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Archives: December 2011

The Five Most Inspiring Art and Design Books of 2011

In a year studded with beautiful new volumes by and about artists and designers ranging from Alexander McQueen to Andrea Zittel, these are the five that we found most inspiring.

Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci (Bauer and Dean) by Ralph Rucci, with photographs by Baldomero Fernandez
Fashion designer and artist Ralph Rucci has been betrayed by key members of the fashion press, who should have made him a household name years ago, but critics, curators, and connoisseurs have picked up the slack. This just-published volume is a fascinating follow-up to Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness (Yale University Press), published in 2007 to accompany the Museum at FIT’s exhibition of the designer’s work. Like Rucci’s exquisite creations, Autobiography of a Fashion Designer rewards patience and close-looking, with pages of lush color photos and descriptions of the couture techniques used (and in some cases pioneered) in the Chado Ralph Rucci atelier. Inspired by Sol LeWitt’s Autobiography (1980), a kind of exhaustive visual index of the artist’s life, this book also tells the stories behind 20 objects Rucci has collected in his lifetime. It’s a fitting tribute to an uncompromising designer with the soul of artist.

Alexander Girard by Todd Oldham and Kiera Coffee (Ammo Books)
Treat yourself to the amazing Alexander Girard mega-monograph by designer Todd Oldham and writer Kiera Coffee. The product of nearly four years of research and, at 672 pages, an innovative scheme of printing and binding, this book is a must for any design lover. Oldham was granted exclusive permission to sift through the fastidiously kept archives of Girard (1907-1993), who is best known for his folk art-infused textiles for Herman Miller but also designed everything from buildings to typography. “I’d estimate that 90 percent of the work in the book hasn’t been seen,” Oldham told us earlier this year. “Wait ‘til you see the stuff from his early design career, in the ‘20s.” And take a closer look at the image credits: many of the archival photos were taken by frequent Girard collaborator Charles Eames.
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Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

MAC Debuts Daphne Guinness Makeup Collection

Can’t make it to the Museum at FIT’s brilliant Daphne Guinness exhibition before it closes next Saturday? Peek into the style icon’s colorful imagination with her new limited-edition collection for MAC Cosmetics. Now available nationwide, the 24-piece line includes chilly-toned lipsticks, eye shadow, and nail polish named for some of Guinness’s earthy favorites (Japanese spring, azalea blossom, seasoned plum) and out-of-this-world fascinations (red dwarf, borealis, nebula).

After MAC approached Guinness about a collaboration, she hunkered down with art supplies in her room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “I had parchment papers spread all over the floor and all sorts of different powders and watercolors that I was mixing together, and my finished pieces were drying on the balcony,” says Guinness, who points to Old Masters such as Titian and Francisco de Zurbarán as a perennial source of inspiration. “And I might say that I’m absolutely fascinated by butterflies and outer space. Blimey, I have pictures from the Hubble space telescope and some of those are just extraordinary, and if you look very closely at a butterfly’s wings or even perhaps a jellyfish, you’ll see there are similarities.” Among her favorite items from the MAC collection is Hyperion, a frosty blue-green nail polish. Explains Guinness, “It resembles this almost grey, steely light that is pure Whistler from the 1890s, when he still had fog in the paintings.”

Looking for even bolder makeup? Next up for MAC is a collection created with rara avis Iris Apfel. Stock up on Toco Toucan (fuschia) nail polish and Early Bird (bright coral) eyeshadow beginning Thursday.

Watch This: A Stop-Motion Recap of 2011

We can’t help but viewing 2011 in terms of artistic losses—from Lucian Freud and Cy Twombly [sigh!] to John Chamberlain and Helen Frankenthaler—and don’t even get us started on Hitch. This perspective makes our own 2011 highlight reel about as uplifting as the annual Academy Awards death montage, and so we defer to Mac Premo and Oliver Jeffers of The Daily. The video artists have whipped up this two-minute video recap of the biggest stories of 2011, from the January shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to the end of the Iraq War, all in a whimsical stop-motion style that recalls the interstitial programs of Sesame Street. Happy New Year!

