“You know the big Leonardo show that came here? I’m so embarrassed to admit this, but I was looking at the drawings, and I got really angry that I wasn’t doing them. So I went home and I started making drawings, and the next day I thought, ‘I can’t believe what I’ve just done. I’m competing with Leonardo.’ You can’t compete with him. I just thought, ‘Oh, my god. This is a really bad sign.’ But it’s funny because things like that should make you angry and want to work better.”
SO-IL Wins Best Metaphorical Costume at Storefront for Art and Architecture’s ‘Critical Halloween’ Bash
(Photo: Naho Kabuto)
Cotton Balls. Man on the Moon. Picket Fence. Mayonnaise. You probably recognize these as some of Benjamin Moore’s palest paint colors. Brooklyn-based architecture firm SO-IL saw their potential as Halloween costumes. Principals Florian Idenburg (dressed as Gray Owl) and Jing Liu (as Marilyn’s Dress) led a group that included Indian White, French Manicure, Antique Lace, and American White to victory at Storefront for Art and Architecture’s “Critical Halloween: On Banality, On Metaphor” costume competition, held Saturday in Brooklyn.
An estemeed jury that included Princeton School of Architecture dean Alejandro Zaera Polo (dressed as a cosmonaut) and Charles Renfro (as a voting booth) awarded SO-IL the award for best metaphor of the night. Snarkitecture nabbed best urban metaphor for their sartorial ode to the Manhattan Grid, while Shan Raoufi and Greta Hansen received art props for their delightful On Kawara-style costumes (each sported a black sign in the artist’s signature typeface with Halloween’s date followed by their birth year). You can check out some of the most memorable costumes thanks to Domus, which is running an online competition through November 11. The winner(s) will receive a one-year subscription to Domus.
Among the highlights of this weekend’s inaugural Designers and Books Fair was Debbie Millman’s on-stage conversation with Steven Heller and Louise Fili. Perched on a Florence Knoll two-seater in an auditorium at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the pair discussed everything from the difference between a logo and a brand (“about $500,000,” according to Fili) to the joys of miniature mannequins (“I love these things,” enthused Heller, who credits the couple’s 2002 book on the subject with nearly pricing him out of the mini-mannequin market. “These are sculptures of commerce, raw commercial art.”). Millman’s well-constructed questions touched on many aspects of their nearly 30-year union, including Heller’s marriage proposal. It will come as no suprise that books played a critical role in his popping the question.
Picture it: summertime, Italy, the early ’80s. Fili and Heller were staying in Tuscany, and kept bumping into two of their design-savvy friends, Paula Scher and Henrietta Condak, who were staying nearby. “It became this game, because we were all on a search, out to get the best stuff in Italy–the best books–before anyone else did,” explained Fili. One day, she and Heller arrived at Florence’s Centro Di with just 30 minutes to spare before the bookshop closed for lunch. They noticed that Scher and Condak had also just walked in. “I saw the look on Steve’s face, because he knows this is not a good thing, when he has competition,” said Fili. “So he had to get away from them as fast as possible and get to the books.” A bit of small talk ensued: How’s the trip? What’s new? Heller saw an exit strategy. “Oh, we’re getting married,” he told Scher and Condak, before making a beeline for the books. “He left me to explain,” said Fili. “I didn’t even know what I had to say about it yet, because I didn’t really have any details.” But all’s well that ends well. Added a grinning Heller after Fili had told the tale, “I got the books and I got the dame.”
Fresh from seeing his UFO hung from the rafters of France’s Gare de Lille-Flandres, Ross Lovegrove beamed himself over to New York for the Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Awards gala. The London-based designer, dressed in a horn-buttoned wool ensemble that gave him the dapper and vaguely menacing bearing of an Austrian nobleman (and even the Thom Browne-clad audience members a run for their sartorial money), was on hand last Wednesday evening to present the “Design Mind” award to Janine Benyus, but couldn’t resist presaging his praise for the biomimicry pioneer with a not-so-stealth political endorsement. Upon taking the stage, he advised the crowd that he would need to speak from prepared notes and readied his reading glasses. “I’ve got rather a lot to say here tonight,” said Lovegrove as he slowly unfolded a large piece of paper, prompting emcee Paula Zaha to question whether origami was afoot. After a bit more unfolding, he revealed that his “notes” happened to be written on the back of a bright blue “Obama for President” poster to the whoops, chuckles, and applause of the crowd. Added Lovegrove, “I just couldn’t print the Romney one. I couldn’t.”
