Monthly Archives: November 2012

Indy Island

Take a look at this exciting opportunity to spend six-weeks on Indy Island!  Fair warning, this is not your typical camping trip…
The Indianapolis Museum of Art is issuing a call for proposals for a six-week summer 2013 residency on Andrea Zittel’s Indy Island within the IMA’s 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. Graduate and undergraduate students and professionals in the fields of art, design, architecture and performing arts are encouraged to apply to customize and reside on Indy Island.

Anchored in the 35-acre lake within 100 Acres, Indy Island is a habitable, “off-the-grid” structure accessible by rowboat. At about 20 feet in diameter, the island serves as an experimental living structure that examines our daily needs. Residents collaborate with Zittel by adapting and modifying the island’s structure according to their individual needs.

Despite Indy Island‘s inherent limitations, the structure and residency are relatively open-ended. The aims of past projects were diverse, including:
• In 2010, Herron School of Art and Design (Indianapolis) students Jessica Dunn and Michael Runge activated the installation through a series of visitor interactions based on a system of exchange with their project titled Give and Take.
• The 2011 island resident was Katherine Ball, a student of Portland State University’s Art + Social Practice MFA program (Portland, Oregon). Over the course of her residency, titled No Swimming, Ball initiated a series of ecologically remedial interventions in the Park’s lake and engaged a local audience through a series of public programs centered on the topic of water.
• For his 2012 residency titled INDIGENOUS: Into the Wild with A. Bitterman, Kansas City-based artist A. Bitterman created a series of sculptural interventions throughout the Park that prompted visitors to question their relationship with “the wild.” To further this inquiry, Bitterman acted as an element of nature himself, and relied on visitors for food and refrained from verbal communication.

It’s important that the 2013 residency addresses concerns not previously explored. There must be a strong rationalization for why the proposed project should take place on Indy Island. Proposals that don’t specifically relate to the island or 100 Acres will not be considered.

To apply:
Apply for the residency at There, applicants can find photos and renderings of Indy Island, as well as further details about the selection process.

Proposals are due Friday, January 11, 2013, and should include a brief written statement and renderings of the proposed project. The residency must last six weeks or longer and be conducted between May and September 2013.



Texas based furniture company POLaRT is taking design to a whole new level.  In true avant-garde form, POLaRT experiments with color, form, size, and material.

By taking vintage silhouettes and fabricating them in a variety of bright colors, old design elements feel fresh and contemporary.  Most interestingly, POLaRT does not use wood.  All pieces are fabricated from polyurethane injection.  In fact, the name comes from the aRTistic way POLymers are used.

What’s more, POLaRT has pieces for almost every space in your house!  They provide indoor and outdoor furniture… as well as MINI furniture!

Take a look at some of the collection below!

Furniture… for the mini’s in your life!

And now the outdoor collection…

When life gives you magazines… MAKE FURNITURE!

Belgian designer Jens Praet has finally solved the age old question:  What do you do with all of your old Elle Decor Magazines?

Showcasing at next months Design Miami, Praet’s Shredded collection was designed in collaboration with Elle Decor and speaks as an ode to the immense amount of paper waste produced every day.  Each piece is made from  5 to 26 kg of shredded magazine.  To construct these pieces, the paper was combined with resin, formed, and left to dry.  The resulting product similar to wood.

In the words of Praet:  “Paper waste returns to our living or working area as functional furniture, bringing to mind just what little thought we give to general use of paper.”

If the shoe doesn’t fit… customize!

This is a great story that shows the value of customized furniture.

H2O Architects had the challenge of designing a 550 square foot apartment in Les Menuires, a sky resort in the French Alps.  To avoid clutter and to make the space as open as possible, H2O choose to build the necessary furniture into the layout of the space.

The result is a beautiful, comfortable, modern-day cabin!

The space includes four beds – with curtains for privacy -, two bathrooms, a reading nook, storage space for ski equipement, kitchen, and even a bit of open living space!

The result is a great lesson in the importance of working with the space that you have.  A beautiful piece of furniture will never look right if it doesn’t fit correctly in the space.  Especially when working with small or unique spaces, customization can be the best way to get the most functional results.

News on Newson

Take a look at this inspiring vido by Crane TV, featuring world renowned Australian designer Marc Newson.

We especially love his comments about design as the universal language and an international industry.

