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Archives: August 2009

The Standard Hotel in Hot Water Over Steamy Window Scenes


Remember earlier this year when The Standard hotel opened up in New York? Everyone was all abuzz about the new modern building, designed by Todd Schliemann. Even the video playing in its elevators, a motion graphics piece by Marco Brambilla, was being passed around all over the internet. But with this popularity has come some criticism this week, as neighbors and pedestrians from an adjacent park have complained of almost constant nudity in the floor to ceiling windows in each room, as well as the occasional glimpse of porn shoots and random sex acts for all to see. Further complaints have said that The Standard has been encouraging such exhibitionism on places like their Facebook page and through their advertising. Our response to all of this is to call back to some comments over at Curbed from a couple of days back, when it was rumored that this was all some marketing ploy The Standard had organized, that perhaps they were hiring models to wander around in the buff in order to drum up attention. After all, floor-to-ceiling windows aren’t all that rare in a big city. Is this hotel so sexually charged that everyone who stays there just feels compelled to go nuts?

Former Frank Lloyd Wright Student Wants Family to Keep His Gravestone for Mamah Borthwick


Some interesting ongoing dramatics at one of the two grave sites for Frank Lloyd Wright. Back in May, at his original resting place, at Taliesin in Wisconsin (his body was later moved to the other Taliesin in Arizona), architect and Wright student John Ottenheimer had secretly snuck in and placed a gravestone for Mamah Borthwick, Wright’s longtime mistress who was murdered in the area. The family found the stone almost immediately and demanded that it be removed. Now Ottenheimer, who also designed Wright’s original grave, is saying that he doesn’t want it back, that the family should hold on to it until the small marker memorializing Borthwick needs to be replaced or they decide to follow his beliefs. Here’s a bit:

“I really think, given time, the cemetery board will figure out something, they will find a place. Another ten or twenty or thirty years, the (existing) stone will be totally unreadable,” he said. “I think the best place for it now would be in the stonework at Taliesin. It’s a memorial of someone, and Taliesin was where she was killed, and people forget Taliesin was built for her.”

Lawsuit Against Frank Gehry Over Tiffany Jewelry Dismissed


In another bit of retail jibber-jabber, we return to March of last year when the jewelry company Tiffany & Co. announced that they would be carrying a line of Frank Gehry-designed shiny bits. From there, the story disappeared and we assumed that the most exciting things was, you know, people bought some of it and stuff. But behind the scenes, even before the launch, Gehry had landed in some hot water with a company called Circa Publishing Enterprises, who had brokered the connection between Tiffany and the starchitect with the understanding that they’d get a share of the profits. When Gehry and Tiffany decided to go it alone themselves, Circa sued. This was back in 2007. But now, this week, the suit has been kicked out of court, with Circa failing to prove that they had a shared-profit agreement with Gehry from the start. So, see, if you ignore the probably thousands of dollars in lawyer fees he’s had to spend over the past couple of years on this, not all news is bad news for Frank Gehry.

NY Times Clark Hoyt Apologizes for Review of JC Penney Opening


Remember a couple of weeks back when we wrote a post that included some talk about Cintra Wilson‘s NY Times piece about the opening of a JC Penney in Manhattan? Personally, we loved it, picking on both the ego of the city and the company’s general identity with equal, very funny-yet-mean digs. But apparently our opinion wasn’t shared by the masses, as since its publication, the Times has received loads of mail about the piece, forcing editor Clark Hoyt to profusely apologize and even Wilson bowing to appease the angry crowd forming at the gates. In one of the more painful sections of Hoyt’s apology, he even went to JC Penney’s PR person to ask them what they thought (surprise: they weren’t pleased). In this writer’s opinion, the whole thing is just brutal, this backing down for what we thought was a smartly-written, even-handed opinion piece (most of the reader quotes Hoyt includes in his piece seem to be from people who only read the first half of Wilson’s story). What’s next? Apologies for movie reviews? Or telling Nicolai Ouroussoff to stop getting people all worked up? We figured the banner Wilson was writing under, “Critical Shopper,” was a good indication that you’d be reading the opinions of a critic. Fortunately for us, there was this brilliant response by blogger Lewis Grossberger: “Clark Hoyt, Go Soak Your Head” Its central argument is that the editor is apologizing for making the paper interesting and readable. It’s a fantastic counter and brilliantly written, far better articulating our distaste after reading Hoyt’s piece. But that’s just this writer’s opinion. Apologies in advance if this has upset anyone at all, for any reason, ever.

Battered Books, Tattered Covers: The Photos of Cara Barer and Abelardo Morell

cover duo.jpg

Ron Hogan, the sharp-eyed senior editor of Galleycat (our bookish feline of a brother blog), recently noted the nascent trend of book covers sporting photographs of books that have seen better days. The examples he highlighted—The Late Age of Print by Ted Striphas (published in March by Columbia University Press) and Michael Greenberg‘s Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life, out next month from Other Press—both feature photos by Cara Barer. The Houston-based photographer describes her work as “primarily a documentation of a physical evolution” and an attempt to “blur the line between objects, sculpture, and photography.” Two more of Barer’s photos are below (from left to right): “Foam” (2005) and “Eccentric Circles” (2007).

(Photos: Cara Barer)

In more recent work that has an appealing Rorschach floral vibe, Barer picks up where Abelardo Morell left off. Morrell, a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is known for his pioneering explorations of the beauty of books in stunning black and white photographs collected in the 2002 tome A Book of Books (Bullfinch). Literary types may recall his 2001 photo “Book Damaged by Water” (below, at left) from the cover of a swell 2003 issue of Ploughshares, the literary journal published by Emerson College. On the right is “Book with Wavy Pages,” also from 2001.

