This fall, the Gap, or is it just "Gap" has been using some very hand crafted in-store graphics to support the "Joy It Up" marketing campaign. While Anthopologie and Urban Outfitters have been doing this kind of retail handicraft for years, it only makes sense that this use of simple, off-the-shelf based in-store marketing campaign would turn up here. Clearly sustainability has reached enough Americans that this kind of "eco-friendly" aesthetic can now grace the interiors of Americas largest retailers. These photos were taken at the Westfield Century City Shopping Center. While shooting these images I was scolded by several "Gap" employees. There are no photos allowed in the Gap. Or is it just Gap.
Although moving images like these can never replace the multi-sensorial experience of actually being there, a video walkthrough does a decent job of giving a sense of scale and shape that photography can't. These three videos show different perspectives of this amazing exhibit.
Because it's fun, that's why.
While Volvo accounts for only about 1% of cars sold in the US, they still have a great reputation for build quality and safety.
Recently purchased from Ford by Geely of China, after year over year decline in sales of around 25%, Volvo looks poised for a resurgence. Maybe, that's why this year at the LA Auto Show, Volvo has prepared a presentation that distinguishes itself well above its position in the US market.
It takes a great deal of sophistication and patience to successfully translate your brand attributes from the product you sell to the environment you are selling them in, especially if your strongest brand attribute is safety. When walking through the Volvo presentation you sense this attribute in a visceral way - beautiful wood finishes, simple forms, and straightforward communications that result in an earnest yet arresting environment. Of course, an auto show booth cannot make you feel safe, but it can help you understand the commitment to the pursuit of safety through the level of attention paid to materials, light, finishes, shape and form.
While the future of big box bookstores is uncertain, smaller bookstores have had a resurrgence over the past couple of years. Most of these book shops strive to bring knowledge to the community. Some like Libros Shmibros in Boyle Heights (actually a lending library) have become beacons for community activism.
There are other types of bookstores that are more of a distribution center for a specific publisher, like Taschen at the Grove. These publishers' shops are sales driven and they only sell books. Books by their publisher. The tight branding and emphasis on sales feels more like the Gap than a neighborhood book shop or a big box book store like Borders or Barnes and Noble.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I had a chance to see the newest flagship store of one of these ultra branded publisher stores. Assouline has an amazing collection of art and culture books. If the Taschen shop at the Grove is like the Gap, then Assouline at City Center is like Gucci. Little vignettes with perfect lighting and a sense of brand narrative create an Assouline experience. The crisp installations and openness and attention to detail create a sense of exclusivity. When a shopper visits Assouline, they are experiencing Assouline, and just so happen to be looking at and possibly buying books.
This weekend, the LA Convention Center hosted Dwell Magazine's Dwell on Design conference. This year's conference featured furniture and accessories, kitchen and bath products, outdoor items, building materials, and modern family products, all with a focus on sustainability. If I included every product or idea that made me spend time at a booth, this blog post would go on forever. Instead, I have focused on products and ideas that have the potential to change the way that people see them.
A toilet that requires a remote control to operate should have its own customized environment and Kohler's Numi gets just that. Numi is housed in a super slick Marmol Radziner prefabricated structure, which looks more like an environment designed for high end apparel than a toilet. On second thought, Numi retails for around $6000 so the upscale trappings make sense.
One of my least favorite parts of home interiors are the unfinished look of outlets, light switches and a/c registers. Trufig has finally solved this issue by delivering a completely flush receptacle for almost anything you want to embed in your wall. The system requires much more attention to detail (level five finish) than your standard outlet, but the results are worth it, even if they run about $400 a pop.
Harman Kardon has developed a new high end audio system designed to be next to invisible. The amp and glass touchscreen (wipeable) slot neatly into cabinetry. Here, it is seen slotted just above a Meile espresso machine in Poggen Pohl cabinets. Two cabinet door faces become speakers thanks to a tiny diaphragm mounted to a shallow impression routed into the back of the cabinet door. The system doesn't deliver audiophile sound quality, but it's better than most counter top speaker systems without having to lose the valuable counter space. This product is not yet for sale, nor is it featured on HK's site. If you read dutch, enjoy this short description by the designers, D'Andrea and Evers.
Dwell has focused on home gardens and sustainable practices since the beginning, but they have cemented the trend of urban farming by featuring contemporary chicken coops for 2011. This kind of highly polished product seems antithetical to the get-your-hands-dirty attitude required for keeping chickens. Maybe keeping chickens is easier than it seems. Chickens cluck. You get eggs. Clean pen with high pressure washer. Repeat.
"From our point of view, the Arctic has no favorable qualities, unless its severity be counted as such." In the exhibit brochure, this is how Edmund Carpenter introduces the Arctic. Severity as a quality? What a great concept for an exhibit design strategy.
Upside Down uses severity in ways that transport a visitor to the barren arctic, where, as Carpenter puts it "there is no line dividing earth from sky." Visitors must wear little white booties over their shoes to preserve the virginal snowy floors (painted white). The spiraling acrylic casework floats along the horizon line. Glowing ice caves exalt worship masks. Inuit tales and sounds of the arctic hang in the air like snow flakes.
Read art daily's review of "Upside Down" here.
On April 25th, at the AAM conference in Houston, Age of Mammals won the 23rd Annal Excellence in Exhibition Competition award for Special Achievement in Clarity of Message. In attendence to accept the award were Karen Wise, VP of Exhibitions and Education and Simon Adlam, Project Manager.
The small Age of Mammals contingent present at the award ceremonies hardly represented the massive team required to pull off this project.
On a recent visit to Houston, I took a quick run to the Montrose enclave to visit the Menil collection. Art installations, matching bungalows, tree lined park lawns and the thick texas heat create a surreal museum experience. The center piece of the campus is the Renzo Piano designed central building that houses the core collection as well as changing exhibits.
While the collections are impressive, the art viewing experience is elevated by how uniquely the building captures and manipulates light. Diffused natural light, softened through Pianos louvre system, incandescent lighting, white walls, and dark glossy hardwood flooring cast, reflect and soften light like no other museum. This intense focus on manipulating light continues throughout the Menil Campus. The Rothko Chapel and Cy Twombly Gallery are contemplative shrines to perfect art lighting. The lighting here has become more than a function of illuminating art, but has become a brand that defines the museum and separates it from all others.
To read more about the Menil Collection and the Montrose Enclave click here.