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Archives: May 2009

AIGA Affirms ‘No Spec’ Stance

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In a world of crunched corporate budgets and proliferating online open calls, AIGA this week affirmed its longstanding policy against speculative work—work done prior to engagement with a client and in anticipation of being paid if selected. After reviewing the policy in the context of the changing marketplace, the AIGA board of directors maintains that spec work “can compromise the benefits of effective design for both clients and designers—and that a designer fully engaged in a client’s business challenges is necessary to an effective solution.” The professional association for design says that it recognizes that the decision to engage in spec work is up to individual designers. At the same time, AIGA is committed to making designers aware of the associated risks. “By providing educational information on what it means to do work without the promise of compensation, and the resulting risks for both the client and the designer, we hope to empower every designer to make an informed and intelligent decision on an individual basis,” said AIGA executive director Richard Grefé in a statement issued this week. Read on for AIGA’s full, updated position on spec work.

(Image: Von for No!Spec)

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Friday Photo: Rio Grand

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(Photo: Christie’s)

It’s name is Rio and it dances on demand. In today’s Friday Photo, we spotlight “Rio,” a rocking chaise longue designed in 1978 by Oscar Niemeyer and manufactured by Tendo Brasiliera. The swooping seat of bentwood, caning, leather, and brass goes on the block Tuesday at Christie’s, where it’s estimated to sell for between $15,000 and $20,000. Other standout lots at the auction house’s sale of 20th century decorative arts and design include architectural elements designed by Louis Sullivan (wouldn’t this wrought-iron elevator enclosure, salvaged from the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, make a dynamite headboard?) and Frank Lloyd Wright (leaded glass windows, oodles of them!) as well as an extraordinary Josef Hoffmann Wiener Werkstätte mantel clock. And don’t miss the highly collectible animal sculptures by François-Xavier Lalanne, or as we call them here at UnBeige HQ, “Lalannimals.” Come auction time, the bronze cheetah is expected to go for about four times as much as the copper tortoise—unless the cheetah gets cocky, allowing the tortoise to teach us all a valuable lesson.

Revolving Door: Derrick Cartwright to Take Over as Seattle Art Museum’s New Director

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With the Seattle Art Museum‘s roller coaster of a year thus far (the last piece of news came late last month, with things seeming to be more on the up at the moment), they’ve just taken on a new director to step into the middle of the fray. The museum has announced that Derrick Cartwright will be taking over for Mimi Gates, who is leaving after fifteen years there, as of June. Cartwright comes in from the San Diego Museum of Art, which he has led for the past five years, reportedly growing it quite a bit in short order. But we have a feeling that as long as he can help stabilize Seattle, that would be enough to make everyone happy. Here’s a bit about both his past and future:

In San Diego, Cartwright is credited with building the Balboa Park museum’s international reputation, reaching out to a diverse community and enhancing the exhibitions and publications programs. When he moves to the Northwest, he will oversee an urban cultural center with three locations: the Seattle Art Museum downtown, the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Atlantic Yards Rumors Appear True as Ellerbe Becket Steps in to ‘Reevaluate’ Frank Gehry’s Plans

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Remember when it was rumored that developer Bruce Ratner was looking for another architect to replace Frank Gehry on the much-trimmed Atlantic Yards project, despite the press teams fighting off such ideas (“Frank Gehry has not been removed from the project”)? And then Frank Gehry himself sort of stuck his foot in his mouth by saying he’d given up hope on being involved with the Yards going forward — again much to the chagrin of the press handlers? Well, if you can believe it, apparently all of these crazy rumors seem to have maybe come true after all. The firm Ellerbe Becket has been hired by Ratner’s Forest City company to reevaluate Gehry’s plans for one of the few remaining projects still on the Atlantic Yards plate: the New Jersey Nets stadium. Although no one has come right out and said just that, with Ratner’s people still remaining distant, after months of hearing otherwise, it seems pretty clear that the rumors will all play out. Here’s a bit:

A Forest City Ratner spokesman Tuesday insisted the firm had been hired to implement cost-cutting measures for the estimated $800 million arena, but observers familiar with how Frank Gehry works suspect that could soon change.

“Because Gehry’s designs are fairly complex, any real changes would probably end up looking like an Ellerbe Becket project,” said a former Gehry architect who worked on Atlantic Yards until being laid off late last year. “[Gehry's projects are] relatively difficult to execute.”

Trovata’s Lawsuit Against Forever 21 for Alleged Design Thefts Reaches Courtroom

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Speaking of fashion and legal battles, but with far less head-butting (thus far), an important piece of litigation is hitting the courts in California this week. After a few years of wrangling over accusations by the fashion house Trovata that the retail chain Forever 21 has long been stealing its designs and repackaging them under their own brand at a significant discount, the debate has finally gone before a judge and a jury. The outcome should prove interesting, as currently it’s murky legal territory, with fashion designers stuck in a position of not really being able to defend their designs, just their copyrighted images. If something changes in this battle and Forever 21 is found in the wrong, it could be a turning point for often-copied designers and a potentially big blow to the copy cats. Here’s a bit:

“Much the same as a music composer, [the designer] takes notes, chords, sharps and flats and combines them and arranges them to make original music,” Trovata attorney Frank Colucci said in his opening statement to the jury of six men and two women. “The notes, the chords, the sharps and flats are all known; it is the way they are combined and arranged that make new music.”

