[ Ted Noten ] “at the intersection of design – art – kitch and culture”
[ Ted Noten ] “at the intersection of design – art – kitch and culture”
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[ cynthia reeves ] announces the permanent installation of Jonathan Prince’s Vestigial Block at the new Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. The monumentally sized sculpture is one of three currently on display as part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden, surrounding the Zaha Hadid designed museum in East Lansing. The Sculpture Garden also features works by Roxy Paine and Steve Miller.
The bequeath represents a six figure gift from the donors Julie and Edward J. Minskoff, whose acclaimed collection of 20th and 21st century art includes works by Jeff Koons, Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein and Willem de Kooning.
Vestigial Block, another work exploring the cube, was first exhibited at the Sculpture Garden at 590 Madison Avenue as part of Prince’s Torn Steel exhibition. The series’ principal theme explores “interrupted” iconographic forms through oxidized and stainless steel surfaces. Additionally, Prince’s newest work, [ G2V ] is on view at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside of the United Nations in New York City, and two earlier works can be seen at the Christie’s Sculpture Garden at 535 Madison Avenue. The artist has a mini-retrospective of his black granite sculptures and functional art, on view at ABC Stone in Brooklyn. [ jonathan prince ]
You’ve probably seen at least one of the first three editions of the colorful Themis Mobile collection that Stockholm-based graphic designer Clara von Zweigbergk created for Artecnica, but the company swears that Mono, the newest edition, is “vastly different than any other mobile of its kind.” First off, Mono has more sides than von Zweigbergk’s previous mobiles. D&D fans will know even without counting that this baby is a dodecahedron – that’s 12 sides – each in a different eye-popping color “painstakingly handpicked by Clara in her creative process, which she describes as ‘intuition and the way the colors work in contrast to one another.'”
Which brings me to my next point, which is somewhat tangential, but bear with me. As you might imagine, I read a lot of copy for product descriptions, and sometimes when designers, manufacturers or distributors aren’t content with a basic item description they go to great lengths to entice potential buyers with language so belabored and verbose it becomes comical. Nothing against Artecnica -they’re a truly wonderful company – but is this not just the long-winded way of saying that Mono is fun and colorful?
“The harmonious play of colors instill into the viewer a sense of visual pleasure and fulfillment further enhanced by the faceted nature of the geometry of Mono that allows each individual color to appear in four different shades.”
All critiquing aside, Mono works equally well above a crib and a dining room table, and there aren’t many design objects you can say that about.
grow watch for alessi | click > enlarge
[DesignApplause] We are in the Alessi Milan flagship showroom at an open house showcasing new products. One new product is a beautiful wristwatch called the “Grow Watch” and with us is the designer of the watch Andrea Morgante. Andrea, please tell us where your office is located, how it’s structured, and what kinds of things do you do.
[Andrea Morgante] My office is in London. I started Shiro Studio roughly three years ago. It’s call Shiro Studio because I have an obsession with white and shiro means white in Japanese. A very good friend of mine came back from Japan and he just read a book titled “Shiro” by graphic designer Kenya Hara and the book talked about all the reasons why white is just an amazing color. The book hit a nerve, and started some very deep thoughts about a specific creative attitude. For example, white is more than just a color but rather a state of mind. It is about purity, about creativity. White is the paper, white is the blank slate, it’s both the emptiness and the everything, the endless possibilities.
During these three years I’ve been really busy completing a project I kind of inherited, the Ferrari Museum which is a project I started in 2004. Back then I was an associate director for Future Systems, a highly-recognized practice based in London. And when sadly the founder Jan Kaplicky passed away in 2009 the project was left basically orphaned. Soon after the client asked me to complete the building, which we eventually did, last March.
[DA] Andrea, are you an architect or product designer?
[AM] It’s architecture mainly, but I’m Italian and went to school in Italy before moving to London and design is a part of our DNA. Back in the “Golden Era” 50s and 60s, the major designers like Castiglioni, Colombo, Magistretti, were architects. There was no formal design school but they designed many products. So I was exposed to a culture where there is no clear boundary for what is architecture and what is product design. And even though European schools today now offer options of both architecture and design, for me the disciplines are one in the same.
[DA] In the U.S. formal education separates the disciplines. Designers and architects sometimes complain and wish both were melded together like early European educations.
