Lomography Store: New York, London and Near You Soon

The Future Is Analog

Lomography is introducing a new generation to the unpredictable, serendipitous world of analog photography. Since re-introducing the simple-yet-flexible LC-A back into amateur photographers hands, the company has launched a wide range of mainly plastic film cameras that produce glorious results.

Although the cameras are available through a number of re-sellers (including Urban Outfitters), the best place to browse and ask about them are the official Gallery stores.

Lomography Shop New York

The last 12 months has seen the opening of both the first American store (in New York – pictured above), and most recently, the first British store (in London; September 2009). Perhaps in-keeping with the popular anti-popularist nature of the company, the stores seem to be located in almost central areas: just off the busy streets of the West Village in New York, and just off the busy Carnaby Street of London.

An insider tells us that they have aggressive expansion plans, with new Gallery Stores planned for most major American cities in the coming months.

The Father of User-Centered Design: “The Measure of Man”

The Measure of Man: Human Factors in Design

The Measure of Man: Human Factors in Design is the most incredible book. Written by celebrated industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, the book was first published in 1959, and is now available as the politically correct The Measure of Man and Woman. The tri-fold pocketed second edition you see above (with contents below) was published in 1967.

The Measure of Man: Anthropomorphic Charts

The book contains 32 black and white anthropometric charts on heavy card, which describe every detail of how the human body functions – from movement to growth – covering both sexes and different body types.

Life-size human charts

Two life-size human figure charts are included (one male, one female, white on blue); I’ve shown one above with a CD for scale. These would look great on the wall of any modern design or usability agency.

Reaction Times

Human Versus Machine

My favourite part is also the least exciting aspect of the package (in terms of physical format): the tables of data in the 20 page book. That sounds like a fairly thin book, but it’s packed with incredible data and insight into human-focused design. These don’t just cover typical ‘ergonomic’ topics, but also more modern subjects that include the accuracy and function of displays.

It’s not the kind of book you can sit down and read on the train, but it’s a breath of fresh air to read something so well researched, and full of quality data, with none of the filler so-typical of modern books.

The Credit Crunch started with the Credit Lunch

Diners Club Card 1951

In the UK alone, we now owe £54 billion in credit card debt. How did it ever get to this? Like many of the great inventions, it all started with an innocent story and a genuine solution to a genuine problem.

In 1949, successful businessman Frank McNamara was eating with business friends in a New York restaurant. When the check arrived, he realised he had forgotten his wallet. The story then gets a little hazy; he was either recognised by the restaurant owner and allowed to pay at a later date, or was rescued by his wife bringing him cash.

Whatever the situation, his embarrassment prompted him to develop the Diners Club Card, initially accepted in 14 New York restaurants and issued to 200 members.

Originally, the card didn’t charge interest, allowing members to ‘buy now, pay later (in full)’, with the Diners Club initially paying the restaurant as the middle-man. Instead of charging interest, the restaurants were charged a 7 percent fee of each transaction, and each member paid $3 annually.

Even though 20,000 Americans signed-up during the first year, McNamara thought his idea was a fad, and after three years, sold-out to his partners for $200,000.

Unfortunately for us, it seems, the fad has lasted a little longer than he predicted.

Image copyright Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The Decline of The Sexy Spy Camera

Minox Model B

The Minox camera was first manufactured in 1937. Designed as an ultra-portable camera, it first found favour at the luxury end of the market.

Due to it’s sub-minitaure size and ability to focus on nearby objects (around 18-20cm+), it soon became popular as a tool of espionage. Intelligence agencies from America to Germany were ‘snapping it up’ for use in-the-field.

With stylish gadget looks and well-earned notoriety, film studios were bound to adopt the Minox; most famously James Bond films, but also modern titles such as Grosse Point Blank and Charlie’s Angels.

In recent times, improved miniaturisation and optical technologies have produced smaller and better devices; today most of us carry around the equivalent of a high-quality spy camera on our mobile phones. In keeping with modern technologies, a digital Minox was recently released – the DSC (‘Digital Spy Camera’) – but it lacks the beautiful aluminium styling of the earlier models, or the pleasing mechanical sounds of exposure.

Minox Digital Spy Camera (DSC)

In some ways the camera represents the transformation of the spy industry; from the analog days of relying on charisma and stealth, to the modern digital age where spying is often nothing more than a $5 USB stick and open source key-logging software. Sure, it’s better, safer and easier, but it doesn’t look as good in the movies.

Minox Model B photograph by david4bruce, Minox DSC photograph copyright Amazon

E-1027: The Crumbling Landmark

E-1027 Balcony by Flickr user E-1027

In the late 1920s, Irish-born furniture designer Eileen Gray was convinced by her architect friend/lover Jean Badovici to design her first house. The name of the house, E-1027, was a code: E for Eileen, 10 for the letter J, 2 for B, and 7 for G – their initials.

The result, built over three years in the South of France, was a modernist landmark, and the furniture within – including the Daybed, Adjustable Table E1027 and Tube Light – were design classics that greatly influenced today’s furniture. Unfortunately, things didn’t stay clean and minimal for long.

Le Corbusier, a fan of the house, painted eight murals on the walls, that he said “burst out from dull, sad walls where nothing is happening”, but which Gray considered to be vandalism. Le Corbusier later died swimming in the seas beneath the house (unrelated to Gray’s anger, we hope).

Through subsequent sales of the house and it’s contents, the house deteriorated rapidly, with squatters, vandals and ransackers gaining easy access to the forgotten building. It didn’t help that Eileen Gray was largely neglected during her lifetime: it wasn’t until her death in 1976 that her name was first mentioned in a radio broadcast.

Today the monument still faces an uncertain future. Previous restoration plans have fallen through, and it now seems reliant on a not-for-profit group – Friends of E-1027 – to raise awareness and funds for the building.

E-1027 photograph by its_daniel