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7 Questions

Seven Questions for Vintage Magazine Founder Ivy Baer Sherman


The new issue of Vintage Magazine, with linoleum-inspired covers by Chip Kidd. Below, editor-in-chief Ivy Baer Sherman in a photo by Victoria Jackson.

Technically, Vintage Magazine is—you guessed it—a magazine, but the term fails to convey the visual and tactile pleasures contained within its covers, which for the fourth (“Quatrième”) issue are a multi-flap affair designed to evoke the look and feel of vintage linoleum. Inside is a cabinet of curiosities worth of architecture- and design-focused features that range from musings on the enduring legacy of Elsie de Wolfe to a glimpse inside the New York townhouse of Robert and Cortney Novogratz—in the form of a DIY pop-up created by paper engineer Shawn Sheehy. The woman behind this biannual celebration of design, culture, and the creative possibilities of print is Vintage‘s founding editor-in-chief and publisher Ivy Baer Sherman and as we pored over the new issue, she told us about the origins of Vintage, the challenges of producing each issue, and the importance of living with flair (and Flair).

What led you to create Vintage Magazine?
Several years ago I was introduced to Fleur CowlesFlair at a 2003 retrospective of the magazine, “Fleur on Flair,” at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery. I was struck, at first glance, by Flair’s beauty…and promptly judged the magazine, as we are taught to never ever do, by its exquisite cover. The distinguishing feature of a Flair cover was a die cut—which offered an artful glimpse onto the world within. Turning the cover revealed further delights—foldouts and fabulous illustrations—by Saul Steinberg, by fashion designer Rene Gruau; riveting writing—Salvador Dali on his search for a gypsy angel, Tallulah Bankhead on Louis Armstrong; short stories by Tennessee Williams. I left the show acutely attuned to the extraordinary physical draw of a magazine: the lure of stunning design, the striking sensation of ink on paper, the ravishing commingling of keenly-wrought words and fine art and editorial flair, the tactile quality of the read. I knew then and there that I wanted to create a magazine in the spirit of Flair for today’s audience. Voilà, Vintage Magazine.

How do you describe the editorial mission/philosophy?
Vintage Magazine aims to bring aspects of the past to the fore through a celebration of design and the creative possibilities of print—writers and artists are invited to survey the historical impact of art, music, fashion, food, and travel on today’s culture. With naysayers focusing on the demise of print these days, what better time to take the art of the magazine to new heights; to create a truly vintage publication, if you will—one that informs, inspires, surprises and delights.

Tell us about the amazing cover of the Quatrième issue and how it came to be.
What an honor to work with Chip Kidd—legendary graphic artist/cover designer. I wanted to do a Vintage version of an architecture and design issue. I talked this over with Chip at our first meeting, my only stipulation being that his cover design allow for the magazine’s signature open spine. Chip said that that he’d wanted to try something multi-layered and suggested the resulting homage to vintage linoleum.

Each layer of the cover reveals another pattern of linoleum—the construction is reminiscent of those sample rings of clacking linoleum chips that one finds in flooring showrooms; the paper stock has been selected to evoke a linoleum feel. The printer and binder worked to ensure that the integrity of the cover design would be maintained without compromising the magazine’s structural stability.
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Seven Questions for Sagi Haviv, Principal of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

As a student at Cooper Union, Sagi Haviv already had designs on a job at Chermayeff & Geismar. He landed an internship at the storied firm—the creative brains behind identities for the likes of National Geographic, the Smithsonian, NBC, and Chase—in 2003 (the year he graduated) and didn’t look back. Fast forward a decade: Haviv has been freshly elevated to principal, with his name accompanying that of Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar on the company masthead (the first addition in 56 years).

Haviv recently helmed the firm’s identity overhaul of Women’s World Banking, a global nonprofit that works with the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions to serve 19 million low-income entrepreneurs in 28 developing nations. Replacing the less-than-memorable “WWB”-beneath-a-rising sun logo is an identity (below) that can stand alongside those of the global financial heavyweights with which the organization partners. Read the abstract symbol as you will: an opening flower? a coin entering a purse? a globe? a winged figure? We paused in our Rohrshachian reverie to ask him about the project, his process, and memorable moments in his brief yet blindingly bright career thus far.

