Protein Journal ®
Ideas • Inspiration • Insight
The City Issue
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Number 10 – Autumn 2013
Editor in Chief – William Rowe Editor – Addie Chinn & Max Reyner Managing Editor – Claire Barrett Contributing Editors – Joe Iley & Sarah Pearson Sub Editor – Simon Berkovitch Staff Writers – Tag Christof & Camille Ross Contributors – Stephen Bayley, Chris Larkin, Greg Holland, Will Wiles, Will Robson-Scott, Francesca Perry, Siobhan SpenceEdwards, Teddy Fitzhugh, Vivek Vadoliya, Kat Chan, Bridie Woodward, Shaun “The Dream” Weaver, Jonathan Fagan, Jamie McCracken, DunneFrankowski, Olivia Manser, Emmajo Read, Andreea Vrabie, Sam Boynton, Colinn Gavinn, Masha Kuzmenko, Joseph Marczynski, Taylor Cole, Jake Lemkowitz, Ian Hsieh, Chloe Albert, Beatrice Barkholz, Daisy Walker & Zeka Saul. Please send all advertising enquiries to: email@example.com Subscribe to Protein Journal at: prote.in/subscribe Protein Journal is published quarterly in September, December, March and June by Protein Networks Ltd. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. Every effort has been made to contact and properly credit copyright holders, but please contact us regarding corrections or omissions. Printed by Logical Connections. ISSN: 2052 7010
A summer trip to a remote getaway certainly helps clear the mind – a moment of peace from the street lights, sirens and crowds of everyday life (we hope you had a good one too). But back to work, for most of us, means a return to the living world. Back to the architecture, the busy streets and the daily grind. While cities have their fair share of problems, and can at times be a little overwhelming, we feel the positives far outweigh the negatives. The rich blend of cultures, the creative energy of the inner city, and perhaps most satisfying of all, the chance encounter – whether that’s a serendipitous moment at 2am or a random hook-up on Tinder. And these characteristics are only set to be more prevalent: according the UN around 75% of the world’s population will be city dwellers by the year 2050. With this in mind, we felt compelled to dedicate the first of the new Protein Journal to the subject. Inside this issue we explore how citizens are increasingly the answer to civic problems. We look at the urban home of tomorrow. And we imagine how the often neglected suburbs have the potential to reinvent themselves. We also have the usual selection of the most exciting people, places and products that are transforming the world around us. So read on, be inspired, and if you need more, find us online at: prote.in Editor-in-Chief William Rowe firstname.lastname@example.org
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A collection of the most exciting ideas and projects popping up on our radar at the moment
Five of the most interesting and original publications available today
#fail Dan Hill
Fabrica’s founder talks through the steps, and missteps that got him to where he is
S.W.I.N.E. Studio Swine
The multi-disciplinary design studio on balancing form, function and fun
Manufacturing the Impossible Nelly Ben Hayoun
NASA’s resident experience designer blows open doors of the science lab and invites us all in
Toolkit Nathan Myhrvold
The author of Modern Cuisine presents the essentials of his culinary arsenal
Figures in Paris Stephane Ashpool
The head of Pigalle gives us a personal tour of his beloved neighbourhood
The City Report
We investigate the trends of modern urban life, examining where it is now, and where it’s going
Gallery Chi Raq
Filmmaker Will Robson-Scott chronicles the reality of life on the streets of Chicago
How to Make Noisy Jelly Raphaël Pluvinage
Artist Raphaël Pluvinage explains the process of transforming jelly into musical instruments
Guide City of Change: Burma
Having overthrown a military regime, Burma is currently undergoing a cultural revolution
IRNO In the Loop
The Hyperloop transport system will reshape the way we travel forever
Beauty The Alchemistâ€™s Dressing Table RCA graduate Lauren Davies designed this prototype kit for making chemical-free, organic makeup at home. Addressing what she sees as a need for more â€œtransparency and trustâ€? in the cosmetics industry, the kit includes a distiller for floral waters and essential oils, a kohl plate for eyeliner and mascara, and a scent infuser that macerates plants to make creams and balms. heka-lab.com
Feed A good idea is priceless; which is why we keep our ears pretty close to the ground. The Protein Feed contains the most innovative, inventive and downright ingenious ideas shaping tomorrowâ€™s world, hand picked just for you
Feed â€” 7
Health No Sweat Struggling to balance your, active lifestyle with your busy work schedule? Well, struggle no more, because Canadian designer Darryl Agawin has a solution. No Sweat is a collection of office furniture that, as well as being stylishly vibrant, also doubles as gym equipment. darrylagawin.com
Feed â€” 8
Technology Fracture.io MPC Digital has reinvented the traditional photo booth experience by substituting simple snapshots with serious tech. The installation was built using custom software and four Microsoft Kinects, which scan the user from multiple angles and instantly render the polygonal mesh into a virtual 3D sculpture. moving-picture.com
Materials Crustic Using the crushed remains of Chinese mitten crab shells, product designer Jeongwon Ji developed a novel biocompatible material which has all the benefits of plastics with none of the ecological downsides. More tactile than conventional polymers, the material also loses the perfect shape of its mould while its curing, leaving one of a kind items. jeongwonji.com
Artist Julian Oliver appropriated the form of the British Chieftain tank (in 1.25 scale form) for a device that jams all network signals within a range of 15 feet at the flip of a switch. The tank is indicative of the trend towards digital downtime and will become one of a series making up a trinity of total isolation: the next will block Wi-Fi while the last will take on GPS, bringing total peace at last. julianoliver.com Publishing Life Working with a braille proofreader, Designer Philipp Meyer developed Life, a unique tactile comic. The piece explores birth, death, love and separation using three circles embossed on paper, and creates a new medium for storytelling without ink, text or sound, which can be enjoyed equally by both those with and without sight. hallo.pm/life
Feed â€” 9
Digital No Network
Design Sustainable Expanding Bowl Swedish research company Innventia, along with designers Anna Glansen and Hanna Billqvist are the creators of the Sustainable Expanding Bowl. Entirely biodegradable, its compact form saves on transport, space and cost, and when immersed in hot water, it expands into a functional bowl. innventia.com
Feed â€” 10
Trend: Intuitive Gadgets
A new wave of interaction designers are re-examining the way we control everyday physical devices
Plugg Radio The brainchild of Norwegian designers SkrekkĂ¸gle, the DAB-compatible Plugg demonstrates how a common physical gesture can be applied to the way a device is turned on and off, taking inspiration from a wine bottle. Need to use it? Just remove the cork that sits neatly on top of the speaker hole. Replacing the cork turns the radio off. skrekkogle.com
Hibou is a collaboration between gilder and electronics duo Celia Torvisco and RaphaĂŤl Pluvinage. A conductive paint covers its vaselike form, enabling users to control the radio by touching different patterns on its surface. Tapping different points around the top changes the station, while stroking up and down the side changes the volume. pluvinage.eu
Knock Knock Calculator By its nature, an intuitive device should be simple enough for a child to operate. Knock Knock, designed by Khalil Klouche for children, is a simplified calculator that takes the form of a small wooden box. On its face are four signs that each represent a mathematic command. Sums are conducted by knocking these big buttons. Tapping the multiply symbol twice, for instance, means the sum will be multiplied by two. An internal voice mechanism reads out the final answer. klouche.com
Feed â€” 11
Trend: Sustainable Luxury
In a world of dwindling resources, a new breed of product designers are looking to the abundant to create luxury
Disquiet Luxurians French designer Emilie F. Grenier’s Disquiet Luxurians project features a series of burnished objects that appear, at first glance, to be made of gold. However, each is in fact made from feldspar, a highly abundant mineral, far removed from the precious stone one might expect in a luxury item. In doing this, Emilie has suggested that craft – and the process of turning the mineral into something eyecatching – can be just as important as the value of the material itself. commedesmachines.com
Whalebone Project Feed — 12
Similarly, the Whalebone Project, by designers from the Swiss design school ECAL, is a series of decorative objects made from waste found readily on Iceland’s shoreline. The design students worked alongside local designer Brynjar Sigurðarson to scavenge the debris of sharks and whales which, with 10-15 whales becoming beached and then decomposed on Icelandic shores each year, is a more abundant material than you might think. biano.is
Well Proven Chair Luxury objects can also be made from industrial waste. Designers James Shaw and Marjan van Aubel explored this idea for their Well Proven Chair. Following research into the manufacturing process of chairs, the duo discovered that the vast majority of the wood material used to make them is actually turned into byproducts such as sawdust. The duo developed a process that used a bio-resin to turn the waste sawdust into a useable, malleable pulp. This new material is then used to form the seat shell. wellprovenchair.com
Design Making Guns
Feed â€” 13
British designer James Shaw developed this collection of three guns for crafting 3D objects out of pewter, plastic or papier-mache. Each makes use of its materialâ€™s respective properties to create dramatically different forms, whether applied to existing surfaces or simply built upon itself. jamesmichaelshaw.co.uk
Health First Aid Kit On account of the shortcomings of existing first aid kits, product designer Gabriele Meldaikyte offers her ground-up reimagination. In addition to being easy on the eye, the kit is exceptionally user-friendly, marked with clear, colourful graphics and designed for ease of use with only one hand. gabrielemeldaikyte.com
Outdoor Adventure Supply Kit Californian designer Mia Johnson has addressed our propensity for over-connectedness in a refreshingly playful way: a cunning box of essentials for an epic analogue adventure. Complete with a mechanical compass, a disposable film camera and glass jars for capturing fireflies, it is a charming nod to good old-fashioned lose-yourself exploration. miaajohnson.com
Feed â€” 14
Music Quotidian Record Artist Brian House from Eyebeam in New York has turned a yearâ€™s worth of personal travel into music. Using OpenPaths to collect geodata on his daily commute in New York and around the Colorado wilderness, he gave each locale a distinctive tone and then laid them out proportionately on vinyl, condensing 365 days into one 11-minute composition. brianhouse.net
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Monitor: Magazines Despite the potential offered by digital media, there’s seems to be something about physical magazines we can’t quite let go of. Here’s five of our favourites Flaneur – flaneur-magazine.com Berlin’s Flaneur takes the unconventional approach of focusing each issue on a single street anywhere in the world. Works That Work – worksthatwork.com Gathering its subject matter from a diverse range of sources, Works That Works is a beautifully presented magazine that champions all kinds of creativity. Monitor — 16
Intern – intern-mag.com Interns often have a thankless time, facing little to zero pay, tedious tasks and neverending tea duty, but at least this new, bi-annual publication for interns, by interns, gives them a voice. Modern Farmer – modernfarmer.com As self-sustainability grows in popularity, Modern Farmer is full of all the information, articles, tips and advice the modern agriculturalist could possibly need. Cereal – readcereal.com Food magazines are a dime a dozen. Cereal stands out from the crowd by blending food, travel and a keen eye for good design.
