Month: June, 2011

INSTALLED: Prince Alfred Park, Sydney

Another stage in the City of Sydney’s $20m Prince Alfred Park refurbishment has been unveiled. DAE‘s Beiramar Modular Bench from Spain is sweeping the Surry Hills locals off their feet with it’s cool curves and customised vivid white coat!  The expansive parkland already boasts many of BD Barcelona‘s Banco Catalano, a Bench that is modelled on Gaudi‘s inconic seating designs from Barcelona’s Parc Guell.

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The Hills Are Alive…

Pierre Sauvageot is a Frenchman that hears music in the wind… and he wants us to hear it too.

Late last month the eccentric Frenchman populated the fields above the town of Grenoble in France with some of the strangest looking installations, all designed to make light music of the Alpine breeze.

Harmonic Fields is an immersive experience that debuted in the Netherlands in 2009 but was inspired 20 years earlier by traditional Indonesian Scarecrows that harnessed natures gusts to emit sounds that rang across the rice fields. Building on this concept and exploring traditional wind harp techniques and wind chime styles, Sauvageot (originally a Jazz trumpeter but later a composer and artist) saw fit to make sweet music from one of natures most fleeting elements.  Sometimes gusting, at other times barely a whisper the beauty in this work is the reliance on Mother Nature to pick up her baton and conduct the show.   Sauvageot describes the creation as:

a symphonic march for 1,000 aeolian instruments and moving audience

Perhaps not immediately “musical” by conventional standards, the installation is none-the-less an aural treat and the last week the UK was able to wander amongst 500 odd aeolian instruments as the artworks were displayed in Cumbria.

Harmonic Fields is a reaction against decibels and megawatts. It is music in its simplest, most primal form.

The plan is for the works to be exhibited in New York and further afield throughout the next 12 months.

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The Vikings Are Coming! (To America)…

Seemingly not content with the immense responsibility and honour that comes with designing the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on the site of New York’s ‘Ground Zero’, Norway’s Snøhetta Architecture firm are also charged now with the tricky task of expanding the all but “built in” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

Unveiled this week in San Francisco, the design has been fairly well received by press and public alike. Swiss Architect Mario Botta‘s original design sees the mass of the brick clad structure stepping away from the street as it is restricted on three sides. Unable to go up or left or right, Snøhetta have capitalised on the sliver of land behind the site and have extended the reach as far as possible within the confined footprint they have been afforded.  Already being likened to a cruise ship in shape we cant help but think it might more closely resemble a Sandcrawler from Star Wars, that said, the development will enable more outdoor use of space creating sculpture gardens on rooftops as well as additional entry points and a dynamic interplay with what is very much a high-rise, urban environment.

Cleverly, the sheer scale of the addition and its visual impact is somewhat reduced by way of the occassional slices and terraces that ripple along the buildings 100 metre length.  The intention was to tie the building visually to it’s older sister yet still very much hold it’s own in character and inject it with a successful use of space in what is an awkardly proportioned site.  The new building almost seems to cheekily peer over the shoulder of Botta’s Post-Modern design.

Expanding to accommodate the huge collection of Modern Art bequeathed by the late founder of Gap Clothing: Donald Fisher, the internal spaces and exterior assembly are still far from finalised with the designers terming this weeks press gathering as more a “preview of a preview“.

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Art Imitating Strife…

In recent years, the boundaries between art and design have become more and more blurred. Today, it is not the object itself, but rather its economic functionality that determines its categorization. Astonishingly, it is often customs officials who subjectively decide what constitutes art and design based on their personal views and erratic local tax laws.

This is the premise that drives the work of Berlin’s conceptual product design practice Beta Bank, a firm intent on exploring the  interdependence of art, the sciences, design and economy driven factors on the value of and difference between art and functional designed goods.

This June at Design Miami, publishing house Gestalten Berlin will launch the book Taxing Art, a look at Beta Banks studies in challenging the:

effect of traditional, bureaucratic procedures on innovative work.

Illustrated here are their pieces: Galila Gelb Chair and the Pyramid Table.  With the swipe of a hand, we can subvert the use of each object, and in an instant revise its pupose from design object into sculpture.  Under German tax law, items deemed to be works of art attract a 7% VAT while functional objects are considered worthy of 19% VAT.  Beta Bank‘s B-Side Table, unveiled at the Dilmos Gallery at the recent Milan Fair was a commissioned piece that deliberately set about to contradict the VAT classification by posing legitimately as both a “non-functional’ art and a practical side table all at once.

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