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Seven Questions for Karim Rashid

Karim RashidIt’s been a busy, brightly colored, organic-shaped summer for Karim Rashid. The designer has given lectures, made appearances, and occasionally DJ’ed in cities from Miami and Toronto to Hamburg and Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth-largest city). On Friday he could be found in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he keynoted the Construye & Remodela confab. Not that there’s any shortage of stateside projects: Rashid was recently commissioned to design three Manhattan residential buildings, including a mixed-use project (20 apartments, with office and commercial space at the street level) located at 1633-1655 Madison Avenue. The concept is a continuation of Rashid’s signature boundary-pushing, rooted in a desire to “bring a fulgent vibrancy to the environment and move away the trends away from tired archetypes and cold minimalism.” He made time between groundbreakings, prototyping sessions, and DJ sets to answer our seven questions.

You recently lectured—and DJed—in Ekaterinburg, Russia. What is your impression of the state of design in Russia?
I have been to Russia 25 times and always love the country, the energy, the people, the intellectual spirit, the food, the sensibilities. In regards the state of design I have seen things change drastically since 14 years ago, but the problem is that Russia has not embraced the design phenomena enough, yet it is getting better and better. The condition is changing. In order to know Russian designers internationally they either work and develop brands in Russia—that become globally established—or work for foreign companies. And in all those trips very few Russian companies approach me to design for them.

Russia with all its diversified money, increasing incomes, intelligence, education, and manufacturing capability, lacks globally recognized brands. I always thought how fascinating it is that a country like Sweden has international brands like IKEA, H&M, Absolut, Volvo, and Voss with only a population of 7 million. Because of the size of Russia, companies were producing goods exclusively for their huge market and taking no impetus to export. Russia has the manpower and money to create major global brands. But times have changed and the doors to the West are open. I would love to see Russia build some very contemporary brands that contribute to our beautiful global consumer landscape.

I just completed the new OK.RU website [a popular Russian social media platform], and I am working on a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, an orange juice bottle, a cognac bottle, a tractor, and other projects in Russia, but I would love to design some hotels in every major city. There is a lack of design-driven boutique hotels in Russia.
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The West Elm-ification of Gracie Mansion

capizMeticulous historic preservation of a landmark interior meets…West Elm? (If you listen carefully, you can hear interior designer Jamie Drake sobbing quietly in the corner, near the lone pair of Schumacher velvet-upholstered John Boone chairs that has not been replaced by beanbag poufs.) Such is the worlds-collide aesthetic ushered in by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his brood. Last week the family moved from Brooklyn to Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence nestled on the banks of the East River in Manhattan, but not before making a pit stop at West Elm. The Williams Sonoma-owned purveyor of artisan-inflected midcentury homegoods donated $65,000 of Capiz Orb pendant lights (pictured), sofas, desks, chairs, and pillows to the de Blasios–chump change compared to the $7 million of private funds made available for the Bloomberg administration’s Drake-led restoration. In an editorial that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times, writer Alexandra Lange considers “The Mayor’s Showroom” and why it might be preferable to live in a museum after all. God save the Zuber wallpaper.

Rich Brilliant Willing Gets in the Summer Spirit with ‘Seasonal Logo’

RBWAside from prime time for Le Corbusier-inspired couture confections, the days bounded by July 4th and Labor Day are high summer, a time of sunshine and swimming pools, ice cream and reruns, flip-flops and the illusion that you will read—or at least lovingly stroke—that teetering stack of books that have been accumulating on and around your nightstand since Christmas. But while the December holidays are celebrated with a great decking of halls (as well as homes, trees, yards, websites, and social media platforms), summer is typically welcomed with little more than picnic-themed grocery store displays before it is ushered offstage in a blaze of back-to-school-themed commercials. Not so fast! The sunny design types at Rich Brilliant Willing are savoring the season with “an unofficial seasonal logo” (pictured), which transforms their minimalist monogrammed hexagon for something a little more playful. Need more help lightening up? We suggest RBW’s “space- and earth-friendly” Delta table lamp.

Tavern on the Green Reopens, with Central Park as Its Centerpiece

Following a brick-by-brick renovation, NYC restaurant Tavern on the Green is back, and its formerly over-the-top interiors have been transformed with a “robber-baron-meets-sheep-barn” aesthetic and the aspiration to be “food-centric.” We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to take a peek under the famous red canopy.

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The sunny Central Park room at the new Tavern on the Green was formerly known as the Crystal Room. (All photos courtesy Robin Caiola)

totg Bar Room Horse Mobile“Now we can be part of the park,” said restaurateur Jim Caiola, referring to the recently reopened landmark, Tavern on the Green. He and partner David Salama of Emerald Green Group were awarded a 20-year lease to the legendary restaurant, long associated with Broadway show parties, special family occasions, and a role serving as movie backdrop.

