Posts tagged with "Murray Moss":

Placeholder Alt Text

Design legend Murray Moss discusses the future of "anti-disciplinarity"

As the semester closes out, select Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students are likely reflecting on one of the fall’s more atypical visiting teachers. Murray Moss, the figure behind the eponymous Moss, one of the 21st century’s most iconic design galleries and stores, has been taking his knowledge of art and design to RISD, where he delivered two lectures that were followed by graduate workshops at the RISD Museum. When I met with Moss in the lobby of his hotel, he was in a genial mood, sort of unabashedly prepared in his self-professed unpreparedness (a fib; he had quite a bit of material to riff on) for his lecture later that night, titled “Interdisciplinary Design Becomes the Norm.” “I'm not a lecturer,” he admitted, “but I thought, well, at this point I could try anything. What do I have to lose?” The first lecture, delivered this past October, was titled “In Search of a Narrative.” In it, Moss asked design students to consider the narratives and histories objects embody and tell. Sort of. “An object can't tell you anything,” Moss told me in the lobby of his hotel, speaking of his own approach as a curator of design and about what he enjoys about working with students, “but a person can. They can share the way they see what they've done...If what they start to say to me is interesting, then I start to like the thing.” He has, he claims, “never in [his] life seen a trend.” I asked Moss about the increasingly blurry boundary between art, architecture, and design—something that has come to define young gallerists like Jay Ezra Nayssan of Annex LA or Benoît Wolfrom and Javier Peres of Functional Art. “My question would be, why do you ask?” Moss responded. “It's like, what is interdisciplinarity? Why do you care? Who told you that's something you were supposed to waste five minutes on.” I pointed out he was about to “waste” an hour on it. “I know. But I didn't know what it was. I always get in this mess. I pick a topic, because I think it's going to be good, and then five minutes after I agree to do it, it turns out, I read something and I'm like, ‘This is a horrible subject.’ And I'm stuck with it.” His talk, which opened with winking self-deprecation, was, however, decidedly not horrible. He used his subject and its title, which he admitted he picked before he wrote the lecture, as a launching pad to undo the expectations built into the title. If interdisciplinarity is already the norm, then what’s next? “What’s emerging,” Moss told students “is much more radical.” He suggests that “we must pass through, it seems, interdisciplinarity in order to attain anti-disciplinarity.” He suggests that instead of being siloed into fields and disciplines and their correspondent singular methodologies, or even working together with other disciplines, thus still acknowledging those disciplines, we must work in the spaces between disciplines or after them all together that is, anti-disciplinarity—increasingly relevant today. Speaking to students he told them to “check [their] opinion bags at the door,” before exploring the possibilities of learning and creating beyond disciplines and without the confines of taken-for-granted foreknowledge. He then showed off the work of designers, artists, and mathematicians who he says work in the spaces between disciplines, including Ingo Maurer, Maarten Baas, Cathy McClure, and Haresh Lalvani. Although Moss professed disgust at the idea he might have any legacy as a “motivational speaker,” he still has a deep belief in learning and in encouraging new generations to think widely and chase new ideas, part of his motivation for teaching with a radical ethos that looks at the personal and looks for thoughts that exceed and even destroy traditionally held boundaries. “I think that we owe it to the younger people to encourage them to soar.”
Placeholder Alt Text

