The former site of France’s National Library has reopened after years of renovation work by architects Bruno Gaudin and Virginie Brégal. located at Rue de Richelieu in Paris, the historic complex houses the collections and reading rooms of the manuscripts department, the maps and plans branch, the coins, medals and antiques bureau, and the performing arts office. Since 1993, the quadrangle has also been home to the french national art history library.

In the early 2000s, it was decided that the ageing building had become unsuitable for the demands of the 21st century, and a major overhaul was planned. With work starting in 2011, Bruno Gaudin’s architecture firm was responsible for the project’s general management, while the restoration of the listed Salle Labrouste was entrusted to Jean-François Lagneau. To keep the library partially open, the renovation has been divided into two phases, with the second stage set to complete in 2020 — via designboom


Some notes on the worst-case scenario

Confession time: I’m an optimist, especially about the ideas of social progress that emerged in Europe at the end of the middle ages and became mainstream in western politics in the early 20th century. I called the outcome of the Brexit referendum wrong (by underestimating the number of racist bigots and Little Englanders in the UK population: Brexit is a proxy for English nationalism, which is absolutely not the same as British nationalism), and I called the US presidential election wrong (underestimating the extent of gerrymandering and micro-targeted black propaganda driven by data mining in the campaign).

Since January 20th we’ve seen a degree and type of activity emanating from the new US administration that is markedly different from anything in my politically aware lifetime (loosely: since Reagan). Blanket bans on entry to the USA by anyone associated with certain nationalities, mass firings at the State Department, a president railing against a so-called judge, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff being booted off the National Security Council and replaced by a white nationalist ideologue, and a former CEO of Exxon in the Cabinet: what’s going on?

Let me pull on my pessimist’s hat and advance the most scary hypothesis I can imagine that explains the current situation.

Please note that the following scenario assumes that what we are witnessing is deliberate and planned and that the people in Trump’s inner circle actually have a coherent objective they are working towards. (I desperately hope that I’m wrong on all counts) — via

History, Politics

Against Normalisation: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”

The Trump-Hitler comparison. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalisation?

Because I’d written a book called Explaining Hitler several editors had asked me, during the campaign, to see what could be said on the subject.

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simple-mindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had main-streamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with normal politics and everyday thuggish behaviour, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide — via

Craft, Entertainment, Wildlife

It feels good to do another plush again! I liked the look of the Wampa Plush from a while back so much that I thought I would make another with a similar shape — Cthulhu seemed like a nice fit. I just love how I’ve made a big scary elder god into a pudgy little thing. He comes complete with face tentacles and wings on the back as well — via Choly Knight


Beyond the vintage aesthetics of Montblanc’s new bronze 1858 Collectionpieces, two related attributes shine: the visual warmth of the metal, both dressy and casual, and an understanding that with age these watches will acquire their own unique patina. Bronze has found success across a few watch brands of late, but Montblanc hit a sweet spot here with these three additions. The Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100, Montblanc 1858 Automatic Dual Time and Montblanc 1858 Automatic timepiece straddle the past and present delivering an understated elegance. The brainchild of Davide Cerrato, the head of Montblanc’s watch division, each timepiece also carries the brand’s ever-advancing dedication to quality proprietary movements — via Cool Hunting


A home by Lloyd Wright — Frank Lloyd Wright Jr, that is — has gone on the market in Los Angeles, and it’s quite the looker. Built in 1949 for actor Daniel De Jonghe and enhanced by John Powell, the 195 square metre two bedroom perches on a ridge top in the Hollywood Hills with panoramic views of down town and features a long, low profile and is constructed out of glass, stone, concrete and wood.

The interior spaces flow both inward and outward, enhancing the connection to the outdoors by way of decking and expansive windows, while geometric shapes figure throughout the home, as in the triangular island in the kitchen and an overhang lining the perimeter of the sitting room. The property includes two large stone fireplaces and a private office. Located at 9028 Crescent Drive, it’s asking $2,495,000 — via Curbed


The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli Double Flying Tourbillon is a limited version of Roger Dubuis’ bold double tourbillon watch, which also serves as the launch platform for a brand new alliance with Pirelli. The rubber inlays are from a set of Pirelli tires that won an F1 race, it seems a natural perquisite of purchasing such an expensive (280,000 Swiss Francs) and exclusive timepiece that the eventual owners of these eight watches will be granted a two-day VIP motor sports event as guests of Pirelli — via Perpétuelle


Refugee Policy Should Be Based on Facts, Not Fear

Refugees are men, women and children caught in the fury of war, or the cross hairs of persecution. Far from being terrorists, they are often the victims of terrorism themselves.

I’m proud of our country’s history of giving shelter to the most vulnerable people. Americans have shed blood to defend the idea that human rights transcend culture, geography, ethnicity and religion. The decision to suspend the resettlement of refugees to the United States and deny entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with shock by our friends around the world precisely because of this record.

