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Archives: December 2005

The Best Of 2005 Awards, Volume 1

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Everywhere we look, everyone seems to be doing their best of lists, their nostalgic looks back to the halfway marker of the decade we still haven’t got a name for. So we thought we’d do our own highlights.

Below, some of the awards we’d like to give to the people, places, designs, and all-around awesome that’s made our year kinda kicky. In no order other than importance:

The BFF Award
Michael Bierut, for appearing in these pages a brazilian times and being cool with it every time.

The You Wrote Some Shit About Me But We Can Be Friends Because I’m Just That Cool Award:
Michael Arad, for sticking out an incredibly difficult project, and still partying like a rockstar every time we saw him.

The Yeah I’ll Curate That And It’ll Kick Ass And By The Way I Rule Award:
Paola Antonelli, for going out on a SAFE limb that wasn’t actually that safe. And wearing vinyl to the opening.

The Building On A Mass Grave And Throwing A Party There Doesn’t Bother Me One Bit Award:
Larry Silverstein, for giving the Architect’s Newspaper the 47th floor of 7 World Trade Center (sorry, 250 Greenwich) for their second anniversary party, so every person to do with architecture could have a lovely picture window view. Of death.

The Why Didn’t We Think Of That Story? Oh Wait, Maybe Because It’s Not A Story Award
Robin Progrebin of the New York Times, for introducing us to the architects of this crazy neighborhood called the Lower East Side.

The Made Us Puke Even Though We–Shockingly–Weren’t Drunk Award
Peter Eisenman, for the 89.5 degree-angle Wexner Center.

Volume 2 TK. Nominations welcome.

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Are You A Young Architect? Do You Need Fame And Money? Is That Even A Question?

Travel-Money.jpgOur bffs over at the Architectural League have just announced a call for entries for the latest Young Architects competition. The theme, appropriately, is “Instability.” You can tell this both because it is explained but also because, on the competition site, the word Instability is very blurry and moves around. This is known as design.

According to the League,

Projects of all types, either theoretical or real, and executed in any medium, are welcome. The jury will select work for presentation in public forums, an online installation, and an exhibition at the Architectural League this spring.

Jury members are Craig Dykers, Craig Konyk, Monica Ponce de Leon, Sarah Sze, and Young Architects Committee members Douglas Gauthier, Naji Moujaes, and Beth Weinstein.

Craig Dykers you will of course all remember from the Freedom Center, which we’re sure he’s working on oh wait maybe not, Sarah Sze did an installation at the Whitney, Douglas Gauthier taught some people we knew, and Beth Weinstein, according to our favorite NYT story ever, went totally nuts and rented studio space on the Lower East Side.

Prize is $1000. Deadline is February 10. Make us proud.

House & Home, Back On Track Edition

29mount.650.jpgWe’ve been caught up on conceptualizing conceptual art all day; apologies. But, of course, no break is complete without a trip to House & Home. Where we learn about a couple with a cheap–but stylish!–house, a couple with a lot of stuff from far away, and a couple of guys who are shopping for Chris Mount’s Parsons show, “Anarchy to Affluence.” Which is all about that time in New York that we always hear about and wonder why we’re not in right now and can’t figure out why our life isn’t as glamorous as life seemed to be then. Oh, and he, apparently saliently, wears orange.

Big news day.

That Whole AIGA Thing Really Is A Scandal

aigalogo.jpgA few days ago (faux vacation always bleeds together, doesn’t it) we informed you, our dear and newly active readers, of the latest graphic design world scandal: the changing of the AIGA name from acronym-ic sensicality to most boring ever. We asked for your thoughts. And we got them. From a one-liner:

At the risk of sounding as trite as AIGA sounds mindless: “If it ain’t broke…”

to the thoroughly well-thought and -written (we’re usurpable) essay from a loyal UnBeige reader:

I am with you; it’s absurd. As a designer and writer, it frustrates me. Letters matter. Acronyms are annoying enough without them being meaningless. Gee, let me just pick some letters I like and I’ll tell you what they stand for in Pig Latin. No, wait, they actually mean something very significant in the secret club language of my camp meeting group but I can’t tell you because we swore with blood that we would never reveal the code so you’ll just have to either like the letters or not. Their changing their name to NOT mean anything represented by their initials, unfortunately, to me, makes me think they are just plain dumb. I do not like to think designers are dumb and I don’t, in general, think they are. In fact, I think designers are very smart and analytical. But this is nonsensical. It’s the worst of corporate America or corporate anywhere taking over logic.

I am reminded of my favorite fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Only this is the Emperor’s New Acronym. In this story, everyone is afraid to tell the emperor, who thinks he’s really smart, that his acronym actually means nothing. And then the little kid pipes up and says, “But Mr. Important Emperor Man, that acronym doesn’t stand for anything.” And the crowd gasps. And then, since fairytales can have happy endings, the crowd realizes that the down-to-earth, plain-speaking child is right and the bully emperor who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his Meaningless Acronym Symposium is an idiot and not to be listened to or followed.

If this is the way so-called design leaders are going to think, I am going astray, that’s for sure.

Snap, zing, pop. But for something a little different: anyone out there gonna try and defend the Emperor? That we’d be interested in…

BREAKING! AIGA No Longer An Acronym!!!


We really have no idea why we’re at a computer today and, for real, for shame if anyone else is too. But we surfed around long enough to stumble across this absolute gem of a graphic design world-shocking revelation. The AIGA, formerly (this is called foreshadowing) known as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, has changed its name (but hopefully not its spots). It’s now called “AIGA, the professional association for design.”

