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Archives: March 2011

New Museum and Partners Announce ‘Festival of Ideas for the New City’

Where can you attend a conference keynoted by architect Rem Koolhaas, sample locally brewed kombucha under a colorful canopy, take a flashlight tour of metal plates engraved by Italian masters, see Chinatown by bike, check out a new mural by Mary Heilmann, and leave with a rooftop garden ready for planting? The Festival of Ideas for the New City, a collaborative initiative announced today by the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the hundreds of downtown New York organizations that have signed on to participate.

“Three years ago, when we moved to the Bowery, we witnessed a dramatic transformation of this neighborhood,” said New Museum director Lisa Phillips at a press briefing held this morning at the institution’s SANAA-designed home (which somehow manages to look even cooler beneath a steady drizzle). Conversations between Museum staffers and neighboring organizations including the Architectural League, the Cooper Union, the Drawing Center, and Storefront for Art and Architecture soon developed into the two-year planning process for a festival that would, according to Phillips, “harness the power of the creative community to reimagine the city.”

Artists, writers, architects, engineers, designers, urban farmers, and the public are invited to take part in the free festival, which will run from May 4 through May 8 in locations around downtown Manhattan. Things kick off with a three-day slate of symposia, lectures, and workshops exploring “big ideas that change the course of a city.” In addition to Koolhaas, the organizers have secured computer scientist Jaron Lanier and Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, to give keynote addresses. Other panelists include architect Elizabeth Diller, Urban Genome Project founder Pedro Reyes, and Pennsylvania politician John Fetterman, who was recently dubbed “Mayor of Rust” by The New York Times Magazine. “Interestingly enough, he’ll be driving here, which I think is kind of great,” said New Museum curator Richard Flood at today’s press briefing.
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Back on Bravo: Jeff Lewis, Project Runway Alum Chris March, Brad Goreski

Andy Cohen and his burgeoning stable of “Bravo-lebrities” are going strong. Fresh from last night’s Top Chef finale, the cable network has announced that its fall 2011 season will include 11 new series, many of which feature faces that are familiar from Bravo shows past. Hilarious house-flipper Jeff Lewis will be back, this time channeling his design sense and deadpan wit into Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis. The docu-series follows Lewis and his assistant, Jenni Pulos, as they move into someone else’s home, redesign the space, and—wait for it—judge the owner’s flaws. And fear not, Flipping Out fans, housekeeper Zoila will be along for the ride. Another charismatic Bravo veteran, Project Runway alum Chris March, gets his close-up in the new series Mad Fashion. According to Bravo, each episode follows March and “his eccentric crew of fashion misfits” as they create designs for clients including actress Jennifer Coolidge (in need of the perfect look to wear on a Mardi Gras parade float) and Met Gala-bound model Chrissy Teigen. Another series to watch for stars dapper stylist Brad Goreski, formerly the right hand man of Rachel Zoe, as he goes into business for himself. The show’s tentative title? It’s a Brad Brad World. Meanwhile, we’re crossing our fingers that Million Dollar Listing‘s ubercharismatic Josh Flagg is the next breakout Bravo-lebrity to get his own series on the network.

Designer Edwin Schlossberg Appointed Into Commission of Fine Arts

A new face is to be appearing soon around the Commission of Fine Arts office. This past Tuesday, President Obama nominated designer Edwin Schlossberg to join the Commission, which oversees the development of public buildings, statues, fountains, and monuments in Washington DC. Schlossberg will be joining other Commission members like Earl Powell, the long-time director of the National Gallery of Art, landscape scholar Diana Balmori, and architecture writer and critic Witold Rybzynski. He’ll also be able to brag that he’s now joined the lofty ranks of former esteemed members like Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. Here’s the White House’s official bio for him:

Edwin Schlossberg is the founder and principal of ESI Design, an internationally recognized firm that designs interactive environments for learning and communicating. Mr. Schlossberg specializes in integrated experiential museums and retail and large scale cultural facilities including the recently designed Shanghai Corporate Pavilion for the World Expo in Shanghai. He has written more than ten published works, has had numerous one man art shows and his work is in the collections of many major museums. He teaches and lectures widely including at Columbia University. He is on several non profit boards and founded the partnership desigNYC that matches designers and community organizations in need of pro-bono support. He graduated from the Columbia University with a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Science and Literature.

