Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Djinn Chairs

Flipping thru. the book 100 Charis, I saw the stunning Djinn chairs by Olivier Mourgue again. When I first saw them in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, I was so impressed with the futuristic and stylish design. The name "DJinn" (the pronunciation is similar to Degine ^_^) was derived from a spirit in Islamic mythology that can assume human or animal form and control men with itssupernatural powers, which smartly matches the concept of the film.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Green Jewelry Design

Can you believe this beautiful modern jewelry collection is made from used bicycle reflectors?! Canadian designer Amrita Takhar is leading a green jewelry design. It reminds me of Chris Luebkeman (the speaker at Imperative 2010)'s remarks that nothing is waste - if waste is properly dealt with, it is resource.

Pet Architecture

I learned from a teammate that I missed a good lecture last night by Atelier Bow-Wow, a Japanese husband-wife firm interested in small urban structures. They are interested in creating innovative yet peculiar structures in the marginal and overlooked urban spaces, what they call ‘pet architecture’, as an ingenious solution to the high-density Japanese urban environment.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Living in Fairy Tale

Hopefully this is my last post about ice and snow this year. Just found these two amazing ice hotels on the internet: the Ice Hotel at Jukkasjärvi, Sweden which is the 1st of the world, and the Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada which is the 1st one in North America (for more cool pics). Need to go there someday for the experience of living in a fairy tale.

The Good Architect

When talking about architect on screen, one can't help thinking about Howard Roark, the idealist and strong-egoed architect in The Fountainhead (1949). 8 yrs later, the movie 12 Angry Men created another impressive architect Davis by Henri Fonda. He is a wise and fair-minded man who convinces the other 11 jurors of the innocence of a 18-year old boy. The entire story takes place in one location: the jury room. The drama lies in the intense dialogues and the outstanding performance.

In order to prove the inaccuracy of one testimony, Davis examines the floor plan of the crime scene, and calculates the possible time needed to get from point A to B. Besides the expertise, it also shows the good communication skill most architects possess :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

World's 1st Eco-city in China

At today's 2010 Imperative: Global Emergency web-cast class, Chris Luebkeman from ARUP showed their design for the world's first sustainable city Dongtan, an island near Shanghai.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Run Lola Run

I read a friend's review on this movie recently. It is one of the most original and fascinating films I've ever seen. It presents Lola's 20-min run three times with her different encounters with people which results in a drastically different result. The narrative is 'flat' in a sense that time and space is compressed into a video-game like reality. The sense of speeding is successfully rendered through editing, camera angle, and soundtrack.
Two days ago I found the soundtrack CD in the library and started listening. Then I realized what a key role this soundtrack plays to create the tension and fast-pace throughout the film. It feels particularly great to listen when driving (probably make you speeding :P), as if you yourself are running, identifying with Lola. You are running towards a crucial goal in life, not only a goal in love as shown in the film, but any kind. Our life is a competition we play against time. What's the possible, the impossible, the accidental, the inevitable? Does one second difference lead to a significant difference in consequence? Do you believe in Butterfly Effect?

The theme song Believe by
Franka Potente (who played Lola in the movie) answered those questions. This MTV blends with the movie extracts quite well.

I don't believe in trouble
I don't believe in pain
I don't believe there's nothing left
but running here again

I don't believe in promise
I don't believe in chance
I don't believe you can resist
the things that make no sense

I don't believe in silence
cos silence seems so slow
I don't believe in energy
the tension is too low

I don't believe in panic
I don't believe in fear
I don't believe in prophecies
so don't waste any tears

I don't believe reality would be
the way it should
But I believe in fantasy
the future's understood

I don't believe in history
I don't believe in truth
I don't believe that's destiny
or someone to accuse

I believe, I believe!!!

I want you to try, try
to needing to know why, why
No kidding, no sin, sin
No running, no win, win
I believe!!!

