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Archives: April 2006

Friday Fun Time: The Design Film Festival


You may have a hard time relating to other films premiering today, but in a few weeks you’ll be able to walk out of the movie
“Art School Confidential”
saying, “Man, have I been there.”

Terry Zwigoff directs the Daniel Clowes script based on Clowes’ short graphic novel; it’s the same team behind “Ghost World.” You can buy the illustrated script and some other lovely treats (Enid doll, anyone?) at Fantagraphics.

Then, there’s “Sketches of Frank Gehry,” the Sidney Pollack documentary which premieres in NY and LA mid-May, wide soon after that. Please let there be a cameo by Brad Pitt…please.

Finally, stay tuned for Chip Kidd’s semi-autobiographical novel The Cheese Monkeys, also set in art school, which was optioned last year. Sounds like that might be the movie you’ll send your parents to when they ask, for the 1386th time, “Now, what is it you do again?”

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A Very Special Design Matters


Gather ’round your iMac speakers this afternoon (or anytime after that) for a Design Matters that you simply cannot miss. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne: the dynamic duo of design writing, the first couple of design criticism, the man and woman behind contemporary design discourse. If they opened The Heller & Vienne Library you’d pretty much have the best books, articles and essays you’ve ever read under one roof. Pictured above is the beautiful book they co-edited, Citizen Designer. There are oh, so many, more.

Join host Debbie Millman today from 3-4 EST here, or take it with you via podcast.

Your Blog Wants To Party All The Time


A hearty and hungover thank you to everyone who came out to Hollywood for last night’s first-ever LA design party. Cards were a-flyin’ as many a connection was made, and mac & cheese was gobbled almost as fast as beers were gulped. We had the back of swanktastic Citizen Smith pretty much to ourselves–and the place was packed. It was especially great to meet all of you.

As promised, links to a few things that were mentioned: the Design Writing for Designers class, coming up in LA on July 18; AIGA Los Angeles’ upcoming business series, Shop Talks; Dinner Party at the LA Design Center, a killer silent auction of plates customized by folks like Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Michael Bierut, April Greiman, Tim Biskup, Paul Smith, and the list goes on;’s design courses; and finally, a reminder that both Kernspiracy and AIGA/LA do similar little gatherings around LA every month.

We’ll get another one of these set up real quick like.

The Horrible Truths About This Image


We don’t remember exactly how we came across this article, as our days are long and we’re getting on in years. So please forgive us if we’re blatantly stealing your excellent find. And that find is this article by Magnus Jakobsson, a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi (whose tagline is “When one Saatchi just won’t do!”). The piece is called Sex is Dead! Great News!” and it’s all about getting over a) nudity for nudity’s sake and b) perceived-explotative nudity in order to make people think, while also encouraging them to buy ridiculously expensive things. Before you start throwing rocks and calling this writer a prude, take a read and realize that he’s got some really fascinating things to say. And although his focused example is photographer Terry Richardson, it can apply to so, so many campaigns. First one that came to mind was that awful look American Apparel has cultivated by Richardson-look-alike, Dov Charney. Every time we see their print ads, usually full-page on the back of The Onion and Time Out, we get upset. They’re selling sex, like everyone else, but in the least appealing way possible. Their ads look like you’ve accidentally stumbled upon a shoebox full of photos your creepy neighbor took before he was arrested for imprisoning people in his basement. They’re expanding like crazy, so something must be working, but geez, this writer just doesn’t get it. With that in mind, here’s a bit from Jakobsson:

Jerry Seinfeld once said: There’s good naked. And then there’s bad naked. A saying that goes for advertising as well. Good naked is basically just naked. And if you think naked is wrong, you need to get your head checked. Seriously, get your head checked immediately.

Bad naked on the other hand, is when good naked is exploited. The self proclaimed master of bad naked is photographer Terry Richardsson, always trying to provoke us with his ever so boring Sisley-ads; advertising that tries so hard to provoke us it’s bound to fail. Advertising that just screams: LOOK, A TEEN-RAPE IS BEING PORTRAYED HERE! ISN’T IT TERRIBLE!? Advertising that isn’t actually advertising anything else but controversy itself. Sure, it causes a strong reaction, but only that of disgust. The provocation itself is so provocative it makes the brand disappear into a deep brown fog.

Dishing the (Funny) Dirt on Mario B.


Ooh, little bit of gossip/observed weirdness to start off the day. We got word from one of our sneaky insiders in New York about attending the big Kips Bay Decorator Show House going on now until May 23rd. While there, our informant wandered into uber-interior-designer Mario Buatta‘s spot at the show and observed this odd bit:

Yesterday, I went up to the Kips Bay Show House, which shows of a range of tasteful and over-the-top interior design. Mario Buatta designed a clubby sitting room with a heavy dog motif. He was there yesterday, too. One of the women on the tour knew him and asked him if he had a dog. “No,” he said. “I have a pet cockroach. Want to see it?” and then he pulled out a little plastic cockroach on an elastic string. The ladies thought it was funny. So, if your readers want to know how to impress rich socialite clients, they should try your standard junior-high joke shop novelties.

