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Archives: December 2010

Design of Coin Celebrating Prince William and Catherine Middleton Engagement Fares Poorly with Critics, General Population

If you were in the UK over the Christmas weekend, there’s a good chance you’d have talked about coin design at one point. There’s a healthy bit of negative buzz surrounding the Royal Mint’s printing of a new £5 coin, celebrating the engagement of Prince William to Catherine Middleton (we particularly liked this piece from The Spoof). The issue is over artist Matthew Buonocorsi‘s depiction of the two, particularly Middleton, who looks like she might have had a hard, upsetting night out that at one point involved stuffing her cheeks with cotton balls and gaining 30 pounds. Comparing it to the photo it’s reportedly based on and you can see that it’s perhaps not the most accurate rendering. Add to that the pronounced appearance of the Prince’s adam’s apple and it’s certainly not the most attractive coin design we’ve ever seen. Made all the worse is even Philip Nathan, who designed a coin to celebrate the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, is against it, saying it looks rushed:

Obama Signs Into Law the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010

We hope you had a nice, long holiday weekend, but now it’s time to get back to business. First things first, while you were busy running around on those last minute errands or wrapping presents or just trying to stay out of everyone’s way who were doing those things, President Obama signed into law, just before the holiday break, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010. You can read the whole of S.3984 here, but the quick synopsis is that it’s a move to have the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) take a more “active role in research and data collection” as well as pushing the emphasis on “how libraries and museums contribute to a competitive workforce and engaged citizenry.” The even shorter take is that it gives the IMLS a bit more power (and funding) to be able to better connect museums and libraries, sharing information and strategies. It seems like a great move, as any recognition for these two cultural and educational sectors, particularly after a series of difficult financial years, is always welcomed.

David Favrod Wins 2010 Aperture Portfolio Prize

David Favrod’s “Autoportrait” and “Souvenier de ma grand-mère” (both 2009)

Our friends at the Aperture Foundation have just announced the winner of the third annual Aperture Portfolio Prize competition: photographer David Favrod. Born in Japan (to a Japanese mother and a Swiss father) and raised in Switzerland, 28-year-old Favrod grapples with the culture of his birthplace in “Gaijin,” a bold, playful, and spooky search for meaning and identity amidst Japanese stereotypes that range from bathtub koi and sumo wrestlers to majestic mountains and Godzilla. “The aim of this work is to create ‘my own Japan,’ in Switzerland, from memories of my journeys when I was small, my mother’s stories, popular and traditional culture, and my grandparents’ war narratives,” wrote Favrod in a statement.

A jury led by Aperture publisher Lesley A. Martin also sifted through the more than 900 Portfolio Prize submissions to select four runners-up: Kathryn Parker Almanas, Anne Golaz, Julian Röder, and Jordan Tate. Favrod receives $5,000 and an exhibition at Aperture Foundation, while all five photographers will have their portfolios featured on the organization’s website for the next year or so. Inaugurated in 2008 to replace the foundation’s biannual portfolio reviews, the international competition was created to “identify trends in contemporary photography and specific artists whom we can help by bringing their work to a wider audience.”

Novelty Glasses Makers Run into Design Difficulties with ’2011′

Rarely, to our minds, does one piece of merchandise present such a serious challenge to typographers, product designers, and novelty merchants at all one time than this. We’re of course talking about eyeglasses shaped in the form of “2011″ for New Year’s Eve. After a while decade of being spoiled by two zeroes right where the eyes needed to be, novelty suppliers suddenly found themselves in a tough spot they likely hadn’t been in since the 1971 (though clumsy, at least the 80s had that 8 and the 90s had the 9). The Wall Street Journal‘s Nando DiFino files this great report on the difficulties designers have had on coming up with where to put the eyeholes, from simply putting one of the 1s into outline with a knock-out center to alternatives with thrown-in holes right in the middle to just dropping the product line entirely. It’s apparently been a serious issue within this very specific market and makes for a great read about the importance of design, even with something decidedly unimportant.

Rochester Museum Buys Oldest Monopoly Set

As is to be expected this time of year, the news is slowing down a bit, so we thought we’d share something a bit more fun, yet still both design-y and museum-y all the same. The Strong Museum of Play, the Rochester, New York-based museum dedicated to all things fun and games and is “the home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of play-related objects including games, toys, dolls, and electronic games” has announced that it has acquired the earliest-known produced copy of Monopoly. Created sometime in 1933 and based on the popular British board game “The Landlord’s Game,” it exists with nearly all its pieces, hand-drawn by one of the game’s original creators and the man responsible for popularization in the States, Charles Darrow, who made nearly 5,000 of the sets in his home before selling to Parker Brothers in 1935. Here’s a bit about the set itself and how the museum came to own it:

This Monopoly set, created with pen-and-ink and gouache on a circular piece of oilcloth, was handmade by Darrow in Philadelphia and rumored to be the size and shape of Darrow’s dining room table. The handmade set contains more than 200 pieces, including a rules sheet, playing cards, and playing pieces such as draw-cards, hotels and houses, banknotes, and tokens. This Darrow Monopoly game was acquired from the Forbes Toy Collection auction at Sotheby’s in New York City on December 17.

AIA’s Architecture Billings Index Peaks, Highest It’s Been Since 2007

Just in the nick of time to save the holiday season, the American Institute of Architects has bestowed a gift upon the industry by releasing their latest Architectural Billings Index figures. After last month’s dive, made all the worse by having been preceded by several months of climbing, the index suddenly rose several points, locking in at 52 and beating the October numbers by two, the first time it had climbed into the positive since 2008 (as a reminder, everything above 50 indicates an increase in construction billings and general growth within the industry). That after last month’s blast of stark reality, the AIA’s top financial expert isn’t quite ready to ring in the new year by saying the worst is now past:

“While this is heartening news, it would be premature to say the design and construction industry is out of the woods yet,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “We continue to hear a wide mix of business conditions, with a good deal of it still indicating flat or no demand for design services. Once we see several months in a row of increasing demand we can feel safe saying we have entered a recovery phase. Until then, we can expect continued volatility in business conditions.”

London’s V&A Readies Yohji Yamamoto Retrospective

(Photos from left: Koichi Inakoshi, Monica Feudi, Ronald Stoops. All courtesy V&A.)

As if the Design Museum’s imminent Wim Crouwel fest wasn’t reason enough to plan a spring or summer trip to London, the city’s Victoria and Albert Museum will celebrate the 30-year career of fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto with a retrospective that will run from March 12 to July 10, 2011. And it’s no ordinary show. Curated by the V&A’s Ligaya Salazar and designed by longtime Yamamoto collaborator Masao Nihei with graphic art direction by Peter Saville, the retrospective will feature more than 60 garments in the museum’s main exhibition court as well as 20 more on mannequins sprinkled among the treasures of the V&A: here a deconstructed suit in the Norfolk House Music Room, there a Shibori-dyed gown communing with Renaissance sculptures. The main space will provide context to the womenswear and menswear looks with a chronology of excerpts from Yamamoto’s fashion shows, films, and performances as well as highlights from key collaborations, including those with photographer Nick Knight (who will produce the image for the exhibition poster), M/M Paris, choreographer Pina Bausch, and, presumably, Adidas. Meanwhile, the Yamamoto-mania will extend beyond the V&A, with companion exhibitions at the two London sites of the Wapping Project. Now if only we could convince the V&A to have John Waters (a great Yamamoto fan) do the audio guide…

Wanted: Director of Publications for Chicago’s MCA

Hey, art lovers! The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago is looking for a director of publications and senior editor to oversee the editorial content of all printed and digital materials for the MCA.

If hired, you’ll be responsible for the editorial direction of exhibition catalogues, the museum magazine and didactic materials, as well as wall text, brochures, advertisements, donor materials and the museum website. You should be comfortable working with print and online content, and ensuring that best practices and standards are met. Team players are most desirable, as you’ll be collaborating with artists, writers, designers, staff, and vendors on various projects.

To be considered, you should have at least five years of senior publishing experience, preferably in an art museum or similar organization. Previous supervisory experience, proven budget management skills and demonstrated abilities in writing and editing with a consistent voice are must-haves. Those who are passionate about art history will truly excel at this gig. Interested? Apply here.

For more openings and employment news, follow The Job Post on Twitter @MBJobPost.

Following Cuts, UK’s Design Council and Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment Attempt to Merge

This fall, you might recall that the UK suffered some serious blows in their design and architecture industries with nationwide cuts that removed a large portion of funding for the industrial design-focused Design Council, forcing them to become a non-profit instead of a government entity, and it looked like certain death for one of the country’s primary architecture, urban design and public space advisory bodies, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (you might also recall Prince CharlesFoundation for the Built Environment offering to step in, which struck some critics the wrong way). However, with those gloomy days behind us, an interesting turn of events recently, as the Design Council and the CABE have decided to try merging, becoming one larger operation that a source told Building would be a “one-stop shop for design, with expertise on buildings, products, places and services under one roof.” While not yet set in stone, as the merger will need to go through government channels (the Design Council was still set to receive some funding from the UK’s coffers), it appears as though it has a good chance of making it through.

Where’s Clarence When You Need Him? Jimmy Stewart Museum Faces Tough Times

Earlier this year saw the fall of the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas, as it closed up shop for good after operating for more than 30 years. And while one celebrity-focused museum closing is difficult enough, two will make you feel even worse. The Wall Street Journal files this great, heartbreaking report from Indiana, Pennsylvania, home of The Jimmy Stewart Museum, which is dedicated to perhaps the town’s most famous native son (unless you’re more a fan of Edward Abbey or Renee Fleming, who also call it home). As has been the story throughout the museum industry, attendance is way down and as follows, so is operating income. To make matters worse, and again the same story at so many other institutions, the Journal reports that government funding for the museum has also been drastically reduced, perhaps down to nothing next year. While they still have some sources of revenue (the Stewart and Clooney families donate each year), the museum is worried that it just won’t be enough to keep them afloat. On a positive note, while Liberace didn’t exactly have a career-attached method of soliciting donations to keep the museum dedicated to him alive, Stewart has one of the most famous with It’s a Wonderful Life. So if you happen to watch the film this week (go turn on your television — we guarantee it’s on at least 3 channels right now) and the ending has you with a surplus of good will toward men feelings, here’s the museum’s donation page.