(Photos: Abelardo Morell)

Traveling Herman Miller Exhibit Kicks Off Nationwide Tour This November


A few weeks back, this writer was traveling through western Michigan and perhaps the highlight of the trip was passing by one of the Herman Miller factories. Not that there was anything to see — it was just a building with a sign out front — but there’s something exciting about being so close to all that fancy product design and assembly. What’s more, this is the second time we’ve done this — the first being in Atlanta last year, when we also passed by one of their offices (this writer’s wife’s response to both instances of said excitement was a halfhearted “That’s nice”). For those of you who share our odd enthusiasm, or for you normals who just enjoy their products on a purely wholesome level, you’ll be keen to know that the company will be hitting the road soon. Or, rather, the local Muskegon Museum of Art, will be heading out on tour soon with their collection of Herman Miller artifacts and history lessons, with “Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller.” It will feature illustrations, early sketches, and photographs, and will be displaying a number of items on loan from The Henry Ford Museum that have never been exhibited before. “Good Design” has just opened in Muskegon and will run there until early November, after which the museum will begin its first traveling exhibition, hitting as many as 15 cities over the next four years. We’re thinking another trip up to western Michigan is definitely in the cards soon, but if you aren’t in close proximity, here’s the list of the other museums the exhibit will stop at that have already been booked:

After the exhibition’s Muskegon run, it will head to the Goldstein Museum of Design in St. Paul, Minn., and then to Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Chester said. Other locations already scheduled include: San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wis.; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, N.Y.; and Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tenn.

One Year After Bail-Out, Scotland’s Center for Design and Architecture Faces Closure Once More


We’ve seen a few high-profile cultural institution bailouts, from Eli Broad‘s massive donation to keep Los Angeles’ MoCA alive and most recently the quick turnaround on keeping LACMA‘s struggling film program afloat. But what happens when it doesn’t work? Toward the end of last year, you might recall that Scotland’s national center for architecture and design, The Lighthouse, was inching ever closer toward demise until, about a month later, the national government and its city council stepped in to pump some money back in. Unfortunately, while the financial injection has kept The Lighthouse running these past eight months, it looks like they’re back in the same boat as they were before, already in deep debt and announcing that it will have no choice but to shut down by next week unless it receives additional funding. And while the last crisis seemed like it had some momentum behind saving it, this time around, having depleted their resources so quickly and getting into a huge amount of monetary trouble once again, there doesn’t appear to be as much support. Here’s a bit:

“The last rescue package was done in the hope that the board could find a way of improving the situation,” the source explained. “But The Lighthouse has proved just too expensive to run, it’s not being managed efficiently.”

The Scottish Government said no extra funding would be made available. A spokesman said: “We commend the excellent work The Lighthouse does and hope to see it overcome its present problems.”

Takin’ It to the Street: Gap Outfits New York Stock Exchange in Jeans

gap NYSE.jpgIn case you’ve not yet been touched personally by the multimedia publicity blitz, we should let you know that Gap is celebrating its fortieth anniversary with a new line of jeans that head designer Patrick Robinson describes as “rengineered…cool, sexy, and relevant for right now.” However, as double-digit decreases in comparable store sales have become the norm at Gap Inc., can the investor community be convinced that the company is a smart buy? Free jeans can’t hurt. On Friday, a day after announcing second-quarter earnings, Gap outfitted 1,200 New York Stock Exchange Traders in its new 1969 Premium Jeans. “The fact that we’re dressing the New York Stock Exchange in jeans for the first time in history really speaks to the role that Gap still plays in our culture today,” said Marka Hansen, president of Gap brand North America. We smell a tautology there, but the plan seems to have worked, at least in the short term. When members of Gap’s founding Fisher family rang the closing bell on Friday, Gap stock had reached $19.48 per share, its highest price since last September.

Wanted: Art Director Who Can Go for Miles

runner.jpgDo you enjoy InDesign, strategic brainstorming, and long walks on the beach? Then you might be just the person Miles Media is searching for. The tourism marketing company is looking to add a versatile art director to its Sarasota, Florida office. The position promises “an opportunity to shape creative trends while working just minutes away from the best beaches in the United States,” and by creative trends they mean sand castles and actual creative trends! Bring your sunscreen and your cross-platform skills, as the art director will be responsible for development and execution of creative ideas in products across print, web, electronic marketing, and multi-media.

Apply for this art director, Miles Media position or view all the current design jobs.

Celebrating 70 Years of Hanna-Barbera

Hanna-Barbera turns 70 this year, and although the skies are, alas, still free of Jetsonian flying cars, the Paley Center for Media is celebrating in a Grape Ape-sized way. “Yabba-Dabba-Doo! A 70th Anniversary Salute to Hanna-Barbera” explores the history and creative legacy of limited animation pioneers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who first collaborated in 1939 on Tom and Jerry cartoons. An exhibition on view through September 10 at the Paley Center’s Los Angeles outpost is a treasure trove of cartoon history, including Iwao Takamoto‘s first doodles of the Scooby-Doo gang, early designs for The Jetsons, and photos from voice recording sessions of shows such as The Flintstones and Johnny Bravo. If there is any justice in the world, Laff Olympics, Space Ghost, and Snorks are also prominently featured. Meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera’s big 7-0 is also a perfect opportunity for us to call your attention to this clip of Snagglepuss, as portrayed by Bobby Moynihan on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update. It’s terrific, hilarious even.