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Archives: March 2012

Smile! Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘The Happy Show’ Opens Next Week at ICA Philadelphia

Better living through typography? See it, believe it, achieve it at The Happy Show, an exhibition of Stefan Sagmeister’s work that opens Wednesday at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (it will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles early next year). “I am usually rather bored with definitions,” says Sagmeister. “Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down.” The fruits, both literal and figurative, of the designer’s ten-year exploration of happiness will be on display through August 12.

The ICA promises a portal into Sagmeister’s mind as he experiments with potential happiness inducers ranging from from meditation and cognitive therapy to mood-altering drugs and maxims spelled out in jaw-dropping flights of typographic fancy. Visitors will also get a sneak peek at the Happy Film, his still-in-the-works documentary (check out the titles in the below video). Slated for release in 2013, the feature will offer “a proper look at all the strategies serious psychologists recommend that improve well-being,” according to Sagmeister, who decided to do the project as a film in part to stave off the complacency that can come from working in familiar media. “It might fail miserably,” he says. “But if I’ve gotten a hair happier in the process, it might have been worth my while.” Until you can make it to Philadelphia, check in with the ICA’s Happy Show Tumblr, which chronicled the preparation of invitations to next week’s opening party: slices of bologna laser-cut to reveal the word “HAPPY.”

Mediabistro Course

Online Production for Writers and Editors

Online Production for Writers and EditorsStarting July 17, learn how to create multi-dimensional content for your digital mediums! Taught by a mulitplatform journalist, Darragh Worland will teach you how to create content that is multi-dimensional and editorially relevant, use the web to its full potential, create stories that have social media campaigns built in and increase your value as an employee. Register now! 

Gucci vs. Guess Copyright Battle Finally Goes to Trial

After the fun-at-times legal war between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent ended last fall with something akin to a dull whimper, we were worried that we’d have to wait forever to have another good copyright fight between hot shot fashion companies. Sure there are your usual “small shop got ripped off by a big brand” or “big company looks like a bully for attacking a small one,” but those aren’t nearly as exciting as when two top dogs lock horns. Fortunately, we’ve been saved, thanks to an old case still simmering from the good, litigious people at Gucci. As Bloomberg reports, Gucci’s copyright infringement case against Guess finally kicked off in fine form in New York (it was originally filed three years ago but is only reaching trial now). The former is claiming that Guess had not only copied several of its products, but had also mimicked their logo on said items, all in the quest to provide their customers with Gucci-like items that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford. Seeing as the case is now at trial and wasn’t settled in a hushed backroom deal years ago, we bet you can figure out what Guess’ position in response to those allegations. For the next two weeks, the two will be battling it out, with Gucci asking for $124 million, Guess not wanting to give it to them, and we can only figure, featuring some of the best dressed attorneys and witnesses that courtroom has seen in a while.

Despite Family’s Objections, Eisenhower Memorial Commission Remains Committed to Frank Gehry

In the end, it apparently takes a whole lot to topple a famous architect and his heavy pillars. After months of discussion, and an increasingly vocal group of family members speaking out against the project, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has released a statement (pdf) of full support behind Frank Gehry, who designed the national tribute, set to be built (someday) in Washington DC’s National Mall. As early as last week, Susan Eisenhower, the former president’s granddaughter, had spoken at a congressional hearing, asking for a redesign. However, it was to no avail, at least to the Commission, who write in their statement that they “will work to address the outstanding issues that remain” but seemed to waiver not a touch when it came to Gehry’s plans:

We confirm our selection of him, confirm our enthusiastic endorsement of his design concept, and express our regret and sadness at the tone and nature of the selected comments that have been made on Mr. Gehry’s design for the memorial.

The whole debate hasn’t ended here though. The National Capital Planning Commission, which we learned from the lengthy battle over the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial can sometimes be a tricky group to work with, will have the final say on Gehry’s design. Onward with the battle!

Cubes: Take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of The Knot

In this episode of “Cubes,” we tour the offices of XO Group Inc., the media company best known for every bride-to-be’s favorite site, The Knot.

The XO Group’s brand-new space in lower Manhattan boasts a fashion runway, a bar with a kegerator, a giant projection screen for playing Xbox Kinect, and a staircase inspired by the ones found in Apple stores. Oh, and it has really good feng shui.

