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ARTNET DESIGN
Aug. 9, 2007 

SOTTSASS AT FRIEDMAN BENDA
The romance between art and design continues, and the buzz is building about the opening of Friedman Benda, a new design gallery in Chelsea brought to you by dealers Barry Friedman and Marc Benda. Slated to open its doors at 515 West 26th Street next month, the new space debuts with a show of new work by the 90-year-old Italian design legend Ettore Sottsass, Sept. 19-Oct. 27, 2007. The proto-postmodernist Sottsass, founder of the Memphis design firm known for using exotic materials in unconventional ways, showcases a new series of limited-edition furniture and glass works.

Sottsass’ new cabinet designs are said to be playful explorations of symmetry and scale, with some being "monumental in size." The glass works use wire and glue to bring together different colors. Three of the cabinets were already seen as part of a career retrospective at the Design Museum in London earlier in 2007 (Sottsass also received a large retrospective recently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.) Expect the pieces to go like hotcakes -- in May, a 1965 lacquered walnut-and-brass Sottsass bookcase sold at Christie’s London for a hefty $119,379.

MOCA L.A.: SELL-OUTS OR SUCKERS?
Takashi Murakami is the gift that keeps on giving for Louis Vuitton, the luxury handbag maker that hired the Japanese artist to redesign its brand in 2003. According to a report by Randy Kennedy in the New York Times, the upcoming Murakami retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Oct. 28, 2007-Feb. 11, 2008, is to include a functioning 1,000-square-foot Vuitton boutique right in the museum, selling handbags and coin purses custom-designed for the retrospective.

According to MoCA, the handbag maker is underwriting the cost of the store and its staffing during the exhibition. And, while special tie-in merchandise is de rigueur at major museum surveys these days -- think the "King Tut tissue box" from LACMA’s Tut survey a few years back [see Artnet News, July 20, 2005] -- in this case, MoCA L.A. is not receiving a dime from the collaboration.

Instead, the functioning boutique is designed to allow viewers a first-hand experience of Murakami’s commercial work, cash-registers and all. According to curator Paul Schimmel visitors should "experience the commercial work of Murakami as profoundly as they will the most complex paintings, sculptures and exhibitions." Despite the explanation, it seems that the museum may well have crossed that ever-harder-to-see line that separates real art from vulgar commerce -- albeit, bafflingly, without actually benefiting commercially.

DESIGN LONDON
Paris-based Patrick Perrin -- the brains behind the Pavilion Art and Antiques Fair, now in its 12th year, which returns to the Tuileries gardens in 2008 -- is looking to parlay the City of Light’s buzz as a design capital into an international franchise with the first-ever Design London, Oct. 12-14, 2007. The fair goes up for Frieze Week at Hanover Square, with 20 galleries.

Among the dealers, the largest contingent (seven galleries) comes from Paris -- Galerie Downtown/Laffanour, Galerie Italienne, Jousse Entreprise, Galerie Kreo, Galerie du Passage, Clara Scremini Gallery and Galerie Patrick Séguin. New York sends Antik, Demisch Danant, Magen H Gallery, R 20th Century and Sebastian + Barquet, while Brussels sends Galerie Philippe Denys, Galerie Dewindt and Galerie Pierre-Marie Giraud. London galleries Carpenters Workshop Gallery and David Gill Galleries represent the home team, while Contrasts (Shanghai), Dansk Møbelkunst (Copenhagen) and Nilufar (Milan) come from further afield.

CALIFORNIA DESIGN BIENNIAL
An impressive roster selects the work in the upcoming 2007 California Design Biennial, Aug. 19-Sept. 30, 2007, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The jurors are Vogue West Coast editor Lisa Love; CalArts design department co-director Michael Worthington; Art Center College of Design chairman of the transportation design Stewart Reed; New Deal Design president Gadi Amit; and Laura Dye, brand strategist at Art Center.

The biennial includes examples of fashion, furniture, transportation, consumer products and graphic design from a wide varieties of companies and designers, including Apple, Belkin, Fuseproject, Motion Theory, Mike and Maaike, Mitsubishi, Rodarte and Katy Rodriguez. More information at www.pmcaonline.org

HUNT SLONEM IN THE HOUSE
PowerHouse Books has published a new coffee-table tome devoted to the interior design sensibility of the zoophiliac artist Hunt Slonem. Titled Pleasure Palaces: The Art and Homes of Hunt Slonem (204 pp., $60), the book includes an introduction by Vincent Katz and page after page of views of Slonem five major homes: his estate in Hudson, N.Y., his two plantation homes in Louisiana, and his two lofts in New York City. Images of the artist’s neo-Raoul Dufyian paintings of parrots, leopards and other animals are interspersed with photos of his idiosyncratic table settings and interior designs. Best of all is the cover illustration, which shows a luxe loft interior with antique chairs and chandeliers -- and dozens of painted canvases leaning against the wall.


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