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Archives: October 2006

Zaha Comes Home

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A great feature story in yesterday’s Guardian about uber-architect Zaha Hadid’s sort-of-homecoming by finally unveiling her first building in her long-time residence in England. Despite having had an office in London for the past twenty-six years, she’d never once done anything in her own neck of the woods. But that’s all changing when the doors to the Maggie’s Center, a medical facility which is part of the Victoria Hospital in Fife. From the article, you learn why its development has been an incredibly personal journey for Hadid. Here’s some:

Zaha Hadid’s building is not the sort of thing you would expect to see within the grounds of any NHS trust hospital, much less one whose main exposed feature beyond its rectangular tower block is its car park. But Hadid and her client spotted an opportunity. On the edge of the car park there is a wilderness dipping into a hollow, and by placing a small building on its edge facing away from the hospital a sense of calm may be obtained by those within it. The seamless fold of the steel structure suggests a single cell before it starts to multiply and cause havoc; after the bad news and the uncomfortable treatment in the main building, a person may return to a state of wellbeing and poise in an atmosphere of mutual support.

Spatter and Drip Your Way to Quittin’ Time

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We can think of no better way to wind down on a Friday afternoon.

Thanks to Steve from Wire Donkey.

Stefan Bucher Covers Tucson With Love

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By now you must realize that Stefan Bucher’s 344 loves you. But did you know that Bucher loves Tucson so much that he flew there to paint his little love bubbles on a storefront mural? We love when designers show a little freedom of expression.

You can see more photos of the mural here, and he even has a time-lapse movie of the entire process.

When 110% Just Isn’t Cutting It…

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To start closing out this afternoon, and make you feel pretty guilty if you were planning on sneaking out of the office around 4:45, is a terrific essay from those terrific fellas over at ideasonideas. This time around it’s a piece called “9 to 5 = Average” and it’s all about the importance of getting the job done, but more so about going above and beyond, to take a certain passion in your work, the kind you tried to associate yourself with when you were begging for the job in the first place. It’s a great read and one of those things that you take a look at and think, “Dang, that’s right.” Granted, it’s going to be a little frustrating for some people, if you’re not in a position at a place that you really care about, but for those of us who are lucky enough to have landed a spot, it’s a good call to arms to maybe start pushing yourself a little harder.

More Stars! More Legends! More Bierut!

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As we recover from our exhilarating marathon gabfest at the Design Legends Gala Wednesday night (that’s our boy Bierut accepting his Medal above), a few more highlights from the evening. You can also read more Gala coverage by Fast Company’s number-one design fan, Linda Tischler.

Early in the evening, we complimented Massimo and Lella Vignelli on their photo in the NY Times from last week’s National Design Awards and asked if it was their first time pictured in the paper. Not the first time, said Massimo, and probably not the last time, either. With a twinkle in his eye, he hinted he probably wouldn’t be able to see that last one.

Otis’ Kali Nakitis was crowned with the best hair of the night, a scintillating tiara of tinsel and rhinestones protruding from her awesome curls. Dana Arnett’s Harley-riding persona shone through his formal attire; dozens of multi-colored buttons zig-zagged up his shirt. Friend-of-Paul-Smith Michael Hodgson’s cuffs were ruffled.

Alex Isley’s Spy book comes out this week, so we asked him what it was like working with Kurt Andersen. “Good speakerphone conversations,” said Isley. We heard Andersen’s disembodied voice during dinner but he had vanished before we could corner him. Maybe we’ll catch him on the radio.

For all you budding design writers, Alice Twemlow told us she’s chairing a brand-new MFA program for design criticism at SVA. Sign up next summer, class begins in fall of 2008. Our new best friend Steven Heller disclosed information about his voluminous new website and a fondness for Lindsay Lohan (not featured on his website). The dapper Joe Duffy (an UnBeige reader!) handed us an aluminum business card thick enough to slice cheese.

And one note about someone who was not in attendance: rumor had it, SF do-gooder Michael Osborne was given a Fellow Award (the local-level equivalent of a Medal), but instead of traveling to New York to accept, he donated the equivalent in paint to an in-need group of young creatives. Now that’s the stuff of legends.

One More Go ‘Round With the DDW

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You didn’t think we were going to leave the Dutch alone for more than a couple of days, did you? Oh, silly reader, you’re such a silly fool. By way of dezain, we found that DesignWS has a huge, largely pictorial, feature on the recent Dutch Design Week (and it’s in English this time, unlike that last post of ours). The photos are terrific, the brief rundowns are interesting, and the more you look at it, the more you’ll kick yourself for not going, saying, “Man, I wish I’d have gone to Dutch.” And you’ll sound stupid for saying that, because “Dutch” isn’t the name of a country. You should really get off these blogs and start reading more books.

Porsche Starts Work on Its Own Castle in the Sand

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Armani’s doing it. Trump’s doing it. So who’s next? Apparently, it’s Porsche. Reported by Bloomberg yesterday, Porsche is getting in the booming building business in Dubai by starting plans for seventeen buildings, filled with mostly expensive high-rise condos, in what’s become the place to build, well, most anything. Seems like the money is moving in the right direction, seeing as that bubblin’ crude ain’t gonna last forever. Here’s some:

Porsche AG, the world’s most profitable carmaker, will design 17 buildings to be constructed around the world in partnership with the state-owned Dubai Properties, with the first tower located in the Gulf emirate.

“As one of fastest growing cities in the region, Dubai is an ideal place to create the world’s first Porsche Design Tower, a luxurious residential resort in Business Bay,’” Roland Heiler, Managing Director, Porsche Design Studios, said in an e-mailed statement released today by the Dubai company.

