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Link About It: This Week's Picks

First kisses, net neutrality, Bill Cunningham and more in our weekly look at the web

by CH Editors in Link About It on 15 March 2014

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1. Disarming Design From Palestine

In conflict-ridden Palestine, the rich history of craftsmanship and design is sometimes overlooked. Newly minted cooperative Disarming Design From Palestine showcases the region's unique wares and design talent, including olive wood carving and garment production using traditional materials with contemporary styling. A look at the cooperative's workshops and process reveals a crop of talent seldom exposed to the wider design world with products that are sure to compete on a global scale.

2. Rethinking The Smartwatch

As we continue to sync and shrink our personal devices, it's clear the smartwatch industry will be an exciting space to watch. So far though, it seems that most designers are focused on the technological components, with less interest in aesthetics. To address this, Hungarian designer Gábor Balogh has taken a more conventional approach by marrying the handsome form of a classic wristwatch with the functionality of an all-encompassing smartphone. Balogh's design eschews a touchscreen and instead relies on the bezel to control the apps and interface, from heart-rate to music to maps.

3. Bill Cunningham: Facades

At the New York Historical Society, now through 15 June, famed photographer Bill Cunningham is presenting "Facades"—a project he has been working on for almost 37 years in conjunction with the late Editta Sherman. Cunningham spent years documenting "the Duchess of Carnegie Hall," and her vintage fashion collections. Each image captures ensembles paired perfectly with architecture from the corresponding period. An epic 88 gelatin silver prints are on display in the powerful, dynamic show where moments in time capture the aesthetic values across almost two centuries of culture.

4. Before They Pass Away

The unyielding forces of globalization and urbanization continue to shape our planet and cultures, with permanent impacts. One of them is the disintegration of the world's tribal cultures. In his stunning portrait series "Before They Pass Away," British photographer Jimmy Nelson documents secluded, shrinking tribes around the globe—from the Mongolian Steppe hawk-wielding Kazakh nomads to Guachos on Tierra del Fuego. Though the series has been out for a while, it's worth revisiting as much for the images' stunning compositions as it is for their cultural relevancy. Nelson's dedicated site gives context to the tribes as well, providing an in-depth look at the making of the series shot on large format film.

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5. Extreme Makeover: Landmark Edition

The head-to-toe $27 million restoration of the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank headquarters in Brooklyn (built in 1875) was footed by a developer who plans to open a hotel next door. Birdcage elevators, stained-glass skylights, a great dome, hand-cut mosaic floors and even replica doorknob and hinges with the "WSB" logo are some of the beautiful features of the restored building, which will now function as an event space.

6. Sou Fujimoto's White Tree

Set to dominate Montpellier, France's skyline, Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto's latest design has been aptly dubbed the "White Tree" (or "Arbre Blanc" in French). The 17-story mixed-use building will feature residential, commercial and office space as well as an art gallery. Structurally, the building resembles a tree with each unit representing a branch and its balcony acting as a leaf. Aesthetically, the building draws equally from crisp Mediterranean design as well as Japanese modular pragmatism. For tenants, floor plans are a largely open concept, allowing each resident to utilize their space as it best suits their particular needs.

7. The Future of TV

The digital age has turned just about every mass communications model on its head, especially TV. Only recently has the industry begun to adapt to the changing tide rather than fight it, and it's actually looking positive. This detailed rundown examines the changes being explored by various networks and providers, which include more tailored program options and cheaper plans to target younger consumers who would be less likely to sign up for a traditional cable service plan. While generally on the right track, the article wisely points out that all of these options will require a serious amount of bandwidth, which could offset cost savings.

8. Grand Budapest Graphic Design

Every Wes Anderson film features an extraordinary attention to detail within the lush, colorful worlds only the auteur himself can envision. With his most recent "The Grand Budapest Hotel," it appears Anderson has outdone himself with the development of not just one location, but the entire (fictional) state of Zubrowka. And in almost every scene, you'll find the work of Annie Atkins, the film's lead graphic designer. In an insightful interview, the designer describes her work on the various graphic props, from Mendl's patisserie packaging to the much sought after "Boy with Apple" painting, as well as her advertising origins and what it was like to work with the beloved Anderson.

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9. Land Rover and Simba Reach Malawi

Land Rover and The Born Free Foundation have completed their impressive 4,900 mile trip from Belgium to Malawi, delivering a mistreated lion to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. The courageous lion—named Simba—spent his early life in captivity, experiencing mistreatment across Europe, and will now be free to happily live out his days in a natural environment.

10. LSD, Reconsidered

The strict ban on psychedelic substances has proved to be an obstacle for medical researchers, especially psychopharmacologists, but a recent paper published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease shows that some are making headway. A team led by Swiss psychiatrist Peter Gasser conducted the first controlled trial of LSD in 40 years and concluded that the eight terminally ill patients who received full doses of LSD became less anxious.

11. First Kiss

There's a beautiful, nervous energy surrounding a first kiss. Ten of those moments were recently captured in a short video, appropriately titled "First Kiss" and directed by Tatia Pilieva, for the fashion brand WREN. In a white room, with cameras rolling, strangers meet and lock lips. While there's controversy over the casting of models as a handful of the 20 individuals shown, it can't be denied that this is an intimate and engaging piece of work (which has now spawned several spoof versions).

12. Ar(t)chitecture

Life imitates art and art imitates…buildings, thanks to Italian architect and illustrator Federico Babina, who delves into a more literal exploration of the symbiotic relationship between art and architecture. Check out his collection of 27 images, titled "Archist," to see Richard Serra, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dali, Mark Rothko and more, imagined as houses or museums. Viewing the buildings not as virtual CAD or standard architectural models but in the language of an artist lends a unique perspective to the prominent artwork.

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13. Sir Tim Berners-Lee and 25 Years of Internet

On 12 March 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a network of information sharing which would become the universally loved World Wide Web. Now 25 years later, the same brilliant mind is encouraging a net neutrality. Berners-Lee and a team of global advocates are campaigning for the Web to be free to everyone, and stand by their position that access to the internet is a basic human right and essential tool for economic and social growth. You can help in the quest to make the internet truly democratic by sharing your ideas using the hashtag #web25.

14. Too Long, Help Me Read

We all can openly admit that we've skipped through those lengthy Terms of Service or License Agreements with a quick click, the content remaining an unsolved mystery. TL;DR Legal is a immensely helpful service founded by Kevin Wang, a 19-year-old software engineer and esteemed Thiel Fellow (banking him $100,000). Open-source software licenses are "explained and summarized in plain English"—a major resource for programmers and small businesses to avoid future legal dilemmas. While the site launched in 2012, it recently updated to its 2.0 version.

15. The 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

A cocoon of woven fiberglass will grace Kensington Gardens this summer, as chosen Chilean architect Smiljan Radic embarks on this year's Serpentine Pavilion program. Radic is one of the youngest and lesser-known architects to have been granted the honor, with previous years seeing the likes of "starchitects" Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel. That said, this will be one of the most odd and expressive structures in the 14 years of the summer pavilion's history. There's a fragile energy to the work, but Radic's sheer originality will be the dominant impression visitors will take away.

16. Halo Belt 2.0

Last year San Francisco's Rickshaw Bagworks teamed up with their neighbors Halo Belt Company on an illuminated messenger bag, which smartly utilized Halo's LED fiber optic bands. Halo is now introducing a second Kickstarter for their reflective Belt 2.0, an easy, rechargeable accessory to wear when cycling, jogging or doing anything in a low visibility situation. With saving lives their main mission, the compassionate company also worked to reduce the price, which is now an agreeable $37, including shipping.

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

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