#fail: Dan Hill Words Tag Christof
To paraphrase Einstein, if you’ve never made a mistake, you’re clearly not innovating enough. We talk to Fabrica’s Dan Hill and ask about one of his biggest mistakes and what he learned from it
While the polymath certainly doesn’t count many failures under his belt, the seminal Brickstarter (brickstarter.org) project he spearheaded alongside designer Bryan Boyer at Sitra in Helsinki certainly proved a valuable learning experience. Aiming to provide the first robust framework for participatory urbanism, it seized upon the populist appeal of platforms such as Kickstarter and SpaceHive (see page 42), but recognised that when applied in the context of urbanism, they were mostly funding flashy projects of questionable value. Brickstarter posited that, for a crowdfunding platform to effectively address the most pressing problems of urbanism and effect any real long-term change, it would have to be embedded into municipal institutions. Although intended purely as a research initiative from the start, the project garnered a tremendous amount of attention from both global media and figures within Helsinki’s own municipality. Nevertheless, a live Brickstarter never materialised and the project came to an end.
“Sometimes,” he says, “you don’t actually know what the most important goal of a project should be until you’re halfway through it. We were aiming at making a sketch of the next-generation municipality. But the reality is that we’re dealing with institutions born in the 19th century that are still sort of working in the 21st. I’d have loved to take it live. That we didn’t was our biggest failure: where you really learn is when you test something out.”
In any case, Hill hopes that Brickstarter’s legacy of openness and experimentation will provide a solid framework for future projects, and its complete findings have been made freely available in a book downloadable from Sitra’s website.
2007-2008: Director of Web and Broadcast, Monocle, London/Sydney
Hill’s new role at the helm of Italian studio, Fabrica, should give him a platform for exactly this type of live experimentation. The studio is at the forefront of innovation in a country that, institutionally, many would argue is failing. Nevertheless, he sees promise in its vibrant culture and ability to produce strongholds of world-class innovation. He believes that where Brickstarter failed in Helsinki, a similar initiative might stand to make headway in Italy. “Finland kind of works, but nobody realises that there are problems – yet,” he says. “Italy, on the other hand, is further ahead on its path of creative destruction – and so is a super-interesting place to do work.”
2012-present: CEO, Fabrica, Treviso 2011-2012: Strategic Design Lead, Sitra, Helsinki 2008-2011: Associate, Arup, Sydney
2001-2006: Head of Interactive Technology & Design, BBC, London 1997: MA, Manchester Metropolitan University 1992: BSc, University of Hertfordshire
#fail — 17
On the subject of failure, designer Dan Hill can be downright bullish. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s about pursuing life’s little accidents with curiosity,” he says. “It’s about asking how you can weave these together into some interesting, progressive idea or narrative that hasn’t happened yet.”
Super W S.W.I.N.E. — Studio Swine
Whether it’s transforming materials or altering the way we consider sustainable design, the duo behind Studio Swine – AKA Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Exploration – are on a mission to change the world
ciplinary “Something interesting happens when you transform a material,” the pair explain from their Kent-based studio. “You transform the perception of that material. The amount of people who come into contact with our products is small, but the amount of people we can communicate with through the transformation of perceptions is much larger.”
“desire is the greatest agent of change.” Take their São Paulo Collection, a series of luxury interior products constructed from Brazilian urban waste. It starts with interest in “the way Brazil took on European Modernism and made it their own,” says Alex. Described by Azusa as “the perfect synthesis of elegant simplicity and sculptural form”, the pair worked within the framework of 1950s Brazilian Tropical Modernism to make a contemporary luxury collection of furniture and lighting, sourcing discarded glass bottles and aluminium cans from the streets of São Paulo and using artisan workshops to repurpose them. “One of the constraints we give ourselves is to always work with materials that are unexciting and turn them into something exciting,” Azusa notes. Referencing another of their recent projects – a faux-marble lamp that channels pure Palm Springs Modernist architecture – Alex uses concrete as an example of just this.
S.W.I.N.E. — Studio Swine
Whether it’s transmuting human hair into statement spectacles, rubbish into furniture or concrete into faux-marble, Studio Swine has a thing for change. “We’re interested in design as an agent of transformation,” say its founders, architect Azusa Murakami and artist Alex Groves. It’s a bold proclamation for a studio not in its third year. And yet, with a Wallpaper* Design Award under their belts, plus a residency at San Francisco’s Djerassi Art Center imminent, perhaps there’s something to the duo’s transformative credo.
Words Emmajo Read Photography Vivek Vadoliya
ploration The transformation of perceptions is especially pertinent when it comes to sustainable design, in line with the Studio Swine aphorism that
S.W.I.N.E. — Studio Swine — 20
“We’ve been experimenting with how to make it appear like marble… The artificial can be more interesting than the real,” he says.
“ingenious ways of solving a problem,” they reveal. “We found this inspirational and wanted to bring it into our own work.”
Studio Swine is also notably invested in the transformation of perception through design. Its Sea Chair – an open source seating design made entirely from reconstituted plastic recovered from the world’s oceans and seas – is a shining example. The chair is an open source creative project conceived in the sustainability tradition of waste repurposing, but it is also “about the perception of plastic – seeing it as a resource and helping people to use it,” the pair explain.
Thus, Studio Swine’s latest project, Can City – their observations of catadores (the Brazilian rubbish collectors who “go around the street with handmade carts collecting materials that have a recyclable value”) – inspired the pair to create an alternative manufacturing model for the modern city: a mobile furnace that melts down used aluminium cans so that they can be recast into other objects on demand.
They travelled to a cove in Cornwall which is reported to contain the UK’s highest levels of washed-up plastic. Research revealed that the cove used to be panned for tin and gold, inspiring them to employ similar techniques to collect plastic for their chair design. “We were interested in making a chair at sea that was very much from the sea,” Alex explains. Notions of travel, community and place similarly command influence over Studio Swine’s explorations into change, as much of what the duo does is anchored to regional cultures and practices both extant and historic – whether that’s in the UK or Brazil. Alex and Azusa’s immersion in the streets of São Paolo acquainted them with a culture of crafts and design that is both mobile and improvised, encountering local street markets that offered
There’s a considerable amount going on behind the Studio Swine approach to its work – for example, the reappropriation of waste materials, the use of historic practices and open source design, and a focus on local resources (the salvage and wood yards near their studio in Kent – see above – are their main ports-of-call). But underpinning all of these strands is the recurrent, important theme of sustainability. Asking Studio Swine about sustainability and its role in the modern age of luxury and commodification, the duo’s response is intriguingly optimistic. “In time there won’t be such a thing as sustainable design,” they proclaim. “Because in time it will be inherent that all design is sustainable.”
And perhaps it is this unswerving faith that fuels their desire to transform. studioswine.com
Shelf Light (2013) Made from discarded bottles and aluminium cans, Azusa describes the São Paulo collection and its Shelf Light as as the “perfect synthesis of elegant simplicity and sculptural form.” Hair Glasses (2011) For this collection, human hair is transmuted into statement spectacles. “Something interesting happens when you transform the perception of a material,” the duo says. Sea Chair (2011) This reinterpretation of old shipping stools, made from washed-up plastic waste, taps into both local design practices and sustainability.
— 21 S.W.I.N.E. — Studio Swine
Three distinctive Studio Swine projects derived from recycled materials
Photography Neil Berret
Manufacturing the Impossible â€” Nelly Ben Hayoun â€” 22
Manufacturing the Impossible With her out-of-this-world ideas, ‘experience designer’ Nelly Ben Hayoun doesn’t just want to expose you to some mind-blowing concepts: she wants you to become as fascinated with them as she is
Most people tend to avoid things they don’t understand. Fortunately, Nelly Ben Hayoun is not most people. The young, French, London-based designer’s portfolio is as lengthy and impressive as it is bizarre. With a roster of clients – such as NASA and the SETI Institute – that reads more like a list of set locations for a sci-fi movie, her work has led her down some peculiar paths. “What drives me? Manufacturing the impossible,” she says. Nelly’s personal fascination with science has led her to create work as diverse as building volcanos in people’s living rooms to making exploding armchairs and underwater canals dotted with balloons representing sonic boom-blasted subatomic particles. But her ideas are about more than simply helping people understand scientific ideas – they’re about cultivating a sense of passionate fascination for the subject matter. “As a designer, people expect you to make product, or to make chairs or tables; things that make people’s lives easier in some sense,” she says. But where most designers will work to make a space or an object desirable, practical or simply better, Nelly has a different agenda: “I design experiences,” she says. Her specific focus is on engaging with people through events, performances and interactive installations. The nature of these projects has led her to collaborate with an unusual bunch, including California’s NASA’s Ames Research Center and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, where she has recently become Designer of Experiences.
Manufacturing the Impossible — Nelly Ben Hayoun — 23
Words Joe Iley
Manufacturing the Impossible â€” Nelly Ben Hayoun â€” 24
“When someone tells me ‘no’, I come back and keep coming back again and again and again. I will never ever stop”
“The project gets you thinking about how it all functions and who the people behind the missions are,” she says. Ground Control: An Opera in Space is a 27-minute-long composition that conveys the drama and tension felt during the Apollo 11 mission through a musical performance – a medium that everyone can engage with. From flight directors to synthetic biologists, the orchestra is made up of individuals from NASA’s Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, The Singularity University (SU) and The International Space University (ISU). Part-theatre, part-opera, and with luminaries such as Damon Albarn and Bobby Womack, Japanese pop star Maywa Denki, Arthur Jeffes of Penguin Cafe and science fiction author Bruce Sterling all on music composition and lyric-writing duties, the ISO is a perfect example of Nelly’s objective – to create something that reaches people on an emotional level by striking a balance between suspense, fun and wonder. Or, as she puts it, “the human element behind space missions, the emotion; that’s what the International Space Orchestra was about.”
