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Archives: May 2010

In Brief: RIP Dennis Hopper, Louis Vuitton in London, Design Moves

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  • Director, actor, and artist Dennis Hopper died Saturday of complications from prostate cancer. He was 74. The 1969 film Easy Rider, directed and co-written by Hopper (with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern), “catapulted [Hopper] into the pantheon of countercultural celebrities that included John Lennon, Abbie Hoffman, and Timothy Leary,” wrote Peter Biskind in his 1998 book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And-Rock ‘n’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. A comprehensive, Julian Schnabel-curated survey of Hopper’s artistic career opens July 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.

  • While U.K. regulators deemed its craft-touting advertisements potentially misleading, Louis Vuitton busied itself with the launch festivities for its 16,000-square-foot, four-level London megastore. Designed by Peter Marino to be “the most luxurious Louis Vuitton store to date,” the New Bond Street maison features artworks by Gilbert & George and Takashi Murakami, a book store, an LED-studded glass staircase, and a second-floor VIP “apartment” (here a Koons, there a Basquiat). The Wallpaper* tour is almost as good as being there.
  • Costume jewelry king Kenneth Kay Lane, who makes a mean faux Schlumberger bangle, announced at a benefit last week that he is donating $100,000 to Pratt Institute. That will buy a lot of floss.
  • The Museum of Modern Art has found a worthy successor to Klaus Biesenbach in independent curator, author, and lecturer Sabine Breitwieser, who has been appointed chief curator of the Department of Media and Performance Art. Breitwieser, who from 1988 to 2007 served as founding director and curator of Vienna’s Generali Foundation, will begin her new position on October 4. “I’m thrilled to expand MoMA’s engagement in media and performance art and to enlarge the collection with significant new acquisitions in the coming years,” she said in a statement.
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    Brioni Taps Alessandro Dell’Acqua

    Alessandro n21.jpgAnd the great European carousel of fashion designers spins on! Joining Giles Deacon (Ungaro), Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen), Christophe Lemaire (Hermes), and Joanna Sykes (Aquascutum) on the new hires list is designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua, who Brioni has brought on to serve as creative director of its women’s line. Dell’Acqua parted ways with his namesake label last summer, when he couldn’t make it work with Cherry Grove, the company that acquired the brand and its trademarks in 2003. Earlier this year, he launched No. 21, a womenswear collection (named for his lucky number) that earned strong reviews at its Milan debut. The Brioni appointment is part of the Penne, Italy-based company’s plan to strengthen its womenswear collection, which currently represents only about 10% of total sales. “I believe our partnership with Alessandro will allow us to achieve our objectives and help to make the Brioni woman a style icon in the fame market,” Brioni president and CEO Andrea Perrone, told British Vogue. We’re not sure what the fame market is, but it probably involves cashmere suits in dusky neutrals—or musically-inclined high school students in luxe leg warmers.

    Quote of Note | Matteo Thun

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    Thun’s modular “Sconfine” lighting for Zumtobel

    “I design only missing items. Let’s say you ask me to design an office chair. I would investigate your brief and then probably tell you there are enough chairs and there is no reason to do a new one. Unless you have a brief that fills a necessity and improves the comfort of life.”

    -Architect and designer Matteo Thun

    Hermès Bids Adieu to Jean-Paul Gaultier

    gaultier.jpgHermès, the elegant grand-père of the luxury goods world, has long been in the habit of designating each new year with a whimsical theme (dance, the sea, Indian fantasies). As we approach the halfway mark in this, the year of “tales to be told,” we’re not liking this latest story one bit. Hermès is parting ways with Jean-Paul Gaultier, who has served as artistic director of women’s ready-to-wear since 2003, when he succeeded Martin Margiela. For the past 13 seasons, Gaultier has proven that he can channel his enfant terrible energy into more refined, worldly, and classic looks, all the while keeping his own haute couture and ready-to-wear lines bubbling with avant garde ideas (last up at the couture: Marie Antoinette goes to Mexico!). The spring 2011 Hermès ready-to-wear collection, to be shown in Paris this October, will be Gaultier’s last for the house, but Hermès will retain its 45% stake in the designer’s business. Meanwhile, Hermès is bringing aboard Christophe Lemaire to fill the artistic director post. Don’t be fooled by his candy-colored, Euro-layered knitwear for Lacoste, Lemaire has apprenticed with Christian Lacroix, Jean Patou, and Yves Saint Laurent. His own line, launched in 1991 and with a luxe basics vibe akin to that of Sweden’s Acne, provides a much better idea of what we can expect from him at Hermès.