The global refugee crisis and the threat from terrorism make it entirely justifiable that we consider how best to secure our borders. Every government must balance the needs of its citizens with its international responsibilities. But our response must be measured and should be based on facts, not fear.

As the mother of six children, who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens, I very much want our country to be safe for them, and all our nation’s children. But I also want to know that refugee children who qualify for asylum will always have a chance to plead their case to a compassionate America. And that we can manage our security without writing off citizens of entire countries — even babies — as unsafe to visit our country by virtue of geography or religion — via


Located inside the Tower Park Praha, also known as the Žižkov Television Tower, in Prague, Czech Republic, sits a hotel unlike any other. As the name suggests, the One Room Hotel only has a single room, but don’t let the hotel’s small size deter you, the hotel is fully equipped to make your stay a luxurious one. Only minutes from Prague’s down town core, the One Room Hotel is surrounded by shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and attractions and is close to things like Rierger Park and the Memorial on Vítkov Hill — via CONTEMPORIST


If you are a fan of classic Disney, this 1940s Ted Criley Jr-designed Frank Thomas Residence in Flintridge, California, USA might have significance beyond the architecture.

Frank Thomas was one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men illustrators, the core animators and illustrators behind some of its most famous cartoons. Thomas was behind the likes of the wicked Stepmother (in Cinderella), the Queen of Hearts (in Alice in Wonderland), and Captain Hook (in Peter Pan) to name just a few. So quite a name.

His success no doubt led to prosperity and enough money to build his own home in 1949. This was a collaboration between house owner, architect Ted Criley Jr and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, based around a substantial list of requirements from Frank Thomas.

If you want to own the place, you are looking at offers around $3,228,000 — via WowHaus


This year is the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster. The Speedmaster Automatic Master Chronometer looks, well, like a Speedmaster. This variation is a two-register chronograph with a matte black racing dial, distinguished by the minute track which is based on an early Speedmaster model from 1968, and which we last saw in the re-issue of the Mark II. It’s loosely inspired by the collection’s past, although it’s noticeably larger at 44.25mm across — via Hodinkee


From the outside, this barn guest house on a 6 hectare property near Jackson, Wyoming may come off a bit jarring. A big glass wall under a gambrel roof barn and between weathered reclaimed wood siding? Once you’re inside though, that decision suddenly makes sense.

Designed by local firm Carnie Logan Burke Architects, the 220-square-metre new construction nods to traditional work barns with its shapes and materials, but offers convenient modern living inside. The dramatic second-floor space holds a streamlined kitchenette, bedroom, and modern bathroom on one end, and on the other, an exercise area with a spectacular view of the Tetons and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In an interview with Big Life magazine, the owner explained that she wanted a scenic workout area for bad-weather days — via Curbed


The Ulysse Nardin Freak has been with us for 16 years now, and while it seems a firmly entrenched part of the modern watch landscape, familiarity still hasn’t reduced its impact. There have been numerous reinterpretations of the Freak over the years, and for SIHH 2017 Ulysse Nardin is introducing the Innovision 2 — the name of course means that this is the second Freak to bear the Innovision name — via Hodinkee

Craft, Wildlife

Cute, bright and funny guy, shiny as summer sun. Needle felted out of 100% New Zealand wool coloured in Italy and Australian wool coloured in Germany. Wings are made using frame. Size: 15cm up to head — via via Etsy


It’s the kind of listing that makes you Google how much house can I afford? even when you don’t live in that state — not because it’s the home of your dreams, per se, but because it’s got that killer combination of history, charm, and a price tag that feels palatable when compared to what you’re used to seeing in your own megalopolis.

Located in Eugene, Oregon, the 190-square-metre mid century three-bedroom was completed in 1967 as a personal residence by Robert Mention, who helmed the 1980s expansion of the Eugene Airport. With a swooping and beamed ceiling, soaring windows, open floor plan, two decks, and serene views of the surrounding nature, the home sits pretty on a 688-square-metre lot.

The original architecture has largely been preserved — down to the avocado-green sink in the bathroom—while the kitchen was recently updated (though it could use an even better refresh). Located at 2695 Cresta de Ruta Street, it’s yours for $480,000 — via Curbed


MB&F launched the first Horological Machine in 2007, positioning itself as an independent watchmaker primarily interesting in futuristic design. Ten years and eight Horological Machines later, (MB&F actually skipped over the HM7 a few months ago when it released the HM8), Max Büsser and his friends have remained steadfast in their mission, creating watches that look as if they were made without any standard watch parts at all. That is not longer true after today. The diver’s bezel is one of the most instantly recognisable elements of modern watch making, and, in a departure from form, Büsser has made it one of the chief design elements of the HM7.

