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field trip

New York Ceramics Fair Spotlights Contemporary Feats of Clay

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.
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Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Design-Apart Debuts ‘Living Showroom’ in NYC

A new showroom aims to dispel the myth that bespoke design is difficult to produce, tricky to access, and crazy expensive. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to experience “artisanal products in a real-life setting.”

DA showroom c

Diego Paccagnella2Custom design comes to life in a new take on the traditional showroom. Design-Apart, known for delivering bespoke Italian design through its online marketplace and design services, recently launched its first “living showroom”—a real apartment where people live, cook, clean, and work—in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

“I thought we could do more to present Italian designs than traditional showrooms do. There are so many showrooms out there, but they’re just aesthetic,” explained Design-Apart founder Diego Paccagnella (pictured) at a recent press preview. “Here we live and interact with design, giving people a deeper experience of living in a place designed by Italian artisans.” He and his family are living there for a year.

Paccagnella and Stefano Micelli traveled around Italy to source designers. “We selected companies not by their size or by how famous they are, but more for their flexibility in producing customized projects for clients,” said Paccagnella. “The objects here are built by artisans and they consider the people who live here,” Micelli added.
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Hello, Fada: Le Corbusier’s Radiant Rooftop Revealed

Nearly 50 years after his death, Le Corbusier is the man of the moment. The Swiss-born French multitasker is the subject of an exhibition (on view through September 23) at the Museum of Modern Art and the creator of a lamp that inspired Kanye West‘s latest album, while across the pond, Corbu’s modernist housing complex has been reborn at the hands of a self-described “icon­o­­clas­tic artist,” aged 36. We sent our man in Marseille Marc Kristal up on the roof.

(Photo: Olivier Amsellem)

It’s been a big year for architecture in Marseille. As part of the city’s designation as 2013’s European Capital of Culture, fifteen major projects, including new construction and renovations, have been created in the city and Provence region—everything from Rudy Ricciotti’s magisterial Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean on Marseille’s J4 waterfront esplanade to the resurrection of the Eden Cinéma, the world’s first movie house, in La Ciotat (opening in October) to groundbreaking on Fondation Vasarély, set to open in 2014-15 in Aix-en-Provence.

But while benefiting from le hubbub surrounding the culture capital festivities, one of the year’s most exciting projects is an unaffiliated private undertaking with a major public component: the restoration and reopening of the rooftop gymnasium/solarium of Le Corbusier’s enormously influential 1952 housing complex, Cité Radieuse.

Despite its international reputation, Corbu’s original “Unité d’Habitation” is known locally as “La Maison du Fada”—Provençal for “The Crazy Person’s House”—as the people of Marseille responded less than enthusiastically when the Brutalist “vertical village,” with its 337 cleverly configured apartments, hotel, restaurant, shops, and school, was completed. The roof, which had been altered in ways that contravened Corbu’s intentions and fell into disrepair, was put up for sale in 2010 and quickly snapped up by the polymath French architect/designer Ito Morabito—known commonly by his nom de design Ora-Ïto—who has impeccably restored the interior and exterior spaces and transformed them into an art center he calls Marseille Modulor (in honor of Corbu’s human-scaled system of measurement) or MAMO (a playful tweaking of New York’s MoMA) for short.
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Screen Test: Decorative Dividers That Dazzle

Architectural Digest recently took over the New York Design Center for “AD Loves,” a celebration of favorite finds from the 16-story, 500,000-square-foot to-the-trade design mecca. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to scout the showrooms for some standout pieces.

Philip Nimmo’s Mattonella Fire Screen, available through Profiles at the New York Design Center.

Decorative screens provide high visual appeal and a measure of privacy in an era when the verb ‘screen’ is more commonly associated with preventing unwanted phone calls, emails, online, and TV ads. Whether one, two, or three panels, screens serve those living in tight spaces and others with open lofts to partition—and fireplaces aren’t required. At a recent event showcasing Architectural Digest’s favorite finds from the New York Design Center, we spotted a few notable screens perched in the showrooms.

