What will cities of the future look like?
You may - or may not - find the answer in a slew of short videos submitted to this year's "Videotect" competition.
The event challenges creative types to express design ideas through video. This year's theme: City of the Future.
This year's submissions are in and up on the website; the public can vote for their favorites through February 15. Awards for the winners, both juried and by popular vote, will be handed out on March 7.
Here's just a sampling:
Posted at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Design
The Goldstein Museum of Design is looking to highlight and support the work of budding talent.
The museum has created the Margot Siegel Design Award, which will go to a designer who shows innovation in his or her field, but has yet to be widely recognized.
The winner will be flown to the Twin Cities, given an award of $2,000 and asked to speak at the University of Minnesota's College of Design.
The award is named after a long time supporter of the museum who established the fund for the prize.
Submission should be sent to the Goldstein Museum of Design office no later than December 30, 2012.
A good education can take you to some amazing places. But Kaila Bibeau never thought her studies in apparel design would take her to NASA.
Apparel design junior Kaila Bibeau looks through different types of fabric that can be used to insulate space suits for a group project in her apparel design class. Photo: Eric Tanaka, The Minnesota Daily
According to a report by Claire Bramel in the Minnesota Daily, Bibeau and 11 other students have spent the semester working on spacesuit prototypes as part of a 3000-level apparel design class at the University of Minnesota. This summer Bibeau will continue working with NASA in Houston, hopefully contributing innovative ideas based on the research she's doing this semester.
Bibeau will work in the human interface branch of the Johnson Space Center and will help integrate computer interfaces and other electronics into a garment. Cory Simon, a human systems engineer at NASA, said she will be a "domain expert" in garment design and will also do some user testing.
"I'm developing a garment that can provide wearable displays, controls and sensors inside future space habitats," Simon said.
Bibeau's project in [Lucy] Dunne's apparel design studio correlates well to Simon's research and what she'll be doing this summer.
"[I am] exploring placement of different removable swatches on a suit for the astronauts to wear while on missions," she said.
Her work includes testing different fasteners and modes of application in addition to exploring problems related to the visibility and accessibility of the components.
You can read the full article about Kaila Bibeau's job with NASA here.
What do you do when you love all things beer-related, but you don't have enough cash to start your own brewery?
You brew beer swag.
Maxwell Arndt, Brett Bartley and Colin McSteen are the three young men behind Swag Brewery, which is devoted to making t-shirts, jewelry and soap, all about beer.
One of Swag Brewery's popular t-shirts
Arndt (whose favorite beer of the moment is Fitger's Apricot Wheat) says he and his schoolmate Colin (current beer: Lucid Camo) knew they wanted to do something involving beer after graduating from the Carlson School of Management in the spring of 2011.
Last fall, we started meeting over beers to brainstorm ideas. We really wanted to take advantage of the explosive growth of the home-brewing and craft beer markets so we decided to test the concept of "outfitting" the industry with beer themed apparel and accessories. Since Colin is a graphic artist and I have experience with business, this seemed like a natural fit.
Arndt says at that point the guys started drinking more coffee than beer, and Swag Brewery began to take shape. Brett Bartley (current beer of choice: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine) came on board as the resident web guru, and the team was complete.
Swag Brewery got its launch at the Cloud Craft Beer Expo in late January. Arndt says the business' main focus is to outfit consumers (often self-identified as "beer geeks") of the homebrewing and craft beer industries. But the guys have also started to dabble in supplying breweries with branded and private label products for their gift shops and online stores.
But with shopping considered a generally female pastime, and beer-drinking generally considered a primarily male pastime, will Swag Brewery find enough customers for its wares? Arndt thinks so.
We know that women are more likely to "accessorize" their passions. And there are a ton of women-only beer advocacy groups, including Barley's Angels, for example, which are actively working to involve women in the enjoyment of craft beer. So we do think there is a real market for beer swag for women.
While the guys behind Swag Brewery seem to have found a great niche for their creative energies, Arndt says they haven't ruled out opening a brewery some day down the road.(4 Comments)
Last night marked the second annual awards ceremony for Videotect, a video competition that was created to get people thinking about urban design issues.
Last year's topic was skyways; this year it was transportation.
This year I had the pleasure of being one of the judges, and after biting my tongue for several weeks I can now finally share the winners. Here you go!
The Grand Prize Winner: Saddlebag
Honorable Mention: A Fistful of Asphalt
Honorable Mention: Over/Under
Honorable Mention: Church of Automobility
Honorable Mention: Sustainable Transportation
Last but not least, attendees to last night's awards ceremony got to vote for their favorite. The Popular Choice winner was Twin Cities Trails:
Congrats to all the winners!
This week on MNOriginal, costume designer Matthew LeFebvre shows us how he goes about creating costumes for some of the most famous characters in theater. It's a feast for the eyes, including an extensive look at the work that goes into Guthrie Theater's "A Christmas Carol." Enjoy!
