Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bunnies in your Living Room

Flipping through the Dwell Magazine that occassionally manifests on the coffee table I came upon one of the most clever things I've seen in a while: Permafrost "Silence" RugGet it? It's bunny tracks across your newly fallen snow-rug! Such cleverness gets me a little swoony. I'm looking forward to retailers picking this up - it's that blend of nature + design that I heartily endorse.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Things in Jars

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of "things in jars". Not only does the science dork in me find preserved organisms wildly interesting (have you ever seen a up close?) but there's something about the aesthetic of preservation that really appeals to the design in me. The variety of glass containers, handwritten labels, and just the sheer number of the collection. Apparently, I'm not alone. Check out the work of Andy Paiko:
While I'm not neat enough to have anything of this caliber in my house, I am fortunate enough to live in an area with many free museums. My favorite is The Naturalist Center in Leesburg, Virginia. While the various Smithsonian buildings in Washington, DC are frequented and crowded, this little gem is very low-key and volunteer run. Not to mention, chock full of things in jars, taxidermy and other examples of the diverse biology of the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Get you some Education

I'm kind of a pain in the ass. In fact, some might claim I like to do things the hard way. Case in point: my educational history.
I started, fresh out of high school, going to the Academy of Art College, in San Francisco. I love it there! It was great! I didn't take nearly as much advantage of my time there as I should of. I stopped going after a year because I freaked out about money (the prospect of being $40,000+ in debt when you're 18 is pretty daunting).
But! I was committed to learning! So where-ever I moved (and I moved a lot) I enrolled in school., Evergreen State University, and a couple of community college later I have finally decided to bite the bullet and go back to my original "first love" - The Academy of Art University.

Am I moving? Nope! They have a completely online curriculum which is great considering my propensity for hopping states (oops).

So there you have it. I will be working my ass off for the next semester. On my plate:
Design Technology
Digital Photography
Art History through the 15th Century
Book Arts 1

Look for varied and weird updates in the future.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fascists and Grasshoppers

In the spirit of doing things "with spine" - in design and all things - when I visited the resturant Oyamel Cocina Mexicana in Washington, DC I obviously had to partake in this unique menu item:

Taco de Chapulines

The legendary oaxacan speciality of sautéed grasshoppers, served with shallots, garlic and tequila $4.50

It was pretty delicious, though I have to say that the grasshoppers looked almost exactly like what I fed my Leopard Gecko. Delicious!
This nicely rounded out the evening, which was primarily filled by program with Steve Heller on the topic of totalitarian propaganda design.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Zombie Rat (hearts)!

As I was driving home from work today I caught part of Science Friday on NPR. If you've never listened, I highly recommend it - as their tagline suggests, it aims to " [make] Science User-Friendly" which is something I can get behind.
At any rate, the story that caught my attention was about ZOMBIE RATS. Well, not really I guess. But they did take a dead rat heart and made it beat again. Pretty amazing, huh? The way they did it is really clever and kind of sci-fi: they took a heart from a dead rat, washed it of its cells, and then put new cells in the "ghost" heart. The new cells grew and the heart started beating (it took a couple of weeks, but still, that's pretty amazing).
As a side note, the heart looks really cool all cleaned up. Kind of like blown glass.

You can read about the science and watch the video here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pay It Forward: Craft Edition

It's contagious! One of my favorite blogs is nurtured by Laura Jane Murphy, and the last time I visited she had a post up about a craft/art exchange type of thing. The rules are:

- Anyone with a blog can join
- The first three people to leave a comment on this post will receive a handmade gift from me.
- I will send your gift within 365 days.
- In return, you have to pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Of course I jumped all over that and was the first poster (!!)
Even though I am admittedly more of a designer/info architect type of person, I can be pretty handy in composing touchable creations.
So - despite the fact that this is a brand new blog I'm expecting at least 3 people (strangers?! friends?) to visit and post to get something weird from me. You know you're wildly curious...

Aesthetics and the Collector's Cabinet

I am both a scientist and an artist - and while those may seem like two opposing identifiers - there are rare times when I find something that satisfies both of these aspects of my personality. Artfully done biological collections are one of these things.

The Victorian Era gave rise to a fantastic hobby among distinguished gentlemen of the time - that is the collection of various objects of natural history. The measure of a dapper fellow's collection was a social status marker, and thanks to their ego, there are several rather impressive private assemblages of bones, hides, fossils, and preserved specimens across the biological kingdom.

