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Multifesto, Because Design Is a Verb

sample multifesto

What do you get when you cross a haiku with a manifesto and multiply it by the power of the web? Multifesto, a communal design manifesto created by New York-based design consultancy 2×4. Have your say by adding a three-word call to arms in the form of a verb, preposition and noun. Then tell your creative friends to do the same. “Multifesto is born of the idea that design is a verb, not a product, and a collaborative endeavor, not the mark of an individual,” says the team at 2×4. “We welcome contributions by designers everywhere and from every discipline.”

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Andrew Galuppi and Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami ‘Bring the Globe Home’ in Online Tag Sale

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“I really got some crossed looks when I brought this Indonesian mask back from a trip overseas,” says Andrew Galuppi (at right). “I took up most of the overhead bins!”

CM_portraitsLooking to ward off the evil eye with a wedding Hamsa from North Africa, amass an instant collection of Japanese liquor bottles, or add a Moroccan Beni Ouran rug to your living room? These exotic treasures and many more are just a click away thanks to interior designer Andrew Galuppi and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami. The pair have teamed up with flash sale site One Kings Lane for “Camera Mundi” an online tag sale that begins today.

The collection of homegoods, priced from $20 to $3,000, includes rugs, furniture, statuary, and other objects collected by Galuppi and Sardar-Afkhami during their travels around the world. “Every handcrafted item is infused with someone’s story—they probably were taught their skill by a long-lost relative and spent hours on each piece, and without the help of a machine,” says Galuppi, who travels to India every winter. “This is part of the world I like supporting, because each piece carries with it an energy and a real story that gets transferred to your home.” We asked the globe-trotting designers to tell us more about “Camera Mundi,” the objects in the sale, and where their worldly, contemporary aesthetic will take them next.

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How did you come to work with One King’s Lane?
Ahmad Sardar-Afkhani: One of my close friends, Nate Berkus, was doing a sale with another friend, Ethan Trask, who works at One Kings Lane. We began talking and he proposed I create a sale mostly with the rugs and textiles I have been collecting.

Andrew Galuppi: Ahmad didn’t want to do the sale all alone—it’s more fun with a friend—so he knew my apartment was stuffed to the rafters with bits and bobs and he thought the mixture of our two collections would create one great big exciting assortment…kinda like a crazy bazaar!

Tell us about the significance of the title, “Camera Mundi”?
Sardar-Afkhani: In Latin, it means “room of the world,” where objects from different historical and cultural backgrounds can be displayed next to each other. I’m all for this type of juxtaposition, where new meaning and beauty is derived from assemblages of objects that would otherwise have little in common.

Galuppi: In addition to what Ahmad has explained…I think that a lot of people have really well curated homes these days, and including an object from some far away place will add texture and personality to a space to make it really feel finished and unique. That’s where “camera mundi” comes into place: bringing the globe home.
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Talkin’ Toys with Kidrobot Founder Paul Budnitz

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ARTGIANTS4FootDunnyArtist, designer, author, filmmaker, entrepreneur, creator of stunning titanium bikesPaul Budnitz is a man of many talents, but he is best known as the founder of Kidrobot. More than a decade after its founding, the company’s ever-changing family of limited-edition art toys ranges from blind-boxed, collect-them-all figures to a high-gloss uberDunny that stands four feet tall–and will set you back $5,000.

Budnitz returns to his toy design roots with a new twist on the DIY Munnys that remain among Kidrobot’s top sellers: on October 16, Skillshare will launch his “Beautiful Plastic” online class in toy design. We seized the moment to ask Budnitz how he got his start, the first toy he designed, and what toys have caught his eye lately.

How did you get started designing toys?
In 2001 I fell in love with some very early Michael Lau toys that I saw in Hong Kong. And almost simultaneously, discovered that Bounty Hunter was making toys in Tokyo. I thought they were beautiful–a perfect combination of pop-art, design, pop culture–just these amazing little sculptures. Because they were all limited edition, when they sold out they were gone forever. That made them precious. I founded Kidrobot in 2002 to make toys with my friends, mostly street artists and designers and graphic artists.

Do you remember the first toy you ever designed?
I think the first toy was actually Dunny, with Tristan Eaton. I have to credit him with the brilliance of that toy, he is one of the greatest illustrators alive in my opinion. We spent about a year on it (I think) trying to get the design right. The idea was to make it the best canvas possible for other people to draw on. That is why the face is so big and flat and round. It’s also got attitude. We put one foot in front of the other, and cut the shoulders at an angle, so when the head turns in looks a little menacing. It’s still Kidrobot’s most popular toy.

What is your toy design pet peeve?
I left Kidrobot several years ago to work on my bicycle company and do some other things, since I just felt like it was time for me to move on. I love the company, but it is difficult for me to see the direction it has taken. I know that the people over there are working to renew some of the original spark and originality. I encourage them to do so.