Q: How do you get people excited about urban design?
A: Hold a video competition.
At least that's the answer that came to Architecture Minnesota magazine.
Last year Architecture Minnesota held the first annual "Videotect" competition, asking for people to submit short films on the topic of Minnesota's most controversial urban design element - skyways.
Last year's Videotect Grand Prize Winning entry
The competition, culminating in a live screening at the Walker Art Center of the most popular candidates, was a hit according to Architecture Minnesota editor Chris Hudson:
We knew that with a public video competition we wouldn't necessarily get highly prescriptive commentary, but we guessed--and guessed right--that what the entries lacked in analysis they would more than make up for in entertainment value. Bringing entertainment to urban design discussions is a pretty cool thing, in our eyes.
Honorable Mention and Viewers' Choice Finalist for the 2011 competition
Videotect is back this year for round two. This time the topic is "sustainable transportation and its enhancement through quality design" and each video has to be two minutes or less in length.
39 videos were submitted to this year's competition, predominantly from Minnesota, but also Oregon, Illinois, and New York, and from as far away as China, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Hudson ultimately sees Videotect becoming a popular international competition.
You can watch the videos, and vote for your favorites here.
One of this year's entries in the Videotect competition
Voting for the people's choice award runs through Friday, however tomorrow afternoon I'll be sitting down with fellow panel judges to pick our favorites. And trust me, it's not going to be easy!
This year there will be a screening of finalists on March 1 at the Walker Art Center, culminating in a vote for the popular choice winner. The creators of the winning videos will be awarded $2000 (for Grand Prize and Popular Choice) and $500 (for Honorable Mention) respectively.
Another entry in this year's Videotect competition
The State of the Arts blog will be a little slow this week, but it's all for a good cause.
This week I'm filling in as host of Midday, and every day at 11am we're taking on a different arts-related topic. I'll also be joined by a different co-host for each hour.
Today we talked about what happens when classical music is performed outside the concert hall. My co-host was Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman, who hosts "Inside the Classics". Joining us as guests were cellists Matt Haimovitz and Laure Sewell. Matt Haimovitz is known for performing Bach in bars and clubs; Laura Sewell performs with the Twin Cities' based Artaria String Quartet, and this summer they started performing "flash concerts" in bookstores, wine shops, and even a gym!
If you missed it, not to worry - you can listen to the audio here:
Tomorrow we're going to talk design when look at "surplus space." How can we best take advantage of abandoned strip malls, empty parking lots, and even closed down overpasses in ways that benefit our community? This conversation is inspired by a New York Times piece by Michael Kimmelman
My co-host will be architectural historian Larry Millett, and our guests will be Thomas Fisher, Professor of Architecture and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and Jay Walljasper, a writer and speaker focusing on urban and community issues and sustainability.
Wednesday we'll talk about songwriting - how do you write a song that stands the test of time? My co-host will be local songwriter Jeremy Messersmith. Guests: TBD.
And on Friday we look at the legacy of the Black Arts Movement, and how it's impact is still felt today. My co-host will be performer/arts educator T. Mychael Rambo. Joining us in studio will be Penumbra Theatre Artistic Director Lou Bellamy, who just launched a series of conversations on this very topic. Playwright and Scholar Paul Carter Harrison will join us by phone from New York.
So if you can, tune in to Midday this week at 11am, and join the conversation!
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
You don't have to look further than Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi to get a sense of public sentiment for parking lots. No one really likes them, yet they are an inherent by-product of American car culture.
In Sunday's New York Times, Michael Kimmelman writes that one study estimates there are eight parking spots for every car in the country. That's a lot of black asphalt.
But Kimmelman argues there's a design opportunity to be had in all that empty space.
For starters we ought to take these lots more seriously, architecturally. Many architects and urban planners don't. Beyond greener designs and the occasional celebrity-architect garage, we need to think more about these lots as public spaces, as part of the infrastructure of our streets and sidewalks, places for various activities that may change and evolve, because not all good architecture is permanent. Hundreds of lots already are taken over by farmers' markets, street-hockey games, teenage partiers and church services. We need to recognize and encourage diversity. This is the idea behind Parking Day, a global event, around since 2005, that invites anybody and everybody to transform metered lots. Each year participants have adapted hundreds of them in dozens of countries, setting up temporary health clinics and bike-repair shops, having seminars and weddings.
...Of course suburban and urban lots are not all the same, and it's glib to say we should just buy fewer cars. Yes, we ought to wean ourselves from automobiles in favor of public transportation. We rely too much on cars because our public transit systems are often so abysmal. But cars aren't going away anytime soon, certainly not in the suburbs or in cities like Los Angeles, and we can't just wish away lots in which to park them. John Brinckerhoff Jackson, the landscape writer who died in 1996, years ago pleaded that the parking lot be treated like the city common, with its own community values.
