The New York Times Style Magazine
comfort zone DESIGN FALL 2009
LUXURY FOR LIFE
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N Y T I M E S.C O M / T M AG A Z I N E â€¢ O C T O BE R 4, 2 0 0 9
CONTENTS Design Fall 2009
T 24 CONTRIBUTORS 27 REMIX
Stools, short and tall, for any room in the house.
It’s all about . . . cozy cool, carbon offsets, remembering the designer David Hicks, amazing lace, reptile chic, Italian style, at the museums: Pedro Friedeberg and Urs Fischer, and designer digs — the British way.
79 PLUGGED IN
On the surface, Jil Sander designs like a minimalist and lives like a maximalist. But in her mind’s eye, there’s no difference. By Holly Brubach. Photographs by Jil Sander.
The must-haves: a sling-back chair, red-and-retro telephones and a mobile lamp. Style Map: Athens. The New Collectibles. The Samurai Shopper pumps irons and lets off steam. In-Store: Ikea.
52 An exhibition on the Bauhaus examines its high ideals and lasting impact. By Shax Riegler. 56 Biblio File. By Holly Brubach. 58 Maya Lin’s latest memorial is her most ambitious yet. By Susan Morgan. 62 Can
one big architects’ slumber party help build a better world? By Linda Yablonsky. 64 Object Lesson. By Alice Rawsthorn. 64 At Yestermorrow, you can awaken your inner architect. By Mark Rozzo.
By Yuichi Higashionna
80 DOUBLE VISION
86 NESTING INSTINCTS
From faux fur to quilting, there’s a new embrace of warm and fuzzy. Rush home and snuggle up. Photographs by Marcus Gaab
92 MY SPACE
For the architect Annabelle Selldorf, there’s no place like home. By Alix Browne. Photographs by Anthony Cotsifas.
The design scion Matteo di Montezemolo. By J. J. Martin. Photograph by Robert Maxwell. 22
Copyright © 2009 The New York Times
Photo Michel Gibert
Special thanks: Bruno Erpicum (Architect)
éditionspéciale $7,290* instead of $9,530 Satelis modular sofa / design Sacha Lakic Silly Cat cocktail table / design Cédric Ragot Les Contemporains Collection
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Expressing your interior world
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CONTRIBUTORS E DITOR IN CHIEF EXECUTIVE E DITOR M ANAG ING EDITOR
YUICHI HIGASHIONNA ‘‘I tried to make something excessive or monsterlike,’’ says Yuichi Higashionna, the Japanese artist who dreamed up this issue’s tubular T on Page 79. A mecca for the wandering moth, the letter is forged from fluorescent lights, which, according to Higashionna, makes it typically Japanese: ‘‘There is probably no other country as fond of them,’’ he says. His T, like many of his recent pieces (far right), is both a tribute to and a satire of this fluorescent fixation. This fall Higashionna, whose work straddles art and design, is off to make chandeliers and other glasswork at Berengo Studio on the Venetian island of Murano.
ONLINE DIRE CTOR E DITOR AT LARGE
Stefano Tonchi Andy Port George Gene Gustines Horacio Silva Lynn Hirschberg
DESIGN AND LIVING DE SIG N E DITOR DEPUTY DE SIG N E DITORS M AR KE T E DITOR
Pilar Viladas Alix Browne, Christine Muhlke Andreas Kokkino
FASHION FASHION DIRECTOR / WOM EN FASHION DIRECTOR / M EN FE ATURE S DIRE CTOR B E AUTY / STYLE DIRE CTOR SE NIOR MAR KET / FASHION E DITOR ASSOCIATE FASHION E DITOR CRE DITS / J EWELR Y ASSOCIATE FASHION ASSIST ANTS
Anne Christensen Bruce Pask Armand Limnander Sandra Ballentine Melissa Ventosa Martin Bifen Xu Jennifer Kim Lindsey Gathright, Jason Rider
ART CRE ATIVE DIRE CTOR SE NIOR AR T DIRE CTOR SE NIOR DE SIG NE R DE SIG NE RS PHOTOGRAPHY DIRE CTOR SENIOR PHOTOG RAPHY E DITOR PHOTOG RAPHY E DITOR CONTR IBUTING PHOTO E DITOR PHOTOGRAPHY ASSIST ANT
TRAVEL TRAVE L E DITOR DEPUTY TRAVE L E DITOR TRAVEL FE ATURE S EDITOR
Nathan Lump Maura Egan Jeffries Blackerby
FEATURES COPY EDITORS RE SE ARCH EDITORS
FE ATURE S ASSOCIATE S
MARK ROZZO ‘‘It wasn’t all Hacky Sack and alfalfa sprouts,’’ Mark Rozzo says of Yestermorrow, a school for builders that felt something like Howard Roark’s idea of Outward Bound (‘‘Hammer Time,’’ Page 66). Rozzo, a former deputy editor at Men’s Vogue (R.I.P.), says he’s useless when it comes to swinging a hammer. Nevertheless, he gut-renovated his two-bedroom apartment. ‘‘I became obsessed with things like eggshell finish.’’ The Brooklynite moonlights as a musician; four of his songs appeared on the soundtrack of Sidney Lumet’s 2007 film, ‘‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.’’ His band, Maplewood, is touring Europe this fall.
David Sebbah Christopher Martinez Natalie Do Jamie Bartolacci, Nicole Huganir Kathy Ryan Judith Puckett-Rinella Scott Hall Natasha Lunn Dangi Chu
Eric Grode, Ethan Hauser, Anita Gates Joy Dietrich, Ursula Liang, John Cochran, Andrew Gensler, Andrew Gillings, Anaheed Alani Jill Santopietro, Adam Kepler
PRODUCTION PRODUCTION MANAGE R PRODUCTION E DITORS
Alison Colby Trina Robinson, Julia Röhl
ONLINE ONLINE E DITOR PRODUCE R
Jonathan S. Paul Joseph Plambeck
Go to nytimes.com/tmagazine for the online T experience, including an exclusive article on an exhibition devoted to the influential French designer Jean-Michel Frank. Once you’re there, click on THE MOMENT, T’s blog spanning the universe of fashion, design, style and travel.
HOLLY BRUBACH As the former style editor of The New York Times Magazine and T’s book columnist, Holly Brubach has looked out on fashion from some of its prettiest perches. But two and a half years ago she moved back to her hometown, Pittsburgh, where she’s converting a landmark building into a boutique hotel. In a return to her fashion roots, Brubach profiles the indefatigable Jil Sander on Page 80. Brubach can recall when she first encountered the German designer’s work on a billboard in London some 30 years ago. ‘‘It just stopped me dead in my tracks.’’ STEPHEN HEYMAN
WEB EXCLUSIVE • SLIDE SHOWS More from the work of Jil Sander and Maya Lin.
On the cover • Photograph by Marcus Gaab. Market editor: Andreas Kokkino. Quilt Chair by Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec for Established & Sons, $6,550. At Matter. Go to mattermatters.com. Trompe-l’oeil wallpaper by Maison Martin Margiela. Go to maisonmartinmargiela.com.
FROM TOP LEFT: FROM YUICHI HIGASHIONNA; COURTESY OF YUMIKO CHIBA ASSOCIATES, TOKYO/MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY, NY; ARTWORK BY HERBERT LEUPIN; HENRY HARGREAVES; FROM MARK ROZZO; SAM ERICKSON; THE ADVERTISING ARCHIVES; BRIGITTE LACOMBE.
CHRISTIAN SCHWARTZ No longer is typographical savvy the exclusive province of geeky art students, according to Christian Schwartz, the type designer who has forged or fiddled with most of T’s typefaces since 2007. ‘‘Ten years ago, if I told someone at a party what I did for a living, they’d look confused,’’ he says. ‘‘Now they tell me what their favorite font is.’’ His font Graphik was inspired by the hand-lettering on modern Swiss posters like the one at far left. Lyon, the serif face now used in T’s articles, is a takeoff on the French printer Robert Granjon’s masterwork. Along with Claude Garamond, he did for letters (in the 16th century) what Shakespeare did for words.
M c G U I R E -(33:(3,
:; 9 +
IT S ALL ABOUT . . . Cozy Cool . . . Mod Rentals . . . David Hicks . . . Reptile Chic . . . Amazing Lace. The comfortable interior of the pioneering 1949 Case Study House No. 8, which Charles and Ray Eames designed for themselves in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
fter years of snickering at them, I’m starting to feel nostalgic for the warmth of wood, shag carpeting and spider plants in macramé holders. It’s probably our uncertain, recessionary times, but the hippie-modern aesthetic of the late ’60s and early ’70s, with its cavelike sheltering vibe and its tendency toward clutter, feels more reassuring than the slick, not-a-hair-out-of-place minimalism that was all the rage until recently. Not that the counterculture invented shaggy chic: just look at the Pennsylvania house and studio of Wharton Esherick, a work the master designer and sculptor tinkered with from 1926 to 1966, or that holy grail of gemütlich modern, Charles and Ray Eames’s 1949 house in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Both managed to be cutting edge without the edge. The 1957 house in Big Sur, Calif., that the architect Nathaniel Owings, of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, designed for himself (in collaboration with Mark Mills) was Modernist in form and layout but organic in its use of wood, especially in the kitchen and master bathroom. Even the most elegant of decorators got in on the
Go fur broke A mod but cozy bedroom from 1971 by David Hicks.
cozy-cool act; a New York bedroom decorated by David Hicks features slightly psychedelic, geometric-patterned wallpaper and a plush fur bedspread. The movies offer vivid evocations of this era — both contemporary and recreated. In ‘‘The Sandpiper,’’ Vincente Minnelli’s 1965 film, the artist played by Elizabeth Taylor lives in a Modernist wood-and-glass cabin, also in Big Sur, that’s crammed with furniture and knickknacks in true boho fashion. The suburban Connecticut house that Kevin Kline’s character inhabits in Ang Lee’s 1997 film ‘‘The Ice Storm,’’ set in the ’70s, is a riot of geometric prints, textured wallpaper and potted greenery. In furniture, the organic-mod movement never really died. Antoni Gaudí’s carved-wood Batlló bench still looks timely 103 years after it
was designed. The Swiss company de Sede has been making its serpentine DS-600 modular sofa (by Ueli Berger, Eleonore Peduzzi-Riva, Heinz Ulrich and Klaus Vogt) since 1972. More recently, Antonio Citterio’s J.J. rocker for B&B Italia softens a spare chair design with a furry sheepskin cover. And if you really want to catapult yourself back to 1970, Karim Rashid’s new bachelor-pad Sphere bed for Hollandia International provides the traditional comforts, like an adjustable massage mattress and a Champagne holder, while offering 21st-century toys like a flat-screen TV, an optional theater system and L.E.D. lighting. All these creature comforts will cost you — the bed is $50,000 — but if the price is too steep, you can always take a macramé class. And spider plants cost practically nothing. PILAR VILADAS
1. Antonio Citterio’s J.J. chair for B&B Italia. 2. The DS-600 sofa from de Sede. 3. Antoni Gaudí’s 1906 Batlló bench. 4. Karim Rashid’s Sphere bed for Hollandia International.
