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Lori Nix, Flood, 1998 (detail)

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Architecture and Design
February 22 - March 7, 2006

Architects and designers excel at transforming utilitarian objects into works of art. With the explosive growth of the blogosphere, many designers are now working their magic in the weblog format, creating sleek sites with lush images, thoughtful commentary, and inventive projects. In this issue, after much online scouring, we present you with the best of the architecture and design blogs. In addition, we cover the recent creations of emerging British architect David Adjaye and interview the Brooklyn-based furniture designers 54Dean. We also review a book of recent architecture in China — currently a fertile playground for architects of all nationalities — and recommend exhibitions of work by a modern-day Manet, a spiritual Spaniard, and a snow fetishist.

  Leave traffic behind and spend Fridays Off the 405 — the monthly after-work event series that mixes art and entertainment at the Getty Center. On March 3rd, get to know Dreadstarr, the band that's making waves with its eclectic fusion of reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, and rock. Admission is FREE. Parking $7 per car. Cash bar from 6-9pm.

Computer Paints Pollocks as Fakes
(Reuters, February 9)
Six of the thirty-two paintings found last year in East Hampton, New York, have undergone computer analysis to help determine whether they are the work of the legendary abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Richard Taylor, professor of physics at University of Oregon, tested the paintings at the behest of the artist's estate and found "significant differences" between the paintings and earlier examples of Pollock's art.

Tolerance Museum Sparks Controversy
(Chicago Tribune, February 12)
The site of the proposed Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance has raised protests from Palestinian Muslims, who object to the $150 million, Frank Gehry-designed building's construction on a former Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem. The celebrated architect, meanwhile, was in Las Vegas, unveiling plans for a new medical center, before skating over to Toronto, where he defended his hockey-themed proposal for the Art Gallery of Ontario's expansion.

Christie's Contemporary Sale Sets Records
(, February 9)
The February 8th auction at Christie's London brought in $64.5 million, a record for the house's contemporary art department. Buoyed by several first-tier School of London paintings — including offerings by Francis Bacon, whose Study from Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velazquez sold for $9 million, and Lucian Freud's Man in a String Chair, which sold for $7.2 million — the auction set high sale marks for eight artists and continued the current boom.

Shoah Suit Questions Lauder's Collection
(Forward, February 10)
Relatives of a Viennese art collector who died in a Nazi concentration camp have subpoenaed Manhattan's Neue Galerie in a restitution case designed to reclaim two Egon Schiele paintings from the museum. The suit puts art-world titan Ronald Lauder — chairman emeritus of the Museum of Modern Art and founder of the Neue Galerie (which displays his personal collection), as well as a former treasurer of the World Jewish Congress who founded the Commission for Art Recovery — under intense scrutiny.

Nasher Museum appoints first contemporary curator » more

"Saddam shark" gets Belgian ban » more

Contemporary Chinese art market surges
» more

Whitney Biennial embraces indie rocker as outsider artist » more

Gallery vandalized for displaying nude "Mother India" painting » more

Ralph Rugoff named new director of London's Hayward Gallery » more

New Wembley lauded by Lord Foster » more

Rare Steichen sets record sale for photography » more

LA dealers challenge Armory Show » more

Cartoon bunny Miffy celebrates 50th » more

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ Architecture and Design Blogs ]


Varnelis / Joris Laarman / Dan Hill / Wallraf and Kaeser

Architects and designers are notorious for their eccentrically stylish accessories — from eyeglasses to briefcases to toilets — and their blogs are no exception. Sleek, minimal, and intelligent, these architecture and design blogs are the new source for up-to-the-minute commentary on emerging talent, broad trends, and nifty new products.

Reference sites such as Archinect offer one-stop shopping for news, reviews, job postings, and discussion groups, while personal architecture blogs provide more specialized information. They range from the dead serious to the impudent. In the former category is Progressive Reactionary, which melds political and architectural criticism, and Kazys Varnelis' site, which probes the intersection of architecture and network society. BLDGBLOG also offers lengthy analysis of trends in architecture, as well as reviews of art and film. At the other extreme, Archibot runs a "Hot or Not" contest for buildings, allowing you to rate canonical and amateur designs just like you rate desperate college kids.

