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Archives: July 2012

Have Coffee with Daniel Buren, Latest Artist to Collaborate with Illy on Covetable Cups

A view of Monumenta 2012 at the Grand Palais in Paris. (Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Just when you thought that illy couldn’t out-dazzle its collaboration with Anish Kapoor, the espresso purveyor has teamed with Daniel Buren. The latest addition to illy’s “Artist Cups” series was created in conjunction with Buren’s Monumenta installation, “Excentrique(s),” which recently turned the Grand Palais into a kind of rainbow-kaleidoscope. Tasked with creating a site-specific work for the 14,500-square-foot nave of the Paris building (and following in the footsteps of previous Monumenta artists including Richard Serra and Christian Boltanski), the French artist was initially stumped. “The breakthrough came when I finally realized that this iron and glass architecture was based on the circle and the main tool used to design the building was a compass,” said Buren in an interview with Marc Sanchez, artistic director of Monumenta. “The most important thing for me was the confrontation between a device placed quite low down—a sort of ceiling made of hundreds of clear, colored circles—and the great height of the nave of the Grand Palais. I expected this extreme tension to emphasise not the hugeness of the building but its volume, left as empty as possible. As if to give shape to the air circulating in it.” The exhibition closed last month, but the colorful circles live on as saucers in illy’s Daniel Buren espresso cups. The beautifully packaged set of four, now available in illy’s online store, combines the Monumenta circles’ blue, yellow, orange, and green (chosen because they were the only available hues for colored film that was stretched over specially made circular steel frames) with Buren’s signature stripes, in black and white.
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Fresh Faces: New Director for Rose Art Museum, RISD Names Dean of Architecture and Design

• We’re still waiting for an opera devoted to the happenings of a few years ago at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum: secret meetings, deaccessioning schemes, legal threats, resignations, and finally, renovations! Having clarified the differences between an art museum and an ATM, the university is ready to restore the bloom to the Rose with a new director: Christopher Bedford (pictured), chief curator of exhibitions at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts. He’ll begin his new role on September 15 at the ripe old age of 35. Among his top priorities: to integrate the museum’s collection into the university’s curriculum and “to commission a major work of public sculpture for the exterior of the museum that connects to ideas of social engagement and social justice,” Bedford said in a recent interview. “Those concepts are central to my thinking and to the core ideology of Brandeis, too.”

• The Rhode Island School of Design looked across the ocean to find its new dean of architecture and design. Pradeep Sharma, who starts this fall, comes to Providence from England’s Bath Spa University. As head of the Bath School of Art and Design, he managed the school’s operations, finances, facilities, assessment, academic program development, as well as the student experience, all while maintaining his own ten-year-old design management and consultancy practice. With degrees in electrical and information sciences as well as industrial design engineering—and a doctorate in management in the works—he is as enthusiastic about digital technologies as he is about hands-on studio learning. “Pradeep brings a keen interest in howthe architecture and design disciplines can work together with the fine arts and the liberal arts to inform each other’s practice,” said RISD provost Rosanne Somerson in a statement announcing his appointment.
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Quote of Note | Stella McCartney

“You know, the first thing I did when we started the Olympic collection [for Team Great Britain] was ask the athletes, ‘Do you care what you wear? Does it make a difference?’ They were surprised: most people don’t ask them questions about what they wear. Ninety per cent of them said feeling good about their clothes helped with performance. And they said they wanted to look like a team when they walked into the Olympic village. The nice thing was many of them were clearly excited to have a designer involved; there was a sense it gave them something of an edge. Then I also asked them how often they worked out.

We really wanted to take away any anxiety associated with getting dressed, so we made a look book the way we do for our regular collections, and then color-coded the clothes to show what goes together. That’s really how I approach everything. I want people to feel welcome when they come into our stores. Because I think if you’re not happy in what you are wearing, it makes a massive difference to how you feel. And if you are happy, you can keep your clothes for ever.”

-Stella McCartney in an interview with Vanessa Friedman for the Financial Times

Fab Nabs $105 Million in Latest Funding Round

Design flash sale site (which now goes simply as “Fab”) has a lot to celebrate: its first full year of operations, in which five million members purchased an average of 3.4 products—from mod chairs and typography-themed t-shirts to artisanal biscotti and Muhammad Ali memorabilia—per minute, and a freshly closed round of venture funding. Led by Atomico (the tech investment firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström), the $105 million in Series C financing will help the company expand operations. At the top of the to-do list: building its own warehouses and amassing inventory to avoid drop-shipping delays. By the time the holidays roll around, the company aims to average just a few days shipping time on all non-custom orders, according to founder and CEO Jason Goldberg. “We believe Fab will both define and dominate its category for years to come,” said Atomico partner Geoffrey Prentice, who will join Fab’s board of directors, in a statement announcing the new financing. “After all, design is everywhere, and design is global.” Fab raised a total of $48 million in two previous funding rounds and in January made its first acquisition: indie fashion marketplace FashionStake.

Quote of Note | Vivienne Westwood

(Photo: Juergen Teller)

“See that book on Halston on the table? I’ve never looked at his work, and I was just looking at it now. His stuff is very ’70s, and maybe if he hadn’t lived, you wouldn’t have had the clear ’70s look that influenced other people. So I do think that my fashion is qualified by the age in which I live. It’s all very eclectic, and I can tell you how it got to be that way. In the ’70s, when Malcolm [McLaren] and I opened that shop [Let it Rock], he was very fed up with hippies, and he was looking at ’50s rock ’n’ roll. He never was a hippie, anyway, because he hated authority, and as a young person he wouldn’t have liked all the people dressing in a certain fashion. But it was the beginning of an age of nostalgia—the ’30s, Saint Laurent’s ’40s collection—and the way I analyzed it in hindsight is that we wanted to be rebels, and therefore we went back to the ’50s, our own lifetime’s culture, because we thought that was rebelling against the adult world. I knew the Teddy Boys the first time around. Anyway, people didn’t like it; they were still into this hippie, ’70s feeling at the time. But that was the beginning of the age of nostalgia. And so now they’ve been through everything, and there’s nothing really left to invent, and it’s just become very, very eclectic.”

-Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, in an interview with Tim Blanks that appears in the August issue of Interview

In Brief: Damien Hirst at Burger King, 99% Invisible Scores with Kickstarter, Lonny Sold to Zimbio

• Do you enjoy the work of Damien Hirst but wish that it came with a Whopper? Have it your way in London, where the Burger King in Leicester Square has a spin painting—the artist’s “Beautiful Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face, Flame Grilled Painting” (2003)—on view for the rest of the year. Turns out that Hirst is chummy with the owner of the franchise, which was recently remodeled as a ‘Flameship’ to showcase the brand’s flame-grilling cooking method, according to a report in Marketing. And have no fear about rogue ketchup packets or greasy fingerprints. The painting is behind a wall of reinforced glass.

• Congratulations to 99% Invisible, the self-described “tiny radio show about design” from producer Roman Mars and KALW in San Francisco. The scrappy podcast recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its third season of “trying to comprehend the 99% invisible activity that shapes the design of our world” and surpassed its $42,000 goal within 12 hours. At last count, 2,097 backers had pledged $82,338 to support the production of future episodes. With 22 days to go on the Kickstarter campaign, Mars is now looking to reach 5,000 backers. “I want to make each person who listens to 99% Invisible understand that the simple act of supporting the show, with a pledge of any size, is meaningful,” he says. “This ambitious goal inspired Debbie Millman at her brand new Design Matters Institute to offer a challenge grant of $10,000 to motivate 5,000 people to show support for 99% Invisible at any level they can afford.” Learn more here.

• In other design business news, shelter mag Lonny has been acquired by Zimbio. The online-only publication was founded in 2009 by Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline. The acquisition includes the founding editorial team, the Lonny website, its library of backissues, and an archive of thousands of original photographs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atipo Breathes New Life into A.M. Cassandre Posters

It may be impossible to improve upon an A.M. Cassandre poster, but Spanish design studio Atipo has outdone itself with this tribute to his famous “Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet” triptych (above). Once you’re savored the last drop of loving homage, treat yourself to Cassannet, Atipo’s Art Deco-flavored font based on the lettering in Cassandre posters.

Lucky‘s Brandon Holley Talks Photoshop and Fashion

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In the final segment of our Media Beat interview with Lucky editor-in-chief Brandon Holley, the print vet talked about the explosion of street style, where women can find designer goods (or versions of them) for cheap, and that hot-button issue every magazine editor grapples with: Photoshop.

Sure, a petition against Seventeen has the pub pledging to feature more “healthy, real women,” but is it even possible for a magazine to succeed without airbrushing its models? Uh, no, said Holley.

“I’ve done a bunch of focus groups, and women will constantly say, ‘Why don’t you just put a real person on the cover? I don’t wanna see a celebrity.’ That cover would sell 10 copies,” said Holley. “So, what women say they want and what they want are two different things sometimes. I mean, we do need to show more women with real bodies, absolutely. But I don’t think that should be a dead set rule.”

Part 1: Lucky EIC Brandon Holley on Getting a Magazine Job
Part 2: Brandon Holley Calls Fashion Blogging ‘Most Exciting Thing to Happen in Publishing in Decades’

Does Wobbly Furniture Tilt Perceptions?

Can fixing that shaky table affect your desire for emotional stability? A new study suggests as much. Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada sat one group of volunteers in slightly wobbly chairs next to slightly wobbly tables while another group was seated in chairs next to tables that looked identical but didn’t wobble. Then they asked both groups to perform a couple of tasks: first, to judge the stability of the relationships of celebrity couples by rating the likelihood of a breakup on a scale of one (“extremely unlikely to dissolve”) to seven (“extremely likely to dissolve”) and then to rate their preferences for various traits in a potential romantic partner, also on a scale of one (“not at all desirable”) to seven (“extremely desirable”). The Economist recently revealed the rather ground-shaking results of the study, soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science:

Participants who sat in wobbly chairs at wobbly tables gave the celebrity couples an average stability score of 3.2 while those whose furniture did not wobble gave them 2.5. What was particularly intriguing, though, was that those sitting at wonky furniture not only saw instability in the relationships of others but also said that they valued stability in their own relationships more highly. They gave stability-promoting traits in potential romantic partners an average desirability score of 5.0, whereas those whose tables and chairs were stable gave these same traits a score of 4.5. The difference is not huge, but it is statistically significant. Even a small amount of environmental wobbliness seems to promote a desire for an emotional rock to cling to.

Watch for this finding to launch a trend in divorce lawyer office decor: rocking chairs.

Pictured: A work from Dutch designer Anna Ter Haar’s 2010 “Cinderella’s Chair” project.

Design Jobs: New York Daily News, Life Is Good, The 7th Art

This week, the New York Daily News is hiring a digital photo editor, and Life Is Good is on the hunt for an art director. Meanwhile, The 7th Art is seeking a graphic designer, as well as an art director. Get the scoop on these openings and more below, and find additional just-posted gigs on Mediabistro.

Find more great design jobs on the UnBeige job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented UnBeige pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.