To me it’s sad when great things get watered down and become obvious and corporate. Creating magic through design is difficult to maintain!
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Inside Pentagram with Partner Eddie Opara

“The creative philosophy here is that there isn’t one,” says Eddie Opara of the many-splendored life at Pentagram, where he has been a partner since 2010. “No one’s trying to tell you to change your philosophy or methodologies of design, but [to] live within, or live with, other philosophies, because there’s never one.” It’s a multifaceted perspective that Opara has applied most recently to Platform, a new non-profit that aims to boost participation of underrepresented groups—particularly African-Americans, Latinos, and women—in technology and entrepreneurship. The designer and his team created the identity and website for the organization, as well as the graphics for the first Platform Summit, a TED-style confab held in July at the MIT Media Lab. Sneak a peek inside Pentagram and learn more about Opara in the below video, created by Athletics as part of the urbane graphic design extravaganza that is “Image of the Studio,” which opens today at Cooper Union’s Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography.

Quote of Note | Peter Buchanan-Smith

sam mcgee axes
Best Made’s “Sam McGee” American felling axe.

“I took an axe that was made by someone else, and I just painted the handle. The hard part was selling it and developing a catalogue and world around that one painted, simple axe. It was done overnight in a way. I had no business plan when I started. I literally painted 12 axes, photographed them, and two or three weeks later, I built an e-commerce site, and they were up for sale online.

It has been very slow to develop and craft some of the products that I want out there. That’s what’s been hard; it takes time and money, and that doesn’t come quickly unless you’re willing to sell half of your company or something, even if that were possible. But, I’ve learned a lot from my manufacturers. We work with a 140-year-old axe company that is still run by the same family. It is really inspiring to go down there, to watch them run machinery that was built 80 to 100 years ago, and see that they’re not anxious about growing really quickly. To them, it is about long, sustained growth. No one is thinking, ‘Let’s get rich quick.’”

-Best Made Company founder Peter Buchanan-Smith in Kern and Burn: Conversations With Design Entrepreneurs, a new book by Tim Hoover and Jessica Karle Heltzel

Color Me Keith Haring: Coloring Book Gathers Artists’ Illustrations to Fuel Young Imaginations


Inside Outside. From left, ready-to-color versions of “Oath of the Pond” by Koichiro Takagi and “Pizza Face” by Ohara Hale. (Photo: UnBeige)

It’s that time of year again, when even those who haven’t stepped inside a classroom for decades feel the unbearable urge to stock up on school supplies. Break out that fresh box of Crayolas—or Prismacolors or Copics—for Outside the Lines, out today from Perigee. This “artists’ coloring book for giant imaginations” is the brainchild of Souris Hong-Porretta, who gathered line drawings (most commissioned especially for this book) by the likes of Shepard Fairey, Exene Cervenka, Gary Baseman, Ryan McGinness, Jen Corace, and 100 other creative masterminds ranging from animators to video game artists. We asked Hong-Porretta, a self-desciribed “art enthusiast, idea enabler, and yay-maker” to tell us more about the colorful project.

What led you to create Outside the Lines?
My daughter, Lulu! She has lots and lots of coloring books and I noticed that she had a preference for coloring books with illustrations by established artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. After watching her scribble outside the lines of a Moebius coloring book, I thought it’d be cool if she could color artwork by our creative cabal so I wrote a list of folks I knew and one by one asked them if they would contribute work for a coloring book. I had several dozen yeses in a short amount of time—enough to motivate me to write a book proposal. The rest came together rather quickly.

How did you select the artists whose work you wanted to include?
Nearly all the artists included in the book are personal friends. Some very old, some newer. A few are friends of friends. But nearly every artist in the book has a relationship with me by way of previous projects or a social tie. Also, because I had once worked for a lifestyle magazine called, Tokion, I was able to call upon friends I had made from the ’90s, before they were rockstar photographers, illustrators, fine artists, graffiti artists, musicians, and much more.
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The Albers App: Interaction of Color Gets Interactive

One of the most influential art books ever written gets a 21st century update thanks to Yale University Press, which has released an iPad app version of Josef Albers‘s Interaction of Color. First published fifty years ago, the classic tome is an essential guide to thinking creatively about color. The app includes the full text along with more than 125 of the original color studies, including the “flaps” and moving pieces that have made them so captivating to generations of students. After experimenting with color and finding solutions to Albers’s famous problems, you can play with the new color palette tool and watch interviews with leading designers and artists explaining how they use color in their work.

Like this post? Then you’ll love LiquidTreat, a weekly newsletter designed to quench your creative thirst. Sip generously from past issues and subscribe here.

Quote of Note | Joan Fontcuberta

“In my project Miracles et Cie (2002) I settle my scores with the supernatural. My images are an ironic homage to the touching facet of the history of photography, which has been used to fake the presence of ghosts and spirits: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many crooks used photography’s powers of persuasion to ‘demonstrate’ their paranormal powers. But this work’s critical objective consists of an outrageous reflection on how the current whirlpool of beliefs, cults, rituals, and superstitions has set us adrift. Here, by using conjuring effects, photography becomes the document of the illusion.”

