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Archives: October 2010

Anne Frank House, HBO, National Geographic Among Winners of Adobe MAX Awards

Today is the final day of Adobe MAX, the digital media confab that swooped into Los Angeles on Saturday with sessions such as “Are You Smarter Than a Flash Evangelist?” and intensive CS5 tutorials that were BYOL (bring your own laptop) affairs. Attendees threw down at a Rubiks Cube competition, were mesmerized by the Rich Media Ad Shootout, and each took home a free Google TV. And then there was Shatner. The man himself was on hand last night to emcee—in. his. distinctively. halting. style—the Adobe MAX Awards. Now in their eighth year, the awards highlight innovative uses of Adobe software and technology to create high-impact enterprise, social computing, entertainment, and digital-publishing applications. Among those collecting wins (and priceless Shatnerian handshakes) were HBO, whose HBO GO online portal triumphed in the entertainment category, and Thomson Reuters for its Reuters Insider video player. Secret Annex Online, a 3D online journey of the Anne Frank House that the museum developed with LBi Amsterdam, bested the other finalists in the advertising and branding category, while The Complete National Geographic won for digital publishing. Also taking home awards last night were site-specific applications known as litl channels and Wacom’s Bamboo Dock, a social computing application. Meanwhile, Shatner appeared (somewhat) calmer after being assured that Adobe AIR is not in fact a competitor of

Google Commits $5 Million to Digital Media Grants

From wind turbines and self-driving cars to mail goggles and consumer genomics, Google likes to experiment. Its latest foray into the world of ideas focuses on digital journalism, an ever-evolving and increasingly graphics-rich area for which the search giant has just committted millions. Google announced yesterday that it will give $5 million in grants to non-profit organizations that are working to develop new approaches to journalism in the digital age. “Our aim is to benefit news publishers of all sizes,” wrote Nikesh Arora, Google’s president of global sales operations and business development, on the company blog. “We hope these grants will help new ideas blossom and encourage experimentation.” First up: the Knight Foundation, which has received a $2 million grant to support its media innovation work (you’ll recall their Knight News Challenge initiative). Googler Marissa Mayer co-chaired the foundation-sponsored Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, which made recommendations to extend broadband access to all Americans, and on media literacy. As for the other $3 million in up-for-grabs grant money, Google plans to invest it in creative journalism projects outside of the United States. Details are expected early next year—so bloggers, now may be the perfect time to open a Belize bureau.

Wanted: Luxe Art Director for Plum TV Gig

If you have true love of pop culture, luxury goods, and fashion, Plum TV needs you. The company is looking for a print magazine art director, who can create visually stimulating layouts for the brand from its Miami office.

The ideal candidate will have an eye for photography, and know how to use typography to relay Plum’s message in a compelling way. He or she will have great contacts in the industry, and know just who to call when the best fashion photographers and stylists are needed. The brand will be expanding into new cities and markets, so you must be able to handle the workload as it increases.

To be considered, you’ll need at least five years of professional experience and an exceptional portfolio of print work. Formal design training is preferred, and top-notch Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign skills are a must. Those with Flash and video production experience will get major bonus points. Interested? Apply here.

In Brief: Kanye West Collaborates with Vanessa Beecroft; LVMH Stocks Up on Hermès

  • Ignore the skeptics and believe the hype, fellow aesthetes! “Runaway,” Kanye West‘s new video-cum-short film is an artistic triumph. Filmed in Prague, the 34-minute extravaganza follows West and his ethereal winged girlfriend (Selita Ebanks) on a journey through forests, fires, and feasts, with stops along the way at a modernist crash pad and an impromptu ballet performance. The ballerinas and prevailing Venetian luminousity are early hints that Vanessa Beecroft is involved, and indeed, she is credited as art director on the film, which also showcases the inspired cinematography of Kyle Kibbe and costumes by Phillip Lim and Martin Izquierdo. And keep an eye out for West’s winks at other favorite artists, such as Gregory Crewsdon. We are seriously considering investing in a dedicated jumbo flatscreen for UnBeige HQ that will play “Runaway” on a loop. Watch the full video below.

  • With his star Louis Vuitton brand losing some of its ultraluxe luster in recent years whilst raking in ever larger monogrammed sackfuls of cash, LVMH honcho Bernard Arnault has long eyed the apex of luxury brands: Hermès. Known for its equestrian roots, rich artistic heritage, and uncompromising dedication to quality, the French firm is controlled by the Dumas family, but keep your eye on Monsieur Arnault. Through LVMH, he’s quietly accumulated a 17% stake in Hermès (14.2% directly and an additional 2.9% via derivatives), whose shares have skyrocketed in recent months. “LVMH says it has no ambitions beyond holding a minority stake,” writes Matthew Curtin in today’s Wall Street Journal. “But LVMH has put a marker down should more family members change their minds.”
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  • Pratt Honors Ellsworth Kelly, Tommy Hilfiger, Emily Fisher Landau at Legends Gala

    Pratt Institute raised a record-breaking $522,000 last week at the school’s annual Legends scholarship benefit, held at 7 World Trade Center in Manhattan. More than 400 guests turned out to honor artist Ellsworth Kelly, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, and philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau (pictured at left), who were selected as “distinguished individuals whose accomplishments and values resonate with those of Pratt.” The healthy take from ticket sales got a surprise boost from on-the-spot pledges that brought the total amount raised to $560,000: Pratt Trustee James D. Kuhn donated $28,000 in honor of his wife and event co-chair Marjorie Kuhn while Larry Leeds, chairman of Buckingham Capital Management, donated an additional $10,000 in honor of Hilfiger. When it came time to hand out the awards, designed by Pratt industrial design undergrad Klara Varosy (who also got to present them to the honorees), Kelly looked back on his own student days at Pratt in the 1940s. “I want to thank Pratt for putting me on the road to becoming an artist,” he told the crowd, which included architect Robert Siegel, art director George Lois, artist Mickalene Thomas (Pratt alums all); Pratt Trustees and event co-chairs Kurt Andersen and Amy Cappellazzo; and artists Francesco Clemente, Glenn Ligon, and Edward Mapplethorpe. Later, Landau spoke of her legendary eye for artistic talent. “You could take me into any gallery with art around the room and I could tell you which was the best,” she said. “And that was usually the one the artist wasn’t selling.”

    Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari, Karim Rashid Selected for Interior Design Hall of Fame

    Three design stars will be inducted into Interior Design‘s Hall of Fame this year: Shigeru Ban (Shigeru Ban Architects), Neil Denari (Neil M. Denari Architects), and Karim Rashid. The magazine has also created a new award—the Design Icon. The inaugural recipient of the honor will be Paige Rense, former editor of Architectural Digest and a 1985 Hall of Fame inductee. The foursome will be feted at a December 1 gala at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, with proceeds from the event benefiting the Council for Interior Design Accreditation and the Alpha Workshops. While the Interior Design Hall of Fame has historically cast a relatively wide net in fulfilling its mission “to honor design professionals who have contributed to the growth and prominence of the interior design field,” this year’s selections aren’t sitting well with everyone. “Why are two architects, an industrial designer, and a shelter magazine editor being lauded as the best of the best by Interior Design magazine?” asked one commenter on ID‘s website. “Why isn’t Interior Design magazine lauding interior designers? This seems to happen every year, and it’s sending a pretty negative message to those of us who are trained interior designers.”

    Quote of Note | Vik Muniz

    At right, a work from Vik Muniz’s 2009 “Pictures of Garbage” series, which replicated photographs with large-scale assemblages of refuse

    “The beautiful thing about garbage is that it’s negative. It’s something that you don’t use anymore. It’s what you don’t want to see. So, if you are a visual artist, it becomes a very interesting material to work with because it’s the most nonvisual of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to hide.”

    -Artist Vik Muniz, the subject of Waste Land, a documentary directed by Lucy Walker that premieres tomorrow in New York City as part of the Paley Center for Media’s DocFest

    Kim Jong-Il Gets Into Restaurant Design

    Speaking of world leaders, as we were in that last post, the next time you’re vacationing in North Korea, perhaps enjoying a stay in the never-going-to-be-finished Ryugyong Hotel, you might want to think about swinging over to the Jade Stream Pavilion, “the most famous restaurant in North Korea.” The Telegraph reports that the restaurant has just finished construction on a new 60,000 ft. addition, with its design overseen by Kim Jong-Il himself. The paper reports that Kim regularly stopped by to provide “on-site guidance” during the building, which will now make the restaurant available for many more thousands of visitors (assuming they have the money to pay for it). Here’s a bit:

    Kim, who has recently elevated his third son, Kim Jong-un, to a key post in the country’s military commission, thus marking him out as his heir, said the new restaurant extension was “flawless in its architectural substance and style”. Although more than two million North Koreans are thought to have died of starvation in the 1990s, KCNA said it was the intention of the ruling Workers’ Party to “bring the level of the people’s diet and food culture to the highest level”

    Exhibit Opens, Groundbreaking Scheduled for George W. Bush Presidential Center

    After unveiling the plans and renderings around this time last year for the Robert A.M. Stern-designed George W. Bush Presidential Library/Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, then watching it balloon in size, we thought for certain that construction was underway already, but apparently not (we suppose raising money and lining up contractors does take some time, after all). However, while the Library in its current state is just an empty lot and drawings on paper, groundbreaking is set for November 16th, with a completion date expected sometime in 2013. To kick off the construction, this Saturday the university’s Meadows Museum opened “Breaking New Ground,” an exhibit showing off a handful of the collection that will go into the new building once it’s complete. Running until early February, it will also display the architectural plans for the Center. Here’s a few items from the collection that they’ll be showing:

  • The pistol retrieved from Saddam Hussein upon his capture in Iraq
  • A letter from Bono to President Bush regarding AIDS relief in Africa
  • The silk dress and bolero jacket designed by Oscar de la Renta and worn by Mrs. Bush at the White House dinner with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • A bronzed football commemorating the University of Texas Longhorns 2005 National Championship win, given as a gift to President Bush
  • Saudia Arabia’s Plans for New ‘World’s Tallest Building’ Apparently Still Alive and Well


    While the financial bust of the last couple of years might have you believing that the Burj Khalifa in cash-strapped, bust-affected Dubai would be the last “world’s tallest building” being constructed for a while, it’s sounding more and more likely that you’re wrong. We reported back in March that Adrian Smith, who had designed the Burj while he was at Skidmore, Owings & Merill, had been tapped by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal to design a tower in the port city of Jeddah that would put the Burj to shame, coming in at nearly twice as tall at roughly a full mile high, and costing tens of billions of dollars. While the project has gone quiet over the last seven months, Gulf News has reported that the Prince’s development company is still plugging away and, despite what had been rumored, they are not planning to cutting back on the size of the project in the slightest. And if building the world’s new tallest tower weren’t enough, here’s a description from the paper about the real scope of the plans:

    According to official information issued by the company, a city to be constructed around the tower will sprawl over an area of 23 million square metres at a total investment of SR100 billion ($26.6 billion). The city will have the capacity to accommodate 80,000 people in addition to shopping and entertainment facilities. It will have hospitality facilities catering for up to a million visitors.

    Kingdom Tower Jeddah will have retail facilities and conference halls at the top besides a five-star hotel, offices and deluxe residential units