Prague’s Mesmerizing Signal Festival, 2018

Exploring the annual celebration of light art and emerging technologies

Prague abounds with historic quaintness. Hotel lobbies are traditionally opulent and grand, established restaurants serve time-honored food paired with Czech dumplings and beer, streets bear the names of residents from times gone by, and the magnificent Prague Castle above the city speaks of the royalty that once presided over the country. It is with this classic backdrop as a canvas that Prague hosts something intriguing and …

Link About It: This Week’s Picks

O-faces around the globe, the image of a black hole, a font to improve memory and more

Butterfly Wings Explored Through Chris Perani’s Marco Photography

Layer upon layer of  iridescent scales, running along multicolored hairs, are revealed through Chris Perani’s marco photography of butterfly wings. The photographer employs a 10x microscope objective affixed to a 200mm lens in order to get such precision. The findings are perhaps unsurprisingly exquisite and thoroughly mesmerizing, but Perani’s method is certainly notable. See more imagery at Colossal, where Perani outlines his process further.

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Renaissance Painting-Inspired Collection for Moncler

For Italian luxury skiwear brand Moncler, Valentino’s acclaimed creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has delivered a capsule collection that harks back to the forms of early-Renaissance paintings. The full-body, lightweight down-filled-nylon pieces—zip-up hooded capes, layered over padded skirts and paired with gloves—are out today. According to Piccioli, it’s “an uttermost expression of my taste and a very personal effort.” To exemplify the inspiration, textile designer and photographer Suzanne Jongmans released an art series that puts the pieces in classic frame. See more of the imagery at designboom.

Orgasm Faces Around the World

According to a study published this week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesit seems orgasmic facial expressions vary depending on where in the world you’re from. When asked to decide which face was mid-climax, participants from Western cultures decided an orgasm looked more excited and outward (signified by an open mouth and wide-eyes) while Eastern participants believed that an orgasm looked like closed mouth smiles and gentle release. Read more about what their answers signify culturally on Ars Technica.

Yayoi Kusama’s Work From a Different Angle

Much of Yayoi Kusama‘s work draws inspiration from her lifelong hallucinations, obsessive-compulsive behavior and fears, with her narratives oftentimes firmly based around mental health. While the brilliant artist has, more recently, been reduced to and stereotyped as a “wacky” Japanese artist who makes installations that result in selfie mania, Kusama’s works and process are so much more. For World Mental Health Day this year, Jyni Ong at It’s Nice That explores Kusama’s work through a different lens. As Ong writes, “Yayoi’s immense creative output seems deeply therapeutic and intuitive to her sense of self-expression. However, there is also something to be said in how she uses her external expression of art as a means to further understand her inner-self.” Read more at It’s Nice That.

The Only American Company Making Paper Straws

Paper straws got a bad reputation as flimsy and funky-tasting, thanks in part to versions produced in China. But Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Aardvark returned to paper straw production in 2007, when demand required that they start up again (they invented the paper straw back in 1888). Not only are the products “green,” they’re also ideal to use. Much of the process behind them is secret, and the plant is close-doored, but a few things are known. First, the straws are sustainable—produced with paper sourced from trees Aardvark grows themselves. Second, demand is skyrocketing right now, according to David Rhodes, the company’s global business director. For those looking for plastic alternatives, this is one worth trying for yourself. Read more at Bloomberg.

Assembling an Image of the Shadow of a Black Hole

In a mind-boggling excerpt from Seth Fletcher’s book Einstein’s Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable (published by Ecco), the author probes the meticulous process behind the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). In fact, a series of collaborative data sets collected in 2017 by eight telescopes around the planet, the EHT aims to create an image of the shadow of a black hole using vast amounts of cross-referenced and corroborated information. Fletcher’s insight and prose captivates as much the scientific developments, and the excerpt—published by the New York Times Magazine—frequently stuns with unimaginable facts.

Moog’s First Polysynth in 35 Years

In a short film featuring Dev Hynes, Mark Ronson and Ryuichi Sakamoto, among others, Moog teased the release of its first polysynth in 35 years. The Moog One (available in eight-voice ($5,999) or 16-voice ($7,999) versions) features three VCOs, two independent analog filters and a revamped collection of native effects. Moog hopes the new additions will allow users to form “deeply layered, evolving soundscapes.” Read more about the release and the rest of Moog’s upcoming products at Fact.

Long-Lost Eames Radio Design Realized

Vitra is bringing a long-lost Eames design to life: a molded plywood framed radio. With holes for speakers and a few knobs for tuning, the device has been made in an edition of 999, with the first 50 available at the MoMA Design Store. The design was never realized during the ’40s, when it was initially drawn up, because the design was deemed “too modern.” Now, with the help of Vitra and the office’s current director (and the duo’s grandson), the design is for sale—with WiFi and bluetooth capabilities included. Read more at Fast Company.

This Font Might Improve Your Memory

A new typeface—the result of a collaboration between RMIT University’s design school and its behavioral business lab—may increase the amount of information we retain from reading. Called Sans Forgetica, it was conceptualized for students cramming for big exams. With lots of backward slants and gaps, the type makes use of a design principle called “desirable difficulty” which slows the reader down, resulting in more retention and employs “deeper cognitive processing.” Read more at It’s Nice That.

