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Archives: October 2005

She May Write About Coffins But She Doesn’t Live In Them, Duh

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Another Thursday, another House & Home. And aside from ID editor Julie Lasky’s babydaddy Ernest Beck (it’s all connected, kids) getting a little saucy with the concrete, there’s not so much we were fascinated by, except the shocking discovery that Anne Rice, though she may write about vampires and crucifixes (but not demons) and seem really dark, lives in a nice bright enormous house in California. We love the At Home With construct, mostly because it gives our more voyeuristic slant a Gray Lady-sanctioned outlet, and because it’s cool to see the inside of other peoples’ houses. Yes, we were the kids with the open house-obsessed parents. Laura Miller explains how Anne left New Orleans (before) for “Paradise West,” and then started writing about Jesus. She’s still got some creepy shit lying around though.

The large glass-doored cabinet displaying Ms. Rice’s doll collection–antique French Bru dolls as well as new creations with disturbingly adult, sensuous faces by the Israeli artist Edna Dali–evokes the creepy hothouse milieu of her earlier fiction. Ms. Rice describes a large crucifix from a Carmelite convent in Louisiana and the statues of saints and Madonnas arranged elsewhere throughout the house as “parish art, devotional art, stuff people used, not fine antiques.” To the casual observer, the two collections might seem to characterize the divide in Ms. Rice’s fiction between her decadent vampire novels and the newer, more pious work.

From bloodsucking to salvation. Gotta love it.

Madrid Has A Wacky Hotel That Reminds Us Of The Lloyd

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A few months or years (who can tell anymore?) ago, we junketeered our way over to Amsterdam and stopped off at the Lloyd Hotel, an old building that had been entirely repurposed by a bunch of hot young architects and designers (Hella Jongerius, Claudy Jongstra, and the very tall Marcel Wanders) into a one-to-five star hotel with completely different rooms and styles (some of them with eight-person beds, yeah, all right). Turns out the Lloyd was just the beginning of what Madrid’s 342-room $92 million Hotel Puerta America looks to be, if not the end, a very big step of. A Travel + Leisure writer stopped in to look at the hotel’s twelve floors, each of which was designed by a different architect. Norman Foster, Richard Gluckman, and Zaha Hadid all contributed. Here’s what Peter Jon Lindberg, who we’ve suddenly found ourselves very jealous of, writes:

The edifice is sheathed, Christo-like, in canopies of indigo, orange, yellow, and red canvas. Glass-cube elevators glide up and down the exterior, and at each floor the doors open to reveal a shocking new world: on level 4, the eerie metallic wonderland of architects Eva Castro and Holger Kehne, faceted steel shards buckle from every surface like something out of Tron; one flight up, Victorio & Lucchino envisioned a gaudy fantasia of velvet and marble sphinxes. Puerta America comes off as a vast Hollywood backlot.

Interesting enough, but where’s Zaha??

Hadid’s rooms are the most striking. It’s a pity Stanley Kubrick didn’t live to shoot here. The entire iglooesque space is molded from blinding white LG Hi-Macs, a synthetic similar to Corian. There’s nary a right angle in sight, and no “furniture” per se: from the amoeboid walls, sculpted smooth as snowdrifts, sprout shelves, benches, nightstands, and a desk. An iceberg-like slab doubles as a seat (ergonomic, schmergonomic). This must be how it feels to live inside an Eames chair.

Mmmmm. Comfortable.

James Carpenter Refracts

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We’ve got a prior Chuck Close commitment, but every few minutes we wish we didn’t so that we could go see genius grant recipient James Carpenter speak at the Donnell Library Center tonight. The League sponsors, as part of their Architecture and… series (this one is Architecture and Light) and explains:

Trained as a sculptor, James Carpenter works in the realms of art, architecture, and engineering. His firm works collaboratively with architects and engineers on projects that merge sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and engineering in the creation of curtain walls, skylights, roofs, pavilions, works of public art, and entire buildings.

Carpenter’s firm has collaborated on a number of recent and current New York City projects, including the MTA Fulton Street Transit Center (Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners), World Trade Center Tower 7 (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), Light Cascade at the Hearst Tower (Foster and Partners), Inclined Light Wall at the New York Hall of Science (Polshek Partnership), Battery Park City Streetscape (Rogers Marvel Architects), and Brooklyn Bridge Park (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates).

6:30, Donnell Library Center, 20 West 53rd St, members free, non-members $10.

Apparently Common Objects Can Have Uncommon Lives

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Metropolis Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Susan S. Szenasy (how’s that for alliteration) sits down or talks on the phone or emails with Akiko Busch, Metropolis contributor and author of The Uncommon Life of Common Objects. Busch talks about her sons and their ipods, the lethality of cars, and growing up with carved Buddhas on top of English blanket chests.

We like this subtle approach to object fetishism. Busch points out it’s a little weird that people pay so much attention to things.

What I find interesting about design is the way people are emotionally engaged with the inanimate world. It’s a little absurd. It seems to defy some kind of basic logic…

Right there with you.

