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    October 26, 2010

    leather01

    as we speak, 100% design has wrapped up in london with new york and helsinki behind it and valencia and guadaljara design weeks coming up. with design going mainstream, a lot of urban centers are hoping to attract a sophisticated demographic to their cities by organizing product-centric conferences like these that are a wonderful way to find new talent. but are they great for design?

    now, don’t get me wrong, i find nothing dishonorable in setting up a design wares market in every corner of the world where each and every individual with ideas, regardless of color, creed or liquor sponsorship can rightly present them to an audience in order to make a living. but that is rarely what happens. take it from someone who has consistently thrown one of the most attended events of the week in the past, and believed his own hype but been so violently repelled by it the last few years that he preferred to stay away. and by he, i mean me. every year evolves, in my not-so-humble opinion, in the wrong direction and keeps furthering no other agenda than that of increased consumption, something we have little reasonable excuse to engage in.

    i believe the ray of light at the end of this tunnel to be the increasing engagement of designers everywhere designing for solutions as opposed to themselves, for conversations to be had and not solely for effect. to wit, the work of fuseproject which focuses on the needs of others. the work of dieter rams which focuses on the needs of the appliance-minded. the work of ross lovegrove which follows function with form. i would be ecstatic if these global design weeks would, instead of product souks, be markets of ideas. imagine what we could solve by putting all these brilliant heads together and forgetting about another chair, another carafe, another clever update on the doily but rather focusing on the more pressing matter at hand, designing life for the better…

    there must be a rallying cry among those who turn bits into things to care enough to look around themselves, even in their own homes, and fix what doesn’t work. at the next convention center-sized exhibition, i need to see plungers and water jugs and pool alarms. stat.

    October 18, 2010

    oped-new7i have always thought of sex as a language, one of the many ways you can express how you feel about somebody you love or have just met in a parking lot, interchangeably. and as i feel about all forms of communication, i cannot stand the idea of it being suppressed in any way. not safe for work is but a metaphor for matters supposedly pornographic and all around salacious, a subject dear to my heart for it always brings along its constant and unwelcome companion, censorship. and even though the following term itself refers, in the original greek, to “writing about prostitutes,” i have always felt that pornography was a designation best applied to all things abhorrent, not the exclusive province of triple anal zoophilic necrophilia.

    what bothers me, and implied in this chapter’s title, is the fact that there are still places, within or out, that find the display of any or all such acts inappropriate, my very least favorite word in any language. i understand that some material, if viewed in a shared cubicle, would crassly impose on another’s freedom and i can accept such limitations of liberty. however, insinuated in the expression as it is widely understood and underlined by those digital content distributors who want a world safe from pornography, is the suggestion that it is not safe, period.

    promulgated by forces supposedly wiser than we can ever be, censorship quells the unacceptable as they see it, a tactic that not only works but is often passed into law because we have been brainwashed into thinking that there is such a thing as right and wrong. pornography is only pornography because of this notion, born from the allegedly pre-defined boundaries of private and public between which some believe that certain acts, performed or viewed, should not be just a matter of opinion, but regulation. and as usual, we conveniently scapegoat a segment of the population in the name of whom such cries are always shouted louder than is necessary, the children. that is how the acronym for not safe for work came to be, whereas it should be not safe for home, where the aforementioned victims live. work was chosen because we consenting adults, apparently much like the unrestrained underage, cannot be trusted to reasonably consent in our places of business. why can we not do whatever it is we want to do? do whatever it is we feel the need to do without the reprobate stares of legality? now, of course, some of those regulations are necessary to protect the truly innocent, as chris hansen’s award-winning work protecting fictitious thirteen year-olds proves; but let us not forget that, in the name of said innocents, sexual acts themselves were also subject to policing in a time not so long ago in these united states.

    of course, i understand the need for subway operation, corn harvesting and presidential press conferences, among many others within the boundaries of human systems, to function properly without the impromptu sexual elucubrations of a confident pair of creatures. what i am troubled by is the presumed effect on the collective of the liberties taken by individuals.

