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Archives: July 2009

1998 Jørn Utzon Documentary to be Released Soon

Following the death of architect Jørn Utzon at the close of last year, his most famous and contentious piece of work, the Sydney Opera House, which he never saw completed, became something of a very big topic there for a little while. Now perhaps the only film that was able to get Utzon to open about about the difficulties and triumphs of creating the famous building, and why he chose to leave and never return, is about to be released on DVD for the first time. It’s Daryl Dellora and Sue Maslin‘s 1998 documentary, The Edge of the Possible, a clip of which Wallpaper was kind enough to put up online:

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An Early Look at MoMA’s Tim Burton Retrospective


A nifty feature over at Art Info who just this week headed to a very, very early press preview for the MoMA‘s upcoming Tim Burton retrospective. Although the exhibit won’t kick off until around Thanksgiving weekend (thus solidifying a massive opening weekend for the museum), the MoMA seems rightly eager to get the word out early. The collection will feature hundreds of pieces, from artwork the director has created to rarely-seen short films to storyboards and various other pieces attached to his larger, well-known movies. Burton was there at the museum for the press tour and explained a bit of the process in assembling the sure-to-be-popular exhibition:

…he had not looked at most of the pieces for years and described the experience as a “reenergizing process” and a way of reconnecting with himself. Apparently, he essentially gave [Assistant Film Curator Ron Magliozzi] free rein over his archives, allowing MoMA to pull what it wished for the show.

Phillippe Starck’s Mega-Yacht Finally Hits the High Seas


If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that whenever we mention Philippe Starck, particularly when he’s talking about making everything sustainable, we like to poke at him a bit for designing a mega-yacht (read: a big yacht). To be fair, an eco-friendly mega-yacht, but we still fail to see how building a new multi-million dollar ship for a handful of extremely wealthy people is at all green. Now we have finally laid our eyes on Starck’s massive ship, as designboom has the first real photos of the yacht, as well as some additional info about it. We think it looks mighty well, somewhere between a normal ship and a semi-submerged submarine, and certainly wouldn’t turn down the keys if someone were to offer it to us, but still, we’re sticking to Starck’s own lines when he said, upon unveiling the news that he was designing said boat: “A luxury yacht is the most stupid thing invented in the world, in theory nobody needs that. It is a display of power and money.” Indeed.

Quote of Note | Ada Louise Huxtable

(Allan Grant).jpg“He combined a romantic 19th-century taste (he was, after all, born in 1867, just after the Civil War) for pictures on easels, hand-crafted containers of wild flowers and autumn leaves, Japanese prints, and strategically placed copies of the “Victory of Samothrace” with a pioneering vision of 20th-century social change.”

-Ada Louise Huxtable on Frank Lloyd Wright in today’s Wall Street Journal

(Photo: Allan Grant/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Nike’s ‘Trash Talk’ Recycled Sneakers Named IDEA Best in Show

trashtalk.jpgNike walked—make that sprinted—away with Best in Show honors at the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition. Following in the footsteps of the iPhone (a 2008 IDEA Best in Show winner) is Nike Trash Talk, the first performance basketball shoe made from manufacturing waste. The upper is zig-zag-stitched bits of leather and synthetic leather waste from the factory floor, while the mid-sole uses scrap-ground foam from factory production, and the rubber outer sole incorporates material from footwear manufacturing waste. And the shoebox? Recycled cardboard, of course. Designed by the Nike team of Kasey Jarvis, Andreas Harlow, Fred Dojan, and Dan Johnson, the Trash Talk debuted last year on the feet of eco-minded Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (hence the sunny colorways). “High concept, aesthetics, and performance—in combination with a smart and comprehensive eco-manufacturing methodology—make this shoe the holy grail of conscious consumption,” noted juror Valerie Casey, head of digital experiences and networked culture at IDEO. “Karmic debt still outstanding, but this is a huge down payment.”

IDEA Winners Announced; IDEO, Samsung, Apple, NewDeal Win Big

IDEA logo.jpgIt’s Christmas in July time, design fans! The results of the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition are in, which means that you can get a headstart on holiday shopping for things that only yesterday you didn’t know existed (e.g., the Gold award-winning LiftPod, a “personal, portable aerial work platform designed as an alternative to ladders”). Today BusinessWeek, the Industrial Designers Society of America, Target, and Autodesk announced 150 IDEA winners (31 Gold, 47 Silver, and 72 Bronze) chosen from 1,631 entries. The jury—chaired by Andrew Hartman of Philips Designs—also named 349 finalists.


