Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) is synonymous with his elaborate chain-reaction approach to completing simple tasks, but he was also an established cartoonist, humorist, sculptor, and engineer. The master of contraptions and comics gets his due in the sumptuously illustrated pages of The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius, published by Abrams ComicArts. Authored by Goldberg’s granddaughter, Jennifer George, the book delves into his long off-limits archives to reveal and celebrate the many (moving) parts of Goldberg’s astonishing career.
Spend even a few action-packed moments with the invigorating YouTube channel of Casey Neistat and you’ll soon be yearning for an adventuresome escape from the screen: isn’t it about time you grabbed your passport and hopped on a plane, and then a skateboard, bicycle, motorcycle, and surfboard—or at least climbed behind the wheel of a Jeep after a monster downpour? The intrepid filmmaker has followed up his J. Crew-sponsored guide to stylish travel with a characteristically DIY approach to luggage for himself and his bright pink penny skateboard.
Sure, Kickstarter is a swell place to raise funds for your performance art institute, innovative tape dispenser, architectural flashcards-cum-wall art, and animated film starring Paul Giamatti as a museum curator slowly losing touch with reality, but how do you go about tapping into other peoples’ pockets to realize your dream typeface inspired by the elusive giant squid or a Steven Heller fanzine or that edible (and delicious!) form of paper mâché you’ve been working on? Also Kickstarter. The crowdfunding plaform recently debuted 94 new subcategories, including typography, space exploration, and vegan food, and today unveils official homes for the fields of journalism and crafts.
“We really love the journalism projects we’ve seen already—ProPublica, CIR, Planet Money, The Texas Trib, and lots of lone innovators,” a Kickstarter rep tell us, “and we wanted to give them a proper home, and send the message that we want to see and support more of these.” As for crafts—everything from knitting and glasswork to woodworking and taxidermy—the new category is a way to shed light on smaller-scale projects. “There’s a lot to love about these crafts, from the rich traditions behind them to the imagination that comes out in each work,” notes Kickstarter’s Nitsuh Abebe. “From now on, you can see all of that artistry under one banner.”
“Despite [an] explosion of interest in and fostering of artisan skills, there is still a paucity of recognition of the individual hands of artisans in the rest of the world. While a product might be fitted with an identifying tag or label attached, little effort is made to identify, codify, and promote individual skill sets and styles. The anonymity that still tends to accompany the largely female-based global artisan and craft classes speaks clearly of the lack of diversity and accessibility to recognition that these creators are yet to attain in the global art market….Whether one agrees with the ‘rules of the game’ that govern the global art market, it is clear, however, that equality of opportunity and recognition for such craftswomen and artisans depends on the promotion of individual style and personality.”
We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to throw herself into the New York Ceramics Fair. Here’s her well-sculpted roundup:
Rainbow Luster Bowl (2006), made by Haggerty Ceramics.
“With the resurgence now of porcelain and ceramics, it’s not old-fashioned love, it’s eternal love,” said designer Alexa Hampton, who was joined by fellow designers and ceramics lovers Kitty Hawks and David Scott on a panel co-sponsored by the New York School of Interior Design at the New York Ceramics Fair, held last week in the Grand Ballroom of the Bohemian National Hall.
Museum exhibits devoted to ceramics have also heralded the medium’s revival, including recent and upcoming shows at New York’s Museum of Art and Design and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ceramics have a long history, alternately associated with ancient rituals, children’s crafts classes, and hippies, but haven’t always been perceived in high regard.
Ceramics are now recognized as a multi-dimensional art form, as the designers pointed out. “One of the beautiful aspects of ceramics is its deep, entrenched history of usefulness,” noted Hampton, adding that one can delve into ceramics in interiors or in doses by being a collector.
Both Scott and Hawks are ceramics collectors, and Scott described the pursuit of such objects as a compulsion. Still, he noted that not every piece has to be precious. Hawks agreed that provenance is not always necessary and said ceramics preferences and tastes can be quirky.
Two of our favorite things—Champagne and chairs—come together in a festive contest from the bubbly furniture fans at Design Within Reach. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: create an original miniature chair using only the foil, label, cage, and cork from no more than two Champagne bottles (glue is the only permitted adhesive). Entering is the easy part. Simply snap a photo of your tiny, fizzy throne and upload it here. A panel of Champagne-loving chair experts, including David Weeks, the dapper and effervescent gentlemen of Rich Brilliant Willing, and design journalist Pilar Viladas, will judge the chairs, and three winners will receive a DWR gift card. Drink fast, because the deadline for entries is Tuesday, January 14.
It’s experimental animation! It’s pottery! Stop, you’re both right! Watch the creations of Devon, England-based Ramp Ceramics (that stands for “Roop & Al make Pots”) come alive in this film by Jim Le Fevre, Mike Paterson, and the aforementioned Rupert (“Roop”) and Alice (“Al”) Johnstone. The production was commissioned by the UK’s Crafts Council.
Oh, 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.
Aspiring architects, urban planners in training, and underachieving dictators, take note: the crafty types at Paper Punk have created a kit “that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.” Behold Urban Fold, a box full of punch-n-fold shapes, stickers, and more. We asked Paper Punk founder Grace Hawthorne—an artist, author, and educator who heads up the Creative Gym course at Stanford’s d.school—to tell us more about this paper-block city project, which is up for backing (and buying) on Kickstarter through December 2.
(Photo: Matthias Heiderich)
How did you get the idea for Urban Fold?
Urban Fold is a modern take on old-school wooden blocks. I was inspired by this photo (above) by Matthias Heiderich and graffiti I spied in Berlin last year. Not many construction/building activities go beyond solid or primary colors. I wanted to create an urban-minded build/play experience that was also eye-candy, just impossible to resist because it’s bursting with colors, patterns, cool graphics…so fun-looking that you impulsively want to touch and play with it.
How is this different from previous Paper Punk projects?
Urban Fold is Paper Punk’s first boxed set. Unlike our other offerings, it comes packaged in a handsome oversized storage box and has does not include adhesive dots in the set. The intention is for the user to punch-out shapes, fold all the blocks, customize with the 697 provided stickers, build/play, put away in the storage box, bring out and customize/build/play again, etc. I refer it to an open box set because there are so many pieces to it and what anyone can create with it is only bounded by their imagination. All our kits provide open play opportunities, but Urban Fold takes it to a whole new level. We can’t wait till users show us all the crazy cool things they’ll make with Urban Fold.
(Photos: Cindy Davis)
As you put the finishing touches on your Zapf Dingbat Halloween costume (spooky!), feast your candy-craving eyes on the passel of pumpkins created by students at New York’s School of Visual Arts. Designer and faculty member Irina Lee, herself an SVA alum, gathered the group for a pumpkin-carving session with a typographic twist, from personal monograms and elaborate drop caps to the classic “BOO,” accented with the New York skyline.
(Photos from left: Maxwell Beucler, Elfe Marschall)
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