1. Women Dominate the James Beard Awards
This week the James Beard Awards ushered the latest crop of celebrated restaurants and the chefs who dreamed them up into the echelons of the foodie world. While the industry tends to be dominated by men, it was women who made out big at this year’s ceremony. The awards for outstanding restaurateur, outstanding chef and best chef in New York City were all swept by the ladies—and rightfully so as their establishments truly made waves among the food community. Plenty of other people won as well, including cronut creator Dominique Ansel and SF’s famed The Slanted Door.
2. It Began with Pont Neuf
As historian Joan DeJean tells it in an excerpt from her new book, the birth of Paris as a modern tourist destination began in the 1660s. More than just proving essential for traffic flow, Pont Neuf broadened integration between the right and left banks of the city. And on top of that, it fast became a celebrated monument of modernity in an old city undergoing much change—beginning with nude river bathers and expanding into an attraction for those beyond the borders of the city.
3. Wear Your Work
Recognizing a through line between all arts, Brooklyn-based illustrator Paul Tuller took to re-imagining famous architectural structures—only he did so atop the heads of their creators. Adorning starchitects such as David Adjaye and Zaha Hadid with their celebrated works, the “Architecture as a Crown” series is thoughtful in many ways. The structures are the offspring of the heads they sit upon, there’s a fashion element present and it’s all seen through the interpretation of illustration. They’re a taut representation of the way inspiration works.
4. Not a Bug Splat
A group of American and Pakistani artists—including TED prize-winner JR—recently unveiled “Not a Bug Splat,” an installation calling
attention to the civilian casualties continually amassing from US
predator strikes. Almost half a football field in size, the massive poster features the portrait of a nine-year-old girl who was left orphaned after a 2009 drone attack. The emotional installation serves as a literal visual cue for remote drone pilots and a symbolic representation of the real people on the ground.
5. Design Nori
Intricate patterns have been laser-cut into wood, plastic, paper and more, but this may be the first time for seaweed to become a canvas. The embellished nori were created by a Japanese ad agency and a seaweed shop owner to help boost nori sales, which have been down since the 2011 tsunami. Rooted in traditional Japanese art, the designer nori feature symbolic turtle shells (longevity), hemp (growth), water drops (luck) and cherry blossoms (beauty) as well wishes for the future.
6. Nature Adapts to Chernobyl
Nearly 30 years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred
at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the
Ukraine, signs are beginning to show the contaminated area’s flora and
fauna actually adapting to the high levels of radiation. Though
biologist Timothy Mousseau has noted a decrease in biodiversity—up
to 50% fewer bird species in hot areas, for example—some animals like
spiders, birds and rodents continue to exist even among high
radiation levels. Future projects will send Mousseau to Fukushima to
continue his study on the lasting effects of a nuclear
In a clever effort to raise money for an upcoming tour,
Michigan band Vulfpeck made an album consisting of silent
tracks, uploaded it to Spotify and asked fans to stream the
album while they slept to make the most of the streaming service’s payment of $0.007 per play. In doing so, the “Sleepify” album raised $20,000 in owed
royalties, while at the same time catching the attention of Spotify
execs who’ve since removed the album, but applauded the band for their creative stunt.
8. Healing Henna
Rather than cover up the side effects of chemotherapy with a wig, cancer and even alopecia patients have another alternative—henna, the art of temporary tattooing using dye from the henna plant. Toronto’s Henna Heals offers a service that creates henna crowns with elaborate patterns, using the head as a canvas. Though it will only last a week or two, it’s a visually striking way to boost confidence and morale.
9. The Devil’s Toy Redux
In 1966 Claude Jutra, a Montreal-based filmmaker made the world’s first skateboarding film, focusing on the
vilification of the activity. Now the National Film Board of Canada
introduces 11 new renditions from directors around the world. An
interactive website has been created to showcase each interpretation, allowing
viewers to browse each new film and explore how kids in different
cities deal with the issues that define the skaters’
experiences—confrontation, social resistance, resignation and
10. Hip-Hop Vocabularies
Data scientist Matt Daniels, who (among other ventures) has previously explored the etymology of the word “shorty,” decided to examine the vocabulary of hip-hop artists and see how they compare with Shakespeare, who “arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.” Culling the first 35,000 lyrics rapped in their careers from 85 different hip-hop artists, Daniels then compared the number of unique words they used. The results? Aesop Rock, who the author originally didn’t include thinking the rapper was too obscure, was the clear winner—not Shakespeare. DMX placed last out of 85, but who needs a thesaurus when your rap is as hardcore as that of Earl Simmons?
11. The Mink
Rather than part with hard-earned money for overpriced cosmetics (most of which is paying for the marketing and packaging), there is now the option to 3D-print makeup at home. Launching later this year for less than $200, Mink is a printer that uses programs like Photoshop or Paint to turn any color in the world into items like blush, lip gloss or eye shadow. The combination of DIY and convenience is just what the younger generation is looking for.
12. A Village of Japanese Dolls
Upon returning to her home village of Nagoro, Japan, many years after she had left, Ayano Tsukimi found it far less populous than she had remembered in her youth. The artist took it upon herself to repopulate the remote island space—one handmade doll at a time. For 10 years now, she has sewn over 350 life-sized dolls and artistically placed them everywhere; from classrooms to front yards, frozen in time. Now the subject of a documentary by journalist Fritz Schuman, dubbed “The Valley of the Dolls,” Ayano had the opportunity to explain her full motivation and what it means to be the mother of a town of dolls.
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