Take 5: An Inclusive Activity Zone, Cutting Mat Socks, Rose Delights, + More
Twice a month we’re inviting one of the Design Milk team members to share five personal favorites – an opportunity for each of us to reveal the sort of designs we use and appreciate in our own lives from a more personal perspective. Managing Editor Gregory Han returns this week for our Take 5 series.
When I happened upon SLAS Architects’ Activity Zone in Chorzów, I wondered whether this was yet another fanciful project conjured by AI using Midjourney prompts for “create an urban park with activities divided into geometric and colorful shapes.” I came to realize the section of Chorzów City in Poland was once dedicated to military activity (thus the “activity zone” moniker) that has been transformed into a colorful construct of concrete, landscaping, and a myriad of recreational features accessible to all ages, the disabled, and everyone within the surrounding community. It’s like a playful cousin to Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario sculpture garden, especially when viewed from overhead, and now I’m obsessed with visiting it IRL one day.
I still get all the feels when I see a brand new green grid cutting mat. Numerous thick self-healing mats followed me from high school through college, used daily with an X-Acto blade in hand while cutting frisket film for airbrushing, collaging, or assembling product model mock-ups. Those mats followed me well into my career as an art director before everything went fully digital. While I still have and use two, currently stored to the left of me under my desk, I don’t rely upon them like I once did while working as a book, packaging, or toy designer. Yet I’d still welcome the opportunity to tread upon the buoyant fond memories of those days donning these socks designed by Nik Bentel for Boolean Brands (fans of Sakura Micron pens should also check out their Pen Hat). Green and grids are forever.
Of all the brands I’ve tried, I often recommend Rose to the cannabis curious friends who want to feel a touch of “oh, that’s nice” without the desire to fly too high, sort of like the cannabis equivalent of a glass of rosé. The brand distinguishes itself from other cannabis purveyors with an ingredient-driven approach to their CBD-only and THC-infused offerings, and their team regularly collaborates with distinguished California chefs and farmers to produce enticing flavored delights infused with ingredients. Think Nashi pear and gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), tangelos with fresh chrysanthemum greens and a honey-sweetened Hallabong vinegar, or Gravenstein apple cider with ume plum syrup. That said, if you like your plant material in flower form, their new 1/8 ounce box and glass jar packaging is a truly gift-worthy effort, with a captivating organic-sculptural adorned box that might convince the recipient a luxury skincare product is contained within.
There’s a bit of the impossible made possible communicated in the works of Kyoto-based artist, Toru Kurokawa. When I imagine theoretical astronomers and physicists postulating the possibility of folding time and space, I imagine those abstractions similarly to the tense, complex, and seemingly alive sculptural forms formed by Kurokawa. Other works seem like the remnants of the interior of seashells, the intricacy of diatoms blown up to scale, or the latticework of fungi. His Instagram profile bio says it all: “Art is Physics.”
There’s a funny thing about living in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate during the summer. While it can get blistering hot during the day, once the sun sets, the temperature can take a considerable, double-digit dip. While a propane powered heat lamp does the job, they’re fugly (I know, because I have one I bought during lockdown when we weren’t going anywhere beyond the confines of our backyard). Which is why I’m holding out hopes of adding one of these propane tank fire tables in time to safely and stylishly add an element of warm illumination that can do double duty as a table. The sculptural rounded design and inclusions of lava rocks will be a natural fit for our mid-century era abode.
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