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Archives: January 2010

Marvel Superheroes Becoming More Heroic

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Evildoing baddies have no place in the Magic Kingdom, and so it comes as quite a relief that Marvel Entertainment, which Disney acquired last month for $4 billion, just happens to be giving its superheroes an attitude adjustment: out with the pessimistic plotting, in with the swashbuckling heroics! This spring will see the dawn of a new “heroic age” in Marvel Comics, as a relaunched Avengers reunites a suddenly chummy Iron Man, Captain America (back from the dead!), and Thor. “Heroes will be heroes again,” Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada told USA Today recently. “They’ve gone through hell and they’re back to being good guys—a throwback to the early days of the Marvel Universe, with more of a swashbuckling feel.” But ix-nay on the isneyfication-Day. Marvel’s step away from the dark side has been in the works for two years, according to Quesada. “There is no sanitizing of the Marvel books at all,” he said. “Our philosophy here is to just keep telling good stories.”

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Quote of Note | Paula Scher

P_Scher.jpg“The Bauhaus influence permeates most of my work almost involuntarily. I respond to the strength, organization, spirit, intelligence, and power of the graphics produced by the Bauhaus designers and find it nearly impossible not to draw on some element that they had previously established.”

-Designer and Pentagram partner Paula Scher, who recently designed a smashing new identity for Bausch + Lomb.

In Boston? On the evening of February 10, Scher will chat with Laura DesEnfants (who we much prefer to the imperial James Lipton) at Suffolk University as part of AIGA Boston’s ongoing Inside the Designer’s Studio series. Details here.

A Look Inside the Droog Townhouse

Pre-Design Miami, we told you about Droog Design teaming with the Tokyo-based architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow to design the Droog Townhouse, which was unveiled at the art fair back in December. We found this cool little video put together by Brooklyn Digital Foundry, via Archinect, showing the whole thing off in glorious 3D and bits and pieces of video mixed with CGI’d Droog-designed furniture found in the fictional house. The video ran alongside the premiere of the plans in Miami. Here you are:

Did Dubai Just Offer Victoria Beckham $25 Million for Design Advice or Did the Mirror Make It All Up?

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If you’re a United Arab Emirate and the only thing being reported about you, outside of having the world’s tallest building, is that you’ve been bleeding money for the past few years and you’ve constantly been teetering on the verge of utter ruin, the last thing you’d likely want is a story getting out that your leader is trying to hire a pop star, for tens of millions of dollars, to design a hotel for you. Such was the case as the Mirror reported that former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham was contacted by Dubai’s Vice-President, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who asked if she would “put her name to the hotel and help with everything from room design to the make of the wardrobes and furnishings” for the princely sum of around $25 million. That was Tuesday of this week that the Mirror printed the story. Now the Dubai government is trying to fight back the claim, saying it’s absolutely false and the paper was completely incorrect. So either a) there was never any offer, b) there was an offer, but now it’s being covered up, or c) after years of reporting on Dubai’s reckless spending (remember the original iPAD?), the paper is just having a hard time forgetting that those spendthrift days are over.

Do David Stark a Favor, Name His New Puppy

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There are a million contests centered around design out there, but among the good ones, many are either residing in murky spec territory, extremely crowded, or just seem slightly blah. We will share none of those with you, because we only delivery posts of the finest quality. That said, here’s the greatest design contest ever: name David Stark‘s new puppy. Okay, maybe it’s not exactly a “design” contest and maybe more of the “sort of kinda branding” variety, but Stark is a designer, so that seems to fit. What’s more, he isn’t any old designer, he’s the guy we recently crowned “King of Event Design.” He’s put together gigantic, amazing spaces for events like numerous National Design Awards, the New Yorkers for Children Gala, West Elm openings, etc. So you wouldn’t just be naming an adorable puppy (which should be prize enough, you louts) but should you win, you’ll also receive bragging rights, so the next time you find yourself at one of his events, you can tell your slackjawed friends, “Know the guy who did all this? Yeah, I named his puppy. No big deal.” You’re welcome, America.

Ceramics Studio Atelier NL Wins Modern Painters‘ Inaugural Design Award

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(Photos: Paul Scala)

Last month, Modern Painters magazine invited emerging designers in the fields of furniture, lighting, product, and interior and environmental design to “revisit, rethink, and re-imagine how we live in our homes and to conceive an object that offers a new, more enlightened lifestyle.” An esteemed panel of jurors wasted no time in reviewing the more than 100 entries submitted from twenty-some countries and selecting a winner. And the inaugural Re:Vision Design Award goes to…Atelier NL! The Eindhoven-based ceramics studio of designers Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck (both 2006 Eindhoven grads) won for its “Drawn from Clay” series of hand-crafted pottery (pictured).