Of course, he’s done something quite unexpected with it. Instead of laying it on top of the case, where one usually finds a bezel, Büsser has surrounded the double-domed case with the bezel. It ends up looking almost like Saturn’s rings — which is not what the watch is meant to look like — but the result is awesome. One of the great pleasures of MB&F’s sometimes strangely shaped horological machines usually comes not when the watch sits on the wrist, but off, discovering the watch from many different angles. And the brand new Horological Machine No. 7 might be the maker’s most three-dimensional creation to date. There simply isn’t one straight edge to it — even the lugs are dramatically arched and articulated — via Hodinkee


How does the idea of something weird and wonderful grab you for your next home? If it does, you need to have a look at the Bloom House in Austin, Texas, USA.

Built in the late 1970s, the house was apparently built by visionaries looking for a more natural and peaceful way to live. They found it on a two-acre plot, with the sculptors behind it then creating the frame, following on with the walls and eventually the fixtures and fittings of a liveable home.

The end result is actually a house. Have a look round and you will find a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, living/reception areas, stairs and of course, a front door and patio area. In a way, this is still traditional living. But the space age look of the place sets this apart from (almost) everything else out there.

This is up for $695,000 — via WowHaus


Baume & Mercier has just released a new collection of sports watches. The Clifton Club is a nice addition to one of the more affordable Richemont brands’ portfolios, offering up a sporty, casual vibe with some pops of colour. The Clifton Club is available in five versions at launch. The pricing for these watches range from $1,950 to $2,200 — via Hodinkee


Squatters turn oligarch’s empty London property into homeless shelter

A veteran group of squatters has occupied an empty £15m central London property purchased by a Russian oligarch in 2014 and opened it as a homeless shelter.

The extensive, five-storey Grade ll-listed Eaton Square property was bought by Andrey Goncharenko, a little-known oligarch who has bought a number of luxury properties in London in recent years.

The squatters — Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, known as ANAL — said they entered the building through an open window on 23 January and have accommodated about 25 homeless people so far, many of whom had been sleeping rough around Victoria station.

Tom Fox, 23, one of the squatters, said: It is criminal that there are so many homeless people and at the same time so many empty buildings. Our occupation is highlighting this injustice.

New rough sleeper figures published this week have revealed an increase of 16% from last year, to more than 4,000.

More than 200,000 homes have been empty for more than six months, according to new government figures — via


The Wall Street Journal reports that the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Tiranna, a 1955-built residence named after the aboriginal word for running waters, has just gone on the market in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Purchased by memorabilia mogul and philanthropist Ted Stanley and his wife Vada about 20 years ago, the incredible 15-acre property, also known as the Rayward-Shepherd House and the John L Rayward House, has been well-preserved after undergoing an extensive restoration that also added a few updates.

The horseshoe-shaped house measures nearly 7,000 square feet and is arranged around a courtyard and includes seven bedrooms, eight baths, expansive open-plan living space, a rotating steel-and-glass observatory on the roof, wood panelling throughout, built-ins like storage, shelving, and furniture, multiple fireplaces — including one with a gold-leaf chimney, carved beams, floor-to-ceiling windows, a greenhouse, guest studio, and so much more.

The hemicycle is situated beside the Noroton River and a waterfall and is surrounded by woods. Other amenities include a swimming pool, tennis court, a large barn, and original gardens and landscaping Frank Okamura and Charles Middeleer. Located at 432 Frogtown Road, this one-of-a-kind home is available for $8,000,000 through Houlihan Lawrence — via Curbed


It’s usually a long time between builds from Deus’ LA workshop supremo Michael Woolaway — but they’re always worth the wait. Like this seriously hot rodded Harley cafe racer, the Bel Air 1200 Framer. It’s got more curves than a racetrack, and enough grunt to spin the wheels at will — via Bike EXIF


hyperSity Architects designed Cave House in Loess Plateau in Weinan, China — via ArchDaily

Obituary: John Hurt

Veteran actor Sir John Hurt has died aged 77, his agent has said.

The Bafta-winning star, known for his roles in Alien and The Elephant Man, continued working despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015.

He recently starred as Father Richard McSorley in Jackie, the biopic of President John F Kennedy’s wife.

US director Mel Brooks described Sir John as cinematic immortality, as tributes poured in for the star — via


Pepo Rosell has become a cult figure within the bike building business, because he has the knack of giving fast road bikes an appealing vintage race vibe.

This gnarly-looking machine is called Rocket. But despite the BSA logo on the tank, it started life as a Triumph Legend TT—a short-lived derivative of the Thunderbird 900 — via Bike EXIF


Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surge after Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’

Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian drama 1984 have soared after Kellyanne Conway, adviser to the reality-TV-star-turned-president, Donald Trump, used the phrase alternative facts in an interview. As of Tuesday, the book was the sixth best-selling book on Amazon.