Continue reading “Link About It: This Week’s Picks”

Google’s Upgraded Suite is Home Technology at its Most Seamless

We discuss today's releases with Ivy Ross and Isabelle Olsson

At the 2018 “Made by Google” event, Google gave the world an official look at the roster of products they’ve been working on—solidifying the rumors spurred by leaks. The Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL ($799 and $899), Home Hub ($149), Pixel Slate ($599), Pixelbook 2 ($999), Pixel Stand ($79), Pixel Buds 2 ($159) and an updated Chromecast Ultra ($69) were all unveiled—broadening, and upgrading, …

Moog’s First Polysynth in 35 Years

In a short film featuring Dev Hynes, Mark Ronson and Ryuichi Sakamoto, among others, Moog teased the release of its first polysynth in 35 years. The Moog One (available in eight-voice ($5,999) or 16-voice ($7,999) versions) features three VCOs, two independent analog filters and a revamped collection of native effects. Moog hopes the new additions will allow users to form “deeply layered, evolving soundscapes.” Read more about …

Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The future of TV, Puerto Rico's rebuild, a new Monopoly edition and more

Chinatown Soup’s Community-Minded Version of Monopoly

NYC-based art and activism collective Chinatown Soup has developed a “Chinatown Edition” of Monopoly, but their version’s winner doesn’t play to control the city by achieving ownership of all valuable properties. Rather, players aim to create a more utopian neighborhood as the game “prizes the player that purposefully develops an area while keeping its residents in mind.” Highlighting the issues surrounding gentrification, this version of the game includes “Chance” cards like “Convert a tenement building into a condo, donate $200 to the Community Center for displacing the elderly,” and other socially responsible concepts. Find out more about this new iteration, and the original, at Artsy.

Puerto Rico’s Rebuild Starts With Designers and Architects

Since last September—immediately after Hurricane Maria—designers and architects have been working to not only rebuild Puerto Rico, but also to rethink its infrastructure. Many of the some 1,200 homes that lost roofing in the Caño Martin Pena area of Puerto Rico had “informal infrastructure”—in this instance meaning they were built with galvanized metal sheet roofs. Sadly, this is the case in large regions of Puerto Rico, and the devastating winds and flooding ruined much of what was just strong enough to fend off weaker rains. The efforts of the designers and architects have been concentrated on resiliency planning, implementing faster construction techniques, providing the island with renewable energy systems, developing housing types designed specifically for the island, assisting in the launching of new businesses and getting in the ear of policy-makers to provoke change. Read more about these efforts on Curbed.

AR Puts Notable Women on US Bills

Notable Women—a project from former Treasurer of the USA, Rosie Rios, along with Google Creative Lab and Nexus Studios—lets anyone with the power of AR and their smartphone’s camera put one of history’s most important women on the front of a bill. Once AR identifies the bill, it’ll place a portrait there and, by tapping said portrait, you’ll be able learn about that woman’s contributions to US history. The portraits fit seamlessly, thanks to  acute attention to detail that makes these woman-adorned banknotes feel authentic. Read more about the project on It’s Nice That.

The Truth About Plastic in Our Clothing

Polyester, nylon, acrylic and other synthetic fibers—all plastic byproducts—make up 60% of the materials used in clothing. Even if wearers aren’t tossing their shirts or pants into the ocean when they’re done with them, the plastics in our clothing still make their way there. With each wash, fibers shed from the clothing and are drained through waterways into the ocean. “Think about how many people are washing their clothes on a daily basis, and how many clothes we all have,” says Imogen Napper, a marine scientist at the University of Plymouth. A study she co-authored found that individuals generate 793 pounds of shed plastic throughout the year. “A large proportion will get caught by the sewage treatment works, [but] even that small proportion that does fall through is going to accumulate,” she continues. Read more about the issue on Vox.

Skin-Inspired Robotic Enhancements Animate the Inanimate

Developed by Yale’s Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio for NASA, new robotic skins aim to fit around static options and give them form—and movement. The skins are composed of supple elastic sheets and have sensors and actuators embedded throughout. This is a fascinating development that reflects a tangential robotics market, wherein an enhancement—rather than an independent form—is produced. Further, using more than one skin can lead to increasing complex series of movements. Anything, in theory, can become a moving robot. Read more at Interesting Engineering.

Lyft Launches Open-Source Design Tool

Most of the world’s largest companies protect their patents, data and design tools at all costs. But, as coding and design careers become increasingly coveted in today’s market, more people are interested in mastering (or at least brushing up on) the tools and techniques of the trade. A handful of larger companies have decided to go open-source with some of their internal tools, and Lyft is the most recent—launching Colorbox, an application that lets designers make accessible color systems. Read more about Colorbox’s launch on Product Hunt.

Replicating ’50s Design Inside a Care Center for Alzheimer’s Patients

Featuring 11 storefronts replicating the design of the ’50s, Glenner Town Square in Chula Vista, California isn’t a film set—it’s a care center for dementia patients. From Rosie’s Diner to Alois’ Newsstand, each build-out aims to represent a portion of life during the prime years of patients—activating a type of a reminiscence therapy. Altogether, the goal is to initiate engagement and trigger conversation. The partners—non-profit George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers and Senior Helpers, a national senior care provider—plan to franchise the idea. Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon’s Echo Show Hints at the Future of TV

Beyond a screen, microphone and speaker upgrade, Amazon’s new Echo Show (announced last week with a slew of other refined and amped-up products–a microwave included) opens up a new dialogue surrounding the future of TV hardware. It may look like a tablet head-on, but from streaming live TV content (NBC and Hulu) to its preference not to be touched (despite having a touchscreen, the microphones are its most powerful guide), it’s more like a countertop TV than Amazon’s actual TV sets. Read more on Wired about the shifting definition of TV and how Amazon’s slate fits into it all.

Continue reading “Link About It: This Week’s Picks”