Posts by Bobby Solomon

My favorite museum in Paris: Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Museums in Paris were kind of a nightmare. This statement might be true of any major metropolitan museum but it was especially true of our recent experience. Kyle and I rode by Le Louvre one day and it looked like a madhouse with what looked like thousand of people milling about, Coachella in Paris. We couldn’t do it. Another day we attempted the Musée d’Orsay and again we were confronted with horrible lines. Time is valuable and I didn’t have the patience (the we did wait in crazy line at Versailles, which I would argue is worth it). The workaround for this line dilemma was visting the Palais de Tokyo, which generously open from noon till midnight every day but closed on Tuesdays.

Here’s my recommendation: Arrive for dinner at Tokyo Eat, their fantastic restaurant which is currently outside for the summer, around 9pm (try the Curry Rouge, très fantastique). After you enjoy some food and drinks, simply walk into the Palais, stress free. The current exhibits featuring Patrick Neu, Justin Just, and Tianzhuo Chen were beautiful representations of contemporary art, all quite immersive as well. Highly recommended.

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

Palais de Tokyo

8 books to round out your summer reading list

8 books to round out your summer reading list

Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories by Christina TosiBuy it here
I don’t have a sweet tooth but I’m a sucker for a good life story. That’s why you get with Christina Tosi’s newest book which highlights the inspirations for many of the incredible treats she serves at Momofuku Milk Bar along with plenty of other oddball meals and confections. You’ll find recipes for exotic items like Smoked-Cantaloupe Jam, Kitchen-Sink Quiche, Crock-Pot Cake, and a gem called XXXL Lady Salad. I personally bought the book primarily to read her anecdotal stories which I found charming, endearing and inspiring. One of my favorite parts is the simple acknowledgment which reads, “To the old folks who keep me longing to be a wise and weathered should and to the young’uns who remind me to never grow up.” Amen sister.

Munari’s Books: The Definitive Collection of Book Designs by Bruno Munari by Giorgio MaffeiBuy it here
When surveying the current landscape of graphic design you see the finger prints of Bruno Munari everywhere. He approached design with the eye of an artist and created works of art that were perfectly designed. Now author Giorgio Maffei has created a definitive collection of Munari’s covers which spans an astonishing 70 years. The documentation that goes along with each cover is as impressive as the work itself, delving into details like the printer, the format, print runs, and anecdotes from the books themselves. A must for design history buffs.

A Book of Things by Jasper MorrisonBuy it here
I’m quite an admirer of Jasper Morrison and his honest, straightforward approach to product design. How book Super Normal, which he co-wrote, continues to be one that inspires me, highlighting the beauty of normal objects, objects that we overlook because of their normalcy. Working together with Lars Müller, he’s gathered together a retrospective of sorts documenting many of the incredible pieces he’s made over the years.

What I loved about this book is his candor and critique of his own work. He’ll clearly state that a simple stool he designed “costs a lot of money” because it was made of solid aluminum, but he enjoys “the flashiness given to such a humble object.” Or the time he was asked to “design the finest analogue alarm clock – ever!” which he humbly states, “but in the end, though it might not be the finest ever, we made a nice alarm clock.” This for me is an interesting read because you can glean into the mind of a fellow creative, get a glimpse at the motivations.

Ana of California by Andi TeranBuy it here
Many of you will remember TFIB contributor Andi Teran, one of the most talented writers I know. She took a break from contributing to the site to work full time on her first novel, which is now out and titled Ana of California. The book is a modern adaptation of Ana of Green Gables, told from the point of view of young Ana Cortez, a fifteen-year-old orphan from East Los Angeles who’s looking for one last chance on a Northern California farm.

Andi’s writing is incredibly fluid and easy to digest. The words slip right off the page and directly into your mind where her world opens up to you. Ana is a fantastic character, certainly the contemporary that young women need, and you can’t help but root for her along her journey.

Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes – Buy it here
This was the book that inspired me write this round-up. You may have heard of Dominique Ansel, but only if you live in New York. What you are familiar with his delectable creation, The Cronut, which became the most duplicated (read: ripped off) pastry in the world. His work as a pastry chef is legendary in the food world and the treats he creates are akin to art.

In his book, The Secret Recipes, he dedicates the first half to telling stories, how he got to where he is, where he gathers his inspiration, and the challenges he faces when trying something new. The second half are the most gorgeous recipes you’ll ever find, and if you’re like me, couldn’t bake to save your life. Still, like the Milk Bar book above this book was about highlighting creativity, not so much about reading recipes. Inspiration comes from all creative fields!

