Looking for an edifying alternative to summer movies (all of which seem to star Jason Bateman and/or wizards)? Grab some Sno-Caps, dim the lights, and click on over to the Independent Television Service’s Indies Showcase. Launched today, the free online film festival will offer up 20 documentaries by independent filmmakers as ITVS celebrates 20 years of funding, presenting, and promoting award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television and cable (we have them to thank for PBS’s Independent Lens series). Each full-length program will stream for free for three days on the ITVS website. Among the documentaries on deck are Paul Fierlinger’s Still Life with Animated Dogs, King Corn, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, and Please Vote for Me, which follows a third-grade class election in Wuhan, China (a talent show and a debate is involved). Look for the full film line-up to be posted in the coming weeks. The ITVS Indies Showcase runs through September 22.
Archives: July 2011
More news from San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, following their brief and very well-handled scandal last week over a conservative security guard who told a lesbian couple to quit holding hands in a Gertrude Stein exhibit (the museum pulled another great damage control move this weekend with yesterday being their official “Hand Holding Day“). This time around, it’s nothing so dramatic. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the museum’s longtime director, Connie Wolf, has announced that she will be leaving at the end of the year to become the head of Stanford‘s Cantor Center for the Visual Arts. During Wolf’s tenure at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, she’d helped grow the organization considerably, perhaps most notably in raising $85 million to move the museum from a small 2,500 square foot building into the massive Daniel Libeskind-designed space it calls home today. At Stanford, she’ll be once again preparing to segue into a new building designed by a high-profile architecture firm, as the university announced back in April that it had hired Diller Scofidio + Renfro to build for it a new arts building. Wolf takes over at Stanford as of January 1st of next year.
Speaking of the ends of legal issues, as we were in that last post, the case against former Lawrence Salander henchman, Leigh Morse, finally wrapped up last week with her sentencing. You might recall that, back in April, the former director of Salander’s gallery, was found guilty of selling millions of dollars of art from the estates of artists without letting the owners know. Salander had been convicted and sentenced back in the summer of 2010 and is expected to spend the next 6 to 18 years in prison for his roles in defrauding investors, becoming known as “the art world’s Bernie Madoff.” Morse was facing up to four years in prison herself, but wound up getting off a bit more easy. Instead, Reuters reports that she’ll be required to pay back $1.85 million in restitution, “will spend weekends in confinement for four months,” and is set to “serve probation for five years.”
An end to at least one portion of Christian Louboutin‘s lawsuit spree back in April might be coming soon, though it’s anyone’s guess how it will pan out. You might recall that the famous shoe designer decided to take both Yves Saint Laurent and Brazilian label Carmen Steffens to court in roughly the same week, complaining that both had created shoes with red sole, which Louboutin claims he owns the patent to. Now that first case, against Yves Saint Laurent, might soon be coming to an end, as Bloomberg reports that the judge hearing the case in Manhattan federal court, is close to reaching a decision. While, like we said before, no one knows which direction the judge will ultimately go in, but our money would be on Louboutin losing, given that the judge “questioned Louboutin’s lawyer repeatedly about design elements” and that YSL’s legal team seemed to make a strong showing, reportedly asking after Louboutin couldn’t identify if certain types of shoes were breaking his patent, “We don’t know what we are and what we are not allowed to do. Even Mr. Louboutin does not know.” Meanwhile, there’s apparently “bemusement” over this whole case at the house of Valentino Garavani, as the designer’s longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, told Women’s Wear Daily that Valentino had been making shoes with red soles all the way back in 1969 and through into the 1980s. But will they be laughing it up after Louboutin invents a time machine and takes their younger selves to court for red-ing up their shoes? We think not.
“It’s like going to a Broadway stage crew, who are very talented at what they’re doing, and saying, ‘Can you help us create the next summer movie blockbuster?’ I think it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the way design works.
It’s obvious it wasn’t going to work. It’s only if you’re under the spell of this very traditional print-centric bias that you would ever think that this would work. I don’t know who the executive was that said this is the way we’re going to approach it, but this is not a decision that I would put on my résumé.”
