Design

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Art Design History

Artists Explore Self-Expression Through Bizarre and Whimsical Masks at Denver's Vicki Myhren Gallery

October 26, 2020

Christopher Jobson

Felicia Murray, “Our Dying Reefs,” felted COVID mask, 2020. All photos shared with permission.

There is perhaps no symbol more representative of contemporary life than the humble face mask. A simple health device crucial to saving millions of lives around the world from a deadly COVID-19 pandemic spread by invisible airborne pathogens, and yet an object that’s been quixotically politicized at the callous expense of humanity for the gain of an elite few. A new exhibition at the University of Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery approaches the lighter side of face coverings: the ancient tradition of masks as self-expression.

Arranged on mannequins lining the gallery space, over 40 artists present interpretations of protective face wear in MASK, currently on view by appointment through December 1, 2020. The collection of whimsical, grotesque, quirky, and beautiful masks are medically non-functional but guaranteed to provoke a reaction through their novel construction. Several designs mimic natural filtration systems like foliage or a coral reef, while others use repurposed objects like zippers or pipes to create wholly unusual face sculptures.

“Through this project, we hope to call attention to the significance and signification of masking as an issue of public health and demonstration of civic responsibility,” the gallery shares in a statement. “As the selected artists show, masking is also a mode of outward self-expression and opportunity for creativity. In turns utilitarian and fantastical, the wearable artworks shown demonstrate how makers and thinkers are engaging with the pandemic and applying their skills and individual styles to a newly important medium.”

As part of the exhibition, Vicki Myhren Gallery has partnered with Denver’s RedLine Contemporary Art Center to fabricate free masks for distribution for those in need. (via Hyperallergic)\

 

Scottie Burgess, “Mask for Our Unseen Smiles” (2020)

Serge Clottey, “Mask for Our Times” (2020) (photo by Nii Odzenma)

Elizabeth Morisette, “Beak” (2020)

Liz Sexton, Porcupinefish, 2020.

Freyja Sewell, “Food” from Key Worker Series (2020)

Matt Harris, “Hope” (2020); Cristina Rodo, “Covidus,” wet and needle-felted wool, 2020. Photo courtesy Emma Hunt.

Kate Marling, “Classical Sculpture Mask” (2020)

 

 

 



Design History

A Glass Floor in a New Dublin Grocery Opens a Window to Medieval Viking History

October 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Embedded in the architecture of a new Lidl store in Dublin is a glass floor that allows shoppers to peer down into medieval history. During the supermarket’s construction, archaeologists discovered a 1,000-year-old home of Hiberno-Norse Dubliners, who were ancestors to the Vikings, in addition to a 13th-century wine jug and the below-stage trap of the former Aungier Street Theatre. Rather than excavate the items and build on top of the site, covering the ruins, the store installed glass flooring that provides shoppers with a literal window into local history. (via Twisted Sifter)

 

 

 



Craft Design

Rollerskating Poodles and Croissant Characters Form an Adorably Eccentric Cast of Felt Characters by Cat Rabbit

October 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Cat Rabbit, shared with permission

Working out of her studio in Melbourne, textile artist Cat Rabbit (previously) felts a quirky troupe of characters complete with distinctive garb and accessories. A croissant-headed figure dons a striped skirt and floral hat, Pomeranians carry pin cushions on their backs, and four swaggering poodles outfitted with roller skates appear ready to compete in the rink.

Some of the anthropomorphized creatures are particularly personal to the artist, like the blanket-enshrouded toad (shown below) that was inspired by a friend’s love for the children’s series, Frog and Toad. Similarly, the George Eliot-esque pug is a nod to writer Zadie Smith and her pup, Maud, who Cat Rabbit met last year. “I presented it to her when I went up to get my book signed. She was amazing and kind, and when the writer next to her at the table asked me, ’so what is it that you do, actually?’ Zadie immediately said, ‘this, obviously.’ Being validated by your hero! I was on a cloud for months,” she says.

Shop eccentric characters, prints, and wearables on Cat Rabbit’s site, and follow her work on Instagram.

