Point of View - Point of View April 2010

 

Dream Weavers

Photo: Basil Childers The Shanghai World Expo kicks off tomorrow night, and design enthusiasts are taking notice, waxing poetic about Thomas Heatherwick’s hedgehog-esque British pavilion, deconstructing Bjarke Ingels Group’s Little Mermaid cocoon for the Danes, and slinging plagiarism accusations at the Chinese. (And that’s not even mentioning the Haibao controversy or this terrifying giant animated baby mannequin.) Another enticing Expo…

Your Ultimate ICFF 2010 Events Guide

The 22nd annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair is now less that three weeks away–time to start firming up your evening plans! Tux? Check. AmEx Black? Check. Comprehensive day-by-day list of design events happening around the city, with convenient Google Maps to boot? Don’t worry, we’ve got your covered. . Did we miss an event? Send us an e-mail with “ICFF…

Sweet Spot

“This is not a sales pitch.” That’s Rafael Viñoly introducing his presentation last night, at New York’s Center for Architecture, of his firm’s master plan for the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. One could be forgiven for expecting a bit of salesmanship. The Center’s new exhibition, The New Domino (on view until May 29), seems designed…

The Materialists

Upon first encountering the new chair and bench prototypes from the Dutch design duo Tejo Remy and René Veenhuizen, of Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen, you’d be forgiven for not immediately registering the furniture’s material. From a distance, the objects appear to be inflated. Are they vinyl? Plastic? Then again, they could be leather; they look malleable and seamed and just…

The Feasibility Gap

On Friday I spent all day at the Regional Plan Association’s annual conference. This year’s terrific event was entitled “Innovation and the American Metropolis.” The RPA, as it always does, cast a wide net, bringing in experts from the fields of architecture, urban planning, sustainable design, transportation, alternative energy, city planning, computer technology, politics, and so on. Bill McDonough—whose lucrative…

The Metropolis Minute

. In the April issue, we look at Studios Architecture’s design of 200 Fifth Avenue, in New York. After the jump, Metropolis’s executive editor, Martin C. Pedersen, talks about how this story exemplifies the magazine’s multidisciplinary approach to design journalism. . To get this kind of comprehensive, multidisciplinary design coverage in your mailbox each month, subscribe to Metropolis. . April…

Pissoir Artists

The Vancouver-based firm Matthew Soules Architect (MSA) recently received a rather unusual design brief: to help the nearby city of Victoria, British Columbia, resolve its, uh, “public urination problems” (the city’s words). Unfazed, MSA took a research-driven approach to this civic nuisance, looking at historical precedents (the pissoir, popular in 19th-century Europe and still in use in Paris and Amsterdam);…

Nicolai Ouroussoff vs. Roberta Smith

The New Museum galleries: “refreshingly unpretentious” or “horribly proportioned and oppressive”? Attentive readers of the paper of record this week may have noticed an intriguing clash between two of its major critical voices. In an article about plans to expand the Whitney Museum to a new building downtown, the Times art critic Roberta Smith roundly dismissed several recent high-profile museum…

Book Review: The Grid Book

The Grid Book wants to show us that the history of building, composing, computing, mapping, lending, painting, printing, trading, and writing—the history of modern existence, in other words—is really a history of the grid.

The Grid Book wants to show us that the history of building, composing, computing, mapping, lending, painting, printing, trading, and writing—the history of modern existence, in other words—is really a history of the grid. This is ambitious. By a bit too much, as it turns out. The author, Hannah Higgins, isn’t quite able to map out all the facts she…

Letter from Baltimore: Container Corps

In her monthly “Letter from Baltimore,” Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson writes about architecture, culture, and urbanism in a city more often associated with violent crime than with good design. Click here to read her previous posts. For more by Dickinson, visit her blog, Urban Palimpsest. . In the winter of 2009, Ryan Patterson had an epiphany. The community-arts coordinator of Parks…

2×4 for All

For me, the best thing about Rem Koolhaas’s much-hyped design of Prada’s New York “epicenter,” in the early oughties, was not the 180-foot zebrawood half-pipe so much as the wallpaper—a rotating selection of  slyly subversive graphic themes (with titles like Guilt and Vomit) by the New York design studio 2×4. Now even those of us who can’t afford to shop…

Not Your Typical Paper Lantern

We’ve been following the Swedish lighting manufacturer Wästberg since it released its first collection in 2008–and, in 2009, we wrote about the Stockholm design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune’s experiments crafting furniture from a new material called DuraPulp–so, naturally, we were intrigued to learn just now that Wästberg and CKR have teamed up to produce a task lamp using this durable…

Midcentury Architecture Experiments on Film

Two short documentary films take on a pair of intriguing midcentury architectural anomalies: Buckminster Fuller's dome and the National Art Schools of Cuba.

Two short documentary films take on a pair of intriguing midcentury architectural anomalies: Buckminster Fuller’s dome and the National Art Schools of Cuba.

Spring Competitions Roundup

. Whether you have spring fever or seasonal allergies, or both, try to pull yourself together for a moment and check out this list of noteworthy design competitions now accepting entries. (For a more complete, and frequently updated, roster of design contests, be sure to check out our online Events section.) . Suburbia Transformed, One Garden at a Time This…

Q&A: Kengo Kuma—An Architecture of Relationships

Kuma in Mies van der Rohe’s Crown Hall, on the IIT campus in Chicago. Photo: Edward Lifson The 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize was recently given to the Japanese duo who lead the firm SANAA. People in the know can think of several other Japanese architects who also deserve the prize. One who is not as well known in the United…

Video: A Decade in Design

. As promised, here’s a video clip from last week’s event celebrating the ten-year anniversary of four of Metropolis’s key staff members. We boiled it down to three minutes’ worth of footage, including comments from George Lois and Steven Heller (and excluding some of the more raucous moments–sorry, had to be there!) . . Previously: Metropolis’s “Fearsome Foursome” Celebrates a…

Book Review: The Battle for Gotham

This book is about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs and their storied clashes, but it’s also about how those conflicts defined the city. And, threaded into that public history, it’s an account of author Roberta Gratz’s own life in New York.

At first glance, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything exemplary in the layout of Willets Point, Queens, with its jumble of auto repair shops, junkyards, and the cars, broken down and not, that litter the spaces between buildings. The city hasn’t built sidewalks there—neither has it installed sewers—so the main drag is both street and sidewalk, and the neighborhood looks…

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