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Design, Life, Digital: Best of DLD 2009

Predictability, simplicity, and why Munich is the epicenter of digital life and design.

This year’s DLD Conference just wrapped up in Munich last week, bestowing the wisdom of various Design, Life & Digital visionaries upon us mere mortals. And while some of the 20-plus talks were nauseatingly predictable (Mark Zuckerberg, we’re looking at you), we have a first-hand recommendation as to the most watch-worthy ones, thanks to a good friend who live-updated us straight from Munich.

First there’s the Telling Stories panel, dissecting the art of storytelling across a number of vehicles, from blogging to film to design. The panel featured New York Magazine icon Julia Allison, Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur, Argentinian architect-turned-filmmaker Fernando Sulichin, and industrial design’s youngest rockstar, Ora-Ïto.

Then there was the Fashion & Business discussion, featuring designer duo Marc Ecko and Xavier Court, and FOCUS Magazine correspondent Susann Remke.

But perhaps most fascinating was the discussion on Simplicity — an intense dissection of beauty and art through the prism of simplicity and understatement. The panel — comprised of social media expert Adam Bly, Mercedez-Bens Design division chief Gorden Wagener, Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett and iconic Italian architect Carlo Ratti — looked at the notion of simplicity from a variety of angles, from car design to content-sharing platforms to architecture, exposing some unsuspected universals that translate uniformly across a multitude of different disciplines.

See all the talks and panels on the DLD09 website and be your own judge.

Meanwhile, the live-streaming of TED 2009 begins in just a little while. Follow us on Twitter for exclusive real-time updates on the talks today through Saturday.

Thanks, Michal


Show & Tell: A Century of Illustrated Letters

120 years of handwriting so bad it necessitates visual aid, or why hipsters didn’t invent irreverence.

Remember pen and paper? And how they came together to produce… gasp… letters? The Smithsonian certainly does – in fact, they remember and celebrate those most memorable of letters that go beyond mere words.

Enter the Smithsonian’s archive of Illustrated Letters — a wonderful collection of tortured love letters, violently opinionated reports of current events, gloriously rich thank-you notes, a handful of far-fetched excuses, and various other forms of visually written self-expression from the early 19th century to the late 1980’s.

Although the collection is a shots-in-the-dark nightmare to navigate, with some patience and a bit of luck you may just uncover some real gems.

David Carlson to Mrs. Jackson

And perhaps a few delightful oddballs.

Philip Guston to James Brooks

Then, of course, there’s the exercise of decoding the world’s most impossible handwriting. Which, actually, is why we half-seriously suspect a number of those folks resorted to illustrations.

<br /> Warren Chappell to Isabel Bishop

The Illustrated Letters collection is pulled entirely from The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, hand-picked by Curator of Manuscripts Liza Kirwin. It’s truly a cultural treasure, but perhaps it is most valuable as a reminder to us know-it-all millennials that we didn’t in fact invent visual creativity, or irreverent wit, or sarcasm, or dark humor, or any of those “quintessentially hipster” qualities that ooze from the letters and set we so boldly like to credit ourselves with.

Plus, it reminds us of Dan Price‘s wonderful Moonlight Chronicles.

via Coudal


Monday Music Muse: Matt and Kim

How to drive your neighbors crazy, or why Columbia has nothing on the Pratt Institute.

Despite all cultural evidence to the contrary (Pitchfork best-of’s, we’re looking at you), punk/dance is far from dead. Not if Matt and Kim get any sort of say in the matter.

And say they do. The duo has been in the business of keeping the indie music scene danceable since 2004, when the two met randomly at the Pratt Institute and proceeded to play local warehouse shows in Brooklyn. By 2006, they were signed and cruising away with their ridiculously good self-titled debut album.

They are, if you will, Vampire Weekend long before there was Vampire Weekend, vaguely reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, with a surprising touch of Clash here and there. Which is to say, rather hard to capture in comparisons. And it may just be us, but they also seem to have a weird thing about never being captured in photographs together.

Hey, we don’t judge.

Matt and Kim are Matt Johnson (vocals & keyboards) and Kim Schifino (drums & vocals). Their latest album, Grand, was released last week and is loaded with the stuff of wild, infectious, makes-you-jump-and-sing-along-till-the-neighbors-start-banging-on-the-floor-with-a-broomstick goodness.

Check it out.

Thanks, Jen


Duper Bowl: Alternative Super Bowl Logos

What if’s, football for nerds, and how the artsy types do organized sports.

There’s no question the Super Bowl is quite the garish spectacle. The tipping point of a year’s worth of football adrenaline, the obscene amounts of food, the $3-million-for-30-seconds commercials. And like any garish affair, the Super Bowl always has a garish logo to match.

Original Super Bowl XLIII LogoBut this year, The New York Times decided to explore the what-if’s of Super Bowl logo design by inviting some of the country’s most prominent designers to reimagine the logo. The resulting collection of Alternative Super Bowl Logos spans the entire spectrum of conceptual and creative vision — the modern, the retro, the grunge, the minimalistic, the serious, the tongue-in-cheek, and everything in between.

There’s the political parody…

Modern Dog Design Co., Seattle

…and the retro-minimalist iconography, our favorite.


Then we have the delightful play of color…

…and the blatant side-taking.

The rebellious grunge…

…and the hilarious nerd-centric audience expansion scheme.

The refreshing back-to-basicness of the football illiterati…

…and, of course, the inevitable tribute to the American Way of marking any occasion as worthy.

And if you, like us, didn’t quite realize what a big deal the Super Bowl logo was, go ahead and realize — The New York Times has proof.

via Creativity Online


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