In the world of cool, young chocolatiers in the United States, only a handful of names will come to mind because those are the only chocolates you see in stores. You have your Brooklyn old schoolers Mast Brothers, cool, mini-makers Woodblock Chocolate, glorified toffee treaters Alma, and the real San Francisco treat TCHO. One of the most important (and somewhat under the radar) makers is Los Angeles’ Compartes, an undoubtedly luxe and incredibly hip brand that eschews artisanal annoyances for no-hype-all-flavor sweets.
The brand has big news, too: they very recently expanded from a Brentwood storefront, adding a Melrose Place cubby hole hidden from street view (and technically within coffee shop Alfred). It’s an interesting triangular space designed by AAmp Studio that is most befitting of a chocolate store. The goods are a limited selection that include a wall of Love Nuts, a display of chocolate bars, and a glass case of truffles. Yet, that is irrelevant: the shop is an exercise in brevity and beauty, a quick stop into considered foodie charm.
The design details make the space. The main attraction is a conflicting tiled floor consisting of a black rectangle and triangular brick arrow that leads from the truffle bar to a corner of chocolate bars. A tension (and an eyeline) is created that brings the small room together. A wall of Love Nuts is arranged in a seemingly infinite gradient, placing you in a delectable loop almost demanding your trying each flavor of nut. The counter wisely features a giant logo that doesn’t overpower the room, instead adding a sophistication equivalent of a boutique hotel. If you want to hang for a while, indulging, a small cactus lined seating area is available under a gorgeous white neon sign in brand founder Jonathan Grahm‘s handwriting which reads “Chocolate Is Art.” And, in Compartés case, it really is.
It was a wise move for Compartés to add another location, expanding from their sleepy Brentwood headquarters to a trendy, busy Melrose location. The area may have difficulty in maintaining an identity but the design of the space is so crisp and pristine that it will outlive most of its surroundings. Who doesn’t like chocolate, either? The new Compartés is definitely cause for celebration.
Tiga may not be as prolific as we (Well, I.) would wish him to be but you have to hand it to the dude for sticking to a very strict aesthetic of high luxury circa futuristic 1986. He hasn’t released anything bigger than a single since his 2009 album Ciao! and, while Non-Stop is one of the best Acid House mixes in recent history, he still leaves you wanting more. Yet, when Tiga delivers, he delivers.
An example of this: his latest single “Bugatti” came out in July and offered a very Germanic, very eighties, and very contemporary fusion of Krautrock and Tech House. Just when the song was gathering a *thin* layer of dust, Tiga released one of his best videos yet that is like watching a mixtape of sexy late eighties commercials from an alternate dimension, where men receive ketchup bukkake treatments and women play backgommon on men’s crotches. Needless to say, some of this video is NSFW.
Directed by Helmi, it consists of quick cuts and dramatic shots edited to the metallic cadence Tiga bases the song on. It’s broken by shots of him in varying outfits shouting “BUGATTI!!” at the camera. Like the song, every “scene” picks up a different piece of debris that results in warping the reality of this eighties world: remote controls spit, sexy legs have lost their bodies, people turn to dominoes, etc. Helmi plays with a visual vocabulary over and over and over again, presenting them in different shapes and forms like parallel universes orbiting next to each other without noticing. The effect is hysterical and absolutely ridiculous—and absolutely Tiga. As the song’s lyrics suggests, the Bugatti at one point was the car to have if you are a macho, aggressive, power suit wearing, ski lodge loving dude who works in finance: the video is a parody of that.
While some has branded the video as “Wes Anderson Movie On Techno And Acid,” I say it’s more of a commercialist fantasy where Tiga gets to grab the tits of models from Esprit commercials while drinking Cold Duck. It’s a fitting follow up to the swank still “Plush” and cable access kookiness of “Shoes.” This is undoubtedly the video of the year. Or 1986.
“Gene’s Liquor” sounds like a reference your mother would make regarding your Uncle Eugene’s drinking habit. Yet, that is probably the exact opposite of what Gene’s actually is: it’s a Los Angeles based collective focusing on retro leaning deep house. The debut release from Laurent (better known as IVVVO) is certainly intoxicating a simple statement of a back-to-basics approach to contemporary dance.
