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Archives: October 2010

Documentary Chronicles Vik Muniz’s Artistic Adventures in World’s Largest Garbage Dump

“What I really want to do is change the lives of a group of people using the material they use everyday.” From the mouth of a another world-famous artist, this statement could come off as conceited, calculating, and delusional, but when uttered by Vik Muniz, it’s a matter-of-fact description of his next project: journeying to the world’s largest garbage dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to collaborate with the catadores that pick the recyclable materials from the mounds of trash. Waste Land, which opens today at New York’s Angelika Film Center, follows Muniz from his Brooklyn home base to his native Brazil and the Jardim Gramacho landfill. Immersing himself in the community of catadores, he finds a way to make work about work and learns the difference between garbage and junk.

Director Lucy Walker (Devil’s Playground, Blindsight) wanted to make a movie in a garbage dump since an eye-opening visit to New York’s Fresh Kills landfill during her grad student days at NYU, she explained (dressed in a trash bag frock of her own design) at the film’s premiere this week at the Paley Center for Media. Jardim Gramacho was one of few landfills where drug traffic was under control and the workers were being organized into a co-operative by a charismatic young leader. “We were all very nervous—there were so many things to be afraid of, from dengue fever to kidnapping—but we all wanted to go,” she said. Muniz, Walker, and co-producers Angus Aynsley and Peter Martin arrived in Rio (with kidnap insurance) in August 2007. Filming stretched over almost three years.

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Mad Men Gets Meta: Roger Sterling to Publish Memoir

Spotted by our sister blog, Galley Cat, the show Mad Men is further dipping its toe into reality, as well as cashing in thanks to a helpful subplot, with the upcoming release of the book Sterling’s Gold: Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man, a fictional memoir penned by the show’s fictional character, Roger Sterling. Galley reports that the book is to be 176-pages, priced at $16.95, and, to prove it’s an honest to goodness book, wrapped in a cloth cover. Will it sell? To that certain subset of rabid Man Men devotees, surely. But wherever there are aunts, uncles, parents who remember that one time you mentioned liking that show, or last minute gifts for people who work in anything close to the advertising business, it will sell like Sterling himself had put together the campaign for it. The only thing that really gets us about any of this silliness is the truly horrible cover. We’ll be cool with it if that wrap around the bottom turns out to be a removable insert used to move units, but if not, our eyes are going to scream every time we have to see this at the bookstore this holiday season.

Target Announces All-Star Return of 17 Collaborating Designers for Spring Sale

If you missed your chance to buy from a big name for fewer greenbacks during those periods when Target teamed with designers like Zac Posen, Thakoon Panichguls, and Tracy Feith, well you might just be in luck (provided you’re happy to wait in long lines and fight off rabid crowds who want the same as you). To celebrate the fifth year of their “Go International” campaign of collaborating with top notch fashioneers, they’ve announced “Design Collective,” a 34-piece collection of new dresses by 17 of their previous guest designers, including the two mentioned above as well as Tara Jarmon, Jonathan Saunders, and Alice Temperley. Styleite has a good look at the collections that have proceeded this “all-stars” release, which should kick off in mid-March and last only a month, which really means a matter of minutes after heaving masses of humanity empty each and every outlet’s shelves. An hour or two after that, you can probably find it all on eBay at a slight mark up.

Design Within Reach Moves Headquarters from San Francisco to Stamford, CT

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It’s almost hard to believe that it’s been less than a year since writer Jeff Chu took a hard look at Design Within Reach for Fast Company, exposing more publicly the near-shambles it had found itself in after its first decade of existence. Since then, the company got itself a new CEO, patched things up with some of the designers it had wronged, closed stores, launched a series of higher-profile-than-usual promotions, and tried bumping up the value of their stock. Now they’ve made perhaps the second biggest shift in their year of change (hiring John Edelman as the new guy in charge certainly has to be the first), is the company’s announcement that they’re packing up, leaving San Francisco, and making Stamford, Connecticut their new headquarters. They’ll be moving into an existing building in an area called Harbor Point, a section the city is apparently making a big push to revitalize. No doubt the less expensive rent will also help a company still climbing out of some of the holes it dug for itself in the past. Here’s a bit from the official word about the move:

“We chose Stamford due to its proximity to New York City, vibrant available workforce, and the opportunity to be part of the exhilarating renewal taking place in Stamford’s South End,” said the company’s Chief Operating Officer John McPhee. “We look forward to having our corporate offices located directly above the newest Design Within Reach Studio, both of which will be in the former Yale and Towne lock factory at Harbor Point.”

Fast Company Names New Creative Leadership

It’s all systems grow at Fast Company, which today announced a slate of new hires (remember those?). Taking over at the creative helm of the magazine, which just published its 150th issue (pictured), will be Florian Bachleda, who replaces outgoing art director Dean Markadakis, while Leslie dela Vega has been appointed photography director, replacing Meghan Hurley. Bachleda and dela Vega start at Fast Company on November 8. Other recent additions to the masthead include senior editor Nancy Cook from Newsweek and staff editor Emily Biuso from The New York Times Magazine.

