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Archives: May 2013

Say WWWhat? Whitney Museum Unveils New Graphic Identity

With its imminent move downtown to new Renzo Piano-designed digs, the Whitney Museum of American Art decided that its graphic identity was also in need of an overhaul. And so it’s out with Abbott Miller‘s 13-year-old wordmark (which, like a fine wine, would only have gotten better with age) and in with a…spindly, shape-shifting line? The new identity, created by Amsterdam-based Experimental Jetset and unveiled today along with the museum’s redesigned website, is an anti-logo: lacking distinction, gravitas, and the ability to be seen from across a room. The “responsive ‘W’,” intended to dynamically “illustrate the museum’s ever-changing nature” with an elastic take on the letter “W,” is paired with a redrawn version of Neue Haas Grotesk, in all caps. With an infinite array of options, the identity can evoke the work of Dexter Sinister or Lawrence Weiner, the slanting logo of W magazine, or a line graph that got lost in a museum on its way to a sales report. But mostly, it leaves us wondering, Why?

Design Within Reach Warehouse Sale Time

In the town of Secaucus, New Jersey (which we like because it suggests a high-level meeting about oceans), there is a place where dreams are made—dreams of fully licensed, if slightly scuffed, design classics. We imagine this place to be at all times filled with directionally bespectacled people, many of whom as infants were soothed not by kitschy musical mobiles but by the comforting presence of a George Nelson ball clock. This place is the Design Within Reach Outlet, which on Friday begins a four-day megasale. Grab a friend–preferably one with a vehicle and/or a pack mule–and get there early (doors open at 10 a.m.), because DWR’s 12,000-square-foot discount design wonderland teems with “non-pristine” furnishings discounted up to 75% off retail price. As for carting that dinged Saarinen table home, you can arrange for delivery. Bring a tape measure and an open mind.

Watch Tim Gunn Get Quirky

Say “Tim Gunn” to ten people and nine of them well immediately reply, “I love Tim Gunn!” (The tenth doesn’t watch television or read style manuals). The debonair and decanal Project Runway mentor, who has a vivid childhood memory of touring FBI headquarters and seeing J. Edgar Hoover dressed as Vivian Vance, is bringing his sharp eye and make-it-work mantra to Quirky. Gunn will visit the NYC offices of the social media-meets-product development company this evening to help evaluate products. Tune in here at 7 p.m. EST to watch the live webcast, during which Gunn will weigh on in on more than a dozen potential app-enabled products for the home that Quirky will develop in partnership with GE.

JR on HBO: Inside Out Documentary Debuts

Watch French street artist JR get his TED Prize wish for a global art project in Inside Out, a fresh-from-the-Tribeca-Film-Festival documentary that debuts tonight at 9 p.m. on HBO. Director Alastair Siddons (Turn it Loose) crisscrosses the globe–from Tunisia to Haiti, North Dakota to Pakistan–as people around the world come together to follow JR’s simple directions to “take a portrait photograph of yourself or someone you know and then paste it in the street, using it to stand up for something you care about.” More than 100,000 people responded to his call by uploading their portraits to the project’s website for JR to print and display around the world. Explains Siddons, “This is a film about an artist giving away his method and the inspiring stories that follow that.” Sample a few in the film’s trailer (below):
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Parsons Students Repurpose Luxe Leather Scraps for ‘Wasteless’ Competition

Waste less, want more? That’s the thinking behind Wasteless, a sustainability-minded competition that challenged students at Parsons The New School for Design to transform Poltrona Frau‘s leather leftovers–freshly harvested from the floor of its factory in Tolentino, Italy–into luxe accessories and objects. Designer and Parsons faculty member Andrea Ruggiero led a group of 15 Parsons product design students in the seven-week project, and earlier this month they presented their projects to a panel of judges that included Massimo Vignelli, Metropolis editorial director Paul Makovsky, and Federico Materazzi of Poltrona Frau.

Jenny Hsu emerged on top with “Piqnique” (at left), a woven case for meals on the go that doubles as a leather placemat. Rounding out the top three were Yuna Kim‘s “Miovino” leather wine glass tags and the “Tuft” candle holders (at right) designed by Benjamin Billick. The three winning designers will head to Italy this summer to visit the Poltrona Frau factory and work with the company’s master craftsmen to fabricate prototypes. Check out all 15 of the student designs at Poltrona Frau’s Soho showroom, where they’re on view through Tuesday.

School of MFA Boston to Honor Glenn Ligon


A production still from 2012 episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century that featured Glenn Ligon.