The release—GL001—is just three unnamed songs. The first track has made it’s way out into the world and it’s a song full of rattling attitude based in a basic back beat that last the entire song, framing handclaps, drum cues, knotted bass hits, light cowbell, high hat, and more. The influence of jazz is definitely present from the makeup of the song but it has been funneled through a Detroit vision of early techno. It ultimately lands among new house classicists like Medlar and Andres, which is a very, very good place to be in.
If this is your type of sound, Gene’s Liquor is a new label to bookmark then: they’re going to keep pumping more shit like this out. Moreover, you should also look into Delroy’s other label LA Club Resource. Catch “Untitled 1″ below.
At this point, Gary Baseman has probably marked everything off of the bucket list for his career. He has won several Emmys and had a huge, traveling (brilliant) major museum show and even successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign: dude has done it all. The latest addition to this lengthy list of creative triumphs is a luxury fashion collaboration, one on par with Kenny Scharf for Jeremy Scott and Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton: Coach enlisted Baseman to provide complimentary monsters for their Spring Ready-To-Wear collection. This sounds like it could be a troubling pairing, yes—but the collaboration is absolutely spectacular.
Baseman’s characters are used in myriad ways: they are at the center of a few t-shirts, seemingly painted on purses, and even patterned very elegantly onto dresses. Like the shirts, the characters are even knitted into sweaters. No, they aren’t appliqué but woven into the material, a seamless and quaint and quirky effect that takes Baseman’s creations and transforms them from art objects or cartoons to these high fashion objects of intrigue. Coach wisely uses an understated palette of pastels—and a few complimentary prints like cheetah (which Baseman may have created)—to place his work at the center of the clothing. Moreover, the 1970s-meets-1990s design of the clothes somehow works here: it’s then and now, fake and real, imaginative and real.
What’s most surprising is this pairing: Baseman is phenomenal while Coach has become so suburban mall. Whoever thought to enlist over at Coach needs many, many high fives. The designer(s) who also worked with Gary to figure out how the pairing would manifest itself did an amazing job as well. Collaborations between art and fashion require a great amount of editing—and confidence. You can see more from the collaboration here.
There are few musical acts who actually employ the human voice in a traditional way that I find enjoyable. That is an incredibly ridiculous statement, I am aware, but I’ve never found work in this style to be interesting. I’d rather hear synthetic sonic experiments or human distortions: that’s more fun. But some bands hit a sweet spot usually occupied somewhere between indie rock and drum machine tuning. It’s a spot that acts like Wild Nothing and DIIV and Dog Bite, these sun faded bands making music for dirty beaches. The newest addition to this entry of acts is Hibou, a Seattle act who easily can break into this new genre of post-surf rock quite easily.
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Sagmeister & Walsh is undoubtedly one of the best design firms working right now. They’re a powerful little team who have done everything from branding Jay-Z’s Barneys collaboration with jagged gold to providing an Art Deco trophy for the New York Festival. You can see very clearly that they love what they do and that they are very, very talented at it too.
As a means to create some friendly competition and put their work hard, play hard vibe to the test, Adobe invited Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh to participate in a series of creative tasks that involved their making the Adobe logo out of random objects. Produced by the always lovely Art Directors Club’s Young Guns division, the resulting project is an online game show called Sagmeister X Walsh. It’s a bright, fun, design based series that shows how creatives have to stay on their toes.
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Kim Byungkwan is a South Korean artist who takes images of Hollywood stars, namely beloved and iconic starlets, and breaks their image with scribbles and smears of paint. He creates them with acrylic on paper, giving you what you need to “get” who the person is—and then he rips it apart. They remind of monsterized and zombified depictions of celebrities but done in a frightening and manic way—but they retail a fascinating beauty. They’re like caricatures made by a crazy person.
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A few weeks ago, Opening Ceremony released a quick flash of a collaboration: the renowned fashion makers “collaborated” with surrealist painter Rene Magritte to create a very tiny collection of wild clothing items. The items are extremely limited edition and seem to have been wiped from the brand’s website—but they still can be celebrated for being a brilliant mashing of art and fashion.
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