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Detroit boasts a history of legendary axmen—Jack White, Ted Nugent, Robert White, Wayne Kramer and Dennis Coffey to name a few. And now, thanks to the passion project of commercial real estate director and woodworker Mark Wallace, the next great musician on that list may kick out the jams with a guitar made from a chunk of the city itself.

Built in a Corktown workshop, Wallace Detroit Guitars are fashioned from wood salvaged from the city’s recently demolished buildings. Each instrument will be branded with the address of the home that provided the wood, reinforcing the local heritage of the material.

So far, Wallace has created two prototypes that need to be tested, but a recent $8,000 matching grant from the Knight Foundation should allow him to expand production. Eventually, he wants the finished product to include more salvaged material from other local companies, like a strap made out of leftovers auto parts.

“One of the great things about Detroit is the collaboration,” he says. “Everyone wants to work together because they know they’re making the city a better place.”

Wallace's project is currently getting off the ground thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation.


The excellent design blog Thisispaper is now available, wait for it, in paper. We queried editor Zuzzana Gasior on the new print mag. 

What is Thisispaper for those unfamiliar?
As Thisispaper we are now running two different, but interweaving projects. Thisispaper Magazine is where we share our inspirations and obsessions from multiple fields of design. Our roots are in the digital world but we find print equally alluring. We started off as an online magazine and continue running it, by we have recently ventured into print and released Thisispaper Magazine Inaugural Issue in paper and ink. Thisispaper Shop is our second, younger brainchild. It’s an online store with hand made products.

Which designers have been selected for the issue, how did you decide who to include?
The full list of featured designers is as follows: Studio Glithero, Faye Toogood, Formafantasma, Phoebe English, Nina Donis, Feilden Fowles Architects; photographers Kanoa Zimmerman and Marcel van der Vlugt; artist Anouk Griffioen. 

The selection process was simple. We decided to feature designers whose work we’re impressed by and who have a strong conceptual background behind their work. We were particularly curious to find out about their creative process so we chose the ones that put emphasis on the process, not just the finished product.

Why do you think a print publication was necessary?
As you will quickly discover when you open the magazine, some of the interviews are quite massive, and were intended to be so from the start. We wanted to explore the designers’ creative processes in depth. Such content lives better in a tangible book that online. While surfing the web, people focus on image and have a short attention span and it’s not the best environment to present content that requires a careful reading. Plus we’re really drawn to the beauty of a printed object, the texture of paper, smell of paint and so on.

Thisispaper.com was an ironic name, but now it has a literal meaning.
Good point. Since Thisispaper is an umbrella term for both the site and the magazine, it now means that digital and print can coexist without undermining one another’s position. This is due to the fact that they are good for different things. The content that we feature online is much more image-based, while for print we look for something that requires more time and effort to absorb.

You're based in Warsaw, does that surprise a lot of your readers?
It does come as a surprise sometimes, but mostly to people in Poland. When they see Thisispaper they don’t expect it to be a Warsaw-based endeavor (love the word). 

The print publication is a very limited run. Why is that? Do you hope to expand? Is it harder or easier to do a print magazine in Poland?
The print publication is not a limited run. We will print as many copies as there is demand for. 250 is the minimal number that we need to reach in the pre-order period to print the magazine, but there is no maximum limit on how many copies we will print. That said, it’s hard to imagine a situation when Thisispaper is available on every newsstand

Nowadays when distribution mostly happens online, printing a ad-free magazine is a comparable experience in Warsaw and everywhere else. It would probably be harder for us, though, is we were trying to attract sponsors.

Where can one get the print magazine?
Online at thisispapershop.com/product/thisispaper-inaugural-issue or soon at some local stores worldwide.

Do you accept contributions and pitches?
We do. See here for possible ways of working with us: welcome.thisispaper.com

Photo by: Josh Lewandowski

Josh Lewandowski has long doodled and sketched in 3D. Lewandowski, the founder of furniture firm Nordeast Industries with a MA in Architecture from Yale, was told "erasing was for wimps" by a teacher when he was young and therefore draws in pen and ink. Lewandowski recently started a drawing-a-day blog for his sketches with no meaning, because he believes that such creations are a useful exercise. His works draw on engineering and architecture as well as LEGO instructions and cereal boxes. 

Read more about the doodles, which are available for purchase at Dezeen.com.

There are only a few days left of Helsinki Design Week, and whether or not you'll find yourself in the Finnish capital, here are five picks from the massive showing of design objects, furniture, textiles, and tableware. 