TOP: PHOTOGRAPH BY NORMAN M C GRATH. FROM ‘‘DAVID HICKS: A LIFE OF DESIGN’’ (RIZZOLI INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATIONS, 2009). BATLLÓ BENCH FROM BD BARCELONA DESIGN.
Modernism you can snuggle up to.
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A COLORFUL LIFE
CARBON OFFSETS Activated charcoal isn’t the messy stuff that fuels barbecues — it’s what’s inside water purifiers, and it’s what hospitals give to people who have swallowed poison. And though you’d never know it by the looks of these glassy black branches, which could have been plucked from a Grimm fairy tale, it’s also what Sort of Coal is made of: highly skilled Japanese and Korean craftsmen heat pieces of oak in an oxygen-starved kiln until they turn to carbon. Swizzling one of the twigs in your pitcher or placing the stump in your living room is enough to clean your water or air. ‘‘It’s beautiful because you can see it’s a natural material, it isn’t hidden behind some plastic filter,’’ says Pernille Lembcke, the co-founder of the Danish brand, which just began selling Sort of Coal in the United States through Design Within Reach. She and her partner, Louise Vilsgaard, began importing top-grade white charcoal — long used in this manner in Asia — as an attempt to shift Western views about cleanliness: ‘‘We use chemicals and perfumes to make things clean,’’ Lembcke says. ‘‘We’ve forgotten that nature has its own way of purifying itself.’’ MONICA KHEMSUROV
‘‘David Hicks: A Life of Design’’ (Rizzoli) is a lavish illustrated survey of the renowned British decorator’s work by his son, Ashley Hicks, who is himself a designer. It’s a nice follow-up to ‘‘David Hicks: Designer,’’ Ashley’s 2002 biography of his talented and charming but mercurial father. The new book emphasizes decorating — and, at $65, offers a comprehensive and more affordable alternative to the increasingly expensive, out-of-print books that Hicks produced in the ’60s and ’70s. There’s still plenty of dish on Hicks’s glamorous life and times, but also lots of big photographs of the houses and apartments that he designed for himself and clients like Vidal Sassoon and Helena Rubinstein. Also included is a selection of his vivid drawings and watercolors, including a colorful rendering of the antiquities in Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, one of Hicks’s favorite spots. PILAR VILADAS
UNTANGLING THE WEB
Two years ago, the Dutch designer Tord Boontje visited the lace archives at the Design Center at Philadelphia University and emerged with reams of ideas, including one for a giant, black spider-web-like couch that he wove from thick sailing rope and suspended inside a giant metal frame. The archives also inspired the Canadian designer Cal Lane’s 600-pound laser-cut oil drum and the Dutch studio Demakersvan’s lace chain-link fence (left), now installed on the center’s grounds as part of ‘‘Lace in Translation,’’ which opened at the Design Center last month. ‘‘We’ve lost touch with making things ourselves,’’ says Boontje, who taught himself to tat using the grass growing outside his studio. ‘‘And I’ve always liked working with no-value materials. The value is all in the time you put into it.’’ How much time went into his couch? He laughs. ‘‘We had many people working,’’ he says after a pause, ‘‘for way too many hours.’’ In other words, priceless. CAROLINE TIGER
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: FROM CARBON OBJECTS; PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID HICKS; KERRY POLITE/FROM THE DESIGN CENTER AT PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY.
Ashley Hicks on his famous father
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NOW THAT’S ITALIAN
Fashion and design may be two of Italy’s high-profile exports, but according to the new coffee-table tome ‘‘Italian Touch,’’ published this month by Skira and commissioned by the Italian luxury goods company Tod’s, style is less a business than a way of life. The editor Donatella Sartorio and the photographer Paolo Leone scoured the country, from Casa Degli Atellani in Milan (above left) to the Villa Rae in Naples (above right), in search of what the Tod’s president and chairman, Diego Della Valle, describes as ‘‘the character of contemporary Italian aristocracy: real people, involved and passionate about their work and dreams, who live both in great cities and the country, and who feel luxury as something innate.’’ The book captures a broad landscape, including blue bloods of fashion (the editor Anna Dello Russo; the public relations consultant Noona Smith-Petersen), design (the architect Benedetto Camerana; the interior decorator Alessia Bianchi Bormioli) and bona fide aristocracy (various princes from Tuscany and Sicily), shot in their natural habitats — a cast for whom all of the trappings of the good life fit as comfortably as, well, a pair of Tod’s fabled driving shoes. But if anyone truly embodies both the aspirations of the brand and the ambitions of the book it would be Della Valle. And where would he see himself in all of this? ‘‘My home in the Marche region of Italy — a 17th-century villa — would be the perfect setting,’’ he says without hesitation. ‘‘The home is very warm and welcoming — it would reveal that the important things for me are family, good friends and the simple things in life.’’ ALIX BROWNE
Fernando and Humberto Campana are iconoclasts at heart: their fruit bowl for the French porcelain company Bernardaud was a mass of disembodied baby-doll limbs. Still, when Lacoste approached them to create limited-edition polos for its fourth annual holiday series, the São Paulo duo was wary. ‘‘It’s like asking someone to change the Coca-Cola bottle,’’ says Fernando of messing with the company’s preppy bloodline. But their four polos do just that: one features Lacoste’s embroidered crocodile logos piled upon one another, as crocs do in their natural habitats; another gathers the logos in discrete clusters meant to mimic an Amazonian archipelago; and a third stitches dozens of logos together to form a reptilian bit of Brazilian lace. The Campanas aren’t the only design stars dabbling in fashion this fall: in October the Scottish label Ballantyne will introduce a supertechnical, water-resistant cashmere line by Philippe Starck. The French designer has sniffed at calling his creations fashion, but what else to call a collection of tailored pullovers, body-con shifts and hooded coats with details like detachable waistcoats and silk linings? Cozy, perhaps. JILL SINGER
TOP: FROM TOD’S (2); BOTTOM: JENS MORTENSEN.
WHAT A CROC! • LACOSTE GOES WILD
REMIX HANDS ON
SPACE INVADER Urs Fischer takes over the New Museum.
Permanence is not Urs Fischer’s game. In recent years, the Swiss-born artist has built a full-scale chalet from crumbling loaves of crusty bread, placed a collapsing brick wall on a pile of rotting vegetables and produced life-size female nudes as burning candles. Gaping holes loom just as large. In 2007, for example, he jackhammered a yawning, dirt-filled crater into the floor of his Manhattan gallery (above). For his first solo American museum show, opening Oct. 28 at the New Museum, Fischer has constructed a hallucinatory labyrinth of mirrored boxes based on a Manhattan streetscape, imprinting them with hundreds of images of familiar sights. With the addition of massive cast-aluminum sculptures that suggest human torsos, the buildingwide ‘‘introspective,’’ says the curator Massimiliano Gioni, ‘‘is like taking a walk through Fischer’s mind.’’ Or perhaps like seeing in the dark. LINDA YABLONSKY
HIGH RENT • DESIGNER DIGS
The quintessential British vacation customarily involves renting something quaint. ‘‘In the U.K., a little cottage is usually your only option,’’ says Mark Robinson, the director of Living Architecture (living-architecture.co.uk), which has commissioned five new twists on the holiday house from cutting-edge architects like Peter Zumthor, Michael and Patty Hopkins, and the Dutch firm MVRDV. ‘‘Most people only experience new architecture in places like airports,’’ he added. The hope of a program like this is that it will inspire the kind of debate encouraged by Alain de Botton, the author of ‘‘The Architecture of Happiness’’ and an adviser to the project. The first four houses, including MVRDV’s glass-floored, cantilevered Balancing Barn (right), will be available in spring 2010. WILLIAM SHAW 34
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: KARLOZ DE LA PARRA DIAZ/REYNA HENAINE, NEW YORK; FROM URS FISCHER/GAVIN BROWN’S ENTERPRISE; MVRDV/LIVING ARCHITECTURE.
‘‘I never relax,’’ Pedro Friedeberg insists. ‘‘My art is my therapy, my medication.’’ The first major retrospective of the work of the 73-year-old artist will open on Oct. 15 at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture and furniture. Friedeberg’s iconic hand chairs, which he began making in 1962, have been objects of desire for boldface design-world names from Arnold Scaasi to Kelly Wearstler. The Surrealist writer and poet André Breton was also mesmerized by the chair, as were Yul Brynner, Roman Polanski and Jeanne Moreau. The son of German Jews, Friedeberg fled Europe with his mother during World War II and settled in Mexico’s capital. James Oles — an art historian who is the curator of the exhibition — describes Friedeberg’s art as ‘‘fusing late Surrealism with Op and Pop Art,’’ while the artist himself cites the trompe l’oeil heads of Giuseppe Arcimboldo and the lithographs and woodcuts of M. C. Escher as inspirations. A monograph by Trilce Ediciones will accompany the exhibition, and next month, Reyna Henaine, a promoter of Latin American arts, will host a Friedeberg exhibition in New York, which can be seen by appointment only. MELISSA FELDMAN
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Lean back and sink in. Photographs by Ilan Rubin.
F 444 chair by Pierre Paulin for Artifort, $4,462. At M2L. Go to m2lcollection.com. Market editor: Andreas Kokkino.
Ditch your cell for these retro-cool numbers. 1. ScandiPhone from Wild and Wolf, $65. At the Conran Shop. Go to conranusa. com. 2. Vintage rotary phone reconditioned by Russell Johnson, $198. At Anthropologie. Go to anthropologie.com. 3. Colombo Two by Chauhan Studio, $60. Available in November. Go to colomboproducts.com.
LIGHT BOX A grab-and-go reading lamp.
K-Ray lamps by Philippe Starck for Flos. For more information, go to flosusa.com.
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STYLE MAP • ATHENS The opening of Bernard Tschumi’s glass-andconcrete New Acropolis Museum this summer was symbolic: a city known for its obsession with looking backward had finally resolved to carve a place for itself in contemporary culture. Of course, those in the know have been tracking Athens’s creative ascent for years now — with its growing reputation as an emerging art hub and a design community that’s increasingly pushing boundaries, Greece’s capital has more to offer than ancient ruins. MONICA KHEMSUROV 4. The Breeder Edgy exhibitions by the likes of Lizzi Bougatsos have earned this gallery an international reputation; angular walls and a bulging copper bar have won the Aris Zambikos-designed space a major Greek design award. 45 Iasonos; 011-30-210-33-17-527. 5. Periscope This hotel’s ceilings feature satellite photos of Athens, while a periscope in the lobby offers panoramic rooftop views. The design-obsessed owners are also renovating the Olympic Palace Hotel with the Campana Brothers. 22 Haritos; 011-30-210-72-97-200.
