Design Dispatch

Our daily take on the world through the lens of design.

A collaborative work of art. (Photo: Reddit)

Democracy in Action

What does it look like when more than one million people work on a single piece of art? Reddit users answered that question earlier this month by creating an eight-bit collage, and the results are more or less what you would expect from the internet community. According to Co.Design, it looks like “Infighting, creative genius, and a whole lot of dicks.”

Digital Daze

Thanks to Amazon, Zappos, Net-a-Porter—name your favorite “disruptive” company—retail is changing fast. Both startups and old-guard stores are racing to integrate technology into the retail experience, with mixed results. The New York Times has published a good round-up of the latest strategies, from holographic displays to virtual reality to 3D printing. Like any article aiming to predict the future, many of the concepts won’t end up in everyday use. (Remember a few years ago, when everyone thought it would be a great idea to put a screen on every refrigerator?)
[The New York Times]

Rap Renaissance

A trend piece on lyrical hip-hop attributes the rise of rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper to Internet culture, as well as the growing cultural dominance of the genre—arguing against the urge to credit America’s recent wave of activism and racial anxiety.
[The New Yorker]

False Positive

Uniqlo is making the most of America’s polarized political climate, positioning itself as an anti-Trump organization. But before anyone is tempted to cheer on the company for its apparent wokeness, read journalist Cam Wolf’s take. In his eyes, well-publicized incidents like executive Tadashi Yanai telling the president to “shove it” are no more than strategic business moves.

Uptown Girl

Hilton Als—he of recent Pulitzer Prize fame—has organized an acclaimed retrospective of painter Alice Neel’s ouvre. The show explores Neel’s choice to leave downtown Manhattan for Harlem, and the inspiration that she gleaned from the neighborhood and its inhabitants. Lots of gems in this piece, including that the FBI, who surveilled Neel in the 1950s, described her as a “romantic Bohemian type Communist.”
[The Atlantic]

Come On, Elon

Elon Musk is known for his visionary innovations in transportation: self-driving cars, high-speed rail, space travel. Despite these accolades, he has yet to solve the problem of parking. At Tesla’s headquarters, a nearby factory, and a SpaceX facility, there are more employees than parking spaces. And apparently, chaos erupts daily.
[The Wall Street Journal]

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