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Alison Bechdel, Rick Lowe Among 2014 MacArthur Fellows

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(Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Are You My Mother?) and artist Rick Lowe (Project Row Houses) are among this year’s MacArthur fellows, the annual mix of thinkers, writers, artists, mathematicians, and materials scientists awarded $500,000 in no-strings-attached “genius grants” over five years. “Those who think creativity is dying should examine the life’s work of these extraordinary innovators who work in diverse fields and in different ways to improve our lives and better our world,” said MacArthur Fellows Program vice president Cecilia Conrad, in a statement issued today. “Together, they expand our view of what is possible, and they inspire us to apply our own talents and imagination.” Other 2014 fellows include documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, translator and poet Khaled Mattawa< /strong>, playwright Samuel D. Hunter, and computer scientist Craig Gentry. Meet all 21 MacArthur fellows here.
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Mediabistro Course

Fashion Writing

Fashion WritingStarting September 23, work with the contributing editor at ELLE.com to get your writing published in fashion magazines and websites! In this course, you'll learn how write fashion headlines, runway reviews, and fashion features, write compelling pitch letters, and gain insight into the fashion industry. Register now!

Voting Opens for People’s Design Award

vote for design.jpgPast winners of the People’s Design Award, launched by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2006 to complement its annual National Design Awards, have ranged from the Katrina Cottage and Toms Shoes to a Braille Alphabet Bracelet and the cultural force that is Debbie Millman‘s Design Matters. As for the 2014 winner, it’s up to you, and by “you,” we mean anyone who votes—early and often (OK, daily)—here.

From today through October 6, you can browse and vote for your favorite of a field of 20 nominated designs including elegant and inventive consumer products (Drift Light, Lumio, Soma Water Bottle), medical devices (Cue, Spire, Stick-On Circuit Board), eco-friendly construction materials (Mushroom Building Blocks), emergency tools (SAM Junctional Tourniquet) and design solutions for human and environmental problems (Deka Arm, Ecozoom Stove). The winner will be announced on October 9 at the National Design Awards Gala in New York City and on the Smithsonian’s voting site.

Vitra’s Rolf Fehlbaum to Receive Philly Museum of Art’s Collab Design Excellence Award

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collab awardMake way for the chairman. Vitra’s Rolf Fehlbaum is the winner of the 2014 Collab Design Excellence Award, bestowed annually by a collaboration of design professionals supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Past winners of the award include Marc Newson, Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Marcel Wanders, and Frank Gehry.

Hadid (designer of the Vitra Fire Station) and Gehry (who worked his magic for the Vitra Design Museum and offices) are old chums of Feldbaum, who currently serves as chairman emeritus at Vitra, the legendary design firm founded in 1950 by his parents. The family-owned Swiss firm was quick to make inroads stateside, in part by becoming a licensee of Herman Miller (enter George Nelson and the Eameses). Feldbaum will give a lecture and pick up his award, a silver and laser-etched rubber swoop (pictured) designed by Kate Reynolds and fabricated by jewelry designer Maria Eife, on November 21, which will also mark the opening of “Vitra: Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots,” an exhibition that will be on view through April 26.

New Architecture Prize Honors Year’s Best Public Library: Australia’s Craigieburn

Craigieburn Library

You need only browse a Candida Höfer monograph to realize that Denmark knows good libraries. It’s a strength that the Danish Agency for Culture—in partnership with Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects—has seized upon to create a new award recognizing the best public library of the year. The inaugural winner, announced earlier this month in Lyon, France (bibliothèque country!), is Australia’s Craigieburn Library, located in Hume City, Victoria and designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp.

The Aussie institution bested fellow nominees in the United Kingdom (the Library of Birmingham, designed by Mecanoo Architecten), the Netherlands (De Boekenberg, a.k.a. Book Mountain, in Spijkenisse, designed by MVRDV), and Denmark (Copenhagen’s Ørestad Bibliotek, designed by KHR Arkitekter). The judges settled on Craigieburn because it “distinguishes itself as a significant modern construction with a strong, recognizable architectural concept” and “with its open and flexible space…creates a democratic meeting place, open to diversity and interaction.”

Favorite Thing: Jack Headphone Stand

Nancy Lazarus journeyed to the Javits Center for the summer 2014 edition of NY NOW, the Market for Home + Lifestyle (formerly NYIGF) as the UnBeige judge for the Bloggers’ Choice Awards, which highlights “urgent, odd, and delightful design” from among the more than 150 exhibitors in the Accent on Design category. Here’s her pick.

jackWhile scouring the Accent on Design aisles of the NY NOW trade show, which wraps up today, we came across a product that literally stood out: the Jack Headphone Stand, our choice for the Bloggers’ Choice awards. Designed by Brooklyn-based ModProducts (a.k.a. ModKo), the Jack Headphone Stand is the optimal storage and recharging station for headphones and small mobile devices when it’s high time for a digital break. It’s made from polypropylene and rubber in orange, yellow, white, or gray, to fit the color scheme of any desk or night table. All wires remain hidden behind a cable pass-through, leaving you with a clutter-free space. The Jack will make its first stand at retail in time for the holiday shopping season.

