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Exhibitions

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  21 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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With three years under its belt, Design Week Portland is starting to take on a clear character. With a central theme as broad (bordering on meaningless) as 'design,' it's natural that every city and organizing body will produce a distinct festival. So far Portland Design Week closely reflects the current trends in the city's industries and culture. The prevailing emphasis is on graphic design, traditional crafts, storytelling and skill-sharing. Fittingly, some of the clearest examples took place at the new Design Week HQ. The physical HQ, located in the heart of downtown under a series of conspicuous domes, was a hub for info and for a rotating series of artists and performers. Each day different artists did time illustrating bright banners inspired by tweets from the #dwpdx hashtag. The banners were color coded by day, and filled the courtyard over the course of the week.

Music, dance, and talks filled the third dome every day in an intimate (if sometimes stifling) public space. An early favorite was Carl Alviani's "Words Behind The Work," where designers read from works that inspired, influenced or challenged their work. A prime quote: "Just like learning about kerning will ruin signage forever, this is going to destroy your mind about porches."

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Another notable event was the live drawn history of alphabets by Elizabeth Anderson (of Anderson Krygier) and the following theater piece "The Typographer's Dream," which posed the deeply Northwestern question: 'Are we what we do for a living?' Deep shit, man.

Cultivating Community

Interactive events were common and productive. IDL Worldwide's merchandising competition pitted visual merchandisers against one another in an aesthetic rumble. The Design Efficiency intensive with Fluid Design doubled down on career skills, both technical and personal, to help designers be more effective. Make/Mend/Reflect, presented by Maker's Nation, offered a multi-discipline series of creativity exercises around embracing ugliness and working through problems. This entailed prompted writing, mending, and ugly creature building. Vital tools for the designer's toolkit(?). The huge number of open houses and open studios were an overwhelming option for interact with brands, agencies, workshops and individual designers.

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In keeping with our town's twee reputation, traditional crafts were a common subject. Printmaking, woodworking, glassblowing, textile design, letterpress, ceramics, and even macrame were taught, open-housed and exhibited. Among these I was particularly happy to see a panel discussion about bookbinding, book collection and the book as art object on the schedule. Portland may have small art and design scenes but it offers a great landscape for book lovers. The role of art books and publishing in design is both fascinating and evolving, and the panel featured well-informed stakeholders from Publication Studio, Division Leap, Monograph Bookwerks, and Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  20 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Portland is a solidly 2D town. We do great graphics, our branding is beautiful, and the interactive design coming out of here is innovative and interesting. Which is really lovely... but leaves us a little lacking in the physical department. Traditional crafts are on the rise, but where are the really interesting product design projects? Apparently, they're still in school.

Of all the events and all the open houses attended last week, the University of Oregon Product Design show was easily my favorite. Possibly because I was the only one there and thus didn't have to contend with two dozen graphic designers drawling about their current shows while pretending that they were there for something other than free wine. Also possibly because 97% of the work in the small show was clean, slightly surprising, and whimsical without pretense.

The show features work produced in Asst. Professor Wonhee Arndt's studio, the theme was "Home Away From Home," and selected pieces made an early debut at Milan's Design Week. Here are my favorites.

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It's easy to imagine this rolling storage bin by Chris Lau being used as a fun organizer for kiddos or slightly absurd adults. Nice lines, easy to move, easy to clean inside and out.

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Ceramic oddities by Trygve Faste and Jessica Swanson titled "Intertidal Deployment Objects" show a fun blend of nautical and traditional pottery influences with disconcertingly neon glazes, and could ostensibly be producible. I'd own one—in this climate you never know when you need to deploy some intertidal objects. The structured but cozy "Construction Quilt" by Wonhee Arndt makes fort building more interesting and wrapping up an architectural affair. Less compelling when wall mounted, but it looks like it would be plenty of fun.

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Posted by Ray  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Basic though their purpose may be, water towers have long been a fixture of inhabited areas far and wide, from the brobdingnagian barrels atop NYC edifices (per 19th century ordinance for buildings taller than six stories) to sci-fi-worthy monoliths that rise from landscapes like alien flora. At best, they are as beautiful as they are iconic, abiding in the gestalt of the built environment as monuments to our collective engineering prowess, humble sentinels of our hydration needs.

On the other hand, those of you who see them as eyesores might change your minds when you see Maud van Deursen's "Chateau d'Eau" series of glass decanters. Inspired to highlight the quality of Dutch tap water, the Design Academy grad has created several tabletop water towers that serve as functional sculptures. "The quality of Dutch tap water is exceptional—regulations for tap water are stricter than those for bottled water. Yet bottled water is a thousand times more expensive, plus, it has a negative effect on the environment."

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Posted by Ray  |  13 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The Central China Academy of Fine Arts, or CAFA, is easily among the top art schools in China, both for its extremely competitive entrance requirements and its close ties with the government. Originally founded in 1950, the current self-contained campus, established c. 2007, is located in the Wangjing neighborhood in northeast Beijing. As the curator of the Beijing Design Week festivities in Caochangdi this year, faculty member Ben Hughes saw fit to encourage his students in the industrial design department to show their work (as well as inviting them to develop interactive booths for the so-called "Plug-In" Stations).