A former president of the Society of Publication Designers, Bachleda served as creative director of titles including Latina and Vibe after honing his art directing chops at everywhere from Entertainment Weekly to McKinsey & Company. His own design firm, FB Design, has done work for clients including Condé Nast, Hearst, and The New York Times. Dela Vega comes to Fast Company from Essence, where she was director of photography. She previously spent three years as national photo editor for Time and served as deputy photo editor at Teen People. And all roads lead back to Vibe, where dela Vega was photo director alongside Bachleda: the duo’s June 2006 Busta Rhymes cover earned Best Celebrity Cover honors from the American Society of Magazine Editors. What design/business world figure(s) would you like to see get silenced via duct tape on a future Fast Company cover? (You know Philippe Starck would be into it.) We’re sure they welcome your suggestions.

Using Neuroscience to Explain Why You Hated the Gap Redesign


Remember all those many weeks ago (or, rather, around one and a half) when you were all up in arms over Gap‘s decision to redesign their logo, only to see that your anger made such a loud roar that the company immediately back-peddled and went back to the one you know and, well “love” is maybe too strong a word for it, so “the one you know and are kinda okay with because you’re used to it” probably works better here. While you disliked it considerably, and it was a red hot debate over just why that was on countless comment threads, we ran across this press release trying to explain what the redesign did to your brain to make you lash out. The company, NeuroFocus, which specializes in the slightly eerie sounding business of “neuromarketing,” put together a series of tests to figure out what was happening inside people’s grey matter to scientifically understand their reactions to it. We have no idea if the science is valid, but if you go in with the assumption that it is, it’s an interesting read, broken down into mostly-readable material for we mouth breathers who didn’t get PhDs in psychology (except for this writer, who got his online for just $59.95). Here’s one of the six points the company pulls out to explain why the new logo failed:

Sharp Edges Unsettle the Subconscious: “Forcing the brain to view a sharply-angled box behind the letter ‘p’ provokes what neuroscience calls an ‘avoidance response’. The hard line cuts into the rounded shape of the letter. We are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges — in nature, they can present a threat. Our so-called modern brains are actually 100,000 years old, and they retain this primordial reaction.”

Las Vegas Suburb Fights Off Planned Wayne Newton Museum

If you were left disheartened to learn that Las Vegas’ Liberace Museum has now closed, but felt that you could possibly continue on so long as you would be able to visit a Wayne Newton museum once it was finished building, well, we have some news for you that you’re probably not going to want to hear. This week, an advisory board in the Vegas suburb of Paradise, where Newton lives, recommended that the the singer’s request to have the property he’d picked out for the museum be turned down once it reaches the county commissioner. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the board’s issue over the project was the traffic that it would create in an area that is largely zoned for residential use (the museum would also be offering tours of Newton’s home, which would require bussing large amounts of visitors back and forth between the two places). While the board’s decision doesn’t mean that the museum won’t get built, it’s a large hurdle for Newton’s attorneys to now try to overcome. So for those of you so excited by the prospect of a museum dedicated to Mr. Newton, prepare to stay on the edge of your seat for a while.

Harry Potter Steals from Alexander McQueen, Hell’s Angels Feel He Stole from Them

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Although fashion designer Alexander McQueen passed away earlier this year, the company that bears his name continues on and, this week, has found itself in the middle of two debates. The first finds costume designer Jany Temime in some possibly embarrassing hot water for a dress she crafted for the upcoming latest installment of the Harry Potter films. The blog Lela London was the first to spot that the dress used in an apparent pivotal scene looks uncomfortably similar to one McQueen designed in 2008, from both its general pattern to its use of feathers. So far McQueen’s company has yet to (at least publicly) act on requesting or receiving an acknowledgment, apology, or compensation, but when the two pieces are put right next to each other, it’s easy to believe that one of those might be coming. Elsewhere, and less positive for the deceased designer’s company, the Hells Angeles motorcycle group has taken McQueen’s fashion house and retailer Saks to court over copyright infringement, claiming that a number of new items currently being sold that the two had their hands in designing look too similar to the “death-head mark” the Hell’s Angeles have used as something of their official branding. The online retailer Zappos is also receiving a meeting with the group’s attorneys, as they too have been selling the merchandise. The Globe and Mail has this great slideshow, comparing one agains the other, and like with the Harry Potter debacle, it’s fairly easy to understand who carries the weight in the argument.

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KFC Encourages World to Dress as Colonel Sanders for Halloween

It’s October 27. Do you know where your Halloween costume is? We suggest standing out from the Snooki-fied masses and so many makeshift Lady Gagas by donning a crisp white suit, string tie, and goatee whilst hugging a red-striped bucket to your chest (handy for storing candy). Smile, you’re a finger lickin’ good corporate icon! KFC has embarked on an extra tasty crispy campaign to encourage chicken lovers to dress up as Colonel Harland Sanders this Halloween. It’s all part of the company’s year-long celebration of its distinctively garbed founder. Don’t think of it free advertising for an $11 billion global corporation—think of it as your small contribution to our great fast food nation! “Colonel Sanders in his iconic white suit is one of the most enduring images of American history,” says John Cywinski, KFC’s chief marketing and food innovation officer. “As we mark the 120th anniversary of the Colonel’s birth, we’re calling on KFC fans to help celebrate this American icon by donning ‘his suit’ this Halloween.” Depending on your build and disposition, however, you may be mistaken for Boss Hog, Tom Wolfe, or Tommy Tune. One lucky would-be Colonel will win a lifetime supply of KFC sandwiches and “the chance to be outfitted in a more official Colonel’s suit for next year’s Halloween celebration” (are they implying that the winning suit will be somehow less than official?). Costumes will be judged on “creativity, likeness to Colonel Sanders, and relevancy to the brand.”

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