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Archives: March 2011

Quote of Note | Tobias Meyer

“Contemporary art has become a little too much like American Idol. We’re an overvisualized culture, and young artists can find themselves with a real career only six months after starting to paint. Works that were $10,000 two months ago can become $65,000 overnight; two years from now they might be $400,000, then $2 million. So there’s no time to reflect: You only get that luxury if you’re very wealthy, because if you wait until the world decides an artist is great you must be ready to spend millions.” -Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art and Principal Auctioneer at Sotheby’s, in WSJ. Magazine

Friday Photo: Chair and Chair Alike

What if a loveseat wanted a divorce? We imagine the results would look something like Sebastian Brajkovic‘s “Lathe VIII” chair, a pair of grey-coated bronze chairs conjoined by a blur of silk upholstery. The Amsterdam-based designer created the chair in 2008 as part of a series that began as his graduation project at Design Academy, Eindhoven (he graduated all right, and landed a coveted internship at Studio Makkink Bey) and was inspired in part by the tools of graphic designers. “[The] extruding idea came from a Photoshop function where you can pick a row of pixels and extend them as long as you want,” Brajkovic has said. A closer look at the chair reveals a patina of nitric acid scars and needle-stitched embroidery of hippopotamuses and wildebeasts. The competition for this contemporary design icon (one of a limited edition of eight chairs entered the permanent collection of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum only months after it was created) is expected to be just as wild on April 7, when a “Lathe VIII” goes on the block at Phillips de Pury in London. It is estimated to sell for between £40,000 to £60,000 (roughly $65,000 to $95,000, at current exchange).

Wanted: Worldly Designer for Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure is on the hunt for a full-time freelance designer to join its highly creative marketing art department in New York City. Those of you who aren’t used to the freelance life might shy away from this opening, but there are plenty of reasons to consider it.

For one, you’ll be doing what you love. This is the ultimate place to indulge your passion for paper and typography, and be challenged to come up with creative solutions each day. Also, you’ll not only design for the magazine’s editorial pages, but you’ll be working on ads and advertorials for the iPad, as well as other marketing materials, too. Impress your superiors with your vision and work ethic, and your freelance gig could turn into a permanent position.

Tech-savvy, independent artists with three or more years of relevant experience in the design field are most wanted. Can you see a project from conceptualization to final execution? Are you a master of Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop? Perfect. Hurry, and apply here.

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

Trollbäck + Company Launches Digital Division

Trollbäck + Company is no stranger to the digital world. The New York-based creative studio has created immersive graphics for the video wall at the Frank Gehry-designed IAC glacier and recently completed a project for Metlife that involved the 54-foot monitor at the Meadowlands. Now the company has taken its JumboTron expertise one step further and launched a digital division that will specialize in interactive media for advertising campaigns and public installations. “Our work has always been about creating experiences,” says executive creative director Jakob Trollbäck. “For us, it was natural to venture into more immersive, engaging projects that are both emotional and intellectual.” Helming the T+Co Digital Division is Stephen Baker, who joins from Red Antenna and has worked with the likes of Sony and Nokia. He recently applied his programming skills to a collaborative display in Times Square that invites pedestrians to submit answers and photos via text message. Says Trollbäck, “Steve has a unique talent to see opportunities for immersive interactions and can quickly figure out how to make them come to life.”

Are Awards Shows’ Posters Encouraging Unhealthy, Stress-Filled Lives?

We seem to be on something of a labor kick this morning, so why stop now? Over at the HOW and Print affiliated blog, Imprint, there was a bit of a row this week over the perception that’s depicted through design and advertising awards’ marketing materials, all spawned by the Art Directors Club‘s latest Young Guns award posters. Designer and writer August Heffner is upset and bewildered by the regular vision offered by awards shows that “to be the best, you must work long, hard hours” and generally live solely for your office and the project you’ve been assigned, with no time left for idle living. To Heffner, this depiction as gotten more pronounced and pervasive over the years and all it’s doing is perpetuating the idea that design and advertising work must be miserable to be rewarding. Imprint then asked Justin Gignac, committee chairman for the ADC’s Young Guns, to respond. While he understands Heffner’s concerns, he believes that his association’s material tries to capture the dedication these young creatives have for their efforts. “We’re not telling people to work harder,” he says, “we’re celebrating their hard work.” However you respond to either side, both essays are interesting reads and well worth your time, particularly on a late Friday morning, when we doubt you’re doing much work yourself anyway.

Royal Institute of British Architects Requires All Member Firms To Do Away with Unpaid Internships, Start Paying Student Workers

Continuing from that last post about labor practices, some big news coming out of the UK late this week. Ruth Reed, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has announced that the organization has changed their Chartered Practice criteria to instruct that every member firm must now pay at least minimum wage to all employed students, effective July 1st of this year. This move will do away with the unfortunately standard practice across the industry of unpaid internships, something many of even the top starchitect shops have taken advantage of over the years. While this new added expense comes at a difficult time for the still-struggling architecture industry and might result in fewer student hires, the RIBA sees it as a lasting positive. And now that they’ve done it, there’s sure to be a big push for the RIBA’s U.S. counterpart, the American Institute of Architects, to put into practice a similar new law (read this discussion over at Archinect for more). Here’s Reed’s statement on the change:

Whilst all appreciate that trading conditions are extremely difficult for practices at the moment, the financial position of students is particularly severe and about to get considerably worse when fees treble next year. The requirement for adherence to the National Minimum Wage will assist students in completing their education and go some way to alleviate the effects of the education cuts on the flow of talent into the profession. The future of architecture depends on a succession of talented designers and we must do all we can to prevent them being deterred by the spiraling cost of education. Further investigation into pay levels will be undertaken which will help to provide a level playing field for job costs and fee bids for chartered practices.