6. Scala Vinoteca Scala’s hybrid menu includes Greek classics like taramosalata and Spanish-Italian wine-bar fare, but you might feel oddly at home. The interior — black Eames chairs and a gridded wall of wine bottles — was inspired by New York eateries. 50 Sina; 011-30-210-3610-041. 7. Frame Bar Frame Bar is known for its futuristic interior, where chairs, tables and countertops are sculptured in a continuous white ribbon. It’s also a good place for a cocktail after a day in Kolonaki, the upscale shopping district at the base of the city’s highest hill. 1 Deinokratous; 011-30-210-72-90-711.
P H O T O G R A P H S BY G E O R G E D E T S I S
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Dionysio u Areopa Od gitou os Rov ert ou Gk alli
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3. Dianna Karvounis The New York-born Dianna Karvounis studied industrial design at Pratt before starting her own furniture collection in Athens. Now she’s the city’s luxe version of Jonathan Adler, supplying prominent art collectors, politicos and millionaires with furniture and ceramics that channel midcentury California modernism. 36 Loukianou; 011-30210-72-54-844.
2. Myran - Scandinavian Design Martin Olofsson, the owner of this cheerful little design boutique, cherry-picks work by young talent from Scandinavian brands like Muuto, Hay and Swedese. 3 Fokylidou; 011-30-21038-24-744.
Odos Agiou Konsta ntinou
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1. Antonios Markos Hipsters of means frequent Antonios Markos for brands like Tsumori Chisato. But the shop, which was designed by Gonzalez Haase AAS (think Acne in Berlin), also stocks $63 Marka T-shirts with prints by local artists and graphic designers. 35 Skoufa; 01130-210-36-23-036.
8. Greece Is for Lovers Sure, this emerging design trio’s work is carried at Moss and Paul Smith, but at their eponymous shop, practically at the foot of the Acropolis, you’ll find the coolest nouveau souvenirs in town: kitschy, 1970s-inspired thunderbolt letter openers and ‘‘Athens Sucks’’ mugs. 13a Karyatidon; 011-30-210-92-45-064.
© 2009 CHARLES P. ROGERS & CO.
New, Original and Restored Antique Beds and Daybeds in wood, leather, brass and iron. European linen and premium cotton bedding. Illustrated: Newhouse queen bed in ultra white full grain leather with solid mahogany frame $2299, Now $1299 — Mahogany sleigh daybed $1499, Now $899 (optional pop up trundle stores a second mattress underneath) — European linen duvet cover and shams. Available in eight different colors $40-$310, Now $29-$239.
Charles P. Rogers & Co. • Bed Makers Since 1855. • Complete collection online @ charlesprogers.com or call 800-272-7726 for catalog and sale price list. NY factory showroom: 55 West 17 Street (5-6 Aves) in Manhattan. • NJ warehouse store: 300 Rte 17 North, East Rutherford. • Web/phone orders welcome.
Sit here Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’s Earl chair is based on a Victorian library chair, but its splashy fabric is very now. $1,780. Go to mgbwhome.com.
Red alert From left: Coccinelle is part of Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Campane di Campana series of bells for Venini. Price on request. At Moss. Go to mossonline.com. And Heath Ceramics’ Multi-Stem Hybrid Vase has a glaze by Heath Los Angeles’s studio director, Adam Silverman. $125. At Heath Ceramics. Call (323) 965-0800.
THE NEW COLLECTIBLES
To have and to hold on to. By Andreas Kokkino
The blue hour The Italian design guru Alessandro Mendini’s monochromatic Luna watch for Alessi now comes in a dreamy sky blue. $95. Go to momastore.org. Hoot couture The pewter-wire Hibou lamp is the whimsical creation of the Parisian artist Marie Christophe. $2,095. At Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue.
P H O T O G R A P H S BY J E N S M O RT E N S E N
10 1999 Washington Monument Renovation Scaffolding
2000 Spinning Whistle Teakettle
2000 Chess Set
MICHAEL GRAVES Ingenious. Irreverent. Iconic. For a decade, he has been rethinking the everyday ... and the results are beautiful. From everyone at Target, congratulations on ten years, and thanks for making the world a more magical place.
©2009 Target Stores. The Bullseye Design is a registered trademark of Target Brands, Inc. All rights reserved.
2003 Ready-made Pavilions
2006 Coffeemaker 2009 Easy-Fill Teakettle
2002 Elephant Garden for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® patients
2008 Flip-Flop Mop
SAMURAI SHOPPER: S. S. FAIR
Meet the Press
The big news in ironing is irony. A talking head lets off steam.
he Samurai Shopper is harboring a wee crush on Robert Pattinson, teen-throb star of ‘‘Twilight’’ and ‘‘New Moon.’’ True, Pattinson’s less a menacing vampire than a really hot Boy Scout in need of a bath, and nowhere near as frightening as Joan Allen’s zombie mom in ‘‘Pleasantville.’’ A perfectly coiffed paradigm of the Ike-and-Mamie era, Allen’s fashionplate lady kept house like no flesh-and-blood woman I ever knew. That demure domesticity prompted many boomer babes to vault the white picket fences and escape similar, Betty Crockered fates. Cooking and cleaning were heinous enough, but ironing clothes? The worst. The Samurai Shopper was one among many yearning to sink her teeth into meatier challenges. Ironing symbolized dead-end drudgery for me until ‘‘Hairspray’’ came out, wherein Ricki Lake got her hair ironed directly on the ironing board. That looked like fun. Even though my hair needed no ironing, my clothes were a mess. Having sold out to steady paychecks, I was still bankbooks away from having Mme. Paulette service a single garment. That required disposable income and more numbing chores, this time in an office where crisp shirts were de rigueur. To break free of housewifey bondage called for housewifey measures. But pumping iron proved immensely satisfying once I got over the male/female, upstairs/downstairs stigma. All that intense hand-eye coordination and blinkered focus cleared my mind of niggling minutiae. And what’s better than putting on a freshly ironed, still-warm shirt? Besides almond croissants? Even now, especially now, ironing dissipates lots of stress. Chew on this: we’re stoked by achievement and glittering prizes, by the prospects of handing over our dirty laundry to others. So we iron to economize and discover
I L LU S T R AT I O N BY M A R C A L A RY
a peculiar refuge from the lacerating effects of overweening ambition. Thus irony — and Zen — infuse our lives with risible absurdities. But which irons? You’d think we’d be spoiled for choice, but selections in the U.S. disappoint. Sleek, ultramodern-looking irons with all the bells and whistles are common in Europe. Here, most irons would be easily recognized by Dagwood and Blondie, with a few improved safety features added. There’s automatic shut-off, tempered soleplates, easier maneuverability. But an iron with all of the above and futuristic good looks is perhaps asking too much. Panasonic’s 360 Degree Quick comes close. It’s a silver Jet Ski with a titanium-covered soleplate that puts some glide in the ride. Ample steam holes minimize do-overs, and Panasonic’s transparent body reveals water levels clearly, to better avert scorching or running on empty. It’s self-cleaning with an anti-calcium system, so nothing stands between you and your Calvins. Oliso’s Smart Iron boasts an auto-lift system that kicks in with every stop and go. No need to set the iron on its heel; placed face down, one automotive grunt drops miniature stilts that
prop the iron up till you’re ready to roll. Grab the iron and the guards disappear. Steam horizontally, vertically and continuously; once you syncopate the stop/go and steam release, feel free to whistle while you work. One act of dithering, though, and the Oliso mutinies, dropping its guards at the slightest brush. So get a grip and tell it who’s boss. The filling spout is awkwardly placed under the handle and the Extreme Steam guzzles water madly, but experience will teach you when to tank up. Oliso hates distilled water, so try sprinkling some sniffy ironing elixir from thelaundress.com. DeLonghi’s Pro300 sits on a capacious steamer that exerts tremendous pressure when green-lit. Steam holes only dot the iron’s prow, but the staccato bursts are very effective, easily aimed and fired. For delicate items, hold things up and steam through without elbow grease. The cork handle is a huge plus: the lack of water gauge, a huge minus. Though its diagrams and instructions are puzzling, press on. Just don’t store until the unit’s well cooled. The baddest boy on the block is Rowenta’s Pressure Iron and Steamer, the Hummer of all irons, dedicated to serious wrinkle demolition. Though it takes time to crank up, 1,750 watts of power go full tilt after that. There’s a wellangled rest atop the steam tank. Alas, no water gauge, so fill to the max and be prepared to quit when the well runs dry. Rowenta plays its own oceanic symphony too, but it’s the reassuring sound of force gathering momentum. It’s Iron Man! And me without my little French maid’s outfit. Finally, Brookstone’s Steam Bug, a mini-iron in a pouch with a teeny filler cup, is irresistible, a press to impress. It works, it’s travel friendly, cuter than a teenage vampire, and it lacks the stately solidity of professional appliances. I plan to take it everywhere I go, just as soon as I bust out of my apron, hairnet, rubber gloves and saddle shoes. ■
HOW SWEDE IT IS
IN-STORE • IKEA Mats Nilsson, a product design strategist for Ikea, has spent the last 27 years helping the
1. For traditional Swedish handicrafts with a slightly modern edge, Nilsson heads to Svensk Slojd in Stockholm. Go to svenskslojd.se.
Swedish retail giant democratize design. ‘‘It’s not easy to create something so good for so little money,’’ he says. ‘‘But like most people, I like affordable pieces with integrity in their design that I can like and live with for a long time.’’ Go to ikea-usa.com. SANDRA BALLENTINE
2. He suggests using Cilla Ramnek’s bold cotton Saralisa fabric ($8.99 a yard at Ikea) to make curtains, cushions, a tablecloth or even an affordable ‘‘painting,’’ using a big, wooden frame and a staple gun. ‘‘Her textiles have this very optimistic Monty Python-meets-Dr. Seuss quality to them.’’
has a well-curated collection of old hospital and industrial objects as well as furniture, taxidermy, Edison bulbs and art — a mix the Ikea vet calls ‘‘poetry.’’ Go to shopdarr.com.
8. Nilsson uses Lenda cotton and linen dish towels ($3.99 a pair at Ikea) as place mats and napkins. ‘‘Freshly washed, unironed towels with classic checks provide an easy, casual backdrop for home cooking.’’
3. The retailer would place a few Ikea PS Saga chairs by Nike Karlsson ($69.99) in a slick interior. ‘‘I like to mix sophisticated with simple, and the rustic with the minimal.’’
