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Archives: June 2012

Ze Plane! Public Art Fund Rolls Out Paola Pivi Project

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Yup, it’s a plane, and it’s slowly turning somersaults all summer. This mesmerizing mechanical marvel, “How I Roll,” a new work by artist Paola Pivi, is the latest project of the Public Art Fund, which has installed the engineless six-seater in Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza on the corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York. It will be spinning slowly there through July 26.

Born in Milan and now based in Anchorage, Alaska, Pivi is fascinated with industrial machines, particularly when they are removed from their usual settings. Before getting rolling with the Piper Seneca, she created works the featured a tractor-trailer turned on its side and an upside-down helicopter. (The artist swears that she had no involvement with the beaching of the Costa Concordia earlier this year.) “‘How I Roll’ reminds me of a famous anecdote about the birth of modernism,” says Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund. “Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, and Fernand Léger are said to have visited the 1912 Paris Air Show together. Observing a propeller, Brancusi said, ‘Now that is what I call sculpture!’ Paola’s work suggests that the love affair between modernist artists and industrial design is still able to generate remarkable visual poetry.”

CreativeMornings Partners with RISD to Explore Intersection of Arts, Technology

Guzzle some creativity with your coffee by starting the day with CreativeMornings, a free breakfast lecture series for creative types. Founded in 2009 by New York-based designer and blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg, this “TED for the rest of us” takes place monthly in 29 cities around the globe, from Atlanta to Zurich. Throughout June, all CreativeMornings chapters are partnering with the Rhode Island School of Design to host events under a common theme: the intersection of arts and technology. “We’re honored to partner with RISD on this new effort to recognize the vital importance of art and design in the global economy,” says Eisenberg. “I am interested in the magic that happens when arts and technology come together.” Jessica Hische was a crowd-pleaser in Vancouver, and Rick Valicenti recently wowed ‘em in Chicago. Many chapters will convene tomorrow: San Francisco has nabbed Nathan Shedroff, who describes himself as an “Earth-based designer, educator, entrepreneur, author, and air-breather,” while Portland will hear from Nelson Lowry, winner of the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Production Design for his work on Fantastic Mr. Fox. Get the latest information on CreativeMorning around the globe and watch past talks at any time of day here.

Moleskine Plans IPO, Opens Pop-Up Shops

Pencil it in. The temporary Moleskine store at Milan’s Stazione Centrale. (Photo: Zetalab)

No matter how you pronounce it, Moleskine has big plans for its little notebooks. The Milan-based company, which affects a storied history but in fact was created by design-savvy publisher Francesco Francheschi in 1997 to revive the sleek jotters favored by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, has set its sights on an IPO. Private equity firm Syntegra Capital, which acquired a majority (68%) stake in Moleskine in 2006 and has watched annual revenues climb to more than $250 million, plans to file listing documents in early September with an eye to a market debut (on Milan’s Borsa) in the fourth quarter. And while Moleskine already distributes its growing product assortmenttote bags! pens! iPad cases! pralines!—through approximately 25,000 accounts worldwide, the company is testing the retail waters. This month marked the debut of two Moleskine pop-up shops. The sleek temporary stores bowed last week in train stations in Milan (pictured) and Rome.

Previously on UnBeige:
Beyond Notebooks: Moleskine Taps Designer Giulio Iacchetti to Expand Product Line
Moleskine Enters the Digital Age with Kindle Cover/Notebook Hybrid

In Brief: Pepsi Hires Chief Design Officer, John Gall Joins Abrams, the High Line Effect, Trendy Taxidermy

An installation view of “graphic Modern: USA, Italy, and Switzerland 1934–66,” on view through July 26 at the Fordham University at Lincoln Center gallery in New York.

• PepsiCo has named Mauro Porcini to the newly created role of chief design officer, a title he previously held at 3M. Porcini will be responsible for “infusing design thinking into PepsiCo’s organization and culture by globally managing design with a creative, innovative, and consumer-centered approach for PepsiCo’s brands.” In addition to beverages (Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana), he’ll be focusing on snack brands including Lay’s and Doritos. Before joining 3M in 2002, Porcini founded and owned (with Claudio Cecchetto) the design firm Wisemad SrL.

John Gall is heading to Abrams. He’ll start his new role as creative director for the Abrams adult list on Monday, June 25. Gall was previously with Alfred A. Knopf, where he was vice president and art director for Vintage/Anchor Books for 15 years. He is also currently adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and has his own eponymous studio, where he does freelance work for clients such as Nonesuch Records, FSG, New York, and Wired.

