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Archives: March 2008

Jean Nouvel Named 2008 Pritzker Prize Laureate

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We’re still recovering from last week’s art fair overload, but the Pritzker Architecture Prize waits for no one. Your 2008 winner? Jean Nouvel! The 62-year-old Frenchman will be presented with a $100,000 grant (a paltry 63,347 Euros) and a fetching bronze medallion at the official ceremony on June 2 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He’ll be the second ever French recipient of the Pritzker, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary; the first was 1994 laureate Christian de Portzamparc.

In announcing the selection of Nouvel, Hyatt Foundation chairman Thomas J. Pritzker noted that, “The jury acknowledged the ‘persistence, imagination, exuberance, and, above all, an insatiable urge for creative experimentation’ as qualities abundant in Nouvel’s work.” The jury consisted of Lord Palumbo (who served as chairman), architect and Keio University professor Shigeru Ban, Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum, architect and Rice University professor Carlos Jimenez, architectural historian Victoria Newhouse, architect and 1998 Pritzker laureate Renzo Piano, and writer/architectural consultant Karen Stein.

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Apple Cleans Up in First “Brandjunkie” Awards

brandchannel.jpg today announced the results of its first annual “Brandjunkie” survey, in which 2,000 brandchannel readers in 107 countries answered questions such as “What brand would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?” and “Which brand do you think is truly (going) ‘green’?” Apple was named most frequently as a desirable dinner seatmate, most inspirational, and most likely to revolutionize the branding industry in the next five years as well as the brand that if sent back 100 years would have the biggest impact on the course of history, the brand people would most be most likely to describe themselves as, and the brand that respondents could not live without. Other top brands included Nike, Coca-Cola, Google, and Starbucks.

Brand resurrection is a tough business, and 12% of respondents didn’t select a defunct brand that they would bring back to life. Rounding out the top five responses were PanAm, Atari, TWA, and Cingular, while others mentioned still living brands, such as Tab and Howard Johnson (ouch!). Coming in at #11? Studebaker! Food for thought.

The survey results are also worth a look for the added insight into some of the respondents’ top choices. One reader modestly explained why he or she identified with Apple: “Smart, well-designed with some history of bad and good decisions. Cutting edge in the markets in which they choose to play in but do not dream of being a superpower, just best in their game. Like me.”

YBA Angus Fairhurst Dies at 41

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Angus Fairhurst, an original member of the group of “Young British Artists” that included Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas (with whom Fairhurst is pictured, at right), took his own life on Saturday in a remote part of Scotland. He was 41 years old.

The Telegraph describes Fairhurst’s cerebral style:

Many of Fairhurst’s works consisted of visual distortions and practical jokes. Early in his career he re-routed the telephone lines of different art galleries to each other and taped the ensuing irritation and confusion, his comment on the perception that the art world was interested in talking only to itself.

He once cast half a ton of bronze as a nine-foot banana, but latterly he seemed preoccupied with gorillas, and produced images of these giant beasts ranging from cartoon depictions to models in bronze and clay.

Fairhurst was actively working and showing. In fact, Saturday was the last day of his third solo show at London gallery Sadie Coles, which featured Fairhurst’s new large-scale paintings and sculptures. The gallery described the paintings as “spatial schematics for imagined sites of desire.”

Back to Don Fisher’s Presidio Museum (and Its Detractors)


From time to time, we’ve chimed in about the developments in the Gap owner Don Fisher‘s plans to build a huge art museum in the Presidio in San Francisco. Now the NY Times has taken a look at the story in this great feature, “Art and History Clash in San Francisco.” It provides some nice background on the project, which you’ll want to read if you’re unfamiliar with it all, but perhaps most interesting is the talk about the other side, with groups like the Sierra Club and The National Park Service trying to fight it off, as well as some of the many hurdles Fisher and his partners have had to face in trying to move this thing along. If you’re like us, not living in the immediate area, you’ve only heard positives about this whole thing. So it’s nice to get a more complete picture of what’s going on down there by the Bay. Here’s a bit:

“The Presidio is not a San Francisco park or a subdivision to be cluttered with development,” said Boyd De Larios, 64, a descendant of the Spanish Portola and Anza expeditions, discoverers of San Francisco Bay. “It is a place with a rich history which needs to be revealed further, not submerged in vanity projects.”

