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Archives: June 2009

Isaac Mizrahi Selects Winner for Studio 360‘s Gay Pride Redesign

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Following up on a post from earlier this month, the PRI/WNYC program Studio 360 has launched the results of its “Reimagining the Rainbow” project in their latest episode which airs this weekend (but you can hear it right now using the player below). You’ll recall that the show was asking listeners (and the firm Worldstudio) to redesign the gay pride branding, trying to find something new beyond the familiar rainbow flag. The submitted entries to Flickr were a mixed bag, as these things tend to be (this was our favorite), but some were pretty interesting. But by far the most fun of all of it is listening to Isaac Mizrahi, stepping in as guest judge to pick his favorite entry. Paper recently put together this interview with Mr. 360 himself, Kurt Andersen, who had this great quote about how they landed Mizrahi:

I was originally talking to him and I happened to mention that we were doing this idea and he said “Oh I’d pay to be the judge of that.” And I told him, “you don’t have to!”
He said that among his friends they argue about which of his friends is the king of the gays and this is chance to prove it.

Habitat Gets Into Twitter Trouble

habitat.jpgTag this one #HabitatFail. The United Kingdom-based homegoods retailer founded in 1964 by Terence Conran stirred up a social media scandal by using popular Twitter search terms in an attempt to draw viewers to its newly launched Twitter feed. Habitat’s controversial tweets, which have since been deleted, prefaced news of a sale on the retailer’s spring collection and a contest to win a gift card with popular searchable hashtags such as #Apple, #iPhone, and #MOUSAWI, the latter apparently to target that savvy demographic seeking news of the Iranian elections and a discounted shower curtain (in a fetching ersatz Eames print), fondue set, or David Adjaye-designed rug. After an Australian blog called attention to the opportunistic tweeting in a post entitled “How Not to Use Twitter,” Habitat issued an apology, blaming “an overenthusiastic intern who did not fully understand the ramifications of his actions,” according to a spokesman. “He is no longer associated with Habitat.”

Carsten Höller and Fondazione Prada Double Your Pleasure in London

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What happens when Western and African cultures meet in a Victorian warehouse in central London? The Double Club, Carsten Höller‘s latest art project. Backed by Fondazione Prada and directed by Jan Kennedy, the temporary space offers a unique approach to entertainment and hospitality with a restaurant, bar, and disco that are equal parts Western cool and Congolese hot—but never a lukewarm fusion. In practice, that makes for deliciously bifurcated meals: diners at the Double Club restaurant can choose from parallel menus (family-style Congolese dishes or bistro classics) in a room that is a cultural checkerboard, with dark African hardwood and humble plastic tables alternating with French brasserie tiling and supersleek Breeding Tables by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, who led the design of the project’s “Western side.” Hungry for a wild boar terrine served on a Congolese tablecloth, a goat brochette fresh from the oil drum barbeque, or just a night of Ndombolo dance hits? Stop in soon, as the cultural coexistence ends July 11.

Robert A.M. Stern on Starchitects, Limestone, and Life without a Computer

bob stern.jpgFront-page headlines such as “All about survival” and “High-end stores suffer” are the order of the day at The Real Deal, New York’s real estate bible, but the June issue ends on an up note, thanks to the charming Robert A.M. Stern. Interviewed by Candace Taylor for the magazine’s back page, “The Closing” (get it?), the superenergized architect, teacher, writer, and dean of the Yale School of Architecture opines on everything from his inspirations (which include Paul Rudolph and Robert Venturi) and his love of limestone (“It takes the light very beautifully”) to his favorite travel spots (London, Paris, Rome, and this summer, he’s off to Vienna, which is “kind of on [his] B-list”) and his thoughts on the Best Buy that occupies the ground floor of his buzzed-about 15 Central Park West. “I’ve never been in a Best Buy,” notes Stern. “It looks nice to me. Every shop in New York cannot be Tiffany’s.” So, what does he think of the term “starchitect”? Read on!

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Chronicling Each Step of Making a ‘Good’ Design Book

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Christopher Simmons, writer, professor, former AIGA chapter president, and principle at the San Francisco-based design firm, MINE, was kind enough to drop us a line letting us know about a nifty project he’s in the thick of right now: writing a book. Tentatively titled The Good Design Book, it will be published by HOW next year and will focus on, as the title implies, using design in positive ways, things that make the world better for one. All the better is that Simmons has decided to launch a blog about the whole book writing and designing process from start to finish. It’s still early, so there aren’t a ton of posts yet, but it seems like a great thing to keep bookmarked and check in each Friday for the regular, scheduled weekly update. Also, Christopher let us know that he’s currently on the hunt for examples to use in the book, work to show of that he can highlight as good design. “It’s not a competition, there’s no cost to submit work,” he says. “We’re simply looking for the most compelling examples of good design that also does good.” Have something that fits that bill? Here’s your chance to get included in a new book, so as to show your parents and make them proud of you.

Philadelphia 76ers Return to Old Logo: A Sign of Good Things to Come?