He goes on to say that looking back, this period of history will be regarded as a second industrial revolution.  There certainly has been astounding technological advancements in the past ten years alone – and with developments in technology come developments in design.  In a moment of cynicism, Newson laments that despite all of the progress in society, he feels sorry that his daughter will never know a world without an iPod.  Is this a sentiment that every generation feels?  Or do you think that our world is getting too technical too fast?

Ponder these thoughts, watch the video, and then take a peek at some of Marc Newson’s famed pieces below!


Bunky Bunk Bed


Wood Chair


Random Pak Sofa


Plastic Orgone Chair


Nimrod Chair


Micarta Chair


Orgone Lounge


Lockheed Lounge


Gello Table


Felt Chair – Felt


Extruded Table 3


Coast Chair

Brad Pitt: Furniture Designer

It’s in the news, so we gotta talk about.

In case you haven’t heard, Brad Pitt’s latest role is that of furniture designer.  Pitt has long been an architecture enthusiast, and tells Architecture Digest that he has been “doodling ideas for buildings and furniture since the early 1990s, when I first discovered [Charles Rennie] Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright.”  Collaborating with custom designer Frank Pollaro, the collection is set to unveil in a private exhitbition in New York from November 13 through November 15.  The limited series includes club chairs, dining tables, glass-top side tables, a bathtub for two in Statuario Venato marble, and a king-sized bed with a cantilevered bench, exposed nickel trusses, integrated shagreen footpads.  The pieces will be available in a variety of finishes, but a limited number will be manufactured.  As for the price, AD states the following:

Though Pollaro declines to discuss specific figures, he notes that his prices are “typically at the highest end of the custom-furnishings scale, and these will be up there, even north of that.” But, he adds, eventually certain pieces may be adapted for larger-scale production, in different materials—a chair in molded plastic, say. “The same chair we charge $45,000 for might sell for a fraction of that,” he says.

Take a sneak peek at a few of the pieces below.  Has Pitt found his second calling?

King size bed.  Only nine are set to be manufactured.

Marble tub for two.

White patent leather chair.

Side table.

Side table finished in 24-karat gold.

Dining table.

Dining table with metal finishes.

The bases are composed of one continuous line, which holds different meanings for Pitt.  “It started with my introduction to Mackintosh’s Glasgow rose, which is drawn with one continuous line,” he says. “But for me there is something more grand at play, as if you could tell the story of one’s life with a single line.”


Moscow Design Museum

This is a must read piece from the New York Times about the creation of the new Moscow Design Museum.

Author Jim Lewis does a beautiful job describing the metamorphosis of a conversation, to an idea… all the way until that idea becomes a MUSEUM!  We at Unbranded Designs can understand this process, both in creating a business and in designing furniture.  The story of the Moscow Design Museum is one of creativity and perseverance, and serves as an inspiration for everyone working to turn an idea into reality.  Read the article in it’s entirety below!

New Kids On the Bloc

This is how it happens: you’re young, you’re frustrated, you have very little to lose. You and your friends sit around a shabby studio, drinking and talking excitedly about what you’re going to do. The talk turns into a plan. You meet someone with a little bit of pull, show them the plan, get another meeting; and you’re talking, always talking. Soon enough, someone says yes, you have a sponsor or two, a commitment, and then — quickly — you have resources and a program, and then a building, and suddenly you’re an institution. You are, in this instance, the Moscow Design Museum, and you’re about to open, in a huge and magnificent 200-year-old building called the Manege, right by the Kremlin. It’s like dreaming up an exhibition space over whiskey shots in the East Village and finding yourself, a year later, in a building on the National Mall.

There are four core members of the team that founded the Design Museum. They range in age from early 30s to 40; half are men and half are women. All have held multiple jobs: curator, architect, designer, journalist, artist, teacher. They’re very much a crew: they hustle and joke a bit, they pass the conversation to each other quickly and easily. The energy never flags, the rhythm rarely falters, and the effect is both charming and relentless. Here in Moscow there’s opportunity, and quite a lot of money looking for somewhere to go.

Their M.C. is Alexandra Sankova, a 33-year-old graphic designer with an unnervingly direct gaze and a never-stop energy. In the two and a half days I spent in her company — through dinner, a trip out to the country, a tour of the Manege, and a very late night of very heavy drinking in the half-lit studio of one of her colleagues (Velvet Underground on the stereo, bottles of Stolichnaya lined up on the table, books being pulled off the shelves and passed around) — she almost never stopped talking, in more or less fluent English, until the sheer wear of it turned into a curious kind of charm, almost childlike in its lack of guile.

