Blogs The Gradient Emmet Byrne

I am the Design Director here at the Walker. I also help edit and design a sporadic magazine called Task Newsletter with Jon Sueda and Alex DeArmond.

The Walker is Looking for a Senior Designer

We are looking for a passionate designer with excellent typographic skills interested in contemporary art, culture, publishing, and design to serve as one of two senior graphic designers in our studio. Is that you? If so, see the job description and application process here.

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We are looking for a passionate designer with excellent typographic skills interested in contemporary art, culture, publishing, and design to serve as one of two senior graphic designers in our studio. Is that you? If so, see the job description and application process here.

Superscript Successories

In a 2014 article about the trajectory and form of the design manifesto, Andrew Blauvelt and I wrote: The turn of the millennium also saw the rise of the lifestyle or motivational manifesto, which offers motivational aphorisms for daily life—bite-sized chunks of wisdom— a replicable formula for success. … [This] trend toward listicle arrangements of compact nuggets […]

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In a 2014 article about the trajectory and form of the design manifesto, Andrew Blauvelt and I wrote:

The turn of the millennium also saw the rise of the lifestyle or motivational manifesto, which offers motivational aphorisms for daily life—bite-sized chunks of wisdom— a replicable formula for success. … [This] trend toward listicle arrangements of compact nuggets of vaguely familiar phrases betrays an orientation toward today’s webcentric communication landscape, in which the number of buzz-worthy, hyperbolized statements seems calculated to increase the number of user clicks. We live in the age of the TED talk, subjected to the “relentless epiphanies” of speaker after speaker delivering their eighteen-minute takes on subjects that warrant much deeper conversation.

Our recent Superscript conference wasn’t a place where people came to firmly declare something. In fact, many of the speakers seemed more interested in a healthy deconstruction of the conference’s premise. But that didn’t mean that the speakers left without bestowing great, provocative wisdom upon us, which we happily consumed and regurgitated as context-less bits of Twitter fodder. The conference covered a broad range of topics relevant to online arts writing and publishing—complex topics, including the way information and opinions circulate online, how they become truncated, distorted, decontextualized, and misinterpreted through social media, and how they can ultimately create active dialogue through online communities. To help promote the live webcast of the conference we decided to take advantage of the typical conference behavior of tweeting sometimes pithy, sometimes inspirational quotes by the speakers—successories for the Pinterest generation—by creating visual quotes that circulated through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They did what they were designed to do, increasing the visibility of the conference and its live webcast, though sometimes at the expense of the speaker’s original intent, sometimes to the displeasure of our online followers (I’m not sure if institutional trolling is a thing quite yet). Please do enjoy the full context of each quote above by clicking in to view a full video of each talk. Or browse all of the videos here.

 All visual quotes designed by Nani Albornoz.

Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series

 Insights 2015 Tuesdays in March Insights is right around the corner and we have an amazing line up of designers coming to share the thinking, processes, and methods behind their work. We’re kicking off this year with a special evening that features both a talk and an exhibition opening celebrating Minnesota design. From there, we’ve got design […]

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 Insights 2015
Tuesdays in March

Insights is right around the corner and we have an amazing line up of designers coming to share the thinking, processes, and methods behind their work. We’re kicking off this year with a special evening that features both a talk and an exhibition opening celebrating Minnesota design. From there, we’ve got design legend April Greiman (Los Angeles), artist collective/trend forecasters K-HOLE (New York), experimental designer Bart de Baets (Amsterdam), and Design Fiction proponent, James Langdon (Liverpool).

If you can’t make it in person, please tune in to our live webcast on the Walker Channel and participate through Twitter. (#Insights2015)  Here’s a kit for educators, AIGA chapters, and anyone else who might want to throw their own viewing party.

 


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Minnesota Design: A Celebration (featuring Andrew Blauvelt)
March 3, 7 pm (tickets)

Insights 2015 kicks off with a unique two-part event celebrating Minnesota and its long-standing design legacy. The evening begins with a presentation by Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center senior curator of design, research, and publishing, who will explore the Walker’s new web-based Minnesota design collection highlighting Minnesota’s diverse heritage across the design fields. From the world’s quietest room to the Honeycrisp apple, from the humble sticky note to the Prince logo, Blauvelt offers a crash course on what makes our region such a hotbed for innovation. The talk will be followed by the opening of MGDA/AIGA Minnesota: A History Exhibit, marking the history of the AIGA Minnesota chapter on the occasion of the AIGA’s 100th anniversary, curated by designer/educator/author Kolean Pitner and design director Mike Haug. On view will be fascinating ephemera, posters, and correspondence presenting the chapter’s 37-year history of helping businesses and the public understand the meaning and value of graphic design. Check out the exhibition and join us in celebrating our vibrant design community. At the opening party, free snacks will be provided and a cash bar will be available.

