arrested by art
Many of us stand there looking at this piece by Valerie Hegarty at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, trying to understand what effect it truly has on us. Bent, scorched, melting, these shrapnels of a landscape and bits of ravage witness one more disaster to overcome. Stunning!
les sofas un peu bêtes du art institute of chicago
There is something moving in the way these sofas are displayed in the American furniture section of the formidable Art Institute of Chicago. Antique pieces from the East Coast, crafted somewhere from 1825 through 1870 in New York or maybe New England it is unclear, all sitting low under a rather odd selection of paintings and portraits hung too close to them.
For one, the Grecian couch with ultra symmetrical woven dots from the 1830s invites the two overlooking portraits, an endearing gentlewoman and a romantic dandy in matching colors, to roll up the conversation onto the wavy shapes below. A not so conventional sectional.
Then there is the chubby pink 1860s sofa with a triptych backseat, ornate with cameos of Her and of Him at its tips, which claims to be made of rosewood and ... ormolu. Ormolu? Sounds like the name of some fancy bird that could drop any minute straight from the William Bradford marine "The Coast of Labrador" onto the arms of the couch. But no, ormolu is an old English translation from French "or moulu", or ground gold, an 18th century term describing the application of gold powder as a finish on wood, precious enough like a cocotte...
And finally there is this 1855 complicated laminated rosewood, ash and cherry piece, freshly re-upholstered in a flashy green and white floral damask.
It is flanked on top by the 1881 "Study for an Aragonese Smuggler" painting by William Turner Dannat, chiaroscuro rendering of a man in shabby clothes with raised arms throwing his head back and pouring water in his open mouth.The painting is as tormented as the couch is still, as patine-d as the couch is plastic, as low-life as the couch is high life. One volunteers for humble and the other screeches pretense.One tells a story of realistically neo-poor and the other of ostentatiously nouveau-riche. How can two objects be more aesthetically opposed to each other. Yet somehow the odd tandem works, kind of creating an occupy wall street design moment. Or like an old rich lady and her much younger artistic lover, sofa and painting make strange but interesting bed fellows.
This inspires us to spark again at the visit of the forgotten furniture aisles of musea, those long shielded from the scrutinizing eyes of curators. These aisles subsist all over the world indeed, in major art establishments as well as in regional museums. Oscar Wilde himself, in his desire to educate North Americans to a House more Beautiful, would have liked the incongruous associations, I'm sure. I appreciate the naïveté and the randomness maybe of the display. A non-curated anthropological manifesto.
the nomadic farming project
The Textile Art Center located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, provide support for fiber and weaving professionals as well as people interested in the fiber professions, by acting as a resource facility and a creative meeting place.
The center hosts an artist in residence program where students rent a workshop for 6 months, and it holds classes in textile related disciplines such as weaving, embroidery, or natural dye processes.The TAC runs a natural garden in neighboring lot, using the dye plants in classes and providing shares to their CSA members, also using the space for workshops and lectures.
Adjacent to the TAC’ s natural dye garden is the Nomadic Farming Project ran by Feedback Farms.Vegetables are planted and grown in large burlap bags sitting on wooden pallets, to be lifted, loaded and transported to other locations as they ripen and ready for harvest, to leave space for new planted seeds, or move indoors for the winter season, insuring a rotation for movable planters and optimizes production. Like camping for plants.
Trip to Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, Colorado, is an interesting little town. Remote from large hubs yet nestled in the heart of the United States, it hosts a tight-knitted community of 5,000 committed people, which grows to 30,000 during the ski season. The scenery is terrific; you can enjoy the views by riding up with the gondolas to a peak perched at a 12,000 ft altitude.
Aspen’s history is one of cultural heritage; it was founded around 1888 by Jerome B Wheeler, an industrial and financier who brought his wife Harriet Macy, heir to the Macy’s department store, to Colorado, in search of a place with pure air to help cure her respiratory problems.
(I can witness indeed that the air in Aspen is quite pure, at such oxygen-deprived altitude, breathing while exercising is surprisingly smooth.)
Jerome Wheeler started mining for silver and made a flash-fortune in 4 years during which he built cultural establishments and structures for larger crowds that would welcome the intelligentsia of the East Coast as well as thinkers, politicians, business people and artists from Europe.