    for example, when it comes to the depiction of copulation, it is assumed that such imagery has a negative, if not downright damaging influence on the human psyche. however, “there are no scientific studies that show that exposure to nonviolent sexual material causes a person to commit a sexual crime or become more sexually aggressive” tells us dr. judith becker, associate professor of clinical psychology at columbia university. and we trust doctors with studies, don’t we? the reason the assumption even exists is, to my mind and per the findings of lyndon johnson’s nineteen sixty-seven national commission on obscenity and pornography, “the inability or reluctance of people in our society to be open and direct in dealing with sexual matters.” yes, three times yes! why do we even need a commission to tell us that we, and not it, are the problem?

    when it comes to what we call pornography, why can we not consider it a reflection of our own possibilities in the realm of sexuality? what we are seeing on what used to be the big screen in times square and is now the littlest in my pocket, is but a drastic example of what our bodies are capable of, in some cases very drastic. now, whether it brings pleasure to the participants is not at issue here, they are actors with a job to do, i simply want to speak to the voyeuristic aspect and its potential usefulness. if regular movies are one mirror of the imagination, pornography certainly is another. in the end, is it not just a movie? is it just that the actions performed by the actors, since deemed socially unacceptable by the governing class of earth’s dominating species, have to be repudiated by all as nefarious? yes, except in holland and sweden, among other european countries who have a lot less to say about decadence at the regulatory level than we do in america. for some reason, we seem to have very different moral agendas based on geography… who calls those shots? who decides the age of consent, anywhere between twelve and twenty-one, when the human body develops the same wherever you are born? who says that intercourse with an eighteen year old is fine and sex the day before is not? who says that german donkey sex is to be frowned upon? do we not, as a condition of our enjoyed liberties, have to protect those whom we disagree with or find distasteful? it is difficult, i understand, not to mention the infinite interpretations of taste but the question remains, who sets the standard? it has to be whatever is right for the community, right? or most popular, i forget which. the problem is that the community always tends toward the middle who will, by definition, forbid what it considers to be extreme in order to protect the most. which is a shame because radical behavior, by all accounts, is so much more fun. to deny freedom to the few for the benefit of the most may not be freedom but we have yet to find a system which accommodates both the puritans and the freaks equally and, sadly, i do not think it is on any kind of horizon. why? because we, as an inherently religious society, reject gratuitous acts and even i can admit that there is little constructive about a blow job, about being peed on, about being bound and gagged. nonetheless, the intent, even if it is not the production of an heir, is valuable in and of itself for the participants, a search for a feeling with no other purpose than pleasure which god hates for it is a waste of opportunity. in that case, why don’t we throw away food and start intravenous feeding? why don’t we throw away art, what does it do? actually, we do throw away art, when it is considered lewd. all because pornography and what it depicts creates guilt in some…

    that, my ashamed friend, should be your problem to deal with, not mine.

    what does pornography accomplish? at the very least, when watching that which would be considered nsfw, you see other people that look like you, that could be you, except with more mustaches and hitch-hiking. the comparisons that ensue, consciously or not, are inevitable, first of the physical kind then of technique, imagination, vocabulary, context and finally fantasy. it is fascinating to watch a stranger’s take on what turns them on because it gets very specific very quickly whether it is “i like him to leave his black socks on” or “it’s just the way that her butt pops up when she takes off her panties” or “i love cum shots on school supplies!” all of it demonstrates a healthy curiosity in behavior even though we interpret it, at the individual and collective levels, to be merely carnal. we realize, through what is no more but no less than a rude version of show and tell, that we need to try before we buy.

    now, the issues raised by theaptSUPERfriend cindy gallop’s make love, not porn are quite valid. which are that pornography, through its ubiquity, has become de-facto sexual education for children just come of age and that not every sexually active person in the world today likes to experiment in real life what seems to have become standard in fuck films. i am talking about facials, gagging, anal, double anal, baseball bats, creampies, monster cocks, mouthfuls, triple anal, ninjas, brown bunnies, feet, public disgrace, milfs, latinas, tugjobs, asian gagging, asphyxiation, enemas, animals, hair, infantilism, chicks with dicks, amputees, gang-bangs, dirty talking and role-play among too many to think about. variety in the sexual realm is no more a threat than variety in political opinion. actually, probably less so. it is just that it must be shown and not run away from, used as teaching material not the effigy of evil, understood and not ignored.

    whatever the rules may be, we should be grateful for pornography as a compendium of human sexual history, easily browsed, shamelessly, from the comforts of the home, the office or while waiting for your buddy to finish fencing class. either way, have a week intently n.s.f.w!

