Posts tagged ‘public art’

An argument for less consumption and more connection.

The Economics of Happiness is a documentary film by activist/economist Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page, which promotes the need for a better balance between localized and globalized economies. Of the film’s many powerful arguments, my favorite was the obvious benefits of human-to-human contact during business exchanges. When individuals are physically engaged with the economic activity around them, they have greater self worth, a stronger sense of community, and more happiness overall. Many more screenings of the film are happening in the near future, and I highly recommend attending one if you can.

Along these lines, I thought the project “Double Happiness” by architect-artist Didier Faustino did a good job of reprioritizing things:

project discovered via GOOD

February 13’s daily design idea is when thinking big, don’t overlook local opportunity.


February 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm 1 comment

Replay: Christo

Earlier tonight, the Architectural League of New York hosted a presentation by Christo (and by Jeanne-Claude in spirit). Christo energetically shared some very candid insight into his current projects, his professional history, and his process.

The bulk of the presentation was centered on “Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, Colorado,” described on the project’s website as “a two-week temporary work of art” with plans to intermittently suspend 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels across the banks of a 42-mile section of Arkansas River in south-central Colorado.

Over The River Life-Sized Test For aesthetic and technical considerations, four life-size prototype tests were conducted in 1997, 1998 and 1999 on private property near the Colorado/Utah border. Photo: Wolfgang Volz, © Christo 1999. More images can be seen in Over The River’s gallery.

Christo described the project (and others) with a humorous  and surprisingly endearing bravado. He discussed the permitting process and other forums of critical feedback (for example: the definitively non-supportive “Rags Over the Arkansas River” organization) as an integral part of the project development process. He joyfully explained how fulfilling it is to receive feedback (positive and negative) during these parts of their projects since “people don’t talk about the sculpture until it is sculpted, or the painting until it is painted.” But people talk about Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects at length, often for years, before they are installed.

If the permitting process for “Over the River” continues as planned (including a review of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement – a first for a work of art – by the Bureau of Land Management), the installation will be up for two weeks in August 2014 – after 22 years of development.

December 6’s daily design idea is open up about your process.

December 6, 2010 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Two more design actions in the public realm.

The first via Core77 (Nov 2, 2010):

Artist Catie Newell has used reclaimed wood from an arsoned house in Detroit to create Salvaged Landscape, an installation within the burnt building itself. “Demolition of this severely damaged house was imminent, but instead of a traditional tear-down, Newell removed the charred wood timbers from the frame of the house and stacked them on their sides to form an outside wall that extends to become a moody passageway inside. The surface highlights the unburnt insides of the timber in its cross section, exhibiting the contrast between the char of the surface and the warmth underneath.”

Salvaged Landscape is supported by The Imagination Station.

The second via Inhabitat (Nov 12, 2010):

“In the historic downtown area of Lima, Peru, a new pop up green space has invaded the urban landscape. Invasion Verde, or Green Invasion, is an installation by architects Genaro Alva, Denise Ampuero, Gloria Andrea Rojas and industrial designer Claudia Ampuero, created as part of Gran Semana de Lima – also known as Lima’s Great Week…. Invasion Verde is an attempt to insert extra park space into a packed city, in order to improve the quality of life for Lima’s citizens.”

Photos © Genaro Alva, from Flickr

December 3’s daily design idea is with creativity, any space can be activated.

December 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

From fences to interfaces.

While construction usually leads to more beautiful, safer, better performing, and overall improved environments, being around it mid-process can be far from positive. And the necessary fences that contain all the disruption definitely don’t add any value, which is a hugely missed opportunity.

The good news? People want to change that. Noa Biran and Roy Talmon have installed an interactive fence made out of shutters to replace “standard corrugated fence on construction sites” in Bat-Yam, Israel according to Arch Daily. The project is part of Timing 2010, this year’s Biennale of Landscape Urbanism, which focuses on exploring “the occasionally tense relationships between the city’s attempt to create order through long-term plans, and the everyday chaos that is the product of that process.”

images by Noa Biran and Roy Talmon, via Arch Daily

Closer to home, the Department of Buildings and the Department of Cultural Affairs (with support from The Rockefeller Foundation) just finished hosting a contest “to develop creative artwork for construction fences, sidewalk sheds, supported scaffolds and cocoons in New York City.” Four finalists were chosen in the urbancanvas Design Competition, resulting in four artwork packages being created for “building owners to reproduce on temporary protective structures on or over City property.” Susanna Sirefman, urbancanvas competition advisor, says the designs “promise not only to mitigate the visual impact of construction sites but to delight, engage, and inspire the passerby while fostering safety and maintenance throughout the city,” in a recent Design Trust blog post.

