Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Design

Saturday January 17 2015

When it comes to Micklethwait’s Laws, the best one undoubtedly is and will always be Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery.

But there is also a Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves.  On the face of it, Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves is not that fundamental, but, writing about it now, I do think it explains quite a lot about the world, and about why there is so much stuff in the world, clogging it up.  It is a law that, unlike with (so far as I am aware) Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery, many others have discovered the truth of, even if I’ve not been able to find it spelt out in so many words on the www.  Micklethwait’s (or Whoever’s) Law of Shelves states that …:

image

… there is always room for more shelves.

That’s my bedroom.  Imagine what the rest of my place is like.

Thursday January 15 2015

Here’s a nice coincidence.  There I was writing about how I went from being, in my teens, a bad pen-and-ink picture-maker to, from around 2000 onwards, a far happier digital-photographic picture maker.  And here is a picture that captures that kind of metamorphosis perfectly:

image

It’s one of these pictures by Christoph Niemann.  Niemann’s pictures bring to mind that phrase used by one of the alter egos of Barry Humphries, Barry McKenzie, who described paintings as “hand done photos”.  These pictures really do only work as photos.  Until they are photoed, the job is not done.  But the hand-done bit is essential to what they are.

One thing about these pictures that I particularly like, apart from the basic fact that I like them, is their very favourable effort-to-impact ratio.  For my taste, too much of the picture-making displayed at Colossal consists of stuff that is quite nice to look at, but which took an absurdly huge amount of time and effort to contrive.  Also, there is often no logical or even meaningful connection between how the pictures are contrived and how they end up looking.  So, you’ve made a table cloth out of seeds.  Clever you.  But, why?  Niemann’s pictures answer this question perfectly.

But then again, the internet being the internet, if your elaborately pointless pictures catch people’s fancy and thousands glance at them, then I guess that, if you put in a lot of time and effort, you may well reckon than all the time and effort was worth it, especially if you had fun spending it and doing it.  And of course it is digital photography that transforms a laboriously produced one-off item of visual art that took far too much time and effort to do, into a mass experience that it made sense to spend a lot of time and effort doing.  But, most of these intricate sculptures and pictures at Colossal are just sculptures and pictures that were then photographed.  Niemann’s pictures are real Hand Done Photos.

As for me, between being a bad pen-and-ink picture maker and an okay-to-good digital photographer, I endured a big interval during which I made hardly any pictures of any kind.  My pictorial enthusiasm expressed itself in the design of pamphlets, and graphic design generally.  Basically I became a desktop publisher.  (I even earned money doing this.) First I just did publishing, on a desktop, paper-scissors-glue-photocopier.  Then computers arrived, and I was an early adopter of “desktop publishing”.  Then the internet arrived, and drew a big line under all that stuff.  I shovelled all my pamphlets onto the internet, and became a blogger.  And, I bought my first digital camera.  At first, blogging and digital photography did not mix very well.  Now, they mix very well indeed.

Wednesday January 14 2015

Dezeen reports that the Walkie Talkie Sky Garden is now open:

image

Note this:

This feature helped the project win planning permission, despite being outside the City of London’s main skyscraper cluster.

It seems that I am not the only one who believes that new buildings like the Walkie Talkie are good not only because they improve the views by being in the views, but by being a new place to look at the views.

And to repeat, I especially like how the Walkie Talkie looks from a distance.  The point being: it looks, not just like any old anonymous lump, but like the lump that is the Walkie Talkie.  The Walkie Talkie is, just like the Shard and the Gherkin and St Paul’s and Big Ben and the Wheel, recognisable, this being why it needs a special jokey name.  That means that it makes me happy whenever I see it.  It makes me feel at home.  It may not be beautiful exactly (although from nearby I happen to think that it is very beautiful).  But neither is the rest of London beautiful exactly, and I think the Walkie Talkie fits right in.

LATER: Diamond Geezer is way ahead of me.

Tuesday January 13 2015

From time to time I go looking for pictures of bridges, preferably new ones, but seldom find anything I don’t know about.  And then, quite by chance, while clicking through these old photos, I chance upon this:

image

It’s the Golden Gate, being built, in 1937.

