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Archives: June 2011

Quote of Note | Don Freeman

“I wanted the book to be like an interior design magazine, but with more pages and more images. Normally, a beautiful interior design story is only six pages, and you really don’t get enough. So I wanted 20 pages of these houses, and I also wanted really tight, detailed shots. There’s a lot of text in the book [written by Michael Owen Gotkin] and you can learn a lot by reading it, but that wasn’t an essential goal of mine. Through photography, I wanted to give people a perspective on these houses. Yes, you could visit them, and maybe you can’t, but you’ll never see them in the way that I photographed them. I shoot in natural light. I shoot the way the house looks. I don’t bring in massive amounts of equipment. I shot the whole book on negative film with long exposures. I painfully tried to create a sense of romance and nostalgia—and silence.”

-Photographer Don Freeman, speaking with us about his new book Artists’ Handmade Houses (Abrams), a collection of 13 homes handcrafted by artists and craftsmen including George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Wharton Esherick, and Russel Wright.

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Despite Gag Order, Details Emerge About Ai Weiwei’s Bail Requirements and Alleged Crimes


Following artist Ai Weiwei‘s release from a three-month detainment by Chinese authorities last week, details have slowly emerged about the stipulations of his freedom. It was understood that there was already some form of media gag order in place when reporters swarmed the artist upon his late night release. Usually outspoken, particularly at times against the government, Weiwei was tight lipped, saying not much more than “I can say I’m out. I’m on bail.” Reuters is now reporting that they have learned that the artist is under tight lock and key when it comes to speaking to the media. He is “not allowed to post anything on Twitter or accept interviews for a year.” Furthermore, they report that he is not allowed to travel outside of Beijing. And while he is apparently able to travel within China’s capital city, he must check in with authorities first, much like a parolee, letting them know where he’s going to be. As for the “financial crimes” the government eventually gave as the reason for his original detainment, the NY Times reports that “two tax bureau officials came to the door of his studio on Monday” bearing documents that demanded he pay roughly $2 million in unpaid taxes and fines. However, it appears that the detainment didn’t break Weiwei completely, as his visiting wife had once said during the one visit she was allowed during his imprisonment. The paper reports that he is refusing to sign the tax documents until is accountant and two of his other staff members are released from detainment. Furthermore, he later spoke to the Times by cell phone, saying he “did not agree with the figures contained in the documents, but he declined to elaborate.”

Designer Terence Conran Donates Millions to Help Design Museum Move Into Its New Building


Since 2008, when rumors first started swirling around, London’s Design Museum has been eager to move across town, into their planned Rem Koolhaas-rehabbed building, the former home of the Commonwealth Institute. Now it looks like they’ve received the money to do it. This week, the museum announced that designer-turned-millionaire-retailer, Terence Conran, had not only donated £7.5 million in cash (pdf), but “the value of the sale of the lease of the current Design Museum building at Shad Thames valued in the region of £10 million” as well. The cost for the move to the new building, which will give the museum more than three times its current space, as well as the required reconstruction efforts at the hands of a major architect, has been estimated at roughly £77 million, of which the museum now seems close to reaching, if not having reached already. However, as we reported when those rumors from three years ago were finally verified in 2009, it looks like they’ve now pushed the opening date for the new building up from 2013 to a now-planned 2014. Here’s a statement about Conran’s donation from the Design Museum’s director, Deyan Sudjic:

Terence Conran has transformed Britain. His contribution to the way we live, eat, and shop over six decades has been enormous. The gift to the Design Museum is a hugely generous investment in the future. By making our ambition to move to the former Commonwealth Institute much more achievable, he makes possible a project that will give the museum three times as much space as it has now. The new Design Museum will be the definitive voice of contemporary design, reinforcing Britain’s place as one of the world’s leading creative economies.

Brent Glass, Director of National Museum of American History, Announces Resignation

Big news this week at the Smithsonian, as Brent Glass, director of one of the Institution’s most popular destinations, the National Museum of American History, has announced that he will be stepping down as of July 10th. Glass took over as director nearly a decade ago, in 2002, after serving as the executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for 15 years. Under his command at the National Museum of American History, he oversaw a dozens upon dozens of new exhibitions and the $85 million renovation to the museum’s building, which was completed in late 2008, the largest and most extensive reconstruction effort to the museum to date. After Glass takes his leave, he plans to stay on with the Smithsonian as a senior advisor throughout the remainder of the year, after which it sounds at though he’ll be moving into the private sector for good. Here’s his statement:

It has been an honor and joy to further the Smithsonian mission for the past nine years by working to increase awareness of American history and national memory. I am enormously proud of the museum staff and their team efforts. We transformed the museum and created a new public square on the National Mall. We acquired new collections, created more than 50 exhibitions and hundreds of public programs, and launched innovative online projects. We have enjoyed record attendance, and visitors love the museum.

Now, after more than 35 years in government service, I am leaving in response to expanding opportunities to promote history education, historical literacy and public memory nationally and internationally.

We wonder: does this exit make Glass eligible for Wayne Clough‘s early retirement buyout bonus?

Quote of Note | Russell Flinchum

The new “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” stamp pane honors designers including Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss. (Photos: United States Postal Service)

Raymond Loewy’s prototype pencil sharpener continues its headlong progress towards becoming the most recognized industrial design never produced.”

