Friday, April 25, 2008

3form ecoresins

Clicking through links, I found this company- 3form, that sells ecoresin sheets/panels in a variety of sizes.colors, and lots of awesome patterns. And you can order samples! So i did.... lots of them! Toys!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New pics of my work.... I've been doing more with the bone/aorta structures.
These red and blue piece are wax that will be electtroformed, but right now they look like science illustrations which is pretty cool.

A cuff bracelet

& the bracelet half constructed

what it looks like on....

and brooch

Pile o bones

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

what do you want?

Found through Core77's blog, this essay by David Barringer on Desire and consumption. Great!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

what does being a jeweler mean?

So, relating back to things that have been bouncing around in my head, as well as the grad meeting Monday where we talked about how to define the field and where we think we fall in it, I'm feeling a bit at sea about where I stand and what I want to be...
I used to believe very firmly in the stance of I must make my designs. When I first started doing the production work and sent things out to be cast, that was hard for me. I felt like I was betraying some standard or failing some unspoken test. That attitude came from my undergrad education. Hand work was god. The flexshaft (or anything powered) was viewed as lesser- exception being the kilns. The flexshaft was only to be used when you could not do something by hand. And by could not, I mean the tool doesn't exist to get the task done. We never learned to sandblast, polish, or tumble, as those involved machines. So knowing this, it's not a stretch to see how the idea of you personally not being the one to make a piece is abhorrent to that mindset.
From doing production, I still feel/felt like I needed to be the one doing the bulk of the work- otherwise it seemed unfair? to be selling it as my work. However, I did realize that unless I could clone myself, something had to change. So I began to buy some stone setting and findings, as well as send everything out for casting. If I had continued with the shows, I probably would've looked into an intern to help with casting cleanup. But I still clung to certain things- making/injecting my own waxes for one... although I did relax that somewhat in the last couple of years.
Now, where am I? I thought that coming back to school would drive me further towards working on hand-laboured one-of-a-kind work. Reinstate a lot if that old dogma. It hasn't. I'm swinging further in the other direction. I now think I would like to design for some firms- or sell some of my designs to be produced. I'm looking at the new technologies and thinking that I'm perfectly fine with outsourcing that part. I'm thinking that so much of my production work is too labor-intensive for what it is. I need to streamline that. I'm also thinking that returning to the shows is something that I'm not particularly interested in. I don't think it is a viable financial decision. I want to continue to make, but I'm thinking more broadly about that term. I'm much more interested in following the European designer path, than anything I've seen here. In a perfect world, I'd like to work with companies to produce some of my designs, and continue to make others myself. I think what I would keep making would be jewelry....
This is not to say that I don't want to make things. I do. Very much. It is a part of who I am, but I'm not sure that I will be able to call myself a jeweler in a couple years. And I'm unsure how I feel about that. Is there a word I'd prefer? Am I turning my back on a large part of me if I don't use the word jeweler? I don't know. I do know that this is a big change in my outlook of where I'm heading. And I don't feel like I have a road map for this trip.....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

V & A

The V & A museum has an exhibit going on- China Design Now that showcases art and design coming from China currently. The online exhibition is light on objects, and has more photography, architecture, and graphic design.

Smithsonian, Renwick.... then Philly

Last Friday, I played hooky and went to go see the Smithsonian show as well as the exhibition at the Renwick. The show had me shrug- I think I'm pretty jaded at this point. The work was nice, it was pretty much the work you would expect to see- a sub-set of ACC Baltimore. There were some new artists, but not really anything *new* happening with the work. Which was disappointing to me. This show is so hard to get into, and yet it seems the same as all of the rest of the shows. Nothing innovative about it. So even with Lauren and I talking to people we knew, it took us an hour to go through the whole thing. I think that the most interesting thing I saw was a ceramics artist who had manipulated the media such that his works looked like wood. Not just kind of, but I needed to touch them to find out that they were clay. Very convincing. Which is more of a technical virtuosity impressed, but it was still the most unusual (in a good way) thing I saw.
The show at the Renwick was great! Since I've been reading so much contemporary jewelry history (while accurate, that phrase doesn't make that much sense...) that it was wonderful to see the pieces in person. I never really get a full sense of the work from the photo. I want to walk around it, see the back and the sides, and take in the piece as an entire object not as a 2d photo. As I expected, I found some work that I was really struck by, others I admired for this or that, and a lot of things that just didn't do anything for me. It was reassuring quite a bit to be able to inspect the craftsmanship and construction of the pieces and realize that these artists were human after all... From the tone of many of the books, it's easy to lose sight of that.
One of the things that I am and have been constantly fascinated by is mechanisms. This is also one of the things that I found most frustrating in production, as I never really found an elegant, easy to use (for customers), and time-efficient solution to neck cables. While I never wear brooches, one of the most alluring elements of them is how they connect to the body. There was some stretching and craning of the neck to peek at the back sides, but we managed to see most of the connections and mechanisms. I was surprised at the amount to commercial or less-than-thought out clasps. A lot of the photographs don't show you the clasps, and I assumed that many of them would follow the (my) ideal of being incorporated into the piece and complimentary of it. Nope. Several of the necklaces simply had bayonet or spring ring clasps thrown on. On the flip side there were several really nice mechanisms as well, and I do need to remember that some of these mechanisms that are commonplace now, were fresher when the pieces were made.
I confirmed that I don't really get or prefer narrative jewelry. I can appreciate the technical excellence and detail (Mawdsley) but it doesn't draw me at all. I think that much of it is too busy for me. I also re-confirmed that I am drawn to Gerd Rothmann's work. Even a piece that I hadn't seem before and is unlike his better-known body print pieces caught my eye.
Seeing Stanley Lechtzin's electroformed early work gave me a much greater appreciation for those pieces, as they are like mini subterranean landscapes. In the photos that dimensionality doesn't come across.
A couple of other thoughts- It was really great to see some of the sketches (and not just Hermann Junger!) alongside of the work. I like seeing how other artists conceive of their work and translate it onto paper. Also the display of several of the neckpieces (Caroline Broadhead's veil and sleeve, Gijs Bakker's Dew Drop, LAM de Wolf's work, etc.) was perfect. By putting the work on simplified white head (or arm) forms, the pieces really stood out. You could see the full intent and impact of the work.
Yesterday we drove up to Philadelphia to check out the Gijs Bakker show at the Phildelphia Art Alliance- totally worth the trip. And I really should remember that Philly isn't far away... and go more often. The exhibit had a very comprehensive selection of his work from the mid-60s onwards. He has explored so many different avenues in his work that seeing collections from each time period helped the work seems much more cohesive. The best example I can cite is a series of mobius strip bracelets and rings from the late 60's-early 70's. Seeing one of them, *shrug*. It's a form that has been used a lot. Seeing the exploration of that shape and the evolution of a series of bracelets from that time (20? or so) gives me a much deeper appreciation for how he works through an idea in iteration. The same with the Shot series of brooches. Seeing one displayed doesn't really show you the exploration of the idea (In this case shooting bullets into a sphere-on the computer-at different angles and then cutting away or slicing the sphere to create the bracelet forms. The holes left by the bullets become the opening for your hand.)
The exhibit has drawing up of some of the pieces, but unfortunately they are all in one room rather than with the pieces they are illustrating. I was also curious as to who did some of the more formal sketches from the 60's work- the stovepipe and neck collar pieces- and I think that the actual drawing may have been by Emmy VanLeersum.
The exhibit has several of his pvc neckpieces, but they are displayed flat rather than on forms which makes me want to pick them up in order to see how they sit (as most of the ones they had were cut in spiral form so that they would drape) on the body, otherwise the exhibit did a very nice job of displaying the work.
So, if you get the chance, both the Renwick show and the Philly show are worth it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Dubai is rapidly rising as an international hub. The pace of development there is insanely fast, and seems poised to keep expanding as quickly as the raw materials and labor can arrive. Metropolis magazine had a feature on Dubai in November of last year. In the article, they laid out some interesting points regarding Dubai's growth and expansion- especially as it relates to design.
One of the things I found most interesting and laudable about Dubai is the commitment to sustainable and green technologies. This is evidenced in the architecture of the city- David Fisher has designed a tower where each floor will rotate. This seems like ostentatious excess to the extreme, however the rotations will all be powered by wind turbines. Dubai is in a great geographical position to make the most of wind and solar power. The Burj al-Taqa will be the first skyscraper to produce 100% of it's energy. Most will produced by roof mounted wind-turbines, and augmented by solar panels. Much of the development in Dubai is centered around energy efficiency. Architects are working with heat reducing materials, solar screens and shields, glass shades, and vacuum glazing to reduce the need for cooling the building in the hot weather.
In addition the tremendous wealth in Dubai is giving designers a chance to realize their ideas in entirety. Designers are basically being given free rein for a lot of the interiors to incorporate new materials and technologies. When money is no object, you can produce some amazing works. The one stumbling point seems to be the insistence on the latest newest thing rather than on objects/designs that have a relation to the setting and the culture. The article in Metropolis sums it up as "the conflict between a global design language and the local vernacular..... people want the newest and become quite taken by.... whatever is on the other side."
So where is Dubai headed and how did they get here? According to Metropolis, Dubai wants to be a major economic hub for the world. To that end, Dubai is focused on sustainability and diversification. As a minor player in oil, Dubai had to grow in other ways. This has led to agressive economic policies which have resulted in one of the fastest grwoing economies on the planet. One aspect that I find very interesting about Dubai, is the reliance on foreign deisgners and managment for its companies and developents. There isn't a lot of home-grown talent in Dubai, so most mid-upper level work is done by foreign workers. And the scal of the money being spent in Dubai means that we are talking outsourcing on a scale that Americans can live quite well on. With all of the uproar over jobs here going to countries that have lower cost of living, why aren't we then marketing ourselves for positions in places like Dubai?
It seems that much of the press previously on Dubai has been focused on the excess and showy qualities that make you think of Vegas on strong steroids. However Dubai seems much more serious underneath that facade.
So I think I have some deeper/better answers to why I'm making what I am this semester, as well as possibly some insight into my work in general.
A couple nights ago I had an aha! moment where I realized that the pieces so far are really about protection. The talon forms sticking outwards from the body, repelling anyone from getting close; the bone/aorta structures forming an exoskelton of sorts.... see where this is going?
Also in reading Mind and Mentality there was a section talking about jewelry that is purposefully uncomfortable to wear. Which got me thinking about these pieces and with some of them latching into the skin, or even having the appearance of doing so also brings up self-destructive (mutilation) issues as well.
So this realization isn't making me particularly thrilled, but I'm looking back on a lot of the forms I work with in general and seeing that protective idea reoccur. Even the pod shapes that deal with enclosure I tend to position so that they aren't totally open to the outside world- the gem or secret is for the wearer.
Not sure what this means or is leading to, but there it is.

work pics

So after my midterm, i started working with some new forms that have a more direct correlation to the body. Here are the bone/aorta pieces on my desk, also tested out the medical adhesive last night and it works well. So also pics of a swirly talon and a bone on the body....

Realized that it is going to take quite a while to get everything glued on properly. Must remember to budget the time for that...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Studio Libertiny

ID magazine has an article on Studio Libertiny- very cool ideas....
the bees vase (for Droog!)

and the paper vases (note the tree print that faintly appears on the surface)

I liked both of these as the emphasized process. And non-traditional processes that created traditional forms.... The bees vases were made by creating a mold that the bees then made their honeycomb inside of, thereby creating the form. There are more photos in the press release downloads that show all the different final products that came from that one mold. The paper vases are lathed from blocks of paper which are created by gluing individual sheets with the tree print on each sheet together.
The labour involved in creating each of these is tremendous and yet, forward thinking and embracing an open outlook to design.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Ronan and Erwin Bouroullec are French brothers in Industrial Design. Their approach to design is clean lines, an eye toward flexibility in the use of the object, and an emphasis on customizable pieces. Says Ronan, "'Erwan and I both like the idea of giving someone an object and letting them decide how they’ll use it."
Ronan is the elder, graduated from the Ecole Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in 1997. His designs began to be produced by Capellini shorty afterwards. Erwan graduated from the Ecole Nationale d'Arts de Cergy in 1999 and joined his brother in business. The brothers have designed for Capellini, Habitat, Issey Miyake's APOC store, Vitra, and the Kreo Gallery.
Their designs are simple in form, intended to be made personal by the owners. An excellent example of this is their shelving for Vitra,

also some of their textiles like the Zip rug, where you can zipper together sections of carpet in different colors to make your own combination. The modularity of the work also makes it attractive to a wide range of customers, as it give them more control over the final look.
I respond much more to some of their wall decorations, shelving, and objects than I do to the furniture in general. There seems to be a more playful feel to these pieces and a richer attention to pattern and surfaces.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

China, part 1 of ?? : why china matters

So as part of the "what is going on in the world" research, I've been looking at China.
Good magazine has a feature this month called 'Ten Reasons Why China Matters to You'. Some thoughts and synopsis...

