This is the work of Zolloc, aka Hayden Zezula, an artist and animator in New York who makes these super weird looping animations which I love. He tends to focus on people and simple forms though brought together in an extreme, abstract way, usually rendered with simple color palettes. They magically bridge a ground between simple and highly complex, which is really fascinating. Wouldn’t these make a fantastic screensaver?
The GIFs below may take a moment to load, so be patient :)
I had a wonderful trip to Milan thanks to the awesome folks at Lexus. If you follow me on Instagram it seems like a bunch of pretty pictures made easy. That’s kinda true but it’s also a lot of walking, a lot of editing & organizing, and a lot of trying to keep all your devices charged. That said, here are the top 10 coolest things I saw in Milan, my personal favorites that really got me excited and inspired.
Jia Wu’s Player’s Pflute
Jia Wu, one the Lexus Design Award and Event prototype winners, presented one of my favorite concepts of the entire week. It’s called Player’s Pflute, which is a series of plastic components (like mouthpieces, hole punchers and connectors) that allow you to turn vegetables into musical instruments. Weird, right? I’m drawn to this because it’s so ridiculous and fun, and honestly, I didn’t see a ton of this kind of playfulness while I was in Milan.
This isn’t a brand new space, but it’s certainly a space that many are buzzing about right now. This is the Valextra Milano flagship store, designed by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Asharm of Snarkitecture, who are recipients of TheDesignPrize. The space was recognized for the “Shop Design and Retail” category.
I was able to stop by the space the other night and it’s truly a lovely experience. The ceiling is drape din flowing sheets of white mesh that unite the space in an ethereal manner. That paired with Valextra’s curation of bags in the store, nothing but whites, greys, and creams, it’s a stunning combination.
Via Manzoni, 3, 20121 Milano
COS X Studio Swine
“Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere and not a drop to drink!” That’s the phrase that kept running through my head when I first saw this collaboration between COS (probably my favorite clothing brand at this point) and Studio Swine, made up of Japanese Architect Azusa Murakami and British Artist Alexander Groves.
Their collaboration has yielded what I’d call a high-tech tree that regularly sprouts giant, soapy bubbles that are each filled with smoke. It’s hypnotic to watch as these bubbles form an fall of the tree, like ethereal fruit, and absolutely delightful to encounter in person. You honestly feel like a child standing there, mouth agape, because the bubbles are strong enough for you to hold in your hands. The bubbles also smell amazing, which gives rise to the question, is a new COS scent on the way?
Via Pietro Mascagni, 8
Green Brewing branding by Lucy Alter Design
This is a delight from Lucy Alter Design that I quite enjoyed. Lucy Alter is the studio of two Japanese guys, Satoshi Aoyagi and Mikito Tanimoto, who together are doing some really great work.
I found their work while browsing at the Triennale, coming across their branding effort for Green Brewing, a Japanese tea company. I love the simplicity they sought in both color and typography which reflects the purity of the tea itself. The type is extremely well laid out and the overall packaging is very well-executed.
Triennale, 20123 Milan
Fare Luce @ Foscarini Spazio Brera
There were a few experiences at Milan Design Week that you could walk around in and this was certainly one of my favorites. Giovanni Maria Filindeu worked together with lighting brand Foscarini to create Fare Luce, an immersive experience in the heart of Berra that let you walk through and experience lighting in unique installations.
There was the mirrored room, the ancient citadel, the rainbow road, the veiled room, and more. It made for many Instagrammable moments, which might sound gross, but there was nothing but smiles on everyone’s faces.
If I had to guess I wouldn’t have imagined that a bed would have been on my “coolest things” list, but when the bed is made of pink palm leaves, how can you resist?
This masterpiece was designed by Marc Ange and was exhibited at the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibit, which overall was one of my favorite exhibits. It’s described as “a contemplative, palm-shaded daybed installation in a lush fantasy setting, by the Green Gallery, in the Mediateca garden.” I think it’s the bed of my dreams!
Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via della Moscova 28, Milano
Continuing my love for the work inhabiting the Wallpaper* Hand Made space was the TOILETPAPER BAR! This is literally a physical manifestation of the magazine, an aesthetic overload sprung from the mind of Maurizio Cattelan.
Kyle and I grabbed a couple of proseccos from the friendly bartenders and worked here for a while, it was actually quite nice if you’re comfortable being surrounded by walls and floors covered in spaghetti wallpaper.
Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via della Moscova 28, Milano
The Visit by Studiopepe
Refinement, sophistication, drool worthy. Those are probably the words I’d use to describe the impeccably designed apartment simply called The Visit. Located in the heart of Breta, Studiopepe has curated a perfect vision of what an apartment could be, you know, if you could afford dozens of designer pieces and a space with huge rooms and high ceilings.
