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Dwell Delves into Retail with Online Store

eames notebookFrom print to web to…retail. That’s the path taken by Dwell Media, which has parlayed its modern design expertise into e-commerce. The recently launched Dwell Store is stocked with products from the likes of Kartell, Flos, the Bouroullec Brothers, and Grain Design. The site will also showcase designs developed exclusively for Dwell. “Our audience constantly asks us, ‘Where can I buy that?’” says Dwell president Michela O’Connor Abrams. “I am so pleased to now say ‘at dwell.com!’” Start the new year off with a few Delfonics wooden pens from Japan ($10 each) and an Eames notebook (pictured, $20).

Intel Teams with Opening Ceremony, Barneys, CFDA on Wearable Technology

carol and humberto OCWatch out, Google Glass, there’s an Intel-powered bracelet on the horizon, and it will be designed in collaboration with Opening Ceremony (founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are pictured at right) and make its retail debut at Barneys New York. The in-the-works “smart bracelet” is part of a broader wearable technology initiative announced by Intel at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which runs through Friday in Las Vegas.

In addition to the product partnership, the company outlined its plan to work with the Council of Fashion Designers of America “to create a community for technology developers and fashion designers to network, match-make, cultivate, and exchange ideas on wearable technology.” The alliance will connect the CFDA’s 400 members with hardware and software developers. “The collaborations we announced today will merge the expertise of two very distinct disciplines of technology and fashion, essential in realizing the vision of prolific adoption of wearable technology,” said Intel’s Ayse Ildeniz in a statement. “Intel’s aim is to initiate sustainable, long-term cooperation between the technology and fashion worlds beginning with today’s announcements.”

Chinese Artists Will Transform Your Instagrams into Oil Paintings

pixelist
Watch your back, Richard Estes. A photo and, at right, the resulting Pixelist painting.

Make 2014 the year that your Instagram masterworks break free of their pixellated prisons and start a new life as…photorealist oil paintings! That’s the transformative promise of Pixelist. The startup offers handmade oil paintings of any image you can capture or create, with “commissions” starting at $150. How? A bunch of willing and able Chinese painters sourced by founder Will Freeman, an Emory grad now based in Hong Kong. He made time to answer a few questions about the burgeoning business.

pixelist exampleHow did you get the idea to start Pixelist?
Pixelist came from a love of all things custom and creative. We’ve spent years designing our own clothes, shoes, furniture, and art and hunting for the best craftspeople to bring them to life. So we were naturally attracted to the idea of harnessing the popularity of Instagram to revive commissioned painting.

That part really describes me and my years in China and Hong Kong. But my business partner, Conor Colwell, originally came up with the idea. Conor and I used to work together and would always bat around startup ideas on our lunch break. I took him to visit one of China’s “art villages” in Shenzhen and he was hugely impressed by the painting quality. Conor has always been into Instagram, so he thought it would be a great way to immortalize photos people already loved. I loved the idea because I was already deeply into getting things custom made.
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Arem Duplessis Leaving New York Times Magazine for Apple

Your Sunday is about to get a lot less visually stimulating: Arem Duplessis has decided to leave his post as design director of The New York Times Magazine [muffled sobbing]. Come February, he’ll begin his new position as a creative director at Apple, where he’ll lend his creative genius to the internal marketing team. Word of the move follows the recent announcement that Facebook has tapped Apple advertising veteran Scott Trattner to serve as its executive creative director. We asked Duplessis a few questions as he prepares to relocate to the promised land of Cupertino.

Why is it the right time for you to make this move?
I’ve been at The New York Times Magazine for almost ten years. I have worked with some of the smartest people on the planet and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience such a great gig. With that said, it’s time for a new chapter and a new challenge.

What will you miss most about working at The New York Times Magazine?
Without question the people. I have made so many great friends over the years and I will miss them dearly.

Bonus question: What’s the best gift you received this holiday season?
Hearing my son proclaim “THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!” No way to beat that, right?

Paddle8 Launches Sister Site for ‘Extraordinary Experiences’

Still museum
Still got it. A private, curator-led tour of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver is among the experiences now up for grabs on Gavel&Grand.

Did Santa (or UPS) fail to deliver for you this year? Still in search of a worthy cause for an under-the-wire 2013 charitable donation? Head straight to Gavel&Grand. The recently launched site expands Paddle8‘s online platform, rounding up philanthropic auctions that are studded with extraordinary experiences. Hurry to get your bids in for the Aspen Art Museum’s Freestyle auction, which runs through tomorrow evening on the site. The big-ticket items include a stay at a private chalet and a membership at The Caribou Club, but we’re coveting the Inez and Vinoodh commissioned portrait, private tour of the breathtaking Clyfford Still Museum, and a San Francisco art junket that promises an intimate look at Ai Weiwei‘s forthcoming Alcatraz Island installation.

Saks Fifth Avenue Decks the Halls with 3D-Printed Snowflakes by Marian Bantjes

printing snowflakesOh, the weather outside is frightful, but Saks Fifth Avenue’s latest holiday (and possibly last) collaboration with Marian Bantjes is so delightful. This year Makerbot and Mastercard join the mix, offering shoppers at Saks’ New York City flagship the chance to take home a 3D-printed snowflake.

Illustrated by Bantjes and printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2 (pictured), the snowflakes are a gift with purchase for those who spend $150 on their Mastercard through December 24. Stop by to watch the Replicator work its magic Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Can’t make it to New York this holiday season? Bantjes’s work is just as entrancing in 2D. Pick up a copy of her stunning new monograph Pretty Pictures (Metropolis Books) and then buy five more as stocking stuffers.

