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Ice Cube February 14, 2010

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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I was in New York recently and noticed the new Apple store on Broadway and 67th. Crisp glass box and elegantly high ceilings – not a surprise to anyone who’s ever seen an Apple store before. But while I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s consistent marketing concepts, especially when it comes to their store designs, it begs us to question the relation of branding to architecture.

Given, architectural branding is nothing new. Back in the early 20th century, German architects pioneered the idea of uniting art and industry. Function, yes, but also form, and German industrialists seized on the opportunity to market the origin of the commodities they produced to their buyers. I’m thinking here of Peter Behrens’s AEG turbine hall and Gropius’s Fagus-Werk, which was in fact widely used as publicity. But this is different. Apple’s store design is entirely dictated by a set of aesthetic and spatial requirements. The architecture is Apple. Its design is reliant on the brand and cannot outlive it independently.

The architectural concerns here are not only aesthetic. Located on a prominent corner in New York’s dense Upper East Side, a huge single-purpose glass box isn’t exactly a very sustainable use of land in the days of sprawl and global warming. But I have a solution: a hovering mixed-use box that floats above all such Apple stores. I’ll get back to you on that last one once I refine my design.


What do you have to say? February 28, 2009

Posted by mmonla in Architecture, Art and Design, Politics.

“Welcome to Palestine. After 620 kilometers of fence & Wall, all around, you are back where you were.”

These words can be found on www.sendamessage.nl, a website set up by a Dutch marketing group paired with local Palestinian NGOs. And thanks to them, you can now “buy” a message on the wall, have it spraypainted by Palestinian volunteers and even get digital photographs of your wall art emailed to you. In a true globalised fashion, anyone today within reach of a computer can leave their trace in an area they would most likely never have any physical access to.

From wedding proposals to humour to political statements, there is no limit to what can be seen painted on the concrete barrier. It not only provides financial relief to Palestinians whose livelihoods have been affected by the wall but also questions the nature of the separation, one post at a time.

As one contributor put it… “love conquers (w)all”



Il Conformista March 13, 2008

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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I’ve posted below a few screenshots and an extract of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Il Conformista. The film explores fascist psychology through a mid-level civil servant (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who joins the secret police in his quest for normality. Not only is the screenplay well thought out, the settings are stunning. Shown below are a few screenshots of Trintignant walking across the government headquarters. Got to love those huge empty halls.

Even Coppola makes a tribute to the film through the blowing leaves reference in the Godfather II (yes, I’m a fan).




This is the asylum scene. I love the huge white box and the lined benches. Notice the flying leaves scene….

Anchors Aweigh! March 12, 2008

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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Because I just had to… here’s the classic dancing scene from Anchors Aweigh; a remarkable achievement for 1945 and the first ever animated character/live actor duet.

Gene Kelly and Jerry Mouse, can’t go wrong.

Surrealist Hues March 12, 2008

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.

I’ve posted below a few pictures by photographer Jerry Uelsmann. His work consists of darkroom manipulation of multiple negatives to create surrealist imagery. I’m very impressed by his darkroom editing techniques; they’re very… ‘old photoshop’.

With the advent of digital photography, we’ve become quite used to this type of photomontage. But back when these prints were created, the photographic image was mostly considered as true as the eye.

Jerry 1

jerry 2

jerry 3

The Jacob Carter fanclub February 17, 2008

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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Through bldgblog, I recently came across Jacob Carter‘s photography. I’ve posed a few pictures below. I love the way he experiments with both film and digital editing techniques to create a mood that’s very… haunting. Love it, very powerful aesthetics.

More on his website.

Jacob Carter 1

Jacob Carter 2

Jacob Carter 3

Il fait beau dans l’métro! May 19, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Architecture, Art and Design.

The Stockholm subway is a good example of public art, exhibiting the work of about 130 artists over 110km of track. In fact, it’s called the longest art gallery in the world… and sure, I can believe that. Some of the stations were dug out of solid rock with the ceilings and walls left with a cave-like feel. In short, they’ve managed to transform what looks like a set of fairly standard subway tunnels into a very interesting experience. Judge for yourself below, I’ve posted a few pictures taken from this site. Seriously, doesn’t it make commuting to work just that much more fun?

Stockholm Subway 1

Stockholm Subway 2

Stockholm Subway 3

Reminds me a bit of the Montreal metro (not just because of the trains): both systems were built around the same time and incorporate art into the designs. In the case of the Montreal metro, though stylistically out of date and with its own set of problems, there’s an added bonus of some absolutely great spaces. I’d emphasize the lengths to which the designers and engineers went to in order to incorporate natural daylighting into the deeper stations, especially in the underground multistorey spaces like Monk and Verdun. Instead of backfilling the holes into narrow corridors and low ceilings, the underground spaces are left either completely open in the case of Verdun, or equipped with mezzanines and balconies in the case of Monk.

Verdun 21.9m deep:

Verdun metro 1 Verdun metro 2

Monk, 18.3m deep:

Monk metro 2 Monk metro 1

I found the pictures at this metro aficionado‘s site. Check it out for more info on the metro, it’s bilingual for your convenience and has a comprehensive rating of every station!

So now what? Well this short rant serves as a preamble to my finally visiting the 3 new Laval stations. We’ll see what judgement befalls them…

Méliès for an oscar? May 18, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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Georges Méliès is probably still one of the most creative filmmakers in cinema history, credited with the invention of a number of editing tricks. He invariably manages to showcase them all within the span of a few minutes, such as in his ‘Voyage dans la lune’ from 1902 (Trip to the moon), an adventure story that’s very Jules Vernes in style. Some of the scenes are great, like the ship in the moon’s eye and the ‘clair de terre’ scenes. I also love the use of the stop trick to “vaporise” the moon people. Notice how at the end, just before the statue scene, one of the moon’s inhabitants manages to make it down to earth…

But here’s my personal favorite, a very short film made entirely in his home studio (like all his other productions). Hilarious…

Wong Kar Wai strikes again May 8, 2007

Posted by mmonla in Art and Design.
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All right I admit it, it’s a bit outdated. But if you haven’t seen it yet, the video clip done by Wong Kar Wai for DJ Shadow’s ‘Six Days’ is worth checking out. Good song too. The bold colour palette and the frequent use of strong contrasts is absolutely amazing. I especially like the closing scene with the actor sitting alone in front of the green wall. And let’s not forget the flickering light; it’s all about the flickering light. In short, it’s beautifully shot and composed… Am I the only one mesmerized every time I see it?

For all you Mos Def fans out there, there’s a remix of the song using the same video clip. You can find it easily on youtube but I feel the video is a lot less powerful in that version. Maybe I underestimated how much the strength of the clip relied on the actual song…