Here in Minnesota we certainly have our fair share of parking lots, and for that matter, parking ramps. Many of them have been taken over for neighborhood farmers' markets. But what else could they be used for? Is there an opportunity here that we're missing?(1 Comments)
Stepping into the College of Visual Arts gallery in St. Paul, it's hard to know which way to look.
The room is covered with images and words all designed to grab your attention, and then intrigue, persuade, educate or seduce you. The show is titled WOMN: Women in Minnesota Design, and it celebrates the rather formidable community of female designers here in the state.
Target Team Member Communications
Cynthia Knox is the president of Kilter, a marketing and communications firm with a strong design edge. She says while most people get what they know about the advertising industry from Mad Men, the past 20-30 years have seen some real changes, especially in smaller design firms.
Ad agencies have to be more aggressive, and as a result they tend to to reward the people who are putting the long hours. In design firms it's less of a day to day battle for women. It's what you bring to the table, not how late you stay at the office.
Knox says the Twin Cities, populated with such retail and food-oriented companies as Target and General Mills, created opportunities for women to take on positions of leadership in marketing departments. She says you'll also find many independent design firms runs by women.
Now we have more women in senior roles - we have a bigger voice in bigger companies. There's a way for women to keep their careers and be flexible. We're seeing more real women and real scenarios in advertising, versus the idealized and glorified images of what women should be, according to men.
Knox says women create a more sensitive, nuanced message to give a portrait of a brand or product experience.
Werner Design Werks
Mrs Meyer's Clean Day, Packaging and Catalogs
Looking around the gallery, the Target brand logo pops up repeatedly. Knox says the company has an unusual amount of power and influence on the local design scene.
Without them the warehouse district would be a bit of a ghost town. Because Target pushes designers to do creative work and embraces it, it ends up in a lot of our portfolios. However I know there are lots of changes going on in Target, so this might not continue, which would have a huge impact on the local design scene.
There's also a distinct Minnesota design style, Knox says, which she can often pick out of a line-up of ads.
It's sensitive, detail oriented, with layers and subtext. There's a crafted quality that you don't see in New York. We're closer to San Francisco in terms of the level of sophistication.
Hurricane Katrina Poster
This is the 7th year the College of Visual Arts has put on a design-based show, and the first year it chose to focus on women in design. Out of the 25 designers it invited to attend, 23 participated in the show. Knox says she's not that surprised:
It's a large and yet closeknit group. I've lived in some other cities, and we have a large proportion of female designers here. NYC is more competitive; here we network more, support each other more.
Still, Knox says, woman have a long way to go to be on an equal stance with men in the advertising industry.
It's really funny working for cosmetic companies and hearing male execs talk about what women need, as though we're from a different planet. They rely heavily on research, not on their own women designers.I think it's absurd for men to be telling women what they want.
WOMN: Women in Minnesota Design runs through November 13 at the College of Visual Arts gallery on the corner of Selby and Western in St. Paul.
The hounds' curiosity leads them to experimental music from a composer who values silence, a signature Minneapolis ballet company performing in the theater it helped refurbish, and an exhibition about the unsung women in Minnesota graphic design.
James Sewell Ballet presents its inaugural performance at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts Oct. 21-30, and dancer and dance historian Judith Brin Ingber plans not to miss it. Judith has long appreciated the playful unpredictability in JSB's dances. This concert will feature an older piece performed to a live rendition of the Mendolssohn Trio, as well as a different twist on Tchaikovsky's Black Swan pas de deux, and the world premiere of a new work. Judith says the Sewell family deserves huge amounts of credit for helping make the Cowles Center a reality.
When St. Paul musical theater performer Sabrina Crews felt a need to expand her comfort zone and knowledge beyond vocal music, she turned to challenging yet innovative experimental musician and composer Michael Pisaro. Pisaro's "Concentric Rings in Magnetic Levitation" is being performed by the Chicago-based group, Haptic on Sunday, October 23 at Studio Z in Lowertown, St. Paul. Sabrina says the piece is inspired by Saturn's rings.
St. Paul writer Ellen Shaffer says a new exhibition at the CVA Gallery in St. Paul about Minnesota graphic designers who happen to be women is generating a lot of buzz in the local design community. "WOMN: Women in Minnesota Design" is another installment of the gallery's "Leaders of Design Series." The show opens on Thursday, Oct. 27. On Wed., Oct. 26, there will be a panel discussion featuring exhibition participants Kelly Munson, Sue Crolick, Cynthia Knox, and moderator Gail Rosenblum of the Star Tribune.
And you can get an early sneak peek at the Art Hounds' picks every week by texting the word ART to 677-677.
Art Hounds is powered by the Public Insight Network.
Can good graphic design make the world a better place?
That's something design critic Rick Poynor is thinking about, and is the basis behind a talk he'll be giving tomorrow night at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Poynor contends that however positive its intentions, design will always reflect the nature of the society it serves, and without a systemic change, it will remain an embodiment of wider failings at a time when the economic, social and environmental shortcomings of our system are increasingly clear. Given the inescapable political reality of being a designer, Poynor asks, are there some positive, progressive and achievable social goals on which most designers could agree?