The Taxman Cometh for Moss - UPDATED

UPDATE — November 10, 2010 — The good news is Moss reopened today after resolving a reported tax bill of around $150,000. It seems that for now the store is safe. The bad news is your credit card may not be. "Design Hates a Depression"—that was the verdict delivered by Murray Moss, owner of the eponymous store and gallery space in Soho, at the beginning of last year. It seems that he was right. As of Friday morning, the store had been seized for nonpayment of taxes. For now, the arbiter of design retail in NYC and beyond is the property of the State of New York. A visit to the store this morning found the shop shuttered, with this notice on the door: A source working with the company to procure some pieces from its warehouse for an upcoming exhibition told AN that the facility had also been shut down. Moss foreshadowed his own troubles in his response to Michael Cannell's argument that, in fact, "Design Loves a Depression," and benefits from the stresses placed on it during hard times:
"Design tends to thrive in hard times," says Mr. Cannell. No, it doesn't. It tends to suffer, like any of the other humanistic disciplines. New ideas do not get championed or realized. Leadership turns to market-driven accommodation.
Whichever side of the fence you're on, Moss has been a staple of the design community for more than 15 years, and according to the owner, will remain on Greene Street for many more. In response to a request for comment on whether the company was facing bankruptcy, Moss replied in an email: "100% NOT TRUE! Will send letter to you shortly ... but we're not going anywhere...!" Stay tuned: We will post the letter as soon as we receive it. UPDATE Here's an email Moss and partner Franklin Getchell sent to AN and other contacts a little after noon today:
Quick note to our friends and colleagues from Franklin Getchell and Murray Moss, MOSS, NY, re: all is ok: As explained to us yesterday, mid-day, during an unexpected visit by officials from the NY State Tax Department, due to our failure to file a document (one of literally hundreds!) with the Department, an official, non-negotiable ‘procedure’ was triggered, whereby Moss was required to temporarily close. Our tax advisors, lawyers, and accountant have been great, working throughout the evening and morning to satisfy this State bureaucratic situation (which escalates 10-fold once the ‘procedure’ has been implemented); we believe we can get them all the documents they need within today, and re-open, if not tomorrow, then hopefully by Monday. We are of course embarrassed and a bit shaken (it’s not a fun moment when the State officials arrive…), but are at least grateful that the problem is in fact bureaucratic, and that we have resources in place, and that the problem can be remedied quickly (although at the State’s ‘pace’….). Because we’ve all been in dialogue, we know that many of you, like Moss, during the severe economic downturn of the past two years, in addition to possibly downsizing where logical, until growth is again possible, have entered into negotiations with various business partners, as well as the State, to arrive at mutually acceptable financial arrangements which make sense and allow for a stable, doable plan going forward. We have put financing in place, adjusted our overhead, and re-evaluated our projections, and are ready to go forward. This is to re-iterate to our friends: we are, in short, ok. And in two weeks we will begin to install what we believe will be a fabulous Holiday offering. That’s it! Sorry for the inconvenience; thank you for your concern and love and support. Franklin and Murray
Placeholder Alt Text

Design Dust-Up

Over the weekend, the NYT’s Week in Review ran a scattershot call--"Design Loves a Depression" by Michael Cannell, former editor of the paper’s House & Home section--for design to "come down a notch or two." Enter the Grand Poobah of contemporary design, Murray Moss, who savagely rebutted Cannell's claims in a guest column for Design Observer cleverly titled "Design Hates a Depression."

Cannell, tripping blithely past Philippe, Zaha, Miami, Dubai, Rem, his 12-year-old doorstop S, M, L, XL (for no discernible reason), and that “apotheosis of indie cool” Brooklyn, zeroed in on an $8,910 chair by the Campana Brothers, a $10,615 couch by Hella Jongerius, and a 2006 marketing shtick wherein Dutch designer Marcel Wanders had his girlfriend swinging from a chandelier to support sales of what turned out to be a pretty popular series of over-sized lamps.

Cannell compared this while-Rome-is-burning frivolity with the sober productivity of Charles and Ray Eames during those “hard times”: the American postwar boom. A stern message followed. “However dark the economic picture,” wrote Cannell, “it will most likely cause designers to shift their attention from consumer products to the more pressing needs of infrastructure, housing, city planning, transit and energy.” Here’s hoping product designers don’t get to do all the bridges.

Moss pounced: “Design loves a depression? I can assure you that design, along with painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance, fashion, the culinary arts, architecture, and theatre, loves a depression no more than it loves a war, a flood, or a plague. Michael Cannell's article is regressive and mean-spirited, and it demands a response.”

Moss briefly celebrated the “design renaissance” of the past decade that he has helped to significantly propel forward, before mounting to a devastating sneer:

Mr. Cannell proposes that the design world "come down a notch or two." Is he suggesting that these great works should adapt something that in his personal opinion would be a more "democratic" pricepoint? What would that number be, exactly, and who would arbitrate it as accessible? (Perhaps they should be priced as the proverbial Nixonian Good Republican Cloth Coat?) When he says "come down a notch or two," does Mr. Cannell mean that Design should retreat from its current expansive, ambitious, fearless, exploratory, guild-breaking, all-encompassing plateau, from its hard-won re-positioning in the Arts? And revert back to what? To the perceived mid-century notion of efficiency and comfort? What regressive, back-in-the-box, frozen-in-the-mid-20th century absolutist utopian modernist "democratic" criteria for evaluating contemporary design is Mr. Cannell proposing from his alleged "front row seat" on design?

Withering vitriol aside, the truth is that both sides have a good argument. The price tags on design are out of whack, and yet the qualities of good design encompass far more than function as it was defined in 1933. Problem-solving has become far too complex for any glib call to arms.