Cube Light

A few months ago I was walking down the Quays with some members of my family heading to see Bill Bailey in the Point Theatre. On our way we passed this odd building by the river, a big glass box which seemed to be filled with a weird, mysterious glow. As we tried to work out just what it was, we joked that it may contain the last essence of Ireland’s spirit, post-Credit-Crunch-Economic-Crisis-Celtic-Tiger-Death. We imagined a scenario where they had decided to capture and contain our final ounces of goodwill and hope for use in an emergency situation sometime in the future.

I never have been able to find out what that box is/was, but today I was reading in the Guardian about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and came across this image of one of his works, which is surprisingly similar:

Cube Light by Ai Weiei

I wonder if Ai Weiwei has managed to capture China’s spirit and hope also? I expect however they would have a much bigger box than ours at the moment.

Interestingly the article mentions that Weiwei has been commissioned to fill the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern this Autumn. I might have to check that out; I very much wanted to see Miroslaw Balka’s How It Is but fate conspired for me to miss it.

9 Hours Capsule Hotel

I’m going to Japan this summer, fulfilling a lifelong dream. As such, I’m currently working out all the things I want to see and do there. One thing that hasn’t interested me much is those capsule/pod hotels, where your room is basically a small, coffin like hole in the wall. I’m vaguely claustrophobic in a way I think alot of people are, just kind of freaked out by being in small spaces for too long.

Capsule Hotel
Photo owned by Kojach (cc)

Today however I came across this link showcasing a brand new capsule hotel in Kyoto called ‘9 Hours’. Its emphasis is on minimalist, simple design. In addition to a stripped down clean aesthetic, it uses simple, easy to understand signage to help make the experience as natural and intuitive as possible. In the video the owner/creator of the hotel says that his inspiration for designing such a radically new type of experience came from thinking whether capsule hotels, which have been common in Japan for 30 years, would appeal to people in places such as London or New York. I find this very interesting as, as a Westerner, capsule hotels didn’t hold much interest for me until I saw this piece. 9 Hours definitely has captured my imagination.

More info, including some photos and details of the graphic design can be found on Design Boom.

Now, if I can just summon up the courage to actually sleep in one….

Link: News Report: Capsule Hotel – 9 Hours [on Monacle.com]
Link found via Erik Spiekermann’s Twitter account.

Arial is bullshit

Having a pop at Arial is like shooting ducks in a barrel, but this is a pretty funny clip. Non-designy friends seem amazed that someone else talks like I do about this subject (I guess they are amazed people talk about this at all). I guess its standard fare for design-fanatics, but this guy really nails the stuff that bugs me so much about Arial (namely those slanty terminals, and yes, the capital R).

What’s funny I guess is that Arial is attempting to mimic Helvetica but the changes it makes are precisely the things that make Helvetica so nice (flat terminals!!)

Sigh.

Shunryu Suzuki on Alan Watts

As a huge fan of both Alan Watts and Shunryu Suzuki I was fascinated by this passage from Crooked Cucumber, David Chadwick’s great biography of Suzuki. A student had just remarked of Watts that “we used to think he was profound until we found the real thing”.

“You completely miss the point about Alan Watts!” Suzuki fumed with a sudden intensity. “You should notice what he has done. He is a great bodhisattva”