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professional associations

Cindy Sherman, Bill Viola, Michael Graves, Steven Holl Among New Members of National Academy

Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #119 (1983)

The cultural triple threat that is the National Academy (the New York-based museum, art school, and honorary association of artists and architects founded in 1825) today announced its newest members, who will gain the fancy title of “Academician” and join a group that ranges from Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Church to Robert Rauschenberg and Rafael Viñoly. This year marks the first time that artists working in video, photography, and installation were elgible for nomination—Academicians voted last year to revise the traditional categories of membership that included “Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, and Architecture” to “Visual Arts and Architecture”—a change reflected in this mixed-media-loving group of newly elected visual artists: Siah Armajani, Richard Artschwager, David Diao, Robert Gober, Robert Irwin, Shirley Jaffe, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Peter Saul, Joel Shapiro, Cindy Sherman, Richard Tuttle, Bill Viola, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. From the world of architecture, the Academy will welcome Stan Allen, Wendy Evans Joseph, M. Paul Friedberg, Jeanne Gang, Michael Graves, Steven Holl, Gregg Pasquarelli, Annabelle Selldorf, and Bernard Tschumi. “This new group includes great artists and architects who should long ago have been Academicians, plus a whole new generation,” said architect Tod Williams, a member since 2010, in a statement issued today by the organization. The 23 new members will be inducted this fall in a ceremony led by Robert Hobbs of Virginia Commonwealth University.

AIGA/NY Celebrates 30 Years with 30 Dazzling Posters by Design Stars

AIGA/NY 30th Anniversary posters designed by SpotCo, Bobby C. Martin Jr., and Paula Scher.

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of AIGA/NY, tireless uniter of the New York City design community and booster of the design profession nationwide. The organization is marking the milestone with a series of jumbo birthday cards: commemorative posters created by design stars. Michael Bierut, Ivan Chermayeff, and Matteo Bologna are among the 30 designers who were up to the task. Debbie Millman contributed one of her signature text paintings that features the names of AIGA/NY board members—all 30 years worth of them. Meanwhile, Paula Scher was thinking pink in an Empire State of mind, Ken Carbone serves up a New York pizza slice with AIGA in pepperoni, and for dessert, there’s delicious cookies from SpotCo (mind the cookie rat). Check out of all of the 30th Anniversary Series posters on Etsy, where they are for sale in limited editions of 100. We suggest ponying up some birthday money to own of ten signed pieces per artist.

Bright Lights, Big Designers, and Monumental Hats: On the Scene at the AIGA Awards

The annual AIGA Awards are a little like the Oscars, but with better kerning, bolder eyeglasses, and much less Botox. At this year’s gala celebration, co-chaired by Pentagram’s DJ Stout and Su Mathews of Lippincott, guests were encouraged to wear hats shaped like buildings (make your own with this handy template). We dispatched graphic designer Prescott Perez-Fox to lash a cardboard Eiffel Tower to his head and scope out the scene.

From left, AIGA medalists Ralph Caplan, Robert Vogele, and Elaine Lustig Cohen with AIGA executive director Richard Grefé; reveling designers strike a pose in the urbane photo booth. (Photos: Angela Jimenez for AIGA; Denise Ginley and Steven Robinson)

Much like the return of migrating birds and an elevated pollen count, spring brings with it the design industry’s very own prom, the annual AIGA Awards. Last week’s event, entitled Bright Lights Big City and held in Manhattan at the Altman Building, didn’t make use of the pastel ubiquity of April, but instead opted for a deco-inspired architectural theme, where the entire event was set in black-and-white, referencing the Beaux Arts Ball of 1931 in which architects dressed in costumes of buildings they had designed. This year’s guests were invited to design and create hats in the shape of their favorite buildings, bringing some unexpected wit and levity set against the relative severity of black cocktail attire.

However, the focus of the evening isn’t fashion, it is to honor the newest recipients of the prestigious AIGA medal. This year’s honorees were not simply accomplished design professionals in their own right, but together represent four of the essential archetypes of design. Ralph Caplan represents The Observer, following his career as a design author and having gained the unique ability to find perspective and turn that into something informative and enticing. Elaine Lustig Cohen comes to us as The Artist, creating groundbreaking work in typography and illustration, and raising the status of the designer and of design as a whole. Armin Hoffmann is The Mentor, demonstrated by the generations of design students he taught directly, and the enduring popularity of the Swiss style so closely linked to him. Finally, Robert Vogele embodies The Entrepreneur, demonstrating that classic American story of a regular Joe who created a scrappy upstart that became a thriving business and influential design practice. To the younger designers in the audience, it was inspirational—our challenge is how to embrace these qualities in our careers and become the next archetypes of design.
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Society of Design Uses Custom License Plates to Lure Jessica Hische Back to Pennsylvania

