So Much To Do. . . Little Tokyo Design Week, JDM-Ten, Timeless

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1) How exciting that Kate and William’s Socal trip involves a visit Sunday to Inner City Arts, a model of social good meshed with great design, by LA Architect Michael Maltzan (graphics by Michael Hodgson and landscaping by Nancy Goslee Powers, that has literally brought birdsong back to this arid, industrial neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles). Prince William’s father, Charles, is infamous among British architecture buffs for his crusade against contemporary architecture, dating back to 1984 when he referred to a proposed extension to the neo-classical National Gallery as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend.”

2) There is another synthesis of social good and great design taking place in downtown this week, and that is Little Tokyo Design Week, opening to the public this Thursday. Created by UCLA Architecture School Dean Hitoshi Abe, the first LTDW does what has never been done but seems blindingly obvious: add contemporary and even futuristic design culture to the mix of more traditional Japanese culture and cuisinein Little Tokyo. According to the organizers, LDTW “celebrates the power and energy of cutting edge design and technology now emerging from Japan and its intersection with current trends materializing in Los Angeles. Design’s ability to move us towards a more sustainable and creative urban lifestyle is at the heart of this four-day festival, which will be open to the public from July 14 – July 17, 2011.”  This is a not-to-be-missed gathering of talent and exhibits (including one of artist, Stan Sakai, whose rabbits are shown right), not to mention it memorializes and offers opportunities to donate to victims of the March 11 earthquake in Japan. Hear Abe talking about LTDW on this DnA.

Jean de Merry showroom in West Hollywood. JDM-TEN, through September 2, celebrates de Merry’s ten-year anniversary by bringing together ten luminaries of various fields (including actress Katherine Heigl and model Karolina Kurkova) who each designed a piece of furniture, sold in limited edition of ten to raise money for the artists’ chosen charities. Shown, left, at the fabulous party last month to launch JDM-Ten is a piece by Oliver Furth, interior designer, entertaining man-about-town and Chairman of LACMA’s Decorative Arts Council. Somewhat reminiscent (to my eyes) of Memphis design, the glass blocks are from Jean de Merry’s new foray into glass manufacturing.

4) If, on the other hand, your tastes run to animation and futurism, try and stop by a very personal exhibit about the relationship between architecture and film currently on show weekday afternoons at the PDC. The show is called Timeless and was curated by Martin Roy Mervel and Ralph Spencer Steenblik. Mervel is an architect and production designer who trained at SCI-Arc as well as in the offices of SCI-Arc founders Thom Mayne and Eric Owen Moss during their early experimental days, and he is interested in the visual techniques as well as notions of narrative space shared by creatives in architecture and film. According to the organizers: “we explore immersive environments and connect them to the 20th century lineage of architecture and film.” The show is interesting to me for another reason, and it is one I am investigating for a future segment on DnA: the impact of digital media on handdrawing as the show mixes up media, revealing on the one hand the emotional power of a simple sketch, but also demonstrating how painterly digitally created environments can be.