I recall doing a pen-an-ink type sketch (as opposed to something theatrical like a comedy sketch – odd double meaning that), when in my teens, of the Severn Road Bridge, when it only had a chunk of road in the middle, suspended in glorious isolation, going nowhere in either direction (like in the photo here).  This photo reminds me of those times.

I never actually drew any decent pictures, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about composition, by which I mean that I chose quite good pictures to do, but actually did them very badly.  Now I take good pictures, rather less badly.  How I wish there had been digital cameras when I was a teenager.  My cycling expeditions around France, and then Scandinavia, and then Iceland, would have been far more fun, and now far easier to remember.  The old cameras, with “film” in them, were ridiculous.  You had to “develop” all the damn pictures, very expensively, just to find out that about three of them weren’t total crap.  But you tell young people this nowadays they think you’re mad.  And if you did all this, guess what, you were mad.

I have never shared the contempt that most people show - or pretend to show - for Adolf Hitler’s paintings.  Okay, so they aren’t Rembrandts, but even so, I would have loved to have been as good hand-done picture-making as he was.  Could it be that people just can’t bear to accept that he ever did anything well or anything good?  Just a wild guess.

Monday January 12 2015

Here, as promised, is a big clutch of photos of signs that I took at the Trafalgar Square demo yesterday.  If you want to, click on a square to get the original photo.  The squares have, in quite a few cases been fiddled out with to make them a bit clearer, but the originals you’ll get to with clicking are exactly as taken.

There were, of course, lots of signs (including many mobile phones and at least one tablet) saying “I AM CHARLIE”, in fact you can see quite a few such if you do some clicking.  But, here are all the signs I photographed that said something else as well, or instead:

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Of all of these, my two favourites are “Team Civilization”, and “Down With The Tyranny of The Offended” (in French).  But demos are at least as much about quantity as quality, and I trust the sheer number of signs shown here (there were plenty more that I didn’t get to photo) makes the bigger point.  There were a lot of people turning out to denounce these horrible attacks.

Even the rather or almost completely illegible signs are an encouragement, I think, because what these signs tell us is that quite a few people were present, and feeling strongly enough about it to want to wave a sign, who had never been anywhere near such a demo ever before.

Feel free to reproduce any of these images at will, with or without attribution.  If you’d like bigger versions of any of the pictures, my email can be found here, top left, where it says “Contact”.

Saturday January 10 2015

A while back I linked to a report mentioning how drones with cameras had been hovering near sunbathing girls at the beach.  Not good.

Well, here is a report another drone doing things on the beach, but this time good things.  It flies out to sea from the beach and delivers a life preserver to a swimmer in difficulties, which I presume means something like a rubber ring the swimmer can get into instead of having to depend on their swimming skills:

image

That, at any rate, is the idea.  This thing is not at the the soon-to-be-crowdfunded stage.

Via Instapundit.

The odd thing about the above photo is how unclear it is how big this thing is.

Wednesday January 07 2015

The world is very full of ugly modern buildings, which would be greatly improved, I think, by a dash of colour.  Accordingly, I am always on the lookout for brightly coloured modern buildings, either because they have been coloured much later, or because they were like that to start with.  See also this posting, about white architectural modernism is so black and white..

So, I like this, in Tokyo:

image

Details here.

There are street wires to be seen, but not very many, and in only one of the photos.

Sunday December 28 2014

When in France, I have no particular desire to do as the French do.  I have my own agendas.  So, for instance, French people do not make a point of photoing French posters advertising British or American films in the Paris Metro.  But, I like to do this:

image

I am using an alien computer.  Contriving the above photo-display took some doing.  Were I using my own computer I might have cropped that photo.  As it is, it is as it was when it came out of my camera.

Mostly, I just like the thought that we are making movies that they consider good enough to show in Paris.  But I think I am also interested in what sort of picture of my country they are seeing.  I’m guessing it is one that they want to see.  In this case, for example, they are see us Anglos being, although quite good looking, also boring, disgusting, uncultured and gross, and generally behaving like people upon whom wealth is wasted.  Not wanting to see Anglos in this light myself, I have not seen this movie, so I may be entirely wrong about what it is like.

