Archives: July 2010
Monsters and monkeys and paper dolls, oh my! The August issue of Creative Review includes all of these things and more, in what the magazine is billing as its “Summer Bumper Book o’ Fun.” The fun starts at the front cover, which features surfing monsters from the mind of Stefan Bucher. Inside, the designer chats about obsessional behavior, the magic of chance, and responsibility in design. The CR funsters are also hosting an online treasure hunt to find five of Bucher’s monsters secreted about their website. Back on the page, there are games and puzzles galore, including connect the dots, instructions for a round of design studio I-Spy, and the aforementioned sneaky simians hiding in one of Johanna Basford‘s impossibly intricate trees. Soak up the more serious stuff (including a photo essay on the wild wild Midwest and an interview with novelist Will Self) before cutting out the festive mask on the back cover and staging elaborate, design-based scenarios for the young creative couple of paper dolls (pictured) created by Elliot Thoburn of Peepshow. For those who definition of fun does not include defacing imported periodicals, the issue includes URLs for downloading and printing the interactive bits.
Sure, UnBeige is published online, but we actually compose all of our posts on a pair of candy apple red Olivetti typewriters before turning them over to Eero, our technology-savvy web monkey, who somehow beams them into cyberspace (he also handles all of our links). Now Eero tells us that UnBeige and the rest of the mediabistro.com blog family have joined the future with mobile-optimized sites that are easily browsable on your iPhone, Blackberry, or Palm. Should you routinely carry one of these devices on your person, you need only type unbeige.com into the browser to be automatically redirected to our mobile-friendly page. The mobile optimizations are in beta, notes Eero, so if you have any problems reading UnBeige on the go, please drop us an e-mail.
Prepare your viewing devices for a forthcoming documentary about Walter Dorwin Teague (1883-1960), the pioneering American industrial designer who shaped everything from early Kodak cameras and Texaco’s art deco gas stations to the Boeing Stratocruiser (we’ve posted below a vintage news report concerning the introduction of the “flying hotel”) and the 1939 World’s Fair. “Teague’s inspirational life is a daring story of the American dream,” says Jason Morris, an assistant professor of industrial design at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He is now at work on the hour-long feature, which will tell the story of Teague’s life, his rise to prominence, his mid-life transformation, and the stories behind some of his greatest designs. And there’s no shortage of industrial design intrigue! Adds Morris, “This story will be told chronologically through the decoding of a mysterious drawing that Teague did in 1926.”
An installation view of “In The Mind,” Geoff McFetridge’s 2008 solo exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park Pavilion
“All my commercial work is inspired by my artwork. There is a constant interplay between work I do for clients and for myself. I am also finding that what seems to be happening is that my work is tapping into a universal idea that applies to all things. The universal idea seems to put the exhaustive design practice to shame. Sometimes I guiltily think of those images of Saul Bass filling a room with sketches for a logo design. Teams of designers slaving over the creation of a single image. It’s not like that for me.”
TEDSPACE. Renderings of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects)
I.M. Pei‘s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is getting a new neighbor: the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The new facility, situated on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston beside the JFK Library, will be designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects. It will house interactive, educational programs about American government with a focus on how cool the Senate is. The institute has confirmed that the attractions will incude a mock-up of the Senate chamber (photo-op alert!), but we’re crossing our fingers for an exhibit devoted to the saucy colloquialisms and favorite desserts of LBJ or an animated look at a day in the life of the majority whip (Cue Devo soundtrack).
Renderings unveiled yesterday (pictured) offer a preview of the 40,000-square-foot space, designed by Viñoly to work in harmony with its Pei-designed neighbor. The ground level of white precast concrete will have punched window openings, while a seamless, two-story cladding will house the model Senate chamber. According to Viñoly, the cladding will be visually separated from the single-story volume by a ribbon skylight, expanding the lobby and greeting visitors with a naturally illuminated reception area. The site will be surrounded by oodles of outdoor public space, including a lawn bordered by triangular volumes that will both define the building’s entrance and geometrically connect the institute to the JFK Library. Groundbreaking on the project is slated for this fall.
