New Work: ‘Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze’

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In his 40-year career, the pioneering fashion designer Geoffrey Beene developed a stunning body of work that combined structural and formal innovation with a uniquely American sense of play. Designed by Abbott Miller, Geoffrey Beene: Trapeze is a new exhibition at the Phoenix Museum of Art that presents the designer’s groundbreaking work in a display of over 30 garments from the private collection of Patsy Tarr, who was one of his most avid collectors and champions. Tarr is also Miller’s longtime collaborator on the performing arts journal 2wice, which she publishes. Completing the circle, Miller himself worked closely with Beene over the course of a twelve-year friendship.

Their collaborations included a major retrospective, a monograph of his work and a tribute published by 2wice after his death. For several years Miller also designed publications, graphics and environments for Mr. Beene’s seasonal presentations, which were part exhibition and part theater. The Phoenix exhibition remains on view through March 7, 2010.

A look at Trapeze after the jump.

desigNYC: A New Design Resource for New York

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In the midst of the financial crisis our friend Ed Schlossberg of ESI Design gathered a group of designers and design thinkers together to consider how to connect the NYC “design-impoverished” with all the designers who wanted to contribute in some meaningful way to the city. It was, at its core, a group looking for ways design could make NY a better place. At the time it seemed the least we could do and, in spite of the “recovery,” it still is.

Design is one tool for solving problems, but often it is characterized as the decoration on top of the cake (or even on top of the icing on top of the cake). For us it is, to stretch a simile nearly to its breaking point, the whole cake; recipe, layers, presentation and taste. With a sense of optimism that seemed almost anachronistic we met over a period of months in the ESI offices to formulate ideas for New York.

desigNYC was the result.

desigNYC is fundamentally a tool for connecting those organizations in need of design with those designers in need of an outlet for their sense of civic pride and engagement.

desigNYC is our attempt to put design back in the set of tools a city has to solve problems.

desigNYC is aimed at creating a civic design resource for New York.

desigNYC is in its beta testing now and we encourage all organizations in need of design to apply here. The deadline is November 30.

New Work: The Cooper Union

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This fall the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art opened its new academic building on its Cooper Square campus in New York’s East Village. Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis, the building has quickly become one of the city’s new landmarks. Abbott Miller has designed a unique program of signage and environmental graphics for the building that is fully integrated with the building’s dynamic architecture.

Miller is a Cooper alumnus—this year he received the school’s prestigious Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award—and he knew the campus well. The new academic building, located at 41 Cooper Square, sits directly across Third Avenue from the Cooper Union’s original 1859 building, called the Foundation building. Like Mayne’s architectural design, Miller’s graphics for the new building establish a dialogue with the older structure.

New MAD Store Pops Up for the Holidays

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Get set for MAD shopping this holiday season at the Museum of Arts and Design’s new Pop-Up Store on New York’s Upper East Side. The shop, located at Kate’s Paperie at 1282 Third Avenue and 74th Street, celebrates its opening with a store warming this weekend and will be poppin’ through the holidays until January 15, 2010.

We designed an identity for the store using the MAD Face we created for the museum identity. This identity features on several groovy gifts, and the shop also offers apparel, books and unique products made by artists and designers. The 1200 sq ft space includes a window installation by Mia Pearlman, one of the artists featured in the museum’s current exhibition, Slash: Paper Under the Knife.

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: ‘Metalsmith’

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Metalsmith, the publication of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), has in recent years expanded its focus beyond art jewelry to become a showcase for art and craft design. Published five times a year, the magazine presents profiles and portfolios of artists and designers, news and articles about materials and processes, and reviews of exhibitions and books. To accommodate its growing vision, editor Suzanne Ramljak commissioned Luke Hayman to redesign the publication. Ramljak had previously worked with Pentagram on editorial redesigns of both Glass and Sculpture magazines. Hayman’s new design for Metalsmith emphasizes the art’s creative impulse and reshapes the magazine into an object as crafted as its subject.