From Reason #10-"its achievement scares nations around the world—and excites others—because it suggests that you can rapidly embrace globalization, achieve great income growth, and remain a single-party state by following the so-called China model."
in the Lexus and the Olive Tree. Mainly, that in order to reap the rewards of globalization a country needs to have the infrastructure, ,skill set, and processes; i.e. "software" to deal with the demands of the global market. I'm not sure that China has that. I wonder however, if the sheer volume and population of China is enough to carry the country over the hump as it currently appears to be doing. It is certainly odd to see the I find this interesting as it seems to go against some of the theories posited by Thomas Friedmanprinciples of a globalized economy humming along in a communist country. It seems jarring to me that what I might consider a fairly pure capitalist notion (globalization) is working. I wonder if that regardless of the political hold that the communist party retains, the social forces of the marketplace will erode those principles.

Reason #8 does a great job of laying out some of the challenges that China will face the longer it remains a global player. This brings up the issues of transparency in process- both governmental and business oriented, as well as corruption. There are several separate booms/seas of change going on in China right now- from sexual revolution to the results of the one child act. These will each change and affect to landscape in China- the question is how? And how will/can the government control these changes and mold them (as they have done before) without running up against the forces of the global markets?

From Reason #7- "Frankly, the best crises are the ones you actually hear about, because that means the international press got ahold of them, and those already affected or at risk will get the information they need to protect themselves. Once tracked back to China, Beijing is put on public notice that whatever laxness exists simply cannot be tolerated anymore, with threats of quarantine, bans on exports, cessation of investment flows, and so on. A generation ago, such threats would elicit yawns from China’s ruling elite, but now, with the Communist Party’s legitimacy riding on economic expansion, they’re taken with the utmost seriousness."
I think that now that China has committed itself to being a player in the global markets, it is that marketplace that will have the power and incentives to push forward social reform in China. I believe that many of the issues that people are bringing up and have brought up over the past decades (treatment of workers, human rights, corruption in the legal system, etc.) will not be solved nation to nation. I think that the force that can put the pressure on the government to change these issues is globalization. The global markets have the incentive (more investment, continued growth) as well as the clout to demand these changes. If the above quote is true (and I think that it is) the government has placed itself in a position were it has to listen. I don't think that there is any way that they can shut the doors on the global market now without completely destroying the country.

Reason #6 talks more about the political aspect of China's rise. I think this is where a lot of the uncertainty for me comes in. In order to get what it needs to keep growing and sustaining the growth, China is getting resources from all over- including some pretty unstable places. What happens to the global markets if China's supply is disrupted? If you don't think that will have some adverse reactions here, you are mistaken.... we should be paying much more attention to this than we currently are. This is the type of issue that we simply do not have any control over happening. If we aren't keeping an eye out and see the warning signs, we will be caught off guard.
I know there is a lot of people worrying about design and jobs shifting more to China than they are, and they might be right. I also think that if we keep trudging along as we have been head fixed in one direction, not looking around, and truthfully, not thinking very hard about what we're doing and where we're going, that there is nothing we can do to stop it. That said, I think that if we can wake up, take a deep breath and knock down our self-imposed restrictions on ways of thinking and creating, that we can offer "new". We cannot skate by on our reputation without doing anything to deserve that reputation. It isn't fair that manufacturing jobs are going or gone, it isn't fair that we aren't, as a country, what we used to be in terms of innovation and drive. But whose fault is that? Ours. And the world isn't fair. The longer we spend complaining about it and being nostalgic for when we were the hot market and everyone wanted us, is more ground we will have to cover to catch up.

Reason #5- Apparently I may be an economic determinist as I agree with the following quotes: "I believe economics shapes politics more than the other way around.....That doesn’t mean I want Washington to forgo pushing Beijing’s leaders in the direction of increasing political freedom and transparency, it just means that I have more faith in the transformative power of markets than others do, so I don’t argue for picking fights with China on that score...." I should look more into that economic concept (and this is where a part of my brain goes, "Economic Theory?!? You're in Art School! What are you thinking???"). This reason also brings up my earlier point about a potential crisis affecting us seriously. This is what I get for typing as I read....
The characterization of a "financial 'balance of terror'" reminds me greatly of the Cold War mentality: Us v. Them, both sides understanding the destruction of actually acting on their threats, but needing to perpetuate that image.