 

Wet-magazineasdfApril Greiman (LA)
March 10, 7 pm (tickets)

Through her Los Angeles–based studio Made in Space, visionary graphic designer and artist April Greiman has been creating vital work in a variety of media for more than 30 years. She helped pioneer the integration of technology and art as one of the first practitioners to explore the desktop computer’s creative potential, and her unique fusion of a postmodernist mentality with digital technology became emblematic of the “New Wave” design approach in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Her art direction (with Jayme Odgers) of Wet Magazine is a touchstone of this era, inspiring countless designers since its creation. Today, Greiman is known as an artist creating numerous multimedia works for both solo and group shows as well as commissions for public spaces. Her work has been featured in museums and galleries around the world, and has been covered by everyone from the New York Times andTime Magazine to ESPN and PBS. She received her advanced design education at the Basel School of Design, studying with Wolfgang Weingart and Armin Hoffman, among others. Previously, she served as the head of the design department at the California Institute of the Arts. Greiman has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the AIGA gold medal for lifetime achievement and honorary doctorates from Kansas City Art Institute, Lesley University, Academy of Art University, and Art Center College of Design. She is currently serving as faculty at both Woodbury University School of Architecture and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Greiman’s groundbreaking 1986 issue of Design Quarterly (“Does it make sense?”) is currently on display in the Walker exhibition Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections.

 kholeK-HOLE (NY)
March 17, 7 pm (tickets)

 K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, Web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way. In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”) Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, WiredUK, and Mousse.

 

 

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Bart de Baets (Amsterdam)
March 24, 7 pm (tickets)

Amsterdam-based Bart de Baets is a fierce formalist, an unrelenting experimenter who has developed a unique typographic attitude that has influenced designers around the world. His work spans the entire cultural sector for clients in the fields of art, music, performance, and film. A few of his clients include the Amsterdam club Paradiso, cultural centers such as W139, De Appel, AFK, and the New Institute, and film programs such as the Weight of Colour and A New Divide? De Baets is also known for his self-initiated projects, including Dark and Stormy, an ambiguous fanzine he publishes with Rustan Söderling featuring contributions from an international array of artists, and Success and Uncertainty, a poster series and publication made with Sandra Kassenaar during an artist residency in Cairo amid the chaos of 2011’s Arab Spring. Confronted with the reality of state-imposed curfews, the resignation of President Mubarak, and the politically charged environment, de Baets and Kassenaar were forced to explore their status as outsiders, questioning the relevance of their intentions—and in the process, creating beautiful and vital work. De Baets teaches graphic design at both the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (Amsterdam) and the Royal Academy of Arts (the Hague) and conducts workshops throughout Europe.


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James Langdon (Liverpool)
March 31, 7 pm (tickets)

The UK’s James Langdon has carved out a unique practice that fully integrates his design, editorial, and curatorial pursuits. As one of six directors of Eastside Projects—an artist-run exhibition space dedicated to promoting cultural growth in its home town of Birmingham, England—Langdon designs and edits many of the organization’s publications and is responsible for creating a series of experimental manuals that explore its mission through ideas as varied as urban renewal, adhocism, and public engagement. In 2013, Langdon founded the itinerant School for Design Fiction, working with students to investigate the storytelling inherent in the design process, the emotions embedded within an artifact, and the benefits of living in speculative worlds. As a curator, Langdon organized Arefin & Arefin: The Graphic Design of Tony Arefin, an exhibition celebrating the overlooked but highly influential British graphic designer; Book Show, exploring the form of the book; and a restaging of Norman Potter’s In:quest of Icarus at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Langdon has been guest lecturer at schools around the world, including Werkplaats Typografie (Arnhem), Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht), and Konstfack (Stockholm). He is the recipient of the 2012 Inform International Award for Conceptual Design, presented by Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Germany.

 

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Insights 2015 identity designed by Nani Albornoz. Laser cutting provided by David W. Johanson and Park Grove Laser. Printing courtesy the Avery Group at Shapco Printing, Minneapolis.

Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age

Tickets for the Walker/Mn Artists–organized conference Superscript, a look at “online art publishing’s present and possible futures,” go on sale in five days and we’re expecting them to sell out quickly. The conference features an amazing lineup of critics, artists, authors, and thinkers talking about a variety of artistic disciplines. Some talks I’m really looking forward […]

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Tickets for the Walker/Mn Artists–organized conference Superscript, a look at “online art publishing’s present and possible futures,” go on sale in five days and we’re expecting them to sell out quickly. The conference features an amazing lineup of critics, artists, authors, and thinkers talking about a variety of artistic disciplines. Some talks I’m really looking forward to: Claire Evans (of YACHT) discussing her position as “futures editor” at Vice‘s Terraform; artist James Bridle always brings an interesting take on the future of publishing (see the recent Artist Op-Ed he wrote for us); and Eugenia Bell diving into what has made Design Observer so successful over the years. Besides that we get to hear from people representing e-flux, Hyperallergic, Triple Canopy, Pitchfork, Rhizome, Buzzfeed, frieze, Creative Time Reports, LA Times, Temporary Art Review, and The New Inquiry. !!!

And because we’re doing it the Walker way, there will be some fun crossovers with our programming: two new film premieres commissioned by the Walker (by Moyra Davey and James Richards), a crowd-sourced criticism component to our International Pop exhibition, and some healthy supplemental online content including a series on this blog about design and content strategy.

Superscript identity by Dante Carlos. Website by Anthony Tran.

2014: The Year According to David Reinfurt

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artists Shahryar Nashat and Korikrit Arunondachai to filmmaker Sam Green and architect/artist Andreas Angelidakis—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to       […]

Reinfurt_BW_webTo commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artists Shahryar Nashat and Korikrit Arunondachai to filmmaker Sam Green and architect/artist Andreas Angelidakis—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

David Reinfurt is an independent graphic designer and writer in New York City. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and received an MFA from Yale University in 1999. On the first business day of 2000, David formed O-R-G inc., a flexible graphic design practice composed of a constantly shifting network of collaborators. Together with graphic designer Stuart Bailey, David established Dexter Sinister in 2006 — a workshop in the basement at 38 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side in New York City. The workshop is intended to model a Just-In-Time economy of print production, running counter to the contemporary assembly-line realities of large-scale publishing. This involves avoiding waste by working on-demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering  alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production and distribution into one efficient activity. Dexter Sinister published the semi-annual arts magazine Dot Dot Dot from 2006–2011. David recently launched a new umbrella project called The Serving Library with Stuart Bailey and Angie Keefer. David was 2010 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow in Architecture and Design and currently teaches at Princeton University.


My top 10 are listed in the order they happened. Things often make most sense like this.

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01

Where Were We

This is a shop sign designed by Angie Keefer and Kara Hamilton and hung outside Kunstverein on Gerard Doustraat in Amsterdam to announce an exhibition by Kara Hamilton. The exhibition was staged something like a store and included jewelry, shoes, and other consumables. Angie also contributed a text that framed the show about a certain kind of painted pleat.

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02

Dawn of Midi

In February, I saw Dawn of Midi play at Kaufman Music Center. The three-piece band includes only a prepared grand piano, an upright bass, and drums. With this limited kit, (impossibly) they played their album Dysnomia from beginning to end, note-for-note to match the highly repetitive, manipulated, and poly-rhythmic music on the record. The performance was spectacularly uncanny, I felt as though I had seen-heard it before and I guess I has as I was listening to Dysnomia on constant repeat for much of the last part of 2013. I ran into my friend Prem Krishnamurthy at the show, and now I see that he included this record on his Top 10 of last year. Uncanny.

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Arvo Pärt

In May, I went to Carnegie Hall to hear works by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Equally spare, repititive, and mystical, the music has some affinity with Dawn of Midi. Anyway, the crowd at the show seemed to know this as well and mixed Eastern Orthodox clergy members in full regalia with tattoo-covered Manhattan School of Music graduates. It was an eccentrically, fantastically fashionable crowd. Arvo was there himself, as was Björk.

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04

Dune

Where was I? I never read this book when I was the age to do so, but found it on a bookshelf this May. Soon, I was enveloped in its world where water is as precious as life and giant sandworms stand in cars. When I read the book, I didn’t know about Jodorowsky’s Dune, the documentary released this year that tracks the previously director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempts at turning Frank Herbert’s epic book into a film.

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Model for 'Monument to the Astronauts' circa 1966-8 by Naum Gabo 1890-1977

05-a

Claude Parent (and Naum Gabo)

For A Needle Walks into a Haystack, curator Mai Abu ElDahab invited aging French architect Claude Parent to design an exhibition space on the ground floor of Tate Liverpool and rehang selections from its collection. The result felt something like an architectural model built at 1:1 scale. Installed in the ramped space alongside works from Gillian Wise, Gustaf Metzger, Anni Albers, and Francis Picabia, were two of artist Naum Gabo’s maquettes including model for “Monument to the Astronauts.” Perfect.

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06

Yes, But Is It Edible?

