A new home

Well, it's been a while. Ok, to be completely honest: it's been terribly long since I've last posted here. And no, this is not a post to mention the next reanimation of this blog. However, on the new and improved website studio-also.eu, the studio for my design and research projects, I've integrated a blog. Some of the posts from this blog will be recycled over there. Same, same - but different. So, for future reference, please see the Studio Also website.



It's safe to say that Keith Morris is a hardcore punk legend. In my eyes he was the best singer Black Flag ever had. The most pissed off aggression fitting to the music (just listen to Nervous Breakdown, the vocals just fit). And after that, he founded Circle Jerks, with whom he also made some great (or shall I say legendary) records, like "Group Sex" or "Wild in the Streets" for instance.

And now he's 55 and he's back with a new band, called OFF! It sounds modern simply because it sounds like a band from the early eighties. Wonder how many people can convincingly do a band like this at that age, actually...


Figuring out the hidden meaning of stock photos

"Lily and Peter were supposed to have a romantic night in, but Peter and a few coworkers went out for happy hour drinks. Peter got drunk, missed dinner, and passed out on the couch.

This actually happens all the time, and Lily is pretty understanding. She’s crying about the ending of Toy Story 3, which they saw four weeks ago."

Some stock photos are just weird. And you can easily spend too much time wondering what the idea behind the photo was. I've definitely wasted part of my life making up stories of the cryptical display in some stock photos. And Kevin Nguyen has done so, too: he imagines the stories behind stockphotos he found of couples fighting.


How much space does one family need?

I'm pretty sure that the family of Mukesh Ambani will never complain that they "need more space", since their new house has been built in Mumbai.
The house has 27 stories, a height of 173 metres and about 37.000 square metres of floor space. Among others, it contains a car park for 160 vehicles, a cinema with 50 places, a ballroom, at least one swimming pool, several helicopter landing pads, a health club, a dance studio... and many more rooms.

But size isn't everything: it also hosts a staff of 600, that keep everything running smoothly around there. And that's all for a family of five...

In many ways, this entire project is insane and slightly off-putting. But at the other hand: it's not just a showy building but also a load of jobs. And since it's so clearly present in the city of Mumbai (unlike the multi-million dollar mansions of Bill Gates and the likes), it might even draw a bit more attention to architecture and design in this city. Even if you think the project is ludicrous. Even if you think it's shameless to flaunt your wealth so publicly in a city with so many poor people. Even if you think the design by the Chicago-based architects Perkins and Will is unelegant.

Similarly: it might be stupidly oversized, but the prize isn't that shocking: apparently, the house costed about 44 million pounds in construction (about 55 million euros) to build, according to the Guardian. And that's a lot, but at the same time it's not THAT much. What could you buy in your city for that price? Likely not nearly as much, probably partially due to cheap labor in India, of course.
Luckily (for mr. Ambani, at least), the house is worth much more now. Apparently, due to land and property prices in downtown Mumbai, it's worth an estimated 750 million euros (!)



Urban agriculture can mean a lot for a city population. Not only can it provide local food, but it can also create a social landscape in a city.

And Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin does exactly that. Since 2009, a collective called "Nomadic Green" rents a 6000 sqm plot at the Moritzplatz in Kreuzberg. The site has been a wasteland for about 50 years, but with relatively small means it has been transformed in an idyllic urban garden. Not only do locals maintain the garden themselves - thus creating a stronger sense of community in a relatively socially weak area of the city - but it also produces local (healthy and organic) food. Even more so: at Prinzessinnengarten, they strive towards a larger biodiversity. They try to cultivate rare species of plants.

Since the site is only rented, it cannot be a permanent garden. So most of the vegetables are planted in old crates from bakeries, or in large bags. In case the rent is ended (for whatever reason), most of the Prinzessinnengarten could be easily transported to another site. Other than that, by doing so, one doesn't depend on the local soil, since it might not be in the best condition after being wasteland for such a long period of time.

But besides the plants, the food and the greens, the community aspect of the project is quite important. It gives the locals a place to work on food production together, it is a place to educate kids about food, a place to eat together, a place to hang out in a green spot amidst all the concrete and a place that ties extremely different people together. And the idea seems so simple (albeit difficult to actually do, I assume).

