Design: Pandemic-themed Design By Distance at SFMCD

Speaking of the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design (, they have a virtual exhibit on the theme of designs to create distance or separation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Yes, creative people are already trying to work out how to make the world work during a time of highly contagious ailments, and they are raising interesting questions and proposing some pretty (and wild, and uncomfortable, and practical, and edgy) solutions. Some of these are intended as humor or commentary more than as design, but they round out the range of speculative thinking nicely.

Design by Distance

June 2-December 31, 2020 Design by Distance showcases how designers from around the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through the development of objects, garments, accessories, and space planning. Curated by Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c2-curatorsquared, Design by Distance highlights

There is a lot to think about here.

I like these cone-of-silence-like barriers for dining in groups:

Gernigon – Curatorsquared Virtual Views

Christophe Gernigon plex’eat, 2020 Stating that all the solutions he’d seen to date to insure safe dining had looked to him like prisons, French designer Christophe Gernigon created what he thinks of as a kind of a bell, an elegant form made from bent plexi, sized and configured to prevent claustrophobia, and to avoid interfering with pendant lamps, ubiquitous in dining spaces.

As an introvert, I also like these beach cubicles. While my enjoyment of them conceptually feels anti-social (which is supposed to be a bad thing in ordinary times), these DO appeal. I want to be outside! I want other people to keep their distance! These cubicles could help achieve this in crowded / popular locations, to a point.

Menasci – Curatorsquared Virtual Views

Umberto Menasci SafeBeach, 2020 Lexan Perhaps his early legal training instigated Umberto Menasci’s current project, SafeBeach, enabling sun worshipers to enjoy beaches while respecting the new practices regarding social distancing. A grid of outdoor rooms, open to the sky, made of Lexan, allows for two lounge chairs, and one large umbrella, and a small table in each unit.

Afterward: We are in the adaptive phase of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, now that we have realized there is no immediate solution and we will need to change how we live. I’ll be remarking on other things like this, but at some point, once we HAVE adaptated, these environments will seem normal, and future people will look back on this and wonder why I made a fuss over THESE, rather than all of the shared/high-contact/crowded places of the past…

Design: Face Mask Design Competition

Why just wear a paper mask or bandana to protect your community from the spread of COVID-19 when you can get creative? The San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design sponsored a protective face mask competition: the winners are at the top, but the gallery with all of the entries is FUN, so I recommend that.

Let’s Face It: Community Gallery | MCD

On May 11, the Museum of Craft and Design launched Let’s Face It, an international mask design competition. We received 363 entries from 17 countries, with participants ranging from 4 years old and up. Thank you to everyone who participated.

News: Happy Loving Day!

Yes, inter-racial marriage used to be illegal in many parts of the USA. Until 1967. Which is SUPER RECENTLY.

Hooray for Loving v. Virginia!

Loving Day

Loving Day is an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws were U.S.

From the Wikipedia Article, above:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

-Mildred Loving, June 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia

News: Black Lives Matter (to more people, finally!), and Current Events Remain Current

I feel like I watch three genres of video now:
(1) videos of peaceful demonstrators out in public somewhere in the world (I like these!)
(2) police violently attacking peaceful demonstrators (these upset me), and
(3) police violently attacking journalists (these anger me).

(There is a subgenre of (2) that involves police violently attacking passersby and people standing on their own property while watching (1) or (2), but I haven’t made a habit of watching that content yet.)

There are THOUSANDS of films in these genres now, and so I’m only going to share a few links to solid compilations of those last two. The novel and interesting thing about the compilations I like best are (a) they are from overseas, from the UK Guardian, and (b) they are from a mainstream news organization! The US domestic press used to refer to peaceful protesters as “violent,” even while showing their own videos of people peacefully sitting on the ground being beaten by police, because it fit their narrative that the authorities are always inherently good. Now that everyone has phone cameras and can see with their own eyes, that approach is only working with people who want to believe that protesters are bad and deserve violence.

