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January 18, 2006

The Other Michael B.

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Design Observer's Michael Bierut has been setting his DSL lines afire in recent days. Here's a moving tribute to the late book-jacket designer Fred Marcellino (think "Birdy" and "Bonfire of the Vanities"). Marcellino sounds like everything you might want an artist to be: deep, cultured, imaginative, technically adroit ... How funny/sad that the gallery-art world had no place for such a creature.

And here Michael B. savors the sheer, wonderful boringness of the design of The New Yorker. Given what a presence The New Yorker has been in America's cultural life, how is it possible that more artsies aren't familiar with Rea Irvin, the designer who established that magazine's look? Besides, how many fine artists have created anything that has had such an enduring impact on the visual/intellectual texture of our shared lives? A great quote from Michael B.:

To a field that today seems to prize innovation above all else, The New Yorker makes a case for slow design: the patient, cautious, deliberate evolution of a nearly unchanging editoral format over decades.

Michael links to the site of a Slow Design organization. Hey, maybe something really is in the air: I blogged about the Slow Thang generally here.

Michael also supplies links to some other fascinating material. Here's Philip Nobel's first encounter with a museum designed by the starchitect Zaha Hadid ("Her tiny gray rooms with guillotine angles made no sense, brought nothing new to the art, even seemed to damn it"). And here's an article providing yet another reason to hate architects' bizarre, always-and-everywhere love of glass: over a hundred million (and perhaps as many as a billion) birds a year die in America from slamming into windows and glass buildings. Interesting fact: "In Chicago, researchers have collected more than 26,000 dead birds over the past two decades from the footings of the McCormick Place Convention Center."



posted by Michael at January 18, 2006


The house I used to live in got occasional bird strikes. What was interesting was that those strikes seemed to occur where the bird could see daylight through another window across the room from the window it was about to hit. In other words, the bird likely figured that it was about to fly through a passage such as between the limbs of a tree. Windows without opposing windows were seldom or never struck. This is simply empirical info; what bearing it has on the overuse of glass is probably site-dependent.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on January 18, 2006 3:50 PM

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