Dress Like an Intellectual Icon with Japanese Coats Inspired by the Wardrobes of Camus, Sartre, Duchamp, Le Corbusier & Others

If you follow men's style in the 21st century, you know that the same names tend to come up as references again and again, from actors like Cary Grant and Steve McQueen to businessmen like Gianni Agnelli and royalty like Prince Charles. But what if we looked to other, less conventional realms of culture for inspiration on what to wear and, more importantly, how to wear it? Over the past few years, Japanese label Cohérence has done just that, designing coats modeled after those worn by the likes of Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Duchamp, and Le Corbusier — and improving upon them with new materials and details.

“I love Dada and Surrealism, jazz music, writers connected to the Lost Generation, and New Wave cinema. Along with the art and culture, there were also the clothes – the heavier fabrics and fuller silhouettes," says Cohérence designer Kentaro Nakagomi as quoted by men's style blogger Derek Guy of Die, Workwear! "They were classic, but also modern at the same time.”




If it strikes you as odd that a Japanese operation would dedicate itself to the styles of particular cultural moments in the West, know that modern Japan has quite a history of not just replicating them but reinventing them, told most recently by W. David Marx in his book Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style. Americans, thus far, haven't constituted a major presence in Cohérence's collections, though the jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Sidney Bechet did inspire a Balmacaan.

Though Frenchmen (also including The Little Prince author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and writer-artist-filmmaker Jean Cocteau) dominate the label's list of inspirations, it has also made several coats in honor of Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, the Japanese painter and printmaker who in the early 20th century brought the artistic techniques of his ancestral homeland to his adopted homeland of France. In a way, Foujita stands as a symbol of the whole project, premised as it is on the union of classicism and modernity as well as exchange between Japan and Europe. And were he around today, Foujita, like Cohérence, would surely also have made good use of Instagram.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Doc Martens Now Come Adorned with William Blake’s Art, Thanks to a Partnership with Tate Britain


On a recent trip to Portland, I found myself at the city’s flagship Pearl District Dr. Martens’ store and was instantly transported back to much younger days when I scrimped and saved to buy my first pair of “Docs” at the local DC punk boutique. Big and clunky, the boots and shoes have been associated with outsider and alternative culture for decades (and, sadly, through no fault of their own, with neo-Nazis, as a recent Portland controversy reminded). The brand has since applied its “AirWair” sole to styles much less evocative of leather-clad punks, but the originals--the eight-eye “1460” boot and three-eye “1461” shoe--will forever retain their iconic status, in the classic colors of black and “oxblood” red.

“Originally a modest work-boot that was even sold as a gardening shoe,” as the company’s history tells it, the nearly indestructible footwear first achieved cult status in working-class British subcultures in the early days of “glam, punk, Two Tone, and early goth.”




The flamboyance of the Dr. Martens’ clientele gave it license to experiment with unorthodox styles, like shiny patent leather in eye-popping colors, an animal print series and, most recently, an artist series, featuring 1460s and 1461s covered in leather reproductions of paintings by artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Giannicola Di Paolo, and William Hogarth (unfortunately all sold out on their website).

One of the recent additions to this pantheon seems like a perfect fit: the William Blake Docs, offering your “choice of gnostic kicks for a night out,” as Dangerous Minds quips. A partnership with Tate Britain, the boot version is wrapped in Blake’s Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils (c. 1826) and the shoe displays The House of Death (c. 1795). See both paintings below.

Like another new addition to the artist series—with artwork from J.M.W. Turner—the Blake Dr. Martens draw on the work of a violently original English artist with solidly working-class roots. Unlike his contemporary Turner, Blake spent most of his days in obscurity, creating a DIY visual and poetic mythology rich enough to counter the religious and philosophical hegemony of the day, which was a totally punk rock thing to do in the 18th century.

“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s,” Blake wrote. Does the stamping of his iconoclastic artwork on a culturally iconic, commercially successful boot (and shoe, and leather satchel, and T-shirt) mean that he’s been absorbed into exactly the kind of system he spent his life opposing? Isn’t that just punk's eternal dilemma....

See a short film from Tate Britain celebrating their collaboration with Dr. Martens at the shoemaker’s website and see much more William Blake in the Related Content links below.

If you want to snag your own William Blake Dr. Martens, you can find the 3-Eye Oxfords and 1460 Boot on Amazon.

via Dangerous Minds

Related Content:

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Genius of Harry Beck’s 1933 London Tube Map–and How It Revolutionized Subway Map Design Everywhere

The subway is a marvel of engineering, and so is the modern subway map.

For the first 25 years of its existence, London Underground riders relied on a map that reflected the actual distance between stations, as well as rivers, parks, and other aboveground phenomena.

As designer Michael Bierut observes in the video at the top, the radically revised approach it finally adopted in 1933 proved so intuitive and easy to use, it remains the universal template for modern subway maps.

