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Quote of Note | Cathy Kaufman

“The Wrights preached practicality over the ‘total absurdity of the Old Dream,’ and no place was riper for implementing their vision than ‘The Vanishing Dining Room.’ Conceding that, to ‘a reader accustomed to a room devoted only to dining, with fixed and formal furniture, we may seem to have done frightening and unstabilizing things,’ the Wrights’ iconoclastic solutions included placing the dining table on lockable casters, so that it could be rolled next to the sink for clearing after the meal; using disposable paper plates and cups to eliminate part of the dishwashing chores, upholstering chairs in plasticized materials, and streamlining meals to limit the number of dishes and utensils needed—no more soup to open dinner, followed by salad, a garnished roast, and dessert; the one-dish, freezer-to-oven-to-table-casserole was king. Some of these suggestions have stood the test of time. Others have been dropped or modified to marry convenience with convention and aesthetics, although the rolling dining table, however intelligent, will always evoke images of Marx Brothers mishaps.”

-Culinary historian Cathy Kaufman on Russel and Mary Wright‘s 1950 Guide to Easier Living in “The Vanishing Dining Room,” an article that appears in the latest issue of Vintage Magazine

Design Within Reach Debuts Textiles Line

Up with upholstery! In a move that makes us want to recover all of our furniture in a hazy wool that is simultaneously ethereal and sweatshirtesque, Design Within Reach has launched a proprietary textile program. The nine textiles in 42 colorways, which debuted online and in DWR studios this week, range from a creamy cotton twill and a broad weave that plays well with saturated brights to a moody ducale wool and a textured, tiger lily-toned take on post-industrial recycled polyester. Seven of the fabrics, including a smart lama tweed, come from a family-run mill in Italy, while the aforementioned dreamy wool melange and eco-friendly textiles are all-American, made by Maharam, which was acquired by Herman Miller in April.

Cubes: VIP Tour of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal

The crew at mediabistroTV took their cameras inside the multiple-floored space occupied by Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in Midtown Manhattan’s News Corporation building.

Hosted by Wendy Bounds,Wall Street Journal editor and host of WSJ’s video offering “Lunch Break,” the guys were greeted by one of the legendary standing receptionists, got as close to a Pulitzer Prize as they’re ever going to get, took a color-toned glimpse into the paper’s past with wall sized silkscreens of old newsroom photos and managed not to end up as gossip fodder on the twitter page of the lobby’s chandelier.

You can view our other MediabistroTV productions on our YouTube Channel.

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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On the Enduring Attraction of Fridge Magnets

“They kind of exist at the spiritual center of our lives, really,” says Dave Kapell of refrigerator magnets. And he should know. The Minneapolis-based musician-slash-inventor is the founder of Magnetic Poetry, which has sold over three million kits (that’s more than a billion word tiles) worldwide. Faith Salie chatted up Kapell and more magnet magnates–including Louise Greenfarb, who made the Guinness Book of Records for owning the most refrigerator magnets in the world (45,000, but who’s counting?)–for this recent CBS Sunday Morning segment, which concludes by considering the bane of magnet lovers everywhere: the stainless steel fridge.

Going with the Flow: David Rockwell Talks Tech, Travel, Theatre Design, and Treadmills

David Rockwell has parlayed a knack for creating “immersive environments” into a discipline-shattering firm that can move seamlessly from designing luxury hotels and the set for the Academy Awards to reinventing playgrounds and dreaming up some damn fine rugs. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to immerse herself in all things Rockwell when the man himself took the stage last week as a keynoter at Internet Week New York.


Treading the boards, on treadmills. The “abstracted collage of a factory” created by Rockwell Group for the musical adaptation of the 2005 British film Kinky Boots.

David Rockwell gave a whirlwind tour of selected design projects during a session at Internet Week in New York. The Rockwell Group founder offered insight into how his firm’s interactive design LAB operates as they solve design dilemmas for clients in the worlds of hospitality, travel, and theatre. He also previewed pending assignments.

Rockwell observed that as his career progressed, technology has taken center stage. “The technology lab is embedded in my firm, and my work now with the lab is the most exciting. It engages technology to connect people more in real-time.” From the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas to the JetBlue terminal at New York’s JFK airport to the set design for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, Rockwell has incorporated technology and choreography-focused designs. Below are his comments on selected projects.

On the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas:
“The promise of Las Vegas is of a place that reinvents itself, but in reality that’s not true, since visitors can’t move freely,” said Rockwell. “The hotel lobby was fourteen feet high and had massive Egyptian-style columns. Our designers worked to dematerialize the walls in an open-source way so people would have a different experience each time they entered. The casino, unlike others in Vegas, was vertical, so we blew a forty-square-foot hole through the podium.”

Rockwell Group used an “environmental choreography system and created a hall of images in the hotel lobby, to allow more personal interaction.” The effect has been “somewhat hypnotic”, though the hotel would prefer visitors to linger in the casino, he noted.
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Going Public: Ennead Architects’ Ovation-Worthy Renovation of the Public Theatre

Architectural historian Spiro Kostof described architecture as “the material theater of human activity,” which makes renovating an actual performance space a daunting prospect (and possibly a meta-performance). Enter Ennead Architects, starring in the multi-year production of renovating New York’s Public Theatre. We asked writer Marc Kristal to survey the project’s latest stage.


