Gensler Faithfully Revamps Chicago’s theMART, and Other News

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Gensler’s renovation of theMART. Photography by Gillian Fry, courtesy of Gensler and theMART

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Gensler Faithfully Revamps Chicago’s theMART

Graham, Anderson, Probst and White originally designed Chicago’s colossal Merchandise Mart—the world’s largest building when it opened in 1930—to be a “city within a city.” It transforms into one every June, when designers flock to its trove of furniture showrooms to attend NeoCon, North America’s largest contract furniture fair. Thanks to recent renovations by Gensler, the building now known as theMART is dialing into that atmosphere even more. The revamp entailed adding new amenity spaces, namely the second-floor conference center, health club, lounges, and retail spaces, as well as enlivening the South Lobby. Gensler was careful to not obscure the building’s Art Deco roots—certain details like concrete structural columns were left exposed, foregrounding the structure’s century-long history. —Ryan Waddoups

Samuel Ross. Image courtesy of Beats

Samuel Ross reveals his first major launch for Beats, Apple’s headphone brand.

The latest offering from Beats, the Beats Studio Pro, designed by artist and industrial designer Samuel Ross, has a shift towards sustainability in its packaging. Unlike the hefty fiberboard frame of its predecessor, the Studio Pro comes in a more eco-friendly, lightweight, and fully compostable carton constructed from recycled paper. Alongside improved audio and USB-C support, the headphones maintain the iconic Beats style while adopting a more streamlined design and subtle changes, like one-piece leather earmuffs and a toned-down logo. Ross plans to make further developments to redefine the brand’s future product offerings.

The Birkin handbag holds strong as one of the world’s most-searched luxury items.

Hermès’ Birkin handbag has maintained its position as one of the world’s most coveted luxury items, according to data from Google and Instagram. The iconic bag garnered an average of 159,208 monthly searches between 2020 and 2023, showing a 19 percent increase compared to 2020. Despite its high price tag, the Birkin’s allure remains strong, with even the most affordable version priced at a minimum of $10,000, and some rare models made from exclusive materials fetching six-figure sums. The bag’s exclusivity adds to its appeal, as it can only be obtained through select Hermès boutiques, which are limited to ordering a fixed number of bags twice a year. Following the recent passing of Jane Birkin, the French actress and singer whom the bag was named after, searches for the Birkin have seen a surge. 

Renderings for The Avenir by CetraRuddy. Image courtesy of Silverstein Properties

CetraRuddy and Steelman Partners unveil visuals for a proposed casino in New York.

CetraRuddy and Steelman Partners have unveiled visuals for a proposed casino called The Avenir in Manhattan. Larry Silverstein, owner of Silverstein Properties, is spearheading the bid for one of New York City’s three casino licenses in collaboration with Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment. The Avenir would consist of two 46-story towers connected by a sky bridge, offering entertainment and restaurant space in an eight-story podium. The project also includes 1,000 hotel rooms, 100 affordable housing units, and a 1,000-seat performance space. With hopes of revitalizing the city amid a housing crisis and budget shortfalls, Silverstein anticipates the project will create numerous jobs and tax revenue for the state. 

Artists Space, a downtown mainstay, is bringing live portraits to the Armory Show.

Artists Space, a gallery founded in 1972 with an anti-commercial ethos, will participate in this year’s Armory Show. As part of the fair’s Armory Spotlight initiative, which recognizes a local institution with a complimentary booth, Artists Space will present live performances and a dynamic show by Drake Carr, best known for vibrant portraits of individuals from the art and nightlife scenes, drawing inspiration from his experiences as a bartender. The project, called Housecalls, will showcase Carr creating commissioned portraits on-site at the Javits Center.

Nigeria will participate in next year’s Venice Biennale with a diverse national pavilion.

Nigeria will take part in the 2024 Venice Biennale with a national pavilion called Nigeria Imaginary, marking the second time the country has participated. The exhibition will feature nine Nigerian and Nigerian diasporic artists, including Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Yinka Shonibare, Fatimah Tuggar, and Precious Okoyomon. The pavilion, located in a historical palazzo in Dorsoduro, aims to offer diverse perspectives of Nigeria and reconfigure the concept of a national pavilion for a global audience, showcasing a variety of practices from painting to interdisciplinary work.

The “Beyond the Edge” collection by the Jackson Pollock Studio. Image courtesy of Iconic

Today’s attractive distractions:

According to these filmmakers, booby traps may help save the desert tortoise.

Jackson Pollock Studio’s first NFT collection rakes in $450,000 in mere hours.

A trail of life-size gorilla sculptures spread conservation awareness in London.

The world’s cheapest Domino’s pizza costs a mere $0.60 in inflation-hit India.

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