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At Chanel, Le Corbusier Inspires Concrete Couture

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At left, a view of the Paris apartment designed by Le Corbusier that inspired Chanel’s latest haute couture collection and runway show. (Photos from right: © FLC/ADAGP, Olivier Saillant)

chanel fw coutureHaving recently tapped into markets high (fine art) and low (the grocery store) to inspire his collections for the megahouse of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld looked to the work of Le Corbusier to fire up his creativity for the fall couture. With the blessing of the Fondation Le Corbusier, he transformed the Grand Palais to resemble the paradoxical outdoor living room, complete with fireplace, of the long-demolished Champs-Elysées apartment that Corbu designed in 1929 for one Charles de Beistegui. “All white concrete, with some baroque elements,” said Lagerfeld yesterday in a post-show interview, as he described his architectural inspiration.

The modern material found its way into the collection via tiny tiles of gray and white concrete (pink and green are in the works) that Lagerfeld used for elaborate or starkly geometric mosaic-style embroideries that accented bodices, traced hems, and encrusted entire dresses, all shown with flat sandals and hairstyles that evoked plumage—in a nod to the rara avis who is the twenty-first century couture customer. “What I liked about this collection is that it’s really flawless, impeccable shapes,” said Lagerfeld of the 70 looks he sent down the grandly scaled runway. “They’re light, they float, they don’t walk heavily…and I think that makes it more modern.”
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Quote of Note | Tomas Koolhaas

(Tomas Koolhaas)
Rem Koolhaas in Venice at sunset. (Photo: Tomas Koolhaas)

“Usually architecture documentaries really only appeal to viewers with a deep understanding of architectural concepts and jargon. I think by taking a more humanistic approach my film will appeal to anyone who can relate to other people….I don’t think it’s as black and white as either ‘architecture people’ or ‘general public.’ I think there are a lot of gradations in between. For example, creative people who can appreciate architecture but maybe are not interested enough to be very well versed in technical jargon or abreast of every element of architectural discourse. I think those people make up quite a large group and most architecture documentaries fail to engage them. It’s those kinds of people that my film could manage to reach. I don’t presume to think that a large portion of my audience is going to be people who don’t care about architecture at all, but I want there to be elements of the film that anyone can enjoy.”

-Tomas Koolhaas on the anticipated audience for the documentary (view trailer below) he is making about his father, architect Rem Koolhaas. Read the full interview in the new Rem-themed issue of CLOG.
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Seven Questions for Chester Jenkins, Designer of New Cooper Hewitt Typeface

(Kirstin McKee)
(Photo: Kirstin McKee)

Come December, the renovated and expanded Cooper Hewitt will welcome back visitors with a bold new look. The tricky task of reimagining the graphic identity of the Smithsonian Design Museum was taken on by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara, who tapped Chester Jenkins to work his typographical magic. Jenkins, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Village, created a custom typeface—Cooper Hewitt—that the museum has released into the digital wild: the bold sans serif can be downloaded free of charge as installable fonts, Web font files, and open-source code. Having taken the recent press preview of the museum as an excuse to follow Jenkins around and ask him his views on the various typefaces that were revealed by the painstaking restoration of the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, we agreed to relent if he would answer just seven more questions. He graciously agreed.

c h logotypeWhat three words best describe the Cooper Hewitt typeface?
Objective. Accessible. Spirited.

How does Cooper Hewitt differ from your Polaris Condensed?
The width of Cooper Hewitt is based on the Semicondensed version of Polaris, which only exists as beta fonts on the computers at Pentagram and UFOs on my hard drive. When I drew the Cooper Hewitt types, I didn’t recycle the outlines of Polaris, but instead drew everything from scratch, referring to Polaris Semicondensed, not simply tweaking it.

The range of weights is greater in Cooper Hewitt; while a couple of the master weights were based on Polaris, the family of fonts has a different internal structure. A significant stylistic difference is in the hewing to horizontal and vertical stroke endings, as opposed to the angled terminal strokes which are a touchstone of Polaris. Then there are the “plateaus”—or “plateaux” for the linguistic sticklers—within most of the curves in round glyphs. You can’t really see them at anything less than a million points, but they separate the two designs. And the numerals and currency glyphs depart significantly from Polaris.

Village is a type co-op—what is that exactly and who are the members?
Village is a group of a dozen small foundries from around the world. While not technically organized as a co-operative, our model was the first of its kind in the digital era, as far as we are aware. We contact our members to discuss important decisions, such as adding new members to the group. The members sometimes collaborate with each other, and often pass along custom projects where one member is more suited than another. We also avoid stepping on each others’ toes; one member will not publish a design if it’s stylistically close to another member’s design. We distribute the work of our members: A2-Type, Blackletra, Feliciano Type Foundry, Klim, LuxTypo., MCKL, Schwartzco, Type Supply, and Urtd. We publish work through two foundries: Constellation and Incubator.
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Watch Paola Antonelli Discuss Design and Violence

Paola Antonelli‘s twenty-year career at the Museum of Modern Art has been a journey through many facets of design, “from cute chairs and fast cars to video games and now also the idea of violence,” she told the audience at the recent DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in New York. Watch her talk from that confab below to gain insight into the darker side of design as explored—and hacked, penetrated, manipulated, penetrated, and exploded—through Design and Violence, an online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society.

Seven Questions for David Weeks

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Works from the Salvers Collection, on view through June 20 at David Weeks Studio. A second set of the Salvers debuts today in Paris as part of the “American Design in Paris” exhibition at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture.