-Design historian Russell Flinchum after today’s dedication ceremony for the new Forever Stamps commemorating 12 legendary American industrial designers. Flinchum, author of Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer: The Man in the Brown Suit (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Rizzoli, 1997) and American Design (MoMA Design, 2008), acted as consultant to the United States Postal Service on the Henry Dreyfuss stamp.

This Week on the Job Board: People Stylewatch, Newsweek, dELiA*s,

If you have a passion for fashion and marketing, People Stylewatch needs you. The magazine is looking for a designer to help create media kits, branded promotion pages, client mailings and materials for signature events. Creatives with top-notch communication and project management skills should apply here. Not your speed? Check out more art and design jobs below, as well as on

For more openings and employment news, follow The Job Post on Twitter @MBJobPost.

US Postal Service Issues ‘Pioneers of Industrial Design’ Stamps, Celebrates at Cooper-Hewitt

Design fans, philatelists, and design-loving philatelists, take note! Today the United States Postal Service issued its highly anticipated new “Pioneers of Industrial Design” stamps (now on sale at post offices nationwide) and celebrated with a dedication ceremony at—where else?—the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Available in a sheet of 12, the Forever stamps honor some of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers. The designing dozen consists of Norman Bel Geddes, Dave Chapman, Donald Deskey, Walter Dorwin Teague, Henry Dreyfuss, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Raymond Loewy, Peter Müller-Munk, Eliot Noyes, Gilbert Rohde, Greta von Nessen, and Russel Wright. Each stamp features the name of a designer along with a zippy photograph of one of his or her iconic streamlined creations.

“Encompassing everything from furniture and electric kitchen appliances to corporate office buildings and passenger trains, the work of these designers defined the look of modern America, and in doing, revolutionized the way we live and work,” said Dean Granholm, the Postal Service’s vice president of delivery and post office operations, at today’s ceremony, which was attended by the likes of Cooper-Hewitt director Bill Moggridge, designer Jessica Helfand, design champion Sylvia Harris, and art director Derry Noyes (daughter of Eliot, remembered here for his IBM Selectric), who worked with designer Margaret Bauer on the look of the stamps. Released just in time for affixing to any last-minute Independence Day cards, the stamps are arrayed in four rows of three, and the selvage (the part of the sheet that’s left after you’ve used all of the stamps) offers the opportunity to grab some scissors and create a breezy bonus sticker, as it features a photograph (at left) of the “Airflow” fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Who says stamps aren’t cool?

J. Paul Getty Museum Becomes ‘Google Goggles-Enabled’

If you were holding off on visiting the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles until you could hear an excited talking pig explain to you Adoration of the Magi with Saint Anthony Abbot, then clear your schedule because that day has finally arrived. Continuing their move into the art world following this past winter’s release of Art Project, Google this week announced a recently launched collaborative effort with the Getty, wherein the museum is now “Google Googles-enabled,” meaning that visitors can now use their mobile phones to take photos of the artwork, after which they’ll be sent to a dedicated page with information about that particular piece. Whatever happened to just a simple card hung near a painting with all the information about it? Well, then you couldn’t have a talking pig tell you all about it, could you?

Royal Institute of British Architects Battles Criticism After Hosting 9/11 Conspiracists


Staying in the UK for a bit longer after that last post, the Royal Institute of British Architects is continuing to clean some egg of its face this week after an incident that happened to drag Zaha Hadid‘s name into it, something we’re sure the architect is not at all pleased about. Building Design reports that the RIBA hosted a lecture last week by a group called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. You may have heard about the group before if you read architecture news at all, or happen to receive press releases about their work as we inexplicably do. Essentially, it’s a “9/11 was an inside job” group, led by American architect Richard Gage, who believes the World Trade Center towers could not have been felled by two mere airliners and therefore clearly the whole thing must have been set up by some vast, smoke filled room government conspiracy. BD reports that Gage and his companions were invited to talk about all of this at the RIBA by Craig Phillip Kiner, “an associate at Zaha Hadid Architects,” who later said his involvement with the group was “a personal matter” and was in no way related to Hadid. But now that the news is out and the RIBA is struggling to distance itself from hosting the event, we’re wondering how long Kiner will continue to be associated with his employer. According to BD’s report, roughly 230 people attended the event, wherein Gage, who makes a point to include that he is a member of the American Institute of Architects, much to their reported chagrin, asked in his speech:

Architects and engineers have willfully ignored the message that we’ve been speaking about for five years. When is the RIBA going to take this seriously?

If you’d like to spend the rest of the day on this subject, we recommend you Google “9/11 RIBA” and enjoy reading the rancor from both sides.

A Look Inside Peter Zumthor’s Serpentine Pavilion

This week will mark another sign that summer is official here for good: the opening of the Serpentine Pavilion in London’s Hyde Park. As you might recall, it was announced much earlier than usual, back in October, that 2009 Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor would be designing the 11th annual temporary structure. Unlike Jean Nouvel‘s from last year, “big batch of redness” as we’d come to call it, a sneak preview of architectural renderings back in early April showed a decidedly more reserved pavilion, an open air garden enclosed by concrete, angled walls. As Zumthor put it back in April, “…the concept for this year’s Pavilion is the hortus conclusus, a contemplative room, a garden within a garden.” Now that the structure is built and nearly ready for public consumption (or rather, public contemplation) when it opens this Friday, the media is beginning to get sneak previews, including the Telegraph, who assembled this video tour to accompany their very positive review of the new space: