Across the globe, people are asserting their right to be fabulous. Casting off past austerity, they embrace a new-found democratic optimism, using play, humor and resourcefulness to celebrate the everyday.
June 10, 2013
Is anyone who spends significant time online (for work or otherwise) unaware of the charms of GIFs? They’re elegant visual one-liners, able to emote or simply entertain for a few seconds at a time, and often little more than an endless repetition of a moment of slapstick. But just as programmatically simple jokes can provide a platform for insightful satire and blazing feats of imagination – check into Wyatt Cenac’s comedy, for a recent example – so GIFs have evolved, in the process becoming considered worthy vehicles for high art. Rhizome, a hotbed of digital creativity, has recently posted a series of artworks specifically created as GIFs.
June 03, 2013
Practical Facts, Rendered Useless
Writer Josh Orter confesses to a habit of figuring out things of little practical value, although his website Stupid Calculation’s tagline, “Where practical facts get rendered into utterly useless ones,” seem to have it the other way around. In either case, Orter has applied his talents to visual and mathematical explanations of the number of BTUs expressed by 638,000 matches, how long it would take to drink a Olympic-sized swimming pool through a straw (gross) and how many iPhones you’d need to cover every square inch of Central Park in New York City. Wait a minute, you say, that last one sounds fairly straightforward… except Orter took the size variation across the various iPhone models into account, and weighed his figures for their market share, according to current statistics.
More (useless) inquiries and visual explanations at Stupid Calculations.
May 28, 2013
Tiny Sad Keanu
A few years back, a candid photo of Keanu Reeves eating lunch on a park bench went viral, spawning hundreds of “Sad Keanu” images, with the former Matrix star Photoshopped into movie stills, band photos and recent news events. Now, Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal has taken it a step further, ordering a 3D print of Sad Keanu from an online fabricator, and creating his own photo series. The results are both silly and jarring, drawing on the familiarity of the existing meme as well as the new oddness made possible through rapid prototyping. What’s still undecided: is it funnier to see a picture of Keanu sitting next to Harry Potter, or a tiny sculpture of Keanu sitting on a sandwich?
May 20, 2013
Retiring Early, for One Year
Renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister earned the attention of millions with a 2009 TED talk espousing the virtues of year-long sabbaticals. Recently, a 40-year-old software developer name Winston Chen decided to take up the challenge, moving with his entire family to an island off the Norwegian coast to fish, hike and watch the Northern Lights. Rather than depict the relocation as an escape from the rat race, Chen and his wife Kristen describe it as simply a chance to do something different and learn some new skills. It appears to have been a success: not only have they posted some extraordinary photos of the starkly beautiful landscape, but an iPhone app Chen coded during the long Arctic nights is now selling robustly enough to support them on their return to Boston.
May 13, 2013
The Real Space Oddity
Commander Chris Hadfield has had his share of YouTube fame, with compelling videos that illustrate moments of zero-gravity life inside the International Space Station. His latest effort has attracted much wider notice: it’s a lovingly produced cover of the 1969 David Bowie hit “Space Oddity.” Hadfield’s singing and acoustic-guitar work are nothing to sneeze at, but the cinematography really shines. He leverages the station’s lack of gravity and stunning views of Earth, realizing shots that might make even the fabulous Mr. Bowie jealous. The original “Space Oddity” was scheduled to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing, 44 years ago; seeing the song performed in orbit was worth the wait.
Watch the video at Space.
May 06, 2013
Kickstart These Coffee Grounds
It seems most creative types drink a fair amount of coffee; we certainly do, here at Ziba. Designer Matthew Waldman wanted to bring some intention to all the grounds that are inevitably produced along the way to optimal caffeination, and the result is POTHRA. A biodegradable corn-based resin is mixed with used coffee grounds and set in silicone molds, yielding sturdy terra cotta-like pots for plants or pencils. The tactile and chromatic results vary, depending on the type of coffee being used–espresso roast makes for smooth, chocolate brown pots, while a blonde ground for a french press presents as a nubby burnt-sienna vessel.
Visit Kickstarter to get POTHRA off the ground!
April 29, 2013
A Notebook for the Undecided
Notebooks are one of those things that everyone seems to have an opinion about — some of us carry a Moleskine while others prefer gridded notepads or just jot everything on Post-its. Japanese firm Rezon is taking a more holistic stance, combining six different notebook types into a single Multi-Notebook, for those who’d rather match the format with the task. Each page presents notetakers with a range of options, including notecards and sticky notes that can be torn out; the cover communicates the buffet of options through a clever collage of familiar styles.
April 22, 2013
Imaginations Running Wild. Also Jumping, Swimming and Skateboarding.
Having Muscular Dystrophy means that many physical activities we might associate with an active childhood are off limits. For a 12-year-old Croatian boy named Luka and photographer Matej Peljhan, that’s just a worthy challenge for their collective imaginations. The two recently collaborated on a photo series called The Little Prince, in which Luka poses lying down for Peljhan’s overhead camera, in positions that evoke skateboarding, swimming and a host of other pursuits usually denied by gravity and MD. The results are awesomely clever, and deeply touching.
April 15, 2013
The 15-pound, $36 Plastic Wedding Dress
Australian fashion designer Stephanie Watson had known for a long time she didn’t want a traditional wedding dress. Ten years, in fact, which is how long it took to save the roughly 10,000 plastic bread bag clips she sewed to create her dress over the course of 300 hours. The groom’s cousin, a baker, kicked in an entire sleeve of unused clips, when it looked like Watson might run short. This is an idea in good company – wedding dresses have been made from toilet paper and bubble wrap, in the past, and evening gowns from credit cards. Watson’s effort transforms about $36 worth of disposable plastic into something entirely unique and compelling.
Read more about Nadine – that’s the dress’s name – at Treehugger.
April 08, 2013
Get Your Wear On
Patagonia is not your average apparel retailer-–the company has stayed at the forefront of environmental and corporate responsibility since its inception in 1972, but their recent Tumblr-based project, called Worn Wear, represents a big step, even for them. Worn Wear is Patagonia’s visual celebration of people who hold onto their gear, in some cases wearing it for decades. This isn’t the kind of preciousness we’ve seen from other clothing makers (we’re looking at you, Levi’s, with all the old jeans in vitrines) but a visually sumptuous high-five for people who continue to enjoy themselves in beaten-up, outdated, but still highly functional clothing.
Read the stories, and see the images, at Worn Wear.
April 01, 2013
Why NOT Make it a Roller Coaster?
London’s Battersea Power Plant hasn’t lacked for architectural attention since it was decommissioned in 1983: a master plan by Rafael Vinoly, which included enormous high-end housing developments, was nixed as too expensive just last year. The Paris-based Atelier Zündel Cristea has proposed something a bit more democratic in response: a public
park, with a roller coaster swooping through and around the massive industrial building complex. It’s unlikely to be built, but that doesn’t stop us from appreciating the spirit (and production value) of the suggestion.
