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Kickstart This: Brinca Dada’s Stunt Brothers

Toymaker Brinca Dada is best known for its stunning modernist dollhouses and “BiModal” building blocks–curvy, asymmetric wooden shapes that we’ve previously suggested deploying in games of Masochist Jenga. Now the promoters of beautiful fun are in the critical final days of a fundraising campaign for a line of thoughtfully designed wooden toys that teach kids simple principles of science. Meet the Stunt Brothers, adorable daredevils that perform classic stunts (human cannonball, anyone?) and tool around in retro vehicles. Help them get out of prototype purgatory and into production by backing the project on Kickstarter. Register your pledge of $1 or more by Friday to help Brinca Dada meet its fundraising goal.

Got an in-the-works project to tell us about? Write today: unbeige [at]

Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Color Wars: AkzoNobel Proposes Own ‘Color of the Year’ for 2012

Watch out, Tangerine Tango, there’s a new hue angling for the title of Color of the Year. Global paints and coatings giant AkzoNobel has crowned “Terracotta Rose” as the it-color of 2012. The Dutch multinational, which also does a brisk business in specialty chemicals, has selected the “blushing, lively, juicy red” for its versatility. “The radiant shade is the most important color for 2012 as it is at once whimsical and serious, dynamic and soft, perfect for a tiny accent or a feature wall,” notes AkzoNobel’s latest Color Futures booklet (downloadable as a PDF here), which highlights key trends that emerge from the company’s annual Color Convention. “A color that can be many things to many people reminds us not to look for simple solutions, but to open our minds to new ideas that are waiting to be discovered.” The selection of a warm and robust shade as AkzoNobel’s Color of the Year comes after a string of pale tones, including “a light, airy, citrus yellow” that helped to make 2011 more “illuminating, cheering, refreshing, and uplifting.”

Previously on UnBeige: Pantone Names ‘Tangerine Tango’ 2012 Color of the Year

Apexart Showcases Creatively Reworked Commercials

At a time when every commercial seems to be underlaid with the tender jingling of bells, Vampire Weekend’s “Holiday,” or both, we suggest seeking creative solace in “COMVIDEO,” an open call exhibition on view at New York’s apexart through Wednesday, December 22. The not-for-profit visual arts organization invited artists and creative types from around the world to cut, dub, reverse, add to, and otherwise manipulate at least one broadcast commercial and submit a 60-second video. A group ranging from Konstantin Adjer to Jody Zellen responded with 124 videos (watch them online here). Why commercials? “Commercials are one of the most interesting love children of capitalism and ego,” writes Pinky Carnage in an essay that accompanies the exhibition. “They are all charm with their aggression while pretending to be your buddy. They care about you, what you are into, and what makes you tick. They are so grooooovy that they can play hacky-sack with you or have a beer, go antiquing….Whatever you want, they want, as long as you want them.” So which of the reworked commercials do you want to see shown on a public screen in Manhattan? Apexart is accepting online votes through January 15. The five videos that rack up the most votes will get megascreen time, while the winning creator will take home a $2,000 cash prize. The winner and finalists will be announced January 19, so stay tuned.

Braille Alphabet Bracelet Wins People’s Design Award

The votes have been tallied and the people have spoken: the Braille Alphabet Bracelet is the winner of the 2010 People’s Design Award. The Cooper-Hewitt’s annual crowd-sourced honor was presented to designer Leslie Ligon by White House Deputy Social Secretary Ebs Burnough and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley at last week’s National Design Awards gala in New York City. The bracelet, which retails for $47.50, features the entire alphabet in Braille on one side and the corresponding print on the reverse. “I’m delighted that the public has chosen to honor the Braille Alphabet Bracelet, which looks good, communicates without a glance, and feels great too!” said Cooper-Hewitt director Bill Moggridge.

Ligon, whose oldest son is blind, is the founder of At First Sight Braille Jewelry. In 2001, as her son began to learn Braille, she set out to apply her jewelry-making skills to create “something that seamlessly combined the aesthetics of design and the functionality of Braille, so that people would be as interested in and attracted to it as they are to jewelry or fabrics with Asian characters or 18th-century French script,” writes Ligon on her website. “I wanted to offer pieces anyone would want to wear.” A percentage of the company’s profits are donated to Braille literacy organizations, including National Braille Press and BrailleInk.

“Daunted initially by learning Braille, we were equally daunted by the aspect that nearly ninety percent of the [visually impaired] population was functionally illiterate,” said Ligon in her acceptance speech. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, as few as 10 percent of people who are legally blind learn to read and write Braille, and several studies indicate that at least 90 percent of the blind that hold jobs are Braille literate. “Braille and white canes are huge visual stigma, if you choose to look at them that way, but they’re also representative of independence and what it means to really fly.” In closing, Ligon left the crowd with some design advice. “I think this is really just about the top dog in statues for awards,” she said, clutching her Winterhouse-designed swirly asterisk trophy. “But I think it needs a little Braille.” She proceeded to roll an elasticated Braille alphabet bracelet over the top. “No offense,” added Ligon.

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Tiny Things Win Big in Nikon Photo Contest

(Heiti Paves).jpgThe votes are in, and the winner of Nikon’s annual Small World Photomicrography Competition is…Arabidopsis thaliana! You know, the thale cress anther? OK, it’s the male sex organ of a small flowering plant, and enterprising Estonian Heiti Paves, a scientist at the Tallinn University of Technology who is probably of no relation to celebrity hairstylist Ken, managed to photograph a bunch of them under 20 times magnification (resulting in the photomicrograph pictured above). “As part of my work as a research scientist, I have been taking photographs through the microscope for almost 30 years to observe the processes in living cells,” said Paves, whose winning image reminds us of a painfully inflamed devil strawberry. “I have spent a lot of time to capture nice pictures worthy of submission to the Nikon Small World Competition.” Way to put that pricey confocal microscope to good use!