(Photo: Bill Simone)

Never underestimate the power of license plates (as Cosmo Kramer once reminded us). They did the trick for the Society of Design (SOD). When the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based nonprofit wanted an effective and memorable way to invite letterer, illustrator, designer, and Daily Drop Captain Jessica Hische to be a part of its 2012-13 speaker series, they looked no further than the Department of Transportation. SOD members researched the state’s custom license plate program (eight characters max, including one space), convinced 34 people to change their vehicle registrations, and mapped out a multi-plate message to Hische, a Pennslyvania native who is now based in San Francisco. After filing and re-filing oodles of paperwork over the course of several weeks, they finally had their invitation, in the form of 27 freshly pressed license plates.

The next step was to take the charming analog project to the digital realm. A website was created (, and called to the attention of Hische via Twitter. “Pennsylvania misses you tremendously,” tweeted SOD to the designer. “Please come home.” Her response was immediate, heartfelt, and, fortunately for those who are now driving around with the plates on their vehicles, in the affirmative. “I am crying at my desk. I’ve never been so touched by a group of people I don’t even know!” Hische tweeted in response. “And the answer of course is YES! I will marry you! I mean come to Pennsylvania.” And she’s bringing presents. Each of the SODers involved with the project will receive a delightful drawing: Hische’s hand-lettered version of his or her name.

Paola Antonelli, Ruth Ansel Among Art Directors Club Hall of Fame Laureates

Tonight in New York at a black-tie gala to be emceed by Steve Heller, the Art Directors Club celebrates the latest inductees to its Hall of Fame, a prestigious group of “innovators who have made significant contributions to art direction and visual communications” that includes Walt Disney, Charles and Ray Eames, and Andy Warhol. The 2011 laureates are: art director and editorial designer Ruth Ansel; painter, illustrator, and chairman of the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual Arts Marshall Arisman (who will receive the ADC’s Educator Award); creative wizard John C. Jay, a partner and executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy; and filmmaker and commercial director Joe Pytka. And that’s not all! The one, the only Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, will receive the ADC Manship Medallion “in special recognition of curatorial excellence.” And the Hall of Fame fun continues after tonight’s bash (which will benefit ADC education programs): on Tuesday, November 15, Heller will reprise his M.C. duties as the moderator of a conversation with Ansel and Arisman at the ADC Gallery, where an exhibition featuring the work of the 2011 ADC Hall of Fame laureates is on view through December 2.

Pictured clockwise from top: Ansel, Pytka, Arisman, Antonelli, and Jay

AIGA Launches ‘Design for Good’ Initiative

AIGA is harnessing the power of its members for good—social good—through a new initiative that aims to connect and amplify the pro bono efforts of the association’s more than 22,000 designers, hundreds of design educators, 66 chapters, and 200 student groups across the country. Design for Good will help designers to become engaged in projects where they can demonstrate the power of design to communities, business leaders, and the public. Connection is the key. The initiative will serve as a kind of clearinghouse for advice, inspiration, training, and opportunities to tackle socially minded projects. (Check out the growing list of inspirational case studies.)

“The idea is that when a designer feels they want to make a difference, they know where to go first, where their talents will be respected and where we can match them with problems that need to be solved,” says AIGA executive director Richard Grefé. “If designers are involved in projects that affect the community, and are seen as a convener of groups that can solve difficult community problems, then they are going to be standing shoulder to shoulder with attorneys, with accountants, with community leaders who observe the way designer addresses a problem and the effectiveness of bringing creativity anytime you’re dealing with a problem that has many dimensions.”
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Frank Gehry Assembles Super Squad of Fellow High Profile Architects to Talk Tech

You know when a comic book publishing company decides to gather up all their best-selling characters and put them all together for a series, a la the Superfriends or The Avengers? That sort of thing happened for real this week, so long as you replace “superheros” with “super successful architects.” Yesterday, Frank Gehry‘s company, the aptly named Gehry Technologies, which consults architecture firms in technology issues and has its own 3D modeling application, formed a “strategic alliance dedicated to transforming the building industry through technology.” This group is described as being formed “to drive technology innovations that support the central role of design in the creation of culture” and includes pretty much everyone whose names or firms regularly appear on shortlists for high-profile project. Zaha Hadid is there, as is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill‘s Chairman Emeritus David Childs, David Rockwell, Moshe Safdie, and Ben van Berkel, co-founder of UNStudio, among other highly-notable luminaries. They were all together yesterday for this inaugural meeting, at the Freedom Tower in New York no less, which must have been something to see. Sadly, we must report that no supervillians (not even the anti-modernist Prince Charles) showed up and thus, no super battles took place. However, they’ve stated that they plan to all get together to meet once per year, so here’s hoping for 2012.

