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Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason

Hilarious excerpts, lists and essays from a budding American humorist

by John Ortved


What’s the worst icebreaker you can think of? Mike Sacks has some suggestions: “This party reminds me of 9/11;” “What’s your all-time favorite coupon?” or “They’re night-vision goggles, and no, I won’t be removing them.”

“Icebreakers to Avoid” is just one of dozens of hilarious lists, essays, emails and letters that make up Sacks’ new book, “Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason” from Tin House Books. Culled from previously published work in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s and Esquire, as well as including new work, Sacks strikes blow after blow for the cause of humor.

Whether he’s reporting on the “Signs Your College is Not Very Prestigious” (they offer a minor in “Winning Radio Contests”), Sacks is unfailingly clever and precise in his satire.

His pieces have no goal but to make you laugh—and he achieves it over and over. The most succinct description of Your Wildest Dreams comes in the form of a blurb on the book’s cover, from none other than David Sedaris: “Mike Sacks is not just a sensational comic writer, but a sensational writer, period.” High praise and well deserved, it is available from Tin House’s online store and Amazon.

Salone Milan 2011 Preview: Rough & Ready by Vanja Bazdulj


Slovenian designer Vanja Bazdulj spent a year and a half as an architect before switching to furniture design at The Cass in London, where she is currently a Designer-in-Residence. For her so-called Rough & Ready series, Bazdulj transforms sheets of industrial wool into ad hoc chairs with a CMYK-turned-street-art aesthetic. The pieces embrace their willfully crude process—and are unique for this reason—yet compelling for their shamelessly slapdash construction.




Coup de coeur sur le travail d’Olivier Ratsi, membre du label Antivj. Il compose et décompose des Anarchitectures en fragmentant la réalité de son environnement. Il interroge l’individu sur sa place au sein des ensembles urbains. Plus d’images dans la suite.


21 Millions


21 Millions


Sanyo v2





Previously on Fubiz

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Smart Grid Athletic Lights

Hybrid-powered lighting potentially saves cities cash and energy

A finalist in the Philip’s Livable Cities Awards, Andrew Burdick’s “Smart Athletic Grid Light” prototype has enormous potential to prove how urban development and sustainable design can work together. In association with Ennead, the idea was seeded during conversations with schools and extracurricular groups that were in need of more athletic space in New York City. Burdick realized that the issue wasn’t actually space but usage, with most teams needing the space at the same times. His Smart Athletic lights aim to increase the amount of usable time the community can get from a playing field, while minimizing the impact on the environment and the city’s wallet.

Burdick’s design combines a variety of technologies and features suited to the New York City landscape. The lights use both wind and solar power; in each case the electricity gathering element is customizable to suit the location. If placed in an area where wind is more prominent, the wind turbine on the lights can be raised or lowered for ideal energy production. In the same manner, solar panels can easily be rotated to achieve the highest exposure to sunlight in sunny areas. Ideally, using both these technologies, the lights could produce enough energy to illuminate the playing field but also offset their own maintenance, upkeep and installation costs.


The focus of the concept is to create technologies for public space that can operate off the grid or create a smart grid. Cost effective by nature, off-the-grid streetlights have been proven in other parts of NYC, but Burdick’s project faced larger challenges—athletic spaces require much more light than the sidewalk. Designed from the ground up with these issues in mind, his modular system shows great promise and, if awarded the grant from Philips, a functional prototype could prove the usefulness of smart grid technologies for urban and suburban environments.

As part of a greater push to make cities and communities more environmentally and fiscally effective, Burdick’s prototype is a bright idea. Dubbing his project “Sustainable Philanthropy,” Burdick explains “by this term, I do not mean this project is simply ‘green;’ rather, it is a project that uses environmentally sustainable technologies to pay for its own maintenance and upkeep, thus being a gift to the community in perpetuity.” Economic and sustainability issues should always play a part in the design process, but the recent rise in environmental consciousness and subsequent economic decline make these points exceptionally poignant.

Building Adaptive Capacity: Towards a Design for Sustainability 3.0, by Michael Sammet

sammet1.pngShelterBox, disaster relief in a box

As social, economic and ecological conditions continue to worsen and with the increasing sophistication and connectivity of information technology and social media, design for sustainability is now moving towards a new qualitatively different area of exploration: designing to build adaptive capacity. Its been almost 10 years since McDonough and Braungart’s ground-breaking book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things set the standard for sustainable design: toxic-free closed loop material cycles, use of renewable energy in manufacturing, post-consumer separation of biological and technical materials and service and flow takeback programs by manufacturers. [Ed Note: Don’t miss our recent Q+A with Braungart on Designing a New Material World.]

Emily Pilloton lays out design for sustainability 2.0 in her excellent introduction to her 2009 book Design Revolution. In “Design Can Change the World,” she brings social sustainability to the forefront by adding a human-centered, activist, user-friendly approach that expands the environmental focus from how we build things to the social question of what we should be building. Core77’s Allan Chochinov’s foreword to Design Revolution describes moving beyond good design to design for good, reinforcing the argument for design activism.

Similarly, recent projects like Ecovative Design’s EcoCradle—packaging material grown from fungi and agricultural byproducts and Open Ideo’s online multi-disciplinary platform for the collaborative design of social good—demonstrate the persistent power of Cradle to Cradle and design activism to inspire effective sustainable design. Designing to build adaptive capacity does not replace our current state of the art but adds a new layer of intention and concern that deepens our sustainability efforts and continues to reinterpret the role of designers in the sustainability movement.


