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museums

Finnish Line: Designers Discuss Spirit of Marimekko

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently kicked off “Design by Hand,” a new series focused on the craftsmanship, innovations, and merits of contemporary global designers, with an evening that spotlighted Marimekko. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to get an inside look at the Finnish design house, renowned for its original prints and colors.

weather diary
Marimekko’s Jussarö cotton fabric, designed by Aino-Maija Metsola, is part of the Helsinki-based company’s new Weather Diary collection. Below, Sami Ruotsalainen’s teapot uses the Räsymatto pattern designed by Maija Louekari.

teapotWhile the name Marimekko is based on “Mari” a girl’s name, and “mekko,” the Finnish word for dress, to its legions of worldwide fans it stands for fond memories and cheery graphic prints. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently hosted an event featuring three Marimekko designers: fashion and textile designer Mika Piirainen, ceramics and product designer Sami Ruotsalainen, and print designer Aino-Maija Metsola. While each designer offered a unique insider’s perspective, selected themes surfaced that shed light on the brand’s impressive longevity:

Potpourri of patterns: “While Marimekko is known for bold designs, it’s not all about massive prints, it’s also about contrasts,” Piirainen said. “We’re crazy about dots, and circles are the friendliest shapes in the world. We’re crazy about stripes, too,” he added. Flowers and their textures are also popular motifs, even black and white solids. Recently these designers have also turned their focus to smaller prints.

Individual inspirations and influences: “It’s important that inspirations for products are close to you so people know there are emotions behind them,” Metsola said. Finland’s islands in the archipelago, seasonal weather patterns, and vegetation form the basis of much of her work, such as her “Weather Diary” aquarelles or “Midsummer Magic” collections. Piirainen is also influenced by nature, and takes photos during his travels to Lapland and Australia. For Ruotsalainen, food and items of everyday life impact his designs.
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New Video Series Goes Behind the Scenes at Whitney Museum’s New Home

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.
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International Center of Photography Kicks Off Robert Capa Centenary

(David Scherman)Robert Capa (né Endré Friedmann) was born 100 years ago yesterday, and the International Center of Photography will spend the next year celebrating, so you have plenty of time to whip up a “Falling Soldier“-themed cake.

The legendary photojournalist’s work will be the subject of “Capa in Color,” opening at ICP on January 31. This first exhibition to look at Capa’s color work across his entire career will present over 100 color images that he made from 1941-54, from World War II to his trip in the U.S.S.R. with John Steinbeck, to images of Picasso, Humphrey Bogart, and Ingrid Bergman, to the last images he took in Vietnam in 1954. “Part of the goal of the 100th celebration is to reveal the richness and depth of the Capa Archive at ICP,” says Cynthia Young, curator of ICP’s Capa Archive, which recently received a $117,500 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. “Recovering his color photography is part of that work and the discovery of his voice on the 1947 radio recording almost single-handedly brings him to life in a way we have never experienced before.”

Sure, his famous D-Day photograph haunts all of our dreams, but what did Capa sound like? Wonder no more: the ICP has released the only known recording of the his voice, a 33 1/3 rpm microgroove recording was discovered on eBay. It’s Capa’s October 20, 1947 appearance on Hi! Jinx, a national program on NBC radio that was created in 1946 by Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary. Here’s that segment—”Bob Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad“—digitized for your 21st century listening pleasure.

PackH2O Wins People’s Design Award

PackH2O

PackH2O packThe people have spoken, and selected PackH2O as the winner of the 2013 People’s Design Award, announced by presenter Todd Oldham at the Cooper-Hewitt‘s National Design Awards ceremony and gala held last night in New York. Designed and manufactured by Greif, the water backpack—a life-changing alternative to buckets and jerry cans designed to carry water home—takes its place alongside past winners including Design Matters, Trek’s Lime Bike, and Toms Shoes.

“Our goal is to ease the daily burden of water transport for women and children, enable fast, high-volume emergency relief and provide simple, affordable micro-business opportunities,” say the team behind Columbus, Ohio-based PackH2O, which bested a slate of 20 nominated works, ranging from popular apps to medical devices, that emphasize how innovative design can make a difference in daily life.

Cooper-Hewitt Celebrates National Design Awards: Highlights from Winners’ Panel

It’s National Design Week, and tonight the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will celebrate the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards with a ceremony and dinner at Pier Sixty in New York. Special guests including Tom Wolfe, Al Gore, and Kurt Andersen will be on hand to present the winners with their coveted glass asterisks, while the delightful Todd Oldham will announce the winner of this year’s People’s Design Award. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to the National Design Awards Winners’ Panel, held at Parsons The New School for Design.

(Angela Jimenez)
Richard Saul Wurman (center) moderates a discussion among NDA winners. Pictured from left, Tiya Gordon, Paula Scher, Gadi Amit, and Mike Femia. (Photos: Angela Jimenez)

Four of this year’s National Design Award winners appeared at a Tuesday evening panel moderated by Richard Saul Wurman, TED founder and 2012 lifetime achievement award winner. Topics encompassed winners’ early career experiences, current projects, and the award’s impact. Below are selected comments from each winning designer or firm.

