Saturday, April 16, 2016

DESTINATIONS: NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab releases psychedelic travel posters

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, NASA/JPL recently released a series of 14 posters that imagine space as the premier travel destination of the future. Promoting tours of "historic sites" on Mars, the luminous "mighty auroras" of Jupiter, and numerous fascinating sights to be seen on recently discovered planets, the posters merge the promotional style and look of vintage travel posters -- cited as an inspiration -- with the visual style of the psychedelic 60s.

Above: Relax on Kepler-16b, the Land of Two Suns,
    Where Your Shadow Always Has Company

Kepler-16b is a recently discovered planet that orbits two stars. NASA scientists say that "prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice." But this discovery demonstrates that the iconic double sunset seen from Star Wars' fantasy planet Tatooine is not just science fiction. 

The three posters below advertise more familiar celestial bodies: Mars, Jupiter and Europa.
NASA projects that a flight to Europa, Jupiter's ice-covered moon, will be attempted in the 2020s.

Below: Mars: Multiple Tours Available
Experience the Mighty Auras of Jupiter

Europa: Discover Life Under the Ice

I confess -- I had never heard of Super Earth, AKA HD 40307g, until I saw these posters.                           Planet CV: discovered in 2012, 42 light years away, famed for its heavy-duty gravitational pull. 
(Could the poster below have been inspired by the opening credits of Mad Men?)

 At eight times the Earth's mass, HD 40307g straddles the line between 
"Super-Earth" and "mini-Neptune". Scientists aren't 
certain if it has a rocky surface or if it's
buried beneath thick layers of gas and ice. 

And my favorite, below: 
Night life on romantic "rogue planet" PSO J318.5-22 !

 PSO J318.5-22:
Visit the Planet with No Star,
Where the Nightlife Never Ends

Discovered in October 2013, PSO J318.5-22 belongs to a special class of planets called rogue, or free-floating, planets, which do not orbit a parent star. 
Their origin is as yet unknown, but these rogue planets glow 
faintly for a while, from the heat of their formation. 
Once they cool down, they remain dark -- the perfect spot for a 24/7 night club! 

For more information, and to download free posters, link here. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

OPENINGS: Eileen Gray's E1027 house at long last welcomes the public

In June of 2015, after decades of decay and abandonment followed by sixteen years of restoration, Eileen Gray's Modernist villa E1027 opened to visitors for the first time. The iconic house, built in the mid-1920s, is set on on a steep seaside cliff facing the azure waters of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera. It was designed to be a romantic retreat for Gray and her lover, architecture writer Jean Badovici. 

Photo: © Manuel Bougot
The E1027 moniker, humorously made to sound technical and avant garde, was a clever code for the intertwining of Gray and her lover’s names: E for Eileen, 
10 (the tenth letter of the alphabet ) for Jean, 2 for B and 7 for G.

Living room of E1027 
Eileen Gray designed all the furniture and rugs. 
The mural on the far wall was Le Corbusier’s creation. 
Photograph: © Manuel Bougot 

The E-1027 was a three-year project, and a supreme embodiment of the principles of Modernism. The L-shaped house — white, flat-roofed, with both fixed and freestanding walls, built of reinforced concrete and steel, with horizontals dominating — was set into a naturally-terraced landscape. Its expansive windows faced the Mediterranean; a tidy spiral stairway led to the guest room, and terminated in a glass-enclosure on the roof. It was an elegant maison minimum — open yet compact, minimal yet functional. As a capper, Gray created for the house her now-ubiquitous circular steel-and-glass adjustable E-1027 table — inspired, she said, by her sister’s love of breakfast in bed.
                                                                                                       The classic E1027 table

E.G. Blue Marine rug -- my favorite of her designs

To read a full-length article about Eileen Gray's fascinating life and work, you can 
link to my Spring 2011 Modernism magazine article
From Shadow to Light here.

Originally posted on  

Friday, April 1, 2016

DESTINATIONS: 2016 Boston Festival highlights the life-changing power of design

I am endlessly fascinated by the life-changing power of design, both for good -- 
like the crank radio, which transmits vital health information to remote towns in Africa 
that have no electricity -- and for bad. (Remember the cockamamie "butterfly ballot", 
which helped deliver the 2000 presidential election to George Bush II?)

This year's Boston Design Week highlights this power of design,
with talks, exhibits and strolling tours focusing on sustainability, design 
with a social purpose, downsizing, recycling and the environment.

For a schedule of daily events at the citywide festival, link here

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The much-loved Boston Public Library in Copley Square is currently undergoing massive 
renovation. Totaling approximately 110,000 square feet, the project includes updates 
to the Johnson building’s lower level, first floor, mezzanine, and the building exterior. 
A tour of Phase Two of the project will be on offer on April 4.

A plethora of other activities includes:
               • tours of the WGBH/Boston Public Television studio
               • a fantastical costume exhibit at the French Cultural Center
               • Mass Art's Annual All-School Show (featuring ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, and
                        textiles crafted by Mass College of Art & Design students)
               • talks by leading green designers, architects and educators

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Showrooms will feature lots of popular bathroom and kitchen renovation ideas.

 Kitchen designs (above and below) by luxury cabinet makers Poggenpohl and Gaggenau

Below: Two kitchen lighting plans from Wolfers,
a company that promotes the benefits of transitioning to LED.

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Below: My favorite piece of design in Boston -- the grand Leonard P. Zakim 
Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. One of the most well-received elements 
of Boston's Big Dig Project, it is particularly stunning at night.

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"Unless you are standing out in the middle of nature, everything around you is consciously designed: from the clothes you wear, to the phone you carry, to your home, workplace and beyond.  Good design has the power to touch us, to lift us up, to make our lives better, and impart a profound sense of well-being – bad design can have the opposite effect."
                                                                                                ... from Boston Design Week's mission statement

For a schedule of ongoing and multi-day events at the festival, link here

Link here to read Boston Magazine's article 
Nine Things to Look Out for During Boston Design Week 2016

~ oOo ~