New Work: ‘Valentina’

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Now largely forgotten outside the fashion industry, Valentina was an iconic figure in the 1930s and 1940s, a gifted couturier who dressed famous actresses and socialites and was a fixture in New York society. She was also a progenitor of the modern luxury brand, skilled at marrying her designs to her own fame. Valentina: American Couture and the Cult of Celebrity is a new exhibition designed by Abbott Miller at the Museum of the City of New York that rediscovers the work and legacy of this designer’s designer. Miller’s design for the exhibition takes as its inspiration the beauty of the diagonals and verticals in the letterforms of Valentina’s name, as well as in her structurally innovative creations.

Enter the world of Valentina after the jump.

New Work: ‘The City in 2050’

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What will cities be like in the not-too-distant year of 2050? For the Urban Land Institute, Michael Gericke and his team created the exhibition The City in 2050. Designed to educate the public about the variety of economic, social and environmental factors that will shape the future design and development of cities worldwide, the exhibition was installed at the institute’s Urban Land Expo in Miami and will travel to other locations in the year ahead. A pair of large-scale arrows creates the structure for the exhibition’s galleries and symbolically points to the future.

A look at the exhibition after the jump.

New Work: ‘Harley-Davidson: Designing Customs’

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Lorenzo Apicella has added to the growing list of Pentagram projects designed for Harley-Davidson. Together with his team in San Francisco and independent curator Ileen Gallagher, Apicella designed Harley-Davidson: Designing Customs, an exhibition showcasing Harley’s famed design, research and development process. The exhibition was staged in Milwaukee as part of Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary Celebration in August, coinciding with the opening of the new Harley-Davidson Museum designed by James Biber with exhibitions designed by Abbott Miller.

A look inside the exhibition after the jump.

‘Long May She Wave’ at the Nevada Museum of Art

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After a successful run at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, Kit Hinrichs’ Stars & Stripes collection is now on display at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. The exhibition, Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag, was given an entire floor (almost 8,500 square feet) so that Hinrichs was able to include 5,000 pieces—roughly 60 percent of the collection that he has accumulated over the past forty years. Objects on display include Civil War-era flags, handmade quilts, hundreds of toy flag bearer soldiers, weather vanes, jewelry, Native American weavings, political campaign memorabilia, clothing and protest banners, packaging labels and fine arts photographs.

In his search to understand what is iconic, Hinrichs has been fascinated with the many graphic interpretations of the American flag and how the elements in its design can be parsed into individual colors and patterns and yet be recognizable to millions around the world. The Stars and Stripes is a national brand, a logo and a symbol that is filled with emotion and levels of meaning that change with the political and cultural climate of the times.

The exhibition, curated by Hinrichs, is on view through 15 March 2009.

Hinrichs has written two books about his collection, Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag and 100 American Flags: A Unique Collection of Old Glory Memorabilia, both published by Ten Speed Press in 2001 and 2008, respectively.

New Work: ‘Misunderstandings’


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Justus Oehler and his team have designed the catalogue and campaign for Missverständnisse — Stolpersteine der Kommunikation (Misunderstandings — Stumbling Blocks of Communication), an exhibition at the Museum of Communication in Germany. Misunderstandings are part of our daily lives, and the exhibition explores when and how they occur and the funny episodes or unexpected consequences they cause. After a successful launch in the museum’s Berlin location, the show is now travelling to its Frankfurt branch, where it opens tomorrow.

Detroit’s New Model

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This past weekend Studio 360 aired a segment about the Detroit Institute of Arts’ groundbreaking program to make its permanent collection more engaging to visitors, part of a larger museum expansion and reinstallation that opened last fall. Reporter Zak Rosen interviewed Lisa Strausfeld about her design of the museum’s interactive installations, including the immensely popular Art of Dining, and noted that a year after the renovation, attendance is up by 60 percent.

Listen to the segment here:

Launchpad Rockets Its Way to a Million Visitors

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Harry Pearce’s team at Pentagram has designed the identity and environmental graphics for the recently refurbished Launchpad, an interactive gallery aimed at schoolchildren in the London Science Museum. Pearce has created a vibrant, colourful identity that reflects the spirit of fun inherent to Launchpad, where learning is presented through hands-on exhibits, play and experimentation.

Since its reopening in April, Launchpad’s success has been unprecedented. The gallery attracted its millionth visitor this week, two months earlier than predicted and up to 6,000 people per day have been passing through the doors. August, the gallery’s busiest month so far, saw 180,000 visits. Over half of weekend visits to the museum are made to see Launchpad and the gallery’s fans include the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who said of the exhibition: “I have seen the future and it works.”

New Work: ‘Reinventing Grand Army Plaza’

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Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1867 as a parade ground and 11-acre gateway to Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn should be one of the world’s great urban spaces. Recognized for its Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch (added in 1892), it is located at the intersection of five major thoroughfares — Flatbush Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Eastern Parkway, Prospect Park West and Union Street — and is the geographic heart of Brooklyn. But today, it is perpetually clogged by automobile traffic and is a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists.

Organized by the Design Trust for Public Space and the Grand Army Plaza Coalition, the Reinventing Grand Army Plaza ideas competition asked architects to re-envision the area as parkland to be enjoyed by visitors and the plaza’s vibrant, ethnically diverse surrounding neighborhoods. Over 200 proposals were submitted from 25 countries all over the world, which were culled down to thirty, including four prizewinning designs, by the competition’s jury. Taking these thirty proposals, James Biber and Michael Gericke collaborated on the design of the competition’s public exhibition which arranges the finalists on fourteen 8’ x 8’ x 8’ cubes and two triple-height cubes arrayed around the center of the plaza. Their placement on the site allows visitors to more closely imagine what it would be like for any of these proposals to be implemented. Made of vinyl stretched on aluminum frames and backlit from the inside, the simple geometric forms of the cubes play off the ellipses of the plaza. The finalists include SPLAT, the entry from Pentagram Architects.

The exhibition opened on Saturday, 13 September and remains on view through Monday, 13 October.

Views of the exhibition after the jump.

James Biber, Abbott Miller and the Harley-Davidson Museum at the Architectural League

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Get your motor running: Next Friday, 19 September, James Biber and Abbott Miller bring “The Ride: Designing the Harley-Davidson Museum” to the Architectural League in New York in a discussion moderated by Phil Patton. Biber will talk about the architecture and Miller the exhibition design of this structurally innovative museum that presents a new paradigm for the integration of a corporate museum into its local community. The museum has been called an “engaging and entertaining homage to an American icon” by The Wall Street Journal and a “fascinating survey of lifestyle branding, connoisseurship and pop culture” by T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Friday, 19 September from 7 pm at the Urban Center, 457 Madison Avenue in New York. Tickets for Architectural League members are free and available now; non-member tickets are $10 and available from Friday, 12 September. Information here.