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Archives: January 2005


Reader John Glassie, in reponse to my vitra party report helpfully points out:

one thing on vitra: do you mention where this store is? didn’t see. or am i dumb?[Ed note: John Glassie, not dumb] had to go to the vitra site and scroll through showroom locations around the world.

Um, ahem. Actually I do not. My apologies. The vitra. store in NYC is located in the overcooked Meatpacking District at 29 Ninth Avenue. Phone number: +1.212.463.5700.

In regard to my earlier post about banana packages, reader and
blogger Greg Allen (who, incidentally, has banana post of his own) writes:

Hey Jen,

[blogrolling flattery omitted]

I’d seen the banana juice box you just posted about, maybe at (where I can’t find it, btw) or, but I can’t find it anywhere in the Japanese net. The link you posted actually goes to the 404 file not found page on Nikkei Business Press [Ed note: d'oh!]; I couldn’t find any banana juice box info there, either.

Searching for the specific image, though, I found the same pic on Abu log, though, where the guy describes it as an unlikely-to-be-produced design concept. If your BP source has another link or an actual manufacturer, I’d be happy to poke around their site.

Greg Allen
the weblog for new dads

Thank you, fair readers, and good night.

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Vitra-at-Home Launch Party

vitrasignage.jpgLast night vitra. hosted a launch party for their new “at home” furniture line which is a melange of classic (think Josef Albers, Jean Prouve, Verner Panton) and new designs (from Jasper Morrison and Ronan + Erwan Bouroullec.) The press materials describe it as “an ongoing and metamorphosing enterprise” that is “a rebuttal to finished solutions and stylistic uniformity.” (Pottery Barn, anyone?)

I would argue that these furnishings have already established a certain uniformity. Seems like the Eames Plywood Lounge Chair or Saarinen’s Womb Chair have become the standard trophies of the aspirational set. It sure beats Lay-Z-Boy though, in spite of Todd Oldham‘s efforts on their behalf.

redroom.jpgThe gist of this line is good – it encourages mixing old with new and presents the furnishings as elements rather than package deals. It assumes that the customer will make it theirs, with their own individual flair. It’s a good thing too, because I think I might turn into a homicidal maniac if I spent every evening in a living room so very red as the one I took a shot of here.

The store also functions as a museum of sorts. All the square placards around the rooms explain the provenance of the designs, the issue dates, have photos from their first publications, etc. It’s a great education in design philosphies from mid-century to modern. Also, as one of my party companions Daniel commented, it was refreshing to see the prices displayed along with all the rapturous descriptions of the furnishings. It’s nice when you don’t have to ask.

albersnest.jpgThe Josef Albers nesting side tables left me exhausted with acquisitive lust. So gorgeous. Goodness. The colors are deeply saturated, like I like them, but earthier than a lot of the other offerings in the room – a rich blue, a warm orange rather than the screaming oranges and aggressive greens that were found elsewhere. They also felt delightful. The tabletops were described as being “Acrylic Glass”. Now, I’m not quite sure what that means really, but when I tapped it with my fingernail it felt like proper glass and looking at the table top sideways, the color refracted through it in a glass-like way. WANT. Alas, at a retail price of $1830, it’s a bit beyond my current means.

greensetting.jpgWe arrived early, so a lot of my photos show the room as sparsely populated. It filled up quickly though – I was somewhat surprised by such a big showing of posh people on a Sunday evening. After I stopped drooling over the sidetables, I joined my friends in the seating area just ahead of the bar, pictured at left. Those close to the ground lounge chairs (Panton’s Amoebe) are very comfy, but I’d prefer them in a different color. There were also cork stools (no, really) by Jasper Morrison that proved comfortable enough for my companions (who had smaller butts than my own.)

algues.jpg The green reef-like structure that fanned out above us was a source of endless fascination and speculation. It was built from the Bouroullec’s Algue modules, which are available in several colors and come in sets of 6 or sets of 50. I don’t know that you could do much with 6 of them, but they sure are fun to play with. (I’m happy to report that a single Algue (sp?) was included with my press materials.)

All these things are available at the vitra. store, and their site provides a lot more information than I’ve been able to here. Although, I must register a grouse about the site – thanks to their spiffy Flash interface, it’s impossible for me to point you directly to information about any single product. Instead I can just give you the home page for their at home line, and let you find the stuff on your own. But, that’s OK – you’re smart, you can do it.