 

 

 



Design Photography

A New Book Compiles Photos of Idiosyncratic, Quirky Destinations that Look Just Like Wes Anderson Films

October 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Wally Koval, shared with permission

Devotees of Wes Anderson’s films can spot the pastel architecture and simple signage synonymous with the American director’s aesthetic anywhere, a notion that’s proven in a newly released book by Wally Koval. Buoyed by an Instagram account with more than 1,200 images from all seven continents, Accidentally Wes Anderson showcases international destinations with the likeness of the Grand Budapest Hotel or the heavily wallpapered train cars of The Darjeeling Limited. The 368-page edition is teeming with charm, quirky compositions, and picturesque settings and even includes a foreword written by the famed director himself, who previously had no ties to the endeavor.

Based in Brooklyn, Koval began collecting photographs in 2017 and has since amassed an incredible archive, which he’s categorized by location, theme, and color palette on his site. Further explore the idiosyncratic locales by picking up a copy of Accidentally Wes Anderson on Bookshop. (via Fast Company)

 

 

 



Design

Townscaper: Build Your Worries Away With This Instantly Gratifying Island City Construction Game

October 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

Earlier this year, Malmo, Sweden-based game developer Oskar Stålberg launched Townscaper, a low-stakes video game that’s similar to Sim City without the threat of natural disaster or the need to maintain characters’ emotional wellbeing. Users only have the option to delete or build with a certain color, a function that’s controlled entirely by the algorithm. Simply drop a block and watch the system construct charming homes, towering cathedrals, and luxurious greenspaces. “No goal. No real gameplay. Just plenty of building and plenty of beauty. That’s it,” Stålberg writes.

Townscaper is currently available to download for $6, although it isn’t finished quite yet. Watch this comprehensive tutorial to get a better sense of the user experience, and follow Stålberg on Twitter to keep up with the latest developments. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 

 



Design

The Sm;)e Book Celebrates the Decades-Long, Eclectic History of the Smiley Face

October 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of DB Burkeman and Rich Browd, shared with permission

From plastic grocery bags to original emojis to household goods and paraphernalia, the yellow smiley face is an iconic mark of modern culture. A new book funding on Kickstarter celebrates the symbol’s decades-long history as it dives into the eclectic uses that range from fine art to graffiti to Hollywood. In 60 pages, The Sm;)e Book compiles work from 70 artists, including Banksy, the Chapman Brothers,  Alicia McCarthy, and James Joyce.

Despite the smiley’s well-known status throughout the mainstream culture, the book is particularly personal to co-creators DB Burkeman and Rich Browd. Burkeman shares with Colossal that his mother was fascinated by the hippie movement and plastered surfaces with smiley face stickers and adorned her clothing with grinning patches and pins. As he grew up and later became a DJ, he noticed the symbol flourishing in the punk and rave scenes as a new kind of countercultural mark. Browd had a similar childhood experience, growing fascinated by the icon in “graffiti, skate graphics, and the Pop Art collection of a wealthy friend’s parents.”

Today, the duo remains enamored with the evolution of the smiley face and its prevalence in seemingly contradictory spaces. “In the history of graphic design, I can think of no other symbol that has ever held such a duality—used simultaneously as both a positive mainstream driver and a counterculture subverter of that very mainstream,” Burkeman writes. He explains further:

Now retired from nightlife and mostly confused by a lot of today’s popular culture, I’ve watched the smiley return with a vengeance. Partly fueled by the prolific use of emojis, but also by the insatiable consumption and recycling of pop culture’s logos and tropes. Today’s youth love and reuse them, regardless of whether the new users know the logos’ origins or not: little girls and celebrities wearing the Thrasher logo who have never read the magazine or skated in their lives, hip-hop kids wearing hair-metal or post-punk band shirts. Does it even matter that they have no idea what these bands sounded like or represented? It’s all part of this strange cultural cannibalism.

Browd and Burkeman are sharing glimpses intoThe Sm;)e Book on Instagram, where you also can follow the collection’s funding progress during the next month. (via It’s Nice That)