Also perfect, this book compiled by Will Holder and Alex Waterman of the works of Robert Ashley was released in September. This is a book to be performed, a collection of scores produced by the authors to allow non-musicians to perform Ashley’s music. It follows that Will and Alex performed a couple of Ashley pieces in a sweltering classroom at PS1 during the New York Art Book Fair.

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07

Christopher Williams

The Production Line of Happiness ran from July to November at the Museum of Modern Art last last year. I saw it, finally, in October. The show is a comprehensive testament to this work which mines the process of image production, and it was great. The best work, however, was in the gift shop where Williams offered his image of a rotated Renault Dauphine-Four auto sitting on its side as a postcard. The postcard’s orientation is ambiguous, but presented in the shop vertically the car seems to be suspended somewhere outside of gravity.

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08

This Equals That

Also outside of gravity, this children’s book by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin moves laterally from one photograph to the next. It was released in November. Photographs are supposed to be toxic in children’s literature, but Jason and Tamara’s light and warm touch makes the guided tour through the visible world a wonderful, strange trip.

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09

Richard McGuire

In November, this issue of the New Yorker showed up in my mailbox. The cover is the work of illustrator Richard McGuire, who was also the subject of an exhibition at the Morgan Library organized by curator Joel Smith. More on this time-space bending cover is here.

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10

Interstellar

Finally, in December I saw Interstellar. Luckily, I’d managed not to read much about the film in advance. I did, however, read a New York Times op ed by David Brooks which is well worth checking out. I was also impressed by an interview on NPR with director Christopher Nolan where he was asked about the film’s uneasy correspondences with Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. He said, simply, something to the effect that you can’t make a space movie in 2014 that does not “know” about 2001 and that he chose to make that explicit, rather than hide it. Nice choice.

2014: The Year According to Andreas Angelidakis

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer David Reinfurt to animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                   […]

Angelidakis-apoGiannisVastardis-0200_web

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from designer David Reinfurt to animator Miwa Matreyek—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Trained as an architect, Andreas Angelidakis often switches roles between artist, curator, architect, and teacher. His multidisciplinary practice often takes the internet and the perceptive and behavioral changes it has brought on as its starting point. In the past year he worked on the space for the exhibition of instruction-based artworks DO IT at Garage in Moscow, he curated and designed a survey exhibition of the Dakis Joannou collection at DESTE foundation in Athens, he designed a show of contemporary magazines at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and made the installation Crash Pad, which acted as the preliminary statement for the 8th Berlin Biennial. He currently has a retrospective presentation of his work at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece, and he is included in the Greek Pavilion at the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Upcoming shows include Period Rooms at the Niuewe Institut in Rotterdam, and designing the exhibition architecture for a survey exhibition of film director Alejandro Jodorowsky at the CAPC in Bordeaux. Recent shows include The System of Objects: The Dakis Joannou Collection Reloaded by Andreas Angelidakis at the DESTE Foundation, Athens (curator and architect); PAOLA at Breeder Gallery (curator); Group Mountain at Breeder Gallery (curator and artist, solo and group show); Domesticated Mountain at GloriaMaria Gallery, Milan, April 2012 (solo, artist); The Angelo Foundation Headquarters collaboration with artist Angelo Plessas at Jeu de Paume museum espace virtuelle; and Blue Wave at the MU Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands (architect and artist, solo exhibition).


 

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Best Book

Extrastatecraft by Keller Easterling. Easterling is in my humble opinion the most interesting, unexpected and lucid thinker in urbanism. Her urbanism provides a deep understanding of how the contemporary world operates, and Extrastatecraft is just a must read.

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Best Experience

Attending the Eternal Internet Brotherhood, in the West Bank in Israel/Palestine. A truly surreal experience, both for the location, but also because it was a like being transported to an artists’ colony, no audience, no age or agenda, sleeping outdoors next to the Dead Sea, thinking about the internet as a desert.

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Dahlem Berlin Biennial

Best Venue for a Biennial

My work for the 8th Berlin Biennial curated by Juan Gaitan was at Kunstwerke, but the Dahlem Ethnographic Museum has to be the best venue for a biennial in a long time. Visitors not only saw the Bienalle works but had a chance to get lost in the corridors of the museum, making for juxtapositions of pure genius.

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Monditalia

Best Exhibition

Monditalia, at the Venice Biennial of Architecture. Koolhaas brought together the dance, film and architecture biennials at the Arsenale, which made for a space where passing an esoteric performance with a minotaur you happened upon a research on Italian nightclubs of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, then an elderly group of 50 chanting seniors, then another research on the Berlusconi suburbs and so forth. An exhibition as chaotic and as focused as the internet itself.