See more renderings at The Fox Is Black.
March 25, 2013
Your Yard, the Jungle
When James Barilla became a professor in South Carolina, he was able to buy a house. He found himself particularly excited about being able to make a connection with the outdoor space his new home afforded, which is something renters don’t often get to do. With his wife and two small children, he set out to modify his front and back yards to make them better habitat for local wildlife of all kinds, both native and invasive. Although he didn’t realize it at first, Mr. Barilla had run smack into a movement: the National Wildlife Federation has already certified 150,000 such properties all across the country. “My Backyard Junge”, his book about several years’ experience with the undertaking, was published earlier this year.
March 18, 2013
The Pub Where Beethoven Lives
“Live at The Happy Dog” may not seem a likely title for an album of classical music, but that’s kind of the point. A six-piece chamber music group called Ensemble HD is taking bold steps to democratize their art form by holding monthly performances in a Cleveland tavern called The Happy Dog, and earning enthusiastic responses from a surprisingly mixed crowd. “It’s great to look over at the bar and see people in mink coats next to twentysomethings covered in tattoos and piercings,” explains the bar’s owner, who organized the shows. The series has brought some unexpected results too: a Kickstarter-funded album, recorded live in the bar, and the discovery that Mozart and Schubert don’t make good drinking music, but Beethoven does.
March 11, 2013
No Friends Around to Make a Video? Fear Not.
The Harlem Shake dance-video meme is nothing if not democratic. Its simple premise is undoubtedly part of the appeal: a masked figure dances alone to Baauer’s 2012 “Harlem Shake,” a bass-heavy electronic track, then the beat drops. Other dancers appear out of nowhere, twerking, shaking, doing the Bernie, punching inflatable giraffes, whatever. That’s it. Variations are now so numerous they can be broadly categorized: Universities, Armed Forces members, offices, et cetera. Adrien M / Claire B, a digital performance art collective based in Lyon, has their own version, and it’s hard to imagine a more minimal take: just white pixels on a black screen. Soundtrack aside, it’s a quiet, cerebral triumph, which already has 74,000 views.
March 04, 2013
Sintering Goes to the Beach
Sintering is the technical term for making objects out of powders; when clay is wetted and fired to make ceramics, for example, sintering is the process being used. Designer Markus Kayser wanted to highlight alternative energy sources and materials in product manufacturing, and was struck by two things found in great abundance (and available for free) at the beach, or in a desert: sand and sun. His SolarSinter is a portable 3D printing unit with an adjustable lens that focuses sunlight sufficiently to fuse sand into glass. The rough bowl-shaped or abstract forms that result are in keeping with the low-tech materials/high-tech methodology of the project.
Watch an elegant proof-of-concept video at Kayser’s website.
February 25, 2013
A Vertical Garden, Down to Earth
Lar Doce Lar (“Home Sweet Home”) is a Brazilian take on the home makeover shows popular on European and American TV, but with a defiantly DIY twist — since many of the dwellings being redesigned are in poorer neighborhoods, clever reuse of materials often features prominently. For a recent project in São Paulo, the designers turned a bare wall into a lush vertical garden, using little more than a pile of discarded soda bottles. The results have been so popular that Lar Doce Lar’s blog has followed up with detailed instructions on how to make your own, suitable for favelas in Brazil, or anywhere with a preponderance of thrifty, creative homeowners.
February 18, 2013
Feeling Pretty... On Probation
Breaking new ground in fashion can spark controversy, although it’s been some time since a lady’s ankle seemed scandalous. A young UK woman convicted for her involvement in a fight outside a nightclub was recently fined for bedazzling her probation anklet. Using fingernail epoxy and rhinestones, she blinged the plastic device with her name, having been told by the officer who fitted her for it that decoration was no problem.
Read the whole story at The Daily Mail.
Image via Caters News Agency.
February 11, 2013
A Little Bird Flown Onto Your Cellphone
The iPhone is a beautifully designed object, but for some folks it’s just a little too austere. Designer Pak Kitae offers one way to lighten up the too-sober form of modern smartphones, with a collection of small, cast-bronze birds designed to plug directly into a headphone jack. While they’re not specifically designed for iPhone users, the minimalist forms seem a little more likely to appeal to Apple fans than the charms and lanyards that grace lesser cellphones.
February 04, 2013
The First Zambian on the Moon
One of the most celebrated documentary photo projects of 2012 is documenting something that never happened. Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel speculated what it might have looked like had the first attempted moon launch come not from the US or the USSR, but from Zambia — and then created the images to go with it. The images in “The Afronauts” are designed to provoke thought about assumptions of what groups of people are capable of, and while they’re very effective, none of them were actually shot in Zambia.
See the BBC’s slideshow and commentary for more of The Afronauts.
January 28, 2013
Beethoven on Plates
In a time when almost anyone can access sophisticated recording and editing software, just about anything that makes noise can become an instrument, even a shattered ceramic dish. A Hungarian named Mátyás Wettl makes this point in spectacular fashion, by shooting a video of himself kicking around bits of crockery, then editing the resulting sounds together into a recognizable rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. Like so many things in the Fabu Less trend, it’s an example of just how close technology has gotten us to transforming the everyday into something magical.
See and hear the video on Boing Boing.
January 22, 2013
Dreams and Nightmares in White Out and Coffee
There’s a legion of artists out there, defined by the unexpected materials they use; anything from doorknobs to stacked stones are fair game, and the online world (including this blog) has taken note. Jake Fried fits this category to some degree, and yet he’s something else entirely. Fried’s hand-drawn animations are created with nothing more than coffee, white-out and ink, but unlike many other examples, his meticulous, mesmerizing works of art give no hint at the humble media they employ. It’s almost as if the desire to create them was so strong, that Fried grabbed whatever materials were closest at hand and started drawing — prompting the rest of us to wonder what potential might lie in our top desk drawer.
Image via Colossal.
January 14, 2013
Turning Winter and Water Into Magic
As Canada enters the dead of winter, coming up with distractions from the short days and crushing cold can take unexpected forms. For a woman in Edmonton, this recently meant building the world’s most colorful igloo. With nothing more than some food coloring, old cartons, and Alberta’s relentlessly frigid weather, Kathleen Starrie, her mother and her visiting boyfriend constructed something breathtaking. The igloo represents about 150 hours of work, and will melt away come spring time, but until then it’s nothing short of a luminous backyard masterpiece.
Read the article and watch the video at Global TV Edmonton.
Image via Colossal.
January 07, 2013
A Snowy Plain, a Camera, and 10 Hours of Walking
Snow is one of the simplest and most variable of all materials, nothing more than frozen water, but infinitely flexible in texture, consistency and appearance. That potential has inspired artist Simon Beck for over a decade to create his large scale geometric installations, combining intricate patterns and repeating motifs, created with nothing more than his boots and the occasional shovel and piece of twine. The results are charming and breathtaking, a reminder that an abundance of will and creativity can make amazing things out of just about nothing.
