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Archives: February 2009

Shepard Fairey, Make Magazine, and The Wooden Radio Take Home Wins at Design Museum Awards


Back in December, we checked in with the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year, the Design Museum’s second annual award giveaway, the shortlisted finalists had just been announced. Now we make the jump across the pond once more, as the winners of the award have been announced. Among them, Shepard Fairey picks up yet another bit of praise in the Graphics category and Make Magazine took home a win for Interactive, thanks the work they’ve put into their website. But the thing we were most happy about was the Product category, in which Singgih S. Kartono won for his Magno Wooden Radio, which we not only covet because it’s so beautiful, but he designed it to be built by local craftspeople in Java. Here’s a bit from its introduction:

The judges commented, “The beautiful Wooden Radio shows clear respect for the material it uses and sensibility to details. More than that, the radio reflects a sense of purpose in the wider design context. The designer has brought together local crafts people, teaching them new skills in making and assembling the radio and by using local wood, has brought a positive and sustainable infrastructure to a small community.”

Philippe Starck’s School of Design Set to Air in Late March


The television show we’ve been awaiting with great eagerness since we first heard about it back in mid-June of last year, Philippe Starck’s School of Design, has reportedly wrapped and is currently being edited, reading itself for the big premiere in late March. Unfortunately, for now it appears only to be airing on the BBC in the UK, but with the internet as it is, you shouldn’t have much trouble tracking down episodes, or at the very least, clips of Starck saying something indecipherable or bizarre (maybe both!). Also, the BBC hasn’t updated the site they put up for the show last July, but fortunately Design Week has a few more details. Here’s a bit about what you’ll see at its start:

The first episode’s challenge will see the contestants search a hypermarket for products displaying good and bad design qualities. Advised by his wife Jasmine Abdellatif, Starck gives the five worst-performing students ten minutes to repeat the hypermarket challenge on the Internet, before finally dismissing two of them.

Design Fixture Zaha Hadid Designs Fixtures

triflow hadid.jpg
(Photo: Triflow Concepts)

In our continuing efforts to be your online destination for all things Zaha Hadid, we bring news of the architect’s latest achievement, this time in the kitchen and/or bathroom. British brassware manufacturer Triflow Concepts tapped Hadid to design the faucet of the future, featuring the company’s signature three-way tap. Say what? According to Triflow, “the filtered drinking water is isolated from the hot and cold water streams. The latter are controlled by the tap’s discreet handle, while a touch-sensitive electronic button activates the filtered water.” (Fair enough, but we’re crying redundant on “touch-sensitive electronic button.”) It’s the perfect addition to your gleaming white Hadidian kitchen, which you may recall from its brief stay atop the Guggenheim as part of the museum’s outstanding 2006 Hadid restrospective.

The starting point for Hadid’s faucet design? “A series of formal studies on the conceptual terms of ‘fluidity’ and ‘seamlessness,’ as we wanted to generate the fluid geometries of water in motion,” she notes in a statement issued by Triflow. Thanks to 3D software and viscosity-related tinkering, Hadid was able to “create something that not only appears continuous, but also blends seamlessly with the ergonomic needs of a tap.” And producing it was no easy task. Triflow had to delve into “advanced methods of production and a unique ceramic coring process,” which just might explain the advanced price: $7,000. What’s next for the prolific Ms. Hadid? Perhaps the kitchen sink itself.

Recently on UnBeige:

  • Zaha Hadid to Design Port Authority…in Belgium
  • Zaha Hadid Teams with Lacoste for Her Second Shoe Design
  • Zaha Hadid Joins the Valli & Valli Doorknob Design Family
  • It Takes a Vilnius: Zaha Hadid to Design Guggenheim Hermitage
  • Mysterious Naval Vessels, Free to Good Home

    sea shadow.jpgOh Wall Street Journal A-Hed column, you had us at “a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile” (although frankly, we would have gone with the definite article before Batmobile). That’s how the paper’s intrepid Barry Newman describes one of two top-secret vessels that the United States Navy is looking for someone to take off its hands. In addition to the aforementioned Sea Shadow (pictured), a big black thing designed to “escape detection on the open sea,” there is a barge named after Howard Hughes.