Spoiled Brats by Simon RichBuy it here
My partner Kyle recently started Bük Kloob, a monthly book club that we share with some of our friends. The first book he assigned to the group was Simin Rich’s Spoiled Brats, a collection of short stories centered around, you guessed it, spoiled brats. Overall the book had some clever stories, the ones that were obviously not inspired by his own life being the best, plus it was a quick read. I don’t think this book lives up to the hype (or the Patton Oswald penned NY Times review) but if you like reading about millennial problems, this might be for you.

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineBuy it here
I’ve had many people tell me that I would enjoy Ready Player One, funny enough it also happened to be the Bük Kloob pick for this month, so I finished this while on my trip to Paris. The story is of Wade Wilson, a boy who escapes his not so great life through the OASIS, a virtual reality world with unlimited potential. When the creator of the OASIS passes away he leaves his fortunes to the person who can find The Egg, kicking off the most intense scavenger hunt ever.

The book was quite fun, though unfortunately it was trying to be a lot of things at once. I boiled it down to Harry Potter with about a million 80’s references, which the OASIS creator was obsessed with. Some of the challenges Wade faced had me on the edge of my seat, but the book fails a bit when it comes to dialogue, sounding like your dad trying to write cool kid lingo.

The Manual – Issue 4 – Buy it here
There are very few publications dedicated to the design of the web. Specifically stories about experiences that we in this profession can relate to, not canned tutorials about Photoshop or “16 Shocking Secrets You Never Knew About InDesign. No, The Manual aims to bring discourse and conversations to the field, something that’s sorely lacking.

My favorite piece is by David Cole titled Made to Measure, which speaks about the role of data in design. Focus to closely on the data and it could have adverse effects on say, your brand integrity, though avoiding the entirely means you’re living in a cave. I did have issue though with the first story by Craig Mod though which felt like and entitled bit of fluff. If only we all had the resources to “give ourselves permission” to walk through lush, moss-covered forest cemeteries and then take a trip to Africa. It’s also worth noting that there are some great illustrations in the book by some of my faves like Jen Mussari, Richard Perez, and Philipp Dornbierer.

When you eat Parisian, you hear American

Croissants at Loustic

This was a random detail I noticed as we ate and drank our way around Paris. I would estimate that nearly 95% of the places we stopped in were playing American oldies. There was Neil Young at Palais de Tokyo, Don McLean at Le Mary Celeste, or Stevie Wonder at Andy Wahloo. I (stereotypically) expected to hear French classics, like the Serge Gainsbourg or Jane Birkin, but it was *mostly* American hits from the the 60’s to the 80’s, maybe the 90’s. I suppose I didn’t realize the amount of influence American music had on French culture until visiting.

Candamill crafts bags with strong geometry and hard materials

Candamill - Untitled Clutch

Cindy and Cristian Candamil, brother and sister duo behind the label Candamill (read: not Canada Mill) are heading into their sixth season with some impressive work. Born to Colombian parents and raised in Queens, New York, Candamill interprets their aesthetic as “New Mid-Century” with a lens that finds opulence in simplicity.

I never post about woman’s bags but the form of their Untitled clutch (above) caught my eye with it’s striking design. I enjoy the duality of the bag, a soft, Cathedral Blue Italian leather that’s guarded by a brutalist, hand-crafted brass frame. This clutch quite literally stands on it’s own.

Zaha Hadid designs a museum fit for a Bond villain

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
©San Vigilio – Associazione Turistica

What better way to celebrate the life and achievements of a mountain climber than to build a museum into a mountain? That was the approach Zaha Hadid Architects took for the recently completed MMM Corones, an institution in the Italian alps dedicated to climber Reinhold Messner. For me it feels like a hidden lair of an evil genius, or perhaps the buried wreckage of an alien spacecraft? That’s exactly why I enjoy this building so much as it’s form is traditionally unexpected (although not necessarily surprising that it came from Hadid). It’ll be even more beautiful once the vegetation covers more of it, further blending it into the landscape.

Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
© MMM Corones
Zaha Hadid Architects - MMM Corones
© Wisthaler

Andy Wahloo crafts spirits into masterpieces

The neon sign at Andy Wahloo

If I had to recommned one bar to haunt in Paris, and this is a serious decision for me, I would choose Andy Wahloo. A kitschy, hole-in-the-wall kind of place, it’s lit with neon, adorned with a leopard print carpet and boasts an impressive selection of Japanese whisky. The bar was recommended to me by my source of truth, Hamish Robertson, who’s tastes align with my own so very perfectly.