[AM] They’re similar but for me here is the difference. I like product design because it is more immediate, it is more direct contact, between you and the design process and the outcome. You might say architecture is a confrontational process. You can have the most amazing idea, but in the end you need to interface successfully with a client, with a planning approval office, with engineers, with a contractor, a subcontractor, there are quite a few restraints. And it’s becoming more and more complex to actually complete a building. When it comes to product design, I found there’s more free expression because it is just you, the producer and the technology. And the responsibility is interestingly different in this way. You only design one building but a product, you produce hundreds, thousands.
Another aspect is scale. I find it inspirational to work for example on the 10,000 square meter museum and then shift to the wristwatch for Alessi. It’s such an amazing change of scale you can actually feel the brain working harder. Like a camera lens, whirring from wide-angle to macro.
enzo ferrari house exhibtion
[DA] Is there an advantage in what order you master the discipline.
[AM] It seems very personal, probably what one learns first. And then there is who is good at both. We have seen famous architects fail miserably trying to design a product. And vice versa, a great designer trying to build something bigger and they mess up on the architectural aspects.
[DA] Is this watch the smallest product you designed to date?
[AM] Yes. And things get pretty small when you design a watch. Designing the hands is pretty amazing.
[DA] I was taught to explore both the smallest and largest applications of a design first. For a logo start with the business card. Then throw the logo on an airplane or truck. It gets even smaller today with app icons on smartphones. It’s a small world.
[AM] I recently met a friend of mine who is a graphic designer is designing a font for the Internet and he showed me how he is cutting into the letters so the corners are sharp given the small size of the font. I didn’t realize that kind of detail was necessary. It’s rather beautiful. It is possibly the smallest thing you can design.
[DA] This is your first watch. I know a little bit about how Alessi selects their designers. How did you even get asked?
[AM] (Chuckle) Then you know the designer selections go through Alberto Alessi, that is his role within the company. And considering the roster of designers selected it is quite a privilege to be asked. When I go there to present something his desk is a bit unsettling at first because there are so many amazing objects, sketches, magazines, everywhere, not a lot of space to lay down a drawing. Because of this, when I go there I present possibly 8 to 10 ideas on A4 sized paper so at least I know it’s going to fit on the table. The last time I came in I brought a watch idea, though they didn’t ask for one, and I dropped it on the desk. And he grabbed it immediately and said this was quite interesting and let’s take this idea forward.
This moving forward is done in different stages. There’s an analysis to gauge product interest. From there you go into a physical-study phase. It’s a long process.
[DA] The styling on your watch mirrors a style seen in your architecture. There is a flowing, wave-like visual on the skin of the structure.
[AM] The scale of the object or structure may dictate characteristics. The concept exploration would always include my passions. There is also a technology language being spoken. I have been intrigued the last few years with the ribbing you find in nature. It’s not only beautiful but there are structural properties of ribbing such as strength and rigidity without the volume and weight. In architecture in would mean less material needed for support which could lessen the financial burden. And visually there is both a feeling of fluidity and weightlessness.
A watch does not demand structural strength like a building and the use of ribbing here does communicate a variety of possibilities. For example, if you suggest muscle fiber the ribbing transcends to fibers. So structurally the ribbing has no specific function but I discovered how the watch and the hand and wrist can communicate harmony through a muscular anatomy. I studied numerous anatomy drawings to reach these conclusions. It was an amazing discovery. The watch now feels to me like it has grown around your wrist. It’s become very life-like and comfortable. That’s why I call it the Grow Watch.
[DA] What is the watch skin material? And did you specify the material?
[AM] It’s polyurethane, a very versatile and resistant material. It was specified together with Seiko Japan who is the business partner with Alessi for this watch. Seiko was very happy with this choice of material as they have the engineering and manufacturing experience. Seiko was extremely open to explore new languages and solutions. Like the integration of the glass and the case which they had not done before. The solution was to respect the grow concept where the grooves found in the wristband and shell grew into grooves found in the glass. We were all surprised how readable the watch is considering the grooves on the glass. One of those delightful moments, you know.
[DA] Is your vision that this is more of a dress watch than an everyday watch or a specialty watch like a sports watch as it looks like it can take moisture.
