Posts Tagged ‘train’

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden

David Plowden spent his childhood obsessed with trains. He would ride them just for the thrill of it, often without any direct destination in mind. A couple years ago, Plowden told Kurt “I rode all over the place, to the despair of my uncles and aunts and my mother’s friends who said, ‘What’s he going to amount to?  He rides trains!’  And my mother said, ‘I don’t know what he’s doing, but he does.  Leave him alone.  He’s gathering grist for the mill.’”

You can hear their full conversation here:

Plowden began taking pictures of steam engines because he knew they were becoming obsolete and he wanted to make sure they were well-documented — he had no intention of becoming a photographer.  By his his twenties, photography (documentary and art) had become a career — he assisted O. Winston Link and worked closely with Ansel Adams, among others greats. Plowden’s travels by train eventually led him to the Midwest, where he made a distinguished career capturing the beautiful expanses of the Great Plains, as well as the desolate railroad towns the once welcomed the railways.

Requiem for Steam is Plowden’s love letter to the steam engine, full of moving portraits of the machinery, the rails, and the people he’s met on a lifetime of journeys.

– Max Bass and Jenny Lawton

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More great design solutions that I wish we could bring back with us to the US:



Say you’re shopping in a department store with your toddler and you need to go to the bathroom… where do you stick the kid? TOTO, maker of the world’s most amazing (and complex) toilets offers another great product, attached to the corner of the stall.


The Japanese are known for being extremely considerate — but sometimes, even they need reminding. Or perhaps they’d like to politely remind their visitors? This public courtesy campaign is in train cars and stations. This is not your brain on drugs — rather, it’s a gentle, rational reminder not to be stupid:


"Texting while walking means putting a blind-spot in the center of your field of vision."


We’ve enjoyed staying 20 stories above Shibuya, one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Tokyo. So busy, in fact, that they’ve done away with crosswalks: at the signal, hundreds of people cross every which way, then clear out completely to make way for the cars. The wash of people — like four dark waves, crashing into each other and then receding back onto the sidewalk — takes my breath away every time. Especially since I know we’d never be capable of sharing the street so efficiently and gracefully in Times Square.

– Jenny Lawton

(Frustrated Writer/flickr)

(Frustrated Writer/flickr)

(Shibuya on a relatively light day)

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Kyoto Station

Kyoto may be the 1200-year-old home of Japanese classical arts, but you wouldn’t know it when you first get here.

Kyoto Station

Kyoto Station

Built in 1997 by Hiroshi Hara, Kyoto Station is a stunning living monument to modern Japan.  A hub for multiple regional and local train lines, it’s also home to great restaurants and multiple shopping centers.  Travelers step off the bullet train, wind their way to the Central Gate, and emerge into a 60-foot atrium made of a glass and steel.  It’s remarkably quiet for a station so big, and so busy.  But kyoto-girlsthis is a space that was clearly built to keep the people passing through it breathing deeply and looking all around them — especially up: on one side of the main arrival hall, an escalator stretches up to the 15th story, a beautiful outlook over the city.

But I think my favorite part of being in Kyoto Station is the way the building becomes even grander when glass/steel reflects off of itself, creating the illusion of even more gravity-defying shapes.


Apparently, when the station was finished, the locals were none too happy with it.  And I’ve heard that some Kyotoites suffer from a sort of second city syndrome which manifests as snootiness.  Could it be that they’re just suspicious of something so modern shifting the city’s action away from its temples?  (Because it is.)

Whatever, I say.  This place is fantastic and should be praised as Kyoto’s newest crown jewel.  I’ll be back tomorrow.

– Jenny Lawton

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