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

Design Students Compete for World Sneaker Championship Title

pensole beltIt started with 30 carefully selected design students from 16 countries. Divided into eight design teams, with three footwear designers and one color and materials designer in each, they took an original design idea from concept to finished design over the course of four weeks as competitors in the World Sneaker Championship. Part footwear design master class and part sneaker smackdown, the event is organized by Pensole, the footwear design academy founded in 2010 by Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards, and after Friday’s presentations to industry pros, the finalists (in eight categories and for eight sponsoring brands) have been chosen. Head to the online home of Sports Illustrated by 6 p.m. EST Wednesday to cast your online vote for the overall winning design as the finalists head to Vegas to present their designs at the FN Platform trade show. The big winner, to be announced late Wednesday, will be presented with the coveted (and pencil-studded) Pensole World Sneaker Championship belt (pictured) and the possibility of seeing their design sold at retail.

Merrill Elam, Jeanne Gang Among Winners of New ‘Women in Architecture’ Awards

(Timothy Hursley)

There’s a new set of design honors up for grabs, and those with a Y chromosome need not apply. Architectural Record is recognizing the design leadership of women architects with its Women in Architecture Awards, which will be presented on October 9 in Manhattan following the magazine’s Innovation Conference. The five inaugural recipients, selected by an independent panel of architects, scholars, and critics, and announced this week, are:

  • Design Leader, honoring an architect with significant built work and influence: Merrill Elam of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects
  • New Generation Leader, honoring an architect who is rising in the profession: Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang
  • Innovator, honoring an architect who has made a mark in innovative design, materials or building type: Sheila Kennedy of Kennedy & Violich Architecture
  • Activist, honoring an architect who has used her skills to design for social change, effect the public realm or perform pro bono work: Erinn McGurn of SCALEAfrica
  • Educator, honoring a professional who has helped the advancement of women: Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, former dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture

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LACMA to Honor Barbara Kruger, Quentin Tarantino

(Barbara Kruger)Any number of lines from the films of Quentin Tarantino (perhaps the Pulp Fictional: “Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character” or “Personality goes a long way”?) would look swell sprawled out in Futura Bold Italic by Barbara Kruger. The artist and the filmmaker will come together on November 1 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the honorees of its 2014 Art+Film Gala, the museum announced today. Further upping the Gucci-backed fete’s cinematic koan quotient will be Leonardo DiCaprio, who is chairing the event with LACMA trustee Eva Chow.

In other exciting film-related LACMA news, the museum is prepping the first major retrospective of the work of Pierre Huyghe. The exhibition, which is being “designed as a single, extraordinary environment,” opens November 23.

Pictured: Barbara Kruger, Untitled (You Are A Very Special Person), 1995

SVA to Honor Tom Geismar with ‘Masters Series’ Retrospective

(Art Beach)It’s a good year to be Tom Geismar. He and partner (and fellow graphic design legend) Ivan Chermayeff are the 2014 recipients of the National Design Award for lifetime achievement, but even before they pick up their chunky glass asterisks at the Cooper Hewitt’s awards gala in October, Geismar will get the retrospective treatment at New York’s School of Visual Arts. A panel of his peers has selected Geismar to be the 2014 SVA Master Series honoree, joining a roster of past laureates that includes Chermayeff, Saul Bass, Steven Heller, Duane Michals, and Paula Scher. In addition to his logo designs for the likes of Mobil, Chase Manhattan Bank, National Geographic, PBS, Rockefeller Center, Univision, NYU, and Xerox, the exhibition will feature personal works, books, and student projects from Geismar’s own collection.

“The Masters Series: Tom Geismar” opens August 25 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery in NYC.

Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, James Turrell Among National Medal of Arts Recipients

medal_bigBillie Tsien and Tod Williams are heading to the White House. The architects are among the just-announced recipients of the 2013 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the federal government. “Whether public or private, their deliberate and inspired designs have a profound effect on the lives of those who interact with them, and their teaching and spirit of service have inspired young people to pursue their passions,” reads the official citation. They will receive their Robert Graham-designed medals (pictured) from President Obama at a ceremony in the East Room on Monday afternoon.

Williams and Tsien will be joined by fellow 2013 medalists artist James Turrell, documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, director and Dreamworker Jeffrey Katzenberg, representatives of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, writer Maxine Hong Kingston, musical theater composer John Kander, novelist, poet, and essayist Julia Alvarez, musician Linda Ronstadt, and arts patron Joan Harris.

Watch the ceremony live on Monday at 3:00 p.m. EST here.

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