These cyber critics are global travelers, and their efforts connect the architectural communities of the East and West. Brett Steele, the director of the famously experimental Architectural Association School in London, posts his curriculum and photos of student work on the site Resarch. Chicago architect John Hill runs Archidose, a series of sardonic postings on international architecture and Midwestern oddities, and Eizo Okada uploads photos of buildings all over the world onto his Japanese site, The site fabprefab follows the rise of affordable, modernist prefab houses around the world, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation documents the shifting contemporary landscape.

Product-design aficionados are buying up web real estate even faster than their architectural counterparts, generating hundreds of blogs devoted to furniture, interiors, lighting, and gizmos. These sites are dangerous territory for anyone who covets over-designed coffee tables and throw pillows. Designboom and Design Addict offer extensive news, images, interviews, and links, while personal blogs unearth the quirkier inventions (a PC computer in a whiskey bottle?). MoCo Loco, Reluct, and Sensory Impact all select the most alluring products and offer commentary on global design trends. Core 77 finds more bizarre objects, and idgrid highlights the best of industrial design. Perhaps the most useful sites are design*sponge and Apartment Therapy, which showcase affordable home products and solutions for tiny apartments.

And for those of us who just can't shake our loyalties to certain print publications, Domus, Frame, Icon, and Dwell have lively websites with online forums and full-text articles from back issues. (BR)

Architecture and Design Links »

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Katy Grannan
San Francisco

Fraenkel Gallery
Now through February 29

  In Le déjeuner sur l'herbe Victorine Meurent (Edouard Manet's favorite model) turns to look directly at the viewer. Posed nude beside two fully clothed men, it's not her nakedness that's startling so much as her gaze. Nearly 200 years later, Katy Grannan's large-format color portraits of strangers can be seen in a similar post-Romantic, Impressionist light. Her contemporary pastorals, such as works in the Mystic Lake and Sugar Camp Road series, isolate figures in a suburban version of "nature," while the backgrounds of her interiors, the Dream America and Morning Call series, are made up of artificial representations of the natural. In all of her photographs, the subject stares back at the viewer, who is arrested by an uncompromising gaze. (KK)

Yutaka Sone: Forecast: Snow

The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago
Now through April 9

  Given the unseasonably warm winter in Chicago, the most snow the city has seen this year is at the Renaissance Society's Yutaka Sone exhibition. The LA-based, Japanese-born Sone's obsession with the spectacular qualities of the white stuff manifests itself in a multimedia winter wonderland. He nestles marble sculptures of ski lifts and snowflakes, a plastic snowman and wooden skis, and various winter landscape paintings within a room-sized forest made of winding Styrofoam embankments, fake snow, and more than 100 live pine trees. No surface goes untouched: even the gallery's vaulted ceiling is dotted with snowflake drawings. Sone's delightful mise-en-scène will defrost even the iciest heart. (AF)

In-Depth: The House of Spiritual Retreat by Emilio Ambasz
New York

Museum of Modern Art
Now through March 6

  Depicted in two models, several drawings, and a series of sepia and full-color photographs, Emilio Ambasz's Casa de Retiro Espiritual spreads its orthogonal wings, poised to soar above the surrounding Andalusian landscape. Designed in 1979 and completed in 2004, the house combines the stark formalism of Villa Savoye with the Alhambra's ornamental refulgence. Two steep sets of stairs form an imposing pyramid against the sides of a right-angled altar. They lead to a Moorish-style balcony covered with mashrabiya woodwork, while arabesque and circular skylights carved from the green earth illuminate subterranean living quarters from above. In a short accompanying film, Michele Alassio's aerial camera traces the sacred and mundane contours of this extraordinary residence. (JK)

Charlotte Perriand

Centre Pompidou
Now through March 27

  This posthumous retrospective of the French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand emphasizes her impact as a theorist and visionary. Working alongside Le Corbusier at his Paris atelier — most notably on the metal LC4 chaise longue still in production by Cassini — she pioneered the use of new furniture materials and techniques being developed by the automobile and aeronautical industries, forging her modernist ideas of metalwork at a time when the vogue was still for wood. Her written plans and theories are on display, as well as architectural models and renderings. The furniture itself, such as her jagged Ventaglio table, remains cutting edge and contemporary — a sure sign of great innovation. (SR)