The New York City landmark’s new stoop and canopy at dusk. (All photos © Jeff Goldberg/Esto)

“This space has always been about community,” says Patrick Willingham, executive director of The Public Theatre at Astor Place, the magisterial 19th-century Renaissance Revival building that, since the late 1960s, has served as a multi-stage venue for founding director Joseph Papp’s vision of a new and groundbreaking American theatre. Architecturally, at least, that has never been more the case: the capstone of nearly two decades of renovation/restoration work, to the tune of $42 million, by Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), the recently completed revivification of the structure’s entry and lobby have dramatically expanded the Public’s public component–making the place that brought you (among countless theatrical high-water marks) Hair, A Chorus Line, and The Normal Heart a crowd-pleaser in every sense.

Though Papp’s intervention, in 1966, saved it from demolition, the building, at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s East Village, was hardly insignificant. Completed in three phases (by three architects) between 1853 and 1881, it was commissioned by John Jacob Astor and served as the city’s first free public library. In 1921, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society purchased the property and converted it into a shelter and all-purpose gathering place for newly arrived European Jews; the letters HIAS, in faded paint, are still visible on the northern elevation. Under Papp’s supervision, architect Giorgio Cavaglieri carved out five theatres of varying sizes and configurations, home to some of the great productions of the last half-century. But the communal spaces remained less than stellar: during the HIAS years, the original grand entry podium was lost, replaced by an interior stair that consumed 30 percent of the lobby. And subsequent to Papp’s original renovation, the structure received almost no upgrading until Ennead began substantive work in the mid-nineties.

Without, project architect Stephen Chu, along with design counsel James Polshek and management partner Duncan Hazard, restored the original auspicious sense of arrival with a three-sided grand stair, measuring seventeen by seventy feet and constructed from solid blocks of black granite, protected by a new glass canopy. In addition to extracting the steps from the lobby and enabling theatre patrons to enter at the original level of the three arched front doors, the new stoop serves as a welcome outdoor destination on a street previously lacking one, a magnetized urban gathering place akin to the monumental stairs in front of the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue (though less imposing and more boho).
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Pantone Debuts Paint Collection with Valspar

The Pantone licensing machine is chugging along nicely, even if Emerald and Tangerine Tango make for rather tough sells when it comes to cosmetics (Sephora remains undaunted). The latest focus for the company’s rainbow tour is the home. JCPenney is rolling out a Pantone Universe line of bed and bath items, from Peach Parfait sheet sets and Purple Magic pillows to Blue Aster shower curtains and Macaw Green toothbrush holders, that arrives in stores next month. That gives you a few weeks to colormatch your walls with Pantone paint. The new collection, a partnership with Valspar, offers color lovers a selection of 100 “on-trend hues” that runs the gamut from classic neutrals to eye-searing brights. The colors are available exclusively at Lowe’s for approximately $30 per gallon.

Stall of Fame: CBGB Bathroom Recreated Inside Metropolitan Museum of Art

Toilets and urinals aren’t typical fodder for red-carpet conversation, but stall talk dominated on Monday evening as galagoers ascended the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in ensembles that ranged from clownish to sublime. Guests were buzzing about the recreated CBGB bathroom (pictured) that is among the first things visitors encounter in the museum’s “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow. The cave-like space, scrawled with circa-1975 graffiti, is adjacent to monitors playing a looped selection of films and footage–of Blondie, the Ramones, Patti Smith, and Television–selected by Nick Knight and edited by Ruth Hogben.

“We’ve had great [design] moments in punk, but I’ve very excited about the urinal–a urinal at the Met!” said André Leon Talley at Monday’s gala. “According to Patti Smith, punk began in a urinal downtown somewhere that I never went to, so I’m excited to see that.” The Vogue veteran was dressed in an elaborately embroidered cape–think Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat meets MacKenzie-Childs–designed for him by Tom Ford. “I love this coat and I don’t consider it punk. I just consider it appropriate for this occasion,” said Talley with a chuckle. “I said to Anna [Wintour], I didn’t do punk. I skipped punk and went straight to couture.”

Herman Miller to Buy Maharam for $156 Million


(Photo: Maharam)

After four generations of family ownership, Maharam is changing hands. The beloved New York City-based textiles firm, founded in 1902 by Louis Maharam, is being acquired by Herman Miller for $156 million, the company announced this week. “Much as we’ve struggled with this decision, our philosophical kinship with Herman Miller helped make this difficult step a far easier one,” said CEO Michael Maharam, who along with his brother, Stephen (who serves as COO), will remain active in the day-to-day management of the company for the next couple of years. “Herman Miller’s potential to provide the wherewithal to pursue important new initiatives, as well as an established reach into both retail and international markets and the greatest possible strength of association, offers a powerful lever in achieving our design-centered strategic vision.” Maharam is perhaps best known for its re-editions of iconic 20th century designs, including the work of Anni Albers, Charles and Ray Eames, and Alexander Girard. In recent years the company has developed textiles with collaborators such as Hella Jongerius, Paul Smith, Marian Bantjes, and Sarah Morris.

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