9. He’s enamored with Patricia Urquiola’s chunky log chair, especially the beech and
4. Nilsson loves exploring old neighborhood hardware stores. When not browsing for handmade baskets in Spain, brushes in Japan and bird cages in Portugal, he pops into Rothstein’s Hardware on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, ‘‘where you can still find wooden clothespins, galvanized buckets and other everyday utility treasures.’’ (56 Clinton Street; 212-254-2026.) 3
5. He just finished reading ‘‘Seven Days in the Art World,’’ by the sociologist Sarah Thornton. ‘‘It’s a gossipy peek at art-tribe rituals like auction houses, Art Basel and the Turner Prize process,’’ Nilsson says. It’s $16 at amazon.com.
10. A plate purist, Nilsson eschews patterned tableware in favor of hand-thrown pottery in quiet colors. ‘‘Food should have a blank canvas,’’ he says. This porcelain charger, by Jan Burtz, is $130 at ABC Home.
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6. Decorators usually start with a rug, but the rest of us tend to design our living rooms around the couch. Nilsson’s favorite — the Stockholm sofa ($1,399) — is ‘‘generously sized and has clean, elegant lines.’’ 7. ‘‘I could never live the minimalist ideal,’’ he says. ‘‘I like things a little too much.’’ Darr, his favorite Brooklyn shop,
P H O T O G R A P H BY BR I A N F I N K E
11. When he does opt for pattern, it’s a vintage botanical print by Josef Frank from Svenskt Tenn, the 85-year-old Stockholm shop credited with galvanizing the Swedish Modern movement. Go to svenskttenn.se. ■
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1. FROM SVENSK SLOJD; 2., 5., 8., 10. PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENS MORTENSEN; 4. PHOTOGRAPH BY STUART D. PHILLIPS; 7. FROM DARR; 9. FROM OWO; 11. FROM SVENSKT TENN; ALL OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS FROM IKEA.
Mongolian lamb version shown here. ‘‘I like things that are honest and textural in their material.’’ Go to artelano.com.
/ (kō zē) /adj. / Giving a feeling of comfort, warmth and relaxation; intimate, as in,
‘‘I can’t bear to go to the Monkey Bar again. Let’s order in — it’s so much more cozy.’’ Also refers to a New Economy approach to decorating that embraces texture, layering and clutter. Baby, it’s warm inside.
/ (kə myōō nə tek chər) /n. / An idea of building and design that places the common good over egocentricity; an antidote to starchitecture, as in,
‘‘Don’t get me wrong — I love my new Jean Nouvel condo. But what this city really needs is more communitecture like the High Line.’’
/ (tōō tôr ē əl) / n. / Of the current vogue for contemporary German designers and architects, as in,
‘‘With the money I’ll save on Jil Sander’s new Uniqlo line, I can get Annabelle Selldorf to give my apartment a total Teutorial.’’ ALIX B ROW N E AN D PI L AR VI L ADAS
An exhibition on the Bauhaus examines its high ideals and lasting impact. Shax Riegler reports.
ust what was the Bauhaus? The myths that have grown up around the short-lived but enormously influential German art and design school keep getting in the way of a clear answer. It has now come to signify so much more than its originators ever intended that fixing on a precise definition is at the heart of the Museum of Modern Art’s comprehensive exhibition ‘‘Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity,’’ which opens Nov. 8 and runs until Jan. 25, 2010. Coming on the heels of a major Bauhaus exhibition that opened in Berlin earlier this year, MoMA’s show — curated by Leah Dickerman, of the painting and sculpture department, and Barry Bergdoll, chief curator of architecture and design — commemorates the 90th anniversary of the school’s founding and the 80th anniversary of MoMA. Alfred Barr Jr., the museum’s first director, paid a visit to the school in 1928, and it was a formative influence on him. In bringing together such familiar objects as Marcel Breuer’s tubular steel furniture, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s photographs and a Marianne Brandt tea set with pieces harder to categorize, like Lothar Schreyer’s 1920 design for a coffin and the 1921 African Chair by Breuer and Gunta Stölzl, and by showing masters’ and students’ works alongside one another, the exhibition demonstrates how lively a workshop-laboratory-school the Bauhaus was during its 14-year run. At various points, the school employed or taught such seminal artists, designers and architects as Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Herbert Bayer, Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Lucia Moholy, Lilly Reich, Oskar Schlemmer and William Wagenfeld. Founded in Weimar, in the devastating aftermath of World War I, on the foundation of an earlier school, the Bauhaus at first had an uneasy relationship with the machine and mechanization. Inspired by the reverence for medieval handcraftsmanship that had been fetishized by the English Arts and Crafts movement, the school sought to train a new generation of artists in a new way. During these early years, its teachers were an eccentric lot of artists drawn from Europe’s avant-garde. The school’s most famous pedagogical innovation — the first-year Vorkurs, or
foundation course — was developed to strip away students’ preconceptions by allowing them to experiment with raw materials, unimpeded by any knowledge of historical styles or examples. Under the monkish, charismatic artist Johannes Itten, the course incorporated breathing and perception exercises aimed at unleashing the expressive nature of students and materials. After that year, students entered specialized workshops devoted to one medium. Over time Gropius, the school’s founding director, realized that manufacturing was the future, and in 1923 he adopted a new slogan, ‘‘Art and Technology: A New Unity,’’ to reflect the school’s desire to be a training ground for artists and designers in the machine age. Despite this pro-capitalist agenda, the Bauhaus and its kooky faculty, high-strung students and left-leaning politics eventually got on the nerves of the staid city fathers of Weimar, and the state cut financial support to the school. Luckily, it was invited to move to the industrial city of Dessau, where it took up residence in 1925. Here, the school’s emphasis on geometry, abstraction and standardization — all the better to produce designs that could easily be made by machine — was seen in everything from the iconic building itself (designed by Gropius) to theatrical productions. A photograph in the exhibition shows a woman, wearing a metallic theatrical mask designed by Schlemmer and
FROM LEFT: ESTATE OF ERICH CONSEMULLER; THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART; THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART/ LICENSED BY SCALA/ART RESOURCE, NEW YORK. © 2009 ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/VG BILD-KUNST, BONN.
A better world From left: a woman at the Bauhaus wearing an Oskar Schlemmer mask and sitting in a Marcel Breuer chair; Schlemmer’s ‘‘Bauhaus Stairway,’’ painted in 1932, the year the Nazis closed the Bauhaus and its iconic building in Dessau, Germany; Marianne Brandt’s iconic teapot.
Jagger, sectionals seating system with backrests and armrests in different heights design: Rodolfo Dordoni
Minotti S.p.A. 20036 MEDA (MI) ITALIA via Indipendenza, 152 Tel. +39 0362 343499 www.minotti.com - firstname.lastname@example.org
a dress made in the weaving workshop, sitting on one of Breuer’s tubular steel chairs. As Dickerman points out in the exhibition catalog, this blank-faced human, so pared down that she transcends race, class and political borders, embodies the Bauhaus’s ideal modern figure. Turmoil was common at the Bauhaus, and in 1928 Gropius resigned under heavy criticism. He was succeeded for a couple of years by Hannes Meyer, an architect and a Marxist, who often lamented the bourgeois commodification of much of the school’s output. ‘‘Bauhaus is fashion,’’ he complained in a 1929 lecture. ‘‘All the ladies at the cocktail parties chatter about Bauhaus constructivism. Their calling cards are in lower-case letters.’’ For its final three years, the school was run by Mies van der Rohe. Declaring it decadent, the Nazis shut down the school in 1932. Mies re-established it briefly in Berlin in 1933, but a few months later it was gone for good. The Bauhaus group didn’t stay down for long. In the 1930s many of the school’s leaders immigrated to America and took up university jobs: Gropius to Harvard, Mies to what would become the Illinois Institute of Technology, Albers to Black Mountain College in North Carolina (and later to Yale) and Moholy-Nagy to the New Bauhaus in Chicago. From these posts they ensured the continuation of Bauhaus ideals well into the post-World War II era. MoMA enlisted Gropius and Herbert Bayer to mount an exhibition on the Bauhaus in 1938. Gropius chose to ignore the last five years of the school’s existence — the years after he left — but the exhibition still had a profound impact. A Dec. 4, 1938, headline in The New York Times announced, ‘‘Nazi-Banned Art Is Exhibited Here.’’ Eventually, however, the Bauhaus’s influence came to be seen as suffocating, if not downright sinister, by a later generation, most notably in Tom Wolfe’s 1981 takedown of Modernism, ‘‘From Bauhaus to Our House,’’ in which Gropius (‘‘the Silver Prince’’) comes off as an evil mastermind plotting world domination through architecture. By the late 20th century, the word Bauhaus had become a vague term describing a superficial style that was both iconic and banal. (It was even the name of a seminal English goth band.) But MoMA’s new exhibition seeks to restore the Bauhaus to its proper historical context. ‘‘There was a tremendous and vital dialogue among artists working in different mediums about what it meant to be ‘modern,’ ’’ Dickerman said. ‘‘As a kind of cultural think tank, the Bauhaus is still a relevant model for today.’’ ■ 54
pr o g e t t i n u ov i
Modular without being mechanistic; classic without being stiff. The Turner sofa lets you position the backrests as you please, making any place the perfect space to rest, read, converse, dream.
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Design Hannes Wettstein
BIBLIO FILE: HOLLY BRUBACH
Look Back in Languor
he stereotypes are by now so deeply entrenched that we take them for granted. Americans walk the streets of Paris, where every aspect of the landscape has been painstakingly art-directed, in tracksuits and sneakers, like derelicts who have wandered onstage in the middle of a performance to the endless irritation of the actors and the audience. Meanwhile, Parisians set off for a Sunday in the country wearing polished loafers and jeans just back from the cleaners, pressed, with a crease. For the French, with their knee-jerk formality, looking good for others is part of the unwritten social contract, and refusing to make the effort constitutes an affront. For us, the oblivious Yankees, dressing casual — feeling comfortable — is our inalienable right, no matter how inappropriate. Don’t like our Crocs? Get over it. So it comes as a surprise to learn not only that the French excelled at comfort three centuries ago, but that they actually invented it. In ‘‘The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual — and the Modern Home Began’’ (Bloomsbury), Joan DeJean documents
a time when the advent of the sofa, the invention of the flush toilet, the proliferation of cotton fabrics, the delineation of specific rooms for specific functions, the concept of a private life and the birth of the Enlightenment all converged, making life in Paris easier than elsewhere and making it the model the rest of Europe aspired to. For those who subscribe to the idea that progress is chronological, DeJean sets the record straight: from 1670 to 1765, France ushered in conveniences that promptly disappeared after the revolution, only to be reinvented in a more prosaic, ‘‘hygienic’’ form in 19th-century England.