Hot Cube Minimal Sauna
It wouldn't be a true Finnish design festival without an awesome sauna on view. Sculptor Harri Markkula's Hot Cube sauna sits suspended above the River Aura, with a latticed floor so visitors can observe the aquatic life below the deck. Accessible only by a small bridge, Markkula's sauna is designed to be a sensory experience, with prominent scents of fire, water, wood, and tar.

(photo via Softcity)

Hay's DLM Table
We've only written about the Danish design firm Hay in passing, but if Instagram posts are any indicator, its DLM side table caught a lot of eyes at this year's festival. The minimal table features an unexpected handle in the center, and was shown as part of the Finnish Design Shop's pop-up shop held in an old customs warehouse. Also unexpected was the display of about one dozen tables stacked on top of each other in a corner. 

Marimekko Weather Diary Tableware

Tableware, textiles, and light fixtures, especially by Finnish designers, had a strong showing at the festival. While it was possible to experience a Finnish table setting by more than a handful of designers, Marimekko's single place setting and printed textile display of their Weather Diary series stood out. 

Open Studio Bike Tours

Out-of-towners would be hard pressed to find a better use of a few hours than taking one of the guided bike tours of local open studios. It's an especially nice option if you've spent your budget at the pop-up store, and maxed out your time in the Hot Cube. The tours cover both architecture and design studios

The workshops and lectures at the festival were refreshingly productive. An IKEA presented demonstration had children commission kitchen designs, a laser-cutting workshop offered a chance to customize almost any item, and a graphic design class tasked students with creating a new logo for the Finnish city of Kerava. A more site-specific lecture chronicled the history of Helsinki's parks.

Helsinki Design Week runs until September 22 in various locations around the capital.

Photo by: Holly Carden and Wayne Nichols | “Untitled (Add-On Drawing), 2013, colored pencil on paper

Creative expression might not be a high priority for those housed within the concrete walls of Tennessee’s Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, home to the state’s electric chair and lethal injection machinery. The insiders are likely more concerned with the grim reality of their situation. But thanks to artwork created by prisoners in tandem with students and professors at nearby Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, the wider world has a window into ther lives and minds.

Robin Paris and Tom Williams with writing by Gary Cone, Harold Wayne Nichols, and Donald Middlebrooks: Surrogate Project For Harold Wayne Nichols, The Night Sky Series

Watkins professors Robin Paris and Tom Williams spearheaded “Unit 2 (part 1),” a series of collaborations between students, local artists, and 11 death row inmates. The project is split between collaborative "add-on" works, where students added to and modified pieces in a back-and-forth exhange with prisoners, and “surrogate projects,” creations directed by incarcerated artists who physically couldn’t follow through on their ideas in the outside world. Within this framework, a simple photo of a night sky gains extra resonance, as the transfixing image of stars is one the artist hadn't seen for three decades.

 Exhibition at Coop Gallery

“This project has fundamentally changed my understanding of both criminal justice and prison,” says Williams. “Many of these prisoners look a lot more like us than we've been told, and we look a lot more like them. They're billed as 'the worst of the worst' within the popular media, but the situation seems far more complex than that to me now. Death row raises a lot of difficult questions. Many of them are responsible for serious crimes. But they have also been failed by a justice system that has offered them inadequate defense and has failed to consider the often-tragic circumstances that led up to their crimes. In many instances, their crimes are comparable to those of individuals living with sentences that are far less severe.” 

Upreyl Mitchell and Kennath Artez Henderson: Photograph and drawing
 Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman and Kristi Hargrove: Untitled, mixed media on paper

"Unit 2 (part 1)" can be seen at the Coop Gallery at 75 Arcade Street in Nashville through September 28. Future collaborations are planned but, as Williams notes, “Many of the insiders don't have a lot of time, which is a difficult thing to consider.”

The second annual Design Week Portland, set for October 7-12, does an admirable job of corraling and celebrating the City of Roses's diverse creative community without shoehorning presenters and speakers into preconceived formats. Organizers Eric Hillerns and Tsilli Pines gave wide berth to those heading up individual events, resulting in a mix of presentations, open houses and speakers that give voice to what makes the region so compelling. A letter press fair, Portland design auction, and the opening of the Portland Design Museum all run concurrently with an array of events, including "Blurred Lines," a exhibit of interaction design sponsored by the AIGA, and a speech by Etsy creative director Randy Hunt on design and entrepreneurship.

After talking with some of the organizers, here’s a list of a few of the events we’re excited about. The full list can be found at designweekportland.com.