The hotel Jerome is a witness to this glorious past, being at the heart of Aspen by its central location but also by its noble construction: large of 90 rooms and still decorated in the turn of the 20th century style, it displays a charming obsolete European grandeur while offering the warmth of cosy winter lounges, majestuous hallways, bars and a 4,000 sqft ballroom.
Ever since that time, and even after crossing three major depressions that brought the town to its knees to total poverty, a tradition of culture and international flair persists. Aspen gathers thousands of people for world class events, the famous Food and Wine Classic event being one of them. I was attending recently there the three day Global Wellness Summit, an American venture founded in 2006 reuniting each year a growing community of spa executives worldwide, while the green energy summit was also happening at the hotel Jerome. Famous people spoke at both events, amongst them the governor of Colorado, former Davos CEO Philippe Bourguignon, or Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, president of Coast Rica from 1994-1998, now president of The Carbon War Room and an engaged activist for sustainable industry practices. Inspiring people.
What struck me during the three day- spa conference is that most speakers brought health to the center stage of the discussion; I believe that wellness establishments will become the clinics of the future, where prevention and rewards for patients in good health will prevail, in reaction to a system that has become more of a sickcare system than a healthcare one, where diseases are engines fueling chemical cures from pharmaceutical giants, for patients marketed as products.
The obesity debate also took center stage. A heavy topic in social media as well, especially in America, where ¼ of the population is overweight, where a plane passenger recently was un-boarded for being too big for one seat, where a chain food burger costs $.99 and a salad $4.99.
The group of spa students who won the prize at the Global wellness Summit student competition this year is from California: four cheeky girls who imagined the concept of a spa for VIGs, Very Important Girls, targeting girlfriends and sisters in a 12-18 age bracket, who gather to relax, interact and receive beauty treatments in a man-free environment. A man-free environment! Wow, young girls are empowered beyond feminism these days. Interesting trend to notice next to the new father trend that Li recently mentioned in the Trendtablet newsletter: the masculine is in need of a make-over.
Aspen is an inspiring place; I will go back during ski season, to see how it feels to exercise in the snowy pure air while getting stimulated by cultural events…
fashion designers without borders
Chrissie Lam, a senior concept designer at US retail brand American Eagle Outfitters for twelve years, always wanted to connect her passion for fashion, adventure and philanthropy.
After taking a sabbatical from her design position to go to Rwanda and explore clothing craftsmanship, she decided to launch The Supply Change, a network whose purpose is to alleviate extreme poverty by connecting artisans in emerging economies with the global market place.
Chrissie explains: “We are curating experiences and enlisting like-minded design colleagues in order to help them realize the potential of sourcing in developing countries. I believe change comes from within a company, and currently there is a disconnect between people in the design industry and social enterprises/artisan groups abroad. If design professionals can connect with great organizations, meet the artisans, witness the social impact and be inspired by the local resources, they are more likely to return to their companies with enthusiasm and the knowledge to advocate for a brand-social enterprise collaboration. We want to create ambassadors – ambassadors that can influence change within their companies and raise awareness and action through real stories and word-of-mouth experiences.”
The venture, she ads, is not a non-profit, for it is meant to bring resources to those involved.
The Supply Change has partnered with travel agency Extraordinary Journeys to create unique travel programs under the name of Fashion Designers Without Borders. The first program will be held in Kenya on February 16-23, 2013 and will educate and connect participants with artisan social enterprises hat work with brands like Edun, Suno, Puma, Max Mara, Whole Foods and others. A second trip will be organized in March 2013 in Guatemala.
Even though only a few weeks old, The Supply Change is receiving great press and support from medias. The public is ready; now the corporate world is definitely in need for change, not only the merchandise but the job positions themselves have become so boring that business as usual can no longer be sustained.
Thanks to the relevance in timing of this start-up, and through the passion of its founder, this venture will go a long way; Edelkoort Inc is happy to support. Good luck!
The highlight of New York Design Week for me was Murray Moss’s installation Midway & Mortal Stillness.
The Moss company left the high traffic Soho space to move into the ailing but still bustling Fashion District, on 36th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue.
