Been There, Done That!

Burning Man

By gillian zwengler


After six years of waiting, eight months of planning, one cross-country plane ride and a 36-hour journey from San Francisco, I finally arrived at Burning Man – a 70,000-person strong city that exists for just seven days in Nevada’s Black Rock desert before everything is packed up and burned to the ground.

From an architecture and design perspective, Burning Man is entirely unique. Artists spend months developing elaborate, large-scale installations and there is more art at Burning Man than you could ever hope to experience within a weeklong timeframe. Such vibrancy and beauty could only emerge from something as lifeless as the desert – the stark contrast between the dry, dusty playa bed and the ethereal, oftentimes otherworldly, installations let you appreciate the artworks in a completely new way.

photo-4                                    Embrace

One of the major attractions at this year’s Burn was Embrace, a four-story wooden sculpture. Inside, a long, winding set of stairs led straight to the top, where you could look out through the sculpture’s eyes and onto vastness of the playa. Connecting the two sculptures was a massive, electronic beating heart that filled the inside of the space with the cathartic sounds of our own internal rhythms. My favorite part of Embrace occurred only in the brief moments after the sun rose each morning and the space between the sculptures lips was illuminated, almost as if the two figures were greeting the new day with a fiery kiss. Embrace burned to the ground early Friday morning in front of thousands of revelers, myself included, and its smoky destruction was every bit as epic as its existence.

photo-5                                            Robert Allen’s fabrics made a special appearance

For me, other Burning Man highlights included a pirate ship themed art car with a fully functioning merry-go-round, a bowling alley in the middle of the desert that streamed The Big Lebowski, and, of course, The Man, the festivals’ very own Northstar, which served as the focal point of the event throughout the duration of the week.

Although the music and art are incredible, Burning Man is much more profound than any song or sculpture can ever express. Each year, people come to the desert to create magic together and the energy that’s generated by this beautiful, bizarre community of people from all over the world is electric. It’s refreshing. It’s a radically open environment based on giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return. While I was there, the honest, heartfelt conversations, shared sunrises and deep, soulful hugs with strangers filled my heart with more light, love and positivity than I ever dreamed imaginable. It’s no wonder so many people call Burning Man home.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 5.21.37 PM                                                               The Man on Burn Night. Photo courtesy of Ralfi Kondili.

If you’ve ever considered attending Burning Man – go. Go to the desert with an open heart and an open mind. The playa will provide the rest.

In dust we trust,



By kristin


If you’ve ever dined under the pearlescent vault of the Grand Central Oyster Bar or marveled at the abandoned subway station at the end of the 6 train line, then you’ve seen the work of the Guastavinos - the father-and-son team whose arched tile ceilings helped transform America’s interior spaces at the turn of the 20th century.

Their innovative method of constructing elegant, self-supporting thin tile vaults is the focus of a fascinating exhibition, Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, at the Museum of the City of New York running until September 7, 2014.

Palaces for the People exhibit at MCNY

With archival photos, a large-format photograph of the now defunct City Hall subway station and a half-scale replica of a Guastavino vault, the exhibit takes you back in time, when New York underwent a profound physical and cultural transformation in the late 1800s. Money was being poured into the beautification of municipal buildings and the creation of grand architectural landmarks such as Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall, the Municipal Building and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. These structures, and hundreds of others throughout the country, all contain one of the most beautiful engineering feats of the 20th century: interlocking tile vaults designed and built by a single New York firm, the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company.

Palaces for the People at MCNY

Founded by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino Sr., and subsequently led by his son, Rafael Jr., the Guastavino Company helped build some of the most impressive interior spaces in America. Based on early Mediterranean building methods, their patented system for constructing domes and vaults involved multiple layers of thin ceramic tiles bonded with quick-drying mortar. The resulting structures were not only exceptionally strong, but also lightweight, easy to build, and inherently beautiful, thanks to intricate patterns of exposed tile that formed finished, decorative surfaces. During its 73-year history, the Guastavino Company contributed to some of America’s greatest public spaces - veritable palaces for the people.

