The importance of taking space in creative fields
Wooden skyscrapers, powerful pictograms, the meaning of everything and more
Wow, it’s my first REAL post on here. I haven’t felt this excited to be sharing again in a while. Time away certainly helped me gain a new perspective. I can promise you that I’ll always keep this thing eclectic in it’s range of ideas and topics. Hopefully this feels like a flashback and a breath of fresh air.
If you have any items that you think I should cover, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course, feel free to like this or comment below.
The World Is Here for Our Taking
I thought it was fitting to start things off with one of the most impactful things I've seen this year. Since the beginning of Virgil Abloh’s reign as artistic director of Louis Vuitton men's wear he's reshaped the very nature of the luxury fashion industry. His Fall-Winter 2021 collection was a spectacle made possible by the extraordinary circumstances we're living through, a runway collection told through film. This isn't a first but it illustrates the power of moving images to sell an idea, or in this case, beautiful clothing.
We start in an alpine fairytale, an allusion to Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village,” while harps strum, and a stranger appears from the wild. The stranger, played by rapper/poet/polymath Saul Williams, begins this prelude, setting the narrative that change is coming… "the snow will melt, the ice will that, and make it up to me.
He steps through an archway and begins to tread around a structure made of deconstructed marble blocks, referencing architect Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion. He speaks the names of creatives, fighters, the marginalized, those who've demanded more. This is a collection about diversity, about taking space for those who haven’t yet been given their due time, and it’s a powerful visual statement.
During all of this we're given a glimpse of an incredible array of clothes, what is in fact 70 complete looks and an astronomical number of total pieces created. We have suits resembling ribboned marble, structured coats recreating the iconic architecture of Paris and New York, genderless garments for anyone to wear. There are big blossoms, extreme coat tails, lots of Newport cigarette-inspired greens, and plane symbology everywhere which underlines our desire to get away from it all. The overall palette of this collection has to be one of the most remarkable I've ever seen, a calvacade of cool blues, electric greens, and deep purples balanced with caramel-y browns and a gamut of grays and metals.
The last third of the film is a feast of Mos Def lyrical greatness, keeping the pace and momentum of the runway looks, gluing us in anticipation. This frenetic feast is thanks to the brilliance of Wu Tsang, a filmmaker who is well-known for her art world features. All combined, it’s a visual and aural feast for the imagination. After watching this for the first time I was awestruck, crying little tears of creative joy, marveling at what an incredible work of art had been birthed. I felt like I had witnessed something truly transformative, an ode to minorities who are ready to shine, and that we have the power to truly change the world.
If you’re interested in reading more about the show I would highly recommend reading Sarah Mower’s take over on Vogue. She’s added a lot more context and snippets of interview from Abloh himself which I appreciated.
An Uphill Challenge
How we build our cities will be incredibly important as we continue to deal with the growing perils of climate change. We know that heavy usage of concrete and glass can cause heat sinks, creating cities that are hotter than surrounding areas and don’t have a built-in method to vent that heat off.
These were some of the things I thought of when I saw this new skyscraper design from Studio Marco Vermeulen, The Dutch Mountains. The pair of dynamic towers soar over the Eindhoven, intertwining in a beautiful gesture. What really caught my attention though was how much of the building was made of wood, specifically, cross-laminated timber that will be sourced from sustainably managed forests. I am by no means an expert but this seems to be a meaningful act, and if these same practices were repeated in other buildings, we’d see some positive movement.
These renderings are incredible to me, so much wood and so many plants everywhere, it’s a dream. Can you even think of a space that looks like this? Especially at scale? There’s something about this that reminds me of the bathhouse from Spirited Away, a sort of magical, multi-layered world with so much happening everywhere. I hope we see more of this in all forms of architecture!
Small but Mighty
I’m such a fan of emojis and emoticons for their ability to express so much with so little. I mean, let’s be real, what’s old is new again and we’ve resurrected hieroglyphics for our digital age. But it works. Now we’ve got a new take from the legendary designer Kenya Hara and his design studio in the form of a set of pictographs meant to help the tourism industry in Japan.
EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS are a novel set of visual symbols developed for people of all cultures and ages to enhance their tourism experience in Japan. These uniquely simple and easy-to-understand pictograms are designed under the key concept of “second encounter with Japan” to invite visitors to explore and enjoy Japan a little deeper than before.
I really appreciate this project for numerous reasons. I love that the studio decided to try a unique way to garner attention to the Japanese tourist problem. I love that they’re giving these away for free, for whatever use you may have, which is a blessing to many designers. And of course, that fact that these were designed to be used for any medium? Brilliant. Download the whole set for yourself by clicking here.
What Does It All Mean?
I’m sure you’re in a similar place to me. We’re dealing with quarantine life every day, not sure what’s next for any of us, and honestly, what it all means. Alisha Liu, an animation student at CalArts, has been able to full encapsulate a lot of the feelings I’ve had over the last year with her short film 3:45 PM.
After watching this I’d describe it as our current existential meets the Eames’ Powers of Ten. Alisha has done an incredible job at capturing how this current moment (never ending quar) in such a beautiful way. I love the way she simplified the forms of the characters and the world, but everything has that soft but rough edge like you’d see in a watercolor painting. If you need a moment of self-realization, please watch this.
Sad cultural news to wake up to this morning. After 28 years Daft Punk has decided to split up. I’m still a huge fan of their music (listening to Homework as I write this) but this also reminded me of the time I saw the premiere of their film Electroma at the New Beverly. It was a midnight screening and no one knew what was going on and I swear to god literally 90% of the theater fell asleep.
Loving the Loewe Perfumes campaign shot by Tyler Mitchell. Tyler’s photos are always a joy to look at and the colors and tones he was able to capture match the essence of Loewe perfectly.
A24 has a few more virtual screenings left for Minari, which is showing until Feb 26.
You may have already seen these (Kyle and I were talking with his sister about them yesterday) the Nike Go FlyEase is a hands-free shoe. It’s so well-designed because of it’s amazing shapes and textures, and it’s perfect for those who are disabled or differently abled. Designing for accessibility should still be cool.
Completely mesmerized by Anton Pearson’s “infinite camouflage” which reminds me of how the skin of a cuttlefish moves. Great example of biomimicry.
I think about Seth Rogen’s growing talent as a ceramicist a lot. He’s very good at what he does but he also basically has infinite resources to explore his new craft. I’m not bitter about you’re bitter about it.
Ran Ortner was a professional motorcycle racer turned painter and now he paints the most amazing paintings of the ocean. The way he’s able to capture the depth of the light in the waves is pretty remarkable.
Christoph Niemann teaches us how to make a snowman in 2021. The carrot is such a clever stroke of genius.
Welcome back. It's great to see you. And you start with a MEGAsTACK!. :)
Some nice serendipity; i was following some Virgil Abloh Contrails myself just yesterday. After stumbling across his rather excellent Michael Kiwanuka remix:
And recent single: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVPM4fc-LNg
On paper, the fashion background would normally lower my expectations, but pretty impressed so far!
You have given me Ran Ortner and I thank you immensely for it.