Amsterdam, the Netherlands
I’ve been in Amsterdam with Ev the past few days, and today gave a (well-attended) talk entitled “Do the right thing. Do the thing right.” at the FITC event here. My presentation used Circle’s Maxim Dictum as an outline (access the “manifesto” here). Event attendees who would like a transcript of my presentation can contact me here, and I’ll send you a link for a download (11 MB PDF).
It’s been great to spend some time in this unique and dynamic city once again (it’s been quite a few years since I was last here). We particularly enjoyed long walks alongside the innumerable canals—fortunately the weather has been pleasant for the most part.
Amsterdam’s historic XXX insignia is everywhere; Ev on the cobblestoned Dam Square; bicycles galore.
This city certainly offers many sites and sounds for those, like me, who enjoy collecting photos of vernacular imagery, signage, etc.
Images: on the edge of the infamous red-light district; inspired graffiti; wow—Dutch dogs are literate!
London, United Kingdom
The universally recognized (and easy-to-reproduce) peace symbol, called the “most famous postwar logo without commercial purpose,” turns 50 years old tomorrow. The symbol, created in the United Kingdom by the irascible pacifist Twickenham textile designer Gerald Holtom a half a century ago (for the fledgling British disarmament movement), still radiates emotion as it approaches its momentous anniversary. Read an interesting backgrounder in the Ottawa Citizen here, and watch an informative historical narrative video here. (Thanks Marie-Oline Oliver).
Images: stills captured from the video.
The historic Sungnyemun gate (Namdaemun in Korean, meaning “Gate of Exalted Ceremonies”) in the heart of Seoul was destroyed in a devastating fire earlier this week. Considered South Korea’s premiere cultural landmark and the capital city’s oldest wooden structure (completed in 1398), the iconic gate was for Koreans “a historical link that survived 600 years, multiple wars and disasters,” as Icograda president Don Ryun Chang wrote me this week. “We are at a loss for words but hope there might be critical lessons to be learned for the future of cultural sustainability and civic governance in our country,” he stated (with reference to the 70-year-old malcontent who has confessed to arson). I had the chance to visit the gate during the Oullim (Great Harmony) Icograda Millennium Design Congress in 2000—seeing the pictures of Namdaemun in flames this week was sad, and brought back profound memories…
Photo of Namdaemun gate at night by 南宮博士.
The online subculture magazine Netdiver has posted its Best of the Year 2007 selections… 100 dazzling projects or sites “taking us to uncharted territories where imagination, skill, talent abide….” The selection includes friends Marian Bantjes, Kenya Hara, Paprika… to name a few. Check out the links here.
Image credit: one of Marian Bantjes’ remarkable illustrations from the mini-portfolio of her work produced for Fox River Paper’s Sundance (instigated and curated by Rick Valicenti of Thirst). Oh, and by the way, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Marian!” and thanks for mailing me one of your creative Valentines once again….
Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba
All of my “free time” in the past few weeks and weekends has gone into the book of poetry I am currently editing/publishing, featuring some 200 works by Sam W. Reimer, a remarkable “ecstatic depressive” (his self-description) bard living in Vancouver. Our aim is to have the book on shelves by May… Here’s a taste test:
Impression: Along Molson Way
On the other side of this chain-link fence
along the tracks,
& morning-glories run in packs;
plethoras of thorns & unkempt petals,
& tongues of dust-green leaves ply the ravine;
wilding as well Long tall grasses
& ferns deceptively indelicate &
dense-pack blocks of blackberry brambles
bully everything else off the would-be boulevard.
Give the earth just a crack at the city
& gardens grow in gangs,
& morning-glories run in packs.
. . . . .
©2008 Sam W. Reimer (1949 – )
The photo is of Sam on a visit in June, 2006.
Best wishes for the year of the earth rat… may it bring more charisma, wealth, and order into your life—and less death, war, and pestilence. In ancient times, the rat was welcomed as a protector and bringer of material prosperity—it is the first of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. (In Chinese the word 鼡 may refer to either rat or mouse).
Image: detail from Gustave Doré’s illustration ‘The Council held by the Rats.’ As the story (ascribed to Aesop) goes… a certain cat spread so much terror through the kingdom of the rats that they held a council to decide what should be done. One wise old rat suggested that a bell should be fastened around the cat’s neck to give warning of his approach, and all approved of this idea. But who was to do it? Nobody volunteered and the whole thing ended in talk. So it is often with human affairs: plenty of suggestions but no action…. Download the whole Doré illustration here (4 MB JPG).
Over the past four decades, I have collected thousands of quotations that I find engaging, inspiring, or stimulating—mostly with regard to design, but also with reference to life in general. (Anyone who has sat through my lectures knows that I draw liberally from what others have said before). I’m especially enamored with the effective use of metaphor, irony, or other rhetorical devices that drive a message home. Famous last words are often particularly profound…
God will pardon me, that’s his line of work.
—poet Heinrich Heine, d. 1856
I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that’s the record…
—poet Dylan Thomas, d. 1953
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
—writer Oscar Wilde, d. 1900
The splash page of our recently updated Circle website features a dozen or so quotations re: design and design thinking—this has drawn attention from quite a number of design bloggers of late, such as swissmiss. (Read some of the introductory quotations that caught her eye here).