Point of View - Point of View February 2010

 

Design Activists: Raise Your Flag High!

Design activism is on the rise. The most recent and public expression of this movement can be examined at New York’s Center for Architecture. Modernism at Risk: Modern Solutions for Saving Modern Landmarks recently opened to large crowds and runs through May 1. It chronicles efforts taken to save, or try to save, Modern architecture’s significant buildings. For me, the…

Sketch Artists

If you’ve ever wished you could take a peek at some of your favorite designers’ off-the-cuff sketches and exploratory doodles, you’ll soon have your chance. At this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile, in Milan, the Italian National Trust and Moleskine will present an exhibition of 462 drawings by 150 international designers. Called The Hand of the Designer, the exhibition will…

Q&A: Florian Idenburg on This Summer’s Pole Dance in Queens

Last month, the Queens contemporary-art mecca P.S.1 announced the winner of its annual Young Architects Program, which chooses an emerging firm to remake the museum’s courtyard through a temporary installation-cum-party space. This year’s selection, Pole Dance, combines a circus aesthetic with a hint of existential vertigo. The structure consists of 100 pivoting fiberglass rods bolted to the ground and connected…

Transdisciplinary Design 101

Last week, Parsons the New School for Design announced that it will begin offering an MFA in “Transdisciplinary Design” this fall. If you have no idea what that means, you’re not alone–the program’s chair, Jamer Hunt, recently made a short video to find out how some random New Yorkers would define the nascent discipline. (Watch until the end for a…

Slow Is the New Fast

If things go as planned, the Aircruise might just be the future’s slowest way to get around. For now, however, the 265-meter-tall airship isn’t a finished product; an announcement the other week billed it as a “visionary transportation concept.” Seymourpowell, the design firm working on the project, and Samsung C&T, the construction company helping to develop the idea, present the…

And the Winner Is…

For the second year in a row, David Rockwell has taken on the set design for the Academy Awards—and, also for the second year in a row, it will feature an enormous cascading curtain of Swarovski crystals (92,000 to be exact). Otherwise, the 2010 set will eschew last year’s black-and-blue palette for a brighter, more streamlined look. The glowing white…

India’s 21st-Century Model T

Images: courtesy Tata Motors The Tata Nano, on display now through April at the Cooper-Hewitt, looks a lot like a Smart Car, though it’s sold for about a fifth of the price. The Nano is billed as “the People’s Car,” mostly because it retails for around $2,500, and while it’s currently designed, built, and marketed exclusively in India, Tata expects…

The Metropolis Minute: Smart Environments Winners

. . The annual IIDA/Metropolis Smart Environments Awards recognize excellence in interiors that are in tune with 21st-century needs and desires–meaning that they are beautiful, sustainable, and accessible. After the jump, Metropolis’s editor in chief, Susan Szenasy, talks about this year’s winning projects. Click here to read about this year’s winning projects. For monthly coverage of the best in sustainable…

Q&A: A Brief History of Dutch Dikes and Polders

In developing ideas for the What’s Next issue, we had a rather logical thought. The subject was “Landscape/Climate Change”–and the thought? We need to talk to a Dutchmen about this, for fairly obvious reasons. So we contacted Jan H. de Jager, a civil engineer and an expert on dikes and dams, who in the course of our conversation gave us…

Winter Competitions Roundup

With snow blanketing the Northeast, and Presidents Day just around the corner, many of us can expect to have a little extra time on our hands this weekend. Maybe too much extra time—after all, you can only spend so many hours wrapped in your Snuggie sipping hot cocoa before cabin fever sets in. Which is why we wanted to take…

Meyer May Symposium Videos Now Available

Last September, Steelcase hosted a symposium on the 100-year anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At the event, Metropolis’s Susan Szenasy asked leaders in the architecture and design community–including Jeffrey Bernett, Shashi Caan, Toshiko Mori, and Michael Van Valkenburgh–to consider both what makes Wright’s architecture uniquely successful and what his designs can teach us…

Underground Inspiration

Last year, the inaugural SHIFTboston Ideas Competition called on architects, designers, engineers, and others to submit provocative visions “to enhance and electrify the urban experience in Boston.” The competition sponsors weren’t necessarily looking for build-able schemes, but rather for inspiration—for ideas that would engage citizens and galvanize the local design community. But the winning proposal, announced last month, actually doesn’t…

Castle Envy

The Austrian manufacturer Wittmann has been making elegant upholstered furniture since the 1950s–but apparently its sofas and chairs would have looked just as good in the living spaces of the 1150s. At least that’s the idea behind the company’s new catalog, which Stefan Oláh shot at Schloss Ernstbrunn, a gorgeous medieval castle in Lower Austria. This is pretty much exactly…

Gift Fair Finds

Last week, the New York International Gift Fair arrived at the Javits Center with, as usual, a handful of terrific new products. Here’s a quick look at a few of my personal favorites. The Brooklyn-based distributor neo-utility was showing this elegant stainless-steel pen by Düller and the German designer Dietrich Lubs, of Braun fame. It’s available as a ballpoint pen,…

The Design Revolution Hits the Road

Photo: the Design Revolution Road Show on Flickr Last night, in San Francisco, Emily Pilloton and her merry band of  humanitarian-design crusaders hosted the official send-off for their Design Revolution Road Show, which will be touring the country in a vintage Airstream trailer between now and April. I am very sorry I wasn’t able to attend–the invite to the “parking…

Smarter Energy for New York

For years, New York City’s electricity grid has strained under the stress caused by peak demand, the times (like midday or, in a seasonal cycle, the summer) when residents are most apt to use electrical appliances and max out the municipal power network. Stress on the aging system will likely only increase in coming years, with some experts predicting a…

Civic Virtue

Civic involvement is top of mind in Washington, D.C.—at least in the White House, even if it’s scarce on the Hill. This spring, it will be also on the agenda at the National Building Museum, which, on May 11, will honor three “civic innovators” who have helped build strong communities and neighborhoods, made breakthroughs in clean-energy technology, and aided in…

Q&A: Amale Andraos and Dan Wood on the Edible Schoolyard

Images: courtesy WORK Architecture Company With its startling lack of parks, community gardens, or farmers’ markets, the Gravesend neighborhood of southern Brooklyn is currently one of the least green sections of New York’s most populous borough. That is set to change this fall, however, when a neighborhood public school—P.S. 216—launches the first East Coast incarnation of the Edible Schoolyard, a…

The Active City

Now that green design has gone from a fringe concern to an absolute imperative for the architecture community, you have to wonder what, if anything, is the next frontier. The recent publication of New York City’s Active Design Guidelines suggests one possible answer: architecture to get people off their butts. The Guidelines, which were unveiled at the Center for Architecture…

Pecha Kucha for Haiti

Last month, we wrote about some of the Haiti relief efforts coming from the architecture and design community, including, notably, a long-term reconstruction plan being put forward by Architecture for Humanity. Over the weekend, we received word of a global fundraiser that should help finance AFH’s efforts. On February 20, the creators of Pecha Kucha—the 20-slides-for-20-seconds presentation format that has…

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