In a recent article for Print magazine, Poynor wrote of "Design as Dictator." Here's a juicy excerpt:
Design has become much too closely aligned with interests that seek to neuter and control it for purely money-making purposes. Designers, by temperament obsessed with control, have been much too ready to comply. Within graphic design, there has always been a tension between its commercial applications and its cultural possibilities. Many designers have felt uneasy about the uses to which their work is put. The desire to resist, to configure design in alternative ways, can be seen in Tibor Kalman's subversive notion of "undesign"; in Adbusters' proclamations of "design anarchy"; in the Dutch design team Metahaven's concept of "uncorporate identity"; and in the periodic invocation of the term "anti-design"--first used in Italy in the late 1960s and most recently revived by Neville Brody, a designer prone to expressions of public ambivalence, for an "Anti Design Festival" in London, in September 2010.
Technology is turning us into switchboard operators in the communication networks of our own lives. Far from encouraging a sense of freedom, graphic design is implicated every step of the way. Why does everything have to arrive through a screen? Does it really make life richer and more interesting? Why not try rejecting the templated experiences, the social media, and the patronizing attempts to involve us in prescribed interactions? Unplug, disconnect, wander at random for a while, submit to app-free chance, rely on your own unmediated instincts and non-digital perceptions, and see what comes along.
Poynor will speak tomorrow night at 6:30pm in Auditorium 150 on the MCAD campus.
Hennepin Avenue is going to be getting a makeover, and the National Endowment for the Arts wants to make sure it's a good one.
NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman will be in town this Friday for a roundtable discussion that includes Mayor R.T. Rybak and other city leaders, and will be moderated by Tom Fisher, Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. The topic is "Creative Placemaking."
Hennepin Avenue at night
Image: wikimedia commons
Minnesota economist Ann Markusen defines creative placemaking this way:
In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.
In the case of Hennepin Avenue, there is talk of creating a "cultural corridor" that leads from the Walker Art Center's sculpture garden all the way through downtown to the river.
The event is hosted by the Hennepin Theatre Trust (the owners of several theaters along Hennepin Ave), which received an Our Town grant from the NEA to lead the planning process for revitalizing the main artery in downtown Minneapolis.
The roundtable discussion takes place from 1:30 - 3pm on Friday at Minneapolis Central Library's Pohlad Hall.
Call me a little late to the party, but I just saw this video of an installation of dance, lighting and music in New York's Standard Hotel. As you can see (via the not-so-subliminal imagery throughout) funding came in large part from Target.
So what I want to know is - when's Target going to bring the bright lights and hot moves to the Mini-Apple? Don't forget your homies!
Gran Hotel Ciudad de México, Mexico City (Image courtesy BBC)
The BBC travel folks are encouraging people to look up. They have create this online-gallery of the great ceilings of the world.
We have some pretty impressive inner roofs here in Minnesota. What would be your nomination for the best ceiling in Minnesota?(3 Comments)
View from Wabasha Bridge towards downtown shows Ramsey County Jail in Red Brick and old West Publishing to the left
All images courtesy the American Institute of Architects
Sometimes it's hard to understand the logic behind the decisions of our forebearers.
For instance, why would someone build a jailhouse on prime riverfront real estate?
The Ramsey County Adult Detention Center was built in 1979 and many credit its striking architecture and rooftop garden with helping to revive the riverfront. It even received a National Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its contribution to urban renewal in St. Paul.
A typical jail cell, complete with a view of the Mississippi
But since the inmates were moved to a larger facility in 2003 the jailhouse has sat empty. Numerous attempts to sell the property to developers have fallen through.
What to do?
This weekend, architects and designers will gather to brainstorm their best ideas for making use of the jailhouse. The event is called "Unauthorized Design" and takes place all day Saturday. The public is invited to a presentation and discussion beginning at 4:30pm in the 3rd floor conference room of the neighboring Ramsey County West.
Jail Commons - Each pod has approximately eight jail cells opening off of a two-story community space
"By appreciating the darkness, when you design the light you create much more interesting environments that truly enhance our lives." - Lighting architect Rogier van der Heide
In under 17 minutes Rogier van der Heide manages to cover a lot of territory - from the inside of a typical office space to a view of earth from the universe, showing us how much light is wasted, never reaching its intended destination. Too much lighting, he argues, only serves to make us feel out of sorts.
Van der Heide argues that proper lighting, which allows for an interplay with darkness, can make us more alert, or help us sleep better. It can inspire us, or help us to feel at peace. Using examples drawn from art, architecture and theater, van der Heide shows how spotlighting, new LEDs, and ambient luminescence can all work together to create more beautiful spaces, while preserving our views of the night sky.
