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Archives: September 2010

Museum of Science and Industry Picks Five Finalists for ‘Month at the Museum’

As it turns out, our pick didn’t get selected for Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry‘s Month at the Museum experiment/stunt, wherein they’ll pick one person to, as the name of the thing implies, spend a month living in its confines. So while our up-to-now can’t miss guessing efforts have failed, we were happy to see that it looks like they’ve selected five really solid finalists out of the more than 1,500 people who entered. They are Brandeis University biology/film student Alex Dainis, Seattle-based designer Krispijn Larrison, theater artist Kate McGroarty, Florida musician Johnathan Wilson, and our new pick to win the coveted prize, Chicagoan Felix Jung, who this writer recently shared the stage with when the show 20×2 came to town. Voting on who should be selected will be open until October 4th, so watch their videos and read the essays that landed them in the top five. And because this is our site and we can plug whoever we want, here’s Jung’s video:

In Brief: Macy’s Teams with Haitian Artisans, IKEA Goes Geothermal in Colorado

  • Looking for an exotic and charitable gift for that rapidly approaching fall wedding? We suggest heading to Macy’s, which come October will offer traditional Haitian artisan home décor products including quilts, metalwork (pictured at right, a hand-tooled serving tray from the blacksmith community in Croix des Bouquets), ceramics, woodcarvings, paintings, and jewelry as part of its new “The Heart of Haiti” initiative. The program, which was masterminded by Fairwinds Trading and the Brandaid Project to bring trade and aid to the earthquake-devastated nation, has already provided funds to Haitian artisans to buy needed materials to return to work, and more than 200 artisans are now at work full-time. According to Macy’s, “Heart of Haiti” is the first collection of home décor handcrafts since the January 2010 earthquake. Each item is designed by master Haitian artists, handmade by local artisans, and signed by the artist. The collection will be available online and in 25 Macy’s stores. We’re partial to Carnival Jakmel’s whimsical papier-mache creations, inspired by the mix of colors and prints of Haitian street fashion.

  • Elsewhere in retail news, IKEA is bringing meatballs n’ lingonberries and Malm beds to Colorado. The Swedish furniture giant is going deep in the high-altitude locale with a 415,000-square-foot store that will also be the first U.S. IKEA location to integrate a geothermal system. Slated to open next fall on 13.5 acres in the town of Centennial, the store is on track to be Colorado’s largest single building with geothermal heating and cooling. IKEA has already completed the underground work, which entailed drilling a bunch of 500-foot-deep holes into the earth for pipes holding heat-transferring liquid circulating through underground loops to either warm or cool the temperature inside the store. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is advising the ambitious project (and also kind of hoping that their efforts will be rewarded with some swell chairs). Meanwhile, for those not excited by innovative energy schemes, there’s more in store, including 10,000 items designed exclusively for the Centennial location, 50 different room settings, three complete model home interiors, a children’s play area, and a 500-seat restaurant. Pass the marzipan-accented Princess Cake!
  • Modernism En Masse: docomomo’s Fourth Annual Tour Day

    Speaking of famous architects and stylish modernism, an early heads up, this Saturday, October 9th marks the return of the Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement‘s (docomomo) Tour Day. Now in its fourth year, the organization and its twelve regional chapters in cities across the country, collaborate with local preservation groups to encourage the public to get out and take tours of great modern architecture. From “A Very Concrete Tour of New Haven” in Connecticut to a walk through Albert Kahn‘s 1924 Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Jacksonville, Florida, their site lists all the tours currently scheduled for this Saturday. So if you live near by one of these major metropolises and want to spend a couple hours learning about modernism and doing some good, we’ve now just given you your weekend plans.

    Charles Gwathmey Designed Park Avenue Apartment Goes Up for Sale

    Have a few million dollars to spare but not the kind of Robert A.M. Stern money where you can get the architect to build you something entirely new? Well you’re in luck, as this Charles Gwathmey-designed apartment at 1185 Park Avenue has just been put on the market. The legendary architect, who passed away last year (making it difficult for even Stern to hire him now), designed the apartment in the early 1990s, building it for Carol and Alan Pomerantz in the very tony pre-war coop. The NY Times has a great profile on the apartment, including information on the process of the family working with Gwathmey to design the place to, according to the listing, “a sixteenth of an inch, with the precision of a watch,” going as far as even asking the Pomerantz’s about their shoe sizes so he could customize the closets, making sure everything fit just-so. The price for the recently updated apartment is a cool $5.75 million, so if that’s in your budget, make your move.

