art & design

In Between Spaces

Caroline Sillesen is a Danish artist and illustrator creating beautiful, bold prints influenced by architecture, urban spaces, Russian constructivism, city street plans, and everyday structures. Her series “In Between Spaces” caught my eye at an art fair here in Copenhagen a few months ago, and I snatched up the yellow print below for our apartment walls. Go check out her site and get one for yourself.

Her words about the inspiration for the series:

“The series emanates from a fascination of the gap, the space in between spaces. The urban space, the  space between two buildings, the streets and the way they wind. Log book studies of the labyrinthine street structure of Venice acted as a catalyst and the main theme for the creation of the works. The experience through the city’s tortuous street web, a reconstructed plan, the atmosphere from a place.”




denmark, words, work

Learning Danish: Soft Ds and Red Porridge


Faced with the realization that I’d be staying in Denmark longer than I originally intended, I knew it was time to try and fully embrace the language I’d been half-heartedly hugging for over a year. It was time to learn the Danish.

Most Danes and expats tend to give the following advice to those moving to the country: there is no sense learning Danish unless you’re going to stay in Denmark for at least 5 years. This is absolutely terrible advice. Not only has learning some basics helped me in my day-to-day operations (ie. getting coffee, politely refusing a receipt, pointing at bread), more importantly it’s been a way to get even closer to a culture that tends to politely keep its distance.

Reading Danish is one thing. When it comes to that alone, I feel like a bonafide polyglot. Listening to Danish is really hard, but once you learn basic vocabulary like verbs, nouns, and numbers, you can pick up a fair amount during even casual eavesdropping. But speaking Danish is something entirely different. Speaking Danish makes you feel, for lack of a more refined term, like a total spazz.

Basically, nothing sounds like what it looks like. See a ‘g’ or ‘t’ at the end of a word? Just ignore them. That d? That’s a ‘soft d’, which sounds kind of like a ‘d’, an ‘l’, and a ‘th’ got together, paralyzed your tongue, and then used it as a breakdancing mat.

Here’s a great example of a small phrase the Danes say to make foreigners feel silly: Rødgrød med fløde. Forget the direct translation–red porridge with cream–which is a real thing people eat here. Trying to pronounce this ridiculous (but delicious) dish is like someone taking your language confidence, crushing it up into a tiny ball, and shoving it directly back down your throat. It’s fitting because that’s what you actually sound like – like someone crammed a ball into your mouth and then made you talk. It’s humbling.

All these ‘complaints’ aside, learning Danish is really fun. The Danes have some wonderful words and phrases that can’t be directly translated into English. Hearing them used and knowing what they actually mean only bring me closer to understanding this country and its lovely, mumbly-mouthed people. And sometimes I’ll get the rhythm and pronunciation JUST right and totally nail it. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does the bright eyes and encouraging smiles from my Danish coworkers only make me want to keep on trying.

books, interweb, people, science

Remembering Oliver Sacks

Though I was only peripherally and more pop-culturally familiar with his work, neurologist and prolific writer Oliver Sacks’ was hard to miss these past days, as the creative community began publishing beautiful tribute and remembrance pieces in the wake of his death from cancer at age 82.

Sabine Heinlein’s lovely Swimming with Oliver Sacks, recalls her encounter with a bathing-cap-clad Sacks at a writer’s retreat in the Adirondacks in 2012.

RadioLab aired an extremely touching sit down between Robert Krulwich and Sacks, who had been a dear friend and constant inspiration to the program since its inception. The episode touches on some of Sacks’ most painful memories of love, loss, and loneliness. It’s a tear-jerker.

Starlee Kine reposted a piece she wrote in 2013, remembering the kindness Sacks displayed one summer in the late 90s, when he responded to a letter she thought he would never read.

I’ve begun digging into the archives of Sacks’ writing. To say there is a lot is an understatement. He wrote right up until the end of his life, and a note on his personal site says the latest pieces will be released posthumously in the coming weeks. Face-Blind, published in The New Yorker in 2010, is a fascinating story about Sacks’ lifetime of dealing with face blindness, or the inability to recognize familiar faces, sometimes even his own reflection. What was often mistaken for social ineptitude, rudeness, or even Asperger’s by acquaintances, was in fact just a misinterpretation of his difficulty recognizing faces.

Next on my list is his book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales, in which he recounts case histories of various bizarre and fantastical neurological disorders. Sacks was an amazing storyteller, and though he’s gone I’m much looking forward to spending some more time with him.

art & design

Sigrid Calon’s Riso Stitches

I first learned about Dutch designer and visual artist Sigrid Calon via Sight Unseen – their Instagram, to be exact. I pretty much love everything they feature on their site, and the risoprint of Calon’s they put up instantly had me searching for more of her work.