You probably know David Weeks for his stunning lighting, fluidly formed furniture, or craggily adorable wooden creatures. Last fall his studio branched out from Brooklyn to Manhattan, with a new standalone atelier in Tribeca that is part design studio, part showspace for one-of-a-kind prototypes, collaborations, and work from other artists. It is currently home to a month-long exhibition of the Salvers Collection, designed in conjunction with Alex Rasmussen from Neil Feay Company. Weeks made time to tell us more about the project as well as his new collaboration with Flavor Paper (spoiler alert: gorillas are involved!), what’s on his desk, and the best advice he’s ever received.

david weeksHow are things at your new Tribeca space? Has having a standalone atelier affected your creative process/output/how you spend your day?
Things are great! Challenging, exciting, exhausting. We had run the numbers before I decided to open a dedicated showroom and they are playing out as planned. I didn’t plan on the level of focus and complexity that it has ended up taking. To have a public venue while running a design and manufacturing company is hard. It’s also exhilarating and fun to be in control of my own destiny.

How did your collaboration with Alex Rasmussen come about?
I met Alex a year ago, and we discussed collaborating almost immediately. He has such a phenomenal facility at his beck and call at Neal Feay. It’s hard to imagine.

How would you describe the six unique designs in the Salvers Collection?
The collection ended up being a reaction to what his CNC [Computer Numerical Control] machine could do. I designed my pieces using the stock material and cutters they had on hand, and tweaked the jigs that hold the piece to the machines. The great thing about CNC to me is that it will do whatever you tell it. There is no need to make things at right angles. It’s an opportunity to visualize a unorthodox form, draw it, and have a huge industrial machine create it.
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SFMOMA to Honor Jonathan Ive

J_ive

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now in the throes of an epic Snøhetta-designed expansion, is the not letting the absence of an HQ prevent it from bestowing its annual lifetime achievement award. This year’s recipient is Apple’s Jonathan Ive, who will be presented with the 2014 Bay Area Treasure Award at a dinner on October 30 (venue TBD). Past recipients include artists Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Serra, filmmaker George Lucas, and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.
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Quote of Note | Stefan Sagmeister

warhol covers

“He seemed to put a tremendous amount of energy into those covers; they are very carefully designed and beautifully produced. When he created them, he used his fame and star power. By that I mean it was unlikely that an unknown artist would have been able to persuade record companies to spend the extra money to produce art with those extreme production challenges and difficulties. Think about it. Having a zipper on an album cover? That was not an easy feat. It was expensive and it destroyed the records next to it. And the banana? With the peel, that you could actually peel. That also required extra cost and added necessary attention to production. Both covers are very interactive. The most legendary and memorable designs have always involved the viewer.”

-Stefan Sagmeister on Andy Warhol’s album covers for The Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers) and the Velvet Underground in Thank You Andy Warhol by Catherine Johnson (Glitterati)

Documentary Focuses on NYC Cab Driver-Turned-Street Photographer Matt Weber

(Matt Weber)
Van Gogh (1989) by Matt Weber, the subject of More Than a Rainbow.

Matt Weber got his start in photography with one hand on a camera and the other on the wheel of a New York City taxi cab. He soon went from being a taxi driver with a camera to a photographer with a taxi, eventually making photography a full-time pursuit. Weber—and the fate of photography in a digital age—is the subject of More Than the Rainbow, a new documentary that opens today at New York’s Quad Cinema and heads to Los Angeles later this month. Set to the twisting melodies of Thelonious Monk, the film combines live action with still photography and interviews with Weber and fellow photographers such as Ralph Gibson and Zoe Strauss.

“For me the essential thing was to create something that would have its own feel,” says director and producer Dan Wechsler. “We interspers[ed] musically driven montage sequences—some in color, some in black and white—where the audience could feel itself moving along the sidewalks and through the subways of the city that our main subject has been roving for the past quarter century, with a camera around his neck at almost all times.”
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Gary Hustwit’s Design Film Trilogy, Coming Soon in Book Form

design trilogy bookIf you’ve enjoyed one, two, or all three of Gary Hustwit‘s design documentaries—Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized—you’re sure to be mesmerized by his forthcoming book of compiled interviews, now available for pre-order. The 400 pages, gleaned from hundreds of hours (and 31 hard drives worth) of footage, are unedited glimpses into the minds of creative types from Paola Antonelli to Hermann Zapf. “What’s striking to me is how wide-ranging the actual conversations are compared to the films, which seem kind of narrow in comparison,” says Hustwit. “I’m actually excited—and a little frightened—about how it’ll all work in one book…we’ll see!”

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Eunique Jones Gibson on Expressing Her Passions with Photography

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Photographer Eunique Jones Gibson has used her craft to address societal issues, like the controversial Trayvon Martin verdict. In her latest thought-provoking photo campaign, Because of Them, We Can, children are depicted as African-American heroes, both past and present, as a way to inspire other young people of color.

Gibson went from an advertising account manager at Microsoft to professional photographer in a span of four years. During this time, she used every spare moment to perfect her skills. Here, Gibson shares some tips for those just starting out behind the lens:

Find your passion. “I had to try a number of things to figure out what I liked, from photographing models to shooting parties and events. I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I love ‘love.’ Whether it’s a story about people falling in love, families in love or kids who exude love, that’s what I identify with. I also love being able to share my passion for social justice. That’s a niche carved through trial and error, so try different things to figure out what speaks to you.”

Identify what makes you unique. “Why are you different from all other photographers? There are enough to go around, so you need to carve out your own space, whether it’s how you light subjects or the angles that you shoot from or the type of focus that you have. Partner with other photographers so you can shadow them, but home in on something that makes you different from anyone else.”

For more from Gibson, including details on her plans to expand the “Because of Them” campaign, read: Hey, How’d You Launch an Inspirational Photography Campaign, Eunique Jones Gibson?

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