Slate’s design blog.

Sept. 8 2014 9:04 AM

Watch the Amish Raise a Barn in Less Than 10 Hours

In 18th- and 19th-century rural North America, barn-raising was a thing. But these days the Amish are among the last communities to carry on this mostly forgotten tradition in which neighbors volunteered their time and labor to helping one another build barns.

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Sept. 5 2014 11:27 AM

Most of Ikea’s Product Images Are Computer-Generated

Ever wonder why the Ikea products look so good compared with your apartment filled with Ikea furniture? A recent article in CGSociety revealed that 75 percent of Ikea’s product images are not photographs of the famously inexpensive and hard-to-assemble furniture but are computer-generated.

Sept. 4 2014 11:56 AM

This House’s Rooms Rotate With the Touch of a Button

The delightful, surprising design of the Sharifi-ha House by Tehran-based architecture firm Next Office centers around its rotating box-shaped rooms on three floors. The motorized rooms can each be turned 90 degrees to make them outward- or inward-facing according to the weather. The angles at which the boxes are pivoted change the disposition of the rooms and the appearance of the house's narrow facade.

“Uncertainty and flexibility lie at the heart of this project’s design concept,” the designers wrote in an email, adding that the flexible design allowed for a house that was by turns “introverted or extroverted.”

Sept. 3 2014 11:06 AM

What Happens to “Holdouts” Who Refuse to Sell Their Homes to Developers?

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about holdouts—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Sept. 2 2014 10:56 AM

Angelina Jolie Used Her Versace Wedding Dress as a Canvas for Her Kids’ Artwork

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie tied the knot last month, and exclusive photos of the Aug. 23 wedding at their Château Miraval in France are being featured on the covers of People and Hello magazines. They show Jolie in a seemingly traditional, minimalistic white silk-satin wedding dress designed by Donatella Versace and made by Atelier Versace's master tailor Luigi Massi.

But a closer look reveals what appears to be Jolie’s personal touch: dozens of multicolored embroidered appliqués based on drawings from the half-dozen Jolie-Pitt kids that Massi sewed on the veil and the train.

Aug. 29 2014 1:00 PM

Britain Shames Its Ugliest New Buildings With an Annual Prize

 

Americans invented the Razzies to call out bad acting as a counterpoint to the Oscars. But while bad movie performances might linger in the subconscious, bad buildings scar the landscapes of our everyday lives. Which is why the Brits have the Carbuncle Cup, in which the public nominates candidates for Britain’s ugliest new building of the year, as a counterpoint to the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling Prize for architectural excellence.

 

Sponsored by British architecture magazine Building Design, the Carbuncle Cup has been given out annually since 2006, inspired by similar honors bestowed by Prospect magazine in Scotland. The name is said to have come from a 1984 quote by Prince Charles, who called Richard Rogers’ proposed extension of London’s National Gallery a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”

Aug. 28 2014 12:28 PM

The Iconic Moleskine Notebook Goes Digital

 

The Moleskine notebook remains an enduring symbol of the sacred act of taking pen to paper to empty the contents of your brain or heart in words or sketches. Versions of the notebook were famously carried by Picasso, Hemingway, van Gogh, and Matisse before the final French supplier ceased production in the 1980s and was resurrected by a Milanese company in the late 1990s. Today Moleskine has both the storied history and the hipster cachet that makes it the world's most coveted brand of notebook.

 

This week Moleskine announced a partnership with Livescribe, the Oakland-based makers of digital smartpens, to create a notebook that looks like a regular Moleskine—complete with ivory-colored paper, rounded corners, and a ribbon bookmark—but whose acid-free paper is embedded with a dot pattern that transfers handwritten notes to your digital device when used with a Livescribe smartpen. Instructions for using the digital technology are tucked in the customary notebook pocket, leaving the pages looking relatively blank. Livescribe is selling this innovation as “the perfect bridge between the analog and digital” while Moleskine claims that the “new notebooks combine [the] intuitive feel of pen and paper with the latest digital technology.”

Aug. 27 2014 1:31 PM

There’s a Name for Architectural Relics That Serve No Purpose

Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at The Eye, we cross-post new episodes and host excerpts from the 99% Invisible blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

This week's edition—about the vestigial urban remnants known as Thomassons—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Aug. 26 2014 11:12 AM

The Race to Take the World’s Most Dangerous Selfie

 

The famous photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper of 11 steelworkers blithely suspended on a crossbeam in the air above Manhattan while constructing the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center in 1932, remained a complete mystery for decades. Nobody knew who the photographer or the workers were or if the photo had been doctored until the mystery was partially unraveled in 2012, when two of the men in the photo were identified and the photograph was deemed to be real.  

 

In recent years, the phenomenon known as rooftopping, pioneered by Tom Ryaboi, has become a familiar sight. In rooftopping, daredevil photographers scale dizzying heights to capture unprecedented views of urban landscapes. Even though part of the thrill of those images is knowing that a human engaged in risky behavior to capture them, the photos seem to be more about the subject matter than the photographer.

Aug. 25 2014 11:37 AM

This Champagne Coupe Is Modeled on Kate Moss’ Left Breast

 

Legend has it that the original model for the Champagne coupe was Marie Antoinette’s left breast. Historians claim that colorful myth—which has also been attributed to French aristocrats including Madame de Pompadour and Napoleon’s Joséphine—is false, the coupe having been invented in England for sparkling wine in 1663, nearly a century before Marie Antoinette’s birth in 1755.

 

The association of drinking vessels and and women’s breasts is even traced as far back as Helen of Troy, whose bust was said to be used to make wax molds for eventual cups. And in more recent times, the uniformly pert breasts of cabaret dancers from Paris’ Folies Bergère were subject to a Champagne glass test before hiring to ensure that their God-given cups floweth not over.

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