For further time spent with Schlossberg, here he is on Core77‘s Broadcast last year, talking to Steven Heller, and here’s his 2001 appearance on Charlie Rose.

Artist Ai Weiwei to Leave China, Set Up Shop in Berlin


After a tumultuous couple of years that included multiple beatings by government officials and the recent destruction of his studio in Shanghai, it looks as though Ai Weiwei has plans to take a break for a while from his native China.ArtForum reports that the artist will be relocating to Berlin soon. It will be on a temporary basis, perhaps similar to the early-’80s through the early-’90s when he lived in New York, but based on the relationship he’s had recently with his own country, how soon he’ll feel welcomed back is anyone’s guess. Here’s a bit

According to an additional report in the Berliner Zeitung, Ai will be setting up his space inside four halls measuring a total of 16,000 square-feet in the former AEG premises. There, he plans to open an exhibition on April 29, during the upcoming Gallery Weekend event. Ai has recently had trouble showing work in China. A retrospective planned for the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing’s 798 artist district was canceled, due to political pressure. His newly built studio in Shanghai was destroyed last January. “It’s true that the possibilities for artistic expression are very small in China,” said Ai. “But I’m not planning to emigrate to Germany. China is the place I’m most familiar with, and, in the end, I’m a Chinese citizen. I will do my best to improve the working conditions there.”

A Push to Join the App Store Lingers Behind Apple Design Awards

While most awards are given out in celebration of a person or firm’s work, thereby boosting their profile (and more subtly, often to increase the awards-givers notoriety as well), Apple has taken something of a new route by using it to help push developers into joining their still-relatively new sales outlet. For the company’s upcoming Apple Design Awards, a rule was put in place saying that, for Mac OS X (the operating system software used by Apple on desktops and laptops), only applications that are available in the company’s Mac App Store will be considered for an award. So if you’re designing software that only sits on the shelves at the Apple Store or Best Buy, or can be ordered online but not through the App Store, you’re out of luck if you were hoping to win an award. As Arts Technica puts it, this is better than last year when the company didn’t even have a category for products made for OS X, but it’s still a clever push to get developers to join in doing things the Apple way.

Maurice Sendak Inks Deal for New Picture Book

Maurice Sendak turns 83 this June, but don’t expect him to go gently into the monster-filled night. He’s got a few wild rumpuses left in him. The Caldecott-winning author of classic children’s books such as Where the Wild Things Are has reached an agreement with HarperCollins to publish the first book illustrated and written by Sendak since Outside Over There in 1981, according to the deal database maintained by Publishers Marketplace. The new picture book, which began its life as an animated segment for Sesame Street that aired in the early 1970s, is Bumble-Ardy. It tells the tale of Bumble, a mischievous pig who has reached the age of nine without ever having had a birthday party. He takes matters into his own hands (well, cloven hooves) and invites all of his friends to a masquerade party that quickly gets out of hand. According to the description on Amazon’s pre-order page, Sendak “once again explores the exuberance of young children and the unshakable love between parent (in this case, an aunt) and child.” Or in this case, talking piglet. “As a child, I felt that books were holy objects to be caressed, rapturously sniffed, and devotedly provided for,” said Sendak in accepting the Hans Christian Andersen Award (for excellence in illustration of children’s books) in Bologna, Italy in 1970. “I gave my life to them. I still do. I continue to do what I did as a child: dream of books, make books, and collect books.” Bumble-Ardy will be published by HarperCollins in September.

Polaroid’s ‘European Collection’ Spared from Auction, Heads to Vienna Gallery


Now that Polaroid is all but a licensing company and a paycheck and strange eyeglasses outlet for Lady Gaga, the scramble to secure the archives of the real former company still continues. Last year you’ll recall that some of Polaroid’s archival collection went to auction last year, netting several million, while another chunk was donated to MIT. Now the WestLicht gallery in Vienna has announced that it has received roughly 4,400 images taken by 800 artists and photographers in what’s been referred to as Polaroid’s “European Collection.” This particular assembly of materials had been laying dormant in the Swiss Musee de l’Elysee and was set to possibly be up for another auction until the gallery stepped in. They collaborated with the Impossible Project, an organization created to help keep Polaroid film alive, receiving the collection for an undisclosed amount. No word on exactly what’s included or which artists are represented, but the gallery is planning to put together an exhibition to show some of it this summer. This is what we’re looking forward to catching a glimpse of in particular:

The eye catcher of the collection are the 1.400 large format Polaroids (20×24 inch). These images were taken with a special custom made camera and film material not available on the market. Czech photographer Jan Hnizdo, chief operator of Polaroid, travelled to selected photographers and artists with this camera.