-Catalan artist Joan Fontcuberta, interviewed in Cabinets of Wonder by Christine Davenne (Abrams, 2012)

Pictured: Joan Fontcuberta, “The Miracle of Dolphinsurfing” (2002)

Seven Questions for Oren Safdie

The strange and wonderful world of contemporary architecture takes center stage in False Solution, a new play that runs through Sunday at La MaMa in New York (buy tickets here). That the dialogue crackles with pitch-perfect architect-speak is no coincidence: this is the latest work by Oren Safdie. The Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based playwright is the son of architect Moshe Safdie and grew up in his father’s modular prefab marvel, Habitat ’67, before making his way to Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture.

“Architecture is also still mostly a male-dominated profession,” says Safdie, “so the opportunity to write about sexual politics–one of my favorite topics–is plentiful.” False Solution takes place in the basement model-making studio of a firm led by Anton Seligman (played with brainy yet sizzling charisma by Sean Haberle), a starchitect who has landed a commission to design a Holocaust museum in Poland. He soon finds himself arguing the merits of volumes and voids with intern Linda Johnansson (Christy McIntosh), a striking know-it-all who flinches only when pressed into service at the drafting table: “It’s just at this stage of my career, I’m much more effective as a critical thinker than a generator of ideas,” says the first-year architecture student. Fortunately for theatergoers, Safdie has mastered both roles. He recently answered our questions about his career path, his new play, and why architects make for better characters on the boards than on the screen.

How did you go from studying architecture at Columbia to being a playwright (and screenwriter and director)?
In my last year at architecture school, Columbia University insisted you take a course outside your discipline. I took a playwriting course. A scene I wrote was selected in a contest juried by Romulus Linney, and received a staged reading. Once I saw my words on stage, I was hooked.

Your new play, False Solution, is about an architect’s struggle to design a Holocaust museum in Poland. How did the idea for the play develop?
I would say the kernel of the play was born when 10 years ago, I saw a figure skating event on television. One of the American skaters had donned a yarmulke and wore a sweater with a Star of David sewn on his chest. The theme he skated to: Schindler’s List. I was amazed that someone would actually try and give some kind of expression to the Holocaust. I was reminded by this several years later when I visited Libeskind‘s Jewish Museum in Berlin, where I felt the same sense of someone trying to convey the suffering through architectural expression, albeit more successfully. There were other Holocaust museums I visited, including my father‘s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem that offered an opposite approach–almost creating a non-building. It was through these difference, that I created two very different type of characters. The other influence on this play comes from my mother, who lived in hiding in Poland during the war. Many of the stories are factual, and I was interested in how, per se, her experiences have impacted my own life.
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Seven Question for Rad and Hungry Founder Hen Chung


Hole reinforcers and pencils from Costa Rica, and Hen Chung in Istanbul.

Around the world in 80 writing utensils? That’s one way to describe Rad and Hungry, which aims to take lovers of interesting office supplies on a “world tour of limited-edition goods with lo-fi style, pushing design through travel and travel through design.” Founded by former graphic designer Hen Chung in collaboration with fellow globetrotters Sam Alston and Laura Dedon Oxford, the online shop assembles an ever-changing selection of country-themed kits stocked with imported pens, pencils, stationery, and other exotic desk goodies, all beautifully packaged. A Rad and Hungry subscription is the perfect gift for the design lover who has everything—except thumbtacks from Lisbon.

“We really try to make each kit speak to our travels in that country–the people we met, food we ate, design we saw,” Chung tells us. “As each layer is unwrapped, people share in our low-down travel. The whole experience transforms the lo-fi, often overlooked daily-diet goods into something sacred. Our ultimate goal is to connect far-flung groups of people who love style, design, and travel as much as we do.” She made time between scouting trips to answer our questions about creating the company, her favorite finds, and what’s currently on her desk.

What led you to create Rad and Hungry?
I was a graphic designer for ten years and it became time for me to move on. I knew I wanted to combine the things I love most—travel and design. One day I was sitting in my library room thinking about what my next move would be. I was staring at a section of shelves that store journals that I collected from my travels. They were all untouched–they were inexpensive journals I picked up in places such as corner shops and pharmacies. Didn’t matter that none of the pages contained any words or images, they were all so sacred to me because they reminded me of each country. And then it hit me—create a company that allows me to travel and share daily-diet design through office supplies.

You travel the globe hunting for new stuff to include in Rad and Hungry kits. What are some of your favorite finds of all time?
Probably my favorite item to date is the Soviet-era notebooks in the Latvia Kit. I love the yellowing pages, the faded mint covers, and the simple rubber-stamped logo. Close seconds are the copper-colored paper clips from our first Germany Kit and the flower-scented pencils from the Portugal Kit. I love the paper clips because they’re so opposite of what people expect of German goods—they’re delicate and not uniform in shape. And the pencils from Portugal are amazing. Their smell is unreal. Super fragrant but not in the cheap perfume sort of way. They’re made by an old pencil factory that’s still in business after all these years. I’m always stoked to discover a company with a lot of history ‘cause I’m a firm believer that old school is best!

You’re packing for a desert island and can only bring one writing utensil. What is it?
Hands down a goldenrod pencil. I figure I’ll be able to create a tool to sharpen it and find something to write on. But I don’t know what I’d do if I need a fire, hurting for wood and have to make the ultimate decision between fighting off the cold or having a trusty number 2 pencil.
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