• The High Line effect is the new Bilbao effect! As cities around the world search their own backyards for abandoned railways, Charles Birnbaum of the Cultural Landscape Foundation takes a closer look at the High Line’s transformational triumph of preservation and design, “a big win for design ingenuity over the more commonplace tabula rasa approach that results in bulldozed sites and the eradication of cultural narratives.”
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Design Jobs: Wayfair, Hearst, McMurry

This week, Wayfair is looking for an interactive web designer, and Hearst is hiring an art coordinator for O, The Oprah Magazine. McMurry needs a senior art director, and the School of Visual Arts is on the hunt for a multimedia developer. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great design jobs on the UnBeige job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented UnBeige pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

Architect John Portman Gets His Close-Up in New Documentary

Back in the 1980s, architect and developer John Portman’s firm was slammed by the mushrooming S&L crisis. “I said to hell with this, I’m getting out of here,” he explains in Ben Loeterman’s new documentary John Portman: A Life of Building. Best known for revolutionizing modern hotel architecture (and the Hyatt brand) with soaring atria, Portman decided to head east—way east—and lined up some projects in Shanghai, only to watch as China suddenly coped with its own dose of chaos in the form of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Luckily, Portman is patient (his Marriott Marquis in Times Square opened in 1985—after a dozen years, three mayors, and countless delays), and his Shanghai Centre was the first of an ongoing series of ambitious projects in Asia. Today, at age 87, he’s something of a celebrity in China, where his name is far better known than it is in the United States. Loeterman’s documentary, now rolling out to public television stations across the country, helps American audiences catch up.

The film offers a glimpse into Portman’s life and work that is made mesmerizing by dramatic time-lapse footage that captures daylight washing over the facades and spaces of Portman-designed buildings from Atlanta to Beijing. Viewers learn about his formative trip to Brasila in 1961 and undergraduate encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright (his advice to a young Portman: “Go seek Emerson”) and how he rattled the American Institute of Architects by acting as both architect and developer, an idea that came to him at the age of 29, when he had opened an office but was struggling to get work. “I came to the conclusion that if I got the land and I was able to design the concept and able to get the financing, there was no damn question about who was going to be the architect,” he explains to students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
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ELLE Accessories Returns this Fall; Is Condé Nast out to Crush Carine Roitfeld’s New Magazine?

Two pieces of fresh magazine news, one spiked stiletto theme! First comes word from Hearst that ELLE will once again accent its flagship monthly with ELLE Accessories. “Accessories are fundamental to how ELLE covers fashion,” said ELLE editor-in-chief Robbie Myers in a statement issued today. “ELLE Accessories will bring our accessory-obsessed audience the latest trends, shopping, and news through the varied lenses of our editors.” The biannual magazine, launched in 2005 and shelved in 2008 after seven issues, relaunches this fall complete with a new, e-commerce-linked online accessories database. Look for ELLE Accessories on newsstands (real and virtual) beginning September 18. It will also be packaged with the October issue of ELLE in select markets.

Another imminent launch is being thwarted by the Condé Nast cabal, at least according to today’s New York Post. Former French Vogue editrix Carine Roitfeld‘s new biannual fashion magazine, CR, is slated to debut in September from Fashion Media Group (Visionaire, VMan), but don’t expect to see images lensed by the likes of Mario Testino, Craig McDean, David Sims, or Mert and Marcus. Jonathan Newhouse, Condé’s international chairman, has been busy reminding star photogs of their exclusive deals to shoot for his titles, including Vogue, W, Vanity Fair, and Allure. “Even those who aren’t bound contractually to Condé Nast have been discouraged from working with Roitfeld, fearing backlash from the publisher,” according to Page Six sources. Meanwhile, since announcing her next publishing venture, Roitfeld has been clear in her intention to start afresh rather than rely on old friends. “I’m in the middle of searching for new talents, and it’s so exciting and energizing,” she told WWD in April.

Zaha Hadid Made a Dame; Emma Hill, Sarah Burton, Lara Bohinc Also on ‘Queen’s Birthday Honors’ List

When you’re the Queen, every day is like your birthday, so when your big day (or at least the cross-your-fingers-that-it’s-sunny June Saturday on which your subjects celebrate it) is imminent, you don’t jot down a wish list and hope that someone has the good sense to order a sheet cake adorned with a frosted corgi or two. Instead, you summon your most trusted advisors (and/or corgis) and hash out your annual list of “birthday honors”—orders of chilvalry such as Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. All the more pressure if it’s a Jubilee year.

