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Big Time: Olafur Eliasson, Peter Zumthor Among New Mentors in Rolex Arts Initiative

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(Photos courtesy Studio Olafur Eliasson and Keystone/Christian Beutler)

Rolex’s Arts Initiative gives new meaning to the phrase “ones to watch.” For the past decade, the luxury watchmaker has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, and—beginning last year—architecture for year-long creative collaborations. The program, which encourages dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines, has devised dynamic duos such as Anish Kapoor and Nicholas Hlobo, Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Yang Zhao.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice was the setting for a festive gathering held earlier today to announce the seven creative wizards who will serve as mentors for the 2014-15 program: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theater), and Peter Zumthor (architecture). As for the emerging talents, it’s pick-your-own-protégé. Each of the mentors will choose a talented young artist to join them for a year of creative collaboration—and a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately $28,000, at current exchange rates).

Quote of Note | Peter Buchanan-Smith

sam mcgee axes
Best Made’s “Sam McGee” American felling axe.

“I took an axe that was made by someone else, and I just painted the handle. The hard part was selling it and developing a catalogue and world around that one painted, simple axe. It was done overnight in a way. I had no business plan when I started. I literally painted 12 axes, photographed them, and two or three weeks later, I built an e-commerce site, and they were up for sale online.

It has been very slow to develop and craft some of the products that I want out there. That’s what’s been hard; it takes time and money, and that doesn’t come quickly unless you’re willing to sell half of your company or something, even if that were possible. But, I’ve learned a lot from my manufacturers. We work with a 140-year-old axe company that is still run by the same family. It is really inspiring to go down there, to watch them run machinery that was built 80 to 100 years ago, and see that they’re not anxious about growing really quickly. To them, it is about long, sustained growth. No one is thinking, ‘Let’s get rich quick.’”

-Best Made Company founder Peter Buchanan-Smith in Kern and Burn: Conversations With Design Entrepreneurs, a new book by Tim Hoover and Jessica Karle Heltzel

MakerBot and Stratasys Complete Merger

MakerBot and Stratasys are now bonded as tightly as a couple of extruded molten thermoplastic layered photopolymers, having completed the $403 million merger deal announced in June. “Stratasys and MakerBot share a vision about the potential for 3D printing to transform design and manufacturing,” said Stratasys CEO David Reis in a statement issued today, to which MakerBot’s Bre Pettis added, “We are excited for the future—full speed ahead!”

Founded in 2009, Brooklyn-based MakerBot is the most recognized name in desktop 3D printers and Stratasys, formed last year by the merger of Stratasys and Objet, plans to preserve the MakerBot brand, management, and “spirit of collaboration it has built with its users and partners.” CEO and co-founder Pettis will continue to lead MakerBot, which will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys. MakerBot has sold approximately 22,000 3D printers to date. Next up for the company: the MakerBot digitizer desktop 3D scanner, which promises “a quick and easy way to turn the things in your world into 3D designs you can share and print.”

NYC Pilot Program Aims to Boost Local Design Businesses


New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a press conference held yesterday at The Future Perfect in Manhattan. (Photo: William Alatriste / New York City Council)

New York City is for designers. (Quick, someone screen that on a tri-blend tee!) Hot on the 3D-printed heels of NYCxDESIGN, the 12-day designfest that debuted in May between Frieze and ICFF, comes a pilot program that aims to stimulate the local design economy. Built/NYC, unveiled yesterday by New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn and Department of Design and Construction Commissioner David Burney, will commission site-specific furnishings for City construction projects—think parks and municipal offices—from local product designers.

