Monday 8 March 2010

Beautiful things

In the past week, I've seen a number of beautiful things, so I thought I'd share them here.

In my feedreader this morning I found Duane King writing about Japanese design company Nendo's Fade-Out Chair. The feet of the wooden chair are made of clear acrylic, confusing the distinction between the end of the chair and the beginning of the room it's placed in - look for it in a white cube near you soon.

Digging into Nendo a little I found Switch - a simple lamp, with a beautiful feature - to adjust the brightness of the light, you swivel the lampshade. I find this simple idea entrancing, and I think if I had one in my home I would never stop playing with it.

Over the weekend, I dropped into Te Papa to see the installations of Judy Millar's and Francis Upritchard's Venice Biennale works. Millar's work was a little cramped, but still physically affecting, and the huge shapes certainly make you look at painting in a different, more sculptural, way.

It was Upritchard's work that really surprised me though. I hadn't really cottoned on to it via the installation photos from Venice - too ornate, too hard to make out amidst all the flounces and peeling paint. Put into a neutral space however, the work seemed dense and heavy, in a good way - distilled. And maybe I've been reading far far too much fantasy recently, but these little dancing outcasts gripped me in a way I didn't expect. Also, the tables are beautiful. Just saying.

Next, This is a very simple tool that lets you build a splash page to pull together your activity across the web - I've experimented with pages for myself and for work, using the basic templates.

Unlike me, some people have done some stunning work with the available options, showing how constraints can be very productive. The beautiful thing here for me is the interface you use to create and update your page, one of the simplest and most convenient I've come across. I particularly like the way you can drag the design panel around the screen as you're working, watching the page update with each change you make.

Finally, I read Rebecca Stead's When you reach me in one gulp yesterday. It's a book about love, death, time travel, being 12, and Madeleine L'Engle's A wrinkle in time. It's a slim book, and a taut story - every action, every word counts towards the reveal at the end. Hugely recommended.

Image of Francis Upritchard's Save Yourself from the Te Papa blog, photograph by Michael Hall.

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