The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

How to easily draw a fantastic optical illusion of a 3D city

As a high school student, I would have enjoyed learning to use ruled paper to draw anamorphic illusions instead of (not) taking notes. (via The Kid Should See This)

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BATHDOOM: A Doom level based on a terrible bathroom remodel

For years, Something Awful forum members have reveled in user bEatmstrJ's blow-by-blow account of a terrible bathroom remodel, in which he sought to transform his bathroom "with a woman in mind" with an eye to a future home-sale ("woman play an unfair role in the home-buying process"); bEatmstrJ's saga combines terrible ideas about how a bathroom should look with total home-renovation incompetence, making it the perfect foil for Something Awful's pioneering brand of jeering insults and mayhem. Read the rest

A pull-out bed made of accordioning paper

Pro Idee's £369 Paper Bed is made of folds of rigid paper that collapse to a narrow sliver and then expand to 200cm length when needed; the materials are lightweight (total weight, 14.5k) and it can support up to 300kg, and the manufacturer claims it's comfortable, albeit with the addition of a foam pad. (via Yanko Design) Read the rest

Hawaiian grocery store explains local culture on the side of its reusable bags

While vacationing in Kauai, my pal Otto von Stroheim spotted this informative primer on local Hawaiian culture, right on the side of a reusable Foodland supermarket bag.

I dug around Ebay and discovered it's part of a series called "You Know You Local."

Here's the holiday edition:

lead image via Otto, 2 + 3 image via ebay, 4 +5 image via ebay Read the rest

Dieter Rams's "10 Principles of Good Design"

Legendary designer Dieter Rams lays out the ten principles underlying his approach to "good design."

A scene from "Rams", Gary Hustwit's new documentary about legendary designer Dieter Rams, with original music by Brian Eno. Motion graphics by Trollback & Co.

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Reflections on letterhead collecting, with accompanying (gorgeous) samples

Steven Heller calls himself a "letterhead" -- that is, someone who collects letterhead (compare with "Deadhead"); his brief reflections on his passion for Design Observer and interesting and well-observed, but they're not a patch on the actual samples of beautiful, bygone letterhead from his collection. Read the rest

Fantastic gig posters for scientists' lectures

Bob Goldstein, a professor of cell biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is also a talented graphic designer who creates fantastic "Gig Posters for Scientists" who lecture at the university. These days, Bob and his son do their own screenprinting too! Above:

12.5x19 inch hand screenprinted gig poster for distinguished scientist visiting UNC Chapel Hill. This one's got lights... LED lights are powered by 3V lithium-ion button cell batteries that were taped to the back of each poster. Image is based on results reported in this cool paper that showed that doublet microtubules are 2-lane highways. Locomotive image modified from this photo by priceman141, caboose modified from this photo by Roy Winkelman via ClipPix.

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Inside Roald Dahl's backyard writing "hut"

"It may not be pretty or tidy, and it certainly hasn't been cleaned and the floor hasn't been swept for five years at least..."

In this 1982 interview, Roald Dahl, author of James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, takes us inside his backyard writing hut in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. The hut is now part of the Roald Dahl Museum.

Dahl modeled his hut on Dylan Thomas's own writing shed in Carmarthenshire, Wales. From BBC News:

Although Dahl based the design of his hut on Thomas's shed, there was one major difference - the lack of natural light. He often kept his curtains drawn (10) to block out the outside world and was dependant on an angle-poise lamp for light....

Dahl's widow Felicity said: "He realised he had to have a space of his own in the garden away from the children and the noise and the general domesticity and he remembered that Dylan had felt the same.

"And so he went down to Wales to look at Dylan's writing hut and, like everybody, fell in love with it."

Built to the same proportions, with the same angled roof - the similarities could be a coincidence. But according to his widow it was built in a similar design by Dahl's builder friend Wally Saunders, who the BFG was based on.

"He built it exactly to the same proportions as Dylan's hut, the same roof, one skin of brick," said Mrs Dahl. "Of course Dylan's hut was a garage originally, whereas Roald had nothing, it was an empty space that he built on."

"How Dylan Thomas's writing shed inspired Roald Dahl" (BBC News)

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Delightful set of Mondrian sticky notes

Designers Assia Quetin and Catherine Denoyelle created this ingenious sticky note desk accessory inspired by the beloved abstract artist Piet Mondrian. "Monde Riant" is €13.75 from PA Design.

Of course it reminds me of pastry chef Caitlin Freeman's wonderful Mondrian Cake below. (Recipe in Freeman's book Modern Art Desserts.)

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Twitter is slow-rolling out a simpler web interface, some users get it first

“A new Twitter is coming,” tweeted Twitter today.

“Some of you got an opt-in to try it now. Check out the emoji button, quick keyboard shortcuts, upgraded trends, advanced search, and more. Let us know your thoughts!” Read the rest

Astonishing aerial view of Hong Kong's public housing towers

Aerial photographer and filmmaker Toby Harriman turned his lens on the soaring public housing apartment block towers in Hong Kong. Read the rest

Online viewer for Windows 98's icon set

win98icons.alexmeub.com presents Windows 98's meticulously utilitarian and currently fashionable icons in an easy, no-nonsense way.

Why are they so good?

Rather than some designer’s flashy vision of the future, Windows 98 icons made the operating system feel like a place to get real work done. They had hard edges, soft colors and easy-to-recognize symbols. ... Maybe its nostalgia, but I still prefer the classic icons of Windows 98 over the shiny, drop-shadowed icons of later years.

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Create and print your own perfectly-gridded paper

Rostislav Blaha created gridzzly, a simple single-page website where you pick the type of grid you want (lines, square, triangle, hex, dotted), set the size of the grid units and the weight of the line, then hit print. Voila! Custom gridded paper.

Here's what I got:

Good enough for government work. Read the rest

Best book covers of 2018

A roundup from Lithub of the best cover art on books from this year, with commentary. There's a strong trend toward in-camera or handmade graphics and natural media, with computers only showing up to do things that you don't need computers to do. I think this is a good thing, but it inspires me to pick out Joan Wong's art for Sam Munson's Dog Symphony, which is perfectly, surreally computerized. Read the rest

Interesting logos are being replaced with boring ones

The trend is to make distinctive logos all look the same by using bold san serif typefaces.

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A guide to the Socialist Modernist Architecture of Romania and Moldova

The BACU Association -- the folks behind the incredible brutalist Socialist Modernism Tumblr -- have announced a limited run, 800-copy book collecting photos and details on 242 Socialist Modernist "objects" in Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Read the rest

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