“The first bride to popularize white wedding dresses was Queen Victoria. She was a tiny, round, plain girl with a nose like a claw hammer and less chin than a terrapin. Charitably, the best thing you could say for her on her wedding day was that she looked like an ornamental toilet-tissue cover. Before Victoria, brides wore what suited them. Red was a popular color; so was black. It’s universally said that all brides look beautiful. Every bride is told repeatedly that she is breathtaking, but white is an unforgiving un-color unless you’re a baby or a corpse. White is particularly bad on pale, pinkish people, but not quite as bad as on sprayed-orange people. The only girls who manage to look decent in wedding dresses are those who look great for a living and would look good in a trash bag or traction. Wedding dresses are a collective blind spot, an aesthetic dead zone. We are brainwashed to believe that a wedding dress is magic, that it has the ability to transform everyone into a raging, shaggable piece of hot, virginal, must-have, never-been-had gorgeousness. But, like all fairy spells, it only works for one day. In any other context, a wedding dress makes you look like a transvestite, which is presumably why the groom isn’t allowed to see it before it’s too late to change his mind.”
-A. A. Gill, in “Can This Wedding Be Saved?” published in the September issue of Vanity Fair
American Spirit. Industrial designer Raymond Loewy with one of his designs, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s S1 steam locomotive; filmmaker and Loewy admirer David Lynch.
The late-night show of our dreams is hosted by David Lynch. What this theoretical program lacks in guests or commercials (you’ll recall how the filmmaker feels about product placement) it would make up for in good ‘ol fashioned variety: one night our distinctively coiffed host is screening The Seashell and the Clergyman or enthusing on his favorite hobby of chopping wood (especially pine) and the next he’s shooting on site in the dream forest at Club Silencio, the members-only Paris nightclub he designed. The Wall Street Journal recently caught up with Lynch in the penthouse suite of the Chauteau Marmont, where Steve Garbarino posed “20 Odd Questions” that covered topics ranging from his accessories (“I have a deep love for my Swatch watch.”) to his stint as a WSJ deliverperson back in the 1970s, when he was making Eraserhead.
In Lynch’s words, his L.A. paper route has all the makings of a haunting film. “I’d pick up my papers at 11:30 at night. I had throws that were particularly fantastic. There was one where I’d release the paper, which would soar with the speed of the car and slam into the front door of this building, triggering its lobby lights—a fantastic experience,” he says. “Another one I called ‘The Big Whale.’ There was a place, the Fish Shanty, on La Cienega. A big whale’s mouth was the front door you entered through. I’d throw a block before it, and hit the paper directly into the mouth.” Lynch is not inclined to fandom, preferring to get his kicks from a mix of coffee, transcendental meditation, and American Spirit cigarettes, but he does cop to a love for Loewy…Robert [sic] Loewy. The famed industrial designer usually goes by Raymond, but as far as we’re concerned, Lynch can call him whatever he wants. Meanwhile, the WSJ has corrected the error in its online edition.
Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled A-E” (1975)
Sure, it’s only July, but we’re already predicting this year’s hottest Halloween costume: Cindy Sherman. The chameleon-like artist’s recent Museum of Modern Art retrospective apparently attracted a bold impersonator who chatted up visitors in the guise—well, a guise—of Sherman. The bold soul chanced upon This American Life host Ira Glass, who was checking out the show with his friend Etgar Keret, the Israeli writer and filmmaker (whose own compact narratives, you may recall, inspired that wee Warsaw house designed by Jakub Szczesny). Simultaneously flummoxed and delighted by the encounter, Glass and Keret told the story at the top of a recent This American Life broadcast on the topic “Switcheroo.”
