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Piero Lissoni, Ocean Villa Exterior, Dellis Cay (detail), n.d.

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Contemporary Design
May 14-27, 2008

For a growing number of consumers, innovative and conscientious choices in materials and methods of production are as important as the final forms — even when it comes to picking out where to plant their behinds. Such elevated awareness is becoming ubiquitous in the world of design and continues to refine itself at events such as the International Contemporary Furniture Fair — the starting point for this issue of Artkrush. Looking at the ICFF, we discuss ecologically oriented companies including the Vancouver-based molo and Philadelphia's Iannone, as well as ready-made objects available at the fair's designboom mart. Outside of New York, we examine the comeback of UK design, taking young studio Viable London as a shining example, and Artkrush editor Paul Laster sits down with Piero Lissoni to discuss the Italian architect and industrial designer's design practice and project in the Bahamas. For our media pick, we recommend a Phaidon Press monograph on artist-cum-designer Jorge Pardo, and finally, in the galleries, we travel to Beijing for Huang Yong Ping's controversial large-scale installations and consider Berlin-based artist Thomas Zipp's recent oil paintings of moody nudes and arboreal abstractions.

Whitney Unveils Downtown Satellite
(New York Times, May 1)
The long wait is over — the Whitney Museum of American Art has finally released the plans for its Renzo Piano-designed downtown expansion. To be situated in New York City's Meatpacking District, the structure calls for a faceted surface that may be chiseled from stone or covered in steel plates; it will abut the High Line public garden. The Whitney has not yet decided what the new building's relationship will be to the museum's original Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. The New York Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff said that Piano's design showed "experimental courage," but still has unresolved issues. A related story accuses Ouroussoff of overstepping his bounds as a critic.

Sherman Rejects Ex-Boyfriend's Film
(New York, April 28)
When Paul Hasegawa-Overacker's Guest of Cindy Sherman debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival recently, the titular subject was nowhere to be found. The film details a series of interviews between the director and photographer Sherman that led to their romantic relationship, but the film's completion, apparently, caused the couple to split. Variety called the documentary "a work of art," while Hasegawa-Overacker likened standing in Sherman's shadow to being "a wife that no one pays attention to."

Chinese Artists Annoyed by Sale
(New York Times, May 7)
A group of Chinese artists and curators is crying foul play over a recent auction of Chinese contemporary art in Hong Kong. Featuring 200 works by many of the country's best-known artists, the first half of the Estella Collection initially sold for $18 million. Many of the artists involved were under the impression that a wealthy Western collector had made the purchase with the intention of starting a permanent collection. In fact, a group of investors sold the work to Manhattan art dealer William Acquavella, who is now reselling the collection through Sotheby's. The auction house released a statement saying that it hoped that the artists would be mollified by "the international exposure during this exciting time in the market" that should "be helpful in furthering their careers."

Banksy Goes Underground, Wins Praise
(Times, May 2)
Notorious graffiti artist Banksy recently gathered 40 of his street-art peers to transform a London railway tunnel into an exhibition space. Cheekily dubbed the Cans Festival, the tunnel project came together quickly and has drawn artists from all over the world, including Argentina's Frederico, the Netherlands' Hugo Kaagman, and Norway's Dolk. Banksy himself contributed several pieces to the show, including a painting of a hooded man with a self-inflicted knife wound, a depiction of the Buddha wearing a neck brace, and a sculpture of a tree festooned with CCTV cameras. Elsewhere, a Telegraph writer questions the artist's status as "the Michelangelo of the medium."

Qatar rulers go on art-shopping spree more »

Irreplaceable? P.S.1 looks to the future without director Alanna Heiss more »

The fabrication company that makes enormous art more »

Piece in MoMA design show "dies" more »

Art dealer Vito Schnabel embraces his father's generation of artists more »

Prized architectural homes hit the auction market more »

Takashi Murakami makes Time's list of most influential people for 2008 more »

PaceWildenstein to open branch in Beijing more »

Painter and comics artist Gary Panter getting his due more »

Whipping art auctions into a frenzy more »

Creatives pack into East Williamsburg "dorms" more »

Helsinki's Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art facing up to steep visitor drop-off more »

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North the most recognizable landmark in Britain more »

Russian billionaire gives $2 million to fund Ilya Kabakov retrospective more »

New shows from sculptor Tom Sachs feature animals, including Hello Kitty more »

