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Archives: June 2005

Unbeige @ Renegade Craft Fair

renetitle.gifUnbeige had a big weekend. We also stopped by the Renegade Craft Fair, held in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park. This was the fair’s first year in New York; it was started two years ago by two major DIY’ers Sue Blatt and Kathleen Habbley. (The fair comes this year to Chicago’s Wicker Park September 24-25.) Craft fairs usually freak us out—all that weird ropy jewelry and batik wrap skirts—but these were crafts we could get behind. Some of the items were just a bit too preciously hipster—felt clutches silkscreened with square-rimmed glasses?—but there were lots of great DIY tees, lots of iPod cozies, lots of letterpressed stationery, and some adorable infant wear that made us want to steal a baby and dress it up.

We couldn’t resist buying two things from Scraps of Paper by Kristin Amico, an online purveyor of handmade books and stationery who played on two of our weaknesses—the Nancy Drew mystery series and t-strap shoes. We fell for these recycled hardcover journals (we even snagged one bound with one of our favorite installments, The Clue of the Velvet Mask) and these handsewn notecards. There were also great cards made from the sewn pages of Harold and the Purple Crayon and James and the Giant Peach.

Giant Dwarf Design was the only other vendor who took our money, with comfy American Apperel tees embellished with pinwheels of vintage ’20s fabric and buttons. (Also: A cloche hat for every occasion!)

There were also great, but pricey, pillows from This Is Swigg.

Cards and invitations from Berkeley-based Saturate Design

Plus bookplates from The Polka Dot Life , bookmarks from if’n books, and beautiful sterling silver necklaces from Amy Tavern:

It was kind of impossible to tell sometimes who had made it big (apparently the girl from Evanescence wore an Amy Tavern necklack to the Grammys) but the one thing we recognized was the work of Jay Ryan, the Chicago artist who designed the cover of Michael Chabon’s latest novella, The Final Solution. Ryan has an online gallery of great concert posters—Built to Spill, TV On the Radio, Califone, Kings of Convenience, etc.—and original designs. Check it out.

Unbeige @ Giant Robot

This weekend, Unbeige went to check out the opening of Giant Robot New York, the magazine’s first retail outpost on the East Coast. They threw a party from 6-10 pm to celebrate, but we missed out on the festivities because we had to haul-ass to Chelsea for an opening at 7 pm (which we couldn’t even cover because the “artists” were “afraid” of cameras). All sweaty and tired, we thought the GR store would have been packed, so we decided to go the nearest bar to drink our night away instead.

First published as a photocopied ‘n stapled zine in 1994 by Eric Nakamura and Martin Wong, Giant Robot covers everything from “movie stars, musicians, and skateboarders to toys, technology, and history” with an Asian-American twist. The design itself has evolved throughout the years but has always remained fresh and energetic. Covers have been designed by everyone from KAWS to Takashi Murakami to Geoff McFetridge, and content has covered everything from Thai horror movie posters to pharmacy labels in Cambodia to Japanese concentration camp art.

The store has a little bit of everything–books, toys, shirts, posters–it’s an impressive collection with something for everyone (we were tempted by several things but remembered the cable bill was due, damn you Time Warner!!).

Make sure you check out the store if you’re in the neighborhood. Just promise to ignore us while we stare longingly at all the great stuff from outside. Giant Robot New York is located at 437 E. 9th St. (bet. 1st & A).

HOTNESS or NOTNESS: Sprint

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Sprint’s unveiled their new logo!

From the press release:

Blending elements of Sprint’s signature “pin drop”–representing clarity–and Nextel’s bold yellow and black colors–which command attention–the new logo is a powerful symbol for the new Sprint as a forward-moving, energetic and dynamic brand.

Unbeige isn’t a Sprint fan–we remember barely getting a signal anywhere we went and then having to deal with an exorbitant bill each month–but we admit we like the modern approach they’re taking with their logo. Points for ditching the dull white/red scheme, more points for keeping Nextel’s dynamic yellow, and extra points for font choice, but the first thing we though of when we saw the new logo was the Acela logo. Yes, we’re aware they’re completely different, but that’s just what came to mind, mmmkay?

We just can’t shake the feeling that we’ve seen this logo–in some form or another–somewhere else before. Has anyone else? Email kenny AT mediabistro DOT com and let us know what your thoughts on the new Sprint logo: HOTNESS or NOTNESS? We’ll spread the comments like butter next week (if anyone writes in)…

Nike: Source of Much Hipster Dischord

OK, that’s it. The antipathy Unbeige has for Nike has been well documented. Now there’s another nail in the coffin: Pitchfork reports that Nike has copped an album cover from Minor Threat, the early ’80s D.C. underground band, and used it to promote a new skateboarding campaign.

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This totally reminds us of the queasy feeling we had when we first saw that car commercial set to Baba O’Riley. Oh, but wait: Dischord Records, the label behind the Minor Threat catalog, didn’t agree to license the cover to Nike. Pitchfork gets a quote from the label:

Nike represents just about the antithesis of what Dischord stands for and it makes me sick to my stomach to think they are using this explicit imagery to fool kids into thinking that the general ethos of this label, and Minor Threat in particular, can somehow be linked to Nike’s mission. It’s disgusting.

