Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Back around the turn of the last century, a certain style of new urban design began popping up in major cities. DC received it's fair share of this design craze as well. One bar in particular was Dragonfly, which is located just below the intersection of 18th St. and Connecticut Ave. Plenty of high gloss surfaces, lots of chrome and synthetic plastics with a good does of super-graphics summed up the "Y2K" stark white and glossy trend at that time. While back then the place was exciting and new, it's aesthetic grew dated quickly. It's recent replacement is called Current. It too gives a nod to the former life the space had with more high gloss surfaces and gimmicky light elements, this time in the form of see-through ceiling/floor water features. The space has a new combination of warmer natural materials against the plastic synthetics. Upon entry, a grand open riser staircase clutters the streetfront space. Above on the ceiling wave-like undulating glossy forms seem like an interesting idea to add some movement to the space but is unsuccessful. Their failure stems from the groupings being disjointed. The flow is broken up by the ugly and pointless (yet probably very expensive) ceiling/ floor water features which glow different colors and are filled with water jets. I understand how they wanted to play with the theme but they just don't work for the space. An entire ceiling of the glossy waves would have been a more successful and cohesive gesture. The bar surfaces are a wavelike design of alternating dark wood and a translucent poly-resin material that glows. This is a nice piece but there is a bit too much of in throughout the space. The dining tables and chairs feel very heavy and awkward in a space where the theme is supposed to be that of light and flowing currents. Overall it is a nice addition to the trendy bar/lounge scene in the city but in its newness, it already feels as though it has been dated by the year 2000.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Design for the Common Good

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams' New Statement is Tailored to Enrich All of Our Lives
Ordinarily when we hear about a 'Crisis' at a design store we imagine that it means they've run out of sideboards, or that that 'must have' chaise doesn't come in that oh so crucial shade of blue, or comes with a six week lead time. There are times when what is deemed 'dire' in the design world can truly become quite trivial when we step back and take a broader picture of the world we live in. So we were pleasantly surprised when we were invited to attend the release party for 'Crisis', the new book edited by Mitchell Gold, with an impressive list of contributors, that in addition to Gold's partner Bob Williams, includes the likes of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Barney Frank, Richard Chamberlain, Candice Gingrich, and Hilary Rosen, to name just a few. Centered around the 'personal, social, and religious pains of growing up gay in America', Gold's goal is to spread awareness of the challenges faced by not only these 40 individuals in their own lives, but for all of us who have similar personal stories. As recounted in his introduction, when asked why someone as 'successful' and 'well adjusted' as himself might be compelled to take up such a task, Gold responds, "...so not one more gay teen will have to go through what I did growing up." Furthermore, Gold and his fellow contributors are moved to action by the sheer number of teens and adolescents who have been victims of mistreatment and abuse, and the startling number that turn to suicide as the only means of escape.
Through the stories we find both optimism and stark realism. Through the accounts we not only see how far we have come as a society, but also how far we have yet to progress if we are to understand what equality truly is.

The release party, hosted by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams themselves, was held at their DC showroom. Contributors in attendance included Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Association, H. Alexander Robinson, and former United Methodist Pastor Jimmy Creech, as well as news correspondent Scott Shepard, to whom the book is dedicated. Proceeds from the sale of 'Crisis: 40 Stories revealing the Personal Social, and Religious Pain and Truama of Growing Up Gay in America' benefit non-profits working with gay teenagers and their families, such as The Trevor Project, the Point Foundation, GLSEN, and PFLAG.

For more information about the book, and to order your own copy, please visit http://www.crisisbook.org/.
(Or just stop by the showroom, and be sure to check out the fine selection of furnishings while you're there!)

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

DC Architecture Week Begins This Saturday!

[From AIA|DC]

Architecture Week 2008

The 10th Annual Architecture Week celebrates architecture in the nation's capital through tours, lectures, and special events. Click here for more information.

