Hoefler & Frere-Jones is no more, the namesake duo having been torn asunder by disagreements (over ownership stakes in the powerhouse type foundry) that in January escalated to a lawsuit that had the design world combing through court filings. What remains is one last glimpse into their 15-year partnership: Font Men (below). The short film was made by New York-based Dress Code for AIGA to celebarate H+FJ’s 2013 AIGA Medal, and earlier this month was selected for SXSW.
film + video
This month marked the Los Angeles debut of the Architecture & Design Film Festival. We dispatched writer Brigette Brown to take in a few of the 30 flicks on offer along with the program of talks and panels. The five-day festival kicked off with If You Build It, a documentary that follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller as they lead a group of high school students in rural North Carolina through a year-long design-build project, and wrapped up on a similar note, with a closing panel entitled “Hands-on, Ground-up: Community and Design/Build.”
The Los Angeles Theater Center, an early-nineteenth century bank turned theater, was the setting for the inaugural L.A. edition of the Architecture & Design Film Festival. (All photos courtesy ADFF)
“Hands-on, Ground-up,” the final program of the Architecture & Design Film Festival in Los Angeles, left the audience wondering how we, as community members, designers, architects, and structure aficionados, can collaborate and build more. How can we push ourselves back into building and problem solving away from the computer, getting our hands dirty?
Architecture critic Mimi Zeiger moderated a panel of seasoned minds in the architecture and design/build field: Steve Badanes (pictured at right with festival founder and co-director, Kyle Bergman) professor of architecture and director of the Neighborhood Design Build Studio at the University of Washington; Jenna Didier, founder of experimental design and exhibition space, Materials & Applications; and, Dave Sellers, founder of Sellers and Company Architects. Though each panelist approaches the topic of design/build differently in their practices—professor, architect, artist—they each showed how small steps within design culture can help guide American culture to a more hands-on way of living.
“Why is it important to talk about design/build right now?” Zeiger asked to kick off the discussion. This simple “why should we care?” question shaped the conversation that followed. “A day’s work usually involves staring at a screen, pushing around a bar of soap, and maybe answering a few emails and sending some texts,” said Badanes. “So, you don’t really get the satisfaction that you’ve accomplished anything. When you make things, it’s really visceral…you have the satisfaction that you’ve made something.” The panelists agreed that design/build is about getting back in touch with making things. Using a hammer, painting columns and, as Sellers said, “having the oldest lady you can find make [you] blueberry pies” to eat on site are what architecture and design should be about.
While Americans pound coffee and gobble sleeves of Milanos, those in more civilized—if less productive—nations know the restorative power of a pause that involves a fresh cup of tea. Bigelow Tea joined Los Angeles-based artist and designer Geoff McFetridge for tea time and captured the creative magic that can happen in the couple of minutes it takes to to steep a cup of tea. The contemplative short, directed by Bucky Fukumoto, is part of Bigelow’s “While You Were Steeping” series.
Paolo Soleri gets his close-up in a documentary now making the festival rounds (next stop: Sedona). Lisa Scafuro‘s The Vision Of Paolo Soleri: Prophet in The Desert explores the life and work of the Italian-born architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman, and philosopher, who died last April at the age of 93. The film traces Soleri’s path from his formative time at Taliesin West, where he worked under Frank Lloyd Wright before setting off on a course of his own, driven by the dream to create an environment in harmony with people. Check the film’s Facebook page for news of the latest screenings. In the Washington, D.C. area? The Vision Of Paolo Soleri will screen at the National Building Museum on the evening of March 24.
The Architecture & Design Film Festival is heading West. After years of celebrating the creative spirit of architecture and design through a dynamic line-up of features, documentaries, and shorts in cities including New York and Chicago, the festival will debut in Los Angeles with a 30-film slate as well as a program of panel discussions and Q&As, a pop-up bookshop, and other design-related events. The five-day event kicks off March 12 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center with Patrick Creadon‘s If You Build It, which follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller as they lead a group of high school students in rural North Carolina through a year-long design-build project.