With Babies Vs. Design, Babies Will Always Win


Surely inspired by this story in the NY Times a month or so back, “Parent Shock: Children Are Not Decor,” The Independent just published this piece yesterday, “My New Baby Is Destroying My Perfect Designer Home.” It’s simply a series of entries by a self-professed “design-freak-turned-new-mother,” wherein she complains about how her new child isn’t doing its part in keeping her fancy, well-designed home as pretty as possible. While it’s very simple to cast judgement on the people in both stories (the ones in the NY Times piece get off a little easier), reading each with a perpetual “tsk-tsk-tsk” emanating from your mouth, we somewhat understand that that has to be an incredibly difficult transition when your baby first comes home. But christ almighty, why would you ever agree to do a piece in a major newspaper about it?! No matter how positive the light they cast you in, there is absolutely no way to come out of something like this looking anything less than a heartless, materialistic jerk. Case in point:

December 2007: The black high chair has arrived. It is beautiful. The baby is beautiful. The baby looks beautiful in it. More importantly, the room still looks beautiful.

See?! We’re sure she’s a perfectly nice, capable mother, but gah, that quote! And that’s just one of many! So please, let this be a lesson to you design-obsessed, expecting parents, especially those of you who live in fancy houses: if you catch a reporter sniffing around, chase them off or call the police. You don’t need everyone who reads the newspaper hating you.

Philippe Starck Doesn’t Like Design Anymore?


Is Philippe Starck okay? We ask because, going into the weekend, news started circulating about an interview he’d had with the German paper, Die Zelt, wherein he’d described everything he’d designed in his storied career was “unnecessary” and that he planned on giving up on his profession here in the next couple of years. But apparently it’s not even just him thinking that he’s over and done with, it’s the industry in general:

“In future there will be no more designers. The designers of the future will be the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet consultant,” he said.

Mr Starck said the only objects that he still felt attached to were “a pillow perhaps and a good mattress”.

But the thing one needs most, he added, was the “ability to love”.

We certainly understand criticism of the industry, but this, to us at least, sounds like there’s more going on with Starck than just being frustrated by design. Maybe he was just having a rough day. Or maybe he needs a hug? If it makes you feel any better, Mr. Starck, we like you.

New Art Fair to Leave Visitors in the Dark

Seymour Goff poster.jpgSo, what are you going to do after you listen to Debbie Millman interview Pentagram‘s Abbott Miller today on Design Matters? Might we suggest spending the evening in a dark, art-stuffed space in Soho? And did we mention the glow-in-the-dark basketball game? Tonight marks the opening of Dark Fair, an experimental miniature art fair that unlike say, the already underway Armory Show, will take place without the use of natural or electric light.

Organized by the Milwaukee International art fair at New York’s Swiss Institute, the Dark Fair’s impressive roster of participants includes top galleries such as Marianne Boesky, Leo Koenig, and CANADA, as well as special fashion shows by the likes of Benjamin Cho. The galleries and artists will display work designed for the unique setting using candle light, glow-in-the-dark materials, light sculpture, film and video (shown on peddle-powered projectors), and unplugged performances. The fair also promises shadowy bar booths and chill-out zones. We’ll be there with our trusty Diptyque candle (follow your nose to the tuberose), asking all of the Swiss people we can find if they’ve ever been to our favorite city (Murg, Switzerland) and keeping an eye out for BMW ads.

Dark Fair runs tonight from 6pm to midnight and tomorrow from noon to 9pm at the Swiss Institute.