Guastavino tile


Design Driven City: Engaging designers to shape better cities

By Marine



Remember when you and your family were playing the Sims, building houses, cities, and communities? Designers and architects, you could be doing the same things in real life, or pretty much so. Helsinki, Mexico City, Manchester: all have hired city creative directors to help foster civic innovation and find solution to inherent urban problems.

One of the most ambitious and comprehensive projects, Design Driven City, was launched this year in the Finnish cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen, and Lahti. A legacy of the Helsinki World Design Capital event in 2012, this two-year project aims to help shape better and more people-centric cities. Design Driven City believes in the power of design to create user-friendly cities with better services for citizens and to spark conversations among communities around new ideas.

A multidisciplinary effort, Design Driven City leverages the experience of three designers: Sara Ikävalko, Mikko Kutvonen and Pablo Riquelme. Their mission as “city designers”? Build an understanding of design within the city, consult and educate city employees on the process of design.

Above (from left to right): City Creative Directors’ Pablo Riquelme, Sara Ikävalko, and Mikko Kutvonen

Over the next two years Design Driven City will work with 10 to 15 projects. The first projects will be: Tidy Construction Site, an initiative of Stara (the City of Helsinki’s construction service provider) that aims to improve the look and navigation of construction sites; a Home That Fits, which looks at solutions for youth homelessness; and Helsinki Festival (15-31 August 2014), a festival park area that will transform the capital’s Citizens’ Square into a gathering space with changing structures and functions.

There is no doubt that Helsinki is emerging as a city to watch as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation chose the Finnish capital to launch its first open, international architectural competition. The jury of the Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition is on the lookout for a visionary design for the proposed museum in the Eteläsatama, the South Harbor area of Helsinki with great national and cultural significance. Projects must be submitted before September 10th.

Now, design lovers, don’t you think Helsinki could be a great vacation escape this summer?

Above: The port of Helsinki, the heart of the city

Above: The port of Helsinki, the heart of the city

May The Force Be With You This Summer At The Rubin Museum Of Art

By Marine


Rubin Museum – Bodies in Balance

Is the daily grind grinding you down? Worried sick? It might be time to change your mindset. This summer, the Rubin Museum of Art—the only museum in the US dedicated to the Himalayan region—presents Bodies in Balance. Focusing on the art of Tibetan medicine, the exhibition, which runs till September 8th, will provide you with a better understanding of the forces that run in your body and teach you techniques to achieve peace and wellness.

Tibetan medicine—known as Sowa Rigpa or the art of healing—has been taught and practiced throughout Central Asia for more than 2,500 years. It combines the best elements of Indian ayurvedic, Chinese and Greek medicine, and other medical traditions. In this holistic and complementary healing system, the human body is considered to be based on the “five cosmic energies”—space, air, fire, water, and earth. The biological intermediaries of these five are the “three humors” (nyepas in Tibetan)—wind, bile, and phlegm—which govern the physical and mental aspects of the being. Each of the three is considered to be a sort of energy or force, which circulates through the different channels, organs, and tissues of the body. In Tibetan imagery, they are associated with the colors pale blue, yellow and white. Imbalances in the nyepas create illnesses that are treated with medicines or through modifications in behavior or diet.

bodiesinbalance - tibetan tree

Above: Tibetan tree – In the medicine tree, blue is the color for wind, yellow for bile and green for phlegm.

At Bodies in Balance, get ready to walk through a couple of millennia of Tibetan medicine. The exhibition demonstrates the advancement of Tibetan medical knowledge through 140 objects dating from the 9th century to the present day, including medical paintings, manuscripts, and medical instruments. A multimedia installation shows how Tibetan medicine is used today. There is also an interesting personal component to the show. Before entering the galleries, you are invited to fill out a brief questionnaire that determines which of the three forces is dominant in your constitution. Each of the three results corresponds to a color-coded pathway that will lead you through the exhibition to reveal the works relevant to your energy.

