Tag Archives: travel

ARCHITORTURE: GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY, WHERE TOURISTS AND NERDS COLLIDE

One of Los Angeles’s great landmarks is the Griffith Observatory, an architectural gem that mixes art-deco and Mayan aesthetics. It’s perched on a ridge in Hollywood Hills above Los Felix and provides a stunning, wide view the L.A. basin. It naturally is a major tourist draw, with thousands upon thousands of people winding their way up the hills and canyons each day to visit this icon of La La Land. It’s a functioning observatory and as such there are working scientists, astronomers, educators, and space enthusiasts, et. al. — nerds! — congregated and fussing about amid the tourist hordes snapping selfies along the viewing terraces.

HIGH-FLYIN’: 800 VIEWS OF AIRPORTS

We — and possibly you, too — are a big fan of large coffee-table art books by the likes of publishers Taschen, Phaidon and Rizzoli, to name but a few. Among our favorite stack of these large tomes is a book by a lesser-known German publisher. It’s a book of photographs by the artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss titled “800 Views of Airports.” And that’s exactly what you get, literally 800 photos taken in airports by the artists over several decades of international air travel. There’s no accompanying text, no explanations, no captions. Just photographs of airports, airplanes, tarmac vehicles, control towers and views looking out of windows from air-terminal boarding lounges around the globe. The book is a mesmerizing document of the airport’s cultural landscape. For those who have traveled widely and often by air, the images in this book may feel in their own way comforting.

POLITICAL FASHION: “OBA MAO” T-SHIRT IN CHINA

The graphic on this t-shirt is a cute mashup of one of modern China’s greatest political leaders Mao Zedong (sometimes written as “Tse-Dong”), a.k.a., “Chairman Mao,” and one of America’s most popular modern presidents, Barack Obama. Thus “Oba Mao.”

We imagine a lot of American tourists snap these shirts up. The shirt’s iconic and heroic visual treatment of Obama and inherent Maoist-Marxist symbolism are reminiscent of those t-shirts with Che Guevara’s face that were globally popular back in the early 2000s.

Our friend and contributor Richard took this quickly snapped pic a few days ago while traveling in China. Thanks, Richard!

Photo: Richard Haase. All rights reserved.

See Ya Later, Tokyo …

It’s always great fun being back in Tokyo. It’s really a home away from home for us, and we love having the opportunity to re-connect with our Tokyo posse in person and catch up on all the recent art and design developments going on in the Japanese capital. This trip recent trip was no exception. As we head back to GGHQ in New York, we say “See ya later, Tokyo.” We’ll back again in a few months.

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On the Scene … At the Beautifully Minimalist Nezu Cafe in Aoyama, Tokyo

The cafe in the garden of the Nezu Museum in Aoyama, in Tokyo, is a striking example of minimalist architectural design and contemporary Japanese aesthetics. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides of the rectangular space give a full view of the garden and spectacular autumn foliage. A Japanese washi paper design is part of the ceiling material and allows diffused light into the space. This is one of more contemplative spaces in Tokyo and a fine place to while away an hour in reflection, sipping a coffee or tea.

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Global Graphica in Tokyo …

We’re in Tokyo this week and as those of you who follow us on Twitter and Instagram  may have already seen, we’ve been posting some pix from the Japanese capital literally from the moment we stepped off the plane (see below). It’s good to be back in Tokyo, one of our favorite cities and a source of much inspiration in terms of great design, creativity, urban living and style. Plus there’s all the amazing food. We’ll be posting from Tokyo all this week as part of our “Tokyo 14 Project,” so look for pix and updates here, as well as on Instagram and Twitter.

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In Tokyo … Awesome Ads in the Tokyo Subway, Vol. 2

The second of two examples of recent ad placements in the Tokyo Metro. This one is part of a Tokyo tourism campaign. Clever stuff. In the “You & Tokyo” campaign ad pictured below, a random assortment of common non-Japanese — and mostly Western — names are lightly integrated into the background of design in the top half of the ad around the word “You,” while around the word Tokyo in the lower half are names of various neighborhoods and famous sights around the Japanese capital.

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Photo by Mayumi Ihara. All rights reserved.