Get some background and a gallery of images at FastCoDesign.
December 17, 2012
The Greatest Water Splashes You’ve Ever Seen
Water splashes aren’t cool. You know what’s cool? Water splashes combined with captivating color and lighting. German artist Markus Reugels does amazing things with water and a camera. His painstaking attention to detail and timing transforms something we see every day into truly impressive works of art.
Click through to Colossal to see more examples.
December 10, 2012
Animating the Walls
Animated GIFs have been undergoing a sort of renaissance lately, both as DIY internet playthings and as a subtle, artistic medium. Artist and designer INSA is doubling down on the artistic side with a recent project that turns entire buildings into fodder for GIF animation. His unique process starts with painting a wall or building exterior multiple times in complex black and white patterns, then photographing them in sequence and compiling the images into looping animations. The results bring an impossibly surreal element to an otherwise static scene, made all the more bizarre by the knowledge that the real building, in real life, isn’t animated at all.
See more examples of INSA’s work at Colossal.
December 03, 2012
I Hop the Line
“Trampoline sidewalk” might sound like the name of a cute ‘90s art-rock band, but it’s actually an apt description of a recent outdoor installation, created by Estonian architects for a festival near Moscow this year. “Fast Track” is a custom trampoline, nearly 600 feet long and sunk flush with the ground, allowing festival attendees to simply stroll onto it and start bouncing their way down the line. The goal, according to the designers, is to foster a more emotional and connected way of moving, but who’s to say it couldn’t serve the same role as an airport’s moving walkways?
See more images of Fast Track at Inhabitat.
November 26, 2012
A Chair of Chairs
Re:Polo is a chair made of other chairs — broken ones, in fact. Designer Peter Ward builds functional seats by combining parts of unusable ones and decorating them with newspaper decoupage. The whimsical, sturdy results are a striking reminder of the role of skilled labor in shrinking the waste stream, and of the potential for beauty lurking in any junkyard.
See the project page on Ward’s personal site.
Via the Unconsumption Tumblr.
November 19, 2012
Snail Mail My Email
There’s only so much you can do to make an email extra special, so an art project called Snail Mail My Email has given thousands of people a way to transform them into old-fashioned written letters. Drawing on a community of volunteers, SMME turns typed text into creatively handwritten and often illustrated missives, then sends them to the recipient’s physical address, free of charge. 13,000 letters along, the project shows no signs of slowing down, and has compiled some of the lovelier examples into a book.
See what Snail Mail My Email has been up to, and browse a gallery of letters.
November 13, 2012
A More Enlightened Way to Recycle
The Bubble Chandelier puts 60 discarded 2 liter soda bottles to exceptional use, by riveting together their tops and bottoms to form a large, undulating light fixture that wouldn’t look out of place at a cutting edge nightclub. Although the $780 price might seem to put this out of typical Fabu Less territory, the designers insist that the bulk of the cost comes from the labor-intensive method of connecting all the pieces, suggesting that inspired, crafty copycats could make their own versions for considerably less.
See more of the Bubble Lamp at Core77.
November 05, 2012
Animals in the City
The recent trend of astonishing inner city murals, first brought to global attention in Brazil, heads to Johannesburg, under the guise of the Adidas-sponsored “I Art Joburg” initiative. Belgian street artist ROA brings six of South Africa’s most iconic wild animals to the city’s Maboneng District, depicting them in a slightly cartoony black and white palette, lounging contentedly on the side of a nondescript brick apartment building.
See more photos of ROA’s work at I Art Joburg.
October 29, 2012
Lo-Fi Digital Holiday Cheer
For legions of urban dwellers, the most ubiquitous indicator of the holiday season isn’t carolers or menorahs in the window, but the holiday-themed cup that suddenly cradles their morning coffee. In a break from the holly- and snowflake-adorned merchandise of years past, Starbucks has paired with genre-busting design house Rodarte to come up with a line of striking, pixelated cups and gifts that put a thoroughly modern twist on winter time. The brand logo is barely discernable through the new palette, but Starbucks is betting that the fashion-forward approach will net them a bigger fan base in the long run.
Read more about the collision of coffee and couture at FastCoDesign.
October 22, 2012
A Starry Night for Hardware Lovers
There must be something about “Starry Night” that brings out the impulse for creative reuse. We blogged a version of the Van Gogh masterpiece back in July, when Brazilian artist Vik Muniz rendered it in torn magazines, but it’s shown up again as a mural in Bethesda, Maryland, composed entirely of door knobs and mounting hardware. A creative hardware store owner conceived of the project as a way use up his overstock inventory, and bring some visibility to his business in the process. The community has embraced the mural enthusiastically, developing a sort of mythology about which doorknobs to touch for different kinds of luck, and installing benches for the steadily growing crowds who come to view it.
See more photos at Inhabitat.
October 15, 2012
Where No LEGO Has Gone Before
How do you top one man’s (heavily branded) 24 mile leap from the stratosphere? If you’ve got LEGO, you copy it. In the wake of Felix Baumgartner’s celebrated high altitude Red Bull-sponsored skydive, this astonishingly faithful re-enactment showed up today, rendered almost entirely in plastic toy bricks. It’s an advertisement for a Model Makers fair in Austria, and while it’s unclear whether LEGO was officially involved as a company, it’s safe to say they’ve enjoyed a nice bump in publicity.
You can (and should) watch the video in dozens of places, but the breathless description at Paper is our favorite.
Spotted by Ziba Senior Research Analyst Molly Ackerman-Brimberg.
October 08, 2012
Helping Birds Help Neighborhoods
Citing Brazil’s much-admired Favela Painting Project as inspiration, designers Andrew Liu and Jeffrey Siu have chosen an unusual tool for strengthening community in their home town of Vancouver, BC: brightly painted birdhouses. Mounted on traffic light and telephone poles with powerful magnets, their modernist boxes bring color to street corners while hopefully increasing the population of nesting birds, both subtle ways of encouraging residents to form stronger connections with their neighborhoods.
October 01, 2012
Getting More Brooklyn About Art
The Brooklyn Museum of Art has taken a uniquely democratic approach to getting more attention for local artists. The GO initiative asks Brooklynites to visit artists’ studios throughout the borough—at least five of them—then vote on their favorites. The winning artists’ work will then be displayed at a special event at the museum in December, spurring greater interest by local art lovers, and shining a spotlight on the massive output of this extraordinarily creative part of the city.
Learn how the whole thing works, and see the selected artists (including Jennifer Williams, above), at the GO website.
September 24, 2012
Catching Up With Le Grand Continental
In the latest global dance tour to capture our attention, the performers could be anyone. Le Grand Continental is a series of site-specific dances created by Montreal-based choreographer Sylvain Émard, that’s been visiting various North American cities since its inception in 2009. Each visit begins with an open call for dancers of all ages and abilities, and culminates in a grand performance several months later in a centrally located public space. It’s a unique combination of modern art and line dance, that draws reviews as mixed as the places it inhabits.
