Pattern recognition

Floored for Good

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It’s rare that any of us will own a Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry building – but for a great cause, the famous architects have worked their magic in a more attainable format. Chicago-based organization Arzu Studio Hope recruited Hadid, Gehry, Michael Graves and others to design beautiful rugs, which are then expertly woven by Afghani women. The organization’s mission is to improve the lives of Afghan women and children, through a model of social entrepreneurship, while also implementing programs improving access to food, water, shelter, education, etc.

Movement in Malawi

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Sakaramenta is a Malawi-based social business designing and building bicycles, push-carts and playground equipment with and for the Malawi people. The group started with a simple design of a bicycle-driven cart – the Care Cart transports the sick and pregnant to the hospital, where they would otherwise have to walk. Sakaramenta’s most recent design is for a hospital as well – using a repurposed ambulance as a central component to a playground for children. Kids in wheelchairs can roll right in and hang out, and others can climb atop its rails, or slide down a built-in pole or slide, making the hospital experience a little more joyful.

Paper Water Story

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A wonderful little collaborative project tells the story of where a drop of water goes, and where it comes from, via a lovely animated short. Paper engineer Helen Friel, masterfully cuts, shapes and forms paper scenes of the water droplet in pop-up book form, all of which is photographed by Chris Turner, and animated by Jess Deacon. The engaging film takes us on the journey of the droplet – from house to sink, to plumbing, to the cogs moving water through our city systems, and back into nature and the clouds, eventually returning to the beginning.

Delicious Design

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We love the ever-interesting and changing ways that food and design influence one another, so we’re excited to see the new exhibition happening at the Mart Museum in Italy – “The Food Project: The Shape of Taste.” Several well-known design projects conceptually exploring food, by Bompas & Parr, Gaetano Pesce, and Delphine Huguet are included, along with new takes on pasta design, and a site-specific installation by influential Spanish food designer Martì Guixé. All is on view through June 2.

Weaving Peace

Czechoslavakian activist and former president Václav Havel was recently commemorated with a giant, gorgeous tapestry designed in his honor, which will hang in the re-named Václav Havel Airport in Prague. Designed by Czech artist Petr Sís, the tapestry depicting a man made of birds, flying against a watery sky above Prague, measures 5 x 4.2m, woven by master weavers in Aubusson, France. Havel played a central role in promoting and protecting human rights in Europe, and 5 musicians – Bono and The Edge from U2, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Yoko Ono Lennon – all longtime supporters, paid for the creation of the beautiful tapestry.

Art Underground

Many New Yorkers firmly plant their eyes on books, e-readers, or their phones to quietly avoid looking too hard at their surroundings in the subway. Other cities embrace the potential of the underground public space by enhancing it with incredible art and architecture. For a recent overhaul of the Toledo station in Napoli, Italy, architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca covered the walls and ceiling in a mesmerizing array of tiny blue and white tiles, creating a beautiful oceanic mosaic. View more gorgeous metro stations in this collection.

Menu in Pattern

Parisian restaurant Barbershop commissioned French artist Marianne Ratier to create a series of work inspired by their classic dishes – Caesar Salad, English Breakfast, etc. The result is a collection of lovely, incredibly intricate patterns of foods – eggs, bacon, avocados, lettuce – forming the kaleidoscopic compositions. Many of the drawings include a surprising twist – a wily raccoon embedded in the pattern. All are delicate, whimsical studies on food.

Paper Master

Irving Harper was known for his work on iconic 20th century designs with George Nelson, with the marshmallow sofa, ball clock, and even the Herman Miller logo. Since working with Nelson, he has been quietly building an incredible collection of paper sculptures, which surround him in his home. He champions the versatility and simplicity of the material, cutting, forming, bending and gluing it to make masterful modern animals, heads, and abstract geometric creations. Irving Harper: Works in Paper, out in February from Rizzoli, celebrates and reveals Harper’s hidden craft. For more on his paper work, check out this video.

Modular Sustainability

In the new year, consider the full impact of the products you buy, with this great list of modular and sustainable goods as a start. Tegu blocks are a wonderful new take on the classic toy, complete with magnets, and made from sustainably harvested Honduran hardwoods. And Shigeru Ban’s 10-unit modular furniture system, made from an ecological paper and plastic composite, allows users to create a variety of furniture options. And even a modular building makes the list – SHoP Architect’s tallest modular building, at 32 stories, is currently being constructed in downtown Brooklyn.

Full of Fibers

Those in NYC till the end of the year still have a chance to warm up to some wool at a Benetton pop-up that’s taken over a 2,200-square-foot garage at Broadway and Lafayette. The space is a color-coded explosion of fibers, created by designers at Benetton’s Fabrica – the brand’s residency program in Treviso, Italy. With a concept “to adapt Benetton’s DNA to a more modern vision,” the space is overflowing with interesting and odd uses of textiles, all wonderfully woven in with the brand’s clothing line.

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