Between the impeachment inquiries and the raging fires in California, we’re a little relieved to see this month come to a close. But in the world of art and design, October brought a host of innovative devices and applicable solutions that we want to take with us right into November. Here are the eight best things we saw this month.
Cut from the same cloth
New York-based Designtex has put together a new collection of wallcovering and upholstery textiles called the Bauhaus Project, based on the designs of artists Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl from the German art school. Designtex’s collection, which launched the same year as the school’s 100th anniversary, pays homage to the two women through their asymmetrical geometric patterns and painstakingly replicated colors.
Falling blocks in the Eastern Bloc
The Bulgarian designer Mariyan Atanasov is playing games on an urban scale. In his new photo series, Atanasov carves up the blocky Soviet-style apartment complexes of capital city Sofia and uses them to recreate moments from the beloved video game Tetris. Incidentally, Tetris was created by a Soviet engineer named Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. The images are satisfying—not only because of their playful color schemes and shapes, but because they so delicately reference the inherent replicable quality of the buildings themselves.
Shop ’til you drop
Banksy is officially selling out. As of last week, you can purchase the graffiti artist’s branded merch at his new online store (and pop-up) Gross Domestic Product. But the artist has good reason to be selling his wares. According to a statement from the artist, he’s trying to protect his brand from an unnamed greeting-card company that’s been trying to “seize legal custody” of his name for the past year. In the face of these threats, Banksy was advised that the best way to prevent the company from gaining control of his trademark was to use it himself. Of course, everything is already out of stock, but if the legal battles continue, there might be other opportunities to purchase this BanksyTM baby mobile or this BanksyTM tombstone.
More than just a pretty typeface
The French design firm VJ Type (Violaine & Jérémy) recently added a splashy new Art Deco-inspired typeface, Cako, to their foundry. Comprised of thick black strokes culminating in thin, sharp terminals, the typeface comes in three strikingly different weights (thin, regular, and black) that make for an ideal titling or logo font. According to AIGA’s Eye on Design, the designer Jérémy Schneider didn’t initially design the font to be a full typeface. It was originally intended to be a supplementary material for a brand identity that the firm was working on. Ultimately, the designers decided not to send it to the client. As Violaine Orsoni explained, Cako was too special: “We saw from the first few characters that it could become a full typeface.”
Brick by brick
Gun violence is a national epidemic, and yet, there is no national memorial for it. The Gun Violence Memorial Project, a collaboration between MASS Design and Hank Willis Thomas, seeks to address this disparity. It brings the tragedies of gun violence home in a new installation at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
The memorial consists of four houses, all constructed of 700 glass bricks, the average number of gun deaths in the U.S. each week. Within each glass brick is a “remembrance object” that has been donated by a family who’s lost someone to gun violence. In this way, the memorial both acknowledges the personal impact of the violence, while speaking to the magnitude of the problem.
Surface Magazine commissioned eight studios to lend insight to one of the greatest humanitarian issues of the moment—immigration. Each firm was invited to propose an alternative way of addressing the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. Suggestions ranged from the playful or fantastical, including M-Rad Studio’s depiction of border beaches as a space for cultural exchange, to those with a more serious political bent. Patrick Tighe Architecture proposes a series of humanitarian “Hinge Points,” a chain of border towns armed with the resources to help transition migrants into stable supportive communities, with access to social services and paths to citizenship.
Your future, ready to assemble
Akiva Leffert—former Silicon Valley engineer, current Presidential candidate, and possible medium—has given you the tools needed to assemble your future self, one Ikea tarot card reading at a time. Using the company’s universal infographics, Leffert has replaced the traditional deck of cups, pentacles, swords, and wands with Ikea furniture and assembling hardware—lamps, sofas, Allen keys, and wooden dowels. The deck is proof of the robustness of the company’s visual language, as well as its metaphoric potential. For the Tower, the card of destruction and massive upheaval, Leffert has used an infographic of a man trying to climb a bookshelf and it toppling over. You can find them on Etsy.
Skyscraping Sex Toys
In bright pink silicone, Hudson Yards has never looked so hot. These “luxury real estate architectural dildos” are the work of design studio Wolfgang & Hite, who sought to give a playful critique of the largest private real estate development in the U.S through the metaphor of masturbation.
“After the fiery criticisms of Hudson Yards this year, we thought city officials might need a healthy outlet for working through some of that guilt,” says the statement on their website.
Skyscrapers prove once more to make for a striking dildo—but the most eye-catching toy is the sculptural Vessel by Heatherwick Studio, which in this context, functions as a butt plug.