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// posts about interviews

Denise Scott Brown

While their design work is not exactly my cup of tea, the analysis and writings of Denise Scott brown and Robert Venturi are some of the most influential of the last half-century. Venturi was awarded a Pritzker more than 20 years ago for their collaborative work, which Scott Brown was excluded from. The issue was big then and it has resurfaced recently. Be sure to read DSB’s interview in Architect. The Pritzker, is given to only one recipient, even though the work invariably is the work of more than one person. And especially in this case, where the two are partners, is the exclusion of one (regardless of gender) a severe injustice to the actual workings of the profession. DSB’s interview is straight and to the point – architects are turds.

When Philadelphia architect Robert Venturi, FAIA, received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991, the award generated a good deal of grumbling from many in the architectural community for the person who wasn’t named: his wife and architectural partner of roughly three decades, Denise Scott Brown, FAIA. Venturi and Scott Brown met in 1960, married in 1967, and became architectural partners in 1969. They collaborated on buildings and books—including the widely influential (and controversial) urban study, Learning From Las Vegas, published in 1972. The fact that Scott Brown wasn’t also named a Pritzker recipient has been variously described as an “injustice” and a “blunder” by the architectural press. In March, the debate was reignited when Scott Brown was quoted by the Architects’ Journal as saying, “They owe me not a Pritzker Prize but a Pritzker inclusion ceremony.”

That statement ignited a flurry of debate—and inspired the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Women in Design Group to launch a petition demanding that the Pritzker Prize committee recognize Scott Brown’s contributions to the field of architecture. As of this writing, the petition contains more than 4,000 signatures, including those of architect Zaha Hadid, Hon. FAIA; Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA; and Museum of Modern Art design curator Paola Antonelli. Plus Venturi himself. (In a short note attached to his signature on the petition, Venturi wrote: “Denise Scott Brown is my inspiring and equal partner.”)

Scott Brown told ARCHITECT that the attention has been “like a tidal wave.” She says that she never imagined that the comments that she gave for the Journal’s women’s architecture luncheon would generate so many headlines. Earlier this week, she took time to talk with ARCHITECT about the Pritzker, her role in the firm she ran with her husband, and the ways she has been treated as a woman architect in a profession that she has described as a “19th-century upper-middle-class men’s club.”

Marshmallow Laser Feast

Amazing lightpainting from Marshmallow Laser Feast. Video below shows more of their work and their creative process.

Snøhetta – Interview with Craig Dykers

Map in the Snøhetta offices.

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Craig Dykers of Snøhetta. We talked a bit about what they are doing at their NYC office and where they hope to take architecture through their practice. Enjoy!

The Snøhetta offices.

What are some of the current conceptual schemes and ideas that your office is exploring?

I would say that one of the interesting qualities about our office is that if you asked different people what threads they’re following you may very likely get different answers, so in one sense there is no single thread that dominates every discussion. On the other hand, me personally, I’ve been very interested in the notion that understanding human beings from a perspective of anthropological and psychological understanding seems to interest me in that architecture could respond to those ideas in a way that I haven’t seen architecture responding, to in recent history, anyway.

So talking about human beings as fleshy creatures that are fallible and intriguing, complex, right, wrong, good, bad, all of those things, intuitive and predictable, seems to be something that dominates how I look at buildings, so I spend a lot just thinking and looking at people in different environments, almost like a voyeur.

Is there a specific architectural program that you can expand on?

Well, I think that nearly everything that we do is first and foremost framed by why we as creators, as architects and designers want to participate in that process. So, before one can even discuss design, you have to ask WHY you want to design. Once you answer that question, then you have to say, why are we going to solve it in this particular way, what’s motivating us? Then you get to the program and you have to ask why does this program even exist? Why are there things like museums, for example? What is a museum? Why do we think we need to have them? Beyond that, the program starts to open itself up. I like to suggest that program can be defined in several layers. There is a functional program that is by far the most rational understanding of program, but aesthetics and ornament and all of the “useless” stuff is programmatic also. It drives us, it frames our view of the world, even if they don’t have any pure function (ornament or such things as aesthetic qualities), so in that sense, the program is much more open.

