Posts tagged with "Emilio Ambasz":

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Q+A> Italian icon Mario Bellini on passion, the past, and the Kar-a-Sutra

Italian designer Mario Bellini is a master of many mediums: architecture, furniture, photography, and language. He was the editor of Domus in the 1980s and designed buildings all over the world, including the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre in Paris. At 80, he’s intensely productive as ever. Recently, Humboldt Books published U.S.A. 1972, a book photographs he shot with his Hasselblad in the early seventies. Bellini’s collaborative relationship with Cassina goes back decades and he’s created some of the furniture company’s most iconic designs. Cassina released several new pieces—a bed, a lounge—in the Cab family, the now-classic line he first began with a chair in 1977. To celebrate, Bellini embarked on a multi-city speaking tour. AN caught up with him at the Cassina showroom in Los Angeles. The Architect's Newspaper: The title of your talk is “A Passion Called Project.” Why passion? Mario Bellini: I will try to be short: if you don’t perform your project with a lot of passion, if you are not compelled to do it with a lot of passion, don’t do it at all. That’s the answer. I think about projects that you have completed that are not only playful, but have certain passions built into them, like the Kar-A-Sutra… I think [the Kar-A-Sutra] changed the auto industry in a way. It was the first MPV [or multi-purpose vehicle]. It broke the tradition of the sedan or limousine—boring. And it wasn’t like trucks with little houses on top, with a kitchen and the toilet, which are also a problem. The car was a space mobile and it could be rearranged in any way that you like. This was something free, which would let you explore life. I’m a traveler. I like it very much. I’ve been around the world. I used to go one month a year to those places that today would be not recommended. All around the Mediterranean, all round North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, and then Middle East: Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and up to Turkey and Greece. Every time was a journey through the cultural way life—a place’s food, archeology, history. And so the car expresses those passions. And why is the Kar-A-Sutra green? It was designed in 1972 and the early seventies were crazy years. I decided that by myself. I wanted a color that was bold, that was springing out. And green apple green was my favorite. Your new book U.S.A. 1972 was published in June. Are the book and the Kar-a-Sutra tied together? When the exhibition Italy, the New Domestic Landscape opened at MoMA in 1972, I arrived prepared to start a long journey coast-to-coast in the United States to study the American way of life. Emilio Ambasz, who was the curator, gave me a letter of introduction, which saved us a lot of troubles. We were going around and trying to enter everywhere. Sometimes police came and we’d show the letter and they would let us go on. We entered the famous house of Andy Warhol—the Factory—and we had a strange impression because it was full of Deco furniture, Deco tapestries. We were surprised to see an artist looking at the world so formally. And then we entered Hugh Heffner’s mansion in Chicago. We happened to come here, to Los Angeles, to a restaurant called The Source up on the Sunset Strip. And we found the hippie community living in a former Hollywood star’s villa. In the living room there was a tent and a holy man living in it. I can’t remember his name… Father Yod? Yes! Father Yod. I have taken lots of photos and documented everything. But you don’t know when you’re photographing that it will become historical. This brings up a question: What is your relationship with the past? Without past, we would be insects. Going back, back, back to the origin of human beings living on the earth, those ideas supports us still. Our houses today are so similar to ancient Pompeii. There are courtyards, windows, and second floors. These are not machines. I will show an image of a famous Le Corbusier house, which he wanted to photograph together with a modern automobile. Today, the car looks like a rusted, bad nothing and the house still looks modern. Everything that is linked to our lives as human beings is so persistently linked to the past. Our future proceeds based on our understanding of the past. Not as imitating the past, but as nourishing ourselves with that past. We have on our shoulders all that history. But what about your architectural projects, such as the Department of Islamic Art at the Louvre, which are very technological? I’m not a technophile. I use technology—from the origin of the word: tekhno, or the study of the technique. I use techniques, not technology. Which means materiality and a way of working and processing to reach the goal, which is nothing to do with a techno attitude. I am using it to reach the result: emotion, feeling. For that I’m ready to use any material, advanced technology, or new thing. Our office is very up to date with the latest technology, but we remain attached with very, very long ropes to the beginning of the world, and build from there.
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Antonelli Talks To Me: Upcoming Design Show at MoMA

Senior curator in MoMA’s department of architecture and design, Paola Antonelli is also a verb. She said so herself in describing her approach to curating, in general, and particularly preparing for her upcoming summer show, Talk to Me, opening on July 24. “Emilio Ambasz once said there were different categories of curators and one is “to hunt and gather” and I definitely fall into that one, always hunting and gathering to bring back design to nurture you,” Antonelli said in an interview at her MoMA office, a glamorous perch with a sculpted felt wall and a bean bag chair to keep visitors off their toes and on their asses.

The curator described how Talk to Me would show how performance, communication, and interaction are supplanting function as the main job of design. And while we are accustomed to the many metaphorical ways that things speak to us—say, a treasured knick-knack—increasingly, they literally talk as part of their job, complete with conversational ticks. A radio, for instance, might sneeze to clear dust from its speaker. “The new generation expects things to comment about everything,” Antonelli said. “Little kids tap on t.v. screens expecting them to respond.”

In this gabfest, everything’s talking at you, from a wi fi diving rod by British designer Mike Thompson and artist Kacie Kinzer’s Tweenbots that roam the streets depending on the kindness of strangers to read their destination on a flag and point them in the right direction to appliances that announce their energy use to a low-cost eye-tracking system being developed through open-sourcing to help the paralyzed write with the movement of their eyeballs. It’s a round-up of unusual suspects. And as we have come to expect from Antonelli and her team, including curatorial assistant Kate Carmody, it will round up the silly and the sensational, the polemical and provocative (a machine showing transsexuals how to menstruate, including a dance video), the comfortingly obvious (Metro Card machines) and the always breathtaking (BIX, the display skin of the Kunsthaus in Graz by architects Peter Cook, Colin Fournier, and their Spacelab team.)

Interaction of all sorts, according to Antonelli, depends on design, and to get the message across, designers write the scripts. “I may be putting words in their mouths, but that’s my job,” she said gamely, confessing that talking interfaces and machines communicating has been a long obsession dating back to Max Headroom, the fake A.I. puppet and mascot of the cyberpunk movement of the 1980s.

But don’t take my word for it. Talk to Me MoMA already has a blog dedicated to tracing the steps, sources, and research going into the show. Antonelli wants to hear from you, too.