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L.A. [TEN]
Book by Stephen Phillips
Lars Müller Publishers (hardcover, 256 pages)

Until the late 1970s, Los Angeles architects were mostly overlooked by the inter­national community – not for lack of talent, but because of the impression that the city was
dominated by stucco bungalows and Hollywood-inspired mansions. That perception shifted in 1979, when architect Thom Mayne hosted a popular exhibition series in co-operation with the fledgling SCI-Arc, highlighting the newly christened “L.A. Ten,” who were rewriting the rules with their expressive forms and unorthodox materials.

In the absence of a time machine, L.A. [TEN] is the best way to revisit this transformative period for American architecture: such luminaries as Mayne, Eric Owen Moss and Neil Denari share their musings and memories in nine candid interviews recorded between 2011 and 2013 by Cal Poly L.A., in co-operation with the Getty Research Institute. The scope of their reminiscences results in a fascinating journey with the nonconformist architects who, sometimes inadvertently, helped to cultivate America’s current architecture scene. By Popi Bowman

DESIGNerd 100+
App by Kevin Finn, Steven Heller, Stefan Sagmeister and Lita Talarico
Developed by TheSumOf (designerd.info)

What began as a card game, a way for Kevin Finn to share his enthusiasm for graphic design, has gone digital. Through a dead-simple interface (all in Helvetica, naturally), the trivia series poses over 300 questions from novice (think: the arrow hidden in the
FedEx logo) to guru level (what year did Vince Frost relocate his practice to Sydney?). Volume 1’s head scratchers were penned by Finn, while volumes 2 and 3 were written by the co-chairs of the MFA design department at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and by noted graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, respectively.

Although responses are timed, the app is best enjoyed slowly. After each round, “Did You Know?” pop-ups provide background (such as an explanation of how two prominent companies with the same founders became competitors) in longer sections that deserve close reading. This informative feature is the app’s true selling point. Keeping score, though fun, may dishearten all but the savviest players. By David Dick‑Agnew

Disobedient Objects
Book by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon
V&A Publishing (softcover, 144 pages)

Beginning with the cover’s instructions for how to build a gas mask from a water bottle, this exhibition catalogue is certainly unique. It’s a comprehensive overview of a show of the same name, which runs until February at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Both examine design as a tool for political protest and activism, offering an illustrated history sprinkled with colourful details, such as a list of items that could be used as barricades, or that might be found in a protest camp.

The primary focus is from the late 1970s to the present day, a period that has seen massive social change and technological advancement, but older objects also feature. Alongside items such as a 1910 suffragette tea set bearing the logo of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and the “I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as your policies” placard designed for a British budget protest in 2011, Dis­obedient Objects not only presents objects made to incite change, but also highlights the changes that have resulted. By Erin Donnelly

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