Barcode B10.1 commercial building, Oslo, Norway.

You touched a little bit on how Snøhetta doesn’t have a singular design focus, in the way that they approach projects, or in the way that the formal and material moves are made. What do you think of starchitects who have a marketable, branded style? Do you think that’s necessary at that level? Or do you think that investigation of all these things you were talking about earlier is Snøhetta’s signature?

First of all, just to say that while we may have a signature style – it may be there – it’s not something we’re conscious of, so that’s why I’m saying we don’t feel like we have one. I’m sure that some very good critic could come in and dig out some kind of stylistic thread that ties everything together, but it’s not something we’re really conscious of or maintaining, that’s what I mean by that, not that it doesn’t exist. The second thing is, that we are modern architects, there’s no doubt about it – we’re contemporary, and we’re often trying to fit our work into a contemporary setting that transforms the past and looks towards the future. It’s not stylizing the past or fixing the past, nor is it attempting to create the future. It’s more simply transforming time into different modes, so if we are modern architects, then I would say the world of architecture is divided into two large tributaries of theorists. One is the old world modernists, one is the new world modernists. Old world modernists are producing modern architecture, things that we can aesthetically and programmatically refer to as modern architecture, but they’re creating it in the style of the old world masters. They have a fairly hierarchical structure, they dictate the directions and continuum of the design trajectory of an office, and they are more or less functioning like a master with apprentices.

There are new world modernists, which I believe we are a part of, which although obviously have structures and hierarchies, they are more flat and rounded. It allows for groups of people to interact in the design process. The result is as society changes and becomes more complex, and becomes more rooted in the interactions of large groups of people, large social structures, complex cultural interactions. Architects need to acquire that value in their offices, otherwise they can’t respond directly to culture at large; they’re only making beautiful objects that may be inspiring.

Does it make better architecture to be an old world or new world modernist? No, I think you can make good architecture in both, that’s not the point, the point is that how we do things is more valuable that the result at this change in societies life.

Darat King Abdullah II performing arts/cultural center in Amman, Jordan.

Is there a lot of collaboration between the two offices on specific projects? Or do you handle certain projects here and they handle certain projects in Norway?

In the beginning we had a lot of collaborative development. As time has gone on, we’ve gotten more and more work, and actually, many of the fees don’t cover that kind of collaboration, but we do whatever we can, and the spirit is there and the goal is there, and I often think that is as important as anything else. Things go up and down, sometimes you’re able to collaborate more and sometimes you’re not, it’s what motivates you that is of value, and we are motivated to be functioning as a group.

What is the role of education within the office? Between the offices, cross-pollination between different fields?

We call ourselves trans-disciplinary, which is a slight twist on inter- or multi -disciplinary. Trans-disciplinary I say is a bit like trans-gender where you don’t know what is male or female. In our office you don’t know what is landscape, what’s architecture, what’s interior, there’s literally no division. A landscape architect can draw a building, and in fact many of our best building ideas come from landscape architects and vice-versa. There’s a kind of intriguing method of educating each other, simply by the fact that we have different educational backgrounds in the office. A lot of architects think they know landscape architecture, and vice versa, and while they are related, they’re more like cousins than brothers and sisters. So, you can’t really just make that knowledge base appear, you have to have the people there. So that’s one level in which we educate ourselves.

The other thing is we have what we call “Thirsty Thursdays”. We bring people in from the outside, and we try to fairly often. Last week we had the Brooklyn company called Situ – they do interesting work with 3-D modeling. They gave a presentation, we have beers – we have a beer tap there, I don’t know if you saw it. We have our kitchen in the space – that promotes a dialogue that you don’t get in ordinary offices.

Between the offices, people come over from time to time, that’s always a big thrill for everybody. When somebody comes over, because it doesn’t happen very often, it’s a big thing – you’re throwing lots of at them, lots of feedback.

