The Mercury Lamp

The Mercury Lamp

The Mercury Lamp

In honor of the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s first American space flight the guys from Raumfieber Innenarchitektur have created this awesome Mercury Lamp. The shape itself is rather simple, but what’s really astounding are all the shapes it makes on the ceiling as the light shines through. This would be awesome in a kids room (and by kid I mean adult who likes rad stuff).

Bobby Solomon

April 26, 2012 / By

Incase’s Alloy Bags

Incase's Alloy Bags

A few weeks back, Incase sent us a few backpacks to check out. We had been inadvertently in the market for new bags as we bike a good deal around Los Angeles and haven’t been able to find bags that have good support as you ride–especially support for a computer. I had some dinky little black bag that I got from a military surplus store almost five years ago, a brandless and super simple pack that has been my trusted riding friend for years. Bobby’d been using a bag from Urban Outfitters, which was good but–you know–is a little unfriendly to rugged wear. Anyway, getting an Alloy Backpack and Alloy Messenger Backpack we didn’t even think they’d be good active book bags. They’re both this steely grey and look sleek and worn and comfortable: they looked like any other “good bag.” Man: weren’t we surprised? The bags are top notch. Let me break the two down.

Incase's Alloy Bags

The basic Alloy bag is your standard book bag size. It consists of two main areas that are the same size, one on the outside with tons of mini-pockets and one behind it for your computer and such. The joy of this bag is that it is compact and small but quite big–big in the sense that it can hold all of your computer and technical junk effortlessly. This is something we didn’t think of: a bag from Incase–duh–is made with your computer (ahem, *Macintosh*) in mind. Everything fits perfectly, from a fleece lined sleeve for your laptop to a little iPad pouch in front of it to a fleece lined mini-pocket for any iPods to bands to keep your earbuds in place as you ride your bike or hustle from one airport gate to another.

Incase's Alloy Bags

The best features of this bag are the hidden areas for things you didn’t think you knew you needed an area for. The exterior pocket, above, is a great example of this: there’s a spot for your power cord, for a few pens/pencils, some notebooks, pads, sunglasses, and other little items. If you wanted, you could even tuck an Apple TV into one of the slots. I would not be surprised if that was actually something they thought about when designing the bag.

The back of the bag has a little Easter Egg of sorts: a pocket hidden within their support structure. Both bags have this pocket, which sits at the small of your back, and is perfect for things like passports, wallets, and other personal items you wouldn’t want someone to sneak into. Now, of course, we’ll have to find a new secret compartment for ours as we just gave away our secret. Then again, that’s where they want you to put it–and it makes perfect sense. This bag is a great, simple travel and daily bag for people. It isn’t too big, it isn’t too small, and is perfect for day to day use.

Incase's Alloy Bags

Now, the Messenger Backpack. This, guys, is a thing of beauty. I bike around everywhere and this bag makes it feel like Steve Jobs himself thought up the perfect way to tote around your computer when you are on the go. It just thinks up everything–with a total eye for the biker and/or long distance traveller. It can be used just as day to day as the regular Backpack; however, this one is a little beefier. It’s like the taller, Ivy League rower older brother of the the regular bag: lean, full of muscle, and super handsome.

Incase's Alloy Bags

Incase's Alloy Bags

While the basic bag has a lot of places to store goodies, the Messenger Backpack has even more. The most important part is the fleece lined little slit at the back of the bag to store your computer. This feature is key because you can just slide it in and forget it’s there because the bag makes it feel like you don’t even have a computer in your bag. It’s brilliant! Moreover, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve biked around with a folder or an important sheet of paper that I’ve stored away that ended up folded in half from the bag not being particularly kind. What do I do with them now? Slide it in this slit because it’s so such a structured, safe space. Similarly, the other side panel on the bag has a tiered pocket system for things like bike tools, a pump, deodorant, mouth wash, glasses, etc. (Well, that’s what I use it for.)

The top of the bag has a hidden pouch perfect for storing sunglasses and/or bike lights because this part is rarely fussed with. I’ve always had the problem of opening a bag and my lights’ batteries are drained because some ghost fingered their buttons while I wasn’t looking. This pocket? No need to stress about that. There are two similar gill like pockets in the front of the bag (which are fleece lined); however, I find this top pocket to be a better place–and it even has a little change purse in there for you. Another big feature is the draw stringed front area which is essentially a giant dump for whatever you want. This is great to throw clothes in, notebooks, cameras, etc.: it’s a huge duffle like zone for whatever you want. The best part about it? You can barely feel the weight of it because the bag is structured so fantastically.

Obviously, we give these bags super high recommendations. They’re just so perfectly designed and look great and go above and beyond what they’re made to do. Their the most functional bags we’ve ever encountered. We usually shop for bags by style–not use. These bags (the Alloy brand, specifically) marry good looks and brains, which is something we love. If you are a biker or frequent traveller, do yourself a favor and get one of these bags. The Messenger Backpack is a little better in my opinion but, then again, that’s because it’s so big and makes you forget that you’re lugging around a computer. Definitely check them out if you get a chance and, of course, check out more rad Incase stuff here.


