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7 Questions

Vintage Hotel Labels Live On in World Tour Seven Questions for Author Francisca Matteoli

Labels from the Central Hotel in Nantes, France (circa 1930s) and the Joia Hotel in Sao Paulo (circa 1964). © Louis Vuitton Archives

Remember when travel involved more than clutching bar-coded scraps and wheeling an ugly black case through “concourses”? Neither do we, but just imagine scenes from Titanic (pre-iceberg) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (without the murder)–all crisp kerchiefs, exotic matchbooks, and hotel labels slapped onto sturdy packing cases. Return to the golden age in the gilt-edged pages of World Tour, out this month from Abrams.

Chilean-born, Paris-based travel writer Francisca Matteoli (pictured) draws upon the vintage hotel labels collected by trunkmaker and traveler Gaston-Louis Vuitton (whose grand-père founded the leathergoods juggernaut) as fodder for a 21-city global adventure illustrated by oodles of illustrations, photos, vintage postcards, and more than 900 labels that live on as graphic souvenirs of getaways from Athens to Zermatt. “I realized that a small piece of paper like a simple label can tell a million stories,” says Matteoli. “Stories of woman and men, travelers, adventurers, gangsters, elegant people…and also of history, architecture, art, countries.” She made time between voyages to answer our seven questions about culling down the collection of labels, some personal favorites, and her own choice of luggage.

How did you come to write World Tour?
I was having lunch with Julien Guerrier, editorial director at Louis Vuitton, and I told him about my Chilean great grandfather and my family who always lived in hotels, and about our life in Chile and France…He then told me that Louis Vuitton had a magnificent collection of hotel labels and that we could connect our stories. He knew I liked writing stories, and we thought that it would be a very original way to talk about travel. That is how it all began.

How did you go about narrowing down/selecting the labels to feature in the book?
We wanted mythical hotels that are representative of the golden age of travel, that have a real visual quality–many of the labels are works of art. This allowed me to write not only about labels, but also about life, historical events, and people, because travel is connected with everything in life. We wanted a book that was both a pleasure to look at, and a pleasure to read.

What are some of your favorite labels from the collection of Gaston-Louis Vuitton?
The ones that bring back personal memories. The one of the Hotel Meurice in Paris–so refined, so art déco, because my grandparents liked walking down the rue de Rivoli when they came to Paris, as do the tourists today. The one of the Hotel du Louvre, where I lived with my family when we arrived from Chile. The Savoy Hotel in London–the label is very creative, very modern for its time–because my mother, who is Scottish, used to go to the Savoy when she was young. The Hotel Gloria in Rio de Janeiro, because I lived in Rio, love Rio, and this label is not only historical but also extremely stylish. The Waldorf Astoria in New York, where I have beautiful memories, so chic and a fine example of the architecture of the 50s.
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Seven Questions for Bill Gold, Master of the Movie Poster

If the Academy doled out little golden men in the category of Best Movie Poster, Bill Gold would have hundreds. The legendary graphic designer (and Pratt Institute alum), who turned 92 last month, created posters for films ranging from Yankee Doodle Dandy (1941) to J. Edgar (2011), which he came out of retirement to design at the request of his old friend Clint Eastwood. The posters for Casablanca, A Clockwork Orange, Alien, The Exorcist? All pure Gold. He recently did his part to celebrate the achievements of another notable nonagenarian: Warner Bros. As part of a 90th anniversary celebration that will span all of 2013, the studio invited Gold to create a poster of posters. You can find it, along with art cards featuring his movie poster designs, in two new megacollections of Warner Bros. films: 100 films on DVD and 50 films on Blu-ray. Gold recently made time between Oscar screeners (he’s a member of the Academy and has watched some sixty films since November) to discuss posters past and present, and some highlights of his seven-decade career.

1. One of your first assignments at Warner Bros. was designing the poster for Casablanca. How did you approach this project, and what did you seek to create/convey with the poster?
I approached this project like I would any other. I was a young art director that was given an assignment. This was one of my first posters. My initial thoughts were to put together a montage showing all the characters depicted in the film. They appeared to be an interesting ensemble of notable characters.

Something was missing, however. And I was asked to add some more ‘excitement’ to the scene. I added the gun in Bogart’s hand, and the poster suddenly came alive with intrigue.

2. If you had to choose a poster of which you are most proud, what would it be?
The Unforgiven teaser poster. Because of the simplicity of the. The setting was appropriately dark, and the image of the gun more than provocative. It wasn’t the typical image that you’d see on a poster.

