Brain Pickings

A Brief History of Cheese

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What the goodness of Gouda has to do with MRI scans have to do with microbial engineering.

The average American eats some 33 pounds of cheese per year, up from under 22 pounds in 1954. Cheese comes in some 2,000 varieties and has been around for some 4,000 years. The Science and Art of Cheese, a new microdocumentary from KQED, explores the rich and nuanced spectrum of this cultural fixation, from unraveling the secrets of cheese artisans, who hone the aesthetic and sensory attributes of fermented blocks of milk, to scientists who stick feta in the MRI in order to reduce its salt content without changing its texture.

Cheese is incredily scientific. Cheese is a living, dynamic food, and it changes during aging. By adding certain bacteria, we can change the direction of one common nutrient — milk — into many, many different products.”

Artisan cheese is a craft, it’s hand-made, it’s not made by pushing a button. It takes people to try to extract the most flavor and the most beauty of of this handmade product.”

To further feed your cheese curiosity, you won’t go wrong with Andrew Dalby’s Cheese: A Global History — a fascinating journey across eras, cheese types and cultures, interweaving curious factoids to drop at your next dinner party with 40 stunning color plates and 20 in black-and-white.

via GOOD

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Live Now: Existential Affirmation by Design

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Publishing’s most positive tear sheets, or how a placemat can change your whole outlook on the day.

We were first moved by the contagious positivity behind the Live Now project more than a year ago, when it was a lovely website and growing community of designers and illustrators with a shared commitment to spreading messages of strength and hope. Today we’re thrilled that the movement has taken the form of a book, a kind of collector’s object of optimism.

Live Now gathers 85 of the project’s participants in print form, with a different page for each heartening design. Like the recently featured Everything Is Going To Be OK, Live Now‘s messages exhort the viewer to find the positive in the present moment – something much more attainable when you’re looking at such a beautiful reminder.

'Live Humbly' by Mikey Burton

'Harmony' by Eric Smith

'Friendship' by Emil Kozak

Eric Smith first founded Live Now following a diagnosis of cancer, and what started as a personal project of resilience grew organically into a “movement of happiness.” Today, Smith practices art direction, design, and illustration via his studio, IDRAWALLDAY, and continues to collaborate with a host of creative partners.

The basis of our message is that happiness is here for everyone—that there is a bigger picture for your life, and a will for each one of us. Do the people in your life “feel” your love? Do we inspire happiness in everyone around us? That’s our plan. ~ Eric Smith

'You're Going Places' by Ed Nacional

'Overflowing Optimism' by Chad Kouri

'Break Your Routine' by Mikey Burton

Rip out a life-affirming lesson from Live Now and share it with someone you love. Like the sentiments that inspired them, we guarantee that what you just gave away, you’ll more than gain in spirit.

Kirstin Butler is writing an adaptation of Gogol for the Google era called Dead SULs, but when not working spends far, far too much time on Twitter. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

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Happy Birthday, Dieter Rams: Revisiting Less & More

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What your favorite coffeemaker has to do with the cultural value of the unspectacular.

I love the elegant, minimalist yet eloquent visual language of iconic designer Dieter Rams (who doesn’t?), whose principles of good design I’ve previously covered, and I have a soft spot for the lavish design books of German publishing house Gestalten. (Previously: The Story of Eames Furniture and Papercraft 2: Design and Art With Paper).

Today, as Dieter Rams turns 79, there’s no better time to revisit Gestalten’s fantastic Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams — an ambitious look at Rams’ seminal work at Braun, which established him as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, shaping both the aesthetic norms of design for decades to come as well as society’s most fundamental understanding of what design is, does and should be. The lush bilingual volume explores the underbelly of Rams’ design philosophy in 800 pages of archival photos, original sketches and models, alongside thoughtful essays by international design experts that examine Rams’ work and legacy in a contemporary context.

Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That’s its role.” ~ Dieter Rams

Not the spectacular things are the important things — the unspectacular things are the important things, especially in the future.” ~ Dieter Rams

Don’t miss last week’s The New York Times interview with Rams, in which he talks about everything from what an average day is like for him to why he started a foundation to help young designers get an education — an excellent companion read to Less and More.

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