The space included pieces from designers like Agape, Agapecasa, Aytm, Bang & Olufsen, Bulthaup, Camo, cc-tapis, FENIXNTM, Florim, Green Wise, Lambert Et Fils, Leftover, L’Opificio, Molteni&C, Shuj, Vitra and so many more. They did a fantastic job, but I’ll still to my own eclectic style—lots of random tchotchkes that have personal meaning.
Via Palermo, 1, Milano
Elle Decor concept store
Spotted this concept while walking around Milan and what drew me in was the bright pink signage and typography, I couldn’t say no. Basically, Elle Decor created a Concept Store that looked at the future of shopping and what that might look like.
It was a bit tough figuring out what their point was exactly, but there was lots of VR, selfie spots, a coffee conveyer belt, and lots more. Aesthetically the space was decked out with perfect furniture and lots of beautiful accessories that gave me a ton of ideas for my own apartment.
Palazzo Bovara, corso Venezia 51, Milano
Thanks to our friends Josh and Evan, Kyle and I had a chance to speak with Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, one of the hottest design duos out there. Not only are they super rad guys, their multiple lighting designs featured at Milan Design Week were some of the stand outs.
First there was their collection with Flos, the Blush Lamp (which you can see above) and the WireRing, both of which were physically minimal while having a very robust, and in the one case colorful, output. The second was their exhibit at Foundation at Spazio Krizia where they featured their lamp concepts that helped to form their ideas for the Flos collection.
As I wrote about yesterday, the Lexus Design Award and Event is a hub of creative ideas. The contest itself garners hundreds of entries from around the globe which are curated down to twelve, and then to four lucky prototype finalists. Those four are the lucky finalists who get to showcase their prototypes in Milan, one of which is Hiroto Yoshizoe.
Hiroto lives and works in Tokyo as an art director, working as a spatial designer for commercial facilities. And as it turns out, he’s the winner of this year’s Lexus Design Award. I had a chance to speak with Hiroto and his mentors on the project, Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham of Snarkitecture, who themselves are brilliant and one of my current favorite creative teams. We spoke about inspiration, vision, working with Lexus and the future.
The interview below was lightly edited for clarity and length.
TFIB: Your project Pixel, is a way to facilitate a melding between light and shadow, and it’s modular, so you can form it in many different ways – what inspired you to make this structure and shape?
HY: I began by testing with just a piece of paper and some light, and seeing how the light reflected against the piece of paper. And then testing so many different shapes, so many different forms, to see which was the best method for reflecting the light. I even used clay, creating 3D curved shapes to see worked, but I ended up with this one.
Alex: I think it’s important to talk about the original inspiration, the reference of tradition and shoji, as really the earliest starting points in some ways.
HY: Yes, another big inspiration for me was shoji, which is a Japanese traditional fitting used in architecture. It’s created with paper and it can cover the view from outside, but then it can also take in the light, very softly, and transition that into the inside environments. And the fact that shoji can translate two different elements, light and shadow, in a very visible way, was a big inspiration for my work.
TFIB: With that being the inspiration, the starting point, where did Snarkitecture come into this process, and how did you work together as mentors and the mentee?
AM: This is the second year that Snarkitcture has worked as mentor with Lexus Design Award, and the process starts in November, we look at something like 1200 designed which are paired down to the 12 in the room, including four prototype winners. Out of all of those we selected Hiroto’s project to mentor. There’s something about the simplicity and reduction of it, and kind of, the poetic quality. As soon as you see the interaction, your movement, your interaction effects the outcome of the piece, I think that was something that was really appealing to us, that it was engaging.
Through a series of Skype calls, emails, and an in-person meeting, Hiroto visited us at our studio in New York, we worked with him over three to four months to refine the design. In some ways the final result, these pieces are quite similar to the pieces he presented in November. It was much more about guiding and steering his vision and helping him to present it here at Milan Design Week, Lexus, and also as a commercial opportunity. Which was it going to be? A consumer product, or an installation, or an architectural material, which I think was really the direction he’s interested in pursuing.
TFIB: Horito, do you think of this as more of an art or an architecture piece? I know that this is something referenced in what Snarkitecture does, do you think it to be one or the other or somewhere in-between?
HY: This is a very difficult question, but using Pixel in very large scale is very key to the whole message, and to how people interact with the work. So in the end, it might be architectural, by having people walk behind it or walk past it, it will end up being like an installation as well, so it’s a play on both.
TFIB: With that point on scale, can the size of the Pixel elements change? Would you make them bigger? Or is this is the set scale and the Pixels get more numerous?
