Video link here.) We loved Adam Green’s recent New Yorker profile of famed pickpocket Apollo Robbins (whose website is I Steal Stuff), and all it has to say about what we think we’re seeing at any given time, and how easy it is for certain savvy people to decode it. In this mesmerizing video, Robbin reveals his favorite sleight-of-hand — watch your wallet! cellphone! watch!— and tells us exactly how they work. And even knowing how they work, the tricks remain astonishing for their effortless precision. He’s made a study of how we see so he can manipulate our awareness.
Robbins’ entree into his unique profession was in part due to disabilities he had as a child:
My half brothers were involved with crime. But I was too young to participate. I also had certain disabilities that prevented me [from joining in]: like braces on my legs. When I became a teen, I ran into a friend at a magic shop who took me under his wing. I started reading up on magical theory and immediately blended that with what my brothers had shown me.
Being friends with several magicians, we know that acute precision and ability to suss-the-moment takes thousands of hours honing skills, practicing in front of a mirror, observing behavior, making mistakes, practicing and practicing and practicing some more to gain mastery. THAT’s what you’re really seeing in this video.
Right after we read the New Yorker piece, which elevates pickpocket to rigorous neuroscientist and artist, we heard David Sedaris on NPR’s This American Life, telling the story of a subway ride he took in Paris. Two American tourists mistook him for a Frenchman and eventually a pickpocket. He starts off hating their cliched stereotyping him as a “smelly, thieving frog”, but eventually comes to enjoy being seen as a…ROGUE. Listen here when you need a laugh. It’s from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day.
(Video link here.) We find this stop-motion video by an energizing and heartening view to start or refresh your day. It was made as a music video for Japanese singer-songwriter Shugo Tokumaru to accompany his new song ”Katachi”, which means “shape”. We’ve watched it with the sound and without, and would retitle its one-thing-always-comes-from-another imagery as ’possibility’!
At Design Milk, we came across these cool, full-of-possibilities “Chopped” tables by designer Yuval Tal. They’re made of packs of wooden towels strapped together with a metal ring — no screws or glue needed. We were mulling where to get metal strapping and how to get it tight enough to hold the dowels securely in place, and we found the answer at Uline, one of our favorite online resources for weirdly compelling and really useful industrial stuff. You can buy stainless steel strapping and seals that you tighten with and a tool called a tensioner. Uline offers have a great instructional pdf that gave us the gist. read more…
We are knocked out by the insanely beautiful, moderne chair designs made out of construction paper by 3rd & 4th graders at Turtle Lake Elementary School in Minnesota. They are highly architectural, thoughtfully made and colored, with a sophisticated minimalist aesthetic. We see them as fine inspiration for chairs and chaises made of plywood or heat-bendable plastic (and remind us that making prototypes can be a form of thinking-out-loud.) We’d be thrilled to have anyone of them in our home. The first and last are the bomb.
After I had figured out the essential plan of the multi-functional space that was to become my home and ‘the improvised life’s Laboratory, I started bringing friends by to get their opinions and input. I also hired an interior designer to consult for a short time, to consider my ideas, challenge them, add to them, as well as help source the many items I would need, from sinks and plumbing fixtures to door knobs. Hiring a consultant for a fixed amount of time is a good strategy if you you’re don’t have the resources to hire a someone to see the project though, or don’t need start-to-finish service.
I met Scott McFarlane through friends and liked ideas he’d come up with for their recent renovation, as well as his attention to detail. Although I have a strong design sense, it was clear that there was A LOT of things I could use advice on. I hired Scott to consult on critical elements of my plan so architect Emily Johnson could draw up plans that contractors would understand. Scott and I spent many hours in the empty apartment busting holes in walls, tacking up images I’d clipped from design blogs, measuring, brain-storming.
Scott came up with A LOT of clever solutions to some extreme design problems (all pictures below are from the in-process days of the reno). For starters, read more…
….they are not merely ignoring the art on the walls, but literally looking beyond those walls….This is intense, curious looking… The square grid-like vent seems congruous with the canvasses of the modern art gallery, and the children are inspired to look beyond the surface of lines and shapes. They might be unknowingly challenging expected behaviors within the museum, but the little girls are also undertaking the exact type of close scrutiny and imaginative looking that curators and artists dream the art gallery might inspire.
We should all ‘see’ like that…
And it begs the question: What is REALLY interesting?
“Standing immobile throughout the day, these vivid objects, with their fantastic shadows on the wall behind them shifting and elongating hour by hour with the sun’s rotation, exuded a kind of darkness for all their color.” Cantilevered structures self-supported over the void. From: The Gormenghast Novels.
Who knows what the story is, whether the house is real or fake? Is it a fantastical image from The Gormenghast Novels? Comments on the flickr page yielded no info but lead us to a tove of images at The Cantilever Project, which got us thinking about cantilevers: A projecting structure, such as a beam, that is supported at one end and carries a load at the other end or along its length.
(Video link here.) We know a lot of people who live in a constant state of anxiety at how fast technology is moving, often feeling ashamed that they are unable to keep up with it, wondering if NOT using it is keeping them from manifesting their true creativity.
We hope they’ll be comforted by this video from Woody Allen: A Documentary in which he shows the tools he has used for sixty years, for every essay, joke, screenplay and script he has ever written. Allen uses a manual typewriter for writing. He “word processes” by cutting-and-pasting with a scissors and stapler.
“It’s very primitive, I know,” says Allen, “but it works very well for me.”
Allen doesn’t seem like a Luddite to us, but just a guy whose sticking with what works, for him.
Although we saw little mention in the news of Martin Luther King Jr, whose birthday coincided with Barak Obama’s inaugeration, his presence was everywhere. In the almost 50 years since his famous walk from Selma to Montgomery fighting for civil rights, a lot has changed — albeit slowly. We see the results daily of his mandate to move forward, one step at a time, however imperfectly.
If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
Omar Sosa and Ana Dominguez of Apartamentomagazine, with photographer Nacho Alegre, created a series of still-lifes with balancing bread. They’re beautiful, though I’m a little doubtful they are just balanced breads, no pins or stuts anywhere. To my former food-stylist’s eye, they seem, well….
…possibly faked, though it would be fun to get a bunch of breads and try. Nevertheless, they’re a charming reminder that read more…
The other day, we spotted natural fiber rugs on the floor of a Swedish farmhouse — they look like coir or jute — that seem to have been stenciled with a pattern. Brilliant, why didn’t we think of that?!!! The technique would allow you add simple geometric designs to inexpensive and durable rugs. It might even be a way to give new life to stained or worned sisals (sisals ain’t cheap and show wear like crazy).