We’re officially anti-endorsing this. AIGA had a nice ring to it. Acronyms make sense. Whereas “the professional association for design” gets lost in a muddle of boredom and general crapitude. Here’s their excuse:

In this new form, if one is asked what AIGA stands for, the answer is evident: “the professional association for design.” This is actually a clearer answer than “The American Institute of Graphic Arts.” You do not need to explain literally what the initials stand for; no one explains what the initials ESPN or MCI stand for.

Our new holiday recipe: a generous helping of illogic with a dash of hubris. We’re curious, though. Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Why they did it? Do you like it? Dislike it? Think we’re off our proverbial rockers for thinking it sucks so hard? You know the drill: unbeige at mediabistro dot com.

We Went To The Wexner And All We Got Was This Lousy Queasiness

We’ve recovered enough from our Wexner-rama by now to be able to post the sloppy cameraphone shots we took and think a little bit about just how the building affected us. Which was pretty much a one note reaction. We felt a little queasy. A little nauseous. And we couldn’t figure out why — although we’d heard there was something a little “wacky” going on with the angles — until Sidekick put a paper against the floor and the (we thought) 90 degree column and showed that it was half a degree off. So there you have it. That’s architecture. Half a degree off something you think is straight and the whole paradigm is shifted. Building looks (see below), from the outside, like a cross between the House VI and House X diagrams.

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Building looks, from the inside (see above, note “hanging column” focal point and scale figure), like something that’s just a little off. And maybe that’s the point (we vaguely remember vaguely sometime vaguely hearing that it was something at least close to that). But seriously. For real. Isn’t that a little lazy?

House & Home, Totally En Fuego


Something must have gotten into the editors over at the Gray Lady — fresh air, perhaps? — because today’s House & Home is absolutely en fuego in a way it’s almost never been before (we remain, humbly, modest as ever). Penelope Green kicks her story on an unlikely decorating match off with this:

The first meeting between Laura Gottwald, an effervescent interior designer and jazz lover, and Margery Budoff, a personal injury lawyer and deeply committed audiophile, was so momentous that Ms. Budoff later had to rethink her undergarments.


Green goes on to ever-so-slyly wink at the relationship between Ms. Budoff and her second collaborator, Jack Fetterman. First of all, they met “at a bar between Chinatown and the Lower East Side,” an already achingly hipsterfied nod, then they shared a cab home, and now they’re co-hosting a Christmas party. But we never quite learned if they’re boning. Opacity R the news today.

Five minutes later, barely recovered, thought we’d cool down with a little Personal Shopper — always so far beyond any practical reach we’d ever attain that it’s like looking over the for-sale real estate listings. Except they invited Joyce Wadler so it was a boldface-4-ever party. With gifts like a

Makita 4390DW 9.6-volt cordless reciprocating saw kit, which is compact yet powerful enough to cut wood and “mild steel”

for Lil’ Kim or

an hour with a career counselor

for former FEMA director Michael Brown.

This is way too much flava. We need to lie down.

Or read Thursday Styles.

More Thoughts On The Strike From Our Beloved Readers And Our Addled Reality


In a rare stroke of luck, we flew over Manhattan this morning, getting a proverbial birds’ eye view of the apparent horror of the transit strike. Given that it was about 6:50 am, things seemed pretty hectic. Red lights gridlocked all over far downtown, but cars on the Manhattan Bridge were flying. Walked down from Grand Central to the East Village, got to Union Square, and noticed that the city was kinda quiet. Which was weird, because we thought it’d be louder what with cars, walkers, really angry people, etc. And it occurred to us that we’re so used to hearing the subways’ background noise that when they stop it almost seems like New York is holding its breath.

Yeah. We’ll have what we’re having.

However keen our observation may be, however, it pales in comparison to this latest missive:

Long time listener, first time caller.

You pose an interesting observation about how the infrastructure of the city is really tested at a time like this. We could talk about things like contingency plans or inner strength or urban resilience. But more importantly, WHEN DO WE START LOOTING? and if you start without me, pick me up something shiny.

Because there’s nothing like a couple shiny things to make the pain go away.

Graphic Design Apparently Very Serious Business And Worthy Of Discussion

strangelove_war_room.jpgWe love getting reader mail. Love it love it love it. Especially when it comes from a very serious design student and is about the very serious business of very serious graphic design. In which case our duty is, above all, to inform. Revel in the stage directions.

Claire Mills, a 3rd-year graphic design student at the always-lovely sounding Bath Spa University, has started her student final project. It is called

“Thoughts of a graphic design student. Evaluating a formal education in graphic design and formulating a manifesto for a contemporary graphic design education.”

Essentially, it’s a blog where people who are into graphic design get together and talk about what they think about graphic design. Looks kinda like a cross between archinect, SpeakUp, and the triumvirate list we had going senior year. But, we’re behind it in full force. So, we’re told, is Michael.

Besides, really, it’s not like we’d ever let anyone get a word in edgewise.

Karrie Jacobs Went To Safe And All She Got Was An Uneasy Feeling

Borland.jpgWe still haven’t spent enough time at Safe: Design Takes on Risk sober. Neither, apparently, had ur-bff Karrie Jacobs, until she finally visited during opening hours instead of cocktail hours. Jacobs writes:

Maybe it was the vodka or the air-kissy dynamic of the room, but my initial reaction to Safe was a lot like one I had to the building on its grand reopening. I decided to walk away and come back another time. Sober and well rested, I returned to the exhibition.

The basic thrust seems to be that the objects, while very well curated and displayed, only “soften the blow” of our current safe-less predicament.

At this point we can neither confirm nor deny, only repeat; we’re still recovering from the tragedy that is the Wexner.

Why, Peter, why???