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Archives: November 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Worth It for the Credits Alone

schnabel.jpgOpening today is the extraordinary film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, directed by one of our favorite painters, Julian Schnabel. As you’ve probably heard, the movie follows the life of Jean-Dominique “Jean-Do” Bauby, formerly the editor of French Elle, in the wake of a sudden stroke that leaves him “locked-in,” almost completely paralyzed but mentally lucid. Able to communicate only by blinking his left eye, Bauby ultimately dictated–letter by letter–the 1997 bestselling book on which the film is based.

diving bell.jpgFrom the series of 100-year-old X-rays (unearthed by Schnabel in a house a few miles from the French hospital where the film was shot) that serve as the background for the film’s opening credits to the closing slow-motion rewind of ice blue glaciers plummeting into the Alaskan sea, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is visually fascinating, thanks to Schnabel and Janusz Kaminski, the film’s director of photography. The saturated reds and fiery crimsons that Schnabel loves on the canvas are here restrained–save for Bauby’s dreamy memories of his pre-stroke days–and replaced with a palette of shimmering, cool hues.

“I read Ron [Harwood]‘s script and thought ‘This is really good. I’ve got to do something with this,’” said Schnabel when we caught up with him after a recent preview of the film in New York. “I thought that with this movie, you can do anything in it, even put in Marlon Brando in a wig,” (Schnabel’s own photo of a bewigged Brando shows up in one particularly whimsical sequence).

As that quote suggests, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was an unconventional production. Schnabel and producer Jon Kilik insisted the film be translated and shot in French (though Schnabel says that he spoke only “restaurant French” at the time), never asked any of the actors (also French) to audition, and didn’t shoot in a studio (setting the film in and around Berck Maritime Hospital, where Bauby stayed). There were no rehearsals, and shooting wrapped two weeks ahead of schedule.

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How Aesthetic Apparatus Really Works

This process video from Aesthetic Apparatus is the best thing we’ve seen in a long time, and the perfect way to commemorate the end of this day. It’s an important day, a day which is also the end of a week, and the end of a month, yet it also marks the beginning of the period when you must take precautionary measures to protect yourself from the person who will most definitely maul you with their Lincoln Navigator over a parking space.

T Magazine Site Chooses Style Over Substance


The new T Magazine site launched today over at the World’s Greatest Building Which Is Also a Newspaper. The opening animation by Jennifer Steinkamp and Gail Swanlund got us all giddy and pumped, but when it came to the homepage, we were a little bummed. Okay, then we saw a supershiny Natalie Portman front and center and got excited again, but only for a second.

The fact that the articles are formatted like print magazine pages, with the text broken down into multiple Flash-y pages, is absolutely ridiculous. May we present Alice Rawsthorn‘s latest piece, which you have to click through three times to read. Actually we don’t know if it’s her latest piece because we have no real idea when any of the pieces were published; dates apparently don’t matter in this world of T. For some of the more visual stuff, like the product roundups, it works, so you can see lots of images and click for more information. A photo-driven profile of Julian Schnabel also uses its web-ability to its advantage, but it’s soooo hard to read.

Overall, the whole thing, while sleek and gorgeous and likely able to support lots and lots of big ads, is frustrating to us who were really looking forward to having all the Style content together in one place. The fact of the matter is now it’s more fragmented than ever. Luckily, the best thing about it is the blog, The Moment, where we can read at more than five sentences at once without getting dizzy or having to reach for the mouse. We’ll stay over there for now.

Take’s Writing for Shelter Publications Class Online


Often we receive emails asking, “Dear UnBeige, How in the world can I, a lowly designer, be more like you, someone who writes about real estate, architecture, home design and just about anything related to home?” Well, gentle reader, there is only one sure way: Take the online class Writing for Shelter Publications class, sponsored by

In this class, you’ll learn about the ever-growing niche of shelter writing, which includes coverage of real estate, architecture, home design and just about anything related to home — from Better Homes and Gardens to Builder Magazine. You don’t have to be a superstar home repair expert to write about the homefront. All you need is some experience living in a shelter of sorts and a curiosity for finding the story beneath the bricks and mortar.

In fact, UnBeige readers can have $50 off the course price just for wanting to be like us. All you have to do is mention the UnBeige offer in your application and the elves will fast-track the process. However, you have to enroll by Monday, December 3 to get the discount, which you can do right here.

A Hawaiian Modern Party: Vladimir Ossipoff Opening Photos

We’re home safe on non-volcanic soil after our jaunt to Honolulu for the opening of the Vladimir Ossipoff exhibition “Hawaiian Modern.” Yesterday we gave you the party report and today, we have the Ossi-party photos.

Metropolis’ Paul Makovsky with Ossipoff’s granddaughter Keira Alexandra. You heard our fascinating design connection with Alexandra, here’s another one: Metropolis ran a story on Alexandra’s amazing NYC house back in 1998.

Valerie Ossipoff, the architect’s daughter.

Guest curator, designer and overall Big Kahuna Dean Sakamoto.

Raul Barreneche, author of a beautiful book about tropical modern architecture, aptly named Tropical Modern, and Susan Sayre Batton, deputy director of the Honolulu Academy of Art.

