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Link About It: This Week's Picks

A kickball ice cream maker, drug-detecting nail polish, Miranda July's "Somebody" app and more in our look at the web this week

by CH Editors in Link About It on 30 August 2014

Link About It, Architecture, Burning Man, Derelict Design, Ice Cream, Innovation, MB&F, Miranda July

1. Buick's Dapper Derelict

When car restorer Jonathan Ward found a '48 Buick in a Pennsylvania barn, it hadn't been on the road since '73. Instead of bringing the classic beauty back to its original condition on the exterior, the ICON founder chose to purposely keep all of its patina—rust and all—perfectly intact. A prime example of derelict design, the Buick now has power windows, navigation, a back-up camera and a new stereo system, striking an impeccable balance between meticulous modernity and natural transience.

2. MB&F for Hodinkee

The last two characters within the name of Max Büsser's stellar horological company stand for "and friends." And this time, Büsser has partnered with one of the best: Hodinkee. His MB&F Music Machine 2 Limited Edition in gunmetal is a hand-worked piece of wonder, playing six songs on three internal music box cylinders—and it's Star Trek-inspired. The edition is limited to just five and they're selling exclusively from HODINKEE for $23,500.

3. The Sound of the Future

Loop-based music may have revolutionized (and democratized) the production world, but for electronic musicians, it's also resulted in pretty formulaic club tracks. Taking the less-traveled road, London-based experimental musician Lee Gamble sits down with RBMA Radio to explain his unique composition process, in which he views the computer as a potential instrument (such as recording the output of pieces of software crashing). The results are futuristic sonic hallucinations that feel as if you're traveling through the inner-workings of a complex machine.

4. Tehran's House of Rotating Rooms

Iran's Next Office studio has conceived one of the most creative approaches to residential architecture in a complex project that architect Alireza Taghaboni says went through 16 iterations. The surprising Tehran home features three pod-like rooms resting on motorized turntables that can be rotated 90 degrees, allowing them to become opened or closed to accommodate the region's extreme weather.

5. A Breathtaking Burning Man Time-Lapse

This year's Burning Man festival comes to a close today, celebrating its 28th year. From its humble beginnings on a beach outside San Francisco to today's massive week-long gathering in the Nevada desert, the festivities feature elaborate sculptures, handmade costumes and expansive art pieces that are nothing short of epic—as we saw first-hand last year. With so much going on, capturing the festival's grand beauty from daybreak to twilight is difficult, but Roy Two Thousand's 2013 time-lapse video succeeds in this. A must-watch for fans of the festival, the seven-minute overview provides an unshakeable portrayal of the gathering and all the magic that has made it a global phenomenon.

6. Miranda July's "Somebody" App

Created by film director, actor and artist Miranda July in partnership with fashion label Miu Miu, the new iOS app dubbed Somebody is a comment on how technology affects our most intimate relations. Send a text message through the app and it goes not to your friend, but a Somebody user close by (most likely a stranger) who then delivers the message verbally, acting as your stand-in. July's entertaining 10-minute film demonstrates the app in all its clever, cringe-worthy glory—think marriage proposals, break-ups and make-ups performed by whoever's nearby.

7. Churn and Burn

Hammacher Schlemmer may have just created every kid—and adult's—dream toy: the Kickball Ice Cream Maker. An inner chamber holds the necessary ice cream ingredients while another compartment houses rock salt and ice. Once you've got the essentials packed inside, it's go time. The rubber outer keeps the inside safe from breakage so you can kick, throw and play to your heart's content. After about 20 minutes, you'll have a pint of fresh (and well-earned) ice cream.

8. Help Is On The Nails

There's been a recent surge in new sexual assault prevention apps that focus on keeping users safe and their friends informed. Engineering students at North Carolina State University took it one step further, wanting to integrate technology into products that women often use, by developing a range of nail polish that detects date rape drugs. Dip a manicured finger into a drink, and a color change indicates it's been tampered with. While there's plenty of discussion regarding whether this shifts responsibility from perpetrators to victims, it's a step toward raising more awareness surrounding rape culture.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.