HY: The original, the standard size, is what you see on the wall. But of course you can scale it down, you can scale it up, but what’s very important is having that same form, the same dimensions.
TFIB: And with the form itself, is there anything special about it? Is it the way the light is refracting, is that why the form is the way it is?
HY: That’s exactly right (laughs).
TFIB: If you could have the Pixels show up anywhere in the world, where would you like to see them exhibited?
HY: (laughs) I’d want to see it in big scale and with natural light as well. sS places where there’s lots of people there, where there’s trees outside. Maybe art museums or facilities like shopping centers where they’ll be lots of people walking past the work.
TFIB: For you Daniel and Alex, there was something that drew you to Hiroto’s work, and you’ve done this for two years now, is there any advice you’d give to other designers for creating work that you think would be interesting?
DA: I think there’s an economy about this work, or an effieceny, the idea is conveyed very simply. And I think that we try to make things that have a purpose, and need to exist. Try not to make things that are superfluous or make things that need to be here.
AM: I’d say my general advice to most designers is to always be making things. To put your ideas out in the world and actually set them in a tangible, tactile way. I would really encourage, having worked on this project for two years, I’d really encourage young designers to consider applying for next years Lexus Design Award. I think the benefit as an emerging designer is incredible. If you win, if you’re one of the prototype designers, Lexus basically funds a functional prototype and brings you and the design here – We’re in the Triennale in Milan, and the designers are getting their work showcased in front of tens of thousands of people so it’s a really incredible opportunity for up-and-coming designers.
TFIB: Any other thoughts Hiroto?
HY: I’m just really excited to be able to showcase my work here and to see people interact with Pixel, hand to hand, and other ideas or possibilities on how they can utilize Pixel in everyday life.
It’s hump day, I’m in Milan, and honestly I have so few worries (except for how much my feet hurt from all this walking, first world problems). With that in mind I thought I’d post something that matches my current state of mind: chill.
Brian Lotti, for a great portion of his life, was known for being an exceptional technical street skater, meaning he could do tricks no one else had even thought of. But then a series of injuries came along and he decided to focus on the arts, like film-making, and for the purpose of this post, fine art.
What I love about his paintings is that they showcase the vibe of Southern California but in a beautifully abstract way. Washy swathes of greens and oranges become trees and murky greys and blues become the asphalt, the sky, the mountains.
My first stop during Milan Design Week is the Lexus Design Award and Event which is located in La Triennale di Milano, a beautiful design museum, which I can say is fitting after touring the exhibit. The event is simply titled YET, a philosophy at the heart of Lexus’ creative mindset.
When you enter the space, you’re greeted by a series of three glass pillars that radiate light. They were created in collaboration with Neri Oxman, an architect, designer, and professor at the MIT Media Lab alongside The Mediated Matter group, whose focus is on “research at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science and synthetic biology and apply that knowledge to design across scales from the micro scale to the building scale.” Sounds pretty epic, right?
Glass is thought to be invented over 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and over the years we’ve found many ways to shape it, be it thrown glass blowing or molding. What Neri and the Mediated Matter group asked is, “How do you achieve variation in mechanical production? And how do you create new technology that controls the interior and exterior textures?” Over 24 months they’ve worked to create 3D glass printing technology that could answer these very questions.
What’s so magical about these constructs is how the light refracts through them, producing what are called “caustics,” which are the light rays reflected or refracted by a curved surface or object. These caustics play across the ground and walls creating the feeling that you’re underwater.
As you continue to explore the space you encounter the four Lexus Design Award finalists, who’s work will be judged with one being crowned the winner. Their ideas are extremely varied and unique, each offering creative concepts with unusual elements and whimsy. Lexus’ YET philosophy says “Don’t compromise, harmonize”—and each of these concepts do exactly that.
This Hiroto Yoshizoe concept is titled Pixel. His work is about displaying the contrasting elements of light and shadow as expressed by metal “pixels” that can be stacked together into any shape.
I have aimed to design between the Light and Shadow, believing that when designing the borderline between the two contrasting elements, they can resonate with each other to move the viewer. Through this, you will find that in fact the contrasts are intertwined with each other. Light and Shadow, inside and outside, one side and another this screen existing between these two contrasts can be a device for dividing, transforming and ‘connecting’ at the same time.
This Jia Wu’ concept, titled Player’s Pflute. (Yes, that’s spelled correctly.) Her pieces are focused on the idea of turning food into a playable, musical instrument with the help of modular plastic pieces you can plug into a vegetable.
By encouraging improvisation while playing, this toy helps a child experience music as a familiar and enjoyable activity. This creative musician kit consists of different mouthpieces, hole punchers and connectors. Simply by connecting them with various everyday objects, children can assemble their very own instruments and explore different musical tones.
