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Archives: February 2008

The Effect Creative Types Have Had On the Obama Campaign


Now that we’re all suffering through our post-debate hangovers, we thought to link up Rupal Parekh‘s story on AdAge earlier this week, “Creatives Have a Crush on Obama.” It talks not only about the huge amount of people from the creative industries have joined up with the Obama camp and why that has given the candidate such an edge, without having to spend a dime. It makes an interesting point that, unlike when big name celebrities have gotten behind a campaign, when creatives get behind something en masse, with their connections, their knowledge of what’s effective in advertising and the workings of this here interweb, it’s a force to be reckoned with. The piece talks to people like Shepard Fairey and several of the ad agencies who have pitched in for free and made some of the bigger internet hits for the candidate. Here’s a bit:

“This is a guy who speaks in poetry — he’s a wide-open canvas and really right for making incredibly moving and incredibly inspiring work,” said John Dukakis, the son of former Massachusetts governor and 1998 Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis, who serves as senior VP-branded entertainment at Boston ad agency Hill Holliday. It’s no surprise that “creative folks, who are constantly looking for things to do on their own that are fun, interesting and even historic,” find themselves attracted to Mr. Obama.

School of Visual Arts Buys Chelsea Theater, Milton Glaser to Design Inside and Out


A busy week over there in New York, as the next story up is the news we just received from our friends over at the School of Visual Arts who have announced that they’re acquiring the Chelsea West Cinemas building, to be converted into auditoriums for the school’s use. What’s even more cool, beyond just the continue expansion of the SVA, following other recent real estate purchases, is that the new Chelsea building’s exterior and interior will be designed by the school’s Acting Chairman, Milton Glaser. We here at UnBeige wish them well with the process and, in doing so, hope they let us sneak and catch a lecture or a screening the next time we’re in the neighborhood. Here’s a bit:

SVA officials have increasingly sought to make strategic real estate acquisitions to match historic growth in all aspects of the College’s operations. Provost Dr. Christopher Cyphers said, “This theater will play a significant role in our continuing ability to expand and diversify the curricula at SVA. It not only satisfies a longstanding need for a space to accommodate large gatherings of the SVA community, but will create opportunities to partner with other cultural institutions.” In the past decade undergraduate enrollment has increased by nearly 25% and graduate enrollment by 45%. In the past five years, SVA introduced graduate programs in art criticism and writing; design criticism; and digital photography; and the BFA in visual and critical studies. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of public lectures by acclaimed artists, designers, scholars and critics has put pressure on current facilities resources.

SVA officials plan to open the theater this fall, with a formal public opening date to be announced.

Random House Purchases The Monacelli Press


Big news in the world of art and design publishing, as it’s been announced that Random House has purchased The Monacelli Press, who, if you’re not immediately familiar with, you likely recognize the titles they’ve published, from Bruce Mau and Rem KoolhaasS, M, L, XL to the massive Frank O. Gehry: The Complete Works. Now they’ve been picked up by Random, who was apparently interested in expanding their large, “visual book segment.” Here’s a bit from Publisher’s Weekly:

The company will operate as a standalone imprint of Random House Inc. with [founder] Gianfranco Monacelli continuing to head the operation from new offices at Random House’s New York office. Sales and distribution will move from Penguin to Random House July 1. Random deputy chairman and COO Edward Volini said RH welcomes Monacelli Press “as a unique publishing program within Random House and look forward to providing growth opportunities for our new colleagues’ business.”

More info and a downloadable press release can be found here, on Random House’s site.

Introducing Chumby: Will People Surf the Internet on a Beanbag?

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Create a product named the “Chumby,” brand it with a cobalt octupus (“Chumbilina“), and encase the whole thing in Italian leather, and well, you’ve got our attention. And did we mention it’s got an LCD touchscreen and the ability to play a customized stream of Internet content? Officially launched yesterday by San Diego-based Chumby Industries, the Chumby is a compact consumer Internet device that is about the size of a coffee cup. But unlike a coffee cup, it can be plugged into an electrical outlet; then it finds an available Wi-Fi connection and streams Internet channels from the free Chumby Network, which has already signed up content partners such as CBS, MTV Networks, and MySpace.

Retailing for $179.95, the device also boasts embedded squeeze and motion sensors, which may help if it gets knocked down, to get up again, ’cause you ain’t never gonna keep it down. Oh wait, that’s Chumbawamba, who the Chumby people should really nail down for a promo. It might be easier than wrangling a live octupus, not to mention painting it blue. Think we’re joking? Check out the below video, entitled simply, “Octopus vs. Man.”

HOW Awards In-House Design Team at Milwaukee Art Museum

Gord Peteran catalog.jpgDesign, art, museums, furniture–it’s all in a day’s work here at UnBeige, but the combination has also proved a winning one in HOW‘s first competition to recognize in-house design. Beating out almost 4,000 other submissions to receive Best of Show honors in the inaugural In-HOWse Design Awards was Gord Peteran: Furniture Meets its Maker, an exhibition catalog designed by a six-person creative team led by Dan Saal at the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

The catalog’s design was inspired by the Toronto furniture artist’s favored materials, which include wood and such found objects as twigs, string, leather, and dried glue (we think his “A Table Made of Wood” makes a perfect counterpart to the CampanasFavela Chair). The book mixes chipboard (and embossed chipboard, at that) with Neenah Eames and Sappi HannoArt Silk papers, and features elaborate gatefolds and case binding with a fabric spine. “Once you open it, you can’t stop wanting to look at it more,” says Jeff Norgord, who judged the competition with fellow F+W Publications in-house art director Dave Caron.

