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Archives: July 2009

Friday Photo: Two for the Road

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(Photos: Discover Today’s Motorcycling)

Continuing with last week’s cycling theme, we bring you this pair of motorcycle helmets painted by Mike Shinoda (left) and Troy Lee (right) for “Celeritas,” an exhibition of motorcycle culture-meets-street art that is on view through August 16 at SURU in Los Angeles. The show includes motorcycle helmets and “leathers” customized by the likes of Barry McGee, Mark Dean Veca, Audrey Kawasaki, James Jean, Stash, and Futura, whose spatter-painted headgear conjures visions of Sam Francis astride a Harley. Championed by actor John Hensley (Nip/Tuck) and Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn, Celeritas kicked off earler this month with an auction that raised more than $65,000 for Riders for Health, an organization that provides motorcycles and maintenance training to aid workers in Africa who provide medical care to remote populations.

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Ian Stevenson Stares Into Sun, Finds Enchanted Land

Today Tate Modern and London gallery Concrete Hermit debut a swell range of t-shirts, prints, and postcards featuring artwork by a talented trio of British designers and illustrators: Anthony Burrill, Andrew Rae, and Ian Stevenson. While we can’t make it across the pond to celebrate the launch of this exciting collaboration, we’ve got just the thing for your summer Friday viewing pleasure in Stevenson’s latest animated short film, “Stare Into the Sun,” which he describes as “revealing the world of a strange small man, who spends his days away from the world. While divulging in strange pleasures, he is suddenly thrown into a fantastical journey.” With a bopping cast of warped forest creatures and a color palette that recalls those of Saturday morning cartoons from the 1980s, the film has the dizzily didactic feel of Sesame Street interstitia gone off the rails. Betcha can’t play it just once.

Michael Fink Named Dean of SCAD School of Fashion

MFink.jpgIt’s not official yet, but we have it on good authority (Women’s Wear Daily) that Michael Fink, who left his post as vice president and women’s fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue earlier this year amidst massive layoffs, has been named dean of the new School of Fashion at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Previously part of the School of Design, the School of Fashion encompasses fashion and accessory design, fashion marketing and management, and luxury fashion management. Fink, a former member of SCAD’s advisory board and a guest critic for the school’s senior fashion class, is preparing to move to Savannah (although something tells us we’ll see him back in Manhattan for Fashion Week come September). “I think it is an incredible change,” he told WWD. “Especially based on what’s going on in New York.”

Design Firm Delete Not Fonda Jane for Thieving Their Website

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Actress Jane Fonda is in a bit of hot design water at the close of this week. Design firm Delete has accused Fonda of stealing the layout of their website for her own newly redesigned online home. Taking a look, the actress’ site certainly does bear some pretty striking similarities to Delete’s, from the large image up top to the navigation to the sidebars underneath. While it’s a not pixel-for-pixel twin, if you were to show it to a non-design-y person and ask “Do you think this one is a copy of this one?” we can almost guarantee you’d get 10 out of 10 affirmatives. While no legal action has taken place yet, Delete is considering it, perhaps in just hoping that even the mention and likely the press that’s sure to come will scare whoever Fonda hired to build her site into confessing their sins and getting to work on a new look. Fortunately, Delete’s managing director has kept a good sense of humor about the whole thing:

“We are not complaining about her taste, obviously it’s good (or at least her web team’s taste is good), but we are surprised that a film icon’s website could be so similar to our own. We are thrilled that we’ve finally ‘made it’ in Hollywood — however, it would have been better if we got paid for it.”

Santiago Calatrava’s Latest Bridge Debacle Finds Calgary Residents Taking Sides

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If you haven’t been following the latest hot button issues in Calgary, please allow us this opportunity to get you up to speed on at least one. Starchitect Santiago Calatrava, he of the ever-changing World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the ever-stalled Chicago Spire, has finally unveiled plans for the Peace Bridge, a bike and pedestrian path that crosses the Bow River in the center of the city. While Calatrava being in any city to design something is usually cause for much to-do, Calgary has been playing it very low-key, running into a great number of detractors who either a) hate the way the bridge looks, b) are upset that it’s going to cost the city $25 million, or c) that the city government put the whole plans in action quickly and secretly without really mentioning it to the general public. There are arguments aplenty from both sites, like radio commentator Mike Blanchard‘s funny piece on why the bridge stinks, saying it “reminds [him] of a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis” and that “this design tries too hard.” The Calgary Sun‘s Don Braid sees the whole fight as good for the city, saying it helps get people talking about architecture and what they want their surroundings to look like. Meanwhile, the paper also got a chance to talk to Calatrava himself, which is surprisingly open about asking the architect these tough questions, like if the bridge is a waste of taxpayer money or if it’s too flashy for the area. Calatrava gingerly walks around the outskirts of a few of the questions, but it’s interesting to see him pressed about the controversy. Our question to him would be: do you think you’ll ever build a bridge in a city and not run into trouble?