Each piece is made from a specific plot of soil taken from different farms across a 175-square-mile polder (which Hella Jongerius fans will recall refers to a flood-prone tract of land reclaimed from the sea by means of dykes and drainage canals). “We wanted to make tableware so that the vegetables prepared for dinner could be served from vessels made from the same soil the vegetables came out of,” explains Van Rijswijck. A ratio system was created to determine the size of each piece, which is also stamped with a geo-code reference to match the plot the soil came from. Atelier NL wins $10,000 and a feature in the May issue of Modern Painters.

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iPad Spurs Rush to ‘Tabletize’ Content

iPad_nyt.jpgJony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, describes the new iPad as “magical,” while Yves Behar predicts it “will be the ultimate media controller and media consumption device.” As you’re no doubt aware, the new tablet computer is a sleek 1.5-pound slab fronted by an iPod-style screen powered by a novel A4 chip and impressively enduring battery technology. “The face of the product is pretty much defined by a piece of multitouch glass, and that’s it,” says Ive. “There’s no pointing device. There isn’t even a single orientation. There’s no right or wrong way of holding it.”

iPad users will find the familiar iTunes and App stores along with the iBookstore, a new e-bookseller that taps into Apple’s freshly inked deals with publishers including HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin. Thanks to a high-profile partnership with The New York Times, the iPad includes a Times application, allowing users to browse, zoom, and resize the virtual version of the paper and take advantage of multimedia offerings. The outlook for magazines and newspapers other than the Times is less clear. “Steve Jobs would have been smart to have a magazine company on stage,” Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black told The Wall Street Journal of the media partners that graced the stage at yesterday’s launch.

As for the fate of non-Times newspapers, veteran designers Mario Garcia and Joe Zeff are on the case. Garcia, whose Garcia Media has redesigned publications including The Wall Street Journal and Die Zeit, and Zeff, former graphics director of Time and presentation editor of the Times, are teaming up to help newspapers tabletize their content. “We hope to provide newspapers worldwide with the tools and talent to approach this new and decisive time for what we call journalism,” notes Garcia on his blog. A meeting to discuss the future of the newspaper industry in the age of the iPad is planned for February 20-21 in New York City.

‘Unhappy Hipsters’ Makes Us Happy

Hopefully the editors and publishers at Dwell magazine have a sense of humor, because Unhappy Hipsters is one of our favorite new things and we’d love to see it continue. Launched this month (maybe even just this week), the site takes photos from Dwell that show hip people in their hip, modern houses and adds captions that give each picture a dash of discomfort and existential despair. With lines like “He sipped his tepid coffee and pondered how to tell her that, in fact, the pants made the sack dress even less appealing,” it’s wonderfully and hilariously written, and has been all the buzz for the past few days. It’s sort of like Marmaduke Explained for the design set. Fortunately, even though the site uses images swiped from the magazine, it looks like they dig it, given that Dwell‘s managing editor Michele Posner posted on the magazine’s Twitter feed last night, “Admittedly hilarious Dwell sendup!”

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AIGA Cancels Membership in Icograda

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A break-up of sorts this week, as it’s been announced that the AIGA has resigned its membership in the International Council of Graphic Design Associations, more familiarly known as Icograda. Richard Grefe, executive director of the AIGA, made the announcement on the organization’s blog, explaining that the decision was made due to Icograda’s slow, bureaucratic movement on issues, as well as financial considerations, given that AIGA’s members have been hit by hard economic times, they felt that paying Icograda’s membership fees wasn’t the best use of already pinched expenses. Here’s a bit from Grefe’s explination:

We believe the current course of Icograda is not one that positions it effectively for relevance and leadership in the 21st century quickly enough. Some will disagree with the decision AIGA has made, which was intended to accelerate a process that we believe is in Icograda’s — and the design profession’s — best interest. Some will say we are too impatient; we would argue we are being prudent in committing resources and priorities in a world that is changing at warp speed.

Don’t Mess with Olympic Branding or It Will Mess With You

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There are two well established branding rules that you must never, ever break or you will be swimming in legal troubles. First is if you haven’t paid millions of dollars and/or you aren’t a reporter, you must never print the words “Super Bowl” on anything related to a business (the standard work around is calling it “the big game”). Second, don’t even think about using the word “Olympics” or illustrating rings joined together or the pain will be twice as bad. Fortunately, with that second rule from on high, the Vancouver Olympics are coming next month and they’ve put together the 2010 Olympic/Paralympic Brand Management Guidelines. It’s an exhausting, sometimes unintentionally funny rundown of how Vancouver and the IOC will be diligently policing the Canadian city to make sure their brand isn’t abused. We understand the point of having these in place, but it all seems a bit much at times, particularly when you get to the Example of Infringement Assessment illustrations, in which there’s a whole weird rating system of how close to saying “Olympics” a sign in a shop window is.

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