    Steve Bass Hired as Production Designer for 2011 Academy Awards

    After several years of using David Rockwell to design the elaborate annual production, the Academy Awards will be trying something new next year. The Academy has announced that instead of Rockwell, who was also the architect behind the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are held each year, they have hired Steve Bass as their next production designer. Bass’ career highlights include designing sets for the last Emmy Awards (as well as several others in the past), collaborating on “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial,” and working with the Tony Awards. Here’s from the Oscars’ producers, Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer:

    “I have collaborated with Steve several times, and he’s the perfect person for this year’s Oscars,” said Mischer. “He’s an innovative, creative talent who I know will do justice to the tradition and glamour of the Academy Awards.”

    “Don and I knew right away that Steve would be the absolute best partner to bring our vision to life in terms of the production design of the Oscar show,” said Cohen. “He is truly a master at designing for high-profile, grand-scale events.”

    Quote of Note | Raf Simons


    Looks from the spring 2011 Jil Sander collection

    “People define the work I do for the Jil Sander brand as being very minimal. But I don’t think it’s very minimal. It’s more purist—and those two things are very different….It’s a very thin line, I think, the difference between purist and minimal—specifically in architecture. And I think you need to place those terms within the context of the world’s time—that moment in history that would be defined as ‘überminimal.’ Take for example the house of Linda Loppa [former head of the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts] in Antwerp, which was like 2,500 square meters of concerete. The living room was 800 square meters and had two chairs, and the bedroom was 400 square meters and had one bed. When I first met Linda, I was 23 and just coming out of school. I was extremely obsessed with that house. For me, it was like the überpurist or the überminimal because I really didn’t split up the definitions yet. But now, after having lived in the houses I’ve lived in and becoming more and more of my own person, I’m not sure I could ever live in a space like that.”

    -Raf Simons, who today showed his spring 2011 Jil Sander collection in Milan

    ‘Hypothetical Development Organization’ Dreams Up Hypothetical New Architecture for New Orleans

    Following the success of his “Significant Objects” project, the man behind Murketing and all the best, funniest lines in Objectified, Rob Walker, has kicked off something new and equally as captivating. Called the Hypothetical Development Organization, Walker and co-creators Ellen Susan and G.K. Darby, are trying to create “a new form of urban storytelling” in New Orleans by having realistic renderings made of new buildings to stick onto old, abandoned establishments that have fallen into disrepair. The great, clever thing is that none of these renderings will likely ever be built — they’ll always just be renderings of what could be. There won’t be rules for what can be conceived of, thoughts about how commercially viable a project might be in real life, or even concern for physics or where the building materials would come from. We love the idea and if you think it’s a good one too, the group has set up a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help give the project a push toward completion.

    Art Institute of Chicago Files Suit Against the Modern Wing’s Engineering Firm

    Just over a year ago, we got an exclusive sneak peak at Renzo Piano‘s much-celebrated new Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago (here’s parts two and three of our early look). At the time it opened, it was the talk of the town, helping to solidify the city’s architectural legacy. Oh but how quickly the honeymoon has come to an end. The building has now found itself at the center of a lawsuit between the museum itself and the British engineering firm that helped build it, Ove Arup & Partners. The museum alleges that the firm performed shoddy work in a number of areas, resulting in millions of dollars spent on repairs. Ove Arup has said it’s shocked by the suit, saying that it had been trying to work out any problems with the museum since apparently early 2009, before the building had even opened. According to Engineering News Record, the museum says that “the talks went nowhere” and so they had little choice but to file suit earlier this week in an effort to recoup the money spent fixing the problems. Here’s a list the issues that make up the lawsuit:

    The dispute centers around alleged errors and omissions in heating and cooling systems, concrete floors, the building envelope, a portion of the roof referred to as the “flying carpet,” a pedestrian bridge, as well as “incorrect structural engineering.” It also alleges Arup provided an insufficient number of experienced engineers to handle construction administration, which contributed to “costly delays and required revisions to work already completed.” The claim says AIC spent or will have to spend some $10 million as a result of Arup’s poor performance on the project.

