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Archives: February 2009

Covers of the Week: Bernie and Sid, Both Vicious

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This week, a Ponzi schemer and a punk rocker adorn our two favorite magazine covers of the week. First up, and a likely contender for Cover of the Year honors, is New York‘s oh-so-timely nod to both Oscar winner Heath Ledger and Bernie Madoff in a maniacal Joker illustration by Darrow (the brainchild of New York photo director Jody Quon). Inside, the feature by Steve Fishman puts “The Monster Mensch” under the microscope, revealing “a tic, a nervous schoolboy’s double blink, as if cleaning a windshield, and occasionally a stammer.” Also, despite his office’s perch in the John Burgee- and Philip Johnson-designed Lipstick Building, Madoff “couldn’t bear curves.”

“He was paranoid about them,” says one employee. In one office, he drank out of square drinking glasses, stored his pencils in square holders, tossed his trash into square cans. He insisted that the blinds align with window frames—”We used a tape measure,” says the employee. He liked computer screens to stand straight up and down.

Surely less a fan of the straight edge is our other cover subject of choice: one Simon John Ritchie, better known as Sid Vicious. Elizabeth Peyton‘s 1995 oil painting of the late Sex Pistols bassist fronts the February issue of Art in America, freshly redesigned as part of the impressive and ongoing overhaul of the Brant Publications stable. And while we’re not fans of Peyton’s work, writer Nadia Tscherny does a good job of describing her “rather spontaneous-looking technique,” achieved through “the application of diluted oil paint, which slides across the smoothly sanded gessoed supports like finger paint on glossy paper.”

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YSL Sale Brings in Record $484 Million

ysl and pb.jpgIn what is already being called the Sale of the Century, the vast art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé was sold at auction in Paris this week, bringing in €373.9 million ($434.8 million, all prices include buyer’s premium) over six sessions at the Grand Palais. The three-day sale set a world record for the most valuable private collection sold at auction and was the highest grossing sale in Europe on record. And the unprecedented results aren’t just good news for the art market: proceeds will benefit the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and a new foundation that will be set up to fund AIDS research. Below, our “just the facts”-style UnBeige round-up:

Visitors to the public exhibition of the sale: Approximately 30,000

Weight of Christie’s 1,800-page sale catalogue: 22 pounds

Number of telephone lines installed in specially built saleroom: 100

Percentage of lots sold: 95.5%

World records set for artists at auction: 25

Sale price of top lot, Henri Matisse‘s “Les Coucous, tapis bleu et rose” (1911): €35.9 million ($46.4 million)

Sale price of low lot, a smokey quartz geode: €2,500 ($3,223)

Pre-sale estimate of Eileen Gray “Dragons” chair: €2 million to €3 million ($2.6 million to $3.8 million)

Sale price of “Dragons” chair: €21.9 million ($28.3 million)

Number of looted Chinese bronzes sold: 2

Best use of simile to describe sale: “Like a ship mocking a storm, the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé sale has moved calmly and steadily through three triumphant days of bidding.” -Christie’s vice president François de Ricqlès

Fate of unsold Picasso, “Instruments de musique sur un gueridon” (1914), estimated to sell for at least $32 million: “I will keep it,” said Bergé.

Hey Marc Jacobs, What’s on Your iPod?

MJ ipod.jpgSonic Youth (“My Friend Goo”), Madonna (“Borderline”), Leonard Cohen (“Suzanne”), and Lady GaGa (“Poker Face”), among others. At least according to the signed and loaded orange iPod nano that Jacobs has donated to the media and shopping site Tonic, “The place where good lives—good news, good style, and good deeds,” to benefit Music Rising, a campaign to revive the musical culture of the Gulf Coast. Tonic’s latest crop of iPod auctions feature those of designers: Jacobs, Donna Karan, Alice Temperley, and Marc Ecko, who we wouldn’t have pegged for an “Eleanor Rigby” fan. You have until Thursday to place your bids, and don’t be stingy: yesterday Tonic raised an impressive $5,101 for an iPod signed and customized by Ellen Degeneres, while that of Britney Spears sold for $851. Click “continued…” to see the iPod playlists of Jacobs and Karan.

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Kit Hinrichs Retrospective Opens at Art Center College of Design

hinrichs art center.jpgWorld-renowed graphic designer. AIGA Medalist. Consummate collector. Flag maven. Friend to Boy Scouts. Pentagram partner Kit Hinrichs is many things, and now he’s the subject of a retrospective opening today at his alma mater, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. On view through May 3 at the Art Center’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, “Telling Stories Through Design” includes more than 200 examples of Hinrichs’ work, from magazines and catalogs (now wonder we’re powerless in the face of glossy materials from Design Within Reach and Restoration Hardware) to exhibitions (the Experience Music Project in Seattle, for one) and identity programs for such diverse entities as Muzak, The California Academy of Sciences, and Napa Style. Designer Sean Adams describes the exhibit as “a tribute to Kit’s refined ability to convey a strong narrative message through design. There’s always a fine line between the thinking and the making, and Kit’s seamless ability to meld the craft and the aesthetics with the message makes his work absolutely sublime. He is a real master.”

