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June 30, 2009

The people behind (and in) the chairs.


Over the next few weeks we'll introduce you to some of the folks at Design Within Reach. In the "hot" seat this week is Ben, who’s in charge of choosing Outdoor products.

"When I came on board, I realized we had no classics in outdoor, which was weird. The Adirondack is the classic outdoor chair. This one by Loll is an awesome, all-weather, totally post-consumer material chair. It is so classic and so modern. You can leave it outside year after year and all you have to do is hose it off after the winter. I'm partial to the green one, and the guys at Loll are totally about being 'green' – they use recycled materials, their facility is all about the environment and, as I discovered recently, they also like green beer. I had a few Green Flash IPAs with these guys on a recent trip. They’re totally magnetic, very human guys. I wouldn’t be comfortable doing business with a designer or manufacturer who I don’t trust. These guys, and their Adirondack Chair, are the real deal."
- Ben G. DWR Outdoor Dept.

June 20, 2009

In case the Fawcett House isn’t for you: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House.


Another Frank Lloyd Wright house now for sale: The Ennis House – built in 1924 in Los Angeles – has been featured in movies and TV shows for years. Fifteen million will get you this legendary building, which has been under the care of a private foundation and was put on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s most endangered list in 2005. Unable to keep up the necessary maintenance to preserve the mostly concrete structure (perhaps it suffering from “concrete creep?” See previous blog post.), they’ve put it up for sale. Learn more about it here.

June 19, 2009

Smart people thinking about longevity.

Lightweight block 3

Via Mediabistro we heard about an interesting advance in green design: long-lasting concrete. Engineers at MIT have identified the cause of “concrete creep,” which is essentially the degradation of the most frequently used building material on earth. Getting down to the nano level (some serious science speak going on there), they’re figuring out how to create concrete that can last hundreds of years instead of tens. That’s smart design.

June 10, 2009

DWR: Tools for Living SoHo Artist Window Series, No.1

Last weekend's inaugural installation of the Tools for Living SoHo Artist Window Series had tourists and tried-and-true New Yorkers alike stopping to gawk on Wooster Street. Running with a “Summer in the City” theme, artist Damon Johnson decked out the Wooster Street windows with huge cartoon pigeons and thorny, technicolor roses. His signature “Urban Surrealism” packs the perfect punch to set off the summer season in SoHo.

June Window 13

Continue reading "DWR: Tools for Living SoHo Artist Window Series, No.1" »

June 09, 2009

Good, sound design.


El Paso, Texas-based musician Jay Hardtke didn’t realize how versatile his Toto Cube Lamps would be when bought them. “They’re certainly a mixture of function and aesthetics,” he says. “The soft glow fills up space warmly, and I can use them to sit on or as end tables.” Hardtke uses the multifunctional piece as a perch for practicing his craft. He sees a parallel between fine craftsmanship in furniture as well as guitars: “As much as I like modern, clean design, I gravitate towards old guitars, old Gretsches in particular. I had Saul Koll repair a few of my guitars and liked his work so much that I decided to have him build two for me, which are really amazing instruments. You can tell they were made by someone – the imperfect quirks from being handmade give them a soul that big factory guitars just don’t have.” Check out some of Jay Hardtke’s music here.

June 08, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Wright.


To celebrate the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright, today the Guggenheim and Google launched a unique design challenge: The “Design It: Shelter Competition” invites amateur and professional designers to submit a 3-D shelter, rendered using Google SketchUp and Google Earth. This assignment is part of the curriculum of Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and an exhibit of students’ work is now at the Guggenheim (Kaman Amin’s Lotus Shelter is pictured above). Now this design challenge is now open to the public. Possible prizes include a trip to New York and $1,000. So get sketching.

June 02, 2009

Soundsuits on the scene.


Chicago artist Nick Cave (not to be confused with the Australian musician of the same name) merges his background in dance and his passion for clothing design to create his Soundsuits. The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco now has the largest exhibit of his work to date, on display through July 5. I checked it out this weekend and was, well, kind of speechless. Part sculpture, part fashion, part other-worldly surrealism, the materials Cave chooses are startling. Everything from human hair to thrift-store knick-knacks, crocheted doilies to bejeweled sweaters (Golden Girls thoroughly evoked). Each of these utterly unique creations is displayed on a mannequin, bending all ideas of gender and even species. The resulting exhibit is a trip-tastic wonderland of found objects.