This month’s issue of HOW magazine (alas, not online features the catalog, along with 50 Merit winners in nine categories. Meanwhile, you have until the end of April to enter this year’s In-HOWse Design Awards. As for the Peteran exhibition, it’s still touring the country and is on view through March 2 at Virginia Commonwealth University‘s Anderson Gallery.

Playing Ball with Don Hamerman

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Even if, like us, you’ve never had a firm grasp of the infield fly rule, we think you’ll appreciate the baseball photographs of Don Hamerman that William Drenttel has just spotlighted over on Design Observer. Drenttel (who, although not a baseball fan, points out that spring training starts tomorrow) tells of Hamerman’s hobby over the past few years of picking up lost and forgotten baseballs while walking his dog. This pastime resulted in a series of stunning photographs of baseballs with personality. One has taken a mean slice to the face, a pair of shy-looking ones are poised for a kiss, and another could be a scale model of the planet Venus. But our favorite has to be this one, which looks like the hard-souled cousin of Wilson, the volleyball that played a supporting role in Cast Away.

Nike Teams Up with Levi’s to Sell Michael Jordan Jeans

23 501.bmpMichael Jordan has proven that he can sell everything from Gatorade to underwear, but what about clothing worn off the court? Levi Strauss & Co. is betting that the world’s enduring desire to “Be Like Mike” will extend to jeans. Next week, Levi’s and Nike‘s Jordan Brand division will launch 23 / 501, a line of “co-designed and co-branded” products for men that will include jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers “with an urban edge.”

As part of the project, the companies announced in a press release yesterday that they have created a limited-edition collection of co-branded Air Jordan Retro 1 style sneakers, a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, and a signature t-shirt (what, no Hanes?). The items (pictured above, in one of the most hideous press images we’ve ever seen) come together in a package that Levi’s assures us is “innovative, co-branded…[and] destined to become a collector’s item.” It will be distributed to–wait for it–23 U.S. markets and retail for $395. Of course, this means that would-be Levi’s customers will now be forced to ask themselves who they’d rather look like: Jordan, Andy Warhol (the company launched the Warhol Factory X Levi’s collection in 2006), or Damien Hirst? Judge for yourself with the below video of the Warhol Factory X Levi’s Damien Hirst debut collection show, held last fall at Gagosian Gallery in New York City.

Exposing the Commission on Chicago Landmarks


Another local Chicago story that should provide some interest no matter where you are in this world (and good for you for not being here right now, given that it will apparently never, ever stop snowing). Unfortunately, this time it’s on a bit more of a down note. Found by way of Archinect, it’s writer Lynn Becker offering up an unedited piece he’d originally written for the Chicago Reader about the 40th anniversary of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and how little they’ve actually been able to do in labeling and even saving landmarks throughout the city. Compromise after compromise, often leaving just tiny facades of what used to be, he says, has led to countless fake marvels in a city that pride itself on its history of brilliant architecture. Here’s a bit:

Increasingly, an ordinance that was created to protect landmark buildings has been transformed into a mechanism for codifying their destruction. The bottom line is that the landmarks commission has become increasingly subservient to the will of its parent, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. If you’re a home owner in a landmark district and you want to make changes to your property, the commission will likely hold you to strict standards. If you’re a big developer in the planning department’s good graces, too often anything goes.

Second-Class Postage and the Death of the Small-Run Magazines


An interesting discussion on the site BerlinBites, found by way of rc3, entitled “A Death in the Family and (Maybe) Some Hope.” It’s about the recent increase in second-class postage rates and the damage its having on small-run magazines, driving many out of business entirely, forcing them to go online-only, or beginning to chip away at their already very slim bottom line. The post talks primarily about the magazines No Depression and Resonance, which have folded recently due to the increased rates, but through those, it speaks to the industry as a whole. In an era where even keeping a magazine with huge base of readers is difficult to keep afloat, how is the cool little guy to survive? So if you’re a fan of a particular magazine, design or otherwise, it’s probably not a bad idea to check in with their website, before discovering it’s stopped appearing at your local shop. Here’s a bit from the story about the rate increase itself:

…as someone who’s worked with magazines my whole life, second-class postage is a big, big deal. It’s the mechanism which allows you to send your print-run to your subscribers for a tiny fraction of what it would cost to mail them first class, and it carries a bunch of restrictions: you’ve only got a couple of days to get your magazines out, for one thing, and missing a couple of those deadlines means you lose your second-class license.

The new rates, though, were bizarre: the more magazines you shipped, the less each unit cost, and smaller-circulation magazines were burdened with unreasonably higher per-unit costs, instead of everyone paying the same rate. But that’s what happens when you allow big business to write the laws.

Hoefler & Frere-Jones Weigh In Directly On Campaign Typography


A little while back, we linked up a bonus clip from Helvetica that Gary Hustwit had put up on the film’s blog, featuring Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones talking about Gotham, the famous font they created that is now being used by Obama for his campaign. Our friends over at Design Observer caught a nice follow-up to that post with a recent entry over on Hoefler and Frere-Jones’ own site, talking directly about what they think of the current campaign type. It’s brief, but, as to be expected, it’s pretty interesting. Here’s a bit:

A journalist recently asked what it is about Gotham that we think suits the Obama campaign. We’ll defer to designers John Slabyk and Scott Thomas to make that call — they selected the font for Obama for America, we merely provided it — but one thing we can say as type designers is that Gotham isn’t pretending to be anything it’s not, which makes it an unusual and refreshing choice for a campaign.