Monthly Archives: April 2010

Urban Gardening

Tending a backyard vegetable patch or growing herbs on your windowsill are by no means new ideas, but it’s impossible to ignore the recent explosion in popularity of urban gardening. Transcending mere trend, gardening is once again in the mainstream of modern living, even – or perhaps especially – for city dwellers. As during World War II, when Victory Gardeners were digging their way to produce during wartime, home gardening has once again taken on a feeling of urgency, as well as providing a frugal avenue toward self-sufficiency.

Vegetable attacking Swastika, advertising for a Victory Garden

A vintage ad for planting Victory Gardens.

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Now Haus

Congregating on the roof of the Bauhaus in Weimar, circa 1920.

From left to right on the roof of the Bauhaus in Weimar, circa 1920: Josef Albers, Hinnerk Scheper, Georg Muche, László Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Gunta Stozl and Oskar Schlemmer.

In the late 1990s, one of modernism’s great works of architecture was discovered abandoned and in wild disrepair. Known as the “E-1027 House“, Irish architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray had built the stark, rectilinear, Bauhaus-inspired home overlooking the rich Mediterranean azure in Southern France in 1926. Jutting from the craggy cliffside like an eighties drug-den from Miami Vice, the house gave many powerful impressions. Warmth was not one of them. That was until French newspapers began publishing pictures of the house after it had been vandalized and lived in by local street punks.

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Isabel Antonia Giampietro

Glasses by designer Isabel Antonia Giampetro.

Narcisso glasses (1958) by Isabel Antonia Giampietro.

Glassware designer and sculptor Isabel Antonia Giampietro died March 30, 2010 in New York at the age of 92. Her most prolific  years were in the 1950s, a time when very few women worked in design. Her pieces were unique; The New York Times describes her glassworks as being “as graceful as they are innovative”. She developed a technique to make the stem of a drinking glass from one piece creating extremely strong glassware that was more efficient to produce. She also designed goblets, where the stem doubles as another glass.

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History of the Umbrella

The Beatles holding umbrellas in 1965.

The Beatles stay dry, 1965.

During the late 18th century, London was full of strange characters who attracted attention to themselves for one reason or another, but perhaps none so much as Jonas Hanway. A former merchant who spent several years working in Persia and Russia, Hanway was known for his eccentricities as well as his near mythic travel stories. He was wholeheartedly dedicated to various philanthropic activities, including governing an asylum for women and the poor, and writing tracts about problems within the British prison system.

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Cured Meat

Butcher shop in Paris with sausages and cured meats hanging from the ceiling. (Image by Tom Palumbo)

Charcuterie in Les Halles, Paris, 1962. (Image by Tom Palumbo)

Like any good American kid, I grew up eating floppy baloney on white bread. And like any uninspired Manhattan office worker, I ambled down to the nearest deli and got slices of salami — hot pink and encased in branded, shrink-wrap plastic that the sandwich guy would peel back to measure out my portion. It was salty and tasted fine between sliced bread with a handful of shredded iceberg lettuce, or at least it seemed that way from inside my cubicle. Then I moved to Europe.

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Letterpress Printing

It’s all been said before. It’s all been seen before. Nothing is new. Or at least this would be one way of looking at recent cultural output, which has amounted to a retrograde immersion in the past. 1980s remakes clog the movie process from pitch to multiplex, fashion revisits deceased designs, the clamor for the posthumous tomes of exhumed esoteric authors — all roads lead backwards.

Image of a letter printing press "Chandler Boxcarpress 1500." (Image courtesy of Boxcar Press, Syracuse)

13×18 Chander & Price Craftsman Press. (Image courtesy of Boxcar Press, Syracuse)

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