A couple of years ago she was working for the Dutch Embassy, as a cultural affairs adviser, when she started dreaming of a museum of her own, one that would house the history of Russia in objects of everyday use. Why wasn’t there already such a thing? The Soviet avant-garde was central to Modernism: El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenko, working off ideas from Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin, both designed revolutionary posters, and Constructivist architecture had a strong influence on the Bauhaus. And even more ordinary objects bore that curious and unmistakable air of isolation and striving. You know a Russian radio when you see one: you recognize the lines, at once sleek and ungainly. You recognize the off-kilter futurism.

But in their country of origin, these things were ignored — the more radical work suppressed by later Soviet regimes, the more banal forgotten when perestroika reset Russian history. All that’s survived in consciousness are baubles like the video game Tetris, campy artifacts like the Lomo camera and the Lada car, and — perhaps the most enduring design to come out of the Eastern bloc — the Kalashnikov rifle.

In fact, when the Soviet Union collapsed, its design collapsed with it. Fashion, furniture, technology: “Everything is imported,” Sankova told me, her eyes widening in frustration. “Ikea is making incredible business here.” But the last few years have brought a half dozen books in English about this lost and unremembered world; and now here’s the museum crew, the youngest of them too young to remember the years before 1989. They see Soviet-era design not as propaganda but simply as patrimony. “Part of the purpose of the museum was to change perception,” Natalia Goldchteine told me. She is 23. “We wanted the museum to give context to everyday things, because to say that Russia doesn’t have design history is incorrect. It may be good or bad but it’s still there, we should know it, it’s our history.”

Sankova and her crew started putting together a prospectus, forming alliances, setting up meetings with potential sponsors. They began interviewing anyone they could find who still remembered the old days, and collecting what existed — posters, tableware, vacuum cleaners — in some cases simply by taking them from their parents. They’re still trying to hunt down whatever’s out there, but it won’t be easy: a lot has been discarded, magazines and journals tossed, buildings in disrepair. As we sat in the plaza of one of Moscow’s infamous Seven Sisters — Stalinist schlock, though it frankly looks quite nice these days — someone pulled out a laptop and started showing me the collection they’d managed to put together so far: radios and clocks, flatware, reusable chain link grocery bags, all cleaned up and looking new. Later, they took me to see a fine old Constructivist apartment house with a radical, almost Le Corbusier-like design, and we weren’t so lucky. It was out by the American embassy and it was practically a ruin, though people still lived there. We couldn’t get inside, which was fine by me, since it looked like it was ready to collapse.

This is the way it happens: you get one contact from another, you keep talking, you remain both focused and flexible. At first the idea was to outfit a large bus as a mobile exhibition space and drive it around from town to town. The museum’s founders collected more than a dozen supporters and partners. “We said, ‘We are going to go to the banks, to the foundations, we need endowment funds, we need private sponsorships, we’re going to run Kickstarter campaigns,’ ” Sankova told me. “It was like an old Party meeting and we were Young Pioneers, and we said, ‘We are ready. We want. We will do. We know how to do.’ ” The waters began to part: registration with the Moscow city government is typically a slow process through a bureaucratic thicket. But Sankova met a man on an airplane who turned out to be an adviser to the minister of justice; she gave him her pitch, he steered her in the right direction, and a month later they were on their way.

“We are ready. We want.” And then they got. The Manege is a stately edifice, built after the War of 1812 — 100,000 square feet in the center of Moscow. When it wasn’t empty, it was mostly stocked with trade shows and conventions. Then last year the city appointed a new minister of culture, who decided the building was better used as an exhibition space. In July, he chose a curator to run the place, to whom Sankova had reached out months earlier; the curator immediately chose the design museum as one of four institutions to occupy the lower level. The museum’s first show, “Soviet Design: 1950s to 1980s,” opens this month; 10 more exhibitions are planned, on everything from film posters to Olympic graphics.

The Moscow Design Museum has gone from idea to reality in record time. The elements of setting up such an institution — collecting, planning budgets and shows, insurance, coming up with a look for posters and signage, holding press conferences — have been foreshortened drastically, and as the opening nears, the process is gaining speed. But with each new deadline, the crew behind the museum seems to get more animated and more organized — and to double their support. How did it happen so quickly and without a misstep? “We will do. We know how to do,” they said to anyone who would listen. If someone came to you like that, wouldn’t you give them what they asked for? You’d think they were the ones you’d been waiting for, and you’d give them anything they wanted.

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