December 14, 2009
Minus digital technology and the Internet, Twitter has a surprising ancestor: early 20th-century postcards.
Postcards didn’t exist in the U.S. before1898. That year, the government made it legal to print and send “private mailing cards.” Stamps were a penny. Messages were permitted only on the front of the card. The back was reserved for the address. The limited space required messages to be brief, telegraphic, “tweet-like.”
November 4, 2009
When Nancy, my spouse, and I were married, seventeen years ago, we asked that any gifts be donations to community non-profits.
A few friends gave us presents anyway. Ben is an architect and former Herman Miller salesperson. (He and Nancy worked together at Herman Miller in the late 1980’s.) Ben’s carefully wrapped package was large, long, and narrow. It wasn’t a blender. It was an Eames plywood leg splint.
Charles and Ray Eames developed the splint for the Navy during World War II. It was the first application of a wood molding technology that the Eameses pioneered. It led to numerous Herman Miller chairs, including the signature Eames molded plywood chair.
The splint is simple and functional, yet highly considered. It is a powerful statement concerning innovation and design. Ben, our friend, understood why Nancy and I admired and respected the Eameses. Their ideas challenge. Their ideals inspire. Ben knew that his wedding gift would have special significance.
Today, the plywood splint is an important part of our art collection. A strong and striking object, it is guaranteed to generate interest and discussion. What was created in the 1940’s to treat an injured leg continues to celebrate good design. It also evokes fond memories of what was, for Nancy and me, a happy and special day.
August 5, 2009
Photos via: University of Texas Press
Tourism this season, possibly seasons future, may find us staying closer to home, opting for economically modest destinations—a long weekend in Chicago in lieu of a ten-day cruise down the Rhine; New York for museums; a quick jaunt to Santa Fe; Pittsburgh, as opposed to Vienna or the south of France. (Hold that thought.)
Better World, Design
July 8, 2009
Photo credit: Captain Albert E. Theberge, NOAA Corps (ret.)
Steel shipping containers with their rust-colored, world-weary patina have become ubiquitous symbols of the global economy. Millions are in circulation worldwide. And, they keep coming, especially from East to West.
July 3, 2009
Photo credit: Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903). Breton Girls Dancing, Pont-Aven, 1888. Oil on canvas; 73 x 92.7cm. National gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon 1983.1.19. Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington
The Midwest may be “Ground Zero” for the economic downturn, where recession is depression writ especially cruel. However, a silver lining remains in the region’s art institutions. These struggle valiantly to thrive despite gloom and doom. Granted some ongoing activity began in better times. However, this doesn’t lessen the inspirational uplift provided for a section of the country much in need of it.
May 22, 2009
Before Design Within Reach, Ikea, and Michael Graves at Target, there was Gilbert Rohde.