Feb 26, 2010

Jordan Gray Creative

I recently was introduced to Jordan Grey Creative firm's work.  Its some of the most unique and innovative design I've seen in a long time.  I love the vintage style and colors they choose for each thing.  Here's a couple of their logo designs.
And a few of their 'gig' posters, these I think are their forte. 

You can see their whole portfolio here

Feb 25, 2010

Richard Serra - My Favorite, Part 1

I love Richard Serra's artwork.  I think it's a tie between him and Andy Goldsworthy for the title of 'my favorite contemporary artist', but I tend to shy away from statements like that in fear of contradicting myself at some point.  
When I worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, we were in the process of opening a new building.  Quite a process, but one of the upsides was that we commissioned Richard Serra to create and install a piece in the outside space of that new building.  As a result of him coming to install this piece I had a chance to watch how he works to install his work!  A truly amazing and meticulous experience, here's a shot of him collaborating with his chief engineer.

But let me back up, Richard Serra is known primarily for his works which challenge gravity and become very physical to the viewer.  Their breathtaking size and assumed weight of the pieces, for me have been some of the most fascinating and physically affecting works of art I've seen. 
The first time I saw a Serra piece in person was at the Dia:Beacon museum in upstate New York.  One of his lesser-known works, perhaps, was my first encounter.  Union of the Torus and the Sphere, pictured below.
This sculpture which is two long and narrow pieces of steel, mirrored, then connected on either end, was shoved into a skinny hallway of a gallery.  Being my first time at this museum, I didn't know of another way around the museum so I scooted by it.  Its amazing, the genius of putting that sculpture in that small space!  (I'm not certain, but I have a feeling he created it specifically for that room).  At first I attempted to get by on the right side, but as you can see, it's pretty tight.  At one point I felt like the sculpture might fall over on me. I then went back and got by easily on the left.  But what an experience, as you can probably tell, I'm hyper fascinated with art that gets in your face and invades your space! 
More later, but one last gem.  At that same museum, I saw Serra's Torqued Ellipses for the first time.  There are 3 right next to each other in a giant gallery space.  As viewers we're invited to explore inside the ellipses which are gigantic, very tall plates of manipulated steel, really a feat of engineering. The fact that these sculptures defy gravity doesn't seem to keep people out from them, but for me there was definitely hesitation.  Do I want to risk it, to enter this sculpture?  I thought about it and I'm sure other people do as well.  The Art:21 website says this about his torqued ellipses: "...bent and curved, leaning in and out, carve very private spaces from the necessarily large public sites in which they have been erected."  That to me is another way the pieces affect you.  As I was exploring, I felt almost as though being inside the piece, I was alone, it was private, a place where I could relax, be myself.  Because of the sheer volume of the work you really do feel isolated from the outside when you're within them.  Unfortunately you can't take photographs, but I bought this postcard as a memento of my first experience with Serra's work, and a hope of more to come!

Brightening My Office

As I'm sitting in my temporary cube I'm in for this week while my office is being painted, I was thinking about my office.  Really all I did was bring to work all the decorations I have at home that don't really 'fit in' anywhere.  Its basically a mix of left-overs, good left-overs, but the combination leaves something to be desired. I was reading in the latest issue of Chicago Home + Garden a few weeks ago about this amazing shop in Chicago called At Work Design. Their website says this about the products they carry; "it must be aesthetically appealing, make good functional sense and offer sound value."  I like those values in my office supplies.  From there I want to get a few things:
A great alternative (and probably paper saving!) to post-its.  Love it.
And being that I work at a magazine publishing company, I have more magazines then I know where to put, so this is the perfect accessory for my wall.  A unique and slightly decorative at the same time, magazine rack.
As I was thinking about these, I looked found a bunch more I think are must haves.  Most I found at Paper Source.
I enjoy cute places to hang/write notes and both these make me very happy! And of course, to hold up all the books I have at work, mostly becasue my shelves at home won't hold any more...

