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Archives: January 2013

Metropolitan Museum Breaks Ground on New Plaza, Fountains

(Rendering by OLIN)

Change is afoot along the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s four-block-long outdoor plaza (fear not, the crowd-pleasing front steps will remain just as they are). Last renovated four decades ago with an eye to vehicular access, the plaza is undergoing a $65 million transformation masterminded by an OLIN team led by partner Dennis McGlade. The new outdoor plaza will open to the public in the fall of 2014 as “The David H. Koch Plaza,” announced the museum at last week’s groundbreaking (a symbolic affair, postponed by Hurricane Sandy, as excavaction got underway in October). Koch, a museum trustee, donated the entire project budget.

Among the upgrades are improved museum access, including additional seating options on either side of the grand staircase and opening up a variety of pedestrian routes by replacing existing pavement with granite paving. Then there are the fountains: it’s out with the door-impeding long ones and in with contemporary circle-in-a-square versions. Flanked by long stone benches, the new granite fountains will flow year-round thanks to freeze-fighting recycled steam. Fluidity Design Consultants promises “glassy water streams” that will be individually size-controlled and programmed to present a wide variety of programmable patterns. Visitors that can tear themselves away from the sure-to-be-mesmerizing water features can frolic among some 100 newly planted trees, including allées of large Little Leaf Linden trees, to be pruned in the form of two Palais Royal-style aerial hedges. All of this will be cleverly illuminated by a new lighting scheme developed by L’Observatoire International.

Friday Photo: Studio 54 Memories for Sale

In 1977, all of the special people spent Halloween night at Studio 54 to celebrate Liza Minnelli‘s buzzy Broadway turn in The Act. Oscar Abolafia snapped this photo of a group of post-show revelers that included Andy Warhol (clutching a Playbill), Diana Vreeland, and Steve Rubell. The following year, Vreeland, then in the Costume Institute phase of her legendary career, joined Rubell to celebrate his 35th birthday and followed up with a thank you note that rather mysteriously enthused about his “adorable children.” The note and photo are among the Studio 54 memorabilia that will be auctioned tomorrow by Palm Beach Modern Auctions. In addition to photos from Rubell’s personal collection (including some Warhol Polaroids and the artist’s bronze dollar sign sculpture, estimated to fetch $30,000 to $50,000), there are V.I.P. drink tickets, party invitations, and a guestbook from the famed nightclub. The auction house has also studded the sale with some glam design pieces by the likes of Paul Evans, Vladimir Kagan, and Milo Baughman, whose sleek 1970s sectional comes with a revolving cocktail table: drink up and boogie down.

See and Buy Dasha Zhukova’s Design Picks

Among Zhukova’s picks are Sebastian Wrong’s “Logger Head” table light and a miniature “Therapeutic Toy” elephant by Renate Müller.

“Design really thrives when it pushes boundaries,” says Dasha Zhukova, founder of the Moscow-based Garage Center for Contemporary Culture. And while she adores edgy furniture, such as Jonathan Muecke‘s primordial carbon fiber and epoxy chair, as a self-described couch potato, she’s also a sucker for a comfortable sofa. Clever and cozy coexist in the 20 unique and limited edition design objects Zhukova has selected for Artsy, the online art hub that recently underwent a hasty rebranding after its URL encountered snafus related to tensions in Syria (the country hosts the .sy domain).

“This collection comprises pieces by cutting-edge designers who are experimenting with new materials and manufacturing processes,” says Zhukova, who is an investor in Artsy. “I chose objects that are accessible and functional on one hand, yet conceptually challenging on the other.” All of the works, drawn from leading galleries such as Victor Hunt and R 20th Century, are available for purchase directly from the site. Prices top out at $10,000–a sum that will get you Front Design’s mesmerizing “Surface Tension Lamp” (below), which generates its own ever-changing bulb made of a soap bubble.

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Betsey Johnson

Fashion force Fern Mallis was back on stage at New York’s 92nd Street Y last night for a chat with the irrepressible Betsey Johnson. The designer, clad in a black tee that proclaimed her a “rocker,” shredded leggings, wedge sneakers, and a hot pink tutu that she would later shimmy out of to get comfortable, bounded on stage with a signature cartwheel and concluded the evening by showering Mallis, her old friend, in rose petals. “That was good I think,” she said of their fizzy dialogue before skipping off to greet fans. Here’s ten fun facts that emerged from the conversation:

10. She spends $20,000 a year on hair extensions. “It costs 5,000 a pop to look this cheap and trashy,” she said.

9. She made her first garment at age four. “I still have that apron. The print is so great. It has little Scottie dogs on it.”

8. She dropped out of Pratt Institute after one year to pursue…cheerleading. “Pratt was a bitch. It was a killer year. I didn’t have time to do anything…well, I had time to eat. I think I gained 100 pounds. But we didn’t have time to sleep. I had to leave and cheerlead [at Syracuse University].”

7. As a guest editor at Mademoiselle, she traveled to London (and met Margaret Thatcher). “I came back [from London] and wanted to be an American Mary Quant. I connected with that fashion–primitive, basic, almost flat-patterned, primal, kindergarten kind of clothing.”

