Venerable Finnish furniture manufacturer Artek (Art + Technology), founded by architect Alvar Aalto, his wife Aino Aalto, art-historian Nils-Gustav Hahl, and art world mover and shaker Maire Gullichsen, recently relaunched their website. As far as furniture labels go the site is beautifully designed, easy to navigate (Italians please take note), and contains not only the latest Artek news, but also interesting tidbits, such as the original Artek manifest, a document that has served as the core driver of company policy for over 7 decades, and their product development strategy. While Artek represents a certain historical niche (something like a commercial equivalent to Germany's Bauhaus), in recent years the company has debuted a highly progressive agenda, pushing recycled pieces, and a series of designs made from a paper-wood composite. More recent collaborations such as Tobias Rehberger's cafe for La Biennale di Venezia, for which he was awarded a Golden Lion, are not only visually stunning (in a Beetlejuice kind of way), but demonstrate the versatility of truly timeless design.
Aaron: Amanda Levete Architects
Easily the nicest architectural photography I've seen all week comes from Amanda Levete Architects. The Spencer Dock Bridge isn't set to open until 2010, but this extension of the Dublin, Ireland, light rail system looks amazing already. It spans some 130 feet across the Royal Canal. This is the first major project done under the Amanda Levete name--her firm used to be called Future Systems--and was shortlisted in the LEAF Awards 2009 in the Best Structural Design category. The black and white photos have a wonderfully abstract feeling, and the undulating concrete of the bridge gives the material an almost supple feeling. Lovely stuff.
Sarah: Significant Objects
A relatively new project from writer/editor Joshua Glenn (author of Taking Things Seriously) and consumer culture cognoscente Rob Walker (author of Buying In), Significant Objects is a site that makes you look twice. It's a concept so genius that it could only have been conceived (the way I imagine it) during some kind of late-night hilarity/debauchery between Glenn and Walker, during which they deconstructed the random ways in which humans become attached to seemingly valueless objects, and decided to stretch backstory-based sentimentality to its limit. At Significant Objects, low-cost artifacts procured from thrift stores are infused with a fictional backstory by some of our greatest and funniest contemporary writers, then auctioned to bidders who are [presumably] after the tale as much as the trinket. There are toasters, coasters, and the sort of strange ceramic animals that are only found in tandem with artificial flowers in peeling baskets. But when you add the imaginations of Nicholson Baker, Jenny Davidson, Glen David Gold, Bruce Sterling and many others to the mix, you might just call these curios priceless.
Alexis: Frederic Chaubin photography
I was immediately struck by the architectural photographs of old Soviet buildings by Frederic Chaubin, a photographer and editor at Citizen K magazine. The designs are amazingly unique and like something out of a sci-fi film, that I want to be in! I love seeing a bit of preserved history from behind the Iron Curtain.
Jordan: Onlab's Intersection for Domus
I missed the March issue of Italian architecture and design magazine Domus, which dealt with the imminence of Web 3.0, but just stumbled upon this very cool feature from the monthly Intersection portion of the mag. Through a series of guided folds masterminded by design firm onlab, the faces of Mister and Miss Web 2.0—drawn by German illustrator Tobias Krafczyk—emerge from the pages and prove the power of (oft-maligned of late) print media to keep things interesting and engaging. If you can get your hands on an issue and need a little help making it happen, head back online to check out the YouTube videos detailing the correct creasing process. (via What Alice Found)
BoxLightBox, a print manager for a small photography shop says he "couldn’t bear to keep throwing out these awesome ink cartridges anymore." Realizing their translucent properties, he took them home and with a little wiring magic, transformed them into lamps.
There are few things I like more than an ink pen and set of stationary, preferably of the Japanese variety. Letter-writing is a pastime I picked up from my mother, who picked it up from her grandmother. I still have two pen pals, believe it or not, with whom I keep in touch on a regular basis. But I am definitely the exception. This week, Time.com published a great article titled "Mourning the Death of Handwriting" about the lost art of cursive, and penmanship in general. One grade-school teacher laments: "What if 50 years from now, kids can't read the Declaration of Independence?" The extra bonuses of reading this story: Links to a slideshow of dormitories through the ages and an article first published in Time in 1942 (talk about archiving!) about judging a person's character on the way he crossed his t's and dotted his i's.
When not working in design, Sarah Rich writes, talks and forecasts about food and consumer culture.