The elected building is a new development that resembles a turn of the 19th century construction. In the elevator taking you to the 10th floor, the Moss team posted a warning that the installation contains strobes. Indeed: once you enter the new Moss space, re-baptized “Moss Bureau”, you find yourself immersed in an office/showroom environment where lined-up computer desktops pair with the unique vintage office chairs of the business hours personnel and play each a video of the current exhibition; the copy machine stands as a background to Maarteen Baas Grandfather Clock, the sprinkler system painted in red runs from window to window, overlooking in the back the coating manufacturing facilities in the neighbor building, all office features are juxtaposed to the strikingly beautiful “Midway” installation featuring Cathy McLure pieces.
This installation is described as a zoetropic “circus”; mechanical bronze-colored toys stripped off their fur spin on their carousel, rendered alive by stroboscopic flashes entrained by the ritournelle of a mechanical organ soundtrack. A sweet feeling of unease seizes you as you watch the carousel turn: it echoes the state of a grinding world in economic decadence that keeps turning mechanically as if waiting for its batteries to go out, in denial of its own decline.
Realistic, threatening and beautiful, a true impersonation of romanticism.
Also featured are Julia Kunin’s porcelan bronzed colored vessels.
The Moss team is making the most out of a space considerably smaller than the previous one, in blending office features and design, “bringing the back stage in the front stage”, as Franklin Getchell explains, and as Murray points, “daily computers dress up at night and become part of the fancy show”.
Necessity as the mother of invention, so true, thank you Murray.
By Emmanuelle Linard
union square market
The Union Square Farmer's Market in the heart of New York City is still going strong. Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, neighboring farmers, fishers and producers from upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or even Vermont offer their products to the Manhattan crowd.
Besides the cornucopia of pesticide-free vegetables, roots, fruits, flowers and small trees fit for city life, meat-related products abound: a Catskill Merino Sheep farm offers lamb's legs as well as sheepskin and color-died skeins; an ostrich and emu farm sells giant eggs full or empty and diverse part of 97% fat-free red ostrich meat; a ranch from Pennsylvania offers angus & bison meat from grass-fed animals raised without antibiotics, hormones or steroids.
Various recycling programs are offered, such as clothing under the label Wearable Collections or the plastic bag recycling program for those who pledge to bring their own reusable plastic bag to shop at the market to help reduce plastic usage through the city.
The Community Compost program from the Lower East Side Ecology Center sells composting systems and gather kitchen scraps from households in large garbage cans to compost, repackage and and re-sell as fertile soil once processed. Lavender, local beer and maple candy from Vermont are also available.
More expensive than smaller markets around the five boroughs or Philadelphia, but very eco-friendly for us city locals, still...what a blessing to live nearby...
By Emmanuelle Linard.
the two faces of hemp
Purple haze. In the US, sixteen states and Washington, DC, have legalized medical marijuana, and 16 other states have pending legislation. This means that pot is one thing that some Republican states like Mississippi or Nebraska and some Democrat states like Maine and Connecticut can agree on, uniting divided America in a purple haze of red and blue…
Much farming takes place in sunny California, with a value of pot crops estimated at $14 billion, and growing competition also: the police discovered last summer North of San Francisco 121 pot farms, up from 37 the year before, most of them illegal.
Since unemployment is high, more and more white former private school students choose to work as pot farmers, trimming the plants, chopping them down and letting them cure in heated warehouses for three to four weeks, after which more temporary workers are imported to cut the dried leaves and prepare them for the market. A growing state matter!
Building with hemp. Industrial hemp comes from Cannabis Sativa, the same plant species that produces marijuana, and therefore the production of industrial hemp has been long prohibited in the United States. Even in Santa Barbara, California, a state where medical marijuana is legalized, the authorities haven’t yet decided whether to allow the building with hemp to proceed.
Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp, lime and water, a very sustainable material that is energy-efficient, non-toxic, resistant to mold, insects and fire. It also absorbs carbon dioxide, purifying the air from city pollution inside the structure.
“NauHaus”, a North-Carolina project by Hemp Technologies, has homes built in Hawaii, Texas, North-Carolina and Idaho, and has received the LEED platinum status.
By Emmanuelle Linard
Dear Tablet friends,
We are happy to announce that we moved our Edelkoort Inc New York quarters to the Abbey near Union Square, the belly button of Manhattan! A fresh start in a fantastic central location.
From our window we look at nature with Stuyvesant Park, at the future with friend’s school, and up for inspiration with the St. George church.
It’s all about the view. We are happy to welcome you in our sunny office.
Lidewij, Emmanuelle and the Edelkoort Group