“If I had to describe her, I’d say that she looked like she was about 55 or 60, wire rim glasses, gray hair,” says Glass of the woman who approached them at the exhibit and introduced herself as Sherman. “Looking at her, thinking that she might be Cindy Sherman, I thought if you were to try to put on a costume to exactly blend in with the crowd at the Museum of Modern Art, this is the costume.” They chatted with her, but eventually she changed her story and insisted that she was not the artist after all. The plot thickens. “Later I thought to myself that if I would pretend to be Cindy Sherman, the last thing I would do would be to tell people I’m not Cindy Sherman,” says Keret. “I would be too embarrassed to say in the end I’m not Cindy Sherman. So I kind of thought in the end, like after she had left, that she probably was Cindy Sherman.”
Marina, Marina, on the wall (ok, screen), who’s the fairest museum director of them all? “Glenn Lowry is really one of the best-looking directors, because he takes care of himself,” Marina Abramović tells Andrew Goldman in a rollicking Q&A that will appear in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. “It’s true! I mean, look at the other ones. They are all overweight.” (We hear that the Museum of Modern Art honcho, pictured, keeps trim by balancing his love of ice cream with his passion for cycling.) They land on this topic after Goldman queries the artist about the potential “career calculus” of an e-mail she apparently sent to Lowry (before landing her MoMA retrospective) thanking him for coming to dinner and complimenting his “sexy” physique. “You’re like Rupert Murdoch! Who sent this e-mail? I don’t remember that I said this,” she replies, later adding, “I didn’t get that show because I said that Glenn Lowry is sexy. I think it was much more about the quality of the work.” Meanwhile, she’s less than enamored with MoMA these days. This exchange leads off the Q&A:
Watching the new documentary about you, The Artist Is Present, got me curious about the economics of performance art. In 2010, you did a show at the Museum of Modern Art, where you sat for 700 hours, staring at visitors. It was seen by as many as 750,000 people, and during that time the museum collected millions in receipts. Did you get a cut of the door, like a musician?
I got so little I don’t even want to tell. I was paid an honorarium of exactly $100,000. It covered one year of my work, plus how much I pay for assistants and office rent.
That seems low.
I made an enormous installation out of the project, which took me one and a half years and some of my own money. They should have this major piece, but they completely ran over me.
Will Avenir live happily after in the strong yet graceful arms of Adobe Garamond Pro? Can Martha Stewart-y Archer ever make it work with Eurostile? See for yourself by playing Type Connection, a fontastic online dating game created by Aura Seltzer, an MFA student in graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. “Type Connection stems from an idea I had that typefaces’ personalities on paper are really very similar to those of people,” Seltzer told Mohawk Fine Papers’ Felt & Wire blog recently. “Typefaces also have certain physiques, voices, and virtues, and in certain designs, they would benefit from companionship.” Choose a single and get ready to mingle by selecting one of four strategies for finding a good match for your bachelor or bachelorette typeface. In addition to honing typeface-pairing skills, players explore typographic terminology and brush up on type history. Meanwhile, you’ll never look at Gil Sans the same way again—the British octogenarian is revealed to be an emotional eater who wears quirky spectacles.
The internet was suddenly abuzz late last week, just before the weekend, when everyone’s favorite French designer Philippe Starck told a newspaper that he was working with Apple on a revolutionary product that would be out in the next few months. That certainly would be exciting, given that the internet nearly implodes when there’s even a hint of something Apple related in the works, and due to Starck’s long legacy in product design. Unfortunately, Starck also sometimes seems to mangle his words a touch, or exclaim lofty ambitions that maybe aren’t so grounded in reality. Over the weekend, Apple released a statement saying that no, they weren’t working with Starck on anything. Shortly thereafter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the designer laid everything out a bit more clearly, explaining that he’s working with Steve Jobs’ family on building a yacht. All of this, of course, makes much more sense, given that Apple generally keeps their product design very in-house (and certainly away from chatterboxes) and Starck now has something of a history building eco-friendly mega-yachts. We liked these couple of sentences the WSJ put together, summing up this recent there-and-gone story:
This episode has proved two things. Anything said about Apple provokes a huge buzz among the company’s followers. And Mr. Starck, who has waved his minimalist magic wand over everything from a toothbrush to a lemon squeezer to a mineral water bottle to penknives to hotels, likes to talk about himself.