Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ODD BITS: A giant purple doughnut?

This colossal, balloon-like structure is the world's first inflatable, portable concert hall!
Called the Ark Nova, it was designed by British sculptor Anish Kapoor and
Japanese architect Arata Isozaki; their intent was to provide a touring performance space where victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami could find comfort and community.

Ark Nova interior

"I am honored to have been asked to design Ark Nova for the Tohoku area," 
Kapoor says. "The structure defines a space for community 
and for music, in which color and form enclose.
 I hope that the devastation can be overcome by creativity. 
Music can give solace and bring community together 
and in so doing can help us to see we are not alone."

Watch the installation process here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

BOOK NOTE: Who doesn't love the Beatles?

Taschen publishers has just released a new volume of photos by Harry Benson, entitled The Incredible Beatles Photobook. Benson chronicled the advent of Beatlemania in France, the Fab Four's groundbreaking first visit to the United States, hysteria outside the group's hotel in Manhattan, playful interactions with their beloved manager Brian Epstein, their famous appearance on The Ed Sullivan show, and the group in action on the set of A Hard Day’s Night.

These photos convey a really happy period for them and for me. It all comes down to music; they were without a doubt the greatest band of the 20th century, and that’s why these photographs are so important.” – Harry Benson 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ODD BITS: More Mayhem!

4-year-old fashionista Mayhem's paper dresses have been well-publicized since I first blogged about her last February 14. Her mother Angie reports that young Mayhem (an assumed name, to keep her identity private) is now working independently -- not relying on her parents for ideas or for finishing up her projects. Here are a few recent designs, some of them based on gowns she's seen at various awards shows. Photos by Mom.

Lupita Nyong’o's dress for the Golden Globes

Snow White, "Nerd Edition"

Here's a recent story about Mayhem, from the Today show

Friday, August 1, 2014

BOOK NOTE: Alex Steinweiss: Inventor of the Modern Album Cover

Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover
Taschen, hard cover, 420 pages, more than 300 color illustrations, $70.

In our era of downloaded music — disembodied from any visual references, let alone a three-dimensional presence — the singular artistry of Alex Steinweiss, who designed midcentury album covers and magazine and film credits, is particularly notable. In this eye-popping, cleverly designed monograph (optical illusions appear at front and back), author Kevin Reagan pays rhapsodic tribute to the Brooklyn-born graphic artist widely regarded as the originator of the modern-style phonograph record jacket. Before 1940, records were packaged in dull brown wrappers; it was 23-year-old Steinweiss’s idea to enclose them in visually arresting cardboard sleeves. He created hundreds of them over decades for numerous record companies, primarily Columbia (where he was art director from 1939 to the mid-1940s) and Decca. Decorating the recordings of jazz, classical and pop musicians from Fats Waller to Chopin to The Weavers, his poster-like designs sported vivid colors, bold typography (featuring his zany “Steinweiss Scrawl”) and whimsical, showy imagery, all to magical effect. “I wanted the people to look at the artwork …” Steinweiss wrote, “and hear the music.” 

         The jazzy Steinweiss Scrawl

Yes, Steinweiss designed the
 iconic Dave Brubeck LP cover