No angels, no girls, girls
No memories, no Gods, Gods
No rockets, no heat, heat
No chocolate, no sweet, sweet
I believe!!!

I want you to try, try
to needing to know why, why
No kidding, no sin, sin
No running, no win, win
No angels, no girls, girls
No memories, no Gods, Gods
No rockets, no heat, heat
No chocolate, no sweet, sweet

No feeling, no secrets...
The silence you feel...
which hides you from
the real...
I want you to try, try
needing to know why, why
[keeps repeating, becomes blurred & indistinguishable....]

I believe, I believe!!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


The Chinese new year, the year of the PIG, is coming. Instead of posting an image of a pig, I'm thinking about the song Pig by Dave Matthews Band. Dave is good at making metaphors of animals in his music, such as Ants Marching, Big Eyed Fish and The Proudest Monkey. Pig is a positive and heart-warming song. Hope the year of the Pig is filled with love. Don't burn the day away :)


Oh, isn't it strange
How we move our lives for another day?
Like skipping a beat
What if a great wave should wash us all away?
Just thinking out loud
Don't mean to dwell on this dying thing
But look at my blood
It's alive right now,
And deep and sweet within
Pouring through our veins
Intoxicate moving wine to tears
And drinking it deep
Then an evening spent dancing
It's you and me...

This love will open our world
From the dark side we can see a glow of something bright
Oh, there's much more than we see here
Don't burn the day away

Is this not enough?
This blessed sip of life,
Is it not enough?
Staring down at the ground
Oh, then complain and pray for more from above,
You greedy little pig
Stop, just watch your world trickle away
Oh, it's your problem now
It'll all be dead and gone in a few short years

Just love will open our eyes
Just love will put the hope back in our minds
Much more than we could ever know
Oh, so don't burn the day away
Don't burn the day away

Come sister, my brother
Shake up your bones, shake up your feet
I'm saying open up
And let the rain come pouring in
Wash out this tired notion
That the best is yet to come
But while you're dancing on the ground
Don't think of when you're gone

Love, love, love, what more is there?
'Cause we need the light of love in here
Don't beat your head
Dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There's bad times
But that's okay
Just look for love in it

And don't burn the day away...

Look, here are we
On this starry night, staring into space
And I must say
I feel as small as dust lying down here

What point could there be troubling?
Head down wondering what will become of me?
Why concern "WHAT" we cannot see
But no reason to abandon it
The time is short but that's all right
Maybe I'll go in the middle of the night
Take your hands from your eyes, my love
All good things must come to an end some time
But don't burn the day away
Don't burn the day away...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fish-Friendly Design Needed

I got Chia'sso new catalog in mail today. It is my favorite modern furnishing store in Chicago. They have some cool designs for 2007, but seeing this wall deco (what they call 'mod pod') does bother me: It definitely looks modern and cute, but look at that little fish - being alone inside the small container on display? The size and shape of the vase also makes it hard to change water. Hopefully people won't really use it as a fish tank.

It reminds me of a fancy Chinese restaurant in Dublin OH called Jasons Restaurant & Bar. I know the architect and saw some pics of the interior. I have to say I love the design a lot. One innovation is a custom aquarium wall which is composed of a series of small glass fish tanks hanging from the ceiling. Of course only one fish in each tank, and the size of the tank varies to make a nice visual composition. While I just felt miserable for the fish since they could not swim in one big tank talking to each other. Maybe I'm just too sympathetic towards animals :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I saw this Turkish film Uzak (distant) a couple of years ago at a film festival in Pittsburgh. Last night I watched the interview of the director Nuri Bilge Ceylan on the DVD, which makes me want to write something about the film. It is a very slow-paced film with minimal characters, dialogues and plot. It is a story about two brothers: the older one Mahmut, is a photographer prisoned in both his physical (his apartment in Istanbul) and mental (his emotionless state in everything) container; the younger one Yusuf, is illiterate and unemployed, coming from the countryside to Istanbul in search of a job. The encounter of the two brothers triggers a series of ripples, reflections and hopefully changes in their lives. You are led into a tour of the characters’ inner states. The use of long shot and long take creates a palpable sense of isolation between people and their social and natural environment. Sound also helps to render the melancholic atmosphere: the interrupting sound such as the wind chime, the ship horn, has a penetrating effect into the numbness and somberness which has remained unnoticed.