A critical look at LACMA's show of post-Chicano art more »

Rocker Nick Cave taps artist duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster for album art more »

Artist Steve McQueen's Hunger selected to show at Cannes more »

Chelsea's Clementine Gallery to close its doors more »

Looking back at George Lois' Esquire covers more »

Low marks for Cooper Union's new building design more »

Pioneering American pop art master Robert Rauschenberg dies at 82 more »

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

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[ ICFF ]


Lutz Pankow Design / Emeco / Rapsel Spa

Decor fanatics, accent freaks, and pattern lovers convene in New York each spring as designers hailing from Europe, Asia, and North and South America arrive for the city's premier design showcase: the legendary International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Now in its 20th year, the ICFF swells the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan's west side with more than 600 exhibitors from 38 countries.

Every year, in booth after booth, the ICFF debuts the latest innovations from established companies as well as bleeding-edge designs from up-and-coming firms. A blue-chip, late-modernist contingent — Denmark's Carl Hansen & Son, the Midwest's Herman Miller, Milan's plastic-furniture pioneers Kartell, and Swiss manufacturers Vitra — anchors the fair with the type of mass-produced, modular design, emblematic of the postwar era, that remains a touchstone for the fair's younger participants.

Whether their style is minimal and organic or brazen and iconoclastic, green and sustainable products are becoming the norm among emerging firms. Philadelphia's Iannone specializes in eco-friendly furniture with graphic, nature-themed inlays, and leading green-design firm molo returns with new creations from its product line of lightweight, latticed furniture that expands and collapses.

This year, there's a strong showing of architects and designers from El Salvador, including cincopatasalgato, whose minimal pieces are elegant, yet unsettling. Thailand also gets a spot in the limelight, with retro styles from Fineline Industry, classic looks from Deesawat Industries, and Yothaka, which uses water hyacinth, an invasive tropical weed, to make wicker furniture. Closer to home, the fair continues to feature a strong selection of work from Brooklyn-based firms, most notably sleekly futuristic products and furniture from SONIC and minimalist creations by Of Design.

Many of the fair's favorite features are back for 2008. At the designboom mart, souvenirs priced under $100 include rosette-topped umbrellas by Korea's Nothing Design Group, faceted concrete rings by 22 design studio from Taiwan, and mossy, flocked pencils by Thai designer Sirampuch Eamumpai. The closely watched ICFF Studio Bernhardt showcases prototypes from emerging designers looking to connect with manufacturers; the layers of felt on young Swedish/Spanish duo Cate&Nelson;'s Oz chair peel back like the pages of a book, and the Simple Light's ovoid lampshades come from its appropriately dubbed Amoeba line.

In addition to commercial vendors, the ICFF highlights projects from four design institutions, including the California College of the Arts, whose students worked with Wal-Mart and the Bay Area's Bevara Design House to develop sustainable furniture for mass production. The Blank Canvas Project, a collaborative commercial venture launched by Orange22 Design Lab with philanthropic intentions, debuts eco-friendly versions of its Botanist line; the company matches the eight collaborating designers' royalties with gifts to various charities.

Events are by no means limited to the Javits Center — collection launches, lectures, and fundraisers take place throughout the city. Among the notable Dutch design projects around town is ARROJADOA, a collaboration between Moooi and artist/designer Jaime Hayon, at Soho's Diesel Denim Gallery. Nearby, Moss hosts two exhibitions: Pyramids of Makkum, a series of striking porcelain flower pyramids by Hella Jongerius, Studio Job, Jurgen Bey, and Alexander van Slobbe; and Robber Baron, a collection of art deco-inspired, bronze-cast works from Studio Job — a fitting tribute to a moment when half the world goes green while others continue to hoard all the gold.  - H.G. Masters

The ICFF takes place from May 17 through May 20 at the Jacob Javits Center; ARROJADOA is on view at the Diesel Denim Gallery from May 19 to July 7; and Pyramids of Makkum and Robber Baron are on view at Moss from May 18 through June 8.

