design eye. -P
Kengo Kuma's 2002 Great (Bamboo) Wall house was part of an effort to construct a series of houses by Asian architects along the Great Wall of China.
(image) What immediately stands out is Kuma's fantastic use of resources to tie the house to its natural surroundings. Kuma's house is constructed of bamboo walls that allow light and air to penetrate the house's skin. Inhabitat sums up the design concept brilliantly . . . "Kuma varied the spacing and thickness of the bamboo canes creating the walls of the house, each defining a different level of fluidity from one space to the next. Dappled light penetrates between the thin stalks, as though the house were literally built from the forests of Asia." I love how his tribute to the Great Wall essentially aspires to make its walls transparent, in a sense reacting to the bold, divisive appearance of the Great Wall itself. And his use of bamboo both makes a statement about using natural, renewable resources and looks great amidst the surrounding forest. This is my first exposure to Kuma's work, but after checking out his firm's site I was impressed by all of his work. His modern reinventions of traditional Japanese forms are interesting and unique, and never fail to be pleasing to the eye as well (which is not always true about most modern architecture!) I might just have to pick this up, and declare Kuma one of my new favorite architects.
(image) (image) Images from Materia Magazine. Via Inhabitat.
Farewell to Flowers
Manhattan's landmark flower district, located on 28th st between 7th and 6th Ave since the 1890's, is being closed down.Businesses along the most famous row of flower shops in the world were served eviction notices last week to make way for new highrise apartment developments and a hotel. While suggestions have been put forth to jointly relocate the group of independent shops to other NY locations, no collective agreement has been reached.So it appears that one of the most iconic and organic New York spaces will soon be no more. In lieu of sending flowers, just be sure to support the independently owned businesses we have left.You can find more details at MUG.
(image) Via Tropolism.
PRADE's March Magazine Rack
Two new gems just dropped at the magazine stand.
First off is the premiere issues of Lemon
. Full disclosure, I know one of the new magazine's editorial staff. So I also know how excited he is about this issue, so if you are out and about at Tower Records, Barnes and Noble, or Borders, I suggest picking one up. Described as "pop culture with a twist," the debut magazine includes features on Aesop Rock, Bill Murray, JT LeRoy, artist Jeff Koons, and more. Lemon is brought to you by the team behind the high-concept Gum
magazine, so expect some cutting edge publication ish.
Also out now is the latest issue of Trifling Mental
, the e-zine from Georgetown grads Thomas Williams and Josh Yaffa. Picture a magazine written by Handsome Boy Modeling school and you have a good idea of what TM is all about. These fellas love waxing philosophical and writing about music or brunch spots with as many Kafka references as they can. When I asked what the heat was in the new issue, I was told "the fresh new interview
(and online mix) with G-Stone recording artist and superproducer, Stereotyp, and his Berlin-based crew with the
silly-hot name, Al-Haca." So peep the refined game of the Mental Masters over here
In the most recent issue of Dwell, there is a profile on artist and illustrator Charles Harper. I had never seen Harper's work before, but I was instantly captivated by his colorful, 2-D, geometric wildlife drawings. Harper became renowned for his illustrations for Ford Times magazine in the 1950's. Additionally, he has illustrated numerous biology books, including the popular The Golden Book of Biology, and his work even graced the pages of a Betty Crocker cookbook. Equally loved for his witty and poetic captions as his unique visual style, Harper's work is what great design should aspire to be - innovative, aesthetically interesting, and grounded in substance. You can purchase prints of Harper's work at The Frame Workshop, or pick up one of the various collections of his work in book form. Although some are out of print, a little digging at some bookstores will certainly reward you with some brilliant and unique coffee table reading material. I encourage you to head on over to this site to see (and read) more of Harper's signature, modern interpretation of our natural surroundings. I personally love the image below, from his popular series of Serigraphs, entitled "Pelican in a Downpour." The caption accompanying the work reads . . . If your food is all finned and your chin's double-chinned, you're a Brown Pelican, the seine with a brain. It takes some IQ to outwit a mess of menhaden or to stuff your gullet with mullet because they're always in schoool. So how come this pelican doesn't have sense enough to come in out of the rain? Well, what's a little cloudburst when you spend your life diving into the sea for sustenance. Water runs off his back so fast that take a shower a pelican't.