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National Building Museum Spotlight on Design: Weiss/Manfredi

[From NBM]

Olympic Sculpture Park

September 15, 6:30 - 8:00 pm

Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, founding partners of the New York-based firm, will discuss their work, which includes Olympic Sculpture Park for the Seattle Art Museum. Following the lecture, they will sign copies of their latest book, Surface/Subsurface (Princeton Architectural Press). This program is presented in celebration of Architecture Week. FREE to students with student ID. 1.5 LU (AIA)
Learn More

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2008 Capitals Alliance Conference Begins Next Week

[From NCPC]

It’s not too late to register for Capitals Alliance 2008: Greening the World’s Capital Cities. A week of sessions exploring how national capitals can lead the way in creating a greener planet begins on Monday, September 15 with a keynote address by celebrated author and filmmaker Herbert Girardet. His address, Understanding the Complex Relationship Between Cities, People, and the World, will take place at 9:00 a.m. at the National Press Club.

Other sessions during the week include What it Means to Be Green, Promoting and Sustaining Smart Growth Policies, Capital Cities Leading the Way, and the Impact of Green Design on Architecture & Public Space. The sessions are free and open to the public, but please RSVP to ensure the availability of seating. Registrations may be submitted online. For more information visit www.CapitalsAlliance.org.

A featured event, World Leaders on Sustainability, will take place in the Great Hall of the National Building Museum on Wednesday, September 17, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Museum’s green lecture series. Leaders from Sweden, Brazil, and the United States will discuss how they are leading the charge to create a more sustainable planet. Registration is being handled by the National Building Museum. To register for this event only, visit the National Building Museum's website.

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Performance Art : Meat Market Gallery

This is a MUST SEE. Check out the other gallery openings the same night at the 1515 14th Street NW Arts Building including Hemphill, G Fine Art, The Curator's Office and then check out the performance going on in the parking lot next door sponsored by the legendary Meat Market Gallery.

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Fall for New Art

As the crispness of fall is in the air and the days are becoming quite pleasant, we are pleased to note that area galleries are kicking off their fall exhibits! Here are a few openings coming up this weekend:

Teo González, 23.4837K A Solo Exhibition of New Paintings

September 13 – October 11
Opening reception: Saturday, September 13, 6-8PM

Irvine Contemporary is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings by Teo González, 23.4837K, the artist’s third solo exhibition with Irvine Contemporary, Opening reception with the artist, Saturday, September 13, 6-8PM.

Read Full Release

Teo González, Untitled (No. 516), 2008. 23.5K gold pigment and acrylic on panel. Detail.

t r a n s f o r m e r

September 12 & 13, 2008

Featuring work by ten emerging Mexico City based artists, ID-entity will be presented at Transformer and the Mexican Cultural Institute

Seeking to further international contemporary art dialogue, build alliances for artists, and promote cultural exchange, Transformer is thrilled to be partnering with the Mexican Cultural Institute in presenting the comprehensive, two-site, ID-entity exhibition.
Presenting work that reflects issues of living within a capital city, urban life, as well as larger issues of identity both national and personal - Domestic Fine Arts, Gilberto Esparza, Saúl Gómez, Ricardo Harispuru, Mauricio Limón, Edith Pons, Xavier Rodríguez, Marco Rountree Cruz, Amaranta Sánchez and Joaquín Segura, several of whom will be exhibiting in the US and/or DC for the first time - present photography, video, painting, drawing, and mixed-media work in site-specific and site-responsive installations at Transformer and throughout the Mexican Cultural Institute. ID-entity is co-curated by Transformer's Executive & Artistic Director Victoria Reis and Mexico City based independent curator Giovanna Esposito Yussif.
View Exhibition Page

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

DesignCult is 1!

Exactly a year ago today, we began our humble little blog dedicated to design in all its forms, with a decidedly local focus. We've been honored over this past year to meet many new friends and become a voice in the emerging modern art and design movement in DC. We were even ranked number 2 in DC Modern Luxury's list of DC Best Bloggers , which was quite humbling! We are grateful to our friends and readers for your continuing support!

