Archive for November, 2009

Face Food

November 30, 2009

Mothers and fathers in Japan have a trick to make lunchbox food more attractive to their children. Face Food! The trick, spend a lot of time in the morning arranging the food, to make faces or other funny things. Thanks to the internet and blogs a whole trend has developed around this “art”. It is so popular that there is now a book, Face Food Recipes, published by Mark Batty Publishers.


Quote of the day

November 29, 2009

This Incomplete Manifesto, written in 1998 by Bruce Mau, can be applied both to design and life in general. It’s best printed out and put next to your desk.

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to
be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.

Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.

John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas
to applications.

12. Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.

Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas
of others.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.

Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.

You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.

Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’

31. Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.

This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals – but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.



November 22, 2009

The brilliant artist Thomas Demand is currently exhibiting at the Nationalgalerie in Berlin. His working method is to rebuild life-size models of spaces of cultural significance, all made out of paper, and then take large scale photographs of it. I remember attending a talk where he was asked if he sees himself as a sculptor or a photographer and he replied – just an artist.  Whenever I see his work I am fascinated by the beauty of it but at the same time strangely anxious. Part of this show is a recent work of a German bus shelter  where a famous teen pop band – Tokio Hotel – used to sit and wait for their school bus. If you´re in Berlin, go and see it.

Haltestelle, 2009

Presidency II, 2008

Klause V, 2006

Poll, 2001



Night Letters

November 21, 2009

The British painter Roger Hilton spent his final years at his cottage in Cornwall suffering from the effects of long term drinking and smoking. Confined to bed he spent most of his nights drawing with charcoal and gouache and writing letters to his wife, Rose Hilton. During the day he slept.

Independent publishers Archive of Modern Conflict have now released a book, edited by Timothy Bond and designed by Melanie Mues, with these drawings and letters. I had the pleasure to look at a copy and it really is fascinating and beautiful. The book can be bought here.



November 19, 2009

Last night Kate Moss revealed her life motto

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

Bravo! But, what the hell is she thinking?

1. Has she ever tried Parisian macarons, Davi Fulfords SpagBol or my mums cheesecake?

2. More importantly, how can some be so stupid?! Is she for real? Probably, but no, don’t tell it to a bunch of reporters and definitely not when you’re a role model and there is an increasing number of anorexic girls, thinking it’s better to be dead than too fat.

This is so sad. I honestly hope she was drunk or drugged or something, otherwise I might have to believe that she really just is a shallow-brained supermodel, who`s only concern and responsibility seems to be her weight.


Party Plane

November 18, 2009

Being someone who is not particular keen on flying I wish this airline would still exist. It would make flying so much more fun. Braniff International Airways was an American airline that existed from 1928 until 1982. It had to cease operations in 1982 due to fuel prices, wrong management and competition. 

Judging from the images you can find on the internet they put a lot of effort into colourful branding – even on their planes. The range of planes was called jellybean and looked like his

Consequently the hostess would support the appearance up to the point of their headgear. 

To end here is a little advert from 1965 

Fixing the World

November 17, 2009

The Yes Men, political activists/artists, whose activities I have been following for a while now, released a movie with the humble title The Yes Men – Fix the World.

It is an entertaining documentary about their efforts to raise awareness and criticise methods and the way of thinking of big corporations, governments and everything else evil. The sad thing is, whatever one, as an outsider finds ridiculous or even disturbing seems to be normal for insiders. I love the braveness of the Yes Men giving presentations at conferences. At a security conference they present a ridiculous surviving suit for catastrophes, which sparks interests in visitors and results in the the exchange of business cards. This is what they look like:

Other activities include the popular fake New York Times or a fake interview for BBC as a spokesmen for a chemical company finally accepting responsibility for a catastrophe which happened in India 20 years ago.  In their own words:

What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like. We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences.

The sagging shelf

November 6, 2009

I recently saw this Display Book Shelf by London-based designer/artist Daniel Eatock which made me curios about his work.


The shelf sags under the weight of its contents in a graceful arc, the top edges of all the books are perfectly flush as a result of a conscious selection of volumes chosen to accommodate (or compensate for) the arc of the sagging shelf.

Some other (participative) work include an intense collection of alternative No Smoking signs and images of Signs that tell you not too. I like the wittiness and use of everyday observations and the fact that it’s a lot about collections and invite people to contribute. Similar to some of my work and of those artists that I like.

There is a lot more on the website which I haven´t had a chance to look at in details, but I´m sure it´s worth it. One last nice project is Vandalized Trees Reoriented where Daniel gives fallen trunks a digital lift for a second life.





Learn to cross!

November 2, 2009

Today the new Oxford Circus crossing has been opened, and, judging from the video people here still need to learn how to use it a little bit. Based on crossings in Japan (like this one here in Tokyo – people are obviously more advance)

the principle is to completely stop traffic, so people can cross in all directions. But, the crucial thing is to really just go when it´s green…we´ll learn.

Watch the video here.