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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Smith’

Official UnBeige AIGA NEXT Roundup

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Even though we still can’t get that Command X theme music out of our head (damn you all, Open, Agoraphone and The Plasticines!), we’ve finally had a few days to contemplate the AIGA NEXT conference in its entirety. Although we had a slight peek at the innerworkings while serving on the planning committee, in the end we were just sitting there in the audience watching, as surprised (and/or delighted) as you were. Here are the highs and lows:

Command-ing the lead: We admit, we had our doubts about a “Project Runway” for graphic design. But not only was Command X the highlight of the conference, it gave great insight into how design actually works–and how fast, funny and brilliant designers are. Winner Nichelle Narcisi‘s incredible finale also ended the conference on the perfect teary, triumphant note.

Talkin’ ’bout my generation: Maybe it was simply in line with the theme (“Next”), but we can’t applaud this conference enough for shifting attention to the youngsters. The brilliant Command X forged seven new young superstars and the 20 one-minute presentations that opened the first night were all by up-and-comers (and better than we ever remembered). It was great to see the older and wiser take a backseat to youth for once.

Someone get this guy an agent: Drew Carey should not have gotten Bob Barker‘s gig on “The Price is Right.” That job should have gone to a man who is long overdue for his big showbiz debut, Michael Bierut.

Everything in moderation: Golden-voiced Kurt Andersen was the best moderator we’ve ever seen at one of these things. Witty, efficient and blissfully deadpan, Andersen asked incredibly intelligent questions tempered with just enough cynicism to keep things real.

Three people we’re running away with: Janine Benyus, Marian Bantjes and Alex Steffen wowed us with solutions that proved great design is natural, personal and sustainable, and, in the end, always–always–beautiful.

You can’t win ‘em all: Of course, there were a few duds. Momus‘ mainstage presentation was probably brilliant but unfocused to the point of befuddlement. Wrapping a design conference with an awesome visual application that doesn’t work on Macs was a big mistake. And even though it made good diversity efforts, the lineup was incredibly New York-centric. One might even argue specifically SVA-centric.

Worst information graphics: Upon entering the Denver Art Museum for the closing party, guests were handed a map which hinted at treasure troves of food and drink stashed in various corners of the galleries. Never mind that the Denver Art Museum is a perplexing heap of angular ADD (Daniel Libeskind must design like he talks), the ambiguous map forced us to mount great expeditions in search of circulating lamb lollipops and the elusive chicken potstickers. Luckily, the martini bar was in plain view.

Best party: Duh.

Best overheard quote in design history: When another designer worried that a former employee may have been bipolar, Dana Arnett brought perspective to the situation: “Bipolar can work, though. They present one idea, then they present another totally different idea. It’s great for clients.”

Sure to see traffic spikes this week: Design Observer lead with the most overall impressions, mentioned in many affinity sessions, at least seven times on the mainstage, and in all the conference materials as a sponsor. Second place goes to Very Short List, which got two plugs on the mainstage (Andersen is a founder, ahem).

Okay, we get it, you’re Democrats: We stopped counting the anti-Bush attacks after we hit the number of years he’s been in office. We know that designers are traditionally left-leaning. But any Republicans in the audience would have been pretty darn uncomfortable, and we’re not sure that’s altogether appropriate.

On the other hand…: There was something to the fact that the same day Al Gore won the Nobel Prize, one of our own jetted up there to work closely with him on his Alliance for Climate Protection. Or maybe that because of AIGA, people across the country will be be voting on redesigned ballots next election. Or maybe it was just AIGA president Sean AdamsJFK-like good looks. Whatever it was, we swore we felt a huge shift happening in the world of design, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

All UnBeige AIGA NEXT coverage.

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Dirty Dancing Observer Party

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Sometimes at these conference things it’s nice to escape the pristine white hallways for a hot, filthy little basement packed thick with grinding graphic designers. Where legends of print, stage, screen, the airwaves, and a movie about graphic design take the stage for guest DJ sets. Where you not only don’t know which body part is being violated by which person’s gyrating sweaty loins, you don’t care because Kevin Smith is playing Prince and you just gotta dance, dammit. Oh yes, this was the Design Observer party.

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Head DJ Smith with Debbie Millman, throwing out a little J-Lo.

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Laurie Rosenwald was anything but “tired”; Gary Hustwit, who spun his own real records, prepares to take the stage.

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Host Michael Bierut looking dapper, Bill Drenttel (we can call you Bill, right?) becomes possessed by the demons of the dance floor.

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Randy Hunt gets jiggy; Marian Bantjes‘ hot bow-topped boots.

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Dancemaster David Womack takes a break to compare tans with Nik Hafermaas; Eric Heiman can’t control himself.

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Print’s Party Was Packed, But Ours Had Craig Newmark

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Although we were nearly deterred by the swamplike streets of Little Italy (don’t tell us to get over it, we’re from Los Angeles), many braved the overflowing gutters to check out Print’s New Visual Artists last Thursday night in NY. The roster of 20 very international artists–all under 30–and hundreds of their new best friends packed into the superskinny Groupe space on Elizabeth Street and toasted each other with two flavors of vodka–huckleberry (pretty good) or peach caffeinated (dangerous).

Among the wet and well-dressed were Print editor Joyce Rutter Kaye looking glamorous in a blue silky top, Leif Parsons, looking tall, and bespectacled Debbie Millman (heading home to prep for her show with Barbara Kruger the next day). Print staffers Emily Gordon and Lindsay Ballant were both busy playing hostess. We congratulated 2007 inductee Kevin Smith and past honoree Rob Giampietro, who informed us that Rudy VanderLans was in town for a photo show at Park Avenue Armory.

Print contributors Alice Twemlow and David Womack nodded their heads to the strains of almost-too-old school hip hop, although, really, how can you go wrong with “Cool It Now“? We gazed at Jane art director Jeff Glendenning‘s t-shirt but couldn’t quite place it until he told us he used to work at the NYT Magazine…oh yeah, that one. Afterwards we ducked around the corner for fresh-n-fruity drinks at Cafe Habana with Khoi Vinh, Aviva Michaelov and Brian Rea, and we were later joined by the delightfully-bookish Rodrigo Corral.

It was much drier the next evening when we gathered around the koi ponds and cocaine-fabulous decor of Chinatown Brasserie (Seriously, mirrored club chairs? No.) for the mediabistro.com party, where more than a few mai tais were tossed back by familiar faces that included Adam Greenfield, Liz Danzico, Rachel Abrams, Sam Potts and Louise Ma (later we collected Allan Chochinov and Emma Presler). Man-of-the-hour was a toss up between a jovial Craig Newmark (of List fame) or Jesse Kirshbaum, who is now the proud owner of the first-ever UnBeige shirt. Even though he had absolutely no idea what we wrote about.