Backdrop Teams With Madewell for a Studio-Inspired Capsule, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Studio Hours by Backdrop x Madewell

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Backdrop’s Studio-Inspired Capsule With Madewell 

When Caleb and Natalie Ebel launched Backdrop three years ago, the husband-and-wife duo aimed to elevate the paint selection process into a design purchase. It turned out to be a winning formula: the startup’s slick paint cans, millennial-friendly branding, and tightly curated palette of 50 colors caught the attention of heritage fabric brand F. Schumacher & Co., which acquired the direct-to-consumer brand for an undisclosed sum. 

Now, Backdrop is launching an entirely new shade of warm taupe and teaming up with apparel brand Madewell for a limited-edition line of wardrobe essentials in the color. Called “Studio Hours,” the 12-piece capsule draws inspiration from the endless hours that artists spend in their studios in workwear like overalls and chore coats. Monochromatic essentials such as a relaxed-fit T-shirt, unisex hoodie, canvas bucket hat, and DIY-ready cotton overalls are each fully dipped in the new taupe shade, which will be available in Backdrop’s Standard, Semi-Gloss, and Cabinet & Door paint, each of which is Green Wise certified.

Plan C by Makhno Studio

Makhno Studio designs a Brutalist conceptual settlement inside a Martian crater.

Conceptualized during pandemic quarantine, the Ukrainian architectural firm Makhno Studio has unveiled a framework for a settlement on Mars. Named Plan C, the ring-shaped, 3D-printed development is located inside of a crater—a potential shield against the harsh Martian elements such as sandstorms, meteor showers, and solar radiation. A large verdant public hall serves as a reminder of earth and is equipped with phyto-lighting, ultraviolet, and infrared lighting to stimulate plant growth. Minimalist sleeping quarters are outfitted with massive ceiling screens for watching movies as well as projecting meditative visual scenes such as cloudy landscapes and space vignettes. On-site spherical greenhouses provide agriculture essentials like fruits and vegetables while referencing the planets scattered across the cosmos. “The ambience of the interiors combines two worlds—the unknown Mars and the near-and-dear Earth,” Makhno Studio says. “Sandstorms were responsible for the color scheme, plants for the ability to breathe deeply and live on a dead planet.”

Activists call for developers of 5 World Trade Center to add more affordable housing. 

The New York Review of Architecture and Citygroup have organized an online petition asking for developers of 5 World Trade Center to scrap the current design by KPF. Instead, they’re calling for a progressive plan that increases the amount of affordable housing by 75 percent and prioritizes 9/11 survivors and frontline workers. “The timing is like divine design,” Coalition for a 100% Affordable 5 WTC founder Mariama Jame says. “The 20-year anniversary, the housing crisis, the pandemic—the perfect recipe for something like this to finally be achieved.” 

San Francisco’s FOG Design+Art reports an enthusiastic turnout and strong sales.

Though much uncertainty remains about the safety and viability of in-person due to the recent Omicron surge, FOG Design+Art seemed to defy expectations. Dealers and galleries at the annual San Francisco fair, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, reported an enthusiastic turnout that culminated in major sales by both private and institutional collections. “It’s wonderful to see museum curators and leaders from all over the country, particularly given the growing conversation around what new models of museums will look like in the coming years,” fair co-chair Wayee Chu told Artnet News, which has the download on which galleries saw the most sales. 

“Sentinel (Mami Wata)” by Simone Leigh. Photography by Alex Marks

A sculpture by Simone Leigh replaces a monument to Robert E. Lee in New Orleans.

Until 2017, Lee Circle in New Orleans once featured a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee perched on a pedestal. As part of the fifth edition of the Prospect New Orleans triennial, the traffic circle will feature a sculpture by Simone Leigh that seeks to undo the leagues of power and white supremacy once embodied by Lee’s statue. The artwork, called Sentinel (Mami Wata), depicts a snake wrapped around a female body that resembles a spoon, a design inspired by the various cultures of the African diaspora within New Orleans. Unlike the preceding monument, Leigh and the triennial curators chose to place the work on the ground in front of the raised platform, aiming to be more in dialogue with passersby. 

The Dallas Museum of Art’s expansion plans are raising questions about its future.

Last year, the Dallas Museum of Art commissioned Perkins+Will to conduct a planning study that will help determine the scope and costs for possible growth. The need for expansion arose when a group of Texas arts patrons promised their extensive contemporary art collections, which contain more than 1,000 artworks, to the museum back in 2005. The plans are also provoking existential questions about how the museum is serving Dallas and where it’s falling short. “If they’re going to expand, I see that as an opportunity to expand what they’re collecting, and to expand on the very limited number of artists of color they have in their collection,” local artist and curator Vicki Meek told the Dallas Morning News. Other issues include the sources of wealth from patrons funding the museum, the pandemic’s continued blow to foot traffic, and whether or not to accommodate NFTs. 

Langosteria by Dimorestudio

An outpost of Milan’s adored Langosteria opens with a retro design by Dimorestudio.

Long a staple in Milan’s dining scene among fashion and cultural power players, Langosteria has debuted a sister restaurant designed by beloved hometown designers Dimorestudio. The 40-seat Langosteria Cucina finds inspiration in retro 1970s references, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 614 Coonley chairs for Cassina, and Japanese-inspired accents such as black-lacquered bamboo and tatami screens. The culinary program veers from the original with a no-menu concept—guests fill out a questionnaire when booking and whatever is fresh that day arrives casually to their table as if they were dining in a friend’s home. “It’s meant to feel as if you’ve been invited into somebody’s house,” says Dimorestudio co-founder Britt Moran, “like you’re having a dinner party with friends.”

Meta builds the world’s fastest AI supercomputer to train machine learning systems. 

The social media conglomerate has wrapped up work on an “AI supercomputer” called the AI Research SuperCluster (RSC) designed to train machine learning systems. When completed this year, RSC will train content moderation algorithms and augmented reality features for future hardware devices. “RSC will help Meta’s AI researchers build new and better AI models that can learn from trillions of examples: work across hundreds of different languages; seamlessly analyze text, images, and video together; develop new augmented reality tools; and much more,” Meta engineers Kevin Lee and Shush Sengupta wrote in a blog post.

“Fraud in the Garden” by Yves Tanguy

Today’s attractive distractions:

A new hire makes a bucolic retreat out of his otherwise uninspiring gray cubicle. 

Ubisoft is making a firefighting game in which players fight the Notre Dame blaze.

The American circus may be dying, but its performers are blowing up TikTok.

An Yves Tanguy painting presumed to be destroyed by fascists gets restored.

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