3. Of the more than 2,000 posters you’ve worked on, which one would you describe as the most challenging to design?
Bird was one of the most challenging posters I worked on–mainly because I was told not to depict it as a “jazz” movie, but rather to emphasize the more human aspects of the life of a musician. The studio was trying to promote the film as more of a ‘family’ movie. So I worked on several comps of Charlie Parker and his wife, along with his kids. But I still felt the story was primarily about this wonderful jazz musician; so I did one comp of him alone playing his sax and we dramatized how he played his whole life in a very dramatic way. As soon as Clint [Eastwood] saw it, he said, “That’s the one!” It went on to win several awards, and is also one of my favorites.
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Seven Questions for s[edition] Co-Founder Robert Norton

Tracey Emin‘s “I Promise To Love You” neonworks now playing on screens throughout Times Square a project for which s[edition] served as curatorial partner. (Photo: Ka-Man Tse)

Would art lovers pay up to download a Damien Hirst? So pondered the art and tech worlds in November 2011, when London-based s[edition] opened its digital doors on the eve of Art Basel Miami Beach–having convinced artists such as Hirst, Tracey Emin, Bill Viola, and Shepard Fairey to create original works for a new breed of online gallery. The answer is, apparently, yes.

Founders Harry Blain and Robert Norton have seen the iDevice-wielding masses embrace the concept of collecting art in a digital format and are making inroads into museum collections, placing pieces with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Norway’s Stavanger Art Museum, and creating digital editions in partnership with the Serpentine Gallery and the ICA London. The company is also to thank for the love-themed works by Emin that are now lighting up Times Square on a nightly basis. While in NYC to feel the love, Norton made time to answer our seven questions about how s[edition] works, a new initiative to seek out fresh talents, advice for fellow entrepreneurs, and the artwork he would most like to have on his wall–or screen.

1. How do you describe s[edition] to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
s[edition] works with world leading artists who wish to see their work collected in a digital medium. The online platform offers contemporary art enthusiasts the opportunity to buy original art, at affordable prices. The art is sold as digital limited editions to be viewed on TVs, iPads, iPhones, and digital screens. s[edition] members can browse and acquire works to start their own collection, follow artists, and send limited editions as gifts to friends.

2. s[edition] has been in business for just over a year. How would you characterize the reaction from collectors?
The feedback from our collectors has been fantastic. The prices are very affordable which means we have opened up an entirely new market for collecting digital art. We have an active audience of 400,000 digital art enthusiasts, collectors, and fans.

3. Can collectors resell works they have purchased on s[edition]?
Collectors can resell their editions through an open marketplace after edition runs have sold out. We have found that some collectors will never want to sell their edition while others trade continually.

4. Do you plan to expand the star-studded s[edition] roster to include emerging artists?
This year, we have plans to launch the s[edition] Open Platform, a separate section on the website, where emerging and established artists will be able to submit their art for consideration and be selected by world renowned artists and curators to sell their works online. By opening our platform, we provide these artists with a gateway to a global audience of art enthusiasts. It also enables us to search out new talent. Artists who are interested should email us at
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Seven Questions for Graphic Designer Kevin Finn, Founder of Open Manifesto

Noam Chomsky, Alain de Botton, and Errol Morris are not the names one expects to see among the contributors to a journal about graphic design, but Open Manifesto is no ordinary publication. “It’s unlike most other design journals in the world,” says Open Manifesto founder, editor, and publisher Kevin Finn, a veteran of Saatchi Design. “Specifically, it focuses on the intersection of design with social, political, cultural, and economic issues and includes contributions from many significant people outside the design disciplines.” And so critical writing by the likes of Paula Scher and George Lois mingles with the musings of Edward de Bono and ex-CIA operative Larry J. Kolb. The latest issue (#6) is an entertaining, educational, and engaging look at the power of the myth. We seized the narrative-themed moment to ask Finn about his own story. Read on to learn how founding Open Manifesto saved his career as a designer, trends in Australian graphic design, and whose work you might see in a future issue.

1. How did Open Manifesto come about?
To be honest, I had been thinking of the idea for about eight years before I decided to finally go ahead and do it [in 2003]. So why did it take so long? Well, to start with I didn’t think I was qualified to produce anything like Open Manifesto, considering I was not a writer, an editor, a journalist, or a publisher. But I have a very curious mind, so–for better or worse–I figured that was qualification enough. But there were two specific turning points that led to creating Open Manifesto.

