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Fashion Television’s Jeanne Beker Turns Curator for ‘Politics of Fashion’ Exhibition

Maison Martin Margiela  Tyrone Lebon 3
Backstage at Maison Martin Margiela’s fall 2012 haute couture show. (Photo: Tyrone Lebon)

If you know fashion, you know Fashion Television. Hosted by the indefatigable Jeanne Beker, the Toronto-based fashion news show ceased production in 2012 after 27 seasons of designer interviews and from-the-collections reports. (In many American markets, it aired before or after its Canadian counterpart, Fashion File, prompting viewers to wonder why stateside networks jettisoned the newsy angle on fashion after the CNN run of Elsa Klensch.) Beker is now making her curatorial debut with “Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics,” an exhibition that opens September 18 at Design Exchange in Toronto.

The Canadian design museum will showcase more than 200 works that reveal fashion as a powerful tool of expression, including the (relatively) scandalous non-gown worn by Margaret Trudeau to the White House in 1977, a gold leopard print burqa from Jeremy Scott‘s spring 2013 “Arab Spring” collection, and an artisanal leather poncho from the fall 2013 Maison Martin Margiela collection. Fashion designer Jeremy Laing is masterminding the exhibition design, while Design Exchange curator Sara Nickleson worked with Beker on organizing the show. The bold and often subversive pieces, which span from the 1960s (a star-spangled Bobby Kennedy-for-president paper dress) to today (an androgynous Rad Hourani jacket) are organized around five themes: Ethics/Activism, War/Peace, Consumption/Consumerism, Campaign/Power Dressing, and Gender/Sexuality.

Seven Questions for Karim Rashid

Karim RashidIt’s been a busy, brightly colored, organic-shaped summer for Karim Rashid. The designer has given lectures, made appearances, and occasionally DJ’ed in cities from Miami and Toronto to Hamburg and Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth-largest city). On Friday he could be found in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he keynoted the Construye & Remodela confab. Not that there’s any shortage of stateside projects: Rashid was recently commissioned to design three Manhattan residential buildings, including a mixed-use project (20 apartments, with office and commercial space at the street level) located at 1633-1655 Madison Avenue. The concept is a continuation of Rashid’s signature boundary-pushing, rooted in a desire to “bring a fulgent vibrancy to the environment and move away the trends away from tired archetypes and cold minimalism.” He made time between groundbreakings, prototyping sessions, and DJ sets to answer our seven questions.

You recently lectured—and DJed—in Ekaterinburg, Russia. What is your impression of the state of design in Russia?
I have been to Russia 25 times and always love the country, the energy, the people, the intellectual spirit, the food, the sensibilities. In regards the state of design I have seen things change drastically since 14 years ago, but the problem is that Russia has not embraced the design phenomena enough, yet it is getting better and better. The condition is changing. In order to know Russian designers internationally they either work and develop brands in Russia—that become globally established—or work for foreign companies. And in all those trips very few Russian companies approach me to design for them.

Russia with all its diversified money, increasing incomes, intelligence, education, and manufacturing capability, lacks globally recognized brands. I always thought how fascinating it is that a country like Sweden has international brands like IKEA, H&M, Absolut, Volvo, and Voss with only a population of 7 million. Because of the size of Russia, companies were producing goods exclusively for their huge market and taking no impetus to export. Russia has the manpower and money to create major global brands. But times have changed and the doors to the West are open. I would love to see Russia build some very contemporary brands that contribute to our beautiful global consumer landscape.

I just completed the new OK.RU website [a popular Russian social media platform], and I am working on a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, an orange juice bottle, a cognac bottle, a tractor, and other projects in Russia, but I would love to design some hotels in every major city. There is a lack of design-driven boutique hotels in Russia.
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Favorite Thing: rOtring 800+

800+In 1928, rOtring debuted the world’s first nibless fountain pen and laid the Bauhaus-influenced groundwork for a legacy in writing utensils. The latest addition to the German company’s collection of cult creative tools is the 800+. Created to enable designers to “think on paper + think on digital,” the ultraprecise mechanical pencil doubles as a stylus. Rationalize the price ($85.00) by considering its unique hybrid nature—and all the time and energy you’ll save not having to swap utensils as you go from paper to touchscreen.

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Mark Your Calendar: Hopscotch Design Festival

passesPerhaps you’ve heard of the Hopscotch Music Festival, which Spin likens to “South by Southwest minus the infestation of industry vermin and the clumsy bluster of corporate partyzillas.” Now in its fifth year, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based bandstravaganza is expanding its disciplinary boundaries—to the world of design. The inaugural Hopscotch Design Festival will take place September 3-4 in downtown Raleigh, with a speaker line-up that includes OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu, Kai-Uwe Bergmann of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Casey Caplowe of GOOD, Alexander Isley, and other inspiring figures in the worlds of graphic design, user experience design, urban planning, technology, architecture, and more.

Want to go? Thanks to Moo.com, we’re giving away two run-of-the-festival passes (valued at $150 each). To be eligible to win one, write a haiku about the Hopscotch Design Festival presenter or session you’re most interested in seeing. E-mail your minimalist poem to unbeige@mediabistro.com with the subject “HOPSCOTCH” by 10 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 27th. Winners will be notified within 24 hours.

