Panorama by Konstantin Grcic at Vitra Design Museum

As with writers, poets, architects, or movie directors, every designer’s work is usually defined by a series of traits and peculiarities that uniquely mark his way of working. Thus, we can read Martino Gamper from the irreverent colours and bulky, crafty features of his objects, we can find Jasper Morrison in the silence of his perfect, timeless forms and we can easily tell the difference between the charm of Hella Jongerious and the occasional frivolousness of Patricia Urquiola. And yet, some designers escape narrow definitions, producing work that can contemporarily be quirky, eclectic and witty, while also resulting formally and technically perfect, severe and rigorous.

One of these designers is Konstantin Grcic, impossible to define through a single object and its aesthetics, and his work spans from iconic furniture to simple objects like umbrellas and pens, window designs for fashion companies or utility items such as pots and garbage cans. The complexity and richness of Grcic’s opus is the subject of an exhibition soon to open at Vitra Design Museum. Titled Panorama, the exhibition will feature several large-scale installations rendering Grcic’s personal visions for life in the future: a home interior, a design studio and an urban environment. These spaces stage fictional scenarios confronting the viewer with the designer’s inspirations, challenges and questions, as well as placing Grcic’s works in a greater social context. The highlight of these presentations is a 30-metre long panorama that depicts an architectural landscape of the future, while a fourth section of the show takes a focused look at Grcic’s daily work, presenting many of his finished objects, but also prototypes, drawings and background information along with artefacts that have inspired Grcic – from an old teapot and an early Apple computer to works by Marcel Duchamp, Gerrit Rietveld and Enzo Mari.

With Panorama, Grcic enters new territory. Never before has he so fundamentally reflected on his own work and so thoroughly disclosed his own understanding of design in general. The exhibition is based on an extensive analysis of current technological shifts, innovations and upheavals in contemporary design. Grcic’s thorough reflection on design process, skills and tools, might be the key in understanding the versatility and continuous evolution of his work. In fact, as Grcic once stated: “Skills, for me, mean a way of thinking, but they also mean very real talents in terms of craftsmanship and experience. So that probably makes us experts, but there’s always something we don’t know. We make mistakes. I think something very human happens there. Imagine a world of perfect objects: It would be terrible. We’d be bored, and it would be soulless.”

Panorama will be on show at Vitra Design Museum from 22.03. to 14.09.2014.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Style Suggestions: Skiing

Chances are that if you walk into any ski shop, you’ll be affronted with an array of ski apparel options. Fortunately, ski clothing doesn’t have to be complicated and look great. If you aren’t sure what to wear skiing, it’s best to start with the basics. Here are a few for when you begin to assemble your ski wardrobe.

The North Face jacket, Eastpak backpack, Adidas by Stella McCartney boots, Henrik Vibskov beanie, KJUS gloves, Salomon pants, Zeal goggles, Blizzard Dakota skis, Lucas Papaw ointment

Styling by Vanessa Cocchiaro 

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Burberry, Sealed With a Kiss

Burberry is one of those traditional, authentic and iconic brands which founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, has built a solid British fashion house around its’ strong heritage values. Burberry was the originator of the gabardine fabric and classic British trench coat along with the iconic tartan pattern which has become today the worldwide recognizable trademark of Burberry. Very much a luxury brand but with functional roots, the brand spent quite some years with a more mature and traditional customer base and reputation. In order for the brand to engage with new and younger customers and become relevant in today’s market, they had to make some fundamental changes to their marketing strategies. Burberry has recently introduced some innovative digital campaigns into their marketing which has allowed the brand to grow in a significant way.

The Art of the Trench was introduced in 2009 via a form of social media, encouraging its’ users to upload images of themselves wearing the classic Burberry trench coat. This platform was used worldwide and successfully inspired younger and media savvy customers to engage with the luxury brand, promoting Burberry not only as a classic brand but as one which was relevant and aspirational to the next generation.

