The Week in Design

A special Monday edition of everything good in art and design.

A whole new museum

The who’s who of the art world showed up to greet the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District on Monday night, and what I’ve read of the reception has been very positive. Some of the art darlings that attended the inauguration included Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, and Chuck Close, WWD reports. The building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries and 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space with terraces facing the High Line. The museum officially opens to the public on May 1 and will include two exhibitions: “America Is Hard To See” is a group show featuring about 400 artists and will be part of the museum’s permanent collection. Mary Heimann will have a site specific installation of colorful sculptural chairs titled “Sunset” on the museum's fifth-floor outdoor gallery.

Up and away

I often chuckle at airportgoers for various reasons—like when they’re sleeping in public with their mouths open or running late for a flight. The latter reason is such a common sight that it should be considered a sport. The folks at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport seem to think so, too, because instead of an old boring walkway, Narita now features an indoor running track, Adweek reports. This interactive project is a premature celebration of Tokyo’s role in hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Perhaps it’s a tiny bit in advance, but, hey, people will be running on that path regardless.

Game on!

People are hooked on Minecraft, apparently. The game has sold 54 million copies since its release in 2011. Whle all this is news to me (not sorry), Google informs me that players “build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world.” (Oh! So, like Tetris!?) Good news for fans—now you can sort of have a life and continue to dominate the virtual world. Gameband + Minecraft launched a wearable wrist device that allows gamers to play all the time, Huffington Post reports. The device ($80) automatically backs up your at-home game via the cloud so you can easily begin where you left off.

Wheel o’ fun

About 300 Colombians honored their favorite pastime of cycling at la Plaza de Bolívar in Bogotá, in an attempt to break the record for the world’s largest bicycle. The current record is held in the United States. Organizers must first raise enough money for the title to be officially considered as a Guinness World Record holder.

Good to go

The idea of charging your phone on the go may have been a dream just a couple of years ago, but that technology is with us today. There are several ways to never be without a full tank, but none of these options have been particularly stylish until now. VanDerWaals, a handbag company that develops wearable technology by which consumers can change the color of their purse with a free app, is now adding another cool element to their high-functioning products. VanDerWaals is now adding charging capabilities installed right inside the purse—you can easily plug in your smartphone, tablet, or other portable devices.

New York will get a floating food island

2015 ABOG award recipients.

This week, A Blade of Grass (ABOG), an organization and blog devoted to nurturing socially engaged art, announced the recipients of the 2015 ABOG Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art. Seven artists and one collective will recieve a one-year fellowship that combines $20,000 with strategic assistance tools, video documentation, and other resources. After a nationwide open call that yielded 500 applicants, some of the projects chosen include a plan to use teen artists' video games to spark dialogue in Chicago (The Street Arcade); a new media initiative via the San Quentin Prison Report Radio Project that facilitates an ongoing collaboration between incarcerated men in San Quentin State Prison and reporters; and Harriet's Apothecary, an intergenerational healing village that provides accessible, affordable community spaces for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and allies. My favorite projects?

Sol Aramendi's Apps for Power, a smartphone-based app developed in collaboration with immigrant day laborers, artists, organizers, developers, and lawyers, will fight wage theft by allowing users to safely share their experiences and report abusive or neglectful employers. And Mary Mattingly's Swale, an “itinerant food forest that will function as a floating island in New York City,” might just be the first time we’ve ever been excited about a food forest.

Mary Mattingly's Waterpod (2009), just one of her many water-based works.

Are you a friend of Bruce?

The Bruce High Quality Foundation, "Pizzatopia", Foam, wood and plastic, Diameter 330 cm, 2009.

Tomorrow in NYC Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU) will hold their Annual Benefit Dinner and Art Auction, this year honoring Phil and Shelley Aarons and The Guerrilla Girls Broadband. Hosted inside Palazzo Chupi, the monumental home of artist Julian Schnabel, the evening will include a live auction featuring artworks by Cindy Sherman, Will Cotton, Francesco Clemente, and Kiki Smith, among others, and will raise money for BHQFU, New York City’s only free art school and community space. Founded in 2009 by The Bruce High Quality Foundation, the school is meant to act as an alternative to the BFA/MFA educational model of “attenuating debt.” BHQFU holds weekly courses, public events, and innovative artist residency programs, and currently serves over 700 students annually. Though there’s no word on how the public can get a ticket to the illustrious event, you can still donate to this worthy cause here. It’s a shame thoughwe know their last benefit had a pretty interesting nacho pinwheel.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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