    It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites.

    The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy—as it was 35 years ago—for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine.

    Since 2006, the Navy has been offering Sea Shadow and the Barge (which sounds like the name of a terrific sitcom!) for free in a package deal. So far, no takers. “A gift ship from the Navy comes with lots of strings attached to the rigging,” writes Kaplan. “A naval museum, the Historic Naval Ships Association warns, is ‘a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole…’”

    Tomorrow: Shepard Fairey Speaks!

    “I think it’s ‘fair use’ in the way that I’ve interpreted it,” artist Shepard Fairey told CBS Sunday Morning of the appropriated Obama image that has him in a legal scuffle with the Associated Press and incurring the wrath of Milton Glaser. “And if you look at pop art over the last 50 years, I think that reinforces that assertion.” Get the full story tomorrow, when Fairey appears on NPR’s Fresh Air. We hear that host Terry Gross will also be talking with AP photographer Mannie Garcia and Rutgers law professor Greg Lastowa. If you miss the radio broadcast, listen at NPR’s website beginning tomorrow afternoon. While you do that, Fairey will be preparing to take the stage for “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy,” a sold-out event hosted by Wired and the New York Public Library. He’ll join the one, the only Lawrence Lessig and moderator Steven Johnson for “a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture.” Suggest a question by e-mailing (subject: REMIX) by 2pm tomorrow.

    In the meantime, enjoy last Sunday’s CBS segment on Fairey in the below video clip. We dare you not to smile when the avuncular Charles Osgood says “guerrilla street artist.”

    Eileen Gray ‘Dragons’ Chair Fetches $28 Million on Day Two of YSL Sale

    eileen gray fauteuil.jpgOodles of Ruhlmann, lots of Lalanne, and enough primo Jean-Michel Frank pieces to furnish at least two Architectural Digest-featured pieds-à-terre. Such was the dazzling array of 20th century treasures on offer yesterday in the second evening sale of Christie’s three-day blockbuster auction of the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, which has brought in €307 million ($386 million) so far. The 20th century decorative art and design sale alone realized a record €59.1 million ($76.5 million), setting 12 world record prices for artists at auction. Among those artists? Eileen Gray, whose otherworldly “Dragons” armchair (pictured above) sold for an otherworldly €21.9 million ($28.3 million), shattering the auction record for a 20th century decorative artwork.

    gray satellite.jpgNo word on who will be taking home the now famous fauteuil, which has a Maria Felix-meets-Vincent Price flair and reminds us of the Karl Lagerfeld-designed Chanel couture dress that Anna Wintour wore to last year’s Met Costume Institute gala. Created by Gray between 1917 and 1919 and acquired by her early patron Suzanne Talbot, the leather-upholstered chair is framed in sculpted wood “lacquered brownish orange and silver and modelled as the serpentine, intertwined bodies of two dragons, their eyes in black lacquer on a white ground, their bodies decorated in low relief with stylized clouds,” notes the catalogue. “The armchair distills all that was so personal and so magical in the first, intimately expressive phase of Gray’s career,” and work from ensuing years, when she swapped lacquer for architecture, sold well too. Gray’s “Satellite” hanging lamp (circa 1925 and pictured above), once suspended from the ceiling of YSL’s Rue Babylone apartment, sold for €2.9 million ($3.8 million), well exceeding its €600K-€800K estimate. Suffice it to say we were outbid on the Francois-Xavier Lalanne-designed Bar “YSL,” which went for a cool €2.7 million ($3.5 million). We’ll drink to that.

