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Stephanie Murg

StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay Wins $1 Million TED Prize

storycorps

The creators of the painstakingly produced narrative form of our time–the TED Talk–are handing over their big prize to another intrepid storyteller: Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps. The groundbreaking oral history project will receive $1 million from TED to launch Isay’s wish, an audacious ambition-cum-megaproject that he’ll announce on March 17 at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver. Isay joins a diverse list of past TED Prize-winning “exceptional individuals” that have ranged from Bill Clinton and E.O. Wilson to culinary crusader Jamie Oliver and street artist JR.

Launched by Isay in 2003, StoryCorps “celebrates the dignity, power, and grace that can be heard in the stories we find all around us,” including the crowd-pleaser “Danny and Annie” (below). “Under Dave Isay’s leadership, StoryCorps has given nearly 100,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives and leave a legacy for the future,” says TED’s Chris Anderson. “I am thrilled about this winner, excited to see how TED and StoryCorps will collaborate, and eager to see how we can pair an incredible idea with a global community.”
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Anonymous Tips: Because Sharing Is Caring

who could it be now.jpgIf we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: “I could tell you this Big Design News, but then I’d have to kill you.” Now you can give us the scoop and skip the messy murder plot, thanks to our “Anonymous Tips” box, which the Mediabistro tech wizards have placed at the top right of this page. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Type in your news—design happenings, gossip, movements of the Revolving Door, a designer’s hidden talent, or any newsy, design-y morsel—and click “send.” We’ll get the news, you’ll retain your air of mystery.

Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Erik Spiekermann

EPSON DSC PictureThe avalanche of fan e-mail, likes, and tweets that greeted our recent dispatch from Erik Spiekermann‘s evening with the Type Directors Club at Parsons The New School for Design has inspired us to glean additional knowledge morsels for your reading pleasure. Enjoy these ten things you (probably) didn’t know about the man, the myth, the Spiekermann:

1. He got his start as a gofer for Wolff Olins.
In the mid-1970s, while working the nightshift at a typesetter’s, Wally Olins hired him to work for Wolff Olins in London. “They had 60 or 70 people at the time and lots of German clients [such as Audi and VW],” said Spiekermann. “Some of them couldn’t communicate with their German clients, because the German clients spoke German and the Brits spoke English—at the time not everybody spoke English, unlike today—so I became the gofer, I guess, between the German clients and Wolff Olins.”

2. He used to blow clients’ minds with color prints.
“[In the mid-70s] you would go into clients with color printouts…11 by 17…and it was like glass beads for Native Americans—they would think you were from Mars. They would pass them around,” he explained. “I had the same effect after German reunification in 1990, when we had a client in East Germany and we went there with color prints. By that time in the West everyone had them, but they thought we were from Mars: ‘Look at these guys from the West. They have color prints! Amazing! They have a machine does them. And it’s on ordinary paper and it only take a minute!’ It was like having gunpowder.”

3. Wolff Olins is also to thank for his first project.
“It was a German bank that was Wolff Olins couldn’t handle, so they said why don’t you take this over—the implementation. Because the Brits were never very good at getting sh*t done.”

4. He is wholly unimpressed by the U.S. Postal Service.
“The American Post Office is one of the crummiest design outfits ever,” said Spiekermann matter-of-factly. “It is embarrassingly bad. It embarrasses me at times. So does their service for that matter. UPS and FedEx—they wouldn’t exist if you had a decent post office.”
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Levitated Mass Documentary Opens in NYC

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Now New Yorkers can get the story behind the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s rock star, Levitated Mass (2012), a 456-foot-long slot over which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. The process of installing the Michael Heizer artwork, which entailed a $10 million, 22-city tour for the boulder and its custom-made trailer, is the subject of a documentary by Doug Pray (Art & Copy, Surfwise) that opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

“I had always wanted to do a film about L.A., so this seemed about as L.A. as it could get,” Pray told us earlier this year. “The idea that they had to get permits and permissions to allow a giant rock to roll through their town, all in the name of conceptual art, was absurdly entertaining, and often drew shrugs and confused laughter, and controversy.” Levitated Mass weaves together Heizer’s biography, the dreams of a major museum, and the uniting of a city—all while proving that it is possible to make a fascinating film about a massive rock.
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Watch: David Weeks Studio Celebrates a Year in Tribeca

A year has passed since David Weeks branched out from Brooklyn to Manhattan with a standalone atelier in Tribeca that is part design studio, part showspace for one-of-a-kind prototypes, collaborations, and work from other artists. The designer—of stunning lighting, fluidly formed furniture, and craggily adorable wooden creatures—is marking the one-year anniversary with this most delightful visit to the neighborhood, produced by Optic Films.