Exhibited in Naihan Li's new studio from September 27 – October 1, "Everyday Issues" followed from Hughes' brief to his graduating class to research and develop solutions for "everyday problems and basic improvements to everyday life."

Each piece [is] underpinned by thorough research in areas of user experience, technology, materials and processes. Areas dealt with by these projects vary hugely in their diversity but include issues such as Courier drivers' working conditions; using technology to introduce and educate different tea drinking practices; bringing handwriting to mobile communications in a novel way; helping people recycle kitchen waste and grow edible fungi at home; using xuan paper in three dimensional forms and much more.

In addition to images and descriptions of each project, Hughes shared several of short films that the students produced, as well as images from their final presentations. [Note: The work can also be viewed on CAFA's 2014 exhibition website; the number following the project name correspond to the link on this site.]

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Huang Weijun - Cha Yeah [032]

Despite the popularity of coffee and qishui (soda), tea endures as a staple beverage in China. "By studying both Western and Chinese drinking habits as well as the day-to-day lives of young people," Huang Weijun notes. The "Cha Yeah" smart kettle/steeper is app-controlled...

Cha Yeah is a smart brewing system for different types of tea. It challenges the idea that authentic tea culture is available only to the committed connoisseur using ancient implements. Through studying both Western and Chinese drinking habits as well as the day-to-day lives of young people, the designer worked on a product that complements current trends whilst providing a useful source of reference and education in the correct preparation and consumption of different teas.


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Sai Ailun - Courier Vehicle Design [039]

The designer cites astounding figures in her research: On average, so-called "three-wheeled carts" (motorized cargo trikes) deliver 1.3 million parcels a day and upwards of many times that during holidays. These vehicles are effectively driving the growth of China's domestic e-commerce industry, yet drivers work for long, back-breaking hours for little pay. (Hughes noted that she also made a full-size model but that it was discarded following the graduation show; unfortunately, the video is merely a slideshow.)

This project seeks to develop the courier vehicle with respect to the very specific task that it and its driver have to undertake. Because the production of these vehicles is relatively standardized and highly dispersed, the project's main focus is on the rear compartment and accessories. Through careful research and testing, the designer hopes to be able to improve the efficiency and working environment for the vast and growing number of couriers who are fuelling China's domestic consumption.

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Posted by Ray  |  10 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The short story of the Caochangdi artist's village is that Ai Weiwei more or less singlehandedly established a creative community in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Beijing. The experiment worked, and CCD is now home to dozens of artists and designers, as well as galleries and studios, and is rightfully among the primary sites of Beijing Design Week. Although it's mostly concentrated in a self-contained cluster of austere buildings in the heart of the neighborhood, there is a sense in which Ai's Red Brick complex endures as a vital hub for Chinese design.

"It's a strange area—it's a village on the edge of the city; it hasn't been the subject of regeneration or development or top-down beautification," says Ben Hughes, who curated the exhibition for this year's weeklong celebration of design. "All of the galleries here are entrepreneurial and sort of grassroots. It's a working village—it has its rough edges."

BJDW2014-CCD-ext.jpgA major thoroughfare in Caochangdi—the main horizontal street in the map below—with the Red Brick complex at left (and Zaha Hadid's Wangjing SOHO in the distance)

Hughes would know, having embedded himself in a live/work space shortly after he relocated to Beijing from London, where he taught at Central Saint Martins, in 2011; he currently works with his partner Alex Chien as A4 Studios. Despite the camaraderie between most everyone who has set up shop there, he notes that the Red Brick complex can be quite desolate at times, the interlocking planes of red and light gray that cast long shadows across the interstitial plazas and alleyways. (The locale is dramatized in Jason Wishnow's recently released dystopian short film Sand Storm, starring none other than Ai himself.)

"In China, design is quite often portrayed as highbrow [or] elitist—something that you need to be quite wealthy to take part in or enjoy," explains Hughes. "For Design Week, the message we're trying to [convey] is that design is accessible... that design is more about everyday things that everyone can get involved with. In the courtyards here—which are normally very brutal, very stark—we've tried to create more like a fair, a village fête kind of atmosphere." To that end, he set out to engage the locals by expressly fostering participation, namely through 'Plug-In Stations': "Things you can take part in, things you can make, things you can draw, things you can produce and take home."

BJDW2014-CCD-map.jpgA4 Studios designed the map, which incorporates street-level sights as landmarks; see the full version here

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Posted by core jr  |   9 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

Sebastian-CMOA.jpgLook Again, on view until January 19, 2015, at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo by Bryan Conley

Our friend Sebastian Errazuriz is out in full force this fall, with not one, not two, but three exhibitions on view at this very moment. He's doubled down with shows here in New York City, where he's based—alas, the uptown half of the bifurcated exhibit Functional Sculpture / Sculptural Furniture closes tomorrow; the other half will remain on view at Cristina Grajales until the 24th—while Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art is hosting a proper retrospective, Look Again, which will be on view until January 19, 2015. (As we noted over the summer, his latest project, the "Explosion Cabinet," debuted in Pittsburgh; versions of it are on view at both the museum there and at the gallery here in New York.)

