In the contemporary open-plan office, openness can come at a price. While the set-up can foster collaboration and creativity, there are times when a little privacy or just a little peace and quiet are exactly what’s needed to solve a tricky problem or get a terrific idea down. Couple openness with environments that are heavy on cool-looking, but not so sound conscious, materials (concrete, wood and the like) and you have something akin to a perfect storm of noise. So, designers and architects will turn to products—drapes, carpet and acoustic materials—for these spaces to mitigate the impact. Trouble is, aesthetics are often not part of the equation.
For architect Anne Trelease, designing apparel and designing buildings are not so far apart. “It’s very similar to architecture,” she points out, “in that even the most mundane decisions involve time-consuming research and painstaking mock-ups, drawn, built or otherwise. And you either have to finish it or shelve it.” She should know. Her newest project is the Cartesian Scarf, an innovative take on knitted neckwear that’s design to bend and twist and to conform to a wearer’s body without being bulky.
By Michael Webb
Forget the shopping and enjoy the best seasonal gift that you or your friends could imagine: LACMA’s pitch-perfect Alexander Calder retrospective. Curated by Stephanie Barron and installed by Frank Gehry in the Resnick Gallery, it’s an ideal fusion of art and architecture, form and space, stillness and motion. Calder and Abstraction, from Avant-Garde to Iconic comprises 50 sculptures and maquettes that trace the artist’s career from 1931 to 1975, the year before his death. Most are grouped in shallow curved bays to encourage visitors to focus on one at a time and surrender to their leisurely rhythms. Gazing at the mobiles as a current of air animates one part and then another, you realize that Calder took the surreal abstractions of Joan Miró, whom he met in Paris in 1928, and added the third dimension of depth and the fourth of time. The compositions are constantly shifting so that each mobile incorporates a multitude.
By Michael Webb
Niemeyer aside, Latin American architecture has received far too little attention in the US, so this scholarly monograph on Lina Bo Bardi (1914-92) is especially welcome. It examines the career of an architect who won attention as a critic and designer in her native Italy, moved to Brazil in 1946, and struggled to realize a radical vision. In her 45 years of residence, she completed only 14 projects, but they include a house of rare distinction and two major public works, all in the city of São Paolo. The MASP Museum of Modern Art comprises glass-walled galleries suspended from two massive, long-span concrete frames, shading a public plaza and revealing the park beyond. The SESC Pompeia Leisure Center is an adult play structure: two raw concrete volumes linked with bridges and lit from biomorphic openings.
“Hugo França merges the line between art and design,” says Cristina Grajales, the founder of the eponymous Manhattan gallery and an expert on 20th-century and contemporary design. Grajales is also the curator of an upcoming exhibition of Hugo França’s work at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, part of the 2013–2014 Design at Fairchild season, itself a part of the annual Art at Fairchild exhibitions.