As you—designers and the people who love them—prepare to sit down (in all manner of interesting chairs) to Thanksgiving dinner, during which you’ll again struggle to explain to family and friends exactly what it is that you do, we got to thinking what we’re thankful for this year. All it took was a look through some recent posts to remind us. Below, a very non-exhaustive list:
What do you get the designer or design buff who has everything (besides another Pentagram calendar)? No, really, what do you get them? We’re asking because we’ve decided to assemble the first ever UnBeige Holiday Gift Guide, a round-up of design-minded gift ideas—or just plain nifty things. So what are you giving or hoping to get this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Voodoo Day? Let us know by e-mailing your ideas to unbeige AT mediabistro.com with “gift guide” in the subject line. You’ve got until Thanksgiving, at which point we’ll be making our list, checking it twice—oh, you get the picture.
The new(ish) New York Times building isn’t just pretty to look at (and fun to climb), it’s also exceeding expectations when it comes to energy efficiency. Designed by Renzo Piano in association with FXFOWLE Architects, the 52-story, 1.6-million-square-foot tower won’t leave the light on for you—or anyone else for that matter. Lighting for the entire building is controlled by a cutting-edge light management system (Lutron Electronics‘ Quantum), and it has achieved a whopping 70% energy savings compared to the building’s already ambitious benchmark for energy efficiency.
“We designed our building to use 1.28 Watts per square foot of lighting power. With Quantum, it’s using only 0.38,” said Glenn Hughes, director of construction for The New York Times Company during the design, installation, and commissioning of the building, in a press release issued by Lutron. “The energy usage savings is stunning.” The system works by setting the appropriate target light level for each space, automatically dimming electric lights when enough daylight is present, and turning lights off when space is vacant. It’s estimated that the savings in lighting energy usage will mean an annual savings of about $315,000 for the Times Company—a sum equivalent to the price of 78,750 copies of the Sunday paper. Click “continued…” for a look inside the building, although be warned that the photos will make your office jealous.
What do you get the designer or design buff who has everything (besides another Pentagram calendar and 17 years worth of Visionaire)? No, really, what do you get them? We’re asking because we’ve decided to assemble the first ever UnBeige Holiday Gift Guide, a round-up of design-minded gift ideas—or just plain nifty things. So what are you giving or hoping to get this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or Voodoo Day? Let us know by e-mailing your ideas to unbeige AT mediabistro.com with “gift guide” in the subject line. You’ve got until Thanksgiving, at which point we’ll be making our list, checking it twice—oh, you get the picture.
It’s here. That day when you can dress up like anything you want, scare little children, and demand candy from strangers—all with festive impunity. That’s right, it’s late funnyman John Candy‘s birthday! He would have been 58 today. Coincidentally, it’s also Halloween (observe today’s spoooooky Google homepage graphic). You know that Team UnBeige is going as Charles and Ray Eames (although we won’t get very far trick-or-treating, as chairs are a key element of our costumes), but we thought we’d give you, our loyal and perhaps still costumeless readers, a few ideas for quick, easy, and design-minded getups for this All Hallow’s Eve:
5. ASME’s 2008 Magazine Cover of the Year. No one can get enough of Barbara Kruger‘s New York magazine-commissioned take on the Eliot Spitzer scandal. Here’s your chance to keep the momentum going through fall. Grab a suit, a blood red tie, and what we’ve always sworn is a touch of eyeliner before printing out BRAIN in white Future Bold Italic on a red ground, and you’re good to go. Trick or treat, indeed.
4. The Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion. Swathe yourself in shiny yet reptilian white plastic and carry a Chanel handbag. Don’t stay anywhere for very long. Zaha Hadid-designed shoes and Karl Lagerfeld teddy bear optional.
Among the letters to the editor published in yesterday’s New York Times was one from photographer Alfred Gescheidt, who wrote (in the wake of the still bubbling brouhaha over Barry Blitt‘s New Yorker cover) of his experience with the relativity of political satire. Gescheidt, who memorably montaged a royal crown onto a photo of then First Lady Nancy Reagan to create a “Queen Nancy” postcard, noted that while “most considered this card clever satire, others thought it crossed the line into vulgarity.” As for the official reaction:
The publisher received an official White House letter from Ronald Reagan‘s lawyer, warning him that many considered it the ultimate in bad taste. Yet Mrs. Reagan herself said on TV that she would never wear a crown because it would only mess up her hair. My federal income tax was audited for three consecutive years.
