Tuesday, August 31, 2010

it feels good to be home...

all i can say is, i'm finally excited again. after taking a break from social design (or any design for that matter...) abroad, i can breathe a sign of serious relief being back in baltimore and back at mica thinking about things that get me going again. one thing i knew would help was coming back to be part of mica's center for design practice after my hiatus. and mostly for the selfish purpose that i knew if i was going to survive senior year, i needed to re-connect with that energy again. the attitude that says design does have meaning. and that how you learn design, practice design, live design doesn't have to follow a template. (yes, i'm a twenty-something.)

we watched the documentary on rural studio during class called "citizen architect." (you should totally watch the trailer.) i've been stressing more or less all summer about life after mica and money and the real world and getting a job. but who better than samuel mockbee to say that you shouldn't go to college to make more money, but to learn how you can contribute and help the world. and it doesn't have to be anything crazy. we don't all have to be the dalai lama or barack obama. so long as the little things we do are positive contributions in some way to the people and places around us.

sounds mighty good to me...

Sunday, August 29, 2010


this totally came to me by way of a chain email from my grandpa... but, nonetheless, it's pretty sweet. they are (or were?) actually at american visionary museum here in baltimore. dalton ghetti. makes me smile.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

best of both worlds

i think this is by far my most successful combination of my two favorite cultures yet: velveeta and hot dogs + red wine. sounds sort of disgusting. but trust me. it's delicious.

Friday, August 20, 2010


want to talk about a quickie? how about packing up to go to toronto for 12 hours. all summer i’d been scheming to see a show called “universally local” put on by the institute without boundaries (of bruce mau fame.) with no car and little money, going from michigan, as close and convenient as it would be, just wasn’t working. no matter how hard i tried. but, being back in baltimore with a newfound (and much needed) sense of liberation and my days of summer quickly ticking away, i knew if i didn’t go i would seriously regret it. i needed to do something crazy. and i needed to see if the school i had been gaga about since massive change really was all it’s cracked up to be. (because sometimes there’s a major discrepancy between website and actuality. cough, cough. parsons, paris.)

of course, with my luck, i show up to find that the exhibition i stuck out a four hour bus ride to new york and 10 hour bus ride from there to toronto just to see was in the process of being taken down. talk about epic fail. but i can’t think of anything better happening. this bump in the road meant that i got to have a copy of the big ol' exhibition book (for free), take a tour of the studio (and see it in action), and meet with the program coordinator. none of which would have happened if i had just been able to walk in, see the show, and walk out as planned.

as my day went on, it hit me more and more what an unintentional pilgrimage the trip had become. something about going on my own, and having to work a little bit to get there (the lady sitting next to me on the mega bus seriously smelled.) wandering around toronto, i spotted a familiar sign from across the street and a block away. bruce mau design. i impatiently waited for a lull in the traffic to cross over and follow the arrow. seeing it gave me the same exact feeling as seeing ellen lupton for the first time in cafĂ© doris. flustered. i didn’t even have to see bruce mau himself. all it took was a sign with his name on it.

while i'm still processing all of the information thrown at me during the day about the institute and their projects, on an emotional level I have it all figured out. that program (or something like it) in that city (or someplace like it) is a definite need to do sometime in my life. it might not happen next year, it still feels strangely too soon, but it’s a piece i’ll keep anxiously in my back pocket to put in play when the time is right…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the third teacher

when i got an email at the start of the summer from the amazing living classrooms about a graphic design internship opportunity at a baltimore public school, i flipped. it was perfect timing. i had just gotten bruce mau's new book, the third teacher, and had bringing design into education on the brain. the internship involves a school named commodore john rodgers, a school that was deemed "failed" under no child left behind. and, on top of that, i just learned yesterday that i ranks 867 out of the 870 schools in maryland.

needless to say, they needed help. enter living classrooms. brought in as a "turn around specialist," they have fired every single teacher, torn down walls, picked bright new paint colors, put in new floors and lighting, gotten the community excited about the school's new image, and (i'm sure) more behind the scenes stuff that i'm not even aware of. what they've been tasked to do, on a relatively small budget, is incredible.

my interning partner in crime (and coincidentally new roommate) has already been busting his butt coming up with a logo, letterhead, t-shirts, posters, etc. as part of the big re-branding. and now that i'm back in baltimore, we're moving on to the part where you get your hands dirty... coming up with bold, text heavy mural designs for stairwells and picking our paint swatches.

school starts in three weeks. we have our work cut out for us. should be fun :)

as an addendum to the above, check out an old favorite of mine (publicolor) plus a new inspiration (paula scher's work with achievement first.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

summer reading

although it's been a while since i actually had a required summer reading list (that stopped with high school...) summer still means having plenty o' time to be lazy and lounge around reading. from succumbing to eat, pray, love (i was super skeptical at first) to an alain de botton kick aided by my friend katie, here's what i've been reading, and the parts i dog eared...

"though such sensory blindness is often rather welcome, particularly when one is performing an operation during a shell barrage in the first world war, it is worth pointing out that feeling things (which usually means feeling them painfully) is at some level linked to the acquisition of knowledge. a sprained ankle quickly teaches us about the body's weight distribution; hiccups force us to notice and adjust to hitherto unknown aspects of the respiratory system; being jilted by a lover is a perfect introduction into the mechanisms of emotional dependency. in fact, in proust's view, we don't really learn anything properly until there is a problem, until we are in pain, until something fails to go as we had hoped."
(from how proust can change your life)

"our sensitivity to our surroundings may be traced back to a troubling feature of human psychology: to the way we harbour within us many different selves, not all of which feel equally like 'us' so much so that in certain moods, we can complain of having come adrift from what we judge to be our true selves. unfortunately, the self we miss at such moments, the elusively authentic, creative and spontaneous side of our character, is not ours to summon at will. our access to it is, to a humbling extent, determined by the places we happen to be in, the colour of the bricks, the height of the ceilings and the layout of the streets. in a hotel room strangled by three motorways, or in a waste land of run-down tower blocks, our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away, like water from a punctured container. we may start to forget that we ever had ambitions or reasons to feel spirited and hopeful. we depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. we look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. we arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need - but are at constant risk of forgetting we need - within. we turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves."
(from the architecture of happiness)

"big deal. so you fell in love with someone. don't you see what happened? this guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching. i mean you got zapped, kiddo. but that love you felt, that's just the beginning. you just got a taste of love. that's just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. heck, you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. it's your destiny. don't laugh."
(from eat, pray, love.)

"a critic looking at these tightly focused, targeted interventions might dismiss them as band-aid solutions. but that phrase should not be considered a term of disparagement. the band-aid is an inexpensive, convenient, and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. in their history, band-aids have probably allowed millions of people to keep working or playing tennis or cooking or walking when they would otherwise have had to stop. the band-aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost. we have, of course, an instinctive disdain for this kind of solution because there is something in all of us that feels that true answers to problems have to be comprehensive, that there is virtue in the dogged and indiscriminate application of effort. that slow and steady should win the race. the problem, of course is that the indiscriminate application of effort is something that is not always possible. there are times when we need a convenient shortcut, a way to make a lot of a little, and that is what tipping points, in the end, are all about."
(from the tipping point.)

"through romantic fatalism, we avoid the unthinkable thought that the need to love is always prior to our love for anyone in particular. our choice of partner necessarily operates within the bounds of whom we happen to meet and, given different bounds, different flights, different historical periods or events, it might not have been chloe i would have loved at all - something i could not contemplate now that it was her i had actually begun to love. my mistake had been to confuse a destiny to love with a destiny to love a given person. it was there error that think that chloe, rather than love, was inevitable."
(from on love)