At 85, Mickey Mouse is spry as ever and fronting a Moleskine notebook that debuts today in stores worldwide. The notebooks, available in two sizes, feature Moleskine’s signature black covers debossed with Mickey being seized by creative inspiration (lightbulb hovering over ears, hoisting a giant pencil). Inside, there’s a booklet with instructions on how to draw the beloved mouse, Disney-style. Milan-based studio SVPERBE Creative Visionaries got into the spirit with this video that takes Mickey from sketch to screen.
Ring! ring! It’s the future calling. With NYC’s current payphone contracts set to expire in 2014, the city is scouting for ways to modernize payphone infrastructure across the five boroughs and put all of that public space to the best possible use. Hence Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s appearance (via video link) at a December meeting of the New York Tech Meetup, where he announced the “Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge,” a competition to rally urban designers, planners, technologists, and policy experts to create physical and virtual prototypes that imagine the future of NYC’s public pay telephones. Frog Design hopped to it, and while the list of semi-finalists who will present their concepts at next Tuesday’s Demo Day has yet to be announced, something tells us Frog will be among them. In a talk on Saturday at Parsons’ Aftertaste symposium, Frog creative director Jonas Damon offered a sneak peek at the firm’s vision for payphones of the future:
The Getty is looking to seize the momentum of last year’s “Pacific Standard Time” L.A. art bonanza with an equally collaborative (yet smaller-scale) celebration of SoCal architecture. The new initiative, “Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A.,” will take the form of 11 exhibitions and related events in and around Los Angeles that will run from April through July. Grab your dog-eared copy of City of Quartz and prepare to survey what $3.6 million in Getty-funded grants can do.
Among the exhibitions to look forward to: the Getty’s own “In Focus: Ed Ruscha” (“a concentrated look at Ruscha’s engagement with L.A.’s vernacular architecture, urban landscape, and car culture”), “The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA,” and “Quincy Jones: Building For Better Living” at the Hammer Museum. Moby is up for it. In the below video about “Pacific Standard Time Presents,” the musician, DJ, photographer, and en”tea“repreneur riffs on LA architecture, in all its “mind-numbingly complicated” glory.
Friends, colleagues, family members, and fans of Bill Moggridge gathered recently in New York City to remember and celebrate the life of the pioneering yet playful designer, teacher, and Cooper-Hewitt director, who died last fall at the age of 69. After a moving introduction by acting director Caroline Baumann (the museum committee tasked with selecting a worthy successor to Moggridge need not look further than his longtime deputy), Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough took to the podium, describing the man of the evening as “a perpetual pin to deflate our pomposity” and marveling at Moggridge’s take on dressing up: “He could pull off wearing a t-shirt, and I never could.”
A charming video tribute created by one of Moggridge’s two sons was followed by a discussion with Bill Buxton, David Kelley, Bruce Nussbaum, Ellen Lupton, and moderator Helen Walters. “He really knew what the future was going to bring,” said Kelley, who joined up with Moggridge and Mike Nuttall in 1991 to form IDEO and credited Moggridge with instilling an enduring openness in the global design consultancy. “He was just this kind of teacher person,” added Kelley. “I never had an interaction with him where I didn’t feel better afterwards.” Enjoy more Moggridge memories in the below video of the event.
The Science Channel, our source for the highly unscientific adventures of misanthropic savant Karl Pilkington, has marshaled the forces of CGI animation for Strip the City. The new six-part series aims to “strip major cities naked of their steel, concrete, air, ocean, and bedrock–layer by layer, act by act–to explore their hidden infrastructure and solve key mysteries surrounding their origins, geology, archaeology, industry, weather, and engineering.” First up on the stripping block (pole?) is San Francisco, where thare’s fire-fighting water in them thar valleys. Take a sip of your urbane beverage every time someone says “plate tectonics.” Watch a clip below and tune in to Science on Tuesday nights for new episodes that will dramatically dislodge the infrastructure of the likes of Sydney, London, and Toronto.
New York’s Grand Central Terminal is an ideal spot for a flash mob–remember when Moncler Grenoble’s stone-faced model-dancers took to the floor in Carlo Mollino-inspired skiwear? As part of the big 100th birthday bash, the insta-happening experts at Improv Everywhere recruited 135 LED-flashlight-wielding performers to light up Grand Central’s grand windows, mesmerizing passersby. The impressively choreographed affair, a project cooked up with MTA Arts for Transit, was something of a homecoming for Improv Everywhere, which in 2007 staged “Frozen Grand Central,” a flash freeze that has racked up 32 million views on YouTube. Watch both successful “missions” below.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is continuing its multimedia push with 82nd & Fifth, a new web series that will highlight 100 works of art from the Met collection. Each episode includes “Watch,” a two-minute audio and visual essay with a curator and a work of art from the Met collection that changed the way he or she sees the world; and “Explore,” an interactive feature that invites visitors to get closer to the work of art on their own. Among the first episodes is “Modern Living,” in which decorative arts curator Amelia Peck discusses the living room of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Little House. Watch the first six episodes of 82nd & Fifth here, and stay tuned for new episodes to be posted in pairs every Wednesday for the rest of the year.
The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up yesterday in Park City, Utah, and our pick for a breakout is Tony Donoghue‘s Irish Folk Furniture. The charming animated documentary (watch it below) follows the fate of 16 pieces of traditional folk furniture as they are repaired and return home. “In Ireland, old hand-painted furniture is often associated with hard times, with poverty, and with a time many would rather forget,” notes Donoghue, who worked for seven years at the Trust for Urban Ecology and the Natural History Museum in London before turning his full attention to filmmaking. When Irish Folk Furniture won the jury award for animation at the Sundance short film awards ceremony, he arrived at the podium carrying a pint. “The fact that I’m Irish and have this beer is completely coincidental,” Donoghue assured the audience.
Another day, another smashing design-themed documentary! In Reconversão, director Thom Andersen trains his lens on Pritzker winner Eduardo Souto de Moura with a blend of old-school (think Vertov and Muybridge) techniques and eye-popping HD wizardry. Zooming in on 17 of the Portugese architect’s buildings and unrealized projects, and overlaid with his own words (via a guest voiceover), the film gives Souto de Moura–a master of the reborn ruin–the last word: “If there is nothing there,” he says in an on-screen interview. “I invent a pre-existence.” Keep an eye out for the documentary as it makes the festival rounds. We think it’s the perfect primer before delving into Phaidon’s forthcoming jumbo Souto de Moura monograph.
In a recent 60 Minutes segment, Charlie Rose and producer Katherine Davis profiled IDEO co-founder David Kelley (and revealed that even Steve Jobs himself struggled in getting AT&T to activate one of the first iPhones). This part of the piece, in which Rose pays a visit to Kelley’s Ettore Sottsass-designed home near Palo Alto, ended up on the cutting room floor, but CBS has released it as an online extra. “It’s supposed to be a humble, private house, where you don’t make a big deal out of it,” Kelley tells Rose. “That’s why it’s so plain on the front.” Sottsass studded the living room with bluish green boxes, to break up the space and make it more cozy. Here, Kelley reveals what’s inside them. Plus, his teenage daughter has an entire little (Monopoly-style) house to herself. Notes Kelley, “Ettore thought that if you were a kid you should have your own house rather than your own room.”