Neville Brody Named New Vice President of D&AD


It’s been a red letter year for the relationship between the D&AD and Neville Brody. Just a few months back, he was handed their annual President’s Award, and now he’s just been named the organization’s upcoming Vice President for 2012. The legendary designer-turned-rabble-rousing-dean of the Royal College of Art, will serve in the position under new President and ad industry vet, Rosie Arnold, the second woman ever to hold the position. It appears to be fairly nice timing to have such a high-profile executive branch, given that next year the D&AD will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Here’s a bit about Brody’s ascendancy and a brief bio:

At the Executive Board meeting, Neville Brody was ratified as D&AD Vice President by unanimous vote. Neville is one of the world’s most renowned designers, and is the Dean of the Royal College of Art. Neville rose to promincence in the 80’s as the Art Director of The Face, before moving to Arena in 1986. He is a designer, typographer, art director, brand strategist and consultant, and his agency Research Studios has clients all over the world.

Design Trust for Public Space, Art Directors Club Elect New Leaders

  • The urban visionaries at New York’s Design Trust for Public Space have elected policymaker and architect Susan Chin as their next executive director. She starts work at the nonprofit in October. During her 23-year tenure as assistant commissioner for capital projects for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Chin has developed and guided a capital program of $1 billion (with $1 billion more leveraged in private sector funding) for over 200 cultural institutions throughout the five boroughs. Her long list of achievements and honors includes serving as president of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter, earning an AIA Public Architects Award, and taking leadership roles in key NYC building projects such as the new home of the Museum of the Moving Image, Diller Scofidio Renfro’s reimagined Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the SANAA-designed New Museum. “I have been inspired every day, from my vantage point in city government, by how innovative architecture can seed vitality within the creative community,” said Chin in a statement issued today. “I look forward to advancing the catalytic role of the Design Trust, bringing new ways of thinking to the spaces we share.”

  • Meanwhile, about 20 blocks uptown, the Art Directors Club has named a successor to Doug “Tough Act to Follow” Jaeger. The organization’s fifty-eighth president is Benjamin Palmer, cofounder and CEO of The Barbarian Group. The New York-based “digital-centric creative agency,” which just debuted a Fashion Week-themed mosaic of digital images for the Hudson Hotel, recently made Fast Company‘s list of the worldʼs 50 most innovative companies. Jaeger describes Palmer, who joined the ADC board of directors in 2008, as “a hardcore entrepreneur and artist who has proven himself as a successful creative, leader, and businessperson.” As Palmer begins his three-year term, his focus is keeping the 91-year-old nonprofit going strong. “Doug laid the groundwork for reinvigorating ADC as a cultural hub with strong year-round programming,” he said in a statement issued by the organization. “I want the club to continue in that direction, with programming that appeals on both local and global levels and cool events in our great gallery space that connect people and provide real value to members.”

  • Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment’s Severance Package Details Released

    If you recall back to the tail end of last year, when budget cuts were sweeping through the UK with an unmerciful vengeance, and sympathies were particularly heavy toward the Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment (Cabe) as they announced their government funding had been cut. Prince Charles even got a (now semi-routine) batch of flak for offering to help take over some of their architectural review duties with his Foundation for the Built Environment. However, according to a recent report by the Telegraph, perhaps the former employees, the ones who didn’t stick around when the organization merged with the UK’s more famous Design Council, did okay for themselves with some fairly generous severance packages. “Golden handshakes,” the paper calls the government-wide redundancy packages, which reportedly cost British taxpayers somewhere in the range of “almost £1 billion.” Cabe itself apparently did okay, with £2.7million spread across the 76 employees who were laid off. Building Design highlights that its former director of resources, Charlotte Cane, “received £224,000 when she left her post” and Matt Bell, director of campaigns and education, “was handed a £111,000 payout.” Whether you think it’s a good thing that the people in these creative professions weren’t thrown out on the street when the government decided to cut off their employers, or that they should have to pay back every Pound and live in shame, working in forced labor on a peat bog somewhere in the country for the rest of their lives is completely up to you. We just post about it.