Chuck Close Is Speaking At Parsons

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We went to the inaugural “At the Parsons Table” talk last year, in which Frank Gehry made self-deprecating comments about his inability to use a computer and Paul Goldberger laughed. This year, the series kicks off its second round (does a second iteration a second round make?) with Dean Paul again hosting, this time Chuck Close, who we all remember from his fine letter in support of Two Columbus Circle. Parsons says:

Dean Goldberger will discuss with Close the balance between abstraction and realism as embodied in his work; his thoughts on the future of the field of painting, on the role of the artist as citizen-activist, the future of arts education, and his thoughts on the field of architecture (an interest if not a vocation of Close’s).

We’ll be there — and although we can’t yet commit to the pirate shirt, we’re easy to spot. Say hi. We get lonely at these things.

6:30, Tishman, 66 West 12th St, Tickets $15 and available there or through the box office, 212 229 5488.

We Just Discovered A Totally Bitching Graphic Designer

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In amidst the thousands of hott party invitations that float into our inbox (keep ‘em coming), we found one to a Design Within Reach party for James Victore. Ehhhhhh, we thought. Boring. Party. Free drinks. Schmoozing. And then we looked at the invitation and then we looked at his stuff and then we were like

AWWWWWWWWWW YEAH.

He’s a self-taught graphic designer, does lots of fairly controversial posters for fairly controversial subjects, teaches at the SVA. Flip through the work here. We’re also in the middle of interviewing him as we blog, so stay tuned…

There Is A Difference Between Design And Decorating And HGTV Missed It

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We love readers who write to us, especially when they point out ultra-salient things, like the fact that HGTV seems to have totally missed the fact that design and decorating are not the same. Yesterday we told you about the upcoming show, Design Star, where people do all sorts of ridiculous things on television so that they can be on television, with some ludicrous promise of eventually hosting their own design series, if they survive. We were in the middle of trolling through sophomoric room arrangements, rocking out, and then we got this:

I was reading the Unbeige online article [Ed: It's a post. A post!] “Do You Want to be a Bright Shining HGTV Star?” and I could not help but notice the blatant mistake in the show’s title which, quite honestly, made me wince. “HGTV Design Star.” I was immediately interested, thinking that perhaps this was a show geared towards interior design, involving wall placement, lighting, and the like derived from ergonomics and anthropometrics. But I was disappointed when I realized that the show was not about “design” but about “decorating.”

We, for one, will never trust again. And just when Dr. Phil said we were doing so well. And then, wham:

I once heard the saying: Interior design is about moving walls, interior decorating is about moving pillows. I think that pretty much sums it up.

Oh snap. Reader went there. Nice.

We Like Cars. We Like Buildings. The New York Times Likes Cars And Buildings.

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Our bff Phil Patton, who’s all up in the car and design world, wrote a nice piece in today’s Times about how cars and design are, sometimes, related.

We generally avoid car ads but he does our work for us and makes a salient point, noticing that a couple cars — the Phaeton, a Saab — have been photographed with the backdrop of, respectively, Gehry’s Seattle Public Library and “cable-stayed European bridges.”

They had their reasons:

With Volkswagen, Steve Keyes, a company spokesman, said that Mr. Koolhaas’s building was a good setting because it resembled the Phaeton.

“We knew it was going to be difficult for some people to get their head around the idea of a Volkswagen luxury car,” he said. “Both the Phaeton and Koolhaas’s library serve as a rather elegant disruption of the status quo, so they work well together.” The company paid a fee to use the building as a backdrop, Mr. Keyes said.

OK, so it’s about car ads and pretty buildings, but then the story does an about-face and turns into being about the even prettier buildings that the nice cars are built in. Mercedes-Benz at least “included” Asymptote in their competition. BMW has that Zaha-designed administrative building in Leipzig. And for BMW World, the luxury car company hired Coop-Himmelb(l)au, whose use of paranthesis is definitely enough to slot them into the cutting edge.

Maybe we should work on getting our license.

The AIGA Talked About The Thing No Good Wasp Is Ever Supposed To Talk About And We Don’t Mean Muffy’s Alcoholism

Every so often it occurs to us to think about money, given that all anyone in New York talks about is real estate. With every conversation in which the underlying point being that everything would be a little bit better if we had a little bit more money. But we’d never be so gauche as to actually discuss it. Thankfully the AIGA (along with Aquent) has no such qualms, and their recent salary survey of the trends in the last five years is a nice little colored graph that, to be honest, makes us weep for all design industry people, except the owner/partner ones, who we want to find and make an honest designer out of.

Ric Grefe explains it all:

The design economy is slowly recovering.

And

Despite what we know about salary trends, we are very confident in the future for the design profession.

Definitely enough to snow us.

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Do You Want To Be A Bright Shining HGTV Star?

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No TV for us — we’re ascetic and puritanical, readers only — but we can’t stay away from the interwebs. Thanks to design*sponge for pointing the HGTV Design Star competition out. It’s like American Idol but for designers.

Design Star is the search for the next great HGTV designer. The selection process will begin on our website and culminate with each of five finalists appearing in their own program on HGTV. In each of the five programs one finalist will make over a room and our viewers will vote for their favorite designer. The winner will be announced in a live show on HGTV and will become the host of their own design series.

That’s hot.

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