For more mediabistroTV videos, check out our YouTube channel, and be sure to follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV

Interested in working at XO Group? Check out their postings on the Mediabistro job board.

Can the Smith Center Revive Downtown Las Vegas? Inside the $470 Million Cultural Center

In Las Vegas, when people refer to “culture,” it usually involves French-Canadian acrobat savants, ersatz monuments, or dancing fountains, but change is afoot. This month, Sin City welcomed the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a megaproject that was set into motion during headier, pre-recession days. We dispatched writer Doug McClemont to try his luck at getting an inside look at the newly opened cultural complex, and he came up trumps.

Photos: Steve Hall/HedrichBlessing

Most narratives of current state of things in Las Vegas include “overbuilt” or “downturn” in the very first sentence. Indeed, since roughly 2006 the fortunes of the legendary desert oasis have changed for the worse. Visitor spending in the destination city is on the decline, the housing market remains troubled, and MGM’s shining new star City Center, a 72-acre sprawling complex of hotels, gaming, condos, and high-end retail at the heart of the Strip, posted an operating loss of $45 million in the fourth quarter of last year. So this might seem a strange moment to be celebrating the construction of a new $470 million cultural center on the outskirts of the (still more beleaguered) downtown area. But then again Las Vegas—that ultimate paean to pastiche and panache—is not known for its introverted ways.

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a lavish art deco-influenced, multi-purpose complex that features music, visual art, theater, and education opened earlier this month. It dominates a 61-acre site in a former rail yard that is now called Symphony Park. “All of the budgeting was done in the old economy,” according to architect David M. Schwarz, “the Center was built in the new.” As a result, the architects were able to utilize high-end materials and avoid troublesome cost-cutting concerns when creating Las Vegas’s newest addition. A 170-foot tall bell tower with 47 imported bronze bells is just one opulent feature of the inviting collection of buildings.
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This Week on the Job Board: Desert Publications, 7×7 Magazine, FierceMarkets

This week, Desert Publications is looking for a creative director, while 7×7 magazine is hiring an art director. FierceMarkets needs a graphic designer, and Austin Monthly magazine is seeking an art director/designer. Get more details below and find additional just-posted gigs on

For more job listings, go to the Mediabistro job board, and to post a job, visit our employer page. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

Reed Krakoff on Brand Building, the Joys of Multitasking, and Why Coach Is Like a Code

(Photo: Sasha Arutyunova)

“Brands are like people,” Reed Krakoff has said. “They are all different and you get to know them in different ways.” The versatile designer’s observation on the diversity of brands, quoted back to him by Pamela Golbin, curator of fashion at textiles at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, was a fitting way to begin the first in a trio of “Fashion Talks” presented by the French Institute Alliance Francaise (the chic conversations continue tonight, when FIAF welcomes Stefano Pilati, who earlier this month stepped down from the creative helm of Yves Saint Laurent). In two short years (and five runway collections), Krakoff has created a luxury brand—an American luxury brand, no less—from scratch, which in an industry that trades on centuries-old saddlery skills and wildly embellished “heritage” narratives is no simple feat, especially considering that he’s developed his eponymous label while also maintaining posts as president of executive creative director of Coach.

“When I came to Coach [in 1996], I had never done accessories. I was a menswear designer, and what I loved more than anything was starting something that was an amazing challenge, something where I knew I could learn and be on path to discovering what I could do—or not do,” he told Golbin at last week’s sold-out event at Florence Gould Hall. “I really love the idea of learning and challenges, and after fifteen years, I felt that I wanted to do more that was in keeping with my own true aesthetic.” Influenced by everything from ultimate fighting champs and vintage football jerseys to the artful aviary of John James Audubon and design masterpieces from his own astounding collection, that aesthetic is refined but flexible, as likely to embrace a sleek clutch (in matte python) as a bold trench stamped with a painterly monochrome print that only the most eagle-eyed shopper would recognize as an abstracted version of the brand’s geometric logo. “It’s a direct reflection of the things that I love,” said Krakoff. “The aesthetic is a combination of disparate ideas—things that are quite sexy and sensual and romantic, things that are quite minimal and architectural.”
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Art Newspaper Releases Annual Museum Rankings, Louvre Stays on Top, Met Rises to No. 2