Prinzessinnengarten is launched as a pilot project by Nomadic Green, so let's hope that there are many more projects to follow. By them, but also by people that are inspired by their acts.


Liricas Analas

I like architecture. And I like slightly crappy hip-hop music. When the two collide, it's even better: like in this music video for the song called "Siemis", where the Swiss rappers of Liricas Analas rap their way through the world famous Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor.

Other than a slightly weird video, Liricas Analas (from the Graub√ľnden region in Switzerland) is also quite remarkable because they rap in the Romansh language, the fourth official language of Switzerland (spoken by 0,8% of the Swiss population - only by a couple thousand of people). This, in combination with the display of a famous (and very Swiss) architectural icon whows a certain regional (or national) pride. Since I'm not one of the few that speak Romansh, I have no clue what their lyrics are about. So if it's offensive for any of the Romansh-speaking people out there, don't blame me...


Almost the longest exposure

Making a pinhole camera can be pretty simple. But still, it can generate some astonishing images. Like the image above. It's made by Justin Quinell by means of a pin hole camera, and it documents the traces of the sun over the suspension bridge in Bristol over a six month period of time. That gives this image an exposure time of half a year! And the result is duely impressive: there's so much detail and subtlety in the image, and that without a complex and expensive camera!

This image has been called the photo with the longest exposure time in the history of photography. But that claim is simply false. The actual longest exposure times have been captured by Michael Wesely. In 2001, he documented the redevelopment of the Museum of Modern Art in New York in single images, making photographs with an exposure time of up to 34 months. Surreal.

I found this through http://itchyi.squarespace.com/.


Minimalist house

For many designers, the words by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe still ring true: they design by the adagium "Less is more". Mostly, I'd prefer to use Mae West as my source, and design with the thought "Too much of a good thing is wonderful" in my mind.

That does not mean that I cannot value the clean simplicity of a minimalistic approach. Take the Minimalist house by Shinichi Ogawa & Associates, for instance.

The plot for this house in Okinawa (Japan) is surrounded by a wall, and divided lengthways into three strips. One is a courtyard, the other two - divided from the courtyard by means of a strip of glass - make up the living space. The stip closest to the courtyard contains a bedroom, living space and workspace in a single space. The third zone contains the more enclosed rooms such as bathroom, utility room and kitchen.

The entire house is laid out on a 3 meter-grid, in three dimensions.

The subdivision of the living space is conceived by means of a wall-like piece of furniture completely clad in corian, giving more privacy where needed. This organisation and smart layout enables a continuous space, without any obtrusions or subdivisions. It's simple it's elegant: how can you not love a house like that, and admire the future inhabitants for being able to live this way?

I found this project on dezeen.com.


An open source penis

Open source is a great ideal. However, thus far it has hardly been implemented for objects that are actually needed. Take prosthetics, for instance. They are currently mainly commercial and insanely expensive. Open Prosthetics is aiming to make prostetics more readily available by means of open source.

The question is how amateur culture (which, to some extent, open source always is) will manifest itself in the design of bodily parts. Will actual need be the key focus, or prosthetics designed for extremely personal uses, for comfort, obsession, crime, sleaze, curiosity and pleasure?

This was the starting question for Sputniko!, urging her to design an open source prosthetics to satisfy her own personal curiosity. She asked herself the question
“What does it feel like to have an extra body part (in this case – penis) which reacts to my emotions?”
This turned out to be a design project called Penis Cybernetique. Simply put, it's an open source penis. The penis moved up and down, according to changes in heart rate.

This might just be the final outcome of the ideas behind open prosthetics. Open source body parts can go beyond mere need into the realm of play, culture and curiosity - one can test themselves with extra additions. For me, personally, I'd like to see what it feels like with an extra eye in my neck, for instance. The test is the goal, the means is the end. Is that what this project means, or does it indicate the extremities of open source?

If you want to build on the penis cybernetique yourself: in true open source-style, the entire project code for the open source penis is published online.


Is that a recordplayer in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?

I think that everybody who prefers vinyl records to CDs or Mp3s has thought about a portable record player at some point in time. And now there is a design for one, by Charlie Pyott. It's called Linos, you can carry it around in your pocket, only need a connection by USB or jack, and is a simple recordplayer for both 33 and 45 rpm. Unfortunately, it isn't in production (yet)...