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Archives: December 2009

Yves Behar, Robert Fabricant to Keynote Greener Gadgets Conference


Feeling guilty that the crop of new gizmos you received as holiday gifts means junking the old ones? Get thee to Greener Gadgets! Now gearing up for its third incarnation, the conference explores sustainable alternatives for the electronics we use daily, including those sleek portable devices that are to blame for the charger thickets choking your electrical outlets. The 2010 Greener Gadgets conference will take place on Friday, February 25 in New York City, and the organizers are now putting the finishing touches on the schedule. Among the confirmed speakers are keynoters Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject, and Robert Fabricant, vice president of creative for frog design. Other confirmed presenters include Treehugger’s Jaymi Heimbuch, Dwell senior editor Sarah Rich, and Jeff Omelchuck, founder of the Green Electronics Council and director of EPEAT, the global green certification program for electronics. Rounding out the schedule is a session that will feature the top entries in the Greener Gadgets design competition, which is accepting design-savvy and sustainable submissions until next Thursday.

US News Ranks ‘Curator’ as One of the Best Careers for 2010


If you’ve been following museum news at all in 2009 (especially here on UnBeige), you’d probably say the top theme has been that it hasn’t been very stable to work in the museum industry lately. Between layoffs, hiring freezes, and whole museums shutting their doors completely, one would say that the year wasn’t so kindly to museum employees across the board. So it came with some surprise to learn that maybe that assumption wasn’t 100% correct, at least if you take US News & World Report‘s “America’s Best Careers 2010″ on its word, with its inclusion of museum curator among its top picks in the Creative and Service category. They predict that there will be thousands of new openings within the next few years, despite the blow suffered this year. We’re still not entirely convinced, but hey, here’s hoping for the best, right? Here’s a bit:

The number of curators is expected to rise by 23 percent, well above the average rate for all careers. Between 2008 and 2018, there will be 2,700 new positions added. However, some museums have struggled in the recession, which puts additional pressure on those who take these jobs. Competition for curatorial positions may be steep. Those who don’t rise to the top may seek related work as museum technicians, archivists, or researchers.

Really Philip Kennicott? Daniel Libeskind’s ROM Addition is the Worst Architecture of the Decade?


Over to the east of we here in Chicago, Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post has released his picks for the best architecture of the decade. It’s your standard fare, with things like Frank Gehry‘s Disney Hall and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. But it’s his one selection at the very end of his story, with his pick for the worst of the decade, that is apt to get the most attention. He’s selected Daniel Libeskind‘s addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, calling it both ugly and useless. There’s nothing really too new there either, as the structure received mixed reviews from the very beginning. But being the absolute worst of the decade? Has Kennicott travelled anywhere outside of his own home? Seems like you could walk a block in any direction in any major city in the US and find architecture worse than how bad he thinks Libeskind’s is. Sure, all those awful, quickly built, unsold condos we’re now forced to live with weren’t made by a starchitect, but come on. In any case, Libeskind will always have Conde Nast‘s Traveler on his side. Well, them and art students who make pipe bombs.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Selected as Chicagoans of the Year (for Obvious Reasons)


The Chicago Tribune has released their annual Chicagoans of the Year picks and Blair Kamin has, of course, picked Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the architecture category. Seems like a total no brainer, given that the firm continues to be one of the most predominant firms in the business, particularly when that business is building big. And although it doesn’t open until next week, so technically 2010, SOM’s creating the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Dubai, certainly must have locked in their spot for the win. To remind you of what a monumental structure they’ve built, here’s a clip of a wandering around in a gigantic photo recently taken of the Burj:

Kamin also mentions SOM’s involvement in designing buildings for the unsuccessful 2016 Olympics bid (which the critic wasn’t too thrilled with back when the plans were still relevant). Should you want more SOM, we also remind you <a href=""

Marian Bantjes, David Rockwell Among TED 2010 Speakers

bantjes_rockwell.jpgWhen a four-day conference is structured around a dozen nouns—from action and boldness to simplicity and wisdom—you know it’s going to be good. Such is TED2010, the annual conference that began as a technology, entertainment, and design (hence, TED) confab and 25 years later has become a World Economic Forum of the mind. Creativity is king and talks are 18-minute revelations. The theme of this year’s conference, which kicks off on February 9 in Long Beach, California, is “What the world needs now”—not so much love, sweet love, as “core ideas that will drive our quest for a better future.” Thus, there are twelve main sessions, each devoted to one big idea. And, oh what a speaker line-up!

Typographic savant Marian Bantjes will speak during the Imagination session, which comes just after the one on Boldness headlined by Bill Gates. There is also time for Play, in a session featuring multi-tasking design mind David Rockwell, comedian Sarah Silverman, playwright Eve Ensler, and songstress Natalie Merchant. And that’s just Friday! Also taking the TED stage in February will be David Byrne (Invention), Blue Hill chef Dan Barber (Discovery), interface designer John Underkoffler (Breakthrough), and writer/activist Elie Wiesel (Wisdom), whose talk with precede that of onlne performance artist Ze Frank. Worlds collide at the TED Conference. We’ll let Bantjes deliver the bad news: “Can you attend? Well, no….unfortunately,” she wrote recently on her website. “Even at $6,000 a pop, it’s been sold out for months! But in about six months, I think, they’ll post videos from the conference.” In the meantime, get inspired by 587 past TED talks, available for viewing here.