A Look Inside Droog’s Newly Opened Retail Space


As we reported earlier this month, Droog, the famous Dutch design collective, had announced that it would soon be opening the doors to its first retail spot in New York, in SoHo. Well, those doors did indeed swing open just yesterday and our friends at PSFK were able to pop in, take a whole slew of photos, and put together a great little write-up about their experience in what is perhaps the city’s most unique shop. If you get the chance, and you will after seeing the photos, make sure you make the trip over as soon as you can. We know we will be, if just for this:

The store interior was planned by Dutch designer Jurgen Bey who also contributed the feature item for sale. Known as the ‘house of blue,’ Jurgen and his studio created a sectional blue house inside the store. The house serves as a backdrop for Droog products and a decor experience visitors can walk through. Instead of being a static interior, all the parts of the house can be detached and bought separately as if they were pieces of furniture.

Cartier Goes After QVC for Design Knock-Offs


Earlier this week, we reported on Target being accused of stealing the designs for ladies’ unmentionables, but apparently there were two design thefts to be had in these final throes of February. According to (which we read to appraise the various things we steal ourselves in our other freelance jobs as professional cat burglars), Cartier has sued the home shopping network, QVC, for swiping the designs of several of their watches and selling them on air, as well at the manufacturers responsible for creating the less-expensive knock-offs. Here’s a bit:

Lawyers for the luxury brand told the court that QVC and 20 unnamed individuals at TWI and JMAM, “commenced the manufacture, distribution, advertising and/or sale of watches” that bear copies of the designs and trade dress of Cartier’s Santos de Cartier and Pasha de Cartier Grille watches. Cartier contends that the designs infringed upon their patents and trade dress, causing the jeweler to sustain monetary damage, loss and injury, of amounts to be determined during trial. Cartier asked the court to permanently restrain the defendants from using these designs and asked for the destruction of all related products and marketing material.

Though, as you’d imagine, this is certainly not the most unique occurrence in Cartier’s world, with regular lawsuits going after copycats (remarkably, even with the same set of watches). However, QVC is a much, much larger, far more established company than most of the usual riff raff they’re forced to go after.

Behind the Scenes at RISD Designing Cardigans for Gap

Following their collaboration with Threadless back in November, our friends at the Rhode Island School of Design dropped us a line to let us know about their most recent project: designing cardigans for Gap. The clothing retailer asked the school to come up with something new and interesting to do for a limited-edition run, giving a very open guideline of just “keep them wearable.” So the students and faculty got together, used materials like beads made from recycled paper, vintage lace, and something called tulle (which we had to look up — turns out it’s a kind of “lightweight, very fine netting”). In the end, Gap has produced a small collection of their designs, thirty in total, and have put them up for sale at just their location in New York at 54th and 5th Ave. They were nice enough to pass along a couple of photos of the whole process, which you’ll find here and after the jump.


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Top 10 Quotes of New York Fashion Week

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(Photo: UnBeige)

Because sometimes other people say it better than we ever could…

10. “If everyone standing in this line actually bought something from Vena Cava…they’d be much better off.” -Fedora-wearng gentleman standing behind us in the long, long line to get into the Vena Cava presentation in West Chelsea.

9. “The clothes are made for not-perfect people. But they’re pretty perfect.” -Isaac Mizrahi, on his fall collection

8. “What if Barbie had a party and nobody came?” -Showgoer, while transfixed by the giant, hot pink Barbie installation around which the action in the Bryant Park tents revolved

7. “Now I want those shoes even more.” -Our seatmate at the Herve Leger by Max Azria show, in which several models took a tumble on the perilously high snakeskin stilettos

6. “There’s strength in the shoulder, without us looking like we’re in Dynasty.” -Michael Kors, on the ’80s (but not too ’80s) silhouette of his fall collection

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Can Illustration Save the World?

Jillian Tamaki.jpgSigns point to yes. At least we like to think so, as do our friends at the Society for Publication Designers, who on Tuesday evening in New York City will host “Do It with Illustration: Under the Influence with Today’s Most Arresting Illustrators,” a panel discussion with some of the illustration world’s brightest young stars: Peter Arkle, Juliette Borda, Christopher Silas Neal, Tim O’Brien, Katherine Streeter, and Jillian Tamaki (that’s her illustration at left).

You know them, you love them, or at least you’ve seen their work everywhere from The New York Times Book Review (one of our favorite venues for intriguing images: how great was last week’s 1961 Sam Falk cover photo?) to the design-savvy, impeccably groomed world of Bumble & Bumble. Come Tuesday, moderator Mark Heflin, director of American Illustration and American Photography, will pepper the panelists with questions about how they “tackle a broad range of topics and their perspectives (illustratively speaking) on politics, work, life, and love.” Get there early for a pre-show screening of the American Illustration 25th Anniversary Timeline movie, in which 25 illustrators were each asked to illustrate one year in AI’s 25-year publishing history. Another reason to be prompt? Three words: free signed posters.

A Look at Ikea’s Sustainability Line

Ikea has released its first big collection of “sustainable” pieces of furniture, fixtures, and various other bits, largely all created by the Swedish firm front and the Dutch designer, Hella Jongerius. Designboom has put together a great look a bunch of this new material, including a brief interview with Jongerius, particularly about his work in creating wall coverings for the retailer by way of Unicef and women in India. They also provide some swell links to several of the oddball promotional films Ikea has put the designers in, like this one: