Modernist Birdhouses Inspired by Bauhaus, Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. - Frank Lloyd Wright

Is there a design geek lurking among your fine feathered friends?

Some chickadee or finch who values clean lines over the fripperies of the gilded cage?

Or perhaps you’re a bird lover who’s loathe to junk up your mid-century modernist view by hanging a folksy miniature saltbox from a branch outside the kitchen window....

California-based cabinetmaker Douglas Barnhard’s Bauhaus birdhouses offer a minimalist solution.

No word on the interiors, but the exteriors are gorgeous, with additional inspiration coming from the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler.

Barnhard, who studied architecture briefly, repurposes walnut, bamboo, teak, and mahogany in his designs, which extend to dog beds, breadboxes, and planters.

His birdhouses feature living walls and green roofs planted with succulents.

Some have tiny longboards propped on their decks, a reflection of the time Barnhard spent in Kauai.

Surfin’ Bird!

Is it wishful thinking to believe it’s only a matter of time ’til tiny wetsuits and empty Fosters and Pacificos start festooning the rails?

Browse Barnhard’s birdhouses here and follow him on Instagram to get a peek at custom orders, many for customers residing in the sorts of homes he recreates for the birds.

Related Content:

Harvard Puts Online a Huge Collection of Bauhaus Art Objects

An Oral History of the Bauhaus: Hear Rare Interviews (in English) with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe & More

Download Original Bauhaus Books & Journals for Free: Gropius, Klee, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy & More

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her solo show Nurse!, in which one of Shakespeare’s best loved female characters hits the lecture circuit to set the record straight premieres in June at The Tank in New York City. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Doc Martens Boots Now Come Adorned with Traditional Japanese Art

In wake of a recent prom cheongsam dust up, it remains to be seen whether Doc Martens’ special edition Eastern Art shoes and boots will be regarded as a misstep.

Dr. Martens' Artist Series paid tribute to Western heavy hitters like Hieronymus BoschWilliam Hogarth, JMW Turner, and William Blake.

Those eye-catching kicks may have inspired more than a few fashion-conscious punks to delve into art history, but what will consumers—and more importantly activists on the alert for cultural appropriation—make of the Eastern Art line?




The company website describes the inaugural design as:

a new homage to traditional Japanese art with a fresh, contemporary … spin. Featuring detailed hand-drawn paintings, the art is digitally printed on a textured leather designed to emulate traditional Japanese parchment, while gold-tone eyelets and studding complete the look.

One wonders what led the footwear giant to go with a mishmash “inspired by” approach, when there are so many wonderful Edo period artists who merit a boot of their own?

Katsushika Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife (see here) would make for an unforgettable toe cap…

Kitagawa Utamaro could shod heels and ankles with the floating world.

Tawaraya Sōtatsu’s work would easily transfer from screen to shoe.

Thus far, the lone complaints have centered on the pain of breaking in the new boots, a badge of honor among longtime wearers of the company’s best-selling 1460 Pascal style.

Asia Trend reports that Doc Martens has two shops in Japan, with plans to open more.

If you’re inclined to stomp around in a pair of Dr. Martens 1460 Pascal Eastern Art boots or 1461 Oxfords, best place your order soon, as these special editions have a way of selling out quickly.

via MyModernMet

Related Content:

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

Doc Martens Boots Adorned with Hieronymus Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”

Download 2,500 Beautiful Woodblock Prints and Drawings by Japanese Masters (1600-1915)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Braille Neue: A New Version of Braille That Can Be Simultaneously Read by the Sighted and the Blind

Photo via Kosuke Takahashi

To those of us who've never had reason to learn it, the Braille alphabet can have an appealingly retro-futuristic look, not least because Braille signage in America seems most often installed in pre-2000s public buildings. But it must smack of the past to many of the visually impaired as well, who these days have a host of ever higher-tech reading devices available to them (thanks to which, of course, they can read sites like this one). And though public support for producing materials in Braille exists, the educational programs needed to spread Braille literacy in the first place have fewer champions. Braille itself, perhaps, needs an upgrade for the 21st century.

Kosuke Takahashi may be just the graphic designer to provide that upgrade. He's come up with Braille Neue, "a universal typeface that combines braille with existing characters. This typeface communicates to both the sighted and blind people in the same space." He has, in other words, designed a readable alphabet that allows for the overlaying of English with the corresponding raised Braille dots, keeping both legible at a glance — or at a touch, as the case may be. Other designers have tried their hand at the same project, but unlike Takahashi, none of their alphabets support phonetic Japanese characters as well. "Our aim is to use this universal typeset for [the] Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 to create a truly universal space where anyone can access information," says Takahashi's Braille Neue page.

Photo via Kosuke Takahashi

Based on the existing Helvetica Neue font, Braille Neue — whose designer, according to My Modern Met, "is still experimenting with cost-effective printing and is refining the font prior to final release" — has the potential to spread not just awareness but literacy of Braille, given that it essentially shows sighted non-Braille readers a key every time they read it. As any non-Japanese person who has lived in Takahashi's native land knows, even if you start with no idea of how to read a character in an unknown writing system, you'll start to get a sense of it almost automatically if you see it often enough in context with your own. They'll also know that if any country can implement retrofuturistic design in a way that fascinates the world, it's Japan.

via Colossal/My Modern Met

Related Content:

Helen Keller Had Impeccable Handwriting: See a Collection of Her Childhood Letters

The Prado Museum Creates the First Art Exhibition for the Visually Impaired, Using 3D Printing

Font Based on Sigmund Freud’s Handwriting Coming Courtesy of Successful Kickstarter Campaign

How to Write Like an Architect: Short Primers on Writing with the Neat, Clean Lines of a Designer

Jorge Luis Borges, After Going Blind, Draws a Self-Portrait

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.

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.

Related Content:

Recalling Albert Camus’ Fashion Advice, Noam Chomsky Pans Glenn Greenwald’s Shiny, Purple Tie

Google Creates a Digital Archive of World Fashion: Features 30,000 Images, Covering 3,000 Years of Fashion History

1930s Fashion Designers Predict How People Would Dress in the Year 2000

Vintage Literary T-Shirts

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:

William Blake’s Hallucinatory Illustrations of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

William Blake’s Masterpiece Illustrations of the Book of Job (1793-1827)

William Blake’s Last Work: Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy (1827)

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.

Related Content:

Animated GIFs Show How Subway Maps of Berlin, New York, Tokyo & London Compare to the Real Geography of Those Great Cities

A Wonderful Archive of Historic Transit Maps: Expressive Art Meets Precise Graphic Design

The Roman Roads of Britain Visualized as a Subway Map

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:

Radiooooo: A Musical Time Machine That Lets You Hear What Played on the Radio in Different Times & Places

Radio Garden Lets You Instantly Tune into Radio Stations Across the Entire Globe

The History of Hip Hop Music Visualized on a Turntable Circuit Diagram: Features 700 Artists, from DJ Kool Herc to Kanye West

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

A Massive 800-Track Playlist of 90s Indie & Alternative Music, in Chronological Order

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

More in this category... »
Quantcast