Kyle and I visited AW on a Friday night and it was relatively chill, we assumed the locals had already left on holiday, so we bellied up to the bar and chatted up the bartenders. Kyle started out with a French 75 and I a Manhattan. As we drank we asked the younger bartender what the specialty of the house was, to which the immediate response was, “the Old Fashioned, but I’m not allowed to make it, only Kaled,” pointing to the other, more seasoned bartender. Obviously I needed to experience this for myself. The seasoned bartender was named Kaled and he spent the next 15 minutes (time escaped me) making the most exquisite Old Fashioned for me, and me alone.

He set out a glass, filled it with ice, then covered it with a napkin. Gently, he placed three sugar cubes onto the napkin and then dashed bitters and some other concoction over the top, letting it slowly filter into the glass. Repeatedly he filled the glass with ice, then a bit of Bulleit Bourbon, then removed the ice just as it started to melt, then add more cubes and more bourbon. I marvelled in a drunken stupor at his process, the artistry and the experience that was being poured into the glass bit by bit. His eyes never left his work, and he barely spoke a word as he worked. I felt like this process couldn’t be more magical until he needed proper ice for the drink. Out the bar manager came with infant sized chunks of ice, clear as glass, which he carved by hand. From a cabinet behind him came an old Japanese knife with which he sliced and sheared till it was a perfect sphere that sat cozily in it’s bath of bourbon. As if that wasn’t enough he topped it with a peel of orange rind (of course) but also a custom made chocolate spoon which was spray painted with gold. It’s purpose was to hold the cherry, that way the customer wouldn’t stick their hands in their drink to eat it.

The Old Fashioned at Andy Wahloo

Kaled handed this holy grail over to me and I was nervous to drink it. I asked, “How do you recommend drinking this?” to which he responded, “Well, it’s your drink, whatever you want.” Humility at it’s finest. I placed it to my lips and felt as if I was supping a work of art. In my mind I compared what he had done to the artisans I met in Waterford, Ireland, the master glass blowers who transformed molten hunks of glass into fragile wonders. Clearly he was a master of this drink and it was a sight to behold. I think my honest (and probably over-enthusiastic) admiration was evident though. As we paid our l’addition Kaled asked the junior bartender to set up a line of shots, and myself, Kyle, and Kaled drank together.

Aventure: My thoughts and understanding of Paris

The view from our window in Paris

For the last week and a half or so I’ve been traveling around Paris with Kyle, soaking in the sights, eating and drinking all the city has to offer. It’s been a thrilling adventure and I feel like we explored a great deal of the city in a short amount of time, overall walking/biking in excess of 80 miles. During that time I also wrote quite a bit, mostly about our experiences in the city as well as recommendations for anyone interested in visiting this dazzling city.

In all honesty I’m still reeling from the experience, even while perched in a dingy, ill-lit airport lounge where I’m writing this, waiting for my connecting flight to Los Angeles. I miss the culture, I miss the tall, old buildings, I miss the people who bustle up and down the street on bikes or who quietly whisper on outdoor patios, cigarettes in hand. I miss the colors, I miss the sky staying bright so late, I miss awkwardly ordering in French. Suddenly confronted with the banal, middle American “normalcy” of this airport feels like a punch to the gut. I understand this makes me a sensitive, privileged individual, but it’s who I am. I crave the new, the beautiful, the challenges of the unknown and questioning why, why, why?

Hopefully over the next few days my stories will inspire the same feelings in you.

Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 Collection makes fashion into art… literally

Fashion is art: Viktor & Rolf Fall 2015 Collection

There’s a division between art, and well, every other creative field. Is design art? Is cooking an art? Is fashion art? Viktor & Rolf tackled this conundrum with their Fall 2015 Couture Collection by creating what appeared to be works of art hanging on a wall that transformed into wearable pieces of fashion. I love this conceptually because it’s so ridiculous, something that few designers would try and tackle.

Nigel Evan Dennis’ digital organisms

Nigel Evan Dennis

I have a problem with buying art. My problem is, I don’t have enough room on my walls anymore. That’s why coming across the fine art pieces of Nigel Evan Dennis was additionally problematic. His work, a sort of juxtaposition between organic shapes in a digital landscape, is immensely beautiful and captivating. The lovely gradients and the particles floating above them are like a petri dish on an acid trip, and I want them all. He has 12 prints currently available for $100 each, go check them out.

Nigel Evan Dennis