The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 19, 2016
by Dan
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The Bolted Book Now on Kickstarter

The Designers & Books Kickstarter to publish a facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s 1927 ‘Bolted Book’ (mentioned previously here) is now live:

October 12, 2016
by Dan
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Elaine Lustig Cohen, Pioneer

I was sad to hear that designer Elaine Lustig Cohen had died aged 89 last week. She will forever be associated with her more famous husband Alvin Lustig, but she was a remarkable designer in her own right and her influence, as Steven … Continue reading

May 28, 2016
by Dan
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Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

The New York Times on a new exhibition of work by Hungarian artist and designer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Guggenheim in New York: The first large Moholy-Nagy exhibition in this country in over 50 years may also be, its organizers … Continue reading

May 2, 2016
by Dan
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Willem Sandberg: From Type to Image

Writing for The Guardian, Simon Garfield (Just My Type), visits the first UK retrospective Dutch designer and curator Willem Sandberg: “This is printed on wallpaper, very asymmetric … an amazing thing really,” Fraser Muggeridge, the curator, says as he shows me his collection of … Continue reading

June 27, 2014
by Dan
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German Post-War Modern

Focusing on European architecture, art and design in the second-half of the twentieth-century, German Post-War Modern is currently one of my favourite Tumblrs.

February 3, 2014
by Dan
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I Am Not a World Improver: Mies van der Rohe and Building Seagram

Christopher Turner reviews Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert and Mies van der Rohe by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst for February’s London Review of Books: Mies had dreamed of building skyscrapers since the early 1920s when, as a young architect … Continue reading

August 26, 2013
by Dan
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The Mounting Tide of a Mass Avant-Garde

Phil Ford, author of Dig: Sound and Music in Hip Culture, reviews Loren Glass’ new book on Grove Press, Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde, for the LA Review Books (which is, by the … Continue reading

August 21, 2013
by Dan
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I am not dead; I am in Herne Bay

At the London Review of Books, Brian Dillon considers Marcel Duchamp’s vacation in English coastal town of Herne Bay (and other unlikely historical connections between Kent and Europe’s 20th-century experimentalists): Details about Duchamp’s time in Kent are scarce. We know that … Continue reading

June 5, 2013
by Dan
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Design in a Nutshell

The Open University has created a fun series of short animated introductions to six of the most important movements in design history. Starting with the Gothic Revival, it looks at the Arts and Crafts movement, Bauhaus, Modernism, American Industrial Design, and  Postmodermism. Here are the films … Continue reading

January 11, 2013
by Dan
1 Comment

TateShots: Kurt Schwitters ‘Merz Barn’

I didn’t know that influential German artist Kurt Schwitters spent the last years of his life in exile in England’s Lake District creating something called the ‘Merz Barn’. Did you? Schwitters started constructing the original ‘Merzbau’ (pictured above) inside his Hannover studio … Continue reading

June 6, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

I really enjoyed Naïve: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design, so I really think I have to pick up  Echoes of the Future: Rational Graphic Design and Illustration, also published by Gestalten. A “compilation of recent graphic design and illustration … Continue reading

March 9, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Imprint talks to John Bertram about his Recovering Lolita project: For obvious reasons, of course, [Lolita] remains as controversial a novel as it was a half century ago, if not more so. And, probably helped along by Kubrick’s breezy film, … Continue reading

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