1. Farewell, Sugar Man Director
It surprised no one when Malik Bendjelloul won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Academy Awards. His film "Searching for Sugar Man" (which happened to be his directorial debut) won the hearts of fans the world over with his chronicle of the little-known musician, Sixto Rodriguez. People were, however, shocked to learn that Bendjelloul died this week from an apparent suicide. The Swedish filmmaker was just 36 and still in the wake of his film's critical and commercial success. An explorer with a keen eye for storytelling, it's truly a shame that Bendjelloul left us so early, but "Searching for Sugar Man" will certainly stand as his voice for many years to come.
2. Playing with Braille
One peek at a standard polyphonic synthesizer reveals tons of knobs and tiny font indicating their function, from simply controlling the volume to adjusting the LFO rate. With this in mind we can't imagine how much time Stevie Wonder must have spent getting familiar with his own synths. Moog Music is now offering, for the first time, its Sub Phatty synth with a Braille overlay for visually impaired musicians. And—for extra kudos to the Asheville, NC-based manufacturer—it costs exactly the same as the original.
3. MoMA Design Store x Kickstarter
To celebrate the best designs that have come from Kickstarter since its inception five years ago, MoMA Design Store will sell 24 Kickstarter-funded products online and in NYC stores. Selected specifically for the program by MoMA curators, the selection represents a significant moment for design as each object was created by independent designers, funded by the public and backed by one of the most important institutions in the field.
4. Vignelli's Last Request
Designing everything from the NYC subway map to iconic corporate logos and identities for the likes of Knoll, IBM and Lufthansa, Massimo Vignelli is one of the most influential designers of the past century. Now the 83-year-old is seriously ill and his last wish is to hear from admirers, friends and those who have appreciated his formative work over his long, fruitful career. Send Vignelli a letter by post or send your love with a tweet using #dearmassimo.
5. The Social Media Art Dealer
Instagram is the new face of galleries, exhibitions and art dealers combined. A place where artists can showcase their work, accumulate fans and even attract buyers for their own pieces with one quick post, the social media platform has aided in launching under-the-radar artists, but on a larger cultural level, it offers a new access point to the fine arts in general. The images have allowed creators to circumnavigate the art world elite, and while some think the over-presence of an artist's work online will devalue the piece in person, the reality of the situation is that it has actually lured new consumers into the mix.
6. The Next Generation 3D Printer
From food to furniture, 3D printing has gone from conceptual to mainstream in just a few years. Now, Chicago-based artist Joshua Harker—a 3D printing sculpture pioneer—is offering his immaculate work as a Kickstarter reward for funding the development of a new generation of printers. While hesitant to give away too many details due to intellectual property concerns, Harken assures that the new technology not only prints in a higher quality printed result, but a lower cost upfront for the hardware—projected at under $1,000.
7. An End to Giger's Imagination
In 1979, artist HR Giger's dark vision of viscous alien life would transform the sci-fi genre and win him an Oscar for the Ridley Scott directed film "Alien." While cinematic work (and scary movies in particular) may have driven his acclaim, the artist's imagination touched everything from album covers to architecture. His largest body of work involved the creation of "biomechanics"—half human, half mechanical figures seen in his paintings and drawings. At the age of 74, the Swiss pioneer has now passed away, leaving behind a vast array of work and innumerable fans. A museum dedicated to his work in Gruyères, Switzerland will continue to be a magical destination showcasing Giger's tremendous artistic contributions.
8. 9/11 Through the World's Eyes
Next week marks the opening of the long-anticipated National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and the curators have given special attention to the wide range of individual experiences people had on that tragic, world-changing day. One of the museum's first installations, "We Remember," pays homage to everyone from those at Ground Zero to those helplessly watching the news. For the project, 100 people were interviewed; detailing their memories and experiences. The result is a unifying fabric of memory that engages the viewer with its collective humanity and interactivity. Visitors can record their own message, meaning "We Remember" will continue to evolve and grow with each person who contributes.
9. Hip-Hop Academy
Hip-hop and academia aren't mutually exclusive—in the past few years, Swizz Beatz became a producer-in-residence at NYU, Bun B a Rice University professor, and ?uestlove a professor at NYU. Rapper and producer 9th Wonder breaks further ground by launching the Hip-Hop Institute, a new interdisciplinary program offered through the history department at North Carolina Central University. This Harvard Fellow probably can't teach his students to emulate the distinct work he's done for Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Destiny's Child and others, but he will likely offer deep insight on the valuable history (and future) of hip-hop.
10. A Smarter AC
With Tado's new smart thermostat (now on Kickstarter), 82% of all the air conditioning units out there have the opportunity to grow a little smarter. Dubbed Tado Cooling, the app and and remote device use geo-location to turn your air off when you leave the house, but also turn it back on when you're making your way home. The app also checks up on local weather forecasts to adjust temperatures, saving money on energy bills. Tado Cooling will retail for $149 but the first 500 backers can get in on it for as low as $69.
11. Chipotle Cup Story Time
Inspired by the boredom of eating alone, writer Jonathan Safran Foer has worked with Chipotle to introduce a series of cups and bags printed with short stories and literary musings by the likes of Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis. A leap from the traditional fast food model of covering every possible inch of real-estate in branding, the initiative will introduce some 800,000 Americans to high-quality writing.
12. Portable Airport Sleeping Surface
While most airports offer just about everything one could need while in transit, a place for weary travelers to rest is never easy to find. RESMO aims to solve this. Designed by Chien-Hui Ko, the foldable floor mat concept can be configured to create a range of forms, offering the user a sense of privacy and a comfortable place to recline.
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