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Alissa Walker

So, I, Um, Don’t Know How to Say This…But I’m Leaving You

Uh oh. You already know something’s up because I’m not writing in the third person, huh? But I assure you, it’s not you (and it’s not we), it’s me. Exactly two years ago today, Steve and I took the UnBeige reins, and as you may know, two years is practically a lifetime in blog-years. I decided that this was as good a time as any to make a change, a decision that was only slightly influenced by the fact that this is the very same night that Lost returns to television (8/7pm Central).

Over the last two years my life has changed in ways that I can’t begin to explain in what I hope will be a short and sweet post. I’ve traveled all over the country, met my heroes, and hopefully, introduced you to a few worthy people and causes along the way. When I started at UnBeige I was terrified by this big scary design world that, frankly, I didn’t know nearly enough about. Now I look over there at that blogroll and I see a list of my dearest friends.

Thanks to the dearest of all those new friends, Steve Delahoyde, and that’s saying a lot since we have still never met in person. Steve is such an effortlessly funny human being–he is the only person in the world I can count on for a solid laugh at 7am–and I will miss being his partner in crime. But I would never have felt comfortable leaving if it wasn’t for one Stephanie Murg, who has leapt into this role with grace and wit. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend Keith Scharwath, who provided me with so much support, advice and good tips that thanking him every time would have made it seem like he was writing this blog instead. Thank you to Jen Bekman and Eva Hagberg, who left gigantic, like, size 12EEE shoes to fill. Huge thanks to both Bryn Mooth and Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who recommended me for the gig in the first place. And to Laurel Touby, who has always been a big inspiration to me, but especially when she sold mediabistro.com for $23 million freaking dollars.

Finally, thank you to everyone out there who read this over the years, all 15 of you, even though four of you are my immediate family members and read this blog even though you have no idea what I’m talking about. I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing next (although I’m fairly certain you won’t find me anywhere near a computer for the next week or two), but you can always find out what I’m up to at my personal blog, Gelatobaby. And if you want to be kept abreast of my situation, just drop me a line at getthescoop AT gelatobaby.com. I’m sure we’ll meet again.

Love, Alissa

On the Anniversary of the Lite Brite Bomb Scare, LED Panels Return to Boston, But This Time, the Threat Is Real

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Was it only a year ago that deadly Lite Brites stormed Boston, ravaging our national security and shutting down the city for a day? The ensuing madness that followed the invasion of Mooninites was dubbed 1/31, and a very clever group of people have vowed that Boston will never forget.

Make has got the skinny on the fan art plastering Boston today, which hopefully this time officials will not confuse with detonation devices (one helpfully reads “This is not a bomb”). There’s Bush and Bin Laden and also some very clever homages to the masterminds behind the original 1/31, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, who last year gave what was possibly the greatest press conference of all time.

LA’s Broad Contemporary Art Museum Features Mysterious Bulbous Object

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We’re counting the days until the opening of LA’s new museum, the Broad Contemporary at LACMA (or BCAM), which officially launches February 16. Actually, lots at LACMA is changing: a new Renzo Piano building, a new logo by 2×4, and new art from the collection of Eli Broad, who just decided he actually doesn’t want to make the Broad Museum the permanent home of the Broad collection. Oh well, the building and logo are nice.

The online countdown is full of teasers, like shots of Chris Burden‘s lamp installation, Richard Serra‘s two sculptures and Robert Irwin‘s palm garden. But this thing confounds us. What in the world could be inside that bizarre, odd-shaped covering? Guess we’ll have to wait until February 16.

FreshPressed and Ready For Success

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Even though you feel you may be contributing plenty to society as a designer, you really haven’t done enough until you lend a hand to the uncoordinated left-brained masses who, try as they might, just can’t think of themselves as creative. Into this brave new DIY world enters FreshPressed, a brand new design-and-screenprint it yourself studio in LA. Proprietor Jonathan Sample is a graphic designer who worked at the studio of Margo Chase before setting up his shop on Hollywood Boulevard late last year.

