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Archives: September 2009

H&M Signs Up Sonia Rykiel as Guest Designer

SRykiel.jpgParisian knitwear queen Sonia Rykiel, who we call for a moratorium on describing as “flame-haired,” is the latest designer to heed the call of Swedish fast fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M). Following in the footsteps of everyone from Karl Lagerfeld and Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons to Marimekko and last spring’s Ibiza-meets-Bombay romp with Matthew Williamson, Rykiel has signed on as H&M guest designer for winter 2009 and spring 2010.

What’s new? Lingerie, for one thing. “We loved the joyful chic of Sonia Rykiel’s 40th anniversary runway show [held last fall at the Parc de Saint-Cloud in Paris] and in that spirit this collection is all about revelling in great lingerie for its own sake,” said H&M creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch in a statement issued today announcing the collaboration. “This is a totally modern, new kind of lingerie look, and when we started to work together with Rykiel on it, we just couldn’t stop.” Other than addictive underthings, which will debut in 1,500 H&M stores on December 5, the company promises “an iconic knitwear collection for women and girls accompanied by playful accessories.” The second collection is slated for a more limited launch (at approximately 250 stores) in late February. Look for a surfeit of black with pops of jewel tones, stripes, lacy flourishes, and cut-rate intarsia.

Pablo Ferro, Carin Goldberg, Doyald Young Awarded AIGA Medals at Legends Gala

(All photos by George Delgado except above right, by NY Portraits)

Even the most severe recession in recent history can’t keep great design down. “No matter how bleak the situation into which we have been thrown by the global economy—it does offer opportunities. Designers need only invent them,” said AIGA president Debbie Millman in a speech welcoming guests to the annual AIGA Design Legends Gala, held earlier this month at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. “By understanding our living and working context, we blow open avenues of opportunity and innovation not yet charted or explored.” The highlight of the design star-studded evening was the presentation of the 2009 AIGA Medals to designers Pablo Ferro, Carin Goldberg, and Doyald Young.

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AIGA medalists past and present take to the stage.

Steven Heller presented the medal to Ferro, draped in his signature red scarf, for “introducing narrative and nonlinear dimensions to design for films, changing our visual expectations, and demonstrating the power of design to enhance storytelling,” while Paula Scher did the honors for Goldberg, who was lauded “for her exquisite ability to join intelligence, craft, and an eye for the evocative image in designing iconic pop-cultural and literary artifacts, and for her commitment to design education.” Young, who just turned 83, was recognized for “demonstrating the power of a lifelong love of the craft of calligraphy, type, and graphic design, for his contributions as an author, and for his dedication as an educator” and received his medal from Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt. JetBlue and Patagonia took home the the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award, and 22 designers from around the country were honored as AIGA Fellows.

RMJM Get the Okay to Start Work on Europe’s New Tallest Tower


Back in early May, we told you that Peter Morrison and the gang at the very large architecture firm RMJM had plans in place to weather this economic storm we find ourselves in. And against all odds, it appears to be working. While nearly every other major architect or firms are seeing their high-profile projects either disappear or get chopped in half, RMJM has just announced that they’ve gotten the go ahead in Russia to begin work on the tower at Okhta Center in St. Petersburg. The hold-up had been over building height laws in the city, which have now been revised to fit Okhta in. When finished, it will be Europe’s tallest tower and is expected to cost more than $2 billion to get there. Though, with all things mixing “big” and “architecture” anymore, we’re certain that everyone involved, although sounding optimistic for the press, is likely always aware that these shadowy economic gremlins could swoop in at any second and rob the project of its life just as it has with so many others like it.

Brandeis University President to Resign Over Rose Art Museum Mishandling


It’s been a little while since we last checked in at Brandeis University to see what’s going on with the Rose Art Museum debacle. As you might recall, back in January, the university’s board decided in secret to shut down the museum and sell off all of the art therein to help pay the bills. This led to a firestorm of protests, meetings, op-ed pieces, and everything in between. The last time we’d reported on Brandeis, back in late July, supporters of the museum were taking the university to court, trying to block any possible sales. Well now, after nine months since this began, it looks as though things have swung the way of the protesters. The big news is that the university’s longtime president, Jehuda Reinharz, has announced that he will be resigning, which is largely being perceived as relating to his mishandling of the Rose. Furthermore, the school recently decided through committee that the museum should remain open and that its future should be of more concern from here on out. So good news all around, it seems, for Rose supporters. Though this story has a tendency to take some quick turns, so we’re keeping our congrats to only around 87% until we know for sure everything is safe and sound on the Brandeis campus.

Gap Founder Donald Fisher Dies at 81

fishers.jpgDonald G. Fisher, who founded Gap, Inc. in 1969 with wife Doris, died yesterday of cancer. He was 81. “Today we lost a friend, a mentor, and a great visionary,” said Gap CEO Glenn Murphy in a statement issued last night. “Don and Doris took a simple idea and turned it into a brand recognized as a cultural icon throughout the world and changed the face of retail forever.”

Legend has it that the Fishers founded the company on August 21, 1969 after a frustrating experience exchanging a pair of jeans that didn’t fit. That year, the couple raised $63,000 to launch a single jeans and music store called The Gap (named for “the generation gap”) in San Francisco. In 2008, Gap reported annual sales of approximately $14.5 billion. Fisher served as chairman and CEO of the company from 1969 through 1995 and as chairman through 2004. He held the roles of director and chairman emeritus until his death.

