April 14th, 2014

Meet the Designers for PP 5.1: Brad Ascalon

As we gear up for Product Placement 5.1 on April 23, I thought there were some folks you should meet: the amazingly talented designers who will be speaking. First up — and yes, specifically because his name begins with an A — is Brad Ascalon. Brad’s grandfather was a noted sculptor and industrial designer, and his father creates large-scale art installations throughout North America, so it’s not surprising that Brad’s joined the family business, so to speak. His eponymous multidisciplinary design studio specializes in furniture, packaging, consumer products, and environment design, as well as site-specific sound composition and installation art projects.

An honesty of materials and sense of humor inform his works, which I’d dub warm modernism: He eschews excess or decoration, but softens the minimalism with curves, tactile surfaces, and rich colors. Some of his recent hits:

Produced by Mitab, the Casion sofa (2014) is based on a typeface and features an upholstered body and polished silver frame.

The Atlas series of occasion tables -- created exclusively for Design Within Reach -- feature American walnut legs and a marble or travertine surface.

April 7th, 2014

PP 5.1: Designing with Metal – Speakers Announced!

So who are going to be the speakers who kick off Product Placement’s fifth –- fifth! — year of designer talks, mental mayhem, and lovely wine and snacks? Glad you asked. The presenters for the April 23 edition at Rockwell Group will be:

Brad Ascalon, whose practice skates between product, packaging, and furniture design
• Jeweler and sculptor Darcy Miro
Anna Rabinowicz / RabLabs, whose designs are inspired by nature and biomimcry
• The wire artist, sculptor, and product designer Rodger Stevens

Doors open at 6:30PM, with presentations beginning at 7PM. The event is free but space is limited. Please RSVP with your name and number in your party to thisisproductplacement@gmail.com (Due to demand, only those who receive a confirmation will be able to attend.)

Looking forward to seeing you there!

April 2nd, 2014

We’re Back with More Product Placement Events!

The very limited-edition Vivienne, born 6/6/12

Loyal Product Placement fans, we’ve missed you. While the past year plus has taken us in some creative directions of our own — Kimberly joined the folks at design ecommerce site fab.com, while I created some limited-edition design of my own — we’re back on track for season 5 of Product Placement. Our friends at Rockwell Group are again hosting the spring 2014 series, with the first date Wednesday, April 23, from 6.30-8.30pm. The theme is the use of metal in design, and the full slate of speakers will be unveiled tomorrow. But in the meantime: Beat the crowd and RSVP with your name and party to thisisproductplacement (at) gmail (dot) com.

More soon! Julie

May 11th, 2012

Product Placement 4.5: Heart of Glass, 5/20, with Harry Allen, Omer Arbel, Bec Brittain, Johan Liden

Product Placement 4.5: Heart of Glass
Sunday, May 20, 1-3 pm (presentations start promptly at 1:30pm)
269 11th Avenue (btwn W. 27th and W. 28th Sts.)

As we continue with our spring term of guerilla Product Placements, we evoke our love of Blondie and invite you to our latest edition, held as part of ICFF extravaganza WANTED Design. This installment explores a range of innovative glass items and will feature:

• Product and interior powerhouse Harry Allen

• Architect and Bocci creative director Omer Arbel

• Lighting designer extraordinaire Bec Brittain

• Aruliden principal and product provocateur Johan Liden

Open to all with no RSVP required, although trade guests may pre-register for free at 2012.wanteddesignnyc.com/attend

April 10th, 2012

Artist Paul Chan’s E-Book Designs

"Wht is a Berlusconi?” (part of Paul Chan’s “Wht Is...” series

Video, drawing, collage, installation and site-specific projects: Paul Chan’s art takes many forms. In 2010, after showing his work at both Minneapolis’ Walker Art Gallery and New York’s New Museum, he started the e-book imprint Badlands Unlimited (distributed through D.A.P.) to explore the expanded opportunities of digital publishing. His roster comprises books of multimedia work by himself and others, including the dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer. Yet the cornerstone of the endeavor is the “What Is…” series, each of which features layers of visual and textual information about subjects ranging from the Italian politician/media magnate Silvio Berlusconi to the nature of lust.