Recently on UnBeige:

  • Jamie Oliver Wins $100K TED Prize
  • Wanted: Ace Graphic Designer

    nice_hand.jpgWhen last we journeyed to Las Vegas, we spent most of our time inspecting the well-textured and jumbo-scaled interiors of the Wynn Encore, which is also home to a steakhouse that celebrates the corpulent characters brought to life by Fernando Botero (they peer out at you from multiple chins as if to recommend another order of the truffle macaroni and cheese). However, the city is apparently best known for its games of chance, and if you’re ready to gamble at graphic design in Sin City, we’ve got a deal for you. Vegas-based Wendoh Media, publisher of local glossy 944, is gearing up to launch a weekly publication called Vegas Seven, and they’re on the hunt for an ace graphic designer. Stack your deck with “strong knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and experience in editorial page layout” as well as “attention to detail and the ability to work on strict weekly deadlines is imperative.” No jokers.

    Have you got what it takes to create a winning editorial design? Shuffle up and deal your resume for this graphic designer, Vegas Seven job or try your luck at other design, art, and photo positions on the Mediabistro job board.

    Brooklyn Museum Thief Admits to Crimes


    Following up on a story from early June, when we reported that former Brooklyn Museum payroll manager Dwight Newton was arrested for theft, another in a string of people who had stolen heaps of money from already-suffering museums, it looks like Mr. Newton wound up having either a very lousy holiday weekend or maybe was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Just before Christmas, Newton confessed to his crimes and plead guilty to having stolen around $620,000 from the museum, wiring himself check after check for more than three years, according to the NY Daily News. Now that he’s plead guilty, here’s what he’s up for:

    Under the plea agreement, Newton must repay the museum every penny he stole. He agreed to sell a time share he owns in Barbados to make good on $77,000 in criminal forfeiture owed to the government.

    He faces 63 months in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for wire fraud when he’s sentenced in April by Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson.

    A Year Later Chicago Architecture Foundation Still on the Hunt for a New Place to Live


    Back in October of 2008, we told you that the Chicago Architecture Foundation was hurt by the economic downfall (which of course would get much, much worse in the coming months) but was still trying to move forward in securing a new space for itself. It seemed like they had some good momentum going in their quest for a big new facility of their own, to be ready to move into by the time their lease expired on their current Michigan Avenue location, but here we are more than a year out and they’re still hunting. Not too much has changed in the interim, save for a few particular buildings and areas they’re taking a look at, all a part of a multi-year plan to evaluate their options. Fortunately, the president of the organization, Lynn Osmond, says they hope to make a decision in the next three months. And that decision, according to the Chicago Tribune, might include just staying put and revising the space they’re in now, which would make all of our excited speculation over this past year completely moot.

    2009, A Year of Winners and Anti-Modern Haters


    The amount of year/decade-end lists has reached ridiculous proportions and so we’re considering staying off the internet until about mid-March when all of this ends. But for now, since there seems little else to read, we recommend a good old fashion, completely objective re-cap. The Independent has put together this list of everyone who won the big architecture prizes in ’09, from Peter Zumthor‘s surprise Pritzker win to Richard Rodgers sticking it to Prince Charles by taking home the Stirling Prize for this Maggie’s Centre building in London. It’s a good look back at who was golden this year in the business of building. And speaking of Prince Charles and 2009 officially becoming the year of anti-modernism, we think this letter to the Financial Times by Warren Ser about his distaste for a new building by Herzog & de Meuron says more about ’09 than any year-end list possibly could. Here’s from the beginning:

    Sir, As a full-time resident, born and raised in Miami Beach, I am often offended at new buildings that scream for my attention. Celebrity developers and architects exploit construction opportunities to express their overblown egos and vacuous polemics.

    Pretty much says everything about this year in just a couple of sentences, right?

    Seattle Art Museum Saved by Nordstrom Coming in as New Tenant


    Earlier this year, as banks were failing left and right and damaging museums in the process, the Seattle Art Museum was hurt particularly hard when Washington Mutual, a tenant in their expensive new building, died a quick, painful death. JP Morgan, who took over WaMu’s one or two remaining assets, decided not to stay in the building, leaving the museum desperate to find new renters. Back in April, they were fortunate to find Russell Investments, who wound up moving into a portion of the vacant space, but not enough to cover the entire loss. But now it appears that all will be nearly whole again, as the retailer Nordstrom is preparing to sign a lease to take over a huge section of the building:

    The Nordstrom lease will make up about 75 percent of the money the museum lost when Washington Mutual moved out after the bank collapsed. WaMu had been paying the museum $5.8 million a year.

    Looks like the roller coaster of 2009 for the Seattle Art Museum, which started in early January and is just (potentially) ending now, wound up turning out okay. They were certainly one of the lucky ones in all of this awfulness this year. Elsewhere, places like the Fresno Metropolitan Museum are finding that things didn’t fare as well for them.