Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THE DIRTY SOUTH: Samuel Mockbee

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“The goal is not to have a warm, dry house, but to have a warm,
dry house with a spirit to it.”
— Samuel Mockbee

This post was spawned by a fantastic story and slideshow on Design Observer titled "Rematerial: From Waste to Architecture" featuring several amazing designs throughout the world, including Hale County, Alabama. And you can't speak about Hale County without mentioning Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio. No, sir, you cannot.

In 2003, I sought out and landed the job of designing a book for a traveling Mockbee retrospective exhibit named Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture (details seen throughout here [out of print]). An artist in his own right, Mockbee is best known for his creation of the Rural Studio, a sustainable architecture program based out of Auburn University. Over the years, students involved in the program have both designed and built dozens of honest and innovative structures of all kinds for the residents of Hale County. The key is that each of the highly resourceful designs is constructed with readily available – often salvaged, sustainable or recycled – materials.

There's an exciting new documentary, Citizen Architect, that just premiered at SXSW this past spring and will air on PBS in 2010. To view a dozen short videos capturing the beauty and grace of the Rural Studio's projects including the Hay Bale House, Windshield Chapel, Patrick House, Animal Shelter, Butterfly House and more – go HERE. Both yourself and your soul will be happy that you did…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


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Aqueous coating, schmaqueous coating – I say!

Sally Jane found this deck of late-50s/early-60s vintage Cheer-up playing cards that are "doubly protected by Redi-Slip finish that contains Corobex." Sure, aqueous coating is a "fast-drying, water-based, protective coating that provides a high gloss surface which protects the surface from dirt, smudges, fingerprints and scratch" but can it protect you from germs? I thought not.

From playing cards to contact lenses, food service, catheters, fibers, textiles, monomers and polymers – Corobex is on the job. And there's just something sweet about their logo and that metallic ink, isn't there?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


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I'm in the midst of designing a 2xCD greatest hits collection set to arrive in stores (of all kinds) later this year. More on the final cover selection, layout, etc. as we approach the approved street date.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


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So, the Olympics are coming to your home country? Think you'd like to design the logo for the games? Be careful what you wish for.

In its official press release, the 2012 London Olympic Committee had this to say about the London 2012 Olympic Logo: “The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible, reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks.”

However, it's going over like a lead balloon to the masses. Case in point; The Daily Mail, the second highest selling newspaper in Britain, actually ran a story requesting anyone – and I mean anyone – to create their own design for the Olympic logo. Upon viewing these public-based options, as I always say, just because you have a computer doesn't mean you should be using it! (see below)

Sebastian Coe, London 2012 chairman has stated this about the reaction, "It won't be to be everybody's taste immediately but it's a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hard working brand which builds on pretty much everything we said in Singapore about reaching out and engaging young people, which is where our challenge is over the next five years."

Toss in the fact that the logo's animated version was dropped from use after complaints that it induced epileptics to suffer fits and Sebastian's been doing a lot of PR work for the logo. Apparently the short sequence featuring a diver plunging into a pool contained high-speed flashes of color that lead a man to attest that he blanked out after see the commercial on television.

Oh, and did I mention Wenlock & Mandeville, the London Olympics mascots? They're taking a lot of heat these days as well, even though I find them endearing and kind of adorable. See them in action, with some more from Sebastian Coe, here.

In the end, it's hard enough pleasing one person or ten with a design, let alone millions. Especially when laymen get a hold of it without any knowledge as to what was discussed both before and during the design process. In the end, there's tons of bad designs floating about in Britain but I'm not quite sure this is one of them.