Flash Mob

Happy New Year from Sweden

Image Credits Jakob Nylund

Legends of the Fall

German photographer Toni Schneiders's 'Verdorrtes Blatt' from 1952

Circuit City

At the upper end of a sleek black or red circuit board, a candle flame seems to flicker in the wind. Up close, viewers perceive a double-sided rectangular display made of 128 tiny LEDs per side, which renders the image of a burning flame. Sophisticated programming of the LEDs and their warm color temperature make the flame look astonishingly realistic. This is My New Flame; the clever new light by German light engineer Ingo Maurer. There are lots of ways to use My New Flame: on elaborately set dining tables, in living rooms, outdoors, and as night light on the bedside table for all those who prefer not to fall asleep in the dark....


Porn for Minimalists

Untitled (Black on Grey) by Mark Rothko 1970

Untitled (Black on Grey) is a painting of a black rectangle and a grey rectangle. There is a build up of thin, translucent layers of differently shaded blacks, which are luminous and warm, and not at all forbidding. The overall effect is strangely ambiguous, neither space nor substance, and Mark Rothko himself described them as touching upon the 'historical sublime'.

Block Lamp by Design House Stockholm

Designed by Harri Koskinen for Design House Stockholm; the Block Lamp is a masterpiece of Scandinavian purity and form. A sensation of ice and light, of heat and chill. Harri Koskinen plays with contrasts and the archetypes of modern society in his Block Lamp, which became a design classic as soon as it was launched in 1996. The Block Lamp has been showered with design awards ever since, including: Excellent Swedish Design in 1998, the Design Plus Award at the Ambiente Trade Fair in Frankfurt, as well as Best New Product at the accent show in New York in 1999. The lamp became part of MoMA’s permanent collection in 2000. Last year Harri received the Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize, Scandinavia’s most prominent design award. The chairman of the jury notes that Harri is an internationally renowned designer who, despite his young age, is perhaps Finland’s greatest contemporary designer, and whose design is a perfect combination of tradition and renewal.

The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen: The Egg Chair, 1958
Made by Fritz Hansen. Leather and Steel
Available in the US through Stardust Modern Design

I guess we have a vested interest in promoting the iconic Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen having fond memories of it growing up in Europe.  A comfortable chaise lounge in which you can cuddle up in with a good book; this is really an exceptional masterpiece of Danish furniture design.  The authentic Egg is produced by Fritz Hansen and has the Fritz Hansen logo embedded in its steel base (stay clear from cheap knock offs from China which insult the legacy of Arne Jacobsen).  Vintage pieces with a nice patina come up for sale every once in a while at auction sites and auction houses.  But you can still buy an original new Fritz Hansen Egg Chair through fine home design retailers such as Stardust Modern Design.  Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971) was the renaissance-man of Danish architecture and design. He mastered the whole gamut of the profession, and whether the object in question was a high-rise hotel, a chair or a door handle, he worked with an obvious enthusiasm and vigour. Arne Jacobsen was admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1924 and graduated in 1927. Soon after, in 1929, he won recognition for “The House of the Future” project, where he, in collaboration with Flemming Lassen, presented a daring vision, complete with helipad on the rooftop.

Arne Jacobsen Swan Chairs and Egg Chairs by Fritz Hansen; Image Credit Stardust.com
Throughout his career Arne Jacobsen maintained a high level of productivity. He designed a great number of single-family houses, summerhouses, larger apartment buildings such as the Bellavista complex, from 1934, and several public buildings, such as Søllerød and Århus Town Halls, both completed in 1942 and the Munkegaard School, from 1957. In 1964, St. Catherine’s College at Oxford University was inaugurated, earning him international fame.

But Jacobsen’s finest piece of work is perhaps the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, completed in 1960. Here his talent was really brought out. In everything, from the elegant curtain-wall structure; over the furniture; the lamps; the textiles; the door handles; right down to the cutlery in the restaurant, Jacobsen's steady hand was evident. Here, some of his best furniture was first introduced. The full, sculptural shapes of “The Egg” and “The Swan”, now considered modern furniture icons, constituted an interesting contrast to the angular, stringent building.

Another well-known Jacobsen creation is “the Ant Chair” designed in 1951 and introduced in 1952. This elegant, stackable, three-legged piece came about as a result of Jacobsen’s great interest in modern materials and new production techniques. The narrow ‘waist’, which gave the chair its name, was necessary because of Jacobsen’s wish to keep the bent plywood seat and back in one piece. A four-legged sister, “the 7 Chair”, designed in 1955, went on to become a major success with more than 5 millions copies sold worldwide.