Always on the hunt for art historical allusions (however unintentional they may be), we particularly enjoyed the above top finishers. James Hayden of Philadelphia’s Wistar Institute captured fourth place for his ultra-closeup of a swirly anglerfish ovary (above, at left)—or is it a pseudocolored overhead shot of Robert Smithson‘s “Spiral Jetty”? Meanwhile, New Zealander Lloyd Donaldson won eighth place for his Brice Marden-esque skeins of color (at right), which are in fact cotton fibers daubed with berberine sulphate and magnified a couple hundred times. Go and project your own frame of reference on all of the winners and honorable mentions here.

Is Damien Hirst One of the 100 Most Influential People in the World?

time100.jpgWhat about Tom Ford, Renzo Piano, Rem Koolhaas, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, Stella McCartney, or Takashi Murakami? They’re all among the finalists for this year’s Time 100 list, and the good people at Time have asked us to let you know that they’ve just launched the annual Time 100 Most Influential People poll, in which readers get a chance to vote on who they think should be on the 2009 TIME 100 list, which will be released later this year. Along with a nifty slider that you can use to rank the influence of Hirst, Ford, Piano, Koolhaas, Diller and Scofidio, McCartney, Murakami, and 196 others (from the Octomom to the Pope), Time has sprinkled in some pros and cons about each finalist. Ford’s page quotes Kanye West—who once blogged, “Is it me or do Tom Ford sunglasses rule the world?”—before pointing out that those sunglasses lost a bit of luxury cred when they showed up for sale at Costco.

Pantone Picks ‘Mimosa’ as Color of the Year

mimosa.jpgWeeks before the First Lady stepped out in that lemongrass Isabel Toledo ensemble, global color authority and paintmaker Pantone predicted that 2009 would be all about yellow, specifically “Mimosa” (Pantone #14-0848). It’s the color of the year. “The color yellow exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a press release. “Mimosa also speaks to enlightenment, as it is a hue that sparks imagination and innovation,” not to mention our favorite way to start the day. (Plus, it sounds fresher and fizzier than “goldenrod.”)

Given its versatility, Pantone predicts that 2009 will yield a bumper crop of Mimosa “women’s accessories, home furnishings, active sportswear, and men’s ties and shirts.” Like last year’s color of the year, the Yves Klein-esque “Blue Iris,” the spring runways offered a preview of the year’s hot hues. Yellows ranging from Sunflower and Aurora to Gold and Super Lemon popped from the collections of designers such as Carmen Marc Valvo, Reem Acra, Yigal Azrouel, and Christian Francis Roth, who created a print based upon a vintage grafitti-splashed subway car to which he matched Pantone colors, including Mimosa.

Which SVA Student’s Hair Chair Is Shear Genius?

SVA hairchairs.jpg

Bravo‘s Shear Genius, a Project Runway for hairstylists, is back for its second season. Heavy on the “cut”-related wordplay, the show puts vaguely menacing Danish hairstylist René Fris (who we could swear we once saw in a Mentos commercial) in the Tim Gunn role and is hosted by actress/Kmartist Jaclyn Smith. Shear Genius celebrated its season premiere on Tuesday with a pop-up salon in New York’s Times Square and recruited students from the School of Visual Arts, under the guidance of SVA 3D Design Program chairperson Kevin O’Callaghan, to design the temporary salon as well as ten salon chairs that Bravo’s “The Dish” blog describes as “pretty damn amazing.”

Among the wacky hair chairs is the trio pictured above. Created by Sarah Nguyen, the “DJ” chair (at far right) is a stack of hair-themed record albums ready for playing on its giant turntable base while Kathleen Ugurlu‘s “Jock” (center) is for the hirsute baseball fan (we think the batting helmet is a nice touch). But we find ourselves unable to resist the garden gnome-accessorized “Backyard” chair designed by Kaori Sakai in a bold palette of green, red, and yellow. It comes with a grass-tufted seat backed by a garden gate, a hose, cooler, and a full grill setup, complete with ketchup, mustard, and corn on the cob. Check out all of the chairs and vote for your favorite here. The winner gets a $5,000 prize, which we’re hoping is payable in cash rather than hair products.

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsors

Over at, they’ve assembled a list of the “50 greatest commercial parodies of all time,” most of them drawn from the post-monologue slot on Saturday Night Live. The list includes many of our favorites, including the SNL spots for Crystal Gravy (#16) and Calvin Klein “Compulsion” (#29), but where is the classic Grayson Moorhead Securities parody? Dan Akroyd shilling for the Bass-o-matic takes the #1 ranking, and we’re pleased to see that this ad for the First CityWide Change Bank came in at a respectable #7.

UnBeige Asks: Yes, It Took Us All Weekend to Tabulate The Results

As summer comes to an official close, we closed the voting in our first poll. The designers who will never eat brunch in this town again took an early lead, and kept it:

Congratulations Michael Rock, Susan Sellars, Georgianna Stout, Paula Scher and Stefan Sagmeister, who will each receive a bottle of the coveted UnBeige Sunscreen For Design Newsmaker Hotness (SPF 45).

Thanks to all who voted, and don’t forget to vote in our current poll, about how bloggers should reappropriate photos for their posts.