You’ve probably seen these: IKEA’s catalog illustration for most of the world . . . 



. . . and the Saudi version.




Leaving aside the issue of removing women from the catalog entirely - which is like saying “let’s discuss that deadly circus fire in terms of its impact on peanut sales” - you have to marvel at the difficulty of the Photoshopping. The wall on her left side is expertly reconstructed. The mirror must have been a nightmare; that’s no simple clone-tool job.



There’s not enough to work with, the lines have to match up, and there’s a subtle difference in the shade from top to bottom behind her. Whatever they came up with, it doesn’t look like anything really works - the position of the mirror or what it might be reflecting. The real giveaway is here:



The picture’s compressed and full of artifacts, but you can get a hint of how it was reconstructed, and two identical towels - heaven knows where they came from - were dropped in. Maybe. The other possibility is that they shot the first picture in Saudi Mode, then Photoshopped her into the picture? No. IKEA ‘fessed up:

Ulrika Englesson Sandman, spokesman for Inter IKEA Systems B.V., explained that “the mistake happened during the work process occurring before presenting the draft catalogue for IKEA Saudi Arabia. We take full responsibility for the mistakes made.”

Don’t you love the language they use? Someone mistakenly spent six hours meticulously removing all traces of a Mom from the pictures in the catalogue. Total mistake. His hand must have slipped.

Also: the term “Photoshopping” is understood by all to mean “digital manipulation that produces a falsehood.” I can’t think of any other product name that has such an unflattering definition.


COULROPHOBIA This is the most promising lede of the year:

Florida business owner Richard Levine spent countless days traveling with his late father-in-law and business partner, Jack Kline, on what they’d call “clown hunts.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t a name for some sort of bizarre, deplorable ritual that would show up in an Ann Rule book a few years later. Literally, hunting for clown things.

“On one trip we pulled off I-95, went to a flea market and were walking through pigs and chickens and goats. Once he spotted a clown, he’d yell, ‘There’s a clown there,’” Levine said. “When we got back to Florida, I couldn’t’ get out of the motor home, it was so stuffed.”

The article’s headline refers to “Clown Memorabilia,” which makes you wonder if there’s such a thing as forgetabilia. Might be market for that.

Wikipedia notes that clown-fear is not a recognized mental disorder - yet - but there’s some basis for it, and grounds for additional study.

According to a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, young children are "very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face".

A study conducted by the University of Sheffield found that the children did not like clown décor in the hospital or doctors' office settings. The survey was about children’s opinions on décor for an upcoming hospital redesign. Dr Penny Curtis, a researcher, stated "We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found the clown images to be quite frightening and unknowable.

That’s the essence, right there. Unknowable. Really: does any child look at this fellow and think “fun surely follows”?


Or this one?



SCIENCE! How Earth sounds from space. (h/t The Verge, which has the explanation.)



Next up: how it smells from space.


STUNNING Today’s overuse of the word “iconic” comes from this story about an Amsterdam museum addition. It’s called the Bathtub. By its supporters.

Just opened. LA Times less than impressed.


the new Stedelijk — which opened to the public last week at the northwest corner of Amsterdam's Museumplein, or Museum Plaza — marks the spot where the aggressive formalism that characterized architecture's boom years finally went glub-glub.


An overscaled monument flagrantly aloof from its surroundings, the addition is a laggard symbol of an era when the Netherlands, like this country, was awash in capital for boldly sculptural new projects.

"Flagrantly aloof" is right. It's sitting right next to a 19th century brick museum, a classically Dutch structure, and it couldn't care less about context or coherence. It makes you wonder: 200 years from now, when these transient affectations are regarded as a bizarre manifestation of a stubborn, narcissistic desire to ignore everything but the architect’s GENIUS, will it be avant-garde to build an addition just like the Bathtub to fit in with the surroundings, or build something that takes its cues from the human-scaled building with the familiar, culturally-specific language of the old building?