The brainchild of Harry Beck, a young draftsman in the London Underground Signals Office, the new map is more accurately a diagram that prioritized riders’ needs.




He did away with all aboveground references save the Thames, and replotted the stations at equidistant points along color-coded straight lines.

This innovation—for which he was paid about $8—helped riders to glean at a glance where to make the subterranean connections that would allow them to travel from point A to point B.

The former senior curator of London Transport Museum, Anna Renton, said in an interview with The Verge that Beck’s design may have helped persuade city dwellers to make the leap to suburbs serviced by the Underground "by making them look closer to the center, and showing how easy it was to commute.”

It’s not Beck’s fault if service falls short of his map’s efficient ideal, particularly on nights and weekends, when track work and service advisories abound, rendering such commutes a nightmare.

The appeal of subway map-themed souvenirs is also a testament to the visual appeal of Beck’s original design, especially given that such purchases are not limited to tourists.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, April 23 for the third installment of her literary-themed variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Behold the MusicMap: The Ultimate Interactive Genealogy of Music Created Between 1870 and 2016

A Pandora for the adventurous antiquarian, the highly underrated site Radiooooo gives users streaming music from all over the world and every decade since 1900. While it offers an aural feast, its limited interface leaves much to be desired from an educational standpoint. On the other end of the audio-visual spectrum, clever diagrams like those we’ve featured here on electronic music, alternative, and hip hop show the detailed connections between all the major acts in these genres, but all they do so in silence.

Now a new interactive infographic built by Belgian architect Kwinten Crauwels brings together an encyclopedic visual reference with an exhaustive musical archive. Though it’s missing some of the features of the resources above, the Musicmap far surpasses anything of its kind online—“both a 23and me-style ancestral tree and a thorough disambiguation of just about every extant genre of music,” writes Fast Company.




Or as Frank Jacobs explains at Big Think, Crauwels’ goal is “to provide the ultimate genealogy of popular music genres, including their relations and history.”

With over 230 genres in all—linked together in intricate webs of influence, mapped in a zoomable visual interface that organizes them all at macro and micro levels of description, and linked to explanatory articles and representative playlists (drawn from YouTube)—the project is almost too comprehensive to believe, and its degree of sophistication almost too complex to summarize concisely (though Jacobs does a good job of it). The Musicmap spans the years 1870-2016 and covers 22 major categories (with Rock further broken into six and “World” into three).

In an oval around the colorful skyscraper-like "super-genres" are decades, moving from past to present from top to bottom. Zoom into the "super-genres" and find “a spider’s web of links within and between the different houses” of subgenres. “Those links can indicate parentage or influence, but also a backlash (i.e. as ‘anti-links’).” Clicking on the name of each subgenre reveals “a short synopsis and a playlist of representative songs.” These two functions, in turn, link to each other, allowing users to click through in a more Wikipedia-like way once they’ve entered the minutiae of the Musicmap’s contents.

The map not only draws connections between subgenres but also between their relatives in other "super-genres" (learn about the relationship, for example, between folk rock and classic metal). On the left side of the screen is a series of buttons that reveal an introduction, methodology, abstract, several navigational functions, a glossary of musical terms, and a bibliography (called "Acknowledgments"). Aside from visually reducing all the way down to the level of individual bands within each subgenre, which could become a little dizzying, it's hard to think of anything seriously lacking here.

Anything we might find fault with might be changed in the near future. Although Crauwels spent almost ten years on research and development, first conceiving of the project in 2008, the current site “is still version 1.0 of Music map. In later versions, the playlists will be expanded, perhaps even community-generated.” Crauwels also wants to sync up with Spotify. Although not a musician himself, he is as passionate about music as he is about design and education, making him very likely the perfect person to take on this task, which he admits can never be completed.

Crauwels does not currently seem to have plans to monetize his map. His stated motives are altruistic, in the same public service spirit as Radiooooo. “Musicmap,” he says, “believes that knowledge about music genres is a universal right and should be part of basic education.” At the moment, the education here only applies to popular music, although enough of it to acquire a graduate-level historical knowledge base.

The four categories at the top of the map—the strangely named “Utility” (which includes hymns, military marches, musicals, and soundtracks), Folk, Classical, and World—are zoomable but do not have clickable links or playlists. Given Crauwels’ completist instincts, this may well change in future updates. In the TED talk above, see him tell the story of how he created Musicmap, a DIY effort that came out of his frustration that nothing like it existed, so he had to create it himself.

Enter the Musicmap here and try not to get lost for several hours.

via Big Think

Related Content:

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A History of Alternative Music Brilliantly Mapped Out on a Transistor Radio Circuit Diagram: 300 Punk, Alt & Indie Artists

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Museum of Failure: A Living Shrine to New Coke, the Ford Edsel, Google Glass & Other Epic Corporate Fails

All successful products are alike; every unsuccessful product is unsuccessful in its own way. Or so a modern-day Tolstoy might find himself inspired to write after a visit to the Museum of Failure, a movable feast of flops which began last year in Helsingborg, Sweden and has now opened its doors on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Donald Trump board game, Apple's Newton, Nokia's N-Gage, Ford's Edsel, Colgate Beef Lasagne, Harley-Davidson Cologne, New Coke, Google Glass: these and other shining examples of failure appear in the videos about the museum at the top of the post and just below.

