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Archives: September 2007

Your Duvet, Your Way. Exactly.

The customization trend is nothing new. Want your Subway sandwich with red onions and hot peppers? You got it. How about that Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with no sugar and an inch of skim milk (this writer’s favorite)? Not a problem.

If you think there nothing is left to personalize to the nth degree, think again. Inmod has pushed the concept even further so you order a custom-design duvet that will really be unique. In the old days (that would be 2005, probably), you’d could order bed covers in a different colorway and perhaps. Well, that philosophy is so old-school. Now, thanks to Inmod you can order a bedspread in dozens of colors and fabrics (silk taffeta and dupioni are just some of the textiles available) which you can top off with a huge selection of retro, pop art, modern and nature-inspired designs. The online store claims that it hasn’t sold the same duvet twice. We’re sold on the concept because this means the next time we have a party we can not only spin old records, but show off the mod sleeping quarters to show how cool we really are.

Four or Five Things You Need to Know About the AIGA NEXT Conference


In a few weeks we’ll be maneuvering the ole UnBeige wagon over the Rocky Mountains and into Denver, Colorado, home of AIGA’s NEXT Conference. There’s still time to register, although at this point if you haven’t convinced your boss you’re worth the $1050 ($850 for members) there’s not much time left for your door-to-door “Dimes for Denver” campaign.

Seeing as we will be there, and seeing as we seem to know a few things about the innerworkings of AIGA, here’s a few things you should look for when you’re there. Or when you’re sitting at home reading about them here.

· The seven young designers picked to participate in Command X, a live graphic design reality show unfolding in real time and hosted by Michael Bierut are Mike Burton, Elaine Chernov, Kelly Dorsey, Scott Gundersen, Matthew Muñoz, Nichelle Narcisi and, our favorite, Ryan Smoker.

· We’ll be making sure no one scares the students, yakkin’ about this here blog and–are you sick of us yet?–discussing design writing.

· Should you be awake, you can also gather ’round a table with one-half of UnBeige on Friday morning at the unseemly hour of 7:45am.

· There will be a gigantic party Friday night hosted by Design Observer, featuring a triumphant return to the dance floor by William Drenttel.

· If you get bored, there’s plenty of beer right around the corner.

April Greiman’s Big Bowl of Rice Finished, Waiting for Giant Soy Sauce Packet


Taking public transportation in Los Angeles, as we sometimes do, we watched April Greiman‘s gigantic public art project go up over the last few months near the Wilshire and Vermont Metro station. Sure looks pretty, we thought. But we were never really sure what it was.

From this distance you can see that it’s a bowl of rice, which Greiman chose because it’s simply the most universal form of sustenance in the world. Even cooler, this rice bowl was digitally captured by Greiman somewhere in the neighborhood, which is LA’s Koreatown. And, she’s producing a video about the mural’s production that will be permanently installed in the building’s lobby. We hope it’s as good as this Greiman video.

Helvetica? Sold Out.

sm.nyc12.jpg Note to Windy City graphic designers: this is your last day this year to see Helvetica, a documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of this famous font. This writer’s friend bought tickets to tonight’s 8 p.m. show last night, only because the previous show was sold out. It’s hard to say whether there are any tickets at all left at this point, which is no surprise given the last time this charming documentary played at the Gene Siskel Center. If you can still manage to get in, here’s a synopsis: helvetica was invented by a Swiss designer in 1957, half a century later this typeface is everywhere on signs, advertisements, magazines, labels, film titles, and e-mail. Director Gary Hustwit turns the camera on the worldwide design community for their take on why you can’t get away from Helvetica virtually anywhere on this planet. Hear graphic designers include Massimo Vignelli, Matthew Carter, Eric Spiekermann, Wim Crouwel, and others speak if you can manage to squeeze into tonight’s screening. If not, you just might have to see this home video. Sorry!

Lulu, the Three-Legged T-Shirt Icon


We’re tickled by the dogged dedication of Wired (and Underwire blog) editor Sonia Zjawinski when it comes to her pup, Lulu. A year ago, Lulu got bone cancer in her leg, which resulted in chemo and eventually, amputation. Lulu turned out fine (minus the leg, of course) but the cancer gave Zjawinski a sort of financial amputation–the bill was $10,000.

Rather than cry over lost limbs and maxed credit cards, Zjawinski enlisted her subversive humor and the design of Eric Siry to sell an “I Heart Tripods” shirt featuring Lulu. The shirts elicited an incredible response–she earned $2000 more than she needed, and started giving the money to other pet owners who suffer from vet debt. Now, with the help of artist Amanda Vissel–who experienced a similar episode with her dog, Marco–Zjawinski’s offering a cat version. And she’s already sold 30. There must be a lot more three-legged cats out there than we think.