[AM] That’s really difficult for me to say. I will say I like to run, usually three times a week, and I’ve never used a runner’s watch. If something works then it will work under almost any conditions, keeping its visual “Raison d’être” dignified. And yes, it’s waterproof.
[DA] How was color determined?
[AM] It was an intimate choice, colors I deeply relate to. Then Alessi suggested black, as apparently that is the color most people wear. We wound up with five colors: black, pure white, Yves Klein blue, fluorescent orange and yellow, the same yellow of the Ferrari Museum’s roof.
[DA] Are your solutions green, i.e., a low carbon footprint?
[AM] I try as best as I can. You know, many years ago green was still perceived as a sign of being contemporary. But today it is just mandatory. Even from the production side. The people I collaborate with, like Alessi, you’re already engaged in discussions concerning what’s renewable, what’s recyclable or even repairable. Another point of view is whether a design is useful and needed. If you’re creating something new and useful and not repeating what already exists, that can be considered even more environment friendly. Today’s the challenge is to define and create new typologies, that did not exist yesterday, and that is far more challenging than designing a new sofa.
[DA] Is this a man’s or women’s watch?
[AM] It has to be both. How horrible if it is only a man’s watch… It is good to blur some boundaries. Now this watch is quite over-sized but as you can see here, it looks good (we are in a crowded showroom and we have at our disposal several women’s wrists) on the thin wrist of a woman and for a woman the watch also becomes a bangle.
[DA] Other than scale were there any other challenges creating the watch?
[AM] Every time you design something you are inevitably communicating a message. And the message is better to be relevant, meaningful. The message should reflect contemporary values. And this is not easy at all. Alongside this challenge we are working in an over-saturated design environment. How to say something intelligent when building another chair or lamp? This to me is the challenge I face, every single day.
[DA] What’s next?
[AM] With regards to Alessi, this is my third project with them in two years and I feel we are now establishing a strong relationship. I am completing some new projects, where I am trying to re-define new typologies, so I guess I will fly soon to Crusinallo and pitch some of these new ideas to Alberto and his team.
[ vitals ] Andrea Morgante is a registered ARB Architect in the UK. After working in 1997 with RMJM in London he joined Future Systems in 2001 where he became Associate Director, working closely alongside the late Jan Kaplicky. In 2008 he collaborated with Ross Lovegrove, to develop a number of innovative architectural projects. Currently Andrea Morgante is supervising the construction of the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena for Fondazione Ferrari and designing for companies like MGX, Agape Design, Poltrona Frau and Alessi. [ shiro studio ] [ agape ] [ alessi ] [ enzo ferrari museum ] [ marsotto ] [ poltrona frau ] [ seiko ]
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Of all the talented young Israeli designers I met during Holon Design Week, Lena Dubinsky was an easy standout. She won a reddot design award in 2008 for her paving tile system for rainwater irrigation. The earthenware tiles are part of a sustainable, modular system designed to “collect and reuse rainwater for irrigation in urban settings.” By arranging the tiles around a city tree, for example, you can direct the flow of rainwater to the roots, doing away with the need for a sprinkler system or other wasteful forms of artificial irrigation.
My favorite pieces from her portfolio are her porcelainware. These are often meditative experiments with natural forms in which Dubinsky tests the boundaries of her craft. Her most sophisticated of these is her Measuring Tools collection, the design of which stems from what were once purely functional measuring instruments, but which Dubinsky has refined down to pure form.
“Standards for measuring length and width in ancient times relied on the measurements and movements of the limbs of the human body, and evidence of these techniques are still to be found in use around the world. I wished to investigate and apply this law-like regularity by designing measuring tools which are based on the dimensions of the human body. I am not concerned with historical elements but rather with a set of archetypes which establish new relationships or which reconstruct primal relationships between man and his environment. The project consists of four measuring tools, each one tailored to standardized terminology and related to the measurements of the human body: cubit, hand-breadth, finger and foot.”
Even though no one is going to use these to actually measure something (and that’s definitely not Dubinksy’ point, either), the shapes of the tools are just so pleasing, perhaps because they’re derived from the natural form of the human body. Measuring Tools was awarded in the 2011 London International Creative Competition.