Also noted by our overcoated sneak:

I also learned that goatskin makes terrible wall-to-wall carpeting, as we were still brushing off the hair from Larry Laslo‘s master bedroom design at dinner. It’s like all of the hassle of a dog with none of the fun.

The Triumphant Return of Manutius!


We’re seeing the benefit of being “had” now, with that Chalet/House thing the other day. It led us to celebrate 510 (or maybe more) years of Aldus Manutius yesterday, and then to learn that the brilliant Michael Bierut (and team) at Pentagram just put the finishing touches on the whole package for the Morgan Library and Museum, which, yes, has a very close connection to Aldus. Here’s the scoop:

A team led by Michael Bierut, partner in the New York office of the international design consultancy Pentagram, has designed the identity, exhibition graphics and signage for the renamed Morgan Library & Museum, the New York institution that will reopen on April 29 with a dramatic expansion by celebrated architect Renzo Piano.

The new identity utilizes a single font called Dante, which was chosen in consultation with John Bidwell, the Morgan’s Astor Curator and Department Head for Printed Books and Bindings. The font appears with unusual consistency on everything from the logo on The Morgan’s letterhead to the labels in the exhibits. Dante, designed in 1954 by the legendary Mardersteig Foundry, is a twentieth-century revival of an Aldine type that was designed by Aldus Manutius for the 1495 publication of Pietro Bembo’s De Aetna, a copy of which is in The Morgan’s holdings.

0428morgan.gifThe formal name of the buildings remains The Pierpont Morgan Library; the new name is used to define the activities that happen within. The institutional name change – from “The Pierpont Morgan Library” to “The Morgan Library & Museum” – reflects the institution’s renewed commitment to exhibitions, education, and public programs. The expectation is the name will shift to “The Morgan,” and in applications of the signature, “Morgan” is customarily highlighted in a contrasting color.

“This level of obsession about typography is unusual even by our standards,” admitted Bierut, “but The Morgan deserved nothing less. By using a serif typeface like Dante that’s customarily used for books, we intend to reinforce the institution’s commitment to literature, conservation, and scholarship.”

Pentagram’s signage and environmental graphics for the library also use the same typeface. Letters appear pin-mounted in gold, bronze and bright red, as well as on glass and in a steel bas-relief at the main entrance.



Feeling especially designer-savvy this evening? How about taking a shot at naming the ten chair designers in this contest from Design Within Reach? Five winners will win a poster that traces the history of the modern chair and the satisfaction of knowing you’re a complete design nerd.

From India to China and Home Before Dark


It’s not every conference that has a keynote speaker by the name of Senator Joe Biden, and that should be your first clue that this isn’t every conference. Cities In a World of Migration: China and India In Global Perspective will take place at The New School this Friday and Saturday. The realms of India and China should be of prime importance to anyone interested in global innovation, and these folks are covering some pretty meaty topics in those two short days:

How do we understand urban and rural migration in both directions? Because cities in India, China, and the United States evolve from different physical and political environments, how do those differences affect approaches to urban governance and planning? What are the opportunities and constraints for imagining and building democratic futures in the emerging cities of the world?

If it sounds like they might know what they’re talking about, they do: The school itself has a vast India China Institute.

Senator Biden’s keynote is at 6pm tomorrow night, and you can view the rest of the schedule and register here. You’ll also be able to watch a webcast of Biden’s speech here.

Branch Goes the Speakeasy Route


This was something interesting sent our way today. The online shop, Branch, whose tag reads, “Sustainable Design for Living,” is…wait for the pun here…branching out into the brick-and-mortar world. Sure, that’s not so unique, as sites have move from the screen to the storefront time and time again. But with Branch, they’re anxious to build, but they’re testing the waters first. What do we mean? For one weekend, this upcoming one, Branch will be opening a “flash store” in San Francisco. The store will exist for just April 29th and 30th, selling everything the have online, and then, poof, right back to being online-only. It’s a really cool idea and one we hope nets them a lot of attention. From looking at their online catalog’s fantastic, design-focused stuff, that shouldn’t be too hard. And heck, sure we’d love to see them succeed in having a permanent location, but can you just imagine the hype this sort of “floating store” would create? So maybe, if you’re around Northern California this weekend, pop on by, and get the buzz a flowin’.

Enjoy Keedy COLA


Type out a letter of congratulations in Keedy Sans and get over to Barnsdall Art Park this Saturday, where you can present it to Jeff “Mr.” Keedy for winning the prestigious COLA fellowship. The COLA (that’s City of LA) awards will be given to 15 local artists, of which Keedy is the only designer. Plus, they just so happened to pick a piece of Keedy’s work (above) to promote the show.

Since this is the ten-year anniversary of COLA, there will also be a retrospective of new work from the past decade’s winners, and, for you FLW freaks, original textile-block prototype the Hollyhock House.

Barnsdall Art Park
Los Angeles
Saturday, April 29
2pm to 5pm