But if it is not like that, they shouldn’t have called it that.  As a general rule, it is surely good business to take your movie look in the posters (and sound in its title) the way it actually is, because that way the people who will be attracted to it by the poster will then enjoy it, and the word of mouth will be good.  Many a movie is not what they first advertised it as, and hence was denounced by its early audiences, but was good in some other way, and ended up appealing to quite other people.  Had they advertised it more accurately to start with, they’d have done better business.

A French film poster advertising a British film
Don’t mention The Wires!
To Covent Garden (1): The twisty footbridge
Trousers keyboard
Photo-drone wars to come
Sign blocked by surveillance camera
Quota roof clutter
In the City with Gus
Tower Bridge glass shattered by beer bottle
Phone (and cash) box
The Magic Flute at the RCM
Looking down through the see-through Tower Bridge walkway – but what about looking up through it?
Union Jacks with colours played around with
A small photo posting
Skycam
Halloween buckets
How Bill Bryson on white and black paint helps to explain the Modern Movement in Architecture
Driverless open-plan tube trains for London
Recently on dezeen
Boris bus malfunction
Another facade being carefully preserved
Flying cars will have to be flown by robots
Chippendale without Rannie
Lady with a lot of hair
Union Jack Minis
On the problems of half-parking with a half-car
Crane lamp
Headlights with cleaning brush
Out and about in the sunshine
Bond car
God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
A swimming pool in a skyscraper
My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
A Sunday ramble
Round headlights equals an old car
The River Thames carpet
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Self-healing concrete
Bombardier Embrio
New London bridge competition
My favourite Tour de France in London photo
Colossal fun
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
Will England get lucky?
Vespa GS in Lower Marsh
The Not-V2 at London Bridge Station
3D printed structural joints and another Gormley man
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Tricycles
Tower Bridge before it got covered in stone
Chinos?
Stones created from layers of old paint from car factories
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Leaf Cycle
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Organised water
Moving picture
Looking good for the telephone box smartphone
Old bus No 2
Hao Ruan and LYCS Architecture are now world famous
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
Red arrow?
Ten years ago today
Vauxhall bus station now – and when it was being constructed
Feline ephemera
Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Vladivostock from above
When Open Symbol attacks!
Faberge - Brutalism
Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar
Photoing the A380 from above – from the ground
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
Sandcastles that will live for ever
The Tate Modern extension nears completion
Slightly wider tube trains
How hydrogen bombs work
Quota crane and quota plane
3D printer sighted!
Model Big Things
Scott Wiener on pizza boxes
In which I continue to seek a satisfactory sofa
Mercedes-Benz W123
Big Things and small things
Movable bridges
London Postcode Puzzle
La Porte des Indes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Crows nest made of coat hangers
Conquer the Pillars of Islam
Dezeen continues to delight
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Proposed new footbridges for London and for Changsha
Sperm Bike
Halloween is near!
Otherwise blogging (and a Burgess Park butterfly)
Corrie Chipps pictures the Zimbabwe inflation
Bad and good in bad weather
Earn yourself fifty quid by finding me a suitable sofa
Huge semi-submersible ships
Art gallery made of scaffolding
Chess set made of London’s Big Things
London Gateway from above
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
Bridges for animals
New apostrophe-shaped footbridge in Hull
Views from Kings College
Blank-faced tower – crazy hairdo
An old Mini and a new Mini
Rooftops
Savoy cat
Spot the Samsung connection
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Cassette iPhone photographer
Wedding photography (4): Preparations
Remembering a warmer day
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Lunch at Gessler at Daquise
Four crane photos
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
Classical CDs from Gramex
At the bottom of the Shard
Monopoly Cat replaces Monopoly Iron
Skull made of skulls in gift shop street
Big London Things with clutter in the foreground
XXL?
A new crane has already arrived
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
Another thing I’d rather photo than own
Croydon cats
An afternoon in Croydon