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Best Encounter

Meeting the legendary Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky at CAPC in Bordeaux, courtesy of its director Maria Ines Rodriguez. Its when you meet somebody who’s fan you’ve been forever, and they just surpass any expectation. Bonus Tarot reading included.

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Best Purchase

A used zCorp450 3D printer. I started using 3D prints back in 2002 when zCorp was a startup and was offering free 3D print samples to users who were curious. Having the printer, even though the running costs are literally studio killers, just takes it to another level. I was never into actually building buildings, but printing brings them closer to home.

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Best News

Documenta 14 will be jointly held in Athens and Kassel in 2017.

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Best Research

Janell Watson’s Literature and Material Culture from Balzac to Proust: The Collection and Consumption of Curiosities. I got this while looking for literature on Bibelot, or tchotchkes. I’m always daydreaming of buildable bibelot bunkers and other places to escape.

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Best Collaboration

Was with the Swiss Institute for their first annual design exhibition. Working with Simon Castets on Fin de Siècle was the best, because he went along with my idea to push the show as far as possible from a design exhibition, even when I was having doubts about going too far.

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Best Swim

Swimming at midnight on the island of Samos, on a dark beach lit only by the frontier patrol and the bioluminescent sea water.

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123Dcatch

Best App

123Dcatch 3D scanning for iPhone has to be my favorite app, even though it doesn’t always work perfectly. Learning to love the glitch.

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Sandberg

Best Biography

I really enjoyed Ank Leeuw Markar’s Willem Sandberg: Portrait of an Artist, for its insights into how contemporary art museums came to be how they are today through the radical decisions of The Stedelijk’s famous director, Willem Sandberg. A must read for those into exhibition histories. The result of my hallucinatory interpretation comes at The Niuewe Instituut in Rotterdam this January, 1:1 Period Rooms.

2014: The Year According to Omar Sosa

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to             […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from artist Kalup to poet LaTasha Diggs, author Jeff Chang to futurist Nicolas Nova—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 . 

 

Omar Sosa is a Barcelona-based art director, graphic designer, and publisher. In 2008, after a period of working at Folch Studio in Barcelona as a Business Partner, Omar founded the magazine Apartamento together with his friend Nacho Alegre. Apartamento is now distributed in 45 countries. Two years later he went on to win the prestigious Yellow Pencil Award and Apartamento was awarded the Best Entire Magazine of 2010 by the D&AD association (Design & Art Direction Association, UK). Sosa has worked as the Art Director for a wide range of international clients: Flos, Louis Vuitton Group, Rizzoli International, Carolina Herrera NY, DDG Partners, Corriere Della Sera, Patricia Urquiola, Ricardo Bofill Architecture, among others. His work spans from designing books and magazines to creating brand identities, designing exhibitions and generating successful liaisons among creative professionals.

 


 

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01-NEOPTOLEMOS

Neptolemos Michaelides house, Cyprus

Last January I went to Cyprus for the opening of an exhibition of the Cypriot light designer Michael Anastassiades and had the chance to visit the private house of the Cypriot architect Neoptolemos Michaelides and his wife. They both passed away few years ago and now the house belong to their foundation. We came together with the photographer Hélène Binet who took beautiful pictures that where then published in the last issue of Apartamento (pdf) and in a exhibition in Cyprus that opened last month. The house has an incredible architecture full of sensibility and respect for nature and light, and it’s still full of the furniture and amazing collection of fossils and stones that once belonged to Neoptolemos.

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02 MAX LAMB

Marmoreal by Max Lamb, Milan

April is a great month, not just because the winter is over but also because it’s the Milan Design Week called Salone. This year I’ve been quite lazy, too many offerings usually make me end up remembering nothing. One of my favorite things was this nice project of my friend the British designer Max Lamb for Dzek. A whole room entire made for this special terrazzo.

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04-LA-FABRICA-BOFILL

La Fabrica of Ricardo Bofill

This is the house/studio of one of the biggest architects in Spain of all times, Ricardo Bofill. This is seen from its neighboring building, Walden 7, also by Bofill. It’s a huge recovered cement factory from the beginning of 1900.  The size of a cathedral, it’s an incredible work in progress for more than 40 years.

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05 GIRARD

Alexander Girard: An Uncommon Vision, New York

May is design week in New York and Herman Miller made this amazing exhibition about the legacy of the designer and architect Alexander Girard. Together with them we launched the 13th issue of Apartamento featuring an extensive supplement about the legacy of Girard and his family in Santa Fe (New Mexico).

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06 DONALD JUDD

Donald Judd Foundation, New York

While in New York I had the opportunity to visit the recently restored Judd Foundation. The 5-story Soho iron building was purchased by the artist Donald Judd in the 1970s and served as his studio and house for his family. It has been fully restored this year and is finally open to the public.

