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Archives: February 2011

Gen Arts Acquired and Revived by Publishing Company Sandow Media

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Just a few months shy of a year ago, the “film, fashion, art and music” events company Gen Art, suddenly announced that, after 16 years of operation, its money had run out and they were shutting down immediately. So quickly did it fold that it reportedly left a large number of exhibitors without refunds for the fees they’d paid up front for future shows. But as we’ve learned from companies like Polaroid, it’s hard to let a familiar brand die. A statement has been released from Sandow Media, who owns a number of magazines, including Worth, Luxe Interiors + Design and Interior Design, saying that the publishing company has acquired Gen Art and have plans to relaunch it this May, reviving the organization’s now-16 year old film festival in New York. So far as the announcement goes, it appears that the founders of Gen Art, brothers Ian and Stefan Gerard will not be returning to run the company, instead acting as advisers on the re-launch. Longtime executives within the recently-folded company, Elizabeth Shaffer and Jeffrey Abramson, will serve as co-presidents. Here’s from Sandow’s CEO, Adam I. Sandow, commenting on the acquisition:

“Gen Art is a unique organization that understands the value of experiential marketing and uses this expertise to support emerging talent by introducing them to a savvy consumer audience. Marc Lotenberg, Founder & President of 944 magazine, introduced me to Gen Art and his passion and support for the organization was instrumental in orchestrating this acquisition. I immediately recognized that Gen Art’s innovative approach was a perfect fit for our organization. Sandow Media is thrilled to work with Elizabeth and Jeffrey as they lead Gen Art into the next chapter.”

David Rockwell Wins FIT’s Lawrence Israel Prize

David Rockwell, come on down! You’re the 2011 recipient of the Lawrence Israel Prize, bestowed annually by the Interior Design Department at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology to an individual or firm whose ideas and work enrich FIT Interior Design students’ course of study. Past winners of the prize, endowed by architect Lawrence Israel, include Gaetano Pesce, Charles Gwathmey, AvroKO, and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis. “At FIT we encourage our students to develop their own design ‘process’ rather than creating a fashionable ‘look,’” said Takashi Kamiya, chairperson of the interior design department at FIT. “Rockwell embodies that ideal.” In recent years, the Rockwell Group founder (and—fun fact—son of a vaudeville dancer) has been racking up awards, including a National Design Award for interior design, almost as fast as high-profile projects. Having conquered everything from Oscar show sets to urban playgrounds, his firm is currently at work on the new restaurant at the Whitney Museum of American Art, W Hotels in Paris and Singapore, and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Society at Lincoln Center, among other projects. Rockwell will give the 2011 Lawrence Israel Prize Talk (free and open to the public) on Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m. in FIT’s Katie Murphy Auditorium.

Around the Design World in 180 Words: Crowdsourcing Edition

  • Derek Lam‘s collaboration with eBay has a crowdsourced twist: of the 16 dresses Lam designed for the e-commerce giant, only five will be manufactured for sale. Vote for your favorites here, and take a minute to savor the smart site. Each dress is breezily displayed on a live model and accompanied by a video of Lam explaining the inspiration behind it, from a favorite Helmut Newton photo to swimsuits of the 1950s.

  • Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified) is using Kickstarter to help fund his latest film project, Urbanized, which tackles the design of cities. “Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert,” says Hustwit, who has already filmed in a dozen cities on four continents. Pledge your change to a documentary about urban change here.

  • Voting has closed for the Oscars Designer Challenge, in which nine up-and-coming fashion designers from across the U.S. are vying to have their designs showcased on this year’s Oscar telecast, but you can still size up the competitors and try to forecast which look will show up on an award presenter this Sunday.

  • Banksy Denied Entry into Academy Awards

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    The saga of “Banksy Meets the Oscars” continues. You might recall that we reported that the Academy Awards producers were concerned that the faceless-yet-famous street artist, whose Exit Through the Gift Shop is a nominee for a Best Documentary award, would show up to redeem his prize wearing a disguise, perhaps his familiar monkey mask, something they weren’t to pleased about. As was reported immediately after, the Academy apparently eventually struck up a deal with the artist that, should his film win, his co-producer, Jamie D’Cruz, would accept the award on behalf of both of them. Now, following a few weeks of Banksy-esque art popping up on Los Angeles streets, possibly to help wage a campaign for the win, it’s come out that the Academy has flat out refused the artist’s entry into the ceremony. The same story prevails, that they do not want a mysterious man in a mask among the crowd, let alone storming the stage. Fortunately for the producers, Banksy seems comfortable in obliging their “stay away!” demands. Here’s what he told the Guardian:

    When his nomination was announced, Banksy called it a “big surprise.”

    “I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for,” he said, adding: “The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.”

    However, the paper also hints that “reports suggest he will be in the vicinity.” So Joan Rivers, please keep an eye out.

    A Slight, Subtle Dig? Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment Critiques New Chelsea Barracks Plans

    Remember back in the early summer of 2009 when all eyes were on the raging battle between Prince Charles and Richard Rogers, the former using his stature and influence to remove the latter from the project because it was believed to be too modern for royal blood’s taste? That eventually died down a bit by the end of the year, and save for a few little pieces of news popping up here and there (like in the court hearings about the matter last year and even more recently when the Prince said his critics reporting on his supposed anti-modern bias drive him “insane”), in the end, a new architecture firm was hired for the project and all parties have seemingly gone their separate ways. However, in a very slight, quiet way, there’s been a bit of a bite back recently. Last year you might recall that the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) had its government funding pulled during the massive financial cuts that swept the whole of Britannia. At that time, some critics were crying foul as it appeared the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment was trying to move in to take CABE’s place, helping to oversee the design of buildings in the UK. Since then, CABE has managed to stay afloat by recently securing a partnership with the also-budget-cut Design Council. Got all that? Now late last week, if you read into it and are angling for an angle (which we’re more than happy to do), the newly reinvigorated CABE handed down a number of critiques to the newly submitted plans to the firm in charge, Dixon Jones, Squire & Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates, saying that the development needed to better adapt and grow into the 21st century, instead of just exist in the moment as a “traditional garden square.” Granted, CABE also handed down recommendations for alterations on Richard Roger’s plans, and by and large, they seem to like the new project layout, but we’d like to believe there’s a subtle little dig at work here, whether there is one or not. Here’s a bit from Building Design on CABE’s response to the new plans:

    Cabe said it commended the quality of the proposal and welcomed its “elongated squares”, but added that the project needed to be less formalist and more flexible in meeting the “more varied” surrounding area. It also said the proposed development was not ambitious enough in allowing for “a modern, sustainable, low-carbon lifestyle, community engagement and social interaction”.

    Architect Barbie Finally Becomes a Reality

    You might recall hearing that since 2002, there’s been a concerted effort to make architecture a career that Barbie finally would accept. Despite winning that year’s annual “I Can Be” contest, toy manufacturer Mattel supposedly decided that the business of building didn’t fit within the iconic doll’s range and axed it. Last year, the fight raged again and it seemed like an Architect Barbie might finally be a possibility. But sadly, it was not to be, and instead she went into computer engineering and news anchoring. However, as glum as last year was for those pushing for her career path, it looks as though the efforts have paid off. Rita Catinella at Architectural Record broke the story that 2011 is the year the world will finally see Barbie as an architect. Now, along with previous years’ winners of Dolphin Trainer, Chef, and Pet Vet, the disproportionate, iconic blond will be designing buildings right along side all those other disproportionate blond icons, like Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid. The doll will be available sometime this fall and has already appeared on Target’s website for pre-order. What’s most surprising/optimistic about all of this finally happening, is that Mattel even reached out to the AIA. Here’s a bit from Catinella’s report:

    According to the AIA, they did not partner with Mattel on the doll, but two AIA members from upstate New York were part of the conversation with the company. The organization is supportive of the concept however. According to Matt Tinder, Media Relations, AIA, “We’re pleased that a new generation of young people have an opportunity to imagine becoming an architect. We believe the Barbie I Can Be… Architect will help inspire a new generation of young people to consider the profession of architecture.”

    That doesn’t really indicate how much the AIA contributed, but we’re hoping it’s more than just “so what’s the perfect kind of black-rimmed glasses for an architect to wear?” because of course Architect Barbie has them.

