Robert L. Peters

28 February 2010

Banksy locates Osama in Utah…



City Creek, Utah

It seems the elusive Banksy and Osama bin Laden both showed up during the recent Sundance Film Festival… though apparently the latter has already been removed by local authorities (or perhaps a posse of terrorist-hunters)?

Vitrin Rooz | Homa Delvaray

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Tehran, Iran

Homa Delvaray is a talented, prolific, and articulate young Iranian designer whose works are currently on exhibit in the Vitrin Rooz (virtual gallery) until 9 March. Shown above are a few of her posters and book covers.

Keep up the great work, Homa…


27 February 2010

Summer will come again soon, right?


Pretty please?

In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to settle for Here Comes the Sun.

26 February 2010

Hummer dies of natural causes…


Detroit, USA

I rarely take pleasure in the demise of someone or something… this is one of those exceptions. G.M. has (finally) announced that it cannot keep the sinking Hummer brand alive—more info here in a New York Times editorial today.

Chapter by chapter…


Vancouver, British Columbia

I don’t shill, so to be honest, I’m feeling just a little bit dirty in posting this… on the other hand, I know that Eric Karjaluoto is a damn good writer (I’ve commented on that before, here) and I get the impression he’s also a pretty good thinker, designer, and (likely—I’ve never actually bent elbows with the man) a pretty decent human being as well.

When I received Eric’s “pseudo-spam” message today, stating that he’s “doing something that sort of scares him—giving away his book,” it did get my attention. It appears that over the next few months, Eric will be posting his new book Speak Human online, one chapter at a time. Though “kind of foolhardy,” he thinks the message delivered in the book is important (how could he not?, I think to myself), “whether they decide to drop $20 or not.” What can I say… this man is also not shy.

You can review the book’s Table of Contents here and the second chapter, Thank Goodness You’re Small (which just went live,) here. Good luck, Eric, really… perhaps you’ll buy me a beer and we could have a face-to-face conversation some time? :-)

25 February 2010

Thoughts about… hosting the Olympics


Vancouver, British Columbia

I must say, I have mixed feelings about Canada’s hosting of the current Winter Olympics. As I live several thousand km away and don’t watch television, I’ve been spared the round-the-clock coverage—though I did watch the opening ceremonies online after the fact, as well as two live hockey games (I believe I am obliged to do this, by dent of being a Canadian, eh?). GDC designer colleague Casey Hrynkow (a Vancouverite, so on the doorstep of all the action) has expressed her thoughts on “lessons learned” quite eloquently here, and re-posted below, with permission:

In the late months of 1997, the 2010 Winter Games were a twinkle in the eyes of Bruce McMillan and Rick Antonson of Tourism Vancouver, and then Canucks owner, Arthur Griffiths. It was a buoyant time in Vancouver. The economy was humming along. Tourism was growing. We believed in a better Vancouver. We were innocent of the world-changing events of 2001. At that point, the wheels were set in motion for Vancouver to compete against other Canadian cities to win the right to host the 2010 Winter Games. Thirteen years is a long way out to foresee how these Games might be perceived in 2010. Sometimes you just need to take a shot.

Many people have rightly raised concerns about funding the Games in lieu of other more egalitarian causes. Hosting the Games has been associated with tossing the elderly out of their homes, hiding the homeless and canceling surgeries. Although the rhetoric has been a bit maudlin, much of this may indeed be true. Mistakes and misuse of power exist. I understand the frustration of advocates for the disenfranchised. They have seen Vancouver “gulping the Koolaid” since the Games began. A universal truth, however, is that an issue this complex is not so binary that it can be reduced to an either/or concept.

Spending on culture is never a waste

There was so much angst and anger leading up to the Games about how we could spend money on a “party” rather than health care, education and social housing. There is absolutely no doubt that we must put more into all of these priorities. But this is not all that human beings need.

I cannot imagine a modern society where physical needs are the only concern. People  are recharged and psychologically fed by interacting with society. The ancient practice of meeting in marketplaces and forums is critical to our well being. The eloquent part of that interaction is through the arts. The arts allow us to imagine, to stretch beyond our human form and to escape the day-to-day of just getting by.

I don’t really think anyone but a handful of people had any idea what the Games would do to the streets of Vancouver. We have poured into them, talking to each other, shouting and clapping and laughing. I’ve seen people break into spontaneous dance and song.  Street performers, singers, artists, designers, actors and musicians have pulled us out of our February doldrums and shown us how amazing Vancouver can really be. People say that they want more and they want it to continue. Who can blame them?

We like the world

Vancouverites seem to have discovered that it’s pretty cool to have the world show up. We saw it during Expo ’86 to some degree, but a lot of the people who are now seeing this were babies in 1986. We have peeked out beyond our parochial viewpoints and enjoyed the presence of our global family. A big part of what the Olympics is about is making the world a better place. One of the three Olympic ideals is to “build a peaceful and better world through sport”. That is a very succinct statement but captures issues of the environment, culture and social need. It is a fact that exposure to new ideas makes us more tolerant, more generous and helps us to think more broadly.