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Cutting through the Razzle Dazzle of Art Basel: A Plea for Help

art basel.jpgA whopping 66.66% of Team UnBeige will be heading down to Miami Beach late next week for a megadose of art and design at Art Basel. As far as we can tell, this year there are approximately 10 million events going on there, and we’re going to do our best to get organized, synchronize our watches, and assemble our massive shared to-do list on a Danny Tanner-style Clipboard of Fun so we don’t end up overwhelmed and sobbing by the Delano Hotel pool. But we need your help, UnBeige readers. Know of a not-to-be-missed design-related happening in Miami? Have a must-see gallery, party, or satellite fair to recommend? Know the secret password to get a free Tank Francaise at the Cartier pavilion? Drop us an e-mail at unbeige AT mediabistro DOT com.

WWF Highlights Bad Side of Luxury Goods

panda deluxe.jpgThink twice about buying the sad-eyed giant panda in your life a buttery leather Tod’s handbag or a Bulgari choker. A report just released by the United Kingdom branch of WWF (the global conservation organization formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, not the one formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation) has given dismal grades to the ten largest, publicly traded luxury brand-owning companies based on their environmental, social, and governance performance. The report, “Deeper Luxury,” also asks celebrities not to promote or endorse environmentally damaging products from “dirty brands.”

WWF-UK’s rankings (online here) are based on data reported from the companies themselves as well as reports from the media and NGOs, all of which was scored, weighted, and combined to generate letter grades ranging from a high of C+ (L’Oreal) down to a couple of Fs (Bulgari and Tod’s).

Why should we care about the sustainability efforts of luxury brands? Because they’re iconic and highly influential on a global scale, say the report’s authors:

In reality, the most successful and iconic brands, especially in the worlds of fashion and technology, do not so much respond to consumer demand as create and influence it. They do this in two ways: by “editing” consumer choices through product design, distribution, and other attributes over which consumers have no control; and by influencing the choices that consumers can make, such as how and when to use their products.

While we think this substantial report will get the industry talking, don’t look for Gucci canvas shopping totes or recycled Hermes scarves anytime soon. The initial effects will likely come in the form of a media push by these companies to publicize their environmentally-friendly initatives. For example, did you know that Tiffany & Co. is helping to build support for a marine protected area in the Indo-Pacific Coral Triangle (granted, it’s laden with pearls, but still)? Or that the watch brand Omega (owned by Swatch) is sponsoring a project to fly a solar plane around the world? You will soon.

Designing Flat Panel TVs to Be So Dang Sexy


This writer was house sitting this week for friends with a very fancy house. Just brand new everything, all very shiny. In one of the bedrooms, they had a big flat screen television hanging on the wall, attached to a metallic arm, so you could swivel it and have it point in any direction. Because we’re tech geeks around here, we took a look at the back of the thing and said these very words, “Man, these things are just incredible. It’s amazing how much they’re able to pack into such a thin little thing like this.” Well, lo and behold, here comes this story from Time Magazine about the designers of fancy flat screen tvs, in particular, the ones who work for Sharp. In large part, it’s all about the company, how they decided to move into a market and attempt to start being considered a player in the consumer world, as well as how they went about getting into the design war of “thinner, lighter, cleaner LCDs” and how they’re trying to set themselves apart. Sure, it’s a little suspect that this “ain’t Sharp great?” story just happens to appear in the thick of a season where probably a lot of people are buying flat screen tvs, but what can you do? It’s an interesting read and we’ll leave it at that.

It’s Time to Rekindle Your Hatred of LogoWorks


Here and there, we’ve talked about LogoWorks, from their thieving ways to their being snatched up by HP a little while back, and we know how much it gets you riled up, but we think you’re cute when you’re mad, so here we are again. Adland has offered up not only a full overview of the case against the company, from the backlash against them to their many shameless thefts, but also provided a clip of their new horribly cheesy television spot, showing you how you can get all your company’s design work done for as little as $99. Here’s a bit of Adland’s fun write-up:

Katz Design said “Imagine how honored I feel – a logo that my company developed for our clients being sold as a template logo by LogoWorks for $99.”

It gets better — or worse — HP are currently airing a 60 sec commercial touting the greatness that is their logoworks. I’m not sure if a copy of a world famous logo makes my small business look big, or if just makes it look like I got big brass balls. Is that a good thing? Does HP really want to go there?

The Hungarians Take Home the Electrolux


‘Tis also the season of award giving and it looks to be a hot time in Hungary this week, as the team from Moholy-Nagy University of Art & Design has been given the Electrolux Design Lab award for its E-wash machine. The competition is entirely student-focused and asks that teams from universities come up with “environmentally sound, commercially viable products and solutions that would enable consumers to live in greater harmony with the environment” (a description that probably helps explain why our device, a machine that emits smog and is powered by the souls of baby pandas, didn’t get picked). The Hungarian team came up with a machine that washes clothing but doesn’t use any soap. Instead, it uses a nut, a soap nut (which you’ve got to imagine comes from the best smelling trees around). Here’s some:

“E-wash is a brilliant connection between ancient knowledge and high-tech,”comments juror Henrik Otto, Head of Global Design for Electrolux. “It takessomeone open-minded to look for solutions from somewhere else and applythem to his own culture.”

“The soap nut is a natural plant and can be cultivated. It does not harm nature but is a part of it,” said Szabo. “The other problem was the form ofconventional washing machine. I reduced the size and made it flat, so it would fit into a small apartment, but also would be able to wash a lot of clothes at the same time.”