So how does Nelly manage to persuade such prominent and distinguished names to be involved in a project this unusual? “When someone tells me ‘no’, I come back and keep coming back again and again and again,” she laughs. “I will never ever stop.” Ground Control was performed at a variety of unconventional global locations during 2012, including in the world’s largest wind tunnel at the Ames Research Center and at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, which included a one-off performance with Beck. And the opera shifted into an even higher orbit this year: in August, a recording of the performance was put in a rocket and – rather appropriately – was launched into space to the International Space Station (ISS). A special film screening about the orchestra will also be shown at London’s V&A museum this September. “I guess I am just very curious, and science intrigues me,” Nelly explains, regarding her motivation. “The scientific quest for knowledge, to me, means scientists are real explorers.” However, she stresses the importance of maintaining a balance when working with scientists: “I don’t believe that a scientist is a designer and I don’t believe a designer is a scientist.” Though she believes they both share common ground when it comes to outlandish thinking, “scientists are able to stretch their minds and their research enough for something that is of a mega-scale, but then summarise it into one experiment,” she says. Nelly shares this flexibility of mind with the scientific community – as well as indomitable enthusiasm. “I’m just excited by everything that’s around me,” she laughs.
Manufacturing the Impossible — Nelly Ben Hayoun — 25
Nelly’s latest project is the most ambitious to date. Over the past two years, she put together and trained a team of nearly 50 space scientists to create The International Space Orchestra (ISO), a choir and orchestra that has performed all over the United States. A film of the project is currently touring the globe.
You may assume that Nelly’s role in this scientist-designer dynamic is one of interpreter, taking dauntingly unintelligible concepts and simplifying them into a language that everyone – not just those holding a PhD – can understand. The truth is that her work is more about creating questions than answering them. “Scientists will often come to me and be like, ‘Here is my research. Do something that is going to engage the public in a nice way’. I usually never do that. The ideas are… there to generate debate,” she says.
And like Artaud before her, Nelly likes to throw people into the deep end. “I come up with these events. People that see them are usually intrigued, but as far as participating goes, I don’t really think I’ve given them a choice,” she laughs. “I want to create something that is just so strong when you experience it that you will want to know more.”
Three projects from the Willy Wonka of design and science Super K Sonic BOOOOum (2009) Disorienting visuals, sound effects and balloon-lined tunnels navigated by boats were an attempt to replicate what it might feel like to be a subatomic particle. The Soyuz Chair (2009) It may look like something out of granny’s house, but taking a seat in this chair recreates the experience of being blasted into space. The Other Volcano (2010) By installing mini-volcanoes in the living rooms of volunteers, the project exposed them to the nerve-shredding experience of living next to one.
Photography Nick Vallon (The Other Volcano; The Soyuz Chair; Super K Sonic BOOOum)
Manufacturing the Impossible — Nelly Ben Hayoun — 26
The challenge is to create something that engages people on an emotional level and getting them to understand the feeling and excitement behind a project rather than just the theory. To do this she uses her strategy of ‘engagement through immersion’, which takes inspiration from figures such as early 20th-century Surrealist theatre director Antonin Artaud. “Members of the audience are forced to experience things they may not necessarily want to,” she grins.
Manufacturing the Impossible â€” Nelly Ben Hayoun â€” 27
Toolkit: Nathan Myhrvold The author of the Modernist Cuisine reveals the essential tools of his trade
Toolkit — Nathan Myhrvold
Location: Seattle, Washington
Famous for? The appliance of science to cooking. He is the author of Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home, an encyclopedia and guide to the science of contemporary cooking. The six volume, 2,400-page collection reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. What’s next? The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, published this October. The book is an in-depth exploration into the story and methodology behind each highly stylised photo in his original tome.
1. Whipping siphon We use ours for making fresh soda, speeding up marinating, infusing fruit with juice, or topping a dish with foam.”
7. Broncolor power pack We shoot nearly everything for the books in our photo lab. Its energy output is fantastic.
2. Broncolor strobe For shooting food that requires a flash. It has a great colour temperature consistency.
8. Digital thermometer Small temperature changes can make all the difference in cooking.
3. Liquid nitrogen Modernist cooks use it to create unexpected food textures, such as ultra-smooth ice cream. 4. Drum sieve We use it to refine the texture of soft foods, such as riced potatoes or butter. 5. Pressure cooker Risotto usually takes about 25 minutes to cook when made in a traditional pot, but in a pressure cooker it can be fully cooked in 7 minutes. 6. Phantom V12.1 Video cameras like this allow us to capture moments that otherwise wouldn’t be seen by the naked eye.
9. PID controller and probe The proportional integral derivative (PID) controller and probe excel at holding a stable temperature. 10. Digital scale Fine-weight digital scales are crucial when measuring hydrocolloid thickening and gelling agents. 11. Sous vide setup An immersion circulator in a water bath is the best tool for any cooking task that requires temperature control.” 12. Centrifuge rotor This is our favourite tool for collecting flavourful fats, such as carotene butter and creating consommés.
Photography Chris Hoover / Modernist Cuisine LLC
Name: Nathan Myhrvold
7 Toolkit — Nathan Myhrvold
11 — 29
Figures in Paris â€” Stephane Ashpool
Figures in Paris
Pigalle (the district) has reinvented itself as one of the most exciting places in Europe. Stephane Ashpool, head of Pigalle (the fashion brand), the man largely responsible for this transformation, is our tour guide Words Joe Iley Photography Vivek Vadoliya
Église Saint-Jean de Montmarte To showcase his Fall/Winter 2013 menswear range, Stephane held a runway show in a local church, the Église Saint-Jean de Montmarte (left). It’s a short walk from his Pigalle store and, as far as extravagant churches go, there’s a reserved elegance to it. It is also the church Stephane attended with his mother as a boy. But it wasn’t just sentimentality that brought him back. “I always search for places I have some affinity with,” Stephane explains, “and it was a good contrast with the collection.” Plus, the preacher’s son was already a fan of Pigalle. Holding a fashion show (although it was as much “a mix of performance and theatre” as it was a runway show. he stresses) in such a
space could be seen as the kind of cheap shot of which the fashion world is frequently guilty. Stephane’s motives were more sincere than that, however. “It’s not just: ‘OK, I’m going to put some fashion in a church because that’s cool’. It’s more: ‘I’m going to tell a story that actually uses the ambience of this church’.” Rue André Gill Just off an adjoining street lies an unassuming cul-de-sac, easily passed by. At the end of the dead end is a bust of 19th-century caricaturist André Gill (above). Overlooking the memorial are tall, Art Deco-esque windows and balcony doors that stand out – even among Paris’ distinctive architecture. It was at this location, earlier this year, that Stephane organised an outdoor street party to showcase the launch of his Spring/Summer 2014 collection. “I thought it could be interesting,” he says, “considering how it’s set up with those coloured windows.” And yet, with the considerable buzz that a Pigalle event can generate, you’d think throwing a party in a public space would need a guestlist more exclusive than Kanye West’s stag do. But that’s the very antithesis of Stephane’s approach. “I think the most important thing is to make the people around you enjoy the things that you do,” he says. “If I have the neighbourhood’s confidence and trust, then I’m going to be stronger.”
Figures in Paris — Stephane Ashpool
Stephane Ashpool has Paris on lockdown. For the past five years, his fashion brand, Pigalle, has been responsible for some of the most exciting things to come out of the French capital. Hosting fashion shows and street parties, attracting crowds of thousands or mingling with the likes of Mykki Blanco and A$AP Rocky, at the centre of all this is Pigalle, Stephane’s modest boutique store in the heart of his beloved – if still slightly rough around the edges – district in north-eastern Paris. We caught up with Stephane on his home turf of Pigalle, as he showed us the neighbourhood haunts that still mean so much to him.
Nicolas Peduzzi’s Apartment Just a few streets away, we check in with one of Stephane’s oldest friends, Nicolas Peduzzi. He and Stephane have known each other since they were five years old. His home is straight out of a Woody Allen film: a quintessentially Parisian apartment, full to bursting with trinkets, portraits and bookshelves. Artist and filmmaker Nicolas has recently returned to Paris from several years spent in New York. Now he’s back, it appears Stephane has wasted no time in enlisting his talents for an upcoming Pigalle project.
Figures in Paris — Stephane Ashpool
Despite what you might have heard, Stephane believes there are real advantages to working with close friends: “We feel the same things,” he explains. “We’ve seen the same things, we have the same language.” This unity of vision is perhaps why the brand is so strong and has such a solid identity. And although Pigalle is clearly driven by one man, there remains the sense that the brand’s family is huge, and that this will only strengthen its growth – because everyone involved is coming from the same place, both geographically and artistically.
For an example of Pigalle’s solidarity, there is none better than the neighbourhood basketball court on which Stephane collaborated with Nike in 2009. The court is rarely empty, and is a huge hit with local children. Stephane visits often and knows all the kids that play there. “This one, he’s really good,” he says, pointing out a skinny 10-year-old who, moments later, scores an effortless overhead three-pointer. Basketball has always been an integral part of Stephane’s life – if things had turned out differently, he might even have gone pro. But as far as the dozens of local children who now have a court on their doorstep are concerned, it’s fortunate that he followed the fashion route. It’s collaborations such as this co-branded basketball court with credible, smaller names like Pigalle that international brands like Nike thrive on. So, what was it like building the court with Nike? For Stephane, it was no big deal. “They just backed off and let me do it my way,” he says. “But then, if they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”
The square opposite the Pigalle store has a couple of restaurants, some quiet bars and a newspaper kiosk. You’d be forgiven for dismissing it as just another of the shady, paved squares dotted throughout Paris. Yet, since they were children, Stephane and his friends would spend their days and nights here. “This is where we did our first everything,” he says. “The first cigarette, first kiss, first fight, first drink… everything.” It seems oddly fitting then that the Pigalle store, would find a home overlooking the birthplace of the crew he ran with in his youth. Like all of his endeavours, Stephane wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was there or nowhere. “If that space hadn’t been available, I wouldn’t have opened the store.” Which, as far as the now-thriving local bars, the vibrant creative community, or even the kids that now have a basketball court to play in are concerned, it’s very lucky that he did.