How did you approach the task of designing the new identity for Women’s World Banking and what did you design?
The approach was the same approach we always take when solving a client’s identity problem, which is to first understand the issues around the current identity, and then to consider what the organization is trying to accomplish. For Women’s World Banking, we felt that the mark they had been using needed to be replaced with a more modern identity that emphasizes the full name. We created a new symbol, a simple geometric form that can have many interpretations: a flower, an empowered figure, or a coin entering a purse.

Tell us about your decision to feature both the name of the organization and the symbol.
We felt from the get-go that the initials WWB weren’t an effective shorthand, especially since they are not actually shorter to say–seven syllables as opposed to the five syllables of the full name. The name is meaningful, with “women” as its first word, so why not feature it prominently?

What is your greatest graphic design pet peeve?
All form, no concept.
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Seven Questions for Designer Dan Black of Black + Blum

With the megatradeshow NYNOW (formerly NYIGF) bringing mobs of product-seekers to Gotham this week, the hunt is on for the latest and greatest lifestyle and home products. A must-see stop in the cavernous, merch-stuffed Javits Center is the booth of Anglo-Swiss partnership black + blum. Designers Dan Black and Martin Blum joined forces in 1998 as a London-based design consultancy and soon began developing products such as an award-winning anthropomorphic doorstop named James (Black is brandishing one in the photo at right), a no-nonsense tape dispenser, and the “Brrrrr” polar bear ice tray. Black, a veteran of IDEO and Frog Design, paused in his NYNOW preparations to tell us about the personalities behind the products, their latest thirst-quenching hit design, and what the duo is debuting this week.


Punch up your lunch. Colorful sandwich keepers are among the black + blum products launching at NYNOW.

If you had to sum up the black + blum aesthetic/design philosophy in just three words, what would they be?
functional, soulful, and minimal

You’ve described a true black + blum product as “always a joint input of [your] and Martin’s personalities.” What are your personalities like?
We both like the same sort of products, whether they are contemporary new designs or vintage antiques. They will all have the same deep-rooted qualities. Although we have very different personalities, the inputs that we give to each design are actually very similar. Perhaps it is not so much our different personalities, but rather our tastes that influence the design. The most important thing is that it will never be only one of us that works on a design. We always find the final design will be a result of both our inputs and the end result is always better because of this.

What black + blum product has been flying off the shelves this summer?
Our “Eau Good” filter water bottle has been selling really well. The natural active charcoal filter is exposed inside the bottle. This can be a bit daunting for those who don’t what it is, but it becomes a talking point and allows users to proudly show that they are not drinking bottled water and helps spread the word to tell people that there is an alternative which is better for the environment.
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Seven Question for Poketo’s Angie Myung

It’s been ten years since Poketo burst on the scene with a line of cheap, cheerful, and highly collectible vinyl wallets emblazoned with art by the likes of Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, and Jillian Tamaki. “Having a Poketo wallet is like having a traveling art show with you at all times,” say founders Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung (pictured), whose thriving e-store and Los Angeles shop now offers an ever-changing assortment of must-have goods, from colorful pens and perfect planners to apparel (we suggest the socks) and homegoods (check out the Japanese enamel saucepan). As they packed their Tyvek totes with the latest and greatest Poketo wares to show at NYNOW, the home and lifestyle tradeshow that opens Sunday at the Javits Center, we asked Myung to tell us more about the origins of the company, memorable moments, and what’s been flying off the virtual and physical shelves this summer.

1. How did Poketo come to be?
We really didn’t mean to start a business when we started Poketo in 2003. It was a total accident. We didn’t come from a business background. Ted was a filmmaker and I was going to school for graphic design. We were throwing a lot of art shows with friends who were artists in San Francisco. They were always a lot of fun but none of the art sold as we just couldn’t afford them. So, one day, we decided to make something that was affordable, and that’s when the Poketo Artist Wallets were born.

We had another art show and along with the original art on the wall, we sold wallets with the same artwork. The wallets were an instant hit and we totally sold out that night! We walked home that night with butterflies in our stomach and couldn’t wait to release another series. Gradually, Poketo took up more time. In the beginning, we worked different jobs and it wasn’t until two years later that we were working on Poketo full time.

2. How did you come up with the name “Poketo”?
Poketo (pronounced poh-KEH-toe) got its name through my Korean grandmother’s mispronunciation of the word “pocket.”