Category 2, from June 6, 2020:

Protests about police brutality are met with wave of police brutality across US

The nationwide anti-police brutality protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the US have been marked by widespread incidents of police violence, including punching, kicking, gassing, pepper-spraying and driving vehicles at often peaceful protesters in states across the country. The actions have left thousands of protesters in jail and injured many others, leaving some with life-threatening injuries.

The Guardian’s compilation a 260+ link compilation of police brutality videos within Twitter, which started on May 30, 2020. (The links are not all in chronological order, because: Twitter). It feels like calling this “criminal justice news” is ironic, considering the overt police riots (click the image of the tweet below):



One more, out of many I could have posted, for Category 3, from June 6, 2020:

Teargassed, beaten up, arrested: what freedom of the press looks like in the US right now

Caught in the middle of a scrum covering protests in Minneapolis on Saturday, photojournalist Ed Ou could feel his hands and face were wet. For a long time, he didn’t know if it was teargas, pepper spray, or blood – in the end, it turned out to be a combination of all three.

I’ve read notes from people who watch television, saying that the TV stations TRIED the “protestors bad, police good” line at first, but when no one was falling for it, actually started reporting the news. I don’t know if their own journalists had to be attacked for them to ‘get it,’ or if the scales suddenly fell from their eyes. But: what a remarkable turn of events.

News: more than I can process easily

I want to write briefly about the remarkable time we are living in.

I’ve been trying to process even more murders of black Americans by police on the news, events which have become all too common throughout my life. The era of cell phone videos changed this, but only to the point that we could bear witness to the horror more directly, and observe that the stories the police used to justify the killings never withstood scrutiny, even to the (surprised!) eyes of people who previously willed the news away with hazy implications of guilt, as if hazy implications justify spontaneous, extrajudicial executions.

As with US school shootings, it seemed that no amount of loss could make anything change. Each time, there would be hope that THIS would be the event that bent the arc of history toward justice. Each time, it seemed THIS would be the day when people stood up and said that we are NOT A COUNTRY that allows this to happen, and it would end. But each time wasn’t that time.

But now, unexpectedly, there seems to be… a sort of reckoning.

I’m afraid to get my hopes up that it will be that time. It could be! But I’m afraid to hope.

This reckoning arose not only over the original event, namely the recorded murder of a man named George Floyd who was suffocated by police kneeling on his neck, but grew dramatically over the outlandish assaults by police against people peacefully protesting against police brutality.

The police have been shooting journalists with rubber bullets. The police have been been arresting news crews on the air. The police have been tear gassing members of the clergy.

Individually they may have been thinking: police are never punished for brutality, even if the brutality is recorded, so this won’t matter. Collectively, they were surely also thinking this, because they were all choosing to behave the same way, and this is how structural racism works.

Yet…. this is playing out differently.

The automatic deference is gone.

Diplomatic complaints are being lodged over attacks on credentialed press from other nations.

Police officers are being fired for misconduct (which had previously just been deemed regular conduct).

British youth with ADORABLE British accents are having mass solidarity demonstrations, and hearing them chant, “Black Lives Matter!” so Britishly delighted me on every level, even before looking at the other solidarity demonstrations around the world.

I don’t know where this is going, but I know I want to bend it toward justice. I want us ALL to bend it toward justice.

News: COVID-19 Mortality (and of choosing our role models more carefully)

We are at a point in the global coronavirus pandemic where the US leads the world in cases and deaths, yet also wants to resume business as usual because other countries have. (My country is like a small child that hasn’t done its homework, but wants to go out to play, like other children who actually DID their homework and chores can! If we want to be like countries that do testing, WE SHOULD DO TESTING!) COVID-19 prevention measures were intended to “buy time” for our governments, institutions, and business leaders to develop tests and contact tracing plans, but that time was largely squandered…

Despite polls showing that most Americans would prefer not to risk it, there is lots of promotion of other countries that implemented business-as-usual approaches.