The first was when I was Joint Creative Director of Saatchi Design, Sydney. We were staging an exhibition of our work inside the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency, partly for our clients and partly to further explain what we did to our advertising colleagues. At the time, we were fortunate enough to have also won a D&AD Yellow pencil. So I was standing in this room, surrounded by what we considered to be our best work and having just returned from London with a Yellow Pencil. I was 29, and I felt surprisingly empty. I asked myself: Is this it? Is this the height of what we do–take a brief, come up with a good idea, design something well, hope to win an award… take a brief, come up with a good idea, design something well…etcetera. I saw a hamster wheel of repetition ahead of me and, considering I had achieved way more than I had ever, ever expected by age 29, I decided perhaps I needed to leave the industry and learn something new.

But the alternative was just as interesting and challenging. I decided to question what it is that I do, and to question it deeply. That meant looking at how creative people in society think, which ultimately leads them to what they ‘do.’ I was interested in the ‘why’ and also in the connections between things. Most projects that a designer gets involves some aspect of research. But due to circumstances the research is narrow and myopic, simply because it needs to directly relate to the business, client or topic at hand. Open Manifesto allows me to pursue wider and deeper research and–to be honest–it saved my career as a designer.
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Seven Questions for ‘Font Fetishist’ Reed Seifer

(Courtesy Reed Seifer)

We’ve been fans of graphic designer and artist Reed Seifer since 2010, when he pulled off a multi-sensory triumph at the Armory Show, simultaneously giving some much-needed visual punch to the art fair’s staid branding and infusing cavernous Pier 94 with an aromatherapeutical concotion designed to make fairgoers forget their recessionary woes. Since then, Brooklyn-based Seifer has brought his razor-sharp and wonderfully understated visual sense to other art fairs, book projects (this one is sure to take your breath away), and identities for galleries such as Zach Feuer, CRG, and James Graham & Sons. Read on to learn about Seifer’s favorite font, his recent project for the freshly expanded Sean Kelly Gallery, and his formative meeting with–gasp!–Paul Rand.

1. You work with a lot of clients in the art world, including The Armory Show, Creative Time, and top galleries. How did you come to specialize in working with these very aesthetically minded–some might say hypervisual–clients?
As a designer, artist, and minimalist, I feel I have a rare sensibility and understanding of how design and art may compliment one another. In the art world, where many businesses have similar visual identities and graphic practices, having a brand which harnesses well-composed, thoughtful typography makes a potent statement to a hypervisual audience. I love working with words and letterforms in that capacity. I am a font fetishist. So the way I came to specialize in working with hypervisual clients is by doing what I love and promoting myself well.

2. Tell us about the new hand-drawn wordmark you’ve created for Sean Kelly Gallery:

What did you seek to capture in this custom logo?

When I first met with Sean Kelly, he mentioned Duchamp as being of his favorite artists, so I wished to express the unconventional but as it spoke in the context of typography.

3. Turning to non-custom type, what’s your favorite typeface and why?
Comic Sans hands down, because as Nina Garcia says, “It is the sweatpants of fonts.”
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DIY Fashion Week with Apliiq! Seven Questions for Fabric-Loving Founder Ethan Lipsitz

Textile messaging. Creative clothing from Apliiq, founded by Ethan Lipsitz (pictured below).

New York Fashion Week is once again upon us, and with it, the haute Halloween of Fashion’s Night Out (look for us at Bergdorf Goodman, contemplatively fondling the Chado Ralph Rucci garments). No matter where you stand on the sartorial continuum of Carhartt to Carolina Herrera, you can spice up your wardrobe with Apliiq. The Los Angeles-based company collects rare, deadstock, and recognizable textiles and applies them to everyday garments (think crying-out-for-customization American Apparel tees). With an ever-changing assortment of limited-edition products and a vast fabric library, the Apliiq website offers a dizzying array of possible color and texture combinations for the DIY-minded. “The name derives from the French word ‘appliqué,’ which means ‘apply,’ and we literally apply fabric, cut into different geometric shapes, onto clothing,” explains founder Ethan Lipsitz. “It’s all online and made to order within a week in downtown LA.” Lipsitz, who graduated from the University Pennsylvania with a degree in urban studies and did a post-grad stint with design studio Dickson Rothschild, paused in his fabric scouting to answer our seven questions.