(image) Image via The FrameWorkshop.
The second half of Daily Dose's coverage of the Hotel Puerta America in Madrid is now up. As I mentioned before when covering the hallways, it is readily apparent that "comfort" was not the primary concern of the designers in crafting the interiors of the rooms on their floors. Most of these rooms strike me as severe - and not because they eschew the traditional rules of hotel design, but because they all seem to be either so drastic in their design statements that they forgot the function of a hotel room or so simplistic that they don't represent anything new or exciting. For example, who wants to feel disoriented inside their hotel room, as seems to be the case with Plasma Studio's experiments in triangular perspective on the 4th floor? And the blinding white of the 1st, 7th and 8th floors emit a clinical aura that would make me feel ill at ease. By contrast, the use of black in several of the other rooms seems to make the rooms unnecessarily dark. Sure that is great for sleeping, but who would want to hang out in a cave of a hotel room? Isn't it possible to be innovative without resorting to extreme contrast? Can't a designer use some color in a hotel room? (without using ALL of them like Victorio and Lucchino's 5th floor). And maybe I am being nitpicky, but there are also several floors that appear overly simplistic to me, failing to be interesting or comfortable. For example, check out the 2nd, the 3rd and the 6th floors. All of them use black and white contrast. The 2nd and 6th are both the same sleek aesthetic that you see thousands of times and never appeals to me, and the 3rd looks like a converted shower room. Of course that's all just my opinion. My favorite room was probably Isozaki's modern take on traditional Japanese style (pictured below). I liked the use of the different textures, particularly his interpretation of the paper screen covering the window. Although the overall room seemed dark to me (there is a bright red cabinet, not pictured), it seemed to make a nice balance between making a statement and still offering a warm, comfortable room.The same might also be said for Gluckman's room, although I keep thinking the room would be plagued by a low buzz from the fancy lights. You can see even more pictures of each and every floor at this site. Of course, nothing compares to actually staying in the room for yourself, so if anyone is passing through Madrid soon, check out a room and let me know what you think. Via Daily DoseVia elmundo.es Via elmundo.es[...]
What Would Dan Flavin Do?
(image) In conjunction with a Dan Flavin exhibition in London called Dedications, The Hayward Gallery has created a microsite that allows you to create your own Flavin light installation. View PRADE's effort here (also pictured above), and go create one of your own. Maybe your own fluorescent light bulbs will be hanging on the wall of an art gallery one day. Via Cool Hunting.
Halls of Fame
If you read design magazines or sites, you've likely heard of the Hotel Puerta America in Madrid. The concept of the new hotel was to have a different famous architect design each of the 12 floors, plus the lobby and roof deck. The chosen architects designed everything from the hallways to the rooms. I've seen some photos of the various floors, but hats off to Daily Dose for providing us with a complete rundown of the hallways of each floor, top to bottom.
Almost all of the hallways appear to be design statements more than attempts at aesthetically pleasing decor. While they represent a departure from traditional hotel hallways, they all make for dramatic surroundings that will surely make guests feel like they are in some form of sci-fi movie rather than a pricey hotel.
My favorite ones are below, but go on over to Daily Dose and check out all the various floors.
Victorio and Lucchino's 5th floor, Mariscal and Salas's animal print 11th floor, and Richard Gluckman's stoic 9th floor are the only ones that approach resembling traditional hotel hallways to me.
I really liked the bright white light of Ron Arad's 7th floor and its metallic, handwritten room numbers. However, I imagine I'd have a headache after 3 minutes of walking down the hallway. Which would likely also be the case for the shiny red of the 6th floor, the blue glow of the 8th floor, the reflective polygons of the 4th floor, and the white, womb-like walls of the 1st floor.
By contrast, I think you would need a flashlight to help find your rooms on 12th and 10th floor, as the hallways are bathed in black with minimal lighting (although those hallways would be a little more hangover friendly).