Reason #4 addresses some of the environmental concerns about rapid expansion of infrastructure. While I agree that international pressures and concerns may tip the balance to a smarter style of growth, I worry that the cheapness and ease of the "old" way may win out regardless. Also, once you start down that way, the damage gets done very very quickly. So it really won't take a big push to start that avalanche. Especially when you are tyring to catch up to the rest of the world, and are aggressively pursuing growth, there is the danger (proven through history) of looking at the now and short-term future, and ignoring the long-term effects until it is too late. I don't have a lot of faith in humanity here.

From Reason #1- "How America engages China’s emerging elite in coming years could well determine—for good or ill—the lasting contours of the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century.....Bind America and China together, and globalization cannot be derailed. But set them persistently at odds, and that’s a recipe for unacceptable danger." China is not going away, and we cannot ignore that. To position ourselves into that global chain would be the smart thing to do. After all, you pay more attention to those you work closely with and have constant dialog with than distant acquaintances- regardless of whether you agree or disagree most of the time. It simply affects you more.

Friday, April 11, 2008


So here's some cool links.....
I so want a job at Philips right now- as it seems that the concepts I have kicking around in my head right now, they have the science and resources to pull off..... wonder if they have openings....
tattoo project
skintile project
sensor project

laser cutting link and waterjet cutting link
I still need to call these places to check on prices, but both have a more extensive range of materials than ponoko....

Monday, April 7, 2008

bathsheba grossman

i am amused since we were talking about her work in the grad meeting this morning to find these on thinkgeek.... according to the write-up she uses Mathematica and Surface Evolver to create them.... something to look into for algorithym based generation of forms?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Marcel Wanders

Marcel Wanders is a Dutch designer who initially broke onto the stage working with Droog Design where he created his Knotted Chair- which is one of the most easily recognized pieces of his. Since then he has gone to design for several well known European companies, including B&B Italia, and Cappellini, in addition to continuing to work with Droog. He also founded Moooi and designs for that company in addition to being the art director. Many if his designs are instantly recognizable, some of my favorites below...

Marcel Wanders graduated from the School of Arts Arnhem in 1988. He began working independently right away and became a member of Droog in 1992. In the past decade, his career has skyrocketed and he has won numerous awards, most recently the Visionary! Award from the Museum of Arts and Design in 2007. He has received press in just about every design magazine out there including ID, The mission statement for Marcel Wanders Studio taken from their website is: Here to create an environment of Love, Live with Passion and make our most exciting dreams come true. This statement coupled with a quote from Marcel in an interview with designboom: "I want to make work come alive by participation. there is a sense of love in a product - a kind of energy... (I think I'm responsible for creating an energy).I try with my designs to make a connection to real life and to contribute to the lives of people. ‘real’ products should not be done by half measures." and "I design from a mentality" crystallizes his outlook on designing. Especially in his interiors, you can see that zest for living and enjoying life come out in the overwhelming nature of his rooms. The rooms tend to be aggressive personalities in themselves, not simply content to be there, they want to interact with you and have you interact with them.

In another quote from the designboom interview, Marcel gives this advice to young designers: " I think so many young designers who see their work as ‘artistic’, and see their studio as ‘free spirit places’ won’t grow, they won’t reach a lot of people because it’s an ‘academic thing’ where it’s more done for the designers than the people." This is a very important concept in design- regardless of how "cool" or cutting-edge a product is, it is still a product. If the consumer isn't considered in the designing, it will be a failed product.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bruce Mau