"Corn" by Steve Thomas - Image copyright Pioneer Press
The Minnesota State Fair has chosen Steve Thomas of Lino Lakes to design the 2011 poster and commemorative art.
"Mars" by Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas' work as an illustrator is striking to behold, combining retro graphic style with often hyper-futuristic imagery. Thomas' sense of humor is everpresent in his portfolio, designing travel posters for other planets in the solar system, and propaganda posters for computer games like Pac Man and Frogger.
Frogger by Steve Thomas
You can see how Thomas' art might lend itself to the state fair in some of his work for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press:
"Revolution" by Steve Thomas - Image copyright Pioneer Press
This year marks the first time the Minnesota State Fair has gone about choosing its artist through a public call for submissions. Thomas was one of five finalists selected from over 80 candidates.
Thomas' original art for the State Fair will be unveiled at the fairgrounds in June and displayed at the Fine Arts Center during the fair's 12-day run.
Ralph Rapson's bent wood rocker
Minnesota architect Ralph Rapson may be best remembered for his buildings, from the original Guthrie Theater to the blighted Cedar-Riverside apartment buildings. But buildings made up just part of his modernist vision; it also included flatware, teapots, lamps, dishes, jewelry, fabrics, clothes, and especially furniture.
Tonight and tomorrow, Rapson's son Toby and Toby's wife Janet Czaia have organized a show that brings together Rapson's playful drawings, and the realized designs of several of his chairs, along with some of Czaia's own artwork.
Ralph Rapson's "Chair of Tomorrow"
The two-day show and sale features many of Ralph Rapson's original drawings dating from as far back as the 1930s, including renderings of his whimsical "kissing chair" or "chair of tomorrow." Toby Rapson, who now runs Rapson Architects, describes his father's work as casual and almost anthropomorphic:
A wonderful element of my father's drawings was his ability to draw freehand with people using his furniture in amusing positions and behavior; he had an uncanny ability to maintain a correct perspective on his pieces and figures. He spent a great deal of time early in his career studying human anatomy and proportion. Later in life he could simply place these people seemingly effortlessly into his furniture drawings, again adding a playful quality and humanness to his work.
Ralph Rapson's solid wood rockers
Toby Rapson says he 's been working on expanding the line of his father's furniture designs and going through his collection of design drawings. An opportunity to use an exhibition space was presented that he and his wife felt they couldn't pass up, and so they rushed to get this show ready.
We have also had many inquiries about purchasing Ralph's work so we thought making some of his drawings available on a one time basis would be a good thing. I like the ideas of the drawings being in the hands of people; Don't tell the curators that you might know, but I worry about the thought of his designs being boxed away and being almost inaccessible in an archive - the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark comes to mind where the Ark of the Covenant is being carted to the bowels of some warehouse (not that we're talking Ark of the Covenant here).
A rendering of Ralph Rapson's lounge chair
The Furniture Design of Ralph Rapson: Two Day Exhibition and Sale runs from 5-11pm tonight and from 10am to 8pm tomorrow at 520 Selby Ave in St. Paul. A percentage of the sales will be donated to the Ralph Rapson Traveling Study Fellowship at the Minnesota Architectural Foundation
Need a little break from your afternoon slump? Check out this charming short film by a Munich design student (on Vimeo the student simply lists himself as "yo man"). The combination of music, stop animation, and tag art shows an impressive attention to detail, and works together to create a compelling scene. Enjoy!
Cecily Hines wants to change the way you think about parks.
The President of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation is a co-organizer of a series of talks, starting Thursday, about park design in the 21st century. The talks are part of a broader project to redesign the city's parks system. She says while the Twin Cities may have great parks, they aren't keeping up with the times.
When you look around other cities throughout the country and the world, they're doing incredible things with landscape design and public spaces and park land. We - because we've had such an incredibly wonderful system that's well-maintained and programmed - really haven't been keeping up with visioning for the long term future. The early generations planned and left us an incredible legacy, and we should be doing the same for the future.
Hines points to changing demographics and social issues; our aging and ethnically diverse population, the economy and the environment are all creating new demands and putting new pressures on city life. Hines says effectively designed parks could address all of those issues.
Parks are not stagnant. Parks can perform many different functions and in other cities you see different types of programming, areas with multiple uses, parks connecting to alternative transportation, and providing storm management.
The first speaker in the three-part series is Jamie Dean, Program Manager of the East London Green Grid, a park system which is meant to revitalize a downtrodden section of the city. Conceived as a "living network of parks, green spaces, river and other corridors," supporters claim it will also "improve public health, enhance biodiversity, and link communities."
Connectivity is a big word in park design. How can parks help people connect with their community, their neighbors, or to other parks? Hines says some of the ideas commonly discussed include public wi-fi access, proximity to lightrail, and safety.
In anything that we consider - you want it to be attractive to people of all ages and all cultures, because the more people that come into our parks, the more vibrant they are and the safer they are. And we have some parks in our system that are very active and very vibrant, and we have others that feel less safe because there's less activity going on in them.
