Here’s to all the fans of Dutch GRAPHIC design and advertising. =)

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Ad. Den Haag, Netherlands, 2014

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Estonian Song Festival. Image credit: http://blog.ut.ee/in-search-of-the-true-estonian/

In a peculiar way, this year’s Song Festival made me meditate on the topic of democracy.

Estonian Song Festivals are a unique part of this little country’s culture. If you are interested, check out the documentary “Singing revolution”, which does a fair (although not unbiased) job explaining the importance of the Festivals for the country. In a nutshell, once every five years about 10-15% of the entire population of the country gather at the Estonian Singing Grounds in Tallinn, and sing songs dedicated to the nation’s freedom. Typically there would be around 30,000 actual singers and then 100,000+ audience. The population of the country is a little over 1,3 million, and they (we) have been singing those songs for years…

On the other hand, Estonia is an aspiring tech country. If you’ve ever visited or read anything about Estonia, chances are you’ve been exposed to its hard-core tech propaganda. E-government is (arguably) so advanced here that it can be considered one of our national exports.

During the Festival, these two factors blended in my mind. With its constant feedback between the audience and the singers, ability to shout “Korrata!” (“repeat”, in Estonian – which the audience would sometimes start shouting, if they want to hear/sing the song they just sang again), and send live “waves” across the Singing Grounds, the Estonian Song Festival is a great exercise in direct democracy. The feedback is immediate, decision making – instantaneous, consequences – felt by all. These qualities of the Festival, overlayed on our tech-savvy, made me wonder if E-government and technology could bring government closer to original direct democracy: something similar to a Greek “Agora” – or the Song Fest itself. The goal of E-government should not be the individualization/alienation of citizens, substituted by fancy abilities of voting or filing taxes online (although impressive in their own right). It should be bringing citizens closer together and making them all feel part of the whole. Digital is good at annihilating the restrictions of physical space (distances) as well as temporal differences that have rendered direct democracy impossible in the context of our overpopulated modern world. From what I see, digital is currently employed by government mostly for the ease and speed of its processing. We need to revise this and put the anti-spatial (or should I say “alternative-spatial”) qualities of the digital to work big time. Not a tech-centered society, but society-centered tech.

This is already being explored through various apps and participatory online services. However, E-government is still pretty far off. May-be our Singing Festival can serve as inspiration.

I don’t know why, but after all the times I’ve been to Russia, I still find it amusing how in that country the names of international brands are spelled in Cyrillic.. It’s just a little surreal, I think. Check out a few examples below.

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McDonalds

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McDonald’s menu in Russian, containing only two originally Russian words: “двойной” – double, and “картофель” – potato. A great example of the influence globalization exerts on languages.

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Dunkin’ Donuts

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Starbucks Coffee

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Wendy’s

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Just a weird building on Novyj Arbat St. (Новый Арбат)

Fun-fun-fun!

For us – architects – it is important to somehow live out our insanity. Many of the things – in fact, most of the things our profession actually craves to do – are just not possible in the world that is trying to be rational. All the curved, angled, huge, megalomaniac stuff that many of us dream about (and the schools are promoting) is just not going to happen. In our daily practices we need to produce buildings – not boundless spatial play. So, how do live out our insanity?

Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, Micromegas

Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas, Zeebrugge Terminal

Zaha Hadid, The Peak Leisure Club

Zaha Hadid, The Peak Leisure Club

Doing architecture, I believe, is a balancing of acting out this insanity and adhering to the needs of rationality. The more insanity we are able to incorporate into our built designs, the happier we are as professionals. Perversely, architecture – the profession of spatial play – is not able to satisfy our craving for molding space. For that we need other media – media allowing for less responsibility. And may-be that is for the better, too. Would we actually want to live in our dreams? I doubt it. Other media help us keep our denial of reality at bay, and cope with our madness. It’s not that architects “can draw, and do sculpture, too”. We have to do that in order to stay sane.

Ivan Sergejev, Utopia

Ivan Sergejev, Utopia

Ivan Sergejev, Rubik City

Ivan Sergejev, Rubik City – a three-dimensional city grid

Ivan Sergejev, Rubik City detail

Ivan Sergejev, Rubik City detail

Ivan Sergejev, The In-between

Ivan Sergejev, The In-between

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My new business cards. Based on a regular grid, with only an absolute minimum of information on them, they allow for a lot of flexibility and creativity, acting as a crossbreed of a business card and a sketch pad. I can draw designs as I go, and only include information I want, tailoring each card to the person I exchange it with. A touch of uniqueness, with trade-off being time.

Instagram

You know, to a large degree, I think design magazines are a form of masturbation.

When I was in school, honestly, I hardly ever went to the library to look at magazines, except when looking for something very specific. I had a lot of ideas of my own, and a hard time realizing them all, so no time to look at whatever whoever else was doing.

Nowadays, though, that I am in “practice”, I catch myself enjoying those magazines more. And you know why? I miss design. I miss it when I could just create whatever for as long as I wanted (or needed to). There was never a shortage of work at OMA, or in school.

But right now, I have to admit: the “practice” – at least the way it works for me currently – is boring. Not because the office I am at is bad – I think it’s one of the best ones on this side of the world – but purely because there isn’t much to do right now.. And so I take my time browsing through design magazines, missing the good olde days, and looking at whatever whoever else is doing..

A sure sign something needs to be changed.

Ivan Sergejev:

This is awesome!

Originally posted on Info We Trust:

“We all have the same 24 hours that Beyoncé has” and its various iterations took the web by storm in late 2013 as the megastar became the figurehead of not only having it all, but being able to somehow do it all too.

How do creatives – composers, painters, writers, scientists, philosophers – find the time to produce their opus? Mason Currey investigated the rigid Daily Rituals that hundreds of creatives practiced in order to carve out time, every day, to work their craft. Some kept to the same disciplined regimen for decades while others locked in patterns only while working on specific works.

Creative Routines Poster

There are enough data to visualize a portion of the hundreds of creative lifestyles. Click the poster to discover:
Gustave Flaubert
Ludwig Van Beethoven
W.A. Mozart
Thomas Mann
Sigmund Freud
Immanuel Kant
Maya Angelou
John Milton
Honore de Balzac
Victor Hugo
Charles Dickens
W.H. Auden
Charles Darwin

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