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Archives: September 2008

Doug Jaeger Named Art Directors Club President

jaeger.jpgThe venerable Art Directors Club (ADC) is 88 years old. Its new president, Doug Jaeger, is but 33, making him the youngest person ever to hold the position. He succeeds Paul Lavoie, chairman and chief creative officer at TAXI. Despite Jaeger’s stern expression in the photo at right, he is the founder and CEO of thehappycorp global, a branding and design agency with a mesmerizing smiley face splash page and the stated mission of “improving gross national happiness through the invention, management, and maintenance of progressive brands and ideas.” He spreads still more joy as director of LVHRD, the hard-living digital media pranksters behind events such as those architectural smackdowns we so enjoy.

As ADC president (for a three-year term that officially begins Wednesday), Jaeger pledges to expand the organization’s role in connecting members to each other and to the world at large. “We will use technology, new programs, and events to be a valued online and offline social network for the personal and professional gain of our members,” he said in a press release issued this afternoon. And it’s not just about art directors. “Design influences culture, and we want to be connected to the outside world in a relevant, and at times provocative, way.”

The ADC has also added four new directors to its board, elevated two directors to officers, and promoted ADC executive director Ami Brophy to the role of CEO. Click “continued…” for the details on the new appointments and board members.

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Embracing Retail, Damien Hirst to Open London Art Shops

hirst and cow.jpgDamien Hirst, your direct-to-auction greatest hits works just earned £111.4 million (nearly $200 million) at Sotheby’s, what are you going to do next? The answer seems to be first, purchase Jonathan Yeo‘s collaged porn magazine portrait of Paris Hilton and then focus on this promising retail channel.

After announcing earlier this year that he would open an art store on London’s Marylebone High Street, now Hirst has got two shops in the works. The second is on Bond Street, next door to the London branch of Sotheby’s (it’s all about foot traffic!), and will have its soft opening next Monday, Bloomberg reports. Both stores will be called Other Criteria, the name of Hirst’s artists’ multiples business. Goods on offer will range from a $46,000 “limited-edition 18-carat gold charm bracelet with casts of 23 different pills” to postcards and t-shirts, including a charming pink number silk-screened with blue butterflies. The Marylebone store is slated to open in mid-December, just in time for Santa to stock up on diamond-encrusted skull toys for all the good little girls and boys.

From Private Label to ‘Captive Brand’

the captive.jpgAnd speaking of the synergistic relationship of W Hotels and Bliss, this week’s Brandweek rebrands private labels as “captive brands.”

Carrying no evidence of the store’s affiliation, these brands, manufactured by a third party and sold exclusively at the chains (hence “captive”), let the retailer command a price similar to brands produced by consumer packaged goods companies like P&G.

Brandweek focuses on the spike in such brands in the “over-SKUed” beauty category, which already drowns consumers in products and novel niches (and to think just a couple of years ago, the world lacked for self-tanning shimmer lotion). Walgreen’s, captor of the bioInfusion line of haircare products, continues the totalitarian metaphors; writer Elaine Wong notes that the drugstore “has created an internal ‘brand police’ to regularly evaluate its product portfolio.” Say what? “They protect the standard and quality for our brands so we know that we are competing side-by-side with national brands,” Walgreen’s rep Tiffani Bruce told Brandweek. “We have limited shelf space so we try our best to pinpoint which brands are resonating well with customers and what needs are being met.” We just hope that they are issued snappy brand police uniforms and official badges.