September 17, 2012
Finger Puppets Full of Fighting Words
As Syria’s increasingly brutal civil war drags on, the opposition is giving the Assad regime the finger. A group of ten professional artists calling themselves Masasit Mati have put together a satirical series called Top Goon that pokes fun at the government and its security forces, using handmade papier-mache finger puppets depicting protesters, fighters, and president Bashar al-Assad himself. The rough, cartoonish figures give the performances a sense of play, but the actors, performing in masks from neighboring countries, find themselves in a serious and dangerous position.
September 10, 2012
Pigeons of a Different Color
If you’re in Venice and see pigeons that look like they belong in Willy Wonka’s factory, do not try to lick them. First, don’t lick pigeons, that’s gross, and second they’re probably part of an art project by Julius von Bismarck and Julian Charriere. The two Berlin-based artists wrangled the city’s pigeons and used an animal safe dye to color them more like tropical birds in an effort to get people to change their negative pigeon perceptions. The result is beautiful.
Click through to The Fox is Black to see more pictures of the colorful pigeons.
September 04, 2012
Humans of New York
Sometimes, if you want to see something fabulous, all you have to do is take a walk down the street. Especially if that street is in New York. Photographer Brandon Stanton started photographing residents of the bewilderingly diverse city two years ago, and posting them to his Facebook page. Part fashion blog, part amateur ethnography, and thoroughly enthralled with human diversity, the resulting photo series spans every possible combination of age, race, gender and style, suggesting that inspiration is abundant, and available to anyone who pays attention.
August 27, 2012
A Glass of Wine, a Morning Stretch and Other Small Miracles
“Pleasure” is an underused word in American speech, passed over in favor of less indulgent terms like “fun” and “satisfaction.” But now a self-described “passionate non-professional filmmaker” from Luxembourg named Vitùc has taken the very opposite tack, creating a breathtaking short film that cuts together moments of clear, universal pleasure, from splashing in the rain and jumping on a trampoline to biting into a slice of watermelon on a bright, sunny day. Shot largely on an iPhone and tightly edited without narration, “The Pleasure Of…” uses simple tools to tell a simple story that’s rarely told well.
August 20, 2012
A Sturdier Sand Castle
When architects start tinkering with 3D printing, strange things start to happen. In the case of four architecture students at Spain’s Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the result is a robotic process called Stone Spray that combines sand with adhesive to “print” computer-designed structures on site. The technique is currently limited to small mockups and tiny stools, but if the renderings are any indication, much larger structures, like shelters and bridges, are in the works.
See more examples at FastCoDesign.
August 13, 2012
A More Creative Place to Call
Sao Paulo’s iconic hood-shaped payphone enclosures still stand out boldly on its downtown streets, despite the fact that many of them are out of service. Brazilian telecom company Vivo has taken this unique challenge and turned it into an opportunity, commissioning local artists to paint, build upon or otherwise decorate a collection of 100 of the most centrally located ones. The project, entitled Call Parade, has achieved almost instant popularity, drawing attention to the company while highlighting the city’s remarkable visual creativity.
August 06, 2012
This art installation by Dutch artist Edwin Deen combines two hallmarks of summer — lawn sprinklers and rainbows — into a single, wonderful thing. Brilliantly simple in its construction, the rainbow sprayer pumps water through a series of pigments to glam up any surface in seconds, but it’s currently confined to a single room, at the W hotel in Amsterdam.
Find more images of the sprayer in action at Colossal.
July 30, 2012
The 20th Loves Le Graff
Different cities deal with their graffiti problems in different ways; one neighborhood in Paris is asking for more of it. The 20th Arrondissement, which mixes working class, immigrant and artist populations, has officially embraced “le graff” as a form of public art, going so far as to create videos espousing its virtues, and commissioning a map of notable work. According to the district’s mayor, it’s a way of addressing cultural diversity, embracing Paris’ wealth of creativity, and drawing attention to the neighborhood as well.
July 23, 2012
Gotham Comes Out to Play
New York has always prided itself on being an exciting place to live, but for three days in August, the city is taking to the streets, and skies, to make sure everyone knows it. A free program called Summer Streets will bring public art, free bicycle usage, a climbing wall and even ziplines to Manhattan’s Park Avenue, all in the name of helping keep residents active, in typically dramatic Big Apple style.
See the details at NYC.gov.
July 16, 2012
What To Do with All Those Pumps
Sometimes, imagining what life would be like without something is a key step in getting rid of it. A recent marketing effort in conjunction with the Australian release of the all-electric Nissan Leaf challenged a local artist to come up with 40 alternate uses for gas pumps, once they’ve become obsolete. The gesture’s thoroughly charming if a bit premature, with pumps repurposed as a popcorn popper, a dog kennel, and an actual, playable piano.
July 09, 2012
This Van Gogh Brought to You By Old Issues of Cosmo
A Van Gogh painting is probably out of most of our price ranges but Brazilian artist Vik Muniz didn’t let that stop him. Muniz used torn magazine pieces to painstakingly create reproductions of famous paintings by luminaries including Van Gogh and Manet. Collages have been around as long as (and longer than) people had magazines to tear from, but this level of attention to detail is rarely seen and it’s quite stunning. Muniz’s work is currently on display at Gallery Xippas in Paris.
Check out Colossal for more examples of Muniz’s work.
July 02, 2012
It Holds Light, Not Water
Circular wooden water towers are a common sight on the skylines of Brooklyn, but artist Tom Fruin has elevated them to an entire new level. Collecting salvaged pieces of colored Plexiglas, his installation retains the familiar structure, but adds a remarkable, ethereal quality during the day, and turns into a kaleidoscopic beacon at night. Given the common nature of the materials and the site, here’s hoping it sparks imitations in more cities.
June 25, 2012
All Red, All the Time
Dutch fashion studio rENS is turning used clothing into high fashion using the simplest of processes: just dye everything red. By celebrating the process of transformation, they’ve managed to make creative re-use into something fantastic. The ROOD line pays close attention to subtle differences in hue and saturation, and plays around with technique as well, making the pairing of a Cadmium Red shirt and a partially-dyed Oxblood Red skirt something that wouldn’t look out of place on a Milan catwalk.
Click through to Core77 for more information, and a charming stop-motion promo video.
June 18, 2012
Crow’s Feet of Gold
Wrinkles are not high on the list of things the beauty and fashion industry typically celebrates, which is what makes Israeli designer Noa Zilberman’s line of jewelry so fascinating. Marks of aging are rendered in gold, creating a commentary on modern perceptions of beauty, and some pretty fabulous accessories as well.
See more examples at FastCoDesign.