Mattonella Fire Screen (Profiles showroom)
Philip Nimmo designed this single-panel fire screen that stands three feet high. Made of wrought iron with an array of optional finishes, it features a pomegranate-shaped design with tempered glass globs that resemble large seeds.

Philip Nimmo’s Goccia Fire Screen, available through Profiles at the New York Design Center.

Goccia Fire Screen (Profiles)
This double-panel fire screen is another Nimmo creation. The abstract design is highlighted with glass rondels in the shapes and colors of citrus fruits.
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Beige No More: Test-Driving the 2014 Lexus IS

Road trip season is upon us, and we suspect there’s some kind of law against taking a Citibike across state lines. Craving superbly designed four-wheeled rides, we sent writer Marc Kristal out to Rockingham Speedway to take the latest from Lexus for a spin.

The 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport. (Courtesy Lexus)

While “Waku-Doki” may sound like a production number that got cut from The Lion King, it is, in fact, a Japanese term that describes the excitement of an adrenalin rush—or, as the Toyota waku-doki website puts it, “the feeling you get when your heart pounds with anticipation.” And if “waku-doki” and “Toyota” seem incompatible, the soon-to-be-in-a-showroom-near-you 2014 Lexus IS may cause you to bid sayonara to your uncharitable assumptions. Partly this derives from chief engineer Junichi Furuyama’s fine-tuning of the IS’s “fun to drive” quotient, defined by Lexus national product marketing manager Owen Peacock as a car that “immediately and precisely responds to the driver.” But it’s also a function of aesthetics. According to Bill Camp, the company’s dealer education administrator, the previous incarnations of Toyota’s luxury brand were (music to our ears) “too beige”: even if a Lexus zoomed up behind you doing 100 MPH, you wouldn’t get out of the way. With the 2014 IS, and the F-Sport version in particular, Lexus has produced a model in which style and performance are cohesive—a design that is beige no more.

It’s also, at just under $36,000 for the IS 250 (and closer to $50,000 for the more powerful, fully bell-and-whistled 350 models), surprisingly well-priced for a high-performance luxury car. As such, the IS fills an open niche in the Lexus line, targeted toward 45-year-old men and women—“active singles and couples,” says Peacock—entering this particular zone of the luxury market, whether stepping up in class, downscaling from automotive McMansions, or making a lateral move from something comparably priced but less exciting.
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TEFAF, Take Two: Skulls, Artists’ Jewelry, and Great Design

Hurry up, please, it’s time. TEFAF favorite Kunstkammer Georg Laue’s offerings included, at right, a Renaissance vanitas cabinet. Lest would-be buyers tarry, the front door of the cabinet opens to reveal a scene with a naked child leaning on a skull with an hourglass at his feet.

Shoppers ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Kanye West have popped into the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which runs through Sunday in the Dutch town of Maastricht. No word on Kanye’s haul, but the Met scored “Virgil’s Tomb in Moonlight” (1779) by Joseph Wright of Derby (a poster version is yours for $19.99), Ronald Lauder picked up Picasso‘s “Homme au Chapeau” (1964) for $8 million, and the soon-to-reopen Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has enriched its collection with works including an 1809 Nicolaas Bauer canvas and Antoine Vechte‘s silver “Galathea” vase, created in 1843 for a French nobleman. Meanwhile, 26-year-old TEFAF is looking eastward: the fair’s organizers announced this week that they’re in talks with Sotheby’s to develop an art fair in China, so stay tuned for updates on “TEFAF Beijing 2014.” We’ve still got plenty to show from you from this year’s artstravaganza in Maastricht–check out 25 more must-sees:

Gagosian gallery positioned this 1946 Picasso nearby Rudolf Stingel‘s 2012 photo-realist painting of the artist as young man. At right, L’Arc de Seine’s jaw-dropping stand featured a circa 1930 shagreen-covered desk and chair by Jean-Michel Frank.