There’s an App for That: World War II Posters

Rare is the design buff who can resist a good World War II poster (full disclosure: we’ve lost entire weekends to History Channel marathons in which grainy Hitler footage featured prominently), from the classic “Loose Lips Sink Ships” variety to the less catchy call to “Save waste fats for explosives.” A number of U.S. libraries have made their WWII poster collections available online—we like that of Northwestern’s Government and Geographic Information and Data Services Department—but the Brits have gone us one better. The Imperial War Museums (IWM) recently launched the first in a series of apps devoted to Great British Posters from the Second World War. Developed by Artfinder and available as a free download at the App Store, it brings 30 posters from the massive IWM collection to your iPhone or iPad, where you can scroll, pinch, and zoom to your heart’s content on graphical implorations to Keep Calm and Carry On, grow your own vegetables, and walk short distances. The app includes the stories behind each poster and details on its designer.

Got an app we should know about? Drop us a line at

Ambitious St. Louis Arch Redevelopment Project Gets Scaled Back

It’s now been more than a year since landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh‘s was awarded the project to redevelop the area around St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, and more than ten months since the project suddenly doubled in estimated costs. Now, like with many ambitious building efforts, reality seems to slowly be creeping back in. Despite having just landed a $20 million grant from the government to help the redevelopment, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the organizers have already had to start scaling back the project’s grand scope, as well as starting to consider what they can feasibly have done by 2015, when the Arch celebrates its 50th anniversary. Perhaps most telling is that the paper reports the project has raised just $57 million thus far, which includes that $20 million grant. Given that the effort was expected to cost somewhere in the $600 million range, that’s a lot of ground to make up. The new, scaled back plans are expected to be released sometime in January.

This Week on the Job Board: Hemispheres Magazine, Imagination, Modea

This week, Ink is seeking an assistant art director for Hemispheres magazine, while Imagination is hiring an art director. Modea also needs an art director in its Chicago office, and Melcher Media is looking to hire a few good freelance graphic designer. Get the details on these gigs and more below, and find additional just-posted openings on

For more job listings, go to the Mediabistro job board, and to post a job, visit our employer page. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

Color Wars: AkzoNobel Proposes Own ‘Color of the Year’ for 2012

Watch out, Tangerine Tango, there’s a new hue angling for the title of Color of the Year. Global paints and coatings giant AkzoNobel has crowned “Terracotta Rose” as the it-color of 2012. The Dutch multinational, which also does a brisk business in specialty chemicals, has selected the “blushing, lively, juicy red” for its versatility. “The radiant shade is the most important color for 2012 as it is at once whimsical and serious, dynamic and soft, perfect for a tiny accent or a feature wall,” notes AkzoNobel’s latest Color Futures booklet (downloadable as a PDF here), which highlights key trends that emerge from the company’s annual Color Convention. “A color that can be many things to many people reminds us not to look for simple solutions, but to open our minds to new ideas that are waiting to be discovered.” The selection of a warm and robust shade as AkzoNobel’s Color of the Year comes after a string of pale tones, including “a light, airy, citrus yellow” that helped to make 2011 more “illuminating, cheering, refreshing, and uplifting.”

Previously on UnBeige: Pantone Names ‘Tangerine Tango’ 2012 Color of the Year

Behold, the New Homepage!

‘Tis the season for shiny new things, and among the gifts under the tree at this year was a redesigned homepage, part of an ongoing effort to spruce up the company (which keeps the lights on here at UnBeige) in both the online and offline worlds. The homepage features a fresh header and logo as well as mega dropdown menus and a search box. “Previous to rolling out the new design, there were ten navigation points, and now, four, which happen to be, not accidentally, the four core areas of our expertise,” explains creative director Skipper Chong Warson. “The left-hand sidebar also went away and the site became fixed-width.” Some additional tweaks and fixes are underway, but the creative team has already begun work on phase two of the project, a makeover of the content stream and site-wide sidebars. Warson took time away from optimizing mega dropdown menus to answer our questions about the redesign.

