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Archives: December 2010

Illustrator Jim Tierney Creates Inspired Cover for Poets & Writers

Will 2011 be the year you write that novel? Illustrate the would-be children’s book that has been rattling around your brain? Conquer the stack of unread periodicals teetering on your nightstand? Monetize your obsession into a screenplay and/or line of collectible dolls? Get inspired to tackle creative projects with the annual inspiration issue of Poets & Writers magazine, which has just hit newsstands. Following in the footsteps of last year’s cover designer, Chip Kidd (no pressure!), is up and comer Jim Tierney, a junior designer at Penguin. When presented with the broad theme of inspiration, he looked to the stars—and then aligned them. “The stars and astronomy has inspired people forever,” said Tierney in an interview with the magazine’s Kevin Larimer. “At the beginning people had no idea what was going on and they made up fabulous stories and Greek myths and all of this originated in nothing but people drawing lines to connect stars.” There’s also a more personal inspiration behind the colorful cover. “It reminds me of being at home, because I grew up on a farm where you can just look out at the stars for hours over the cornfields and whatnot,” Tierney said. “So that really resonated with me.”

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Federal Judge Allows Lawsuit to Move Forward in Spring Design vs. Barnes & Noble Over eReader Design

If you happened to receive one of those Nook devices as a gift this holiday season and have been enjoying the little book-reading gadget, know that what you’re holding in your hand is at the center of a big, ongoing legal battle and now a continued headache for its retailer and owner, Barnes & Noble. Beginning earlier in the year, the book chain was taken to court by Spring Design, who claimed that the retailer had stolen their designs for an eReader after the two companies had been in talks to collaborate on a device. After that collaboration didn’t wind up working out, B&N released the Nook and Spring released the Alex. Though the latter was released after the former, Spring saw a number of design similarities from the original concepts they’d brought to B&N. After a summer of fighting off the suit, trying to have it dropped by arguing that the design copyrights are too vague in the already crowded eReader market, the retailer was dealt a blow this week when a federal judge ruled that the case can and will move forward. Here’s a bit of Judge James Ware‘s statement:

“The court finds that plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to permit a jury to reasonably infer that defendant improperly used or disclosed at least some of plaintiff’s trade secrets information,” Ware wrote.

“There is significant factual dispute, however, as to whether plaintiff’s information had a substantial influence on the Nook’s design, or whether defendant independently developed all of the Nook’s features. Moreover, comparing the specific features of the Nook with plaintiff’s alleged trade secrets is a fact-intensive task best left to a jury.”

Adobe’s Quarterly Revenue Tops $1 Billion

What recession? Adobe recently announced record financial results. The software and technology powerhouse’s fourth-quarter revenue topped $1 billion (reaching $1.008 billion) for the first time in its 28-year history, a healthy 33% gain over the $757.3 million reported for the same period last year. Meanwhile, Adobe revenues for the 2010 year fiscal were similarly record-breaking, coming in at $3.800 billion compared to last year’s $2.946 billion. So what is the company doing with all that cash besides accelerating the plot for PDFs to take over the world? Well, there’s the Adobe Museum of Digital Media (AMDM), “committed exclusively to the exploration and preservation of digital media.” All that exploring and preserving takes place not in an actual museum but a virtual one, designed (sans doors) by architect Filippo Innocenti with Piero Frescobaldi. Click on over to check out the inaugural exhibition, Tony Oursler‘s trippy “Valley” (2010). Explains curator Tom Eccles of Oursler’s site-specific work, “As you explore the space, you’ll find 17 zones that give us the good, the bad, and the ugly of how we have explored technology in our time.” Next up in the AMDM: Mariko Mori and then John Maeda.

Critic Edward Rothstein’s Struggles with the ‘Identity Exhibition’

An interesting read by the NY Times critic Edward Rothstein yesterday about an age old problem in the museum industry that the writer calls “identity” but could possibly also be referred to as “perspective.” Taking two recent exhibition openings, one in Queens at the New York Hall of Science and another in Philadelphia with the newly opened President’s House, Rothstein sees that both set out to tell history but wound up revising it by omitting certain pieces of information or focusing too strongly on others. The critic sees this as something he calls ‘the identity museum’ or ‘identity exhibition,’ and serves as a response to the many empire-collects-from-other-cultures-to-demonstrate-their-worldly-might types of museums, and which, he explains, are “designed to affirm a particular group’s claims, outline its accomplishments, boost its pride and proclaim, ‘We must tell our own story!’” Of course with any telling of history, in any medium, it’s impossible to capture every angle and is a constant challenge within the museum industry. It’s a great read and if you find yourself wanting more after reading, know that your local library is likely filled with Benjamin and Foucault.

A Quick Morning News Segment on Droog in Las Vegas

A follow-up to Stephanie’s post from earlier this month about the Dutch design collaborative Droog setting up a new 2,500 sq. ft. shop in Las Vegas’ newest hotel, the Cosmopolitan. Designed by Marcel Schmalgemeijer, the photos of it look great. However, outside of seeing it in person, if you want to see the store at a higher frame rate, thus far your only option is this clip from Los Angeles’ KTLA, who ran a piece about it during a recent morning news show broadcast. As is par for the course with this sort of programing, the whole segment essentially boils down to the reporter asking “Hey, what’s this crazy thing?” but at least you get to see the shop a little more up close:

Despite Losing Sierra Club Support, Environmental Groups Continue to Fight Latest Christo Installation Project

