Has anyone else noticed that post-recession magazines are actually getting thicker? Like, longer, but also made of paper so earthy and tactile it starts to feel suspiciously like cardstock? These new alternative quarterlies blur the lines more and more between book and magazine culture with their strip bindings and meticulously designed layouts. Thusly, I’ve decided that they deserve just a little bit more of my time. Real time. Not internet skimming-tabbing-rssing-pinning time, but fingers and hands and sitting at the kitchen table with a thing time. So, for each post I’ll be IRL reading another periodical and sharing my thoughts on both the publication in general and the issue in specific.
This week: apartamento, issue #08
Vibe: Aggressively non-design design aesthetic, “everyday life interiors,” overexposed, grainy photos populated with overgrown houseplants, visible storage containers and scruffy spaniards (while their scope is international, Apartamento’s editorial team is enviously based in Barcelona)
The graphic design in this issue is clearly inspired by one of its cover stories, an interview with former Memphis (the iconic 80s Italian design collective, not the second city of Tennessee) member Nathalie du Pasquier. Another of several recent iterations of a renewed interest in Memphis’ buoyant postmodern aesthetic, apartamento‘s binding and the photo-frames of the issue’s layout draw from Pasquier’s graphic and colorful textile designs for the collective and her painting since Memphis’ dissolution in 1987.
The interview, sandwiched smack in the middle of the volume and titled “Arranging Things,” is an apt organizational tool for the issue as a whole. For a magazine brought together with the intention of showing how fancy people “really” live (a laudable but fraught goal), issue #08 shows a whole lot of styled and staged spaces. The cover, for example, with its planar arrangement of monochromatic framed photos and drawings, horizontally intruding from the picture plane in black and cream on a similarly hued leather ottoman. Precariously arranged baked goods and human bodies, in turn, litter the pages in unlikely and uncomfortable configurations.
An interview on the contemporary design market between dealer Patrick Parrish, designer Rafael de Cardenas and Phillips du Pury specialist Alexander Hemingway perpetuates the feeling of instability in the field, teetering between a continued commitment to “high design” and an un-ironic move towards “fat and squishy suburban couches.” There’s a real, sincere interest in authenticity here, with a heated debate breaking out (in 2012, mind you) about the value of Julius Schulman’s iconic, and heavily staged, architectural photographs in Los Angeles versus the opulent marble lions and macrame planters that Mies wouldn’t allow photographed in Edith Farnsworth’s weekend house in the Chicago suburbs.
So, what gives? Clearly, apartamento is onto something as one of the most popular of this new wave of alt-periodicals. Is the construction of the non-aesthetic something you feel is a move away from design-as-such, or just another cultivated look? Is “interiors” even the right descriptor for this makeshift lifestyle of studied cool? And if undesigned spaces are the new normal, do they need a magazine?
A look at roller derby in Chicago
Hell on Wheels from F Newsmagazine on Vimeo.
By Jenn Swann, Staff Writer
JS: How long have you been a member of The Fury?
Sargentina: I’ve been a member of the Fury for two seasons, and about to start my third. FURY DOMINATION!
JS: What does it take to be a derby girl with the Windy City Rollers?
Sargentina: It takes a lot of commitment, time, and heart. It takes a strong will, a sense of competition, and a little bit of crazy.
JS: What’s the art to choosing a good roller derby name?
Sargentina: It’s nice when it means something to you, and when it’s clever. Really, it needs to be something you’d be comfortable hearing over the loudspeaker and also having it become your alter ego. I LOVE it when I hear a really clever new name. Fun!
JS: There are four competing teams in the Chicago league. Are the teams divided by neighborhoods, or how does a member of the Windy City Rollers choose which team to join?
Sargentina: You don’t choose your team, they choose you. Basically, when you make it through tryouts onto the league, you join our farm team, the Haymarket Rioters. From there, you learn derby basics and skating agility/stamina. When you’re ready, you can be drafted onto one of four home teams. I’ve really always felt like there must be some “sorting hat” a la Harry Potter somewhere, because it just seems like skaters end up belonging to the teams onto which they are drafted. Like it’s meant to be.
JS: Are there team rivalries within the Windy City Rollers league?
Sargentina: Oh yeah! Big time. I mean, you always want to be at the top, but there are teams you certainly want to see on the bottom! Isn’t that the meaning of competition?
JS: The Windy City Rollers are hosting the 2010 Women’s Roller Derby Championship, Uproar at the Lakeshore, in November. What can we expect to see at the championship this year?
Sargentina: AMAZING derby. This sport has continued to evolve, and has truly gotten to what I can almost consider “professional derby.” The women skate faster, hit harder, juke quicker and are just overall the most intense I’ve ever seen. Plus, you’ll see a hometown win if the WCR has their way!
In a recent issue of Wired magazine, Robert Capps details the success of the “good enough” product over that of the “great,” while Gary Wolf discusses why craigslist is “a failure” due to its adherence to a primitive interface and infrastructure. While designers have generally been pushed to either continously improve upon that which exists or create that which never existed, a fundamental question arises out of this situation: should that which is not broken be “fixed.” Is innovation always necessary? Read the two articles and decide for yourself.
By Laura Goetz
Our own student chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America recently had its first meeting of the year on October 7. Elections took place and the officers elected were: Lynn Lim, Chair; David Krell and Neva Everett, Co-Vice Chairs; and Eric Hotchkiss and Daniel Sommer, Co-Treasurers. The chapter is quickly putting together a schedule of events in an attempt to make design fun during rare free time. Join us on October 21 for our first event – a screening of an episode of the BBC’s new reality design show, Design for Life, hosted by Philippe Starck. For time and location details and to learn more about what’s going on, join the IDSA@SAIC group on Facebook or email email@example.com.
The University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is hosting 30 designers, critics, and thinkers. During October 9-10, 2009, these experts will talk about how design is evolving across the disciplines of architecture, and landscape architecture as well as interactive, industrial, and interior design. Free and open to the public, the invited speakers will give 15-minute presentations, while faculty and students will moderate dinner discussions. For more information and to register, please visit the website.