Mandala of Shakyamuni Buddha

Above: The Mandala of Shakyamuni Buddha, a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

In addition to the exhibition, the Rubin has designed a summer program that will leave you more balanced this summer. The related series of talks, classes, and workshops will transport you to an alternative universe in which you’ll learn all about the art of healing. These include: mandalas that feature the Medicine Buddha, the source of healing knowledge;  paintings of trees used in Tibetan medical schools; diagrams of diseases; pulse readings that detect the status of a person’s body, mind, soul, and spirit; and protective amulets based on astrological readings.

Talks, classes and workshops run from July 9th to August 20th, 2014, and will conclude with a conversation with life coach and The New York Times bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein, who will explain how meditation can help achieve happiness and well-being. Get your tickets here and peace out.


NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial Gets Crazy About Craft

By Marine



With NYC Makers, Director Glenn Adamson returns to the origins of the MAD Museum (formerly known as The Museum of Contemporary Crafts), whose mission was to display the handmade work of artisans, craftsmen, and highly skilled individual makers. Appointed Director in October 2013, the former Head of Research of the Victoria and Albert Museum (who as a college graduate was an intern at MAD) made it a top priority to “advocate for the reconsideration of craft as a pervasive cultural force rather than a circumscribed artistic category.” As he sees it, craft provides the “connective tissue” between art and design. And this is what the NYC Makers exhibit is all about: celebrating the artisans, artists, designers, and craftspeople who live and work throughout the five boroughs and the range of skilled activity they represent. In doing so, it presents a snapshot of the city’s creativity economy and cultural production, and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the individuals engaged in it.


Above: Anatomical 12-Part Dissected Human SkullRyan Matthew Cohn dismantles human and animal skulls and then remounts them in exploded form.

The exhibition honors the work of 100 “makers”—practitioners whose work demonstrates the high craftsmanship and innovation. They include familiar names in the art and music world, such as Laurie Anderson and Yoko Ono, and designers both established and emerging from Flavor Paper to Fort Standard. Still, over 80 percent of the makers are showing at the museum for the first time, and many works were made especially for the show. Over 400 skilled artisans were originally nominated for the showcase by over 300 local cultural leaders from a range of trades and disciplines, including museum curators, choreographers, academics, chefs, musicians, and journalists. The final 100 participants were selected by a 10-person jury, including Adamson and curator Jake Yuzna, led by design entrepreneur Murray Moss. The selection reflects the diversity of makers in the city, in terms of ethnicity, gender, background, location, expertise, and materials used. The exhibition also sheds light on the hidden gems by including the work of behind-the-scenes makers you wouldn’t ordinarily encounter.


Above: an installation view of NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial

From neon signs, whiskey bottles and mannequins to dinosaurs’ bones, instruments and coffee beans, the MAD Biennial definitely impresses with the variety of materials and pieces on show. What makes this exhibit one of a kind is that it takes the showcase outside of the galleries: step into the lobby and dive into the colorful world of CONFETTISYSTEM; take the stairs to sample the scents of a scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, a collaboration between Carlos Benaïm, Jesse Hlebo, and Flavor Paper; and ride the elevators to experience Moonlight, a glowing lurex interior created by Scott Bodenner. Along the way, you might get your portrait done by artist Jason Polan, whose ambitious project is to draw every person in NYC: during the summer, he will sketch the museum’s visitors and add the portraits to the gallery walls.