Sebastian-CGG.jpgFunctional Sculpture / Sculptural Furniture at Cristina Grajales Gallery. Photo by Ari Espai

On August 19, just a few short weeks before the opening of the three shows, the Chilean-born designer took the stage at TEDx Martha's Vineyard, where he presented his general outlook on life and his craft in the form of a primer to his clever—and often outright cheeky—oeuvre. You can almost get away with listening to it in the background, but the slides of his work go a long way:

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Posted by Ray  |   2 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

NaihanLi-IAM-GalleryAll.jpgPhotos courtesy of Gallery All unless otherwise noted.

A mover-and-shaker in the Chinese creative scene for a decade now, Naihan Li got her start working for Ai Weiwei upon returning to Beijing after completing her studies at London's Bartlett School of Architecture. After subsequently working with various art and design organizations, she founded her own studio in 2010 and is perhaps best known for her CRATES series. This year sees the debut of the I AM A MONUMENT collection at Gallery ALL in the 751 D.Park, as well as a move from the Red Bricks studio/gallery compound (where she hosted an exhibition in her live/work space last year), around the corner to a converted factory. (Rest assured she's still based in Caochangdi, although she handed off her BJDW curatorial duties to Ben Hughes, who gave us a brief tour of the place last week.)

Some two years in the making, the pieces in I AM A MONUMENT take the form of scale models of various landmarks from the Western world: the UN building, Pentagon, New York Stock Exchange and Edinburgh Palm House, which have been re-imagined as a bookcase, bed, shrine and terrarium, respectively. The four new pieces are exhibited alongside the "Armillary Whisky Bar," which was commissioned by Melbourne's Broached Gallery in 2013. Li's artist statement invokes a critical examination of the relationship between art, architecture and design:

I AM A MONUMENT originated from Naihan's recognition of the Chinese desire for giant art installations in their homes. People want to own things that are monumental. This desire traces back to Chinese traditional paintings, which play with the idea of scale from a subjective point of view and minimize the universe. Chinese artists attempt to zoom in to a large part of the world on a small scale. The I AM A MONUMENT collection shrinks a landmark building 100 times and turns it into a utilitarian furniture piece, allowing collectors to contain something that is extremely large inside a room of their house.

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NaihanLi-IAM-Edinburgh.jpgThe Edinburgh Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens

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Posted by core jr  |   1 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

State-Of-Mind-Gallery.jpgPhotography by Brit Leissler for Core77

Designer Martino Gamper guest curated an exhibition presenting a collection of objects from the personal archives of his friends and colleagues at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London. His collection, Design is a State of Mind, features a "landscape of shelving options" aimed at sharing the story of the design objects we interact with and how they impact their users and admirers.

The exhibited pieces include finds from the 1930s mixed with modern-day designs. You'll see well-known silhouettes nestled next to one-offs and styles ranging from contemporary to utilitarian. Some of the designers include Ettore Sottsass, Charlotte Perriand, IKEA, Dexion and Giò Ponti. The juxtaposition of styles brings to light a history of how we've housed our belongings and showed them off through the years as various styles and trends have come, gone and reappeared. The items displayed on the shelves are a collection of archives from Gamper's friends and colleagues.

Gamper also designed two exhibits in the Gallery's powder rooms—one being a tribute to Italian designer Enzo Mari and the other a space encouraging visitors to interact with Gamper's furniture designs. The Mari room displays a compilation of the designer's drawings, notes and designs, all held down by a different paperweight of Mari's own collection. Gamper's room invites visitors to sit on the designer's chair and explore a international library of contemporary furniture manufacturing catalogues while watching either Tati's Mon Oncle or Alain Resnais' Le Chant du Styrene—two films that feature the designs of the 1950s and how furniture design has changed in the years leading up to present day.

» View gallery

Posted by core jr  |  27 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

OR-2014-Gallery.jpgPhotography by Mark LeBeau for Core77

The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow in Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for featuring the latest and greatest in outdoor sports gear and apparel. To put it shortly, it's very much an industry show. We sent photographer Mark LeBeau to check it out and take some shots of the gadgets we should keep an eye out for. He noted the proliferation of electronics, chargers and smart devices, as well as the throwback to the much-loved "mom and pop" general-store aesthetic. A practicing designer himself, LeBeau also shot the event for us in 2013.

LeBeau's favorite design? A magnetized climber's grip by Garret Finny.

» View Gallery

Posted by core jr  |  26 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

Bike-Cult-Show-2014-Gallery.jpgPhotography by Jeff Enlow for Core77

Once again, we were thrilled to support NYC's fledging Bike Cult Show as an official media partner and offer exclusive coverage of the late-summer exhibition that is shaping up to be the region's premier handbuilt bicycle show. The second year delivered on its promise to be bigger and better than the first as organizers Harry Schwartzman, Benjamin Peck and David Perry upgraded to the massive Knockdown Center event space in Maspeth, Queens, for the event that took place over the weekend of August 16–17.

As with last year, we showcased a handful of the exhibitors in the weeks leading up to the show—Bryan Hollingsworth, Brian Chapman, Mathew Amonson and J.P. Weigle—who were happy to share their stories and talk shop about bicycles and much more. And in case you missed it, last year's builder profiles included several of this year's exhibitors as well: Johnny Coast, Jamie Swan, Rick Jones and Thomas Callahan and the late Ezra Caldwell (to whom the show was dedicated).

» View Gallery

Bike Cult Show 2014 Builder Profiles:
» Bryan Hollingsworth of Royal H Cycles on Saying "Yes" to Clients, the Decline of the Fixed-Gear, and More
» Brian Chapman Shares the Eight Secrets to Making a Living As a Custom Framebuilder
» Mathew Amonson of Airtight Cycles on Avoiding the G Train, Seeking a Master Framebuilder, and More
» J.P. Weigle Reflects on 40 Years of Framebuilding - A Photo Essay

Posted by core jr  |  15 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Once again, Core77 is pleased to be the media partner for the Bike Cult Show, which will once again bring the very best custom framebuilders in the Northeast region to New York City this month. Set to take place this weekend, August 16–17, at the Knockdown Center in Queens, the second annual Bike Cult Show promises be bigger and better than before. Earlier this week, we heard from new kid on the block Mathew Amonson of Airtight Cycles; the subject of our fourth and final builder profile is the venerable J.P. Weigle, who has seen fit to chronicle his storied career in a photo essay.

If you like what you see here, head over to Knockdown Center this weekend to see these works of art in person at the Bike Cult Show!

Text and images courtesy of Peter Weigle

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I never dreamed about being a frame builder—in fact, I had no idea such a person existed. In 1972, a friend encouraged me to interview for an 'interesting opportunity,' and three weeks later I was standing in this shop in Deptford, England. The shop was old, old school: No jigs, no machinery, no alignment table etc. We drilled vent and pin holes with hand-spun twist drills. Hacksaws, files and elbow grease got the job done.


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After a seven-month stint, I came back to the States. I worked in a small frame shop, Witcomb USA, along with Richard Sachs. I rode and raced my bike as much as I could. I made this bike for myself in England; this road race, at left, was a hilly one up in Vermont.

At right, a few of the mid-years crew at Witcomb USA. That's Chris (Fat Chance) Chance on the left, Fred Widmer in the center, and me at the right with my Clockwork Orange haircut.


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Witcomb USA closed its doors in '77. My plan at first was to get a real job... but instead I bought one of the Witcomb jigs, some of the tooling and some material inventory. This photo was taken at my first shop, a Quonset hut at a local airport. I had no phone, so I used the payphone over at the field office. Customers took quite a chance driving there, wondering if I'd be there or not.

This mixte touring bike was one of the first bikes built in my new shop. Fenders, Ideale saddle, hmmm...


Weigle-07_08.jpgClick here for high-resolution image of newspaper clipping

In the early 80s, a friend from California told me about a 'mountain bike' he had just purchased. He sent photos of his Ritchey and some sketches. I made my first mountain bike in '82 and rode it everywhere. I went to Fat Tire Bike Week in Crested Butte, CO, in '83–4. All of the MTB luminaries were there and it was ground zero for that sport. Moab was just a dusty place in the desert at that point.

Racing soon followed. The early days were real grassroots affairs—nobody knew much about the sport, so sometimes we made things up as we went along. No one knew what to wear at these events either... you might see a classic Brooklyn jersey next to a racer in cut-offs.

I also used my lightweight specials in cyclocross events, which was legal back then. At the 1988 National Championships, I won the Vets race in fine style.


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Even though mountain bikes were my newfound passion, I still made my share of road frames. This bike was displayed in a show and was also selected for the cover photo at left. I was just learning how to do these three-color schemes and was having trouble. I used a tooth pick dabbed in paint to touch up my mistakes... and I used the same 'tool' to paint the clown's face on the back of the pump bump. ;~)

And on the right, the 'money shot' in a Cigar Aficionado article. I called this bike 'French Reminiscence'—all it needed was fenders.

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Posted by core jr  |  12 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Once again, Core77 is pleased to be the media partner for the Bike Cult Show, which will once again bring the very best custom framebuilders in the Northeast region to New York City this month. Set to take place next weekend, August 16–17, at the Knockdown Center in Queens, the second annual Bike Cult Show promises be bigger and better than before. Previously, we heard from Brian Chapman; here we have relative newcomer Mathew Amonson of Airtight Cycles.

Text and images courtesy of Mathew Amonson

I was born on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. Before I could walk, I was on a horse with my dad—it was like riding on a dragon! We moved to a small city with amazing roads and no horses. Every kid in the neighborhood had a BMX and we would roam the streets in packs of 5-to-8 year-olds. I was so used to riding around, I would head off on my own at five years old, and ride through the neighborhoods and parks and head to my favorite bluffs and scale a massive letter "I" (for Idaho State University) while avoiding the junkies. If my parents had known, they would have freaked out, but I didn't know any better. A bike for me was freedom: I could go anywhere at any time (if I could escape the parent "caring and safety" net).

I ended up studying Film at SFSU and then pursuing another childhood fascination of mine, stop-motion animation. Stop-motion taught me extreme patience and attention to detail and quality fabrication processes. I co-founded a stop motion studio in New York, which is enjoying a great run of success as we speak.

Like many people of my generation, when I moved to Brooklyn, I immediately got a bike so I could avoid the G train. I then started riding past the L, then over the bridge, then a few more, and pretty soon I was riding everywhere.

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I'm sure many people will agree. Cycling is a very equalizing and liberating way to travel around the city. Exercise, speed of transit, etc... and you get to FLY! I began fixing my own bike, replacing components, and eventually building up entire frames with components. Like many people in the Rockies, I come from a background of hands-on DIY fabrication and repair—building houses, fixing cars and electronics, etc.