Though few of us would think to make the connection between Mies van der Rohe’s streamlined furniture and a cabriolet armchair, DeJean persuades us that the worldview we consider ‘‘modern’’ was prefigured by the age of Louis XV. In fact, the Louis XV chair — with its graceful contours made possible by the invention of a curved saw, its ergonomic padding and proportions, its perfectly engineered armrests — was an early experiment in a more natural posture. Suddenly, people reclined and put their feet up. They draped one arm over the back of their chairs. They crossed their legs for the first time. Bodies spoke a new language that encouraged candor, intimacy and contemplation. Has there ever been another society so expert in facilitating pleasure? DeJean’s inventory of the small, movable tables that proliferated during the period is itself a window onto a way of life: tiny gaming tables, each a different shape devised for a particular card game; bedside tables with compartments for a midnight snack; dressing tables; tables with bookstands for what DeJean calls ‘‘a new type of reading,’’ not educational or scholarly but recreational; writing tables throughout the house for whenever and wherever the epistolary impulse struck. Many histories that chronicle the life of an idea make it sound as if change, like the weather, happened as the result of mysterious forces, affecting everyone but brought on by
no one. This one gives us the vivid personalities who broke with convention by following their own whims: Louis XV, the restless monarch whose renovations at Versailles carved out a zone where he could abandon ceremony in the company of friends; Madame de Pompadour, his mistress, whom DeJean calls ‘‘the original brand name in the history of interior decoration’’; the Duchesse de Bourgogne, darling of the court of Louis XIV and inspiration for the fauteuil à coiffer, a chair with a hinged back, for shampoos; the Comte de Pontchartrain, chancellor of France, and his wife, role models for a new notion of marriage based on romantic love, prompting an overhaul of the standard sleeping arrangements. Though DeJean focuses on the French court as the epicenter of the changes she describes, her field of vision extends beyond Fontainbleau and the royal chateaus to the recently constructed Place Vendôme, inhabited by a class of financiers for whom the term nouveaux riches had been invented. As living quarters were slowly reconfigured to include wardrobes and other female spaces, the boudoir was conceived as ‘‘the archetypal room of one’s own,’’ DeJean writes, a place where women could collect their thoughts, read and write. ‘‘There, they could be casual and relaxed in the way possible only when one is sure of being alone.’’ But within a few decades, Pompadour’s bold example gave way to a more salacious use of private space, as the boudoir became the setting for choreographed seduction by kept women and chorus girls. Its reputation has yet to recover. Still, you have to admire a society willing to consecrate a room to a woman’s inner life. You don’t need to be a Francophile to read this book, but you will be one by the time you finish it. ■
BOOK STILL LIFE: JENS MORTENSEN. PROP STYLIST: AMY HENRY. PAINTING: BILDARCHIV PREUSSISCHER KULTURBESITZ/ART RESOURCE, NEW YORK.
Modern comfort is the legacy of lolling French aristocrats.
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The Missing Piece
Maya Lin’s latest memorial is her most ambitious — and most personal — yet. Susan Morgan reports.
en years ago, Maya Lin wrote that she was officially retiring from ‘‘the monument business.’’ After completing the landmark Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Washington, D.C., 1982), the artist and architect designed three major civic works commemorating significant American passages: the Civil Rights Memorial (1989), commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.; the Women’s Table (1993) in honor of coeducation at Yale University, her alma mater; and the continuing Confluence Project (1999-), composed of seven site-specific installations along the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest, an intricately considered tribute to the Lewis and Clark expedition, Native American culture and the undeniable beauty of the region’s landscape. But in that same book, ‘‘Boundaries’’ — a wonderfully plain-spoken work that struck a delicate balance between memoir and critical monograph — Lin admitted that there was in fact one more monument that she wanted to create. ‘‘This memorial would focus on the most important issue for me while growing up and to this day: the environment and man’s relationship to it,’’ she wrote. Her plan was for an ambitious, multisited public artwork dedicated to the earth’s threatened places and vanishing species. Tentatively called ‘‘The Extinction Project,’’ it was a proposal for an entirely untraditional memorial that would present both an urgent vision of how the natural world is disappearing within our lifetime and a hopeful model for shaping future history. ‘‘The Extinction Project,’’ now titled ‘‘What Is Missing?’’ has evolved steadily as Lin, an active board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, collaborates with institutions,
artists, scientists and environmental groups, collecting information and ‘‘paying attention and listening to the earth.’’ The resulting outdoor sculpture, a room-size cast bronze cone lined with reclaimed redwood, made its debut last month at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. ‘‘Sitting inside the cone, you hear the sounds of animals that are already missing or facing extinction — like dodo birds, golden toads,’’ Lin explains. ‘‘It’s very much about linking the past with the present and a plausible future.’’ In an effort to engage the widest audience possible — and to seriously articulate the environmental crisis, which Lin calls ‘‘the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history’’ — ‘‘What Is Missing?’’ uses sculpture, video, sound installation, hand-held electronics, printed material and an interactive Web site. From beneath a false floor, brief texts and projected images — the eye of a whale, a vanishing grassland, a flock of loons — float into the air, waiting to be captured on a piece of optic Plexiglas that the viewer grasps in his hands. Next April, to coincide with Earth Day, a short video homage to endangered habitats sponsored by the public art organization Creative Time will appear on MTV’s electronic billboard in Times Square, and the ‘‘What Is Missing?’’ Web site will go live. ‘‘We are creating media objects that can jump from form to form,’’ Lin says. ‘‘You listen inside the cone, tap in online or download content to your iPod or your computer. It’s a monument that can go wherever it wants to go and information that is pretty much free.’’ (A second element of the project, a traveling installation with an audio-visual cabinet of wonders, is at the Beijing Center for the Arts and at the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y.) Lin, who is about to turn 50, was born and
FROM LEFT: JUSTIN FANTL; CHESTER HIGGINS JR./THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Double cone Maya Lin, above, and components of her work ‘‘What Is Missing?’’ before their installation at the California Academy of Sciences.
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raised in Athens, Ohio, a college town in the Appalachian foothills. ‘‘I grew up surrounded by woods,’’ she recalls of the quietly insistent landscape inscribed with sandstone cliffs, river valleys and ancient burial mounds. ‘‘I’ve always made art, but I was also outside the grocery store with petitions boycotting whale hunting and seal trapping.’’ Entering Yale as an undergraduate, she planned to study field zoology but when an adviser informed her of the program’s vivisection component, she chose architecture, a discipline linking art and science, as an alternative. For every project that she undertakes, Lin does an enormous amount of research and writing, a process that the artist Robert Smithson ingeniously called ‘‘the analytic searchlight.’’ Painstakingly editing and distilling information (or, as she has called it, her ‘‘percolation process’’), she transforms ideas into architecture — say, the undulating ocean floor translated into waves of aluminum wire, a steep hill rendered in wood and relocated indoors, and a Northwestern bird blind, a looping trail constructed from locally harvested black locust trees — that is precisely realized, potent and disarming. As a conceptual sculptor, Lin also uses the highly collaborative and study-based approach of architectural practice. ‘‘Three Ways of Looking at the Earth,’’ her first show at PaceWildenstein, which runs through Oct. 24, presents three startling nonsite landscapes that frame the experience of real and imagined places. Her design for the newly opened Museum of Chinese in America, in New York, is endowed with a careful understanding of the site and its history. ‘‘I love using facts,’’ Lin says. ‘‘My idea is that if you think you know what is coming at you, there’s a 50 percent chance you won’t pay attention. But if I can rethink something so that you go, ‘Oh, I had no idea!’ then I might get your attention.’’ Lin’s commitment to creating an emphatically activist art is clear and without hesitation. ‘‘What Is Missing?’’ will make the critical link between global-warming concerns and habitat protection, she states on her Web site. ‘‘If 20 percent of global-warming emissions are caused by deforestation, then ‘What Is Missing?’ will integrally connect these issues, asking the question: Can we save two birds with one tree?’’ And as Lin is quick to point out, reforestation studies show that the answer is yes. The project is nothing if not monumental. ‘‘It will probably take my lifetime to do this,’’ she admits. ‘‘But this really has been the dream of my life.’’ ■
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The Sleep Cure
Can one big architects’ slumber party help build a better world? Linda Yablonsky listens to the pillow talk.
Political platform The first Camp for Oppositional Architecture, in Berlin in 2004.
a widely known futurist in urban planning; Bryan Bell, the founder of Design Corps, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing architectural services to underserved communities; and Roemer van Toorn, a Dutch architectural theorist and photographer. This year’s guest list will include community organizers and veterans of 1960s-era campaigns for civil rights as well as architects, engineers, politicians and academics. If that sounds like tough sledding for nonprofessionals who want to have a say in the future of city life, the residency itself is fraught with challenge: this is An Architektur’s third attempt to formulate a manifesto for what Clemens calls ‘‘a more responsible practice of architecture.’’ Clemens, who works as a freelance architect, comes across as a man with a moral compass. ‘‘Architects are more interested in how to design and detail a building,’’ he says. ‘‘We want them to take politics seriously. It’s politics that decides the layout of cities.’’ His group’s first sleepover, in Berlin in 2004, attracted nearly 150 brainiac architects, academics and urbanists to what they called Camp for Oppositional Architecture, a social networking event held in a former printing plant. There An Architektur constructed a convention center out of 8,000 plastic crates donated by a local soda-water factory, including an outdoor kitchen, a dormitory, showers and an amphitheater. (A second camp, held in 2006 in collaboration with the gallery Casco in Utrecht, the Netherlands, was similar but less elaborate.)
Following a series of lectures, participants broke up into groups to fashion a provisional Charter for Oppositional Architecture that would encourage architects to take a larger role in determining who will make use of what they build, particularly in regard to public space. ‘‘Contemporary cities are increasingly at the mercy of private interests,’’ says Joseph Grima, the director of Storefront. ‘‘People congregate mostly in retail stores.’’ Perhaps not surprisingly, conferees in Berlin could agree readily on only one point, borrowed from the Hippocratic oath: ‘‘We will do no harm.’’ The group hopes the New York location will raise new topics for discussion, although its socialist philosophy seems at odds with a city where capitalism rules. Yet at least one team of Manhattan architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with the landscape architects Field Operations, has achieved what An Architektur might consider a dream state: the High Line. Without resorting to radical tactics, the firm created what one of its partners, Charles Renfro, describes as ‘‘an accidental utopia.’’ Insisting that the park remain ‘‘a rarefied place of contemplation, not consumption,’’ they worked with existing regulatory and community agencies to create a unique, commercial-free urban experience. That should give An Architektur hope. Though the conference’s casual domesticity could succeed in inspiring some new professional relationships, there’s no way, Grima says, ‘‘it can’t be fun.’’
