Gnarly Dude

Last week I visited the Herman Miller showroom to look at the new furniture systems for the ArtCenter Grad program. There's some pretty snappy stuff and I may need to get a stand up desk for myself. In the George Nelson room there was print of John Neuhart's poster for Alexander Girard's Textiles and Objects shop. 

Designed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Matter employed organic forms and paired them with hard geometry. The organic forms, boomerangs, kidney shapes, and liquid shapes were a reaction to the hard and cold machine aesthetic of World War II. After years of tragedy, it isn't surprising that designers and the public would move toward life affirming forms. Even Matter's layouts for an article on the Ray and Charles Eames dances the line between grid and freeform.

It was reassuring to see the spread with the gnarly wood (as in tangled not rad). I have many pieces of gnarly wood and frequently find more on my hikes. It looks odd when I come down the trail with a pile of wood held in my shirt, but tough.

Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/ He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Everyone Knows It's Windy

I’ve read multiple essays on the “zen-ness” and subtext of “nothingness” of Charles Eames’ Do Nothing Machine. He designed the object in 1958, and it didn’t do “nothing”; it moved with the use of solar power. It may have been a comment on the psychology and consumerism of late 1950s America, but I can’t stop thinking about its relationship to the Tower of the Four Winds.

Rolly Crump at Disney designed the Tower of the Four Winds for the front of Pepsi/Unicef's "It's a Small World" at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It looked like the Do Nothing Machine, had parts that spun around, and was powered by a natural element. Hmmm. The difference was scale. The Tower was 120 feet and the Machine looks like it was 1 foot tall. Of course, this could have been one of those moments when one designs something and forgets about the original inspiration that is deep in the unconscious mind. In the end, though, who cares? Both the Tower and Machine are incredible. In fact I think more are needed. Household sized Do Nothing machines (not if you have children who will put their hands into it) and a Tower of the Four Winds for backyard usage (unless you have bird migration).

Charles Eames, Do Nothing Machine, 1958

1964 New York World's Fair, Pepsi/Unicef Pavilion

Charles Eames and the Machine