Bruce Mau Designs creates brand identities for places and design organizations. They have worked with countries to museums to bookstores. What I recognized as soon as I searched, was the publications- especially the Life Style book.
Bruce Mau attended Ontario College of Art+ Design, but left prior to graduating. He founded Bruce Mau Designs, and was the Creative Director for ID Magazine in the early 90s.
One of the things that really strikes me about Bruce Mau is his articulation in communicating his theories- especially his approach to design, and the way he views this as an approach to a variety of concepts and problems.
In his Massive Change project, which is in collaboration with the Institute Without Boundaries, the concept is to use new ideas, technologies, and collaborative design to address social problems in the world. This inclusive and broad-minded approach to working and creating is something that I am seeing more of now than ever before. I think that combining disciplines or collaborating cross-discipline is the direction of future design- or at least the cutting edge where the breakthroughs will occur. A quote from AIGA describing the Massive Change project: "What if we could do anything? What if the questions surrounding design turned out to be the big questions? What if life itself became a design project? What if - as Arnold Toynbee once suggested - we were committed to an audacious, altruistic global project that imagined "the welfare of the entire human race as a practical objective"? What if design turned out to be that project? What if we succeeded?"
Bruce Mau Designs seems to act as a think tank for branding and creating identities for their clients. On their website, there is a link to The Incomplete Manifesto which lays out the philosophy behind the Bruce Mau's designs. Bruce Mau was an AIGA Medalist in 2007 recognized "or his mastery of the craft of graphic design and for his expansive, strategic sense of design’s role in shaping civilizations."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The New Jewelry: Trends and Traditions

My thoughts on The New Jewelry: Trends and Traditions by Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner....

David LaPlantz quote re: his outlook on making taken from his artist statement: "... satisfaction, a peace, a reason to smile and arise each dawn."
I completely agree with his outlook- if you lose the joy you get from creating, why continue? This is why it is important to raise your head up out if the day-to-day and look around, and take the time to recharge your creative batteries. Especially when you are working for yourself, it is easy to lose sight of the overall joy and why you're working so hard in the first place. It is precisely in that situation that it is most important to remember!
Another quote from the same statement: "Who needs and angst-ridden jeweler?".
I know that some artists create at their best when they are angsty and in turmoil. I don't. I lose perspective on the pieces underway and get frustrated easily as my feelings bleed across the boundaries of what I'm doing. Therefore, I completely see his viewpoint....

Regarding the ambition towards jewelry as sculpture- there are 2 ways to approach this according to the book:
The first way- The piece as autonomous object or the person who wears it being a part of the body sculpture.
The second way- Design-based jewelry "which tends not to 'express' anything other than how it is to be worn.... It simply 'is'."
I'm not sure that I find the above statements to be accurate.
Also, where do I fit in to that? Is it one or the other or is it a sliding scale between the two?
In answer, I'm not sure. I feel that my work and focus is changing as a necessary side effect of shifting from the marketplace back into academia, where I feel that the second way is brushed off as trite. Although there is not as huge emphasis on the first way, rather that is viewed as a valid road to follow. The notion that there needs to be an overriding statement or higher concept to the work is odd to me when presented as "the" way. I think that for some work, that school of thought is spot-on and accurate, but I think that there is certainly a place (I might argue a larger place) in the world for the second way.

Ornament v. Object
Two charged words in our field. My reaction? What are the differences between those? I think that's a separate post.....

Addressing figurative work: It seems to me that figurative work occupies a lesser status in the field, and especially in academic settings where I find that it is often flatly discouraged. It is true that figurative work, especially work done while learning falls into the common traps, but this is a valid design area, and we should be working to educate to avoid and rise above those pitfalls rather than shutting the door on figurative work because it is easier that addressing the issues.

Things I found interesting:
Rita Grosse-Ruyken
The different and clever ways that brooches attach and how the mechanisms are part of the piece- either hidden or worked into the overall design
Stanley Lechtzin's torque neckpieces
Caroline Broadhead's nylon bracelets and veil neckpiece
Otto Kunzli- addressing the societal acceptance of adornment with his work; the narrow range of what is acceptable, okay, and expected to wear and be worn during any given time period

Messengers of Modernism

My thoughts and ruminations on Messengers of Modernism (American Studio Jewelry 1940-1960)by Toni Greenbaum

"A Craftsman's Creed:
All the fine traditions and the skill...
Are mine to use to raise my craft's renown,
And mine to teach again with reverent will...
Thus do I love to serve,
With fingers that are master of the tool."
This quote taken from the book was originally published in a 1942 artists manual.

How relevant is this today? What would be the changes and/or additions to make this resonate with artists/designers today?

I feel that the pure reverential treatment of the past in terms of technical skills does a disservice to the students today. I think that the traditions of our craft are important and should be passed along and acknowledged, I feel that all too often they are placed on a pedestal and not questioned. This worship of the old tends to leave no room for the new, and in many places breeds a fear and a reaction of inferiority and skepticism when dealing with new techniques and technologies. The rose colored lens that we view the past of our craft with is doing us a great disservice today by closing our eyes to possibilities for ensuring the future of our discipline and marginalizes our discussions and concerns about where we are headed.
However, I do feel that a broad and competent set of technical skills is necessary for a designer to be able to innovate and create. So how to reconcile these thoughts in the classroom and in practice? That needs more puzzling out, and is a question that all educators of craft fields should be examining closely.