PHOTOGRAPH FROM AN ARCHITEKTUR AND PERFORMA
reat architectural minds seldom think alike. And even more seldom do they resolve their differences by sleeping together. Yet that is exactly what will happen next month when a group of design radicals gathers under one roof for a live-in conference on what it calls ‘‘oppositional architecture.’’ Coined by An Architektur, a small collective of architects and researchers who publish a biannual journal of the same name in Berlin, the term refers to an approach to urban planning that puts social justice before private profit and prizes ethics as much as design. City officials and builders may dismiss such ideas as laughably utopian, but on Nov. 5, when the group moves into an empty Brooklyn storefront for a 16-day residency, as part of the Performa biennial of music, dance, film, theater and performance art, its politics will command center stage — with a few sleeping bags thrown in. Also hosted by the nonprofit Storefront for Art and Architecture in Manhattan, the conference will take place in Dumbo in a space donated by Two Trees Management, the neighborhood’s principal developer. There, current members of An Architektur — Oliver Clemens and Sabine Horlitz (a couple), Jesko Fezer, Anita Kaspar and Andreas Müller — will build a temporary home that will be open to the public; they will hold regular dinner parties for 30 or more professionals. ‘‘It’s architecture in action,’’ Clemens says. ‘‘The idea is to transform the space and use it for presentation, discussion and sleeping.’’ In fact, most of the ‘‘action’’ will be the wagging of tongues. Speakers at past conferences have included Peter Marcuse,
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OBJECT LESSON: ALICE RAWSTHORN
The Cutting Edge
Fifty years after its debut, Arne Jacobsen’s ﬂatware still looks sharp.
Space aged Arne Jacobsen’s 1957 flatware.
The answer is he didn’t. Both as an architect and as a designer, Jacobsen had no interest in style. His overriding concern was to ensure that his designs could be used so simply and logically that the experience would feel entirely instinctive. It was this that dictated all of his design decisions regarding shape, size and choice of materials. The result often looked as though it had come from nature, one of Jacobsen’s passions, as realized by another one of his passions, technology. The cutlery was typical. Jacobsen designed it at the height of his career, in his mid-50s, for one of his most prestigious assignments, the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Having established his reputation as Denmark’s leading Modernist by designing first houses and then public buildings, Jacobsen sealed it in 1956 by bagging the most coveted position in Danish design, as professor of architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The SAS commission offered an opportunity for him to create a new national landmark, a grand hotel for the jet age. This would require him to design not just the building but all of its contents: chairs, furnishings, curtains, lighting, even the cutlery.
Ignoring convention, Jacobsen started from scratch by imagining what eating utensils would be like if they were natural extensions of the human body, and came up with abstractions of the traditional shape for knives, forks and spoons. The light, slender slivers of metal are designed to fit neatly into the hand at one end and the mouth at the other, with wide, flat surfaces for the fingertips to hold on to. He even devised special versions of the spoons for people who were left-handed. Jacobsen developed the original set for the hotel in silver-plated stainless steel with the craftsmen at A. Michelsen Solvsmedie, the Danish crown jeweler. A second set was designed in stainless steel for industrial production by Georg Jensen, where it is still made today. By basing his design on an intuitive physical gesture, something as natural as how food is placed in the mouth, Jacobsen took it out of the realm of period or style. Even if you didn’t know that, you could guess it simply by looking at the shapes. (Just as you can intuit how to use a great example of user interface software, like the iPhone’s, without reading the instruction manual.) It was this that made Jacobsen’s cutlery seem futuristically timeless to Kubrick in 1968, and what makes it look the same to us now. Coincidentally, it also ensured that each piece would be made from the least possible quantity of metal, giving it a very contemporary whiff of eco-responsibility. Last but not least, his cutlery works as intended, and I should know. I have used it every day for more than a decade, and it still looks and feels like new. ■
PHOTOGRAPH FROM MOSS
tanley Kubrick was nothing if not meticulous. Every detail of his movies had to be absolutely accurate; anything less would not have been convincing. He shot interior scenes of his 18th-century romp, ‘‘Barry Lyndon,’’ by candlelight, and the lugubrious War Room in ‘‘Dr. Strangelove’’ seemed so realistic that when the newly elected President Reagan moved into the White House, rumor had it that he asked his chief of staff to take him there. Even by Kubrick’s standards, the design of his 1968 sci-fi epic, ‘‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’’ was excruciating. Creating movie sets that look as though they belong to the future is an art director’s nightmare. Kubrick obsessed over everything: from the names of the extraterrestial brands (Hilton Space Station and Howard Johnson’s Earthlight Room) down to the zero-gravity toilet. For the props, he took his pick of futuristic 1960s designs, like Olivier Mourgue’s sleek Djinn seating in the space station’s lobby. But when it came to the knives and forks that Discovery One’s astronauts used to eat their space food, Kubrick went further back in time and chose cutlery designed in 1957, not by a pop design hipster but by a portly, pipe-smoking grandee of Danish architecture, Arne Jacobsen. Great choice. The flatware looked flawlessly futuristic when ‘‘2001’’ was released, and it still does today. Designing something that seems ‘‘timeless’’ (cliché though it may be) is fiendishly tricky for any designer; making it look ahead of its time by 50 years is even more so. How did Jacobsen do it?
At Yestermorrow, you can awaken your inner architect. Mark Rozzo visits the Bauhaus of Birkenstock Nation.
’ve never been much for strapping on a tool belt, but on a drizzly summer morning not long ago, I fell in with a crew of about 10 men and women as they began their day’s work at a job site in Warren, Vt. They were constructing a sturdy, purposeful and deluxe outbuilding, the kind that seems to have replaced those follies of old — fake ruins, whimsical garden sheds — as a must-have country-house accessory. In this case, the project was a music-rehearsal studio and hangout meant to be an escape pod for the kids and an alternative to Excedrin for the parents. To be constructed out of a smorgasbord of raw ingredients and arcane building techniques, it was the architectural equivalent of a macrobiotic diet: straw bales, timber framing and wattle-and-daub walls (more or less sticks and mud). While I was directed to de-leaf willow branches (the wattles) and arrange them into usable piles according to size, my fellow workers poured
gobs of clay and straw into wheelbarrows or revved up powerful Hole-Hawg drills. They seemed absolutely sure of their every step, like a guild of rugged journeymen. They were, in fact, students — a mix of aspiring or actual architects and builders — barely two-thirds of the way through a 12-week crash course in natural building offered by the nearby Yestermorrow Design/Build School. There aren’t many architects who spend their mornings perfecting mortise-and-tenon joints, operating a pneumatic nail gun or mixing up batches of cob (an adobelike compound of clay, sand and still more straw). And not every builder, natural or otherwise, is comfortable playing around with T-squares, French curves and AutoCAD software. But this is a situation that Yestermorrow has been seeking to rectify since 1980, when a 29-yearold Yale architecture-school renegade named John Connell founded the nonprofit school according to a simple dictum reflected in the
If you build it. . . . Yestermorrow students check out John Connell’s wheelchair-accessible treehouse.
P H O T O G R A P H S BY D E A N K AU F M A N
course catalog: ‘‘Every designer should know how to build, and every builder should know how to design.’’ Along with this design/build ethos — meant to consolidate both theory and practice in a single individual or firm — Yestermorrow adds healthy doses of sustainability. It’s hands-on and holistic, and with students working every day until nearly midnight designing their dream houses, or learning the secrets of woodcraft, or deconstructing tract homes for salvageable materials, it’s a little like a backwoods architecture boot camp — the Bauhaus of Birkenstock Nation. But as crunchy as it is, Yestermorrow is no relic from the age of the ‘‘Whole Earth Catalog.’’ In fact, for Yestermorrow, the moment is now. ‘‘We’ve been experiencing a crazy growth curve,’’ Kate Stephenson, Yestermorrow’s 30-something executive director, told me. It’s no surprise: given the recession, the mortgage crisis and the battered housing market, it’s safe to assume that would-be homeowners crave a nontoxic, personalized and tangible connection to their dwellings more than ever — which is just what the school offers. Design/build (an increasingly popular approach that helped fast-track redevelopment in post-Katrina New Orleans) can ostensibly keep project costs down, and sustainability can mean reduced
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overhead in the long run. Add to that the appeal of studying green architecture, arguably the hottest topic in the field, and the opportunity to swing a hammer in Vermont’s postcardready Mad River Valley, and the result is a booming Yestermorrow: about 140 different classes, from Ply Like an Eagle to Powertools for Women; over 150 teachers; nearly 1,000 students a year; and a new master plan to transform the school’s campus (a 1950s-era ski motel and its overgrown environs) from a scattering of cabins and tent sites into something Connell probably never quite envisioned back in 1980 — a proper institution. At 58, Connell — who continues to teach a course or two a year — remains a playful and brash presence, an embodiment of the school’s maverick spirit. ‘‘I studied architecture as an undergraduate at Penn, where it was strictly Corbu [architect-speak for Le Corbusier] and Modernism, and I remember thinking, This is way stupid. This is really contrived,’’ he said at one of the long picnic tables where meals (Yester Yum Salad, Hippie Reese’s) are shared by students, interns and staff. During the few days I spent at Yestermorrow I heard no talk of Rem Koolhaas or Atelier Bow-Wow, of Cor-Ten steel or asymptotes or blobs, those staples of late-night dorm talk from Cal Poly to Columbia. Instead, the conversations suggested an alternate architectural firmament — of vernacular forms and the reintegration of craft with progressive design, of edible forest gardens, rammed earth and composting toilets. Its patron saints might include Samuel Mockbee of the Rural Studio in Alabama, who was known for socially conscious structures built upon local traditions; the design/build mavericks of Jersey Devil, two of whose principals, John Ringel and Steve Badanes, teach at Yestermorrow; or the late-’60s/early-’70s architects of the so-called Prickly Mountain school, who preceded Connell in the Mad River Valley, creating prankish structures in plywood and Plexiglas that took advantage of Vermont’s famously mellow building codes, and who helped give the tiny village of Warren, with an estimated 10 firms, what locals say is the highest per-capita density of architects in the United States. Structures that classes at Yestermorrow have built as community projects are similarly eccentric: a bus-stop shelter that contorts into the shape of a snail; a straw-bale cheese cave; a circular treehouse complete with wheelchair access that Connell designed for the campus. They’re striking, modest, rough-hewn, experimental and vaguely hobbity — most would look right at home in the Shire. Like the projects, the students and staffers themselves come at you from unexpected 68
All together now The Yestermorrow design/build ethos consolidates both theory (below) and practice (left).