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  Huang Yong Ping: House of Oracles

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Now through June 8

Huang Yong Ping draws from Daoist philosophy and numerological systems to construct his politically thorny, theatrical installations. Coinciding with the escalating political tensions in China, House of Oracles, which originated at Minnesota's Walker Art Center, features Bat Project IV, a partial recreation of the American spy plane that crash-landed in Chinese territory in 2001. Intended for 2002's Guangzhou Triennial, the original, life-size Bat Project was withdrawn from exhibition due to pressure from authorities. Similarly, in 2007, a glass arena crawling with insects and reptiles, titled Theater of the World, angered animal-rights activists at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Huang's representations of human conflict walk a razor's edge between irony and impropriety, but so far, Beijing residents are enjoying the Paris-based artist's first comprehensive exhibition in his homeland.  - Andrew Maerkle

The Walker Art Center published a catalogue for this traveling show.

  Jason Martin: Oceania
Los Angeles

LA Louver Gallery
Now through May 17

British artist Jason Martin continues to evolve his voluptuous style of abstraction with this new series of darkly sensual, ruminative paintings. With emotional depth and the technical execution of his gestural approach, Martin brandishes a long-handled, heavy-headed brush that applies pigment in deeply scored troughs on aluminum panels. Crisp foundations and flowing folds of color refract ambient light with the textures of monochromatic, but nonetheless dynamic, surface. The artist pushes pure abstraction to the brink of photorealist illusion — his works suggest close-ups of hair or whirling eddies. Sweet, with its steely glint, and the obsidian-hued, roiling seas of Primavera are both dramatic and guileless odes to beauty and pleasure. His influences span from Blake and Turner to Polynesian deep-sea surfing that rises to the luminous surface.  - Shana Nys Dambrot

  Thomas Zipp: Paintings 2002-2007
New York

Marc Jancou Contemporary
Now through May 24

The 17 oil paintings in Berlin-based Thomas Zipp's solo show wryly complicate two familiar genres: landscape painting and the female nude. The archest piece in a series of female portraits, Die Entstehung der Milchstrasse (The Origins of the Milky Way) — named after the famous Tintoretto painting — features perspectival lines that radiate from a woman's nipples, making her breasts the vanishing points for the male gaze. Meanwhile, the trees dominating large landscapes, as in A.B. INSIDE, dissolve into calligraphic arabesques or coiled spirals, and the artist's titles, such as Autrespace, suggest the punning instability of language as well as visual forms. What saves his wit from preciousness, however, is the strength of his painting. Zipp's expressive brushwork and moodily muted palette allow him to make confident and subversive explorations of his chosen subjects.  - Adam Eaker

  Alex Prager: The Big Valley

Michael Hoppen Contemporary
Now through June 8

Dramatic and captivating, LA-based snapper Alex Prager's glossy portraits betray her previous career as a fashion photographer. Her images present women costumed with wigs and retro outfits in either mundane or inexplicable situations. While Desiree lies smoking on a '70s-style, patterned bedspread and Kate ascends from the subway, dazed, a fully clothed Annie shivers waist-deep in the ocean. Part Valley of the Dolls, part Desperate Housewives, the photographer's work is heavily influenced by cinema; the attacking flock of pigeons and '50s dress suit in Eve explicitly reference Alfred Hitchcock. Prager's use of vibrant colors draws viewers in, but the darker stories that lie beneath are what hold our interest.  - Lucy Davies

  Lucy + Jorge Orta: Antarctica

Hangar Bicocca
Now through June 8

Lucy + Jorge Orta transform prosaic objects to create broad dialogues between numerous disciplines — art, performance, architecture, fashion, and design — on social and environmental issues. At former industrial space Hangar Bicocca, the Ortas present a cycle of installations, video works, photographs, and documentation from their latest project, an expedition to Antarctica. The Antarctic Village — No Borders, an installation of 50 tents made with flags, clothes, and gloves, invades the exhibition space together with the artists' "drop parachutes," which function as survival kits. In M.I.U. (Mobile Intervention Unit), an ambulance is used as an office where visitors can get their "Antarctic World Passport." The show's new works coexist with older ones, in which the duo repurposes equipment to provide essential services, as with Orta Water, a water-recycling apparatus mounted around a canoe.  - Chiara Agnello

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[ Viable London ]


Viable London

Re-emerging from the shadows of the industry, British design is making a rollicking comeback — witness the recent successes of designer Tom Dixon and manufacturer Established & Sons. Viable London, a young design studio, is yet another testament to this renaissance of British talent. Magnus Long, Charles Trevelyan, and Gala Wright conceived the studio three years ago, shortly after they met while participating in a Milan design show, and it has already assembled a distinctive collection of furniture and lighting.