It’s also sad: We don’t know if Dischord is still run out of a house in suburban Maryland or what, but if they decide to take legal action against Nike, it’s hardly going to mar the corporate behemoth’s image. On the other hand, how do you go messing with the 10th most punk person in the world? That’s balls, Nike.

Pitchfork makes a good point: “Come on, Nike, your Swoosh is one of the most iconic brand images in the world, perhaps a tiny notch below the Golden Arches and maybe Coca-Cola; you don’t need to be appropriating another culture for yourselves.”

Personally, we can’t wait for the Major Threat television commercial, set to this jaunty Minor Threat tune:

It’s just not fair
You did nothing to deserve it
You did nothing at all
Sit back and watch
It turns from bad to worse
No matter how loud you cry
It always hurts
Boy I’m glad I’m not in your shoes

(Related: Andrew Krucoff is pissed.)

UPDATE: Nike apologizes.

Awkwardly Designed Cards for Awkward Moments

We’re not fans of awkward moments, so we’ve used Spell with Flickr (handwriting would be just too personal) to come up with a series of postcards you can email when you need to break the news about something, err, awkward.

Click to enlarge, and then right-click and send to those who (used to) love you…

The Walker Art Center: Insistently Hip?

In the July issue of House & Garden, architecture critic Martin Filler issues a lethal takedown of the recently unveiled addition to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Pritzker Prize-winning firm that turned a London power station into the Tate Modern several years ago, the addition has garnered both praise and vitriol in broadsheets and blogs since opening this past April. Now it’s the glossies turn.

Here’s what Filler has to say about the design:

The architects devised a module of square, perforated aluminum panels embossed with an abstract pattern. Up close, the irregular surface resembles crumpled paper, but from just across the street the subtle effect is barely legible, though at night the lanternlike structure takes on an intriguing inner radiance. (Ed. note: We’re still playing sorta nice here. But then…
)

The chunky, angular addition—its dull gray metal skin pierced by a few irregularly shaped windows—brings to mind Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin. So do the Walker’s overwrought circulation spaces, where every plane tilts this way or that in a futile effort to seem exciting. But this warmed-over deconstructivism feels fatally dated.

Halbreich and her chief curator, Richard Flood, agreed that though they wanted to replicate the calm character of Barnes’s galleries, there was no need for the entire addition to follow a single, low-key aesthetic. However they went to the opposite extreme by endorsing a schizoid stylistic mix of interiors. As you move among jittery expressionist corridors, serene modernist galleries, and an ironic rococo theater, the tripolar mood swings seem silly rather than scintillating.

Not every museum turns out to be timeless…
but neither is civic architecture disposable…. Because parts of the new Walker already seem passé, it’s hard to imagine that the addition as a whole will age gracefully.

Ouch. The design is a bit, uh, hulking, but we actually like the texture of the panels—it’s a nice, battered alternative to all that swoopy Gehryness. Thing is, we’d be interested to see a major new project that’s not made of aluminum. 2005 needs a new “it” material. What’s it gonna be?

Previous reviews of the Walker from The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Related: We couldn’t resist posting some of our favorite entries to the City Pages’ inspired “What the Hell Does the Walker Look Like?” contest.

Nintendo’s Smoking Some Good Sh*t

Because you’ve always wanted to attack your roommate with fruit, you should check out Touching is Good in video games, the Grand Prize winner of Nintendo’s Touching is Good competition.

More Nintyness: A print ad for Nintendo’s new Kirby game on the DS:

We liked the print ad but we loved, loved, loved the Kirby TV commercial. Turn up those speakers and get friendly with your neighbor, neighbor!

Mags We Love: Edge

Our second entry in the Mags We Love series is Edge, a gaming magazine published in the U.K.

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Although gaming journalism is still relatively in its infancy, there are a couple of gaming magazines that acknowledge the fact that the average video game enthusiast is–depending on your source–somewhere between the ages of 25 and 30. Edge towers over them all by having a winning combination of adult-oriented content (actual articles, more issue-driven, industry/tech-heavy, etc.), and a smart, sophisticated design that fantastically balances serious and playful at the same time.


(pic from 4ColorRebellion)

Read more

Girl, Those Are Tie-errrd!

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There’s a good list of design cliches over at Speak Up/Under Consideration that includes old faithfuls like the lightbulb and the globe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention any alternatives to these symbols and it includes one or two odd entries (the spine??), but we suppose it’s meant to inspire and create discussion instead (which it’s doing quite well–make sure you check out the entertaining comments from readers).

There’s a Wild Pac-Mondrian Out There!

From the Why Didn’t Someone Think of This Earlier category comes Pac-Mondrian, a video game/art project that combines the 1980s gaming character with Mondrian’s ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’ painting. Go on and get your chomp on, no quarters required.

Don’t miss the sequel: Ms. Pac-Manet (ouch).

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