    Wanted: Art Director for Phoenix Home & Garden

    If you’re inspired by Southwest landscapes, Phoenix Home & Garden has just the job for you. The magazine is looking for a new art director to help cultivate the stylistic direction for the publication and its related products.

    In this role, you’ll oversee the art staff, as well as the work of photographers and illustrators. You’ll create dynamic cover options for each issue, organize and style photo shoots, and manage the layout and production of all stories. You’ll have a hand in plenty of projects, so the ability to multitask is key.

    To land the gig, you must have at least five years of magazine art direction and photo shoot experience. You should also have masterful skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, and CS5, and some working knowledge of four-color web offset printing and pre-press fundamentals. Natural leaders with an eye for detail should grab their portfolios and apply here.

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

    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Establishes Commission on Humanities and Social Sciences

    From Emmylou Harris to Billie Tsien. It’s not the subtitle of a new feminist reader but one way to describe the membership of a new national commission created to bolster teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. Formed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in response to a bipartisan request from Congress, the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences will be chaired by Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation. Heavy on university presdents, the 43-member commission also includes the aforementioned Harris and Tsien, Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough, filmmaker Ken Burns, Adobe chairman John E. Warnock, and James Cuno, director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago. Journalist David Brooks and actor John Lithgow are also among those tapped to assist the Academy in responding to this doozy of a Congressional charge:

    What are the top ten actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors, and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?

    With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Commission will focus on education, research, and the institutions critical to advancing the humanities and social sciences in the first comprehensive national assessment of the state of the the humanities since the 1980 report of the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities.

    Big-Box Bookstores Go Belly-Up! Is Bad Design to Blame?

    We were sad to learn—via an “Everything Must Go!” e-mail—that our trusty Manhattan Borders is among the “underperforming” stores that will be shuttered as part of the embattled bookseller’s reorganization. The 40-year-old chain filed for bankruptcy last week, a development that prompted much pontificating. While many pointed to e-books and Amazon [cut to shot of a laughing Jeff Bezos setting a pile of paperbacks ablaze], Tyler Brûlé found a smoking gun amidst the bricks and mortar: poor store design. Big-box bookstores are simply, well, too big, wrote the Monocle editor in a recent column for the Financial Times:

    Scan the parking lots of many U.S. malls and there’s a good chance you’ll spot a red brick or yellow stucco box belonging to a book retailer bolted on to a bigger yellow stucco box that anchors a host of other similar looking boxes with backlit logos, no windows and zero personality. Inside the book box, the experience is bewildering and alienating. The lighting is bright and harsh, there’s a vague scent of popcorn and there’s not a sales person or shelf-stocker in sight.

    The store is so big and devoid of any hint of coziness that you feel there’s little need to return because you never locked eyes with a sales person, never found a welcoming corner to linger and browse, didn’t stumble on any literary surprises and ultimately didn’t connect as a customer.

    Brûlé prefaces this critique with a description of his perfect bookstore: a quaint, bay-windowed establishment replete with “well-worn harvest tables,” creaky oak floors, and long-serving, well-paid staffers dressed either in “cozy cardigans” (men) or loafers and kilts (women), all infused with the aromas of various papers, ink, glue, linen, card-stock, and toxic varnishes. “Perhaps the most important detail,” he notes, “is that you can see all the way to the back of the shop from the front door but once inside you discover there are enough cozy nooks and corners to get lost in an absorbing first chapter.” Note to Barnes & Noble: not that kind of nook.

    The Art Guys Issue Final Statement Over Morgan Spurlock Suit Controversy

    Speaking of copyright/intellectual property issues, our reporting earlier this month on the controversy over director Morgan Spurlock wearing a suit very similar ones worn in the 1990s by The Art Guys, wound up making the internet rounds fairly quickly. Ultimately, Spurlock himself responded, saying he hadn’t heard of the duo before and the accusations that he’d stolen the idea were baseless. The Art Guys don’t believe that that’s entirely accurate, but they’ve decided to drop the issue, no longer wishing to discuss it. They’ve issued their final statement on the matter, which you’ll find in full after the jump. No matter your opinion on the controversy, it’s a great read, particularly in their response to those who claimed they weren’t the first to have the branded-suit idea.

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