June 11, 2012
Painting Yemen’s Future Over the Scars of its Past
Although less scrutinized than Egypt or Libya, Yemen’s role in the Arab Spring was no less remarkable in the way it ended: with a negotiated transfer of power after president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down. Marks of the violence that preceded it are still visible throughout the capital, Sana’a, prompting one Yemeni artist to respond with imagery. Murad Subay has begun holding mural-painting sessions, encouraging local residents to cover battle-damaged walls with scenes promoting peace and prosperity. The mass act of artistic expression is bringing local concerns to the surface, but as the coverage on Al Arabiya suggests, it also aims to bring formerly disenfranchised citizens a sense of unity.
June 04, 2012
Cheap, Shiny and Fabulous
Furniture manufacturer Blu Dot is a perennial favorite at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), a festival of all that’s new and hip in home furnishings and comes to New York City each May. The Minneapolis-based studio is very Fabu Less, and has been since its founding in the 1990s, with products that take advantage of unusual materials and construction techniques to offer something unique and modern at a relatively affordable price point. The most recent ICFF saw them taking this a step further, with the release of a flashy copper-finished version of their popular Real Good chair. The chair uses sheet steel, perforated and folded into an origami-like form, allowing it to pack flat and retail for less than $150, but the new version especially looks like something straight out of a steampunk movie set.
May 29, 2012
All The World’s A Whiteboard
IdeaPaint is a simple idea with the potential to make a lot more spaces a lot more fabulous. By applying the clear coating to any wall or other smooth surface, it renders it impervious to erasable marker ink, turning it into a whiteboard for all practical purposes. While the promo video focuses mostly on the paint’s application in the workplace, we’re far more excited about the possibility of a kitchen that kids can decorate to their hearts’ content without getting sent to their rooms.
Read all about it at IdeaPaint’s detailed site.
May 21, 2012
Sinje Ollen Makes Clothes for Chairs
Perhaps it’s a love letter to classic mid-century modern chair design, or maybe just a way of extending the lives of said chairs, but Sinje Ollen’s line of “clothing” for furniture does a remarkable job of blurring the lines between fashion and product design. Custom sewn to fit well-known seating by the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Le Corbusier, her frocks add a touch of approachability and exuberance to some familiar forms.
See more examples, and some of Ollen’s clothes for people too.
May 14, 2012
A London Pop-Up with South African Flair
The latest pop-up shop to make waves in London comes from quite a ways off. Hanneli Rupert, a Cape Town based designer, recently set up temporary shop in London’s Chelsea district to highlight not just her own line of bags, but the work of several other rising stars in South Africa’s fashion scene. More refined than typical souvenir-level wares, the clothing, bags and accessories bring together vibrant, intense prints with sophisticated design and tailoring, in a combination that’s been warmly embraced by the fashion press. Next stop? Rupert is considering taking the shop to Lagos, Nigeria.
The New York Times Fashion section has the details.
May 07, 2012
Strings in the Sky, Brass in the Woods
Classical musicians don’t have to be photographed in tuxedos and gowns with serious looks on their faces, but most of them are. Danish photographer (and cellist) Nikolaj Lund’s dynamic, creative portraits flip the traditional perception of the field on its head (or side, as the case may be).
Check out Lund’s website, and see how thrilling a violinist can look.
April 30, 2012
A Floating Ordinary World
Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that before the fashion designers and trendspotters got there, artists have been making beauty out of nothing for centuries. A recent roundup of site-specific installations by German artist Cornelia Konrads drives this point home, with image after image of breathtaking, ethereal landscapes and portals conjured up from nothing more than wood, string, stones and even snowballs.
April 23, 2012
Where the Deer and the Powerlines Play
For the Winter Olympics coming to the Russian city of Sochi in 2014, Moscow-based studio Design Depot has proposed a remarkably creative take on a normally staid bit of infrastructure: electrical transmission towers. The most eye-catching of these render the towers as local fauna such as deer and bears—something we’d love to see happen, though it’s tough to tell from the website how likely these are to actually get built.
See more remarkable tower concepts at the Design Depot website.
Spotted by Joo Young Oh, Consumer Insights Specialist, via My Modern Met.
April 16, 2012
Hip Hotel, Just Add Paint
Among the numerous boutique hotels arising in Palm Springs over the past few years, The Saguaro stands out, not for its amenities, but for its color scheme. Eschewing the desert-toned mid-century aesthetic of the local scene, The Saguaro uses a charming, eye-popping rainbow pallet to add visual spark to exterior walls, and brings a similarly intense color scheme into room interiors. Maybe not for everyone, but it’s certainly a respite from beige and white.
Check out more images on The Saguaro’s website.
Spotted by Amanda Rhodes, Ziba Consumer Insights Specialist.
April 09, 2012
A Rainbow Comes to Town
Yvetter Mattern’s traveling art project is just a series of colored lasers, but it gains beauty through context and message. By projecting them through cities around the world, her Global Rainbow seeks to create a message of unity while celebrating diversity.
See more urban rainbows at The Creators Project.
April 02, 2012
A Geode in the Rough
More fabulous street art keeps popping up, this time filling gaps in the walls of Los Angeles. Designer Paige Smith—aka A Common Name—has been folding paper and painting it in metallic hues to create The Geode Project, a series of small but breathtakingly beautiful installations occupying cracks, pipe valves and other openings in the urban fabric. The gem-like creations are inherently fragile (and theft-worthy), but the considerable attention they’ve been getting on art and design blogs ensures they’ll live on for a while.
See more urban geodes at A Common Name.
March 26, 2012
Dirty Fingers Make Beautiful Pictures
It’s hard to think of a more democratic material than dust, which is what makes this magnificent mural by Judith Braun so fabulous. Using nothing more than her fingers and a palette filled with powdered charcoal, Braun creates intricately varied large-scale “fingerings” on plain white walls, mixing abstract patterns and natural scenes, often while visitors watch.
See more examples at Colossal.
March 19, 2012
A new show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art takes the art off the walls and lays it out on the table. Mashing together the modern art aspects of the institution with its historical function, the Playing House exhibit populates some of the museum’s 23 period rooms with work from current artists that play off of the aesthetic they depict. The effect is equal parts playful and profound — an intrusion of contemporary weirdness into a past that turns out, on deeper inspection, to be equally strange.
See the slideshow at T Magazine.
March 12, 2012
A Temporary Cathedral of Light
LED lighting and a wooden frame are all it takes to create a powerful, almost spiritual space for the Light Festival Ghent in January. Despite its temporary nature, Italian lighting design studio De Cagna created this incredible Cathedral of Light as an homage to some of Ghent’s more permanent stone architecture. Festooned with nearly 55,000 LEDs arranged in mind-bendingly complex patterns, the installation only drew about 20 kilowatt-hours of electricity over the duration of the festival — less than an average US household consumes in a day.
See more photos at the Light Festival Ghent website.
March 05, 2012
The Floating Words of Sao Paulo
The Fabu Less trend kicked off last year with a mention of some incredible things being done by French and Dutch artists in Brazil’s poorest favelas, using nothing more than a few coats of brightly hued paint. This time around, the graffiti activists are from Spain, and the approach adds some clever optical tricks to the mix. The markings they’ve plastered across the urban streetscape coalesce into words of hope and encouragement when viewed from just the right location, adding an air of surreal beauty to São Paulo’s neighborhoods.