    Previously on UnBeige:

  • ‘Buying Binge’ at Paris YSL Auction; World (Probably) Not Ending
  • Christie’s Prepares for YSL Mega-Sale
  • The Met Closes Retail Outlets, Acknowledges Possible Layoffs


    Elsewhere in the world of troubled museum finances, the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s chairman, James R. Houghton, has announced that the institution will be closing seven more of their retail outlets across the country, adding to the number they closed several months ago. Citing the now very familiar financial crunch all museums are in, the Met has decided that it needs to make additional cuts, thus leaving just a handful remaining open in the US. They’ve also decided to take a look at their current budget and see what can be trimmed here and there to keep safely solvent, starting with two major decisions and a quote all current Met employees probably weren’t eager to read:

    Citing the global financial crisis, Mr. Houghton said the museum had imposed a hiring freeze and is curtailing staff travel and entertainment as well as the use of temporary employees. He also said the Met was in the process of a museum-wide assessment of expenses to see how it can further reduce costs. Emily Rafferty, the Met’s president, said Monday that “we cannot eliminate the possibility of a head-count reduction.”

    NY’s Sports Museum of America Shuts Down


    Back in mid-December of last year, we briefly reported on the Sports Museum of America‘s financial woes, with the organization instituting layoffs and only opening during peak hours. Unfortunately, their efforts weren’t enough to save the nine month old museum and they have closed their doors for good. This, we believe, is the first major for-profit museum to go under, following the financial collapse of late last year. Here’s a bit:

    Founder and Chief Executive Philip Schwalb is reported to be seeking a buyer and may be forced to liquidate if none is found. Efforts to reach Schwalb by telephone were unsuccessful.

    The museum’s collection of memorabilia is on loan from individuals and sports organizations across the United States.

    The museum is home to the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded annually to an outstanding college football player. It also houses the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center, named after the former tennis champion.

    Sanaa Selected to Design This Year’s Serpentine Gallery


    Following Frank Gehry‘s “Acropolis of Athens after an earthquake” for last year’s Serpentine Gallery, the Guardian‘s Jonathan Glancey has gotten the scoop that the Japanese firm Sanaa has been awarded this year’s main pavilion at the big event that happens in London each summer. Sanaa (also known as the team of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa) was also responsible for New York’s much praised New Museum of Contemporary Art and whose work Glancey describes as “remarkably calm and quieting,” so you have to figure that the Serpentine organizers were likely interested in going that route during these troubling times (probably not very wise to get overly showy when times are tough). Glancey provides some great background on the firm (also read this interview), but few details on their plans for the pavilion itself. But if years prior are any judge, they’re usually released around mid- to late-March, so keep your eyes peeled and we’ll be sure to let you know when we get the first peek at what Sanaa’s cooked up.

    UnBeige@NYIGF: Write On, DFC!

    dfc nyigf.jpg
    (Photos: UnBeige, DFC)

    Today’s installment of covetables discovered at the recent New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF)’s Accent on Design division is heavy on the whimsy. Even the most recession-ravaged gift buyer couldn’t walk by DFC‘s Mexican fiesta of a NYIGF booth without smiling. Welcoming visitors to the maximalist world of design duo Tony Moxham and Mauricio Paniagua (proud purveyors of “pretty things, big things, bright things, and shiny things”) was this four-foot-tall fiberglass bear, whose hand-painted coat doubles as a blackboard. Think of it as a customizable Jeff Koons sculpture—and unlike Koons, DFC also offers a more economically priced version: the smiling bear’s head alone (as well as a penguin version). More of a Damien Hirst fan? DFC’s new spring line, inspired by the idea of treasures from a mythical land called Mushi Mushi, also includes ceramic skulls hand-glazed in a range of ice cream hues. As for those flocked animals pictured at far left, “They’re harvested from the Mushi Mushi glitter farm,” explained Moxham with a sparkle in his eye.

    Previously on UnBeige:

  • UnBeige@NYIGF: Rich Brilliant Willing’s Russian Nesting Doll Tables
  • UnBeige@NYIGF: Bucky’s Birdhouse