TOTOloo Cool and Other Things (Like John Lautner, Rethink LA and Tibbie Dunbar)

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There is something about branding, even the use of the word itself, that seems to touch a nerve with people. I found that when DnA talked about Apple Worship, the…

There is something about branding, even the use of the word itself, that seems to touch a nerve with people. I found that when DnA talked about Apple Worship, the Gap Logo fiasco and, this week, the  marketing of the TOTO and Kohler luxury toilets. Is it because what we choose to buy reveals so much about our unconscious needs and desires; or, for those troubled by this topic, that simply talking about identity creation and product positioning, even critically, renders a programmer complicit with the companies’ sales goals?

But I find the topic fascinating. This week’s show, for example, about the battle for the affluent buyers for $5-6,000 toilets, that do pretty much everything for you short of cooking dinner, talked about how a company takes a product that is both deeply personal and subject to jokes, and tries to make it seductive; and it boggled the mind in terms of where “techno-fetishism” (as guest Hitoshi Abe described Japan’s tendency to create friendly machines) is taking us. As you can imagine, testing the product offered many absurd moments but I tried to steer clear of toilet humor. I do hope you’ll listen.

The overarching theme of the show was the Future City (TOTO sponsored the Future City Pecha Kucha event at Little Tokyo Design Week on the grounds that “smart” toilets will be in everyone’s homes in coming years) and it also included a calendar of some of the design events taking place in LA this summer that explore that theme.  I want to mention a couple of them here: John Lautner’s 100th birthday celebration with home tours today and, opening August 4, at A+D Museum, Rethink LA. Rethink LA is an exhibit that offers up ideas for Los Angeles 50 years hence. A big part of the show has to with transportation and getting off our car addiction. On August 11, there will be a big party to celebrate “Moving Beyond Cars.” Here is what the organizers have to say about it: “We suspect Los Angeles might have a car-crazed reputation but we also know this city has a vibrant community that likes to take bikes, buses and sidewalks, too. Rethink LA is teaming up with GOOD, deLab, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Dublab, Green Aid, Architects Newspaper, Tommy B, New Belgium Brewery and the A+D Museum, for an event that shows how L.A. can move beyond cars. We’re holding it at the exhibition Rethink LA: Perspectives on a Future City which envisions a Los Angeles fifty years in the future. And we’re challenging everyone who attends to use alternative transportation. That’s right— our goal is to make this a completely car-free party.” Find out more here.

And while on the subject of A+D Museum, I want to give a shout-out to Tibbie Dunbar. She is the imaginative Executive Director of the museum who is also an artist in her own right. She is currently exhibiting some drawings (shown, left, She Didn’t Want To But He’d Already Taken Her Hand) at Fifth Floor in Chinatown and now has work in a group show opening tonight (Saturday, July 23) at Shoshana Wayne. Recommended.