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April 29, 2009 

The Swiss watchmaker RADO has launched, an online design networking site that includes a new magazine, discussion forums and a section that allows young designers to publish and share their works. magazine promises to be a reliable source of news and opinion on everything from architectural design to ceramics, while the "Radostar Groups" section fosters discussion on any number of topics, from record-sleeve design to "Flash experimentations." Perhaps best of all is the "creatives" part of the website, where individual artists and designers can post their projects under a number of categories, from animation and jewelry to interiors and video. The announcement of the new project was made at the 48th Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the huge furniture fair in Milan, Apr. 22-27, 2009.


UK designer Jasper Morrison, famed in the design world for a sleek, minimalist approach, has applied his sensibility to everything from table- and glassware to "electricals" (i.e., mobile phones, refrigerators, televisions). In 2007 he teamed up with RADO to restyle the company’s Ceramica Chronograh on the occasion of RADO’s 50th anniversary; the sleek, all-ceramic limited edition watch (only ten in each of five colors) is an especially striking demonstration of company’s signature fusing of case and bracelet. The luxury watch was priced in the mid-four figures. (RADO is owned by the Swatch Group, purveyor of the globally popular Swatch brand watches.).

Last month, at the 2009 Baselworld watch and jewelry show, RADO introduced its R5.5 Chronograph, a new collaboration with Morrison. Called "space-shuttle-ready" by New York Times T Magazine design writer Bruce Pask, the R5.5 is made from durable ceramic with a dark matte finish, with "rounded edges and a gradually reducing band that gives it space-age sleekness." The watch is available in the U.S. next year; no word yet on its price.

The Tel Aviv-born New York designer Ron Gilad, whose 2002 Run Over by Car vase was made by actually running over a brass tube with a car, has just opened his first show at Wright at 1440 West Hubbard in Chicago. "Spaces Etc. / An Exercise in Utility," Apr. 29-May 9, 2009, features more than 80 items, from silver ashtrays resembling miniature modernist houses and mirrors in the shape of brushstrokes to tables with bases whose outlines follow the silhouette of a building.

"I don't have a fixed recipe,"Gilad told Zoe Ryan, the curator of design at the Art Institute of Chicago and author of the show's catalogue essay, "but always have a certain goal in mind: to reduce my cooking stock to the purest broth possible."For further info, see or

Feeling nostalgic for the good old post-war era, when the triumph of western democracy seemed, well, triumphant? The triumphalist impulse in American design is the subject of "What Was Good Design?", May 6, 2009-Jan. 11, 2010, at the Museum of Modern Art. Featuring domestic furnishings, appliances, textiles, items of sports equipment and more from the museum collection, the objects are specifically selected (by architecture and design curators Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O’Connor) to illustrate "the primary values of Good Design as promoted by major MoMA competitions" such as the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture (1948), and the series of shows titled Useful Objects (1945-48) and Good Design (1950-55), as well as by government-sponsored touring exhibitions like Design for Use, U.S.A. (1950-52). The show includes works by Charles and Ray Eames and Hans Wegner as well as everyday objects like a cheese slicer, a rake and Tupperware.  

American photographer Michael Eastman unveils "Italy," his new series of color photographs of historical architecture, at Barry Friedman Ltd. in Manhattan’s Chelsea art district, May 7-June 30, 2009. Shot primarily in Milan and Venice, "Italy" depicts grand interiors -- many of which have remained in the hands of the same families for centuries -- that retain original Renaissance decorative motifs like trompe-l’oeil ceilings and pietra dure marble flooring. The exhibition also includes photos from previous Eastman series, including "Cuba" (where the interiors have a more pronounced atmosphere of neglect), "Vanishing America" and "Urban Luminosity."

Do you have a taste for out-of-this-world design? Then we have something for you: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum expert Amanda Young has teamed up with Smithsonian photographer Mark Avino to produce Spacesuits: Within the Collections of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (powerHouse, $29.95). In photos and texts, the book chronicles the earliest days of spacesuit development in the 1930s, when flight suits were developed by Wiley Post and other around-the-world racers. Suits for space exploration soon followed, beginning with the otherworldly silver suits of the U.S. Mercury space program in the 1960s. Subsequent chapters chronicle the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo Soyuz programs, as well as looking at the difficulties involved in conserving spacesuits (which were originally designed to have a short lifespan). For more info, see

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