Monday, February 28, 2005

P.R.A.D.E. enters The Gates

I'm sure everyone is exhausted with the coverage of The Gates, but I just got back from NY, and saw The Gates on their last day of existence. I must say that I can't do anything but support Christo and Jeanne-Claude for a number of reasons. For one, getting that many people to come and enjoy the beauty of Central Park in the winter can never be a bad thing. Plus, regardless of your personal opinion of the work, they engaged people in discussion about art and its purpose/function - and most were people that you won't find visiting MOMA or the Hirshhorn. (Interesting to note - Christo and J-C hired a sociologist to study the reaction to the work, and lower-income people enjoy the work more than high-income. When it comes to public art, this should be the target audience in my opinion. So, I think the masses are right on this one and the snobs can stuff it!)

But the thing I think I love most is just that people like Christo and Jeanne-Claude exist (and are successful!) in this world. These folks are characters (I had a Christo spotting yesterday in the park)! And the scale of their work is staggering. I watched a great documentary called Rivers and Tides about another environmental artist, and I was mesmerized at what he did with some rocks in a stream. But you have to admire the sheer audacity to propose wrapping the Reichstag or draping a curtain across a whole valley. And now, to put giant orange gates through every mile of pathway in Central Park! And extra props to them for funding the venture themselves, and not just cashing in and hawking the gates for a (EXTREMELY large) profit when they are finished, but actually recycling all of their materials.

I went into this work somewhat skeptical, but I truly left excited that artists like Christo and Jeanne-Claude are able to exhibit their creations on such a grand scale and eagerly awaiting their next creation. May I suggest vacuum-sealing the White House while Bush is still in it.

PS. Anyone else notice a resemblance between Christo and Mugatu?

P.S.S. Some delightful eccentricities of Christo and JC

"Keep in mind that the money we spend is our money,” says Jeanne-Claude. “If we made a choice of buying a big estate in Aspen, Colorado, or to cover myself in diamonds, we can also do it. Because it’s our money. But it would be very uncomfortable to be covered in diamonds."

The issue of securing the steel gates had become crucial, given a tragedy that occurred with their Umbrellas installation in California. One of the umbrellas was unmoored by a freakish, swirling wind, and took flight, resulting in the death of a spectator.

“Nobody speaks to Christo!” says his wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, in her dramatic Parisian accent. “Christo is working seventeen hours a day on the drawings we must sell to pay for The Gates. Without these sketches, there will be no Gates!”
"Nobody speaks to Christo" has to be put on a T-shirt somewhere.

On Christo's diet and work ethic: “Sometimes he comes down to eat raw garlic, which he eats three times a day,” says Jeanne-Claude. “A total of one head of garlic a day, raw, like candies. With some yogurt. And sometimes a glass of soy milk. That takes him about three minutes. Then back to the studio.”

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The PRADE monkey

Well, I warned everyone early on that if I found any excuse to feature primates or monkeys on PRADE, I would seize it. Well, in what some may call an innovative environmental fundraising move but others may call a "gimmick," Dr. Rob Wallace of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society is auctioning the naming rights of his newly discovered species of Bolivian monkey. The proceeds from the auction will benefit Bolivia's Madidi National Park in an effort to protect the new species Dr. Wallace and his team discovered there.

You can try to bid for the naming rights here, and read all about these amazing 18 inch tall, monogamous monkeys over at The Christian Science Monitor.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Imperial Aguila

On a recent trip to The Future Perfect site, I came across this print design for their Costa Rica wallpaper.

Needless to say, as someone who studied in Golfito, Costa Rica for 6 months, and forever fell in love with the country . . . I immediately recognized the famed "aguila" from the Imperial label, shown below.

For those who aren't familiar, Imperial is the local nectar of the gods in Costa Rica (great review of the beer here). It's funny how interconnected the world can be sometimes.

(Note: If anyone knows of anywhere that sells Imperial in the states, let me know. I think that I heard they were going to be begin importing in California.)

