Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What to expect from the Museum Store at The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Bentonville, Arkansas

Crystal Bridges has opened to much fanfare on a campus of 120 acres of forests and gardens. Critics have compared the setting brought to life by Alice Walton to the J. Paul Getty Museum complex.

I was curious - What should we expect from the biggest retailers in the world for a museum shop?

The Museum Store—designed by Arkansas architect firm Marlon Blackwell— is located across from the Museum's main lobby. It offers a wide range of items including educational toys, gifts, books, and reproductions of popular works from the Museum collection.

The architects created an organic open space with a series of parallel cherry plywood ribs that organizes the store and forms the ceiling and millwork on the rear wall. Inspired by the ribbed underside of a mushroom known as a lamella, the surface creates an elegantly curved profile. This serves the practical functions of providing shade from the intense western sun while lighting and displaying the merchandise.

There is no link to shop yet from the main museum web pages but when clicking through to reserve tickets – one is taken to another website- http://shop.crystalbridges.org/Events.aspx
Any web savvy person could see this is the future home of the on-line museum store: http://shop.crystalbridges.org/

I took a peak.
The shopping website is a work in progress without any navigation. So, a blank search results in seven catalogs and books for sale about the museum. One title features the work of the museum’s architect Moshe Safdie. We know him here in Los Angeles for designing the Skirball Cultural Center. Here one is also invited to purchases a membership.

Images courtesy of Marlon Blackwell

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Astier de Villatte - Transporting Us Through Fragrance

Astier de Villatte ceramics are entirely handmade in Paris, France. Made of black terracotta clay, the pieces are very durable yet surprisingly light to the touch. The namesake tableware collection is inspired by 18th and 19th century designs and is glazed to create a milky white finish.

This season the company added five new scents to the location-inspired collection of perfumed candles.

Hong Kong is described as an “unexpected pairing of potent cinnamon spice and smooth, fresh mandarin. Enchanting effusions emanating from boats loaded with spices and citrus fruit, slowly crossing the bay.”

Monte Carlo is meant to remind us of “the Hôtel de Paris’ revolving doors, rivers of diamonds flowing round casino tables” and where “the air is infused with divine, rich fragrances of cyprus neroli, tuberose, rose, jasmine, iris, artemisia and patchouli essence, with trace of leather.”

These decorative objects do come at a premium price that won’t surprise Astier de Villatte collectors: $120 for the ceramic candles, $75 for the glass with optional lid an additional $72.00

All items available at the company’s flagship on rue Saint-Honoré Paris,
Barneys New York on Madison Avenue and http://www.barneys.com/

Images courtesy of http://www.astierdevillatte.com/

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In fine restaurants when you order soufflé, gratin dauphinois, or even crème brûlée, chances are it will be prepared and served in Revol porcelain. Now from the most trusted name in French culinary porcelain comes a unique and modern ceramic collection.

Created from a patent-pending ceramic material, ‘Revolution’ cookware has a higher thermal shock resistance than any other non-porous culinary ceramic. These pots can be used on any kind of stove top, in microwave ovens and are dishwasher safe. Yes, that's right - they can even be used on an open gas flame. Just follow instructions for the transition between hot and cold.

Now cooking dinner - and cleaning up will never be the same. Leave it to the French !

Prices range from $50 to $300 for the tangine.
Available in five sizes with a Black, White, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, or Orange lid.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time for Marimekko to Shine


Many Americans were first introduced to the classic Finnish design house when Jacqueline Kennedy wore several Marimekko dresses throughout the 1960 US Presidential campaign. The fashion statement was thought to have softened her look and shift public opinion in a favorable way at a key moment in history.

Since then there’s always been a representation of Marimekko in Crate & Barrel and the small shop on Madison Avenue. Now just in time for the company’s 60th anniversary a new 4,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue location has opened in the Flatiron District that offers the complete product assortment.

This is the only US store where the complete collection of fabrics and tableware, clothing, bags, furniture, and accessories will be available under one roof.

Shopping the collections on-line offers a very clever take on web navigation: Nest- for home furnishings, Wear- for fashion, Carry- as in bags & umbrellas, and finally Make- for the DIY folks and interior pros that want fabric by the yard in various finishes including a water proof coating.

So just as the days become shorter and the landscape shows a sign that winter is on its way, many American homes are about to get a bright jolt of color.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Intersection of Art, Fashion, and Commerce


In celebration of the company's 90th birthday GUCCI opened a museum inside the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia located in Florence’s Piazza Signoria. The concept was to honor the company’s leather goods legacy and celebrate the connection with modern art.

Also in the museum is a cafe and a Rizzoli book shop. The museum store's reported best seller is a €95 T-shirt with a print of a figure in a suit of armor carrying two Gucci bags.

These days you cannot visit a major city without seeing a fashion designer features with top billing in art museums. The topic is certain to open a debate in curatorial circles. However the cash strapped non-profits are facing many challenges including lower attendance, so no one will debate the blockbuster appeal of say Alexander McQueen at the Metropoltain Museum. There was a record number of 661,509 vistors that flocked to the museum in just over three months this past summer. This made the MET's top 10 exhibitions of all time and impressed this visitor with the installation, music, lighting, and even special effects.

Perhaps this is the gateway to the new generation that may have never stepped foot into some of these museums. Now if the MET Opera could take some cues from this story they might be able to secure attendance for another generation.

images courtesy of www.Gucci.com