5 design things to do this week

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This week: take a film journey following the career of famed Finnish-American modern architect Eero Saarinen; hear about innovative hands-on design today; gasp in the wonder of Tyrus Wong’s kites; take a ride ‘back to the future’ of Googie design; and imagine yourself living in an historic Hollywood mansion designed for today’s contemporary lifestyle.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1947. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

1 ) Film Screening & Talk: “Eero Saarinen, The Architect Who Saw the Future”

USC School of Architecture screens “The Architect Who Saw the Future,” a film about Finnish-American modernist architect Eero Saarinen, produced and directed by Peter Rosen. The film follows the late architect’s son, Eric Saarinen, as he visits the sites of his father’s visionary work, from St. Louis’ iconic Gateway Arch to Dulles International Airport outside of DC, where he broke the mold of the old to create a new and daring aesthetic.  Saarinen’s spectacular career was cut short by an early death at 51, and his son showcases and pays tribute to the importance of his father’s timeless work. There will be a discussion with Eric Saarinen following the screening.

When: Wednesday, April 5, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Where: Gin Wong Auditorium/Harris Hall, University of Southern California, Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles.  Map here.

Tickets: Free.

The Herman Miller Aeron Chair (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

2 ) LABTalk #3: The Genius of Making

Los Angeles designers have long valued the region’s capacity for experimentation in fabrication and materiality. The postwar years, even through the early ’90s, engaged a hands-on design culture of modeling, prototyping and testing, which cut across industrial design, Hollywood and architecture. How have the advance of digital media, new materials, and new systems of fabrication changed that? What is the new status of making in the city today?  The third and final LAB Talk is hosted by Frances Anderton, Host of KCRW’s DnA, where she will speak to innovators including the co-designer of the Aeron chair, the head of one of the most innovative prefab housing companies, the team that created the exhibition installation, and the architects of “zero-gravity” workspace.  Panel includes Don Chadwick, Industrial Designer at Knoll and Herman Miller; Steve Glenn, Managing Director, livinghomes, and CEO, plant prefab; Jia Gu and Maxi Spina of Spinagu: architecture, curation, and pedagogy; and Marta Nowak and Iman Ansari of AN.ONYMOUS: transdisciplinary design and technology.

When: Thursday, April 6, 7:30 pm

Where: A+D Museum, 900 E. 4th St. Los Angeles, CA  90013

Tickets: Free.  Space is limited. Please RSVP here.

Sara Jane Boyers has photographed Tyrus Wong’s kites over many years. This is the installation of his kites at Malibu City Hall (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

3 ) Tyrus Wong’s kites x 2, and the  6th Annual Otis Kite Festival

Tyrus Wong, who lived to be 106 years old, was one of the first well known Chinese-American artists. Separated from his mother and sister at an early age, he and his father emigrated to the U.S. Wong faced intense racism on the way to a long and wide-ranging career which included being a lead designer for the Disney film Bambi (1942), creating Hallmark Cards and working as a production illustrator for Warner Brothers for 26 years. When he retired in 1968, Wong started making kites. Over the next four decades, he designed and made over 200 of them, mostly animals, and all vibrant, exotic, colorful and magical. Up until his death on December 30, he would fly his kites most Saturdays just north of the Santa Monica Pier.  As part of the 6th Annual Otis Kite Festival, Wong’s family and others will be flying his kites this Saturday in his honor.  Featured kites also include works of Melanie Walker, George Peters, Ron Gibian and Kevin Bayless. Attendees will be able to create their own kite using a provided kit and basic design instruction.

When: Saturday, April 8, 11 am – 4 pm

Where: Santa Monica Pier

Tickets: Free; click here for more information.

Exhibit: The Kites of Tyrus Wong

Wong’s kites are on display at Malibu City Hall, along with a photography exhibit by Sara Jane Boyers called “Go Fly a Kite: Saturdays at the Beach with Tyrus Wong.”

When: Through July 28

Where: Malibu City Hall, 23815 Stuart Ranch Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

Tickets:  Free; click here for more information.

Speakers include Alan Hess, whose landmark book Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, renewed interest in the style. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

4 ) Googie World Expo

Influenced by car culture, jets, the Space Age and the Atomic Age, Googie Architecture (that’s Googie not Google) captured the Southern California imagination from the late 1940s into the mid-1960s, and helped shape the look of roadside motels, coffee shops and gas stations. The Googie World Expo celebrates this exuberant and futuristic mid-century modern architecture and design with speakers including Alan Hess (author of “Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture), Heather David, Jack Laxer and Victor Newlove, longtime partner in the architectural firm Armet Davis Newlove.  The event will include speakers, vendors, book signings and an exhibition of 3-D photography exploring the many facets of modern architecture and design. The expo will be held in the hall adjacent to Corky’s restaurant (1959, Armet & Davis).

When: Sunday, April 9, 2 – 6 pm

Where: Corky’s Restaurant, 5043 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Tickets: Free. Click here for more information.

Sitting Room, designer Nicole Gordon (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

5 ) Wattles Designer Showcase

Built in 1908, the magnificent Wattles Mansion was the original home of famous financier Gurdon Wattles who bankrolled much of early Hollywood. Owned by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, it is a classic Mission Revival masterpiece designed by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey (Huntington Library, Rose Bowl, Ambassador Hotel) and is the only remaining example of a pre-film industry Hollywood estate. Now it forms the backdrop to this year’s Wattles Designer Showcase. Interior designers including Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design; Melinda Ritz, Mae Brunken, Patrick Dragonette, David Dalton, Ryan Saghian, Winslow & Cohen, Kym Rodger and Nicole Gordon will explore the theme of Hollywood History: The New Classics, showing how to reinterpret a historic home for today’s contemporary lifestyle.

When: Thursdays-Sundays 10 am – 5 pm thru April 16 (Catch it before it’s over: just this week and next left!  )

Where: Wattles Mansion Showcase House, 1824 N Curson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Tickets: $40. Click here to book tickets.