With top-notch collections in Asian art, Greek and Roman art, and European painting and sculpture, including significant works by Picasso, El Greco, Caravaggio and Pousin, among many others, the Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the world’s great art museums. It is also a vital part of its local community, a beloved institution that plays an integral role in the cultural life of Cleveland and its residents. The museum is committed to making its collections accessible to all—unlike most museums today, it has a policy of free admission to the public, a mandate established in its founding charter—and presents smart programming that consistently challenges and engages visitors.
From 2005 to 2009 the CMA undertook an extensive expansion that included a complete renovation of its 1916 Beaux Arts building and 1971 addition by Marcel Breuer, and the construction of a new East Wing designed by Rafael Vinoly, which opened last summer. The expansion has increased the size of the museum by 41 percent, allowing more of its collection to be put on view.
Now the museum has launched a new website that provides enhanced access to its collection. Designed by Lisa Strausfeld and Takaaki Okada, in collaboration with Michael Bierut (who took art classes at the museum as a child), the site is focused on serving the needs of the museum’s two primary audiences: the local member who visits regularly to view art and experience museum events, and the global art enthusiast who comes for the museum’s astounding collection. Users can create their own profiles, customize their experience of the museum, and share favorite works and museum events. The site creates an experience that is immediately engaging and, in the words of the museum, “visually addictive,” placing the museum’s objects front and center.
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In his photo series “American Power,” the artist Mitch Epstein has created a complex portrait of energy production in the United States, its environmental, economic and personal costs, and its complicated role in our politics, culture and national image. Photographed from 2003 through 2008, the series includes views of power plants dwarfing their towns; rows of windmills bordering on unnaturally green playing fields; natural landscapes depleted by mining and drilling; and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. “I wanted to photograph the relationship between American society and the American landscape, and energy was the linchpin,” writes Epstein in American Power, the book of the series published last year.
Now Epstein has expanded “American Power” into an unusual public exhibition that launches this week, timed to the 40th Earth Day. Titled “What Is American Power?”, the installation presents photographs from the series on 23 billboards in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. Each billboard carries a simple URL, WhatIsAmericanPower.com, directing the public to a website that invites them to respond to the question. Designed by Pentagram’s Lisa Strausfeld and Takaaki Okada, and developed by Christian Swinehart, the site provides an immersive context for the project’s content and creates a public forum about notions of power and energy in America today.
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Short of the paper cuts, the blog Felt & Wire captures the experience of all things paper: its endless varieties, uses and innovations, and the close personal associations we have with a material that is often right at our fingertips. The site was launched a year ago by our longtime client Mohawk Fine Papers to help foster a community of designers, artists, printers, papermakers, bookbinders and other craftspeople who are, as the site’s tagline puts it, “paper-obsessed.” The blog initially focused on paper-related topics like letterpress and written correspondence, but is now widening its focus to cover paper, print and design. To curate this expanded scope is newly appointed editor Tom Biederbeck, former editor in chief of STEP Inside Design and Dynamic Graphics magazines.
This week Felt & Wire launched an updated site design created by Michael Bierut and Katie Barcelona, who designed the original site last year. New features include a monthly Q&A column with Sean Adams, a forum for sustainability in design, and a monthly column called Studio Insider presenting the working spaces of leading artists and designers. The homepage now highlights reader comments and the site’s Twitter feed. One of the site’s most popular features is the Felt & Wire Shop, a curated marketplace introduced last fall that offers paper goods produced by designers and artists, including greeting cards, wrapping paper, books, posters and calendars. (Think Etsy for paper.) In addition to designing the site, Barcelona will be periodically contributing to the blog; her first column appears today.
And the name? Felt and wire are two materials used in the final stage of the papermaking process. Felt helps to absorb excess water and wire helps to structure the sheet as it forms. Representing the tactile and the technical, they’re also metaphors for the subjects that the site’s creators will continue to explore.
One of the few museums devoted to early 20th century Austrian and German art and design, the Neue Galerie New York presents its collection in an exquisite setting. Opened in 2001, the museum is housed in a landmark Beaux-Arts mansion on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile that was built in 1914 and fully restored by the architect Annabelle Selldorf. The museum includes works by Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele, Kandinsky, Klee and Grosz, presented in an environment redolent of Vienna at the turn of the century. Abbott Miller has designed a website for the Neue Galerie that extends the museum’s unique atmosphere and beauty to its online presence.
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Why did Brian Wilson use Cooper Black on the cover of Pet Sounds? Why did Obama use Gotham for his election propaganda? It has long been apparent that typefaces reflect the character of the person using them, and that type choice, as well as the words that are typed, is a powerful conveyor of meaning.