The Rise of the Graphic Design Auteur

mcfetridge at redcat.jpgYou’ve still got a week left to see the “Two Lines Align” exhibition at REDCAT in Los Angeles, but before you go, check out Hugh Hart‘s recent Los Angeles Times story. “It’s a piece on what I’m calling Graphic Design Auteurs–visual talents who blur the line between personal work and graphics for hire,” Hart tells us. “It’s pegged to the Ed Fella and Geoff McFetridge show…but also includes people like Tim Biskup, Shepard Fairey, National Forest, James Jean, Gary Baseman, with comments from Walker Art Center.” Some of our favorite analysis is that which Hart extracted from McFetridge himself (pictured at right):

Leafing through a pile of sketches in his studio, McFetridge sees the flux between self-inspired art and market-oriented graphics as being “very muddy, but maybe it’s a positive kind of mud.” On the other hand, he muses, trend-setting image makers who hitch their revenue stream to advertising campaigns just might overstay their welcome with patrons who write the checks.

“Corporations seek out people with the clear thoughts who exist on the fringe almost as if the corporations have no brain,” McFetridge says. “But maybe companies will become much more proscriptive about their marketing and go back to ‘We know best.’ Kind of like at Apple where you’ve got Steve Jobs going, ‘I know. Don’t ask them, ask me.’ That could be the future.”

Greener Museums: Tim McNeil Champions Sustainable Exhibition Design


At the University of California, Davis Design Museum, 2007-08 is devoted to a series of “Eco-exhibitions” that follow design themes related to environmental stewardship and social issues. At the same time, the Design Museum is looking inward, at the massive amount of resources consumed by museums and exhibitions themselves, and addressing some of the key environmental concerns, starting in its own backyard. Leading the charge is Getty Museum veteran Tim McNeil, who since 2005 has served as director of the UC Davis Design Museum and as an assistant professor in the school’s department of design.

Under his leadership, the museum has developed and implemented a range of green initiatives. Many of them are highlighted on a new series of reusable signs (downloadable here) that use bold graphics to highlight such topics as the museum’s use of energy-efficient lighting, reusable exhibition furniture, and green construction materials like wheat board and biodegradable graphic substrates. The eco-initatives even extend to the food served in the museum: it’s now all organic or locally grown, served on/with recycled or biodegradable plates/utensils, and leftovers are composted (hmm…what about using them in an exhibition?).

“The strength of the UC Davis Design Museum lies in its ability to experiment with objects and content and how this material is communicated within an exhibition environment,” McNeil told Paul Orselli in an interview posted to his ExhibiTricks blog. “I wanted to demonstrate to the museum community that an exhibition can be designed and built using entirely recycled, rapidly renewable, and non-toxic materials, and that the design quality of the space, furniture, and graphics do not have to be compromised.” After the jump, McNeil’s top ten list of ways to green an exhibition environment.

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Lord & Taylor Needs Your Help Coming Up (with) Roses

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Submitted for your approval: A faltering department store, America’s oldest, stages an impressive comeback fueled by CEO smarts and private equity cash. They retool everything from the store fleet to the shopping bags, swapping out gray plastic sacks for sturdy new white ones that feel like they’re crafted out of watercolor paper. As for freshening up the identity, they get behind a marigold hue, dubbing it “‘sunrise,’ the extraordinary mixture of yellow and orange…adopted as [the store] reinvents itself for the 21st century.” Then they rustle up a heritage element–the rose logo introduced in the 1940s and phased out in the ’90s–and ready a rosy relaunch.

That store, of course, is Lord & Taylor, and on Tuesday, it will roll out the roses on store awnings, bags, signage, gift cards, and the like as part of the $10 million rebranding campaign led by David Lipman of branding and integrated advertising agency Lipman. But if the above sneak preview of the new new bags is any indication, a marigold-hued, rose-based identity design is tough to get right. Lord & Taylor seems to have recognized this, because the current scheme will last only until Memorial Day. After that, every spring will see a new rose campaign created by a different artist. The good news for you, dear reader? That artist could be you. (Read on for the contest details–an UnBeige exclusive!)

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