In Tokyo … Awesome Ads in the Tokyo Subway, Vol. 1

This recent indoor billboard ad (pictured below) in Tokyo subway stations is part of an integrated marketing campaign promoting the Tokyo Metro’s tourist information service. It ties in with a television commercial (see video below) that started airing in the Tokyo area earlier this year, and it coincides with a broader series of ad campaigns aimed at promoting Tokyo tourism in general.

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Photo by Mayumi Ihara. All rights reserved.

On the Scene … TV Reporter and Crowd in Milan, Italy

We’ve been in Milan, Italy, for a few days where we made time to join the crowd of thousands at Piazza Castello to watch the Italy v Costa Rica World Cup football ( soccer ) match on a big outdoor television screen. Pictured below, an Italian TV journalist does a live report from the scene. Sadly for supporters of the azzuri, Italia lost the match, but that didn’t stop the crowd from enjoying the party atmosphere.

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800 Views of Airports

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We love this book of photographs by the renowned Swiss artist duo of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. “800 Views of Airports” is precisely that: A collection photos taken by Fischli and Weiss at airports visited on travels around the world throughout their decades-long career. The volume is the definition of coffee-table book. “800 Views” is textless. There are no captions, no labels, nothing to indicate where and when the photos was taken. This curatorial, editorial concision gives the hefty tome some mystique and only adds to its beauty. For the well-traveled, many of the airports may be easily identifiable — Tokyo Narita, JFK, London Heathrow, Schipol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Malpensa — though there are a bunch of photos taken at an airfield that few would recognize, a place where de-commissioned commercial aircraft are put out to pasture.

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Design … Man + Woman Symbols at Ij Kantine Amsterdam

The international symbols for man and woman often used on signage for restrooms at airports, museums, restaurants and public places, etc., throughout the world are sometimes reinterpreted by designers. We noticed a lot of variations on the symbols at various places in Amsterdam on our recent visit there. Pictured here are the even more minimalist and pared down and arm-less versions of these symbols used in signage at Ij Kantine, a massive, beautifully designed restaurant and bar in Amsterdam’s northside across the Ij River. We’ll post images of the restaurant in a separate post soon.

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Puma Stencil Street Art in Amsterdam …

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We love this large stencil street art image of a black puma in Amsterdam Centrum, along Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal street with lots of street art that connect Centraal Station to the Western Canals District.

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The 13 Essential Travel Contents in Our Pockets

Pictured below are the contents of my coat and jeans pockets spread out on a table following my arrival in Amsterdam. Looking at these I realize that aside from my iPhone (not pictured since I used it to take the photo) it’s pretty much all (and perhaps more than) I really need for international travel and a seven-hour transatlantic flight.

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The contents include, clockwise from top-left: Ray-Ban folding sunglasses, Property Of leather wallet, passport, Moleskine soft-cover notebook with Micron felt pen tucked inside, ear plugs (I lost one on the plane), dental floss, iPhone USB charger, cash (U.S. and Euro coins and bills leftover from last trip to Europe), lip balm, earbuds, Orbit chewing gum, a banana (leftover from breakfast on the plane),  silk cloth for cleaning my eyewear and devices screens.

Or course, I’ve got a Porter carry-on bag with a lot more stuff that makes a long flight bearable, and in this bag usually bring along useful stuff, such as my Apple Macbook Air, external hard drives, HD cam, snacks, eyemask, eyeglasses, a change of clothes (in case we get stuck somewhere due to flight delay/cancellation), multi-country electrical adaptor, a few toiletries for freshening up, etc.

From Amsterdam with Love

We just arrived in Amsterdam, and now, after settling into our hotel and freshening up from the flight from NYC, we’re enjoying a coffee in front of the Christmas tree in the lobby, pictured below. We’ll be spending a few days here hanging out with old friends, collaborators and creators, and checking out new spaces and checking in at the museums and galleries before celebrating New Year’s.

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Urban Life … By the Williamsburg Bridge NYC

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The esplanade along the East River in downtown New York City is not on the tourist map, and it’s less of a destination for most Manhattanites than other, more stylish waterfront hangouts along the West Side. But for those locals in the deepest, farthest, eastern-most reaches of the East Village and Chinatown especially, the long stretch of waterfront paths and parks is an oasis for families, cyclists, BBQers, weekend soccer players and even recreational fisherman. It’s a perfect and incredibly scenic place to learn how to ride a bicycle, complete with training wheels, as the picture above shows. By the way, that’s the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance. It’s 110 years old and one of three bridges connecting downtown Manhattan to Brooklyn.