Here are (a lot) more photos that I took on March 27th
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom internet headline of the day
Click to see the big picture
The Bezier Building and a hideous advertising erection at the Old Street Roundabout
Millbank Tower with street light
A memorable scoreboard surrounded by empty seats
Cheese or font?
Black Katz
Bomber Command Memorial pictures
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Crane and plane
Only railings
No Misc April – Misc May
Misc March
London bridge photos
Changing views from the Monument
The Big Olympic Thing from nearer
Bollards
A happy British Summer Time to all my readers
A Happy Christmas to all those still reading this
Space launch monster
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
Transport photos
NFL fans and their name-and-number shirts in Trafalgar Square on Saturday
The Jobs difference
Notes to self but not to you
The Wheel reflected in a cheeseburger advert
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
The Royal Victoria Dock is not (but looks like) a transporter bridge
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
On the superfluity of the Paddington Basin rolling bridge
Strange footbridge over brick wall
Rally Against Debt signs
Brainwave-controlled cat ears for humans created by Japanese Neurowear
Nil scrap value
Do not climb on the Thing!
The wedding lingers on
Another pub
The Armstrong Gun
Signs from the Frenchosphere
After the wedding
Even the Goodyear Blimp is now obsessed with safety
Big crane
And there was you thinking you were immortal
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
Rugby shirts on drugs
Another Assembly of Men
The Big Dig and some smaller digging
Kyrgyzstan cemetery and awesome frogs
Signs - all in my bit of one railway carriage
Mmmmm … scaffolding!
New bridge in Melbourne
If you can’t beat them hire them
Raptor not being very stealthy
Old school advertising has its uses
Soviet health and safety posters
More signage
Giant bull held up by scaffolding
Bouncing bombs and spinning cricket balls
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
Lancaster
Cool sculpture
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
October 2007 conversation about modern architecture with Patrick Crozier
Marmite spoons!
Dawkins does better sound than God ever did
The new mainframe
A laptop but not in my lap
From pop to purrfume
Trust drunk and disorderly
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
Arecibo Radio Telescope
Giant Jesuses
Adverts on taxis and cars
Sunset in Oxford Street
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Sexy architecture
Happy hundredth
Mmmmm … bookshelves!
Farnborough (4): Cat on teeshirt - insect on cat’s nose
Lynxes and an A380
Taranis
Exploitation?
Pink railway clutter
Big box computers versus laptops
Three Gorges Dam picture
Chair that unrolls into the exactly correct shape
More photos from last week
One child poster
Rubbish bridge in Shangai
Glass is now very strong
Car in in front of sloping houses
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
Airplanes converted into architecture
Apple keyboard remains excellent – iPhone software not so excellent
Six lions on a white Mercedes bonnet
Quota cat rubber
Cranes
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
Beyond iPad (and a picture that goes beyond this posting)
Two red cats
Quota bridge
Reds against Blues in Munich
Osprey pictures
London cricket roof clutter
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
The Min-Kyu Choi folding three point plug
Strange purple cat with four eyes
Am I interested in dredgers?
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
Strange bridge
Apple mobile phones are very profitable but Nokia mobile phones are not very profitable
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
Death to all who try to tiptoe past our guards while wearing giant baby costumes!
Today I bought an Apple Mac keyboard …
The Labour Party finally agrees on a new Prime Minister to replace Gordon Brown
Dripping table
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
Pull Tab
Computer coffee table
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
The Wheel through some Art
Thinking thin at the top
The latest Canon DSLR comes without a twiddly screen
Inappropriate?
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
A photo of the Samsung NC10 and the original Asus Eee-PC next to each other
PurseBook
Wheel etc.
Hotelicopter
Redesigned Bishop
Unamazing photo of amazing road
Olympus E-620
SwivelCam
Sailing photos – and another bridge for the collection
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
SDXC
Generational taste in furniture
Random links
Making the new look and feel like the old
Evening Standard hand-done billboards go printed shock
Power
Englefield Green Xmas decor
Another antique
Old postage stamps
More Englefield Green strangeness
