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Archives: April 2011

Starwood Pledges to Recycle Hotel Soaps, Amenities

Another Earth Day has passed, but our love for creative recycling initiatives—from tires to crayons to library books—endures. Today we offer three cheers to Starwood Hotels, whose brands include St. Regis, W, Westin, and Sheraton. The company has joined forces with Orlando-based Clean the World to collect and recycle soaps, shampoos, lotions, and other fragrant unguents distributed to guests in as many as 500 Starwood hotels in North America. This marks the first corporate agreement for the two-year-old nonprofit organization, which distributes recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families in regions with high rates of acute respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases, the top two killers of children worldwide. Clean the World estimates that the partnership with Starwood may result in the recycling 1.6 million pounds of hotel soap. Meanwhile, as much as 2.8 million pounds of Starwood hotel waste may be diverted from landfills. Ready to pitch in? Clean the World offers step-by-step instructions on how to hold your own soap drive. And a similar organization, the Atlanta-based Global Soap Project, is always on the lookout for local volunteers and frequent travelers to spread the word to hotels about its recycling efforts. You’re bound to check out with a clean conscience.

Around the Design World in 180 Words: NYC Edition

Looks from the fall 2011 Chado Ralph Rucci collection.

  • New York’s Fashion Hall of Fame will add two members this summer: the great Ralph Rucci and the late Oleg Cassini. The designers were chosen by a committee of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District. Rucci and family members of Cassini, who died in 2006, will submit a sketch that will appear on their plaques on the Fashion Walk of Fame, which runs between 35th and 41st Streets on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. An induction ceremony is planned for July.

  • Put on your Tyvek jumpsuit and grab a brush, because tonight Publicolor celebrates its fifteenth anniversary with a paint-splattered celebration. The nonprofit, which uses “color, collaboration, design, and the discipline of the commercial painting process to engage students in their education,” will honor volunteers from the Estee Lauder Companies and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. Among the colorful crowd expected to pitch in on poster art are Chip Kidd, Gael Towey, Gaetano Pesce, and Philip Glass.

  • There’s a new design hub in town. The Van Alen Institute has opened Van Alen Books (30 West 22nd Street), a bookstore, reading room, and gathering place devoted exclusively to architecture and design publications.

  • A Few Thousand Miles from LA, Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at MSU Gets Tagged


    Speaking of unrequested street art as we were in that last post, LA MoCA‘s problem of having graffiti pop up outside of their museum has spread all the way to Michigan. The still-under construction, Zaha Hadid-designed Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, on the campus of Michigan State University, was recently tagged with five paintings, each with “the same image, a circular face with two red, wavy lines coming from its sides.” A piece of building machinery was also hit. The university is upset, but sources tell the State News that the damage isn’t anything that can’t be cleaned up fairly quickly. What makes it kind of interesting and significant is that the Broads financed the MoCA’s Art in the Streets street art exhibition. So like we said, even if the artist/vandal wasn’t aware of it, the LA museum’s problem has now spread across state lines.

    Capitalizing on MoCA Controversy, LA Weekly Commissions Graffiti for Their Own Building, Brooklyn Already Preparing for Street Art Surge Next Year

    Last week we reported on the ongoing controversy over Los Angeles’ MoCA‘s Art in the Streets street art exhibition, which has seemed to spawn in influx of graffiti in the area surrounding the museum and caught the ire of local officials. Capitalizing on the all-star lineup of street art talent in town for the exhibition, and to paint the totality of Los Angeles’ walls, and likely to help increase their own street cred, LA Weekly commissioned British street artist Ben Flynn, more commonly known as Eine, to tag their building up in his familiar type-based style. Hoisted up by a cherry picker, he stenciled and sprayed a crossword-looking pattern of various words and phrases across one whole side of the building. Here’s an interview the Weekly did with him after it was complete and a very complete slideshow of the work in progress.