See more “typographic intervention” at Atlantic Cities.
February 27, 2012
A Happier Place to Procure Pills
Pharmacies often look and feel clinical because…well…they are. But that hasn’t stopped Sweden’s Vårdapoteket from taking an entirely new approach to the often imposing spaces. Working with design agency Stockholm Design Lab (SDL), the pharmacy chain is incorporating bright colors and bold graphics based on cartoon-like depictions of the human body to make its locations a bit more inviting, and perhaps imparting a little anatomy education in the process.
See more photos of the world’s friendliest pharmacy at SDL’s website.
February 20, 2012
Instagram Goes to Washington
Every president and every First Family leaves its own indelible stamp on American style, from Jackie’s pillbox hats to W’s Stetsons. Recently the Obamas took a stab at their own version of presidential glamour, by way of Instagram. A series of images shot using the popular retro-themed iPhone app were recently released by the White House staff, and present a charmingly vintage vision of Barack and Michelle. As The Daily Mail summary suggests, their postures and wardrobes wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Mad Men.
See more photos at the Daily Mail.
February 13, 2012
Gumdrop Hills, Just Past Lollipop Lane
It turns out a little paint and a few pieces of metal is all it takes to turn a snowbank into Candyland. Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya took some metal disks, painted the underside with bright colors and used steel rods to mounted, them color side down, in the snow in Hokkaido, Japan. The snow is so bright that when the sun’s out, the installation creates vibrant reflections that gives the effect of a gumdrop dotted landscape. Beautiful and delicious looking!
Fast Company has more details and some great visuals.
February 06, 2012
OK Go: Purveyors of the Most Fabu Less Music Videos
The band OK Go set themselves apart from the early 2000-era pop-punk bands with, well, really awesome music videos that embodied the Fabu Less spirit of humor and resourcefulness. From the video for ‘Here We Go Again’, which features the band performing an incredibly intricately choreographed dance on treadmills, to the video for ‘This Too Shall Pass’, which features an intricate Rube Goldberg-style machine, each video has built in spectacle and scope from the previous one—all while maintaining an inherent sense of DIY. Their latest videos might have the furthest reach yet with one appearing on Sesame Street and the other making a cameo in a Chevy ad during the Super Bowl.
January 30, 2012
Swiss villages get all the luck: beautiful scenery, great skiing, idyllic pastoral countryside, and now streets made of modern art. For the past several years the town of Vercorin has turned over its streets and squares to artists, resulting in fantastical temporary creations like Lang/Baumann’s humbly named “Street Painting #5” — a testament to the magic that a little paint, some imagination and a pliable populace can work.
See more photos of Vercorin’s 2010 artwork, and some additional background, at Architizer.
January 23, 2012
Toys + Cars + Labor = Art
A recently opened installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art called Metropolis II is charming the socks off of just about every reviewer who’s seen it, and it does so with some thoroughly familiar materials. Buildings made of toy blocks, cards, Lincoln Logs and steel beams support a complex system of roadways that carry over 1000 customized Hot Wheels toy cars, to evoke “the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.” Whether it succeeds at this is up to the viewer, but the energetic, detailed video is not to be missed.
January 16, 2012
Give A Few Thousand Kids A Few Thousand Stickers...
What could be simpler than a white-painted room and a stack of colorful stickers? Starting with this basic toolkit, and several thousand visiting kids, artist Yayoi Kusama created one of the most charming spaces we’ve ever laid eyes on, as part of an installation at Australia’s Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. The intensity of color is overwhelming, the process fascinating, and the end result magnificently fabulous. Not bad for a bunch of dots.
January 10, 2012
Modern Design That’s Skin Deep
Juvenile dress-up meets high design, as the founder of design blog Swiss Miss introduces Tattly, an ongoing series of temporary tattoos created by modern illustrators. A subscription to Tattly means a new set of tattoos every month, with clever options like a collection of hand-drawn kitchen utensils to decorate your forearm, or a charming digital watch for your wrist that always reads “LATE”.
January 03, 2012
Making Even the Grandest Sand Castles Look Quaint
We’ve all seen impressive sand castles at some point, but these sand sculptures by Carl Jara are something else. Jara says his goal is to create things out of sand that people don’t expect to see at a sand castle competition. He absolutely succeeds with his giant human forms, so surreal that it’s almost impossible to believe they are made from nothing but sand.
Read more about Jara and how he became good with sand at Colossal.
Photo via Colossal.
December 19, 2011
Reliving the Year in Lego
How to offset a bleak overview of the past year’s most jarring headlines? Start by recreating the iconic moments in Lego bricks, as members of the Guardian’s Flickr account have recently done. Capitalizing on Lego’s eternal charm, members of the Guardian’s account have compiled a gallery of plastic-made dioramas that depict everything from the fall of Gaddafi to Lego group’s own contribution, the world’s tallest Christmas tree. Occupy Wall Street has never been so charming.
See news turned Lego at the Guardian’s Flickr account.
December 12, 2011
Let Your Keystrokes Do The Painting
Most dismiss typewriters as a relic of our pre-Microsoft Word past, but artist Tyree Callahan saw past obsolescence to create a new purpose. He turned his 1937 Underwood Standard typewriter into a tool for oil painting. Each key paints a different hue on the canvases now taking place of paper. It’s hard to believe the resulting paintings come from a machine formerly designed to print neat rows of letters.
Callahan has entered the typewriter into the 2011 West Prize collection. Read the artist’s summary and vote for him to win at the West Collect website.
Image via Callahan’s Facebook Page.
December 05, 2011
Making Art With Crayons, But Not By Drawing
Sculptor Herb Williams’ latest installation is a series of wildfire abstractions that are designed to raise awareness regarding ecological issues. That alone would make a compelling story, but look closer and you’ll notice that the sculptures are made of crayons, slowly melting in the Texas heat. Williams often works with crayons and orders so many that he is one of only a few people in the world who has a personal account with Crayola.
My Modern Met: has an interview with Williams and some great photos of the process.
November 28, 2011
Living in a Digital World
Whether it’s a commentary on the replacement of physical presence with digital, or just a beautiful piece of art, Susan Stockwell’s massive map of the world rendered in recycled computer parts is stunning. Dominating a wall at the University of Bedforshire in the UK, the map is meticulously cut to replicate a real map of the globe, and includes clever touches like rivers, mountain ranges and major cities represented by prominent electrical components. See, for example, the bundle of wires stretching across Brazil as an electronic Amazon River.
See more of the map at Colossal.
November 14, 2011
The Making of a Fuller-Inspired Magazine Cover
For the November issue of graphic design magazine Novum, German design firm Paperlux relied on the vision of Buckminster Fuller to create six brilliantly colored pliable covers. Made up of 140 intricate die cuts each, the kaleidoscope-esque covers mimic the lattice shell structures that Fuller pioneered, while making the reading experience far more tactile. Perusing appeals to more than just your eyes.