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07-1111-LINCOLN-ROAD

111 Lincoln Road, Miami

While in Miami this June I was impressed by this amazing parking deck by the Swiss architecture studio Herzog & de Meuron. I was even more impressed when I heard that the owner of the parking deck lives on the top floor with a huge garden and a swimming pool.

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08-CITY-FLATS-HOTEL

City Flats Hotel, Michigan

Every time I travel to the small city of Holland (Michigan) I have the opportunity to explore new rooms at the City Flats Hotel. The hotel is well known because Holland is home to many of the biggest furniture companies in the US, which means that many, many designers have stayed in the City Flats Hotel. This hotel is peculiar in that every single room is different, with all the possible configurations of queen bed + king bed, double queen bed, queen + double single, etc., that you can imagine. It’s known that you don’t want to receive the kind of room I got the last time, which featured two queen beds facing opposite walls. It was definitely impossible to get a good rest there.

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09-WALDEN

Walden 7, Barcelona

This is another beautiful project from the architect Ricardo Bofill—a subsidized housing complex built in the early 1970s. I always knew it existed but never went to visit it. I was impressed by the color, proportions, and shapes, its little streets inside and balconies make it resemble a small vertical city.

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10 FOUR SEASSONS

Four Seasons Restaurant by Philip Johnson, New York

I had the opportunity to have a drink at the bar and I was impressed by the space, the sculptural ceiling installations, window curtains, and materials on the toilets.

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Kiss Room, Paris

I met the interior designer and artist Mathias Kiss in Paris and showed me one of his recent projects. This tiny 10sqm bedroom in the backside of a bar in Le Marais could be rented for one night, 1000 nights are for sale and it will be destroyed after. The whole space is skillfully covered in mirror tiles with a geometric architecture that enables the guests to feel like you are underwater. Despite being all covered in glass, the spaces feels incredibly cozy rather than a torture room, and the effect after you have a shower and the whole little space becomes visible because of the steam is something you have to live.

2014: The Year According to Nicolas Nova

To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from the Office of Culture and Design to the Arab Image Foundation’s Rima Mokaiesh and musician Grant Hart  to  filmmaker Sam Green—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: […]

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To commemorate the year that was, we invited an array of artists, writers, designers, and curators—from the Office of Culture and Design to the Arab Image Foundation’s Rima Mokaiesh and musician Grant Hart  to  filmmaker Sam Green—to share a list of the most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects they encountered in 2014. See the entire series 2014: The Year According to                                 .

Nicolas Nova (PhD) is a researcher, writer and co-founder of The Near Future Laboratory, a design and technology collective interested in exploring the near future’s normal everyday ordinary. He is also Professor at the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD – Genève) and curator for Lift Conference, a series of international events about digital culture and innovation. His interests lie at the intersections of ethnography, design, and digital technologies.


This list is not meant to be exhaustive at all. It’s just a set of documents, projects, and signals that I found intriguing in 2014. The mix is broad and the juxtaposition of an anthropologist’s book with video games and fungi-infected art pieces is intentional as it reflects the diversity of what the world around us produces. Each of these cases offer an insightful perspective on phenomena and attitude to understand the condition we live in, and eventually create things to explore it.

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La composition des mondes by Philippe Descola

An impressive interview with this anthropologist who describes how we humans make sense of the world around us through the relationship between nature and culture. Anglophone readers can read “Beyond Nature and Culture,” published in 2013, that address similar issues.

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Internet Machine by Timo Arnall

 “Cloud computing” is definitely a bad metaphor, this film by Timo Arnall shows the invisible infrastructures of the internet, its material underpinning in a contemplative way.

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Corrupted C#n#m#

Hacked digital media + bacteria/fungi/algae/insects-infected electronics + data forensic techniques to create experimental video pieces. Fascinating and puzzling.

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 SQM: The Quantified Home by Space Caviar (Joseph Grima, Andrea Bagnato, Tamar Shafrir)

An exploration of the intricate relationships between digital technologies and domesticity. Very important for people interested in the future of the home.

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Atari landfill excavation in New Mexico

Atari buried some 3.5 million copies of the video game cartridge E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Alamogordo, New Mexico back in 1983. That’s a crazy story, but it’s even weirder to observe that they have recently been dug up. I see the whole thing as a metaphor of our society of consumption.

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Twitch plays pokemon

Wikipedia defined it as “a crowdsourced attempt to play Game Freak’s and Nintendo’s Pokémon video games by parsing commands sent by users through the channel’s chat room.” I watched part of it and became fascinated by this kind of cultural phenomenon: very erratic and incomprehensible but definitely fascinating as an example of networked collaboration.