Feb 19, 2010

Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is an artist that I've only in the last few years become familiar with.  He is known mostly for his sculptures which engage viewers through their size and simplicity.  The sculptures often have an element of mystery and the viewer is able to explore the sculpture by walking in and around it.  His use of space and its interaction with the viewer is extremely unique and I think you'd be hard pressed to find an artist who allows as much interaction with their work as he does. 
The other thing about his work is that he engages viewers through the materials he uses.  I know for me, when things are shiny or have a mystery to their surface, I really want to reach out and touch them.  And this is how he creates another level of fascination in his work.  Take this piece for example in the permanent collection of the Tate Modern called Ishi's Light.  
How badly do you want to walk in ther and touch that shiny dark surface!  I can only imagine what it feels like to stand within that sculpture.One of his pieces I feel privileged to see frequently is is Cloud Gate.
Most people in Chicago know this sculpture only as 'the bean,' but it is in fact a sculpture designed and created by Anish Kapoor.  He said about this sculpture "What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline ... so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one's reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around."  Pretty awesome.

Feb 18, 2010

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917

I just got the Art Institute membership magazine in the mail yesterday and there is a Matisse show coming!  It opens on March 20th and it sounds like it will be an extremely focused, but really exciting exhibition.  The works that will be on display are only from a certain time in his career (1913-1917).  Sometimes I feel like this dissuades me from attending an exhibit, but in Matisse's case I think it will be fascinating.  More about it here.


The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Detail

I got my friend this book for her birthday (been waiting and waiting to post this till after I actually gave it to her!).  It is lovely, just flipping through the photos briefly, made me itch to go out to flea markets and antique shops just to find cheap things that you can then turn into interior design gold!
Each page is filled with a variety of projects, but all share the common thread of vintage d├ęcor.  I've posted a few shots of the interior and some of the beauty Stan Williams has captured and created.
How about that amazing compilation on the wall at the back?  Pure genius.

 Not exactly my style, but still pretty innovative.  It's a great book!

Feb 17, 2010

Rachel Whiteread

Rachel Whiteread is one of the artists I learned about in my very first art history class.  I can still remember how I felt when I first saw an image of her piece, a cast of the interior of a row home in London's East End, called Home.

This piece is so fascinating to me, yet so sad at the same time.  It feels almost forlorn is the best word I can think to describe it.  Whiteread is now known for her castings in resin and plaster of familiar objects and the spaces they surround.  By showing us what the empty space looks like as an actual form, it changes our perspective.  It also has an ephemeral quality to because by looking at it, you understand that the place it was cast from had to be destroyed in order for it to be made (at least that's the assumption I always made, I could be wrong).

The first piece of hers I saw in person was this cast of stairs at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Seeing this sculpture in person is highly disorienting.  My eyes were drawn the logical part first, the cast of the stairs going upwards, then to the inverted stairs.  It actually took me a while to realize that the stairs that looked to me like they were the 'right' way, were in fact the part of the sculpture that had been inverted!  Its the part that looks upside down that truly is the cast of the stairway.  Amazing, I really loved seeing this piece. 

She's done casts of stairs before, one sculpture is in the collection of the Tate Modern.  About these stair sculptures she says "When I was first thinking about making [it] I didn’t necessarily want to illustrate it as a staircase ... I wanted to try to do something a bit less literal. I wanted to change the way one might think about how you walk around or through something ... when we first put the staircase work up in the studio ... I was struck by the sense of physical disorientation it gave me."
(Quoted in Transient Spaces, pp.50-1).  Very cool, I always love hearing what artists have to say about their own work.

What prompted this post is that I read that the Museum of Modern Art recently re-installed her piece Water Tower on their roof.  

Water Tower is described by MoMA as "a resin cast of the interior of a once-functioning cedar water tower, chosen specifically for the texture this type of wood would impart to the surface."  I love that its cast in resin instead of cement or another opaque material.  Since it is slightly translucent it not only references the water that these structures usually hold, but tranfers qualities of the buildings and sky around it to the viewers.  Excellent piece, I hope to see it one day soon.

Feb 15, 2010

Pillows, Pillows, Pillows!

Sometimes I wish for two things. 1. that I had more space in my house for pillows, more rooms, more couches, more beds etc.  2. that I wasn't so irritated by the pillows I do have which inevitably take over the bed and/or couch and then need to be removed in order for the bed/couch to be useful!  Pillows are something I have a love/hate relationship with because I think they are such an amazing accessory, but often I find them very tiresome to actually live with.

So I've contented myself, for now, with simply browsing & admiring beautiful pillows.  I found these at ferm Living.  They're so bright and colorful and I can just picture how the whole room would look if it were inspired by these pillows. 
I found this pillow at UrbanOutfitters.com.  Reminds me of my great-grandmother's house, I can even conjure up the smell when I see these pillows.