“Only the name, the beams and the shell of the Victorian building remain from the old Tavern”, said spokesperson Steven Hall. “Everything else was handpicked by Jim and David.” The pair renovated the interior, while the property’s New York City landlord worked on the exterior. Others involved in the restoration were architect Richard Lewis, lighting designer Ken Billington, and landscape architect Robin Key. It’s been a major investment and long haul.
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David Rockwell Brings NYC to LA in Oscars Greenroom

greenroom

How do you luxe up a windowless room in the bowels of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre? Architectural Digest poses this question to one designer each year as it creates a backstage lounge for the Oscars. The task of creating the AD Greenroom (the 12th!) for the 2014 Academy Awards (the 86th!) went to David Rockwell. Having perhaps exhausted his interest in Hollywood Regency and cinema magic through his work on the on-stage proceedings, Rockwell looked to New York City loft living as inspiration.

Faced with the equivalent of a basement studio, he focused on “urban simplicity, but married with film glamour.” The latter came in part from actress Susan Sarandon, who helped select works from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences archive that line the walls: on one side, a wall of screens powered by Rockwell LAB software display digital images from socially conscious, Oscar-winning, and Oscar-nominated films, while on the other side, 14 framed works features images from classic screwball comedies—one of Sarandon’s favorite genres.

Kvadrat Debuts Raf Simons Collaboration

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A taste of Kvadrat/Raf Simons, which arrives at retail in April. (Photos from left: Anne Collier, Kvadrat)

It’s easy to forget, now that he has ascended to the creative helm of Dior, that Raf Simons began his career as a promising young furniture designer. He returns to his roots with a new range of textiles, cushions, and throws created in collaboration with Kvadrat. Simons looked to his beloved mid-century masters, including Jean Royère, Pierre Jeanneret, Finn Juhl, and Hans Wegner, for textured elements, including a woven mohair reminiscent of sheepskin, speckled boucles, and a fur-like textile. Others reimagine the work of the late Swedish textile designer Fanny Aronsen.

And while Simons used many of the textiles in his fall/winter 2014 menswear collection, for which he teamed with artist Sterling Ruby, the Kvadrat collection was conceived with interiors in mind. “We are making fabrics that are like a blank canvas for designers,” said Simons in a statement issued today. “They are waiting for input from the furniture designers—we don’t control the design they will use the textiles for, so we try to leave it very open; these fabrics should be multifunctional.”

Buon Natale, London! Dolce & Gabbana Design Claridge’s Christmas Tree

Tree Landscape 2

ImageA Dolce & Gabbana Christmas conjures images of leopard-print stockings hung by the chimney with care and a tree draped in black lace, but the Italian duo have put on their Santa hats (red velvet, ermine trim) for one of their favorite casas away from casa: Claridge’s. The London hotel enlisted Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to design its annual Christmas tree (pictured). This year’s festive fair is decked out in hand-crafted Sicilian puppets known as pupi, hand-painted Italian glass baubles, and a custom-made “luminaire” framework created in Southern Italy. Note the designers, “Our Christmas tree isn’t only a celebration of Christmas as we celebrate it in Italy, but it’s at the same time a tribute to the artisanal Italian tradition.

NYSID Creates Interior Design Archives

nysidThere are no archives devoted solely to interior design—until now. The New York School of Interior Design announced today the creation of the NYSID Interior Design Archives, a repository for the preservation of primary source material on the people, profession, and business of interior design.

Housed in the school’s library, the archives been seeded with a number of acquisitions, including the archives of Yale Burge Antiques and Interiors; the collection of Neal A. Prince, who served as director of interior design for InterContinental Hotels from 1961-1986; and the institutional records of the NYSID itself, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016.

Slalom Occasion: W Hotel Verbier Debuts Slopeside at Swiss Alps Resort

As Miami heats up with art and design happenings, writer Nancy Lazarus looks to Art Basel’s home country for a look at how W Hotels is schussing into the ski resort market.

w verbier room

verbierSki-in and ski-out access is de rigueur among alpine enthusiasts, particularly those who trek to the vast, steep slopes of Switzerland. The new W Verbier and The Residences at W Verbier offer just the ticket for avid downhillers and après-ski fans, with a prime location at the base of the mountain’s Medran gondola. Though to get there they may have to navigate past St. Bernards, either via the St. Bernard Express regional train or the Great St. Bernard Pass mountain road.

The W brand’s first Swiss property covers all terrains, with state-of-the-art lodgings, spa, restaurant, bars, and cafe. Much like Verbier’s four valleys ski area, the W resort is laid out in a series of four chalet-style wooden buildings interconnected by glass atria that feature climbing walls. W’s parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, worked with Les Trios Rocs, the owners of the luxury development project.

“We wanted to bring the location to life in a W way,” said Ted Jacobs, W Hotels’ VP of global design, during a recent stateside press preview. The brand partnered with Dutch design agency Concrete Architectural Associates on the lodgings and with Spanish Michelin-star chef Sergi Arola on the cuisine.
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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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