The Art Newspaper Releases Annual Museum Visitor Rankings

Back in early January, and to no one’s surprise, it was announced that the Louvre had once again bested the competition and retained its title as “World’s Most Popular Museum.” Now the rest of the figures have come out, thanks to the just-released annual breakdown of visitor numbers by The Art Newspaper (pdf). The Louvre, it turns out, was ahead of the British Museum by nearly three million visitors, which isn’t very surprising at all, as that’s now been happening for years, but it’s always interesting none the less. Besides the total visitor count, the Newspaper includes a bevy of other categories, from the Top 30 Exhibitions (Japan won four of the top five slots) and the Contemporary Top Ten (Maria Abramovic‘s run at the MoMA took the prize, despite having much fewer than that same museum’s Tim Burton retrospective, but had a higher daily visitor count). In short, reading through the rankings is an annual treat, definitely one of the best ways to kill an hour or so early on a Wednesday morning. Here’s the top ten, with their total visitors numbers:

1. Louvre 8,500,000

2. British Museum 5,842,138

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art 5,216,988

4. Tate Modern 5,061,172

5. National Gallery (London) 4,954,914

6. National Gallery of Art 4,775,114

7. Museum of Modern Art 3,131,238

8. Centre Pompidou 3,130,000

9. National Museum of Korea 3,067,909

10. Musee d’Orsay 2,985,510

Mark Your Calendar: Four NYC Design Events

So many design events, so little time. Here are four that we’re particularly excited about:

  • Fashion, new media, and entrepreneurship come together at the AFINGO Fashion Forum, an all-day confab that takes place this Friday, April 1, at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Things kick off with a panel on fashion innovation featuring founders of creative retail ventures such as Warby Parker, Groupon, and Moda Operandi, the brilliant buy-straight-from-the-runway concept launched last month by cofounders Aslaug Magnusdottir and Lauren Santo Domingo. Later, attendees will hear from fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, who is also among the backers of the contemporary art flash sale site, Exhibition A.

  • What comes after postmodern architecture? Rafael Viñoly has a few ideas. Join the architect and Julie Iovine, executive editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, on Tuesday, April 5, as they discuss the present and future of architecture in New York at the Museum of the City of New York. Mention UnBeige and get discounted ($6) tickets. Call 917-492-3395 or e-mail to reserve your place.

  • The AIGA awards gala has been reborn as “Bright Lights,” a one-of-a-kind event to support the design profession. On Thursday, April 7, AIGA president Debbie Millman and all your favorite design stars (including Milton Glaser, Carin Goldberg, Michael Bierut, and Bill Moggridge) will be on hand to celebrate the newest crop of AIGA MedalistsSteve Frykholm, John Maeda, and Jennifer Morla—as well as AIGA Corporate Leadership Awardees Method and Tiffany & Co. Tickets are going fast. Purchase yours here.
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  • Home Depot’s Stealthy or Accidental Roll Out of Their New Logo

    Fairly quietly floating around Twitter late today was this photo of a possible new logo for Home Depot, spotted on a self-service checkout kiosk screen. We’ve hunted around and seen no mention that the company has announced a planned re-brand, so is this the quietest roll-out of all time, perhaps gun shy after what happened to companies like Gap? Regional logo market testing (we believe the photo was taken in New York)? Or an accidental glitch that updated the image before the company could get around to unveiling it? We’ll leave it up to you to decide your opinion of it, so comment away.

    The only thing that raises a small, suspicious flag in our minds is that the photo was taken by one Gavin Becker. As his personal site says, he’s the Executive Director of Digital Innovation & Strategy at the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. So should we also be wondering if this is some sort of viral-y experiment?

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