Figures in Paris — Stephane Ashpool
Place Gustav Toudoze
Source — 34
The City Report Our Survey Says – 34 Let’s not all Live in Zurich – 36 Tomorrow’s Home – 38 Weapons of Mass Construction – 42 Sense and the City – 46 Urban Think-Tank – 48 Suburban Dreams – 56 Talking Shop – 60 The Future of Retail – 63
The City Report — 35
From citizen civics to an offline retail revival, our first Journal report aims to capture the movements, ideas and trends affecting our urban landscape today.
% Our Survey Says — 36
88 1 65 75
Our Survey Says We asked our readers to play mayor for the day and tell us how they’d change their city for the better Words Max Reyner
Significantly, the most important issue was green areas – and the apparent lack of them. A huge 88% of you say you’d increase this over anything else when considering how to improve public space. Scenic viewpoints that offer respite from the hustle and bustle – such as the popular High Line, a linear park in New York that runs along an elevated former railroad – were suggestions of how to achieve this. How the Victorians would be proud. The city transport network would be based around bikes, buses and trains – just as long as the fares are affordable. Drivers, meanwhile, wouldn’t receive so many privileges – a mere 1% would prioritise cars. New buildings would also be radically modern. Just under two thirds of readers would relax planning laws to encourage contemporary architecture. There would be a strong cultural footprint, too, with 65% increasing the number of public art installations. And this lively culture would be reflected in the evening, with almost half of those surveyed saying they’d encourage city-based music events and late-night drinking. When it comes to retail, you prefer the smallscale neighbourhood stores over big, glitzy flagships. Around 75% said you’d even place re-
strictions on large supermarket chains in order to protect local grocery shops. Others said you would restrict the number of fast food outlets, while at the same time promoting stores that offer healthier food. Urban issues were not just about tangible problems. There was empathy for the challenges facing the current crop of recent graduates – a situation that’s likely to be close to home for many of you. To tackle the problem, you suggested there should be subsidies to help struggling creatives, as well as ways to protect traditional skills and craftsmen within the city’s limits. The need to empower citizens is an idea that was prominent throughout all your suggestions – particularly to create democratic planning processes that offer people a voice in civic change. It’s an idea that coincides with a growing number of crowdsourced planning platforms (such as those explored in Urban-Think Tank, p50). Ideas included the creation of real-time feedback loops, which allow citizens to send ideas that are instantly listened to by planners and businesses, and smart architecture that can record people’s moods and immediately respond to them. One respondent even said they’d fill the streets with tranquil music if people were found to be feeling unhappy at any particular time. Overall, your city would look modern and green, feel lively and cultured, be protective of small businesses and foster the talents of young graduates. We certainly wouldn’t mind living in a city like that ourselves.
Our Survey Says — 37
Our survey asked you what you would do about a range of civic subjects – from dealing with people who don’t recycle to helping to make the city thrive at night. Your suggestions ranged from simple, quick-fixes to elaborate technological transformations.
Let’s not all live in Zurich Why do squeaky-clean cities always seems to top liveability reports? The air may be perfect, the people respectable and the toilets flush with grace, but is the Swiss oasis – and its demure ilk – just too damn boring? Words Stephen Bayley
None of the measurable things matter.
Let’s not all live in Zurich — 38
When I at last realised this, it confirmed my distaste for accountants, consultants and anybody else whose value system is numerical. Not that I’m innumerate or dogmatically anti-scientific, but love, laughter, beauty, peace and contentment cannot be quantified. Nor can the liveability of cities. If you could put a number against pleasure or weigh curiosity or take the pulse of opportunity, then we would not have surveys which put Oslo, Vaduz or Zurich in front of London in the race for wellbeing. I have been to Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital. It has a castle, a mountain and a pretty good hotel and restaurant. It’s a good place to stop for a night on the way to somewhere else. And that would be quite enough. In matters of air quality, bus frequency, hours of sunshine, crime rates, volume of litter and income-per-capita, Vaduz is superlative; possibly the greatest city in the world. Ask any researcher with a clipboard and a calculator. But what it lacks, on the other hand, are excitement, fascination, sex, fear, drama, guilt and romance. There are many poignant paradoxes in our modern existence. Cars were invented to liberate, yet they imprison us. Now that international travel has become democratised it is less worth going anywhere. Seamless
global communications devalue writing. But surely the biggest paradox of them all is this: the very things that make London so bloody irritating also make it so marvellous. Follow this idea through and you have the basis of an interesting contrarian theory. Dirt, noise, expense, danger, incompetence, difficulty, overcrowding, crime and bad weather seem to bring out the very best in people. Thus, these are qualities to be recommended and encouraged. Whereas efficient civic hygiene, metronomic public transport, fresh air and breathing space appear to inhibit human excellence. If you wanted to design a successful city, you’d need to make it as horribly difficult as London. Size is one aspect. It is not so much London’s physical vastness as its amazing lack of homogeneity which make it seem even more huge. In Helsinki, a handsome city of unhappy people, an acquaintance I met on the street asked “Will I see you at the concert tonight?” In Helsinki that night, there was only one concert. No-one knows how many concerts there are in London each night. This same size also means that you rarely meet friends by accident in London; you have to make an arrangement. But this turns out to be the optimum condition for social success. I see my very closest friends about once every three months which, if we are honest, is just about the right frequency. Distance keeps relationships fresh and eager.
Similarly, creakingly over-stretched transport means infernal journeys, but makes the mere act of arriving a triumphant joy, not a glum inevitability as it is in Liechtenstein. And while no sane person actually enjoys edible fat-smeared streets and crunching Styrofoam underfoot, litter is a sign of prosperity. The only places they don’t have litter are deserts or prison camps. Meanwhile, the weather is certainly crap, but that only encourages us to be more industrious indoors. There are plenty of surveys that make, say, Zurich sound more appealing than London. Certainly, Swiss railways are a keen source of pleasure for the anally disturbed: your immaculately printed ticket includes precise times of train changes and they are invariably correct. But if there is nowhere to go, what’s the advantage of such digitally precise punctuality? Better to be late in London than early in Zollikon is my motto. London is a destination, not a route to somewhere else. So, sweaty and soot-smeared, footsore and cross, drained and xenophobic,
over-taxed and potentially criminalised on an hourly basis by intrusive but incompetent local authorities and arrogant utility companies, I nonetheless love the city. Perhaps I wish it were a little cleaner and a tad less sordidly congested. I’d like to see more civic pride from the public sector and less greed and ignorance from the private. But would I swap Vauxhall for Vaduz? Never. Take a deep draught of the witches’ brew that is London. Its animating force has given the city more organic vitality than any other place on Earth. It is so manic, busy, bipolar, demanding, angry, rude, exhilarating and wonderful it makes even New York look sleepy in comparison. Why? Well, one worrying reason is that Mayor Bloomberg cleaned up New York. Personally, I am a fussy, fastidious, tidy person who likes calm and quiet, but what the success of London tells us is that dirt and demons, soot and sweat, claustrophobia and crossness are all seriously good for you. They cannot be measured.
Let’s not all live in Zurich — 39
“Dirt, noise, expense, danger, incompetence, difficulty, overcrowding, crime and bad weather seem to bring out the very best in people”
Tomorrow’s Home We explore five of the best sustainable, intelligent and open source solutions for future housing Words Alex Tieghi-Walker
Advances in transport have sent humans to the edge of space on commercial flights. Developments in medicine mean keyhole surgery and robotics are commonplace today. Yet the home, the seat of our daily existence, plods on exactly as it did last century.
Tomorrow's Home — 40
But buildings are changing at last – really changing. The homes that our children will inhabit will be very different to ours and our parents’. We are on the cusp of a transition from architecture as we know it to new, hi-tech, organically focused practices. To date, innovation and invention have been, for the most part, added on to existing constructions, almost as a secondary thought. The structural difference between the Georgian townhouse and the suburban new-build of the noughties is very slight, with advances in heating, plumbing and lighting developing around these existing anatomies. With the rapid shift in understanding about our planet’s fragility, diminishing resources and increasing population, architects have had to quickly rethink how to take the way we live into the next era. On a basic level, where we are building and what we are building are going through radical changes. Past shortage of space resulted in
the Manhattanisation of cities. with soaring business districts and high-rise estates draping themselves over the urban landscape. With the increase of one- and two-person households and more time spent out of the home, domestic architecture is getting smaller, the size of the spaces we inhabit proportionate to the shrinking value we place on our own space. How can we build homes to cope with the onset of natural disasters? The frequency of extreme flooding has doubled in just two decades, according to a recent report by Bloomberg – as experienced by millions across Central Europe last May and June. With global warming and other extreme weather now a reality, we need to make buildings fail-safe for a wide range of scenarios. The widening of the wealth gap also means that considerations in the cost of building is paramount: we can no longer afford to build cheap homes that don’t stand the test of time. The generation now buying and building homes needs to think about spending wisely on their dwellings; to build intelligently, efficiently and modestly. Protein explores the changes taking place in domestic architecture and how we are responding to new technologies to create modern urban scenarios.
Tomorrow's Home — 41
Mobile Homes Companies such as MODS International – Modular On Demand Structures – respond to natural disasters by air-dropping homes forged from old shipping containers to devastated areas, and more permanent mobile home options are also beginning to appear. The Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, is specifically prone to extreme coastal erosion. It’s a predicament that’s being tackled by local architectural firm Crosson, Clarke, Carnachan (ccca.co.nz), which is creating a house on an in-built sled. The two-storey structure (pictured) is a beach hut – but of the most grand kind, with accommodation for five people in two bedrooms and a double-height communal living space. In addition to its movability, shutters also protect the home during storms, so that, when moved off the shoreline and shuttered up, the result is a fortress to extreme climates.