In fact, overall I would say most of the architects weren't too concerned with the comfort of the guests, which is even more evident when you see the designs for the guest rooms themselves. Warm is not a descriptive term that comes to mind. I'll let you know when Daily Dose does its future feature on the interior of the rooms, and we can discuss.
David Chipperfield's third floor would normally be too industrial for my tastes, but it is almost conservative in comparison to the other floors. Its sci-fi chic atmosphere is further enhanced by the high-contrast lighting scheme.
Norman Foster's second floor is similar to Arad's, but the black carpet helps mute the design slightly, and the glass walls add an interesting, almost clinical feel to the surroundings that again brings in the futuristic, dystopian element. I picture a soothing woman's voice coming over the intercom reminding the guests to "be well."
The Office of Metropolitan Architecture's design for the Museum Plaza in Louisville, KY.
(image) Never have I witnessed more attention being paid to a building going up in Kentucky.
See what all the fuss is about here, here, and here. Life Without Buildings makes the astute observation that the design for the Museum Plaza is eerily reminiscent of a previous OMA design, while Tropolism raises the question of whether the building can overcome the inherent problems of the elevated plaza model on which the building is based. And Daily Dose recommends checking out the music video.
The design is definitely an interesting re-imagination of the classic skyscraper - with much of the building's form stemming from OMA's vision for its various functions. The result is a jumble of overlapping rectangular forms that look remarkably futuristic in their radical departure from the traditional skyscraper. Maybe it is the platform like appearance of the 61 story structure that gives it its sci-fi, dystopian aura. I also agree with Tropolism that locating the main plaza 20+ stories off the ground is going to limit the amount of foot traffic the building might have otherwise garnered.
The $305 million project is scheduled to break ground in 2007.
Cuddly Photo of the Week
While the entire North East was being buried under a foot-deep, frosty blanket, the National Zoo's panda cub, Tai Shan, was enjoying his first taste of the snow.
(image) Via the Washington Post.Nothing design related, but sometimes we all need to stop and look at the Pandas.
Speaking of contests, here is another one from the folks at Tropolism.
The Your Hidden City contest is looking for the best photos of the city through your eyes.
"It may be in plain sight of everyone else, but it is your eye that finds the extraordinariness in a particular street corner, a unique stair, a crazy intersection, a visually arresting approach, or a particular tree in the city . . . The entries should have one thing in common: they demonstrate, to you, the pleasure of living in the city."
You can submit the photos to Tropolism's Flickr site or email them. All photos must be accompanied by a caption explaining what the image means to you. There are five categories that the panel of blogger judges will select:
Best Hidden Place
Best Natural/Urban Overlap
Best Unofficial Landmark
The contest is open until March 10th. So go out and explore your cities with cameras in hand.
I consider myself somewhat of an early adopter when it comes to technology and cultural trends. However, I have yet to hop on the podcast bandwagon. Until now. I just listened to an episode of WeeklyDrop - a weekly podcast that gives listeners an inside peek at the sneaker collecting game. The hosts are true kicksologists - so keep a fresh window open to Google some of the stuff they are talking about. However, dedicated sneaker collectors and amateur enthusiast alike should all enjoy the sneaker-geek humor and exclusive info featured in each podcast. The guests are top notch names in the sneaker world, and topics cover the full spectrum from exclusive colorways and rare releases to debates about the most comfortable pairs or how to rock your laces.
(image) Episode 6 features an interview with Retrokid about the story behind these creations. Check out past episodes right here and sign up for updates on when the new hotness hits the podwaves. Via Cool Hunting.
The Desert Lab
Many of you may be familiar with "Sambo" Mockbee's Rural Studio, an offshoot of Auburn University's architecture program that allows students to learn through the process of actually designing and constructing low income homes in rural Alabama.Well, a similar design/build laboratory framework has been established by Mary Hardin at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her and her students are exploring alternative construction methods (rammed earth, paper bale, straw bale) in order to develop affordable housing options for local communities.The program grew out of an initial project to construct a new classroom facility for the University's Athletics and Recreation Department. Since that time, students have already built multiple structures with methods they developed and tested themselves, including the Habitat for Humanity Straw Bale House pictured below.
