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7 Questions

Seven Questions for Martha Stewart

martha!

Martha Stewart was joined by Bravo’s Andy Cohen last night to kick off the second annual American Made, a two-day celebration of ingenuity and craftsmanship that turns Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall into a lively marketplace of handpicked purveyors, crafters, and makers. Among this year’s American Made honorees are lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, Shinola’s Health Carr, and paper crafters Leo Kowal and Mary Rudakas, who took home the audience choice award for their SVGCuts creations. And for Stewart, that’s not even the icing on the cake—she’s got a new book out (about cakes!), an equally delicious PBS TV series in production (more cakes!), and big Halloween plans (Pumpkin Layer Cake…and much more!). We paused in our attempt at her Clementine-Vanilla Bean Loaf Cake to ask her seven questions.

What are some of your favorite finds among the nominees and winners of this year’s American Made awards?
The two-day event celebrates the spirit of innovation and spotlight a new generation of entrepreneurs. Everything we highlight with the American Made program, which is now in its second year, is something I’ve found in my various travels and meetings to be fascinating, unique, and worthy of recognition. This year, I have my eye on Back to the Roots, which is a ‘grow your own mushroom kit’ company out of Oakland, California, as well as Spoonflower, a custom fabric printing company in Durham, North Carolina.

cakes

Which recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cakes would you suggest for an amateur baker who wants to whip up a tasty and visually stunning cake?
The buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting is a great starting point for any amateur. It’s both visually stunning and tasteful. This book also provides a basics section specifically designed for amateurs who are looking to sharpen their baking skills. It provides essential equipment and ingredients for mixing, baking, and finishing!

Any tricks you can share about making a cake look as good as the amazingly beautiful ones featured in the pages of Martha Stewart’s Cakes?
Pairing cakes with accompaniments can be the finishing touch to a baker’s creation. They are served on the side adding richness, to simple cakes.
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Seven Questions for Eskayel’s Shanan Campanaro

Shanan Campanaro brings the soul of an artist and the sharp eye of a fashion-savvy graphic designer to Eskayel, a collection of custom wallcoverings that has rapidly expanded into fabrics, rugs, and decorative products such as enchanting pillows, scarves, and stationery. Educated at Central St Martins, Brooklyn-based Campanaro developed Eskayel’s distinctive style—painterly and organic yet contemporary and at times downright futuristic—by mixing the handmade and the digitally manipulated. She uses watercolors and soluble watercolor pens to create paintings, scans them, and then plays around with their pixels. This week marks the launch of “Cosmos” (pictured below), a collection of starry, outer space-inspired patterned pillows made in collaboration with ABC Home. She talked with us about the out-of-this-world pillows, the origins of Eskayel, and how she keeps the company’s products eco-friendly.

How did you begin Eskayel?
I made some wallpaper for my house out of a design from one of my paintings, and then decided to try and make a whole collection and enter into a design show in Brooklyn.

Environmental responsibility is an important aspect of Eskayel—has that commitment been challenging to sustain as your business has grown?
Well, we are so committed to staying as green as possible that it just means certain things that might make our product less expensive or more commercially viable are off-limits. For example, producing overseas or using vinyl. There are a ton of innovations in technology that have come along that have made things easier for us. Because of these innovations, our contract paper is recycled and the paper substrate with the contract requirements is a relatively new product. Also, the latex digital printers which use water-based inks and have the durability of solvent printers (which off-gas, and have not been an option for us in the past) have really expanded our capabilities.

How did the collaboration with ABC Home come about?
We met buyers from ABC several years ago at ICFF [the International Contemporary Furniture Fair], but it really all started when Paulette Cole, the owner, saw our Poolside collection at ICFF in 2012. The standard Eskayel line was selling well, so they wanted some exclusive patterns for ABC from us, so we designed the Cosmos collection for them and collaborated on furniture. The Cosmos collection ships today, so it should be in stores any moment!
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Seven Questions for Hilary Schaffner, Director of Halsey McKay Gallery


Halsey McKay recently presented “Angel Error,” a solo exhibition of the work of Brooklyn-based artist Joseph Hart. (All images courtesy Halsey McKay Gallery)

Once upon a time, the East End of New York’s Long Island was an artistic refuge that drew the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning to set up homes and studios. The region’s legendary light, charming potato fields, and shimmering views now command stratospheric prices that have priced all but the most successful artists out of the market, but there’s still plenty of art to see in the Hamptons, which last fall gained a powerhouse in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. We recently journeyed a bit further east to the town of East Hampton and left impressed by the assured exhibitions on view at Halsey McKay Gallery, founded in 2011 by sharp-eyed curator Hilary Schaffner and artist Ryan Wallace. In the wake of a supercharged summer of shows, including solo exhibitions of Joseph Hart, Anne-Lise Coste, Patrick Brennan, and Graham Collins, we asked Schaffner to tell us more about Halsey McKay, what exhibitions she’s looking forward to seeing this fall, and some other Hamptons must-sees.

1. What led you to open your gallery in East Hampton?
It’s amazing to think that this all began with a conversation Ryan and I had one evening in 2011. We were both surprised and intrigued by the fact there were so few galleries on the East End focused on emerging artists. A place with such a rich art history presented a great opportunity to support our programming. We thought that we could be more accessible to collectors out here than if we were in New York City. Without all the distractions and competition of the city, we envisioned we could meet interesting people in a short amount of time and give our artists a great platform for being seen. It’s been rewarding to bring our generation of artists out East and introduce them to the to the area. For me, there was also this continuation of family history. The Halsey’s were one of the first families to settle out here in the 1640s. It feels significant to be working in a place with such strong familial and art historical ties.

2. How would you describe the gallery’s program/artist roster?
This was another aspect that evolved organically. We already had a community of mainly Brooklyn-based artists that ended up being the foundation of our program. I have a MFA in photography and Ryan went to RISD and is a painter, this has lead us to show a range of mediums. Our middle ground has ended up being abstraction. We have some great figurative artists in the mix, like Ben Blatt and Ryan Schneider but there is certainly a mutual interest in abstract works. We’ve also had a lot of fun doing two and three person shows with artists whose work might not be immediately associated together.

3. How did you choose the name Halsey McKay?
Halsey is my grandmother’s maiden name and McKay is Ryan’s grandmother’s maiden name.

4. Tell us about your current show, “Ether Scrims, Dark Rooms, and Calculative Planes,” on view through Sunday.
We were thinking about how space is rendered in an artist’s practice —the flattening of space and the creation of space. Photography, sculpture and painting are all represented here yet each artist has this underpinning of optical illusion in their work through combining virtual and analog interventions. Before the show was installed we were operating in this very conceptual space but after seeing it all hung, these wonderful formal relationships have sprung up. The geometry and patterning that each artist has come to, in very distinctive ways, feels quite unified.
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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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