artstream

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Some really great prints I wouldn’t mind having on my wall. I especially like that the last two pieces have the words forest + girl in the titles!

All prints are available through artstream.

engagement photos

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If I ever get married, I would love to have Max Wanger do the photography. I love that the personalities of each couple comes through in each of his photo sessions (and that the majority of them are done outdoors).

Sunday inspiration

Since I was feeling a little blue about coming into work on a Sunday, Paul cheered me up by taking me for a walk on San Francisco’s Coast Trail that runs along the Presidio to the Cliff House. These little snapshots are nothing exciting, but the walk reminded me to not take for granted the interesting and beautiful things that are all around us.

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The Substance of Style

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My favorite movie is The Royal Tenenbaums. In fact I love director Wes Anderson in general; his overarching and meticulous vision and distinct sensibility makes for unique — and to me, near-perfect — films. I was delighted, therefore, to find a five-part, in-depth, thoughtful and well-researched video essay on his influences. I want more things like this in my life, please.

Part 1: Charles Schultz (Peanuts), Orson Welles (The Magnificent Ambersons), François Truffaut (The 400 Blows)

Part 2: Martin Scorsese (GoodFellas), Richard Lester (The Beatles’ Help!), and Mike Nichols (The Graduate)

Part 3: Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude)

Part 4: J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)

Part 5: opening of The Royal Tenenbaums — my favorite sequence of my favorite movie — annotated Pop-Up Video style with influences and Anderson’s own innovations.

Both where this is housed, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the author’s (Matt Zoller Seitz) blog The House Next Door are intriguing too, especially for people like me who like thinking ad nauseum about films.

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Some fall in love; I shatter

In case you haven’t already seen this on 100 other blogs (e.g. itsnicethat) it’s a collaboration between designer Craig Ward and photographer Jason Tozer. They both have some pretty amazing stuff in their portfolios, though this one really gets me. Here’s a writeup on the making of it.

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When I saw You Blow Me Away a few weeks back, I was reminded of another photographer whose frozen explosions are pretty phenomenal: Martin Klimas. I was first introduced to him via the always-fantastic Morning News galleries (which feature several works + an interview with a different visual artist, regularly updated: hundreds of ‘em since 2001!)

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Inspired by looking at these artists’ work, I looked on flickr for high speed photography, to try to collect my thoughts, when I found this lovely lovely shot by Aden Tranter that to this designer’s eye is a few words of type away from being an amazing album cover, say for this single for the Handsome Family.

I had nothing to say on Christmas day when you threw all your clothes in the snow. When you burnt your hair, knocked over chairs, I just tried to stay out of your way.
But when you fell asleep, with blood on your teeth, I got in my car and drove away. Listen to me, Butterfly, there’s only so much wine you can drink in one life, and it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass.

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What is it about these shots that impresses me so? Certainly content has something to do with it: Ward and Tozer’s shattering of that phrase of type, and Klimas’ shattering of kung fu figurines each add layers of delicious meaning… And though Tranter’s shot is of a simple bottle, his choice of reddened water and a dull green backdrop are critical, and if you were to crop the Jim Beam logo out leaving only liquid and glass, some the resonance with drunken abandon is lost.

But content aside, I think the root of the appeal can be found in the design-professor-favorite phrase “happy accidents.” Photography and design both involve impeccable, balanced, beautiful composition/layout — and it is usually achieved through careful planning, staging, grid and so forth. And yet sometimes you have a happy accident — whether it’s mistakenly dropping in the wrong cropping of an image or splashing ink or a light leak — which makes the composition work, usually by virtue of its unpredictable disorderliness.

What these high-speed photographers have done is carefully arranged happy accidents. They can’t be assured how the pane of glass, figurine or bottle will break… but they can capture, and then exercise their judicious cropping and editing on, the compositions that the physics of destruction create. The process must be tiresome, messy to clean up and aggravating at times, but when you can catch something as beautiful as these, it is totally worth it.

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(Klimas, again)

Front page news

My view of the paper in its vending bin Thursday morning.

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My thoughts went sort of as follows:
1) Things are really tough for The Chronicle that they are selling above-the-fold front page space for ad space. (after the initial shock, and taking the photo, it appears to be a folded-over piece that is printed with half the masthead)

2) Or am I looking at it the wrong way, this isn’t about the demise of print media but about more innovative advertising strategies? I can’t remember the last time I’ve paid attention to an advertisement in a newspaper (I just read Seth Godin make a good point about this, that they’re invisible), and this one turned my head from 5 yards mostly by virtue of its nontraditional placement.

3) The ad covers the news as if to say, this is the cover story of the day. The grafitti tag covers the whole thing with the (possibly unintentional) message of No, I am the story.

4) Ooh, Paul Smith store!

greenery on buildings

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I love seeing nature take over city buildings.

scientific adornment

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ve probably come to know that I love when design and science collide. One medium that lends itself naturally to that marriage is jewelry. Be they realistic or abstract representations, chemical or biological, natural or laboratorical (!), all of these lovely pieces were inspired by the shapes and forms found in science. The next time you need a geeky—yet fetching—gift (for anyone, including yourself), perhaps consider a purchase in the name of science. It’s for the greater good.

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Row 1: Nervous System, Beth Cyr
Row 2: seapod, emily e.p.s.
Row 3: Molecular Muse, Itsnoname
Row 4: Nervous System (both)
Row 5: Nicholas and Felice, Contrariwise

Obacht

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I was in Munich last year and came across what may go down in history as my favorite store: Obacht. You know you’ve found the perfect store when you covet, or are lucky enough to already own, everything they sell. Lots of deer, lots of woodgrain, lots of clean lines, lots of hearts fluttering dreamily above my head.

The co-owner of the store (Marion) explained that Obacht roughly translates to something made with “care and attention to detail,” and never was there a more fitting name. The store’s design is my idea of heaven (the owners gathered and chopped those logs themselves) and each item they sell is meticulously chosen (they highlight and support local artistans, often commissioning them to create exclusive products). T-shirts are packaged in amazing glass-lidded canning jars, and each item you purchase is lovingly hand-wrapped (and in my case even re-wrapped when she tried to prep something for packing in a suitcase, but worried that the first wrap job wasn’t “beautiful enough”).

Unfortunately, I don’t speak German, so I’m not sure what is available online and what is available only in the store, but if you’re ever in Munich, stop by and say, “Guten Tag!” Obacht is a wondrous little place and a perfect state of mind.

Christiana Couceiro

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While we’re on the subject of modernist collage in the current day, let me give big props to Ms. Christiana Couceiro. I’m not sure where I first saw a link to her stuff at Seven Days, but it looks like art director/design curator superstar Steven Heller caught on too. She made the cover for the last issue of the New York Times Book Review (3.19.09) story on Barthleme and I sincerely doubt it’s the last we’ll be seeing her. Her colors and compositions are remarkable, and she’s both high-modern and refreshingly contemporary at once.

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Some more pics and thoughts after the jump. Bunches more at her site.

Continue reading Christiana Couceiro

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