Japanese fashion house, COSMIC WONDER Light Source, is as its name suggests, all about light. It might be difficult to decipher while bestowing their brilliantly tailored pieces, but the brand’s inspiration comes from studying light and weaving the idea of it into clothing. The resulting collections often resemble avant garde pieces of art that are flattering and wearable.
For the spring/summer 2013 collection, entitled “Diamond Equinox”, COSMIC WONDER looks to prism light, silver refraction, and “polyhedral spark”. I love the elegance of the double-breasted short suit and the simplicity of the zig zag black slip dress. The multi-pocketed grey men’s jacket is modern yet functional. Past collections have referenced everything from minerals to sun printing, and one collection even featured a series of shirts, dresses, and hats made to look like rocks. CMLS doesn’t just do clothing, either; they also produce art books as COSMIC WONDER Free Press and run an ecological project called The Solar Garden utilizing organic cotton and natural dyes.
Years ago, I read an article about a handful of artists and entrepreneurs, who had re-appropriated industrial squat space and neglected mansions into studios and art galleries. The ‘who’ and ‘when’ bit of the article escaped me soon after reading, but I never forgot the “where”. Detroit, and its deserted imagery, has been on my mind ever since.
Forgotten by industry, the abandoned metropolis, formerly known as the “Paris of the West” for its grand urban landscape and Art Deco design, now suffers from deplorable neglect. Once the fastest growing city in the world, today, Detroit holds on to 40, 000 abandoned houses, of which some can be purchased for less than $6, 000. It is home to architectural gems such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s modernist Lafayette Park, and the neoclassical Michigan Central Train Station, yet it is not uncommon to have only one house inhabited within a three block radius. Teetering on bankruptcy, last year the city was forced to shut off half its street lights in order to save a buck.
Although almost impossible to believe, this is the reality of an American city. Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, and nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Detropia, Detroit’s symphonic distress call to the rest of the world, will shock you with its statistics and haunting imagery of what once was.
Chronicling the pre-depression era rise and the post-nineteen eighties demise of the Motor City, the sad tale Detropia tells is affective, with a sensibility not commonly associated with vacant lots and forsaken automotive plants. The crux of Detropia lies with its narrators and the interviewed citizens of Detroit who in the face of a population consolidation refuse to leave their city’s dying side.
Not all is lost, though. There is a light at the end of Detropia’s dark tunnel, and it belongs to art. The shocking fact that one family every twenty minutes moves out of Detroit is counteracted by the calibre of a population moving in. Visionaries, artists, and young professionals seeking to rebuild such as organizations like Ponyride and Loveland Technologies will lead Detroit to its Hollywood ending. Where there is crisis, there is opportunity, and where there is hope, there is determination.
Everything I learned about prison yards I learned from watching The Shawshank Redemption, or American History X, or any one of a myriad of television shows. But even with an excess of images floating around about the chain-linked spaces outside correctional facilities, I think we all understand that prisons are less glamorous when they aren’t softly lit and occupied by wealthy actors like Morgan Freeman. That’s why I was so surprised when I came across this video of a sports dome outside a prison in the Netherlands.
This is a unique project for an unusual jail. To start with, inmates here are confined to prison boats. It’s not that surprising for the Netherlands, but I think the last time Americans really thought about prison boats was during the Revolutionary War (where more Americans died from neglect on British prison ships than died in every battle of the war combined.) Also, the folks confined at Zaandam aren’t violent or dangerous criminals at all – they’re illegal immigrants. Lastly, the inmates have this fantastic sports dome designed by product designer Willem van der Sluis who runs the design studio Customr.
The dome is shaped to make the interior feel more generous and expansive. It is covered in a gradient of perforations to control visual access at eye level, but also the recreate a pattern of shadows that resemes a canopy of trees. It’s hard to imagine this kind of project at a prison in the States, and if I saw such a thing in a movie or on television I probably wouldn’t believe it. Unless the show was called “Locked Up Abroad.”
I came across Heidi Marie’s Etsy shop, Bees Felt Market, while doing a random search for something food-related. I couldn’t believe that her felt toys looked so much like their real counterparts. Designed for children, I think they’d make excellent design objects for adults, too. Aside from choosing favorite snack foods and researching them to get the details right, Heidi uses felt that is made from recycled plastic bottles. Her process involves both hand stitching and a machine to ensure durability, and her line includes everything from pizza and hot dogs to chips, doughnuts, and tacos two ways. She takes custom orders, too.
Earlier today Disney released the beautiful short film Paperman onto YouTube for us all to enjoy. It was directed by John Kars who up until recently was an animator, though it’s pretty remarkable that this is his first directing effort. The story is about a man who serendipitously runs into a woman, they share a short interaction around a piece of paper… and the they she gets on a train and leaves. This adorable story of finding love is told with a new in-house technology called Meander which combines the best of 3D modeling and traditional animation.
I sadly missed Wreck-It Ralph so I wasn’t able to see Paperman originally, it played before the film. I think this such a beautiful effort, I’d love to see an entire film made in this way. It truly brings that magic back to the screen. I should probably also note that I work for Disney, but I’m posting this only because I love it so much.