Home Brewed by Design (October 10 at 6pm, One Grand Gallery)

"Most designers covet these types of projects," said co-organizer Jason Sturgill of his Home Brewed by Design showcase, which pairs 20 artists and 20 brewers to create custom labels for beers that, in some cases, didn't even have a name when they were first conceived. "We wanted to bring together two independent communites, design and brewing, and help connect other communities with Design Week." By the times the event occurs, each team's graphic treatment will grace 200 bottles of home brew, meaning there will be plenty of libations on hand to make connections. 



Brandcraft: Building a 21st Century Brand (October 10 at 4pm, Owen & Jones Partners) 

The challenges of branding mirror those of web design, as multiple format and continuity become keys to effective communication. Brandcraft, organized by Mark Rawlins and Rusty Grim of Owen Jones & Partners, convenes a panel of creatives to cover how traditional ideas of branding bleed over into everything a company does. "The world has set things up in silos," says Rawlins, "and we should torpedo those silos. Branding is everything you do." Participants include Nike's Global Brand Design Director Jeff Weithman, who talks about how to get smaller and relate to smaller tribes of consumers, and AJ Joseph, Executive Creative Director of Adobe Software, who talks about the emotional versus empirical measurements of how agencies perform.    


Domestic, a Showcase of American Design (October 9–13, The Janey) 

Curated by interior designer Jasmine Vaughan of design journal Made & State, Domestic pushes American products as a matter of taste, not loyalty, and wants to take a move beyond the "bearded and salvaged wood" to push a more modern aesthetic. Seven designers and stores, such as Beam & Anchor and Fig Studios, will each be given two rooms at the Janey, a boutique apartment complex in the Pearl, and free rein to decorate with American-made goods and clothing. The rooftop will feature craft cocktails and custom furniture by FIELDWORK, and a Saturday afternoon trunk show is being oragnized by Amanda Needham, Portlandia's Emmy-winning costume designer. 

Portland Design Week takes places at venues across the city October 10–12; find more info and register for events at designweekportland.com.   

Designers Anders Wallner and Gustav Karlsson wouldn't have chosen such bright purples and pinks for their system of signs and symbols for the Gothenburg Arboretum if they wanted the signs to disappear. Instead, the bright colors reveal the signs almost instantly, and the symbols provide a relatively small amount of data about the surrounding area in the simplest way possible. Opting for symbols instead of verbal descriptions also adds flexibility for translating the data into different languages, as a simple key can be printed in infinite translations.

See a few more images of the project on Behance.

Hugh Miller's Folded Record Bureau isn't named for some cruel method of vinyl destruction, but rather for his handmade fabrication process that involves the bending of a solid piece of Iroko wood. Miller installed a 1985 Bang and Olufsen turntable completely flush on top of the console, with all original controls maintained, and built the main storage area on a slight slope to keep the records from tipping over. An easily accessible storage area on the right-hand side works for records on deck, or some printed matter.

The bureau was produced in a series of ten in Hugh Miller's Liverpool Studio.

There’s a reason the ad heavyweights at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce get glassy eyed at the thought of landing an airline account. Few industries represented the glamour, optimism, and excess of the mid-century America better than the one that ferried us across the country in stylish, stainless steel jets. As sleek as some of the stewardess outfits showcased for the airborne set, the forthcoming book Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet by British designer and author Keith Lovegrove chronicles the design history of airlines. The excerpts below offer a glance backward to a time when luxury, not baggage fees, were the norm.






Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet comes out September 10 via Chronicle Books. All photos courtesy of Laurence King Publishing. 

After an enlightening conversation with Karim Rashid about sneaker history, technology, and design trends, and inspired by his work for the Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, we were interested to find out what the heavyweight designer would put on his own list of favorite sneakers. Rashid named many of his own designs. And as the five selections below suggest, his focus on technology and digital culture rarely wavers.

Rashid tells us why he love each shoe in the captions below.


Fessura Mirror
"The beauty of the Fessura shoes was the tops can be changed and come off the molded, soft, flexible bottom. The bottom can be worn separately for going in water, etc. I designed 40 different tops to interchange with the bottom molds."


Fessura Hi-Fi
"I love these updated Chelsea boots and the minimal design with bright accents of color. High tops were always my fave."

 Kromo for Sully Wong
"I always loved the simplicity of desert boots. I realized that there were none on the market made from leather that were interesting. So I made a minimal version, with very soft special printed leather patterns of my belief in the new global ornamentation I call digipop, and made them super comfortable and highly crafted."




Melissa Dynamik
"These shoes were co-injection molded. It is a robotically made running shoe that you can wear in the pool, the shower, anywhere."

Pro Keds Royal Skyhawk
"I found these on eBay, my favorite store on the globe. You can find a lot of amazing design objects online! I’ve even purchased and sold a vintage Avanti car and a house on eBay."