Following on with similar youth-engaging campaigns was the Acoustic campaign where young emerging bands and musical artists collaborated with Burberry with the release of an LP and the songs were also uploaded to the Burberry YouTube platform, again creating a certain scene for the brand. The latest in the dynamic re-invention of Burberry has been Burberry Kisses, an interactive tool which allows users to send letters sealed with a virtual kiss to friends and loved ones anywhere in the world; a fun, innocent and sweet gesture.

So can Burberry sustain its new-found relevance and popularity and continue to keep its’ high-end customer base whilst still attracting new and younger fans? Time will tell but as Burberry’s Chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey describes the brand as being “as much a media-content company as a design company”, it seems we can look forward to some new digital experiences from Burberry as well as the expected collections on the runways.

Tamsin Cook – Backstage Image courtesy of Luca Campri 
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Upcoming Artists | Skaters

Hello guys, where are you now?
We are home in New York right now, making our album cover.

Where are you from? Who are the guys behind Skaters?
We are kind of a multi-nation band. Josh is from Hull England and the rest of us are originally from Boston. We are just a bunch of transplants in New York City, making rock records.

What have you done before playing together?
We’ve all been playing in different bands for years. It’s not our first rodeo.

Your “Schemers” EP was released in February 2012. Next month, in February, your “Manhattan” album comes out. How many things have changed in one year?
We’ve signed a record deal, had 3 different guitar players, recorded at Electric Lady Studios and played a lot more, both locally and abroad.

You live in New York, has this city influenced your “Manhattan” album in any way, obviously beyond the name?
Yes. The record is like a scrapbook of stuff that happened to us or things we witnessed in New York during our first year as a band. The whole record is about our lifestyle in New York and the evolving nature of the city.

The Skaters project goes beyond the music. Explain to us what “Yonks” is.
Yonks is a zine we started, to showcase our friends work. It was an excuse to throw a big party, introduce all our friends to each other and build a strong community of artists. It’s led to a lot of collaborations.

Can you recommend us some new bands?
The Drowners are our buddies here in NY, and they are about to blow up. You should also check out this dude from Brooklyn called Porches: pretty great stuff!

In 2014, new album! In addition to that, shall we also expect a tour? Maybe in Europe? Maybe in Italy?
I’d love to come to Italy! We’ve never been there and we are big pizza fans! We’ll be going to UK in February, so hopefully the rest of Europe soon after.

Enrico Chinellato 
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Stefan Sagmeister, la recherche du bonheur

On a Parisian Saturday afternoon, a bunch of kids is patiently standing in line to enter the exhibition which has unleashed the most intense word of mouth of the French capital. What is attracting them? For sure, they are expecting The Happy Show, on view at The Gaîté Lyrique until March 6th, to answer some of the existential questions that every teenager is wondering about: what makes us happy? Is there a definition for happiness? Is being happier something I can learn? Nevertheless, they are probably unaware that they are about to discover the work of one of the most provocative creative directors of all time: Stefan Sagmeister, Austrian-born NYC’s graphic designer, who built his fame with his astonishing CD covers for the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed, and David Byrne – he is now the absolute protagonist of this carte blanche exhibit.

Sagmeister loves to follow unconventional approaches for his productions, pushing his clients into unexplored territories. In fact, his digital creations are often the result of handcrafted pieces of art, which are later on photographed and transformed into digital images and fonts. However, Sagmeister’s originality is not confined to his method: to be inspired by new ideas and experiences, he is used to taking sabbatical years to find the time to experiment with new languages, without dealing with clients’ needs and deadlines, but also to do further research, wherever it may bring him.

