VOL. MMXIII..No. 207

design we love | THE BADASS AND THE BEAUTIFUL

From Plain Jane to Esprit: The Making of a California Icon

    In the annals of iconic brand identity, Esprit is one brand that often gets overlooked, even though the recent renaissance for all things 80’s has certainly caused plenty of brands to help themselves to Esprit’s esprit.   Founded in the late sixties by Doug and Susie Tompkins, Esprit was not originally destined for greatness, but some key players propelled the brand to unexpected heights.   Susie Tompkins thought what the world needed was a line...

Why Florence’s Stazione Santa Maria Novella is a Deco Masterpiece

      Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station is rarely noted when anyone tells you they visited this legendary Renaissance city. For many, the station is a rather grey and cold contrast to the ecclesiastical glory of the famous church that lies just across the station’s ragged parking lot of cars, buses, bicycles, and scooters.   Completed in 1935, the Stazione Santa Maria Novella is almost Stonehenge-like with its massive block of horizontal stone,...

Somewhere in Time: Eero Saarinen’s Soaring Symphony to Air Travel

      When the TWA Terminal was dedicated 54 years ago this weekend on May 29, 1962, it was in honor of the man for whom the airport was eventually named, President John F. Kennedy, who’s Birthday is also on that day.   A futuristic airport terminal couldn’t have been a better gift -- not counting of course, having Marilyn Monroe sing  “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” which she so famously did just ten days earlier. { "For Saarinen the future of...

Vilac’s Container Ship for the Baby Modernist

    It was only in the early part of the 20th century that there evolved an entire philosophical and psychological approach to the design of children’s toys. Most recently this was explored in the stunning 2012 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Century of the Child: Growing By Design 1900 – 2000.   The idea that toys could be attractive, and even artistic is one that is distinctively modernist. By the 1920’s, German and Scandinavian designers, architects,...

The Cult of Jonny, Or Why I Learned to Walk in a High Heels

      It’s not often that a pair of shoes stops me in my tracks but Yves Saint Laurent’s now iconic Jonny Boot managed to do just that to me, back in the golden age of Tom Ford.   When I first saw them  they looked far too louche to be taken seriously. Uh.. are you wearing high heels?     DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY: The Jonny Boot has the masculine swagger of a cowboy boot with a dash of  1970's androgyny (think New York Dolls.) It was...

Bezar.com Offers Inspired Approach to Selling Design

    With so many design merchants out there, you would think more of them would deliver their product with an e-commerce site that is as much an inspiration as the products they sell. Alas, not so – until now.   Bezar offers inspired product from off-the-radar artists, designers, and craftspeople in a site that's more colorful than a pack of Starburst fruit chews.   The company is the brainchild of Bradford Shellhammer, formerly of Fab.com which earlier...

Designing Desire: Photographer David Cardelús Captures the Power of Architecture in Retail Design

    Brands spend top dollar on store design because it is perhaps the most visceral way to engage the consumer – more than print, digital, or any other form of communications. “You’re trying to create desire from the very first moment a person walks in,” says Peter Marino, the bold and brash go-to designer for Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton. “You’re trying to make them buy everything in the store.”   It was only with the relatively recent revolution in...

Top