Another busy year is nearly in the books for our industry partner AIA|LA. While the coming month is quieter than some, there are still several compelling opportunities. First, though, we wanted to take a moment to congratulate the new members of the organization’s 2015 Board of Directors. President: Ted Hyman, FAIA—ZGF Architects, LLP; Vice President/President-Elect: Debra Gerod, FAIA—Gruen Associates; Secretary, Douglas Teiger, AIA—Abramson Teiger Architects; Treasurer: Douglas Noble, FAIA, Ph.D—USC School of Architecture; Past President: Andrea Cohen Gehring, FAIA—DLR Group; Directors: Jim Auld, AIA, Altoon Partners LLP; Jeffrey Averill, FAIA—UCLA; Gail Peter Borden, AIA, Borden Partnership, LLP & USC; Gwynne Pugh, FAIA—Gwynne Pugh Urban Studio;
An idealized portrait of the crumbling Cuban capital, which offers very incomplete coverage of the modernist treasures of the 1940s and 1950s. The subtitle is more exact: The early decades of the 20th century saw a wonderful flowering of Beaux Arts and Art Déco, including a scaled down version of the US Capitol and the exuberant Bacardi Building. Those decorative styles occupy more than half this book, but the images must have been extensively photo-shopped to achieve such pristine elegance. In reality most of these houses and public buildings are shabby and decayed, even on the verge of collapse.
“They came because the rent was low. It was all warehouses and people could open showrooms and not pay the prices at the mart,” Greg Firlotte says of the beginnings of what was to become the West Hollywood Design District. “And it was unincorporated, so there were fewer restrictions and more freedom to do things you couldn’t within the city. There was a Wild West aspect where Bohemian types could start things.”
Firlotte, a Design District and design industry veteran, was tapped to curate a new exhibition, Decades of Design, 1948–2014, opening November 19, at the West Hollywood Library. The show traces the history of area via its story as a design mecca, from its beginnings in 1948, when the Carl Marias carpet showroom first opened (after moving several times, the company is still in business in WeHo). Other seminal events covered include the opening of the Eames-designed Herman Miller showroom and the arrival of the PDC in 1976. “The whole district changed dramatically then,” Firlotte points out. “It brought along a lot of other businesses.”
Many of the show’s images have never been seen by the public. “I started looking through personal and corporate archives,” says Firlotte. “I had a lot of ‘Oh my God’ moments,” he says, including coming across the first ever map of the district, published in 1964. He was able to mine Herman Miller's collection, that of Phyllis Morris and those of other notable firms and individuals.
Once the show closes, it will live on as a permanent online archive, preserving the legacy of a critical piece of design history. “There are a lot of things for the design to trade to discover,” notes Firlotte.
Architects have a long and storied history when it comes to designing furniture? It's a space to play and experiment. While furniture and furnishings might be the natural, other practitioners have turned their attentions to other forms. Laurel Consuelo Broughton, who trained at SCI-Arc and serves as an adjunct on the architecture faculty at USC, is one such designer. She's the force behind Welcome Projects and its off-shoot, Welcome Companions, an endeavor that "that reinterprets everyday sartorial accessories and objects through a formal and surrealist lens." Recently, she collaborated with artist Miranda July on her most recent collection of accesories, which includes a handbag, the Miranda, named for July. We chatted with Broughton about her project and the opportunities it offers her, not to mention the ways it has informed her approach to design.
By Michael Webb
An invaluable compilation of 50 museums, completed or begun in the past decade, all over China. Jacobsen has selected these projects for their architectural value, and she has cast a wide net, from MAD's Ordos Museum—a scale-less blob that anchors a raw new development in Inner Mongolia, to the Museum of Handcraft Paper, a woodsy cluster by Trace Architecture in a remote southwestern village. There's a good mix of Chinese and Western firms, and the Pritzker Prize laureates include Wang Shu of Hangzhou.