Socal Design: A New Age of “Making”, with Smilee Barnacle, Bobbye Tigerman

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In an age of complex digital design LA artists and architects are turning to specialty fabricators to build their concepts. Smilee Barnacle talks about “making” in LA’s new age of manufacturing. And Bobbye Tigerman looks back at a past community of makers and designers, profiled in her Handbook of California Design. Plus, DJ Waldie talks about how Angeleno-style mobility was off limits to him until the advent of rapid transit on “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard.”

Handbook of California Design

California Design, 1930—1965: Living in a Modern Way, an exhibit shown last year at LACMA (see image above). The show was a hit – and the research produced so much rich history about designers and makers that the curators decided to create a book about them.

001 B Victor hammeringThe result is A Handbook of California Design, 1930—1965: Craftspeople, Designers, Manufacturers, designed by Irma Boom (who happens not to be a California designer, and we’ll hear about that choice).

Bobbye talks about the community of designers that thrived in the Modern period, and the very special people she met during her research, like 106-year old emigre silversmith Victor Ries (shown right in photo courtesy of Noa Mohlabane).

Caroline reads CA DesignShe also considers the state of Southern California designing and making today. After being eclipsed for a while by Silicon Valley, she sees signs of a rebirth of a community of designers and makers. (Image left, DnA intern Caroline Chamberlain reads the handbook.)

Making” in LA Today: Smilee Barnacle


Smilee Barnacle, aka Alessandro Thompson, is the founder of Barnacle Brothers, maker of one-off or short run sculptures and installations, in metal, foam, fiberglass, metal, stone and other materials for artists and architects including Allorra & Calzadilla (shown above, part of their Venice Bienale 2011 installation, Gloria, built by Barnacle Brothers), Shepard Fairey, Andrea Zittel, Mark Bradford, and architect Tom Wiscombe.

Smilee's own workDnA went to visit Smilee as he and his team at their El Sereno location as they worked on making the fiberglass shell of a design by architect Tom Wiscombe.

Smilee, who is a practising artist himself, talks about “making” in LA’s new age of manufacturing, and reflects on the impact of the computer on the tradition of crafting ones own artwork.

Iconic Wilshire Boulevard: DJ Waldie

For the past month on DnA we’ve been hearing stories about “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard.” This week poet and essayist DJ Waldie returns with a reminder that LA’s streets tell a different story when you cannot drive. As a non-driver, his life was transformed when rapid transit arrived on Wilshire Boulevard.