Check out the video here.
November 07, 2011
A Thousand Beautiful Scraps
Industrial punches, fencing swords and scrap from laser-cutting are the raw materials for Stephen Fitz-Gerald’s sculptures, but there’s nothing scrappy about them. The extraordinarily detailed, expressive human figures and fantastical creatures lose nothing to their construction technique, and might make metal shop workers look at their trash bins in a whole new way.
Feast your eyes at Fitz-Gerald’s website.
October 31, 2011
A Ceiling Full of Flowers
A truly beautiful and charming interior installation by German artist Regine Ramseier rests on the delicate heads of 2000 dandelions. After spraying the familiar puffballs with adhesive and collecting them in a custom carrying rig, she transforms a small room into something otherworldly, showing that even the scourge of every front lawn can be fabulous when treated with enough care.
Watch weeds become art at Colossal.
October 24, 2011
Super Mario Office
Office supply artwork doesn’t have to be limited to animals made of erasers and pushpins. A particularly ambitious group of Seattle office mates recently took the genre several steps more fabulous by turning Post It notes into pixels, and recreating a screen from Nintendo’s classic Super Mario Brothers on a bank of outward facing windows. While we’re sure it looks awesome from the inside, the surprisingly detailed mosaic qualifies as some of the best new public art the city has seen this year.
See pics of the entire level at Flavorwire.
Seattle Super Mario Pole via Flickr user Goldberg
October 17, 2011
A Paper Tree Grows in Scotland
Sometimes great art doesn’t need anything more advanced than an old book and a stack of razor blades. Since mid-summer, an anonymous artist has been leaving meticulous book sculptures in Edinburgh’s libraries and other literary institutions, each drawing on the subject matter of the book from which it’s made. The books are often accompanied by a message celebrating the written word, pointing to a Twitter feed, or highlighting the need to support Scotland’s public libraries. Although some investigators recently uncovered the sculptor’s identity, they’ve agreed to keep it secret in hopes he’ll keep making more.
October 10, 2011
Every Mistake is a Valuable Lesson...
… and designer Eric “Adorn” Elms’ custom, hand cast, solid gold “command + z” keys are a bright, shiny reminder of that. If you’re going to make a mistake, you’d better make it a really, really good one.
Check out Eric’s keyboard’s “fresh grills.”
October 03, 2011
Lego My Victorian
With only Lego pieces and a genius sense of construction, artist Mike Doyle creates eerily accurate renditions of Victorian houses. He explains that no foreign objects (wood, glue, paint, etc.) were used and no Lego pieces have been modified (cut, painted, etc.) in this marvel of imagination. Is it fabu-less or fabu-more to imagine what 130,000 pieces of common toys and 600+ hours can accomplish?
See his process and other creations and decide for yourself at mikedoylesnap.blogspot.com.
Image © Mike Doyle
September 26, 2011
Big, Comfy Renaissance
French furniture designer wonder twins Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec want you to be comfortable in the presence of art. To encourage visitors to spend more time paying attention to the magnificent Raphael paintings on its walls, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has commissioned the pair to create the Textile Field, a boldly colored cushioned plane on which visitors are invited to recline, observe and enjoy.
Read more about the Textile Field on ArtsThread.
September 19, 2011
Volcano by Theresa Himmer
Reykjavik’s urban and natural landscapes are enjoying a beautiful blending through the eyes and work of artist and architect Theresa Himmer and her Mountain Series. Composed simply of wood and plastic, the highly commercial Sequin system she employs flickers as an advertisement might, but also “scintillates like ice, water and lava” — so serving our celebration of Iceland’s simple and striking beauty.
September 12, 2011
Toys Made From Ocean Flotsam
Israeli designer Koby Sibony collects plastic debris from the beach and weaves it together with wire to reimagine everyday toys and electronics as whimsical sculptures. What trash would you want to transform into treasure?
See more of Sibony’s sculptures via Design Milk
August 29, 2011
High Design Meets Summer Jams
Jay Z and Kanye West’s new album “Watch the Throne” features artwork that’s remarkable for several reasons. As a lead designer for Givenchy, its creative director Riccardo Tisci is more familiar with couture than cover art. And the material he’s chosen to work in — mylar — is just as common as it is fabulous. The result is both lush and masculine, with vivid colors etched onto an angular 3D surface — just the thing for this unprecedented collaboration between two of hip-hop’s biggest talents and biggest egos.
See the album in all its glory at Freshness.
August 22, 2011
Everyday Packaged Food, Elevated to Art
Walking into an ethnic grocery store or a corner market, are you ever surprised at the odd beauty and universality of foreign food packaging? Saturated colors, nostalgic and cheery graphics, and delightfully outdated design are some of the hallmarks that make these treats so enticing. To celebrate the common differences of our food cultures, Japanese-American artist and photographer Hidemi Takagi captured and displayed these gems in his Times Square public art installation, “Blender: The Art of Food ‘Imports’ from Immigrant Neighborhoods in NYC.”
August 15, 2011
Embroidered Car Doors
Rusty automotive scrap might not be the first material you’d scout for a new exhibition of delicate arts and crafts embroidery, but for Lithuanian textile artist Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, it was a natural choice. Her Strich & Faden exhibition celebrates forgotten and insignificant things, injecting fresh beauty into old car parts with cross-stitch.
See more everyday items the artist has embroidered at her website.
August 08, 2011
Make Your Ikea MYkea
When life gives you (and everyone else) utilitarian particle board furniture, differentiate! decorate! decal! That’s the idea behind Mykea – a fun and simple solution for stamping a little personality on specific pieces of otherwise standardized Ikea furniture. Developed with Avery Denison, the wide variety of graphic vinyl decals fit nearly all Ikea furniture styles and remove easily.
See the many ways to transform your everyday Ikea at thisismykea.com
August 01, 2011
The Fun Infirmary
Fabulosity hits one of the most unexpected of all spaces: the hospital. A series of low-cost surface treatments and fun furniture selections has transformed the potentially ultra-depressing environs of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s cancer ward for 16-24 year olds, in Birmingham, England. Bright colors, large scale murals and integrated iPod docks create a space that’s more boutique hotel than institution, perhaps adding a touch of improved morale to its residents’ treatment regimen.
July 25, 2011
A Wall of Paper Horses
It’s made out of paper, but is it still a poster? UK band Dry The River has created something truly fabulous with the simplest of materials, commissioning a London paper artist to construct a series of extraordinary 3D posters for their most recent single “Horses”. The sight of a horse leaping out of a wall is certain to attract attention, but we’re more intrigued by the humble tools and techniques demonstrated so deftly in the “making of” video.
Yatzer has the photos, video and song.