The print is actually part of a larger series she created based on stitched embroidery patterns. With its set amount of holes and rows, an embroidery grid can hold eight different types of stitches. To honor the craft and intense manual process of embroidery, Calon starts off with a stenciling technique and moves to the computer. When processed digitally, the stitches become lines that can then combine, repeat, join and layer to create endless graphic combinations. Color and gradients mix to create an intriguing sense of depth and displacement. It’s a wonderful kaleidoscopic world where order and pattern meet possibility.

She turned 120 of the prints into a book and has dozens available in her online shop.

I ordered two for the walls and ogled the rest.

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art & design, denmark, photos


FINDERS KEEPERS held their recurring indoor design market here in Copenhagen over the weekend. Nearly 300 booths from independent creators were packed with print, textile, jewelry, ceramic, furniture, and clothing design. It’s a cozy, if slightly overwhelming event, with food and music and tons of cool stuff to pour over.

Highlights for me were these wonderful sculptures from the studio of architect and visual artist Tina Louise Hunderup. So simple and clean in form, the shapes can be placed to sit on tables or hang on the walls, where they cast moving shadows when the light hits just right. According to Tina Louise, each sculpture is an abstraction of different architectural constructions and terms. I’m still kicking myself for not buying one.

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Another artist that caught my eye was photographer Helle Sandager. She was selling a bunch of bold, beautiful prints of photos from a series called Wild Nature. What I love about these is that it’s a pretty simple concept, but it has to be executed just right. Nature exposed and manipulated so slightly that it adds this kind of otherworldly, foreign layer on top something you’ve seen a million times.







art & design

Phenakistoscopes, Zoetropes, & Praxinoscopes, Oh My!

Today I was doing some research & brainstorming with my work crew for one of our Clients. I won’t go into details of the brief, but the conversation was focused on creating something physical to celebrate/honor something digital and video-based. Obviously this isn’t groundbreaking territory, and the outcome is still very much a work in progress, but it brought some nice topics into discussion.

One of which was the evolution of the phenakistoscope. The ‘original animated GIF’ has enjoyed some recent posting love so I won’t simply regurgitate the nice collections Juxtapoz and This is Colossal have already put out into the world.  Ok fine, here’s a small taste: 



A quick history sum-up: the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope were all ‘pre-animation’ devices that created the illusion of motion by displaying rapid sequences of drawings or photos. They’re all essentially versions of the same concept, just altered and improved over time. A Belgian physicist named Joseph Plateau is credited with inventing the first phenakistoscope device, but there were a lot of scientists, mathematicians, and such working on the same idea at the same time. 

The end results are obviously nice, but the most interesting part to me was looking back at the devices themselves. Metallic, merry-go-round cake-pan wonders.



movies, people

Joan Rivers Tribute Post

“I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to sit in the sun. I don’t want to learn to garden. I paint. Who gives a shit.”

Last night to honor the passing of Joan Rivers, I re-watched the touching 2010 documentary about her life and career, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Given the context of the viewing, it was even more heartbreaking the second time around. For a woman who had gone ‘under the knife’ so often, it seemed particularly tragic and sad that she had died, seemingly still full of vim and vigor, from such a relatively simple medical procedure.

I think most people of my generation and the generations after only associate Rivers with the later half of her career, when her caustic fashion-policing and grating turns on reality TV shows like Celebrity Apprentice positioned her as this kind of manic, slightly freakish, aging, and desperate comedian.

That’s why this movie is so enlightening, it gives you a glimpse of her golden years and shines a light on the darker insecurities that fueled her style of humor and relentless work ethic. Before she was on the red carpet, or winning over Donald Trump, or headlining shows at depressing Midwest casinos, Rivers truly was a game-changer. When she emerged on the scene in the mid-60s, in appearances on The Tonight Show with brand new host Johnny Carson, she joked frankly and freely about sex and abortion, topics people still get squeamish about to this day. Carson loved her style and nurtured her career – she became his permanent guest host in the early 80s.

But for all the early love and admiration, her career seemed destined for tragedy and pain. When she accepted an offer to host her own late night talk show on then newcomer FOX’s network, Carson was furious. He had her blacklisted from Late Night and never spoke to her again, for the rest of his life. Rattled by the loss of her mentor, Rivers lost her confidence and the show foundered. FOX asked her to fire her producer, her own husband Edgar Rosenberg. She refused, was fired herself, and the show was cancelled. Rosenberg committed suicide shortly after because he was allegedly so distraught over the whole episode. (Clinical depression didn’t help matters.)

The thing you take away from the movie is that Rivers has been fighting her entire life. Against critics and sexists, against the mainstream, and her own negative self-image, against people who said she should just stop working already and learn to garden. But she can’t. She needs to work, to entertain. The thought of giving it up is never an option. Driven by passion, by compulsion, you know at the end of the film that she’ll never, ever stop.