The Eye
Slate’s design blog.

Feb. 3 2015 1:04 PM

How Earthquakes, Consumerism, and Social Upheaval Drive California’s Offbeat Design Legacy

The recently published Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design, 1936-1986, edited and designed by graphic designer Louise Sandhaus, is a spirited, subjective, willfully undefinitive book that highlights some 250 examples of groundbreaking, off-beat 20th-century design from the Golden State.

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Feb. 2 2015 12:14 PM

A Typeface Designer’s Illustrated Tour of How to Create a Font

New York City–based Hoefler & Co., headed by award-winning type designer Jonathan Hoefler, has designed typefaces for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, and its Hoefler Text family of typefaces has been included in Apple operating systems. Its newest font is Obsidian, a contemporary typeface that mimics the elaborate decorative typography of the Industrial Revolution. Obsidian is derived from Surveyor, a font inspired by type used on engraved maps and charts; it’s also part of a dispute between Hoefler and type designer Tobias Frere-Jones.*

Jan. 30 2015 12:34 PM

Change the Height of This Slick Standing Desk by Holding Out Your Hand

The standing desk is an ongoing social and design experiment. Some people choose permanent standing work stations and bring their laptops to couches or tables when standing gets old. For most, the preference seems to be adjustable height furniture that can stand tall when you want to be on your feet and sink down to sitting height when you need to take a load off.

Recent adjustable desk variations range from Ikea’s bare-bones adjustable Bekant to the high-end, high-tech Stir, which includes the ability to preprogram height options and team up with your Fitbit to track standing and sitting data for the quantified-self obsessed.

A new entry to this growing category is the TableAir from London-based designer Lukas Lukosevicius. It’s a sleek, rectangular desk that comes in glossy white or black or, for an additional cost, American cherry wood or walnut. While at this point most standing desks look pretty similar, with straight or curved rectangular platforms mounted on four telltale adjustable metal legs, two things stand out about the TableAir design.

Jan. 29 2015 11:23 AM

Barcelona Has the World’s Most Beautiful Stoner Museum

Until I spotted photos of the Hash Marihuana Cáñamo and Hemp Museum of Barcelona this week, accompanied by false reports of its recent opening (the museum opened in 2012), I never really thought about what a stoner museum might look like. Certainly not like the Palau Mornau, a glorious, elegant 15th-century palace turned Modernista museum.

Jan. 28 2015 11:56 AM

The Murder Mystery Legend Behind Austin’s Iconic Moonlight Towers

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 moonlight towers—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Jan. 27 2015 12:18 PM

The Cubitat Shrinks an Entire House Into One Compact Cube

Those on a quest to rethink small-space living build tiny houses, install pop-up rentals on vacant lots, and design portable 10-square-foot microkitchens tucked inside armoires. Presented over the weekend at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, Cubitat is a 10-by-10-by-10-foot cube that houses a kitchen, bathroom, bed, laundry, and storage.  

Once plumbing and electric are hooked up, the structure can theoretically turn any dwelling into what the developers are calling a “plug and play” living space that looks something like a giant’s Rubik’s cube and seems to beg to be painted in Mondrian colors. 

Jan. 26 2015 1:01 PM

These Whimsical 3-D Ceramics Look Like Cartoon Drawings of Everyday Objects

London-based artist Katharine Morling makes ceramic sculptures of woodland creatures and colorful still lives of fruit and flora. But it’s the cartoonish, hand-rendered, black-and-white renditions of everyday objects—a blank page and pen, an old typewriter, a box of matches, an old sewing machine, a chainsaw—that are the most arresting, inviting nostalgia and reflection. Even in photographs, they look like a sketchbook sprung to life.

Jan. 23 2015 12:49 PM

These Sleek Pop-Up Rentals Designed for Urban Millennials Redefine Prefab Housing

To battle a tight housing market in Amsterdam that is hard on an ever-increasing number of single renters, Dutch building company Heijmans (which also built this dreamy Starry Night–inspired bike path in the Netherlands) has come up with a clever idea: planting prefab pop-up rental houses on vacant city lots that offer singles design-friendly, affordable, quality temporary housing in urban centers.

These movable dwellings are designed to rent to young, single-person households for a reasonable 700 euros ($788) per month as temporary residences located on vacant lots that are in redevelopment limbo and otherwise eyesores on urban landscapes.

Jan. 22 2015 11:42 AM

The Classical Piano Gets a Radical Makeover

So many of life’s familiar objects are constantly redesigned according to the whims of fashion and the latest trends. But the curves of a classical music instrument seem almost sacred, inviting design changes—apart from exceptions such as this 21st-century cello—that tend to be of the nip-and-tuck variety, preserving familiar forms and ageless appeal. Even Liberace’s piano, after all, is really only a tarted-up version of a classical shape.

But this week Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi unveiled a radical redesign of the grand piano, a project he initiated in order to make it sound the way he heard it in his head. Produced by Louis Renner, a world-renowned German company that specializes in making piano actions and hammerheads, Bogányi and a team of designers and engineers spent more than a decade rethinking the piano’s 18,000 parts from the inside out.

Jan. 21 2015 12:12 PM

How Apple’s User-Friendly Design Doomed the Computer Mouse’s Complex Cousin

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 history of the computer mouse—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

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