Serpentine Pavilion, London.

What part of the design process is most informative to your final design? Sketch, research, models, material experiments, construction?

I often say, and this is somewhat true if you look at it from a very practical perspective – if you take just the cost of a building as an indicator of what a design is, about 60-65% of the cost of a building is fixed in the first 5% of the planning process. That means if you took the whole spectrum of planning and you were able to look at the first 5%, that little tiny step at the beginning, you’ve already made most of the decisions that are going to affect the outcome of the building. That includes programming, which is an indicator of about 85% of the cost of the building – how big and how much, what quality you want. The architecture is about 15% of the cost of the building, so all of the frou frou bits that you do, the fancy little moves that people often see as architecture are really only controlling about 15% of the cost. So in that sense, that tells you that the first few steps have the biggest impact.

That’s true conceptually, also. I like to say that concepts are an enormously important part of how you understand design, but ultimately the concept should not be a part of the final product. It’s like saying the concept of a human being is to have an internal skeletal structure with organs that beat and allow them to walk on two legs and have a brain that allows them to accommodate different levels of thinking. If that is all we were, we wouldn’t be much. So the concept is inherent and intrinsic in the outcome, but it’s not what the outcome promises to be, in fact, that’s something else that is deeper and broader that the concept. But nevertheless you have to have that or nothing works. The conceptual stage is the biggest stage for us, in which we get the most frantic and have the most discussions.

Process models at the Snøhetta offices.

The construction stage is very important, too, but it’s a different level of discussions. If you look at it one way you can say that in the beginning you only have a couple of ideas – if you’re lucky maybe 4-5 ideas, but they’re gigantic. By the end you have 10,000 ideas and they’re all super small.

You mentioned big conceptual moves – if you can talk about this, was there something where the office was really behind X-concept and in dealing with the client, what is something you had to give up or fought really hard to keep?

It’s very unusual that it happens but it does – it happened recently with us. We always say that when you’re working with something as complex as architectural design in the public sphere – to a certain extent in the private sphere, but more so in the public sphere – as things grow more complicated, everyone involved in the process who is a stakeholder in the design really needs to be involved from the very early stages, otherwise they get lost and confused. It’s hard enough for architects, let alone people not trained in the profession. If you’re doing architecture in the realm that we are, which is trying to create new ways of seeing things, broadening people’s perspectives, introduce new norms for social interactions, things like that, then you really need to get people involved early. There have been times where we’ve asked, let’s get the important people to the table, and everyone says, yeah, they’re all here, and then halfway through you realize that there’s actually these 3 or 4 people that we have to present to and they haven’t been there at all from the very beginning, so you show your work to them and they are totally against it because it’s like a pie in the face to their understanding of the world. And really what we’re often trying to do is respect other people’s understanding, but in that kind of scenario you aren’t able to build a bridge so no body crosses the river.

The other thing is how we maintain a concept internally. Sometimes the size of the group makes a difference – if it’s too big of a group, you can’t hold on. Nothing negative, because everyone has the best intentions at heart, there’s just not enough space for these intentions to grow organically, so finding the right size of the group is very important. Trying to define who the group is, is very important. We don’t look at things in terms of “Ooh, that person’s a good designer and that person’s not”, it’s not like that, but we do try to balance between male and female, and also balance between disciplines – architecture and landscape, interiors if we can, and balance between levels of understanding – young and old. Getting that mix in the group makes a big difference.

New Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, Oslo.

Any other thoughts that you would like to share with us?