Among the big winners were IDEO and Samsung, each with eight awards, Apple (7), Dell Experience Design Group (6), GE Healthcare (5), and NewDeal Design (4). ASTRO Studios, frog design, and fuseproject each took home three. Topping our wish list are the Gold award-winning ICON A5 amphibious sport plane, which we’ll fly while wearing New Balance’s amphibious shoes (winner of a Bronze). Meanwhile, back at the office, we’ll organize our physical piles in Teneo Storage Furniture (designed by Birsel + Seck for Herman Miller and the lone Gold winner in the Office & Productivity category) and stow the virtual stuff in Iriver design group’s supersleek Domino USB memory stick (taking home a Silver), although the task of choosing from among the nine available colors is bound to spark a debate at UnBeige HQ. Finally, our hopeless Diet Coke addiction finds a sustainable and design-friendly accessory in the Coca-Cola Refresh Recycling Bin (winner of a Bronze), made entirely from post-consumer recycled PET soda and water bottles by fuseproject’s Yves Behar, Josh Morenstein, and Nick Cronan. We’ll drink to that.

Isaac Mizrahi to Host ‘Talk Show Meets Hawk Show’ on QVC

isaac oct08.jpg
(Photo: UnBeige)

While “The Fashion Show” has completed its first season, the show’s host, designer and regular television gadabout, Isaac Mizrahi, is planning to keep himself extra busy starting this December when he launches “Isaac Mizrahi: Live!” a new program on the QVC television shopping network. The NY Daily News describes the show as “a sort of talk-show-meets-hawk show,” wherein Mizrahi will take calls from viewers to chat about whatever comes up, as well as the QVC staple of selling you things. The designer is having a set built into his own studio, so he can keep the show close to home, and in a big move for the network itself, it will be the first of their programs to be shot in HD. Here’s a bit of commentary from the Daily News:

Mizrahi’s move might be a peek into a new future for fashion: As high-end designers become more and more accessible through diffusion labels sold a mid-level retailers, brands like Mizrahi are looking to home shopping as a new way to reach even more consumers. The numbers are staggering: QVC reaches nearly 166 million homes, while its competitor HSN reaches 90 million.

Rose Art Museum Supporters Take Brandeis University to Court to Try Blocking Sales


At last we left the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University back in early May, things were at something of a stand-still, with the university’s board forming a committee to tell them exactly what they wanted to do in the first place: close the museum and sell off all its art. Although nothing was planning for “the immediate future” (followed shortly thereafter by the museum being officially closed and nearly all of its staff let go), it was another blow to supporters of the museum who have been fighting the board’s impromptu decision from the very start. But now those supporters have decided to take their fight to the courts, as they’ve filed a suit against the university that will try and block any and all sales from its collection. The argument posed in the suit is that the sale goes against everything the Rose’s original founders and donors would have wanted, essentially meaning that Brandeis is violating the contract (as well as the ethical principles) put in place back in the 1960s when the museum came to be. The university has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and, unfortunately for the supporters of the Rose, will likely go the way of Fisk University, who just recently got the okay to sell off all their Georgia O’Keefe paintings, despite major objections, after a court ruled that once a donation is made, the artwork becomes the property of its new owners. But even Fisk lost their first court battle, so who knows? We’ll have to wait and see how it all pans out.

David Adjaye’s Firm Finds Itself Deep in Debt


While times have been tough for starchitects lately, from Richard Rogers‘ projects disappearing to Zaha Hadid‘s and Norman Foster‘s mass layoffs, it sounds as though rising star David Adjaye has it the worst. Despite his recent conquests including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, landing two libraries in Washington DC, and everyone still going gah-gah over his Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Building Design reports that his nine year old company is deeply in the red. Following a number of canceled jobs, Adjaye now owes at least a million pounds to creditors, forcing him to lay off staffers and seek council on getting the company back in the black. What’s more, the starchitect even put £400,000 of his own money to keep things semi-stable. Yet while the company is suffering, Adjaye seems confident that closing its doors isn’t a concern: “We have enough work on our books and we’re repaying our [Company Voluntary Arrangement] very well so we’re in a good place.” Elsewhere in Building Design, Amanda Baillieu says that the issue isn’t so much with Adjaye’s finances, it’s working with public building projects and having his central office located in the UK that are the larger problems.

Death and Dementia in Burbank

poe grimly.jpgFresh from their collaboration with author Neil Gaiman at Comic-Con, the gothic fragrance mavens at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab are gearing up for their next ghoulish meeting of the minds. On the afternoon of August 23, Black Phoenix teams with illustrator Gris Grimley for a party at Dark Delicacies in Burbank to celebrate the launch of Tales of Death and Dementia (Atheneum), a new book that matches the spine-tingling tales of Edgar Allen Poe (in this, his 200th anniversary year) with Grimley’s darkly whimsical drawings. Original artwork from the book will be on display and for sale, along with silkscreened event posters and t-shirts. Partygoers will also be treated to the debut of Black Phoenix’s new line of scents inspired by Grimly’s illustrations of Poe’s prose. The four fragrances are under wraps for now, but we’re hoping that “The Telltale Heart” has inspired a chilling chypre.