A New Online Home for Design Faith Blog

I have moved the Design Faith blog to my relaunched website kennethcaldwell.com You'll be redirected there in 10 seconds.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best of 2011

The greatest thing about 2011 has been Occupy Wall Street. At last, the lie that everybody will be rich has been exposed: the one percent is getting richer and everybody else is getting poorer. The government is subsidizing the wealthy. Corporate welfare is worse than we ever imagined. The cost and deception of late capitalism is too high. Now the truth is out. We woke up! Some of the highlights of the year were visiting the Occupy protests at UC Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and of course Wall Street. Interestingly enough, the catalyst for all this good work was a communications publication based in Canada called AdbBusters.

So let’s start there!

Favorite magazine
Culture jammers!

Favorite protest
Occupy Wall Street!

Favorite political blog
Clinton’s former secretary of labor just nails it.

Favorite local policy wonk organization
Great programs, policy discussions, and parties.

I know, enough with the politics. What about the art, design, writing, food, and libations?

Favorite new restaurant (SF)
It was a tie.

The décor is beautiful and the food subtle and incredibly fresh. Pricey but worth it. We also ate next door at sister restaurant Quince, but it was over the top.

La Ciccia
Sardinian. I know it’s not new, but I had never been there. No pretense, no décor really, but excellent food at a fair price.

Favorite new restaurant (NY)
The Dutch
Fresh food and someone is paying attention. Rustic décor with a hint of the modern.

Favorite new bar
Bar Agricole’s drinks are as inventive as the light sculptures by Nikolas Weinstein. Like an update of Richard Lippold’s piece in the Four Seasons. Check out the short video “Cut and Polish” on Nik’s website after you find the Bar Agricole project.

Photo: Matthew Millman

Photo: Matthew Millman

Favorite old bar
The bad juju at the House of Shields is gone and so is the smoke. Too loud, but that’s part of the fun.

Courtesy House of Shields

Favorite new hotel (outside US)
We didn’t try that many this year, but we loved the Château Carbonneau for its shabby chic quality and incredibly personable matron, Jacquie. Should you be near Bordeaux, it’s a great place to rest for several days.

Favorite new hotel (inside US)
If you are going to Healdsburg and Sonoma County without a lot of dough, H2Hotel by David Baker + Partners is great fun. And while you are there, try Scopa restaurant.

Favorite edge
We loved the way this house designed by Craig Steely in Hawaii met the lava field.

Favorite new museum
José Luis Sert’s Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence reminded me that modernism can be very local. One of my favorite museum experiences ever.

Miro Mural at Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence

Favorite solo painting show by living artist
Thanks to our buddy John van Duyl, we saw Kevin Bean’s show at Stanford, and it was a standout. His paintings work in concert or alone.

Favorite solo painting show by nonliving artist
Some blockbuster shows are worth all the hoopla. The Willem de Kooning retrospective at MoMA was overwhelming at times and then poignant in the way it shows him disappearing.

Willem de Kooning. Pink Angels. c. 1945.

Favorite show by living sculptor
Richard Serra may not be the friendliest of artists, but his work continues to redefine the concept of art. Although the show at SFMOMA is called “Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective,” it works like sculpture. We were able to see it at the Metropolitan and at SFMOMA. It works much better in San Francisco.

Favorite show by nonliving sculptor
Seeing “Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969–1972, Revisited” at LACMA was deeply disturbing. The dark side of all the other Pacific Standard Time shows. Although this piece has not been seen in public since the 1970s, the artist reminds us that racism is still a cancer in the bones. None of us have escaped.

Favorite fashion show
Truth is we don’t see that many fashion shows. But Alexander McQueen went far beyond fashion. Maybe it’s a new model for making conceptual art.

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen.
Photograph © Sølve Sundsbø / Art + Commerce

Favorite design show
You can feel optimistic about California again. Or at least its design legacy. Check out “California Design 1930–1965: ‘Living in a Modern Way’” when you are in LA.

Favorite newly discovered artist
We found out about Joe Downing, an American who lived and worked in the South of France. A lot of Klee-like marks on wood, canvas, and even buildings. I hadn’t heard of him, but our South of France expert (and part-time resident) Michael Bernard had met him. There is a small garden in Downing’s memory across the street from the house of Dora Maar.

Sculpture by Joe Downing in his memorial garden

Blind window in Menerbes with drawing by Joe Downing

Favorite new/old retail emporium
The new Marimekko store on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district is just joy.

Favorite actor on British TV
Tom Ellis. We watched him on a show called “Monday Monday,” and now I keep bugging Paul for anything new where he is featured. If you like guys with curly hair….

Favorite ruin we won’t be able to visit soon
Jack London State Historic Park
The state is planning to close this great Sonoma park in 2012. A sure sign that the end is near.

Favorite memoir
Joan Didion’s Blue Nights breaks your heart.

Favorite diary
The Sixties: Diaries 1960–1969 by Christopher Isherwood
He had a few blind spots (as this reviewer also points out), but Christopher Isherwood remains one of the most important writers in my life.

Favorite design-related online magazine
The must-read online magazine is Design Observer. One of the publications under this large umbrella is Places. Editor Nancy Levinson dares to publish magazine-length pieces that are among the best in the business.

Favorite blog about living outside the US
This year, my favorite personal blog comes from our friend Ann Moore’s daughter, Charlotte. She splits her time between Italy and France. In her blog, “The Daily Cure,” she is “healing the soul one detail at a time.”

Favorite new funny spectacles, another useful blog and a wedding!
We have to see clearly to face the challenges ahead. So when we needed new spectacles we took John Cary’s advice and turned to Warby Parker!

And while we are talking about John Cary he launched a new blog this fall and married a great lady, Courtney Martin, a few days ago! Congratulations John!

Favorite car that goes forward and backwards at the same time.
That sort of captures 2011!

Happy New Year! Hoping for more good change in 2012.

No comments: