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Link About It: This Week's Picks

Robert Capa's surprising color photos, Google's 2013 Zeitgeist, Nico Muhly's review of Beyoncé and more

by CH Editors in Link About It on 21 December 2013

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1. Japanese Temari Spheres

Temari spheres, a craft brought to Japan from China in the seventh century, are hand-embroidered using bits of thread—often from old kimonos—which are carefully crafted into spherical balls (though they're most certainly not meant for kicking around). A Flickr user recently discovered her grandmother's collection of over 500 of the the folk art masterpieces, each revealing a unique geometric pattern with bold color contrasts.

2. Animated Typefaces

While many tend to question the real value of the ever-entertaining GIF image, designer Jono Brandel imagines a time when the format allows individual letters to tell a story. In his new project Anitype, Brandel has opened up the virtual floor for anyone interested in creating their own moving letter. Using the provided code, creative thinkers can animate each letter or check out other submissions, which range from a moonwalking A to a martini-filled Y.

3. Architect Dream Homes

Though architects aren't ones to lack creativity, they're sometimes unable to express it at its full potential. It's only in dreaming up their own homes that they can draw and build without construction and client restrictions. So why not ask them to build their dream homes? In his "Solo Houses" experiment, developer Christian Courdais gave 10 architects a blank slate to work from for fantastical results now sprinkled around and up for grabs in Catalonia, Spain.

4. Kano's Kickstarter

This year seemingly everybody is Kickstarting something, but there's one project that's caught the eye of tech bigshots around the word, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler. Kano is a DIY kit for assembling your own small computer, and its creators were looking for $100,000 in crowdfunding but walked away with $1.35 million this past week. Kano's appealing package promises to teach amateurs how to build a computer from scratch; a valuable lesson in a world increasingly lacking knowledge about the products we have become unable to live without.

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5. Higby

Not a jingle bells ringtone or light-up snowflake case, this tongue-in-cheek holiday product conceived by esteemed brand consultancy Wolff Olins is a set of accessories aimed at keeping iPhone addicts (read: everyone) from using their device while home for the holidays. Higby "gently reminds us what matters" through a smiling face blocking the headphone jack and a heart covering the camera. For once, you're in the moment instead of uploading it. In true holiday fashion, Higby's arms wrap around another phone, to share the sprit of unplugging from the digital world.

6. Sound Wave Windshield Wipers

Supercar manufacturer McLaren is currently devising a new wiper-less system to remove water drops and debris from the windscreen. Using a system similar to those used by jet planes, a high-frequency ultrasonic transducer does the trick, all the while making the car even more lightweight and aerodynamic. And you thought Rain-X was groundbreaking.

7. Print All Over Me

Tie-dye used to be the go-to method for customizing your own clothing—but for the current generation, it's all about digital printing. Print All Over Me (PAOM) is a website where you can create a design in MS Paint or Photoshop and easily transform it into a sweatshirt, hat or even a pillow. There's also the option to shop other designs—Sight Unseen has collaborated with their artistic friends to create a sweet mini collection. PAOM is a spinoff project of BYCO, a Kickstarter-like platform for designers to bring their fashion sketches to fruition.

8. Google's Zeitgeist 2013

One minute and 30 seconds of the most riveting—and most searched—imagery of 2013 now appears in Google's latest Zeitgeist video. This year-in-review seamlessly binds together all of the moments that defined our internet experiences and beyond. From victories to deaths, milestones and great acts of humanity, a lot happened this year. And a lot of people went to Google to learn about it.

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9. The Annual Japanese Phone Answering Competition

"Ohayou gozaimasu!" A record 12,613 office workers competed for the national title at the 52nd All-Japan Phone Answering Competition. Only one was crowned champion but the top finalists all exuded politeness and eloquence—and showed that formal phone answering is serious business in Japan. If you want to brush up on your own skills, take note of what it takes to win: “A strong contestant takes appropriate pauses between phrases, and stays friendly, but not overly friendly. Throughout, proper exclamations to signal attention and empathy must be used."

10. The WeTransfer Experience

Since Amsterdam-based WeTransfer hit the internet four years ago, file-sharing has never been easier—or sexier—and the service has been a hit among the creative community. Not satisfied with the status quo, WeTransfer recently appointed "mad scientist" and designer Nelly Ben Hayoun (whose well-known projects include a rocket ship-simulating La-Z-Boy armchair and inconvenient semi-domestic volcanoes planted in living rooms) as head of experience. Ben Hayoun has been introducing chaos and disorder into the design and scientific world with these event-based experiences, and we can't wait to see what she has in store for WeTransfer.

11. Wallpaper* Design Awards: Judge's Shortlist

With the end of the year all but here, Wallpaper* Magazine is just weeks away from announcing this year's winners of their annual design awards. As a teaser, the London-based publication recently posted the Judge's Awards shortlist, which reflects exciting selections from a diverse panel, which includes Victoria Beckham, Spike Jonze and restauranteur-turned-designer Michael Chow. Accolades span a bevy of categories, including Best New Hotel, Life-Enhancer of the Year, Best City, Best New Public Building and more.

12. Colorful Feelings

Vladimir Nabokov, Billy Joel, David Hockney, Stevie Wonder—these are all well-known influencers of culture who have synesthesia, a neurological condition where stimulation of one sense evokes the sensation of another. Chromesthesia (experiencing sounds in color) is the most common form, and Noisey explores its potential for taking music to a new level, with chromesthetes like Pharrell Williams and Aphex Twin leading the way.

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13. Nico Muhly's Glorious Beyoncé Review

Composer Nico Muhly works well beyond the confines of classical music, collaborating with everyone from Diplo to Bjork. The breadth of his musical taste is as strong as his skills in creating it, and from his recent review of Beyoncé's new album, writing about it as well. While in rural Iceland, he was awoken in the night to join hundreds of thousands online in downloading her self-titled album. The resulting review is a hysterical, wise and refreshingly honest approach. Except for her repeat "lack of real string instruments," read on to find out why she resonates with him so much and really is the queen of pop.

14. Etymology of "Shorty" in Hip Hop

A perfectly over analyzed look at hip-hop's beloved "shorty," Matthew Daniels' investigative website dedicated to the term takes a look at its debut via Too Short in '85, the popular use throughout the mid '90s when it changed spelling to "shawty," as well as its shift in meaning at the beginning of the current century. With heaps of quotes and credible research, the site breaks down the ubiquitous rap term for all to understand and enjoy.

15. Glass Alpine Installation

Atop the Aiguille du Midi mountain peak, 3,396 feet above a valley in the French Alps, rests the new Chamonix Skywalk. This glass box allows visitors to have an unprecedented view—across, above and even below—of the extreme surroundings. The experience is guaranteed to be vertigo-inducing, and is appropriately titled "Step into the Void." With Mont Blanc being in the line of site, the view is pretty extraordinary.

16. Capa Photos Surface 70 Years Later

Wildly known for his black-and-white photos of wartime scenes, Magnum founder and photojournalist Robert Capa returns to the limelight in a momentous exhibition at NYC's International Center of Photography. For the first time, a collection of over 100 of Capa's photographs will be on view, but surprisingly they were shot on color film. "Capa In Color" is one surely not to miss when it opens at ICP on 31 January 2014.

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

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