“Instead of automatically purchasing a desk, a lighting fixture, or other furnishings made in another country, we can allow the City to purchase products that have been designed and manufactured right here in the five boroughs,” said Quinn at a press conference held yesterday at The Future Perfect in Mahattan. “Built/NYC is a way for the City to support our growing design community by investing in the businesses that drive New York City’s creative economy while simultaneously enhancing the interiors of public buildings and spaces.”
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Design Within Reach Debuts Textiles Line

Up with upholstery! In a move that makes us want to recover all of our furniture in a hazy wool that is simultaneously ethereal and sweatshirtesque, Design Within Reach has launched a proprietary textile program. The nine textiles in 42 colorways, which debuted online and in DWR studios this week, range from a creamy cotton twill and a broad weave that plays well with saturated brights to a moody ducale wool and a textured, tiger lily-toned take on post-industrial recycled polyester. Seven of the fabrics, including a smart lama tweed, come from a family-run mill in Italy, while the aforementioned dreamy wool melange and eco-friendly textiles are all-American, made by Maharam, which was acquired by Herman Miller in April.

MOO Expands with Luxe Business Stationery

Who says print is dead? The world’s appetite for Moleskine jotters remains unquenched, Paperless Post is doing a brisk business in tangible notes as well as e-pistles, and over in Europe, IKEA is piloting a vast array of affordably-priced papergoods (the “VÄXTGLÄDJE” notebooks are described as “handmade by a skilled craftsman”). Now online digital printer MOO, the company that brought you Sagmeister & Walsh’s continuum of flattering to insulting business cards, is expanding its Luxe family of products to encompass “premium business stationery,” including customizable (and ultra-sturdy) notecards, postcards, and minicards. “Here at MOO we want to make beautiful design more affordable and accessible,” said Richard Moross, MOO founder and CEO, in a statement issued Tuesday. “With Luxe notecards we’re re-booting stationery, the original high-impact communications tool, by using new technology to make super-high quality print available to our customers for a fraction of the cost.”

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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IKEA Founder to Return to Sweden

Ingvar Kamprad put the “IK” in IKEA (the “E” and the “A” are for Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and a neighboring village, Agunnaryd), but he left Sweden in 1973 to escape the hefty taxes and settled in Switzerland. Now the 87-year-old IKEA founder, whose fortune is estimated at $51.7 billion (that’s enough to buy more than 8 million Billy bookcases), is coming home. “To move back to Sweden brings me closer to my family and my old friends,” Kamprad said in a statement. The country’s tax laws have softened since his departure, according to the Wall Street Journal. A wealth tax has been abolished and income taxes have been lowered. Kamprad recently stepped down from the board of IKEA’s parent company, Inter IKEA Group, which is now chaired by one of his three sons.

OXO Founder Sam Farber Dies at 88

Join us in raising your cushiony Santoprene-handled OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler in a salute to Sam Farber, who died last Sunday at the age of 88. He founded OXO in 1990 to fill a market gap for kitchen devices that were as comfortable as they were functional, an idea hatched after watching his mildly arthritic wife struggle with a spindly standard peeler while preparing an apple tart in the south of France.

Farber chose the name “OXO” for its graphic versatility: it reads the same horizontal, vertical, upside-down, or backwards and had the vision to tap Smart Design for the hand-friendly Good Grips line, still going strong today. “Sam saw an opportunity to provide comfortable tools that would be easy to use for the widest spectrum of users, changing the relationship people everywhere have with ordinary household products,” noted the company in a statement announcing Farber’s death. “His inquisitive nature and refusal to accept the status quo continue to inspire our product development today.”

Stratasys to Buy MakerBot in $403 Million Deal

Big news in the extruded molten thermoplastic, layered photopolymer world of 3D printing: privately held MakerBot has agreed to merge with Stratasys in a stock-for-stock deal valued at $403 million (based on Stratasys’ stock price at yesterday’s market close). The deal is expected to close by October.

Founded in 2009, Brooklyn-based MakerBot is the most recognized name in desktop 3D printers–its Replicator 2 will be available on Amazon later this month–and Stratasys, formed last year by the merger of Stratasys and Objet, plans to preserve the MakerBot brand, management, and “spirit of collaboration it has built with its users and partners.” CEO and co-founder Bre Pettis will continue to lead MakerBot, which will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys. “We have an aggressive model for growth, and partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring our 3D technology to more people,” said Pettis in a statement announcing the deal. MakerBot has sold approximately 22,000 3D printers to date. Next up for the company: the MakerBot digitizer desktop 3D scanner, which promises “a quick and easy way to turn the things in your world into 3D designs you can share and print.”

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