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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Patrick Blanc lecture

Vertical Garden Lecture with Patrick Blanc Patrick Blanc is a French-based artist and scientist. Renowned for having injected biodiversity back into built-up areas, the charismatic Blanc has installed Vertical Gardens across the globe- in hotels, restaurants, lounges, museums, showrooms and numerous other public buildings.

I arrived about 20 minutes late to this sold out lecture due to yet another unlucky roll of the dice with Melbourne’s train system.
As I panted up to the back of the theatre one of the NDC staff told me I was “just in time”. Patrick Blanc was upon the stage and getting started, brown leather suit and all.
Blanc has been working on the concept of vertical gardens since his teenage years, now a super-botanist, he shows only enthusiasm for their more recent worldwide success. As he says, the concept is relatively simple, a formwork, a material for the plants to grow in, and a water system. It is the years of research into how to make a long lived and appealing vertical garden that make his work more impressive then others doing similar things. While he classifies himself as only a botanist, it became clear that while his knowledge of plants in wild environments was the inspiration for his work, the transference into the midst of the city requires a keen eye for composition of visual elements.
To a backdrop of shots of cliff faces in Thailand he informed us about the basis of his vertical gardens, the many reasons which made them such a natural and efficient design. He talked about the many varieties of plants in European gardens originally from China, which have been pre-selected by heavy cultivation in china where only land too steep to farm was left with it’s original plants. Many familiar plants, in similar ways, are actually ideally situated on sloping sites.
He mentioned how the size of seeds determines where a plant will grow on a sloping site, or on the floor of the rainforest, with larger seeds falling closer to ground level, while smaller seeds remain higher up. in this way he arranges the layout of plants in gardens based both on visual and physical qualities, enabling him to create complementary layouts for plants that would never grow side by side in the wild.
The ability to see one of his gardens at Melbourne Central made the lecture much more relevant, and the NDC and Melbourne Central should be commended on their efforts. Hopefully over the next five or so years we will see the growth of the garden and some kind of positive effect on the space it’s situated in.
The talk was very well received, with Blanc being an enthusiastic public speaker. Unfortunately his slides appear to have been pulled because he was running massively overtime, so he only had time to answer one or two questions before being hustled away and we never heard the end of the lecture.

FAct: A vertical garden requires between 1 and 3 litres of water per square metre per day.

link to 'the design files review' with many more pictures

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

last couple of stuffs

Maurice Sendak – Where The Wild Things Are

"That very night in Max's room a forest grew and grew - and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are."

so the GRRR thing was a bit of a let down, i'm not really that big on contemporary dance, not having much of an ability to read the performances. silver jumpsuits are always a plus though, and the sound design was pretty good. what were the yellow balloons symbolising? i have no idea, i'll just say something like
"the battles of morality between max and the wild things were represented by the fight for control over the balloon, as max came to realise his base incompatibility with the wild things' world"

also, in a follow up to the pictures that i posted of the Grote Trekdreef being demolished i stumbled across some work by Rutger de Vries, where he appears to have broken into the building and glyphed the walls inside some of the rooms.

and i also made a placeholder logo for my proto-business

which is kind of inspired by these posters

i like how the passage of time is visible through the darkening of the writing. it would have been great if there was a whole series of posters symbolising the length of time between the shows in each of the cities they were playing by the decomposition of the banana skins.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

update festival week

this week and last week are chock full of design related stuff, due to the convergence of two design festivals in grey Melbourne, the Melbourne International Design Festival, and the State of Design Festival.
forgive me if i avoid differentiation between the two of them, in my mind they are one large event, perhaps named Melbourne Design Week or something.

anyway, armed with two separate brochures and a diary, i seem to have plotted out a couple of weeks of good stuff to keep me occupied.
i applied to be an official blogger for the MIDF blog, but they seem to not want me so i may do my own reviews here anyway, rebel blogger that i am. they seem to always be so upbeat and positive about everything, i feel duty bound to write about my inevitable disappointments.

this is a blog i found when i was searching for information on a 3mm mechanical pencil for my grandfather. it's a very impressive resource with comprehensive reviews of a wide range of stationary items besides pencils, including erasers and notepads. besides which it is written by someone on my side of the world, so it's all in metric and uses Aus/NZ terminology.

-This carpenters pencil is the oldest known pencil in existence. It was found in the roof of a 17th-century German house, and is part of the Faber-Castell private collection.
In the 19th century people couldn't afford generally to transport stone around, so all materials were local. And one of the really nice things is that if you go to Melbourne, everything's built out of bluestone which is highly distinctive; come to Sydney, it's built out of lovely yellow block sandstone. So the same style of architecture in general terms ends up looking quite different in the two cities because the local material was actually quite contrasted.

an interesting local example of the original 100 mile diet concept (by need not choice) as applied to architecture. should it be applied to products as well? Local design for local people?