    Seattle Art Museum Announces Layoffs, Pay Reductions and Two Week Closure

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    It seemed like everything had been coming up pretty rosy for the Seattle Art Museum following the rug being pulled out from under them back in 2008 when the now-defunct Washington Mutual and JP Morgan abandoned their shared new building, leaving them in the lurch for millions at a time when museums across the board were struggling. Either because of that news and/or strong exhibitions, the SAM was suddenly swarmed with visitors, they picked up a new director, Derrick Cartwright, and Nordstrom announced they were stepping in to fill up a healthy portion of their building’s available empty space. But while it seemed things were on the up and up, apparently the museum is still hurting, with heavy debt lingering and a decline from that initial boost of visitor popularity. They’ve just released a statement saying they’ll be cutting 15 staff members, reducing executives’ pay by 10% (Cartwright himself will be taking a larger reduction), and perhaps most alarming, will be closing their doors for two weeks next year, from January 31st to Feburary 13th. Here’s a bit about the news from Cartwright:

    “We are taking steps to remedy a tough situation. There is nothing more difficult about my role than saying goodbye to valued colleagues. The decision to reduce staff is especially hard since SAM has a talented workforce. Unfortunately, since personnel expenses represent a significant portion of our expense base, the only way to bring operating costs to sustainable levels is through staff reductions.”

    More Info on Barbra Streisand’s Design Book

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    Save for that quick post last month when we told you she would be the keynote at this year’s BookExpo, it had been almost a full year since we’d last thought about Barbra Steisand writing a book about architecture and design. But now here it is all over the place (thanks BookExpo), with the first peek at its cover (where Babs looks just slightly more comfortable than her very uneasy dog). The initial info has come out now, so we and you now know that it’ll be 288 pages, cost somewhere south of $60 depending on where you buy it, and has an official release date of November 16th of this year. And while we’d really rather not have to think about it again until then, she does score some points in this quote over at the NY TimesT blog for dropping Mies van der Rohe‘s name:

    Gayle King, the editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine, interviewed Streisand but was obviously outmatched by the diva’s aesthetic prowess. “When I think of a Tiffany lamp,” King said, “I think of bright colors.” “No,” replied Streisand, “you’re thinking of fake Tiffany lamps.” Burn! King went on to quote Oprah, who likes to say, “God is in the details.” “Ah,” Streisand chimed in, “But Mies van der Rohe said the devil is in the details.” They’re both right, of course, but Babs had the last word.

    Designer Sarah Burton Named New Creative Director of Alexander McQueen

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    Picking up the pieces and finding someone to steer the ship following the death of its founder Alexander McQueen earlier this year, the Gucci Group-owned McQueen label has selected the former designer’s second in command, Sarah Burton, to become its new Creative Director (PDF). Burton had worked with McQueen for a close to decade and a half, and has served as the label’s Head of Design since 2000. “The creation of modern beautifully crafted clothes was at the heart of Lee’s vision,” Burton said. “I intend to stay true to his legacy.” Here’s a bit:

    Commenting on this announcement, Jonathan Akeroyd, President and CEO of Alexander McQueen, said: “We are delighted that Sarah has agreed to take on the role of Creative Director. Having worked alongside Lee McQueen for more than 14 years, she has a deep understanding of his vision, which will allow the company to stay true to its core values. Sarah is extremely talented and under her creative leadership we are ready to enter a new phase in the brands history.”

    Robert Polet, President and CEO of Gucci Group, added: “As a business we remain absolutely committed to the Alexander McQueen company which has proven to have strong customer loyalty and has shown to be a resilient brand in the aftermath of the tragic loss of its founder. Sarah has real talent, a close understanding of the brand, and the vision necessary to take it forward. We will be giving full support to Sarah and the team in the coming years.”