I teach occasionally, not very often, but I sense differences in younger people’s approach to architecture. Sometimes it makes me a little nervous; I think part of it is because of teaching methods that I believe are somewhat problematic in the world of architecture. The other is people’s desires are changing, especially when the economies of the world have shifted radically. I believe somehow a lot of people are in it just to find a job – the job is important but it’s not why you make architecture. You definitely make it so that you are earning a living – you’re not stupid about your money – you always should have enough to move forward. But a lot of students that I talk to about why they’re doing it, their answers are puzzling to me – “I want to work on this, or I’m going to do that”, but they don’t say things like “there are these aspects of the world that interest me and I want to fit into this part of it”, and in fact getting a job may be exactly the wrong thing to do because the method of training in architecture is so limited, it’s almost worthwhile once you get out of school to think of something else that you want to do that fits you before you move into taking a job, or you run things in parallel. That is something that is intriguing to me. It’s valuable to try and reevaluate why you want to do things. Architecture in the professional world is already at a very unusual point – it’s disappearing as a profession. It’s hard to say how much longer architecture will exist in the traditional way that we understand it – costs of building are increasing to the point that design as we ordinarily understood it has changed, or it’s reached a point now where fees are often lower and salaries are higher and those two things hit each other, making it such that you can’t have big teams anymore. When I was younger, you’d have 15 people on a job, and you’d get to learn from those people. Now you have 3 or 4 and they’re all working on 5-6 jobs, and that’s also related to the notion of focus with technologies and so forth.

One last thing that I wanted to mention – it’s important for us to use our fingers and bodies while we design. I often say that your mind is not the only thing that thinks; your whole body thinks, and you need to use your whole body to think. If you limit your physical movements to interacting with a computer, you’re not thinking as much. That doesn’t mean you that don’t do an incredible amount of thinking at a computer, and invaluable thinking at a computer, but you need to move back and forth between these worlds, and I sense sometimes that younger people are losing that, sketching is no longer a part of the process anymore. I’m not saying, let’s go back to the old times when I walked a mile to school – I’m saying, let’s keep expanding the technologies, but we need to expand them in the context of what the human body is all about. That goes back to what I said earlier, the same way we see architecture, you have to think of the human body as a fleshy thing, not as an abstract quotient.

If you could change one thing about architectural education, what would it be?

I always felt this when I was in school, and I think other people feel it, too – that while it was exciting to work on theoretical approaches to architecture, I never felt I had enough use of building and making in a real way. It was all about representation, it wasn’t about actual things. You know, why can’t we just make it, or at least make a part of it? I think that would be a wonderful thing in schools to really get the blood flowing, and allow you to be more excited to go back to your desk and think in worlds outside of the every day. The other thing I would change is literally to allow students to interact with real people in a way that’s not written – talking to people in the streets, going out into cities and really interacting with people – that’s a big thing to ask, because people’s sensibilities are often defined by boundaries – it’s hard to go up to people on the street and talk to them. Essentially architects are like animal behaviorists, but we don’t deal with monkeys and gazelles – we deal with human beings. I read a lot of Temple Grandin’s books – she was very transformational for me. I would recommend reading some of her books about how she perceives animals – we’re an animal, so it definitely gives you a different insight in what it means to make things for people. It’s about who they are as creatures, psychologically, not some sort of set of definitions.

Thanks to Craig Dykers for meeting with us, and to Kira Kupfersberger and Leah Shearer for setting up the interview.

The New Yorker – Art Factory

Last week’s issue of the New Yorker had an article about Art Factories in China. I have to try to grab a copy, but the synopsis on the slide show is very interesting: The business of copying paintings for export and the implications of blurring the line between artist and worker. If art is a fully commercial venture, is it still ‘art’? And if a piece is simply executed, is there still authorship?

James Jean Interview at BL!SS Magazine

Be sure to check out the Interview with James Jean over at BL!SS Magazine

Proud Mary – Interview with Harper Poe

We are proud to have a mini-interview with Harper Poe (middle), cofounder of the recently launched Proud Mary. Harper and I met a few years ago volunteering for Stoked Mentoring with the program days and behind the scenes on marketing and graphics projects. She recently got hitched and moved down South and NYC misses her.