3. If you had to describe the Poketo aesthetic/philosophy in just three words, what would they be?
Fun, colorful, and modern
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Seven Questions for Ambra Medda

Ambra Medda‘s name is familiar to design lovers from her tenure as director Design Miami, which she founded in 2005 with Craig Robins. Three years after leaving the fair, she is back in a big way with L’ArcoBaleno (“the rainbow” in Italian). The new site is devoted to collectible design—from top galleries including Galerie Kreo, Carpenters Workshop, and Demisch Danant—that visitors can learn about, browse, and buy. “Creating the ultimate marketplace for design as well as a platform for the design community to congregate (virtually), share, and push design discourse forward is what stimulates me,” said Medda, who co-founded the site with eBay veteran Oliver Weyergraf. “After the incredible experience with fair it seemed natural to scout the best design pieces and creative talent and promote all the incredible quality and stories surrounding them.” Here she discusses rainbows, covetable objects, and words to live by.


“Fuzz 2010″ by Study O Portable, available from Gallery Fumi on L’ArcoBaleno.

How did you decide on the name L’ArcoBaleno?
Coming up with a name was fun and torturous at the same time. I love language, and there were so many great options but we either couldn’t own the .com or it wasn’t this enough or that enough. When I thought of what gives me the most electrifying feeling. I thought about love at first, but i couldn’t call it love.com, because that’s just silly. So then the next thought was rainbow! Looking up at the sky and seeing a rainbow is an extraordinary sensation, the most powerful natural experience. Add to that we wanted to present the whole spectrum of design from limited-edition design, technology, food, science, fashion. “L’ArcoBaleno” sounds beautiful and stands for a jolt of energy, which i believe the design world needed at this point in time.

What are a few of your favorite limited-edition products available on the site?
I love the Sedimentation Urn by Hilda Hellstrom, Fuzz 2010 by Study O Portable, and Peter Marigold‘s Calendula Cabinet. If I had the cash in the bank that’s what I would buy right now.
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Seven Questions for Designer Rama Chorpash, Director of Product Design at Parsons

Rama Chorpash has designed Swatch watches, furniture, and more clever kitchen utensils than you can shake a pair of grater tongs at. When he’s not creating cool stuff with the likes of Herman Miller and the Public Art Fund, he’s an associate professor and the director of product design at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Recently, his Spiraloop potato masher made the cut for the MoMA Design Store’s “Destination: NYC” selection of designed-in-NYC, made-in-the-USA products.

“In 1936 MoMA’s exhibition ‘Machine Art’ featured just that: carriage springs, boat propellers, and so forth,” says Chorpash. “For the Destination: NYC open call, I wanted to redraw public attention towards reconnecting people’s consciousness to where things come from, and how they express their industrialization.” Having recently returned from a residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (as cool as it sounds), he made time to tell us about his smashing masher, what’s next on his summer to-do list, and a memorable encounter with a Brazilian taxi driver.

What is the “Spiraloop”?
Spiraloop is a vegetable/potato masher. With so much pre-made food in New York City, I wanted to create a product (humble as it may be) that would encourage people to cook in their own kitchens.

Made of super quality 316 stainless steel, it features ergonomic spring tensile “spring-back” characteristics typically found with utensils made from multiple materials such as rigid plastics combined with soft silicon. Unlike Spiraloop, such co-injection molded materials are typically “monstrous hybrids” and cannot be separated and reclaimed. While Spiraloop will last a long time, it is also 100% recyclable.

What was it like working with manufacturer Lee Spring, founded in 1918?
They do great work, and it was a pleasure to work with them. While they are a successful global company with production and distribution across the United States as well as in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and China, my interest was in working with them locally, to shorten the supply-chain between design, production, and consumption. Spiraloop was designed in New York City, made in New York City, to be sold in New York City. I call this localized making “Manufacturing in Place.” Think of a farmers’ market, the locally produced produce (goods) are shipped the shortest distance and rely upon regional needs and constraints.

The walk down the hill from my home in St. George to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal looks across the bay to the BKLYN Army Terminal. In researching who would produce the Spiraloop, Lee’s locality was ideal. A short drive over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and I was at their headquarters. First founded in Brooklyn nearly a century ago, they really enjoyed to flex their manufacturing muscle locally.
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Seven Questions for Oren Safdie

The strange and wonderful world of contemporary architecture takes center stage in False Solution, a new play that runs through Sunday at La MaMa in New York (buy tickets here). That the dialogue crackles with pitch-perfect architect-speak is no coincidence: this is the latest work by Oren Safdie. The Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based playwright is the son of architect Moshe Safdie and grew up in his father’s modular prefab marvel, Habitat ’67, before making his way to Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture.