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Eclats d’Amérique by Olivier Hodasava

A novel that is based on the author’s visit of all 50 US states using Google Street View. Only in French, sadly, but very intriguing, a good example of how digital technologies can stimulate new forms of documenting reality. It reminds me of this race across the US through Google Street View.

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The Future Does Not Exist by Alain Bublex and Elie During

 An insightful book about the idea of “The Future” with texts from a philosopher and an artist/designer who produced artifacts that express the conversation.

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Lawyers replaced by computers

Algorithms have become a prevalent topic in many different domains, but we’re reaching a new level when even white collar work can be replaced by machines.

 

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GTA V wildlife documentary

A sort of weird nature documentary of ocean life in Grand Theft Auto V. Definitely a boundary object that draws lots of question about gaming journalism, weird ethnographies, and the heterodoxy of digital culture.

Download 15 issues of Design Quarterly

In case you missed it, as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations Andrew Blauvelt has put up a selection of Design Quarterly issues that are available in their entirety for download. Learn a bit about the history of Design Quarterly and dig into issues about Julia Child’s kitchen, the design process at Herman Miller, Muriel […]

DQ_coversIn case you missed it, as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations Andrew Blauvelt has put up a selection of Design Quarterly issues that are available in their entirety for download. Learn a bit about the history of Design Quarterly and dig into issues about Julia Child’s kitchen, the design process at Herman Miller, Muriel Cooper on computers and design, an issue by Richard Saul Wurman that is not about hats, and more.

Abbott Miller, Ellen Lupton, Andrew Blauvelt, and Others on Mickey Friedman

So much of what makes the Walker a great place for design is because of Mickey Friedman and her tenure as design director, design curator, and editor of Design Quarterly. Since Mickey passed away earlier this week, a number of design voices have been offering personal reflections on Mickey’s influence on them, as well as fascinating […]

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So much of what makes the Walker a great place for design is because of Mickey Friedman and her tenure as design director, design curator, and editor of Design Quarterly. Since Mickey passed away earlier this week, a number of design voices have been offering personal reflections on Mickey’s influence on them, as well as fascinating glimpses into the Walker’s design culture during her time here. I highly recommend you read Andrew Blauvelt‘s personal and compelling article covering a wide range of Mickey’s contributions to the design field, from groundbreaking exhibitions such as De Stijl, 1917–1931: Visions of Utopia, Tokyo: Form and Spirit, and Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, to her generous and forward-thinking editorial approach with Design Quarterly, and her creation of Walker mainstays such as the Insights Design Lecture Series and the design department’s fellowship program. The Walker is also collecting short contributions from a variety of Mickey’s peers—the entirety of which you can read here—and I wanted to pull out a few below.

 

Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Abbott Miller and I had the amazing pleasure of working with Mickey in the late 1980s on her groundbreaking exhibition Graphic Design in America. She was the first real curator I had ever met, and she had so much to teach a young aspirant like myself. Her grace, intelligence, and kindness—and her patience with two green young writers—will always stay with me. Mickey Friedman thought with her eyes. She had a way to spinning stories, ideas, and insight out of objects and rooms. She had both extraordinary taste and the desire to illuminate the whole world with better design.

 

Exhibition view of Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, 1989

Exhibition view of Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, 1989

 

Abbott Miller, designer, writer, and partner at Pentagram

Mickey had an amazing sense of adventure, independence, and generosity in her thoughts and actions. That combination led her to champion, explicate, and consider design from truly diverse vantage points. From the “spoon to the city” meant that Julia Child, Tokyo, and Frank Gehry were all expressions of design. There was a modernist current to her interests, but not as a stylistic vocabulary. She was interested in the public life of design, the formal experimentation of contemporary designers, but also the “commercial vernacular” that was evident in her Graphic Design in America exhibition.

I co-authored an extended timeline-essay for her Graphic Design in America catalogue: I remember that Mickey came to New York to discuss the show with Ellen Lupton, who was curating great exhibitions on graphic design at Cooper Union. We saw her outline for the catalogue she was planning, and after she left we wrote her a letter nominating ourselves as the authors. Her response was along the lines of “I was thinking the exact same thing.” It was a leap of faith that she had probably made many times in her career, trusting her instincts and having confidence in her choices.

I’ve been fortunate to have had multiple occasions and experiences touched by Mickey, Martin, and their daughter, Lise Friedman, who was the editor of the first magazine I designed. I know multiple projects can be traced back to Mickey, directly or indirectly, and that I am one of many designers whose lives have been deeply influenced by her intelligence, charm, and vision.