In the upcoming year we look forward to expanding our coverage of the DC design scene. We hope to start featuring interviews with local artist and designers that are helping to shape DC's future. We'll continue our commentary on the design process in the District, including the limitations and challenges that face forward-thinking designers, and we'll look at what other cities are doing right that might inform design and development here in DC.

As always, we love to hear from you and receive comments, suggestions, and ideas! And if you have an event that you'd like us to know about, we'd love to hear from you. We can be reached at designcult.blog@gmail.com

All the Best!

Brian & Bill
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Metro and DDOT to Host Public Meetings on Neighborhood Circulation Study

WMATA issued a news release today indicating that they and DDOT will be hosting public meetings to discuss the connectivity of DC neighborhoods to public transit. The neighborhood circulation study is particularly aimed at public transit service offered in the means of bus service, which seems like a nice stepping off point, though we'd like to see the discussion expanded to areas underserved by metro as well. No mention of other means of transit, such as the streetcar service pending for parts of Anacostia and H Street, NE. The full release follows (click on 'Read More!')

Metro and DDOT host public meetings on Neighborhood Circulation Study

Residents encouraged to participate in effort to improve transit connections in the District of Columbia

Metro and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are asking residents to help enhance bus service in their neighborhoods. Metro and DDOT are conducting a comprehensive Neighborhood Circulation Study to ensure all District neighborhoods have the proper surface transit service to support mobility and accessibility.

The DC Neighborhood Circulation Study has four primary goals:

· To identify current deficiencies in neighborhood transit connectivity
· To improve local bus services to enhance neighborhood circulation and connectivity
· To identify new neighborhood services that will enhance circulation and connectivity
· To complement the long-range growth of the transit system in the District of Columbia

Metro and DDOT understand residents are critical to the success of the study and want to hear from you at one of the four public meetings scheduled this month.

Meeting Information:

What: Neighborhood Circulation Study Public Meeting
When: Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Mary’s Center, 2333 Ontario Road, NW

What: Neighborhood Circulation Study Public Meeting
When: Thursday, September 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Southeast Hospital, 1310 Southern Avenue, SE

What: Neighborhood Circulation Study Public Meeting
When: Tuesday, September 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Trinidad Recreation Center, 1310 Childress Street, NE

What: Neighborhood Circulation Study Public Meeting
When: Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Hughes Memorial Church, 25 53rd Street, NE

Meeting locations are accessible. Anyone with special needs or need of translation services is asked to call the project hotline at 202-561-3700 or visit www.dcgetinvolved.com/circulationstudy.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

School of Modernism

Last weekend while driving up Georgia Avenue to explore the growing Petworth neighborhood I could see a looming new building come into view on the horizon. From a distance the unique massing of the structure became immediately evident. It got my attention and I pulled over to investigate. This was the new Euphemia L. Haynes Public Charter School. I was so excited to see a positive aspect to the much discussed DC public school infrastructure, which tends to be crumbling and dated. This building was neither. The design is very simple and straightforward. It retains a somewhat "no frills" design approach while at the same time commanding a lot of interest. The bulk of the building is a central mass clad in large light gray metal panels. This facade is broken up with a series of horizontal staggered ribbon windows which create a movement along the elevation. Anchoring one corner, where the entrance is located, is a large rectangular mass clad in a rust colored corrugated metal. It protrudes just slightly from the structure as to make it appear to have been partially enveloped by the main building. This instance happens on a larger scale on the other end as well. It is what can be refereed to as a play on "figure / ground" in the massing. Subtle gestures here produce big design moves. The corner entrance beneath the rust colored element is clad in floor to ceiling storefront glass. This also allows for the "figure" to appear to float above the entry. The base of the entire building consists of a tile pattern that plays with some color and mixes in glass block, but only mildly. This could have created a much more vibrant gesture and given excitement to the pedestrian level of the building had there been a greater play with color, pattern, or mix of materials. In it's current state is seems a bit weak. All in all this new school is an attention getter and it's clean lines and creative design make it a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and the public school system.
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