Battle of the Hotel Shampoos Continues

hotel toiletries.jpg

Gilchrist & Soames just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’ve watched with delight the hotel industry’s dogged game of oneupsmanship in the toiletries department. “French-milled soap” and no-name shampoo were long ago replaced by tiny, shimmering, conspicuously branded bottles from Bulgari (Ritz-Carlton), Remede (St. Regis), and even Acqua di Parma (although for those, you’ll have to go to Milan’s Principe di Savoia). In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, Valli Herman examined the trend, leading with the Hotel Bel-Air’s exclusive U.S. deal with “Halcyon blue, a relatively unknown Australian luxury brand of bath and body products that feature essential oils” and a Pasadena hotel’s recent launch of “Ajne Rare & Precious, a custom-blended fragrance previously available in Los Angeles only in gift baskets destined for Oscar nominees.” Herman also points out that, “The W Hotels’ partnership with Bliss Spas has helped to make bestsellers of Bliss beauty products.” But of course that was more than a mere partnership. W’s parent company, Starwood, purchased Bliss from LVMH in 2004 for $25 million, so it smells more like a synergy.

Waterford Crystal’s History Made Clear

miroslav havel.jpgGlass master Miroslav Havel (pictured at right, holding a cat that may or may not be made out of glass), the longtime chief designer of Waterford Crystal, died earlier this month in Waterford, Ireland at the age of 86. Today’s New York Times obituary of Havel provides a fascinating glimpse into how in 1947 a pair of Czech immigrants (Havel and Karel Bacik) brought back to life an Irish crystal manufacturing business founded in 1783 (and defunct since 1851). It all started with a few blatant lies:

Mr. Bacik’s plan was to import glass and have Mr. Havel, who had been an intern at one of his factories in Czechoslovakia, do the cutting. He enticed the young man to Ireland by writing to him of a land full of sunshine overflowing with tropical fruit and of a grand factory where a glass business of renown had once flourished.

“Instead he found Bacik sitting in a small hut in the middle of an empty field,” said Brian Havel, whose book about his father’s life, Maestro of Crystal, was published in Ireland in 2005. “There was no factory.”

Havel and Bacik remained in decidedly non-tropical Ireland, where Havel progressed from designing glassware for local pubs to cutting glass for the chandeliers at the Kennedy Center (at Jackie’s request), along the way “repopulat[ing] an extinct tribe of Irish artisans.” In 2002, Waterford celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of its famous Lismore pattern, the top-selling crystal pattern in the United States and worldwide. It was designed by Havel.

Peter Zumthor, Kabakovs Among 2008 Praemium Imperiale Laureates

PI winners.jpg
(From left: Richard Hamilton, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Peter Zumthor, Zubin Mehta, and Sakata Tojuro)

The Japan Art Association has announced the winners of the twentieth Praemium Imperiale, the international arts prize established “in memory of His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu to celebrate the human spirit as expressed through the genius of the world’s artists.” The 2008 laureates are Peter Zumthor (architecture), Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (sculpture), Richard Hamilton (painting), Zubin Mehta (music), and Sakata Tojuro (theatre/film). Each winner receives 15 million yen (approximately $143,000) and a ticket to Tokyo, where they’ll receive their medals in an October 15 ceremony headlined by Prince Hitachi of Japan, who Wikipedia describes as “currently fourth in line to the Chrysanthemum throne.” This year’s crop of Praemium Imperiale laureates joins a roster of 98 artists that includes everyone from Frank Gehry and Jasper Johns to Ingmar Bergman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Artists are nominated for the prize through international committees in each of the five fields that make recommendations to the Japan Art Association’s board of trustees, which ultimately selects the winners.

Shazia Kirmani Leaves Top Design with New Appreciation for Todd Oldham

shazia.bmpHouston-based interior designer Shazia Kirmani (pictured at right) is the latest Top Design contestant to hear from host India Hicks, “Sorry, but we could not live with your design.” Shazia’s voice got lost in the shuffle of this week’s challenge, which divided the contestants into teams and assigned them the task of making over the apartments of bachelors on a budget. Shazia says that she felt intimidated by the show’s diverse crop of talented—and cutthroat—designers, none of whom were brimming with Southern hospitality. And while she wasn’t impressed with the judges and their “weird one-liners,” she will leave the show with a new appreciation for Todd Oldham, who this season fills the Tim Gunn-style role of contestant mentor.