Porsche Pavilion

Porsche Pavilion by Henn Architekten in Autostadt, Wolfsburg, Germany

The new Porsche Pavilion is a creation by Martin Henn, Klaus Ransmayr, Paul Langley and rof. Dr. Gunter Henn of Henn Architekten. This wonderful free-flowing sculptural Pavilion pays tribute to the modernist architecture of Oscar Niemeyer in a refined and elegant way. Curving lines and exciting bends make the Pavilion a dynamic yet reduced sculpture with its characteristics derived from the Porsche brand image. As designed by HENN, the structure captures the dynamic flow of driving with a seamless building skin. Its lines pick up speed and slow down just to plunge forward in large curves with ever-changing radii. A matte-finished stainless steel cladding forms the flush envelope of this vibrant structure, creating the impression of a homogeneous unity, whilst creating a continuously changing appearance depending on light and weather conditions. At the entrance the pavilion cantilevers 25m over the lagoon’s water surface in front. Below the cantilever of the large asymmetrical roof, a sheltered external space opens up. This space is visually connected to the surrounding landscape, but forms its own acoustic enclosure, providing seating for a few hundred guests. Architecture and landscape, interior and exterior as well as roof and facade are brought together by HENN in their architectural concept of a coherent, flowing continuum. The external area around the pavilion was designed by landscape architects WES and integrated into the overall concept of the theme park.

This is how the new piazzetta creates a connection between the Porsche Pavilion and the adjacent Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Pavilion by means of water features and trees. By walking around the sculptural Porsche Pavilion, further highlights of the Autostadt can be discovered.

Similar to the monocoque construction technology used for lightweight structures in the automotive and aerospace industries, the building envelope forms a spatial enclosure whilst at the same time acting as load-bearing structure. A total of 620 sheets of stainless steel cladding with welded ribs were prefabricated in a ship-yard in Stralsund and assembled on site.

Inside the pavilion a concentrated space opens up, allowing visitors to experience the sports car brand Porsche and its history, yet, casting aside the conventional limits and restraints to perception. The elliptically curved ramp embraces the dynamic principle of the architecture and leads the visitor to the lower exhibition stage areas. The exhibition and staging concept created by hg merz architekten museumsgestalter and jangled nerves combines evolution, engineering and the fascination of Porsche into an impressive image of future-oriented tradition. The Original Porsche – a 356 No.1 built in 1948 – is the starting point for a swarm of 25 silver coloured vehicle models at the scale of 1:3, on show in the main exhibition area.

Tradition and innovation, performance and day-to-day-practicality, design and functionality, exclusiveness and social acceptance: These four antagonistic terms characterise Porsche’s values and philosophy. They are also picked up as themes in short films. A film about the company history, sound stories about selected Porsche models as well as tablet PCs with further information about the exhibited vehicles make this visit’s experience perfect.

Foscarini Twiggy Floor Lamp

Twiggy's natural elegance, lightness and flexibility have been re-proposed and re-worked for new applications. The table version re-proposes the sinuous elegance in scale for use on desks, whereas the concept's characteristic flexibility finds its maximum expression in the ceiling version that resolves the problem of decentring the light point. Elegance, lightness and great lighting effectiveness are declined in the lamp versions that – being available in two sizes – guarantee ample application potential thanks also to the chromatic variants that allow a calibration of its expressive strength.

Curvalicious Design

It's all about the curves...

Arne Jacobsen designed the Egg Chair for the lobby and reception areas in the Royal Hotel, in Copenhagen. The commission to design every element of the hotel building as well as the furniture was Arne Jacobsen's grand opportunity to put his theories of integrated design and architecture into practice. The Egg Chair is one of the triumphs of Arne Jacobsen's total design - a sculptural contrast to the building's almost exclusively vertical and horizontal surfaces. The Egg Chair sprang from a new technique, which Arne Jacobsen was the first to use; a strong foam inner shell underneath the upholstery. Like a sculptor, Arne Jacobsen strove to find the shell's perfect shape in clay at home in his own garage. The Fritz Hansen Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen is considered by many to be one of the best furniture designs of the 20th century. Arne Jacobsen designs can be found at the MoMA New York, The Metroplitan Museum of Art New York and the Design Museum in London.

Roy Lichtenstein Reflections on Girl 1990

One of the most recognized prints by Roy Lichtenstein is his 'Reflections on Girl' from 1990.

Zollikon House by Wild Bär Heule

Beautiful contemporary modern house with a large interior courtyard by Swiss architects Wild Bär Heule.