One day, it hit me, when I stripped the paint off a beautiful old fillet-brazed Reg Harris frame and I was struck with how beautiful the quality of the craftsmanship was. I wanted to make one! I did a massive amount of research and grabbed any books and materials I could find. I made my first frame completely on my own—I took a torch safety class, bought some basics and slowly worked my way through the process until I had a complete frame. It rode well and I was really proud of my unique design, but I also recognized all the flaws and knew that I needed to seek a proper master to take my skills to another level.

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Posted by core jr  |   8 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

Chapman-HERO.jpg

Once again, Core77 is pleased to be the media partner for the Bike Cult Show, which will once again bring the very best custom framebuilders in the Northeast region to New York City this month. Set to take place next weekend, August 16–17, at the Knockdown Center in Queens, the second annual Bike Cult Show promises be bigger and better than before. Previously, we heard from Bryan Hollingsworth of Royal H Cycles; here, we have another Brian, the owner and operator of Chapman Cycles.

Text and images courtesy of Brian Chapman.

My fondest bike-related memories are when I started to learn foot jam endos in front of our house in Attleboro with my older brother. That was 30 years ago. I still ride flatland BMX today as it is a way for me to meditate and clear my mind. It is also amazing what it can do for your core muscles! That really doesn't have a lot to do with framebuilding except that I love bikes. A lot of people love bikes though.

I currently live and work in Rhode Island, about 35 miles from where I was born in New Bedford, MA. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and only utilize a small portion of that. The framebuilding and painting techniques that I learned in my two years of apprenticing were much more important to this craft. Ten years of wrenching at shops helped a lot, too, in regards to fitting and assembly.

I started apprenticing at Circle A Cycles in 2004 and built my first bike in 2005 for my girlfriend at the time. It's still together even though we aren't! I learned a lot at Circle A. The first 100 bikes I built were just me ironing out the process to one I felt comfortable with. I have to note here that the structure of the Circle A shop was such that the builder (Chris, or myself, or, way back when, Emily) did the process from fit to assembly (it's a unique skill set). Nothing was handed over to someone else. So three control freaks could happily work side by side and just being in the same shop, the styles would blend. We'd also be bouncing ideas off of each other or sharing discoveries with tools or paint techniques.

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I was there for about nine years—it was a fun time and I miss it sometimes. In 2011, I started building under my own name as an outlet because I wanted to take my building to a new level that was different from what we were making at Circle A. And that's how Chapman Cycles started. Circle A taught me how to survive as a framebuilder. The eight secrets to making a living as a custom framebuilder (you ready?): Paint your own bikes, live at your shop, eat ramen with peanut butter, learn to lay a perfect fillet, be nice, ride often, cut up your credit cards, meet delivery dates. That's about all there is to it... sort of.

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Posted by erika rae  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Shipping containers have been becoming a lot of things lately—homes, churches, a Subway sandwich shop... the list goes on. We've got another one to add to the list: a larger-than-life kaleidoscope that you can actually walk into. The effect is much the same as a house of mirrors. Designers Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki are responsible for this psychedelic project, titled "Wink Space." At first glance, the structure comes off as a blinding beacon of mirrors—catch it at the wrong angle you'll be seeing sunspots instead of symmetry—but step inside and you'll find that Shirane and Miyazaki have a few surprises for you.

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My favorite quirk has got to be the fact that the entire kaleidoscope is constructed with zippers—meaning various 'windows' can be unzipped and revealed from the inside. The designers call this "the world's first zipper architecture." Staying true to the quick assemblage/breakdown nature of shipping containers, they wanted this sentiment to translate in Wink Space. "A thin and light material was demanded to build the zipper architecture," Shirane and Miyazaki explain. "Therefore I referred to origami, which is a traditional game in Japan that can be made both light and strong only by folding. In other words, this polyhedron is built by folding one plane of 15m×8m."

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Posted by core jr  |   7 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

CHICAGOLAND-byAlexWelsh.jpgCHICAGOLAND at WantedDesign. Photo by Alex Welsh

By Morgan Walsh

Now that it's officially July, the city of Chicago has settled into its annual routine of near-constant street festivals, concerts, BBQs, neighborhood 5Ks and other seasonal activities. With the heat and the holiday, it's almost easy to forget the hullabaloo surrounding the Chicago design community and it's myriad events only a few weeks ago. Starting in May and culminating in the first weeks of June, the Guerilla Truck Show, This is Chicago, and CHICAGOLAND set up (and tore down) shop; CHGO DSGN and the Chicago Design Museum hosted opening receptions; and Catalyze Chicago, a young organization offering resources to local designers, hit their membership capacity.

ChiDM-1-Courtesy-David-Ettinger.jpgPreview Reception at Chicago Design Museum. Courtesy David Ettinger

The common thread, title-wise, between the names of these events and the organizations collectively represent the Chicago design community and, like the proverbial diamond in the rough, its various facets: collaboration, shared resources and a regular old Midwestern work ethic. Presumably anticipating a sylvan summer getaway, Rick Valicenti likened various groups of Chicago designers to multiple campfires across the city. His thought, which is clear within his show, was that the closer these campfires become, the more light they'll put off, making it easier to see Chicago design from a distance. So before the "summer-of-Chicago-design" fades into just-another-Chicago-summer, here is a summary of just a few Chicago design events that have taken (or are taking) place, how they overlap and what the community can still gain from them.