Grow Your Own Tomorrow's Home — 42
What if we could replace the production and transportation of building materials by growing them from scratch? That was the question asked by the Mediated Matter Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. The group programmed a robotic arm to mimic the way a silkworm deposits fibre to build its cocoon. Draped over a basic dome model, the robot deposits a large amount of silk, with 6,500 live silkworms then being placed on top to finish off the job (right). The worms follow the pattern laid out by the robot and therefore complete the building process to specification. Using the silkworms as a ‘biological printer’ has opened up a new field of research where other plants and animals can be guided, or programmed, to build structures that could be suitable for habitation by humans.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg invited nARCHITECTS (narchitects.com) to take part in a pilot project to create a district of micro-homes in Manhattan. The apartments (left) have been built offsite as modules that are slotted into place over a period of two weeks and then clad in brickwork. Like Chinese architect Liu Lubin’s similar compact modular homes in Beijing, incorporating clever storage solutions, electricity, heating and plumbing ‘hubs’ and flexible living room means ample living space is provided and not a cubic centimetre of volume is wasted. Shared communal areas, including a roof terrace, and the incorporation of large windows and Juliette balconies connects inhabitants to the outdoors and provides them with space away from their ‘pods’ to socialise and entertain guests.
Some flood-prone countries on the west coast of Africa are designing entire neighborhoods to withstand the rising seasonal waters. In the community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, for example, architect Kunlé Adyemi of NLÉ (nleworks.com) is currently planning community spaces that are kept afloat using recycled plastic drums (above). One recent development is the IJburg district of Amsterdam, a water-based housing development that has more in common with land-based housing than boats. IJburg is designed to be a floating neighbourhood, incorporating jetties instead of footpaths. Designed by Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer (rohmer.nl), some 75 floating homes, each with three inhabitable floors, are not just a brilliantly apt solution to rising sea levels, but also ease overcrowding on the mainland.
Open Source Kit WikiHouse (wikihouse.cc) is an online open source construction kit that allows people to take basic blueprints (below), edit them at home and build the whole thing in just 24 hours. Users generate a set of cutting patterns that are then CNC ‘printed’. As if it couldn’t get any easier, the pieces are all numbered and easily assembled on the ground. No extra resources are required – the house pieces slot together with pegs and joints. Aimed at countries where resources and manpower are limited, WikiHouse joins other open source projects such as Utilihab (utilihab.com), which distributes crafted metal rods assembled to custom layouts in situ. These projects may be very much in their infancy, but they are clearly geared to democratising house building.
Tomorrow's Home — 43
Weapons of Mass Construction — 44
Weapons of Mass Construction Planning processes often keep at arm’s length the very people they’re supposed to engage with. A new wave of public-facing planning platforms hopes to change all that Words Fauzia Musa
There are a few factors fuelling a more collaborative approach to planning. The first is economic turbulence, as funding from local and national governments has been noticeably running thin since 2009. Credit is still hard to come by, forcing people to think of other ways to fund their ventures. Urbanisation also plays a key role. According to the World Health Organisation, six out of every 10 people will live in a city by 2030, and by 2050 this proportion will increase to seven out of 10. This means that people will increasingly want more control over their immediate locale. Lastly, the ubiquity of digital tools has made it possible to create digital communities that share causes and promote change on an unprecedented scale. According to Deloitte, web users will fund almost $3 billion into crowdfunding schemes in 2013, of which $500 million of those funds will support groups who offer no products or tangible goods in exchange (unlike Kickstarter). This is not to say that those groups represent urban planning projects, as only a small portion of that cash will support those, but the potential is there and growing by the year. Joining forces Spacehive, the first-ever crowdfunding initiative for civic projects, founded by Chris Gourlay, saw an opportunity in the funding model that could be applied to civic life, and inevitably “act as a springboard for new
innovative civic projects”. Spacehive allows people to pitch ideas and projects for support and funding from their local community. “I wondered why it is was so hard for non-planners to make change in a civic way,” says Chris. “In the US, Kickstarter was facilitating arts and innovation, so I thought it’d be interesting to adapt the model to civic life in the UK and create an ecosystem that uses new sources of investment for city centres to parks, but also sneaks in through the back door of behavioural change.” To date, Spacehive has drawn £1.2m in pledges. Almost 21 projects have been delivered, and 205 are on the way. Spacehive projects include insulating a former warehouse turned theatre in Hackney so it can be open all year round, to turning an empty store in Buckinghamshire into an ‘ideas hub’ where groups of young entrepreneurs can rent the space for three months to develop apps to set up a radio station. While crowdfunding is all the rage in the US and the UK – with initiatives including the likes of Citizinvestor and Brickstarter – other parts of the world are getting on board, too. UrbanKIT is the first platform based in Chile where people can pitch ideas and win funding for local improvements such as community gardens, sidewalk improvements and murals. Marisol García is one half of UrbanKIT. An architect holding an MSc degree in urban development, Marisol has been fascinated with the idea of empowering citizens to take control of their environments. “Nearly 80% of crowdfunding platforms are based out of the US or Europe,” she says. “I realised there was an opportunity in Chile to educate people on the benefits of crowdfunding, plus how it could be a useful platform for civic projects, and hence UrbanKIT was formed.”
Weapons of Mass Construction — 45
Two minds are better than one but, times that by thousands, add the internet, a financial pledging platform, game mechanics, cities and what do you get? The new face of urban planning. Ventures are popping up worldwide that enable the public to collaborate with architects, urban planners and local government to tackle traditionally bureaucratically driven civic projects.
Projects include part-funding a project called Recycling Plaza in the Chilean town of Valparaíso, which lacked its own recycling facilities. Makeshift recycling depots were set up and recycled materials were used to create a plaza with a roof canopy made of 12,000 plastic bottles, a playground and street furniture, plus tutorials about the reuse and recycling of waste. Both Marisol and Spacehive’s Chris see crowdfunding as the missing link that will make urban planning more efficient, transparent and collaborative. “People know how to solve their own problems,” says Marisol. “Architects and urban planners should act as experts and empower citizens to own solutions and bring them to fruition.” Weapons of Mass Construction — 46
Strength in numbers New online participatory platforms that allow members of communities to pose questions and solutions to everyday problems in their neighbourhood are springing up worldwide. Priya Prakash, founder of UK-based planning platform Changify, has developed a “low-tech” crowdsourcing platform that acts as a social network-meets-funding platform. People can identify and discuss issues, come up with solutions online and off – as well as meet in person to further discussion and rally support. “Changify isn’t looking to be a crowdfunding site that collaborates with bigger organisations,” she says. “We aim to be grassroots and be a movement of small actions making bigger change.” Changify harnesses data and intelligence from users – whether they’re small businesses or individual citizens – to then develop an app called Smart Citizens, a proactive crowd intelligence tool. The app
provides real-time information as users document their actions, minutes from meetings or development notes from projects, and can monitor their progress. Prakash aims to share this crowd intelligence with local councils to develop smarter, more effective planning processes that infuse feedback and on-theground information. The US is also proving to be a hotbed for similar planning initiatives. Neighborland is a New Orleans-based online and offline community platform which empowers people to take action on local issues. People share tips, identify resources, and connect with decision makers – such as local governments and urban planners – to bring ideas to life. Once an idea receives enough support and community members deem it achievable, they work together to accomplish the project. The site functions in a similar way to Reddit with the most popular posts continually rising to the top. Projects have included sourcing more recycling bins in New Orleans to ways to improve safety on San Francisco’s 6th Street. Other unconventional planning platforms are coming to the fore, too, such as Walkonomics, determining which parts of a city are most walkable. Walkability is determined by the size of the pavement or proximity to shops. The project is driven by the fact that ‘walkable’ cities tend to perform better economically, a fact supported by research from Washington-based Brookings Institution in the US that dates from 2012. The study shows that urban dwellers with poor walkability are less affluent and have less access to educational achievement than those in cities with good walkability. Walkonomics serves as an urban planning tracker tool that can pinpoint areas such as weak crossing points or how clean a street is, thereby identifying where work needs to be done.
Mechanics traditionally used within gaming are now being applied to the city planning process to engage with – and empower – the public and urban planners to create a new future for their communities. “Cities are self-organising systems based on written or unwritten rules applied by their inhabitants, organisations and institutions,” says Ekim Tan, founder of Netherlands-based Play the City Studio. “Games are amazing mechanisms to act as the research and implementation laboratory of real cities.”
“People know how to solve their own problems. Architects should act as experts and empower citizens to bring them to fruition.” — Marisol García, UrbanKIT
Play the City Studio develops methods for interactive city-making. It uses co-design, interactive learning, gaming, and collective intelligence to work with city officials, architects, urban planners and cultural institutions to inform their planning strategies. Freezing Favela, its latest game, is centred on a large, vacant, unheated warehouse space in Van Gendthallen in the Netherlands with the goal of turning it into a ‘temporary city’. Play the City created a day of city-making where various organisations, from
agriculturalists to designers, came together to construct 3D models of what they thought this new Dutch favela could be. Amsterdam, Toronto, Tirana, Brussels, Istanbul, Aleppo, Copenhagen, Cape Town all want to bring Play the City to their cities. But Ekim warns that game mechanics shouldn’t be confused with gamification. “Gamification inserts game mechanics into real environments while city games take real situations and strategise them in game environments,” she says. “We believe in playing more than gaming. Playing is about interacting with other playful beings to exchange, learn and develop, while gaming suggests earning points, losers and winners, and inevitably undermines the value of having sound strategies in place to move planning forward.” The Engagement Game Lab at Emerson College, Boston, has launched a similar internet-based game called Community PlanIt, which uses digital gaming and social software to help foster local civic engagement. Developers at the Engagement Game Lab wanted to make the user experience of their planning game actively playful so that it would engage community members, especially young people, who don’t necessarily have an active role in existing planning processes. And, like Play the City’s founding principle, Community PlanIt aims to encourage communities to identify and develop strategies to better their own neighbourhoods. By utilising game mechanics, both online and in the real world, designers, developers and local governments can actively open up the traditional world of city planning to more people and more diverse groups. This makes the entire process both more collaborative and transparent. Perhaps most importantly, this ensures that city planners are more accountable to the community they serve, meaning that, for once, everyone wins.
Weapons of Mass Construction — 47
Sense and the City While bricks and mortar create the structures, an urban landscape’s tastes and smells add a positive richness that is often overlooked Words Francesca Perry
Though city sounds and smells are often regarded as pollution, waste or disturbance, diverse urban sensory experiences are becoming more celebrated and nurtured. Increasingly, technology is being used to focus and facilitate this exploration of the senses, yet our progressively digital culture itself may also heighten the allure of returning to a more human sensory engagement.