Proud Mary partners with local weavers from Guatemala as the artisans for the three distinct regional fabrics of their first release of accessories. They also partner with Nest, a microfinance not-for-profit that helps women build sustainable local jobs and partnerships in other countries. Below are examples (L to R) of the Diamante, Raya and El Sol fabrics in a few of their product types. Check out Proud Mary and see more and learn about promoting social responsibility through design.

Who is involved in Proud Mary and how did you meet?

Proud Mary is Harper Poe and Molly Purnell. Molly and I met through mutual friends while living in Brooklyn in 2006. I had just returned from a Habitat for Humanity build in Chile where I fell in love with the Latin American people and textiles. I wanted to find a way to combine these new loves into a business. Luckily Molly had the same dreams so after 6 months of “meetings” we had a business plan.

Why South America? Will you branch out into other continents and their regional styles?

We enlisted the help of Nest, a non-profit that works with women artisans in developing countries to source out the production of our fabrics and products. After seeing our designs it was clear that Guatemala would be a perfect fit for our first line. Guatemala has an amazing pool of talented weavers and since we both know some Spanish we thought it would be a good place to start.

We definitely want to branch out to other countries; we would love to work with potato printing in Africa and Alpaca in Bolivia and Peru.

How do you balance being both profitable and socially responsible?

In this economic culture less people are buying and when they do buy they are being much more selective. It’s important for new businesses to move forward in a more conscious way because the market has really become more aware of production methods and materials used. Our goal is to provide consistent work and income for all of the artisans with whom we work but to also be a sustainable, profitable business.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Unlike screen printing, weaving has limitations. I think our biggest challenge has been learning the technical aspects of weaving and how to design within those parameters. Limiting may be the wrong term because once the design is worked out we realize it’s exactly how it should be.

Which of Proud Mary’s goals are you most proud of achieving or look forward to achieving?

I think we’re most proud of actually getting to this point. We made a vow at the beginning of this process that we would keep going no matter how slow we were moving or how many obstacles we came across until our “doors” were open. We’re looking forward to working with more artisans and strengthening the relationships with our current weavers and sewers.

Second Line Frames

You might remember our post on Second Line Frames’ work a few months back – we were really impressed with their product and with the idea behind the salvaged frames made from reclaimed New Orleans housing siding, so we decided to ask them a few questions and got so much more! Thanks to Anika and her family for taking the time to give us such a great interview. Check out Second Line Frames’ etsy store here.

Who are you?
We created Second Line Frames as a way to shed a little hope on what was left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It stands for a new beginning and cherishes the past at the same time. We salvage wood from homes that were destroyed in the storm and remake it into picture frames that people can use for their own memories. It’s our way of giving something that has been through so much, a new life. The whole idea of our shop is to remind people that there is always something to look forward to, even when you’re looking back.

The name comes from the “Second Line” – a timeless New Orleans tradition. It’s the colorful parade that follows a funeral procession to turn tragedy into a celebration of rebirth.

It was important to us that those who experienced it up close and those of us who watched from afar be able to own a piece of the New Orleans story. We see it as an American tragedy that is significant to all of us. There is a preciousness in the lives we create and the homes we build. And in the wake of destruction, that should not be forgotten. So that’s what we hope to do, reinvigorate the survival part of it all…reclaim what had been disregarded and give it a renewed purpose.

We currently donate ten percent of our proceeds to The Katrina Foundation for Recovery. It’s a relief organization that disburses funds across the Gulf Coast to groups working to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Any amount can make a difference when it’s going toward a focused effort like this. If you’d like to learn more, visit www.bandforkatrina.org.

There are four people involved:
Anika Easter: I am an artist, clothing designer and writer living in Tampa, FL. I visualize the design layout of most of the frames and am responsible for putting together most of the tinier frames and mosaics. I also manage the website and all correspondence.

Kris Anderson: Kris owns a boutique called Dunia in Orange Beach, Alabama full of unique home décor and clothing where she also sells the frames. After living in New Orleans for 22 years, she’s definitely got that “flavor” and a great artsy personality because of it. It’s Mom (Kris) that is primarily in charge of collecting the wood. She can spot an amazing piece in a pile of rubbish a mile away.