“Architecture is also still mostly a male-dominated profession,” says Safdie, “so the opportunity to write about sexual politics–one of my favorite topics–is plentiful.” False Solution takes place in the basement model-making studio of a firm led by Anton Seligman (played with brainy yet sizzling charisma by Sean Haberle), a starchitect who has landed a commission to design a Holocaust museum in Poland. He soon finds himself arguing the merits of volumes and voids with intern Linda Johnansson (Christy McIntosh), a striking know-it-all who flinches only when pressed into service at the drafting table: “It’s just at this stage of my career, I’m much more effective as a critical thinker than a generator of ideas,” says the first-year architecture student. Fortunately for theatergoers, Safdie has mastered both roles. He recently answered our questions about his career path, his new play, and why architects make for better characters on the boards than on the screen.

How did you go from studying architecture at Columbia to being a playwright (and screenwriter and director)?
In my last year at architecture school, Columbia University insisted you take a course outside your discipline. I took a playwriting course. A scene I wrote was selected in a contest juried by Romulus Linney, and received a staged reading. Once I saw my words on stage, I was hooked.

Your new play, False Solution, is about an architect’s struggle to design a Holocaust museum in Poland. How did the idea for the play develop?
I would say the kernel of the play was born when 10 years ago, I saw a figure skating event on television. One of the American skaters had donned a yarmulke and wore a sweater with a Star of David sewn on his chest. The theme he skated to: Schindler’s List. I was amazed that someone would actually try and give some kind of expression to the Holocaust. I was reminded by this several years later when I visited Libeskind‘s Jewish Museum in Berlin, where I felt the same sense of someone trying to convey the suffering through architectural expression, albeit more successfully. There were other Holocaust museums I visited, including my father‘s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem that offered an opposite approach–almost creating a non-building. It was through these difference, that I created two very different type of characters. The other influence on this play comes from my mother, who lived in hiding in Poland during the war. Many of the stories are factual, and I was interested in how, per se, her experiences have impacted my own life.
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Seven Questions for the Campana Brothers


Humberto and Fernando Campana (Photo: Fernando Laszlo)

“I think our work is always based on materials,” said Humberto Campana, glancing around the first U.S. solo gallery show for him and his brother, Fernando. “And we’re more and more interested in natural materials.” And so the new works on view through July 3 at Friedman Benda in New York swap plush and plastic for cowhide, fish scales, and gemstones, upping the luxe quotient while maintaining the brothers’ signature straight-outta-Sao-Paulo brand of whimsy. While putting the finishing touches on the show last week, they made time to plop down on their leather Alligator Couch–a handcrafted update to the 2005 plush version–to share some stories behind the new pieces, their working process, and how they might spend their summer vacation.

What was the starting point for this show?
Humberto Campana: This [points to "Racket Chair (Circles)," pictured at right] was the seed for the exhibition. This chair was born from a mistake. We didn’t want to do weaving…it was projected to be made with leather cushions. But that didn’t work out and it stayed for two years in our studio, unfinished. And then one day we asked a guy to weave it. I think these look like tennis racquets [laughs].

Fernando Campana: Here we are showing many different concepts. The thing with this exhibition is that one piece generated another one.

You’ve covered the walls of the gallery in coconut fiber. Did you expect it to have such a dramatic effect?
FC: It’s to bring some part of Brazil–the nature of the place–and also to combine with the pieces that we put in this exhibition.

HC: Also, it was a way to to come back to our roots, with using simple materials to construct the look of luxury. And the idea that this is luxury today. We wanted to make those statements–or pose those questions.

How did you decide to use amethysts?
HC: It’s the best! My father was an agronomic engineer. He used to work on farms in Brazil and in some areas you can find crystals. And whenever he would find a crystal he would bring it back home to our house. And I would always hold up the crystals to the sun to see the details. It kind of gives…a shamanic quality.
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Seven Questions for Architect Josemaría de Churtichaga

For architect Josemaría de Churtichaga, specialization is the enemy. His Madrid-based firm, Churtichaga + Quadra-Salcedo (ch+qs), is just as happy to design city councils, libraries, and cultural centers as it is boats, furniture, books, typography, and, as the English translation of the firm’s website so fantastically put its, “establishments in the Sahara for petroliferous companies” (sign us up for one of those!). De Churtichaga was in New York recently for the opening of “Magic Carpet,” an installation of 36 shipping containers suspended from the ceiling of Pier 57, and made time to answer our questions about his impressions of the cavernous space, the project, and what’s next on his to-do list (spoiler alert: “a secret underground architectonic project on the beautiful island of Mallorca”).