Sense and the City — 48
We often walk around the city cut off from its aural landscape: plugged into portable music, we carve our own soundtrack into the metropolis. But what if we immerse ourselves in the city’s own sounds instead? Last year, David Byrne recorded Get it Away for public art agency Artangel using noises experienced in London: footsteps, trains, a fruit seller and church organ combine to form his personal soundscape of the city. Byrne conducted his own ‘sound walk’ to do this – a practice developed in the 1970s as part of the acoustic ecology movement but one still relevant today. London cultural enterprise The School of Life is holding a public sound-walk this September as part of its Mind Games: Sonic Experiments series. Led by composer Kerry Andrew, it aims to reconnect participants with their surroundings by attuning their ears to the urban aural environment and composing a ‘map score’. “Our city wouldn’t be the same without these sounds,” Kerry enthuses. “They shape London just as much as the slant of the Shard or the glint of the Thames.” Digital tools have opened up new ways of exploring and sharing urban soundscapes. The new Stereopublic app – a participatory art project – helps users seek out quiet spots in their city. Online interactive maps – including
The London Sound Survey and Soundcities – share diverse urban recordings. Stanza, the artist behind Soundcities, wanted “to create an online aural experience that evokes place”. He believes urban sounds trigger memories that connect us, giving clues to the emotional way in which we interact with our cities. Scents, too, induce memory and emotion; they are woven into the identity of places and our associations with them. “Smell is the only sense that directly connects to our limbic system [the part of the brain through to be responsible for our emotions, and memory],” academic Victoria Henshaw explains, “and therefore plays an important role in how we feel and recall different cities.” Victoria’s book, Urban Smellscapes: Understanding and Designing City Smell Environments (Routledge, 2013), examines the role of smell in contemporary urban experiences. She organises public ‘smellwalks’ in cities – from Barcelona to Manchester – in which she facilitates the exploration of city scents. She has also produced an online ‘world smell map’ – Smell and the City – which invites people to map their urban smell experiences. Victoria doesn’t operate alone in this field. Designer Kate McLean creates unique city smell maps that chart this sensory experience, including explorations of Edinburgh, Glasgow and New York. “With increased perceptual awareness of smell, we are more likely to form lasting emotional connections to particular cities,” Kate says. “Blandscaping, the process by which many cities have become undifferentiated, can be eliminated through highlighting individual smellscapes.” An upcoming project at London’s Art Licks weekend (4-6 October), Art That Smells Like Art, presents unique scents representing five
— Kerry Andrew, composer and sound-walker
urban areas created using local smells. “The idea was to locate the event and participating galleries in their surroundings,” says co-creator Crystal Bennes, meaning the art is embedded in its local area using the sense of smell. Taste also forms a sensory dialogue in the city. Organisations like the London-based street food collective KERB, whose motto is ‘Making Cities Taste Better’, aims to position taste much more at the fore of what it is to be a part of a city. Petra Barran, KERB founder, believes taste is a crucial way of exploring and understanding cities, as well as countering 21st-century urban homogenisation. “Cities are smelling more similar – and losing their sensual character as a result,” Petra explains. By having more food cooked on the streets – in greater diversity – the urban sensory experience is enriched and “the more memorable these spaces become,” she argues. The rise of technology appears linked to the growing interest in sensory engagement with place. Digital platforms are being harnessed in order to share these experiences, yet we are also reacting against the digital domination by seeking out immersive sensory encounters in person. “Emphasis on digital technologies
Links: Artangel – artangel.org.uk Art Licks Weekend – artlicks.com KERB – kerbfood.com Life In Scents – lifeinscents.com
primarily stimulates our visual and auditory senses,” designer Kate McLean explains. “As a balance, I believe that we are rekindling our desire to ‘feel’; to find a path through multi-sensory experiences in order to form a greater depth of understanding of places.” Through wandering the city, we use sensory exploration as an escape. “We break free from the map and from routine,” says Jo Barratt, producer of the smell-themed Life in Scents podcast. “Through its interplay between the qualities of randomness and familiarity, smell accentuates the urban wander.” There is a growing call from academics like Victoria Henshaw for architects and city planners to take sense into consideration: in this time of hyper-urbanisation, we could benefit from remembering the human element in design and development. “It’s a battle against the bland,” declares KERB’s Petra Barran; “a physical joy that acts as a direct contrast to the order imposed.” Victoria sees it as a “cultural shift” in the way that we think about our cities and in how we design them. It is gaining momentum: Sensory Urbanism (Glasgow, 2008) and Headspace: On Scent as Design (New York, 2010) are just two conferences held with this in mind. At a point where technology is taking people further away from direct sensory experiences, the critical role of sense in design is growing. Senses may not always make sense, but that is what makes them so fascinating. “We can become less of a citizen by forgetting how to understand urban smells, to listen to its noises,” Charles Landry writes in his book The Sensory Landscape of Cities (Comedia, 2012). So, turn off your iPod, go on a soundwalk and taste some street food; explore your own unique sensescape of the city.
London Sound Survey – soundsurvey.org.uk The School of Life – theschooloflife.com Sensory Maps – sensorymaps.com Smell and the City – smellandthecity.com Soundcities – soundcities.com Stereopublic – stereopublic.net
Sense and the City — 49
“Sounds shape London as much as the slant of the Shard or the glint of the Thames”
Urban Think-Tank The sky’s the limit for the award-winning studio addressing accessible transport and reshaping architecture from the inside Words Tag Christof Photography Iwan Baan Urban Think-Tank — 50
How would you define the main goal of Urban Think-Tank’s (U-TT) work? Our goal has been, in the broadest sense, to use design and architecture in order to make safer, more inclusive and socially,oriented cities. We are particularly proud of our role in academia and education. Academia has always informed our practice and vice versa – which comes from our desire to be lifelong students, but also to train the next generation of designers. Given the rate of urbanisation and population growth around the world, it’s truly up to the next generation to fix a lot of the mistakes that previous generations have established. This will only happen if architectural and design education changes. Is this why you had such a significant role in revamping the curriculum at ETH Zürich, in which you’re attempting to shift architecture’s position in relation to other professions by reclassifying it as a science? ETH has a long and venerable history of looking at architecture from a technical viewpoint. However, what we are aiming to do is bring the world to ETH and ETH to the world.
Academic institutions are excellent resources for experimentation and ETH is founded around the notion of creating new knowledge and skills that improve society. It’s clichéd but true that cities are the most globalised pieces of land. If future city-makers are not prepared to build in that context, then we’re going to keep making the same mistakes. This is not about rehashing tropes of commercial globalisation – it’s about fundamentally shifting how we act as global citizens and reframing who cities are for. You’ve mentioned in the past that research is the most important element of designing for space. Why? Put plainly, without research, diving right into building is like conducting surgery in the dark: negligent. Architects know at this point to talk about context, but still not enough truly understand the socioeconomic and political dimensions of context. Context is not just about aesthetics; it’s about a structure or a space’s role within society. There is far more at play than the architect’s ego manifested in the compiling of concrete and steel.
Urban Think-Tank â€” 51
Urban Think-Tank â€” 52
U-TT’s Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities project – the uncompleted Caracas skyscraper, now home to over 750 families – won the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. Tell us about it. It’s been very exciting to see the Torre David project enter the public sphere. There’s a lot to reflect on: how a failed urban housing policy – which is not unique to Caracas – manifests itself in the built environment; the blurring of lines between formal and informal development; and how vertical communities can foster humane living, working and recreational conditions. In short, Torre David is not a parochial project, but the basis for myriad projects and lines of thought that others – young architects and planners specifically – seem receptive to hearing about and hopefully acting upon.
What might architecture and planning in general learn from Torre David? In the case of Torre David, the architect and planner provide infrastructure that can serve multiple purposes as different needs present themselves – for example, the Torre’s parking garage turned into a small market-place. Modular units that residents can personalise and adapt within the larger structure of the tower allow them to invest in their community, rather than having the architect superimpose what he believes is most needed. The architect must play the role of mediator between informal community leaders and the decision-making, politically driven entities who are often too distantly removed from the situation on the ground. Cities are made top-down and bottom-up. Architects have the unique ability to make those forces work together rather than against each other.
So, what skills in particular do you think contemporary architects are lacking? We’re good at thinking critically about form and style, but our concepts have been limited. Contemporary architects are lacking the right kind of criticality. We’re turning into exterior decorators – dressing up cities in nice facades and pretty shapes. If we truly believe in the transformative power of design, then we should put that power to use for the collective good, not just for magazine covers and private developers.
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Architects also need to become developers. We have to learn how to have more agency in how the big decisions of city-making actually get made. Only then will we be able to do more than put icing on sour cakes. In your recent lecture at London’s LSE Cities Programme, U-TT not only spoke about growing cities in developing countries, such as Mumbai and Saõ Paulo, but also emptying post-industrial cities such as Detroit. Are these two sides to the same coin? Cities change. That sounds a little obvious, but it’s an important point to remember. Models of development that encourage short-term growth and the enrichment of an elite few are still dictating how too many cities change. And these models don’t last. What we are seeing in both Saõ Paulo and Detroit, albeit in slightly different forms, is that when a city disinvests from or disenfranchises the middle class, it becomes less resilient.
What will be the most important challenge facing cities in the next few decades? Climate change and physical mobility. If our cities can’t get a grip on production of pollutants and consumption of resources, then we’re going to see more and more ‘natural’ catastrophes. This will necessitate a reshaping of our built landscapes at great cost, so we have to figure out how to get cleaner and more efficient. Technology plays a role, but designing how people live in cities is likely to be more important. Going hand in hand with this is mobility. There are few democratising forces as powerful as making transportation more accessible and socially inclusive. Was this the thinking behind U-TT’s Metro Cable project that linked unconnected barrios in San Agustin, Caracas, by cable car? The right to be in the city only works if you also have the right to move within the city. And yet so many cities are stuck on the ground with car wheels – or stuck with antiquated public transport systems that don’t work, are too expensive and don’t actually serve the public. In your opinion, is there any one city that is getting it right in terms of planning? The beautiful thing is that cities are not static and thus the way in which plans manifest themselves are constantly evolving. The best plans are those that are adaptable to the people and spaces within them.
