Happenings

Japan-Inspired Lamps

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For a new show at Galerie Kreo in Paris, Dutch designer Wieki Somers traveled to Japan for inspiration for a ‘family’ of seven floor lamps. Inspired by the country’s customs and traditions, Somers created a collection of Samurai-flag-like light poles, many with simple wood plank bases with wood or metal poles heightening the “flag” light form. One, based on geisha’s sun-shielding fabric, takes the form of an abstract black umbrella, while another takes its abstracted form from a traditional doll, dancing with several hats. All convey the lightness and simplicity in form, along with elegance and attention to detail, that much of Japanese culture is known for.

Visionary Blow

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Sure to be fabulous in its entirety, an exhibition of fashion maven Isabella Blow’s wardrobe is set to go on view at Somerset House in England in the fall. Opening November 20, Blow’s daring and visionary collection, purchased in its entirety by Daphne Guinness, will show a range of pieces from Philip Treacy-designed hats to items showing her love and support of Alexander McQueen (whose entire 2008 spring/summer collection was dedicated to Blow). Bespoke mannequins will don entire outfits of the late fashion muse, and her gigantic shoe and hat collection will be a highlight.

Magazine Entertainment

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Pop-Up magazine is a terrific new take on the magazine format – removing it from printed or digital form, and putting it into performance mode, on stage. For one night per issue, a talented collection of writers, artists, filmmakers, etc perform and share new work. One of the most interesting things is that no images or recordings are taken, allowing each performance to be captured only for those present in the audience. Past contributors include: writer Alice Walker, design writer Allison Arieff, radio host Roman Mars, Michael Pollan, and illustrator Jason Polan, who sketched Issue 6 as it happened, and sold the results at the closing reception (shown above).

MoMA Goes Local

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The MoMA Design Store’s “Destinations” series has been a great introduction to new designers all over the world, focusing on one geographical region, with additions to the shop from local designers. Past locations include Seoul, Japan, Portugal and Brazil, but we’re especially partial to their current Destination: NYC. All 5 boroughs are represented in the expertly curated 200 products available, all of which are designed in NYC, made in the USA. The terrific selection and range of products includes party designers’ Confetti System’s dip-dyed geometric party decorations, a stool kids can use to learn to tie a knot, and a beautiful rainbow of Massimo Vignelli’s classic mugs (shown).

City Escapes

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Two exhibitions on view over the ICFF weekend in NYC a few weeks back focused on getting out of the city – the transport, tools used, and benefits to the general state of mind achieved upon leaving. “Here & There,” from the designers of Various Projects and Field, gathered a great group of designs around the theme of travel and adventure. Included were a kevlar canoe by Colgate Searle and Matthias Pliessnig, and a well-designed travel cocktail kit, Morris Kitchen’s Rhubarb Syrup, and Philadelphia’s Art in the Age liquors, all packaged up nice and neat in a wood box with glasses, coasters, and shaker. “Off the Grid” at Gallery Pure also explored escape – in the form of camping, a collaboration between designers François Chambard and Frederick McSwain. Included were a beautifully simple A-frame tent, anodized aluminum and maple wood trunks, and quirky Corian-based lanterns in various shapes and sizes.

Blooms Forever

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Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully you can get out and enjoy a some nature – like this fantastical Infinite Garden in Loire, France by architects Meir Lobaton Corona and Ulli Heckmann. For the 22nd International Garden Festival of Chaumont sur Loire, they created a lush garden forest in the shape of a cube, a scaffolded structure lining it. The exterior of the wall is white fabric, with cut-out holes scattered along at varying heights, while the interior is lined entirely with mirrors, giving the effect of infinite greenery beyond the small square space.

Rockefeller Stone

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The ancient-looking human forms of artist Ugo Rondinone’s stone sculptures are inhabiting Rockefeller Center for part of the summer. His exhibition, “Human Nature,” on view through July 7, consists of nine massive, stoic sentries, ranging from 16 to 20 feet in height and weighing up to 30,000 lbs each. Made of bluestone from a Northern Pennsylvania quarry, the sculptures bring a calmer, quiet Easter Island air to the bustling speed of Rockefeller Center.

Simplicity in Sound

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Swiss artist Zimoun creates surprisingly moving sound installations using simple, everyday objects and industrial mechanisms. He currently has two installations showing – in Berlin and Prague. At the Opernwerkstätten in Berlin, Zimoun created a room-within-a-warehouse, with cardboard boxes. Tiny motors laid out in a minimal grid along the interior walls work to spin several cork balls on strings, which bounce against the cardboard, creating a mesmerizing and soothing effect like falling rain. A beautifully shot video on Zimoun’s website shows a great compilation of some of his work.

Around New York

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Starting last Friday, May 10 to next Tuesday, May 21, there are so many art and design events taking place around NYC, there’s no way we’ll see even half of what’s showing. For the first time, all of these events are being collected under NYCxDesign, which is promoting the shows, providing lists and a handy app too. Last weekend, the Frieze Art Fair took over Randall’s Island, and Pulse took over 18th street (Rune Guneriussen’s work was included, shown above). The first annual Collective Design Fair was also held last weekend, a high-end, well-curated collection of talented international designers. ICFF takes place this coming weekend – check out designboom’s guide for exhibitions, events and shows happening all over the city.

Food Play

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Advance tickets are now available to what is sure to be an incredible retrospective exhibition on chef Ferran Adrià and his famed Spanish restaurant elBulli, showing at Somerset House in England from July 5 – September 29. “elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food” is the first exhibition dedicated to a chef and restaurant, and will show in-depth looks into his research, preparation, presentation, and plaudits – with sketches, plasticine models, tasting menus, and press clippings. Check out a great interview with Adrià in anticipation of the exhibition, on his craft and how it relates to design.

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