Apple Is Developing a Search Engine, LVMH Acquires Tiffany, and Other News

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Alejandro Aravena at the Arsenale in Venice. Photography by James Mollison

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Alejandro Aravena has been named Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury.

The Pritzker Prize, widely considered to be architecture’s highest accolade, has announced the appointment of Alejandro Aravena as Chair of the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury. His tenure will start effective March 2021, in time for the award’s 43rd year. The Elemental founder, who received the Pritzker Prize in 2016 (the same year he graced the cover of Surface’s Power 100 issue), prioritizes public interest and humanitarian needs in his work, which targets housing, public space, infrastructure, and transportation. The announcement also designated Manuela Lucá-Dazio, executive director of the department of visual arts and architecture of La Biennale di Venezia, as an advisor to the Prize and its executive director.

Urban planners, take note: A new “whitest white” paint could help cool the planet.

Some good news during increasingly bleak times: scientists have discovered a “whitest-white” paint that reflects 95.5 percent of light. Whereas typical commercial white paints max out at about 80-to-90 percent reflectivity, a newly developed paint revealed in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science is tapped to make previously seemingly “white” paints even more efficient. Urban planners, take note: “this paint may even be used to combat climate change since it rejects sunlight and radiates heat into space,” says Xiulin Ruan, a professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. To achieve it, developers used ground calcium carbonate particles as a paint filler instead of the industry-standard titanium dioxide. Yesterday’s cool: paint the town red. The new chill: paint the town “whitest-white.”

La Prairie will help the Fondation Beyeler conserve four Piet Mondrian masterpieces

La Prairie announces the patronage of a Piet Mondrian conservation project at Fondation Beyeler.

Four of Piet Mondrian’s masterpieces will receive a new lease on life thanks to La Prairie. The Swiss skincare brand—known for their high-profile artist collaborations at Art Basel and their signature blue color created by Niki de Saint Phalle—has announced the patronage of a two-year conservation project for four of the Dutch modernist painter’s greatest works at the Fondation Beyeler, which boasts one of Switzerland’s most comprehensive collections of Mondrian paintings. The project will culminate with a large Mondrian exhibition at the museum in 2022. “While each painting will be considered independently, the objective is also to treat these works as a group regarding the way they’re displayed and presented,” Markus Gross, chief conservator at the Fondation, tells Forbes. La Prairie will also document the process, which museums typically keep private, through a digital content series called The Art Journal.

Ghana enlists a 13-person committee to create a new narrative for its cultural institutions. 

Ghana has appointed a 13-person committee to advise on a new direction for its museums and cultural heritage program. Working alongside Accra-based ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge is global development advisor Edward Ayensu, a former senior scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The newly appointed board will be responsible for museums across the country, including the National Museum in Accra as well as Ghana’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The committee will “investigate radical new ways of presenting narratives, as well as engaging communities from across social divides in Ghana, so that they might see themselves properly represented in their museums.” The committee includes experts in architecture, archaeology, art history, education, business, finance, and law, among them Nana Oforiatta Ayim, the founder of ANO and curator of the acclaimed Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Apple Park in Cupertino, California

According to a new report, Apple is ramping up efforts to develop its own search engine.

Apple may be developing a search engine to dethrone Google. According to the Financial Times, U.S. antitrust authorities are threatening a lucrative deal that sets Google’s search engine as the default option on iPhones. Google has been the iPhone’s default search engine for more than a decade, with the tech giant rumored to pay Apple up to $12 billion annually to maintain that spot. But earlier this month, Google was served with an antitrust lawsuit over its search dominance, with the U.S. Justice Department citing “unlawfully maintained monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.” It’s worth noting that the iPhone’s latest operating system, iOS 14, displays its own search results and links directly to websites when search queries are typed in directly from the home screen—perhaps the result of Apple hiring John Giannandrea, Google’s former head of search, two years ago.

After months of negotiations, LVMH finally acquires Tiffany for a $400 million discount.

LVMH’s fraught saga with Tiffany has finally drawn to a close. The heritage American jeweler will accept a lower purchase price from the French conglomerate, ending a bitter months-long legal dispute that threatened to derail the $16 billion deal. In a joint statement, the companies reportedly modified the terms of last year’s merger, lowering the price per share that LVMH will pay from $135 to $131.50. The move now values Tiffany at $15.8 billion—$400 million less than the originally agreed-upon price, but still the biggest luxury goods deal in history. In September, LVMH announced plans to abandon the Tiffany acquisition, citing ongoing trade disputes between Brussels and Washington. Some analysts, however, believed the move was a strategic bid to renegotiate the sale. Tiffany argued that the decision had no legal grounds and sued LVMH, alleging the conglomerate had breached its obligations and should proceed with the merger. LVMH countersued weeks later, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic had seriously damaged the jeweler’s business. 

But that’s all water under the bridge. The renegotiated deal, expected to close in early 2021, will better position LVMH to compete with Swiss jewelry purveyor Richemont by strengthening its market share in the watches and jewelry sector, considered LVMH’s weakest division. “We’re as convinced as ever of the formidable potential of the Tiffany brand and believe that LVMH is the right home for Tiffany and its employees during this exciting next chapter,” Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s chief executive, said in a statement. It’s easy to remember why he wanted to put a ring on Tiffany in the first place: “It’s the only brand I know that owns a color.”

The RxART x Takashi Murakami installation at Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC. Photography by Kenson Noel

Today’s attractive distractions:

In Kabul, Neda Taiyebi transforms abandoned tanks into colorful sculptures.

Takashi Murakami’s cheerful flowers enliven an intimidating PET scanner.

MoMA cheekily responds to Kim Kardashian’s viral “private island” tweet.

A Japanese forestry technique creates a platform for sustainable harvests.

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