022021: The Sound of 7 o’Clock

Photo of balloons behind a transulcent window

Almost one year ago, in April 2020: I’m sitting in my reading chair at the window, the iPad on my lap, flipping through a New Yorker issue. David Remnick’s comment on the city’s situation, overwhelmed by the chaos the pandemic had been causing. He describes how the city applauds the essential workers at 7pm every evening (one year later, this feels even more like a farce). I cry over the text, it’s a lot. In April 2020, everything is a lot.

12 months later, we’re still here. The applause silenced, obviously. My routines, like reading magazines before work, also fizzled out. The home office gym classes, the Instagram live dances, the eagerness to cook something new – it all got swallowed by commonplace. The internet, a place I was always happy to spend time, also got boring: The dances have inhabited Instagram, too, and Twitter is overshadowed by arguments and horrific stories, eating up my soul. Paul Bokowski puts it into the right words (I quickly translated): “[…] It may be vital for me to strive for less psychological toxicity. That is, to do something that actually goes against my nature: to deliberately close my eyes. Not from the problem itself, but from its multimedia symptoms. […] The only thing that keeps me happy these days is reading and writing.”

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On words. As much as I like design as a practice, I often struggle talking about it. I want to describe a certain phenomenon, but cannot find the right term for it. Recently, Malte pointed me to Evan Collin’s are.na boards – his (mostly architectural) research provides words for everything! For example: Utopian Scholastic, Gen-X Corporate or The Global Village Coffeehouse (you’ll know it when you see it).

Another term I encountered and liked: Corporate Memphis! Author and designer Rachel Hawley analyzed the illustration style we’ve all seen and internalized during the past years of using digital services: oddly-shaped humans with exaggerated limbs, roller-skates and cheerful colors. Read about how this style is made-to-scale to tell a corporate fairy tale about big tech companies, and how it might evolve in the future.

What else? I’ve been blogging during the past months (mainly in German). I wrote about the sky, about oysters, about my hands, and about the the guy who moved into the ground-floor apartment.

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Quietly, this little e-mail dispatch turned 5 years old. Thanks for reading along! You can find the first issue from 2016 here, but I rather recommend you last year’s letter on temperature guns. In it I wrote: “a lot of things just feel a bit weird right now, right?” The right now part turns 12 months these days, and well, it’s still a lot. But at least we’ve managed it through the dark winter, so let’s stay positive. What other options do we have?

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