Crimes Against Urbanity (continued)

welose.jpgThis is a partial view of a really ugly building that’s going up a few blocks from my apartment. The tagline on the (extremely out of date) movie billboard, Whoever Wins – We Lose, is apt. It’s shoddy architecture, it’s BEIGE, and it’s downright ugly.

The street sign is blurry (not to mention tiny) in this photo, but the building fronts onto the Bowery. It’s but one of several new projects that are transforming New York City’s original Skid Row into something else entirely.

I’m trying to keep an open mind, but it seems like way too much. I am most concerned about the dramatic shift in population density, and the influx of a way more affluent populace. Traffic patterns, services, community character – it’s all in flux.

Mr Lockhart Steele covers NY real estate development far more comprehensively over at Curbed. I’ll leave it to him to do the community and cost analysis of these endeavors.

This is not the first appearance of the Alien Building here on UnBeige – it was the topic of my charter Crimes Against Urbanity post. The photo in that item was taken from a further distance. As you can see, it’s just as ugly when you get up closer.

Send your ugly building photos to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Reader Tip Ahoy!

312085_image_01.jpgPauline from Brand Packaging just tipped us off to this brilliant banana juice (buh?) packaging coming to us from clever marketers in Japan. In her email to us she writes:

Hi. Keep us in mind for future fodder: We cover the marketing impact of great packaging.

FYI: In Japan, there’s a line of juice boxes that are designed to look like
the fruit they contain. the banana box rocks (see link below).


Her link takes you to the image you see here. Unfortunately, as I do not speak Japanese, I couldn’t figure out how to navigate to an index of all the glorious fruit boxes. Reader assistance in this regard would be much appreciated. The site is here. Or at least I think it’s the main page of the site. Send links, theories, translations to jen AT unbeige DOT com

And while we’re on the topic of bananas, I gleefully direct you to my beta post about the Banana Bunker.

In the Spotlight


Over at the mothership, they are running a week’s worth of interviews with art directors from big magazines. In today’s Design Spotlight, Greg Lindsay chats with Edward Leida, the Group Design Director for Fairchild Publications, purveyors of such fine glossies as W Magazine and Details. From the interview:

I am a type guy. I’m not a type geek. Typically, what I begin with is text. I’m not even sure right away what I am going to use, but I always just plunk down a galley of text. I have a blank page and I just put a column of text down it. I was having a conversation with a friend, trying to explain what type was, and I asked, ‘Do you know DeKooning, the painter? He always had this blank canvas and he would draw one line. After that, the rest would come.’ It’s sort of the same with me. I take a piece of body copy, and I put it on a blank piece of paper, and I look at it. I don’t really know what the process is, but it evolves into something.

Read the full article here.

New To You

images-1.jpgI’ve been doing this Blog thing for two whole weeks now, clearly earning me pro status if you believe what you read in the the papers. We had this crazy Beta thing, which mostly involved me haranguing my friends to read the site, Elizabeth sending in the media elite in (thrilling and terrifiying) and a lot of requests for tips from the approximately 20 readers I had at the time. It was sad, really, like having a tea party with stuffed animals because no one could come out to play.

That’s all over now, but so no one feels left out, I urge you to peruse our archives, wherein you will see that a lot can happen in 10 business days.

Most specifically, I would like to direct you to the posts where I encourage readers to send in tips. I got my very first anonymous tip late last week. It it made me giddy like a teenager and hungry for more, more, more.

A list, by tip topic


all_island_guide_lg.gifMore About That Logo, wherein I asked readers to submit questions for my upcoming interview with Design & Branding supah genius Joe Duffy.

He did the Bahamas rebranding, which I am prone to talk about every minute or so. You would too if you hadn’t left the house without at least two layers, hat, scarf, gloves (sometimes TWO pairs) and snow boots for weeks on end. And this is New York City. I’m supposed to be prancing around in Manolos, am I not? Where is my car & driver, damnit. OK, I digress. Read my item about Joe and send your questions to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Products & Packaging

detergent_t_on.gifNice Package was a confessional item of sorts. I laid bare my proclivity to judge a book, or say a can of sardines, by its cover – I like to think of it as aesthetic consumerism. I asked you, fair readers, to send me snaps of items you keep in your house, just because they’re purty.

Ugly Buildings

Crimes Against Urbanity will be an ongoing series where I post photos of… ugly buildings. There are lots of them. I hear there are plenty in cities aside from NYC.

oneunion.jpg I want you to send me pictures of them, and tell me what you think. I also want dirt on those builidings. Everyone knows that most new construction projects are awash with community outrage, dirty dealings and unsavory developer types. Bring it on!

