Monday, November 19, 2007

Adventures in Mind-Molding: What Language Looks Like

Ellen Lupton's says that typography is what language looks like. Wikipedia (not that it is to be trusted) defines typography as "the art and technique of type design, modifying type glyphs, and arranging type...The arrangement of type is the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing) and letter spacing."

Next semester I will be teaching a typography class formerly titled "Computer Typography" - follow up to the sophomore class "Basic Typography" - now titled "Advanced Typography" and open only to graduate students. Long story, short: I was slated to teach sophomores a standard syllabus and am now teaching grad students a syllabi of my own concoction in a class that is the official pilot programme to a possible overhaul of the entire typographic teaching strategy. And it will be the second class I've ever taught. No, I'm not scared (well, not yet).

As a product of a traditional typographic education (using haberules, E-scales and rapidographs to hand-render type) and a designer working in the computer-dominated digital age, I see the huge disconnect between what designers are being taught and what they actually end up producing. There is a misstep somewhere between pen and paper and mouse and keyboard. The beautiful possibilities of working by hand are being suffocated by InDesign's default type settings and a flush-left existence.

As I piece together this experimental syllabi, I am constantly reminding myself that the most important concept I can teach them about type - and all design - is that all tools are relevant. Good designers draw upon any and all weapons they have; but to become a good designer, you must first build your arsenal.

A sneak peak at my ideas to bridge the disconnect between hand and machine.

Images from the fantastic blog ffffound!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bacon Cravings

A year from now these should be *girl and my pictures of Bacon but for now they come from here

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chile Corn Chowder

3 Tomatoes
1 Onion diced
2 Poblano Chiles diced
6 Tbsp Butter
5 Cups Frozen Corn, divided
2 tsp Salt
1 quart Milk
1 cup grated Monetary Jack Cheese

In a cast iron pan roast tomatoes until charred outside and soft inside. In a soup pot, saute onions and chiles in butter over low heat. Add tomatoes, 3 cups corn, salt, pepper, and milk. Bring to scalding point (when bubbles form around the edges of the pot and the milk starts to foam). Do not boil! Remove from heat and let cool. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender in the pot. Return to heat and add remaining corn. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with cheese and croutons. *girl and I had leftover toasted pumpkin seeds from our light fixture that matched perfectly.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Functional Design

A few designs from dutch designer Henk Stallinga. A coathammer with the nail attached to the hammer head and a shelf that drills itself into the wall. A few years old but an interesting concept for all tools included design. Maybe Ikea should take note.



Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Restoring Balance and Order

About a year ago my parents purchased their neighbors house when they relocated. The original 1860's house was hidden behind tacked on additions and poor maintenance. My parents having purchased their own house about 25 years prior went through a similar exercise of slowly restoring and renovating the house to its current state. While a difficult task, it is something they are familiar with and they see it as a project. The short term goal is to make it an animation studio that will get my dad's work out of their house while the longer term goal is to make a guest house where my brothers (the typographer and the artist) and I (the architect) can come visit without taking over their house. This is where I come in- this is a way for my parents to get some value out of paying for 5 years of architecture school and a chance for me to get experience and built work outside the office. I would say I'm a "contemporary" designer but I believe in being appropriate. That said, the master plan for the house is as follows:

  1. Demolition- Tear off poorly build addition and glass sunroom and general demolition to achieve step 2.

  2. Generally restore the original structure as much as possible while visually balancing and adding dormers to make the upstairs more functional. this includes straightening the foundation and providing new structure for the second floor, 2 new chimney's, a new roof, replacing most of the windows, new siding, and a screen porch

  3. Renovate the interior to update the bathrooms, kitchen, heating, and all the interior finishes.

  4. Restore the existing barn

  5. Add a new addition in place of the old structure. Note: This is where I am planning my larger design moves including a green roof and a lot of glazing.

Currently the house is in the midst of step 2 with the major structural work done, chimneys built, and now the exterior aesthetic getting a much needed face lift. Originally planned as a much more modest endeavor, the scope and schedule keep accelerating. Here is a before and after of the first real exterior work.

Existing house after first demolition stages

View down from hill at new windows and dormers

Hillside front door with new dormers

Hillside from the road, slightly more finished

Monday, November 5, 2007

An Artist is Born

I was in the room when my nephew was born, saw his eyes open for the first time and even witnessed his first step exactly one year later. For someone who lives over 2000 miles away, I've been remarkably involved in this little life. My sister is not terribly artistic (when prompted she could not name the primary and secondary colors) so I have set up residence as the official artistic influence in my nephew's world.

I used to make him tiny, baby-sized books that he could put stickers in and color on; I have painted pictures for his room and, just last Christmas, I bought him his own easle and paints and taught him the fundamentals of color theory (blue + yellow = green). But it looks like I've been imposing the wrong medium on him.

This is his photograph taken with a Canon Digital Rebel SLR. He is 4 and a half years old. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying its a masterpiece, I'm just saying that its impressive—the light, the composition, even my brother-in-law's chopped-off head. I'm thinking this Christmas I'll buy him a camera. Maybe an Holga...