Fifty to 60 years ago, Palm Springs, California was a design capital: Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, John Lautner, and many other famed midcentury architects built homes around the desert city for Hollywood’s biggest stars (think Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope). Photographs like Julius Shulman’s iconic image of Neutra’s Kaufmann House catapulted the city to international fame, creating its reputation for high design, beautiful scenery, and glamorous celebrities. Though Hollywood’s biggest names no longer frequent Palm Springs quite as often as they used to, and architects are better known for restoring its historic homes than building new structures there, the Palm Springs retains its identity as a hub for midcentury design. The city annually hosts a popular Modernism Week, and the locale’s appeal for midcentury modernism fans is about to grow substantially. The city will open a permanent museum and cultural center devoted to midcentury design, known as the Architecture and Design Center, on November 9, reports the Los Angeles Times. Continue Reading
OBJECT LESSONS: Architecture & Design News
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside a brilliant architect’s studio, now is your chance to see for yourself. The Google Cultural Institute and the Alvar Aalto Foundation are partnering to make the Finnish architect’s spaces available online in 350-degree panoramas that detail every surface, reports Archinect. “The partnership’s collection focuses on eight sites, including Aalto’s studio, Säynätsalo Town Hall, and the House Kantola, as well as an exhibition at the Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland on the restoration of his Vyborg Library. Google also has a personal interest in the architect’s works, as one of its data centers is located in a former cellulose factory that Aalto designed, in Hamina, Finland,” writes Amelia Taylor-Hochberg for Archinect. The beautiful views are made possible by a somewhat more sinister, explains Taylor-Hochberg: the improved resolutions on Google’s satellite imaging that make close-ups possible can also be used to spy on nearly anyone from a distance.
— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)
Image via the Google Cultural Institute.
It might just be the end-all of New York City’s design retailers: Chamber, a new boutique devoted to rare, vintage, and specially commissioned works of art and design is opening on September 24 on the ground floor of Neil Denari’s HL23 building along the High Line. Founded by Juan Garcia Mosqueda, Chamber’s concept is as uncommon as many of the shop’s wares. Mosqueda is selecting a new curator every two years to redevelop the store’s retail strategy and pick out its offerings, thereby regularly overhauling the shop’s entire program with updated commissions and pieces for sale.
Neil Denari’s 2008 residential HL23 tower, where Chamber will be located on the ground floor. Continue Reading
Most of today’s most famous and successful architects are old enough to have made it through their design student days without technological luxuries like digital rendering software (save for Bjarke Ingels, who, at 38 years old, is practically still a teenager). An upcoming exhibition that opens on September 12 at the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis lays bare the salad days of several high-profile architects, including Peter Cook, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind. Harking back to a time when hand-to-paper was still the requisite first step in bringing an architectural idea to reality, Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association features illustrations, sketches, and graphic studies from the private collection of former Architectural Association chairman Alvin Boyarsky. While all the designers included in the exhibition are former students of Boyarsky’s at the architectural association, some of the featured works were gifted to the educator after graduation — testament to the strong ties he maintained with many of today’s leading designers.
Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Continue Reading
Pioneering Los Angeles-based graphic designer Deborah Sussman passed away on August 19 at the age of 83, reports the Los Angeles Times. The infamous designer, whose notable projects include the graphic identity for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, died of breast cancer, according to the newspaper. “[Sussman] used her signature combination of bright hues such as magenta and chrome yellow, sometimes mixed with pastels, to create graphics and signage that can be found in buildings and cityscapes worldwide,” explains the Times, which also notes that she leaves behind her husband and business partner, Paul Prejza. With a combination of bright hues and witty historical references, her work embodied the graphic design iteration of the postmodernism that held sway in the Southern California design world in the 1980s and 1990s.
Her first major project and the commission that shot her to renown in the graphic design world, Sussman’s identity and signage for the Olympics were highly controversial. She was largely unknown when her rainbow-hued visuals were first unveiled, to largely negative feedback. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, one critic called her work “a disappointment. It could very well be representing a trendy Melrose Avenue emporium or a traditional Little Tokyo restaurant.” Ultimately, her final designs would prove wildly popular, encapsulating the city’s free-spirited attitude in the early 1980s. Frank Gehry, who spoke to the newspaper on account of her death earlier this week, explained: “That’s what the Olympics were about — to put Los Angeles at the center of attention,” Gehry said. “Deborah put that into a visual.” Continue Reading
Designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Paris-based Agence Jouin Manku have given a former priory in northwestern France, in the Loire Valley, an altogether otherworldly makeover. The the industrial design team refurbished the landmark-designated interior of the Saint-Lazare priory at the Fontevraud Abbey, turning the former monastery into a high-end hotel and restaurant complex as part of a larger redevelopment scheme aimed at modernizing Fontevraud and surrounding monasteries that all date to the Middle Ages. By employing a palette of wood, metal and fabric to complement the original stone building, the designers were able to preserve the calm and quiet of the original priory while updating the space to fit the needs of a modern traveler. The renovation process took more than two years and involved rebuilding buttresses and a tower on two sides of the building, rearranging the spaces to accommodate bedrooms and removing flagstone floors to install underfloor heating, all without damaging the original fabric of the priory.
Finally, good news from Russia.
Remember playing with your food as a kid? Akihiro Mizuuchi is encouraging adults to do much the same. The Japanese designer has created functional LEGO pieces fabricated out of milk chocolate, reports Dezeen. The resulting product is such a precise replica that it even features the Danish toy company’s logo on top of each brick, just like actual pieces of LEGO.
Food for fun, not thought. Continue Reading
Santiago Calatrava has finished a brand-new building for Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, just ahead of the beginning of the institution’s inaugural school year. He designed both the 68-hectare master plan and the Innovation, Science, and Technology building for the institution, reports Dezeen. The Valencia-born architect makes an especially apt designer for the project — the new institution focuses on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, all of which are unified in the parabolic curves that Calatrava created for its central structure.
The most notable feature of the 61,000-square-foot structure, which sits on the northern edge of a campus lake, is its latticed aluminum trellis, which, according to Dezeen, is designed to reduce the building’s solar gain by around 30 percent. The interior, where a large first-floor meeting area known as “the Commons” sits directly beneath a vaulted skylight, includes classrooms, offices, and additional meeting spaces. [Dezeen]
— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)
Image courtesy of Santiago Calatrava and Florida Polytechnic University.
Postmodern design triumvirate FAT, which stands for Fashion Architecture Taste, has completed construction of the firm’s final built project, dubbed A House for Essex. Continue Reading