When friends went off on a summer vacation adventure and I heard myself request that they be sure to post some pictures on Instagram, I wondered what happened to “send postcards?” It really was not so very long ago when I could open my mailbox (my letter box) and regularly find a picture postcard from someone gone halfway around the world—or even just across town—with a handwritten personal note or a “having a wonderful time wish you were here,” or some artist post cards with wonderful, artfully collaged imagery from a mail art–artist friend. Now, it’s a rarity. Read more
Posts by Pamela Popeson
As a member of a pre-mp3 devices generation, I have fond memories of trips to the record store. Holding a great LP cover is like holding its music in your hand; the best are a visual expression or translation of the music they deliver. Read more
When the world we live in feels too impossible I find myself imagining the world I want to live in. It’s not just about the major acts of horrific inhumanity that humans bestow upon one another, it’s about the small daily indignities too. In the world I want to live in we’re not senselessly slaughtering each other, and no one throws trash on the ground or holds the entire communal table in the coffee shop hostage with their cell phone conversation, either. And people actually do step aside to let the passengers off the train. In the world I want to live in, it’s understood that we are all in this together. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I’m convinced that the smallest effort toward compatibility goes a long way. Read more
The Beatles’ Revolver, with Klaus Voorman’s haunting illustration and photo-collage work, was the first LP cover added to the design collection in my time at MoMA and I was thrilled to see it arrive. Recently Help!, Rubber Soul, and Sgt Peppers’ Lonely Heart’s Club Band LP covers were acquired and all are currently on view in Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye along with The Beatles, aka the White Album, from MoMA’s drawings and prints collection. Exhibited together, these Beatles album covers offer a design-based narrative of the band’s evolution, and at same time read as a cultural narrative of the times. Read more
I’m one of those people that carries a notebook everywhere so I can be sure to record what mostly turns out to be a lot of useless information, for example rock concert set lists—though not religiously, just when I feel like it. Recently I tried using the notes app on my phone, but it’s just not the same. Read more
My first record player came built into a portable red-and-white leather case with two locking hasps on either side of its red leather handle. It played both 45s and 33s, and had a black plastic 45 adapter that was stored in a recessed slot in one corner. It was a magnificent machine. Read more
With its fully furnished interior space fitted-out in overstuffed cowhide, and an exterior clad in poly-carbonate panels Jimenez Lai’s White Elephant (Privately Soft) operates as both a free standing mini-building and as maxi-furniture. Read more
I’m a big fan of buildings, which is to say walking around looking at buildings, taking city architecture tours by bike, or car trips out to a particular site, checking out exteriors, interiors—all of it. But for me, architects’ models and drawings are really where it’s at.
There’s an intimacy to architectural drawings and models that fosters a feeling of a sort of partnership, offering an insider’s invitation to that place where it’s clear that the ideas behind making buildings are about so much more than the plans for access elevators or where to put the closets. Read more
There’s nothing in the world like a really fast car, and the MoMA design collection has one of the world’s fastest: the 1990 Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 High Performance Racing Car (641/2), by British auto designer John Barnard.
Though not a recent acquisition, I thought it fitting to feature the Ferrari now in honor of Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s first podium of the 2014 Formula 1 season at the recent Chinese Grand Prix.
As designer John Barnard explains in an audio guide segment from the 2002 exhibition AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport, the 641, or F1-90, as it’s become known, was built for speed. And it delivered. Plus it’s red. Fiery red. Ferrari red, in fact. Red means danger, look out, hot stuff coming through; it’s the color of anger, passion, and seduction, and as everyone knows, red cars go faster.
Scuderia Ferrari has been part of Formula 1 since the beginning, so it’s no wonder that the racing team holds so many F1 records, including the most constructor and driver championships and most overall wins. Each Formula 1 team races two cars; in 1990 two world championship drivers, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, drove the 641 for Ferrari, combining for three pole positions, five fastest laps, and six wins. As reigning champion, Prost’s was the number one car; and he came close to repeating—only to lose out to another world champion, his arch rival Aryton Senna.
The formula, or the overall guiding regulations of Formula 1, has changed over the years with countless modifications and improvements. And big changes came this year with the hybrid 1.6-litre V-6 turbo engine with ERS (Energy Recovery Systems), a major shift from the 2013 2.4-litre V-8. Overall design changes accompanied the new, greener 2014 engines, but likely the most notable and most talked about change is the new engine sound—or lack of it. Drivers have said they can hear the wind over the engine noise; used to be all you could hear was the engine.
The sound of the 1990 641 Ferrari 3.5-litre V-12 engine is familiar to race fans the world over. Like none other, it screams exhilaration, excitement, and pure power.
The world of Grand Prix motor racing is one of precision, with its rigorous formula, and exacting calculations; it’s a culture unto itself with a complicated set of rules and statistical systems of points and penalties spoken in a language of strange numbers and acronyms. But it’s the visceral experience of raw power, crazy kinetic energy, and speed of the cars that ignites our imagination—the remarkable talents and mad skills of drivers the draws us in.
“Tutti i Motori Ferrari,” a catalogue of Ferrari engines designed by the Dutch graphic artist Irma Boom is also in MoMA’s design collection. Its soft, outer cover displays the Ferrari prancing horse logo on a silver-colored background that looks to be made of a fluid version of same the aluminum alloy used for F1 engine blocks; the interior plates showcase the evolution of the engines throughout Ferrari’s history. (A flip through of the pages of “Tutti I Motori Ferrari” begins at the one minute mark in the video “20 books by Irma Boom.”)
Before AUTObodies MoMA’s Ferrari 641-2 was first on view in the 1993 exhibition Designed for Speed: Three Automobiles by Ferrari. It can presently be found hanging on the wall in MoMA’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building lobby, like a perfect portrait of a high-performance machine.