Micmacs a Tire-Larigot

Trailers are an art form in and of themselves.  There is a fine balance to strike between giving your audience a sense of the movie without giving away all of the surprises.  One of the best trailers I’ve seen in a while is for Micmacs a Tire-Larigot (French for "nonstop shenanigans"), a film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet of Amelie fame.  The music is pitch perfect and I love the imagery, colors, even the dang font.  After seeing this, I want to know more about these crazy characters and the story.  Check it out here.


Vintage fruit crate labels

In search of a gift for a friend obsessed with oranges, I discovered vintage fruit crate labels.  These are the labels that were affixed to the ends and tops of produce-filled wooden crates from the 1890s to 1950s.  Sellers had to find creative ways of attracting buyers to their produce so they produced wonderfully designed labels.  Sadly, this practice ended when the pre-printed, cheaper cardboard box was introduced.  I found some really cool labels with great fonts, imagery and colors on Etsy, but it looks like there are other websites that sell the original labels too.  It’s too bad that a need for efficiency and less expensive methods trumped the production of these little graphic design gems, but it’s very cool that they are easy to find and collect.   


Michigan Central Station

In 1913, Michigan Central Station was the largest train station in the world. Today it is literally just a shell of it's former glory. And although it is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings, it stands on the verge of being demolished.

Like many of the beautiful and architecturally significant buildings in Detroit, the station fell victim to abuse and neglect when the city
began to deteriorate. These photos below show how the train station looks today. I find it completely heartbreaking.
To really get a feel, take a virtual tour here.


Inntel Hotel, Zaandam Netherlands

Check out this cool hotel currently being built in the Netherlands! I’m loving the less corporate feel of a lot of new hotels lately—Ace, Hotel Fox—where each room looks different and is comprised of eclectic styles. The stacks of traditional wooden houses on this Dutch hotel feel cozy and unique, as if each house has its own vibe.


David Bates: The Katrina Paintings

David Bates’ exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is a sincere and powerful tribute to Katrina survivors. Unfortunately the reproductions don’t do justice to the paintings. In real life, they are extremely textural with paint daubs jutting out more than a quarter of an inch from the canvas at times. If you are in the area, go see this show. If you cant make it, read my review here from Review Magazine.


Sex and the City 2

Confession: I went to see the new Sex and the City movie last week, and I'm so glad that I did. Not because the movie was so fantastic, but because it offered so much interior design eye candy. Lydia Marks was the set designer for both SATC movies and I'm hoping a third movie comes out just so I can see what she comes up with next! Carrie's new apartment with Big perfectly describes the hip Manhattan couple striving for a lot of style and just a little comfort. I especially love the glowing, blue Heath tile backsplash in Carrie's kitchen. While it's a beautiful tile in person, Ms. Marks chose it specifically because of how well it photographs.
But there's more going on here than just beautiful finishes and gorgeous sculptural furniture. Many aspects of the apartment are directly linked to the script and designed to help fans understand Carrie's story on a deeper level.
This blue ottoman deliberately alludes to the electric blue walls of Carrie's old apartment and was chosen specifically for the moment in the script when Carrie reconciles her old single self with her new life as a wife.

To see more awesome movie sets, click here.


Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

I can’t identify a single Rush song.  So you can imagine my hesitation when my boyfriend got me a ticket to see the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.  I am so glad I went.  While I’m not into their music, it’s impossible not to appreciate their musicianship, work ethic and their charming personalities.  Unlike most rock docs, this one didn’t include any mention of drug addiction, rehab, sex with groupies and inter-band fighting.  After shows, you could most likely find the band in their hotel room watching TV or writing songs for their next album. Unlike most rock stars, they never rejected their nerdiness or compromised their standards for a record label even when their most diehard fans weren’t totally on board with what they were doing.  They never rested on their laurels, they were constantly evolving and experimenting.  In fact, Neal Peart learned an entirely new way to drum when he was arguably already one of the best drummers of all time.  The film is incredibly entertaining and inspiring.  See it immediately.  


Free advice for FLOR

If I were hired to consult FLOR on their marketing strategies, I would tell them to incorporate more dogs.  That’s right, dogs.   The reclining Boxer above is not only a stunningly gorgeous model, but he sends a subtle message that FLOR tiles are perfect for pets since you can simply replace the section they peed on or scratched to death.  Think about it, FLOR.  Dogs.   


A rant on art museum architecture

In last month’s issue of Metropolis magazine, I ran across a refreshing little article about the expansion of the North Carolina Museum of Art. What appealed to me was a quote by the architect Thomas Phifer who said, “We toned down the architecture to better show the art.” I haven’t been to North Carolina to see if Phifer practiced what he preached, but I think the sentiment is spot on, yet relatively unpopular with the “starchitects” charged with the museum expansion projects of late.
Ironically his statement made me think of a project that accomplished just the opposite—the recent wing of the Denver Art Museum. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it’s a glaring example of the architecture overpowering the art. While it’s striking angles look great from the outside, it poses a number of obvious problems on the inside.

For one, how do you hang paintings on slanted walls? This isn’t just an issue for the museum’s prep crew, it makes for an awkward building for a visitor to navigate.  

Surely Libeskind is too accomplished to have forgotten the two most important things when designing an art museum—the art and the visitors.  So was this strategic or a classic case of an artist’s ego clouding the fundamental task at hand? I appreciate Libeskind’s rejection of the boring white cube in favor of something more interesting, but he went too far in Denver. Is there a museum expansion project out there that is aesthetically spectacular and still allows the art to be the center of attention? Phifer thinks so. The real question is, do the visitors and staff agree?