July 8, 2009 | Designer and automotive historian Strother MacMinn once told me, "if it moves, even if it's a vacuum cleaner going back and forth at three miles per hour, it has to follow the rules of transportation design." For those enthusiasts who missed this year's Concours d'Elegance in Greenwich, Connecticut, the Japan Society offers a chance to examine some of the greatest hits of America's postwar love affair with the automobile—in miniature. Buriki: Japanese Tin Toys from the Golden Age of the American Automobile, the Yoku Tanaka Collection will be on display from July 9 to August 16. "Buriki" derives from the Dutch "blik" (tin) and these are truly exceptional survivors of items that once numbered in the thousands. Beginning extremely modestly with metal cans salvaged from U.S. military bases, by the early 1950s these now nameless designers had hit their groove and were lovingly ripping off Detroit practically as soon as the new models were announced. Even Harley Earl's "LeSabre" custom made it into production through buriki.
May 11, 2009 | At the New York School of Interior Design on May 6 the Manitoga Design Industry Council convened a panel, "Russel Wright—The Growing Relevance of Organic Modernism," that included landscape architect Carol Franklin; noted textile designer, author, and collector Jack Lenor Larsen; and mid-century furniture designer Jens Risom to discuss the relevance of Russel Wright on today's design environment.
This panel, which was moderated by Donald Albrecht, curator at the Museum of the City of New York, and Katy Moss Warner, president emeritus of the American Horticulture Society, served effectively as a celebration of Dragon Rock (Wright's home built into the site of a former quarry) and Manitoga (the larger site of 75 acres Wright acquired in 1942) located near Garrison, New York. Albrecht, who curated an exhibition on Wright at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in 2001, provided an overview of Russel and Mary Wright's non-elitist aesthetic of "casual elegance"—epitomized by Wright's iconic American Modern dinnerware. He discussed Wright's career as a series of concentric and evolving circles, beginning with Wright's early experience with set design and ending with Wright as an environmental designer as seen through his intricate series of pathways and constructed views at Manitoga.
Pickle Dish, American China Manufactory (Bonnin and Morris), Philadelphia, 1771-72. Soft-paste porcelain with lead glaze; height 4 3/16, width 4 1/2» View All