Across the country, but continuing this early-winter’s theme of art controversies, the battle over the artist Christo‘s plans to assemble a new, massive installation along the Arkansas River in rural Colorado, called “Over the River,” continues to be heated. Per usual with the artist’s works, there’s the group who doesn’t want him touching their turf and there’s the other side who do. In this case, environmentalists have been attempting to push the project away, saying his desire to put up nearly 6 miles of fabric along the river will disrupt not just the natural beauty of the place, but nature as well. Nothing entirely new there, as that sort of push back is par for the course when it comes to his work. However, after the environmental protection group, the Sierra Club, got involved late this summer, saying that they were okay with Christo’s plans, the LA Times reports that there have been a series of infighting battles against the pro and con groups, with the con contingent now feeling like they’ve been abandoned by the most powerful organization they thought they’d have on their side to help swing the battle their way. The groups will continue to duke it out until this spring, when the Bureau of Land Management decides if the project will get the okay or not (you might recall that this summer they released Environmental Impact Statements about the project). In the interim, and also like usual, Christo is enjoying the whole, laborious process: “By discussing the work of art they become part of the work of art,” he said. “They make it more important.”

Calls for Removal of Smithsonian Head, Wayne Clough, Begin


As soon as the National Portrait Gallery controversy began, and particularly after details of the internal dissent were leaked, we knew it was only a matter of time before the calls to remove the Smithsonian‘s man in charge, Wayne Clough, would begin. And so has happened in the pages of the Washington Post this week, with the paper’s staff writer Philip Kennicott saying the Institution’s director made such poor decisions in handling the initial controversy, as well as the recent debacle over artist AA Bronson‘s desire to have his piece pulled from the Gallery as well, and helped reignite culture wars along the way, that proves he’s no longer fit to lead. Kennicott poses a strong argument, and one not at all unexpected given the current climate surrounding the organization. However, on the devil’s advocate side, one could argue that this has just been a slight bump on the road in Clough’s just-over two year-old career at the Smithsonian, which has been perhaps positively marked by his having to make tough administrative decisions to help keep the Institution and its various appendages financially afloat, from major cuts to revenue generators. While the National Portrait Gallery situation is indeed unfortunate, and left a lot of egg on a lot of faces, is it enough to completely kill Clough’s credibility and future there? We don’t have the answers, but like we said, we’d been expecting the questions for a while.

Andy Warhol’s Brother and Foundation/Museum Founder, John Warhola, Passes Away

The start of this winter has brought a lot of news surrounding Andy Warhol, from the foundation named after the famous artist pulling their funding from the Smithsonian to the long-time director of the museum in his name deciding to retire. Now some more news and on a much sadder note: it’s been released that Warhol’s brother, John Warhola, who helped found both the aforementioned institutions, passed away on Christmas Eve. John had raised his brother and even helped to pay for his college, then later, after the artist’s death, helped found the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and served as its vice president for more than two decades. Here’s a bit from a conversation the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had with Warhola’s son:

“My uncle was saying to my father, ‘I’m leaving you this responsibility, to make sure the foundation is run the right way and achieve what I want it to achieve,’” Donald Warhola, 47, of Cranberry, said. “My father was very diligent in his responsibilities. He was proud to be the vice president of the foundation, and he really took on the role of historian.”

…”My father was the source for who Andy Warhol was as a person and human being. He really enjoyed sharing information about Andy,” Warhola said.

Feeling Anti-Calendar? Welcome 2011 with The Open Daybook

Does the thought of a traditional calendar leave you feeling oppressed and anxious? Do you long for a highly creative way to keep track of passing days and in a more enduring format? Then toss that “Epic Sunsets 2011″ wall calendar and “Kittens! Kittens! Kittens!” desk diary in favor of The Open Daybook (Mark Batty Publisher), a new hardcover book of days that can function as a perpetual calendar, chunky desk planner, sketchbook, journal, or just a fun addition to your coffee table. Over the course of a year, editor David P. Earle gave 371 creative people—including Leanne Shapton, David Rakoff, Miranda July, and Tim Barber—24 hours to come up with a piece of art for a particular day of the year. Their contributions are artfully arranged on 365 pages that feature the month and day (in a range of fonts, languages, and formats) along with ample white space for your own jottings, doodles, or pressing engagements. “Curating this book was a bit like making a mix tape,” writes Earle in the book’s introduction. “I wanted each month to have a rhythm composed of similarities and differences….A wide variety of artists and styles seemed to be the best way to evoke the multiplicity of moods, impressions, and associations that make up the experience of a single year.” And with The Open Daybook by your side, there’s no telling what 2011 (or any year!) might bring. We’re already looking forward to May 19, which features Sara Strahan‘s photograph of legumes assembled into letters that spell “Today is an auspicious day for lentils.”

UK’s Design Council Launches Project to Combat Bike Theft

Despite all the hurdles this year, from becoming a semi-independent non-profit to their recent plans to join forces with the equally struggling Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the UK’s Design Council is already proving that these recent changes aren’t going to affect their getting quality design-based civic work done. Following their great, high-profile moves earlier this year with designs for safer pint glasses for bars and commissioning Ben de Lisi to design for them a better hospital gown, the Design Council is now looking how to combat bike theft in England. Joining up with a number of universities and government agencies, the organization is pushing forward on a project set up back in 2004 called the Bikeoff Research Initiative, which was established to promote safer biking and to curb theft. The first update is the Council’s launch of this survey, which they’re asking cyclists in the UK to fill out in hopes of getting an idea of how bike theft happens, where it happens, and from there they’ll be able to start thinking of ideas on how to stop it. Nice to see that, after a strong start in 2010, followed by some rough patches there in the middle, that the Design Council is ending the year on a strong note. Judging from earlier projects, we can’t wait to see what’s born out of it.