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100 Proof Black Dirt Apple Jack

A potent small-batch brandy made in upstate New York from local apples

by David Graver in Food + Drink on 29 August 2014

Alcohol, Apple Jack, Apples, Black Dirt, Brandy, Spirits, Food + Drink


Anyone who's been to Normandy, France or has a solid interest in spirits knows the wonders of Calvados, the high-proof apple brandy that really packs a punch. However, apple brandy happens to be an American tradition, as well. It's known as Apple Jack and, while the ABV is still high, the finish is definitely sweeter. Black Dirt Distilling—named for the Black Dirt region where the distillery is located, which was a hot bed of Apple Jack production prior to Prohibition—produces a small-batch Apple Jack. It's handcrafted on location in upstate NY and made with the state's apples. Though potent and powerful with the first sip, when that initial strong brandy impact recedes, the tongue is left with the richest fresh apple taste—and it lasts long into the next sip and beyond.

Black Dirt's Apple Jack is aged for at least four years, though most of their batches have been aged at least six—always in American Oak casks. Before that, the apples are pressed and fermented and are then distilled in a Christian Carl copper pot still imported from Germany. For further evidence of quality, Master Distiller Jason Grizzanti actually went to Cornell as a fruit science major before founding the craft distillery. With Apple Jack, he's developed a modern take on something historic that's a little bit sweet and very strong, but balanced all around.

Purchase Black Dirt Apple Jack online from Caskers for $43.

Images by Cool Hunting

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Fair Enough at Venice Architecture Biennale

The Russian Federation looks back on history and offers an imaginary commercial event for the exhibition

by Paolo Ferrarini in Design on 29 August 2014

Architecture, Design, Exhibitions, History, Propaganda, Venice Biennale


For the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale (on now through 23 November), the exhibition's curator Rem Koolhaas selected the arguably ambiguous theme of “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014” as a guide for all participating nations. As one would expect, such a wide and insidious topic has been interpreted in many different ways, influenced by local spirit and each nation's unique societal, political and artistic evolution—not to mention history of architecture.


One of the most original interpretations was created by the Russian Federation team, a group consisting of Commissioner Semyon Mikhailovsky and curators from Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design. The historic Russian Pavilion at Giardini has been transformed into "Fair Enough," an imaginary commercial event meant to promote Russian ideas and ideals. Dazzling lights, a kitschy atmosphere, tacky graphics and no shortage of enthusiastic statements and pandering propaganda make up the self-aware approach. The cohesive aesthetic is so well reproduced and in such a general setting that at times it's difficult to understand the line between fact and fiction.


As in every good architecture project, the starting point is very clear: begin with an analysis of today’s problems related to life in dense urban areas. For example, one of the biggest issues in developing countries is displacement, since in recent years 144 million people in 125 countries were forced out of their homes due to disasters. What, specifically, about the future of architectural practices can better this? Other questions abound. Are architects too dependent on computers and robots? When considering entertainment, consumerism and the youth, how do we approach storing our "stuff," since so many own far too much already?


It’s easy to say that we can solve contemporary problems so long as we don’t forget the past, but the Russian curators have made this statement paradoxically strong and clear with the slogan of “Russia’s past, our present." In this way, at "Fair Enough" there is a way out for every obstacle, and it can be found in the long (and controversial) history of Russian Architecture.

Speaking to the point of storage, the Russian Federation answers with the already existing Dacha, the traditional cottages used as second homes that became popular during the Soviet era. In response to an attack or a disaster, there's Ark-Stroy; a super-strong housing system designed for the USSR’s Ministry of Atomic Energy and built in the Tulskaya neighborhood of Moscow. Such "solutions" allow the viewer to rethink stigmas and genuinely reconsider the recycling of "old" ideas.


As the exhibition continues, it showcases more interesting examples of decoration from the monumental Moscow subway, educational methods for children, influences of Russian architecture abroad and the stunning works by Suprematist artist and designer El Lissitzky, just to name a few. In each section it's possible to find promotional materials like leaflets, brochures and catalogues, all of course designed perfectly in sync with the expo-like environment.

Fair-Enough-Venice-Biennale-7.jpg Fair-Enough-Venice-Biennale-8.jpg

Also worth noting is the work coordinated by Maria Kosareva, as she’s been able to recreate different graphic styles according to the content and the historic period of reference. Thankfully, for all design enthusiasts in attendance, she even included Russia's curious, historic graphic nightmares: arrows, yellow letters with shadows, dreadful fonts and overly saturated pictures of smiling people. Regardless of portion of the exhibition visited, Russia's contribution is one not to miss.

Second image courtesy of The Charnel House, all others courtesy of Venice Architecture Biennale

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