Jesus above the keyboard instead of beyond it
Big clocks
Not Billion Monkeys!
Linkin Park - one leg short of libertarian
Gadget gold
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
A movie staircase and a window
Sheep under wolf’s clothing
JD gets PTD
Redirect to a piece on Samizdata about a camera
Inamo
Redirect
The uses of Jesus
More sticking up stuff
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Profundity and silliness
My watch has to tell me the date as well as the time
Jellennium Bridge
Punk surveillance cameras
Craziness done with austerity
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
Floppy road bridge where the cars nearly get wet
Narrow bridge
Catbrella
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
The new Lowe look
What’s this for?
“If only it were true …”
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
PID strikes Guido
Roger Scruton on Prince Charles’s new town
Flickring and Googling for the AMGEN bridge
Those were the days and these are no longer the days
Wired bridges
A sculptural suggestion
Malaysian footbridge for everyone except … gephyrophobiacs?
Giant table football table and hamster powered cars
Church covered in church pictures
The Messina Suspension Bridge is on again
“Better value on goods and services across a wide range of categories …”
My Wheel’s bigger than your Wheel
Big Bens - Wheels - Big Ben teapots - telephone box teapots
Wedding rings that join together with telephone plugs
Dasubee toilet scrubbing robot
Classic car thinness
Coffee House struggles with Permanent Italics Disease
Instapundit succumbs to PID
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Flat pictures for flat screens
Signs of civilisation
She learned to knit her before she learned to spell her
Toshiba’s violin playing robot
Ursa major
Making the Mississippi Delta make more land
Bookcase staircase many books electric book manybooks.net
At Bethnal Green railway station
Eee PC and Brahms CDs
Flat viaduct and spiral bridge
The great DVD packaging clearout
The petty cash effect cuts in for Linux
Linux versus Windows - the bigger tiny laptop breakout
Thin camera picture
Bristol footbridge photo
Engadget suffers from intermittent giant text disease
Thin Canadian bridge
Underground art
The bridge that was going to make Westminster a fine city and London a desert
Digital Camera Review error
Tinsley Viaduct
The A380 bulge
Fourteen British viaducts
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
Architecture talk
A picture of a Wheel seen through a field of corn
Samsung SPH-P9200
Cat power!
Short posting with short photograph
The blue and gray men are slaughtering the gray and blue men
Another angle on pylons
Back from the dead and soon to be duplicated
Revised logo
Old cranes - new cranes
Small and cheap
Ugly logo(s)
Fujitsu Lifebook
Assorted London quota photos
PG tips
A movie about a typeface
Plastic that conducts heat better
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Smallest mobile keyboard yet?
Susie Bubble turns shopping into a job with her blog
Halo over Oxford Circus
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
Shame you can’t do this kind of thing here
New Moscow road bridge
Pylons
Umbrellas and other gadgets
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
New footbridge in Edinburgh
Bollocks to the fashists
The Nanpu bridge approaches
Diamond Synchrotron
Robot car park in New York
Other people’s photos (6): More bridges
Weird loudspeakers
The Dyson DC14
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
A good new mobile computer - but still too pricey
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Pictures of the world for the world
Happy day after Christmas Day
Happy Christmas Day
Haircuts before and after
ASUS R2U-BH040T
Cranes and street lamps and mp3s
Pictures of and from Albert Bridge
On sail in two weeks
The world now needs bad taste iPod docks
Top tips from Viz
Airship over the Wheel
Tech talk mp3 with Michael Jennings
Two sunset photos
Grassy car with blog
Cute jewelry and ideologically induced woe
Cute Brazilian car
A digital SLR that a Billion Monkey could lift!
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
Is this to stop pigeons or bulb stealers?
Adriana tours her own back yard
Getting that roof clutter onto my computer
I also miss Transport Blog
Clutter
Presumably the noise is not a problem
Chrysler 300C with bling
Evening sun on the Wheel
The Hungerford footbridges
Skill and Post-Skill
Blue balls – kaleideskopes – etc.
Holocaust museum repeated as fashion?
The Falkirk Wheel
Those little big things that you hate
HMS Funny Looking
A kink in the Range Rover grill
The Tate Modern end of the Millennium Bridge
Double brolly
Aussie pub window and Aussia Billion Monkey
The evening sun through the windows of the Albert
Rolls Royces
Hundred dollar laptop
Digital preservation
Tourist traps – foregrounds – cranes