The secret to eternal youth? Multiple suitors and frequent ski trips, suggests this first edition from Shapero Rare Books.

Didier Ltd’s assortment of jewelry by artists included this one-of-a-kind silver brooch made by Harry Bertoia during his time at Cranbrook in the ’40s. And what do you get when you combine a fishing float painted black and a gilded beer can? Louise Nevelson‘s 1984 pendant necklace.
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TEFAF Photo Diary: 25 Things to See at the European Fine Art Fair

At the TEFAF stand of Tornabuoni Arte, Alighero Boetti’s “Mappa del Mundo” (1980), viewed through tulips. (All photos: UnBeige)

Armory Week has come and gone in New Amsterdam, but the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) is just beginning in the Dutch town of Maastricht. Gluttons for masterpieces, we decided to take a field trip. With some 265 exhibiting art and antiques dealers, the 26th edition of the fair opened to the public today after a vernissage that, in the words of a colleague, “makes Art Basel look like a slum”–all savvy lighting, high ceilings, and spacious aisles bursting with tulips, thanks to fair designer Tom Postma.

TEFAF has long been a must for collectors of Old Masters and antiques, and in recent years has boosted its offerings in modern and contemporary art, design, and photography. Were the fair crass enough to have a slogan, it would be “where the museums shop.” We arrived in Maastricht and, fortfied with stroopwafels, set out to see works spanning 6,000 years of history. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that the fair runs through March 24. Here are 25 of our early favorites.

The multilayered stand of Axel Vervoodt. We couldn’t muster the courage to ask him whether he receives a monthly royalty check from Restoration Hardware.

Wartski of London offers (for six figures) the shot that almost killed Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Fired–maybe accidentally, maybe as an assassination attempt–in 1906, the lead pellet was mounted in gold by Carl Fabergé and presented to the tsar as a creepy souvenir.

Among the standouts in the design section of the fair: a 1921 Wiener Werkstatte table lamp by Dagobert Peche (at Bel Etage, Wolfgang Bauer, Vienna) and a preppy combination of works by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (at Galerie Ulrich Fiedler).

Claude Lalanne‘s “Grand Lapin de Victoire” (2001) stands sentry at the Ben Brown Fine Arts stand and keeps an eye on the 1984 Basquiat across the way, at Tornabuoni Arte.

At the stand of Robert Hall, bottles, bottles everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
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Field Trip: Inside the Wired Store

‘Tis the season for pop-up emporiums and “best of” lists. Wired combines the two with a concept store stocked with the magazine’s picks for the most innovative products and technologies of the year. To get its annual NYC retail showcase to look as good as the covetable merchandise–think GPS Navigation Shoes, a stool made of recycled bicycle inner tubes, and a Makerbot desktop 3D printer–Wired tapped Mother New York to mastermind the shopping experience. The creative agency delivered a sleek space filled with custom furniture and fixtures as well as wall-sized interactive elements. The store design is unified by graphics inspired by the magazine’s “What’s Inside” features and the work of product-dissecting photographer Todd McClellan, Mother creative director Piers North tells us. Pay a virtual visit to the store, which is open Tuesday through Sunday ’til December 24, by scrolling through the below photos. This being a Wired production, the stuff–who doesn’t need a pair of caped Superman socks?–is also available to purchase online.

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Five Things You Should Know About the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

(Photo: Dean Kaufman)

With the ballots counted and the electoral votes tallied, the world can stop referring to Ohio using battle metaphors and take notice of what’s really swinging in the Buckeye State: art museums. There’s the reliably stellar Wexner Center (the first major public building designed by Peter Eisenman) in Columbus, Zaha Hadid‘s Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati, and the Akron Art Museum, which in 2007 gained a soaring glass and steel structure by Coop Himmelb(l)au. But the big news is in Cleveland, where a Rafael Viñoly-designed expansion project is in full swing at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is now welcoming visitors to its new $27.2 million home (above) by Farshid Moussavi. We paid a visit to MOCA Cleveland and have returned to offer these five informational morsels about the sleek and surprising new building–and what’s inside.