(image) Habitat for Humanity Straw Bale Residence (model and interior).Prof. Hardin has also used the rammed earth techniques explored in the program to design a project with the Dean of the College of Architecture, Richard Eribes. The result is a striking and energy efficient design that blends perfectly with its desert surroundings.
(image) The Elser House was constructed using rammed earth techniques.The design/build method employed by both Auburn and the University of Arizona present exciting possibilities for moving architecture schools away from merely theoretical exercises and toward more practical experiences and applications. The socially responsible focus of both these programs is also refreshing, as the emphasis on bringing good design to affordable housing is long overdueVia Land+Living.
Calling All Responsible Treehuggers
Treehugger is hosting a "Waste of Packaging" contest. The rules are simple - take a picture of anything that you believe is overpackaged and unnecessarily environmentally cruel. Then explain what you would do to make the packing more eco-kind. Winner receives a $250 gift certificate to re:modern. Email the picture, description, and solution to: contest [at] treehugger [dot] com. The deadline is February 20th, so keep your eyes peeled for particularly preposterous packaging.
Blinded By The Light
BLDGBLOG's Geoff Manaugh has written a thought provoking piece for Inhabitat about light pollution. Light pollution seems a particularly interesting topic to me because it is one example of the impact of modern living on the environment that is completely reversible with just the flick of a switch. San Francisco appears to be a relatively low light polluting city, as the starry sky is readily visible from the park right outside my front door. However, I remember DC being a particularly bright city and was always struck by how few stars were visible, even from the rooftops of DC buildings.
(image) The article touches on several effects of man-made illumination, and some efforts by concerned star watchers to stem the "light trespass" of cities and towns. I found this passage particularly interesting: "The blazing horror of unnecessary self-illumination practiced by gas stations, shopping malls, casinos, cinemas, etc., has been shown to interfere with the bio-rhythmic cycles of local and migratory species (humans included). For instance, in areas aglow with light pollution, "birds [chirp] throughout the night, in anticipation of a dawn that will not arrive." Dung beetles wander in circles. Glowworms lose their ability to mate. Grown men watch television for hours at a time." Who would have known that flood lighting could destroy the sex life of glowworms? It is always interesting to think of the unintended and unforeseen impact we have on our surroundings, and light proves to be a particularly compelling example. Its impact becomes almost ironically invisible to us because it dissolves into a sort of visual background noise of living. Geoff gives some great examples of artists who are trying to make that impact visible again in order to raise some of these very issues. Head on over and read the article, and then maybe you will see your neighborhood surroundings in a new light.
PRADE Tales from the Road: Groom Cross
I want to say a big welcome to the readers coming over to PRADE from your favorite architecture blog and mine, A Daily Dose.
As most of you newcomers probably don't know, PRADE recently relocated to San Fran from Washington DC. But PRADE didn't just hop on a plane or rent a Uhaul - PRADE went cross country in style. I've only posted a few things from the trip so far, so I'm starting a new feature called Tales from the Road - little tidbits about my experience Cadillac-ing my way across the US of A.
First up - the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Any guesses where it is located? That's right, Texas - God's chosen state.
If you look close, you can see ant-size cars at the base of the cross. Compensating for a lack of faith?
Situated only a shotgun blast's distance off of I-40 in Groom, Texas, just a few hundred yards past the Leaning Water Tower (I shit you not, that really counts as an attraction in Texas), the 190 foot high cross is visible from miles around. I didn't stop at the cross, but that appears to be my loss, as the base of the cross features a veritable theme park of Jesus attractions.
If you are ever driving on I-40 through Texas (and hopefully you have a destination that doesn't lie within Texas) I definitely recommend sticking your camera out the window and taking a picture of the humongous white cross as you zoom by as fast as possible. You can't miss it - it is the huge f*&%ing cross surrounded by hundreds of miles of flat nothingness.