A panorama of design
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, July 20, 2024

A panorama of design
Adhi Nugraha. Cow Dung Lamps. 2021. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. photo: Studio Periphery

NEW YORK, NY.- Confronting the Realities of Mass Manufacturing

The approximately 40 designers represented in “Life Cycles: The Materials of Contemporary Design,” which opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on Saturday, work with materials that can repair themselves, or be transformed from waste into refined objects, or represent a marriage of advanced technology and traditional craft. Their goal is to narrow the gap between the ideals of design and the realities of mass manufacturing, with its many human and environmental threats.

Italian design studio Formafantasma, for example, scavenged mobile-phone scrap and recycled metal to create its Ore Streams Low Chair (2017), a commentary on the world’s vast quantity of electronic waste. (The chair’s angled planes evoke a flip phone.)

“There’s no need to sacrifice pleasure, delight and elegance to be responsible toward the future of the world,” said Paola Antonelli, MoMA’s senior curator of architecture and design, who organized the show of 80 objects, most of them mined from the museum’s collection, with Maya Ellerkmann, a curatorial assistant.

For the exhibition’s one commissioned piece, Ghana-based designer and architectural scientist Mae-ling Lokko created a wall panel made of mushroom fiber and coconut shells. Antonelli said she admired Lokko’s work for its forensic and poetic approach to the creation of renewable, bio-based materials.

“Today,” Antonelli said, “we want to know what kind of impact a material will have on a building, a project, the world.” Where are the materials coming from and where are they going to end up? she asked. “The object is only a moment of their lifecycle.”

Through July 7, 2024. moma.org


A Reinvented Park Along the Mississippi River

Tom Lee Park in Memphis, Tennessee — a 30-acre, mile-long sliver of green along the bank of the Mississippi River — is reopening to the public following a major revamping.

Developed by the Memphis River Parks Partnership with a masterplan and architecture by Studio Gang and landscape by SCAPE, the reinvention transforms a barren swath of patchy grass into an environment animated by native plantings and trees.

A centerpiece is the Sunset Canopy, a 16,000-square-foot pavilion composed of tripod-like steel columns supporting laminated timber beams that are topped by 79 pyramidal roof elements that bring daylight into the interior. The structure, which draws inspiration from the riverfront’s industrial history, contains multiple basketball courts and will serve as a flexible space for community activities and concerts. It was dedicated to Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who was fatally beaten by Memphis police officers at a traffic stop in January.

James Little, a Memphis-born artist who is known for his precise works of geometric abstraction translated a painting he created in 2017, called “Democratic Experiment,” for the surface below and around the canopy. The new artwork is a vibrant composition of diagonal bars in shades of blue, green, burnt umber, mustard yellow and chartreuse.

“At first, I had an issue with the idea of people coming out and playing basketball on top of my image, but I had to get over that,” Little said. The 71-year-old artist is based in New York and received a late-career boost last year, when he was represented in the Whitney Biennial, a plum that had eluded him for more than four decades.

The 20,000-square-foot pavilion artwork helped him confront his fear of doing work at a very large scale, he said. And he is now embracing the interactive and democratic nature of the project, which brings art to citizens who may not typically visit museums. “The piece is something that no one should feel uninvited to — it’s literally for the people,” he said.



A New York Outpost for New and Antique Tiles

Lee Thornley’s boutique hotel in Cádiz, Spain, the countryside retreat Casa La Siesta, was the impetus behind his handmade tile brand Bert & May. With its walls and floors adorned in antique tiles that Thornley snagged on their way to the dump, the picturesque property is admired for its Moorish-informed style.

“Guests were always complimenting the tiles and asked where they would find them for their own homes,” he said. “That led me to start scouring for more and offering them for sale.”

Founded in 2013, his London-based business makes its own tiles, and it also sources antiques. Now it is expanding to New York City with an outpost at Incolour, a paint store and color showroom at 100 Lafayette St. near Tribeca run by Martin Kesselman, an interior designer.

Opening Tuesday, this branch of Bert & May will show off its complete palette of 40 pigments. Handcrafted tiles, Mr. Thornley said, are “as relevant today as they were 100 years ago and will be 100 years from now.”

Mainstays in the collection include Amanacer cement tiles, a Mediterranean throwback sculpted with soft pink and a yellow base. There is also a gold tile with a geometric triangular pattern that Thornley created for Anthropologie and a series of stripes in a fruit bowl of shades.

Bert & May counts Prince Harry, actress Sienna Miller and the private club Soho House — all continental straddlers with ties to the United States and the United Kingdom — as clients. Making a home in New York was logical, Thornley said: “It feels right and even safe.”



A Landscape Architect Donates Decades of His Photographs

Alan Ward, a landscape architect, has taken thousands of photographs during four decades of travel to scenery that was shaped by his colleagues, past and present. A longtime principal at Boston-based firm Sasaki, he has documented Neolithic stone circles in Britain, French royals’ rectilinear paths, now-lost rows of oaks planted in the 1960s at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and recent rearrangements of movable metal chairs and Ping-Pong tables in Manhattan’s Bryant Park.

Ward, 73, is giving his image archive to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Known officially as the Alan Ward Portfolios of Designed Landscapes, they will be incorporated into the foundation’s public online databases with thousands of other historic and contemporary views of terrain. Charles A. Birnbaum, the foundation’s president and chief executive, said that the portfolios documented “ephemeral works of art” at particular moments in time as well as “the designers’ realized intent” as landscapes mature.

Ward spent two years organizing his inventory of prints, negatives, transparencies and digital files for the donation. He mainly photographs in black-and-white, which brings a “level of abstraction,” he said. He researches sites intensively in advance of his trips, but upon arrival, he said, “I try to let all that go,” for immersion in the places’ distinctive characters. He has returned to some vantage points year after year and at different times of day. At dawn, the Place des Vosges in Paris can be a serenely unpopulated composition of stone building arcades, L-shaped tree groves and lawns, but by midday, Ward said, locals and visitors occupy “every bit of grass.”



This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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