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July 29, 2014

The Secret Garden: Ford Ranch

A Peek Into a Private Wonderland in the American West for this Week's Great Gardens

Nestled in a mountain canyon where Hemingway spent his summers, Queen Elizabeth II popped by to visit friends, and rodeo is still a main event, lies the cultivated oasis of Ford Ranch. Acquired by Joan F. Wallick and Robert L. Wallick Sr. in 1968, the sprawling Wyoming residence is captured by director Albert Moya for NOWNESS’s weekly Great Gardens series. “I was inspired by meeting the kind of dreamer who has, and still is, working on making her stories real,” says the filmmaker of Ms Wallick, an accomplished pilot whose obsessive passion for collecting spans insects, Christmas ornaments (32,656), and over 400 varieties of plants in 35 acres. It’s a marvel to discover radiant blue delphinium spires, hundreds of hostas and the apothecary rose Rosa gallica officinalis blooming alongside the grave of Wallick’s late wolf, Eeyore (winters dip to -30 and summers experience 100 degree heat punctuated by huge thunderstorms). “Part of the joy of gardening lies in the challenge of this environment,” explains Wallick, who has built fences to keep the mountain lions, bears and deer at bay, enabling her manicured paradise to flourish. “I’ve got the urge to plant one of everything and see what it looks like,” she adds. “But that’s for next year.”

The next Great Gardens film premieres Tuesday August 5.

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Spotlight

E.V. Day: SNAP!

The New York Artist Straps Down Da Monsta at the Philip Johnson Glass House

E.V. Day envelops Philip Johnson’s jagged Neo-Expressionist building Da Monsta in kinky red rope for new work, “SNAP!” The first site-specific exhibition to be held at the acclaimed spot is captured by the New York-based photographer Vincent Dilio, revealing pop-savvy concepts that punch a striking metaphysical hole in the bucolic Connecticut landscape. It had already been Johnson’s take that “the building is alive,” and with the exterior evocative of a spider’s web and the interior’s ambient purring chambers filled with a feline-inspired tension, it seems to be living up to its billing. NOWNESS spoke to the prolific sculptor, whose work is housed in permanent collections at The Whitney and the Smithsonian Collection, about her creative processes and her muse, the city of Los Angeles. 

What was your key inspiration for this work? 
E.V. Day: It began with the building itself, whose very name implies a narrative—a monster! I wanted to address it as a living creature, a wild one that swallows you through its entrance and induces vertigo because there are no right angles in the structure. I wanted to play with that energy using taut lines, fishnet stockings, and suspension.

Tell us about the purring chambers. 
EVD:
Philip Johnson would reportedly pat Da Monsta on its right side like a horse each morning. After spending several weeks with the building, I began to feel an affection for it as a character, as opposed to it simply being a building with character. I wanted the sound and the vibration of the purring under its floor to enhance its ‘creature-ness.’ When you sit in the installation and feel the purr, the beast is sleeping and you feel safe. At least for a moment.

As a New Yorker, how have you developed such an affinity with Los Angeles?
EVD:
The compression of NYC grips you like Spanx—it definitely feels spring-loaded here. However, I have pined for LA since I lived there for two years in the early 90s. LA, as the manufacturing center of pop culture and its inherent bounty of problematic social, political, and environmental issues works as an eruption of active content for my art. 

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Spotlight

In Residence: Rolf Sachs

The Renowned Designer and Artist Shows Us Around His St. Moritz Hideaway

Rolf Sachs hurtles down a toboggan run made from natural ice and invites us into his high art-bedecked Swiss mountain retreat in the first installment of our new film series, In Residence. Directed by Matthew Donaldson, today’s short tells the story of the building that was originally erected for the 1928 Winter Olympics, when officials and VIPs filled stands on the roof and a band played national anthems from the balcony. Sachs rescued the structure from dereliction, restored it to its former glory and brought in a period-relevant collection of design. “It is very clearly a Bauhaus building, a functional building. There are no decorative aspects,” says Sachs, who has paired the utilitarian architecture with pieces from Dutch furniture maker Gerrit Rietveld and the Suprematist movement. Sachs is at the heart of St. Moritz life. “I’m very involved with everything in town. The locals accept me as a local,” says the 57-year-old designer,  a committee member of many clubs, including the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club that maintains the town’s famous Cresta Run. His connection to the Engadine region was the subject of his recent exhibition Herzschuss in St. Moritz, in which he poetically reinterpreted some of the familiar motifs of the region. “Having been brought up here I understand all of the materials, the originality of this place,” he says. “One aspect that is especially fascinating is the light. It is crystal clear, making it look like the horizon has been cut out with scissors.”

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