Guggenheim Responds to Artists’ Abu Dhabi Boycott

Following last week’s release of a statement and the start of a boycott by more than 100 artists against the Guggenheim, claiming the labor practices at the foundation’s ongoing construction of a new, Frank Gehry-designed museum in Abu Dhabi, the organization has issued a letter in an attempt to do some damage control and win the protestors back. In the letter, signed by Guggenheim’s director, Richard Armstrong and its chief curator, Nancy Spector, the letter spells out all the work the foundation has done to try and maintain safe and fair working conditions, and promising to do more and include the artists into the process. It sounds like a genuine plea, that the Guggenheim is worried about the damage the boycott will do, but now that the ball is in the protester’s court, as of this writing, they’ve yet to respond. Here’s a bit from the letter:

We believe that the statements that were made last week by Human Rights Watch have painted an inaccurate picture of the substantial progress in safeguarding workers’ rights that has been made to date. Clearly, the Guggenheim shares the goals expressed by you, the signatories of your petition, and Human Rights Watch to protect worker’s rights in Abu Dhabi. We believe that the progress made thus far is more than ceremonial. In fact, it signals fundamental changes in the emirates’ decades-long labor practices. It is important to us that you understand this was achieved through persistent and sustained effort on our part working in tandem with TDIC. We recognize that there is still much to strive for but know from past experience that change such as this is incremental around the world. It is very troubling to us that your statement portrays the Guggenheim as a passive agent with little consciousness of the issues at hand. That is the exact opposite of the truth.

Adobe’s Online Museum Debuts John Maeda Exhibition: ‘Atoms + Bits = the neue Craft (ABC)’

In the blink of a disembodied Tony Oursler eyeball, the Adobe Museum of Digital Media has mounted its second exhibition. Through the end of the year, visitors to the sleek site can watch John Maeda, embattled president of the Rhode Island School of Design, deliver an illustrated lecture on his version of the ABCs: atoms, bits, and craft—specifically the physical-meets-virtual mashup that he calls “neue craft.” Maeda begins his discussion of the potential for art and design to catch up with technology by tracing his own path from creating early computer graphics and discovering MacPaint. “That began this era where the computer began to feel more like our world, more like the physical world,” says Maeda, conscious that a sizable chunk of his audience may own an iPad 2 but never heard of an Apple II. “The virtual world, at the time, was very clunky.” Highlighting the technological jumps enabled by Adobe PostScript (cue the Bézier splines!) and Photoshop, the ubiquity of Flash, and the growing awareness of art and design, he asks viewers to consider the origins of innovation before tackling the intersection of craft and computers. At RISD, of course, craft has always been king. “Our students are so steeped in the art of making, bending, gnawing, sawing, changing, forming,” says Maeda. “Today, because of digital tools, we’ve lost that sense of reality. However, craft is alive in the space I live in today.”

Robert A.M. Stern, James Turrell Among New Members of American Academy of Arts and Letters

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced this year’s slate of freshly elected members, and Robert A.M. Stern is the sole architect to make the cut (the 250-member organization, established in 1898 to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts,” has previously welcomed the likes of Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, and Steven Holl into the fold). Among the other newbies are artists Walter De Maria, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Malcolm Morley, and James Turrell. They’ll be inducted in May, along with writers Louis Begley, Michael Cunningham, and Rita Dove and composers Martin Boykan and Aaron Jay Kernis. South African artist William Kentridge is among those who will join as an American Honorary member.

The May ceremony is also when the Academy will present its 2011 architecture awards, which are chosen from a group of 30 architects nominated by members. Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam are the recipients of this year’s Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture for their “significant contribution to architecture as an art.” Earning props for “work characterized by a strong personal direction” are William E. Massie of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Julie VandenBerg Snow of Minneapolis, while UCLA architectural historian and critic Sylvia Lavin and Cooper Union dean Anthony Vidler will take home awards for “exploring ideas in architecture through any medium of expression.”

Frank Gehry All Smiles at Star-Studded 82nd Birthday


Remember back around this time in 2009 how bummed Frank Gehry seemed to be about turning 80? Granted, that’s right as the architecture industry was struggling through one of its worst periods in decades, and in turn wasn’t treating the starchitect too well at all either. Between canceled projects and mass layoffs, it likely would have been a rough patch for most anyone. But what a different a couple of years makes, huh? The good people at Curbed have info on and a handful of photos from Gehry’s 82nd birthday bash. Held at the top of the Manhattan building baring his name, the Nicolai Ouroussoff-melting New York by Gehry, the guests included Bono and Ali Hewson, director Mike Nichols, artist Chuck Close, fellow starchitect Robert A.M. Stern, and many others. And in at least half the photos, he’s even offering up a big smile. So bravo for happier days and here’s to many more.