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Archives: July 2009

Lincoln Center President Reynold Levy Wins Cooper-Hewitt’s Design Patron Award

(Peter Bussian).jpgA late-breaking addition to the previously announced slate of design stars that were honored last Friday at the White House was Reynold Levy, who since 2002 has served as president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Levy is the winner of the 2009 Design Patron Award, which recognizes outstanding support and patronage within the design community. Established in 2001 as one of the National Design Awards, the Design Patron Award is selected by the director of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, rather than by a panel of past winners.

Levy has been instrumental in the dramatic transformation of Lincoln Center, which under his direction has embarked on an ambitious renovation of the campus’ original design. “Working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Levy has set a model internationally for the rejuvenation of our urban cultural centers,” said Paul Warwick Thompson, former director of the Cooper-Hewitt, of his selection for the Design Patron honor. “Peeling back facades to connect performance centers with the streetscape, re-routing car traffic below ground, and simplifying pedestrian walkways and signage all have a humanizing quality that makes cities—and this city in particular—vibrant and pleasurable places.” Past Design Patron Award winners include Architecture for Humanity, Maharam, Amanda Burden, and André Balazs.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • White House, Cooper-Hewitt Kick Off Mini-Arts Week
  • A Look Back at 47 Years of Lincoln Center Art Posters and Prints
  • NYT Graphics Dept., Francisco Costa Among National Design Award Winners
  • On the Ethics of Photoshop Tutorials

    play it again.jpgAlthough we liked it better when the food section was saved for (pre-crossword) dessert, we give two thumbs up to the recently redesigned—and trimmed down—New York Times Magazine, which this past Sunday wowed us with a radiation-soaked drop capital that zapped readers into Jack Hitt‘s fascinating story of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic‘s stint as an incognito new age guru (don’t miss the wonderfully loopy photos by Lars Tunbjork that accompanied the piece). Also catching our eye was Ethicist Randy Cohen‘s response to a high school graphic design teacher who wondered if he should dock points from students who followed an online tutorial to complete a Photoshop assignment —even though the teacher had previously OK’ed the use of such tutorials. Cohen, whose jittery cartoon identity of years past has been replaced by a wise-looking silhouette by Matthew Woodson, designed a compromise…

    Read more

    Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost Gets Remixed for London Design Week Exhibition


    Late last year and just in time for the holidays, Philippe Starck decided to create a miniature version of his famous Louis Ghost chair for Kartell, the original itself being a funny, plasticized take on the stuffy furniture of the rich. Now the chair is going under another set of revisions, but this time operating outside of Starck and Kartell, as the retail shop Lifestylebazaar prepares for a charity auction/exhibition to run during London Design Week in September called “Losing the Plot,” which will find eight designers and artists trying their hand at remixing Starck’s original. What’s more, a ninth chair will be created in the store and will involve foodstuffs:

    The eighth chair will be customised in-store on the theme of ‘Marie Antoinette: Let Them Eat Cake’. The chair will be transformed with colourful cakes, sweets and meringues and will be photographed by Rosie Day, a talented photographer studying at Camberwell College. The photograph will form part of the exhibition and the chair itself will be presented during the evening reception for guests to snack on!

    Making Sense of the AIA’s Billings Indexes


    In the interest of keeping you informed as to what’s going on financially with architecture firms across the country, you’ve likely seen our regular posts about the American Institute of Architect‘s monthly Architectural Billings Index reports, showing you the ups and downs the industry has been experiencing since the economy went belly up. But even this writer, who was born math-averse, has some trouble making sense of all the numbers and ramifications of what the AIA is reporting. Fortunately, we’re able to turn to The Architect’s Newspaper, who has put together this great piece of writing making sense of the last few months, walking through all the highs and lows (mostly lows) in some easy to understand English, as well as some editorializing in how/why certain things are happening and what the future might hold. Here’s a bit:

    The problem appears to be the relative ineffectuality of the national stimulus program in reaching the architecture and design communities, and the nature of the current recession. Being driven largely by speculative real estate investments, there is now so much excessive supply in the nation’s building stock that demand remains low, even for non-residential and non-commercial projects. In fact, institutional work, usually a buoy during hard economic times, is now the worst performing sector. With such non-traditional patterns emerging, predicting future movement for the industry becomes all the more difficult.

    With British Museum Plans Canceled, Richard Rogers Loses Second Big Project to Anti-Modern Forces


    The good news is often followed by the bad, if history is any judge, and so it is for starchitect Richard Rogers, who seems neck and neck in competition with Frank Gehry for popular architect most raked over the coals in 2009. Last week, Rogers was back on top with the news that an unprecedented two of his projects had been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. But now the bad has returned and Rogers has once again lost a battle against Prince Charles and his anti-modern gangs. Rogers’ plans for an extension to the British Museum, which would add a five story facility used for everything from archival and administrative purposes to new exhibition space, has been rejected by the city council in a landslide vote to have the starchitect’s plans scraped. The museum itself is upset that it won’t be able to move forward with the plans it selected and will now either have to hunt out a new architect or go without. Meanwhile, the Prince Charles camp was more than happy to gloat a bit over the decision:

    The council’s decision has delighted television presenter and conservation champion Griff Rhys Jones, who is president of the Camden Civic Society. Rhys Jones, who is currently filming in Rome for his ITV series World’s Greatest Cities, said: “It is a huge relief. The proposed scheme would have harmed the great city that is London.