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Suburban Dreams We invited six designers, artists and architects from around the world to tackle a burning modern dilemma; how do you solve a problem like the suburbs? Illustrations Andy Merritt Words Tag Christof
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Once idyllic escapes from the smoggy city, droves of young American families moved out to the suburbs where well-manicured houses flanked picturesque parks, their resplendent boats and Buicks the very symbol of prosperity. Fast-forward and efficient Eichlers have given way to flamboyant McMansions and gated communities. Foreclosure and abandonment are everywhere. And droves of young families now stay away, repelled by blight and blandness. The brief to our guest studios was this: what would it take to help make the worldâ€™s suburbs cool again? What building or system might transform them back into a place that people would be proud to call home?
Architecture Studio – Bangkok
Artist – Amsterdam
“Hovering over the typical Asian sprawl of gated communities, the Super Gym is a new type of connection from one village to another. It’s a place where want-to-be-healthy middle classes meet. Everyone is sweating, but smiling. Replacing last century’s stacking rooms, the gym is a cluster of spaces that frequently reorganises itself. It has everything from a swimming pool and a library to a biking track and rugby field. It’s a city in itself but only made for people to meet while sweating.”
“Another question in return: how different would things be if we were able to downsize the human species to only 50cm tall? It’s been estimated that at this size man could live in the six largest cities in the world, while the rest of the planet returns to wilderness. How might we deal with pre-shrink architecture, city planning, parks, streets and shops…?
Experience-Production Studio – London “In London, the average commuter spends 75 minutes travelling. As a transitional point between places, it is limbo; a dead-space. We propose, as an alternative, a cultural reappropriation of these spaces, transforming them into vehicles for bringing the spirit of the city into the surrounding spaces. One carriage of every commuter train would be turned into a flexible, intimate, broadcasting space. The antithesis of the ‘quiet carriage’, this is a forum, an open-mic, a soapbox – a secular, democratic podium for performance, discussion, comedy and debate.” panstudio.co.uk
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Architecture Practice – New York City “A driveway becomes a drive-through, served by a farm-to-table kitchen sales counter, whereby the homeowner sells fresh home-cooked meals. The front lawn is transformed into money-generating agriculture, where the visitor can also buy vegetables directly from the pickup window. The living room is configured into a home-theatre, complete with bleacher seating, offering a round-the-clock screening schedule. And, through an acquisition of air rights, the house extends vertically to accommodate additional floors, renting out serviced rooms.” efgh-ny.com
Architecture Practice – Tijuana “Deregulate the suburbs which lie in closest proximity to large metropolitan areas. Set them free from so many constraints that turn them into isolated places with no community life. Eliminate zoning restrictions, so that houses abandoned due to foreclosure can take on any number of uses – restaurants, bars, shops… And any number of additions could be made to the large front yards that don’t currently serve any use. Density would then change and if we doubled the inhabitants per acre, land values would increase accordingly, helping to fund transit and school improvements.”
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Artist – Los Angeles “The urban car is over! The violence of driving gone. The asphalt and cars? Piled high into a towering monument to our past indiscretions, now full of birds’ nests. The garage becomes a shop, a lab, a studio. The street is now reclaimed by vegetation, bicycles, wildlife and people. The parking lot is a diverse meadow, a foraging park. The freeway’s north and west lanes are irrigated to produce a lush, snaking green belt. The freeway’s south and east lanes now host a renewably-energised high-speed communal conveyance system, breezing people across the city.” fritzhaeg.com
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Rachel Shechtman, owner of New York’s Story, and Georgianna Stout, co-founder of 2x4, are transforming the retail landscape. We paired them up in a Manhattan cafe to discuss trends and digital-era shopping
Rachel Shechtman became a retail consultant 13 years ago. Combining her experience in marketing, merchandising and business development, her client list soon included TOMS, Gap and Kraft Foods. In 2011, she brought all her expertise together to launch STORY – a concept store which entirely reinvents the traditional retail model – in NYC.
Georgianna Stout founded the 2 x 4 design studio with two fellow Rhode Island School of Design graduates two decades ago. Growing by word of mouth and reputation, today the studio designs everything from branding to retail spaces and pop-ups, for clients including Nike, Tiffany & Co., Prada and Barneys New York.
Shechtman: It’s a retail space that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells products like a store. We work with brands to reinvent the entire concept of the 2,000 square foot space every three to eight weeks to launch a new ‘STORY’. Past concepts include ‘His STORY’, ‘Making Things STORY’ and ‘Love STORY’. We’ve completed 12 different stories in the last 17 months. Stout: What’s the most interesting STORY you’ve put on? Shechtman: We recently put on ‘His STORY’, a partnership with Procter & Gamble, Birchbox and Details magazine. It was interesting because it didn’t target a certain demographic instead focusing on telling a comprehensive story about all things for men – we had a $3.99 Gillette shaving cream next to a $90 Diptyque candle. We just wanted to excite customers by telling them a story and getting them to think about the store as one unique experience. Stout: We work directly with our clients on specific projects, but it’s often a similar brief – how can you tell the brand’s story in an engaging way? Our first big retail project was with Prada. We now do all the large-scale wallpapers in their Broadway store. The wallpaper changes every six months and takes on different themes – similar to your STORY space. It’s a vehicle to communicate an engaging visual story. We’ve worked with digital in the space as well: for example, as you walk past a display, it interacts with you. Shechtman: It’s important that brands use digital in an intelligent way and not just for the sake of it. Stout: Agreed. I think digital needs to be used to create an environment that you feel is intelli-
gent or engaged. It makes sense to use digital when it is purposeful and serves as a tool, or is environmental and adds to the experience somehow. We created a specific digital experience for Barneys – a digital tabletop in the Genes@co-op space. The idea was to have a platform for featuring all the content the brand was creating – from videos to editorial. As users sat at the table eating their lunch or having a coffee, the content floated by... They could choose to engage with it or just have it in the background. Shechtman: It often feels like a lot of brands just put digital into physical stores because they feel they have to. Stout: True. Sometimes brands don’t consider the purpose behind it. Often you’ll see a brand install a digital screen and then consider content as a second thought. It’s more interesting when it’s integrated and purposeful. I thought the Kate Spade Saturday concept store that’s just launched with interactive screens was interesting. It allowed customers to browse and shop 24 hours a day. Shechtman: Digital aside, I’ve also seen some really interesting examples of brands doing great analogue things with their physical spaces. I love Shinola. It’s the perfect example of a brand space that explores a new concept. As well as all their products, they’ve got a juice bar and even an in-store Hickoree’s pop-up. They’ve created a space you want to linger in, to get a coffee, to meet friends. It’s more than just a space to consume their products. Stout: I think these social retail spaces are only going to become more prevalent. Look at Merci in Paris, or Corso Como in Milan, or the Ace Hotel in New York. It’s about brands creating spaces that you get lost in, that offer variety, that are the living embodiment of what the brand stands for.
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Stout: Tell me about how STORY works?
Shechtman: My big thing is that retail will become more about creating community and entertainment. I think, as a retail business model, sales per square foot is slowly going to become an archaic success metric. Physical spaces should be as much about sales as about media, consumer engagement, brand building – it’s just a different scale of economics. With STORY, for example, the whole store can become a living ad and bring brand partners like GE to life through merchandising and events. It’s interesting to consider retail as a new advertising channel, especially when you think about how much time people spend in stores. It’s not just about having a brand’s logo on the walls, but a way for them to use retail as a media channel – and, in turn, become storytellers.
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Stout: With the growth of online retail, physical spaces have to offer something different and exciting. To me, that’s about the brand experience. Online shopping is often quicker and easier, so stores need to capture your attention and give you a reason to come into the store. I love being in creative spaces – half the time I’m not even buying, I’m just soaking up the experience. But that’s still important for the brand: customers connecting with the brands and feeling a part of it… something that is hard to convey on a website. Shechtman: Brands need to create experiences that you simply cannot have on a website. A nice example is when we did our ‘Making Things STORY’. We collaborated with the website Quirky, which allows users to submit their own inventions from their computer. We had a Quirky booth in the store, but rather than just have a computer that people could use to submit their ideas in real-time, as they could online anyway, we had an artist drawing up their ideas by sketching live in STORY; we created an experience that could only really happen in-store.
Stout: Online has its benefits too. Take Warby Parker – I love their online retail model. You can try on glasses digitally, order them online and then send them back if you don’t like them. It’s easy and fun. One of my favourite online shopping experience is Zappos. You order shoes, they arrive the next day. It’s simple. I think those kinds of sites are just going to get better and better. But in-store, it’s more about personal experiences. And it’s about browsing – you just can’t browse online the way you can in-store. Shechtman: It’s interesting to see that a few online-first retailers have decided to open physical stores after they’ve launched. Stout: It could be that part of opening an online-first store is that they didn’t have the capital to open a physical space at launch – and then they can as they become more successful online. But I think it’s also that physical spaces offer new opportunities… events... things that allow your audience to connect to your brand in a more tangible way. Shechtman: So what do you think is the most exciting aspect for the future of retail? Stout: Going back to the Shinola example, that authenticity will be increasingly important. I think the Made in America idea is huge now, and it’s important to celebrate craftsmanship and the story behind products. I love atelier stores when you walk and see someone physically making something and showing it. I love seeing the provenance of products. Shechtman: For me, I think building community will continue to be important for brands, but it will evolve. I also hope to see more brands incubating talent, engaging with young designers and inventors, to create a new type of offline community. It’s about connecting brands to users.
The Future of Retail
Digital mending shop
3D printing – where a physical object is printed by injecting layers of material on top of each other – could transform how we distribute products to consumers. It might also provide a handy way for people to mend broken objects. Imagine you knock a piece of plastic from your washing machine door which means it won't close properly. Rather than buy a new machine or spend hours pleading with the manufacturer to send you a new part, you could simply take the broken component to your local 3D print mending shop. There it would be scanned and a brand new component would be printed out for you – all in the space of an afternoon.
Scanning technology, the sort associated with devices such as Microsoft Kinect, could be the key to finding the perfectly-fitting outfit. Instead of spending hours browsing, you could have your body scanned on arrival for all your vital stats and then pointed in the direction of every product that will fit you perfectly. You could also have fully bespoke items made from these same scans. Need some new shoes that don’t pinch or rub? Just get your feet scanned and the in-house cobbler will make you a pair. The process could be accelerated further with 3D printing (see left) so that you could get your dream shoes made from scratch in under a few hours.