Inspire, empower, imprint is their motto, and there are plenty of ways for people of all abilities to do that. Either supply your own file or draw something there, and they’ll burn a screen of your design, which you can use to print on any of Sample’s goods (or there’s an American Apparel located conveniently across the street). Don’t be trying to place your order online or anything silly like that. “Our primary focus is our community,” says Sample. “Come in, spend some time with us, and leave with your product in hand. Or better yet, on your back!”

It’s true! Friend of UnBeige Lenny Mesina, editor of that Beautiful Losers film we keep yapping about, made this shirt in about 30 minutes start-to-finish, and wore it out to an event that very night. “I gained a level of self-respect while making my self made shirt,” he says. “Creative screenprinting at its simplest.”

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Adrian Shaughnessy Survives Journey Into Wolff Olins Den of Crazies

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We admire the courage of Creative Review and Design Observer contributor Adrian Shaughnessy, we really do. He has done something we wouldn’t do, not even if our blogging careers depended on it. He has visited a dangerous realm known worldwide for its proliferation of controversy, protest and seizures: He has visited the offices of Wolff Olins. Don’t worry, he was screened for epilepsy ahead of time.

He was even so bold as to ask them about the deadly Olympic logo, risking life, limb and permanent damage to his eyesight when speaking with the creators of the biggest design scandal of 2007, Brian Boylan and Patrick Cox. And even though Shaughnessy had called it (pick one) “ghastly, dreadful, impoverished, bad, unmemorable, trying to be trendy,” they were nice!

Both Boylin and Cox stand by the 2012 work. I expected them to be evasive, constrained by gagging orders from the London 2012 committee, but the opposite was true. They discussed it freely and with quiet enthusiasm, which made me realise that Lord Coe and his team committed an Olympic-sized error by not allowing Wolff Olins to defend their work. Their considered response would have deflected some of the media criticism.

To our amazement, Wolff Olins has done plenty of work that we hadn’t previously recognized them for, and we noticed some common themes. So without delay, a look back at the response to their other big clients:

London 2012 Olympics: Controversy, protest, seizures.
(RED): Controversy, protest.
NYC logo: Controversy, protest.

The only one that doesn’t fit the mold?

New Museum: Widespread praise (finally).

Motion Theory Will Soon Be Proving Itself In Long Form

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One highlight of our West Coast creative experience has been getting to know the fine people at Motion Theory, the design and directorial studio headed by cuties Mathew Cullen and Javier Jimenez. An article by Diane Mehta in this month’s Fast Company positions the Venice firm as the leaders in this blurring whatchamacallit world of film-motion-graphics-art, and rightly so:

Cullen and executive producer Javier Jimenez cofounded Motion Theory in 2000. Now it’s leading a wave of New York- and L.A.-based companies that are reinventing the TV commercial, even the look of video itself, and changing the way advertisers and other clients connect with the public. Old tagline-driven spots are giving way to content that’s at once more visceral and cerebral. Upstart shops such as Brand New School, Psyop, and Logan, which specialize in animation and motion graphics, have embraced a trippy style that draws from cartoons, comic books, and video games–a 2-D aesthetic with occasional live-action footage. More established production companies such as RSA Films, Radical Media, and Anonymous Content make edgy live-action commercials with the same high production values as their film and TV work. But no one blends those worlds better than Motion Theory, with its radically strange hybrid of live action, visual effects, and 3-D animation.

Their projects are similarly eclectic–our personal favorite is the witty wordplay fold-in fun of Beck‘s video for “Girl”–but the article hints that something much, much more might be in store for the “microstudio”: Scripts are pouring in, which means Motion Theory won’t be relegated to its one-minute masterpieces for long.

Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty Threatened By High Oil Prices

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Okay, we’re all upset about our dependence on foreign oil, but that’s really no reason to go drilling into the artworks located within our own borders, is it? Someone in Utah wants to dig for black gold in the Great Salt Lake and apparently the Robert Smithson land art piece Spiral Jetty is just too irresistible a target (drill…right…here!). Tyler Green posts a plea from Smithson’s widow, Nancy Holt, describing the situation:

Yesterday I received an urgent email from Lynn DeFreitas, Director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake, telling me of plans for drilling oil in the Salt Lake near Spiral Jetty…

I have been told by Lynn that the oil wells will not be above the water, but that means some kind of industrial complex of pipes and pumps beneath the water and on the shore. The operation would require roads for oil tank trucks, cranes, pumps etc. which produce noise and will severely alter the wild, natural place.

