Design Driven Column: Give Me Five!

A version of this column ran in the Arts Section, Salon of the Telegraph Journal, Saturday, December 28th, 2013.

For this, my last column of the year, I decided to reach out to other like-minded, ‘design driven’ colleagues.   I asked them to describe their favourite moment, product or event from 2013’s adventures in Design, Architecture and/or Art.

It would be a massive understatement to say that the construction of the new Halifax Central Library has been captivating. This building admirably expresses all of the highest aspirations of architecture.  Not only does it contribute to the animation of the street, it is a building that people from all walks of life will be able to experience from the inside as a member of the public.  When it’s completed, this library will be a great and lasting argument for the benefits of thoughtful design and architecture. (Ed Note:  The Halifax Central Library is scheduled to open in 2014. Substantial completion is scheduled for April/May 2014 to be followed by building commissioning and move-in.)

MAYOR MEL NORTON, City of Saint John  
Photo:  Judith Mackin / Instagram
For me, August 1, 2013, will always be a bandstand moment. Since 1909, Saint John musicians have entertained the citizens of Saint John at the King’s Square Bandstand.  Thanks to the generosity of John Irving and Dr. Richard Currie, the Bandstand’s revitalization constituted a world-class moment of historical restoration and design.  The now-restored bandstand is a work of art that features a wealth of fascinating and intricate details, including its copper fascia and roof, scrolled metal work, fine wood work and, of course, its world-famous second level (one of only two in the world).

PAUL ROWAN, Founder UMBRA, Toronto
FRAME Shirt Display by Prakhar Mehrotra and Caleb Ferris for Umbra
Umbra has sponsored a design competition at the Pratt School of Design in Brooklyn NY for over 7 years. Last year’s finalist not only received top prize but was chosen for manufacturing by Umbra. The T-Frame allows concert t-shirt collectors to protect and display their treasured concert memento. Umbra pays a royalty to the students and the school which makes this item even more meaningful to me this year. By purchasing this item, you support design education and fund emerging designers as they embark on their careers. I highly recommend this fun video which explains how it works.

BUDDY Tea Infuser by Peter Tu for Umbra
Also a winner of the Umbra design competition at the California State University, Long Beach.  Specialty teas are a fast-growing beverage so Peter came up with a fun way to brew your tea.  Buddy seems like he’s actually enjoying a hot tub session in your cup. Made from stainless steel and silicone

KATE WALLACE, Executive Director, ArtsLink NB,
Photo Credit:  Iwan Baan  ICA_Mediatheque

In October I saw ‘Amy Sillman: one lump or two’ at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. The exhibition was fantastic, but just as thrilling was the Poss Family Mediatheque, my favourite space in the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed building. What most struck me about the room (a digital media center for researching contemporary art) was its physical and aesthetic effects, how its steep slope induced a mild, not unpleasant, vertigo, while its sole rectangular window acted as viewfinder frame on the eternal, ever-changing show of waves.
The design was purposeful and simple – the effect was profound.

JACQUELINE COLLOMB, President, Third Space Gallery
Photo:  Nienke Izurieta

A Fredericton-based florist, Reuben Mark Designs created the centerpieces for Deanna Musgrave and Andrew Reed Miller’s wedding. Though each unique, they weren’t a mish-mash of styles. Each used a variety of cut flowers – roses, dahlias, etc — and unconventional wild foliage to create light and unpretentious arrangements, drawing from 17th-century France as opposed to the popularly “traditional” Rococo style. Well-balanced between opulence and laid-back country, they echoed the wedding’s combination of traditional and bohemian elements.

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