It seems like the post WWII views in the crafts movement strongly echo the Arts & Crafts movement's ideologies at the turn of the 20th century- The emphasis on creating a more fulfilling life and society through the introduction of handmade crafts into everyday life. The idea that if people are surrounded by beautiful and meaningful objects that will raise their collective consciousness and give spiritual fulfillment to their lives. Industry and mass-produced products are the soulless opposition to be overcome.
The first part of that theorem, I don't mind- I do think that raising the status of designed objects is beneficial. I don't believe that it will somehow cure the world's ills or even really uplift anyone however. I think that it simply makes the world a more aesthetically pleasing place to exist in, and that to me has a soothing effect. Plus it benefits all of us financially as well, which is also a worthy aim.
The second part of that- where industry is viewed as the enemy of the handcraft, seems to still linger in studio practices today, and I think this is exceedingly detrimental to our field. We cannot continue to exist in our hermit's cave of pure compartmentalized studio arts, neatly arranged by discipline if we are to adapt and survive in an increasingly global networked society. It only serves to marginalize us further from relevence in today's society. I feel that instead we should look toward the post-war designers who seized the opportunity to work with industry to bring design to market. Right now this is the domain of "designers", but isn't that what we are as well? Why should we not be actively seeking these opportunities out? It is true that much of the work being produced in art jewelry and in academia is not suitable for the marketplace, however the kernel of the piece- that idea that drives it, can be. Designs can be adapted and reworked with the marketplace in mind while keeping the essence or purpose that initially spawned their creation.

Art Smith- He views jewelry as an incomplete sculptural expression until it relates to the human structure... I like that idea. It addresses the ideas that jewelry can be seen as its own object, but also that it needs to relate to the body to be complete.

Artists to look into further:
Harry Bertoia- hollowware
Art Smith
Paul Lobel
Everett MacDonald
Betty Cooke (local Baltimore!)

ooh- must see!

Takashi Murakami exhibit opening at the Brooklyn Museum of Art! NY Times story here.

Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon is a UK designer who designs a wide range of objects. He dropped out of art school, and learned to weld repairing his motorcycle which then led into creating sculpture. From sculpture he moved into furniture, and was "discovered" in 1989 by the Cappellini furniture design company and they produced his S chair.

Tom Dixon is known for embracing the technology available and using it to create his designs. In a quote from his website, he says "Honestly, I can't remember ever holding an ambition to be a designer. It just slowly came over me as I rejected notions of being an artist or, a craftsman. Even today I prefer the idea of being an industrialist." This outlook is obvious from his designs, not looking at what's been done before or really what's happening tangential to him- he seems to make a place for his work if non previously exists. One thing that really strikes me about the work is the broad outlook at the "object"- particularly in his lighting- and the experimentation with materials. Some of my 3 favorites:

I love the look and delicacy of the form.

The structure of this piece really draws me- it could seem too much or too heavy, but the scale in which it was rendered makes it seem almost fragile.

I love the simplicity of the form, and that he put so much thought into the design for this piece.

Tom, along with David Begg, started Tom Dixon Designs in 2002, and they partnered with venture capitalists to for Design Research which oversees both Tom Dixon Designs and Artek, which is a furniture manufacturer that was started by Alvar Aalto. He has exhibited at numerous exhibitions- including the Milan Furniture Fair and 100% Design in London. For the London Design Festival the past 2 years he has orchestrated a public display/giveaway of his work to raise social awareness- this past year he designed and gave away a specially designed lamp that uses CF bulbs! Here's a video I found with Tom Dixon talking about sustainable design. Tom Dixon Designs will be exhibiting at the ICFF in NYC in May!
So after several weeks of trying to balance all the new stuff with old stuff, I completely ignored getting this off the ground. So now I'm playing catch up, and trying to get this blog into the daily juggling act. On to the updating...
The first half of the semester is over and done. I now feel like I have a routine, and am more at home there. My space has accumulated stuff, and the slightly frightening part is that my studio at home still looks full... or overfull depending on who you ask. Here's my space as of a couple weeks ago:

Pictures of projects underway upcoming soon, I promise!