Action to prevent this must be taken by 7pm EST today by calling or emailing Jonathan Jemming at 801-537-9023 or jjemming AT utah.gov. Refer to Application #8853, or just title your email GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY SPIRAL JETTY YOU OIL-GRUBBING BASTARDS!

Bear Fights Lumberjack At Brooklyn Architectural Smackdown

Architecture was fun for one night as LVHRD’s ARCH DL IV pitted two teams of architects against each other in a live one-night mystery challenge. Last night’s brief:

Build an Alaskan Wildlife Research Facility using drinking straws – a representation of the Alaskan Oil Pipeline.

Konyk and FXFOWLE faced off in front of attendees who were asked to dress as bears or a lumberjacks. To further set the tone, LVHRD provided suggestions for proper dress and this fine video of a lumberjack in action, although we have to say we were confused because we thought that’s how all people in Brooklyn dressed anyway.

We think there was voting and a winner declared somewhere in there, but we can’t really see beyond all the drunk people in plaid shirts. Luckily Mimi Zeiger at loud paper has the party report, Archinect has some amazing play by play live coverage and Architectural Record has video interviews with all the teams. FXFOWLE’s strategy: “No preparation. Don’t take it seriously. Stay in character.”

Ian Schrager and Bill Marriott Rock the New Edition

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Back in June we posted the rather disturbing announcement that Ian Schrager was teaming with Bill Marriott to create a new line of hotels based on the broad concepts of “colors” and “chandeliers” (their quotes, not ours). Whaddaya know, it all panned out as planned and today, the team announced not only the name, but several planned locations, including two in our fair City of Angels:

Marriott and Schrager declined to say exactly where in downtown and Hollywood the hotels would be, but they are expected to open in about three years and have about 200 rooms apiece.

They would be part of the new Edition chain — as in, the Los Angeles Edition. Other Editions are planned in Paris, Madrid, Costa Rica, Miami, Washington, Chicago and Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We’re going to use a lot of different designers and each one will be totally different,” Schrager said.

But beyond hand-picking designers, we’re not sure how much Schrager is going to be pumped into these properties. A third party developer will build and own the hotels, with Marriott operating them just like their other hotels. “I’ll try to give it its ethos and lively bars and restaurants,” says Schrager. Well, hey, at least he’s going to try.

T+L Design Awards Honor the New Museum and Geishas With Smeared Makeup

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No real surprises in the Travel + Leisure design awards, judged by Agnes Gund, John Hoke, Richard Lambertson, Renee Price, Hani Rashid, David Rockwell and Yeohlee Teng, and moderated by Chee Pearlman. The New Museum aces yet another critical review, with a nod for best museum. The Nam Hai in Vietnam gets best resort, and the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street is best hotel. The troubled National Stadium, Beijing wins for for public space and Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle gets a well-deserved nod for cultural space. Zaha Hadid‘s cable car stations in Innsbruck get best transportation. Design Champion is Amanda Burden, commissioner of City Planning for NYC. Something called the iPhone gets best travel gadget.

But there is one surprise, at least to us: Philippe Starck‘s Katsuya Hollywood as best restaurant. Not that it’s not nice-looking in a knives suspended in Lucite kind of way, but it’s simply the second location in a chain (the original location’s in Brentwood, many more are planned). Plus, the design makes it a bit difficult to actually eat there. Most of the chairs are un-sit-able (T+L calls them ‘simple,’ they obviously didn’t subject their rears to them) and the ambiance isn’t exactly appetizing, as the arty shot above from our pals at Eater LA will illustrate. The good news is that the blood-red lipstick dripping all over the place helps to remind you to order your Kobe beef rare.

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