The promotion of Sweden as a role model is especially alarming if you look at this data from John Hopkins Medicine & University’s Coronavirus Resource Center’s Mortality Page:

I have friend in both Sweden and the Netherlands, and seeing their countries, that have moderately sane governments and actual health systems do EVEN WORSE than we are doing as a percentage of the population, inspires pity, NOT an urge to be more like them.

NO. Just… NO.

I want us to be like South Korea (0.52 per 100k), or Taiwan (0.03 per 100k), or Japan (0.63 per 100k), or if you really need European examples, Denmark (9.68 per 100k) or Germany (9.92 per 100k). While both of those European examples are vastly higher than my preferred potential role models, they are still waaaaaay better than our rate, and may be more “achievable” as goals in the short term, if we think of ourselves as being in the ‘slower to figure things out’ group of nations that needs just to figure out how to get out of the double-digits.

We can learn from their COVID-19 management on the economic front, too!!

This item about Denmark from this New York Times opinion piece notes that Sweden seems to be held up as a model, but Denmark has 1/3 of their deaths AND a better economy. Plus, they are poised to bounce back, because they devoted their relief funds to keeping workers in place:

As a share of G.D.P., Denmark’s coronavirus relief spending is a bit less than America’s, but it seems more effective at protecting the population.

The upshot is that Denmark staggered through the pandemic with employees still on the payroll and still paying rent. As the economy sputters back to life, Danish companies are in a position to bounce back quickly without the cost of having to rehire workers.

“We can be up and running in a week, back where we were,” explained Peter Lykke Nielsen, a negotiator for unionized workers at hamburger chains.

– McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us, by Nicholas Kristof

There are objections within Sweden to the Swedish approach as well (see any number of articles, including Swedish scientists call for evidence-based policy on COVID-19 from way back in early April).

I didn’t need to be reminded to be skeptical of recommendations in the news, after our wave of ‘die for the economy’ messages, but thanks to the data, I am reminded.

Science: Research Rabbit Hole: Geology of Bermuda

I can’t even remember how it happened (perhaps it was triggered by sending a postcard to the French Overseas Department Réunion, which is an island off the coast of Madagascar, two days ago?), but I suddenly, very much needed to know how Bermuda, which lies in very isolated waters off the eastern coast of the United States, came to exist.

Answer: it is volcanic.

Bermuda Pedestal

The Bermuda Pedestal is an oval geological feature in the northern Atlantic Ocean containing the topographic highs of the Bermuda Platform, the Plantagenet (Argus) Bank, and the Challenger Bank. The pedestal is 50 km (31 mi) long and 25 km (16 mi) wide at the 100 fathom line (-185 m), while the base measures 130 km by 80 km at -4200 m.

I don’t think of the east coast of the US as volcanic generally, and while it is quite a distance from shore, it still feels like a surprise. A theory of a Bermuda Hotspot is uncertain.

I know our Pacific Ring of Fire isn’t the only site of tectonic plate volcanism, but outside of Iceland (which is quite wildly and unmistakably and actively volcanic), “Atlantic” and “volcanic” aren’t ideas that go together for me.

If Réunion did plant the conceptual seed of this need to know, it is likely because (yes) it is also volcanic, and the island has not one but TWO volcanoes: one dormant and the other quite active.

Piton de la Fournaise

Piton de la Fournaise ( French for “Peak of the Furnace”) is a shield volcano on the eastern side of Réunion island (a French department) in the Indian Ocean. It is currently one of the most active volcanoes in the world, along with Kīlauea in the Hawaiian Islands, Stromboli and Etna in Italy and Mount Erebus in Antarctica.

(Until sending this Réunion bound mail off, my prior association with Réunion was that a confirmed piece of missing flight plane MH-370 washed up there. )

Fonts: Tangly by Emigre Fonts

You likely know that I think  Zuzana Licko is BRILLIANT, and that Emigre Fonts is remarkably cool. But this new set of patterns called Tangly is blowing my mind.

I like to make patterns by hand, and am studying repeats, and… THIS IS SO AMAZING. The lines. The splines. The everything.

It’s really clever: go look.