At Pentagram, we wanted people to be able to understand that meaning properly and use it more consciously. Hence our ‘What Type Are You’ application. Researched over seven years with a team of 23 academics across Eastern Europe, ‘What Type Are You’ asks the four key character questions of our day, analyses your responses in exceptional detail and recommends one of 16 typefaces as a result.
The recommendation is sometimes controversial but always unerringly true. Said one respondent, “At first I felt angry when I was told my type is Pistilli Roman but two weeks later, I was completely reconciled to it. Now I wonder why I ever thought I was a Gill Sans.”
Go to the ‘What Type Are You’ test. Password: character.
Project Team: John Rushworth, partner-in-charge and designer; Kirsty Whittaker, designer. Written by Naresh Ramchandani. Produced by The Brown Studio. Web development by Nerv Interactive.
Paula Scher has designed a new identity for the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture. Founded in 1993 by Susan Weber, BGC’s director, the school is an important academic institution devoted to the study of the history of the material world, the objects that people make to transform their surroundings: architecture, craft and design. It is one of the only programs of its kind in the country and a top school for scholars and curators of the decorative arts. The center is affiliated with Bard College and is located in a pair of townhouses on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Scher designed BGC’s first logo when the center opened in 1993. The original logo was a monogram of three letters set in Baskerville with a decorated “G” and was applied to letterhead and the covers of brochures without any established format or system. It was pretty, and it communicated that the school was devoted to the decorative arts. But in the years since, BGC has grown in size and stature, and the logo began to seem precious and no longer conveyed the breadth of the center’s programs. The launch of the new identity is timed to a major renovation and expansion of the school by Polshek Partnership Architects. The center has also officially changed its name to the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, lengthening it slightly from the already long Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. The school needed a new institutional identity that communicated its importance. A simple, static logotype was no longer enough for the institution; its identity must function as a flexible system that supports broad applications across multiple platforms.
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Quick Link: Lisa Strausfeld & Luke Hayman Redesign Craigslist for Wired
The brainchild of Kit Hinrichs, writer Delphine Hirasuna and Peter Lawrence of the Corporate Design Foundation, @Issue: Journal of Business and Design has now been turned into a blog, at the URL atissuejournal.com.
Fifteen years ago, the three founded the print version to present visually rich case studies of how good design has contributed to business success. The journal, officially published by Corporate Design Foundation, became a huge success, peaking at a circulation of 100,000. The print edition of @Issue has had to take a hiatus due to the downturn in the economy. Both to keep the brand alive and to seize the opportunity to expand the reach of the publication, the journal has gone online as a blog. The site has already attracted thousands of visitors from 66 countries. “Atissuejournal.com is not meant to replace the print journal,” Kit says. “Our intention is to publish shorter, more topical stories on the blog, and more indepth, analytical pieces in print.”
The objects that furnish our homes and workplaces have been sliced, bent, molded and hewn from materials extracted from physical landscapes. Many of the substances we think of as “natural,” such as wood, bamboo and leather, originate as living organisms, while others are mined from the earth. “Truth to materials” has been a theme in the discourse of modern design for more than a century. This principle, which celebrates the innate textures and behaviors of materials, has guided generations of designers. Today, as designers and consumers explore the environmental ethics of manufactured things, they seek transparency about where goods come from and how they are made.
Design for a Living World is a landmark exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York that opens an important conversation between conservationists and designers about the potential and legacy of natural materials. Presented by The Nature Conservancy and co-curated by Abbott Miller and Ellen Lupton, the exhibition has commissioned 10 designers from the worlds of fashion, industrial and furniture design to develop new uses for sustainably grown and harvested materials from a specific place where the Conservancy works. The participating designers include Yves Béhar, Stephen Burks, Hella Jongerius, Maya Lin, Christien Meindertsma, Isaac Mizrahi, Ted Muehling, Kate Spade, Ezri Tarazi and Miller himself. The locations include endangered ecosystems in Australia, Micronesia, China, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Alaska, Idaho and Maine. The resulting designs demonstrate that by choosing sustainable materials, designers can actively contribute to the advancement of a global conservation ethic.
In addition to co-curating and participating in the exhibition, Miller and his team at Pentagram designed the exhibition, catalogue and website. Design for a Living World opens this Thursday, May 14 and remains on view at Cooper-Hewitt through January 4, 2010 before traveling to other locations.
A closer look at the exhibition and a preview of five of its commissions after the jump.
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New York’s public television stations, THIRTEEN and WLIW21, have rebranded under a new umbrella identity, WNET.ORG. The new name references THIRTEEN’s historic call letters, a new commitment to digital communication, and the organization’s history of service to the public, locally and nationally. Working with WNET.ORG’s marketing and management team, Pentagram created an overall brand strategy for WNET.ORG, including a new suite of identifiers and the institution’s first online annual report.
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