What were your first impressions of Pier 57?
My first impression was of a fantastic atmospheric experience. For me, architecture is more of an atmospheric problem than a formal problem. Architecture is about building atmospheres, about defining the way a space or environment affects us through our senses, which are our interface with the world. The quality of architecture then is rooted in the intensity by which it affects us. Pier 57 is full of this atmospheric quality. When we walk trough the pier, an extremely attractive industrial space excites our memories, the subtle light is challenging our eyes, the loneliness and echoes everywhere affect our ears, and everything has a flavor of the untouched authenticity of a lost activity. Those are spatial and emotional virtues to be preserved in Pier 57.

What did you create for the space?
We decided to build a changing, mutable space of containers, inside an extremely challenging and attractive space that could solve an enormous amounts of different events’ requirements, and at the same time preserving the view across the space from the city towards the Hudson.

You’ve used shipping containers in previous projects. How did they function here?
In some way this space is setting the tone of what will happen in the whole pier refurbishment. The container as a design tool has in my opinion many advantages. Its repetition and its diversity gives the spaces a less formal sensation, and at the same time is a “memory machine” that talks to us about dealing directly with the industrial world.
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Seven Question for Rad and Hungry Founder Hen Chung


Hole reinforcers and pencils from Costa Rica, and Hen Chung in Istanbul.

Around the world in 80 writing utensils? That’s one way to describe Rad and Hungry, which aims to take lovers of interesting office supplies on a “world tour of limited-edition goods with lo-fi style, pushing design through travel and travel through design.” Founded by former graphic designer Hen Chung in collaboration with fellow globetrotters Sam Alston and Laura Dedon Oxford, the online shop assembles an ever-changing selection of country-themed kits stocked with imported pens, pencils, stationery, and other exotic desk goodies, all beautifully packaged. A Rad and Hungry subscription is the perfect gift for the design lover who has everything—except thumbtacks from Lisbon.

“We really try to make each kit speak to our travels in that country–the people we met, food we ate, design we saw,” Chung tells us. “As each layer is unwrapped, people share in our low-down travel. The whole experience transforms the lo-fi, often overlooked daily-diet goods into something sacred. Our ultimate goal is to connect far-flung groups of people who love style, design, and travel as much as we do.” She made time between scouting trips to answer our questions about creating the company, her favorite finds, and what’s currently on her desk.

What led you to create Rad and Hungry?
I was a graphic designer for ten years and it became time for me to move on. I knew I wanted to combine the things I love most—travel and design. One day I was sitting in my library room thinking about what my next move would be. I was staring at a section of shelves that store journals that I collected from my travels. They were all untouched–they were inexpensive journals I picked up in places such as corner shops and pharmacies. Didn’t matter that none of the pages contained any words or images, they were all so sacred to me because they reminded me of each country. And then it hit me—create a company that allows me to travel and share daily-diet design through office supplies.

You travel the globe hunting for new stuff to include in Rad and Hungry kits. What are some of your favorite finds of all time?
Probably my favorite item to date is the Soviet-era notebooks in the Latvia Kit. I love the yellowing pages, the faded mint covers, and the simple rubber-stamped logo. Close seconds are the copper-colored paper clips from our first Germany Kit and the flower-scented pencils from the Portugal Kit. I love the paper clips because they’re so opposite of what people expect of German goods—they’re delicate and not uniform in shape. And the pencils from Portugal are amazing. Their smell is unreal. Super fragrant but not in the cheap perfume sort of way. They’re made by an old pencil factory that’s still in business after all these years. I’m always stoked to discover a company with a lot of history ‘cause I’m a firm believer that old school is best!

You’re packing for a desert island and can only bring one writing utensil. What is it?
Hands down a goldenrod pencil. I figure I’ll be able to create a tool to sharpen it and find something to write on. But I don’t know what I’d do if I need a fire, hurting for wood and have to make the ultimate decision between fighting off the cold or having a trusty number 2 pencil.
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