Damian Loeb: New Paintings

Jablonka Galerie
Now through March 18

  Exploring the dark side of the collective unconscious while embracing the slick veneer of popular imagery, Damian Loeb's photo-realist paintings project a flatness that belies their murky narratives. Based upon preexisting images from film, news media, and other artworks, these lush tableaux undermine the familiar, reinterpreting comfortable scenarios through a sexy, sinister lens. Whereas earlier works referenced science fiction and horror films, or stirred controversy over appropriation, new paintings such as Darling and On the Beach cast a voyeuristic eye over quotidian scenes whose elements of danger recall David Lynch's noir-inflected cinema. Loeb's aesthetic rigor creates seductive surfaces that compel his viewers to examine the images that saturate daily life. (AK)

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[ David Adjaye ]


Shining brightly among the galaxy of star alums of London's Royal College of Art, David Adjaye is making his presence felt as one of Britain's most prolific and exciting young architects. Adjaye rose to prominence by way of hip townhouse commissions for such high-profile clients as photographer Juergen Teller, actor Ewan McGregor, and artist Chris Ofili, his close friend. His domestic artistry is celebrated alongside a selection of his public commissions in his first major show, at Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Adjaye started his own practice in 1994, and in 2000 he formed Adjaye/Associates, which has since won prestigious competitions and commissions around the globe. In 2002 he was awarded the commission to design the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo; in 2005 he collaborated with Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson to create a luminescent pavilion for the Venice Biennale. Closer to home, at opposing ends of London's sprawl, the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford and the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham function successfully as commemorative monuments and educational establishments, marrying distinctiveness of function with intelligibility of design.

Adjaye's artistic vision, which takes into account the ethics and politics of patterning public spaces, has received tremendous critical praise. Beating a slew of more established studios to create the new Idea Stores in London's East End, Adjaye continues to play a vital role in the development and design of Britain's public domain. And with a cluster of recent commissions in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, this young designer is sure to continue to dazzle. (HV)

David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings is on view at Whitechapel in London through March 26.

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[ 54Dean ]



Paul Laster interviews Paul Galli and Todd Seidman, designers and founders of the Brooklyn-based product design firm 54Dean.

AK: How did you get involved in product design?

PG: Todd worked in New York for 12 years as a set designer for film and television while designing and making furniture for himself on the side. I was a digital designer for eight years, but found myself less and less engaged by its impermanence. In terms of more physical design, I initially developed an interest in landscape architecture; but after spending a short time studying it, I realized that my real interest was in producing design that was more discrete. From there I apprenticed as a furniture maker and then went back for a master's degree in industrial design at Pratt.

AK: What was your first big break?

TS: We were just completing our degrees and preparing to pursue independent careers in furniture design when we recognized that our design aesthetics and our skill sets worked well together, so we formed 54Dean. The 2004 Brooklyn Designs show was forthcoming, and we decided to use it as an impetus to get the company off the ground. Knowing that we would have to present our physical work to the public in a few months really set us to work. Our products were very well received at the show, garnering a great deal of press and a number of clients.

AK: The Georgie table references the famous Nelson Platform Bench that George Nelson designed in 1946 for Herman Miller whereas other pieces, such as the Watershed Outdoor Furniture Set, have the look of Scandinavian modernist furniture. How would you describe your design style?

TS: This is the question that all designers dread, because style is a potion of so many combined ingredients, some of which are always a bit of a mystery. When pushed, I say that our work is modern, with some Danish influence but maybe a bit more warmth. We aim for the intersection of industrial production and fine craft. That's where we depart from the Scandinavian modernist tradition. We really do believe that industrial production techniques grant us a much greater and more nuanced design vocabulary than traditional craft techniques alone.

AK: Who has been the greatest influence on your design aesthetic?

keep reading the interview »

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  New Architecture in China
Bernard Chan

Chinese contemporary art has been making a big splash in the West for the past decade, but the wave of contemporary architecture rolling over China is just now becoming internationally visible. Presenting more than 100 buildings recently completed or currently under construction, this beautifully illustrated and well-written anthology reads like a who's who of today's architects. Originality abounds, from Foster and Partners' dynamic Beijing Airport and Herzog & de Meuron's "bird's nest" design for the 2008 Olympic stadium to Gary Chang's remarkable Suitcase House, one of a series of structures designed by young Asian architects for Commune by the Great Wall. With international firms such as Paul Andreu Architecte, RTKL International, and Arquitectonica building multiple projects throughout the country, China is quickly becoming the ultimate destination for innovative architecture. (PL)

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Cover Art
Lori Nix
Flood, 1998
Dimensions variable
Courtesy Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York and San Francisco
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Leigh Goldstein
Sarah Kessler
Jessica Kraft
Katie Kurtz
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Jules Gaffney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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