Circle of life

Josh Rubin has posted a link to a great site called Their Circular Life. Basically, the site features a full 24 hours of time-lapse footage from several locations, and uses a flash interface to let you control how fast/slow you watch the whole day. If you play around you can find some great little moments, like the one seen above. Very cool use of technology to achieve an interesting concept - and I'm always in favor of people taking a little more time to stop and watch the world go by.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Under the sea . . .

Although a marvel of modern engineering, I can't help but get the feeling that the Poseidon Undersea Resort is the exact type of place people go in killer bionic shark movies to be eaten.

Here is a digital mock up of one of the
suites. For just $1500 bucks a night you get to sleep on the ocean floor, complete with 5 star revolving restaurant and an articifial reef outside your window to attract sea life (not sure about the ecological implications of that part)

So enjoy the depths of the ocean floor at the Poseidon Undersea Resort when it is built, but watch out for bottom dwellers like
these guys, and don't say I didn't warn you.

DIY Cards

Apartment Therapy has a great story about a family that has kept and framed 20 years worth of original cards sent to them by their artist friend, Richard Ellis.

The reason I love this story is that my girlfriend loves to make personalized cards too, and she has really sold me on what a great message they send to the person receiving them. I've been amazed at how creative and thoughtful my girlfriend's cards have been, to the point that I was inspired to make some homemade holiday cards of my own this year (they didn't turn out nearly as well, but it is the thought that counts). I'll try to post pictures of my attempt and her impressive output soon.

I know I missed Valentine's Day on this one, but really think about making an original card for your next special occassion - they make a great impression, and who knows . . . they may still be hanging on your friend's wall in twenty years' time.

Arco Me Crazy

I have a request of fellow modern design enthusiasts. Let's stop the arco-insanity. Almost every house I see featured in modern design magazines and books these days has a prominently featured Arco lamp, usually in the living room or dining area, like so . . .

I have nothing against this piece, and I recognize the importance it has in the history of modern design. But enough is enough people. There are other floor lamps and lighting options that deserve attention. This lamp is becoming the Che Guevarra of modern design furniture. I see it in a house and all I think is "This person wants me to think that he/she is a design enthusiast." Just think how boring life would be if everyone hung the same Andy Warhol photo in their house, or if everyone drove the same vintage Cadillac, or if everyone had the same portable MP3 device(wait, everyone does. Strike that last one.)

Anyway, just a friendly request. Don't be like the pro athlete with the ubiquitous Scarface poster in their media room on CRIBS. We can do better than that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Sailor

I spent this past weekend visiting my long-time friend in Nashville, TN. I can't really tell you too much about the place, because we spent most of Saturday on the high seas with Sailor Jerry. Sailor Jerry is a delicious spiced rum that comes in a bottle with one of the most unique and striking label designs I've seen (I did extensive research on alcohol labels in high school and college). The Sailor definitely treated us right even after we downed three bottles of his prized rum. After navigating my way back to DC, I did a little research into the story behind this mouth-watering (and 92 proof) rum. Yo ho ho.

The rum is apparently based on Sailor Jerry's personal recipe. I don't know if that part is true, but it is adorned with great artwork from Jerry, who was the pioneering tattoo artist in America. He studied the art of tattooing on his world travels, then opened up a tattoo parlour in Honolulu in the 30's, ensured a steady stream of clientele by his original and bold designs that were a hit with the flood of sailors in the area. You can learn more about the history of the man

The William Grant produced rum is part of a creative branding effort by
Gyro Advertising in Philadelphia that includes a full line of Sailor Jerry clothing, accessories, and other products based on "Sailor" Jerry Collins' tattoo designs. They own the brand themselves - an interesting route for an advertising/pr fim to take, but one that has proven extremely successful. You might recognize Gyro's campaigns for clients such as Puma, but you will more likely recognize CEO Steven Grasse from his angry face in the Real World Philadelphia house.

So next time you are in the liquor store, think about engaging in mutiny against the Captain and go with Sailor Jerry.


My small Indian friend, Jason, cheesing with the Sailor!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Lonely Planet for the next generation. I'm a huge Douglas Adams fan . . . his novels show a humor and incredible scientific insight that transcend generation and experience. I really feel that every design enthusiast should read the first novel in the series. Well, the trailer for the film just debuted, and it looks outstanding. Check it out here.