One awesome scene in the film is the snow scene in Istanbul. I even didn’t know it snows there before seeing this film. Ceylan explained in the interview that this scene was totally unexpected: One day he woke up and saw the snow, he decided to shoot it. The beautiful snow scenes add to one more layer of the distant feeling. The most memorable shot is within the snow which portrays Mahmut standing by himself facing the river looking down into the water, with Hagia Sophia in the far background. This almost monochromatic, silhouetted shot is a perfect imagery of solitude and melancholy. Somehow reminds me of Edward Hopper’s paintings.

Also worth mentioning is the way Ceylan directs a film. He does not start with a complete script. He always studies, tests and improvises the scenes, dialogues and camera angles during shooting. It is workshop style rather than industry. Therefore he never had a producer and he maintains a small crew.

Infographical Music Video

an infographical music vedio animation of the song A Tried And Tested Method" by The Longcut. (source:

We should think about presenting design concepts and drawings this way :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Stunning Fashion Show

Christian Dior spring/summer 2007 fashion show! Looks pretty architectural :)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cradle To Cradle

Today's sustainable design discovery is the recycled carpet by Shaw Contact Group. Their square-shaped brochure is very well designed, telling you their story of sustainability through metaphorical narrative, simple facts, vibrant colors, smart and thoughtful images. The brochure itself is made of 100% recycled paper, with ink made of soy which makes paper easier to recycle. They call it cradle to cradle design: an analogy drawn from an oak tree that uses what it drops to make itself bigger, stronger and in abundance each year.

What they do is simply collecting the recycled carpet to make new carpet. Their cushioned carpet tile backing is made with 88% plastic soda bottles. It is 4 times stronger than traditional cushion backing. The truth is: In US alone, consumers empty 6.8 million plastic beverage bottles each hour. The backing is also lighter, which means fewer truckloads, which means less diesel used, which means less CO2 released into atmosphere! It makes you realize: the way we design, make and use things right now has a measurable effect on everything, an even greater effect on the future.

Besides all the sustainable ideas, Shaw's carpets are just gorgeous!

Thought on a Frozen River

When it snows the first time, everything but the river is white; when the river gets frozen and snow at anywhere else melts down, the first scene gets reversed: the river becomes the only thing that is white. This transformation happens so quietly and naturally, isn’t it like the Mobius band, switching to the opposite side without knowing?

When the river flows, it divides; when the river is frozen, it turns into a bridge, the same time, a stage – a stage for various activities (still risky though!). If you draw a section, there are actually activities going on at both sides of the frozen layer: human’s and the underwater lives’. What if it becomes a section of a building, either vertical or horizontal, the frozen layer is transparent? What about an underwater building showing the section of the seaworld/lake, dialogue between two different dimensions?

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lake Champlain

Another interesting snow-related artwork was done by installation artist McKendree Key on Lake Champlain, NY. The 4000 balls were scattered at 3 different locations of the lake, creating a juxtapostion of the natural landscape and the artificial landscape, questioning the relationship between our environment and ourselves.

Möbius Strip Snow Sculpture

It's been snowing for a few days here in Columbus, makes me want to see some snow art. Then I found this snow sculpture on the internet - It was an entry piece by a Minnesota team at 2005 Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture competition. The sculpture is an artistic version of a Möbius strip.
What is intriguing about this mathematical form is that: A Möbius strip has only ONE side and ONE edge. Following the path of a Möbius strip, we simply reach the opposite side without leaving the same surface - a flip without flipping, a twist without twisting.