Tag Archives: design

The Ghostmodern Condition

A riddle — Q: When is a thing not a thing? A: When it’s a void with the form of that thing.

Take a a Platonic solid, a cube. Then…

  1. Divide every face of the cube into 9 squares, like a Rubik’s Cube. This will sub-divide the cube into 27 smaller cubes.
  2. Remove the cube at the middle of every face, and remove the cube in the center, leaving 20 cubes.
  3. Repeat steps 1–3 for each of the remaining smaller cubes. Forever.

At each stage, you’re left with a fractal curve called a Menger Sponge:

[More animation here]

At the limit point of infinite recursion, you’re left with a cube which has infinite surface area, but which is all hole.

We offer this empty solid up as a model of an aesthetic we’re labelling ghostmodernism within which — of the spine, the spire, the span that holds the form to one form: the wire in the rose — only that span, the form of the form, remains, as the form itself has now become infinitely detailed, yet in that process, of the void.

So, you ask, what does ghostmodernism look like, in the wild?

Exhibit One — this exquisite laser-cut chair from Gallery Fumi:

[view full-size on Flickr]

Exhibit Two — the plot of the film Inception, while having the surface modernist form of a heist thriller, recurses down into the frozen time ‘down there’ deep in stasis of Cobb’s dreamworld, the narrative ‘arc’ now a pathological curve.

Inception narrative visualisation

The ghostmodern is not inherently evanescent, although I’d happily claim Doug Starn’s Big Bambu installation as an edge-case.

These thoughts also return to us our dreams of the hyperbolic surfaces of modern being — there’s another post coming soon linking these thoughts…

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Wear Palettes

Tracking this season’s colours. And more.

wear palettesBigShinyThing reader Daniel — a Swiss graphic design student — writes in to alert us to his site Wear Palettes.

The site features images from the Sartorialist fashion site, from which the dominant colour palettes behind the look have been extracted and catalogued: a daily-growing database of fashion colours.

Nice idea. At the moment the site is bloggish, and we assume Daniel is doing the hard work manually in Photoshop or similar. We’ve no idea where this will go, but can only hope Daniel gets some investment or mainstream interest which would allow him to expand the scope and functionality. It’s easy to imagine Wear Palettes growing to include user-contributed, geo-tagged data from across the globe, and becoming an essential style/design resource. We wish Daniel every success and will be keeping an eye on the Spring palettes to come.

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Ffffabulous for design ffffreaks

We’ve lost the last day of our lives playing on the closed beta of ‘image bookmarking’ site ffffound. And so have our design- and photography-loving friends. So we guess that’s a big thumbs up.

ffffound is — like the best 2.0-ish sites — dead simple. Install a bookmarklet into your browser, then, when you see an image you like on any site, anywhere, mouse over it, click the FFFFOUND button, and the magic ffffound fairies will add that image to your collection on the ffffound site, where other people can find and favourite it. Kind of a stripped-down flickr for stolen (sorry — ‘quoted’) images, meets Digg, with a collaborative filtering recommendation system under the hood. And that’s it. No tagging, no text: just images and a community of image fetishists. It shouldn’t be as addictive as it is. But it is. The closed beta has obviously attracted a community of design obsessives, and the content is generally excellent. Shame the screensaver seems to be buggered on our Macs.

We think ffffound is One to Watch. We’ve already used up our complimentary invites, so you’l need to get your access elsewhere, sorry. But get on the phone to your friends and try to get signed up.

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Free Tickets to iDesign!

Tickets have now been won – thanks to everyone to entered.


In case you’re not in the know:

iDesign: Design for Life, is a one day event which provides the main digital focus for the London Design Festival. The conference and accompanying exhibition examines the impact of digital interactive media on all of our lives, and showcases some of the capital’s most innnovative and exciting digital work. Bringing together some of the foremost practitioners and thinkers from online, mobile, film, games music and TV, the delegation will discuss how our collective digital future will pan out, and the importance of good design principles and practices for both social and economic benefit. iDesign: Design for Life is presented by Dynamo London in association with NMK, AIG and cybersalon, with support from the LDA.

iDesign will take place at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, on Tuesday 18th September 2007, 09.00-18.00. Tickets are £55 each. More detail on the iDesign website.

Iggi with hatMouth-watering.

The competition is now CLOSED. Our lucky winners are: James Bridle and Fran Hazeldine. We’ll be in touch shortly, guys!

Big thanks to Lisa for sorting out this giveaway for BigShinyThing.

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Rather Lovely

The gramophone cd player.

