Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, W magazine, Sept 2011

goudeAs cultural movements go, postmodernism enjoys a fairly dubious distinction: Despite its pivotal role in defining the playfully garish aesthetic of the late Seventies and Eighties, it remains a despised and convoluted term, seemingly slapped on any creative work that either rejected convention and commercialism or flagrantly embraced them. But if you’re among those who never quite understood what, say, Philip Johnson’s AT&T building has to do with Jean-Paul Goude’s photos of Grace Jones (left), or Peter Saville’s album art for New Order—all considered postmodernist landmarks—London’s Victoria and Albert Museum may clarify matters with the September 24 opening of “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970–1990,” a sweeping survey that pays particular attention to the genre’s roots in design and architecture. Continue reading

Making Waves, W magazine, May 2011

JONATHAN MUECKE: Jonathan Muecke’s “Mass” is a hollow volcano-shaped vessel made of paper coated in heavy coal slag. While you could theoretically store objects inside it, Muecke prefers that you experience it as a black hole in your living room, sucking in light and space. Similarly, his wedge of polystyrene lined with reflective glass particles could be employed as a room divider but functions mostly as a six-foot optical illusion. This is the mystery of Muecke’s work, which makes its domestic debut this spring at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, a launchpad for new American design talent: It pretends to be utilitarian yet has that ineffable quality usually reserved for Minimalist art—or the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Continue reading

Big in Berlin, The Moment, June 2011

ImageIt’s not as though anyone in Berlin really needed proof, last week, that the city’s once-hip central Mitte neighborhood had officially jumped the shark — two years’ worth of boutique hotel and Mavi-store openings, plus skyrocketing rents and a mass exodus of the gallery scene, had all been fairly obvious clues. But as the local fashion crowd milled around on Wednesday night outside the opening of Andreas Murkudis’s sprawling concept shop, newly and thrillingly relocated to a remote stretch of Potsdamer Strasse once ruled by drug dealers and prostitutes, there seemed to be only one sentiment on everybody’s lips: Goodbye, and good riddance.

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Living Color, T Design, April 2011

Next month, the Indianapolis Museum of Art will open to the public the house that Eero Saarinen designed for the industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, giving design pilgrims one more reason to visit Columbus, Ind., the mecca of Modernist architecture that Miller sponsored. The stone- and glass-walled house, which Saarinen completed in 1957, includes about 14 acres of landscaping by Dan Kiley and meticulously preserved interiors by Alexander Girard, who sank the world’s first conversation pit into its living room. Continue reading

Milan Preview, T Design, April 2011

If anyone knows how to mark an occasion, it’s the Italians. For the 50th anniversary of the Salone del Mobile, the fair that has come to be the epicenter of the global contemporary design market, they’re turning Milan into a giant stage to display what they do best. Among the attractions will be a retrospective of Italian design, co-curated by Alberto Alessi, at the Triennale Design Museum and an eight-room installation, designed by Denis Santachiara, at the Piazza Duomo that highlights “creative potential channeled through scientific principles.” The Salone even has a smartphone app, which you can find at Ultimately, though, the fair is about selling furniture, and when this year’s 2,500-plus exhibitors gather from April 12 to 17 to show off their latest innovations, that should provide excitement enough.


Aldo Bakker for Particles, Surface Limited column, February 2011

Having had the good fortune of being born to Emmy van Leersum and Gijs Bakker — renowned Dutch jewelry designers, the latter a co-founder of Droog — Aldo Bakker was only 16 when he began learning how to ply his parents’ trade by shadowing the interns at his father’s home studio. but while he spent the next decade and a half dutifully mastering the art of metalworking, Bakker felt pangs of rebellion early on: He had fallen in love with wood. Continue reading

Happy Campers, Interior Design, January 2011

Yank a youngster away from his parents, and you’re asking for trouble. But lure him into a pint-size make-believe world, where every detail is attuned to the experience of childhood, and he’ll almost always go willingly-a particularly useful strategy if said parents are paying good money to be tempo­rarily divested of him. For Navarino Dunes, Costa Navarino, a Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide property on the south­western coast of Greece, Polyanna Paraskeva + Associates was commissioned to design two children’s camps that could promise guests both happy offspring and coveted alone-time. Continue reading