On Easter day in 1988, Keith Haring painted an 8′ X 16′ mural on the White House lawn, and then donated it to the Children’s Hospital, National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. It’s a beautiful piece, I love the colors and shapes, and of course, that cool dog in the middle. He wasn’t even 30 years old when he did this.
The officially unofficial tagline of the site for the last ten years has been, “Eat. Drink. Design.” These are the elements that I’ve focused on to ensure a happy and healthy life. (Well, happy at the very least.) I enjoy the phrase because of it’s simplicity yet each word has a nearly endless depth of meaning. And, for me, these ideas are intertwined.
For example: I’ve had nights where a few glasses of whiskey late at night brought an epiphany on a branding project, which I imagine to be fueled by intoxication. Or, I’ve spent a night figuring out the right blends of alcohol, mixers, ice, etc. to create a fantastic cocktail, finding the right balance, designing a drink. These three functions are me at my simplest: designing what we consumed and consuming what is designed.
Often the “Eat” and “Design” are more abstractly related. How do they come together and what does designed eating manifest?
That’s what Atsushi Tanaka is doing with his menu at Restaurant A.T in Paris. Kyle surprised me with a visit, treating us to a 12 course tasting menu that blew my mind thanks to the chef’s ability to create visually stunning dishes with flavors that were unlike any I’d ever tasted before.
Here’s a breakdown of the dishes and the way I view food and design coming together.
Leek / Brown Butter
Image at top of post.
This was an optically stunning way to start the meal. Visually my mind reads this as “purple, flowers, pink dust, bite-size form factor… this must be something sweet.” To start, Chef Tanaka visually tricks your brain because this is a leek filled with oniony flavor made richer by a drizzle of brown butter sauce on top.
One other brilliant thing the restaurant does is hand out—or not hand out—cutlery for each course so you know exactly how you need to eat each dish. This dish came with nothing, implying that you grab it with your fingers and pop it in your mouth. Such a fun dish.
Love this dish because of the simplicity, both in presentation and flavor. The white asparagus was dotted with an oyster sauce… and it could have been left that way. Instead you’re being presented an image of spring freshness thanks to the inclusion of the tiny yellow flower petals. The wax paper is also interesting because it adds some texture to the dish overall but probably also works functionally by keeping the asparagus in place as it’s carried to the table.
Well, sadly, this dish doesn’t win any visual awards, but where it did earn marks was with the way it smelled. The beets were served two ways: Pureed into a logo shape on a disc (top right corner of photo) which was a bit clumsy, and then roasted and smoked on a bed of juniper leaves. When the dishes were brought out the room began smelling of smokey juniper, making everyone’s heads lift in unison, sniffing at the air and trying to discern what was headed their direction.
Ceviche of Squid / Yuzu
This is what all dishes called “ceviche of squid” should look like: a spring inspired palette, fresh herbs, the yuzu coloring the broth a pale gold. It honestly reminded me of an Easter basket, which may have also been informed by the size of the vessel it was served in. It was just the right size to fit into the palm of your hand.
Pieurotes / Poultry / Spider Crab
I’m a sucker for mushrooms which is what a pieurote is. This soup instantly made my mouth water. This easily could have been a brown broth with brown and tan mushrooms and it wouldn’t have been visually appealing. Chef Tanaka perked it up a bit with some greens and a smart choice of a blue bowl.
From a taste perspective this was one of my favorites because the broth was made from a mix of chicken and crab which made for an intensely powerful flavor.
Camouflage: Arctic Char / Juniper / Parsley
Camouflage, from what Kyle told me, is something of the chef’s signature dish. The shards of green dusted with white are meant to conceal the dishes secret: there’s a delicious bed of arctic char hiding underneath waiting to be uncovered. I didn’t do a great job capturing the height of the camouflage but I thought it was so fun exploring this dish, uncovering more and more depth.
Beef / Jerusalem Artichoke / Hay
I don’t think I had equated beef tartare with love until I had this dish. When I saw this dish a lot of stereotypical imagery popped into my head, “red means love, leaves look like hearts, the white artichoke slivers look like meringue cupcake decorations.” Visually it read to me like a dish you would serve someone on Valentine’s Day, which in my brain is very sweet and heart-warming. There’s also a lot of warm reds, golds, and purples coming together to form a warm hued palette.
From a flavor perspective this was bonkers because the beef tartare was smoked with the hay. I now want all of my foods to be smoked, thanks.
Scallop / Celeriac / Dill
The chef has now taken us from Camouflage—which had a super green palette—to the tartare—which was warmer hued—and now to the scallop dish, which has a very light, creamy tone to it. If you go back to the first image and scroll back through, you’ll see that each dish is visually differentiated from the ones before and after it, which makes each feel like it’s own unique experience. Chef Tanaka is designing a visual story that your brain is tracking with each dish, and because the dishes come every 10 to 15 minutes or so, they each need to feel like they have their own identity.
As for this dish, scallops are the best so this was amazing.
Turbot / Spring Onion / Cockles
With the turbot dish (Turbot is the fish.) he’s now melded both the green and cream colored palettes which is nice to see. The fish is lightly dusted with the green which acts as a bridge between the colors, unifying the color story of the dish. I also think the darker toned but neutrally colored plate was a smart choice, it allows the turbot to really pop off the plate. It’s also funny to see the green dusting on the leaves which makes their greenness even more green.
Lamb from Quercy / Oca / Black Garlic
I didn’t feel like the presentation of this plate really hit the mark. Everything feels too brown, there isn’t enough contrast on the plate, and it’s a bit disjointed in the placement of objects. Maybe if the plate had been a light blue or even a pinkish hue it would have read better? And maybe if the food and been centered more tightly on the plate it would have read as a better union?
That said, my lamb was cooked to perfection: I couldn’t have asked for a better cut. It was especially nice mixing it in with the black garlic that dotted the plate. What was also nice was the slivers of ginger that sat on top of the oca halves which gave it a bit of tartness.
Hinoki / Pepper of Jamaique / Blackberry
I posted an image of this on my socials as a preview to this post because this dessert was so out there. I mean: it’s a grey, monochromatic dish! Yet I’m so captivated by it and honestly surprised that I wanted to eat it. If I told you “I had the most amazing grey stuff for dessert.” you’d think I was crazy. But, when you see it, you get sucked into its intrigue and mystery. My first impression is that it looked like the chef had scooped up a bit of the moon and placed it on my plate.
I also have to mention that the flavor of the ice cream was of hinoki wood and pepper. It was insane. Mixed together with the blackberry it was a truly phenomenal flavor profile.
Sorrel / Lovbage / Avocado
Which takes us to our final dish, a dessert that smelled as green as it looked. Literally you could smell an earthy green enter the room as the dishes arrived. I like that Chef Tanaka ended with this for two reasons. First, it was the antithesis of the last dish. If the last dish was a scoop of the moon, this was a scoop of green, grassy earth. It helped finish his story with a breath of life. Second, it acted as a perfect palette cleanser. My mouth literally tasted like the idea of “fresh.”
I hope this helped illustrate how I see the relationship between food and design. Anything can be designed and the way food looks—the size and ergonomics of food, the plates you serve food on, the colored demarcations of what is and isn’t edible—is all a part of the way you experience food. All of those elements should be considered to make eating a truly enjoyable user experience. That’s exactly what Restaurant A.T did.
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!