Category Archives: history

‘It’s about self-love’: the black women busting beauty myths in west Africa

In Senegal, women and men have to contend with a colonial legacy of beauty standards and an idealisation of Eurocentric and lighter-skinned features. Techniques such as relaxing – a common process of chemically straightening hair – is prevalent, often causing hair breakage and scalp damage. Notions that black hair is not desirable, and should be changed or covered are widespread. Skin bleaching is also prevalent, as in much of west Africa, amplified by ubiquitous advertising from major skin brands, and cultural imagery that depicts lighter skin tones as more beautiful. Read more (Guardian)

Death to America’s Manicured Lawns

Nevada’s legislature is considering banning decorative grass. But really we should be banning most lawns in the country. The movement to ban unnatural turf lawns, particularly in America’s arid regions, has been around for a while, and for good reason. The Nevada policy would not actually affect most private yards, but many environmentalists would argue that it should.  Read more (TSB)

Kicking Back With La-Z-Boy

For the uninitiated, La-Z-Boy (an eponym on par with Band-Aid and Kleenex) makes a reclining easy chair—the first and, after nearly a century, still the leader. “La-Z-Boy has a 90-year heritage build on providing quality and comfort,” said the brand’s marketing vp Eli Winkler. “Those values are no less important to consumers to day than they were 90 years ago.” Spoken like a true marketer, but the comfort isn’t just a talking point—it’s the reason the brand is famous. Read more (Adweek)

The Tale of the Nauga’s Hide

The Nauga is a fictional creature. It was an advertising gimmick created to help Uniroyal Engineered Products promote their soft vinyl-coated fabric that feels like leather but is more durable.  The product, Naugahyde, was used primarily as upholstery in the furniture industry, but also was used for clothing, shoes, accessories and other home goods. Its success spawned many imitators.  In the mid-1960s, Uniroyal hired legendary ad-man George Lois and designer Kurt Weihs to craft an advertising campaign to differentiate their product from the competition. And what did Lois and Weihs create? The Nauga. Read more (Henry Ford Museum)

The Responsible Object: A History of Design Ideology for the Future

Within the design discipline, calls for sustainability and social responsibility have become some of the most common rallying cries of the past decade, generating countless new products, materials and technologies―all designed to change the course of our future. Adjectives like “sustainable,” “green” and “eco” describe this new wave of socially committed design. But though today’s conditions are urgent and particular, the ideologies behind these new products are often not totally new, but rather a part of design history. Contemporary sustainable design is just the newest chapter of a story that stretches back throughout the previous centuries. The Responsible Object presents a selected history of socially committed design strategies within the Western design tradition of roughly the last 150 years, from William Morris to Victor Papanek, and from VKhUTEMAS to FabLab. It includes about 20 interstitial mini-posters with slogans from the text, printed on different colored papers. Learn more (Amazon.com)

Teddy Girls: The Style Subculture That Time Forgot

Perhaps more significant than the boy’s subversion of upper-class clothing was the girls’ appropriation of masculine styles. Whilst the pants worn by working women during the war were mostly shed in relief, replaced by the welcome femininity of silhouette-skimming skirts, the Teddy Girls clung to the new sartorial codes that the adoption of menswear for women ushered in: boxy single-breasted jackets and the slicked back quiff hairstyle, a proto-mohawk that would eventually give way to the more extreme hairstyles of punk. Despite their non-conformist style and rebellious attitude, “I never thought of those kids as anything but innocent,” Ken Russell told The Evening Standard. “Even the Teddy Girls [from the 1955 series The Last of the Teddy Girls], all dressed up, were quite edgy, and that interested me; they were more relevant and rebellious — but good as gold. They thought it was fun getting into their clobber, and I thought so too.” Read more