    Elsewhere, very quickly, the MoCA exhibition, as you might be aware, was co-curated by the Brooklyn Museum, which will be Art in the Streets‘ next stop come next year, starting at the end of March 2012. Apparently New York is already bracing itself for the same sort of influx of new, outside-the-museum street art, as judged by this wonderfully titled and very angry editorial by the NY Daily News, “Plan to Bring Exhibition Glorifying Graffiti Vandalism to the Brooklyn Museum Should Be Tagged ‘No Way’.”

    Karl Lagerfeld Directs a Series of Meandering Ice Cream Commercials

    Who is the very first person you think of when it comes to needing a director to concept and shoot a series of commercials for an ice cream bar? If you guessed Karl Lagerfeld, you’d be absolutely right. That would prove that you also have as bizarre a taste as Magnum Ice Cream, who hired Lagerfeld to shoot three spots, each starring actress Rachel Bilson. We’ve seen the first (you’ll find it after the jump), which premiered late last week at the Tribeca Film Festival, and it’s…well…we don’t really have words. We kept waiting for a punchline or something to happen, but nope, it’s just two minutes of a well-shot, pointless story that seems, at best, half finished. And judging from the behind-the-scenes interviews, it sounds like all three films will be similar in plot. However, that behind-the-scenes video makes the whole project worthwhile, as you get to her Lagerfeld say things like, “The minute she has one, her ice cream, she works beautifully,” which we’re going to try and figure out how we can make into a ringtone. Here some photos from the shoot, and here’s that wonderfully absurd clip:

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    Friday Photo: Window on the Wedding

    Fasten your fascinators, design fans, because the royal wedding is but a week away. Bidding is still open for those mod takes on commemorative plates we told you about earlier this month, and today we bring you a window into the highly anticipated nuptials from Liberty, the 136-year-old London department store. This week saw the debut of “A Right Royal Affair,” a window of Liberty’s iconic Tudor building that features such wedding finery as a Mini filled with gifts (homegoods, rose-scented toiletries, a couple of rather creepy ceramic cats), flags, stuffed Corgis, and a three-tiered, Liberty-print cake topped with a figure of the Queen, who clutches her handbag and offers a signature wave. The car is adorned with cheeky bumper stickers, including “Granny Knows Best,” “My Other Car is a Horse and Carriage,” and “Have a Nice Day…Off.” Meanwhile, inside the store, there are plenty of souvenirs on offer. We like London-based designer Simeon Farrar‘s “God Save The King and His Queen” tote bag, a riff on Jaime Reid‘s famous Sex Pistols album cover. At £85 ($140) price, think of it as an Earth Day present to yourself.

    Quote of Note | Jane McGonigal

    “There are more than a half a billion people worldwide—including 183 million in the United States—who play online games at least an hour a day. Why? Because games do a better job of provoking our most powerful positive emotions, like curiosity, optimism, pride, and a desire to join forces with others. Games are fulfilling genuine human needs the real world is unable to satisfy.

    Gaming is productive. It produces positive emotion, stronger social relationships, a sense of accomplishment, and for players who are a part of a game community, a chance to build a sense of purpose. I’m interested in bringing this mindset to our real lives and efforts to tackle the world’s most urgent problems, from curing cancer to slowing climate change.”

    —Game designer Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin)
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    Muammar Gaddafi Requests a ‘Stylish Retrospective of His Fashion Highlights’ from the Met, By Way of the NY Times

    You’d think that with UN no-fly sanctions, doing battle with rebel forces trying to oust his command, and generally being one of the more unpopular people of the day, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would have more pressing matters than his wardrobe. But you’d be absolutely wrong. The NY Times features and online director of the paper’s T Magazine, Horacio Silva, recently received this utterly bizarre letter, supposedly from a member of Libya’s Minister for Culture and Ethnic Affairs office, asking if he would like to come visit Tripoli to see Gaddafi’s stockpile of clothing. According to the letter, the “dear leader” is worried that his famously-colorful clothes will be damaged by bombs and that, were Mr. Silva to come, he might then be able to convince the Metropolitan Museum of Art to curate “a stylish retrospective of his fashion highlights” in their Costume Institute. No, not a lot of it makes sense, so of course we’re inclined to believe it’s true (even after we were so badly hoaxed with that clever Home Depot prank). Either way, it’s a wonderfully bizarre letter, which Silva has posted in full. Here’s a bit:

    Indeed many of his clothes have featured in global magazines from the hundreds of state visits and functions he has hosted over the years fro world leaders. All of whom are in agreement, ahumdullillah, that our President is one of the very best dressed men of the last half century. It is not only African and Arab leaders who have been influenced by his style and substance but many western rock stars and celebrities have also been won over by the Gaddafi look: most notably Michael Jackson in the 1980′s copied the signature motif military style of our leader to great chart success on his own terms.

    Ai Weiwei’s Lawyer Released, Hackers Attack Petition Site, and Berlin Says Artist’s Job Is Still Available


    While Ai Weiwei still hasn’t been heard from, now weeks after his sudden disappearance at the hands of Chinese officials, one person connected to the artist has now reportedly been released: his lawyer (you’ll recall that we reported on his disappearance at the start of this week). The Guardian writes that human rights lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, who has worked with Weiwei on projects like boycotting the Chinese government’s internet censoring software (the two can be seen together in this 2009 report by NTD), tweeted that he had returned to Beijing, was fine, but “did not want to give any more details of what had happened.” Judging from that, it appears that the government has put enough of a scare into Xiaoyuan so as to, at the moment, no longer move forward on acting as Weiwei’s legal council. Meanwhile, the story continues, with the Berlin University of the Arts saying that the visiting professor position they’d created for him before he was detained (and what the artist had announced several days prior), will remain open and ready to receive him, should he be released and allowed to leave China. Elsewhere, hackers attacked this week, the site “hosting a petition calling on the Chinese government to release Ai Weiwei.” The site believes the government is behind the attack and “the FBI has begun investigating the case.” Chinese officials have denied that the government was in any way involved.

    Lawsuit Filed Over Original Design of New York Yankees Logo

    There hasn’t been a quality debate in Major League Baseball over who designed an iconic logo in what seems like forever. At least since a couple of years back when designer Jerry Dior claimed he was solely responsible for the creation of the MLB logo itself, and remarkably, shortly after a very brief controversy, was ultimately recognized for it. We have a feeling this latest issue won’t go over at swiftly, nor as cleanly. This week, a woman named Tanit Buday has filed suit against the New York Yankees, claiming that her uncle was the original designer behind the team’s logo and that he was never properly compensated. Before you laugh it off, as the team apparently has for the last sixty years, it’s worth reading Bundy’s claim, which involves the team owners, the in the mid-1930s, getting advice from a beautician on who they should hire to design their logo. Here’s some of the story from Adweek:

    Kenneth Timur, who also drew cartoons and specialized in calligraphy in Denmark, was commissioned by [team owner Jacob Ruppert] to create a design — the bat in the top hat logo, Buday claims. It was not until 10 years later, when Timur moved to the United States, that he found out that the Yankees had adopted his work, without paying him a cent, according to the court papers.

    Timur was asked again by Ruppert to redesign the logo in 1952 for the 50-year anniversary of the team’s moving to New York from Baltimore. This time Timur left his mark in the commemorative logo, replacing the 9 in 1903 — the year the franchise moved to the Big Apple — with a ‘P,’ the way Buday often signed his art, according to the suit.

    The artist apparently sought compensation for years but was always pushed aside. Now Ms. Buday is continuing the fight, hiring a lawyer and even a marketing expert to help prove that her uncle deserves recognition. And while she faces “a long uphill battle,” it works to her favor that “sports historians have acknowledged that the origins of the logo are not definitively known, since there were few efforts to track the intellectual property owners of such designs prior to the 1960s.” On the opposite side, it works in the Yankee’s favor that they have stadiums full of wheelbarrows full of cash.