Rigid States

Our favorite minimalist daybed for power naps, quickies or whatever it is you do during lunch time

Jean Arp 'Ganymède' 1958

Jean Arp 'Ganymède' 1958
Edition of 3
13" x 11" x 9 1/2"

French sculptor, painter, and poet, Jean Arp (also known as Hans Arp) was one of the leaders of the European avant-garde scene in the arts during the first half of the 20th century. German-French sculptor, painter and poet. Child of an Alsatian mother and a German father; Jean Arp was born in Alsace and studied at the Strasbourg School of Arts and Crafts, at the Weimar (1905-1907) and the Academie Julian in Paris (1908). In 1912 he went to Munich where he knew Wassily Kandinsky and exhibited semi-figurative drawings at the second Blaue Reiter exhibition in 1912, and 1913 he exhibited with the Expressionists at the first Hebrstsalon (Autumn Salon) in Berlin. Aware of the developments within the French avant-garde through his contacts with such figures as Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Robert Delaunay in 1914, Arp exhibited his first abstracts and paper cutouts in Zurich in 1915, and began making shallow wooden reliefs and compositions of string nailed to canvas. In 1916 he was a founder member of Dada in Zurich, he participated in the Berlin Dada exhibition of 1920, and in 1923 he visited Schwitters in Hanover. In Paris, Jean Arp began to evolve his personal style of abstract compositions through an organic morphology, frequently sensuous in form, and began to experiment with automatic composition (automatism). In 1925, he participated in the first Surrealist exhibition in Paris, before breaking with Surrealism to become a founder member of Abstraction-Creation in 1931, when his characteristic organic forms became more severe and geometrical. At a time when he began to turn towards full 3-D sculptures, Arp insisted that his sculpture was 'concrete' rather than 'abstract', since it occupied space, and that art was a natural generation of form: 'a fruit that grows in man', as he put it. "Arp visited the USA in 1949 and 1950, and completed a monumental wood and metal relief for Harvard University, and a mural relief for the UNESCO Building in Paris in 1958. He won the international prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1954. "A dominant personality within Dada, Surrealism and abstract art, his reliefs and sculptures have had a decisive influence upon the sculpture of this century."

Cultural Evolution

Helmut Newton
Mannequins Reclining, Quai d'Orsay Paris, 1977

Visual Acoustics

Harry Bertoia Side Chairs

New York City's Pollution Problems of the 1970s

New York City from the Staten Island Ferry pictured in 1973.

This shows you just how bad it was: John F. Kennedy Airport surrounded by Dumped Cars in 1973.

Old Refrigerators and the abandoned shell of highrise at Breezy Point stopped by New York City in a major battle with land developers in order to preserve area for public recreation.

This may sound unbelievable but the Marshlands of Jamaica Bay were used as the city dump by New York until the middle of the 1970s.

Abandoned Silver Gull Private Swimming Club at Breezy Point, near Jamaica Bay, New York 1973.

Abandoned car and another abandoned shell of highrise at Breezy Point stopped by New York City in a major battle with land developers in order to preserve area for public recreation.
Jamaica Bay was used to dump "everything" until the early 1970s.

Several abandoned shells of highrise buildings at Breezy Point stopped by New York City in a major battle with land developers in order to preserve area for public recreation (wonder what happened to the land developers...).

Jamaica Bay residents did not have a sewer system and their raw sewage ran untreated in the bay.

Channel Choked with Wastes at the Municipal Incineration Plant at Gravesend Bay.

Trash from Construction near the Community of Broad Channel in Jamaica Bay 05/1973

When the Beach was a Municipal Dump: Abandoned Cars everywhere along Jamaica Bay in 1973.

South Beach Staten Island New York City: Seek Shelter if there is a Lightning Stor.

50 cents burger and 20 cents coffee in 1973.

Down and Out in New York early 1970

Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can't take the smell, I can't take the noise no more
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkie's in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldn't get far
'Cause a man with a tow-truck repossessed my car

The U.S. National Archives has released historical images about New York's massive pollution problems of the early 1970s.  At the time, the city was notoriously dirty, gritty and dangerous; yet extremely interesting from a creative point of view.  These photographs were taken by photographer Arthur Tress and capture our favorite city during one of the most challenging times in its history.   Beaches were used as the dump for the city.  Abandoned cars everywhere; some of them stolen and left behind.  Nobody seemed to care...
It sure puts that Grandmaster Flash song in perspective.

It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder How I keep from going under It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder How I keep from going under

ah huh-huh-huh

Visit 42nd Street in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s