Interior pages of "Wht is a Berlusconi?” e-book

Chan’s inspired by his experience working with moving images to create not exactly 360-degree multimedia experience, but ones enhanced by appropriate additions: audio files of Rainer reading her work to video clips of a work at a gallery. Ironically, thinking about how iPads and Kindles give amorphous electronic files weight has led him to contemplate how the book might looked on paper—a medium he’s also trying out in the form of limited-edition paperback versions of some of the titles.

Other Badlands Unlimited titles

April 9th, 2012

Audi’s Product Placement: R18 Ultra Chair by Kram/Weisshaar

The prototype R18 Ultra Chair (photo courtesy of Tom Vack).

You’ve got to give a tip of the hat to luxury car brands. In their race to differentiate themselves and each new model, they’ve continued to experiment with different platforms and media, from BMW’s shortform films to Aston Martin’s art collection. Audi’s latest gambit—a chair made by the Munich- and Stockholm-based design duo of Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar—plays upon the auto manufacturer’s interest in products and technology. Dubbed the R18 Ultra (after Audi’s Le Mans-winning racecar), the seat will have its shape crowdsourced from users at next week’s Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile. The chair’s final form will be presented to the public in December 2012 at collectors’ fair Design Miami.

The many sensors on the R18 Ultra prototype.

The R18 Ultra prototype chair comprises three main components: a carbon composite seat, a carbon-rubber composite backrest, and aluminum alloy legs. During the Salone, Audi and the designers will set up the chair in a testing booth in the courtyard of the city’s Palazzo Clerici and invite visitors to sit on it. Each user’s unique physical impact on the seat will be registered in realtime via industrial sensors integrated into the chair; the results will be displayed via a multi-colored simulation on a wall inside the booth. At the end of the week, Kram and Weisshaar will study the gathered data and optimize the final product accordingly, shedding every excess gram of weight.

A simulation of the Milan installation

The experiment, claims Audi, will elucidate Ultra (the car’s) principles of “state-of-the-art lightweight construction, technology, and design…[beginning] with the raw materials sourced for production all the way through various manufacturing stages.” Fair enough, but it seems like an awfully esoteric way to show off the auto’s gee-wizz advances.

The inspiration: the R18 Ultra race car.

April 9th, 2012

Branding Trend: Chairs that ‘Remix’ Classic Designs

Front Design’s Collage chairs for Gemla

I’m all for recycling. But recycling design forms and ideas? Depending on your personal take—as well as the actual amount of originality involved—it can be an homage to an icon or sheer laziness masquerading as new product. Case in point: Front Design’s new Collage arm and lounge chairs for Gemla. Introduced in February at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the wooden custom-made pieces combine classic and contemporary motifs from the 150-year-old Swedish furniture company’s archives. The chair’s seat and backrest are highly customizable, available in leather, fabric, or webbing and in a range of colors. The manufacturing methods echo Gemla’s traditional craftsmen-heavy protocols, as well as its wooden materials. The result is pleasant, but I can’t help feel that this is like a Mark Ronson remix of a PJ Harvey tune: a name-brand reinterpretation of something that didn’t need to be reworked—especially as so many elements stayed the same as the original for whatever reason. Read the rest of this entry »

February 3rd, 2012

Product Placement at MAD: Design for Kids Feb. 16 @ 7pm

What’s going to be the first Product Placement event of 2012? Glad you asked. Kimberly and I are talking the series to the Museum of Arts & Design Feb. 16 for a special fundraising version that’s part of the museum’s The Home Front 2012: American Design Nowseries. The evening’s topic is design for kids, and the speakers will be a mix of new names and old friends:

DwellStudio founder and creative director Christiane Lemieux
Rockwell Group principal and studio leader Barry Richards
• Furniture, lighting, and toy designer extraordinaire David Weeks

The details:
Feb. 16 at 7pm
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
 New York, NY 10019

$12 general /
 $10 members and students
 / $6 Product Placement mailing list (use discount code MADPRODUCT). Call 800.838.3006 or click here to purchase tickets.

Architects & Artisans also just did a piece on us and the event. Check it out and leave a comment. And rest assured, we’ll be adding info soon about additional forthcoming PP events.