The winning designs are “Green Screen” by Corinne Ulmann, “Color Mesh” by Mauricio Lopez, “My Urban Sky” by Jen Magathan, and “BREATHING_WALL_UC” by Monika Bravo, via

November 17’s daily design idea is disruptive construction will always happen in the built environment; design solutions for the disruption should too.

November 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm Leave a comment

I impulse purchased my way into a 28,000 person art project.

Yesterday was the extended deadline to enter The Sketchbook Project, something I found out about a mere 50 minutes before it was too late (thanks to Twitter). Within those 50 minutes, I had read the overview and the rules, become increasingly intrigued and enthusiastic, and signed up.

So what is The Sketchbook Project?

“It’s like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks. Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country. After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view. 28594 artists from 94 countries around the world are participating. The tour starts February, 2011.”

Which apparently is all I needed to know in order to spend $25 on an plain moleskin and a two-month time commitment… I even bought the shirt.

I really do think that this is a great idea, but I’m also fascinated by how quickly and fully I believed that it was a great idea. What does this experience say about my own behavior? Is running out of time my weak spot in consumer psychology? Is my sketchbooking artist side craving esteem? Has Threadless conditioned me into wanting any American Apparel cotton T-Shirt that comes my way?

In all seriousness, I am a big fan (and also now a participant) of The Sketchbook Project and, overall, of community-building opportunities to share creative work. I hope that if you’re in Portland, Brooklyn, Washington DC, Winter Park, Atlanta, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, or Seattle in the first half of next year, you’ll go check out the tour.

November 16’s daily design idea is seek out creative ways to share your ideas with others. You might just end up with a cool shirt in the process.

November 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm 1 comment

Rubber, road, and non-toxic chalking fluid.

Contrail is a self-proclaimed “public art project that celebrates shared spaces” and, in addition, “helps make bicycling safer and more fun.”

Brooklyn-based co-inventors Pepin Gelardi and Teresa Herrmann first came up with the Contrail in response to a competition seeking ideas for attracting more people to the cycling community. According to Gelardi, the two “wanted to create a device that proved to potential cyclists that a community exists.” The Contrail is a small device that you attach to a bicycle, then hook up with “washable, non-toxic chalking fluid made from eco-friendly pigments.” The bike’s rear-wheel movement triggers the fluid’s release, transforming “your bike into a paintbrush.”

While I also appreciate the forced participation of the somewhat similar “art attack” in Berlin earlier this month, I love the idea of Contrail and definitely believe in its value and stickiness as a product. As Gelardi and Herrmann say on their website and on their Kickstarter page (active until November 27!), there are lots of possible uses including: establishing bike routes (particularly for groups with different paces), increasing awareness for bicycling (or other activities/causes) through visual impact, and individual public art.

November 9’s daily design idea is collective visual mark-making can be a great community building tool. If you agree and/or if you support the idea of the Contrail, consider helping them out on Kickstarter.

all images by Contrail, © 2010 ULICU, LLC

November 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

The Advice of Strangers.

If crafting a nonlinear career seems awfully stressful, why not take a cue from Marc Horowitz and leave the decision-making up to strangers?

In a new program presented by New York-based Creative Time, Horowitz is putting “his daily decisions in the hands of strangers,” who vote on a set of multiple choice options that Horowitz posts online for each decision. According to and the website of presenting art entity Creative Time, “Horowitz will post the dilemmas he’s facing—from the seemingly mundane to the profound” each day throughout November. “He needs your help to guide him in his career, his tumultuous relationship with his family, his personal grooming choices, his first semester as a graduate student in art school, and in the many spontaneous daily dilemmas he encounters.” The project’s website displays Horowitz’s decision polls, tracks the voting results in real time, and then follows the resultant actions “through Marc’s signature and hilarious video coverage.”

Beyond thoroughly enjoying Horowitz’s on-screen affability, I’m very curious to see how (if at all) this project will significantly change his life or lead to any interesting follow-up projects.

November 6’s daily design idea is how open could you be to sharing your decision-making power with strangers? Does this sound terrifying or freeing?

project logo from; photo from marchorowitz on Flickr

November 6, 2010 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

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