Data concierge services
The ‘quantified self’ movement – in which individuals use mobile apps and accessories to track everything from food consumption to exercise duration – has gained momentum in recent years. The Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand have enabled everyone – from average runners to professional athletes – to improve their performance through data analysis. But how might retailers, particularly sports brands, incorporate this into their physical store? The answer could be a data concierge service, which would invite customers with personal tracking data on their mobile apps or quantified self devices to have their data analysed in-store. It's like an Apple Genius Bar for your body.
Today’s consumers are more demanding then ever and retailers are having to work harder to meet growing expectations. Future shoppers require stores to appeal to their needs as they change over time: throughout the week or even within a day. To tackle this, stores will build accurate profiles of their customers, which will allow them to plot how their tastes and behaviours change over time. For instance, a shopper may want a coffee and newspaper in the morning, a new pair of trousers during the day and then a cocktail after work. Brands can therefore decide to target them with a physical space that reflects all these needs: a coffee shop in the morning, a menswear store during the day and finally a cocktail bar at night.
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Bricks and mortar stores are in a state of flux. We predict the look of the high street to come
A new online magazine launching September 2013
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Chi Raq Photography Will Robson-Scott
For a decade, the streets of Chicago have endured a wave of violence so severe that the death toll has now hit the thousands, with casualties mirroring the losses experienced by the US army in the Iraq War. In response, London-born photographer and filmmaker Will Robson-Scott, in collaboration with Protein, present Chi Raq – an intimate yet striking film showcasing the residents of one of the most dangerous cities in the Western world.
Watch it now at: prote.in/tv
Gallery — Chi Raq — 67
An unflinchingly honest portrait of life on the frontline of Chicago’s urban battlefield
How to make…
How to Make Noisy Jelly Raphaël — Pluvinage — 76
Noisy Jelly Less a retro treat for kids’ parties and more the future of malleable electronics Words Camille Ross Photography Addie Chinn
1. Place 25g of Agar Agar powder (a vegetarian alternative to gelatin, made by boiling several kinds of seaweed together, that sets much harder than gelatin) in 2L of cold water in a pan. 2. Heat the pan on a stove while constantly mixing. 3. When it starts to boil, turn it off, and pour the liquid into your mould.
Raphaël Pluvinage, hailing from Paris, is the brain behind curious sonic experiment: Noisy Jelly. Both a chemistry kit and an audible game, it turns gelatinous pudding into a musical instrument. Raphaël designed the Noisy Jelly kit in partnership with Marianne Cauvard, who shared his deep fascination with creating new tactile interfaces. So, why jelly? “We loved the tactility of the material. It’s strange, wet and cold. Some people really like it. Some are disgusted,” says Raphaël. “For technical reasons, jelly is a very convenient material to work with. It can be moulded in a few minutes and, most importantly, it’s made of water, which is conductive.” The jelly can be moulded with the plethora of geometric moulds Raphaël supplies. They are placed on to a board, which doubles as a capacitive sensor – the same technology used in touchscreens and trackpads – and, when stroked, poked and prodded, the jelly omits sounds that change according to pressure applied and the shape of the jelly. Noisy Jelly is a fun way to illustrate the potential for malleable electronics – imagine an mp3 player that is more tactile than today’s slimline players. “I can see devices offering richer interaction,” says Raphaël. “But the market is going in the opposite direction. We had mobile phones where you could feel a button. Now we interact on a slick surface without any tactile feedback, and we are going to continue to lose all tactility with the no-touch device generation like Xbox 360’s Kinect.” Raphaël is also keen to illustrate the potential for bringing new sensory layers to the act of making music. “There are plenty of new and different devices which could be created for electronic music, but most of them offer a poor level of interaction and stick too closely to knobs and buttons. Creating music on stage should find a way to be a little less boring for the audience,” he says. Which is exactly the route he is taking with Noisy Jelly, developing the kit for musicians like Flavien Berger, who will use the jelly in his performances as a tool for live electronics.
5. Wait until the mix goes cold and hard. (It becomes hard below 40°C, so it might take 10-20 minutes, depending of the temperature of your room. You could accelerate the process by putting the mould into your fridge.) 6. Place the jelly on the game board and touch to activate sounds.
How to Make Noisy Jelly Raphaël — Pluvinage — 77
4. Add colouring and 1tsp salt (adding salt will change the conductivity of the jelly, as salty water is much more conductive than pure water).
City of Change Burma is a country crawling out of the shadow of an oppressive military regime that ruled it for half a century. Words Chris Larkin Photography Greg Holland
Guide — City of Change: Burma
In the car park of Eucalypt bar, a pack gathers to smoke and talk with their musician friends playing in Yangon’s first regular underground music night, Jam It. The crowd is young, friendly, tattooed and includes quite a few girls – surprising in a culture that largely frowns on young women being out at night. The atmosphere is one of self-conscious cool and controlled excitement… until the next metal band takes to the stage. The floor fills, heads bang and the shirts come off.
It is a stark contrast to the scenes that characterise usual Yangon life. Sitting roadside on a tiny plastic stool to talk business, tell stories and drink sweet, milky tea brewed over hot coals is a national pastime. Buddhism is ever-present as monks wander with alms bowls and chanting from pagodas infiltrates both day and night. The longyi – a long cotton skirt wrapped and knotted at the waist – is still the customary dress for men and women alike. However, reforms announced since 2011 look set to alter the substance of this city. One of the world’s most isolated and oppressed nations is now seeing relaxations in freedom of speech and press laws, release of political prisoners and the welcoming of foreign investors and tourists. And while change might not necessarily be felt or seen across the rest of country yet, Yangon is bubbling. Once you could be arrested for possessing a picture of the famous opponent of the regime, Aung San Suu Kyi; now you can now buy her face on T-shirts and canvas bags. Booming investment has meant demand for housing and commercial space is huge – and developers are racing to profit from it. The doors to Yangon have been prised open and new ideas and perspectives are finding space to blossom.
Guide — City of Change: Burma
Guide — City of Change: Burma — 80
The Gallery Owner
The Cafe Owner
Artist Aye Ko runs Yangon’s first contemporary art centre and resource library, New Zero Art Space. Burma’s cultural sector has long suffered from a decimated education system and heavy censorship. For example, foreigners are forbidden to enter the university art school and cautious teachers pause their curriculum at Impressionism. In contrast, New Zero provides free workshops and brings in foreign artists to lecture and exhibit. Aye Ko believes that exposure to outside influences is essential for a new generation of creatives to progress: “The earliest we will have an artist with international recognition is 20 years. We need to open people’s eyes. We need to connect with other countries.”
Bar Boon, Sam Gouverneur’s concept cafe, is introducing a new design aesthetic to downtown Yangon. Exposed concrete trusses, enamel lightshades and Eames-style chairs, create an urban, terrace atmosphere not found elsewhere. Although Bar Boon’s original target market was a tourist and expat crowd, Gouverneur has been surprised by a clientele that he estimates to be 90% local Burmese. He puts the appeal down to the quality of coffee and food on offer: “We trained the staff on coffees for more than one month. We’ve worked with the bakery and brought in European butter to get the cinnamon rolls just right.”
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In an industry dominated by commercial covers of Western pop, Eaiddhi is creating space for underground music. He has experienced the challenges of creativity in Burma first-hand. “In my first album with punk band No U Turn, I wrote about bad parents – and the censors rejected my song.” With censorship now easing, young bands that are “creating new stuff and doing what they believe” need a platform to perform. Eaiddhi’s night – Jam It – squeezes up to 10 bands onto each bill, at a venue affordable enough to attract the youthful, local crowd that the scene needs to flourish.
In 2011, frustrated by the lack of opportunities for young Burmese filmmakers to screen work in their own country, Thu Thu Shein and a group of other young filmmakers created the debut independent film festival in Burma – Wathann. In the first year of the festival, the organisers struggled to get a permit and took the brave step to go ahead without it. “We were being watched by special police during the festival. We finally got a permit two hours before the closing ceremony.” Two years on, two further independent film festivals have been inspired, and Burmese audiences are being exposed to short films and documentaries “based on the reality of Burmese society” for the first time.
In the Loop It’s taken technology a century to catch up with Victorian innovation, taking shape as Hyperloop – the bullet-fast public transportation system of tomorrow Words Will Wiles
We bomb around using the same four basic modes of transport – road, rail, sea and air – and, like Hollywood, the business of finding ways to get around the planet is stuck rebooting variations on this quartet. Even the most outlandish ideas often have antecedents predating the First World War – such as Paypal founder Elon Musk’s 800mph Hyperloop, an innovative rehash of Victorian genius. IRNO — In the Loop — 82
“How about Los Angeles to San Francisco – a 350-mile journey – in a mere 35 minutes?” Hyperloop’s specifications acknowledge that rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard sketched a similar system 100 years ago, refining pneumatic and vacuum-tube ideas that existed at least another half-century before that. The practical problems of highspeed travel are well-rehearsed. Land vehicles suffer two main forms of drag: from the ground they run along and from the air have to push through. Hyperloop achieves the wild speeds it promises – how about Los Angeles to San Francisco, a mere 350-mile journey, in just 35 minutes – by minimising these sources of drag. Passenger capsules travel through sealed tubes from which nearly all the air has been pumped; the capsules do not physically touch the sides of the tube but are held in place by
magnetic levitation (like a hovercraft). The capsules are accelerated and braked by linear induction motors (magic magnets again). The clever part is not to rely on a total vacuum in the tube – which is a devil to achieve – and to mount a compressor fan on the front of the capsules instead. So, what, would a Hyperlooped world feel like? Musk’s design lacks one important feature that we mostly take for granted in transport: windows. While this doesn’t affect how it works, it might make a difference to how it reshapes our brains. Technical specifications call for the tubes to be inch-thick steel. Concerns about claustrophobia mostly focus on passengers not being able to leave their seats, and are mostly assuaged by the fact that the ride will of course be very short. But will we have a sense of having travelled at all? A Hyperlooped world could be a disorienting place, distorting to focus on the points of arrival and departure, losing all sense of the less honoured places between. Think of a schematic metro map, showing only connections, decoupled from geography. What’s disorienting about Hyperloop is not that we’re losing some primeval connection to the Earth’s surface, but more that we’re disoriented because of the realisation that no romantic connection to distance exists; it’s all subjective, continually stretched by technology.
The Health Issue
Photography Addie Chinn
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IRNO — In the Loop — 84
The City Issue