If you awoke yesterday with the sense that the world had, overnight, become a little less creative and thoughtful, there’s a simple but terribly sad explanation: Bill Drenttel died on Saturday. He was 60 years old. The incisive, charismatic design mind is being mourned and remembered throughout the design world, and we call your attention to this video portrait of Drenttel and his wife and partner, Jessica Helfand, created earlier this year by Dress Code to commemorate the couple’s matched pair of 2013 AIGA Medals.
Bill Cunningham’s photo of Editta Sherman on the subway dates to around 1968-1976.
With the first snow flurries behind us and the deep freeze still ahead, we turn our thoughts briefly to spring, a season inevitably heralded by a selection of pastel-hued or floral-dappled ensembles captured by Bill Cunningham. This March the beloved New York Times photographer gets a spotlight of his own as the New York Historical Society mounts “Façades,” an exhibition that will explore Cunningham’s eight-year project documenting the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City. The photos, taken between 1968 and 1976, pair models in period costumes with historic settings such as St. Paul’s Chapel and Rockefeller Center. Fellow photographer Editta Sherman, captured in profile in front of Grand Central Station crowned in an elaborate hat (recall Cunningham’s early career as a milliner), manages to give Jules-Félix Coutan‘s mythological statues a run for their money.
Sometimes a font is just a font, except when it is based on the handwriting of Sigmund Freud. Harald Geisler turned his fascination with the famed psychoanalyst’s century-old letters into an elegant typeface. “It made me smile to imagine a person writing his or her shrink a letter set in Freud’s handwriting,” says the typopgrapher, who studied original documents in the archives of Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna and Freud Museum London to develop four alphabets that are interchanged at random. Don’t be surprised if the elegant letters show up in your dreams.
More than three decades after John Lennon‘s untimely death, a Bermuda museum remembers him with a stylized sculpture. Writer Nancy Lazarus takes a closer look.
The picturesque island of Bermuda is a long way and a far cry from the hectic urban settings of Liverpool, England where John Lennon grew up, and from New York City, where his life ended on December 8, 1980. The British musician and artist spent several months in Bermuda during his last trip abroad, and the island served as his muse. Bermuda pays special tribute with “Double Fantasy,” a sculpture dedicated last year in Lennon’s honor.
Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art commissioned local sculptor Graham Foster to create the six-foot Cor-Ten steel structure. The work shows a stylized double-sided profile of Lennon and his “granny” glasses with his Rickenbacker guitar, doves of peace, and the double fantasy freesia flower. At approximately 4,000 pounds, it’s a weighty piece, and sits on a raised flowerbed in a courtyard near the museum’s entrance. The sculpture is located in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, on the island’s south shore in Paget parish.
Kitsch Kringle is coming to town. ‘Tis the season for John Waters to regale audiences with tales of twisted traditions and real-life holiday horror stories. The filmmaker, author, and hitchhiker is on the road with “A John Waters Christmas,” his one-man show of yuletide lunacy. This week Waters’ sleigh alights in New Orleans, Nashville, and Atlanta, before two weekend dates in New York City (at Stage 48). “There’s no way you can really avoid the steamroller of Christmas. But I do have advice for every kind of way it’s coming at you,” he told The New York Times recently. “I get into everything in the show, from Christmas music to Christmas movies to what you should give to how to deal with parents who are abusive at Christmas. I also tell the audience what I want.” Spoiler alert: A Myron Stout drawing, Visconti’s ascot, and Brigid Berlin‘s prescription bottle of Obetrol, the diet pills of Andy Warhol. We’re asking for a galley of Carsick, Waters’ upcoming book, slated for publication in June by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Last fall, Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers launched a number of initiatives to attract and develop design talent, and now they’ve recruited the ultimate design mind: John Maeda. The computer scientist, artist, author, designer, and overall shape shifter announced this week that he will leave his post as president of the Rhode Island School of Design at the end of the fall semester to become design partner at KPCB.
In his new role, Maeda will help KPCB’s entrepreneurs build design into their company cultures; he will also chair the eBay Design Advisory Board, working with the company to evolve design capabilities. “The courage, inspiration and rigor that RISD students show in their work and their choices to lead—why we say that RISD is the Reason I’m Sleep Deprived—is what inspired me to seize these opportunities,” Maeda notes in the video farewell (below) he sent earlier this week to the RISD community. “I am passionate about revealing art and design’s role in innovation, and this next step represented irresistible pathways to strengthen design’s place in the digital age.”
Ursula von Rydingsvard in front of Ona, her 19-foot-high cast-bronze sculpture at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Photo: Piotr Redlinski/The New York Times)
On a crisp October Monday in the year 2000, a persistent ringing shattered the predawn silence at the New York home that the scientist Paul Greengard shares with his wife, the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. “Paul muttered something like, ‘What jerk is calling at five in the morning?’” recalls von Rydingsvard with a gleam in her eye. Their daughter, staying in an adjoining bedroom, picked up the phone to drowsily greet a stranger with a Swedish accent—calling from the Nobel Prize Committee. Greengard was soon wide awake.
Later that day, the couple’s young grandson clutched a bouquet of yellow tulips and led a family procession through the gates of the Rockefeller University, where Greengard has been Vincent Astor Professor and headed the laboratory of molecular and cellular neuroscience since 1983, and onto a hastily planned university-wide celebration. It was during this happy walk to Caspari Hall that Greengard told von Rydingsvard of his idea to use his Nobel winnings—approximately $400,000—to create another prize, one that would recognize the accomplishments of women in science and be named in honor of his mother, Pearl Meister Greengard.
The Keith Haring Foundation is continuing its support of New York’s New Museum, pledging $500,000 to support and name the museum’s school, teen, and family programs. The gift follows the foundation’s 2008 grant of $1 million to establish a fund for school and youth programs at the New Museum and to name the Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement—a post currently held by Johanna Burton.
In other New Museum news, #ArtsTech Meetup founder Julia Kaganskiy has been named director of the institution’s new incubator for art, technology, and design. The initiative, slated to launch in summer 2014 in the building adjacent to the museum, will be a educational and professional workspace: “a dynamic 24/7 center where creative start-up entrepreneurs and artists will form a vibrant interdisciplinary community geared toward collaboration and innovation.”
Look no further for your Thanksgiving dinner soundtrack, design fans, because Karim Rashid has cut an album. The globe-trotting bundle of hot-pink charisma has added electro-pop music composer to his resume with “Change the World,” released this week on iTunes. The EP, which includes three songs in eight mixtastic variations, features the vocal stylings of Rashid transmogrified through Auto-Tune and set against pulsating dance beats.
The lead track, “Nutopia,” a musing on love and design (“I fell in love one too many times / I designed one too many things”), sounds like a brooding robot’s cover of Tom Tom Club, which is to say we’ve had it playing on a loop since Tuesday. Many of the lyrics—heavy on dreams for a fluid, biomorphic world—recall Rashid’s 2001 manifesto, “I Want to Change the World,” while “Love Kolor” is a more playful pop arrangement about his chromatic obsession (rage on beige!) in a gray, gray world. Think pink!
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.
With a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.
Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.
Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.
As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.