Leonard Koren, who trained as an artist and architect, founded and published WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, one of the seminal publications of the 1970s. Koren’s previous books include Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers and Undesigning the Bath.




Observed


Turns out, Thomas Edison once tried to claim credit for an invention created by the most prolific Black inventor of the 19th century because, of course he did. Granville T. Woods was the first to patent the induction telegraph, which allowed moving trains to send messages to stations. Edison lost a nuisance suit he filed against Woods over the patent, but the world got the last laugh: Woods is still widely known as the “Black Edison.”  

The 2023 winners of the Prototypes for Humanity Awards honor innovations in the design and development of synthetic yeast, weed-generated plastic alternatives, and an app called Kapak that flags suspicious procedures and raises awareness about corruption risks. 

Humorist, cartoonist and unparalleled observer of ennui, Roz Chast also does embroidery.

Now that human-centered design has had its moment—let's all say a big hello to LOON-CENTRIC DESIGN.

"Every aspect of her—her voice, her carry. her tone, her charisma—all these things spoke to me visually and sonically," observes designer, sculptor, and afrofuturist Angelbert Metoyer. His statue, I am Barbara Jordan, was unveiled last weekend in Houston. And in Pittsburgh, Daniel Liebeskind reflects on his monument honoring the victims of the 2018 synagogue attack. “It’s not a cemetery,” notes the architect." It has to be an affirmation of life.”

Design, as a professional field, feels broken to some practitioners. A new book, What Design Can’t Do: Essays on Design and Delusion by Lisbon-based designer and writer Silvio Lorusso, offers sanctuary. “What was once a promising field rooted in problem-solving has become a problem in itself,” he writes. “The skill set of designers appears shaky and insubstantial – their expertise is received with indifference, their know-how is trivialised by online services…If you see yourself as a designer without qualities; if you feel cheated, disappointed or betrayed by design, this book is for you.”

Designers are podcasting now! (We know, we know.)

Is it a car? Is it an art installation? Behold solar designer Marjan van Aubel's genre-bending sculptural interpretation of the Lexus Future Zero-emission Catalyst (LF-ZC) concept car.

Art Basel Miami Beach: ain’t nothing but a party

Mice, evidently, are now self-aware. (Which may explain why none are running for U.S. president.)

Leading us ever closer to a landfill-free circular economy, designers are turning to waste as an increasingly flexible material. Using fruit peel, orange seeds, and coffee ground waste collected from businesses in Italy, Krill, a Milan-based design firm, creates products that can be redistributed to the same businesses for use in their offices, instead of furniture made from common plastics. They've created (and patented) a plastic-like biomaterial they call Rekrill: it's fully organic, biodegradable, and can be used over and over again. (Spoiler: it's also expensive.)

Volkswagen, Volvo, Chrysler, BMW, Porsche, Bugatti, Audi, Ford, Kia, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz all have male design heads, yet women buy more than 60 percent of all new cars sold in the Unted States. Will the rise in the design and production change all that? Debatable.

How Samuel Ross thinks about the design of a park bench as an opportunity to “house” the body.

Did you know that the humble graham cracker was once a symbol of dietary restraint? That chewing gum was once a substitute for rubber? That away from the bar cart, brandy has been used as a cardiac catalyst and a sedative? Design (and intentionality) in food and flavor profiles: a compendium!

The entirety of Logan Airport's candy apple red Terminal E was designed around the concept of efficiency, for travelers and airport workers alike. A curvy structure boasting floor to ceiling windows, ultra-high ceilings, and literally no right angles in sight, Spanish architect Luis Vidal has introduced an iconic structure painted a prismatic red and clad in more than 52,000 square feet of something called photovoltaic glass. (Which, as it turns out, generates its own electricity.) Internal innovations include a sensory room, a space for anxious fliers or neurodivergent travelers who might need a visual and auditory respite from a bustling terminal. “Airports are the cathedrals of the 21st century,” observes the architect. “They serve as the main gateway of countries, requiring a bold presence to leave a positive and lasting impression on the traveler. They must be design-focused because ultimately, everything in a well-designed airport revolves around the freedom of the passenger.”

Through December 16, The Italian Cultural Institute in Lima, Peru is exhibiting a series of posters designed by graphic designers and artists between 1923 and 2022, which collectively tell the story of the 23 editions of the Triennale Milano International Exhibition to date. (You can explore the posters online here.)