Seven Questions for Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott

avianca id
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.

rick wiseWith a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.

Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.

Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.

As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.
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Quote of Note | Nicolas Ghesquière

(Giovanni Giannoni)

“The process and production speeds [of H&M and Zara] are incredible, and I think they have the big bosses of luxury drooling, because everyone fantasizes about achieving that level of efficiency. Yet, for some of these brands the creative aspect gets completely short-circuited; they are clearly waiting for the runway shows to snatch and sell silhouettes as quickly as possible. It can’t be great for the designers there, who probably spend their time adapting what someone else has invented. There have been some very successful collaborations between designers and multinational retailers, especially by H&M, but it questions everyone’s future. These companies will all need strong talent at some point. They are all hedging against this investment and the fact that without an original idea you might make tons of money but you still need a creative source to survive, either to sustain your visibility or, in a more basic sense, to create clothes.”

-Nicolas Ghesquière, newly appointed artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton, in an interview with Pierre-Alexandre de Looz for 032c

Master Class: Seven Questions for Melanie Courbet, Founder of Atelier Courbet

Courbet Interior Shop
(Photos courtesy Atelier Courbet)

Melanie Courbet PortraitNew York’s latest design destination is Atelier Courbet, a new gallery and shop that brings together exquisite objects, furniture, textiles, and home accessories handpicked for their sublime old-school craftsmanship. In an age of touchscreens and disposable everything, many of these one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces combine traditional techniques with contemporary design. “Our intention is to highlight the revered talent behind every object,” says founder Melanie Courbet, who convinced renowned craftsmen Domeau & Pérès to make their stateside debut at Atelier Courbet. “We would like to inspire our clients to curate their home and their lifestyle based on the appreciation of the material and the details of their environment.” We asked Courbet to tell us more about the new venture, including its home in the historical Brewster Carriage House (located at the corner of Broome and Mott Streets) and some of her favorite straight-from-the-workshop pieces.

Why did you think that it was the right time to open this gallery and shop?
It was the right time in my life as I matured for seven years my relationships with most of the manufactures or craftsmen I represent today. On another note, I believe my desire to shift the focus to the master-craftsmanship over the design or creative aspects is a response to a context. Our market—like our global culture—shows a shift in the consumer’s behavior. There is a general trend at different levels of consumption that reflects a global desire to nurture a sense of community and connect with the makers behind our belongings or the goods we consume. Brand equity is now often built upon emotional connections with the provenance, a sense of cultural heritage and traditions. I hope for Atelier Courbet to convey that story and to allow for our clients to find that connect with each handmade piece presented.

What qualities unite the designers and companies represented at Atelier Courbet?
Atelier Courbet selects and represents master-craftsmen based on their abilities to fabricate for the contemporary art or design scene while carrying on a heritage, discipline and centuries-old techniques.

Atelier Courbet 1How did you come upon the Brewster Carriage House? Why did the building appeal to you?
It’s my friend’s building. He and I have similar visions and passions. It sounded natural and such a great fit for a gallery and shop focusing on master-craftsmanship and heritage to set the stage in a building that has that incarnation.

The Brewster Carriage Building goes back to the mid-nineteenth century when it used to house the famous carriage makers’ workshop. We kept the boilers doors as well as a carriage that was made here by the Brewster Company’s workers. Ross Morgan and I would like to make this corner a destination that stages both the heritage of the building, the neighborhood and selected centuries-old manufacturers from around the world. The Atelier Courbet and the Brewster Carriage Corner will become both a design gallery and a lifestyle shop.
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Reading the Tea Leaves: Starbucks Debuts Teavana Concept Store in NYC

Always thirsty for hot new markets, Starbucks is betting big on tea. The coffee giant recently spent $612 million to acquire Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings, and is not letting its newest subsidiary steep. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to see what’s brewing at the first-ever Teavana concept store, complete with tea bar, a “curated” loose leaf tea section, and tea-inspired foods.

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(Photos courtesy Starbucks Corporation)

Teavana is a twist on beverages, and changes the idea of how people think of tea,” said Chanda Beppu, strategy and business innovation director for global tea at Starbucks. It’s also designed to broaden how customers think about the brand.

Starbucks acquired Teavana and its more than 300 retail locations in December 2012, and last week unveiled the first “Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (on Madison Avenue at 85th Street). With an assortment of 100 Asian-inspired flavors and a coveted location near Museum Mile and Central Park, Starbucks is also looking for New Yorkers, tourists, art lovers, runners, and passersby to warm to the concept store. “We’re still learning,” said Starbucks chief creative office Arthur Rubinfeld during Wednesday’s press preview, “and we’ll see how much of a community gathering spot this becomes.”

For Starbucks, it’s all about local relevant design, and textures are key, added Rubinfeld. Starbucks’ creative director of global design, Liz Muller, led a tour of the multifaceted venue, divided into distinct sections. “Here we wanted to create a tranquil, calm, zen-like ambience,” noted Muller. “Tea is the speaking point, and the store is in the background.”

“At the entrance visitors are greeted by a wall of teas,” said Muller. “As they continue inside, they’ll see an illuminated countertop and a menu board on the left side. Wall graphics include hibiscus lit in color, with wallpaper in muted tones. The solid wraparound countertops are made of recycled oak wood, and we used lower club seating for guests. The food case is like a jewel box, taking a European approach,” On the far side of the entrance is a colorful merchandise display.
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