With this spirit, the production of The Happy Show begins as the artist’s personal journey into the world of meditation, drugs use and cognitive therapy: Sagmeister experiences them all and translates his insights and states of mind into a sort of journal in which he reports, through prints and images, his discoveries –the most politically correct one, at least from the point of view of the public institution hosting the exhibition, is that sex and love are a better antidote to sadness than drugs. In addition to that, Sagmeister deepens the most up-to-date studies about happiness -from psychologists such as Daniel Gilbert and Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, to the anthropologist Donald Symons, just to mention a few ones- reporting their research into compelling infographics. The overall balance, at the end of the visit, is reassuring indeed: a way for happiness does exist, and even if everyone needs to develop a personal recipe, bliss is at our fingertips. It just needs to be desired and pursued.

However, this sweet build-up can’t but recall the visitor a sort of “Pollyanna syndrome”: an unrealistic, excessive optimism based on the assumption that all things will have positive outcomes, no matter the worldwide crisis or the contingent problems we are facing. Is there too much happiness out there, at least in theory? Or maybe can we get comfort from the awareness that it is not so easy to put it into practice? For those who prefer Sagmeister’s dry wit, this evidence -real or presumed- is probably reassuring.

Giulia Zappa 
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Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol

The Fashion and Textile Museum will host a new exhibition that will trace the history of the 20th century art through textiles. We have talked many times about the love-hate relationship that exists between fashion and art, but this is a good chance to go deeper and discover a different point of view.

The most important art movements, both European and American, will be presented in Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol. From Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism or Abstraction, to Surrealism and even Pop Art, all of them will be showcased in a way that is unusual: through different textiles created by various fashion designers.

Over two hundred pieces will be shown: some of them have never been presented before. The work of big artists such as Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol -just to mention a few ones- aims also to show the public the other side of the coin. The incredible story of how, back then, ordinary people had the chance to meet modern artists in an intimate way, and engage with them through their clothing and home furnishings. A fact that sounds a bit odd today.

The exhibit will open on January 31st and will run until May 17th.

Francesca Crippa 
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The Postcard is a Public Work of Art

How many Christmas cards have reached your mail box during the holidays? And how many postcards have you received during the last year? I am sure there haven’t been many. Mailing postcards, letters and greeting cards appears to have become an obsolete art form, forever replaced by elusive emails, short text messages or even worse, meaningless Facebook posts. Yet, it all makes those small, usually incredibly kitsch postcards even more irresistible, charging them with that special charm that only objects belonging to the past might have. Maybe it is precisely the search for these feelings that guided the creation of an upcoming exhibition at the London space X Marks the Bökship.

Borrowing the title The Postcard is a Public Work of Art from a 1996 postcard designed by Simon Cutts and printed by David Bellingham at his Glasgow imprint WAX366, this exhibition collects works by sixty artists and designers based in Britain. Most of the postcards were created exclusively for the exhibition by the artists included in the show, among which have found some of our usual favourites, like Åbäke, David Bellingham, Simon Cutts, Daniel Eatock, Ryan Gander, Sara MacKillop and Jonathan Monk. The purpose of an artist’s postcard, in this context, was to express an idea, aesthetic and intellectual, specifically and exclusively in the form of a postcard, that could be actually postable, even when made of wood, bone, or steel. The exhibits are not merely postcard-sized paintings, but instead they engage individually with the form and purpose of the postcard.

For this reason, even the catalogue itself, produced by X Marks the Bökship – an established spot for those passionate about independent publishing – was designed as a boxed-postcard catalogue, drawn from Hans Ulrich Obrist‘s breakaway catalogues Hotel Carlton Palace: Chambre 763 in Paris in 1993 and Take Me (I’m Yours) at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995, themselves based upon Lucy Lippard‘s work developed in the 1970s. Hence, it can easily be stated that The Postcard is a Public Work of Art is an utterly nostalgic exhibition, longing for our beautiful customs of the past. The exhibition will run from January 23rd to March 1st 2014 at X Marks the Bökship, in London.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Michael E. Smith At CAPC

Michael E. Smith’s (b. 1977, Detroit) research is strictly connected to the concept of remaining; to the relics of our fast and wasteful culture, which doesn’t worry about the future and, most of the time, forget to take care of the world and its undelayable ecological and economical issues. Once again, with the exhibition at CAPC – Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, the American artist shows his aptitudes to steal abandoned things from their limbo and confer them a new life.

