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Archives: February 2008

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld Literally Interprets Fashion Merry-Go-Round


A fur coat the color of pond scum oozed down the runway at Christian Lacroix, while Rei Kawakubo described her collection as “Comme des Garcons does bad taste.” The best may be yet to come at Paris fashion week (seeing as Ralph Rucci‘s show is Sunday night), but this morning Karl Lagerfeld presented his fall collection for Chanel to an audience that included budding authors Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. In past seasons, Lagerfeld’s show sets have involved such crowd-pleasers as hovering “clouds” made from miles of tulle, a working jet emblazoned with those famous crossed C’s, and a Chanel jacket that towered 75 feet in the air, but today he topped himself by showcasing his youthful vision for fall on a giant Chanel-themed carousel that rotated at the center of the runway. The International Herald Tribune‘s Suzy Menkes has the details:

Instead of the usual fairground seats of sculpted horses, this whirligig was fitted with super-sized bags, shoes, pearl chains, camellias and even Coco Chanel‘s signature hat. And at the end of a show, in which the only bag was a tiny egg-sized clutch for evening, the models clung to the giant accessories as the carousel twirled.

Paper magazine’s indefatigable Mickey Boardman, blogging from Paris, had only one word to describe the carousel set. That word? “Fierce, fierce, fierce, as that kid with the crazy hair on Project Runway says!”

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Bob Dylan’s Painterly Riffs on Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Co.

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Vincent van Gogh‘s famous bedroom at Arles acquires a TV, Venetian blinds, and a warmer color scheme. A Cezanne-like fruit bowl becomes a basket filled with peaches just past their prime. A scene out of a Picasso sketchbook features the Statue of Liberty and a guy in a Cowboys jacket. Behold, the paintings of Bob Dylan. Yes, that Bob Dylan. Exhibited for the first time last fall in a small gallery in Germany, Prestel has gathered 170 of Dylan’s paintings into an a new book, The Drawn Blank Series. Named for a previously published book of sketches that Dylan here revisits in watercolor and gouache, the book reveals the iconic musician to be an Expressionist fan with a soft spot for jewel tones.

Sittin’ on Top of the World, Dylan took time away from touring to create 320 new works over eight months for the show. The Wanted Man made it clear that his work was Coming from the Heart. Indeed, drawing and painting has been Dylan’s longtime hobby. God Knows that only once in a Blue Moon does a show by a first-time artist at the Chemnitz Gallery get widespread international attention. Dylan himself didn’t make the opening. Stage Fright? Tell Me That It Isn’t True. “You’re No Good,” said some critics, and a few, well They Killed Him, said he was Driftin’ Too Far from Shore. But that didn’t have Dylan singing The Worried Blues. He’s Pressing On. No word on whether the work will require the tweaking of his song, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” Might the Man in the Long Black Coat ever exhibit his work stateside? Maybe Someday. We Can’t Wait.

Jacob Riis, Racist Huckster?

Jacob Riis.jpgOur friend refers to his tiny apartment on the top floor of a squat Lower East Side building that has seen better days as “the Jacob Riis penthouse.” And squalid tenements are what most people associate with the Danish-born police reporter and social reform photographer. But a new book points out that he was more than a muckracker. Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century New York, by Bonnie Yochelson and Daniel Czitrom, highlights “the contradictory elements of Riis’s life and work,” notes Sewell Chan in today’s New York Times.

He was an entertainer, a self-promoter, an evangelical, and a political conservative who had little faith in the power of government to correct social ills, arguing instead for Christian charity. He held views on race and ethnicity that would be considered offensive today. And he declared in his 1901 autobiography that he was “no good at all as a photographer.”

Also included in that autobiography was a chapter Riis gave over to his first wife, Elisabeth, to write about herself. The chapter was fairly brief, however, because Riis cut her story short, noting, “It is not good for a woman to allow her to say too much.” But that’s nothing compared to good ‘ol Jake’s thoughts on Jewish people, not to mention the Chinese (who had the nerve not to allow him into their homes to be photographed…he chalks it up to an opium-fueled white slavery scheme). We’re guessing the new book probably won’t make the summer reading list over at New York’s P.S. 126 (The Jacob Riis Community School).