Brilliant Young Things Accept First Winterhouse Writing Awards

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We were honored to shake hands with Thomas de Monchaux and Katherine Feo last night, winners of the first Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing and Criticism. The two writers were presented with AIGA Medals bound in a Winterhouse-branded box and cash awards of $5000 and $1000, respectively. If that doesn’t inspire you to start sharpening your pencils, consider this story: Jessica Helfand presented the awards with her husband and Winterhouse partner William Drenttel, who admitted that they met when Helfand first recruited him to write a piece for AIGA’s Voice. Writing about design, he said, is a great way to get chicks.

I.D.’s Julie Lasky–undoubtedly one of the happiest editors we’ve ever met–was a juror for the awards and told us the winners definitely stood out: de Monchaux for his grasp of architectural history and Feo because she was flat-out funny.

When asked what they would do with her winnings, de Monchaux said he would get a computer with a working “x” key, while an exceptionally well-dressed Feo lamented, “You’re looking at it.”

Three New AIGA Medalists and a Million Grins

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Michael Bierut was predictably charming. Lorraine Wild was positively sparkling. And we’ve never seen Rick Valicenti smile so big.

The men and woman of the hour at last night’s Design Legends Gala were the topic of conversation in every circle, surrounded by decades of students, co-workers, mentors, collaborators, and many of their very best friends.

Some of those friends were forced to pick sides immediately as Armin Vit passed out “Team Bierut” buttons. Valicenti came flanked with a legion of family members (also his collaborators). But when it came to sheer numbers, one couldn’t help but notice the swarms of women in attendance to support Wild. Female design educators from every corner of the country populated several tables in the center of the room (with Tucker Viemeister beaming in the midst of them). Wild also drew the youngest support: her eight-year-old daughter attended the event with her husband John Kaliski.

Three appropriate and considered voices presented the Medalists. For Bierut, it was his Pentagram partner and, as he called her later, “the sister I never had,” Paula Scher, with a fond and funny tribute to Bierut’s “compendium” of a brain. Bierut then told us about two promises he made to himself at 15: marry his high school sweetheart (now his wife, Dorothy) and become a graphic designer. So we’d say both of those turned out pretty well.

William Drenttel, Wild’s Design Observer collaborator and dear friend, celebrated her ability to bring thoughtfulness, sensitivity and beauty to every aspect of her life. Wild, wearing a glorious gold mid-century starburst around her neck, quipped that she was thrilled to be rewarded publicly for her private obsessions. She dedicated her Medal to all students, young or old, who, as she said, continue to blow her mind.

Fellow Chicagoan and industry renegade Dana Arnett’s introduction of Rick Valicenti was similar to so many students throughout the years for whom Valicenti–with his ability to get clients to “go there”–has become a bonafide hero. After Valicenti’s speech, when he reminded the audience to follow their own paths, we realized he was also getting a Medal for simply being fearlessly, unapologetically, himself.

No wonder he was wearing that humongous smile.

Design Stars Shine at Legends Gala

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After walking beneath the crossbar in the final A of a giant inflatable AIGA (what typeface was that?), guests arriving at the Design Legends Gala stepped into a narrow hallway lined with huge pillars of light printed with every AIGA Medalist since 1920, from Norman T. A. Munder to the three designers to be honored that evening: Michael Bierut, Rick Valicenti and Lorraine Wild. As you strolled towards the cocktail hour you remembered those who wouldn’t be there–W.A. Dwiggins, Paul Rand, Charles and Ray Eames, Tibor Kalman–but were soon impressed to find out how many others were. We watched as April Greiman and Deborah Sussman (1998 and 2004, respectively) were giddily photographed with their names, glowing even more in the soft ambient light.

After marveling and curiously poking at the pillars (designed by last year’s Medalist Steff Geissbuhler), guests sipped wine and signature apple martinis over the Hudson, in a tall windowed room at the end of Pier Sixty. Those who loaded up on delicate duck spring rolls followed by a small shot of sake were lucky; the appetizers outshone the tasteless, if colorful, purees in the forgettable entree. Luckily, we didn’t have much time to eat as we table-hopped and nobnobbed. Dessert was a highlight as both a chocolate ice cream bombe with Grand Marnier sauce and our company–the wickedly witty women of Number 17–were phenomenal.

After extended opening remarks, Debbie Millman’s radio voice soothed those in attendance as she introduced the winners of the Corporate Leadership Awards. Target, with Design For All as their core mantra, was an obvious and long overdue choice. MTV Networks was a less-obvious choice on the outset, yet seeing Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler present the award to the institution who had provided them with such rewarding creative freedom over the years (and, as they noted, when working on “Beavis & Butt-head,” the opportunity to say “Uranus” in client meetings), it made sense. In an odd yet oddly touching moment, Isaac Mizrahi co-presented Target’s award with Deborah Adler, and managed to share the stage with her, too.

Sylvia Harris disclosed the size of her afro as a clueless design grad looking for a job, and chastised the design industry for not being more diversity-focused. She then presented three students with the worthy Worldstudio scholarships. Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel presented the Winterhouse design writing awards. Tables furthest from the stage were embarrassingly loud during some of the earlier presentations, yet when Paula Scher took the stage to present the first Medalist and warned, “No talking,” there wasn’t. That’s power.

At the close of the ceremony about three dozen Medalists arranged themselves on stage for a group photo along with the newest in their ranks. Another touching moment, but without an element of celebration. Where, we asked, was the after party? Instead, people scurried to meet their car service, the inflatables in the hallway collapsing as if also relieved of their duties. We joined the faithful at The Half King around the corner, where we toasted design with Guinness and giggles.

Photo by Rob Bynder.

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