Dubinsky has continued her study of the human body with Body Signs, a collection of jewelry made from porcelain, silver and gold. You can contact her to place an order.
about perrin drumm
alexander van slobbe | 10 may > 16 june 2012 | london click > enlarge
Following an elaborate restoration project of 17th century flower pyramids which Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum had then recently acquired, Royal Tichelaar Makkum initated a prestigious project to create pyramids of its own. Tichelaar’s craftsmen made an exact replica of one of the original pyramids, which subsequently served as starting point for a new interpretation of the pyramids by Dutch designers Hella Jongerius, Jurgen Bey, Studio Job and Alexander van Slobbe. The results – an impressive presentation of five sublime artefacts: the traditional replica and the four interpretations, all made in the original Faience technique – will be exhibited for the first time in London in Spring 2012.
venue: gallery libby sellers | 41-42 berners street | london WlT 3NB
contact: +44 (0)20 3384 8785 | gallery [at] libbysellers [dot]com
date: 10 may > 16 june 2012
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Nothing says mom like M-O-M. What could be more of an ode to your matriarch than the physical embodiment of her name in print, or at least the first letter? The brand new UK-based screen printing studio YeahNoYeah is making their debut with an eye-catching series of alphabet prints. All the prints are made using water-based inks and recycled paper. A 40×50 cm unframed print will cost you $65 plus shipping. On their site they say they can ship in three days, giving you plenty of time to get it framed and wrapped for your mum.
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Even though last week our focus was on Milan, there are, in fact, other things happening in Italy. In Venice Urs Fischer’s new exhibition “Madame Fisscher” opened at Palazzo Grassi. This show, like his others, is all about objects. Here’s what he had to say about that:
“Everybody likes objects; everybody likes different objects. It comes down to what objects you want to put in your art. [Jeff] Koons and [Claes] Oldenburg both seem to have their agendas with their objects. So do I, I guess. I like them all: high, low, used, new, whichever works. I don’t know if the Lamp/Bear has anything more to do with Koons or Oldenburg than all three of us and everyone else have to do with [Marcel] Duchamp’s liberation of the real thing. Before him, it seems objects appeared in, or maybe as, still-lives. Duchamp’s the guy, the legend, who liberated objects from being second-class citizens. Even if his greatness lies in our imagination and how he built himself to make us imagine his work as we imagine it. His objects are often not very satisfying to spend time with outside of the fictions he created for them.”
“Roadside memorials mark geographical points of departure in a landscape
that is generally devoid of real human interaction or activity. We pass them at
sixty miles an hour, sometimes glancing back, but are never afforded the time
to actually see them. This project is about slowing down.” ~ Phillip March Jones
Wyatt Williams of [ Creative Loafing ] interviewed the author about his book.
<a href="about phil patton
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Maybe I’m a bit of a museum geek, but I love hearing news about what artworks museums acquire for their permanent collections. My enthusiasm goes double for design objects since they tend to receive less focus than fine art. That’s why I was so excited to learn that The Shop at Cooper-Hewitt recently acquired Sarria, a basket made by Catalan architect Lluis Clotet for Alessi.
The collection started with Foix, a round serving tray. Those same rumpled edges are amplified in Sarria, which is made from the same steel colored epoxy resin, now in super black, a new color version made with a special epoxy. It’s uniquely waterproof – pour any liquid over the surface and it will run off without wetting the basket at all. You don’t have to wait for Cooper-Hewitt to exhibit it, either. Sarria is for sale from the Cooper-Hewitt’s gift shop for the modest price of $75 (it’s $130 everywhere else).
More about Clotet, from Alessi’s bio:
Born in Barcelona in 1941. He receives the architecture degree in the “Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura” of Barcelona in 1965. In that school, he was a drawing teacher from 1977 to 1984. During the 95/96 and 96/97 courses he was a visiting professor in the P.F.C classroom and Projects I and II teacher in the 97/98, 98/99 and 99/00 courses. In 1964 he founds Studio Per in cooperation with the architects Pep Bonet, Cristian Cirici and Oscar Tusquets. With the latter, he collaborates in multiple projects until 1983. In 1984, he joins in partnership with Ignacio Paricio for the architectonic production until the year 2008. He is also a founding partner of the firm “B.D Ediciones de Diseño” There are collections of his work in the Modern Art Museum of New York (USA), in the Industrial Design Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (France), in the Architecture Museum in Frankfurt (Germany), in the Bonnafort Gallery in San Francisco (USA), in the New York World Gallery (USA), and in the Columbia University (USA).