Designing to expand adaptive capacity means creating objects, templates and platforms that allow people and systems to survive and even thrive in a complex and uncertain planet. In a world increasingly shaped by peak oil, global warming, economic uncertainty and environmental disasters (Deep Water Horizon, Pakistani floods, Fukushima), designers are coming to grips with how to help users create local resilience and self-reliance. In fact, the concept of resilience has become an important term that designers are just now grappling with. An emergent property of systems that is related to the “longevity” tenet of sustainability but qualitatively different from its “no impact” focus, resilience is concerned with cycles of change and positive adaptation. Resilience thinking integrates social and environmental factors into a holistic framework that helps users prepare for —or even take advantage of—shocks to a system.

In their 2006 book Resilience Thinking, Brian Walker and David Salt explain the concept of the four phases of the adaptive cycle: rapid growth, conservation, release and reorganization. They argue that building adaptive capacity based on resilience, not optimal efficiency, allows systems to absorb and prepare for external disturbances without crossing thresholds that shift to another regime. Designers need to consider differentiated, integrated strategies for change rather than rational, efficient strategies that maximize and exploit the growth of early stages. These growth-focused systems certainly yield more substantial paybacks but at the expense of resilience, such that they are more prone to massive shakeups after significant fluctuations. As Salt and Walker explain, “any proposal for sustainable development that does not acknowledge a system’s resilience is simply not going to keep delivering goods and services. The key to sustainability lies in enhancing the resilience of social-ecological systems, not in optimizing isolated components of the system.”


Ikea Publishes Report on Their Sustainability Progress


With 9,500 different products, 280 stores in 26 countries, 23 billion Euros in annual sales, and a catalog more widely published than the Bible, Ikea leaves quite a footprint just by virtue of their size. Luckily they’re interested not only in minimizing that footprint, but also in making their processes transparent.

To that end they’ve just made their 2010 Sustainability Report available for public download. They open the document with letters to the public not only from the CEO, but from Steve Howard, Ikea’s Chief Sustainability Officer. (How many corporations have one of those?)

The 91-page document was clearly designed for public scrutiny—it’s as art-directed as their catalogs—and contains plenty of interesting facts about their efforts to push the company towards increasing green-ness, as well as detailing their targets for 2015. Some highlights of their accomplishments thus far:

– PRODUCT SCORE CARD: The introduction of the IKEA Sustainability Product Score card. This is a new internal tool for more sustainable product development and purchasing that will help classify the IKEA home furnishing range within 11 criteria that have an impact on the environment.

– CERTIFIED WOOD: The share of certified wood increased substantially from 16.2 to 23.6 percent.

– RENEWABLE ENERGY: The number of IKEA buildings with solar panel systems nearly doubled, taking us one step further towards the goal of operating all IKEA units on 100 percent renewable energy.

– IKEA FOUNDATION: Decision made to invest an additional 7.5 million euros in UNICEF’s water sanitation program in India. This support will help expand the scope of the program in 15 states.

– MORE SUSTAINABLE COTTON: More than 80,000 farmers in India and Pakistan are now using more sustainable farming practices. The share of more sustainable cotton in the IKEA range more than doubled compared to last year to 13.4 percent of total IKEA use.

Hit the jump to read about their initiatives in the United States and get the download link for the entire report.


2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Here are some photos of the completed 2012 London Olympic Stadium designed by HOK Sport (now known as Populous).

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Construction was completed this week and the 80,000-seat stadium will now be prepared with a running track, scoreboards and gantries before a test event in May next year.

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

According to the Olympic Delivery Authority construction is complete three months ahead of schedule and cost £10 million less that the original estimate.

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

The design was unveiled in 2007 – see our story here.

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

More about 2012 London Olympic Games »
More buildings for sport »

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Photographs are by Morley von Sternberg, courtesy Populous.

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Here’s a tiny bit of text from Populous:

29th March 2011 marks the completion of the construction contract at the Olympic Stadium where the last piece of turf is being laid by ODA Chairman John Armitt.

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Rod Sheard, Senior Principal at Populous, the Stadium architect said: “The construction of the world’s most environmentally friendly Olympic Stadium has taken just over 1,000 days, in the world of major construction it could be considered a sprint, its completion marks the beginning of the end of the construction phase of London’s Olympic Games. We can now all look forward to just under 500 days of the final preparation to when the world will see this innovative design perform for the first time.”

2012 London Olympic Stadium by Populous

Above image is courtesy ODA

See also:


London 2012 Velodrome
by Hopkins Architects
London Gate
by Donis
Wenlock and Mandeville
by iris

RP Dicemaster on Shapeways


Chuck Stover uses Shapeways’ RP tech to crank out some intricate and seriously geeky Dungeons-&-Dragons-type dice, available in a variety of materials but best purchased in stainless steel. “Stainless steel has the heft to roll correctly and feel right in your hand,” he writes.


Geeky though these are, they’re a great example of something that would take you forever to make using conventional methods, if you even could at all; and ones like the spiky pyramid below go for a reasonable six bucks and change.



Mi ha portato subito alla mente il Kid Onion (scusate deviazione professionale) ma questo lampadario squamato disegnato da Benjamin Hubert mi piace proprio. Lo vedremo esposto durante questo salone del mobile per Fabbian.