Joshua Davis: Design Troublemaker


Apple, being the technological whizzes that you are, do you think it would be too much trouble to add some kind of RSS button to those Pro profiles so we could be notified exactly when these awesome articles go up? We forget for a few weeks and suddenly a dozen new ones have cropped up. Okay, cool. Thanks so much. Oh, and also? We’ll take our iPhone refund in cash. Thanks.

A semi-new Apple Pro feature is all about Joshua Davis (recent crowd pleaser at the QBN conference) who uses a bunch of overly-geeky methods to create these graphic stunners:

“Working this way allows me to generate an infinite number of compositions,” Davis explains. “I set the boundaries and the rules, but whatever comes out at the end is a surprise. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It could look cool. It could fail. It could be life-changing. There’s always a surprising sense of discovery with this process, because I’m setting up an environment and allowing a scenario to live within it.”

Love that? He also passes on some of that geekery on to you, detailing his remarkable method for finding new colors. Besides that work for Nokia and VW we’ve seen, we also learn he’s creating some work for Art Basel Miami Beach this year. How does he keep getting such choice gigs?

“I’ve always done kind of weird, strange things, and that’s what I get hired to do: weird, strange things,” he says. “The type of work you make is the type of work people will hire you to do.”

Or, the design love you take is equal to the design love you make.

Marian Bantjes for Saks: We Want It!


We knew that Marian Bantjes was a fashionable gal, but this is incredible: Looks like Saks Fifth Avenue is wearing Marian Bantjes this fall!

From its windows to its doors to its displays to its carpets to these big silver boxes that float throughout the store, to entire shoes rendered out of curly, twisty we-don’t-know-what, the entire Saks world has been layered with Bantjes’ looping type.

We never thought we could fall in love with the words “Shoe Bootie.”

Mickey Mouse in the Presidio?

It’s true that the little ‘toon with big ears and his funny cohorts will be moving into the Presidio, according to a Preservation Online story. Workers are converting three structures in the Presidio, a National park, into the Walt Disney Family Museum. The San Francisco buildings had been vacant since 1994.

Apparently, two years ago, Disney’s daughter, Diane Miller and her spouse, Ron, asked Page & Turnbull to design a museum dedicated to her late father in Northern California, where she lives. Miller especially liked the Presido because her dad was a military buff and admired General Pershing, who was in charge of the Presidio. Besides, the buildings on the site strongly resembled Disney World’s Main Street.

Page & Turnbull is working closely with the Presidio Trust to maintain the buildings’ historic integrity. A 1897 barracks will serve as the exhibit hall. A 1904 gym will become offices and archives. A World War II-era munitions shed will shelter the museum’s mechanical systems.

So it looks like the world’s most famous mouse will be getting some mighty fine digs with grandiose views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. He’d better learn how to handle the area’s earthquakes, but that’s the stuff of cartoons, right?

Getting Unraveled While In Revelry

quick-peek-organize-3.png This is Mary Beth Klatt, filling in for Steve Delahoyde just for today. Posting here is a good thing because there’s lots going in the world, especially in the universe we call Knitting. The buzz is all about Ravelry, an online knit and crochet community. It’s still in beta mode, but it’s getting rave reviews among crafsters who stash yarn, needles and more. It’s so popular that there’s already a huge line to get an account. We’re talking thousands. Last time this scribe checked, 15,911 knitters and crocheters were ahead of her, a lengthy queue that just might stretch to Mars and back and then some. Until this journalist receives her invite in the latter part of 2008 (that’s just a guess), she’s going to do her best to keep visiting relevant blogs like Knit and Tonic and Knitdaily, and of course, stitch up some sweaters to keep the fingers off the keyboard. You know what’s Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would do, but she’s already logged into Ravelry. Sigh.

Heller Vs. Bierut: Live This Fall at the SVA


Speaking of Steven Heller, as we were yesterday and do quite regularly given the man’s propensity for being everywhere at once, we caught word from our friends over at the School of Visual Arts in NY of a just-announced series of events to correspond with the school’s late-October through early December exhibition of his work. First comes the reception on Monday, October 22nd, kicking off the showing. Then, in what sounds really cool:

The art director, writer and design authority will be speaking about his work, with Michael Bierut, partner, Pentagram and founding writer, Design Observer.

209 East 23 Street, 3rd floor
Free and open to the public.