Design

Section



Design

Circular Vaults Embedded within a Prague Embankment Contain Shops, Cafes, and Public Spaces

October 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Brainkworks

New cafes, galleries, and studios are popping up along the Vltava River in Prague, although they’re not immediately visible from atop the embankment. Tucked inside former storage units embedded within the structure itself are 20 tunnel-like spaces redesigned for public use. Appearing like glass-doored portals lining the waterfront, the multi-purpose project is part of the Czech city’s efforts to revitalize a four-kilometer swath of the riverbank, which previously served as a parking lot, and are the undertaking of architect Petr Janda who helms the Prague-based studio Brainwork.

Each vaulted venue contains concrete walls and flooring and gleaming stainless steel that reflects its surroundings. Spaces designated for shops and galleries feature large, elliptical doors in glass, while the other 14 are marked with a sculptural entrance, hiding the remaining space occupied by private tenants or used for public bathrooms from view. “The interventions symbiotically merge with the original architecture of the riverside wall, into which they naturally fuse,” Janda told designboom. “By using the acupuncture strategy, they re-create a monumental whole.”

Head to Instagram to find preliminary sketches for the redesign and to follow Brainwork’s future projects.

 

 

 



Design Illustration

A Colorful Series of Sugar Skulls Appear on New USPS Stamps Designed by Luis Fitch

October 18, 2021

Christopher Jobson

Images © USPS, all rights reserved. Designed by Luis Fitch.

The United States Postal Service has issued a set of colorful postage stamps that celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual holiday celebrated in Mexico and beyond on the first two days of November. The vibrant stamps depict a family of four calaveras (sugar skulls) designed by Minneapolis-based Chicano artist and designer Luis Fitch who has been obsessed with postage stamps since a young age.

A chance encounter near a train exit by the National Mexican Art Museum in Chicago lead to the creation of the stamps:

Every year, the day before his birthday, [Fitch] writes a list of things he wants to achieve, asking the universe. In October 2018, he remembered his old dream, designing a stamp, and made it number one, the slot for his most difficult and unrealistic goal.

The next day, the director of the stamp design program called.

He had seen the single poster Fitch wheat-pasted—on a whim, while waiting for his son—near the train exit for the National Mexican Art Museum in Chicago. And then he had gone to the museum, where twelve of Fitch’s posters were included in an exhibition on the Day of the Dead. This was just the style he was looking for, he said.

Fitch’s stamp designs incorporate multiple visual motifs traditionally used during the holiday including lit candles meant to guide deceased loved ones on their annual return journey, and cempazuchitles (marigolds), the most popular Día de los Muertos flower. Each of the four stamps depicts a different family member in the form of a sugar skull: a father with a hat and mustache, a child donning a hair bow, a curly-haired mother, and another child.

The stamps are now available in multiple formats at the USPS. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 

 



Design

A Photographer Captures a Dwindling Herd of Elephant Slides Across Taiwan

September 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Pi Cheng Hsiu, shared with permission

Wander into a playground in Taiwan, and you might stumble upon an elephant in the midst of basketball courts and swingsets. Vintage slides shaped like the lumbering animal were once popular in the country, and although the equipment is generally out of use because it doesn’t match current regulations, the eclectic designs remain a fixture in both abandoned and thriving playgrounds. Photographer Pi Cheng Hsiu documents these quirky creations by the hundreds—in addition to similarly shaped animals like seahorses and giraffes—and you can find a vast array of colors and styles on Instagram. You also might enjoy these elephants squeezed into tight spots. (via Present & Correct)

 

 

 



Design

Building Bound to the Ground: A 1,400-Page Book Surveys Centuries of Global Architecture Embedded in the Earth

September 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

Friendship Centre, Gaibandha, Bangladesh, RBANA, 2011, © Iwan Baan. All images courtesy of Taschen, shared with permission

Despite being physically secured to the ground, much of the architecture common throughout the Western world is defined, in part, by its distance from the earth. Skyscrapers that disrupt distant horizons compete for the title of tallest in existence, and even more sustainable designs, like the new timber structure in Skellefteå, Sweden, are lauded for towering over the landscape.

A forthcoming book from Taschen explores an inverse approach to architecture, though, one that literally unites buildings and other human-centric designs with the earth. Spanning a whopping 1,390 pages, Dig it! Building Bound to the Ground ventures around the globe and across generations to find the innovative, sustainable, and technically stunning methods that embed constructions into the existing landscape.

Written by Dutch architect Bjarne Mastenbroek with photos by Iwan Baan, the tome visits the remote Sar Agha Seyed village built into an Iranian hillside, the vegetation-laden rooftops of a Bangladeshi training center, and the ancient Ethiopian churches chiseled into rock. Each of the designs shares a holistic relationship with its surroundings and a focus on becoming part of the environment without unnecessary disturbances or degradation. “Mankind destroys the skin of the earth at an unprecedented scale. The time has come for a fundamental reset,” Mastenbroek says.

Dig it! Building Bound to the Ground is available for pre-order from Taschen and Bookshop. You also might enjoy Julia Watson’s Lo—TEK, which explores Indigenous approaches to technology and design.

 

Sar Agha Seyed, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, Iran, date unknown, © Mirjam Terpstra

Villa Vals, Vals, Switzerland, SeARCH & CMA, 2005–2009, © Kate Gowan

Biete Ghiorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia, 1100–1200, © Iwan Baan

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South, Africa, Heatherwick Studio, 2014–2017, © Iwan Baan

 

 



Design Music

Repurposed Barcode Scanners Roll Across a Miniature Skate Park to Produce Glitchy Electronic Beats

September 21, 2021

Grace Ebert

Using random objects to build homemade hand drums or maraca-style instruments isn’t new, but the team behind the ongoing Electronicos Fantasticos project takes the idea of repurposing unwanted materials to an imaginative level. Led by Ei Wada (previously), the Japanese musicians have spent the last few years recycling retail scanners and their barcode counterparts into synthesizer-like instruments, capitalizing on the product’s original function to produce rhythmic tracks and samples. Their recent design adds a playful twist to the concept by attaching the plastic devices to miniature skateboards that roll across ramps and down flat surfaces printed with black-and-white stripes. In addition to the musical component that’s similar to scratching an LP, it’s worth watching the group’s performances as they slide and riff on different barcodes, which you can find on Instagram and YouTube.

 

 

 

 



Art Design

A Virtual Installation Immerses Viewers in a Reactive Environment of Shape-Shifting Architecture

September 20, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Medusa.” All images courtesy of London Design Festival, shared with permission

A landmark collaboration between Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto (previously) and Tin Drum, a production studio and technology developer, brings an undulating, reactive installation to the 2021 London Design Festival, but the immersive artwork is only viewable through a headset. Falling at the intersection of architecture and virtual reality, “Medusa” is comprised of monochromatic pillars that appear to suspend from the ceiling in a rippling environment. As viewers move through Raphael Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum where the work is on display, the responsive structure shifts and alters its composition in light and shape.

The work draws inspiration from the dynamic displays of the aurora borealis and underwater bioluminescence, two phenomena that manifest through the animated qualities and shifting patterns of Fujimoto’s curved forms. “This is the first time I am designing architecture with non-physical materials—it’s using light and pure expanse of the space,” he said in a statement. “It’s an architecture experience but completely new and different.”

“Medusa” is on view through September 26.