-Design mind and former NYTimes.com design director Khoi Vinh on Condé Nast’s print-centric, ‘magazine replica’ approach to the tablet—which made existing art and production staffers from the print side responsible for making iPad layouts on Adobe’s platform—in a story by Nitasha Tiku in The New York Observer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is on a roll. Having raised the standards for design exhibitions to a stunning new high with “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” which has been extended through August 7, the New York institution has announced that 5.68 million people visited the Met during the fiscal year that ended on June 30. The number, which includes attendance at The Cloisters, is the highest recorded in 40 years and an increase of more than 400,000 over the 2010 fiscal year. The McQueen exhibition has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors since its May 4 opening. Last summer’s Picasso exhibition and “Doug + Mike Starn on the Roof: Big Bambú” were also big hits, drawing 703,256 visitors and 631,064 visitors, respectively. Meanwhile, traffic to the museum’s website reached 47 million visitors, a 17.5% increase over the previous fiscal year. “We are delighted by this extraordinary response to our collections and programs, especially in the context of ongoing fiscal challenges faced by both the Museum and the public,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met in a statement released late yesterday. “There is something for everyone within our galleries, and I have no doubt that we will continue to give audiences reasons to keep returning again and again.”
Making the rounds this week, and rightly so because it involves both a billionaire and something people can giggle like children about, is the launch of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation‘s “Reinventing the Toilet Challenge,” which is exactly what is sounds like. This week, at the AfricaSan Conference in Rwanda, the Foundation announced that it would be putting $42 million toward grants for helping to rethink and redesign the traditional toilet, searching for innovations that would aid not only sanitation in developing countries, but also finding ways to safely process waste into such things as reusable energy and fertilizer. The Foundation has released a list of the first eight projects they’ve given grants to (pdf), but because lists don’t get attention as well as an animated, somewhat humorous YouTube video, they’ve put out on of those as well:
Web Friends Photos altered with Pixlr-o-matic, a free online image editing tool.
Design software giant Autodesk has acquired Pixlr, a free online service for creating, editing, and sharing images. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in Sweden by entrepreneur Ola Sevandersson, three-year-old Pixlr has been likened to a browser-based Instagram. The site offers a trio of Flash-based applications—Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express, and Pixlr-o-matic—as well as a screengrabbing tool and one-click photo sharing. Sevandersson, who has joined San Francisco-based Autodesk in the wake of the acquisition, focused on speed and ease of use in developing Pixlr. So what changes are in store for Autodesk-owned Pixlr? “Nothing, nada, zip,” wrote Sevandersson on the Pixlr blog earlier this week. “The people at Autodesk believe in the stuff we have done so far, and we are going to be free enough to still deliver kick-ass products. We are however going to be more people working on the service, so better, more stable and new products are going to be the result.” Autodesk plans to use Pixlr to provide image editing for its consumer products, such as SketchBook.
Around this time of year, we start getting a bit exhausted by the annual architecture prizes. It’s only July, but we’ve already been through the Pritzker, the van der Rohe, who gets the Serpentine, and of course, the shortlist for the Architect Barbie Dream House Design Competition. We’re sure we missed some in that list and that there are more to come, but getting to Stirling Prize always seems like it’s the end of the season. So here we now are with the shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects‘ top honor. For the first time ever, all the nominees have been at least nominated for the prize in previous years, and, as to be expected anymore: former winners are on there again as well. Those two are David Chipperfield for his Folkwang Museum, and Zaha Hadid, returning again after winning the award last year, this time nominated for her Evelyn Grace Academy. However, neither starchitect seems to be the favorite, as it appears that Hopkins Architects’ velodrome for the 2012 Olympics is the betting person’s picks. However, as the Guardian puts it, the real story in the Stirling shortlist is that two of the finalists aren’t new construction at all, but rather rehabbed buildings that “save money and energy” and signal a “new austerity in architecture.” We will know for sure if this new austerity is really swept in or not on October 1st, when the winner is announced.
This week the world learned that the Bay Area is going to be cleaning up its act a bit, though you likely won’t see it unless you head underground. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) organization has announced a partnership with one of BMW‘s design arms, DesignworksUSA, to help create new train cars for their system in an effort called “Fleet of the Future.” The public transit officials who selected Designworks were likely inspired to select the group based on their recent design efforts in collaboration with Siemens in developing the Metro Inspiro, which the city of Warsaw just picked up 35 cars worth of. Though the BART’s new system isn’t expected to hit the tracks until 2017, based off the aforementioned Metro, their first pass at public transportation no less, it’s sure to look much more like the future than the system’s current lines. Here’s some more info from the press release:
DesignworksUSA’s scope of work for BART’s Fleet of the Future includes the train cars’ exterior, which will convey a style and shape with unique signature expression to the exterior passenger information system. Inside the new train cars, DesignworksUSA will create the main interior design features of the new train cars, and incorporate the controls in the design of the train operator’s cab.
“DesignworksUSA is invigorated to join BART in their continuing commitment to delivering a premium ridership experience,” says Laurenz Schaffer, President, BMW Group DesignworksUSA. “We are passionate about creating innovative solutions for mobility in increasingly dense urban centers such as the Bay Area, and we are excited as our collaborative partnership with BART gets underway,” Schaffer continues.