‘I came here because I thought I COULD
USE A DOSE OF REALITY ,’ said
Kaydee Kreitlow, who grew up in a geodesic dome.
directions: an M.I.T.-trained urban planner from New York, a former intern at Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia, a folk musician from New Hampshire, assorted Habitat for Humanity veterans, an ex-toxicologist, an I.B.M. retiree from Chappaqua, N.Y. ‘‘ I came here because I thought I could use a dose of reality,’’ said Kaydee Kreitlow, who grew up in a geodesic dome in Oregon (‘‘yeah, I guess I’m crunchy’’), studied architecture at Pratt Institute and is now helping to build the straw-bale music studio. In other words, at Yestermorrow design on paper is made real by the occasional splinter or mashed thumb. For Ari Bergen, an events coordinator at Vanity Fair magazine and a student in the intensive 12-day Home Design/Build class, the hours he spent knocking together a garden shed — hoisting lumber and setting a tin roof — translated to the drafting board. ‘‘I had this incredibly visceral feeling when I was drawing a beam because I’d actually put up this big heavy one the day before. I understood what that line was all about.’’ He was spending his two-week vacation — and $1,725 in tuition — at Yestermorrow designing what he dreams will be his Hudson Valley weekend escape: a house wrapped around a full-scale basketball court. ‘‘I come to meet them and their challenges and projects and problems,’’ said John Ringel,
the course’s amiable instructor, who looks like he was drawn by the New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren. ‘‘I learn from them,’’ he said of the school’s student mix of hobbyists, professionals and dreamers. ‘‘It’s kind of like playing chess with 15 people at once.’’ On their last day at Yestermorrow, Ringel’s students presented their designs — floor plans, elevations, painstakingly built cardboard models — to a small jury of professionals. There was an ocean-facing house in Mendocino, Calif., that looked like the second coming of the Sea Ranch; an eco-sensitive dwelling designed by a University of Vermont undergrad who espoused a love of ‘‘play-space architecture’’; various country houses; even a boat that would run partly on urine. The presentation reminded me of Connell’s description of his philosophy: ‘‘I thought that if you could make a protected area where regular folks — the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker — could really honestly say how they wanted to live, they would come up with stuff that was more whacked than anything these big architects with their ‘cool ideas’ could come up with.’’ Nearly 30 years on and ready for respectability, Connell’s vision still holds. And that basketball-court house? The jury gave it a big thumbs-up. ‘‘They want me to build it,’’ Bergen said, ‘‘and someday I will.’’ ■
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The New York Times Style Magazine FALL 2009
ARTWORK BY YUICHI HIGASHIONNA
Night and day Jil Sanderâ€™s Michael Gabellini-designed studio, this page, and her Renzo Mongiardinodesigned home, opposite. 80
ON THE SURFACE, JIL SANDER DESIGNS LIKE A MINIMALIST AND LIVES LIKE A MAXIMALIST. BUT IN HER MIND’S EYE, THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE. TEXT BY
HOLLY BRUBACH JIL SANDER
IKE MOST SUCCESSFUL designers,
Jil Sander built a brand on consistency. For 25 years, she projected a vision of clothes distilled to their essence, with nothing extraneous, their proportions perfectly calibrated. The message was right on pitch, never wavering. And though her public profile was modest and discreet, well away from the fashion circuit’s celebrity fanfare, we felt that we knew who she was and what she stood for, and the women who wore her clothes were fiercely loyal, as if she were their friend. Which, in a way, she was. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the world that Sander inhabits — both in her homes and in her head — is more complex and farther-reaching than we supposed. For two days, she takes a visitor on a tour of the spaces in which she lives and works, beginning with her studio, now active again. +J, a new collection for Uniqlo, the Japanese retailer, marks her return to fashion after a protracted absence (she sold her company in 1999 and returned briefly in 2003), during which she devoted herself to gardening and photography and, she says, ‘‘learned to travel for leisure.’’ Sander appears unchanged. Small, slight, blond, fine-boned, with kind blue eyes and a forthright handshake, she is wearing an impeccably cut white shirt, black trousers, black loafers — casual, elegant, considered but not self-conscious. With her staff still on holiday, the offices are unoccupied. Her footsteps on the parquet floor echo down the hall.
If an artist’s point of view is inevitably shaped by his or her surroundings, then Sander’s has been shaped by Hamburg, Germany, the area where she grew up and chose to remain when she might easily have relocated her business to Milan, where she showed her collections, or any other fashion capital. A centuries-old thriving port settled by wealthy merchants, Hamburg today still has a certain formality and a longstanding love of all things English. There’s a German saying: When it rains in London, people in Hamburg open their umbrellas. The northern light is clear, precise and silver, without the amber cast of the Mediterranean sun, and congenial to Sander’s cool palette, which has always revolved around whites, blacks, grays and blues. On a quiet cobblestone street near the Aussenalster, one of Hamburg’s lakes, Sander’s headquarters and her house sit side by side. Both were built around 1890 as private residences by the famed architect Martin Haller, who also designed the nearby academy of music and the Hamburg town hall. She bought the house in 1987 and her headquarters the following year, and proceeded to renovate them. According to Sander, the house had been home in turn to an insurance company, Aristotle Onassis (while he built his Baltic fleet) and a bank. The headquarters had been converted to office space, for the German Ministry of Finance. Both buildings were in need of new staircases. The bank had 20 toilets. For her headquarters, Sander commissioned Michael Gabellini, the New York architect who designed her volumetric, streamlined stores. Together they created a sublime tension between the building — a
STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENS MORTENSEN
Pure genius 1. In Sander’s studio, a white-on-white painting by the artist Imi Knoebel. 2. A white button-down shirt from her +J collection for Uniqlo. 3. In the foyer of her design headquarters, a polished console by Gabellini, with whom she also collaborated on her stores.
Strong signatures 1. Sander is particularly fond of the work of the Greek Arte Povera artist Jannis Kounellis. 2. Like all of the pieces in Sander’s +J collection for Uniqlo, this black jacket is modestly priced but rich in detail. 3. A sculpture, also by Kounellis.
symmetrical, neo-Classical mansion with coffered ceilings and French doors — and its contemporary contents: custom steel consoles, Hans Wegner wood chairs, paintings by Imi Knoebel, Jannis Kounellis, Silvia Bächli. Some rooms are completely empty except for a single work of art and the oxygen that envelops it. Sander’s exacting eye has chosen every object and positioned it in such a way that it invites consideration. The approach is one routinely labeled ‘‘minimalist,’’ a word Sander dislikes. ‘‘I prefer ‘purity,’ ’’ she says, ‘‘because ‘minimalism’ sounds so dry and bluestocking, without emotion. I have a lot of emotion.’’ It is Sander’s fondness for this building, this furniture, this art, along with her tacit admiration for the people who made them, that enables all these elements to talk to one another and cohere on a level beyond some purely visual delight in the perfect arrangement. Sander confesses that this approach — concise and ahistorical, creating a kind of endless present in which art and objects and clothing reverberate — has always been her natural inclination. ‘‘I don’t like so much to look back, like retro, vintage,’’ she explains. ‘‘I don’t like any reference. I like more what is fresh. I want to express something — new proportions, new thoughts.’’ Like Coco Chanel, one of fashion’s first modernists, Sander sets out to create clothes that don’t upstage the wearer. ‘‘I want to go more into your individual attraction, to create fashion that fuses with the personality,’’ she says. ‘‘Otherwise it becomes too much decoration.’’ The 140 pieces in this first +J collection, all under $150, succeed in paraphrasing basics like white shirts, hoodies and peacoats in ways
that are timely but not remotely trendy. Narrow ribbing around the armhole on a sleeveless cashmere turtleneck, a convertible two- or three-button men’s blazer, narrow navy satin piping outlining the edge of the collar on a navy cotton shirt — thoughtful details have always been Sander’s signature, the unmistakable traces of intelligence at work, of the obsessive intensity that compels artists who love a problem to persist in solving it over and over again. ‘‘I always liked the idea of doing affordable fashion,’’ says Sander, who welcomed the chance to put into practice the Bauhaus ideals that had been among her earliest inspirations. ‘‘I hated the high prices and the limits they imposed. And if you would maybe have asked me many years ago to do something like this, I would have been afraid. It was dangerous for the brand, to go on another level. Now I feel I’m right in the middle of a new movement that’s actually also my vision — a democratic vision, for all the people.’’
THE HEADQUARTERS, the clothes — this much is consistent
with Sander’s public image. Her house, however, appears to be in flagrant violation of her role as a leading advocate for less as more. Through a friend, Sander met Renzo Mongiardino, the Italian architect and designer famous for lavish, cinematic interiors. Sander speaks of Mongiardino, who was in his 70s when she hired him to work on the house, with affection and awe, still embarrassed by her ignorance at the time, which prompted her to disregard many of his ideas because they struck her as stodgy, not contemporary. Working with him over five years, she acquired an N Y T I M E S.C O M / T M AG A Z I N E • O C T O BE R 4, 2 0 0 9
Hedge fund The garden of Sanderâ€™s country house outside Hamburg, Germany. Her favorite flower is the English rose. 84
Circular logic 1. In her studio, a graphic work on paper by the Swiss artist Silvia Bächli. 2. A classic belt from her new Uniqlo collection gets a twist in a shiny off-shade of blue. 3. A Gabellini-designed stairway, similar to the one that was in her Paris store.