    “We do not want to stand in the way of the Museum expanding its exhibition spaces, but this design was too dominant. It would have overwhelmed the fantastic building and dwarfed it.”

    Come On, Feel the Journal of Popular Noise

    JPN.jpgInject some old-school grit (vinyl records) and glamour (letterpress packaging) into your iTunes greatest hits library with the Journal of Popular Noise, an “audio magazine inspired by the traditions of pop music, printed periodicals, and the delight of a finely crafted artifact.” Founded by graphic designer Byron Kalet, the twice-yearly publication takes the form of a limited-edition trio of 7″ vinyl records tucked inside a letterpress-printed holder that folds out to reveal a poster of information about the journal, the musicians, and the compositional process. “By standardizing the presentation, and even going so far as to homogenize the song structures, the Journal of Popular Noise provides an alternative context through which one can enjoy a record,” notes the just-released spring/summer 2009 edition (issues 13-15), which features works by Andrew W.K., Ian Svenonius, and Walker & Cantrell. “Here the content presented to the listener is not defined as much by an artist’s self-wrought context as it is their approval of an association with previous contributors, the aesthetic presentation, and of the physical and compositional restraints.”

    Lance, Illustrated: Bicycling Features Four Armstrong Covers

    LA covers1.jpg

    Was the Lance Armstrong-inspired artwork we featured on Friday too abstract (or pricey) for your tastes? Not to worry. Fans of figuration and cycling alike should race to newsstands, where the August issue of Bicycling sports four different illustrated Armstrong covers. The magazine commissioned a diverse quartet of graphic artists to depict Armstrong in four distinct eras. Alex Gross rendered “First Yellow” Lance (pictured above, at right) in a dotty field of sunflowers after his first Tour de France win in 1999, while Sterling Hundley focused on Armstrong’s seventh straight win in “No. 7″ (below left). Charity-minded Lance comes to the fore in “The Comeback” (below right), Havana-born Edel Rodriguez‘s cartoony rendition that suggests a guest spot on King of the Hill, and David Cowles took on the challenge of creating an illustration of Armstrong pegged to his latest Tour bid (above left). His solution? Paint-by-number, an old favorite of Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. After three and a half years away from the Tour, Armstrong yesterday finished third, after Spain’s Alberto Contador and Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck. But colorers-by-number, take note:’s Bonnie Ford observed Armstrong on the podium and writes that he “looked
    uncomfortable dressed in something other than yellow.”

    LA covers2.jpg

    The Name’s Artois, Stella Artois: Robert McGinnis Illustrates Bond-Inspired Beer Ads

    Stella seaplane.jpg

    It was the Jean de Florette theme played on a warbling harmonica that sold us on Stella Artois, and the Belgian brewery continues to quench our thirst for memorable marketing. To spread the word about Stella Artois 4%, a new triple-filtered (read: lower alcohol) brew, London ad firm Mother looked to the French Riviera of the 1960s as it was immortalized au cinéma. Translation? Bond. James Bond. A website features a trio of film parodies, complete with faux movie posters, but the real stars of the campaign are the illustrations of Robert McGinnis, who created the original artwork for Bond films including Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun and came out of retirement to sketch for Stella. Creative Review‘s blog has McGinnis’s preliminary drawings as well as the full line-up of finished posters, which feature a Bond-like character and his slinky female companion enjoying the good life in what appears to be St. Tropez. However, one commenter pointed out that the smooth, piano-playing character in one of the posters bears a striking resemblance to Adam Sandler.

    Michelle Obama’s National Design Awards Speech

    By all reports, Friday’s National Design Awards luncheon with Michelle Obama went over really well (no word yet if Tom Dair got to say anything smart). As we said last week, we’re hoping to have all of the official Cooper-Hewitt group photos to share with you soon (and a rep from the museum recently told us that they’re coming sometime this week). In the interim, here’s video of the First Lady’s design-focused speech:

    Chicago’s Prairie Avenue Bookshop May Be Forced to Close in September


    Some potentially sad local news here. The Tribune‘s Blair Kamin reports that the forty-eight year old Prairie Avenue Bookshop in downtown Chicago is facing closure, unless they can find a new buyer for the building. The bookshop, which specializes in architecture books, and is the first place any building buff should stop if you’re visiting town, had been hit by the economy, the city’s continuing sales tax hikes, and customers leaving to buy online. It’s difficult to see how they’d be able to pull off saving the store, as several of their options, like teaming with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, have fallen through and the economy certainly isn’t rising anytime soon. Though they certainly are interested in hearing any plans anyone might have, including leaving the brick and mortar and moving online. So should you be visiting Chicago before September 1st, when their lease runs out, make sure to either stop by the Prairie Avenue Bookstore with either lots of money, a few nice parting words, or some incredible idea that will propel the business along.