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If there’s one promising thing we’ve been hearing about all this recession/depression business is that people are yearning to return to the familiar. Sure, that means spending more time with family and inexpensive camping trips and maybe reading more books and all that lovely heartwarming, “a return to simpler times” stuff, but where our hopes reside is the idea that older or original logos might start coming back into fashion. Perhaps the first indication of this was the announcement that the Philadelphia 76ers have decided to return to the branding they used for almost twenty years, between 1977 to 1996 (which was a close offshoot from their original one that premiered back in 1963). Back in all its red, white and blue, with a fancy type that makes you just want to stand up and sing the Star Spangled Banner (like we just did), it replaces the dull logo they’d been using for the past decade, around the same time a lot of professional sports teams decided that uninspired branding was the way to go. So we applaud you, 76ers, for returning to better times. Now it’s your turn to make things right, UPS.

Philippe Starck Launches Fashion Line None of Us Will Understand for Three Years

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Our favorite goofy design person, Philippe Starck, has returned to the scene, having recently made his first step into the fashion world with the launch of his clothing line, which uses the name of most of his products, S+ARCK. In collaboration with the brand Ballantyne, the line will feature waterproof cashmere items that have been designed in such a way as to promote sustainability by lasting a really long time. Thought Starck claims that no one will much care for the products immediately, given that they “are non-photogenic,” he says that “the public will take maybe three years to understand the concept.” We’re not exactly sure why it will take so long for people to catch on (our quick synopsis: most cashmere gets wet, whereas this does not), but that’s for Philippe to understand and for the rest of us to be confused over. After all, this was the man who was saying how much he disliked fashion just a few short months ago. And, hey, while we’re on the subject, wasn’t his reality show supposed to start running back in March? Where’s that?!

Pentagram Papers Reads Signs of the Times

(Randal Ford).jpgSigns, signs, everywhere signs, including in the new issue of Pentagram Papers, the thirty-ninth in the firm’s series of privately published “examples of curious, entertaining, stimulating, provocative, and occasionally controversial points of view.” SIGNS, presciently proposed by Pentagram partner DJ Stout back in the good ‘ol days (i.e., spring 2008), focuses on the plight of the homeless. Photographer Michael O’Brien used a large format camera to capture searing portraits of homeless people in Austin, Texas, and these are interspersed with Randal Ford‘s exquisite shots of signs—most of them hand-lettered on corrugated cardboard—collected by genre-hopping singer and rocker Joe Ely. “I bought my first homeless sign in San Francisco in the mid-’70′s,” notes Ely, who was himself homeless, in the issue’s foreword. “An impulse urged me to offer five dollars for the sign. The guy looked at me with surprise. He wondered if I was on drugs. He was asking for spare change but was offered a buy-out. He jumped at the offer and scurried off to find materials to make a new sign.” It read “GOD IS GOOD, SO IS PEOPLE.” Check out the online version of SIGNS here, with links to charities around the world that are dedicated to helping the homeless.

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Forgotten Architects: Why You’ve Never Heard of Moritz Hadda
  • LEGO Makes Child’s Play of Frank Lloyd Wright Icons

    FLWlego.jpgAs we struggle to keep abreast of the flood of Frank Lloyd Wright-related news, contests, vintage game show clips, and egregious puns that have accompanied the outstanding Guggenheim exhibition of the architect’s globe-spanning projects, we had to make sure that you had heard the glad tidings that LEGO, too, has caught the FLW fever. In a licensing coup, LEGO’s Brickstructures partner (helmed by architectural artist Adam Reed Tucker) has struck a deal with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to produce Frank Lloyd Wright Collection LEGO Architecture sets, which allow kids of all ages to build their own Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Fallingwater. Accompanying the sets are booklets that feature traditional LEGO building instructions as well as “exclusive archival historical material” and photographs of each building. It’s DIY FLW!

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    A Look at SANAA’s Relationship as They Ready the Serpentine Pavilion

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    Earlier this month we checked in on the progress with SANAA‘s much-anticipated Serpentine Pavilion in London, which is set to open in less than a month in it usual location at Kensington Gardens, on July 12th. And now, because it’s too cool to resist, we make the jump across the pond once again and visit the Times‘ architecture critic Tom Dyckhoff who files this great report, complete with a great slideshow interview, about the pavilion. Although clearly still feeling angry about the recent Prince Charles debacle and starting his first few paragraphs with things like “It says something about the state of British architecture when the highlight of every year is a small pavilion in a park,” Dyckhoff quickly moves on from there and gets into a great discussion with the SANAA team, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, largely (and refreshingly) focusing on their relationship and how they’ve been able to work together for so long.

    “When I first saw Sejima-san [they use each other's surnames despite sitting beside one another and sipping each other's glass of water], I thought, there’s someone interesting,” he says. “She’d come in to the office wearing this green golden dress with an Arabian Nights hat in rainbow colours. Totally crazy. I thought, she looks kind of nice. I felt she must become very great.”

    Despite having read a couple of very negative things about how it is to work for SANAA, this piece at least comes across as very incredibly sweet and makes us even more eager to check out the finished pavilion. In the interim, we’ll have to settle for this small new batch of construction photos posted by Olll.

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