Near the top of this year’s list, released Saturday, is Zaha Hadid, who has been awarded the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to architecture. “It is a tremendous honor for me to receive this award. I would like to thank all my colleagues and clients for their hard work and support,” said Hadid in a statement issued today by her London-based firm. “I am delighted that architecture has been recognized in this way. My father went to the London School of Economics in the 1930s, and everything he learned at the time is why I have always leaned towards the UK.” Her projects in the UK include Evelyn Grace Academy in London, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, and, most recently, the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics. Also making this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honors list were Mulberry creative director Emma Hill (named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE), Sarah Burton, creative director of Alexander McQueen, who was selected as an Officer (OBE), and jewelry designer Lara Bohinc, who earned a Member (MBE) distinction.

Look Both Ways: Inside Debbie Millman’s Exhibition at Pop-Up Chicago Design Museum

(Photos courtesy Debbie Millman)

A gust of great design is blowing through the Windy City as the Chicago Design Museum welcomes visitors through June 30. Created by Mark Dudlik and Tanner Woodford, the 6,000-square-foot Humboldt Park pop-up—complete with a gift shop called “Ignorance & Ambition“—is part of Lost Creature, a non-profit that aims to bridge culture and creativity with community projects. The museum’s five concurrent exhibitions spotlight a range of design work, from hand-painted signage and IBM icons to Ed Fella’s spirited flyers and posters and the illustrated essays of Debbie Millman. The indefatigatable AIGA president emeritus, Design Matters host, and Sterling Brands honcho talked with us about the exhibit following last week’s opening bash.

How did you get involved with the Chicago Design Museum?
I met Tanner Woodford and Mark Dudlik when they were taking the Phoenix design scene by storm with their involvement in the Arizona Chapter of AIGA and with their creation of Phoenix Design Week. Their talent and entrepreneurship blew me away, and I sensed that they were on to something BIG. After the massive success of their pop-up Phoenix Design Museum, they moved onto Chicago. Tanner had been asking if he could show my work as part of the debut exhibit of the Chicago Design Museum and I thought I was dreaming. I have been riding their coattails ever since.

For those who aren’t familiar with your visual essays, what are they and how did you come to start making them?
Visual storytelling—the art of using language and images to convey a narrative account of real or fictional events—is something I’ve been fascinated by for as long as I can remember. I started creating visual essays in the early 1990s when I expanded from painting words to painting stories. My best friend, a painter and art dealer named Katharine Umsted, urged me to insure that when creating art with words, the quality of every illustration must be comparable to the quality of the writing. She helped me understand that neither discipline could overwhelm or dilute the impression of the other; both needed to be fully integrated. This helped me take each element of the essays with equal care and dedication. After a big exhibit at Long Island University in 1992, I all but abandoned my artwork to focus on my day job and a commercial career. My non-visual essays re-emerged when I started writing monologues for my podcast, Design Matters, beginning in 2005.
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Noguchi Table Sells for $2.9 Million, Eames Sculpture Fetches Record $459K

It’s a table! It’s a sculpture! Stop, you’re both right. A fossil marble table by Isamu Noguchi sold yesterday at Christie’s in New York for a stunning $2.88 million (including commission), a new world auction record for a piece of furniture by the artist and the third highest price ever achieved at auction for a Noguchi work. The low table was made in 1948-49 for Mr. and Mrs. Samuel C. Dretzin to furnish their new Sydney Katz-designed summer home in Chappaqua, New York, and remained in the family until yesterday. Christie’s estimated the work, “unquestionably the most important piece of Noguchi furniture ever to come to public sale,” at between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

It was also a good day for the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames. A 1943 sculpture by the collaborative couple sold for $458,500 to a European institution. “As with any creative partnership, it is difficult to segregate the contributions offered by the individual contributors,” notes the sale catalogue, “however the playfully serpentine outline of the structure is clearly related to the mobiles, sculptures, and graphics of Ray, and in particular to the covers that she designed for the magazine Art & Architecture that same year, 1943.” Made of painstakingly layered laminates, the biomorphic work was exhibited a year later at the Museum of Modern Art’s “Design for Use” exhibition.