New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman takes the design and concept of the new World Trade Center building to task, disappointed by the lack of vision for such an important New York building/monument.
Instead, the building, built as if on a dare to be the tallest, required unprecedented fortifications at astronomical costs, on an immensely difficult site. Mr. Childs faced a nearly impossible task: devising a tower at once somber and soaring, open and unassailable, dignified but not dull. He envisioned an elaborate antenna and a tapered base. Both ideas were vetoed, among much else. The building didn’t end up exactly as the architect pictured it. Few buildings do. I’m not sure that the differences are what tipped the scale.
Uninspired and more like a bank vault than a space for culture to thrive. As Kimmelman rightly points out, this “idea was brushed aside by the political ambitions of former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, a Republican, and the commercial interests of Larry Silverstein, the developer with a controlling stake at the site, among other forces pressing for a mid-20th-century complex of glass towers surrounding a plaza.” Missed opportunity.
Designing for a government, such a massive, headless beast, seems like the ultimate challenge. I’d imagine the bureaucracy to make true change would be incredibly difficult, though there’s one country that’s pushing the boundaries of design where few other countries have ventured forth. I’m speaking of Norway, the northeast of northern nations who is bucking the trend of boring design.
In the last month Norway has updated the designs of both their passports and their currency, getting the sort of loving redesign that we all wish we could give to our place of origin. For their new banknotes they’ve chosen to create a unique blend of styles, with the design firm The Metric System offering a more traditional front (below), and a pixelated back created by Snøhetta (above), who are most well known for their architecture and interior design projects.
The first of the new notes will be issued in 2017 at the earliest. I’m looking forward to seeing how the general public responds to the designs, and if it’s positive, that we see a ripple effect happen across many other currencies.
If that wasn’t enough they’ve also decided to give their passports a facelift. There are three unique colors for each of the passport types: a pink-ish tomato for citizens, a beautiful jewel tone teal for diplomats, and a crisp, clean white for immigrants. While the covers may be minimal the inside pages feature an illustration of the Norwegian landscape. What’s more, when you hold the pages under a black light the scenery lights up with a representation of the Northern Lights.
London based design agency One Darnley Road have made bar soap sexy, which in my mind is quite a challenge. Thinking of bar soaps I’m reminded of craft fairs, or worse, the sickly green lumps of Irish Spring soap, which to me look more like industrial cleaning products. With their project for the London Fields Soap Company they’ve wrapped the bars in beautiful geometric patterns that melts away any ideas of “bad craft”, bringing a truly contemporary vibe to the natural looking bars. The inspiration for these patterns comes from the location of their factory in Hackney, London, where there’s a history of fabric making and weaving.
The East End of London has a long tradition of textile design and manufacturing, including Warner & Sons, who were working in the fabric trade in Spitalfields since the early eighteenth-century, and who had a reputation for excellent weaving work of both traditional and modern patterns – through to the twentieth century. We drew on the visual grammar of craft as a way to define this new brand.
You can see more by visiting One Darnley Roads website.
An artist like Damien Hirst will always be polarizing simply because of the work or “work” he produces. For me it’s been a while since he’s made something really great though his newest project, the Black Scalpel Cityscapes, are certainly eye-catching with quite a bit of poignancy.
The Black Scalpel Cityscapes make reference to the military procedure of ‘surgical bombing’ or ‘surgical strikes’, commonly used in modern warfare, which aims to limit collateral damage by targeting precise areas for destruction. The suggestion of a remote, digital conflict inevitably reduces the tragic and devastating realities of war. In a similarly misleading manner, the perspective of an aerial map minimises the life beneath it to a series of detached systems and patterns of collective existence.
It’s a beautifully crafted way of speaking about numerous topics that all have quite a lot of baggage. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any of his work that’s actually had this sort of depth. The question I’ve been asking myself is this: If another artist had done this, would the world care as much?
You can read and see more at the White Cube gallery site.
Art at a large perspective never fails to impress me. Much of my own work is done tweaking the pixels on a subtle UI or for a mobile app, which is such a tiny world when compared to art pieces. Last week I came across this time-lapse video of illustrator Machiko Ono painting a large scale portrait of a young woman. It’s fascinating watching the piece come together with such precision especially when the piece is larger than she is. I could watch this all day.
Every now and then I have some amazing opportunities offered to me and my upcoming week is no exception. Thanks to the fine folks of Jameson whiskey I’m wandering about Ireland for the next few days spending time meeting local artisans, trying my hands at leather crafting and glass blowing, and of course drinking fine whiskey. I’ll be sharing a few posts about the experience on here though my Instagram will probably be updated the most.
I’ll also be spending a few days in London this weekend so I’m thinking it could be great to do a TFIB Bar Meet-Up somewhere in the city. More information to come!
Mount Gay, the world’s oldest existing rum house from the island of Barbados, has created four video portraits of Original Spirits who share Mount Gay’s values of heritage, craftsmanship and hands-on artistry — demonstrating that they still have a place in our lives. They include Pete Raho, owner of Gowanus Furniture Co; Brock Willsey, owner of fashion boutique Vividbraille; photographer Ernesto Roman; and James Tucker, Co-founder of the celebrated letterpress studio – The Aesthetic Union.
As co-founder of the celebrated letterpress studio, The Aesthetic Union, James Tucker utilizes a number of mechanical presses, including a 1910 Chandler & Price, and a 1984 Heidelberg Windmill. Tucker’s interest in machinery began while working on his grandfather’s Christmas tree farm. “He showed me how if you take care of these things they will work, they will work better than the new things” says Tucker. “We cut down all our Christmas trees by hand; we wrapped them up for people. It’s that hand that’s in things. It’s even more important now than it was when I was a kid. The more we get away from it, the more we want it as people. I think that’s so important with old things; that everything is done by hand.”
The key values of Tucker’s practice include the preservation of time-honored techniques, an understanding of materials, and the production of hand crafted products. “With Mount Gay, I really like how their every barrel is mixed by hand, how the wood is selected, how they’re in the same location since 1703. They seem to be preservers of some kind of old way like I am, I really respect that.”
To watch all four videos featuring these “Original Spirts”, visit theoriginalspirits.com.
Almost 20% of the total area of the Netherlands is water, with many parts of the county reclaimed from the sea through an extensive system of dykes that date back as far as medieval times. For this reason, the Dutch have always had a fairly special relationship with water. You can see this in so many aspects of what they do, from amazing bridges to beautiful public ponds, their unique appreciation for lakes, rivers and the sea has always lead to interesting work.
I recently came across this wonderful recreational island home by 2by4 Architects and quickly feel for its simplistic charms. Completed in 2011, the home offers an ideal rural getaway that boasts large glass walls and a slide-away wall that opens up directly onto the water. It looks like the perfect place for an outdoor retreat.
Found on a man-made island on the Dutch lake of Loosdrechtse Plas, the home is designed to be completely customized depending on the owners needs. On warm days the northern facade opens towards the water, turning the wooden floor of the living room into a jetty. On winter days the home looks just as good, offering a freestanding fire to snuggle up to as you look out over the countryside.
While only 100 meters in size, the home still looks quite spacious and comfortable with a shower, toilet, kitchen, closets, storage and other functions are all integrated into a double wall. It all looks perfect!
Hat tip to Dwell for the discovery. You can see more images of the home on 2by4 Architects’ website.