Donald Fisher Decides to Keep Art Collection in San Francisco, Headed to SFMOMA


Back in early August, there were some big concerns in the San Francisco art community that GAP founder Donald Fisher might have been looking to place his massive art collection outside of the Bay Area, perhaps as protest after seeing his years of work go up in smoke when he finally had to pull the plug on building a museum in the Presidio. But now all San Franciscans can rest easy as they breathe a collective sigh of relief with the news that Fisher has struck up a deal with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who will be hosting the more than 1,000 pieces of artwork he owns for at least the next 25 years. How’d SFMOMA convince him? Promising to add a whole new wing always tends to grease some wheels. Here’s a bit:

Works from the Fisher Collection will be on display in a new wing that will also incorporate art from the museum’s collection. In addition, works from the Fisher Collection will be interwoven with SFMOMA’s modern and contemporary holdings in existing galleries. Together, they will form one of the world’s most important collections of art of the past 50 years, the museum said.

Tina Fey Battles Joker Madoff, Fudgy Ice Cream Cone in ASME ‘Cover of the Year’ Contest

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Tina Fey as America’s sweetheart (Vanity Fair), smirking swindler Bernard Madoff as a Heath Ledger-style Joker (New York), and a strawberry ice cream cone freshly topped with fudge (Bon Appétit). These are just a few of the subjects on the magazine covers competing for the coveted title of Cover of the Year. This year, the American Society of Magazine Editors has opened voting for its annual cover contest to the public and adjusted the categories accordingly. Gone are groupings such as “personal service” and “leisure interest,” replaced with catchier categories, including “Best Obama Cover,” “Sexiest Cover,” and “Most Delicious Cover.” The ten category winners have already been determined (alas, in fashion and beauty, Christopher Anderson‘s outstanding cover for New York Look was somehow bested by Peter Lindbergh‘s photo of Sarah Jessica Parker revisiting an ancient Sex and the City promo on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar), and now they’re duking it out in online voting for Cover of the Year. Check out the full slate of nominees and cast your vote for one of the finalists here. The winner will be announced on October 14 in New York City. As ridiculous as it may sound, our money’s on Madoff.

Dwell Publisher: ‘Closing Domino Was Not a Good Decision’

dwelloct09.jpgAs Condé Nast hunkers down for a McKinsey-style “optimization,” Michela O’Connor Abrams is critical of the publishing company’s decisions with regard to Domino, the young shelter magazine that was shuttered earlier this year. “I just thought that was tragic,” O’Connor Abrams, president and publisher of Dwell, told FishbowlNY editor Amanda Ernst in a recent interview. “There was an amazing brand with vitality, with all of the kinds of assets and the ability to be on many different platforms like Dwell. It clearly had a rabid base.” And the decision to bring in McKinsey? “Mystifying and troubling all at the same time,” said O’Connor Abrams. “I personally regard Condé Nast as probably one of the most envied and revered editorial houses in New York. I don’t know how you get a business model so wrong. Closing Domino was not a good decision.” She credits Dwell‘s endurance to a business model that relies less on advertising (and therefore on an artifically inflated subscriber base) and more on “charging the right fee to the reader,” which in the case of Dwell is now $5.99 per issue at the newsstand.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Former Domino Editor Launches Online-Only Design Magazine
  • Condé Nast to Fold Domino: March Issue Will Be Shelter Mag’s Last
  • Chronicling the Suffering of the Home/Design Magazine Industry
  • Kurt Andersen to Redefine the Good Life at Tomorrow’s Pratt Symposium

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    Ah, the good life. It ain’t what it used to be, but what does creative value mean in this, the 21st century? Author and Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen will address this very question tomorrow afternoon in Brooklyn, where Pratt Institute has assembled a outstanding group of innovative types for a syposium called “Redefining the Good Life.” Following Andersen’s keynote address, the audience will hear from speakers including architect Carlos Zapata, installation artist Jean Shin, environmentalist David de Rothschild, and Arun Chaudhary, who serves as President Obama‘s director of video field production. After what’s sure to be a rousing question and answer session, Andersen will sign copies of his new book Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America (Random House). If you’re in the New York area and already have plans, might we suggest resetting your calendar to attend? The symposium is free and open to the public, but reservations are required due to limited seating. RSVP ASAP by e-mailing or calling 718-399-4447, and tell them UnBeige sent you.

    Former UnBeige Editors Make Good, Release Books


    We feel like absolute louts for not having mentioned this earlier, but yesterday at the office, we saw a copy of Chronicle‘s new City Walks Architecture: New York sitting out, likely having just arrived, when we thought, “Hey, isn’t that the project Alissa was working on?” Lo and behold, it was the work of dearly departed UnBeige editor Alissa Walker. It’s been out for over a month now and we really should have told you about it sooner, as it’s a thing of beauty. From the skyscraper shaped box to the design of the individual booklets giving you tours through all of New York, along with Alissa’s great, fun writing and stellar photographs, it’s a thing you much purchase immediately, even if you live somewhere that maybe isn’t directly in the city proper, like Oklahoma or New Zealand. But if you can’t immediately leave work to go find a copy, we recommend you hit up Alissa’s site for this look at the whole amazing package. And so we don’t repeat this process of two-months too late and upset any other former editors, we’re telling you several days in advance that UnBeige 2.0 editor, the wonderful Eva Hagberg, will be releasing her book Dark Nostalgia next week. It takes a look at the practice of blending historic detail into modern interiors and it looks splendid. But we promise to give her book the full report once it’s out and we have it in our sweaty little hands. And before you ask, no, we current editors don’t have a book coming out just yet. For some reason publishers still haven’t understood the brilliance of Lamar Alexander Versus the Frog People. One day.