Nailing Graphic Design Badge, Eagle Scout Designs Centennial Logo for Boy Scouts

(Boy Scouts of America via AP).jpgWe’ve always gotten along swimmingly with Eagle Scouts. Perhaps it’s their ambition and drive, or simply their jaunty kerchiefs and appreciation for a well-designed badge. In any case, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout is behind the new logo for the Boy Scouts of America, which is gearing up for its centennial celebration in 2010. Philip Goolkasian, a high school senior from Fresno, worked with Pentagram‘s Kit Hinrichs (an Eagle Scout himself who helped to judge entries in the BSA’s logo design competition) to fine tune the logo, which, according to the Associated Press:

…features “BSA” in bold letters with an eagle in full flight reversed out. The date 2010 appears in smaller type, with a fleur-de-lis superimposed over the first zero.

[Hinrichs] praised the design for leading the viewer’s eye from the BSA name to the eagle to the date while keeping a clean, simple look. “It’s amazingly professional for someone who is only 17,” Hinrichs said. “It is very rare that you get someone who understands the order in which people see things.”

Goolkasian said it just seemed natural — the eagle’s head fit into the center of his design, and the extended wings reached out to each side.

As for what the future holds for Goolkasian, the AP notes that “he loves graphic design and wants to become an architect.”

iHam, The Future of Design

This writer is beat. Not only was it a long work week, but he also was busy trying to buy a house. And when you add those two things together, you get exhaustion. So when his fiancee sent him this piece from the cooking site YumSugar, dealing with the iHam, (or “iJam” in its native Spanish), we figured we had a post right there. We know it’s a long since played out joke, but this seems to kick some life back into it a bit. Or maybe we’re just suckers for deadpan in a foreign tongue. Whatever the case, this writer will say no more and before handing you over to Stephanie’s afternoon shift, encourage you to read coverage linked above of and then watch the video below. It is truly a marvel of modern design:

Paula Scher on Why Advertising Has Gotten Good Again


Somehow we missed this one, but that’s why we depend on things like Michael Surtees‘s DesignNotes to grab them. So we found by way of his site, an essay by Pentagramian and everyone’s favorite Bush snubber, Paula Scher, in Creativity magazine entitled, “Advertising Got Better.” It concerns just that, about Scher noticing that, following September 11th, ad agencies really seemed determined to step up their game, running better, stronger campaigns and with far more confident design work. It’s changed so much, she thinks, that it’s made her question why the graphic design community, those who don’t work in the ad business, haven’t really taken hold of this new situation. Here’s a bit:

I don’t exactly know why this has occurred. I know that graphic design students, for the first time in decades, are considering advertising agency jobs as viable. The talented design staffs of some web and interactive companies from the nineties that imploded, like MarchFirst, may have relocated at the better agencies. Also, some agencies have hired terrific graphic designers as creative directors, where formerly the creative directors would have come from the copy side of agency. My former design staffs, after leaving my employ, have traditionally gone into magazine design, book design, or worked at in-house art departments for entertainment media companies. In the past five years, several that have left have either freelanced for or taken jobs at advertising agencies. I can’t remember that happening in over thirty years.

Our guess, if you’ll allow us to chime in, is that the internet really, really took off at around the same time. The burst bubble was starting to heal and with all of these MySpaces and the Web 2.0-ery everywhere, it forced advertising to start using a shotgun instead of a rifle. When you have so many outlets to cover, you put the emphasis on covering them, not focusing so much on design by committee. Add to that almost a decade of clients who can’t keep up with the speed of a million new trends per day and you have a situation where things are free to be a little more interesting, even if, in the end, they’re still hocking goods.

Revolving Door: Guggenheim’s Director, Tom Krens, Steps Down


Just weeks ago that Tom Krens was hanging out with celebrities at Julian Schnabel‘s recent art opening. And while we’re sure he was pleasant, unassuming company, buried deep within his head was a secret he couldn’t let out. Or, rather, couldn’t let out until this week, as it’s just been announced that Krens, the Director of the Guggenheim Foundation, has chosen to give up his post and move on. Here’s a bit from the NY Times:

The move comes three years after Mr. Krens triumphed in a him-or-me showdown with the foundation’s biggest benefactor, the Cleveland philanthropist Peter B. Lewis. Mr. Lewis resigned after arguing that Mr. Krens was spending too much money and should focus more on the foundation’s New York flagship museum rather than on funneling resources into developing Guggenheim satellites around the world.

