Slate’s design blog.

Sept. 22 2014 9:12 AM

What Is This Singaporean Road Sign Trying to Tell Us?

It’s time for our first Southeast Asian edition of What’s That Thing, Slate’s column examining mysterious or overlooked objects in our visual landscape. Wondering about something—on or off road, at home or abroad? Drop us an email.

Nothing awakens a traveler’s senses like their very first hours in a new place. Every time I leave Singapore’s Changi Airport by bus or taxi, I’m astounded all over again by the public greenery—the multicolored flower beds, the vine-drenched overpasses, the trees so flawlessly coiffed that from any distance at all they resemble bonsai.

Singapore’s long-standing ambition has been to be a growing metropolis in every sense; to become not a city with lots of gardens, but a city in a garden. Singaporeans are wealthier than almost anyone, and it looks to me like all that extra cash is going into landscaping.

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Sept. 19 2014 12:50 PM

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Designer Dominic Wilcox has dreamed up an improbable but dazzling stained glass “Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future,” currently on display at Designjunction, part of the London Design Festival, until Sunday. The project is part of the Dezeen and Mini “Frontiers” exhibit on the future of mobility.

Sept. 18 2014 12:47 PM

How One of the Most Prolific Known Forgers in Modern History Faked Great Works of Art

For three decades, Mark A. Landis conned the art world by deftly copying works by great artists then donating his forgeries to dozens of museums under his own name and a roster of assumed names and identities that ranged from philanthropist to a priest.

But in 2008, his nonmercenary but questionable antics were discovered by a museum registrar named Matthew Leininger, who appointed himself lead detective on an obsessive quest to expose and stop Landis. (Landis has never faced prosecution for his actions, which, while clearly deceptive, have not been found to be illegal.)

Sept. 17 2014 12:19 PM

Early Cancer Hospitals Were Modeled on French Castles, Served Champagne

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

Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM

These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home

These inspired outdoor cat shelters created by some of Los Angeles’ leading design firms were created for Architects for Animals’ Giving Shelter, a benefit for feline charity FixNation that was held on September 10 at the Herman Miller showroom in L.A.

Sept. 15 2014 11:51 AM

The Design Bible Behind New York City’s Subway Republished as a Limited-Edition Book

The New York City subway was a confusing mess in the 1960s, with inconsistent, haphazard signage that made navigating the system a nightmare for commuters. In 1967, the New York City Transit Authority decided to do something about it. They hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design an improved signage and wayfinding system. The designers spent four years studying the labyrinth of the subway, analyzing the habits of commuters, and devising the iconic visual identity of the NYC subway that is still in use today, documented in the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual.

In 2012, designers Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth of New York City design firm Pentagram discovered a rare copy of the manual in their office’s basement. They created a website that included scans of the manual to serve as a digital archive of the work that they call “one of the world’s classic examples of modern design” and shared it with friends. Within 72 hours, more than a quarter-million people had browsed the images, and they decided to approach the MTA about republishing the manual in all its full-size, printed glory.

Sept. 12 2014 11:17 AM

What Was the First Item Ever Designed?

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

Sept. 11 2014 10:55 AM

Designers Turn Tel Aviv Street Art Into One-of-a-Kind Furniture

Tel Aviv–based industrial designers Ariel Zuckerman and Eran Shimshovitz came up with a creative way to get local street artists to help them design their new line of furniture. They hung wooden boards around the southern Tel Aviv neighborhood near their workshop and waited for graffiti artists to do their work.

Sept. 10 2014 10:40 AM

These Minimalist Cocktail Posters Are Giant Flashcards for Aspiring Bartenders

Sydney-based British designer Nick Barclay has created a clever set of minimalist posters of classic cocktails that are beautiful pieces of wall art that also function as cheat sheets for aspiring mixologists.

“There is a big bar/cocktail scene in Sydney, so I was introduced to the Negroni when I moved here six years ago, and that really sparked my interest in cocktails,” Barclay told me in an email.

Sept. 9 2014 11:13 AM

Water Awareness Project Wraps NYC Water Tanks With Temporary Art

 

Water tanks are one of the most identifiable landmarks in the New York City skyline. When artist, filmmaker, and activist Mary Jordan returned from Ethiopia in 2007, she saw the tanks not just as symbols of the city but as monuments to the abundant access to clean water that Americans take for granted.

 

Jordan had fallen ill and been nursed back to health during her travels. The women who cared for her asked her to repay them with a promise: to raise awareness about water scarcity and contamination in a world where 1 billion people still do not have access to clean water.

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