We could have done better

Oh, yes. We could have done it better. Not one thing, done by anyone, anywhere at any time has ever been flawless. The Olympic effort as been no exception. There are some big blights on these Olympics. The heavy-handedness with which brand management was handled is now infamous. Not everyone got equal billing. First Nations got too much, and they got too little. Our cultural mosaic was not represented well enough for many. The balance of opinions was not represented. Bad people ruined the legitimate protest of good people.The litany of wrongs is long and bitter.

So what do we do with that? We have amassed a knowledge cache from this that can be put to good use—from funding formulas that work and don’t work to the unerring reliability of the Zamboni. The populace has discovered in staggering numbers that public transit works quite well and I think we’ll see far more use of it going forward. We’ve had time to stare at what being Canadian is about. Perhaps now we’ll have a better idea of how to define ourselves to the world.

Would we do it again?

That’s a great question. I think that we may have collectively realized that this wasn’t such a bad experience. I suspect we will see some long-term economic growth from it, however incremental. If you believe that economic growth increases our ability to fund the social safety net, then economic growth will be a good thing for everyone in Vancouver and the province of BC, not just the privileged.

I think that hosting the 2010 Games was good for our collective psyche. We found out a lot about ourselves and about others. We figured out how to pull together.

If we do something like this again, we will do it better. We need to embrace legitimate protest and honor it, listening carefully to what it asks us to see. We need to consider an even broader perspective of legacies than even these groundbreaking Games managed to do. And, hopefully, we’ll do it while we still have that valuable cache of knowledge at hand. If that is wasted, it will indeed be a lesson lost.

24 February 2010

Did you know… from The Economist





London, U.K.

“The media landscape is changing rapidly. The way people communicate is changing the way marketers have to think about how to reach consumers…”—watch a compelling, short, statistical, fact-filled, entertaining “must see” piece from (Sorry, they broke their link) here.

(thanks to friend ‘Segun Olude for the link)

23 February 2010

Congratulations, universdesign!







São Paulo, Brazil

My designer/architect friend Marcelo Aflalo of universdesign has sent me some images their recent work for São Paulo’s public library (which has just launched last month in the pouring rain)—an approach using three-dimensional typography “designed to promote the pleasure of reading, and grant access to anyone.” Project scope included the logo, overall identity, visual communications, environmental design, the interior color palette (furnishings, etc.) and some of the architectural elements. In Marcelo’s words…

“The idea is to bring libraries and the pleasure of reading closer to the booming ‘C class,’ more familiar with TV and Internet than anything that resembles literature. The library has a small collection of books (around 40,000) compared to a regular  library, but whatever you need they’ll find for you—on demand. It will also host storytellers, musicians and performers. Readers will be encouraged to make the bridge between movies and the written word through more than a hundred large screen computer terminals connected to a fairly big mainframe. There are various lounge areas according to age and behavior. One can read at the terraces or at the café area. Consistent to the overall concept there are no ‘forbidden’ signs—everything is allowed and the limits are set by the users. There is an adult only section (the one behind the frosted glass wall with the gray silhouettes) with literature with erotic/sexual content, violence, and drug related subjects. The kids’ area is also divided by age and all have a multipurpose booth.

The text with the name of the library is set in many different typefaces to show diversity and there are some black and white figures holding  colorful reading material. All the pictures and the silhouettes were shot at the park around the library and are regular users of the area. The idea is to bring the space closer to the general public by depicting some of them. Accessibility is behind every design decision, from the size of the type set on the signage to the ‘Braille’ map on both floors. The letter faces on the reception desk are based on printing box sets. The big foundry type at the entrance pays homage to Bodoni, Helvetica,  Baskerville and Prospera creators. Prospera? Yes, its a beautiful type face designed by a good friend who lives in Galena (by the Mississippi), and was one of the first typefaces designed on a Mac, back in the 80’s. It was never cast to be printed mechanically (I love this contradiction, my private joke).

The folded paper airplanes are 10 feet long and were printed with images from great pages in history or utilitarian references. There is one by Michelangelo, one is from a beautifully-designed Portuguese dictionary, one carrying comic strips by Angeli (well known around here), one with the musical score written and hand corrected by musician Antonio Carlos Jobim (samba of the jet plane), and so on—all taken from originals and authorized.

Although we haven’t done much architecture lately, we came out with the final solution for the terraces and the café area and the reference here are sailboats and the idea of freedom, acquired when you read a book and create your own scenario…”

Great job, Marcelo—your love of typography really shines through!

(I’ll admit I’m a little envious).

22 February 2010

Respect! | Reinhold Messner


Bozen, Italy

Watch a great 45-minute documentary with Reinhold Messner, “the world’s greatest mountaineer,” here.  (Broken link, sorry). Reinhold looks back over his career with surprising candor and self-revelation, along with rare film footage of his astonishing climbs of the world’s highest mountains.

21 February 2010

PechaKucha Winnipeg… a success.



Winnipeg, Canada

Thanks to the 150-or-so who showed up at the Park Theatre on Wednesday for GDC Manitoba’s PechaKucha event. It was great to cross paths with lots of folks I hadn’t seen in ages—and, gauging from feedback, attendees enjoyed themselves and deemed the event a success. GDC is planning more PechaKucha evenings later in the year… I’ll try to “keep you posted.”

Lots more photos of this week’s event here… (Update: my presentation is now online here).

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