Terry Easter: Terry is the chief frame maker and a self admitted perfectionist. He has always had a naturally expert hand at anything he’s picked up, whether it’s a basketball, golf club, tool or cooking utensil. So it was no surprise that frame-making came just as naturally!

Michael: Michael takes care of Second Line Frames’ more intricate layouts, and is also our resident mathematician – the go-to-guy for frame symmetry.

When did you start doing this?
We haven’t been doing Second Line Frames long at all. Actually, we just started in January of this year!

Where did you get your inspiration for making frames out reclaimed frame siding from damaged Hurricane Katrina homes? Where does the material come from? Do you have to get permission to use the materials?
In the several times we went back to New Orleans within the first two years after the hurricane, we couldn’t quite get over the shock of how much was still left to be done, although with each visit, it was getting better. We’d see an old restaurant had finally reopened, or a whole family energetically taking on a fresh remodel. The street music was starting up again. Night life was coming back. But on the other hand, there was that pile of debris you’d see where there was once a quaint old house. Or that completely empty lot roped off with construction tape. Or stains of flood water levels up to the windows on homes throughout entire neighborhoods. And that was unsettling. We all felt an unignorable inclination to do something. We wanted to create something that could give back to the cause while at the same time giving people something to hold onto. Luckily, we found something we could all do together.

We’re people who, if it’s possible, try to find something beautiful where you don’t expect to see it. We all love walking the French Quarter and seeing the amazing walls down there, layers and layers of paint, so delightful, and colorfully complex in their history. That’s what the wood is like. Years and years of bright new paint colors. All the times it was given a fresh start. All that it survived. That’s what we find so valuable.

What is your process for producing the frames?
We get the wood by driving up and down the streets of New Orleans. All the wood we collect has either already been put into piles for trash pickup or we get permission from a family currently doing renovations. They have always been more than happy to give us the wood, and often, would like us to haul away more than we can carry.

One thing we are committed to doing sometime in the future is to give a frame back to the original person we got the wood from so they can have a preserved piece of their old house. That would be a fantastic moment!

As far as cleaning it goes, we wash it down through and through with a bleach and disinfectant solution, then lay it outside until it dries thoroughly in the sun. We sand it to remove any loose paint and to reveal some of the underlying layers, then seal it with a satin varnish.

When it comes to the designs, we pick out a plank of wood and think about what would best fit it, not how it would fit into our design. The wood inspires the frame. Sometimes we use the tiny leftover pieces to make mosaics. We try to maximize the wood we have and the dimensions of each frame are based on the most we could get out of each piece, in an attempt to produce as little waste as possible.

Why frames (as opposed to furniture, etc)?
Frames seemed only natural as a way to preserve a memory. They also allow for people to include their own personal touch and make it their own. We have a few ideas for other products too, though. So keep an eye out…there very well may be more items coming soon.

Subliminal: Debi van Zyl

Debi van Zyl is a British-born, South African-and-Canadian-raised, LA transplant (whew!), currently working in architecture and exhibition design. When she’s not on the job, she’s knitting little beastie creatures and creating paper goods, mobiles and designing furniture. She’s been knitting beasts for about a year and a half, and is currently trying out knitting some new, more human-like creatures.

What are you currently inspired by?
Clever and elegant reuse of materials (ie: Piet Hein Eek) and Polaroid photos…with the news of Polaroid’s demise, I love how everyone is in “Polaroid mode”. It reminds us that new technology is not always better.

What websites can you not live without?
Besides all the blogs I have bookmarked (and there are too many to list)…designboom.

What magazine subscriptions do you currently have? (Bonus Q: How many of them do you actually read?)
None, actually…I used to subscribe to Dwell, Marie Claire Maison and an Australian design journal called Artichoke, but I had to stop. I couldn’t store all the back issues and I felt guilty getting rid of any them. Now I just buy the ones I want when I want them. I am thinking about subscribing to I.D. magazine, though. These days I am reading it cover to cover.

