Slate’s design blog.

Aug. 19 2014 11:06 AM

The Curious, Formative Drawings of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Other Renowned Architects

The art of making beautiful architectural drawings by hand is a fading practice as new generations of architects make ready use of digital tools. Just as news that an early Frank Gehry building is being turned into a Whole Foods supermarket, folks at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis are setting up an exhibition that offers a rare collective glimpse of early formative drawings from Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas and others from a generation of distinguished architects that started their design process by taking pen to paper.

Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association features early drawings from the private collection of the late Alvin Boyarsky, longtime chair of London’s Architectural Association, the U.K.’s oldest independent design school.

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Aug. 18 2014 9:02 AM

What Does This Beloved Road Sign on the Massachusetts Turnpike Actually Mean?

What’s That Thing is Slate’s column examining mysterious or overlooked objects in our visual landscape. To submit suggestions and pics for future columns, drop us an email.

The Massachusetts Turnpike is the Bay State’s most famous road. James Taylor got all teary about it. So did the Missouri group The Get Up Kids (“Last night on the Mass Pike/ I fell in love with you”). Good Will Hunting closes with a shot of the turnpike.

On this fabled road lurks something of a mystery: the sign above, located in Becket, Massachusetts, stating that in a westbound direction, the “next highest elevation” doesn’t come until Oacoma, South Dakota.

Aug. 15 2014 9:04 AM

Someone Designed the Soundtrack of That Live Sporting Event You’re Watching

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 designing sounds for sporting events—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

Aug. 13 2014 10:26 AM

An Astonishing Portrait of Lauren Bacall at Age 88

With the death of Lauren Bacall at age 89 have come the inevitable tributes to her youthful beauty and enduring style. She was known for the trademark throaty voice, the sultry gaze and cool poise. And then there was the seemingly effortless glamour of her signature looks: plunging necklines that looked just right with on her slim figure, her embrace of high-waisted trousers and Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking tuxedo suit that ushered in generations of women wearing pants.

So often in our collective mourning for the loss of an icon, we grieve for who they were long ago, when we first fell in love with them. But this remarkable portrait taken last year by British celebrity photographer Dr. Andy Gotts offers a glimpse of the woman that Bacall became toward the end of her life, which is equally worth celebrating.

Aug. 13 2014 9:03 AM

Hemingway Had a Thing for Six-Toed Cats

Photographer Henry Hargreaves has brought us food-based country maps and the world's best disposable coffee cup designs. His most recent project is a series of photographs of some of the dozens of six-toed cats who live at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, where the writer lived in the 1930s.

"Ernest Hemingway was celebrated in life as a great writer, lover, sportsman, adventurer and rebel-rouser," Hargreaves wrote in an email. "What is less well known is that he was also a renowned cat lover."

Aug. 12 2014 12:50 PM

The Southeastern Conference’s Retro Logo Is a Brilliant Work of Modern Design

James I. Bowie is a sociologist at Northern Arizona University whose Emblemetric blog examines patterns and trends in logo design using quantitative analysis of data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Here at the Eye, Bowie shares a recent Emblemetric post about the design of the SEC's perfectly antimodern logo. 

Aug. 11 2014 9:09 AM

What Does Anna Karenina Look Like?

As associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, Peter Mendelsund has designed hundreds of book jackets over the past decade, including his acclaimed cover for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and jackets for the works of classic authors such as James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Simone de Beauvoir. This week he published What We See When We Read, about the phenomenology of reading, and Cover, a monograph that we featured here last week. Here at the Eye, Mendelsund shares an adapted excerpt from What We See When We Read that examines how we picture literary characters in our heads.

Aug. 8 2014 1:29 PM

The World’s Most Obvious Bus Stop Is Pure Design Genius  

Perhaps because the purgatory of waiting for the bus is one of the most aggravating daily trials of urban life, I love a clever bus stop design. This summer, people waiting for the bus on South East Avenue in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore were treated to a permanent public art sculpture that its designers, Madrid-based artist collective Mmmm, call “an obvious bus stop.” So patently obvious and instantly appealing that it makes you wonder why the world isn’t full of 14-foot-tall, 7-foot-wide three-letter bus stop typography sculptures that spell out the word BUS.

Aug. 7 2014 10:52 AM

A Renowned Book Cover Designer on the Utility of Book Jackets in a Digital World

As associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, Peter Mendelsund has designed hundreds of book jackets over the last decade, including his acclaimed cover for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and jackets for the works of classic authors such as James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Simone de Beauvoir. This week he published What We See When We Read, about the phenomenology of reading, and Cover, a monograph that includes examples of his best work, his thoughts on designing, and short essays by some of the writers whose work he has covered. Here at the Eye, Mendelsund shares an excerpt from Cover that considers the utility of book jacket design in our ever more digital literary world.

What is a book cover?

Aug. 6 2014 11:19 AM

These Subtle Airport Design Cues Keep You From Getting Lost

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

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