Coming together from disparate academic backgrounds — Long studied furniture and design, Trevelyan materials engineering, and Wright physics — the trio has created a catalogue of designs married not by any one guiding aesthetic, but by the fruits of collaboration. The studio was immediately propelled into the industry limelight following its introductory exhibition in 2005. The premiere included Trevelyan's widely publicized Shelflife, an angular bookcase replete with nesting chair and ottoman; the sinuous Standing Hanger; and the streamlined Mekong lamp/side table. While many studios falter on follow-up efforts, Viable London succeeds in bringing savvy designs to market each year. In both 2006 and 2007, the studio exhibited at Milan's Salone Satellite fair for new designers, debuting the Petit Fleur pendant shade, the Aperture Cabinet, and the OTT Hooks — a design that was later lauded as Elle Decoration's best accessory design of 2007.

This year has ushered in even more opportunities for Viable London. Salone Internazionale del Mobile — the inaugural presentation by yet another new British manufacturer, Decode London — included three Viable London designs, most notably an apartment-friendly version of Shelflife, called Shelfdesk. The studio's latest furnishings — Cabinet 414, with its muscular facade, and the supple Slope Chair — reveal a design dexterity befitting its name.  - Brian Fichtner

Viable London exhibits the Slope Chair and Cabinet 414 at the ICFF Studio, a collaboration between Bernhardt Design and the ICFF, at New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center from May 17 through May 20.

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[ Piero Lissoni ]

Piero Lissoni
View more images »
Architect and designer Piero Lissoni has created furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, and lighting for some of the design industry's biggest brands, including Alessi, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Kartell, and Knoll. But Lissoni doesn't stop there — he's also designed apartments, houses, villas, showrooms, and luxury hotels. Artkrush editor Paul Laster caught up with the busy designer to discuss his design practice and his Dellis Cay project in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
AK: Were you a creative child?

PL: I don't know. I feel like creativity requires a certain discipline.

AK: What motivated you to become a designer?

PL: I don't think of myself as strictly a designer — I studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and in the Milanese tradition, you're simultaneously an architect, a designer, and a graphic designer. We never consider specializing in just one practice; if you're an architect, you should be able to design a spoon or a town. I became an architect because even when I was a boy, I had a will, a desire for it. I envisioned architecture as my future.

AK: What was your big break?

PL: When I was a young architect — I had just received my degree — Boffi Kitchens chose me to be their designer. That was 22 years ago.

AK: What did you do at Boffi when you first started?

keep reading the interview »

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  Jorge Pardo
Christina Vegh, Lane Relyea, and Chris Kraus
Phaidon Press

Havana-born, LA-based artist Jorge Pardo has designed everything from clocks, furniture, and lighting to restaurants, museum interiors, and homes. But he doesn't call himself a designer or an architect; rather, Pardo considers his occupation to be that of a sculptor. He built 4166 Sea View Lane, a house that he and his family now occupy, for a 1998 solo exhibition at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, and he later designed an airy, seaside home for collectors Cesar and Mima Reyes in Puerto Rico. Phaidon's new monograph, the latest in its Contemporary Artist series, presents a full range of Pardo's work — from his ubiquitous, colorful lamps that have been displayed in galleries around the world, to his dynamic pavilions for Germany's Oliver cinema and the Solares Foundation in Mexico. Art critic and professor Lane Relyea interviews Pardo; Bonner Kunstverein director Christina Vegh discusses the evolution of his practice; and filmmaker Chris Kraus takes an in-depth look at his 4166 home. While you may not find his work at design fairs, Pardo has his own way of influencing the way we live.  - Paul Laster

Jorge Pardo: House, a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, is on view at MOCA Cleveland from September 11 to December 28. A catalogue is available.

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Cover Art
Piero Lissoni
Ocean Villa Exterior, Dellis Cay, n.d.
Turks and Caicos Islands
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

Deputy Editor
Joel Withrow

News Editor
Greg Zinman

Reviews Editor
H.G. Masters

Contributing Editors
Adda Birnir
Jennifer Y. Chen
Erin Cowgill
Shana Nys Dambrot
Sarah Kessler
Doug Levy
Andrew Maerkle
Mark Mangan
Bryony Roberts
Marlyne Sahakian
Peter Stepek
Sarah Stephenson

Chiara Agnello
Lucy Davies
Adam Eaker
Brian Fichtner
Lauren McKee

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

Anna S. Altman
Morgan Croney
Andrew Steinmetz
Daphne Yang

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