One of my favourite records over the last few years has been an EP called Downhill by the band Days. This four-piece band comes from Gothenburg in Sweden and they create the perfect soundtrack to any lazy day. Their sound is pure melancholic pop and they fuel it with wonderfully whimsical melodies and jangly riffs that wouldn’t sound too out of place emanating from Johnny Marr’s guitar during the indie scene of the late 1980’s. Indeed the whole record is steeped in that fuzzy nostalgia that we’ve heard recently through other bands such as Wild Nothing and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Downhill was released back in 2008 on Shelflife Records and it comes as a five-track cd with a bonus 7″ single, click here to pick up a copy.
The year is almost over but a last minute contender for one of the best magazine covers of the year just popped up. Esquire UK’s subscribers were treated to a special edition cover with Jeff Bridges (who is currently on every cover of every magazine still being printed) that is exquisite. The photo was taken by Rick Guest and surprising enough the text was done by Jeff Bridges himself. I love that they chose a pale pink for the title, it compliments the overall color palette extremely well. There isn’t a whole lot more to say except that I wish more magazines looked like this.
The work of Canadian team Nils Vik and Thom Fougere, known collectively as Vik & Fougere, beautifully reveals an approach to design that carefully melds minimalist elegance and functionalism. Their latest design, which is simply entitled “the bench rack”, addresses the lack of closest and storage space in modern apartments and their amazing cfld (compact fluorescent light diffuser) light shade provides a unique way of altering the appearance of a room without making permanent or irreversible changes. It is this kind of thought and sensitivity to contemporary domestic design problems that makes their work so appealing.
And then there is their “keep it cartesian letter holder” that is part light switch-part letter depository; an object that actually acknowledges good old snail mail. Although I have to say my favourite is the “keep it cartesian charger clutch.” As someone who generally leaves my iPod and iPhone lying around on the floor while their charging, I feel I need something like this in my life. After all, as Vik and Fougere themselves point out, “the floor is a sad home for an electronic device.”
These images of the Teshima Art Museum are from the website of the italian architecture magazine Domus. The museum is a collaboration between half of the Pritzker-Prize winning firm SANAA (that half being Ryue Nishizawa) and the artist Rei Naito. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may remember Bobby posting a video of another Sanaa project back in March when their selection for the 2010 Prizker Prize was announced. The video he posted features the Rolex Learning Center, which, formally, is the most obvious predecessor to the Teshima Art Museum.
But there are differences. Tucked on top of a hill on the Japanese island of Teshima, the museum is unlike most art museums– unlike most buildings– in that it doesn’t treat the outside as a source of contamination and is completely open. This is because of the art work that the architecture serves: a piece by Naito called Matrix, relies on wind that enters the two large oculi to animate drops of water on the floor. But the form of the building also comes from water, according to an interview with Naito:
“My work will be inside the building. I wouldn’t exactly call it an art museum. It’s shaped like a falling water drop. There are no [columns] and it’s a large concrete building, about 40 meters wide. My work will essentially be composed of water on the floor. We work together so he asks me what do you want to do and I ask him what do you want to do. While listening to each other we consider the wider surroundings on the island”
It’s a beautiful consideration, and with photographs this stunning (the photographer is Iwan Baan, no surprise) we can only imagine the ephemeral experience of standing between the huge holes in an expansive drop of concrete and the smaller drops of water on the floor.
Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out at the opening of the Heath Ceramics and House Industries partnership and it ended up being a great night. House had taken up a good chunk of the space at Heath and had aw ide variety of things for sale like their signature cast ampersands, their Alexander Girard nativity scene and Eames blocks. Made specially for the show though were these tiny wooden birds which were hand silkscreened with alternating patterns on each side. I got an amazing red and white one that’s really beautiful.
It was also nice to be able to meet both Andy Cruz from House Industries as well as Catherine Bailey who is the co-owner of Heath. As I said in my previous post I’ve been a big fan of House Industries for a long while now so it was a huge pleasure to chat with andy about the show and find out all the work that was involved. For example, the birds that they created were inspired by a recent trip to Japan after he was trying to find a good gift to bring home. Catherine was extremely nice as well and she and her story are a big inspiration for me.
There’s a bunch more pictures under the cut, be sure to take the time and check those out. If you’re in the L.A. area and you missed the show I think it’s going to be up until the end of the year, so be sure to stop by and see it.
Tomorrow afternoon two of my absolute favorites House Industries and Heath are teaming up for an event at Heath’s Los Angeles store and man, I think it’s gonna be great. The two companies are creating some exclusive products which are taking over the store for the weekend and I’m sure there’s going to be some really amazing stuff, as you can see in the photos above. The event goes from 4pm to 8pm, so if you’re in Los Angeles you should probably stop by. I’m hoping to meet some of the dudes from House Industries, I’ve been a big fan of their work for around 10 years or so. I’ll be sure to take some photos as well and share them for those not in Los Angeles.