Hines says the challenge we'll be balancing good design and innovation with the need for financial sustainability. Whatever is put into place must be easy to maintain, and long-lasting.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is co-organizing the talks along with the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota's College of Design and School of Landscape Architecture. Hines says that's because those institutions have shown a high level of interest in and respect for elegant and effective design:
When you look at any kind of problem any kind of aspiration, goal or issue - quality design matters. And it shows. When you enter a space that's been well designed you know it, you feel it, and it feels artistic, but you're not in a museum, you're in a beautiful outdoor space, and you enjoy the beauty of it as well as the functionality of it.
This Thursday's talk is free and open to the public. Tickets will be available at the Humphrey Institute's Cowles Auditorium on the U of M campus starting at 6pm. The talk begins at 7pm.
Buildings made from trash
Architect Mitchell Joachim is referred to by many as a "radical architect." Rather than design a new style of building, he rethinks the concept of a building entirely. In looking at his home, New York City, he sees potential to turn its darker, dirtier side into a competitive advantage:
We make a lot of trash - 36,000 tons per day. In fact if I were some alien peering down on New York I would think the city was some sort of apparatus to make trash, that its primary function is to produce waste.
Joachim thinks that trash should be put to use, namely in the construction of buildings. A life-size replica of the Statue of Liberty would require (according to Joachim) only one hour's worth of the city's compacted waste; a skyscraper could be built with a single day's worth. In a conversation Friday on Midmorning, Joachim said we should stop filling landfills, and instead start building housing and businesses. Some clean-up of the trash would need to be made, he says, but that shouldn't stop the city from taking advantage of a vast resource.
The In Vitro Meat Habiata is intended to be a "victimless shelter", because no sentient being was harmed in the laboratory growth of the skin.
Joachim recognizes that his ideas have some hurdles to leap before gaining wide acceptance. Take, for instance, his "In Vitro Meat Habitat" made from mass manufactured pig cells. The "habitat" would be a completely organic structure that didn't hurt a single pig in the making. But as the picture above indicates, Joachim needs to do some more work on curb appeal.
So, are you willing to live in a house made out of trash in order to save the planet? Do you think Joachim's ideas have the potential to gain mass appeal?
As City Artist in Residence Marcus Young doesn't beat around the bush when asked what he wants from the third annual Sidewalk Poetry Contest in St Paul.
"We want your back-of-napkin poems, your classroom poems. We want your deepest secrets in poetry form. And then we will publish your poems in the sidewalk, in the public realm, to create these delightful moments of out door reading," he says. "We live in a very big blank book, so this is the time to begin writing in our blank book."
The idea is quite simple: write a poem of 250 characters (including spaces.) It can be a maximum of 10 lines, with a maximim of 40 characters in a line. Once your piece is polished yo your satisfaction submit it to the contest by March 28th.
If you are one of the winners chosen by the judges, your piece will be transformed into a giant stamp, which will be applied to new sidewalks being installed around the city this summer. (One caveat, the contest is only open to St Paul residents. Would-be sidewalk poets elsewhere should talk to their own city public works departments about poetic possibilities.)
"Right now we have 261 poems installed around the city from a collection of 26 poems," Young says. "It's quite interesting how often people see them, although they are not everywhere. I'm just surprised that people notice them, and enjoy them."
I mentioned that I had stumbled across some of the poems as I was out walking in my own neighborhood.
Don't say stumble," Young laughs. "The Public Works Department doesn't want a trip hazard. You'll get me in trouble."
OK, so I have happened upon some of the Sidewalk Poetry, and it has always come as a surprise, or even a shock, given that the pieces I found were a little on the dark side.
Young (at left with a poem about to be stamped into wet concrete,) says the idea is to create a gentle surprise as people are out and about.
"I mean how many times do we in our lives do we get such gentle pleasant surprises that are just meant to hopefully spark something in your imagination, or create a moment of joy, simple joy."
Young says some people wonder if the poetry is vandalism, or something that the homeowner has done. He likes that mystery.
Some people wonder who is paying for it, and Young likes to poinbt out there are many sources of funding including The Public Art Saint Paul's program fund, the City of Saint Paul, and Readings by Writers; and is produced in collaboration with the Department of Public Works.The project also receives support from several local foundations.
The City of St Paul replaces about 10 miles of sidewalk each year, and Young aims to get about 100 poems printed in cement each summer.
Now he wants more. The winners will be announced in May. Young encourages allcomers to submit a poem.
"We have funny poems, we have thoughtful poems, we have dark poems. You just have to be concise," Young says.
"Kidz in the Hall" shows off studio furniture by recent MCAD alumni
A new exhibition at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design brings together the work of 15 emerging artists from around the country to highlight new trends in studio furniture.
But I'm not going to write about that exhibition. Instead, I'm going to write about the one tucked back around the corner from the main gallery.
