Thursday, March 26, 2009


The 1984 Olympics design program was a massive environmental undertaking, documented in this issue of Design Quarterly (No. 127) designed by Deborah Sussman's office and published by the MIT Press.

This was where we all heard the word Sonotube for the first time!

Festive Federalism, a term coined to reflect the graphics program for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is reflected here in the color palette and an image of one of the many dimensional stars located throughout the city. This 36 page book tells the story behind the program, acknowledges the designers who worked for the many design firms who participated, and is full of photos from that great summer.

Disney Connection: EPCOT Center's Wonders of Life Pavilion (now closed)

By Brian_WDW74

Disney borrowed the look of the 1984 Olympics and plunked it down inside a golden dome in Central Florida for the Wonders of Life pavilion. Gigi McGee, who had worked on the Olympics project, consulted at Imagineering for this project.

Disney Connection: Walt Disney World property road signage.

By Disneytara

The property-wide signage at Walt Disney World was designed in the '90's by Sussman / Prejza & Co., who led the 1984 Olympic graphic design program along with The Jerde Partnership Inc.

Wet: The magazine of Gourmet Bathing

Richard Gere looking really young on the January-February 1980 cover of Wet. This issue coincided with the release of American Gigolo

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Progressive Builder's Homes, Burbank, Ca.

Progressive Builder's
Small home sketch, Richard Neutra, 1942

Backside of several Progressive Builder's Homes
"The coming of war temporarily halted private commissions, but heightened the need for war workers housing. Neutra was given the job of designing a whole block of Progressive Builder's Homes, erected in 1942 as part of a larger project for defense workers at the nearby Lockheed aircraft factory in Burbank. Modest versions of the crisp, pitched-roof format Neutra had begun to explore two years earlier, the fourteen completed Federal Housing Adminstration sponsored, detatched dwellings featured bedrooms across the front with the living room running front to rear and opening integrally onto fetching garden patios."
Blueprints for Modern Living: History And Legacy of the Case Study Houses, Elizabeth A. T. Smith
Available from Amazon

This set isn't as up to date as I'd like, I really need to set up for a weekend and take some nice current pictures.

What are they like now? on Flickr
Photoset of some of the other Neutra-designed homes on the street, photos taken in 2007.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vibrant Red

Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating by Barbara D'
Arcy, 1973
Contains a couple hundred amazing color and black and white photos. Barbara has an unusual writing style, including a glossary that suddenly shifts into first person:
A substitute support for the legs of a chair or table, a pedestal can be either square, rectangular, round or oval. Without a top it can serve as a support for a vase of flowers or a piece of sculpture. I like pedestals in all manner of materials. Wood, mirror, chrome, clear or white plexiglass, marble or even terra cotta, and I like to light pedestals from within when they're made of translucent plexiglass.

Available from Abe Books

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dinner & an "eames" lounge

Claim Jumper and modernist furniture must go together, or at least they do this week.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dyson Ball DC24

If there's one thing my Shiba Inu does on demand, it's shed. And with the nice weather I like to open more doors and windows in my house, and this area can be very dry and dusty. It all adds up to little clouds of hair and dust crisscrossing my floor with every breeze. I had an obsession a few years back with Roomba and Scooba, but I find their upkeep too demanding. Sure you don't have to vaccuum yourself, but who cares if you need to spend 45 minutes each week cleaning one or the other machine. And Hunter disliked her robotic friends.

So I'm trying out the Dyson Ball DC24. Unboxed earlier today, the DC24 assembles quickly and intuitively, and has some useful attachments that seem like I'll actually use. I didn't realize that inside the ball is a filtration system, so the whole thing is a pretty ingenous design. On first use I'm pleased with it, I'll report in with updates as I put it to use.

AMC Week: Epilogue

See all of AMC Week without diversions.

Or, for specific articles:
Now, at the closing of American Motors Week, what did I learn?

That it's possible to design clever and inventive products that don't resonate with the public-at-large at the time they are offered, but when viewed historically reveal amazing forethought. The Eagle was ahead of it's time, an early SUV or Subaru Forester, while AMC set the pace for special designer editions, a concept picked up by all of the big three at one time or another. AMC spent a decade scrambling to distinguish itself from the other car makers, and did so very effectively with products that we weren't quite ready for.

AMC was pushing the envelope with electric cars, finding economical ways to build cars with symmetrical stampings and shared parts, meeting it's frugal consumer's concerns about repair cost with the industry-leading AMC Buyer's Protection Plan, and letting the Nation know that maybe what they really needed was the first wide small car.

The vehicles once a joke really wouldn't look so odd marketed against today's Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen New Beetle, or Scion xB. It just took us a while to get there.

I also learned I can overlay my blog with a theme week and have a lot of fun along the way, and that it's possible to do something that can really screw with how Google indexes your article titles and not have a clue how to fix it. If there's anyone out there who knows Blogger inside out and what I might have done (all articles are titled on Google with only "GINORMUS" and none of the article title) let me know! This magically fixed itself.

AMC Week: Levi's Gremlin

He's so into her! But we know it's just all about her Levi's Gremlin.

In 1973 AMC introduced the Levi's Gremlin, a package which transformed your Gremlin into a total denim cruiser for just $134.95. If you were buying the Gremlin X, the extra cost was only $49.95.

Levi's Gremlins are among the most sought-after collectible AMCs today, and often appear in media and advertising. What better way to celebrate the 1970's?

The final three shots on this page are a fully restored Levi's Gremlin by Classic Dream Cars of Mount Dora Florida. The results of the year-long restoration can be seen in the before and after shots and upholstery detailing. Apparently, once completed, the car sold immediately.

AMC extended the Levi's package to Hornet and Javelin in later years, but the Gremlin, for all it's iconic nature, is the one to have.

At least one other car company took note and offered their own denim inspired special editions - as shown earlier on Ginormus, and just in time for the Bicentennial, Dodge offered a patriotic red, white and denim theme on the Mitsubishi-built Dodge Colt Carousel.

AMC Week: Le Car

Renault Le Car, originally uploaded by photophonic.

Renault 5 factory, originally uploaded by cbilleque.

While first designed and manufactured in 1972 by Renault, Le Car was sold in North America AMC dealerships beginning in 1976.
New York Times
Published: January 2, 1982

AMC Increases Prices of Le Car

The American Motors Corporation has announced that that it will increase the base prices of its imported Renault Le Car models an average of 5.4 percent, or $303.

A.M.C. announced on Thursday that the price of Le Car hatchback will go up by $200, effective next Monday. The increase will lift the base price to $4,995.

Prices will also be increased by $300 for Le Car three-door sedan, to $5,295, and five-door hatchback models, to $5,595. In addition, destination charges on all Le Car models will rise $10.

AMC Week: Big Bad Color Branding

Big Bad Orange, Big Bad Blue and Big Bad Green.
This is an AMX collection owned by David Campbell

Gaining strong consumer mindspace for color is a great strategy perfected later by the iconic Mazda Miata with their three initial colors (ironically if not strategically red, white and blue.) Over the years, the Big Bad colors were offered on a variety of AMC vehicles, including AMX, Rambler, Javelin and Gremlin.

AMC Week: Those rectanglar slab monoliths...

...continue to live on across the country in various forms. Brian T. Dolan took this shot for the wonderful Pittsburgh Signs Project.