Top 100 Gadgets

MobilePC mag has a list of the top 100 gadgets of all time. Not only is it a thorough and comprehensive list, but seeing several entries on the list really took me back. Proud to say I had the number #1 and #4 gadgets on this list early . . . but props to the Mobile PC crew for really putting together a solid list from #1 to #100. Makes me realize what a gadget head I am, deep down.


Friday, February 18, 2005


The new issue of Swindle just hit the streets. I got introduced to the premiere edition of this publication by a co-worker and really dug it. Great visual design, and stories that are worth reading more than once. It comes in a standard magazine print AND a stunning hardcover edition - so you can buy a copy that is nice enough to put on your coffee table. The features range from profiles of quirky and colorful people/celebrities to unique photospreads of fashion and underground art.

The magazine is associated with Shephard Fairey of
Obey Giant fame, and equipped with its visual flair by in-house design team Studio Number One.

You can pick up your copy at the following locations:
  • Newstands in NY/LA
  • Tower Records
  • Virgin Mega Store
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Borders
  • Boutiques and Indie Record Stores

Design Sponge-bath

Design Sponge is hosting a DIY Design contest. For all the amateur/aspiring designers out there - you can find the details here.

I would enter, but unfotunately I lack a little thing called "talent" when it comes to making things with my hands. Maybe I should send in the card I made for my mom on Mother's Day 1997. It's been all downhill for my creativity since then . . .

Sneaker Bar?

Freshness (a dope online sneaker/toy mag) recently did review of a new sneaker store in New York called Goliath. According to the write up, the store is set up almost like a pub for sneakers, which sounds pretty chill (too bad you can't grab a cocktail while you shop). I'm hoping to check the store out when I'm in NYC next weekend. Until then . . . check out Freshness's review

175 E 105th Street
New York, NY 10029

Do the Robot

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) got underway right here in DC yesterday. Among the innovations on display are a new breed of walking robots. These robots apparently "learn" to walk using "passive-dynamic" principles -- in other words, they harness gravity and the mechanics of motion to make the robot walk instead of complex computer-controlled motors (like Honda's amazing ASIMO). Because they learn to master walking on their own, they swing their arms like a toddler for balance and can even adapt to different surfaces. A paper on this new generation of robots is featured in today's issue of Science, and you can see video of these walking wonders here.


After hearing from some interested parties, here is some more coverage of these robots for those who want to totally geek out

New Scientist

And in other robot news . . . chimps with bionic arms! You may or may not know how much I love primates, but anytime I get to cover them on this blog - I WILL. These chimps are controlling these robotic arms with their thoughts through probes in their brains, which might pave the way for new advancements in prosthetic limbs for humans.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tee-d Off

Think you have impeccable taste in t-shirts? Is your wit razor sharp? Do people other than your mom think you are funny?

Then submit a slogan to
OMG Clothing and see if the public agrees. The top slogans might be on OMG's next t-shirt, which makes you not only cool enough to say "I designed that shirt" as someone walks by in it, but also makes you $200 richer (100 in cold hard benjamins, and another 100 in certificates for OMG clothing). From the people that brought you Threadless.

So submit your witticisms today. Although I doubt you can top my "Will drink for Jumbo slice" slogan - now tracking at a staggering 7% approval rating.

(Note: Those of you who own a "I'm with stupid" t-shirt need not apply)

Welcome to P.R.A.D.E.

What is P.R.A.D.E.? I guess a more accurate question would be, WHO is P.R.A.D.E.? And the answer is me.

Paul Roberts Amateur Design Enthusiast.

SO welcome to my first real attempt at a blog. The goal of PRADE is to use the site as a place to compile all the cool design stuff I come across in my day to day meandering on the web.

Will anyone ever read this?
Probably not. But at least my procrastination will be focused and my energies not completely wasted, as I'll have a product to show for all the time I spend reading about design on the internet. Even if it is a product no one ever sees.