This is Jessica Fügler’s Structural Color – Static Yet Changing concept which is a rug that allows the user to modify the rug’s color and pattern thanks to multi-colored beads.
Static Yet Changing is a rug design that has the ability to change with the need of the user. The ever-changing function and aesthetics of the piece addresses the idea of designing for longevity, crating products that evolve over time.
Finally, Ahran Won’s concept focused on the idea of meaningful ownership. What do you really need in your life? What objects are actually necessary to live? Her capsule packs all of your life’s must-have objects into one tidy package.
A capsule for mobile living, Having nothing YET Everything.
What is the meaning of objects in our lives? The moving capsule enables simple and minimalist living through its mobility and functionality. (One object has more than one function; like a smart phone, the capsule goes beyond its function as just a container).
Rounding out the exhibit is the ethereal, light projected Lexus UX concept which floats around you as you walk through as well as a retrospective of the past 9 years of Lexus at Milan Design Week, told through 24 frames at a time.
Overall, the way I’d describe Lexus’ Design Week showing as a celebration of industrial design through the Lexus’ lens. The works spark your imagination and immerse you in a world of next-level creativity.
It’s been nearly four years since Mount Kimbie released their last record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, now they’re back with a new track/video featuring vocals from none other than James Blake. The song has a definite James Blake-yness to it, backed by a really great organ melody that shifts into a more minimal, gospel vibe. It feels like it’s meant to be a preview of something much bigger as the Mount Kimbie boys are known for their beats and this doesn’t quite hit that mark. Time will tell!
I’m here in Milan for the Lexus Design Award and Event and Milan Design Week and though it’s only been a day and a half I’ve done some serious exploring so far. The city of Milan is a vibrant, bustling city full of sites and sounds and it’s a perfect location for one of the biggest design events in the world. Here are some of the things I’ve come across so far but I promise there will be lots more coverage over the next week.
Milan Design Week Preview
I’ll be doing a lot of posts over the following week around MDW but I was able to get a sneak peek at Henry Wilson’s useful objects at Aesop Brera and they’re gorgeous. Henry is experimenting with a 6000 year old casting process, making a series of bronze lamps and vessels that were absolutely stunning.
Lexus Design Award and Event
As a part of Design Week the first thing I’ll be visiting is the Lexus Design Award and Event space at the La Triennale di Milano. There’s incredible 3D printed glass pieces by Neri Oxman, a Static YET Dynamic installation which looks ethereal and magical, and the Lexus Design Award prototype winners who’s inventive work is being exhibited.
Seriously though, everywhere you look the typography game is strong here in Milan. There’s a lot of classic 60’s and 70’s overtones that frame the doorways of so many businesses that you simply can’t miss it. It’s type porn for days out here.
The Hidden Dan Flavin in a Church
This one is kinda crazy and I love it. In 1996, Dan flavin was asked by Italian priest Giulio Greco to create an installation in the Chiesa Rossa in Milan. The installation is still in place and running (I took the photo above) and I can tell you right now that the church, which is beautiful on it’s own, is totally augmented by the lights that Mr. Flavin installed. If you’re in Milan you MUST go see this.
I mean, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise at all, but the buildings in Milan are as eclectic as you can get. I’ve seen brutalism, modernism, neo-classicism… you name it, it’s here. One of the coolest things I’ve seen multiple times now is buildings with INTENSE plant coverage, like the one above. I call it out because I’ve seen so many examples in a day and half, and hopefully I run across more of this as I continue to explore.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily updates and be sure to check out my Instagram Stories for the behind the scenes action.
As I write this I’m riding on a train in the middle of Italy, headed to Milan for a week of design and inspiration. If you had asked me “where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?,” I wouldn’t have guessed this.
Today is the 10th anniversary of The Fox Is Black, formerly Kitsune Noir (r.i.p.) and no, this isn’t a practical joke. It’s overwhelming to think of the last 10 years and everything that’s transpired. Starting this blog has allowed me to visit amazing places, meet lifelong friends, and set me down a path of being a creative director for The Walt Disney Company.
Now I’ve been thinking about what’s next for the site. My big goal is to bring back The Desktop Wallpaper Project and connect with talented creators internationally. Plus I get more and more people writing me asking if I’ll bring it back, so I think it’s time. I’m also writing more stories on the site, I went back and did some UI clean up, though I still find Instagram and Instagram Stories to be the most interesting way of sharing.
Finally, just want to say thanks to everyone who’s helped or supported me over the years. A decade is a long time and I feel truly lucky to have been able to enjoy this crazy ride.