    If there’s one person resting easy while this courtroom battle kicks off, it’s Renzo Piano, whose design for the building isn’t being held at fault by the Art Institute.

    Margaret Russell Announces New Editorial Staff at Architectural Digest

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    Following this summer’s news that Paige Rense Noland was retiring and Elle Decor‘s Margaret Russell was taking over as Editor-in-Chief, all the big changes at Architectural Digest are almost complete with today’s announcement of the magazine’s almost entirely all-new editorial staff. As you might recall from our post about Russell landing the top job, with that shift in leadership also came a move from Los Angeles to New York, where the magazine will now be located. Although a few staffers from before the swap are keeping their jobs and staying on back in LA, the majority come from other New York-based magazines, as well as a few who had worked for Russell at Elle Decor. Here’s the complete list:

  • Executive Editor: Sarah Medford, formerly Director of Arts, Culture & Design at Town & Country
  • Managing Editor: Lawrence Karol, formerly Executive Managing Editor at W Magazine
  • Special Projects Editor: Mitchell Owens, formerly Editor at Large at Elle Decor
  • Interiors Editor: Robert Rufino, formerly Vice President of Creative Services at Tiffany & Co., and most recently, a Senior Editor at Large at House Beautiful
  • Design Editor: Howard Christian, formerly manager of the Treillage design/home-furnishings/garden shops
  • Style Editor: Elana Frankel, formerly Decorating Editor at Martha Stewart Living
  • Senior Writer: Sam Cochran, formerly a freelance writer specializing in design, arts and culture, and travel
  • Copy Chief: Kate Hambrecht, formerly Copy Chief at Elle Decor
  • Assistant Editor, Digital: Katherine Jerde, formerly Editorial Assistant at Architectural Digest in Los Angeles
  • Margaret Dunne, the former Executive Editor of Architectural Digest in Los Angeles has been named Consulting Editor, as has former Special Projects Manager, James Munn, both will remain in Los Angeles. George Moscahlades, Architectural Digest‘s former Art Director, will stay on as Consulting Designer in New York.

    MAD Unveils ‘Eat Drink Art Design’ Exhibition, Adds New Curator


    New at MAD: Sol LeWitt’s hand-etched crystal glasses for Artel (2003) and new curator Ronald T. Labaco

    Who needs to watch Julia Roberts eat-pray-loving her way across the big screen when you can admire trailblazing tableware created by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Jurgen Bey, Cindy Sherman, and Boym Partners? These are just a few of the artists and designers featured in “Eat Drink Art Design,” a new exhibition of intriguing cups, plates, silverware, and tea sets. (We’ll take the vaguely menacing Ron Gilad flatware!) On view through March 27 of next year at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), the show of 60 pieces—all from the museum’s collection—ranges from handcrafted mid-century pots and elegant spatular implements to more conceptual works such as Dale Chihuly‘s 1968 “Wine Bottle,” which we could swear we once encountered in an organic chemistry laboratory. And even the choosiest mom couldn’t resist taking a closer look at David LaPlantz‘s curious “Skippy’s Peanut Butter Spreader” (1980). “The designers and artists in this exhibition have taken very familiar objects and transformed them in ways that are both beautiful and unexpected,” says MAD associate curator Jennifer Scanlan. Because who needs a saltshaker when you can adorn your table with Boris Bally‘s silver and brass sodium urn?

    Also new to MAD is decorative arts and design curator and historian Ronald T. Labaco, who has just been appointed Marcia Docter Curator of the museum. Labaco has been curator of decorative arts and design at the High Museum in Atlanta since 2007, and previously worked as an independent curator and as an assistant curator of decorative arts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “The Museum of Arts and Design is internationally acclaimed for the originality and boldness of its exhibitions and programming,” said Labaco in a statement announcing his appointment. “I am thrilled to be joining such a talented and distinguished team, and to find ways to further push the envelope with them in the world of contemporary arts and design.” His first day on the job will be October 11. Might we suggest a welcome toast with the museum’s Marvin LipofskyIrv Tepper Memorial Hot Dog Cup“?

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