It’s that time of year again, when the Art Newspaper looks back at the year that was to provide their annual rankings of most popular, and therefore visited, museums and exhibitions across the world. It’s no surprise in the slightest that the Louvre once again captured the top attendance record, as it has for the past billion years or so. In 2011, they his nearly 8.9 million, an impressive increase of roughly 400,000 over the year prior. The other success stories were from the usual roster, the Met for example, broke “the six million barrier” and stole away the number two spot from the British Museum, with lots of help from one of the world’s most popular exhibitions, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.” Perhaps most surprising, and the leading talk of AN‘s coverage, is that the world’s most well-attended exhibition didn’t come from the usual three locales, the US, Europe, or Asia, but from Brazil. The Centro Cultrual Banco do Brasil‘s “The Magical World of Escher” landed this year’s top spot, pulling in close to 575,000 people and nearly 10,000 daily. On the opposite side of such positive numbers were the Tate Modern, who saw a dip, despite popular exhibitions like the well-timed Ai Weiwei sunflowers, and MoMA, who had a slight decrease as well. The Art Newspaper‘s whole breakdown of all the numbers can be found here (pdf).

BE@RBRICK in the House: Medicom Toy Taps House Industries for Anniversary Logos

And speaking of mod marvels, our fontastic friends at House Industries (makers of a swell set of Eames House alphabet blocks) have teamed with Japan’s Medicom Toys to celebrate the ubercollaborative company’s fifteen years of creating unreasonably covetable figurines. Meanwhile, Medicom’s iconic BE@RBRICK line hits the double-digit mark this year. Both occasions called for fresh logos (get your limited-edition print here), the creation of which House illustrates in the below video. That coppery creature is a giant BE@RBRICK customized by Adam and Angelo Cruz in what House’s Rich Roat describes as “a multigenerational merger of hand-rubbed copper metallic lacquer and hand-striped One-Shot enamel.”

Kraft Renames Its Snacks Business; Top Ten Things Overheard at the Branding Task Force Meeting

Oreo, Jell-O, Maxwell House, Tang. It’s hard to find a grocery store aisle that doesn’t contain an iconic brand owned by Kraft Foods. Last summer, the Northfield, Illinois-based company, having at least partially digested its 2010 acquisition of Cadbury for $19 billion (that’s a lot of Mini Eggs), announced plans to split into two public companies: a “high-growth global snacks business” and a “high-margin North American grocery business.” The latter, which will include most of the cheesy stuff (Philadelphia cream cheese, the blue-box macaroni, those ubiquitous Singles), will get to keep the Kraft brand, leaving the larger snacks juggernaut in need of an appetizing new name. Kraft got down to business, soliciting some 1,700 suggestions from employees, and this week, the new corporate name was announced. Reader, it is Mondelēz International, Inc.

Say what? “‘Mondelēz’ (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) is a newly coined word that evokes the idea of ‘delicious world,’” noted the press release, which appears not to have been an early April Fool’s Day joke. “‘Monde’ derives from the Latin word for ‘world,’ and ‘delez’ is a fanciful expression of ‘delicious.’ In addition, ‘International’ captures the global nature of the business.” According to Kraft, the new name represents the Frankenstinian fusing of separate suggestions from two employees, one in Europe and another in North America. “I’m thrilled with the name Mondelēz International,” said Mary Beth West, the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “It’s interesting, unique, and captures a big idea—just the way the snacks we make can take small moments in our lives and turn them into something bigger, brighter, and more joyful.” As we come to terms with a future in which we’ll all be buying our Toberlones and Trident from a company whose name suggests a harebrained scheme of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, we imagined the munchies-fueled meeting that sealed the deal with these Top Ten Things Overheard at Kraft’s Branding Task Force Meeting:

10. What was the name of Speedy Gonzales‘s cousin?
9. Please pass the Oreos.
8. Let’s keep it simple. I vote for “Snacks Alive.”
7. What about Vandelay Industries?
6. I actually really liked New Coke. Thought it was totally delez.
5. OK, then just something that sort of rhymes with Vandelay…
4. No offense, but I’ve got a basketball game to watch. Let’s just combine all of these suggestions together and take the average.
3. I thought you said “fleur de lis.” Makes me think of Three Musketeers. [audible gasps] You working for Mars now, Jim?
2. That little thing over the second “e”—does that read too Häagen-Dazs?
1. ‘Delicious world,’ like in Esperanto? For me, it conjures castanets. Is this an emerging markets play?