New Work: ‘Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future’

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The great Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen designed several of the iconic works of Modernist architecture in the United States: the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, CBS’ “Black Rock” headquarters in New York. Amazingly, there has been no major retrospective of his work since his death in 1961. Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is a landmark traveling exhibition organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the National Building Museum and the Yale School of Architecture that looks at his work and legacy. First shown at the Kunsthalle Helsinki in 2006, the exhibition has now arrived at the Museum of the City of New York, where it opens this week.

Michael Bierut and his team designed the graphics and catalogue for the exhibition in 2006, when it opened in Helsinki, as well as for its current show at MCNY. The designers created a "kit of parts”—typography, colors, graphic motifs—that could be used to create a consistent look at all the venues and across all communications. The catalogue was included in the AIGA's 50 Books/50 Covers of 2006.

Following its Helsinki run, the exhibition traveled to the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway; CIVA in Brussels, Belgium; and the Cranbrook Art Museum, the National Building Museum, the Walker Art Center and Washington University in the US. Next spring it moves on to its final stop at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale School of Architecture.

New Work: ‘Speak, Memory’

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Faced with the task of designing 21 new covers for the works of Vladimir Nabokov, art director John Gall decided to ask 20 other designers for help. To create a series look—and to pay homage to Nabokov’s passion for butterfly collecting—he sent each of the participating designers a collector’s specimen box to serve as the centerpiece of the cover.

Michael Bierut was assigned one of his favorites, Nabokov’s 1951 memoir Speak, Memory. His solution began with by filling the box with old photographs under vellum, but an accidental test shot by designer Katie Barcelona that left out the photographs altogether was deemed more evocative.

The whole series, timed to the publication of Nabokov’s last work, The Original of Laura, with cover design by Chip Kidd, can be seen here.

New Work: ‘The Guggenheim’

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The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Making of the Modern Museum is the definitive chronicle of the creation of the iconic building, the final project of its renowned architect. Designed by Abbott Miller, who has a long-standing relationship with the museum, the book has been published to commemorate the Guggenheim’s 50th anniversary and is a companion volume to Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, the blockbuster exhibition that became the museum’s most popular show ever during its run in New York this summer. (The exhibition has now traveled to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, where it opened last week.) Miller describes the project as the ultimate souvenir book, and it has been designed to captivate architectural aficionados and casual visitors alike.

New Work: ‘Matisse as Printmaker’

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Henri Matisse is best known as a painter and colorist, but for over 50 years he was also an accomplished printmaker who worked in many forms of print media. Luke Hayman has designed the catalogue for “Matisse as Printmaker,” a new exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art that features over 150 of Matisse’s print works, including etchings, monotypes, aquatints, lithographs and linocuts. The exhibited prints come from the holdings of the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation and from the BMA’s own extensive collection. The catalogue is published by the American Federation of the Arts.

A look inside the book after the jump.

New Work: ‘Amelia’

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Abbott Miller has designed the companion book to “Amelia”, director Mira Nair’s new biography of Amelia Earhart starring Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank. The film opens this Friday. Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in 1928, the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic in 1932, and disappeared over the Pacific in an attempted around-the-world flight in 1937. Nair’s film charts Earhart’s life as a series of flashbacks, looking back from that final flight to her rise as one of the pioneering female pilots in the United States.

Miller designed the companion book to Nair’s previous film, “The Namesake”, in 2007. For the book of “Amelia”, Miller worked closely with Nair to weave together production photos, stills from the film, archival photographs of the real Amelia and passages from the script to recreate the narrative of the story. Swank bears a remarkable resemblance to Earhart and the juxtaposition of images of the actress and the legendary aviatrix reinforces the painstaking verisimilitude of the film. The book’s colors are based on Earhart’s first plane, which was bright orange, and on the pastel tones of the film’s sets and costumes. Maps of Earhart’s journeys have been used as endpapers and section dividers throughout the book.

A look inside the book after the jump.

Preview: ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’

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Wes Anderson’s latest film “Fantastic Mr. Fox” premieres in London tonight as the opening feature of this year’s London Film Festival. Angus Hyland and his team have designed a new book, The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox, to accompany the film, which is based on the much-loved tale by Roald Dahl. The book is an ‘art of’ book rather than text or script-heavy and is full of storyboards, sketches, screen shots, behind the scene photos and a commentary of how the original story was developed to make a feature film.

New Work: ‘Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives’

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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives is writer-neuroscientist David Eagleman’s collected imaginings about what might happen in the Great Beyond. With a sellout first edition published in hardcover in February 2009, Sum is on its way to becoming a cult classic, praised by Philip Pullman and Brian Eno. (In a blurb on the book’s cover, Eno says “every story is a new Heaven,” and earlier this summer he scored a performance based on the book.) Angus Hyland’s cover for the new paperback edition from Canongate features a die-cut doorway and exit sign that make the book stand out on the shelves and reminds us of our own inevitable egress.

‘Design for a Living World’ Opens This Week

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The objects that furnish our homes and workplaces have been sliced, bent, molded and hewn from materials extracted from physical landscapes. Many of the substances we think of as “natural,” such as wood, bamboo and leather, originate as living organisms, while others are mined from the earth. “Truth to materials” has been a theme in the discourse of modern design for more than a century. This principle, which celebrates the innate textures and behaviors of materials, has guided generations of designers. Today, as designers and consumers explore the environmental ethics of manufactured things, they seek transparency about where goods come from and how they are made.

Design for a Living World is a landmark exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York that opens an important conversation between conservationists and designers about the potential and legacy of natural materials. Presented by The Nature Conservancy and co-curated by Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton, the exhibition has commissioned 10 designers from the worlds of fashion, industrial and furniture design to develop new uses for sustainably grown and harvested materials from a specific place where the Conservancy works. The participating designers include Yves Béhar, Stephen Burks, Hella Jongerius, Maya Lin, Christien Meindertsma, Isaac Mizrahi, Ted Muehling, Kate Spade, Ezri Tarazi and Miller himself. The locations include endangered ecosystems in Australia, Micronesia, China, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Alaska, Idaho and Maine. The resulting designs demonstrate that by choosing sustainable materials, designers can actively contribute to the advancement of a global conservation ethic.

In addition to co-curating and participating in the exhibition, Miller and his team at Pentagram designed the exhibition, catalogue and website. Design for a Living World opens this Thursday, May 14 and remains on view at Cooper-Hewitt through January 4, 2010 before traveling to other locations.

A closer look at the exhibition and a preview of five of its commissions after the jump.

New Work: ‘Mannahatta’


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The modern, manmade landmarks of New York are so familiar it is hard to imagine that before the city was an “asphalt jungle” it was a quiet wooded island called Mannahatta, or “Island of Many Hills,” by the Lenape Indians. In his new book Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, ecologist Eric W. Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society considers what Manhattan was like a short 400 years ago, before the first settlers arrived. Abbott Miller’s design for the book helps make this serious scientific history accessible and emphasizes the startling contrast between the metropolis of today with the Manhattan Island of 1609.

The release of Mannahatta is timed to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson in New York Harbor, and the book will be accompanied by the exhibition Mannahatta/Manhattan: A Natural History of New York City, also designed by Miller and opening at the Museum of the City of New York on May 20.

Let’s visit the real old New York.