New Architecture Prize Honors Year’s Best Public Library: Australia’s Craigieburn

Craigieburn Library

You need only browse a Candida Höfer monograph to realize that Denmark knows good libraries. It’s a strength that the Danish Agency for Culture—in partnership with Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects—has seized upon to create a new award recognizing the best public library of the year. The inaugural winner, announced earlier this month in Lyon, France (bibliothèque country!), is Australia’s Craigieburn Library, located in Hume City, Victoria and designed by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp.

The Aussie institution bested fellow nominees in the United Kingdom (the Library of Birmingham, designed by Mecanoo Architecten), the Netherlands (De Boekenberg, a.k.a. Book Mountain, in Spijkenisse, designed by MVRDV), and Denmark (Copenhagen’s Ørestad Bibliotek, designed by KHR Arkitekter). The judges settled on Craigieburn because it “distinguishes itself as a significant modern construction with a strong, recognizable architectural concept” and “with its open and flexible space…creates a democratic meeting place, open to diversity and interaction.”

Watch: Ai Weiwei Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

“Ah yes, the summer of 2014, I remember it well,” you’ll tell your robot grandchildren. “The world lost Elaine StritchRobin Williams—tragic! And everyone was dumping buckets of ice water over their heads.” The latest celebrity to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—the DIY dunk-tank-for-charity viral sensation that involves chilly water, a video camera, and the magic of social media—is Ai Weiwei. No word as to whether the Chinese artist made a donation, but he definitely got soaked. Two buckets were required. Watch the scene unfold in the courtyard of his Beijing HQ, much to the delight of onlooking studio assistants.

Quote of Note | Michael Bierut

thoughtsondesignPaul Rand admitted all his life that he was insecure as a writer. It was his passion for the subject that made him such an effective one. In his day job on Madison Avenue, he had learned the virtues of saying more with less. As a result, Thoughts on Design is almost as simple as a child’s storybook: short, clear sentences; vivid, playful illustrations. Ostensibly it is nothing more than a how-to book, illustrated with examples from the designer’s own portfolio. But in reality Thoughts on Design is a manifesto, a call to arms, and a ringing definition of what makes good design good. This, perhaps, has never been said better than in the book’s most quoted passage, the graceful free verse that begin’s Rand’s essay ‘The Beautiful and the Useful.’ Graphic design, he says, no matter what else it achieves, ‘is not good design if it is irrelevant.’”

-Designer extraordinaire Michael Bierut in the foreword to the new edition of Paul Rand‘s Thoughts on Design, back in print for the first time since the 1970s and published by Chronicle Books

Favorite Thing: Jack Headphone Stand

Nancy Lazarus journeyed to the Javits Center for the summer 2014 edition of NY NOW, the Market for Home + Lifestyle (formerly NYIGF) as the UnBeige judge for the Bloggers’ Choice Awards, which highlights “urgent, odd, and delightful design” from among the more than 150 exhibitors in the Accent on Design category. Here’s her pick.

jackWhile scouring the Accent on Design aisles of the NY NOW trade show, which wraps up today, we came across a product that literally stood out: the Jack Headphone Stand, our choice for the Bloggers’ Choice awards. Designed by Brooklyn-based ModProducts (a.k.a. ModKo), the Jack Headphone Stand is the optimal storage and recharging station for headphones and small mobile devices when it’s high time for a digital break. It’s made from polypropylene and rubber in orange, yellow, white, or gray, to fit the color scheme of any desk or night table. All wires remain hidden behind a cable pass-through, leaving you with a clutter-free space. The Jack will make its first stand at retail in time for the holiday shopping season.

Have a suggestion for our next Favorite Thing? E-mail unbeige@mediabistro.com.

Learn Infographics and Party Like a Chart Star

daniel zeeviReady to respond to requests of “Show me the data!” with more than a sad little bar graph? The Mediabistro mothership is now recruiting would-be data visualizers for an online course in infographics that can “engage an audience in your brand, cause, or mission.” Guided by tech-meets-branding whiz Amanda McCormick, whose resume includes work with organizations such as New York City Ballet, Bitly, and SocialFlow, students will get up to speed with online tools (we’re looking at you Many Eyes) and develop a robust spec for a data visualization. The infographical fun starts October 7. Learn more here.

Watch: On the Art and Craft of Art Forgery

art and craftWhen it comes to films about art forgers, woe betide the documentarian who attempts to top Orson Welles‘s delightfully gonzo F is for Fake (1973), which you can—and really should—watch in its mesmerizing entirety at the bottom of this post (what else are late summer afternoons for?). But the directorial trio of Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker have quite the character in career art forger Mark Landis. After he dupes Matthew Leininger, the intrepid museum registrar will stop at nothing to expose the technically skilled fraudster. The cat-and-mouse game unfolds in Art and Craft, which has been burning up the festival circuit and opens in limited release next month (keep an eye out for showtimes here). Behold the trailer:


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