Workarounds

Urban Planter, Boat Bumper

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These shots were some of my very first workaround photos, taken in 2005 in Toronto. I’m digging into the archives to bring you the some of the best and will share when inspiration strikes. Enjoy!

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Share some of the workarounds you see when out and about in the world. I’d love to share on my blog!

 

On a plane, at an arcade

Curious by nature, multiplied by years of journalism and design research assignments, I always seem to be in hyper-active observation mode, taking in the world – and the people in it – with spidey senses.

This of course comes with the risk of me running into things and, more often than not, being late for appointments!

Visually, I’m drawn to colors, patterns, off-beat style and words words more words: license plates, T-shirt sayings, bumper stickers, bathroom graffiti, promotional flyers and found signs – be it a playful turn of phrase, beautiful type, creative spelling or sheer hilarity, intentional or not.

I read culture like a book, and I take detailed margin notes on how we arrange the stuff off this world to suit our needs. Formally, it’s the design of streets, parking garages, highways, houses, parks, retail stores, hotels, eateries and public gardens. Informally, it’s the temporary fixes and ingenious solutions for ordinary problems by everyday folk.

Here on out, as I see ’em, I’ll be celebrating the latter.

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Most recently, I was on a plane from San Francisco to St. Louis, Missouri, to attend a workshop as part of my yoga teacher training. Once buckled-up in 8C, I struggled to cram my Dasani between the hard plastic seat back and the unforgiving pocket in front of me.

Clearly designed WITHOUT the human experience in mind, I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. It’s perfect for a Penguin paperback, tablet device or satin eye pillow, but you’re out of luck if your book of the month club assigned you War and Peace.

Then I looked to my left, across the aisle, and saw something remarkable: an off-duty pilot in a fancy on-duty uniform with his gear hung smartly from metal clips.

I enthusiastically pointed out his ingenuity – how he’d taken a constraint and made it work to his advantage. He blushed a little, shrugged his shoulders and simply said, “It works.”

Exactly!

I spotted the second workaround the next night, when I walked into an arcade in downtown Springfield, Missouri. I couldn’t resist the pull of nostalgia: flashy neon lights, rows of pinball machines, 80s-era ephemera and video games I never stopped loving, like Frogger, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede and Galaga.

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While standing at the front desk paying my $5 admission, I noticed that the arcade “cash register” was an iPad cleverly disguised as an original Macintosh. Call me a geek, but I thought this was super cool. And hey, if you want to try your hand at making your very own “Macintosh iPad Stand” here’s a step by step.

Now I want to hear from you. Have you noticed any workarounds lately? Created any yourself that you care to share? Comment below.

 

A Champion Idea

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If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a single shoe when its partner goes missing, now you know. Turn the sole survivor into a succulent planter!

This retired running shoe is a playful example of waste = food, or upcycling (half of) one product into something else entirely.

(Notice it gets its own pedestal, to boot.)

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All images: Jennifer Leonard

 

Found Furniture

Some quirky furniture finds, each telling a story. An odd selection of chairs on a lonely street corner. Tennis ball feet on stacked seats at a school. Curious cabinetry flanking a garage door. And a retired washing machine reborn as a planter.

Continue reading…