    October 14, 2010

    about a year ago, we were contacted by the good people at american express to consult on and be part of an amazing project with the lofty goal to pair agencies with brands in need of help in order to demystify our industry. what indeed is branding? how does it differ from graphic design? why hire professionals when my nephew just started at pratt? all great questions asked by clients the world over and aimed to be answered by the series, the trailer for which i now offer to you above.

    our agency worked on reviving a great, yet mostly consumer-unknown, brand from the eighties, citrasolv and the journey is almost, if not as, exciting as the final product, i hope you stay and watch the series unfold in the next few weeks!

    October 13, 2010

    i went and attended the unveiling of theaptFRIEND yves béhar‘s new project for lauded herman miller last night at tadao ando’s morgan library addition and it was a winner. touted as the first unframed chair of its kind, the mesh supports one’s vertebras whoever one might be, from duplicitous manhattan ladder climber to hunted former nazi in argentina, you can be sure you lower back will be in safe in its hands, and in yves’. see for yourself in the very few pictures above which eventually take a turn for the leggy at the standard’s le bain rooftop bar…

    October 12, 2010

    sdfentrance101210

    still reeling after his expulsion from the shanghai expo,
    we roused divad q. nead from a deep autumnal eames
    coma to cover the seoul design fair 2010. heavy doses of bayer,
    ethiopian sidamo, a nova scotian blonde got him through
    two weekends of crack reporting and serious photojourno.

    *

    design for all

    designforall101210

    good morning. my two-day walkabout into all corners of design at the seoul design fair [9.17 to 10.7] had me neck deep in an overwhelming world of physical objects along with a bevy of real time inspirations fleshing-out in rapid succession. despite my brown belt in film festivals and conventional museum shows, this fair was a first for my eyes, as I’d never gone beyond the alessi or kartell showrooms in greater seoul. much of what i covered for the apartment were firsts, breaking an eggshell sense of the design world. it’s been over a year since i began to mull wallpaper* over lunch breaks, eating back issues that i found on sale in the subway stations. imagine a porn lover’s virgin foray into the avn awards and you get an idea of what i went through while swimming my salmon way through the crowds under the concrete corridors of the venue. there was something to be seen in 360 degrees, on both the x and y axis. it was a dizzying, sublime, and educational affair.

    360 degree video of the venue

    while operating under the guise of an educator for more than two years, life here on the korean peninsula is an odd arrangement of both homogenous apartment architecture and socket fucking gem discoveries like alvaro siza’s anyang pavilion. despite the impressive leaps in public and private design greatness here in korea in the last 10 years, life here still operates under the rapidity of industrialization and therefore, little consideration for nuance and detail. few notice the undercurrent of brilliant design that is growing in the wings while samsung designs their iphone killer or hyundai pours another denture of high rises. as a grade school teacher and daily witness to the nature of toy design, pencil utility, and anything on a micro scale, i have come to see the absolute necessity for design to reach into the mediocrity of our spaces, to touch the common consumer. during the fair, i spent more time in the seoul design market, where young korean students and some accomplished small business owners sold their wares, than at any other venue. the crowds would agree that there more eye-time was being spent on a single felt brooch or clever cup holding device than on any chair by poltrona frau. the truth is always in the traffic. i followed the deer paths.

    not to disparage the mighty italians or the other leagues of high-design characters, but once i hit the grassy pitch splayed out between venues and saw people, average citizens of the city, thumbing through a fantastic new notebook, trying out new pens, or just holding a simple rubber coaster, admiring the work that went into it’s manufacture, that is where i saw the fair’s motto, design for all, come into being. granted there were luxurious industrial and house ware pieces from taiwan to oslo that had me gawking, it was the congregation of citizens, coming and going, taking what they could, that represented the best of what the fair had to offer. without a price for admission, and an organizational model that allowed for fluid, discovery-based wandering, the fair [which actually spanned several city locations] was a chance for the laypeople to get a high on the best and a touch of the ordinary. nothing at the fair, for me, was lost in translation, that is, except for my subtle korean flirting at behest of some blissfully bored exhibit attendants. i just had to bother somebody.

    i milled and caroused, shot admiring smiles at the craftspeople lining the halls, collected business cards, and together enjoyed the rare opportunity to lie on cool grass amidst a congested city, sifting through our pictures, sharing the reflections on this chair and that table. the field of design may be daunting, but it can also be extraordinarily meditative. we are constantly and unknowingly evaluating the pieces of physical material that compose our domesticated existence. here are my considered reflections from my time within the corridors of the event. click through the links for further information, video, and links to more discovery.