Forever 21′s attorney replied:

“Much like a recipe for something like apple cobbler, Trovata is saying they didn’t invent the apples or the cinnamon or the sugar, but they are claiming the right to the combination,” [Bruce Brunda told the jury.

Update: The week’s earlier courtroom battle royale wound up puttering out as quickly as it began and has already ended, in a mistrial no less. But Trovata isn’t keen to let this go and already sounds ready to get back into court.

Kiefer Sutherland vs. Jack McCollough Head-Butting Feud Comes to a Civil End

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In other celebrity news: before we left for most of the month, Kiefer Sutherland was embroiled in a brouhaha after head-butting fashion designer Jack McCollough over something to do with disrespecting Brooke Shields (we know, we know, it still sounds bizarre to us too — but we have to type it, so it’s twice as tough on this end). Now it looks as though the two have made amends and charges are likely going to be dropped. We read this to mean that there was probably some sort of settlement going on in the background, making the problem go away using the power of a few saddlebucks. So, with this economy, we have learned the one quick way to stay afloat for fashion designers: somehow offend Brooke Shields, get head-butted, and there you go, plenty of capital to ride out the storm.

“I am sorry about what happened that night and sincerely regret that Mr. McCollough was injured,” said Sutherland.

As for McCollough, he accepted Sutherland’s apology, saying: “I appreciate Mr. Sutherland’s statement and wish him well.”

In the days following the incident, Sutherland was charged with misdemeanour assault. And while charges have yet to be officially dropped, multiple outlets speculate that all signs point towards Sutherland being in the clear.

Barbra Streisand to Publish a Book About Architecture and Design

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In other, more positive news, we pose a question to you, dear reader: when you think of the terms “design” and “architecture” together, who is the first person that comes to mind? If you said “Babs” then you are absolutely correct. Barbra Streisand has announced that she is currently penning a memoir that will spend a lot of time focusing on her love of both topics, particularly in regard to her spending the last half-decade designing a building her dream home in California. First person in line to buy the book? We’re thinking other well-known celebrity architecture buff Brad Pitt. Or maybe even the lesser-known celebrity architecture buff Paris Hilton? Here’s a bit:

The singer, director and actress has reached an agreement with Viking for A Passion for Design, an illustrated book scheduled for fall 2010 that includes photos of the Malibu, Calif., oceanfront compound she worked on for more than five years, and of other residences, back to her early years in New York.

Can we say, because the book won’t be released until next year, that someone please come up with a better title than A Passion for Design? Come on. Even a pun based around one of her songs or movies would be better than that. Mantl anyone? It could all be centered around her designing her mantel and then move around the house from there.

Michelle Kaufmann Decides to Pull the Plug on Her Design/Architecture Firm

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Almost over his bout with jet lag, this writer is slowly getting back to normal. But due to some lingering brain haze, let’s just get to the meat and potatoes of the day’s happenings and keep this short and sweet, okay? First up, some sad news from earlier this week when Michelle Kaufmann, one of architecture’s very rapidly-rising stars (and one who knew how to hire good PR people to put together press releases, we might add), announced that she has decided to pull the plug on her firm, Michelle Kaufmann Designs. She cited the economy as the reason (of course), but in particular that one of the factories who was helping create her oft-discussed pre-fab houses went bankrupt. That, on top of people ready to buy her buildings were finding it increasingly more difficult to set up deals with lenders, and it was a perfect storm, driving the firm into a downward spiral that reached it’s sad conclusion this week. Here’s a bit:

“We had gotten lean, and I was sure we were going to survive, but two weeks ago we had a factory partner close, we had a number of projects which were ready for construction that looked like the financing was all set and then the lending fell through and it all happened all at once,” she said. “It is so difficult for a small company without big cash reserves to deal with that all happening at once.”

Revolving Door: Method Names New CEO

method wash.gifOur favorite maker of design-savvy, eco-friendly home products has chosen a new leader. San Francisco-based Method announced today that Drew Fraser will take over as president and chief executive officer of the company. Formerly a senior vice president at Whirlpool, Fraser will replace interim CEO Dan Swander starting June 15. Before joining Whirlpool in 2004, Fraser spent ten years working at Clorox and previously held sales and marketing roles at Procter & Gamble. Privately held Method was founded in 2000 by Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, who enlisted designer Joshua Handy to create the curvy (and 100% carbon neutral) packaging that has become a company signature.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Method Founders Reveal Dirty Little Secrets in New Book
  • Method to Debut on HSN
  • Quote of Note | Dennis Freedman

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    “These are [women's magazine] covers that look like Breck ads. But my question is, did they intend for them to look like Breck ads? Is there irony? Is there subversion? Because there is no question they are retouched beyond any possible reflection of what’s actually in front of the camera.”
    -Dennis Freedman, creative director of W, in today’s New York Times

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