Robert L. Peters

31 March 2009

Dreaming… of the Grand Sentinel



Moraine Lake, Alberta

This is the time of year where I really start dreaming about getting onto rock again… and the Grand Sentinel (at 2766m, the tallest of several large quartzite obelisks located on the northern slope of Pinnacle Mountain) looms large in those dreams. There’s just something about topping a rock needle that defies description…

I first climbed the Grand Sentinel at the end of the 1990s (in what seemed like a mini-epic at the time, replete with a wet summit blizzard, near-hits by rockfall, stuck double ropes on the abseil, and a subsequent benighting on the descent…). Due to summer grizzly bear closures in the Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass ever since (restricting access to contiguous parties of six or more) repeating this classic has proved elusive—but with access restrictions having been lifted in 2008, the Grand Sentinel holds promise as a key goal this summer…

Photos by Dow Williams and  ‘Phil.’

30 March 2009

Cantilevered… in Tyrol.





At 3200m, Stubai Glacier, Tyrol (Austria)

As viewing platforms go, this is pretty sweet…

29 March 2009



Since 1903…

The first box of Crayola crayons was sold 106 years ago for five cents and included the same colors available in the eight-count box today: red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black and brown. Nearly 3 billion crayons are made each year (an average of 12 million daily)… find all 120 Crayon colour names (along with hex codes and RGB values), Crayon-inspired colour palettes, and more trivia about the ubiquitous little “oily-chalk” wax sticks here. (thanks Gregor)

27 March 2009

New Math…




It all adds up… and besides, it’s just plain wrong to argue with truisms. Find these and more bottom-line calculations here. (thanks Adrian)

26 March 2009

Little Red Riding Hood… reiterated.


Stockholm, Sweden

An intriguing re-telling of the Grimm Brothers’ well-known narrative—information design meets fairy tale. View the cleverly animated piece here.

(thanks Gregor Brandt)

25 March 2009

A salute: Otto Baumberger





Zürich, Switzerland

Otto Baumberger (1889–1961) was one of Switzerland’s first poster designers. As an employee of Wolfensberger AG in Zürich he gained a sound knowledge of lithographic techniques—which he used to advance the medium as evidenced in his design of over 200 posters. The diversity of his work exemplifies Swiss poster art in the first half of the twentieth century, showing the development from the painterly artist’s poster to corporate design shaped by graphic art. (I feel fortunate to have three of Otto’s posters in my personal collection).

Posters: “Educated shoppers shop at Globus,” 1934; Motor Comptoir, 1932; Qualité for PKZ, 1932; Swan, 1919; Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 1928; Zürich airshows in 1932 and 1937. (images via designboom)

24 March 2009

Barbie… at fifty.



New York, New York

Barbie celebrated her 50th birthday on 9 March, which marked the opening day of the American International Toy Fair in New York where she made her debut in 1959. The doll was inspired by German doll Bild Lilli, itself inspired by a German newspaper comic strip. Ruth Handler, wife of Elliot, a co-founder of Mattel Inc., purchased three Bild Lilli dolls while vacationing in Europe in 1956. When she got home, she gave one to her daughter Barbara and the other two went to Mattel where the design was reworked—thus Barbie, named after Ruth’s daughter was born.

Like Bild Lilli, Barbie was tall and slim with long legs and a tiny waist. No other doll in the American market looked like her. She was an instant success; Mattel sold some 350,000 dolls in the first year of production. Over the years, over a billion Barbie dolls have been sold in 150 countries—Mattel claims that three are sold every second.

Mattel acquired rights to Bild Lilli in 1964 and stopped its production. But Barbie has remained a subject of controversies—many of which now center on the unrealistic body image she presents to young women—and lawsuits. The most recent of these was launched by Mattel against MGA Entertainment Inc., makers of Bratz dolls. Mattel won a court order banning MGA from selling their infringing Bratz doll on 3 December 2008, a decision that MGA announced it would appeal. Barbie sales are still going strong—she remains the most popular doll for girls. But she may need freshening up for her 50th birthday; last year’s fourth quarter sales worldwide fell 21 percent.”

The above is from the February 2009 issue of WIPO Magazine (World Intellectual Property Organization), a free publication that comes out bi-monthly from Geneva. What the article does not mention is that the sassy Bild Lilli doll (developed by Max Weissbrodt of the O&M Hausser toy company in Neustadt/Coburg) was originally marketed to adults in bars as a joke or gag gift (the doll was based on a racy German cartoon character which itself debuted on 24 June 1952, created by Reinhard Beuthien for the tabloid Bild-Zeitung in Hamburg).

Images: Barbie from 1959; her swinging predecessor Bild Lilli.

Wendy Richmond listens to people having cell phone conversations…





Brooklyn, New York

…and then she turns them into art—so don’t say you haven’t been warned. She informed me yesterday that she now has a new website (you guessed it: and you can learn more about her here. Though I was already familiar with Wendy’s writing from Communication Arts magazine, I first met her in person six years ago at Anne Telford’s place in La Jolla—and I’ve followed her privacy-breaching oeuvre ever since.

23 March 2009

Shakespear… in the park.


Córdoba, Argentina

A portrait of (Ronald) Shakespear has mysteriously appeared in the form of anonymous grafitti on a park wall in this central Argentinian city, where the veteran designer was recently invited to talk to students. Says Ronald (quoting MacArthur): “I came through, and I shall return.” We don’t doubt it my friend, we don’t doubt it—though even the finest images can be fickle, and a pipe is not always a pipe… :-)

Doctor of Humane Letters… for Chaz.


Boston, Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees will be awarding Chaz Maviyane-Davies an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Commencement Ceremony, to be held on Saturday, May 30, 2009. In their words (to Chaz): “The Board of Trustees is proud to bestow upon you their highest honor in recognition of your achievements as an international graphic designer who highlights vital social issues. Your commitment to combatting rights abuses in Africa as well as striving to eliminate racial, gender, religious and political discrimination around the world make you a leader in your profession, as well as a role model for countless others. Your courage, character and dedication to these important issues show us the way to succeed as both professionals and citizens.”

I couldn’t agree more… congratulations, and well deserved my friend!

Above, a 2005 photo of Chaz in Breda, NL by Guy Schockaert (via Ahn Sang-Soo’s blog); a sampling of Chaz’s posters below.






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