Posts Tagged ‘modernism’

Matchbox Labels

Published March 29, 2010 by Molly

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Jane collects vintage matchbox covers from (mainly) Eastern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. “My interest in matchbox labels lies primarily in the design,” she writes, “but also the concept that these small images can communicate to a large number of people.”

The images that make up Jane’s rad collection demonstrate the possibilities of modern design as well as the ability of labels to speedily convey propaganda and public service announcements alike. We love the old-school East German trucks the best, though the geometrically-abstracted Polish dancing couples are a close second.

Ephemera Assemblyman

Published February 24, 2010 by Molly

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Ephemera Assemblyman is exactly what it sounds like and four times as cool. Curated by a twenty-six year old Californian named Joel, the website is a repository of well-chosen, odd and beautiful images images posted with tidbits of information designed to tease out their subtleties.

What sort of image, you ask? The kind of image that looks like it emerged from between the pages of a university library book that hasn’t been checked out in sixty years and stands gathering dust in the stacks. Or maybe the kind of image dug up in a box in the attic, or acquired on eBay or…who knows? That’s sort of the point. Joel excavates the images so that you don’t have to.

Among the best include illustrations from The Annotated Dracula, the collages of Wilfried “Sätty” Podriech, Slovenian film posters (above), theater posters, hypnotist posters, avant-garde stationary, and Russian Revolutionary periodicals. But honestly, you could spend hours tooling around the site. Be a pal and share it with your friends.

LEGO Fallingwater

Published September 17, 2009 by Molly

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Q: What do you get when you combine modular toys with Frank Lloyd Wright?

A: LEGO Fallingwater, a recreation of Wright’s 1934 masterwork of modernism in Mill Run, Pennsylvania!

Anyone born after 1950 is likely to have played with the colorful Danish building bricks at some point in his or her youth. The LEGO corporate motto––Kun det bedste er godt nok or “Only the best is good enough,”––certainly applies to their 811-piece model of Fallingwater, which underwent 14 design concepts and includes special sections that slide out, as well as representations of the surrounding river and trees that are so crucial to the landmark’s aesthetic.

Finally! A toy designed for architects, highly-focused children, and highly-focused child architects.

Books You Might Not Have Read Yet: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Published August 7, 2009 by Molly


In 1993 Roddy Doyle wrote one of the best books about childhood ever published and, fittingly, won a Booker Prize, possibly the most prestigious award in English-language literature. The book is Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and it’s written from the perspective of a ten-year-old kid growing up in a suburb of North Dublin in the 1960s. The thing is, it really IS written from the kid’s perspective, replicating the consciousness of a young’n through its language, observations and insights.

If the Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is occasionally hard to follow, it’s also achingly realistic. This probably goes to show that ten-year-olds have more complicated emotional lives and intellects than we commonly give them credit for.

In a review of the book for Entertainment Weekly, Tom De Haven wrote that “Even the best writers seldom capture the temper and shifting textures of childhood with approximate, let alone absolute, fidelity.” Doyle’s novel is awe-inspiring for the simple fact that it accomplishes exactly this.

Micro-Questionnaire: Semâ Bekirovic

Published June 2, 2009 by Graham

Slugs vs. three-dimensional grids! Birds vs. board rooms! Deserts vs. office buildings! The battle between the wild, untamed heart of nature and the cold, pragmatic logic of modernist design is heating up in the work of Dutch artist Semâ Bekirovic. Working in video, photography and sculpture, Bekirovic demonstrates a knack for mirthful experimentation, tackling themes of spontaneity and control, and mixing mysteries of the artificial and organic variety to create an atmosphere of carefully measured absurdity.

Semâ was kind enough to answer a few questions for our ongoing series of Where the Wild Things Are micro-questionnaires.

Is Where the Wild Things Are popular in The Netherlands? What do you remember about it from your childhood?

Where the Wild Things Are is called Max en de Maximonsters here. I remember my sister and me loving the book. We saw a childrens’ musical of it when I was six or so. I remember being quite enchanted by it. My sister and I used to stage plays with monsters in them ourselves.

I remember trying to stack three classmates on top of each other to fit in a homemade dragon costume, and how they tumbled out of it on stage. We always finished the costumes and props at the last possible moment, so there was never time for rehearsals. So our plays always ended up as text-less chaotic performances with lots of amazing props.


The contrast between nature and culture seems to be a strong theme in your work. Growing up, were you captivated by the idea of escaping your bedroom for an untamed wilderness, like Max does in the book?

Yes, but my sister and I (we were a team) would actually escape, usually. We would, for example, take our bikes and try to cycle to Belgium (which is about 300 kilometres from where we lived) and end up getting lost in some suburb of Amsterdam by the end of the day. We would ask a passerby for the way back home and by the time we got back in the middle of the night, we would find our mother in a state of near collapse. She had to call the cops quite a few times to look for us. We always thought she exaggerated.

But when I look back I guess we were quite out of control.

Astrid Lindgren or Hans Christian Andersen?