Design in General: Good or Bad

In last week’s Eyes, Ears, Underground item I revealed that, for someone who is a media junkie like I am (and I really really am) I miss a bunch of what’s going on because I don’t ride the subway much, and I’m a lazy hermit who hasn’t been on an airplane for much longer than I’d care to admit. In this item, aside from embarrassing myself, I also ask for people to send me stuff from wherever they are. Readers travelling abroad are of particular interest. I might phone a friend to say bon voyage as they are headed off to the Far East, but mostly I want to be sure that they don’t forget their digital camera.

OK, now I am off to caffeinate myself and tend to my insane and increasingly impatient mutt. We’ll come back to you with some piping hot fresh content in mere minutes. On tap for today:

A field report from the Vitra at Home launch party.

More ugly buildings.

I blog roll so you don’t have to: links to other interesting blog posts on this fine Monday morning.

An ode to my design hero, Tibor Kalman.

And of course, tons of reader tips, that will be flooding the inbox of jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Clients Communictions, Lesson 1

This is hysterical. It’s video file, but it’ll only take about 30 seconds of your time and it’s well worth it.

Welcome to UnBeige

m_33852.jpgDesign is everywhere. Increasingly, it’s becoming accessible to everyone. UnBeige will examine the social and cultural impact of design, without getting too highbrow about it.

I am not a designer myself, but I’ve worked with designers for years and years, and know well how integral good design is to creating a good experience for an audience. That audience might be reading a web site, looking at a magazine, walking into a retail establishment, or buying a Metrocard in a subway station – wherever they are design is a critical component to their emotional reaction, to their ability to parse information and to how memorable their experience is overall.

The goal of is to expose the process of design to a broader audience. We’ll have interviews with prominent designers, industry gossip & rumors, crits of newly unveiled projects, magazine roundups and, of course, links to interesting design information elsewhere on the web. As with any good blog, a lot of the stuff we post will come from our readers. Email your suggestions to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

More About That Logo (yes, that one)


I don’t think I could possibly close out the week without mentioning my logo-crush of the week, the Bahamas logo, done by Duffy & Partners. Yesterday, Eliot sent me this link to a good analysis of the entire program that Duffy put together, done by LogoLounge.

I’m also excited to report that Joe Duffy, his own self, has agreed to be my inaugural interview subject.

The interview will be a weekly feature, and I’m hoping that I’ll have my schedule together enough, on an ongoing basis, to ask you, fair readers, what burning questions you have for the person I’m interviewing. Keep in mind that although I am seriously in love with all things design, the interviews themselves are going to have an informal (and at times irreverent) tone.

There’s tons of analysis out there about design, branding, etc. I’m more interested in finding out about where these people find their inspiration, what bugs (or delights) them about design they see day to day, and what tools they consider indispensible. You get the idea. If you have questions in that vein for Joe Duffy, by all means email them to jen AT unbeige DOT com.

The Latest from J & L Books

jlcover.jpgJ & L Books is a favorite of mine. It’s a small non-profit press founded by photographer Jason Fulford and artist/designer Leanne Shapton. They started publishing books in 2000 and have assembled quite a nice array over time. Their Dancing Pictures book got quite a bit of press when it first came out, if I remember correctly. They support emerging artists, their work is quirky and inventive and one of their guiding principles, according to Leanne, is that they “look for stuff that makes people laugh.” Works for me.

Their two latest books are J&L Illustrated #2 and Paper Placemats. Illustrated #2 features fiction by 10 authors and illustrations from 35 artists, including drawings by Tucker Nichols and writing by Miriam Toews. The book has a great feel to it too – it’s a nice compact size and the edges of the pages are stained purple, giving it an old-timey and handmade vibe.

jlplacemats.jpgThe other title, Paper Placemats was “Conceived as a public art project, the placemats will be donated to restaurants across the U.S. with the help of volunteers in each state. Additional copies will be sold domestically and internationally in bookstores.” (from their site) Again, it’s something that’s great to have in hand – it’s a fresh concept that’s fun and funny, and accessible. (The photograph here is from Placemats.)

You can find the books locally or online – to locate a place near you click here.

Leanne and Jason are also featured in the most recent edition of Fresh Dialogue, which is the AIGA’s issue devoted to New Voices in Graphic Design.