5. With six irregularly faceted sides clad primarily in mirror-finish black stainless steel, the 34,000-square-foot building’s striking exterior never looks the same twice. Moussavi happened upon the dusky Rimex paneling after her first choice (anodized gold aluminum) was nixed by the museum’s board of directors. “We discovered that this black steel acquired different dynamics when applied to our shape, with its surfaces that are tilted to different orientations and that catch the light differently,” said Moussavi during the museum’s opening weekend festivities. “It started playing with time.”

4. Visitors step inside to the “urban living room,” an airy ground floor space that includes the museum cafe and shop. Linger as long as you want: admission is only charged for those who ascend the craggy white central staircase to the exhibitions. First up, in the cozy second floor gallery, is David Altmejd’s largest vitrine piece to date, “The Orbit” (2012), a labyrinth of tumbling fruit, furry hands, and disembodied eyeballs. This marks the first time the artist has incorporated architectural elements into one of his Plexiglas-enclosed worlds. “I always deal with structures and of course I’m always confronted with their limitations,” the artist said in an interview with chief curator David Norr. “But I like the idea of constantly breaking that limitation.”

3. MOCA Cleveland director Jill Snyder had three main goals for the non-collecting institution’s new home. “What we strived for was flexibility, transparency, and sustainability,” she told us. Among the features of the soon-to-be-LEED-Silver-certified building are floors stacked to offer glimpses of usually behind-closed-doors museum functions (admin offices, the wood workshop, the loading dock), enclosed fire stairs that double as a sound gallery, and, underneath the adjoining public plaza, geothermal wells.
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Bright Lights, Big Designers, and Monumental Hats: On the Scene at the AIGA Awards

The annual AIGA Awards are a little like the Oscars, but with better kerning, bolder eyeglasses, and much less Botox. At this year’s gala celebration, co-chaired by Pentagram’s DJ Stout and Su Mathews of Lippincott, guests were encouraged to wear hats shaped like buildings (make your own with this handy template). We dispatched graphic designer Prescott Perez-Fox to lash a cardboard Eiffel Tower to his head and scope out the scene.

From left, AIGA medalists Ralph Caplan, Robert Vogele, and Elaine Lustig Cohen with AIGA executive director Richard Grefé; reveling designers strike a pose in the urbane photo booth. (Photos: Angela Jimenez for AIGA; Denise Ginley and Steven Robinson)

Much like the return of migrating birds and an elevated pollen count, spring brings with it the design industry’s very own prom, the annual AIGA Awards. Last week’s event, entitled Bright Lights Big City and held in Manhattan at the Altman Building, didn’t make use of the pastel ubiquity of April, but instead opted for a deco-inspired architectural theme, where the entire event was set in black-and-white, referencing the Beaux Arts Ball of 1931 in which architects dressed in costumes of buildings they had designed. This year’s guests were invited to design and create hats in the shape of their favorite buildings, bringing some unexpected wit and levity set against the relative severity of black cocktail attire.

However, the focus of the evening isn’t fashion, it is to honor the newest recipients of the prestigious AIGA medal. This year’s honorees were not simply accomplished design professionals in their own right, but together represent four of the essential archetypes of design. Ralph Caplan represents The Observer, following his career as a design author and having gained the unique ability to find perspective and turn that into something informative and enticing. Elaine Lustig Cohen comes to us as The Artist, creating groundbreaking work in typography and illustration, and raising the status of the designer and of design as a whole. Armin Hoffmann is The Mentor, demonstrated by the generations of design students he taught directly, and the enduring popularity of the Swiss style so closely linked to him. Finally, Robert Vogele embodies The Entrepreneur, demonstrating that classic American story of a regular Joe who created a scrappy upstart that became a thriving business and influential design practice. To the younger designers in the audience, it was inspirational—our challenge is how to embrace these qualities in our careers and become the next archetypes of design.
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