I can’t wait for a fresh start after the disastrous 2016!
Strasbourgers in the Alsace region of France claim that they are the “Christmas Capital” of Europe so as a good muslim I went there to check.
Well, they keep saying it everywhere:
It was a very cold day but thousands of poeple were swarming the streets of this beautiful Alsatian city:
walking up and down narrow streets,
They have no pity for their babies fighting the cold,
maybe because they drink this mulled wine called “Vin Chaud” (hot wine) or “Gluehwein” (in german): a concoction usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. They sell it in every other stand on the big Christmas market in Strasbourg:
I saw my first chocolate covered “strawberry kababs”:
Strasbourg is home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe:
where Jesus’ birth will be celebrated this year with pomp and thousands of little ornaments made in Alsace (read China):
The market is not close to the big church but right at its feet with Santa Claus himself selling some of the stuff:
Here is Alsace in all its glory (albeit in miniature):
with little chefs baking for the big birthday (Jesus’, remember?)
and big chefs of course making macaroons:
but for people with a weakness for great pastry I have a better treat:
and anything related to it:
Chocolate not being on my repertoire much, I opted for the fabulous chestnut cream “Mont Blanc”:
I went to the cathedral where a thousand Santas were busy clicking away on their cameras,
and a thousand candles promised to fulfill wishes…
By the end of the day, I was one of the few without a red hat,
Alsace’s emblem is a stork—you see them everywhere:
I couldn’t resist buying my first real mistletoe:
and looking at the holly,
I went to see the Fine Arts Museum:
where I revisited “the beautiful woman from Strasbourg”:
and the fabulous dutch still life paintings and my favorite Kessel insects of course:
By the time I got out it was getting dark but the market was still hustling and bustling,
This whole trip almost made me forget Copenhagen’s climate summit, the American Health Bill disaster and the Swiss minarets…
Have a golden Christmas everybody!
A few years ago, Richard Neutra, the quintessential California modernist architect, made my stay in downtown Los Angeles worthwhile.
Los Angeles’ main library had an exhibition of Neutra’s sketches and drawings and I was able to take some pictures to share with you—these are my interpretations of his work:
I love these largely horizontal airy structures; they are so “modern”, you forget they were designed in 1920’s…
I admit that I had to leave California to miss it and nothing says more Los Angeles than this beautiful photo of the Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, another modernist architect:
the photographer, Julius Shulman, became famous by this one black and white shot from 1960 (above) and its color version (below):
Born in Vienna, Neutra (1892 – 1970) was influenced by his fellow Austrians, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele (both died in 1918 when Neutra was 26 years old); this little painting of his could have been created by Klimt himself:
Another great influence on the young Neutra was Frank Lloyd Wright who invited Neutra to work in his studio in Taliesen. They rank him second only to the great Lloyd Wright in American architecture. Other early influences were Louis Sullivan (he coined “form follows function”), Otto Wagner and Erich Mendelsohn.
This sketch is the Van der Leeuw House solarium (complete with bathing beauties) that Neutra envisioned to build for himself:
Chairs (this one from 1919) weren’t the only things besides buildings that Neutra designed,
he even designed aluminum buses!
Richard Neutra, the romantic engineer, was passionate about art, technology and architecture—I love this drawing of a cellist playing Bach:
Leaving the cold winters and the world wars of Europe, Neutra took refuge in the sunny climate and rich landscape of Southern California; with his cool and sleek modern style he coined the term biorealism: “the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature.”
“You eat your values – don’t let them be fast, cheap and easy” says Alice Waters, the revolutionary chef and cookbook author. Maybe it’s my age but I’ve started to think seriously about what I eat; junk food has never been a sin of mine but Waters has pushed me to eat better.
I’ve been too lazy to go to Farmer’s markets up to a few months ago but I am hoping that my health is worth a little more money and a little inconvenience. Cooking becomes a pleasure again when you use fresh ingredients like in this simple Thai chicken and mint dish.
Alice Waters has started the “Slow Food” program that teaches children to make the right decision about how and what they eat.
This doesn’t mean of course that great food shouldn’t be appreciated just because it’s not green enough. I was at a friend of mine‘s today for a fabulous sunday brunch that ended with these great cakes made by her talented sister, Mona; The chocolate mousse and the baby kiwi cakes were divine.
I took a tour of the kitchen and w o w…
Just look at these pastry molds:
it’s true that a beautiful kitchen like this one makes you want to cook but I have had very delicious food coming out of small/dark/chaotic kitchens in my life (just dare to go to almost any parisian café’s kitchen)…
Today’ s food crisis makes us forget that good food like flowers should be affordable to everyone. As Jeffrey Sacks says “you can’t tell people who are dying of hunger in Africa to tighten their belts, as if they had belts”!
How did she go from chocolate mousse to Darfur? I bet that you didn’t see it coming…
Year 2015 was an Annus horribilis for the world; let’s hope 2016 will be better.
And here are the previous years’ inspirations! 😉
Michael Okuda is a graphic designer responsible for the gorgeous interfaces you see in Star Trek films.
Being a Trekkie since I was watching the series in Iran as a child and later an avid fan of the Next Generation, my design sensibilities have been shaped subconsciously by Okuda:
I am a User Experience designer and create interfaces every day but Michael Okuda keeps creeping back to the simplest flow chart I make!
The whole beauty of Star Trek bridge was thanks to these otherworldly interfaces we have been exposed to; Jean-Luc Picard added the spice. 😉
You would see commander Ryker interact with LCARS (Library Computer Access/Retrieval System) more often than Picard:
Here is the holodeck interface where you can choose between scuba diving or a conversation with Einstein:
Okudagrams came in different colors and shapes but always intriguing and in the time when you couldn’t stop the film to absorbe the image, I was always pissed at not getting enough of these ephemeral beauties!
Here is another one:
and the good doctor in front of the DNA comparison scan:
Long before Tom Cruise bedazzled us in Minority Report and the impractical but exquisite 3D interfaces he reacted with, Star Trek introduced us to what could be done and now is being done and used by millions:
They even had an LCARS mobile!
All of these images are not from Okuda of course; many have been created as an homage to ST and Okuda by fans.
U.S.S. Enterprise in all its glory:
Okuda designed logos for a number of NASA missions and programs including the STS-125 mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA has always been more of a fan of Star Trek than Star Wars!
So Okuda received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal.
Again different variations of Tricorder or the multifunction hand-held device used for sensor scanning, data anlysis and recording data. A smartphone!
Even the old generation of Star Trek had its own Okudagrams:
I like this one about the shuttles:
The next one even has a Facebook and Twitter button! 😉
Can’t get enough of these:
I am looking forward to reading “Make it so, Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction”. I learned about the book listening to UXpod with Chris Noessel.