4. Which designers most inspire you?
Eileen Gray
Eduardo Chillida
Piet Hein Eek
Hella Jongerius

What are your favorite inspirational spots?
The high desert – Joshua Tree, CA – the landscape is very inspiring. Sometimes in my car – the traffic has me sitting for hours, so a lot of day dreaming goes on.

What is your favorite local store?
The SCI-Arc Supply Store, in downtown LA. I still go there to buy stuff, long after graduation.
Tortoise, Venice, CA.
Turpan, Brentwood, CA.

What is your favorite music to work by?
I actually listen to a range of things…and it’s never one artist or CD. Also, I listen to old ‘This American Life’ shows, though mostly I’m tuning out.

What books are you currently reading?
None at the moment, but I just finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, which was incredible. And sad.

Any “inspiring” deadlines coming up?
My first wholesale order to an upstart shop in London to be completed in a about two weeks, and then my own personal deadline of launching a new set of knitted creatures (end of July).

Thanks to Debi for the interview!

Subliminal: JHill Design

We are very excited to introduce a new feature to the blog: Subliminal, featuring the designers we love and their influences – big and small. Being that I was inspired by this post on Places I Have Never Been – Jennifer Hill of JHill Design’s blog, I am excited to feature her in our first Subliminal post.

Jennifer Hill is a Boston-based graphic designer who started JHill Design five years ago. You most likely know her for her paper line called Places I Have Never Been which revolves around drawings of her imaginary vacations. Besides making products, JHill Design also creates logos, websites, etc.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new card collection which follows the Places I Have Never Been theme, but includes holiday, thank you and hello! cards. I’m also wrapping up 12 new patterns for the 2009 calendar.

What are you currently inspired by?
I’ve been finishing up my new 2008 collection (to be released in May) and there were some great influences. One of the big ones was Balenciaga’s Spring collection, all the crazy florals patterns and those great knee high, black and white gladiator sandals. There is a lot of nature in this series and lots of color, maybe it is because of this looooong winter.

What websites can you not live without?
what would tyler durgan do
i suwanee
yourgirlfriendisugly – the funniest blog EVER

What magazine subscriptions do you currently have? (Bonus Q: How many of them do you actually read?)
oh boy.
subscriptions: lucky, domino, sherman’s travel, new york, vogue, elle, vanity fair, portfolio, 7×7, gourmet. I know – it’s a lot.

I always read new york magazine each week. I don’t read lucky and domino that much, I usually go to them when I’m looking for inspiration for something. I adore elle. So I’d say I read 5 out of 10, browse 3 and 2 stay on the shelf til they are needed.

What are your favorite inspirational spots?
Spot 1: in my hammock under a big tree. We are lucky to live on a dead end next to a park in Boston and my hammock lays under a big tree. Of course there are also triple deckers all around me so it isn’t that private, but private enough.

Spot 2: my bed. I can lay and look out the window (we have very tall windows) and watch the planes from Logan fly away, I always wonder where all those people are going.

What is your favorite music to work by?

I like a lot of different music. Right now I have been switching between rilo kiely, patty griffith and jay-z. I know, weird.

What books are you currently reading?
animal, vegetable mineral by barbara kingsolver.

Any “inspiring” deadlines coming up?
I’ll be showing at the stationary show in May with Sub-Studio!!! Got to finish up that collection…

Thanks so much to Jennifer for being our first in the Subliminal series!

Yang Liu

Yang Liu is a Chinese-born, German-raised graphic designer. She translated the nuances of her cultural identities into a fantastic project called Ost trifft West (East Meets West), which is a humorous and iconographic look at the differences between German and Chinese cultures. (Above, clockwise from top left: differences in perceptions of time, the status of the boss in the work place, superstitious beliefs, and behavior at parties). I posted an interview with Yang over at Notcot.com and hope you will go and check it and the many photos of Yang’s work out!