Comparisons were made with the term newspeak used in the 1949 novel, which was used to signal a fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought and also doublethink. In the book Orwell writes that it means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

The connection was initially made on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Alternative facts is a George Orwell phrase, said Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty.

Conway’s use of the term was in reference to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about last week’s inauguration attracting the largest audience ever. Her interview was widely criticized and she was sub-tweeted by Merriam-Webster dictionary with a definition of the word fact. On last night’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host joked: Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do a Jedi mind trick after only a week of Jedi training.

In 1984, a superstate wields extreme control over the people and persecutes any form of independent thought — via


Punch a Nazi / Warren Ellis

I understand there’s been some confusion online as to whether it’s ever right to punch a Nazi in the face.  There is a compelling argument that all speech is equal and we should trust to the discourse to reveal these ideas for what they are and confidently expect them to be denounced and crushed out by the mechanisms of democracy and freedom.

All I can tell you is, from my perspective as an old English socialist and cultural liberal who is probably way to the woolly left from most of you and actually has a medal for services to free speech — yes, it is always correct to punch Nazis. They lost the right to not be punched in the face when they started spouting genocidal ideologies that in living memory killed millions upon millions of people. And anyone who stands up and respectfully applauds their perfect right to say these things should probably also be punched, because they are clearly surplus to human requirements. Nazis do not need a hug. Nazis do not need to be indulged. Their world doesn’t get better until you’ve been removed from it. Your false equivalences mean nothing. Their agenda is always, always, extermination. Nazis need a punch in the face.

(And the argument that such assaults allow Nazis to get more attention doesn’t work so well when they were already going live on a national television network, because this is where we are now. This is how normalised their presence in our culture is.)

Glad we got that cleared up — via Orbital Operations Transdimensional Distribution


Atelier Alter designed the Paradise of Colour, a rehabilitation project for No. 12 Middle School in Beijing, China — via ArchDaily


How the town of Whitefish defeated its neo-Nazi trolls — and became a national model of resistance

If you were to judge the small, northwestern Montana town of Whitefish solely on the national media frenzy that has descended upon it in recent weeks, like a blizzard that blots out everything else, then you’d probably write it off as a frightening place — an intolerant place, an unwelcoming place, a place where the worst of the United States has taken hold.

But what if the opposite were true? What if, at a moment of mounting political anxiety and creeping Internet thuggery, of fear and loathing and all the rest of it, Whitefish has, in fact, been demonstrating how America, at its best, can defeat such ugliness in the months and years ahead?

Because that’s what I found when I actually bothered to spend some time there. In the first weeks of January, I made two extended trips to Whitefish. I got to know dozens of locals — activists and actors, skiers and shopkeepers, loggers and L.A. transplants. What I found was a story that was a lot more interesting — and inspiring — than the one I had been reading about on the Internet — via


The designs are more complex and interesting than the majority of balance bikes out there, based on the classic cafe racers of the 1960s from…” />
Fancy treating the kids to something vintage? You could always invest in one of these Jokos balance bikes.

The designs are more complex and interesting than the majority of balance bikes out there, based on the classic cafe racers of the 1960s from the likes of Norton and Triumph. If you love your vintage bikes, you’ll probably like the idea of your children riding on one of these.

Each one is produced in Chile from wood and titanium and sold as kits. Do make sure you have a screwdriver handy when it lands. Each one is also made to order, so get in touch with the company to enquire about the price and shipping for your country — via Retro to Go


In 1998, Mattel began selling the electronic Barbie Typewriter to replace the earlier mechanical typewriter in the Barbie line, thus continuing the toy industry habit of introducing young children to technology that is 30 years out of date. Nonetheless, it could keep children busy learning to read and write away from your word processor. But the typewriter had a secret. It was manufactured by Mehano in Slovenia, which already made other children’s typewriters. Mehano took an older model and made it pink and purple for Mattel. The base model they used had a wonderful secret capability that was sadly never included in Mattel’s marketing.

Apart from a range of typesetting features, such as letter-spacing and underline, this children’s toy was capable of encoding and decoding secret messages, using one of 4 built-in cipher modes. These modes were activated by entering a special key sequence on the keyboard, and was explained only in the original documentation.

When the E-115 was adopted by Mattel as an addition to the Barbie product line, it was aimed mainly at girls with a minimum age of 5 years. For this reason the product was given a pink-and-purple case and the Barbie logo and image were printed on the body. As it was probably thought that secret writing would not appeal to girls, the coding/decoding facilities were omitted from the manual. Nevertheless, these facilities can still be accessed if you know how to activate them.

If you happen to have one of these typewriters sitting around, you can find the instructions for using the crypto codes at Crypto Museum — via Neatorama