Reference Page: October 2005
McGinness Is God
You’ll find Ryan McGinness’s hand-stitched soccer balls at www.cerealart.com for the low, low price of $150. The Philadelphia-based artist-designed-products superstore Cerealart also sells molded-plastic action figures from Canadian native Marcel Dzama’s Uzama Monsters of Winnipeg Folklore series, such as Evil Ugolinor, a Darth Vader-like creature with a bear’s head. There’s a nifty Flash-enhanced virtual gallery for each artist—among them Keith Haring and the graffiti artist Dalek—that lets you scroll through highlights of their work in vivid detail.
The collaboration between Los Angeles architect Benjamin Ball and Materials & Applications co-owner Jenna Didier was jump-started when Didier, browsing Ball’s profile on www.friendster.com, discovered their shared love of Frei Otto, a recent recipient of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Gold Medal. The German-born architect and engineer’s lightweight structures, which can be seen in all their warping beauty at www.freiotto.com, strongly influenced Ball and partner Gaston Nogués’s design for Maximilian’s Schell. A less avant source of inspiration came from Disney’s first foray into PG territory, the 1979 sci-fi flick The Black Hole, which starred Schell as the nefarious captain of a robot army. For further information on the M&A structure’s confluence of competing visions as well as pictures of the Mylar vortex itself go to www.emanate.org/schell.htm.
Type designer Paul Carlos was talking about Peter Bil’ak’s Euroface when he told Metropolis “it’s hard to test the typeface if you’re not moving above the speed limit,” but his comment has general resonance: it’s difficult to judge a road-sign font if you’re not actually on the road. Fortunately Clearview creators Donald Meeker and James Montalbano spent years reworking their font and testing it on four wheels. Meeker and Montalbano did everything from expanding the letters’ interior shapes to ensure that the As and Es wouldn’t become white splotches at night to researching the effects of letterspacing on legibility. To explore the font’s evolution go to the Web site for the government’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/HTM/clearfont. The font software can be purchased at the Clearview site: www.clearviewhwy.com.
Montreal’s Modest Proposal
Commerce Design Montreal has given local businesses a boost by recognizing their aesthetic improvements. At www.commercedesignmontreal.com, see selected establishments such as 2003 Jury Grand Prize winner Café Daylight Factory, a onetime loading dock turned restaurant. The Times Square Alliance also has a site for its similar initiative, www.timessquarenyc.org/design, which includes a charmingly rendered interactive map of the area. A rollover feature singles out businesses for recognition and invites users to vote for their favorite. The site does contain a note of irony: the neon-lit intro—“Hot! Live! Design!”—references adult theaters whose demise is probably owed at least in part to the Alliance itself.
Many people say they’d like to improve the world, but few actually attempt it. Designers Emilian Dan Cartis and Romi Hefetz walk the walk with their products for collecting water in crisis situations—products that could save our sorry behinds in a pinch. Go to www.wsolo.com for a convenient slide show about Cartis’s invention, or head to www.zeroinfinite.com, the designer’s own site, for his bio and an enjoyable rollover background. An issue of Parsons School of Design’s magazine RE:D, www.parsons.edu/assets/attachment/134.pdf, contains some tidbits about Hefetz’s Aqualoop, as well as descriptions of other socially conscious design items. Info on the widely used Oxfam Bucket can be found at www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/emergencies/how_we_work/factfile/oxfam_bucket.htm. If any of this inspires you to start helping people, check out Doctors Without Borders at www.doctorswithoutborders.org, or visit the International Rescue Committee at www.theirc.org.
Portrait of the Artists
You’ll find information on the past and future activities of Art Creates Communities: Project in Chelsea as well as contact information to donate your own expertise at www.moreart.org. At www.lisadempsey.com/moreart/movie.cfm there’s a QuickTime overview of the project that includes clips of students and artists in action, buoyed by a pulsating electronic soundtrack. Creepy Alice in Wonderland-inspired photographs by Anna Gaskel, one of the program’s instructors, are hosted at www.postmedia.net/999/gaskell.htm. Gary Simmons, who helped the students put together their chalk-drawing billboard, has a multimedia piece online at www.diacenter.org/simmons that combines interactive photos of empty dance spaces with humming duets of old pop songs.
For a comprehensive look at A. Zahner Company’s many finishes and projects—from the blasted stainless steel of computer giant Apple’s Los Angeles store to the “swoopy” curves of the Experience Music Project, in Seattle—check out the Kansas City-based firm’s Web site, www.azahner.com. Zahner’s copper facade for the Herzog & de Meuron-designed de Young museum—opening on October 15—is on full view in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Information on exhibits can be found at www.thinker.org/deyoung/index.asp. Eric Wilhelm, who developed the design-interface programs for Zahner’s work on the museum, offers custom-software solutions for companies big and small at www.scratchcomputing.com. You’ll also find detailed descriptions of his software modules.
If the online address for Dacra’s Miami development, www.aqua.net, doesn’t immediately make you think of hair spray, then perhaps you are in the market for a “visionary condo.” The site has pictures of the buildings and contact info for the sales office in case that million bucks is burning a hole in your pocket. Glowing images of the complex are also available at the site of New Urbanist juggernaut Duany Plater-Zyberk, www.dpz.com/projects.htm. On the “Projects Map,” click on Florida to take a look at images of Seaside, Craig Robins’s inspiration for Aqua. The Sunshine State may actually have more DPZ architectural endeavors per square mile than it does pawn shops.
It should come as no surprise that Hedi Slimane, Monsieur Dior Homme himself, has his own Web site: www.hedislimane.com. Go there to see Slimane’s Dover Street Market furniture and his Berlin photos. Thumbnails of the fashion maestro are also on view at Dior Homme’s site, www.fashion.dior.com/homme, where you can listen to original music written for the fashion label by Beck, or just check out some seriously glam gold ankle boots. Check out www.indexmagazine.com/interviews/hedi_slimane.shtml for a 2003 interview of Slimane conducted by Klaus Biesenbach—then curator of New York’s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center—that explores Slimane’s love affair with Berlin, his fondness for the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth (which may explain the gold boots), and his rise to preeminence in the world of haute couture.
Design Prescription: The Hospital Bed
Pictures, movies, and a history of NASA’s now defunct X-38 Crew Return Vehicle program are at www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/research/X38_Save. Synthesis Int’l creative director Constance Adams, who helped develop the interior of the lifting-body spacecraft, described her work on the project as designing a system that would “keep soft organs from ripping out and necks from snapping” on reentry. Visit the design collaborative’s site at www.synthesis-intl.com.
An international traveling exhibition on Saarinen the Younger should ensure that the architect is remembered for his mid-twentieth-century Modernism rather than his frequent appearance in crossword puzzles: “Architect Saarinen, four letters.” Planned stops for the Eero Saarinen: Realizing American Utopia exhibit include Helsinki in 2006 and Yale in 2010, with a tour of Europe and North America in between: www.eerosaarinen.net. Go to www.kdnfilms.com/projects-eero.html for an eight-and-a-half-minute video clip from an upcoming PBS documentary on Saarinen, to be released in tandem with the exhibition.