    AOL Throws 25th Birthday Bash with Chuck Close, Launches ‘Project on Creativity’

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    Chuck Close and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong with artists selected to participate in AOL’s new Project on Creativity

    chuck-for-aol.jpgRare is the 25-year-old who can say that Chuck Close attended his or her birthday party (not to mention created works especially for the festivities), but then, AOL is no ordinary twentysomething. The indefatigable Internet company made Close the guest of honor last night as it celebrated its silver anniversary at the mesh-covered, SANAA-designed New Museum in New York City. The museum’s window-walled top floor was lined with a new series of portraits by Close, who AOL commissioned to aim his mega-Polaroid at innovators and creative visionaries including the Dalai Lama, director Gus Van Sant, artist Kara Walker, and himself (at right). Look for the photos to appear in a forthcoming AOL media campaign.

    The bash—where we spotted artist Will Cotton, Kate and Andy Spade, and the perpetually impeccable Glenn O’Brien, among many others jostling for drinks from gentleman bartenders in shiny silver suspenders—doubled as a launch party for AOL’s Project on Creativity. Conceptualized with Partners & Spade, the broad-based initiative will include collaborations between AOL and Close on exclusive content, a program that will award $25,000 scholarships to 25 young people in creative fields, and a conference focusing on creativity and technology. “I’m very excited to be collaborating with AOL on this project,” said Close. “Since Tim [Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO] joined the team, they have been rapidly evolving and intelligently investing in the global creative community.” One such investment was on display last night as AOL unveiled a new crop of 41 artworks—among them a “scribble scratch” scrabbled by Wolff Olins and photographer James Wojcik‘s mouthwatering strawberry—that will appear behind the company’s logo on the AOL homepage. Learn more about the artists and their artworks here.

    Previously on UnBeige:

  • Chuck Close, the Movie
  • Rebranded AOL Will Offer Something for Everyone, Period.
  • Who Designed the Identity for AOL’s Owl?
  • Your Sex and the City 2 Talking Point: Samantha Seduced by an Architect!

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    Rikard Spirit (Max Ryan), the architect who seduces Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) in Sex and the City 2

    Perhaps you’ve heard about a little film bounding into theaters nationwide today. It’s about a quartet of improbably diverse gal pals who live in New York and never wear the same outfit twice. Earlier this week, we donned some vintage Thierry Mugler and our most vertiginous heels for a preview screening of Sex and the City 2 (or, if you’re in Finland, Sinkkuelämää 2) and discovered a few tenuous links to the world of design. We’ll leave you to make up your own mind on the madcap costumes dreamed up by Patricia Field and her team, whose appetite for outsized, glitter-encrusted accessories and ’80s jewel tones knows no bounds, but we think SATC2 is worth seeing for the Tim Gunn cameo alone. In delivering his lone line, Gunn demonstrates the best comic timing in the film. We smell a supporting actor nomination.

    But here’s the real SATC2 talking point to pull out at the Memorial Day barbecue: when the girls find themselves in Abu Dhabi on a press junket, Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), who the sequel finds fending off menopause with the help of Suzanne Somers and fistfuls of synthetic hormones, is seduced by none other than a raffish architect! A dashing, grizzled-a-la-Richard-Branson figure roars up out of nowhere in the back of a jeep, dazzles the women, and then disappears over the dunes (which writer/director Michael Patrick King told us are the very same dunes that appeared in Lawrence of Arabia). He’s revealed to be one Rikard Spirit (Max Ryan), “a Danish architect” staying at the same hotel as the ladies. The film, which we found maddeningly short on exterior shots, doesn’t say any more about Spirit’s work, but a crude pun, sexual hijinks, and a plot-pivoting scuffle with the Abu Dhabi authorities all come courtesy of the architect, a design-minded deus ex machina.

    Remodelista Launches Architect/Designer Directory

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    If you want evidence of why the internet is great, look no further than Remodelista. In just under three years, our pals at the site have taken it from a relatively quiet start-up blog to an internationally recognized go-to for anyone interested in design, architecture and all places in between (and of course, at one point they also managed to become Gwyneth Paltrow‘s BFFs). Now they’re flexing their muscles again with this week’s launch of their own Architect/Designer Directory. Broken into regions across the country, they’ll be highlighting firms in each, going above all those traditional listings you’ve likely run across on a fairly regular basis by filtering and finding the best of the best (and if you’re familiar with Remodelista, you know their filtering abilities can often range from pretty amazing to downright otherworldly). This wing of their site just launched, so it’s a heavy on the coasts they know best (namely around the San Francisco and New York metropolitan areas) and just starting up in sections like their “Chicago & Midwest” category, but if history is any judge, we’re expecting great things.

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