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Retail design illustrations by Leif Parsons

An Introduction to Retail Design

The ancient Greeks did it in the agora; the Romans did it in the forum; Persians did it in the bazaar (“the place of prices”); and Arabs and Berbers did it in the labyrinthine souk. Today, whether we’re home in our underwear, duty-free at the airport, or tapping at our phones, shopping still makes the world go ‘round.
November 6, 2010
an introduction to architects thumbnail

An Introduction to Architects

Aside from that mischievous caveperson in France who used a piece of charcoal to draw a line around some stick figures that suggested some kind of manmade shelter, it is generally acknowledged that a gentleman named Daedalus was the first architect to emerge from the ooze.1 Daedalus is best known as the mythical designer of a fantastic house for a grumpy man with a bull’s head, named the Minotaur.2
October 12, 2010
intro to lighting

An Introduction to Lighting

One of the oldest proclamations in Western literature—maybe the very oldest, depending on how you see things—is “Let there be light.” And for most of human history, whether we dwelled in caves or in Gilded Age mansions, light was inseparable from heat: Domestic lighting consisted of either letting sunlight inside or burning something organic. The Egyptians were making candles from beeswax and animal fat 5,000 years ago, and except for the discovery of new fuel sources—whale oil, ahoy!—the candle continued to illuminate homes deep into the 19th century.
August 26, 2010
The Jersey Corridor Project, a linear city proposal by Peter Eisenman and Michael Graves, among others, appeared in a 1965 issue of <i>Life</i>  magazine. Illustration courtesy Thomas A. Briner.

Linear City

Designers everywhere are eyeing the Interstate Highway system's bounteous and boundless real estate with ideas from tiny turbines to maglev rail lines. Mid-century urban idealism may not be dead after all.
June 10, 2010
an inroduction to city parks illustration

An Introduction to City Parks

An afternoon in the park has evolved from picnicking in the local cemetery to sun-bathing atop a retrofitted railroad trestle. Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron walks us through the best, worst, and future of city parks.
June 9, 2010
shine and rise light sleeper duvet thumbnail

Shine and Rise

The catalog of smart textiles for the future is teeming with cognitive intelligence—fabrics that serve as interactive surfaces or are embedded with sheets of tiny microprocessors, little solar batteries, or antimicrobial properties. But these materials may miss the point. The textile arts, after all, have their origins in comfort—rugs that keep our feet off the cold floor, curtains and wall hangings that keep out the draft, quilts that keep us cozy at night. What may have more value, both stylistically and holistically, is not so much a conventionally smart textile, but one that has emotional intelligence—kind of an electric blanket for the soul.
April 27, 2010
the wrong impression detail embossed wall red thumbnail

The Wrong Impression

Going for the hand touch isn’t exactly foolproof. An easy way to miss: embossed wall coverings. Lincrusta was originally invented in 1877 as a kind of textile-linoleum hybrid by linoleum progenitor Frederick Walton, and was made with gelled linseed oil backed by a heavy canvas. It functioned as a kind of molded linoleum and was offered up as an economic alternative to hand-carved plaster. It continues to be used today, not only as a wall covering but for all manner of decorative borders, dados, and friezes, the subtle sense of dimension suggesting wood, pressed tin, or even leather.  
April 27, 2010
an introduction to modern textiles textile illustration

An Introduction to Modern Textiles

If the design world feels like an endless parade of products, then the gnashing maws of industrial production assuredly underpin it all. Take a look at how leading manufacturers make what they make, with a special eye on how to clean up what is often a messy act.
April 27, 2010
tech styles hands holding sphere illustration

Tech Styles

March 27, 2010
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