In the first half of the 20th century, in Detroit, the architect Albert Kahn, artist Diego Rivera, and industrialists Henry and Edsel Ford all contributed to shaping the image — and the mythology — of the city as industrial powerhouse. Jerry Herron argues that their collective vision foreshadowed the dramatic decline of Detroit in the second half of the century. Here Herron traces the intersecting lives and careers of Kahn, Rivera and the Fords.
Fifteen years ago Janine Benyus published Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
, and ever since, as Adelheid Fischer writes, the book "has snared the imagination of countless readers, prompting professionals — from designers and computer scientists to materials engineers and business strategists — to begin rifling the great database of life for biology-based inspiration." Here Fischer argues that the ultimate value of the process may transcend any particular outcome. "The very act of looking to nature," she argues, "creates the conditions conducive to creativity."
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This spring Sappi is hosting a national road show, in collaboration with 826 National, to launch Special Effects, Volume 5 of The Standard
. Issue 5 shows designers how the creative use of special effects can make a printed piece dimensional, tactile, intriguing and sometimes interactive. The next event is April 12 in Toronto.
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View the road show schedule and registration details >>
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For almost half a century Robert Adams has been photographing the man-altered landscape of the American West — immersed, as Aaron Rothman says, "in its impossible paradoxes." Inspired by a major retrospective now touring the country, Rothman ponders the enduring power of the photographer's legacy. "Adams does not indulge in the easy, and ultimately hollow, device of opposing the splendor of nature to the despoliation of man," he says. "At the heart of his work is an argument against seeing ourselves — and the places we live — as separate from nature."
In the latest installment of her series on DIY urbanism and interventionist practice, Mimi Zeiger surveys some of the events and exhibitions organized in New York City last year and inspired by Occupy Wall Street. Along the way she analyzes the unfolding dynamic between the grassroots tactics of activist artists and designers and the institutional strategies of the city's cultural leaders.
HADLEY ARNOLD & PETER ARNOLD
The massive hydrological infrastructure of the 20th century was based on the optimistic and technocratic presumption that water — and the cheap energy needed to transport it great distances — would be indefinitely and predictably available. But as Peter Arnold and Hadley Arnold, of the Arid Lands Institute, argue, the American system is now "nearly obsolete." Water is rapidly becoming, they argue, "the largest and least understood environmental challenge of the 21st century."
British historian Reyner Banham — who would have turned 90 this month — established his reputation with the scholarly treatise Theory and Design in the First Machine Age
. But he is equally well known as the prolific public intellectual of his later years, the Englishman who fell for Southern California and famously learned to drive "to read Los Angeles in the original." Here Gabrielle Esperdy views Banham in the lively tradition of European travelers, from de Tocqueville and Dickens to Alistair Cooke and Stephen Fry, whose observations tell us Americans "something important about ourselves."
JULIA CZERNIAK, JOE SISKO
In the latest in our series on university design centers, we are pleased to profile UPSTATE, at the Syracuse University School of Architecture. With Syracuse as its base, the center focuses on rust belt cities struggling with disinvestment and decay. As director Julia Czerniak says, "We work to address both environmental and economic challenges, and to assert the potential for more activist practices — to show that designers can have disciplinary expertise and also function as advocates in the practical world of city politics and public budgets."
PLACES ARCHIVE: WINTER 2006
In the Seattle Public Library, Rem Koolhaas and OMA work to transform architecture into media interface.
University of Minnesota, College of Design
The University of Minnesota’s College of Design is preparing the next generation of problem solvers. Through a unique commitment to sustainability, creativity and advancing technologies, the college is improving the way we interact with our world by designing new systems, new environments, new products, and new ways of living and working. Located in one of the major design cities and in one of the largest research universities in the U.S., the College of Design is a leader in multidisciplinary research, creative production, teaching and public engagement. The college encompasses the full range of design disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, apparel design, graphic design, interior design, product design, retail merchandising and housing studies.