Actions: What You Can Do With the City — you can’t get a more straightforward exhibition title than that. This show, up for a couple more weeks at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, features a number of everyday ideas from everyday people — and, yes, some specialists — that are quirky, odd, and even downright crazy — but all are inspired responses to various ills of city living. Better yet, the CCA compiled all of these ideas on a website as an “actions list” of 99 items. It includes stuff like showing people how to harvest free fruit in L.A. (if it’s hanging over the sidewalk, it’s public property!); adapting abandoned construction sites, as proposed by some Parisian architects; and the “gehzeug” designed by an Austrian civil engineer — a wearable tool that allows pedestrians to take up as much space as a car (great for protests!). Each action-item gets an intriguing name: the three above are, respectively, “Oranges Lead Nocturnal Walk,” “Mapping The Incomplete Creates Housing,” And “Wood Makes People As Big As Cars.”
Another inspiring discovery: Aaron Draplin. First, he and a guy named Jess Gibson posted this video on YouTube, in which Aaron rants about the design of a new motel sign in Missouri and how it represents all that is f’ed up in America. Draplin, who runs a one-man graphic design shop in Portland, Oregon, is as foul-mouthed as he is passionate, and he just became one of my favorite people. (Can’t wait to see the “Draplin Project” documentary that he and Gibson are making.)
I found the video via a just-published story about Draplin on the Creativity website, one that magazine editors added to at the last minute when the news was revealed that Draplin was one of the designers for two new Federal logos, including this one for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Not sure if it’s Obama or one of his advisors, but one of them clearly knows the value of a good logo … perhaps this job will do for Draplin what the Obama poster did for Shepherd Fairey). But the best part is the Draplin Design Co. website and blog, which brings me to list #2: his “Things We Love,” which includes old maps, shotgun houses in Louisville, 1″ rocker buttons, and, at #72, Minneapolis — turns out Draplin attended MCAD. There’s also, of course, a “Things We Hate” list, and much more.