Editors note: My buddy Tim Biskup took a little trip down to Art Basel so we thought it would be fun to share what he does while he’s down there. This is an inside look at his world and I have to say, I’m totally jealous. I’ve never been to Art Basel before so it’s pretty fun seeing it from his point of view. Thanks Tim!
First, let me say that I have a love/hate relationship with Art Basel Miami, as I do with the art world in general. The first year a went was one of the most depressing occurances of revelation that I have ever had. I made the trip with the expectation that it would be a huge party and I would have a great time and meet a bunch of cool art world people that would help me push my work into bigger and better places. That was not the case. It made me feel small and meaningless in a way that I could never have imagined. It shook me out of the comfort zone that I had established for myself and forced me to change my approach to my artwork. The parties were fun, but the overall sense that I had at nearly every event I attended was that I was not connecting with the “right” people. The people that I knew could really change my career for the better didn’t seem to want to talk to me. I made some amazing connections with some very inspiring people, but the overwhelming feeling that I had was that I was not a part of the art world. I was an outsider.
It took me years of wrangling with the meaning of my work and the connection and disconnection that I have to the infrastructure of art, but I have figured out enough that by this, my fourth trip to Miami for Basel, I had a truly great time. Maybe taking a few years off helped, but mostly it was the realization that everyone feels pretty much the same way about the art world. It is a social game that has little to do with making art. If you take it personally when a museum director forgets your name or you get snubbed by an art-dealer that seemed to like you when you got them into a fancy party last year you are just wasting your emotions. You have to take what you can from the experience. It can be inspiring and you can learn a lot from the way it messes with your mind. The parties are fun, but only if you truly let go of your expectations and enjoy yourself. The true highlights for me were the conversations that I had with my girlfriend, Nicki, Al from OHWOW Gallery, Bill from ATM Gallery, Eric White, Xavier from Friends With You, George from Tony Shifrazzi Gallery & Cat from Printed Matter in NYC. Below are some pics of art that stood out and good times that erupted here and there…
Yesterday, Comedy Central released a brand new logo and in my opinion, have done a really great job. Rebranding has become a hot new topic for people interested in design, and for better or worse, is being scrutinized more and more. Their old logo has been in use since they want on the air in 1991 and hasn’t changed in its near 20 year history. The thing is, it’s been pretty goofy looking this whole time, definitely having a dated late 80’s/early 90’s vibe. The logo was like a word bubble with a city popping out of it, totally awkward though I’m guessing was intended to have a comedy club vibe to it. Thankfully the folks in charge have taken an entirely new direction with the brand, simplifying things immensely.
The new logo was created by thelab who created a riff on the ubiquitous copyright symbol. It’s elegant in it’s simplicity which might be an odd work to use but when you have to represent a multitude of programs having an agnostic design like this makes a lot of sense. I thought the choice of font was nice though the upside-down ‘Central’ seems a bit silly to me. Nonetheless, I have no problem reading or identifying the brand, so it doesn’t hurt.
My first impression was slightly negative, but after watching the video showing the new branding in motion it made a lot more sense. You’re probably not going to see many static images of the logo anyhow so I feel like the rebrand should be judged mainly on the video.
The illustrations above are from the book First Men to the Moon authored by Wernher von Braun and illustrated by Fred Freeman. If you’re a little rusty on cold-war era aeronautics history, von Braun was the preeminent rocket scientist during the space race. He pioneered missile and projectile technology for Germany, then the U.S. Army, then NASA, where he lead the development of the Saturn 5 rocket that carried the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.
But when von Braun wasn’t busy building revolutionary rockets, he found time to write a few books; books that fueled public interest in space exploration. He dedicated First Men to the Moon to his daughters 9 years before his rocket design would actually carry the first men to the moon. Working closely with von Braun to illustrate the book was Fred Freeman, who according to the book’s jacket, was “a member of the original space symposium which included Wernher von Braun, Mr. Freeman has worked closely with the author on the preparation of this book to achieve meaningful coordination of drawings and text.”
What I really like about these drawings is that they’re intended as explanations; to explain how space travel could be not only possible, but practical. Yet, the drawings raise a lot of questions. You may wonder, like me, why someone would carry a tank that included a mixture of oxygen and helium to the moon (balloon party!) instead of oxygen and nitrogen as in our atmosphere. Or you may wonder about the Captain-Hook-goes-to-space “tentacle glove” the astronaut carries which he apparently uses to write down data on his knee pads. Or you may ask yourself how delicious the toothpaste tube full of pureed food he’s squeezing into his mouth must be.
This is my printing press. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My press is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My press, without me, is useless. Without my press, I am useless. I must ink my press true. I must print more beautifully than new technology that is trying to kill me. I must ink them before they pixelate me. I will.
From this opening voice-over, delivered by Ben Levitz the principal and design director of Studio on Fire, I wanted to know more. It is refreshing to be privy to the thoughts and inspiration of a creative who honours methods of the past and pays respect to artistic practices that are concerned with texture and tactility. Gestalten TV’s video provides an open and one-on-one conversation with Levitz, as well as an insight into his letterpress printing and design work. It’s definitely worth putting aside 12 minutes to watch.