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Posts Tagged ‘Cooper-Hewitt’

Finnish Line: Designers Discuss Spirit of Marimekko

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently kicked off “Design by Hand,” a new series focused on the craftsmanship, innovations, and merits of contemporary global designers, with an evening that spotlighted Marimekko. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to get an inside look at the Finnish design house, renowned for its original prints and colors.

weather diary
Marimekko’s Jussarö cotton fabric, designed by Aino-Maija Metsola, is part of the Helsinki-based company’s new Weather Diary collection. Below, Sami Ruotsalainen’s teapot uses the Räsymatto pattern designed by Maija Louekari.

teapotWhile the name Marimekko is based on “Mari” a girl’s name, and “mekko,” the Finnish word for dress, to its legions of worldwide fans it stands for fond memories and cheery graphic prints. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently hosted an event featuring three Marimekko designers: fashion and textile designer Mika Piirainen, ceramics and product designer Sami Ruotsalainen, and print designer Aino-Maija Metsola. While each designer offered a unique insider’s perspective, selected themes surfaced that shed light on the brand’s impressive longevity:

Potpourri of patterns: “While Marimekko is known for bold designs, it’s not all about massive prints, it’s also about contrasts,” Piirainen said. “We’re crazy about dots, and circles are the friendliest shapes in the world. We’re crazy about stripes, too,” he added. Flowers and their textures are also popular motifs, even black and white solids. Recently these designers have also turned their focus to smaller prints.

Individual inspirations and influences: “It’s important that inspirations for products are close to you so people know there are emotions behind them,” Metsola said. Finland’s islands in the archipelago, seasonal weather patterns, and vegetation form the basis of much of her work, such as her “Weather Diary” aquarelles or “Midsummer Magic” collections. Piirainen is also influenced by nature, and takes photos during his travels to Lapland and Australia. For Ruotsalainen, food and items of everyday life impact his designs.
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Cooper-Hewitt Celebrates National Design Awards: Highlights from Winners’ Panel

It’s National Design Week, and tonight the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will celebrate the winners of the 2013 National Design Awards with a ceremony and dinner at Pier Sixty in New York. Special guests including Tom Wolfe, Al Gore, and Kurt Andersen will be on hand to present the winners with their coveted glass asterisks, while the delightful Todd Oldham will announce the winner of this year’s People’s Design Award. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to the National Design Awards Winners’ Panel, held at Parsons The New School for Design.

(Angela Jimenez)
Richard Saul Wurman (center) moderates a discussion among NDA winners. Pictured from left, Tiya Gordon, Paula Scher, Gadi Amit, and Mike Femia. (Photos: Angela Jimenez)

Four of this year’s National Design Award winners appeared at a Tuesday evening panel moderated by Richard Saul Wurman, TED founder and 2012 lifetime achievement award winner. Topics encompassed winners’ early career experiences, current projects, and the award’s impact. Below are selected comments from each winning designer or firm.

Paula Scher, principal at Pentagram (communications design):
• “It’s a big deal that the U.S. government honors design, and it’s important to society. If the accolade is a seal of approval, that’s fantastic, but the next day, business is still business.”
• “At Pentagram we’re independent minded designers, there are no strategists. We establish direct client relationships using analogies and entertainment.”
• “With my hobby, large-scale paintings of maps, I use information to create the spirit of a place. It’s the antidote to my design life where I create corporate communications identities.”
• “During my earlier experience creating graphic design for music covers/albums, I learned about the relationship with the public. My work at Pentagram is still largely connected to entertainment, and much of the identity work is focused on making design accessible.”
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Caroline Baumann Named Director of Cooper-Hewitt Museum

This just in: Caroline Baumann, who has served as acting director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, since the death of Bill Moggridge last September, can dispense with the “acting.” She has been named director, effective June 16. Baumann joined the Cooper-Hewitt from the Museum of Modern Art in 2001, and served as associate director, acting director, and deputy director before stepping in for Moggridge.

“Caroline is passionate about design and reaching people—physically and digitally—with its lessons and insights,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough in a statement issued today. “She has been key in the museum’s growing success over the years and has been especially adept at forming substantive partnerships in New York, in Washington, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.”

The appointment comes amidst the countdown to the Cooper-Hewitt’s 2014 reopening following a $54 million renovation and expansion. Said Baumann, “We’re rolling out an extraordinary plan for a vibrant future and establishing Cooper-Hewitt as the Smithsonian’s design lens on the world.”

A Trifecta of Triennial Reviews

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Reviews of “Design Life Now” are a lot like robot lobsters…they just keep coming

Alex Terzich at Core77 thinks the blurring of disciplines are more akin to “transversing” design now.

An ode to organicism over at Design Observer was penned by Winterhouse writing award winner Thomas de Monchaux, who seems to spout prose effortlessly.

And, for the regular folk, James Gardner at the NY Post has one very encouraging thought:

Just as there are foodies who are exasperatingly knowledgeable about the latest restaurants, so there is the new cultural phenomenon of the design type, who can rattle off the names of designers the way others can recite the lineup of the New York Mets.

Really? Where do those people hang out?