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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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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.”

Vacuum Smackdown: Dyson Sues Bissell for False Advertising

Don’t mess with a man who has cyclonic suction on his side. James Dyson‘s global empire of highly engineered, sleekly designed sucking and blowing devices is taking on its chief competitor for the U.S. marketplace–in court. Dyson Inc. claims that Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Bissell Homecare Inc. has been falsely advertising its range of (less expensive) upright vacuums as containing technology that “captures over 99.9 percent” of allergens. Dyson has long boasted that its machines are singular in their “constant powerful suction, high dust removal, the ability to capture allergens, expel cleaner air, do not have dusty bags to empty and are certified asthma & allergy friendly by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.” The company has gone so far as to trademark the phrase “asthma & allergy friendly.”

Dyson commissioned independent lab testing of the rival vacs and surveyed watery-eyed, sniffling consumers, while Bissell tried to clear the air by affixing stickers to its machines in an attempt to clarify that the ragweed and pollen trapping was actually done by filters, not the machines themselves. Dyson didn’t blink (or sneeze, for that matter) and is pressing its case in U.S. district court in Illinois. Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan cleared the way for the case to proceed in a summary judgment issued Friday. Will Dyson’s lawyers blow away the defense team? Will Bissell choke on its promises of wallet-friendly vacuums that improve respiratory health? Will the arguments of both sides suck? Stay tuned, floorcare fans.

In Brief: Fit City, Marc Jacobs Cosmetics Countdown, Martha Stewart Redesigns


(Photo: NYC Department of Transportation)

• How can design of the built environment create opportunities for increasing physical activity and access to healthier food and beverages? Find out on June 24th as architects, planners, designers, landscape architects, developers, and public health professionals come together for the eighth annual Fit City conference at the Center for Architecture. Not in NYC? Watch the livestream (while jogging in place).

• MJ is getting into the makeup game with Marc Jacobs Beauty. The color cosmetics collection, created in collaboration with Sephora, is set to launch in September with 122 products, including a blush called “Shameless” (a nod to one of the designer’s many tattoos). So how does it compare to working on a fragrance? “I think color is easier,” he told WWD. “Fragrance is even more like, sort of ephemeral in a way. But [color] is closer to the process of making a collection. Formulas are like fabrics, fibers, each fiber, whether silk or cashmere or whatever, they have natural properties. They have a certain look, they give you a certain feeling.”

Martha Stewart‘s latest redesign goes beyond the pages of Living (look for the overhauled magazine to hit newsstands next week), according to an article in today’s New York Times. A new Martha website will be geared toward visitors with shorter attention spans–a two-minute glitter tutorial? How to frost a cake in 60 seconds or less?
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Isabel Marant to Design Collection for H&M

Isabel Marant, come on down! You’re the next designer contestant on the global fashion version of The Price Is Right–better known as H&M. The Swedish fast fashion giant announced today that it has tapped the Studio Berçot grad to create “a wardrobe of must-have pieces inspired by her signature style,” a finely honed blend of Parisian insouciance, rocker grit, and boho glam that sent the world on a frenzied hunt for wedge sneakers.

“I aim at creating something real, that women want to wear in their everyday lives, with a certain carelessness, which I think is very Parisian: you dress up, but do not pay too much attention and still look sexy,” said Marant in a statement announcing the collaboration. “The collection is infused with this kind of easiness and attitude. Everything can be mixed following one’s own instincts: my take on fashion is all about personality.” The collection of clothing and accessories (we suspect fringe will be involved) for women and teens will hit 250 H&M stores on November 14. “Isabel Marant pour H&M” will also be available online.
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Paddle8 Lands $6 Million in Fresh Funding

Paddle8 is $6 million richer. The online auction house has completed a second funding round backed by investors including artist Damien Hirst, Alexander von Furstenberg, the Mellon family, and White Cube gallerist Jay Jopling. The new backers join Mousse Partners and Founder Collective, which led Paddle8’s $4 million Series A in February of last year. The company, founded in 2011 by Alexander Gilkes and Aditya Julka, will use the capital infusion to invest in new technology and expand beyond contemporary art into the realm of collectibles, “from eclectic design to fine jewelry,” according to a statement issued today. A London office will open this fall, joining Paddle8′s New York HQ and recently opened Los Angeles outpost.

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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Can Yves Behar Lock Up the Market for Virtual Keys?

The only thing standing between you and your Yves Behar-designed pill cases, condoms, and personal fizzy-lifting-drink maker is your front door. Good news: Behar’s got an app for that, and it may make your keychain obsolete. The designer has teamed up with entrepreneur Jason Johnson on August Smart Lock, which debuted yesterday at the D: All Things Digital conference (watch the demo below, in which the founders emerge on the stage to the strains of “Let My Love Open the Door”).

The system, which installs over an existing deadbolt and makes it possible to open doors with a smartphone, is the latest entry in a nascent smart lock market that includes Lockitron and Unikey. In developing August, which will begin shipping by the end of the year for $199, the goal was to “to make home entry magical, safer than keys or keypads, and something that makes our lives a little better,” according to Behar, who describes both the branding and the app’s user interface as “warm, friendly, and elegant.”
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