Microsoft Is Crowdsourcing Its Next Default Font, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

The five potential new default Microsoft fonts

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Microsoft is switching up its default font by crowd-testing five new sans serif options. 

After nearly 15 years, Microsoft will switch up its default font from the crisp Calibri to one of five sans serif options—Bierstadt, Grandview, Seaford, Skeena, or Tenorite—that debuted earlier this year. According to Microsoft, there’s nothing wrong with Calibri—they’re just ready for a fresh new look. “We’re not seeing customers turn against [Calibri], which does happen with fonts,” Simon Daniels, principal program manager at Microsoft Office Design, tells Wired. “I often think of this Roger Black quote, which says that fonts are basically like clothing for your ideas. So what we’re saying is that Calibri has gone out of fashion.” Microsoft will announce a new default font later this year after crowd-testing the five new options

The sculptor Sarah Oppenheimer will create a monumental site-specific work at UT Austin.

In July, the University of Texas at Austin will unveil a monumental sculpture by Sarah Oppenheimer, who’s perhaps best known for works that distort perceptions between space and architecture, as part of the institution’s Landmarks art program. The work, called C-010106, will sit on a footbridge between the school’s Gary Thomas Energy Building and the Engineering Education and Research Center. Renderings are under wraps until the debut, but Landmarks curator Andrée Bober describes the sculpture as “[comprising] two parallel planes of glass visible from the footbridge and below it. Within the two panes of glass, there are two reflective diagonal planes of glass that face the sky and the ground. The four planes meet at the bridge and flow dramatically through it.” 

RISD will embark on an extensive $4 million renovation of the historic Metcalf Building.

Thanks to an anonymous donation, the Rhode Island School of Design will embark on an extensive $4 million renovation of the Jesse Metcalf Building. The 69,000-square-foot building, which once housed a textiles factory, is a central nexus for the campus—it’s home to nearly one-third of the school’s departments, including ceramics, furniture design, and textiles. “This extraordinary philanthropic investment will have a transformative impact on our students,” RISD president Rosanne Somerson said in a statement. “It accelerates a comprehensive reimagination of the studio and fabrication space where our artists and designers engage in the innovative thinking and critical making that are central to our educational model.” 

BIG’s proposal for The Metals Company’s new plant

Bjarke Ingels designs a battery metals plant and ships for underwater metal extraction.

Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled initial visuals of a metals plant and waterborne craft for The Metals Company, a mining firm that aims to extract electric battery metals from the seabed. The process will serve as an alternative to the land-based mining of nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese, which leaves a staggering environmental toll. While there’s no site currently planned for the plant, the company is eyeing several brownfield developments and plans to build facilities across at least three continents.

“The global energy system needs to undergo its most profound change in centuries to realize a world run exclusively on renewable sources,” says Ingels. “If the ongoing research and studies conclude that harvesting metals from the seabed can be done in an environmentally and socially responsible way, we’ll not only be able to accelerate the green transition but give form to an entirely new industry that’ll create a sustainable circular metals economy for future generations.” As part of the proposal, BIG also designed mineral-collecting vehicles and production vessels that gently pry seafloor rocks from the sediment to avoid destructive drilling and blasting. And if it gets picked up, more than 40 million tons of battery metals that can power 280 million electric vehicles are estimated to be mined by 2050.

Black Obsidian Sound System, an art collective shortlisted for the Turner Prize, speaks out.

After Black Obsidian Sound System (BOSS) was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, the prestigious accolade awarded to British artists by Tate, the art collective is speaking out against the museum’s “exploitative practices.” In a statement, BOSS asked “How can a BPOC queer collective of artists and cultural workers be nominated for the Turner Prize whilst Black women artists continue to be silenced?” The letter points out Tate’s alleged censorship of Black artist Jade Montserrat in 2017, the struggles of Tate workers during the pandemic, and the museum’s mishandling of sexual harassment allegations against patron Anthony D’Offay. “Whilst we are grateful for the recognition for our work as a collective, it’s important for us to name some of the inconsistencies as we observe them,” the group wrote on Instagram

Eric Forman and Ben Luzzatto’s signal-jamming chandelier

Today’s attractive distractions:

A new genre of computer-generated “renderporn” is taking Instagram by storm.

This signal-jamming chandelier is meant to foster authentic social engagement.

Here’s a discomforting vision of what George Washington might look like today. 

The photographer Alison Pollack captures miniature fungi in a grandiose way.

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