CHGO-DSGN-2-Courtesy-Ross-Floyd-Photography.jpgCHGO DSGN at the Chicago Cultural Center. Courtesy Ross Floyd Photography

CHGO DSGN is a massive display of current object and graphic design currently on view at the Chicago Cultural Center. Curated by Valicenti, 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, the opening night saw over 2,000 visitors. With limited promotion, the record turnout was a testament to the interest in local design work, and to the vast network at play. Rick's show, as it is often fondly referred to, features over 100 makers, and over 200 pieces of work, presented in funky, densely packed vignettes. While CHGO DSGN offers the obvious benefit of accessibility to a public audience, it has also helped bring designers in closer proximity to each other. Per his example above, exhibiting together is one way to dissolve the boundaries, both physical and perceived, between object and graphic designers, to see what is happening outside one's bubble and envision future relationships.

CHGO-DSGN-1-Courtesy-Alfonso-Monroy-and-Elizabeth-Muskopf.jpgOpening Night at CHGO DSGN. Courtesy Alfonso Monroy and Elizabeth Muskopf

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Posted by erika rae  |  16 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Street artist JR has been plastering city streets with the portraits of strangers for years, including his TEDPrize project from 2011. Now, he's been hired by the French government to put a pretty face on the Panthéon's unsightly construction. JR helped making the space a little more inviting by pasting thousands of different faces on the ceilings, floors and exterior of the building.

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What started as an illegal activity back in 2006 with a public "exhibition" of suburban street thug portraits in the "bourgeois districts of Paris," took a turn when the Paris City Hall decided to wrap its walls with his faces. Funny enough, his resume consists of a mix of controversial (and occasionally still illegal) exhibitions and government-funded projects. Collectively, all of JR's work that spurred from the TEDPrize is titled INSIDE OUT. This specific display goes by the name of Au Panthéon!.

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Posted by erika rae  |  13 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Editor's Note: Although this exhibition was originally scheduled to run through June 18, it has been exhtended to July 31—don't miss it!.

I wasn't a typography person until I paid a visit to the Century: 100 Years of Type Design exhibition, presented by AIGA and Monotype. Sure, I shared my peers' disdain for Comic Sans and admired a nice headline style from time to time, but for the most part I simply didn't appreciate the details. I guarantee that you, too, will walk out of the AIGA National Design Center with at least a few font facts on your mind, if not a full-fledged fixation. Presented on the occasion of the organization's centennial, Century presents the history and conception of typeface from the very first fonts to the ones we use today through a well-curated selection of artifacts, including typeface production drawings, packaging, advertisements and publications by prominent designers of the last 100 years, among other ephemera.

Check out the exhibit trailer for a look at the space and a few details on the work on display:

I made my way to the exhibit on a night that was hosted by the AIGA Women Leadership Initiative—a new project working to bring women in the design industry together through networking events, exhibits and salons—that included a guided tour highlighting women designers. Monotype's Dan Rhatigan did an excellent job leading the tour, highlighting the importance women played in the typeface evolution, introducing lesser-known gems and walking us through how some of the artifacts came to be in Monotype and AIGA's collection. One look at his typeface-tattooed arms and you know he's the perfect guy for the job.

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Posted by erika rae  |   6 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Here on Core, we've dedicated a fair amount of space to wood as a material in the context of furniture and product design: our ten-part series on wood species, lumber processing and movement ain't going out of style any time soon. Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira offers a very different approach to the versatile material, which he salvages and repurposes in the form of ligneous large-scale installations. Most recently, he's worked something up for the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade in São Paulo called "Transarquitetônica." This type of plywood is used on "fancy construction sites" (as described by the designer) to hide unsightly hardhat areas.

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His work is a little bit Alice in Wonderland with a few decor notes from The Hobbit—devoid of visitors, it would make for a great mid-day stroll the shake the workday off a bit. This video, by Crane.tv, offers a closer look at "Transarquitetônica," including Oliveira elaborating on the making of the piece: "When I broke this piece [of wood], it was like a brush stroke for me."

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Posted by Ray  |   5 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I'd declared it in so many words in the Editor's Note to the inaugural issue of the C77 Design Daily, but I must admit I was expressly thinking of the Kara Walker installation at the Domino Sugar Factory when I wrote the first sentences of that short text:

We live in an age of spectacle, and so too does it seem like reality is more spectacular than ever before. Between the endless airspace of social media and the inconceivably powerful devices we carry along with our pocket change, we are all but expected to express ourselves at every turn—who can fault us for indulging in the collective narcissism? Instagrammability is an unspoken criteria for the barrage of phenomena that surround us, and product, furniture and exhibition design are among the many things that will be captured, filtered and liked by thousands of eyeballs and fingertips... most of which will never come in contact with the actual things or places.