    *

    freshly pressed and packing new muji tools, i arrived under the auspicious eaves
    of kim swoo geun’s olympic stadium with sugarplum fairy dreams of injection
    molded plastics and norwegian furniture haunting my temporal lobes. the venue,
    modeled after a joseon dynasty porcelain vase stands as an imposing, yet elegant
    stage for a design symposium. guides were offered for the mission minded, but i chose
    to let my intuition do the walking, landing first on the stadium’s open playing field
    holding some of the best grass seoul has to offer with no drug pun intended.

    sdfmouth101210

    operating under the motto design for all, it appeared that there were as many curious citizens strolling
    with family as there were design enthusiasts hunting for inspiration. as one who considers design
    to be considerably social at its core, the stadium offered one a chance to approach and
    retreat from the exhibits, taking intermittent respite on one of the many lounging areas
    throughout the complex. the first piece to strike my fancy was a piece by byung-hoon choi in the korea-china-japan exhibition.

    bhchoi101210

    a composition of wood and stone, the piece reflected the numerous totems i have seen scattered throughout the mountains, stones placed carefully on top of one another as a testament to balance, a welcome departure
    from scandinavian linear aesthetic that i have found myself digesting over the past year. dining ware by masahiro mori of japan, was a standout in this venue, namely a fine collection of rice bowls

    mmoritwo101210

    and tabletop sets meant to fit together in a larger geometric pattern. the joining of the plates was a touch that struck a novel nerve as i have never considered the arrangement of plates on a table as a matter of geometry.

    mmori101210

    furthering my penchant for all things both organic and japanese, the suki by masayuki kurokawa
    represented the best example, along with products from karimokujp, of any traditional chair i saw during the fair.

    suki101210

    the 2010 living collection, featuring some of korea’s furniture potential caught a long look from yours truly, namely kim kyung lae’s couple bench and accompanying table. check out his outstanding lighting for a wow.

    kklae101210

    moving on through the other venues, i spotted alessandro & francesco mendini’s “tronspired”
    ramun chandelier rocking 11,000 rgb led inside the seoul brands design exhibiton,
    along with lg hausys and their cutting-edge acrylic hi-macs materials, a future look at your thermoformed world. continuing into the cycle design festival, my pedal fetish had its attention gripped on the two italian wheels of an abici cycle, noting a leather saddle I couldn’t resist touching. abici also makes wooden handles for their models, which I find to cut right along with my resurgent organic interests in all things handheld.

    abici101210

    the world design industry exhibit contained a fine showing of a personal favorite, swiss poster typography, notably pieces by david carson, jiri oplatek, and armin hofmann.

    carson101210

    norway got the merit badge for hospitality with its fantastic collection of lumbar friendly furniture in their please take a seat exhibit, featuring the best chairs in the kingdom.

    plstkseat101210

    such as classic pieces as the falcon by sigurd resell & fredrik a. kayser’s 711 had me more than once offering a longer-than-necessary pause, while the 2010 nor by steinar hindenes and petter knudsen was a contemporary favorite more for it’s mod classroom charm than it’s clean lines. germany made a nice showing at the dmy berlin showcase, featuring lighting by pluma cubic, makers of fine feathered shades for the swan fetishist in his parlor-come-aviary.

    pluma101210

    abutting the industry exhibit was the world design collection, in which the lighting from foscarini, the wagashi wall lamp designed by massimo gardone and luca nichetto was an eye-level standout, affixed to the wall like floral lampshade eyes.

    wagashi101210

    marc sadler’s twiggy floor lamp, arching over francesco binfaré’s flap adjustable white leather lounge was a fine combination of two long curving lines intersecting on different axes. cube or pebble illuminated floor lighting was also very present in the exhibit, namely arik levy’s meteor pieces for straight out of superman’s fortress of solitude and michele de lucci’s dioscuri tavolo 350 for artemide.