What led you to start Apliiq?
I have always enjoyed being creative with what I wear. In high school I started hand-stitching my mother’s fabrics onto my hoodies to add a little personal flavor. In college I stitched a Karate Kid headband onto the hood of a hoody and it became a coveted item amongst my friends. Needless to say, I started making Karate Kid hoodies for all my classmates. I quickly discovered the local fabric district in Philly and began playing more with lining hoods and stitching the fabrics onto hoodies in creative ways. By my senior year I had learned how to use a sewing machine and was customizing hoodies with my fabric collection for friends and shops around Philly. From the get go it was always about letting them customize and relaying that feeling of wearing something that’s uniquely theirs. With help from friends I built a website and kept the company going as a hobby business while living in Sydney and working in architecture and urban design. In 2008 I decided I wanted to be my own boss and see if this hobby could be something more, I moved back to the States, set up shop in Los Angeles, and gave myself a year to get Apliiq off the ground. We’ve been running ever since.

What makes a good/successful Apliiq fabric?
Sometimes we can tell when a fabric is going to be a hit, and other times it’s a mystery what takes off. We try to vary the library, but I definitely skew towards bold, simple prints that clearly convey a story or message. Right now animal prints, native, southwestern, and African fabrics are seeing a surge in popularity. It’s often a combination of pattern and motif as well as a particular model and example garment we show that contributes to a fabric’s success.

What are some of your favorite recent additions to the Apliiq fabric library?
I’ve got a bunch of new faves. We have this beautiful vintage soft striped woven fabric that has a linen texture called right stripe that we have only a few yards of. We also just picked up some amazing African fabrics of which Oduele may be my favorite. I spotted it across the shop, and we took it down from the window display—got the last four yards! I’m freaking out on ikats. A friend from Indonesia sent us one a few months ago, and we’ve recently come across an amazing stockpile of Indian ikats that are really fresh. I love how the weave of these fabrics are so engrained in the aesthetic. Lastly, we recently discovered a crazy vintage abstract print online that totally reminds me of Kandinsky, thus named after the man himself.
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Seven Questions for Airbnb Co-Founder Joe Gebbia

The coming Labor Day weekend may find you jetting off to an island paradise, hitting the highway for a road trip, or seated in a comfortable yet chic chair, trying to make some readerly headway with Vogue’s 916-page September issue (worth the $5.99 cover price for Amaranth Ehrenhalt‘s charming Giacometti tale alone!). If you’re still stuck in binary hotel-or-a-friend’s-place travel mode, consider upgrading with an alternative: Airbnb (née The San Francisco-based startup, which has raised $120 million in funding, recently reached 10 million nights booked and has amassed a massive, fun-to-browse menu of unique spaces worldwide. Joe Gebbia is the graphic and product design mind behind the company, which he co-founded in 2007 (with Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk). The RISD alum took time away from his holiday weekend preparations to answer our seven questions.

Give us your elevator pitch: What’s Airbnb?
Airbnb is a trusted online marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. From a private room to a private island, we offer an entertaining and personal way for travelers to unlock local experiences and see their surroundings through the eyes of a local.

What led you and your co-founders to create the company?
In October 2007 the rent increased on our San Francisco apartment. The timing couldn’t have been worse—my roommate, Brian, and I had recently left our jobs to become entrepreneurs. We knew that a prominent design conference was coming to town, and that all the nearby hotel rooms were booked solid. We decided to rent airbeds in our apartment to designers attending the conference, and provide them with a unique and quintessentially local experience. As it turned out, a lot of people were looking for this type of accommodation, so we brought on Nate to be our third co-founder and we started to expand. In 2007 we had two airbeds, and three employees. Now, just four years later, we have over 200,000 listings in over 26,000 cities in 192 countries and 10 offices in 9 countries.
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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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Seven Questions for Event Design Master David Stark

David Stark has made a name for himself with design that is simultaneously innovative and playful, monumentally scaled yet welcoming and thoughtfully customized. His Brooklyn-based firm’s events, for clients ranging from Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and New Yorkers for Children to West Elm and discerning brides often transform quotidian materials—Post-Its, paint chips, bundled newspapers—into one-night wonderlands. Guests have been known to marvel, look closer, and then ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Stark’s latest production is WOOD SHOP, a “surprise ambush” of Nina Freudenberger‘s Haus Interior in New York. “For about a month, all of the product that Haus usually carries will be removed and replaced with our limited-edition WOOD SHOP collection that is inspired by the iconic wood worker’s atelier,” explains Stark of the collaborative concept store-cum-art gallery, which opens to the public on Friday at 11:00 a.m. (sneak a peek at some of the goods and buy them online here). “We’re excited to take the pop-up store to the next level.” Stark took time away from last-minute preparations to answer our seven questions about wooden must-haves, his start in event design, and how he created a “garden of Versailles” out of shredded paper.