Other highlights include the world premiere of TELOS, a film on maverick architect Eugene Tssui, and the U.S. premiere of In The Midst of Things, which explores the life and work of Portuguese architect Manuel Tainha. And local flavor abounds: the L.A. programs includes The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat (which includes interviews with the house’s current owner, actress Kelly Lynch) and Levitated Mass, a fascinating tale about the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s two-story, 340-ton granite boulder that was moved from a quarry in Riverside, California to the museum site on a 105-mile journey that spanned 10 nights and crawled through 22 cities and four counties on a football field-long transport vehicle.
“’Bound 2′ is certainly a piece of work—as bizarrely gonzo and creepily asexual as Jeff Koons‘s hyperrealistic 1991 paintings of himself having sex with his then-wife Cicciolina, John Currin‘s 1989 paintings of Breck girls, and Marina Abramovic’s staring at spectators at MoMA in 2010. “Bound 2” is different: a freakish act of creation and destruction by appropriation. It stars Kanye and his fiancée, Kim Kardashian, and we see (along with the two of them) wild horses running in rivers, eagles flying to the sky, sunsets, purple mountain majesties, redwood forests, and gulfstream waters. It’s a teenage girl’s bedroom’s idea of romance crossed with Richard Prince‘s Cowboy photographs, American Romanticism, Celestial Seasonings packages, shampoo commercials, Iranian music videos, Thomas Kinkaid, beer ads, Jeff Koons, The Onion, Lars von Trier, the House of Fendi, and Jeffrey Deitch and his own uncanny 1992 prophecy ‘The Freudian model of the psychological person is dissolving…freed of the constraints of one’s past.” The New Uncanny is un-self-consciousness filtered through hyper-self-consciousness, unprocessed absurdity, grandiosity of desire, and fantastic self-regard.”
Design for extreme affordability. That’s the challenge presented by one course at Stanford University’s Institute of Design (better known as the d.school); how students address it—drawing on methods from engineering and industrial design in combination with ideas from the arts, tools from the social sciences, and insights from the business world—is the subject of a new documentary. In Extreme by Design, now available on iTunes, filmmakers Ralph King Jr. and Michael Schwarz follow d.schoolers as they create and test potentially life-saving products for those in the developing countries they visit. Here’s the trailer:
It’s Vivian Maier‘s moment. The enigmatic Chicago nanny-cum-master street photographer died in 2009 at the age of 87, leaving behind more than 100,000 photographs from a lifetime of shooting. Now her life and work are the subject of a cultural triple play, with an exhibition on view through December 14 at New York’s Howard Greenberg gallery that coincides with the publication of Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits (powerHouse), setting the stage for the November 17 U.S. premiere of Finding Vivian Maier at the DOC NYC film festival.
The documentary, directed and produced by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel (Bowling for Columbine, Religulous) with the help of Kickstarter backers, unravels the life of the now famous Maier as well as Maloof’s journey to piece together her past. Its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival generated not only buzz but a deal with Killer Films to develop the documentary into a narrative feature (we’re thinking Frances McDormand would make a great Viv).
The Whitney Museum, home to the responsive W, is counting down the days (OK, months) to its move downtown with the help of a new video series. Launched this week, Whitney Stories offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum’s future home, designed by Renzo Piano, through interviews with figures central to the project.
New York-based filmmaker Matt Wolf is directing a series of 15 videos, each focusing on a person with a particular role in the project. First up (below) is a profile of Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Whitney’s associate director for conservation and research. Stay tuned for new videos to be released regularly, right up to the spring 2015 move, accompanied by articles and photo essays. Future subjects include Piano, director Adam Weinberg, building project manager Larissa Gentile, and Vincent Punch, who serves as assistant head guard at the museum.
“If you can’t find it, design it.” Following that motto has led Lella and Massimo Vignelli through a design career that spans products, graphics, publications, furniture, and more. Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra‘s documentary, Design Is One, traces the Vignellis’ legendary achievements–from New York’s subway signage and identity programs for Bloomingdale’s to Heller dinnerware and Venini lamps–alongside personal anecdotes from the likes of Richard Meier, Milton Glaser, Michael Bierut, and Jessica Helfand. Catch the film this month in New York City at IFC Center and later Symphony Space. It opens October 31 at the MFA Boston.