The high-profile discussion about Vanity Fair‘s already much talked about “World Architecture Survey” continues. Following Blair Kamin‘s write up about it in the Tribune, where he complained that not only did the survey neglect to include any green buildings, one of the writers involved had been quoted saying that green architecture just wasn’t up to snuff yet, which got Kamin’s goat. Architect magazine responded by conducting their own survey, putting together the “Top Green Buildings Since 1980″ and the “Top Green Buildings Since 2000.” This survey made the critic Christopher Hawthorne feel the need to reply to all of this, saying perhaps the most important thing to remember with any “best of” list: that it doesn’t mean anything. He also says a lot of other good things, adding that it’s just too simple a method of looking at architecture in general, but that’s the take home, should you have found yourself steamed about any of this. Last, while Hawthorne was putting together his response, Vanity Fair‘s Matt Pressman was publishing a response to Architect‘s response. Beyond repeatedly calling Architect magazine “Architecture, their response quickly labels everyone who disagreed with their survey as “greenies” (in what feels very much like a derogatory sense) and then goes on to say (loosely paraphrasing here) that they only saw a couple nominations of the greenies’ buildings on their survey, so how great could they be. Oh, except they do like Renzo Piano and have written about him in the past, so he’s cool. Personally, we’re with Hawthorne in not caring a lick about “Top #” lists of any kind, but what an odd response from Vanity Fair. Though maybe they’re acting smart and just trying to stoke the flames to keep cashing in on all this recent attention.
Last year, Smart Design president Tom Dair was asking for advice on what to say to Michelle Obama when he met her at the annual National Design Awards lunch. Just a nominated-guest in 2009, this year he was back at the event, but this time as a winner. And not only did he meet Mrs. Obama, but she even quoted him during her speech. Dair gives a great, personal narrative on what the whole event was like, from starting the day at the Teen Design Event to hanging around with Obama and Tim Gunn that afternoon. Here’s a bit:
Around lunch time we headed over to the White House for the reception. As part of the program and a special treat for me, we had our picture taken with Mrs. Obama. In meeting her, one immediately realizes how beautiful and gracious she really is…and somewhat taller than I expected.
After the photo op, it was over to the East Room for Ms Obama’s welcome and opening remarks. She praised the design profession for its ability to push boundaries or even ignore them all together; as she put it, “to pursue your vision of the world as it can and as it should be.” Now I’m feeling pretty good about being a designer but it was about to get better.
While Frank Gehry is in Santa Barbara showing off ceramics, a piece of his history on the other side of the continent is facing extinction. One of his boyhood homes, at 15 Beverley Street in Toronto, is facing demolition to make way for a new residential building, reports the site blogTO. From 1929 until 1947, Gehry (then known by his given name, Ephraim Goldberg) lived in the non-descript townhome with his grandmother. And while the house had been given heritage status several years ago, it doesn’t have any real “historical site”-like protection. So the developers who want to demolish and build an admittedly attractive structure there have been working with the city to see that it happens. Currently, it looks like a fairly sure thing, but it should be more clear after August 17th when the city council meets and the house’s future is discussed. So unless you happen to be in Toronto or plan to visit soon, we suggest you head over to blogTO to look at their photos of the house and what it may soon be replaced with.
Did we ever tell you about the time we discovered a work by Robert Ryman at a tag sale in Cheboygan? Turns out it was just a blank white canvas, but hey, we only paid $3 (and that included a saltwater-bloated copy of Farewell to Manzanar), so no harm done. But another bargain hunter refuses to give up on his quest to prove that the 65 glass negatives he bought at a Fresno garage sale in 2000 are in fact the early work of famed photographer Ansel Adams, who died in 1984. Retired building painter Rick Norsigian (who we suspect is an Antiques Roadshow fan) has spent the past decade trying to authenticate the negatives, which include Adams-eque shots of Yosemite National Park. His attorney now claims that “a team of experts” has studied the negatives and concluded “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the photos were Adams’ early work, believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 fire at his Yosemite studio. Specialists in Adams’ work were not among the empanelled experts, and the photograher’s heirs remain skeptical. “It’s an unfortunate fraud,” said Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, in an interview with Reuters. “It’s very distressing.” And yet:
The shots are of places Adams frequented and photographed. Several shots contain people identified as Adams associates. Adams taught at the Pasadena Art Center in the early 1940s, which would account for the negatives being in Los Angeles. The negatives are the size Adams used in the 1920s and 30s and several have charred edges, possibly indicating the 1937 fire.
But analysis of handwriting on the envelopes encasing the negatives and of the cloud formations depicted in the shots has only, well, clouded the debate. For example, the annotations, thought to be in the hand of Adams’ wife (who grew up in Yosemite), are rife with misspellings. Matthew Adams, grandson of Ansel, has suggested carbon dating the charring and the envelopes. Meanwhile, a Beverly Hills art appraiser has estimated the value of the negatives (if authentic) at $200 million, based on current sales of Adams’ prints and the potential for selling never-seen-before prints. Norsigian purchased them for $45, having bargained the seller down from his original asking price of $70. He’s now selling prints from the negatives starting at $1,500 each.
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