Paula Scher, principal at Pentagram (communications design):
• “It’s a big deal that the U.S. government honors design, and it’s important to society. If the accolade is a seal of approval, that’s fantastic, but the next day, business is still business.”
• “At Pentagram we’re independent minded designers, there are no strategists. We establish direct client relationships using analogies and entertainment.”
• “With my hobby, large-scale paintings of maps, I use information to create the spirit of a place. It’s the antidote to my design life where I create corporate communications identities.”
• “During my earlier experience creating graphic design for music covers/albums, I learned about the relationship with the public. My work at Pentagram is still largely connected to entertainment, and much of the identity work is focused on making design accessible.”
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Hamilton Wood Type Museum Teams with Erik Spiekermann to Go Hard in New Home

hamilton
Strong and Silent Types. The new crew at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum stands in front of a vintage photo of their predecessors.

hard_typefaceWisconsin’s Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum–the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production, and printing of wood type–recently moved into a new home in Two Rivers, and the race is on to reopening day. Helping to inaugurate the new space will be the museum’s annual Wayzgoose type conference, which gets underway November 8. Among the special guest speakers this year is the fontastic Erik Spiekermann, for whom a typographic tribute is in the works: Hamilton will be cutting the Spiekermann-designed font, “HARD” (pictured above), at the conference. “I’m excited to see Hamilton cut this font using traditional methods,” says Spiekermann. “With Hamilton’s vintage pantographs and former type-cutting employees, this will be a chance to see history in the remaking.”
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Marc Newson to Receive Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Collab Design Excellence Award

marc_newson

Ready your bright yellow Pentax K-01, because Marc Newson is bound for our shores. The Sydney-born, London-based industrial designer will be in Philadelphia next month to collect his Collab Design Excellence Award, bestowed annually by a collaboration of design professionals supporting the modern and contemporary design collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Past winners of the award include Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Marcel Wanders, and Frank Gehry.

After picking up his snazzy statue, Newson will give a lecture about his work and inaugurate the museum’s exhibition, “Marc Newson: At Home.” Opening to the public on November 23, the show is a feast of Newsonian domestic delights—from his rapid-prototyped Dish Doctor dish rack to the 021C (read: Pantone orange) concept car he designed for Ford—arrayed inside an abstracted 2,000-square-foot house and garage.
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RISD Museum Debuts Manual: A Journal About Art and Its Making

manualWith its fresh Project Projects-designed identity and website in place, the RISD Museum (formerly known as The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design) is getting hands-on with publications. Yesterday’s “Design the Night” event in Providence celebrated the launch of Manual: a journal about art and its making.

The academic arts journal-meets-design magazine, helmed by editor-in-chief Sarah Ganz Blythe with S. Hollis Mickey, will be published each fall and spring, using the museum’s collections, exhibitions, and collaborations as an impetus for essays and interviews, artist interventions, and archive highlights.

The inaugural “Hand in Hand”-themed issue (pictured) draws upon the expression first recorded in the 16th century, and includes cartoonist James McShane on the intaglio printing process, curator Elizabeth Williams‘ peek into the museum’s archive to reveal the production designs of Gorham Manufacturing Company, and curator Kate Irvin‘s exploration of Bauhaus artist Gunta Stölzl‘s proposal for a double-weave textile.

Marseille’s MuCEM Trades ‘Bling-Bling Brightness’ for Bony Fragility, Sensual Cement

It’s Marseille’s moment. The port city, France’s largest on the Mediterranean coast, is in the spotlight as this year’s European Capital of Culture, with a host of major projects on view. Writer, author, and intrepid flâneur Marc Kristal paid a visit to the new and improved Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean and filed this formidable report for us.


(All photos courtesy Rudy Ricciotti)

Comprised of two 15,000-square-metre structures—the 17th-century Fort St.-John and a new seven-level building by architect Rudy Ricciotti, linked by a slender 115-metre-long footbridge—Marseille’s Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), is, says director Bruno Suzzarelli, “an outstretched hand from France to the region.” Wishing to refuse the “bling-bling brightness” of signature-building starchitecture, Ricciotti responded to the fort’s massiveness with a “bony, feminine, fragile” design, executed almost entirely in high-strength concrete, and distinguished by a densely-patterned screen that covers two elevations and folds onto, and projects off of, the roof.

Seven hundred and eleven of the 15,688 cubic metres of MuCEM’s signature building material are comprised of fiber-reinforced ultra high performance concrete (UHPC), which proved especially suitable to the project: UHPC’s “closed-pore” compounding renders it virtually impervious to sea spray and other corrosive agents, and the highly “flowable” substance can adapt to the most elaborate molds—ideal for MuCEM’s latticework panels. Ricciotti also appreciated the material for its narrative qualities. “Cement can inspire dread in certain slums and elsewhere touch the sublime,” he observes. “And cement gives off a formidable sensuality.”
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Herb & Dorothy, Part Deux: Ubercollectors Return in 50×50

They’re ba-ack! The unlikely art world power couple of Herb and Dorothy Vogel returns to the big screen in Herb and Dorothy 50×50, a follow-up to the heartwarming 2008 documentary that brought them to the attention of millions worldwide. In the new film, which opens today in select cities, director and producer Megumi Sasaki follows the Vogels as they see the results of their national gift project, launched in 2008 with the National Gallery of Art, to give a total of 2,500 artworks to museums in all 50 states. The road movie through the art world goes from Honolulu to Fargo, visiting 11 of the museums that were on the receiving end of “The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States.”

Sasaki decided to embark on a second film about the Vogels after visiting the first exhibition of the 50×50 gift, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and realizing how little she knew about the storied collection that was at the center of Herb & Dorothy. “The artworks were so small in size yet carried such beauty and elegance,” she says in her director’s statement. “I felt as though I had been documenting a famous actor behind-the-scenes for four years without ever having seen him act onstage.” The project gained a new poignance—and took a challenging turn—after Herb’s death last year at the of 89. “My only regret is that Herb didn’t get to see the film,” adds Sasaki. “But I know his spirit has been with us this whole way, and I hope the film’s release will be a wonderful tribute to him.”
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