education. ‘‘I called myself his student,’’ she says. Sander credits Mongiardino with teaching her how design can be used in a home to enhance private life and social occasions, ‘‘to animate your friends.’’ When the time came to choose art for the deep red walls in the dining room, she hung a favorite painting by Mario Merz, which features a large crocodile — a prospect Mongiardino dismissed as ‘‘impossible.’’ He suggested that they commission something from an Italian artist by the name of Romolo Paganelli. Unfamiliar with his work, Sander asked to see a sample. Mongiardino showed her a painting of an egg; it reminded her of Fabergé — not at all what she had in mind. It was only after Mongiardino’s death, in 1998, that she finally saw the results: a suite of witty Renaissance-style still lifes of food, with an ornate Florentine wood frame painted, trompe l’oeil, right onto the canvas. ‘‘And I felt so sorry,’’ Sander says, ‘‘I thought, How could I be so arrogant? It was brilliant — the formality and then the casual gesture of painting the frame. It was perfect.’’ It was through Mongiardino’s erudition and connoisseurship that she came to appreciate artifacts of other eras as something more than museum pieces, as things that had been new in their own time and, given the proper context, could be relevant again. Carved and gilded panels from a 17th-century Venetian private theater, depicting themes from fairy tales, now line the walls of two small salons and, along with a Jacobean portrait, patterned carpets, low upholstered sofas and massive antique tables, exist in an endless present not unlike the one that pervades Sander’s offices. No less surprising, perhaps, is the garden at her country house,
where the lush, green hills undulate, like the contours of sunbathers’ bodies on a beach, with the deep blue of the Baltic Sea on the far horizon. The cutting garden, the kitchen garden, the conical topiary, the gazebo ringed by apple trees trained to form a canopy, their fruit hanging from the ceiling — Sander is perpetually refining it all, still discovering after more than two decades which flowers work together, which plants struggle in this soil. In a sequence of outdoor rooms, designed by Penelope Hobhouse, box hedges form a matrix that barely contains teeming roses, grouped by color. Defenders of tradition might see Sander’s forays into the ornate as proof that every minimalist is a closet maximalist. Minimalist die-hards might interpret them as a defection or, at the very least, as an exercise in domestic peacekeeping. (Sander has long lived with Dickie Mommsen, who readily admits that she is not so enamored of the spare aesthetic for which Sander has come to be known.) In the end, however, the decisions that inform Sander’s offices and those that inform her house and garden are not all that different, even if the results appear to be night and day. As Sander practices it, minimalism — or purity or whatever you want to call it — is not reductive, not so much a matter of subtracting what was there before as of piling on less. ‘‘It’s an ethic,’’ she explains, ‘‘the courage not to fill a room, to know when to stop.’’ Restraint, rigor and proportion are the unifying principles at work in everything Sander undertakes. Whatever the style, you set the rules and then you work within them. It’s like a game, with a different outcome every time. ■ N Y T I M E S.C O M / T M AG A Z I N E • O C T O BE R 4, 2 0 0 9
HIGH TIMES FROM TOP: ORCHARD LADDER #2, $2,000, ORCHARD LADDER #1, $1,200, ORCHARD LADDER #3, $1,200, BY PAUL LOEBACH FOR MATTER. GO TO MATTERMATTERS.COM. OPPOSITE: CIPRIA SOFA BY FERNANDO AND HUMBERTO CAMPANA FOR EDRA, PRICE ON REQUEST. AT DDC. GO TO DDCNYC.COM. MARKET EDITOR: ANDREAS KOKKINO.
Nesting Instincts FROM FAUX FUR TO QUILTING, THERE’S A NEW EMBRACE OF WARM AND FUZZY. RUSH HOME AND SNUGGLE UP. PHOTOGRAPHS BY
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WARMING TREND FELTRI CHAIR BY GAETANO PESCE FOR CASSINA, $5,935. GO TO CASSINAUSA.COM. COLOSSAL CABLES THROW BY INDIGO CRAFTS, $198. AT ANTHROPOLOGIE. GO TO ANTHROPOLOGIE.COM. OPPOSITE: DRAG LIGHT, $2,700, AND VASES, $2,200 EACH, BY JULIEN CARRETERO. AT MOSS. GO TO MOSSONLINE.COM.
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COLOR THEORY PLANK TABLE BY LUCIAN R. ERCOLANI FOR ERCOL, $950. AT THE CONRAN SHOP. GO TO CONRANUSA.COM. TROMPE L’OEIL WALLPAPER BY MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA. GO TO MAISON MARTINMARGIELA.COM. OPPOSITE: CUMULUS CHAIR BY DIESEL FOR MOROSO, $3,890. AT DIESEL. GO TO DIESEL .COM. HÄLLAR STOOL BY MARIA VINKA FOR IKEA PS, $70. GO TO IKEA.COM. SET STYLING BY CHRISTIANE BOERDNER.
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FOR THE ARCHITECT ANNABELLE SELLDORF, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. TEXT BY ALIX BROWNE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANTHONY COTSIFAS
PERSONAL LEAD WORDS EFFECTS THIS THE IS A SITTING DUMMY CAPTIONEXOREM AREA, OPPOSITE, AND NEWADUMMY DESK, BELOW, OR SIT AT,INCONSEC THE LIVING TEUR ROOM ADIPIS OFCING ANNABELLE ELIT, 10 A SELLDORF’S DIAM NO NUMMY NEWLY NIM RENOVATED EUISMOD TINCINDIT NEW YORK LAORET APARTMENT. DOLLORE HER MAN TASTE 20 A ALIQUAM IN FURNITURE ERAT VOLUTPAT. RUNS THE UT GAMUT WISI FROM MING ENIM AD DYNASTY MINIM TO VENIAM, MODERNIST. QUI30 NOSTRUD EXERCI TATION ULLAM CORPER SUSCIPIT LOBORTIS NIS 40 ALIQUIP EX EA COMMODO CONQSE
COOL AND COLLECTED CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A SELLDORF-DESIGNED DESK ANCHORS ONE END OF THE LIVING ROOM; THE FOYER IS HUNG WITH SOME OF THE DRAWINGS SHE COLLECTS; THE SYBARITIC MASTER BATH; THE RELATIVELY MODEST MASTER BEDROOM.
So instead of moving, last year she bought the apartment next door to hers and conducted a full-scale renovation, combining the two and increasing her space by a third. The two-bedroom apartment, which she moved back into over the summer, is not intended to be a calling card for her architectural practice — though there is certainly plenty of Selldorf in the details. ‘‘It’s a big statement,’’ she concedes, ‘‘except that it’s a statement only for me. It’s my own private Idaho.’’ The generous proportions of the rooms are classic Selldorf. What was previously her kitchen is now the bathtub annex of a palatial master bathroom, and what was once the second apartment’s living room is now her kitchen. ‘‘The thing that interests me the most in my own work is proportion,’’ she says, adding that it is both logical and intuitive. ‘‘Typically, what I do is make clear rooms.’’ In terms of décor, the apartment is an exercise in the elegance of restraint: ‘‘I have more space now and a lot less stuff,’’ says Selldorf, who likes to think of herself as precise and neat but not obsessive. Indeed, the mix of pieces, amassed over a lifetime, points to a comfortable fluency between styles that range from Ming dynasty to Modernist. In the
MONG THE MYRIAD PROJECTS in which the architect Annabelle Selldorf has
recently been engaged — a new gallery for Barbara Gladstone, a municipal recycling plant in Brooklyn, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Tokyo flagship — are two residential buildings in Chelsea. ‘‘They are both nice buildings with nice floor plans,’’ Selldorf says somewhat modestly of 520 West Chelsea and 200 11th Avenue, a project that has gotten a lot of attention in particular for its drive-in elevator and private parking garages on every floor. ‘‘I almost considered moving into one of them myself.’’ But for Selldorf, the few universals in architectural design — space, proportion, light — are always tempered by context and use. And in her own case that meant that at the end of day, a nice floor plan wasn’t enough to lure her away from her current neighborhood, with its proximity to the Union Square Greenmarket and, no less significant, to her office. Ironically, it’s living 11 blocks from work that allows Selldorf, who puts in long hours and travels constantly, to be able to spend any time at home at all. kitchen, a glass-topped dining table with a sinuous wooden base designed by her father, the architect Herbert Selldorf, is flanked by sinewy metal chairs that are a reproduction of a design by her mother, the interior designer Dorrit Selldorf, as well as a sofa of Selldorf ’s own design. She originally conceived the cast metal light fixtures for the Neue Galerie in 1999, and they’re now part of Vica, the Selldorf Architects’ interiors collection. A Chinese armoire and an oversize Venini standing lamp (‘‘hijacked’’ from her parents) make the room feel more like the living room it once was than a space for the preparation and consumption of food. The actual living room, with its wall of windows, is another mix of Selldorf (father, mother and daughter alike) and Ming. It is anchored at one end by a handsome desk that Selldorf designed, cluttered with nothing more than a laptop. ‘‘I love sitting behind the desk and having this big room in front of me — and, of course, having Le Corbusier looking over me,’’ she says, pointing to a black and white photograph of the master hanging above. While Selldorf may often take her work home, she insisted on not bringing her home to the office and hired Lauren Wegel, a former employee, to do the drawings for her.
‘‘I’m an excellent client,’’ she insists, describing herself as focused and decisive but willing to change course when and if the case arises. ‘‘The truth is I’ve done so many residential spaces, it’s a little bit humbling.’’ (Many of these spaces can be seen in a monograph about her work, to be published by the Monacelli Press this fall.) ‘‘Do I really want to spend time thinking about my client’s closet?’’ she asks, her answer implicit in her tone. ‘‘Is that interesting? It isn’t, but it’s part of the job.’’ More humbling, perhaps, is the experience of writing the checks. ‘‘Doing something someone else is paying for is about half as painful,’’ she says, laughing. But what at a glance appears to be the apartment’s most extravagant gesture — the white-and-gray striped marble floors that run almost entirely throughout — was in fact an economical decision. When she priced it out, the stone tile came in slightly cheaper than the wood she had intended to use. ‘‘I love that it feels very calm,’’ Selldorf says of the cumulative effect. ‘‘People think that warm equals wood, but I think that it has to do with the balance. For me there is nothing nicer than walking barefoot in the apartment and to have the sensual experience of the space.’’ ■
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LEAD WORDS THIS IS A DUMMY CAPTIONEXOREM NEW DUMMY OR SIT AT, CONSEC TEUR ADIPIS CING ELIT, 10 A DIAM NO NUMMY NIM EUISMOD TINCINDIT LAORET DOLLORE MAN 20 A ALIQUAM ERAT VOLUTPAT. UT WISI ENIM AD MINIM VENIAM, QUI30 NOSTRUD EXERCI TATION ULLAM CORPER SUSCIPIT LOBORTIS NIS 40 ALIQUIP EX EA COMMODO CONQSE
HAUTE CUISINE WHAT WAS FORMERLY THE NEIGHBORING APARTMENT’S LIVING ROOM IS NOW SELLDORF’S DINING ROOM, BELOW, AND KITCHEN, OPPOSITE. SELLDORF DESIGNED THE SOFA; THE TABLE WAS DESIGNED BY HER FATHER, THE ARCHITECT HERBERT SELLDORF. AND THE CHAIRS ARE A REPRODUCTION OF A DESIGN BY HER MOTHER, DORRIT. THE DRAWINGS ARE ALL BY THE ARTIST RAYMOND PETTIBON.
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Matteo di Montezemolo | Design Scion
In Italy, style is a sport and the competition is steep. Take Matteo di Montezemolo, the 32-year-old vice chairman of the Poltrona Frau Group (shown here with Dominique Perrault and Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost’s Tricot chair for Poltrona Frau). During the workweek in Milan, where he and his team oversee brands like Cappellini, Cassina and Alias, the young mogul — and son of the Fiat and Ferrari chairman, Luca di Montezemolo — favors suits from a venerable Bolognese tailor. ‘‘I did my first suit with him at 18, and he knows every inch of my body,’’ di Montezemolo says. On weekends in Rome, he drives a white Fiat 500 and chills out in khakis and a Brooks Brothers oxford shirt. ‘‘I’m like the typical American in Central Park,’’ he declares proudly. Yeah, right. J. J. MARTIN
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