6. At least one First Lady has worn her clothes.Jackie Kennedy came in [to mod NYC boutique Paraphernalia] and bought 12 or 13 of these satin-backed crepe bush shirts. [She was pictured wearing one on the] cover of Life, tromping around in Cambodia.”
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Inside the Mind of Lola Montes Schnabel

When asked about her creative influences, artist and filmmaker Lola Montes Schnabel doesn’t hesitate, reeling off a list of 22 names that ranges from Niki Logis (Schnabel’s professor at Cooper Union, where she earned a BFA in 2008), Brancusi, and Maya Deren to Victor Hugo, Azzadine Alaïa, and, last but not least, Julian Schnabel, her father. The younger Schnabel is continuing the family tradition of multimedia multitasking with stunning results. This evening she’ll debut her most recent paintings–including “The Melting Pot” (2012), the watercolor pictured at left–at the opening of “Within Reach,” an exhibition at Southampton, New York-based Tripoli Gallery‘s Manhattan pop-up space. Schnabel recently took time to answer our questions about her latest series of “glimpses into the struggling subconscious” and the year ahead.

Does your new series of paintings have a particular theme or subject matter?
Yes, they are about limitations, capturing the boundlessness and the infinite spirit in all things that were here before humankind. These are landscapes that are similar to the womb.

Have you seeing your work in other media, particularly film, influence or shape your approach to painting?
Film and any form of poetry has an impact on my paintings. Every idea deserves its own medium. When I have an idea I often wonder which medium would capture that most accurately. The ocean, for instance. The ocean is constantly moving, so if I can’t look at it in real time then the closest thing would be to paint what I see in it–my own version of it–or to film it. I cannot see myself taking photographs of the sea.
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Gap’s Latest Guest Designer? Beatrix Potter

With fresh creative talent in place at its flagship brand, Gap Inc. has hit the ground running in 2013, announcing its $130 million acquisition of the 32-store Intermix chain and plans for a Banana Republic summer collection designed by Milly‘s Michelle Smith. Now Gap is upping the cuteness quotient with a new line of unbelievably adorable baby clothes–for girls and boys up to 24 months old–inspired by Beatrix Potter‘s The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The author, who pioneered the product tie-in by following up her 1902 book with a (patented!) Peter Rabbit doll and board game, and whose estate is a licensing powerhouse, would surely be pleased to see her illustrations adorning whimsical babyGap one-pieces, patterned dresses, and printed denim. The must-have item is Peter’s famous blue jacket, reimagined as a chunky knit navy cardigan and yours for $34.95. Mr. McGregor was unavailable for comment.

Elevator Pitch: ‘Black Lapel’ Sells Custom Men’s Suits Online

In this episode of “Elevator Pitch,” host Alan Meckler talks with Warren Liao and Derek Tian, founders of “Black Lapel,” a website specializing in making custom luxury menswear at an affordable price. Find out if they make the cut.

For more videos, check out mediabistroTV, and be sure to follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

Design Jobs: Lonny, Variety, Wechsler

This week, Lonny is hiring a graphic designer, while Variety needs an art director. Wechsler is seeking a design director, and is on the hunt for an art director. 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.

Swatch Acquires Harry Winston in $1 Billion Deal

Harry Winston says “I do” to Swatch? It may sound like the ultimate high-low, late-night-monologue-fodder matchup, but only until you realize that the watchmaker’s eponymous plastic timepieces–credited with saving a Swiss watch industry decimated by the “Quartz crisis” of the 1970s and early 1980s–represent just one in a stable of brands that includes Breguet, Omega, and Rado as well as a movements and components business that makes customers of its main competitors. On Monday the Swatch Group announced that it had acquired the Harry Winston brand and its jewelry and watches business for $750 million.

In addition to up to $250 million in assumed debt, the deal gives Swatch 525 new employees, Harry Winston’s Geneva-based production company, and a brand burnished by red-carpet cameos and Fabien Baron‘s stunning ad campaigns lensed by Patrick Demarchelier. “We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family,” said chairwoman Nayla Hayek in a statement issued yesterday. “Diamonds are still a girl’s best friend.” True as that may be, the brand’s former owners are hanging on to the sparkly stone supply. The mining activities of Harry Winston will now operate as Toronto-based Dominion Diamond Corporation and continue supplying polished diamonds to Swatch.

In Brief: Van Gogh Lives, Shomei Tomatsu Dies, TED2013 Line-Up, Signature Swirl

• Lithuanian architect turned wedding photographer turned artist Tadao Cern has worked his Photoshop magic to reimagine van Gogh‘s 1889 self-portrait as something much more realistic–and haunting (above).

Shomei Tomatsu, perhaps the most influential postwar Japanese photographer, has died at the age of 82. “If I could, I would want to see everything,” he said in 1969. “My eyes are infamously greedy.”

• Screen legend Mary Lou Jepsen, photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, graphic designer Saki Mafundikwa, artist Liu Bolin, and architect Michael Green are among the speakers at TED2013 (“The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered.”), which takes place next month in Long Beach, California. Check out the newly released line-up here.
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