A lovely mesh of old and new(ish) tech. Via Chromaniac.

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Logo Puts the ‘Limp’ in Olympics

Olympic identity appears to fall at the first hurdle. But, is it all just a clever marketing stunt?

London Olympics logo So that’s what £400k spent on Wolff Olins’s endless meetings and stale Pret sarnies bought us. Good to see that some of the money ‘freed-up’ by the arts funding cuts we mentioned earlier has been spent so wisely.

But, enough enough already with the sarcasm. More constructive critics might argue that the desire for “reaching out and engaging young people” (presumably that’s a reference to the ‘funky’ shapes and colours, a la Thompson Twins 7-inch sleeves circa 1982) could have been more usefully satisfied by — for example — actually reaching out and engaging with them. London has a unique street-art culture, and that 400k could surely have funded some ongoing recognition of and support for the nascent design talent on the streets of East London — which might have generated some real interest in the design aspects of the Olympics amongst young people. And just maybe, a better logo. A sadly missed opportunity.

(BST’s editor points out that it does look just a teeny bit new rave. Maybe. If you squint. Hard. After downing a litre of ‘vodka’ at a mid-week Dalston lock-in.)

Anyways. You know you’re experiencing a post-‘that kidney show hoax‘ sign-o-the-times moment when the BBC News blog speculates that the whole thing might be a set-up to get publicity, after which the plan is to replace the controversial identity with one ‘made by the people for the people’.

We believe they really do think that their design rocks. The suspicious absence of ‘approved’ comments on the official london2012 blog posting also suggests that they don’t want anyone cluttering up their special happy place with naysaying negativity. Maybe they need ‘blogging’ explained to them, as well as ‘design’.

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Hamster Shredder

A brilliantly lean piece of design (rather than a torture device for small furry things).

hamstershredder.jpgTom Ballhatchet‘s hamster-powered paper shredder. Genius.

Via Core77.

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The Original iPhone

Now this we would buy …

iphone.jpgMIT Adverlab have found a 1985 patent for a phone shaped like an (Apple Mac) Apple.

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The latest issue.

truth.jpgFriends of BST, 100proof, have just sent us the latest version of their nifty online mag. They say:

100proofTRUTH is a PDF journal, a magazine, a DVD, a website, a TV show that has grown organically out of 100proof’s work in film/tv/video, journalism, art direction, and digital/media/design.


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The anti-‘funky’ backlash gathers pace…

A few years back, I visited family and friends in Tasmania, which is — full disclosure — the land of my birth. An island of rugged beauty, exceptional beaches, and primaeval rainforest, much of Tasmania drifts in a strange cultural haze of 1940s home counties tranquility: sleepy little towns where the social hub is the RSL lawn bowls or cricket club. The capital city, Hobart, has more cosmopolitan aspirations. Built overlooking a lovely harbour, nestled in the shadow of a looming mountain, it’s quite a bit Cornwall, and just a little bit Seattle. There is very fine eating and drinking to be done in Hobart. You should visit.

So, with gourmet thoughts in mind, it was exciting to go shopping with friends to a farmers’ market just out of town. Local food, grown in the cleanest air on the planet, in the finest soil in the Southern Hemisphere. What delights, what rich variety would we find? We entered the vast shed, and started to explore.

I headed for the greens. There were two kinds of lettuce on show: crisp, clean Iceburg, and a Cos of some kind. The Iceburg was labelled, in shaky block capitals: LETTUCE. The Cos: FANCY LETTUCE: Tasmanians don’t waste words. We bought some Fancy Lettuce and headed over to the bakery. There we found some nice white loaves: BREAD. And some baguettes. Labelled, oh yes!, yes indeed: FANCY BREAD.


Earlier this week, we members of the BigShinyThing team were — full disclosure — invited guests (FANCY! FANCY!) at Ikea’s London launch of its ‘upmarket’ STOCKHOLM range.
This sign, spotted at the launch, sums up the ethos of the new range: it cleanly positions a newly design-conscious but still-affordable asthetic within the Ikea brand. “Watch out Habitat“, this sign says to us, “you with your airs and graces“. Nice move, neatly executed. “FANCY quality” indeed. Who needs it! Not the Tasmanians, not Ikea, and not you!

Last year it was things POSH getting an ironic drubbing from the advertising world. This year, all that which is FANCY seems fair game: pretension is obviously so out with brands at the moment. And it seems like just yesterday that FUNKY and COOL were actually being sold as aspirational! How 1990s! Just fancy!

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