I am shamelessly fascinated by such collections. The Walters Art Museum has a room which, rather successfully, uses the painting "The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting a Collector's Cabinet" to mimic what one of these private hordes would look like. This got me very excited, gentle reader, because I am a huge sucker for natural wonders. Corals, fossils, stones, bones, leopard skins, moose heads, bugs pinned in boxes, microscopes, dried flora, and slimey things in jars! All displayed with the touch of an artist's design.

Not only do these collections satisfy me on a intellectual, scientific level but there's something about the aesthetic of these things that my brain really indulges. The items themselves are beautiful and interesting - the textures of skulls, the construction of insects, the intricate patterns of corals. But the design of the objects that surround them - slide microscopes, various sized bottles with caps and corks, boxes with glass tops, magnifying glasses - makes me pretty giddy, too.

It should be noted that there is a significant difference between this highly aesthetic Victorian Era style of collecting and the more legitimate scientific cataloging of nature. There is a really exciting Naturalist Center that is a part of the Smithsonian Institute that serves as a public study center of such collections. Here there are hundreds of preserved animals - tagged and named and stored in drawers for scientific study and comparison. While this kind of collection lacks the artful presentation, the sort of playful "isn't this cool and gorgeous and fantastic?" aspect, I could still spend about a thousand hours sifting through the collection.

Apparently I'm not the only dork who thinks biology is beautiful. The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History is housing an exhibit called Transitions: Photographs by Robert Creamer. He's also a big fan of the Naturalist Center (using some of their specimens as subjects) and also takes fantastic photographs of flora in various stages of decay. Now that Spring is slowly creeping back into our lives I expect there to be plenty of opportunities to appreciate the aesthetics of nature and to work on a Collector's Cabinet of my own.
(orginally posted 3/16/07 at

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ketchup Bag

This is a bag from Target I bought several months ago.
Apparently, it is ketchup color.
Also, I need to buy a new camera. The flash is not working and that makes me sad. However, it does mean that I have a perfectly good excuse to get a new.

Terrible Type

I'm a visual person. I dig aesthetics. So when I travel places (out of state, or out of my bedroom) it's not unusual that I catch something I think is brilliant (the way branches look against the sky) or awful (like the example below):

This image is brought to you by the New York Subway. I'm not a type snob or anything, but even I can tell that whoever made this sign goofed up big time. It made me laugh hysterically (okay, maybe that does make me a type snob - but I think it was more because it was late at night). If you can't tell, the letters are hilariously wrong. The o's look like they are on their side, the e and the a look like they're from a different type face all together, and letters don't even look like they share the same baseline.
Something curious to note is that all the signs in this particular car were like this, but other cars seemed to have been saved from this horrible error. I wonder if a batch of these signs were just horribly botched but used anyway on this one particular car?

At any rate, I thought it was amusing in a typographical horrorshow kind of way.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Power of Cute

Throughout personal and historical tragedies alike, the populace has been comforted (or at least strangely amused) by the design of saccharine-sweet cuteness. From kittens chasing butterflies to ponies rollicking in buttercup fields, cuteness can often save the day and provide distraction in the gloomiest of circumstances.

Which is exactly why, here at Antharia, we have a chat when things get interesting: Happy Kitty Bunny Pony! Chanting this during times of annoyance is an instant cool-down method. Where did this phrase come from? Behold:

Happy Kitty Bunny Pony: A Saccharine Mouthful of Super Cute is not only a silly pick-me-up, but it's also a clever collection of print and advertising images from the Charles S. Anderson Design Company. If you're a art kid, design dork, or you just need to see some wide-eye, long-lashed bunnies, you might get a kick out of this book. Aside from having images of terrible cuteness, the book's peppered with commentary from Mike Nelson (you know, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guy).

For me, this book is a must in any office or household. I humbly bow down to the power of design and its ability to alter mood based on The Cute Factor. Try it and you'll see - the next time something gets on your nerves repeating "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony" out loud (to yourself, like a crazy person) can do a world of good for your disposition.

Friday, January 4, 2008

This is the beginning

The new website is coming soon (
And so will this blog. Watch for reincarnations of past posts from past blogs.