 

Phil Freshman, former editor, Walker Art Center

Mickey Friedman hired me to be the Walker Art Center’s first-ever staff editor in the spring of 1988, and I moved here from Los Angeles with my wife and five-month-old daughter that June. I soon settled into the routine 70-hour-per-week Walker norm and made common cause with the cast of dedicated maniacs who made up the then 60-person staff. One reason I’d been hired was to edit Mickey’s magnum opus, the book accompanying her long-planned exhibition, Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History. She rightly wanted to keep close tabs on the writing (by a large and far-flung set of contributors) and the editing. But before that engine even got started, there was Adam Weinberg’s Vanishing Presence photography catalogue to edit, plus a Frank Stella book for Liz Armstrong. And because I was the only editor in the joint, I was handed just about every printed piece the Walker cranked out, from the members’ calendar to booklets, brochures, program flyers, and broadsides for the film/video, performing arts, and education departments, annual reports, and assorted whatnot. There was also the little business, in the summer of 1988, of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened that September—requiring its own thick set of “ephemera.” After five or six such breakneck months, I asked Martin and Mickey if I could hire a part-time assistant. They shook their heads and shut their eyes. “Edit faster,” Martin intoned.

Editing faster, and editing for precision and clarity, was something at which Mickey excelled. She hated fluff, flatulence, posturing, and imprecision in writing as much as I did. But the wonder of it, to me, was that she could drain waste out of a piece and rewrite lead and concluding paragraphs at warp speed and with seemingly little exertion. I would hand her my first pass at a tortured essay from the graphic design book at, say, 10 am, and within a couple of hours it would be back on my desk, its major problems fixed and the path forward made clear. I learned much about achieving clarity by looking at her edits, and I learned how to struggle less doing my own editing. Although Mickey and I got crosswise many a time, she never told me how to edit nor failed to support me if I was at an impasse with a writer. Although she thought, like Martin, that there was no limit to the amount of time and energy I (and the rest of the staff) should devote to the Walker—that was the way the two of them lived, after all—I saw that in everything she did the aim was excellence and quality. It was remarkable, indeed admirable, how often and squarely she hit those targets.

I was at the Walker until the Friedmans left, at the end of 1990, and stayed the first four years of Kathy Halbreich’s tenure. As tough a customer as Mickey could be, there were definitely days during that post-Friedman time when I missed her no-nonsense and her sharp eye.

 

Exhibition shot of Tokyo: Form and Spirit

Exhibition shot of Tokyo: Form and Spirit

Glenn Suokko, independent graphic designer, former senior graphic designer (1998–1990), Walker Art Center

Working with Mickey Friedman remains one of the most stimulating and important experiences of my career in design. We worked together on the major exhibition, Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, and it was while working on his particular—enormous—project, that as a graphic designer fresh out of graduate school, I learned from Mickey about the integration of design, art, culture, history, and experience—and so much more. She was unrelenting in making everything exceptional and had amazing taste. I thought she was the most insightful, brilliant person I had ever met. We often had lunch together in Gallery 8 and while enjoying a salad and the special of the day, carried on our work in planning and creating the exhibition, book, and programming. We always worked on Saturdays, because this was the day when we could really dig in and get a lot done without distraction. Every so often on a Saturday, Mickey or Martin would suggest we take a break and have lunch at their house. Mickey always made the most delicious lunches with simplicity and ease. She was so gracious and these are treasured moments in my memory. After lunch we’d head back to the office and work more, and often wind up having dinner and seeing a performance in the theater that night. With Mickey—as with Martin—work and friendship, experience and wisdom, good food and wonderful projects, all seemed to just continually flow into one another in the nicest way.

 

Peter Seitz, former design curator (1964–1968), Walker Art Center

I worked in the mid-Sixties for nearly five years at the Walker Art Center as design curator, editor of Design Quarterly, and graphic designer, writing, lecturing, publishing, and producing all visual communications and curating design exhibitions, even designing graphics for the early Guthrie Theater. I practiced an inclusive approach to design, something Mickey not only carried on but excelled in it. Her focus on urban design, her involvement in getting good national and international designers and architects in designing in and for Minneapolis, resulted in this area to become known as a center for good design.

After leaving the Walker I was not dismayed when I learned that Mickey took over the design curator position and right away hired two more designers to assist her. We all miss her; the design community lost a great professional and a friend.

 

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Mickey Friedman with Walker designers at the opening of Graphic Design in America, 1989. Left to right: Jeff Cohen, graphic designer; Glenn Suokko, senior graphic designer; Robert Jensen, design director; Mickey Friedman; James Johnson, chief graphic designer; Lorraine Ferguson, chief graphic designer; Peter Seitz, design curator; and John Calvelli, graphic designer. Photo: ©Walker Art Center

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