Analyzing peoples’ essential needs, Smith thinks over functions and identities of objects to achieve peculiar structures that reflect human beings’ lifestyle, getting along without their physical presence. Thanks to a special ability of playing with materials, the artist turns t-shirts, hats, bottles and other everyday life items into abstract creations, with a strong evocative power. Resins and PVC foam give things a rigid and irregular shape and contribute to evoke the sense of their precariousness, vulnerability and abandonment.

Dragging the objects far from their normal places, Smith makes us reinterpret them in a completely different way. Without judging, and exploiting the surroundings using them as an important – but still minimalist – part of the work, the artist helps us to do a very useful act: observe what is usually left aside, ignored by most of the people, letting our own imagination flow free.

For those who will not have the time to visit the show before February 16th, but would like to, no worries: the exhibition will be reinterpreted at La Triennale Milano in March 2014. See you there!

Monica Lombardi 
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Kate Moss: 40 – A Retrospective

On January 16th, Kate Moss will turn forty. To celebrate one of the most famous faces of our time, Russell Marshall – a former newspaper art director – decided to stage an entire exhibition in her honour. Kate Moss: 40 – A Retrospective, will showcase the ten most representative images, which portray a very young Kate at the age of fourteen, to the more contemporary ones.

Marshall himself has carefully chosen the whole series in one month, and the signature style is CMYK color – the specific one used for printing newspapers. Each image will be available in ten different colours, for a total of one hundred combinations.

In a period of time in which celebrities appear and disappear in a jiffy, Miss Moss is a rare case. Not only she survived through the years but is not hanging on to fame anymore. Along with the images, a very short biography will be presented.

Additionally, all the photos will be on sale: last month Marshall raised £24,000 by selling just one of them, at the Global Gift Gala’s auction. The entire amount has been donated to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.

The show will be hosted by the Imitate Modern Gallery, in London, from January 17th until February 15th, 2014.

Francesca Crippa 
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In a Land Far Far Away

In today’s society the fast pace of technology has minimized distances, however there has also been an increase of information creating a grimmer view of the world which generates a desire in people to experience something lighter. This is similar to the desire of the people in the early 19th century, who rebelled against the Enlightenment, wanting to escape the harsh logical reality and found refuge in fantasizing of exotic places. Then designers such as Paul Poiret came to aid. In 2013 the rebellion started up again, but this time against the Enlightenment 2.0. This can explain the popularity of exotic influences in our wardrobe and jewellery box. Jewellers and designers with exotic tendencies such as Aurélie Bidermann are in the perfect position to fulfil the desire of exoticism.

Aurélie Bidermann began her journey as a creator of reminiscent jewellery after acquiring a diploma in Gemology, in Antwerp. For Bidermann it is through dreams, travels and love that her jewellery is created, which can be an explanation to the attraction of her pieces, since they each evoke a state much like the exoticism in the 19th century. In a way Bidermann is reinventing these ideals but by using her own experience of travel adventures, fantasized fairytales and childhood admiration of jewellery. These tools help the jeweller nourish her creativity in a way that keeps the originality at its peak. The imprint of a dream or memory can in many ways be the superb essence of creativity.

The collections of Aurélie Bidermann includes feathers, insects, laces and snakes – all dipped in gold. They are some of her infamous staples, constantly reinvented through an organic frame of mind. Collaborations with fashionable names such as Proenza Schouler and Jason Wu has put Aurélie Bidermann’s name on the map. Her jewellery is sold and greatly appreciated all over the world as statement pieces or as a bohemian chic reference in minimalistic attire. All with a constant echo of “bon voyage”.

Victoria Edman 
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