Above: a scratch-and-sniff wallpaper by Carlos Benaïm, Jesse Hlebo, and Flavor Paper

NYC Makers turns out to be a great friends-and-family activity as the exhibit is lively, entertaining, colorful, educational, and accessible to everyone. Children and adults can have fun playing in the colorful playground of Misha Kahn and Anne Libbey’s installation Peach is Back, join Or Zubalsky’s Meeting table where they can hear their hearts beating together, and see how fragile fossilized bones are displayed in the Velociraptor Mount of professional mount-maker Richard Webber. We guarantee you that no one will say “I am bored!” One of the show’s more compelling and revealing moments is delivered in And I Can’t Run by Lower East Side Printshop, where visitors can use their cellphones to snap a photo of a screenprint to unlock a hidden image of early-20th-century slavery.


Above: a few pieces displayed at NYC Makers, including Misha Kahn and Anne Libbey’s installation Peach is Back

The MAD museum also put together a comprehensive summer program including a large variety of talks and workshops. Explore your wild side with the self-professed “Mad Hatter” H E I D I L E E, who will teach the art of origami and how to make hats that can be transformed different ways; join designer Jeremy Chernick and J&M Special Effects as they demonstrate the possibilities of live and pre-taped special effects; or participate in a multisensory experience created by artist Miriam Simun and commemorate Agalinis acuta, the federally protected endangered plant species in New York State whose flowers bloom only one day a year. There’s practically something for everyone! Find the full list here.


Above: participate in a fun origami workshop with Mad Hatter H E I D I L E E

New Colony on the Block

By sevan


After successfully hosting Reclaim 3: Carte Blanche during NYCxDESIGNColony—the new co-op for independent furniture, lighting, textile, and object designers—officially opened its doors to the trade and public late last month. The new gallery showcases new and existing collections from thirteen of the hottest contemporary American designers: Allied Maker, Assembly, Egg Collective, Flat Vernacular, Hiroko Takeda, KWH Furniture, Meg Callahan, Sharktooth, Sit and Read, Token, UM Project, Vonnegut Kraft, and Zoë Mowat.

Colony is trying to establish a new model in the design landscape with a cooperative-esque structure that allows designers to come together to tackle universal challenges. “Our goal as a group is to create a destination for interior designers and architects to come and be inspired,” explains Colony Co-Founder Jean Lin. “Furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories are meant to be experienced and ultimately used, and Colony is a place where that can happen on a very intimate level.”

The first exhibit at the gallery, In the Making, shows process imagery and models alongside completed products, giving visitors insight on what it takes to make world-class design in a local market. In the Making is on view until August 1, 2014.


Colony is located at 324 Canal Street, 2nd Floor, New York City. Visit for more information.

Holiday House Hamptons 2014

By yvonne


It’s been a beautiful summer in the Hamptons so far, and this year’s second annual Holiday House, presented by Hamptons Cottages & Gardens, is something that must not be missed! Located at the Watchcase in Sag Harbor,the spaces in the former historic factory turned luxury apartments are transformed by leading interior designers. Each room is themed around a holiday or an inspiring moment in the designer’s life.

Celebrating stylish summer living and entertaining, some of our favorites include:

Campion Platt

Campion Platt’s master bedroom channels a colorful spring day with eye-catching, hand painted lilies and a light fixture that resembles the petals of a flower. Playing on the contrasts between coral and mint, the room features the Beacon Hill fabrics: Perspective (mint) on the headboard and Olavanna Ikat (magenta) for the curtains. 


Jen Going of Jen Going Interiors

Incorporating the colors of cool blues and soft shades of brown, Jen Going’s guest room is reminiscent of a breezy day at the seashore. The watercolor backdrop resembles a clear ocean, while the nest light fixture adds an outdoor touch to complete the look.


Dale Cohen of Dale Cohen Design Studio

Dale Cohen keeps it simple for his L-shaped terrace by using the crisp, clean white fabric, Realistic, from Robert Allen’s Sunbrella collection. Complete with all the essentials needed for a terrace, it even includes a fun game of putt in the narrow side space along the building!

Make your way over to the Hamptons for this special event! Proceeds from the Holiday House Hamptons benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and is open daily to the public until August 10th.





15 Church Street

Sag Harbor, NY 11963

Located in between Washington and Sage Street.