Starbucks Rolls Out Secret Shop to Test Redesign Options

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At the start of this month, we reported on coffee chain Starbucks‘ decision to start a massive redesign program among many of their company-owned stores. Their plan was to make everything LEED-certified while simultaneously attempting to break away from the sterile, every-store-looks-the-same concept that had served them for the past decade of explosive growth. PSFK popped in when their first new store just opened in Seattle, called 15th Avenue E, which is almost completely devoid of any mention of being a Starbucks, save for the very bizarre sign on the door “Inspired by Starbucks” (if you’re trying to start anew or look like an independent, why on earth would you write such a thing?). While they’re nice looking digs, it certainly feels like a “if you can’t beat ‘em, swipe their look and join ‘em” type of move. PSFK returned to the scene just yesterday with this interview with Liz Muller, the woman in charge of the sneaky “Inspired by” project, and who says there are plans for more to come, while they test out what direction they want to go in with this big redesign.

Critic Kenneth Turan Angered Over LACMA’s Film Program Cut

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If you travel in certain circles, you may have heard that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art had decided to put its four-decade old weekend film program on hold. While the museum’s director, Michael Govan, has said this is only a temporary move, stopping these screenings of foreign and art films, as well as conversations with filmmakers, largely due to fewer attendees and likely having a little to do with the LACMA’s tight budgets and smaller staff, the decision has left people like film critic Kenneth Turan livid. He finds the temporary cutback as a stand-in for a larger problem at the museum, saying their temporary stand-still on a program they weren’t spending any time working with from the beginning, “sounds suspiciously like the apocryphal Vietnam War rationale that ‘we had to burn the village to save it.’” Although Turan apologies for being tough on museums in some of their darkest hours, he beautifully argues that maybe, beyond the endowment shrinking, it’s ideas such as this recent decision to stop the screenings, that have resulted in times being even more difficult for these institutions:

It is that contempt that is possibly the most distressing element in the entire LACMA equation. To shut this program down, in Los Angeles of all places, betrays both a disdain for the most vibrant of popular arts and a demeaning narrowness of vision about what Los Angeles wants and needs.

Make no mistake, the LACMA closure is an egregious slap in the face to those who believe in film as perhaps the most alive and vibrant of the arts. The fact that it’s coming from the very people whose job it is to protect and promote, makes the whole sad scenario sadder still.

Wall Street Bull Artist Sues Random House, Authors over Book Cover

Colossal Failure.jpgWas putting a photo of the famed Wall Street bull statue on the cover of A Colossal Failure of Common Sense a colossal failure of common sense? That’s the allegation of Arturo DiModica, the artist who created “Charging Bull,” installed the three-and-a-half ton bronze statue without permission in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1989, and registered it with the copyright office nine years later. In a lawsuit filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, DiModica is seeking to have the photo of the statue (which now stands in Bowling Green Park) removed from the cover of A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, published earlier this month by Random House’s Crown Business division. The suit also seeks unspecified damages from Random House and the book’s authors, Lawrence McDonald and Patrick Robinson.

So what’s DiModica up to besides suing people? Plenty, at least according to his rather loopy website—chargingbull.org—which notes, “For New York City, Arturo is designing a grand fountain that will rival any of the great fountains around the world and be a fabulous work of sculpture in its own right, reflecting Arturo’s artistic vision.”

At the Wolfsonian, Life’s a Beach

bathing beauties.jpgWere we to give an award for the world’s most UnBeige museum, The Wolfsonian would be the easy winner. The wonderfully eclectic Miami institution, a division of Florida International University, didn’t have to look far for the inspiration behind its new summer exhibitions, both of which center around the beach (just a few blocks away). Curated by The Wolfsonian’s Marianne Lamonaca, “Beauty on the Beach: A Centennial Celebration of Swimwear” is a swimwear design retrospective, while “Sun Stroke Stimulus” examines “contemporary bathing culture” through the photographs of Miles Ladin. Both shows are on view through October 11.

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(Photos: Miles Ladin)

While the topless number designed in 1964 by Rudi Gernreich is currently raising eyebrows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the full measure of swimsuit history is at The Wolfsonian, where “Beauty on the Beach” explores swimwear design and marketing, and how they shape and reflect popular ideas about fitness, beauty, and glamour. A look at the swimwear industry’s use of new materials (Lastex, anyone?) comes just in time for the current debate about performance-enhancing suits.

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DIY Dyna Moe: AMC Taps ‘Mad Men Illustrated’ Artist for Avatar Application

madmen ourself.jpgWith the season three premiere of Mad Men only weeks away, AMC is rolling out a slew of online gewgaws (which we prefer to “social media-based viral marketing initiatives”). Along with the typical quizzes and e-cards is Mad Men Yourself, a just-launched site that allows user to create their own stylized ’60s avatars (that’s us, at left, going for a chic Betty Draper look that is very Michael Kors fall 2008) by choosing from an assortment of body shapes, facial features, hairstyles, and accessories—including a martini, a cigarette, and a doughnut, recalling a time when all three were acceptable to savor in the workplace. Drop your avatar into settings such as the Sterling Cooper offices, a picnic, or a pattern that looks ripped from the Draper family sofa. The illustrator behind the application’s infinitely customizable characters is none other than Dyna Moe, who you may recall as the creator of Mad Men Illustrated, the delightful series of drawings inspired by scenes from the show and the New York-based illustrator and designer’s own cache of period advertisements. “The show is famous for its meticulousness,” she said recently. “And I try to reflect that in the simple cartoony way that I draw.” Now go forth and Mad Men Yourself.

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