July 18, 2011
Yarn Bombing Grows Up
We’ve written previously about yarn bombing as a form of non-destructive street art. Since then, we’ve even had fun spotting a few yarn-covered bike racks around town. Not content to do more of the same, Minneapolis based artist HOTTEA takes the yarn-bombing trend to a new place by combining it with a traditional form of street art: spray painting. The result is a fun, albeit time-consuming, new example of Fabu Less — taking from before the sun rises to after it sets to complete.
Watch the time lapse video of HOTTEA creating his art at This is Colossal.
July 12, 2011
From Cleanliness Comes Art
Our Roomba robot vacuums dutifully clean our houses day in and day out, never asking for anything in return, never saying a thing. As it turns out, these robots have some beautiful ideas to show off if you just know how to look. The Roomba Art Flickr Group showcases long exposure photos of robot vacuums with an LED light or two added. The photos are beautiful examples of art coming from simple utility. The real question though is, what are the Roombas trying to tell us?
July 05, 2011
Paper, Light And Friends: All The Ingredients Needed For Great Artwork
If Fabu Less has a central theme, it’s that it doesn’t take elaborate materials to be fabulous. Artist Karsten Schmidt’s latest piece of work is a great example of everyday materials and a little help from your friends can create amazing artwork. Her installation, on display at the V&A Sackler Center in London, combines paper cones and projected light to create an incredible modern interpretation of William Morris’s classic Arts & Crafts patterns. We would try to describe it, but trust us, you’re better off simply clicking through to watch it in action.
June 27, 2011
Panama Has The Prettiest Bikes
In an effort to stand out and show off, bicyclists in Panama have taken to modifying their bikes, often in outrageous ways. Photographer José Castrellón documented the phenomenon with a series called Priti Baiks (pretty bikes). The riders have added custom rims, lights, air horns and even custom body work. Each pretty bike is a fierce statement of individuality, lovingly created by hand on a shoestring budget, with inspiring results. Don’t be surprised if you start to see a few subwoofers and streamers in the Ziba bike room.
See the full set at José Castrellón’s personal site.
June 20, 2011
The Big Apple Gets a Rainbow City
As if the High Line — New York’s elevated railway turned linear park — weren’t magical enough, Miami-based collective Friends With You is celebrating its recent expansion with a wonderland of inflatable art. Part playground, part art installation, Rainbow City offers a friendly riot of stripes and colors that balance out the sleek modernity of the High Line itself, creating a contrast that evokes Murakami’s exhibition at Versailles last year.
June 13, 2011
Take Back Your Hair, With Help
Most of us spend some time making our hair look just right every day. For some it may be a quick push to the side, but for others it can be hours of crimping, curling, pressing and generally manipulating. As a sub-trend of Fabu Less, people accustomed to taming their kinky hair are throwing out the chemicals and ‘going natural’. The New York Times reports on the women who are embracing their natural look, which is harder than it might seem. YouTube videos, iPhone apps and online forums all play a part as they gather virtually to share tips on taking back their hair.
June 06, 2011
Hut Palace is for Friends From All Over the World
Hütten Palast translates to Hut Palace, and that’s a fairly literal description of the new Berlin hotel that bears that name. A group of friends has filled a former vacuum cleaner factory with refurbished caravans and trailers, providing a boutique hotel experience on the cheap.
May 31, 2011
Not Your Dad’s Taco Truck
Urban food trucks are a big deal these days, not just for the increasingly tasty fare they dish out, but the increasingly fabulous way they do it. At the forefront of this workaday flair is Shanghai Stainless, a Brooklyn-based re-fabricator that’s working hard to banish the boring, predictable lunch truck. A New York Times profile points to the tremendous growth in demand for these vehicles, and the artistry that goes into their design and creation.
May 23, 2011
Baghdad Gets Garish
As life slowly returns to normal in the war-torn Iraqi capital, its citizens turn to…hot pink and purple. Eager to make a clean visual break from the bleakness of the past 10 years, Baghdad residents are painting buildings a wide array of eye-popping colors, and festooning the central city with neon and multicolored fluorescents. Local artists and architects are decrying the tasteless palettes and the disappearance of aesthetic standards, but the urge appears to be near universal — businesses, private homes, security checkpoints and even the national bank have gotten the candy color treatment.
May 16, 2011
Citrus Hits the Runway
As Spring and Summer entice with fresh colors and scents, fashion is playing its part with bright, gleeful expressions not seen in decades. Since last fall’s showing of Spring/Summer ‘11 ready-to-wear clothes, the excitement for punches of pink, orange and yellow is manifesting – and if you aren’t seeing them yet, Fall/Winter collections further encourage the color incorporation. What’s unique here is the departure from both the monochromatic neutrals of recent seasons and the “girly” pinks of the Paris Hilton years. According to Miuccia Prada, the popularity of her bright colors is owed to the “over-the-top fantasies and the joyfulness of it all.”
See the NY Times’ enthusiastic take.
May 11, 2011
Chef Breaks Ground by Merging High and Low Brow
Christina Tosi, founding chef of the popular Momofuku Milk Bar, has been nominated for a James Beard Award for her boundary-pushing pastries. Tosi’s creations take the fuss and frill out of delicate desserts, rendering them more approachable with ingredients like potato chips, pretzels and corn flakes. Cakes without icing and elevated frozen yogurt combine high and low cuisine to strike a chord with enthusiastic new eaters.
Read the article.
Image via flikr user bionicgrrl
May 11, 2011
Murakami Takes Versailles
Japanese artist Murakami’s exuberant exhibition at the Palace of Versailles last September juxtaposed the gilt ornamentation of French aristocracy with the pop-fueled fun of Japanese anime. In so doing, Murakami continued his streak of layering humor and play on top of dusty old indulgence—the same thing he helped Marc Jacobs with at Louis Vuitton. With playful re-invention, Murakami has invigorated the unapproachable status symbols of old, helping these institutions remain relevant in the rapid churn of today’s pop culture.
View the Guardian’s gallery of this lush, charming exhibition.
Image via flikr user Magic Ketchup
May 11, 2011
Celebrating Slums Through Public Art
Two visionary artists transform potentially derelict and depressing environments into celebrations of humanity. Completing their first installation in 2007, Dutch artists Hahs&Hahn have developed community-driven art installations in Brazil’s notorious favelas. Their work continued through 2008, inviting media attention and, more importantly, a sense of pride in the community.
More recently, French “photograffeur” J R was awarded a 2011 TED Prize for his commitment to “extol local residents” of downtrodden areas in Brazil, Cambodia and Kenya. His guerilla photography and art installations “have inspired people to see art where they wouldn’t expect it, and create it when they didn’t know they could,” according to TED Prize Director Amy Novogratz.
May 11, 2011
Trash Into Toys
Via TED.com: “At the INK Conference, Arvind Gupta shares simple yet stunning plans for turning trash into seriously entertaining, well-designed toys that kids can build themselves — while learning basic principles of science and design.”
Image via flikr user Tennessee Wanderer