Considered today, many of these products, whether well-known or thoroughly obscure, look hilariously ill-conceived. But the Museum of Failure's founder, a psychologist named Samuel West, does have high praise for some of the products he's collected in his institution.




As you'll find out on a visit there, though, they've all got at least one fatal flaw — a design problem, bad timing, misjudgment of the market, falling into the cracks of existing offerings — that drove consumers away. You can't say that any of them didn't take a risk, but risks, by their very nature, burn out more often than they pay off.

"Why do I have all these failures?" asks West in his TED Talk just above. "The point of having the museum is that we can learn from these failures. I want us to start to admit our failures as companies, as individuals, so we can learn from it." America's relative lack of cultural stigmatization of failure often gets cited among the reasons for the country's reputation for innovation and economic dynamism, but there, as anywhere else, an increased willingness not just to fail but to better understand the nature of individual failures wouldn't go amiss. Nothing succeeds like success, so the saying goes, but the fascination that has built around the Museum of Failure so far suggests that we have much to gain from its opposite as well.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

IDEO.org’s Free Design Course on Prototyping Starts Today

A quick fyi: IDEO.org, the non-profit arm of the famous California design firm IDEO, is launching a free 4-week course on Prototyping.

As you might recall, we featured several months back A Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School. If that piqued your interest in design and design thinking, then IDEO.org's course might hold appeal.

Design Kit: Prototyping will help you learn how to build prototypes in "a low-cost and risk-averse way to get your ideas into the hands of the people you're trying to change." Running from March 12 through April 17, the course will teach you best practices for prototyping products, services, interactions, and environments.

More free courses can be found in our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Buckminster Fuller’s Collaboration with The North Face Culminates with a New Geodesic Dome Tent, the Geodome 4

Most anyone who regularly spends time in nature knows the name The North Face. For fifty years now, the company has furnished outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen with not just apparel but much else of the equally rugged gear they might conceivably need to go hiking, camping, or permanently off the grid. Some of their product designs have remained basically the same through the decades, while others have changed dramatically. Even early in the company's life it knew that a better tent, for instance, would get the outdoorsy world beating a path to its door: hence its engagement of no less a design thinker than R. Buckminster Fuller.

Bruce Hamilton, who worked for the company from 1970 to 1989, recently wrote a few posts (part one, part two, part three) telling the story of the North Face/Buckminster Fuller connection. It began in his first year on the job, when the company's owner Hap Klopp asked a friend whose family had connections to Fuller to send the already world-famous architect-systems theorist-inventor a letter. Describing The North Face as "a small company that produces what I believe to be the finest equipment presently available," the friend asked Fuller for ideas on how to improve the "archaic designs" then used to construct tents. "I have thought a great deal in the past about your subject of the compact, lightweight, back-packable environment controlling device," Fuller replied. "I am accepting your challenge."

Hamilton, a fan of Fuller's work, had already been thinking about how to use the principles of the light but sturdy triangle-and-dome-based "tensegrity structures" Fuller so often wrote and (as in the clip above) talked about. One day Hamilton showed Klopp a model of a Fullerian geodesic sphere, and "it was at that moment that he connected me with Bucky and with his drive to bring a new tent to life." The result, the Oval Intention tent, first appeared in The North Face's Fall 1975 catalog, accompanied by a photo of Hamilton relaxing inside one and a typically sweeping quote from Fuller himself: "It is no aesthetic accident that nature encased our brains and regenerative organs in compoundly curvilinear structures. There are no cubical heads, eggs, nuts, or planets."

The North Face kept incorporating Fuller's ideas into their tents, and they hammered out the terms of  direct collaboration on a new model in 1983, a month before Fuller died. Judgments about other tensegrity structures — geodesic dome homes, for example — have varied over the years, but the Oval Intention lives on in the form of the new Geodome 4. "Thanks to the most spatially efficient shape in architecture, it can withstand winds of up to 60 mph as the force is spread evenly across the structure whilst even providing enough height for a six-foot person to stand comfortably inside," writes Archdaily's Ella Thorns. "The extremely efficient design has allowed the tent to weigh not much more than 11kg and comprise of 5 main poles and the equator for fast and easy assembly and storage."

If this already has you excited about your improved prospects for more geometrically and structurally efficient camping on the surface of our Spaceship Earth, do be warned: at the moment The North Face has only made the Geodome 4 available in Japan (see its Japanese page here), and with a price tag equivalent to $1,635 at that. Even so, one hopes that Bucky — as Hamilton and many of the others who knew him called him — looks on with pride from whichever spaceship he now finds himself aboard.

via Arch Daily

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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