It looks like design history is in the air here in Chicago. The Chicago Design Museum is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to launch an exhibition looking back at 100 years of graphic arts. Chicagoisms just opened at The Art Institute—a meditation on Chicago’s architectural history and mythology that builds off a previous exhibition of unbuilt work reviewed here.
Now another exhibit glances at Chicago’s design history to better assess its present and future.
That’s not a line graph, its the Pompidou Center. Graphic designer Yoni Alter has stripped down a number of iconic museum exteriors to their core ingredients. The silhouettes are then swathed in a Miami-vice color scheme for a further dose of abstraction. Despite the neon paint-job, the scales are all accurate, with the Tate Modern and Guggenheim Bilbao looming largest. Signed copies of the print are available for $50 before shipping.
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Wolf-Gordon’s “Force of Nature” spirals through Chicago’s Merchandise Mart during NeoCon 2013.
Based on the success of Wolf-Gordon’s inaugural NeoCon installation in 2012, chief creative officer Marybeth Shaw commissioned yet another show-stopping design piece for 2013. With the working title “Forces of Nature,” she turned once again to New York City–based design studio karlssonwilker and Brooklyn-based design-build collaborative The Guild to create a sculpture that would showcase the breadth of the company’s textiles and wall coverings. “The title ended up being quite appropriate to the final form, as the sculpture is a geometric construct with all of the resulting physical forces that might spin it out of the Mart’s ‘town square,’” Shaw recently told AN.
Karlssonwilker initially conceived of a kinetic sculpture, but Shaw wanted a large installation—nearly 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. At that size, there was no room for movement within the given space, a double-height ceiling over an escalator that would carry 42,000 show attendees. “We wanted it to rotate like a rotisserie chicken, but we went for a larger form,” said Graham Kelman, creative manager for The Guild. Ultimately, the team decided on a static sculpture resembling a twisted spine that gives a sense of movement through color and form. “I lost sleep over whether it would fit because if there was flex in the spine, it wouldn’t work.”
Graphic designer José Guizar is documenting the variety of windows to be found across New York City. His project, Windows of New York, adds a distinctive aperture each week rendered in stunning simplicity, reminding us of another ambitious graphic design project James Gulliver Hancock‘s All the Buildings of New York. According to Guizar, Windows of New York “is a collection of windows that somehow have caught my restless eye out from the never-ending buzz of the city. This project is part an ode to architecture and part a self-challenge to never stop looking up.” [Via Swiss Miss.]
Russian Posters – Rodchenko 120
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Herron School of Art and Design Marsh Gallery
735 West New York Street, Indianapolis, IN
Through August 24
In recognition of the 120th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Rodchenko, Moscow Design Week organized a poster campaign honoring the Russian avant-garde artist, graphic designer, and photographer. Commissioning work from twenty prominent Russian poster artists, the campaign sought to create a dialogue between contemporary graphic designers and a master of the discipline. Sergei Serov, curator of the project, writes, “The posters are not only a tribute to the great artist, but a reflection on the historical destiny of graphic design.” The posters all bear Rodchenko’s influence in unique ways. Elements from some of his most notable designs are repurposed, utilizing Rodchenko’s own language of collage and geometric composition. These strict geometries inform Nikolai Shtok’s entry, above, where simple geometric forms are abstracted and composed as a Rodchenko-inspired typography.
New York vs. Paris. It seems that the Big Apple and The City of Lights are forever battling over design, architecture, fashion, and film. A Parisian graphic designer decided to take matters into his own hands, creating a website to display his witty color-block graphics that juxtapose these iconic cities. Topics are eclectic, ranging from landmarks (the Empire Sate vs. the Eiffel Tower), to architecture (5th Avenue Apple Store vs. Musée du Louvre), to food (cupcakes vs. macarons), to even car parking styles (parking lot towers vs. double parked). More at the NY Times T Magazine.
Oil from plastic. Energy company Vadxx has invented reactors that can transform plastic scraps that can’t be recycled into crude oil with the lowest sulfur content in the world, says Good Magazine. The first reactors are slated for a recycling plant in Akron, Ohio. However, this begs this question: will the amount of crude oil created offset the amount of energy needed for the conversion process?
Basket lights. A New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, has infused his lighting with the spiritual–looking to a Maori creation myth for design inspiration, writes Contemporist. The Maori believed gods gave humans three baskets of knowledge. Trubiridge designed three corresponding teardrop ceiling “baskets”: the bamboo light represents knowledge of the natural world, the polycarbonate light symbolizes knowledge of the spiritual world, and the aluminum basket signifies knowledge of the rational world.
If a whole flock of ghostly animals starts appearing in downtown New York this fall, don’t panic. It’ll just mean that the public picked Chris Shelley’s design “…of special concern” as a winner in the Buildings and Cultural Affairs Departments’ urbancanvas competition, which solicited ideas for decorating the construction fences, sidewalk sheds, scaffolding and cocoons that act as eyesores on seemingly every New York City street.