1. What are a few of your favorite products in WOOD SHOP?
Oh, I love so, so many of them that it is hard to name one or two, but I am particularly happy with the hand-crocheted paint can and brush pillows, the turned poplar vases, and I do love the “Pining for You” poster/valentine. It’s a fantastic card to send in the mail, and it is also cool to frame and put on a wall. This pieces is the newest in our company tradition of newsprint cards that we have sent to friends and clients over the last couple of years. Those cards have become so popular that they are commonly saved and framed as wall art.

2. You went to art school at RISD. How did you get your start in event design?
Totally by accident! I didn’t even know there was a career called, “event design”! Back in the day, I worked with flowers and a partner, making arrangements for parties to support my fledgling painting career. Over time, I did more and more floral work than painting and got better and better at it. One day we were invited to interview for the job of designing the décor for New York City Opera’s fundraising gala. Carolyn Roehm, a noted florist in her own right, was the chair lady of the evening, and she took one look at our book and said, “Well, there is no question that you make the most beautiful flower arrangements, but this evening is not about flowers at all.”

All of a sudden a light bulb went off! It was a real a-ha moment. The revelation that flowers were not the only decorative tool for a party was mind-blowing. It seems real obvious of course, but at the time, it was radical. Now flowers are just one of the tools in my tool box, and the rest of the world of options is readily at my fingertips.
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Seven Questions for Core77’s Allan Chochinov

You probably know Allan Chochinov as the core of Core77, the beloved industrial design megasite of which he serves as editor-in-chief. The designer and educator’s latest creation is a new MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. As chair of the MFA in Products of Design, Chochinov has devised the graduate program around a new way of considering the design of artifacts, experiences, sustainability, strategy, business, and point of view. The design star-studded faculty ranges from Paola Antonelli (MoMA) to John Zapolski (Fonderie47). “We have created a program that I feel represents a optimistic, rigorous, and future-forward step in the future of design education,” he says, adding that applications are now being accepted for the inaugural class. “We are looking for all kinds of applicants: the highly-skilled, seeking more meaningful applications; the deeply-knowledgeable, looking for greater scale and impact; the passionate, looking for more rigor and process; and of course the iconoclastic, looking for a home.” In answering our seven questions, Chochinov gives us the full scoop on the program, discusses some of his own career highlights, and proves that unwieldy edibles (or useless machines) make the best gifts.

1. What led you to create the MFA in Products of Design program?
I’ve been teaching design at the college level for 17 years now, and I’m passionate about students, creativity, and point of view. When SVA approached me about creating a new MFA program, it was an incredible opportunity to spend time researching, conceiving, and collaborating on a program that would represent future practice and equip students with the skills and fluencies that the world will demand of them. The program that resulted, I feel, is at the sweet spot of business, making, storytelling, and stewardship. It’s a program that aims to engage, ennoble, and empower. It’s also going to be a ton of fun.

2. What can prospective students expect from the program, in terms of coursework, faculty, and experience?
The program is rigorous but joyful, multi-disciplinary and multi-sensorial. There are no grades. Most of the classes are in the evenings. Several classes happen off-site (the Design Research and Integration class is held at IDEO in SoHo, for example; the Materials Futures class is held at Material ConneXion). Two of the classes are co-mingled with MFA Interaction Design students. There’s our new Visible Futures Lab fabbing space next door, and a city brimming with design making, design thinking, and design doing right outside the door. We’re dedicating a lot of the architecture and curriculum to food and food systems, and we’ve got a faculty comprised of some of the most fascinating, progressive practitioners in design.

3. What’s been the most challenging and/or rewarding aspect of working on the program?
The most challenging aspect has been to clarify this very fuzzy place where I think design needs to be right now. (That last sentence is a bit fuzzy in itself!) Referencing the challenges inherent in designing for systemic, interconnected conditions, faculty member Manuel Toscano remarked to me that “we will need students who are comfortable being uncomfortable.” I think that’s very true. Design is at an incredible moment right now, but the challenges of production, consumption, labor, resilience…these demand a nimble kind of practice.
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