The Serious Charm of Edward Bawden
Some critics sneer at the twee marketing of Edward Bawden’s prints on greetings cards, handbags, kitchen tea-towels, and fridge magnets. But after seeing the Dulwich Picture Gallery show, who can say that Bawden, this serious if unclassifiable artist, is merely a purveyor of charm?
July 15, 2018
Design from Disasters
As we contemplate the horrific damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the world of design may seem remote from our most immediate concerns. Yet the urgent needs that follow large-scale catastrophes—the need for shelter, clean water, alternative sources of power—can be particularly conducive to creative solutions. I recently observed that breakthroughs in architecture and industrial design have emerged during wartime; now a remarkable new exhibition in Oslo shows that the same can hold true for natural disasters as well.
November 5, 2012
Prisoners of the Fun Factory
I first met the designer Ray Kaiser Eames in 1977, when she showed me, my wife, and our son around the renowned Pacific Palisades house she and Charles Eames built between 1947 and 1949 from off-the-shelf industrial components. As she moved slowly through the high-ceilinged living room of the light-flooded, modular-paneled structure at the edge of an arcadian meadow overlooking the ocean, she reacted to the myriad possessions that crowded every horizontal surface as if she had never seen them before. “Oh my God, look at this!” she cawed like an excited mynah bird as she grabbed some pretty trifle, peered at it intently, and extolled its ravishing beauty. One could not help but love her unbridled enthusiasm, but also quickly understood how trying she might be to live with.
November 22, 2011
Buildings on the Big Screen
The static art of architecture and the kinetic art of motion pictures might seem antithetical mediums, but films can be enormously helpful in explaining buildings to laymen and professionals alike. Certain architectural works are difficult if not impossible to understand in still imagery, and are made fully comprehensible only through films that move around and inside them.
October 14, 2010
The most notable change in female fashion during the past three decades has had nothing to do with such age-old preoccupations as hemline length, neckline depth, or silhouette width. Rather, it has been the inexorable transformation of the high-end women’s garment trade from the province of a tiny elite to an all-pervasive marketing tool for international luxury-goods conglomerates, which have masterminded such paradoxical concepts as mass luxury and global exclusivity, more through the sale of designer-label cosmetics and accessories than through clothing itself.
October 5, 2010
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The latest refurbishment of the White House Oval Office would be just another before-and-after decorating story were it not for the fact that stylistic aspects of the chief executive’s workplace are closely watched for possible insights into the personality of the occupant.
September 7, 2010