Etsy has a wealth of sellers that have pillows in their shops, all hand made.  Here's my favorite one I've found, unique, bright.  Love it.  Made by Persnickety Home Designs

Graphic Design for the Web in 2010

I read this blog called Web Designer Wall and this is a great article with his predictions about where web design is headed this year.  I think he's spot on.  Check it out here.
It also has a really cool header which is bright and colorful, both things I enjoy. :)

Feb 12, 2010

Orla Kiely

I've become a big fan of Orla Kiely in the last year or so.  Just over a year ago, she partnered with Target to produce a more inexpensive line of products including table cloths, cups, dishes etc. which you can preview here.

I benefited from this release and have myself a beautiful cup in her apple/pear design and a CD holder which I use to hold miscellaneous junk on my counter.  Most of these products can't be found at Target stores anymore, but some are available on ebay if you keep an eye out.
Her clothing is available in limited supply at certain Anthropologie stores, and also on their website.  Like this dress which has the beanstalk pattern.

She's recently released a few new patterns and some of her older patterns in new colors.  Like these mugs.
Also right now on her website she has a pretty amazing sale going on through Feb 14th.  Some of her items are 50% off.  I don't know what the shipping is like, but I'm going to do some shopping!  
She's so creative, turning this sweet, simple car pattern into a chic travel bag...maybe its time for me to start buying new travel accessories for our trip to New Zealand?

Feb 11, 2010

Monica Bonvicini—Light Me Black

I saw this exhibition back in November 2009 and, as it goes sometimes with contemporary art, it stuck with me for a while.  I've thought about that exhibition rather frequently and am just now feeling like I understand what the artist was conveying and have some thoughts to share.  
Here's a shot of the installation in the Modern Wing of Art Institute.
 This shot really doesn't do it justice because what you can't see very well is that as you're walking around the outside of the gallery, to avoid the massive florescent light bulb sculpture (very flavin-esque) in the center, you're forced to reckon with the large holes in the gallery floor. 

This makes me think about the interaction of the museum space with the artwork itself.  I would say the majority of the time, artwork being displayed in a museum has nothing to do with the museum space itself.  Most it simply hangs, sits or exists within it.  But with Bonvincini's piece here, it instead takes the museum space and changes it, creating what feels like a disorienting affect on the viewer.  Instead of being able to simply shuffle around the square gallery, you have to do more.  This installation becomes very physical all of a sudden when you begin to interact with it, noting where you're stepping, watching that you don't bump into something etc.  I like what the Art Institute's website says about the piece that it can "provoke an acute awareness of the physical and psychological effects of institutional, particularly museum, architecture."

The piece was created specifically for these galleries in the new Renzo Piano designed addition to the Institute.  The largest hype I heard about the Modern Wing Piano was designing was all the natural light it was going to afford the galleries.  And it is true, this wing is full of beautiful light coming through the floor to ceiling windows.  Playing off the Modern Wing's greatest asset, the piece in the center (made up of 144 custom made light fixtures, wow) references the architecture in a very recognizable way. The Institute's website also says "Bonvicini’s project brings together three works that directly engage the Renzo Piano–designed building both formally and conceptually."  I agree, and I really enjoyed the exhibit.

Feb 10, 2010

Another Bravia Commercial

The marketing people at Sony are geniuses.  I read that they used 70,000 liters of paint to shoot this commercial which is essentially them exploding paint all over and inside an old deserted building.  Yes, the music isn't as great as the previous commercial I showed and the clown is slightly creepy but still: beautiful colors and amazing idea!
Check it out:

Color of the Day

I was reading the new issue of House Beautiful that arrived the other day, and it was called the 'blue issue'.  This is so intriguing because I suppose when you think about it, at least in my life, blue is the color I see most often.  It really is everywhere.  The issue talked about all kinds of blues; cornflower, cerulean, aquamarine, turquoise, denim, navy, and plenty more.  (The cerulean mention brought me back to The Devil Wears Prada movie, where Merilyn Streep berates Anne Hathaway for not recognizing the subtle difference between blues, amazing scene).  But the more I read, the more I felt like blue isn't the color I enjoy the most right now.  At the moment for me, life is all about gray!  I love it, you can pair grey with anything and I love that about it.  It can be dark for a background, it can be light for an accent.  What a versatile color. 
In fact, in the Dec/Jan issue of House Beautiful, Jonathan Adler said his favorite color combination right now is yellow & gray.  So I say, bring on the gray, its my color of the day. 
Here is a great article about designers and their favorite paint colors of gray.  And enjoy the photos of lovely interiors done in grey.