Cheeky not only for its title—"A Subtlety" is ostensibly ironic but is actually an allusion to a medieval confection—Walker's highly photogenic (albeit often blown-out) room-sized sphinx has high cheekbones and a prodigious posterior, among other unsubtle traits. That, and the fact that the massive, 35ft-high, 75ft-long mammy lords over her adoring public, her exaggerated mammaries and genitalia more cartoonish than obscene. Reportedly sculpted from some 40 tons of sugar (it's not solid), non-profit arts organization Creative Time commissioned the piece from Walker, which is accompanied by attendants scattered throughout the turbine hall-like space of the former sugar refinery; it also happens to be the first three-dimensional work for the New York-based artist, who is best known for her silhouetted cut-outs.

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In the interest of providing context (both for those of you who are planning on visiting and those of you who will vicariously consume it via the Internet), some recommended reading: Hrag Vartanian's take includes with a brief history of the site (partly adapted from an October 2013 Times article) alongside his photo essay; Audie Cornish's helpfully descriptive NPR story; and Hilton Als' erudite yet accessible blogpost for The New Yorker.

Much has been made of the subtitular wall text, printed in foot-high letters on the exterior of the building (and reproduced in the video and all of the articles above), but loaded rhetoric aside, there is indeed a certain subtlety to the craftsmanship behind the piece. It's hard to tell from the time lapse video above, but the Art21 segment below nicely captures both Walker's myriad reference points and the actual fabrication of the work, which was assembled and hand-finished in situ. Self-styled scholars can read up at their leisure; the makers among you might be more interested in the middle section of the video:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  30 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Ladies & Gentlemen Studio knows how to play with their shapes. Tucked into a dim upper corner of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, their booth was a highlight of the bright show. Their booth was cosy and inviting, dotted with beautiful glowing glass forms and nonsensical toys. Founders Dylan Davis and Jean Lee met while studying industrial design at the University of Washington, and after some travels, they're still based in Seattle, applying a materials-heavy approach to thing-design.

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L&G has previously garnered attention for their sculptural pieces and jewelry, and their new "Shape-Up" collection of lights is a clear outgrowth. As they noted in a pre-show interview with Sight Unseen, their emphasis on strong geometry and multi-discipline dabbling sometimes results in surprising cross-breeding. Almost all of the pieces on display featured glass elements made in collaboration with the glass artist John Hogan. In the same interview, Lee discussed tinkering with the shapes, imagining the bold "noodle" shape as a candleholder or wall-hanging planter. Fortunately for us, it wound up as one of the most striking elements in the four part Shape-Up ceiling light. Intended to be modular, the four lights can be arranged at different heights and clustered in any array your heart desires (within corded reason). The result is a very careful jumble of shapes with simple lines; glowing jewelry for your ceiling.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  29 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's always a treat when older design houses launch specialty lines. Half the time; they produce things only the most dedicated Skymall shopper could love and we get to gloat, and the other half, they hit pay dirt. Umbra Shift is dirty in the good way. Umbra may be known for cheap plastics, but it turns out that working with elite designers, limiting your number of products, and giving your team a lot of free reign is a decent recipe for good stuff. The housewares heavy-hitter let Design Director Matt Carr take the helm, and he dreamed up a line realized by 8 great designers and the folks at Umbra Studio.

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As seen at ICFF, the line is home oriented and form-conscious; straight lines all over with a heavy focus on natural material and traditional production. Matte textures, soft colors, big leafed plants, and all very Table of Contents feeling. It's still a little silly though. My favorite piece, the Coiled Stool, is a lighthearted butt-friendly design spearheaded by Harry Allen. It feels almost like a visual gag, playing on rope as a nonstructural material. With a steel undercarriage it's plenty strong, and not nearly as squishy as I'd have guessed. But its shape is familiar, like a cousin to both metal tractor seats and wooden farm stools of the ages, brought together with traditional Vietnamese basket-weaving. One of its designers admitted that rendering the shape for production involved a lot of bumming around with cardboard clutched to their butts. Serious stuff.

UmbraShift-CoiledStool.gifUmbraShift-CoiledStool.jpgGenesis of a stool

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Posted by core jr  |  23 May 2014  |  Comments (3)

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By Ali Morris

It was during a trip to independent furniture show BKLYN Designs last year that New Yorkers John Neamonitis and Charlie Miner came up with the concept for their new website, WorkOf. Launched in January of this year, WorkOf is an online platform that is helping New York's thriving designer-maker community to reach consumers while providing consumers with a new way of discovering hard-to-find design. "I was walking around [BKLYN Designs] and there was all of this really amazing work," says Miner. "I was asking people, 'Where would I go to buy this stuff? Is there a somewhere where I can find it all in one place?' and everyone told me it didn't exist." Surprised and frustrated by the response they were getting, Neamonitis and Miner set about creating a solution.

WorkOf functions like a collective online storefront for its community, directing traffic to the designers' websites and online stores. "We launched with 20 makers but have nearly 40 now," says Miner, reflecting on a very busy five months. While every designer brings his or her own unique style to the table, the pieces are united by a raw, industrial aesthetic that identifies them as handmade in Brooklyn. Industrial brass lighting fixtures come courtesy of Workstead and Allied Maker, while Stefan Rurak's heavy, reclaimed wood furniture and the blackened steel frames of Vidi Vixi's pieces are softened by Calico's ombre wallpapers and Fort Makers' painterly fabrics.