April 25, 2012 / By

Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center gets a rude new neighbor

The Nasher Sculpture Center designed by Renzo Piano

What’s innovative about the Nasher Sculpture Center and Gardens is the roof. The innovation stems from a common problem that architects confront when designing art galleries: how to best combine natural and artificial lighting. Renzo Piano’s solution at the Nasher was to come up with a roof made of thousands of small, north-facing oculi that have filtered soft daylight into the galleries since the museum opened in 2003. The tiny cones were engineered by Arup, a giant and well-respected engineering firm. The roof has worked for almost a decade, but now the Nasher has a new neighbor messing things up.

reflected light through the roof of the Nasher Sculpture Center designed by Renzo Piano

The tall, gleaning tower was designed by Johnson Fain, an LA-based firm that describes the project on their website saying that it “is surrounded by distinguished architecture and exterior public space.” The tower the firm designed just so happens to be scorching the distinguished architecture and exterior public space around it with the sunlight reflected off of its convex glazing. And not an insignificant amount, enough to dammage paintings and kill vegetation. So instead of even and soft daylight filtering through the roof of the Nasher, the museum is being bombarded by focused and damaging sunlight through those thousands of north-facing occuli. When the museum first realized that the tower was going to cause this problem, the two sides sat down in a series of civil meetings to address what might be done. These meetings devolved into tense presentations of conflicting sunlight studies, lawyers showed up, relatives of Ray Nasher showed up, and finally the developers rejected responsibility for the sunlight bouncing off of their building, suggesting that something is wrong with the Nasher roof.

The difficulty for Nasher is that the developers are doing nothing illegal. It’s absolutely rude and dumb, but it’s also legal. It’s dumb because the tower is sabotaging itself. By refusing to do anything about a huge, glaring problem the tower has created, developers are creating discord their new neighbors, the same neighbors that the tower’s developers are touting to sell their fancy condos and the same neighbors that give the tower its name: Museum Tower.

So what should the Nasher do? I think it’s time for the respected museum to stoop to the level of the developers scorching their institution and commission a new sculpture for their garden– a large parabolic mirror that focuses sunlight into Museum Tower. When developers complain, the museum could suggest that there’s something wrong with the tower’s exterior curtain wall and ask “What are you gonna do about it?”

You can read a much longer article about Museum Tower, it’s surprising financiers and the ongoing controversy  here. One tid-bit the article doesn’t mention is that the Nasher has already closed a James Turrell Skyspace because of views interrupted by the tower.

Alex Dent

April 25, 2012 / By

‘We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank’ by Modest Mouse, wallpaper by Ellis Latham-Brown

'We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank' by Modest Mouse, wallpaper by Ellis Latham-Brown

Ellis Latham-Brown

I’ve been listening to Modest Mouse’s We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank in preparation for writing this post. Then I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to write something that was constructively critical, rather than saying “this album is the worst thing I’ve heard ever.” I guess that about sums things up, though. Isaac Brock sounds like the drunken sailor he’s always wanted to be, the backup vocals from James Mercer are shabby and completley uncalled for and I can honestly say I don’t like a single song on this entire album.

Honestly it sucks to have to write that. The early Modest Mouse albums are some of my favorite ever, but this new stuff is too different for me, it’s not the sound I enjoyed from them. Hopefully they’re happy making the music they make? The album went Gold, selling 500,000 records, so obviously I’m in a minority here. But that’s ok, to each their own.

For the wallpaper though, we have the fabulous Ellis Latham-Brown creating a super fun scene which is way better than the album itself. Ellis explains himself perfectly;

This was the first album produced by Modest Mouse since adding a new member, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. I wanted to capture the spirit of this album as Issac Brock put it, a nautical balalaika carnival romp. I couldn’t think of a better grouping of words to describe it. I put the album on and went to work and this is what came out. The theme of being lost, or stranded comes up a lot in this album. I used that to form this scene of a captain who’s only companion is tragedy, portrayed by the beast. With all tragedy comes a silver lining. (The cake)

Bobby Solomon

April 25, 2012 / By

Lovely Illustrations by Evgenia Barinova

Evgenia Barinova - In A Forest Dark and Deep

Evgenia Barinova - Lively Virtue

Evgenia Barinova - Lively Virtues

I love this work by the London-based illustrator Evgenia Barinova. Originally from Russia, Evgenia moved to the UK a few years ago to complete the final year of an illustration course. Her geometric illustrations are really beautiful and I love the subtle use of texture in what she draws.

The way in which she draws figures is also something which I totally love. Their strange and heavy proportions give them real character and personality and their soft shapes really contrasts nicely against the sharp environments that they exist in. Evgenia has a large amount of great work in her portfolio which you should definitely go check out.

Philip Kennedy

April 25, 2012 / By