This smaller exhibition, called "Kidz in the Hall: Studio furniture by recent MCAD alumni" was created to complement the main gallery show, but in several cases, I think it actually upstages it.
Dean Wilson, head of the furniture design program at MCAD, curated both shows. He says the purpose of both exhibitions is to stimulate new thinking and new perceptions about the meaning and methods of contemporary studio furniture.
I wanted to highlight some up-and-coming studio furniture makers from around the country so that everyone could see what young furniture makers are doing. Its primary audience is the community of students, collectors, museum professionals, and designers eager to support and promote recent furniture and advanced design in this country. Most shows present the classic makers like Wendell Castle, Sam Maloof, and Gary Knox Bennett. I wanted to present younger makers who are somewhat undiscovered and who may be the stars of the future in studio furniture making. I also wanted to educate my current students at MCAD about the creative people who have just preceded them.
Nate Moren "Crinkle" 2008
The main gallery offers some really lovely pieces to look at, but many of them are only loosely based on the notion of "furniture." Several are far more sculptural than practical; the piece might make you think about a chair, but you probably wouldn't want to sit on it.
MCAD's new president, Jay Coogan, has a background in both furniture design and sculpture. Walking through the exhibition, he says the "Kidz in the Hall" selection stands out as a testament to Dean Wilson's teaching.
Considering all of the work in the featured gallery part of the show come from designers who have completed graduate programs I find the MCAD work by recent undergraduates to be as inventive if not more so than some of their older, more experienced counterparts. The level of craft also seems on a par and the inventive use of materials by the MCAD students is also very intriguing. This, to my mind speaks to the quality of the program that Dean has created. It not only is about a rigorous devotion to skill development but also to exploration; of materials, form, concepts and the definition of furniture and functionality.
Patrick Carmody & Kfir Shetrit "Untitled" 2010
It's easy to see that Wilson is both proud and admiring of his graduates. He points to a chair by MCAD alumni Patrick Carmody and Kfir Shetrit.
[It] is a good example of traditional joinery and newer vacuum bag technology married into a piece that is a nice blend of fluid and geometric shapes. The curved seat hovers effortlessly above the trapezoidal base.
Much of the work in the main gallery is more in the world of 'form' than it is of 'function.' By contrast the work in the "Kidz in the Hall" exhibition shows both innovation and creativity, as well as pragmatism and a concern for the environment. Wilson finds the folding stool by Erin and Nate Moren to be a really thoughtful response to society's increasing mobility and a desire to have a minimal impact on the planet.
Erin and Nate Moren's folding stool: right side up, upside down, and lying flat on the wall.
MCAD President Jay Coogan says everyday corporations like IKEA, Target and Room and Board are playing up the design of their products more than ever, and in fact is increasingly becoming the determining factor in the success of many commercial products.
All of this attention and awareness attracts young people to the design professions which are also proliferating to include not just object/furniture design but also experience and systems design. Design thinking is causing restructuring of business school curriculum as much as it is changing what gets taught in art and design schools.
John Bruhl "Vessel II" 2006
"Studio Furniture: The Next Generation" and it's accompanying exhibition "Kidz in the Hall: Studio Furniture by recent MCAD Alumni" are both on display in the Minneapolis College of Art and Design gallery through February 21, with an opening reception on Friday, January 22.(5 Comments)
I have to say, I debated a while over posting this talk. Ad man Rory Sutherland talks about the value of "spin," that is to say, what advertising can offer reality.
Sutherland supports the idea of "intangible value." If you want to live in a sustainable economy, you will have to learn to live with less. He says that creates two choices for society: to either be poorer according to current standards, or to develop into a world in which more value is placed on "intangibles," i.e. non-material goods.
If I follow the logic correctly, the idea is not to be so focused on the next big thing, but instead work on appreciating what's already here. Creating "intangible value" is not about reducing hunger, or increasing jobs, but simply making everyday experiences richer.
Sutherland delivers his earnest message with a lot of humor, and some delightful examples. It's a hilarious talk, well worth the watch, but is it about art?
Here's the thing... Sutherland is keenly aware of the importance of perception, and to my mind art is all about perception. Some art work challenges how we perceive reality, while others (say, a beautiful landscape painting) help us to appreciate what is right in front of us.
Sutherland ends with two quotes:
"Poetry is when you make new things familiar, and familiar things new." (unattributed)
"We are perishing not for want of wonders, but for want of wonder." - G. K. Chesterton
My guess (and I'd love to debate this one with you), is that in a society more conscious of the wonders that abound, art would attain a much higher status.
But would it? What role would the television play? Or a book? In a world of "intangible value" are we more or less likely to daydream? In what way does art help us to get in touch with the hear and now, and in what ways does it help us to escape?
Lots of questions - and I welcome your answers.
University of Minnesota Team Advisor Jay Denny takes a moment after working on his team's house for 29 hours straight during the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2009.
(Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
The University of Minnesota has sent a design team to the National Mall in D.C. to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's "Solar Decathlon." The goal of the decathlon is to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.
The decathlon takes place October 8-16, and the teams are scored based on their performance in ten contests, including architecture, market viability, lighting design, hot water, and home entertainment.
According to the DOE's website, as of this writing the University of Minnesota team is in 7th place. However, Huffingtonpost.com has published photos of the team submissions, with a place for readers to vote. On that poll, the University of Minnesota is currently ranked in first place. It's gonna be a nail biter...
You can find out more about the decathlon in this article from the New York Times.
"Watusi (Hard Edge)" by African-American artist Alma Thomas, now on display in the East Wing of the White House.
The Obama family's ongoing work to redecorate the White House is drawing international attention, particularly for what they're hanging on the walls.
The White House is now home to more modern and abstract artwork than ever before, from Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko to lesser-known artists such as Alma Thomas, an African-American abstract painter of the 1960s and 1970s (see above).
In addition, the first family is choosing artwork that represents much of the country's history - including native american pottery - and ingenuity, represented by models for a telegraph register, a gear-cutting machine and a paddlewheel for a steamboat.
So if you moved into the White House, what art would you surround yourself with?(1 Comments)
James May arms himself with some oversized Lego blocks. (Image courtesy Apartment Therapy)
British TV personality James May loves toys. He's even hosting a show called "Toy Stories." For the show May is building a house, complete with working toilet, out of Legos. He, and hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers started the project on August 1st on Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, and are set to complete the house this week. May says he plans to stay in the house for a couple of days, or until the house falls down - whichever comes sooner.
Image courtesy Apartment Therapy.
Some questions: Will the house be leak proof? If May doesn't like the layout, can he just unsnap and re-snap the walls in different locations? And will the house be plundered by jealous kids who want more blocks for their own projects?
It could be a scene from the movie "Helvetica." People around the world are in an uproar at the Swedish furniture store Ikea, not for the quality of its workmanship, or the prices, but the new typeface used
to display its four letter namein its catalogues.
Evidently Ikea wants to make its global image more consistent, and that means using a font that will work in all languages, and with asian characters. Verdana is also the typeface of choice on the web.
But for many Futura is a classic. And Ikea has been quite happy with it for the past 50 years.
While the typophiles are in a heated debate over the move, the bigger question is how (or whether) it will affect the store's brand reputation. It's hard to imagine that a store with such a recognizable image
(four blockish yellow letters on a bold blue building) could take a hit from a slight change in font, but comparisons have already been made to the launch of New Coke back in 1985.
If you are passing through the Walker Art Center anytime soon, set aside a few minutes to see "Slant/Light/Volume." There's just one piece in the show, an untitled work by Robert Irwin.
It's quite simple: a huge piece of fabric stretched across an entire gallery at an angle, lit from behind. Seen in person, it is stunning, a glowing plane hanging among the faint echoes bouncing through the Walker's chambered galleries.
The piece was designed for the opening of what was then the Walker's new building in 1971. It hasn't been displayed for 20 years, and it's definately worth experiencing now.(1 Comments)
It's been four months, but Jonas Schaefer (left, with colleague Josh Pepper on right) is still pretty pumped about the first Minneapolis St Paul Pecha Kucha Night.
Some 350 people turned up at Intermedia Arts for the first one in April and the event sold out.
"The reception was amazing. People really got into it," Schaefer says. Pecha Kucha is a community event where presenters are allowed to show 20 slides as part of a presentation on whatever topic they want. The twist is each slide is only shown for 20 seconds and then the next one pops up. Presentations can only last for six minutes and 40 seconds total. The original Pecha Kucha was in Japan, but the event has spread like wildfire all over the world.
Schaefer says the first evening had a great variety of presentations ranging from map making, urban photography, bringing youth into the wilderness, film making, bike freedom, architecture, and innovative approaches to problem solving.
Schaefer and his co-producer Josh Pepper needed to do a little problem solving of their own. There were so many people they filled the auditorium and some audience members had to watch over a video link from the gallery next door.
Schaefer says it's clear they needed a bigger venue "We realized that right away," he says. So the next event on Wednesday August 12th will be at the Theater Lab in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. The fun begins at 7pm.
They have 12 people lined up with presentations on jewelry, theoretical physics, futurism, and soar car racing among other things.
They also learned they could do with some help. "We are just two guys that wanted to do something. So there is a lot we learned." So they have expanded and Megan Baxter and Rachel Rydbeck have been added to the Pecha Kucha Night MSP Team.
They are also already looking for future venues. "The event at its core is about new ideas." And that includes cool locations
"We found a local airport that has a hanger that we thought would be a great place for an event," says Schaefer. It looks like the third Pecha Kucha MSP Night will be held there, although Schaefer says they are always open to suggestions.
"The idea is every time you come, you get something new. You get something different, something interesting, and that it doesn't feel like you have done this before."