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Flying Fish Improbably Dominate Electrolux Design Lab Competition

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The Electrolux Design Lab competition, open to design students the world over, has long been partial to design concepts that defy gravity, having bestowed the top honor in years past to the likes of the Aeroball, a constellation of luminescent, helium-infused balls that floatingly filter and fragrance the air in a room, and this year is no exception. But we detect a strange twist on the mesmerizing/hovering trend of years past: Fish. Taking top honors—5,000 euros (around $6,000 at current exchange) and a six-month paid internship at Electrolux—in the 2014 Electrolux Design Lab competition (theme: creating healthy homes) is a food preparation-as-game concept called “Future Hunter-Gatherer.” Designed by Pan Wang of the United Kingdom, the “virtual grocery shopping experience inspired by nature” involves holographic prey that, with the help of a smartphone and your local grocery store, is transformed into real food.


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Robert Wilson Creates ‘OK’ Cup for Illy

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In the unlikely event that the name Robert Wilson does not immediately ignite intense excitement in multiple regions of your cerebrum, stop reading this and go watch Absolute Wilson (yes, it’s on Netflix), Katharina Otto-Bernstein‘s smashing documentary-cum-archival footage deep-dive devoted to the indefatigable maestro of avant-garde theatre. Among the director, designer, and visual artist’s latest collaborators is illy, the Trieste-based espresso purveyor that has invited the likes of Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Marina Abramovic (a Wilson chum of longstanding) to reimagine its trademark white porcelain cup, originally designed by Matteo Thun.
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Quote of Note | Thomas Mallon

weegee cover“I read old photographs for unexpected details, such as the faces in the crowd, the people witnessing what a historical novelist can only try to reconstruct. I keep photos around me while I write the way other authors keep music on in the background; they provide not only evidence but a kind of atmospheric stimulation. I don’t think I could have written Bandbox, a comic novel about the 1920s, without long exposure to that era’s madcap tabloid photography, and I can’t imagine Fellow Travelers, a novel I set during the McCarthy period, without the flash-lit, noirish Weegee photo that went onto the cover of both the hard-bound and paperback editions. For Watergate, the details of dress and facial expression in a photo of ‘the Rose Mary Stretch’—the president’s secretary attempting to re-enact how a gap in one of the Nixon tapes might have been created—told me more about Rose Mary Woods’s agonized embarrassment than any transcript of her testimony could.”

-Novelist and critic Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review

Ralph Rucci Departs Namesake Fashion House

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Looks from the spring 2015 Ralph Rucci collection.

Last week’s sudden cancellation of a planned lecture and workshop by Ralph Rucci at the Cooper Hewitt suggested that all was not well in the house of the National Design Award winner. In fact, things could not be worse: Rucci has exited his namesake label. The shocking move, announced late yesterday by WWD, follows a period of positive momentum for the uncompromising and long underappreciated couturier, who has always lacked for a Pierre Bergé or Robert Duffy to take financial and operational matters off his own list of daily concerns.

A post-recession turnaround funded by investors Nancy and Howard Marks and executed by former CEO Jeffry Aronsson saw Rucci’s house, born in 1994 as Chado Ralph Rucci, launch Steven Meisel-lensed ad campaigns in fashion glossies including Vogue, whose editor-in-chief has long maintained something of a no-Rucci policy in her editorial pages, and a furniture line with Holly Hunt as expansion plans–there was talk of a retail rollout and a broadened customer base–were hatched. But Aronsson departed in October 2013 and was replaced in June by Joey Laurenti, who has continued to run his contemporary showroom, Goods and Services, while helming Rucci’s house. It was not a good match, as indicated by the company’s delusional plan to name a new creative director of Ralph Rucci by the end of the year.

Favorite Thing: Carga Bags

carga

In a world awash in totes, carryalls, and gadget sleeves, we’ve found a new favorite in Carga. The New York-based company’s rugged bags are produced in a family-run workshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina using a pattern-free “zero-wastage” process: each one is made from single strips of material (felt, leather, industrial-grade canvas) cut from side to side, without any further trimming, and often riveted rather than sewn. Meanwhile, the striking lines of each Carga creation come thanks to founder Mauro Bianucci, who trained as an architect at the University of Buenos Aires before turning his sharp eye to accessories.

Have a suggestion for our next Favorite Thing? E-mail unbeige@mediabistro.com.

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