Nigerian designer Nifemi Marcus-Bello is an empath, an optimist, and an (aptly) self-described archivist. In addition to his own robust and increasingly global practice, his personal research project (entitled Africa – A Designer)  will be exhibited in Europe next summer. The project looks to document and archive unauthorized Indigenous designed objects that have found their way into our daily lives. 

Long-time Design Observer contributor (and self-professed "student of mall history") Alexandra Lange reviews The Well, a mixed-use space in Toronto. “The result,” Lange observes, “is a bit like adaptive reuse gone Vegas: bigger, smoother, and more mechanically “different” from building to building than a neighborhood that has grown organically.”

An overwhelming amount of media is disproportionately owned by a uniform, wealthy class of global industrialists. Which makes Nukhu—a model and forum for community minded cinema, based in New York—an etraordinary thing to behold. Founded in 2016 by Sanjay Singh, Nukhu's mission empowers independent BIPOC artists and in so doing, nurtures an enlightened artistic community. In an industry where financial backing and recognition remain formidable challenges for independent filmmakers, Nukhu emerges as a beacon of hope and empowerment, standing at the forefront of a movement dedicated to facilitating opportunities and reshaping the narrative for independent artists. (Read more about their Nukhu-powered celebration—called Nukhufest—here.)

Climate TRACE (Tracking Real-time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) is a global coalition of nonprofits, tech companies, and universities working to make meaningful climate action faster and easier by independently tracking greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, harnessing satellite imagery and other forms of remote sensing, artificial intelligence, and data science expertise to identify human-caused GHG emissions when and where they happen. The website is fast, responsive and frankly, brilliant.

Also in Miami this week, the Japanese female wrestling league Sukeban will be taking over Miami’s Lot 11 Skatepark for one night only to crown its first-ever World Champion. (Stream it here.) In Japanese, Sukeban translates as “delinquent girl,” a nod to the female equivalent of the male banchō in Japanese culture. According to Olympia Le-Tan, a fashion designer and the league’s creative director, the importance of projecting each wrestler’s personality and character through their costume was crucial. (Don't miss the belts.)

Remember Tilly Talbot—billed as the world's first AI designer? She was first announced by our friends at Dezeen last spring, made an appearance at Milan Design Week and beginning today, is “in residence” at The Standard in Miami, for Miami Art Week. Tilly—a bot—was invented by Snoop Studio founder Amanda Talbot after “pondering the relationship between AI and human loneliness, programming her under the studio’s principles of human-centered design that prioritizes nature.” Adds the human Talbot: ”Tilly will challenge you on materials." 

Seventh-generation Diné (Navajo) designer, textile artist, and weaver (and according to her Instagram, part time skater and model) Naiomi Glasses is the inaugural artist in residence … at Ralph Lauren.

The 22nd annual ArtReview 100 is here — click through for an eclectic and inspiring array of artists, many of whom use their platforms to speak truth to power. Photographer Nan Goldin tops the list; her most recent work has been dedicated to exposing the art world’s complicity in the opioid epidemic by accepting money from the Sackler family.  

Love Odih Kumuyi offers an excellent blueprint for designing meetings for inclusion and innovation. It’s all about the psychological safety. “Based on current dynamics or past experiences, individuals have a generalized sense of whether their voices will be received with respect or silenced and dismissed. Leaders asking for individuals to vulnerably share ideas must carefully curate an environment where the rules of engagement are in alignment with principles of psychological safety.” 

The controversial president of the COP28 climate summit, Sultan Al Jaber, does not seem to be on board with fossil fuel targets. “[P]lease, help me, show me a roadmap for a phase-out of fossil fuels that will allow for sustainable socio-economic development, unless you want to take the world back into caves,” he said at last month's She Changes Climate summit. 

London-based designer Brendan Callaghan obscures typography through a series of imagined destinations in his project, Untold Roads—an exquisite site for adventurers—or, frankly, for anyone who appreciates a beautifully articulated demonstration of what happens when form reinforces content. See the case study here.

In Boston, Northeastern University is looking for a full-time Professor in Design, Civic/Social Values and Democracy. Details here.

Minnesota flag finalists' entries into a statewide competition all reflect common themes and elements: all of them have a star, a nod to the state's motto "L'Etoile du Nord," and some shade of blue (for the land of 10,000 lakes). FairVote Minnesota—an organization which advocates for implementing ranked choice voting—conducted the election, and more than 12,000 people cast their vote. Here's the winner.

The first graphic appeared on a Kansas plate in 1942, with sunflowers on the lower left and right sides. Since then it's been a wild ride. (If you're late to the Plategate party, here's a primer.)



Jobs | December 11