In a statement on Wednesday the foundation emphasized that Mr. Krens would remain at the foundation as a senior adviser for international affairs, overseeing the creation of a 452,000-square-foot museum in Abu Dhabi to be designed by Frank Gehry.

Though we read later that he’s also promised to stay on as Director of the Foundation until someone to replace him is hired. Probably not an easy thing to do, considering how difficult hiring has been in that business lately.

The Fog of (Branding) Wars


Afraid that people are a little unclear on what your brand stands for? Then why not…uh, immerse them in fog? A Fogscreen, that is. The product, which has “Most Popular Children’s Science Museum Attraction Ever” written all over it, promises a “walk-through” branding experience. It’s a projection screen (featuring your message, graphic, animation, vacation photos, etc.) that blends tap water, ultrasonic waves, and patented technology developed by virtual reality researchers to create a layer of microscopic fog droplets that are dry to the touch. And if you want to really blow their minds, add-on features can turn the display into an interactive touch screen.

The Fogscreen pictured above was featured at a recent event at Paris’ Grand Palais, where someone who resembles a hirsute Dick Cheney gave it a walk-through. The company is based in Helsinki (which may explain the above fellow’s hair), and we have two words of advice for its leaders: Marimekko Fogscreens! We’re happy to beta-test.

Rodrigo Corral to Design Olsen Twins’ Coffee Table Book

olsens.jpgFrequently snapped by the paparazzi toting Starbucks cups, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are putting a literary spin on their java habit. The duo’s latest project is a coffee table book entitled Influence [cut to tight shot of a bedfuddled Lyndon Johnson], which will be published this fall by Razorbill (a Penguin imprint). Readers, it will be designed by Rodrigo Corral, the designer behind such memorable book jackets as those for A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl, and much of Chuck Palahniuk‘s oeuvre!

According to Penguin’s press release:

Influence introduces readers to respected artists, seasoned designers, and others who have influenced Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen over the past decade. The book will feature influential figures including; Christian Louboutin, Lauren Hutton, Bob Colacello, Terry Richardson, Jack Pierson, and Robert Lee Morris. A coffee table book, Influence includes exclusive photographs of Ashley and Mary-Kate from world renowned photographer Rankin, and a wide variety of other never-before-seen materials and interviews from Mary-Kate and Ashley’s personal collections. This unique book is edited by fashion and arts writer Derek Blasberg and designed by eminent book designer Rodrigo Corral.

Curiously, no mention of including Bob Saget or Dave Coulier, to say nothing of John Stamos.

Hello City: Urbanity on Paper Opens Tonight

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“The city is a fact of nature, like a cave, a run of mackarel, or an ant heap,” wrote Lewis Mumford. “But it is also a conscious work of art, and it holds within it communal framework many simpler and more personal forms of art.” Emphasis on the art, not the mackarel, at New York’s Anna Kustera Gallery, which tonight hosts opening festivities for “Urbanity on Paper,” a group show that takes the city as its subtext. The works on view include graphic designs by Ju$t Another Rich Kid, photographic works on paper by Charles LaBelle and Laure Leber, and a mixed-media installation by Regina Joseph.

We asked New York-based artist and designer Ju$t Another Rich Kid (a.k.a. Ken Courtney) to describe his piece in the show (pictured above), an untitled diptych in black inkjet and red acrylic ink that features a blood-spattered flyer for a New Year’s Eve party headlined by the The Heartbreakers and The Ramones. “How would I describe it? Actually, I wouldn’t,” he told us. “It’s a visual piece and not a conceptual one.” A frequent appropriator of images, he particularly likes the look of those related to music (see also his fetching Bauhaus t-shirt and his Depeche Mode project for Bon magazine). As for the blood, it’s part of an ongoing series called “Blood Simple.” So, did Courtney ring in 2008 with a rocker-studded “Champagne Party” of his own? “Went to a friend’s party in Greenpoint, then another friend’s party in Williamsburg, then an after party at a friend’s photo studio,” he says. “I won’t tell you what happened after hours. That’s a secret.”