    before departing the corridors of design’s best, i took one last gander at daddy eames and then made for the market for one more shop stop. we breezed past a flurry of industrial design plans for seoul. this year our fine city was named world design capital 2010 and it seems that there are major plans in the works to bring some much needed flair to the non-stop rock and roll of concrete and rebar that dots the skyline from any vantage point. back on the field before sundown, a calm had come over the last of the revelers and a light rain fell. cutting out, back into the parking lot, my company and i mused over our heavy bags of handmades, microdesigns, and flyers. the best score of the day was a comprehensive catalog from the best stop in the seoul design market

    designmarket101210

    bound in card stock with a manila envelope styled string closure, the book contains scores of small design products from design tag, a collection of some of my favorite artisans and it is already bent at the binding. if there’s one good lesson learned from this year’s seoul design fair it’s that good design on a small scale is always within reach, could be the cup holding your charcoal pencils or the binder enclosing your travel journal. either way, take the time to consider the objects that form the outlines of your material life, be a frequent patron to the budding designers who build your favorites, and buy their work while it’s hot. it’s good to be first.

    dqnsig101210

    dqn

    October 8, 2010

    theaptcreative twitter as you may have noticed, there hasn’t been a whole lot of design news on theaptBROADCAST lately… that is because i have been using most of my time writing my first will and testament, titled the considered life, of which i finished my final draft this week and hope will find a publisher in the new year (email me!) i do intend to return to form soon on the blog but i have to break back in slowly… that is why my first step has been to contribute to USA network’s character approved blog in which i wax poetic about all forms of shapes and shapes of forms; and my second step will be to split my twitters between my personal musings, which will continue to be filled with such necessary verve as it’s six o’clock, do you know where YOUR st. julien is? or the always popular amy fisher has really been making the most of her freedom and the newly-minted, launching today the apartment account which will happily relate all that i find truly revolting or spectacular in the world of design. i hope you join in the crusade, at least until the rapture. and don’t forget to #FF, as it were. have a sensational weekend!

    p.s. and on monday, be prepared for a seoul design week special report by theaptENVOY divad q. nead!

    October 4, 2010

    oped-new7i guess that the subtextual point of this op-ed is to marvel at life’s beauty… and so, as we finish celebrating this past glorious and presumed last hurray for warmth, i am tempted to lay my respect and admiration at the feet of a privileged and sacred moment in a human being’s existence: the six o’clock drink.

    l’aperitif and its variations, as it is elegantly named on the old continent, predates antiquity as i understand and it has always been a moment of grace, if not welcome repose, in the life of the city. not solely because of the alcoholic libations or the salty snacks that often accompany them but rather thanks to the jolly conversations that are to be had while wasting away the small intestine. few aperitif drinkers dare to venture into deeply intellectual or philosophical territory of course, a few archetypal dialogues such as “how ’bout those knicks?” and can “you believe a broad could be president?” sufficing well enough. but at the end of this weekend’s grouping of the last few friends i have, a cultural rock fell into the placid pool of the late afternoon delight. there we were, the last remaining of the adults having a remote interest in spending quality time with what appeared to be drunk midgets, talking about this, that and finishing a hilarious point/counterpoint about the other when a voice was heard above the noise to ask: “hey, who invented penicillin?” all of a sudden, the party went quiet, a couple of parents we didn’t know very well left in a hurry and i believe a child jumped out the window. was somebody giving a test? would they be graded and, if so, would it be on a curve? whatever the point, somebody was evidently trying to rise above the usual chitchat and elevate the conversation to a level more akin to nobel prize winners and singer/activists. and i for one will have none of this pseudo-intellectualism that forces us to use our brain to proper capacity between the appointed hours of six and seven. when i ask “how is it going?” or the more streetwise “what’s up?” i expect you to understand that i do not really care how it actually is going or what is actually up, i will be content with the perennially nonsensical “not much” and will then either decide to ask you “how work is going,” “how the family is doing” or to let you go entirely. anything beyond that, when you are holding a drink, is simply unreasonable and should be reported to the simon wiesenthal center. the aperitif is a sacred time not to be impeded on by brainiacs looking to show us why they deserve to win at trivial pursuit or bored artists who want to make sure we all know they understand malevitch’s white canvas. leave us alone, we are enjoying the numbing!

    have as moderately drunk a week as i will!