We’re feeling a little queasy here at UnBeige headquarters, having spent much of the day chasing down Nutella-smeared baguettes and flaky delicacies from nearby Payard with too many flutes of Moët & Chandon. And so, while we retire to our Pierre Paulin-designed Mushroom chairs to enjoy a screening of Le Ballon Rouge, we offer you Paul Tedeschi‘s charming tribute to a wiser choice of festive beverages on this Bastille Day: Orangina. “Back in the stone age of web-based animation, oh, maybe five years ago, I put this together to entertain my clients at Snapple,” noted Tedeschi last fall when posting the below video to YouTube. “I set it to the Canadian nation anthem because, frankly, the French one isn’t all that funny.” For further proof of Tedeschi’s anthemic assertion, we point you to Jean Renoir‘s 1938 film La Marseillaise, which only becomes funny after the aforementioned quantity of champagne. A votre santé!
As we mentioned the other day, author and architecture/design/city planning expert, Diana Lind, is finally answering questions sent in to the NY Times about all things Brooklyn-related. And it looks like she’s out to not disappoint a single person, as she’s answered, in two parts, a bazillion of the submitted questions, from the obvious stuff about the controversial Atlantic Yards project to the more hypothetical, such as how all of the ubiquitous new housing construction will be viewed in the future (as oft-putting as it is today? or will people slowly get used to it once it starts to get some years on it?). Even if you don’t care a lick about Brooklyn, there’s some great discussion therein and you’d apt to get something out of it no matter where you live, even here in fly-over country. Here’s a pick about how big and tall Brooklyn might get:
At the moment, the tallest building in Brooklyn is the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, a k a One Hanson Place. The tallest structure in the Atlantic Yards project, called Miss Brooklyn, will rise 511 feet — one foot shorter than the bank. Because the project’s developer, Forest City Ratner, has yet to identify an anchor tenant for the building and rumors have circulated about the project’s lack of financing, I’m not convinced Miss Brooklyn will be built at such an enormous size. She was originally designed to be 620 feet tall — she might shrink even farther.
And if that isn’t enough for you, the site promises a third and final installment of Q&A sometime later today.
Surely inspired by this story in the NY Times a month or so back, “Parent Shock: Children Are Not Decor,” The Independent just published this piece yesterday, “My New Baby Is Destroying My Perfect Designer Home.” It’s simply a series of entries by a self-professed “design-freak-turned-new-mother,” wherein she complains about how her new child isn’t doing its part in keeping her fancy, well-designed home as pretty as possible. While it’s very simple to cast judgement on the people in both stories (the ones in the NY Times piece get off a little easier), reading each with a perpetual “tsk-tsk-tsk” emanating from your mouth, we somewhat understand that that has to be an incredibly difficult transition when your baby first comes home. But christ almighty, why would you ever agree to do a piece in a major newspaper about it?! No matter how positive the light they cast you in, there is absolutely no way to come out of something like this looking anything less than a heartless, materialistic jerk. Case in point:
December 2007: The black high chair has arrived. It is beautiful. The baby is beautiful. The baby looks beautiful in it. More importantly, the room still looks beautiful.
See?! We’re sure she’s a perfectly nice, capable mother, but gah, that quote! And that’s just one of many! So please, let this be a lesson to you design-obsessed, expecting parents, especially those of you who live in fancy houses: if you catch a reporter sniffing around, chase them off or call the police. You don’t need everyone who reads the newspaper hating you.
In case you missed it, PingMag has gotten into the popular “show us your desk” trend, wherein people take photographs of where they spend their days working (based off the, well, nearly every website over the past couple of years). But they’re putting a nice spin on the standard, which, much like how this writer’s mother feels about those home remodeling shows on HGTV, never seems to get boring. What Ping is doing is holding a Japan vs. UK contest, to pit British designer’s desks against Japanese designer’s desks, in a winner-take-all, battle to the death, all in the name of celebrating UK-JAPAN 2008. In truth, even though it’s billed as such, there really isn’t anything competitive about the whole thing. It, once again, just follows that fun pattern of enjoying looking at where designers do their thing, while simultaneously allowing you to raise and lower your pride and ego at will, depending on how much better or worse your desk is to each photo.