“Todd is such a positive, well-spoken individual that even if he were telling you your entire design was an utter disaster, somehow by the end of the conversation you’d be hugging and thanking him for weighing in,” Shazia tells us. “As far as what I learned, one example of many is that when working with different wood tones, always use groups of three and you will have a more cohesive balanced design.” Interestingly, Oldham recently practiced what he preached in customizing his charity auction trash bins with a cheeky pattern of woven wood grain strips.

As for her her own approach, Shazia focuses on “understanding what my clients needs are and then addressing them,” she says. “Personally, I like more modern and transitional looks rather than the traditional. Monochromatic palettes with a pop of color seems to have become my signature over the years. But I’m still growing.” What’s next for her, in the wake of Top Design and a sputtering economy? “I’m really looking to expand my business in various ways that can withstand these unstable times,” she tells us. “Investments in residential rehabilitations and commercial design projects are becoming my focus. I’m always open to new endeavors.”

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Serge Van Lian Psychoanalyzes His Top Design Experience
  • New Season of Bravo’s Top Design Debuts with Host India Hicks
  • Hemingway, Cats, and Typos on Billboards


    This writer is worn out after a long week and is headed to the airport in a minute, so before he leaves and passed the Friday torch to Stephanie to close out the day, here’s a couple of quick, fun stories. First up is this strange piece in the suburban Chicago paper the Daily Herald about a multimillionaire who was so upset with the architect who was helping him build his new mansion, David Schulz, that he posted a billboard explaining why he’d fired him. Unfortunately there are two problems: 1) he spelled the name wrong on the billboard, so it reads “David Shulz” 2) there’s another architect working in the same area who is named David Shultz. And now the angry multimillionaire won’t take down the sign, and the non-bad architect is worried about how this is all going to affect his business, given how similar their names are, particularly with the typo. Whew.

    Second up comes the heartwarming story (if you’re a cat person), that the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida has won its five year battle with the US Department of Agriculture to allow the historic site to keep the more than 50 cats that wander the grounds, all decedents of Hemingway’s main cat, “Snowball.” And after countless research and experts coming to check the place out and the museum having spent in the neighborhood of $250,000 in legal fees, this has to come as a welcome conclusion (though the cats probably don’t care or appreciate the effort at all, given the species’ nature).

    With that, this writer takes his leave. Onward to Stephanie!

    Chelsea Art Museum Cancels ‘Terror’ Show, Curator Resigns


    Some uproar in the NY museum world that might blossom into a larger story once it catches some wind. Artist Josh Azzarella reported on his blog that an exhibit he was scheduled to be a part of at the Chelsea Art Museum in November called “The Aesthetics of Terror” has been cancelled after the museum’s president, Dorothea Keeser, believed that the show “glorified terrorism and showed disrespect for its victims.” After two years of prep work on the exhibit, this left no one too happy, and went so far as to result in the Chelsea’s chief curator, Manon Slome, to resign. Now the artists are hunting for a new place to host the exhibit. The museum has taken down any notice of it now on the site, but by way of Eyeteeth, we found this cache of the original listing, if you’re interested in what was so controversial.

    The thing we’re most confused about is how the Chelsea is still open? Weren’t they facing foreclosure back in January?

    Stefan Sagmeister and Droog’s Amsterdam Project Removed by Concerned Police Officers


    You might remember when we posted a few days back about Stefan Sagmeister and Droog looking for participants in Amsterdam to help out with a top secret project. It turned out to be a massive installation for Scott Burnham‘s Urban Play wherein 300,000 Dutch coins were used to create an intricate image, taking 150 volunteers over three days to complete. Unfortunately, the cautious police were worried about that much money just sitting there, waiting to be stolen, so they went out there with a few brooms and cleaned the whole thing up, confiscating the artwork before thieves could make way with oodles of pocket change, all of which surprised everyone involved in the piece’s construction. A personal account of the unfortunately discovery can be found over on Burnham’s site (found by way of our friends at Core77). Though, then again, they knew this was coming, one way or the other, they’re just surprised by the “bizarre instance of police efficiency.”