If you had to describe the new homepage in three adjectives, what would they be?
We’re not done yet, but in terms of what we’re aspiring to throughout the process: succinct, current, and compelling.

What were the priorities in redesigning the mb homepage?
There were many, to be sure—fixes for consistency, meeting modern needs, organization of content, branding, etc.—but really it’s about focus, focus, focus. Mediabistro doesn’t lack for content or product offerings but where we’re really concentrating our ongoing efforts is on clarity of message; one of the many ways that visual design excels, taking a large pile of information and helping people with different levels of acquaintance and experience make sense of it.

With any change, in life and in design, there’s always stress and some period of adjustment. People are going to come to the site and say, “Where’s community? Where’s the freelance area? Where’s this? Where’s that?” Which is why search was so important to this equation. There’s a lot of stuff that went on behind the scenes to make the search work—the hinting, the logic, the styling.
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Andrew Geller Passes Away, Ivanka Trump Accused of Theft, and More…

We hope you had a nice long holiday weekend, but now it seems time to get back to normal (or at least a slower version of normal until things really get back to cooking next week). To help you adjust, here’s some miscellany to catch you back up on what’s been going on of late:

Ivanka Trump was likely saved some negative buzz by having a controversy pop up right before the weekend. Designer Derek Lam has accused Trump of stealing the design for one of his wedge shoes for her own line of wedges, issuing a cease-and-desist in the process. The designer says it’s a flat out copy, but Trump has fired back, arguing that the style has been used across brands for years and isn’t Lam’s sole (puns!) creation. “There is nothing iconic about the appearance of the Lam sandal,” a Trump spokesperson said in a statement. Now it’s time for the lawyers to duke it out.

On a sad note, the famous architect who helped popularize modernism and prefabricated housing, Andrew Geller, passed away on Christmas Day, reportedly of kidney failure. He was 87. The NY Times obituary is a good summary of Mr. Geller’s storied career, but if you have the time, we highly recommend reading Alastair Gordon‘s touching piece about the life and work of his close friend.

The battle between Federal Emergency Management Agency and the University of Iowa over buildings that were destroyed during a 2008 flood (including a depressingly now-unusable Steven Holl structure), continues unabated. The university wants to use FEMA’s rebuilding funds to move their art museum to higher ground, both to keep the art safe and to allow them to get said art insured, whereas FEMA only wants to provide funding to rehab the damaged museum (which would render insurance on the art collection impossible). In this latest round, the university has provided FEMA with more information and now is preparing itself for another long wait to hear back.

Finally, Frank Lloyd Wright‘s Fallingwater has now entered the iPad age, with the launch of its own app, offering visitors or architecture fans from afar, to tour the house and learn all its many facts and figures. Here’s the promo video:

Wim Wenders Planning 3D Documentary About Architecture

Like Werner Herzog before him, Wim Wenders is proving there legitimately is some artistic value in 3D films, with the release of his latest, the dance documentary, Pina. In it, he chronicles the life and work of dancer Pina Bausch, who passed away two years ago, just before production began. In a recent interview with the Documentary Channel‘s DocBlog, Wenders extolls the virtues of shooting nonfiction in 3D, and near the end, spills the beans on his next project: a 3D documentary about architecture. Here’s a bit:

I have actually already started a long-term project, another documentary in 3D. It will take several years, but it’s going to be about architecture. I have always wanted to do a film about architecture, and I have a lot of architect friends. But that is another subject I never really knew how to approach with film. I realized through PINA that architecture is something that could have a real affinity to this medium. We started shooting already, but it’s at the very, very beginning. That’s going to be my next documentary project in 3D, but I would definitely also do a narrative film in the future in 3D as well.