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will honor artist Glenn Ligon with its SMFA Medal. First presented in 1996, the award honors individuals “who have made a significant and lasting impact on the art world, and recognizes their commitment to diversifying and communicating with the world through art.” Past recipients include Alex Katz, Kiki Smith, Ellen Gallagher, and Robert Rauschenberg. Ligon will receive his SMFA Medal (complete with red ribbon) this evening at a gala that will take place at the museum and benefit the school. Guests can assess potential future SMFA medalists during a pre-dinner silent auction of student work.
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Quote of Note | Gary Shteyngart

“…Snob [is] an international Russian-language glossy that’s lavishly funded by the mineral wealth of Mikhail Prokhorov. For those who haven’t seen him breakfasting alongside Jay-Z and New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Prokhorov is one of Russia’s tallest (six foot eight) and more progressive oligarchs, the 32nd-richest man in the world and owner of New Jersey Nets (no one’s perfect). Prokhorov has been critical of the country’s sham democracy, but his criticism has been strategic and intermittent–he is unlikely to spend his next 10 years in a frozen labor camp like fellow oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who didn’t quite know when to shut up. His billions have given Snob a nice frisson of controversy, but the magazine and the endless social networks it has sparked through its well-trafficked website are more than just a billionaire’s whim. It is an attempt to bring together a strange new animal: the liberal global Russian who is fond of her voluminous culture, her beautiful language, her doting parents, and the pleasant cast of her cheekbones, but doesn’t look like she held up a Neiman Marcus at gunpoint.”

-Gary Shteyngart in an essay on “The New Russia” that appears in the most recent issue of RLife magazine

Seven Questions for Bradford Shellhammer, Fab’s Chief Design Officer

Fab made a splash in Milan with more than cushy Warhol Brillo boxes. The online retailer invited designers from around the world to pitch new products for the chance to have them produced and sold on Fab. More than 150 creative types from 30 countries turned out, and now it’s onto New York. In addition to showcasing its new private label alongside collaborations with the likes of the Albers Foundation and Blu Dot at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, which opens to the trade tomorrow, Fab is hosting another “Disrupting Design” competition.

The fearless leader of the judging panel will be Fab co-founder and chief design officer Bradford Shellhammer. “At Fab, we are constantly reinventing ourselves and rethinking what Fab can be,” he says. “By directly engaging with designers to find the best new work out there, we’re hoping to help even more of our members find things they love.” Today’s ever-changing offering ranges from a Louis Ghost Chair signed by Philippe Starck and vintage Kodak Brownies to a subscription to BirdWatching magazine and a pepperoni pizza t-shirt. Shellhammer paused in his booth preparations (find Fab at #1220 at ICFF) to answer our questions.

How did the Disrupting Design competition go in Milan last month?
We were overwhelmed by the response in Milan, which is why we’ve decided to do it again in New York during ICFF. We had so many great entries from all over the world when we did the call out in Milan. Initially we were planning on selecting three winning designs, but we couldn’t narrow it down so we ended up shortlisting twelve designs which we are working to put into production and sell on Fab–the revenue of which we of course share with the winning designers.

What advice would you give to those interested in presenting their designs to the Fab jury on Tuesday at ICFF?
Take a look at our site and keep the Fab viewpoint in mind when presenting. The winning designs from Milan all embody the Fab ethos–they tell great stories, utilize interesting materials, or have a sense of whimsy. We are looking for designs that will be appreciated by our global community of more than 12 million design lovers.

What are some qualities of a successful product on Fab?
Great products tell a story, elicit emotions, or solve problems. It’s that simple. It needs to check at least one of those boxes (hopefully all three). They can be in any category and at any price, as long as there’e something compelling.

What is a product that you’ve sold on Fab that has surprised you, in terms of expected versus actual interest from customers?
Yves Behar‘s medicine accessories for Sabi I thought may be targeted for a customer older than ours, but we sell a lot of them!
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In Brief: International Museum Day, Artful Eateries, Top University Museums

• Those in New York have plenty to keep them busy this weekend, as NYCxDESIGN rolls on and ICFF arrives. Whether you’re in Manhattan or Mumbai, Saturday is International Museum Day, an annual initiative of the International Council of Museums to encourage public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society. This year’s theme is “Museums (memory + creativity) = social change,” a nod to ICOM’s partnership with the UNESCO Memory of the World Program. Check out what some North American institutions have planned for International Museum Day here.

• The Association of Art Museum Directors is also seizing the Museum Day momentum. The organization is encouraging its members to offer free admission and special programs on Saturday for Art Museum Day. See if your favorite museum is participating by consulting the AAMD’s latest list.

• All that museumgoing sure works up an appetite. Depatures highlights some extraordinary museum restaurants around the world. Please pass the “whipped casein with strawberry-and-violet ice cream,” a specialty at the Guggenheim Bilbao’s Nerua.

• Where in the world are the best university museums? Consult this new ranking of the 30 Most Amazing University Museums. Created by Best Colleges Online, the international list is based on qualities such as architecture, depth of resources and collections, and activity as a learning and teaching resource for the surrounding community.

Wanted: Illustrator to Blind Them with Science

man of science.jpgDo you excel at explaining phenomena ranging from plate tectonics to nuclear fission using only a pen and a dinner napkin? Doodle double helices—and their accompanying nucleotides? Then listen up, because the American Association for the Advancement of Science (or “triple-A S,” as the cool kids call it) is looking for a new visual Einstein to join the graphics and layout department for its flagship journal, Science, at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. Need you be able to tell xylem from phloem, ventricles from atria, a chupacabra from an exasperated kangaroo? Probably not, but be ready to describe how your “proven ability to create sophisticated, high quality visuals” will react with your “strong technology skills in contemporary software packages” to keep the visual standards of Science as high as its impact factor. And don’t forget to balance your equation.

Learn more about this scientific technical illustrator, American Association for the Advancement of Science job or view all of the current mediabistro.com design/art/photo jobs.

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