Open Daily:

Sunday, June 29, 2014 – Sunday, August 10, 2014
11am – 5pm

(Photo source: Paul Domzal)

Das Design Competition: Get the VIP treatment from Hansgrohe

By Marine


Das Design Competition

I am a country famous for its beer, apple wine, traditional sausages and cuckoo clocks. I am also the home of Hansgrohe and Axor – the premium brands for bathroom and kitchen faucets. Who am I? Drumroll… Germany! (Cue applause.)

Hansgrohe is giving American-based architects and interior designers the opportunity to fly to its home base, by launching its first-ever Das Design Competition. Want to be one of the lucky few to embark on the VIP trip? Enter the competition at and dazzle the jury with the innovative and inspiring ways that you have incorporated Hansgrohe and/or Axor products in your recent projects. The keyword in DasDesignComp? Excellence: the jury is looking for excellence in design, sustainability and installation.

Note that your projects must have been built in the U.S. within the past three years (between January 1, 2011 and September 1, 2014) and fit into one of these categories: Residential, Hospitality, Commercial, or Multi-Housing/High-Rise.

The Winners of each category will receive a round trip to Germany plus three-night hotel accommodation to be part of a VIP delegation attending ISH, the world’s largest trade show for the combination of water and energy in building solutions, in Frankfurt in March 2015.

ISH, Frankfurt

Above: ISH, the world’s largest trade show for the combination of water and energy in building solutions

Be prepared to travel off the beaten path and sample German cuisine and culture in the company of other designers, media and the Hansgrohe team; get inspired by the region’s architecture; try Ebbelwoi (apple wine), and taste of one of the 1,500 German beers or sip wine from the Rhineland. Are you feeling the German spirit already? Because we are!

Frankfurt, Germany

Above: Frankfurt’s skyline and city center

To learn more about the competition and submit your projects, go to Hansgrohe+Axor Das Design Competition. The deadline is September 2, 2014.

What We Saw at SightUnseen Offsite 2014

By kristin-g


SightUnseen Offsite is creating a lot of buzz in the design world, not only from those in the industry, but from design lovers as well. The event, which took place May 16th-May 20th, featured various young designers and their unique and interesting pieces. For 2014, SightUnseen Offsite utilized two floors of space in SoHo to showcase the designers work. The event had an array of exciting exhibitors including AMMA Studio, Brook&Lyn, Chorin and more.




Above: AMMA Studio which uses their unique style to recreate furniture through non traditional materials such as rock salt, sand, coffee, silica, and pink Himalayan salt. 


Above: kelly behun | STUDIO produces unique elements of interior design to create interesting and innovative spaces.


Above: Another designer that seems to be catching on the trend of utilizing materials in a futuristic sense, DAMM, showcased an arrangement of lighting fixtures made with marble, leather, and concrete.


Above: Chorin is one of the new design brands that showcased at SightUnseen. With designers of various backgrounds such as furniture, interior architecture and graphic design, the designers are able to incorporate different areas of design into their pieces. The designers play with visual perspective as seen above.


Above: Brook&Lyn is a Los-Angeles based husband and wife team of Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz. Jung displayed her paintings from the Woven Gradient Series. 


Above: The Principals, a design studio based in Brooklyn, presented two new pieces from the Dead Chair Table series and the Brancusi Studies.

This event was organized by the blog SightUnseenan online magazine featuring design, art, fashion, and photography.



By kristin


Our friend (and creator of the addictive lifestyle blog, didi & the big apple) has a great eye, which is why we sent her roaming the aisles of the ICFF, armed with a camera, to bring you a visual snapshot of the stylish (and sometimes eyebrow-raising) exhibitors and show-goers at this year’s design fair.

Pattern play

Pattern Play

Jonathan Goldsmith, eat your heart out!

Jonathan Goldsmith: Eat your heart out!

In fashion and in design, things have become softer

In fashion as well as design, things have become softer


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