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Although membership of WorkOf is free, applications are carefully considered. Miner explains, "Although we're certainly open to people approaching us—I mean, that's what we want to do, to support the community—we also want to be sure that the artists we represent are commercially viable; that they can scale to meet demand and that they can handle customers in a professional way because it reflects on everybody. It's not a hobbyist platform, it's not for amateurs."

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Posted by Ray  |  22 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A shorter version of this article was originally published in the C77 Design Daily, Vol. 1, Issue 2, on May 17, 2014.

There was a kind of carnival atmosphere at the opening party of Reclaim 3: Carte Blanche—the inaugural exhibition at the new Colony co-op / showroom space—which was Jean Lin and Jennifer Krichels' goal, perhaps, when they commissioned the three wildly disparate interactive installations from Brooklyn's Fort Makers, The Principals and UM Project by Françoise Chambard. The sheer spectacle of the work belies the fact that proceeds from sales (of related objects and accessories) goes towards charities of the designers' choice, and, if nothing else, it's a refreshing change of pace from the more commercial shows.

The Principals' "Space Trash," pictured at top, was a personal favorite, although you really have to see (and try) it in person to get what it's about. More on each project below.

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- UM Project presents "Maypole," an ensemble of 16 new LED lamps based on the acclaimed Craft System series, connected around a center pole by colorful cords and synchronized together. All proceeds from UM Project's fundraising will be donated to the High School of Art and Design in New York City. UM Project's installation is made possible with the generous support of Acces I/O, BAGGU, Color Cord Company, Dolan & Traynor, Lenovo, Nooka, and Parallel Development.

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Posted by Ray  |  21 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This article was first published in the C77 Design Daily, Vol. 1, Issue1, on May 16, 2014.

Having been to an event at the cavernous Skylight at Moynihan Station before, I wasn't sure what to expect when I learned that the cavernous garage space—the historic James A. Farley Post Office, next to Penn Station—would be hosting the second annual Collective Design Fair. Then again, last year's inaugural event was at Pier 57, a floating extension of West 15th Street just south of Chelsea Piers, so perhaps the choice of warts-and-all raw spaces is intended to mark a sharp contrast with the exquisite vintage and contemporary design objects on view.

In any case, Collective 2 looked good... precisely because it looked a lot like money. This is not so much a critique but a fact: Frequently likened to DesignMiami/, Steven Learner's Collective effort is aimed squarely at a subset of the discerning audience of the concurrent Frieze New York art fair and is generally on point. Between the high production value of the show itself and a critical mass of dealers and galleries at the upper extremity of the market—it's a small world after all—the fair offers a nice survey of what is an admittedly narrow niche.

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As these things go, the ambiance is a pastiche of understatement and opulence, punctuated by contemporary 'statement' pieces that come across more as interjections than proper sentences (i.e. Humans Since 1982's clocks at Victor Hunt). So too do these objects—from classic pieces by Wendell Castle and George Nakashima to contemporary ones by Cheryl Ekstrom and Joseph Walsh—bear price tags that are typically multiples of Manhattan zip codes.

For the most part, I didn't bother to ask; rather, I found myself musing on the paradox of treating design as art. I've always been a little bit put off by "Do Not Sit" signs sitting atop chairs, whether it's at a heavily-trafficked tradeshow or in a Soho showroom—prototypes aside, I'd been led to believe that these things are meant to be used, and my personal favorites followed suit.

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Posted by erika rae  |  20 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I bet you never thought you'd be comparing dated Nintendo cartridge games to beautifully screen-printed wall art. But that's exactly what you'll be doing once you get a glimpse at the eye candy on hand at this year's "My Famicase Exhibition," put on by METEOR, a Tokyo-based game culture shop. Every year (this being the 10th anniversary) artists submit custom NES cartridge art to be displayed in the showcase—this year, attendees will have the chance to check out 113 video game designs.

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Aside from the jazzing up passed-due tech, artists are also responsible for coming up with a imaginative creative concept that goes along with the "video game" they're designing. The designs are printed on labels, which are then affixed to the cartridges.

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Posted by erika rae  |  12 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

SurfacetoStructure-Mask.jpg"Shakti" by Joel Cooper

With NYCxDesign underway and ICFF and WantedDesign just around the corner, some of our readers are probably dealing with the delicate matter of transporting products and prototypes this week. Transferring the artwork/installation/exhibition from Point A to Point B is one thing, but making sure that nothing is damaged in the process is perhaps the concern. When it comes to a showcase featuring 120 works of origami, you've got yourself a whole new meaning for "precious cargo." Beginning on June 19, the Cooper Union will host Surface to Structure: Folded Forms—an exhibition featuring 120 pieces of origami from 80 contemporary origami artists that's looking to get a little crowdsourced love to help offset travel expenses.

SurfacetoStructure-Wings.jpg"St. Michael – The Archangel" by Tran Trung Hieu

SurfacetoStructure-Sculpture2.jpg"Dreamer" by Giang Dinh

The exhibition's organizers are working on an Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary roundtrip transportation funds to get the work safely from and back to the artists—who are located in 16 different countries worldwide—post-show. (This campaign brought me back to Sipho Mabona's successful attempt at Kickstarting a life-size origami elephant fold with one piece of giant paper.) The last time the Cooper Union housed an exhibit of this kind was back in 1959 for the Plane Geometry and Fancy Figures showcase—which turned out to be the first origami show in the United States.

Check out the campaign video:

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