Mainstream Brands Are Embracing Memphis, and Other News

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

Tawaraya Ring (1981) by Masanori Umeda

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Mainstream brands are embracing Memphis Milano again despite its anti-corporate ethos. 

The loud and colorful style of the ’80s-era radical design collective, which is the subject of a new exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding, is finding favor with brands like Target, Fila, Puma, and Wayfair despite the Italian group’s anti-consumerism stance. “They tended to make these pieces in small batches, rather than mass-producing them,” says Mateo Kries, the museum’s director and curator of the exhibition. “They didn’t like the idea that designers were contributing to the culture of overconsumption.” The aesthetic had an indelible mark on the ‘90s, as seen in the geometric shapes and brash color schemes in the era’s MTV videos, shows like Saved by the Bell, and Nike sneakers.  

There’s no definitive evidence that chance meetings at the office boost innovation.

Despite what influential industry leaders like JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Apple CEO Tim Cook say about in-person work leading to beneficial interactions, a growing body of evidence shows that it may even hamper creativity. “There’s credibility behind the argument that if you put people in spaces where they are likely to collide with one another, they are likely to have a conversation,” says Ethan S. Bernstein, who teaches at Harvard Business School and studies the topic. “But is that conversation likely to be helpful for innovation, creativity, useful at all for what an organization hopes people would talk about? There, there is almost no data whatsoever. All of this suggests to me that the idea of random serendipity being productive is more fairy tale than reality.”  

Berlin’s new Museumsinsel (“Museum Island”) U-Bahn Station by Max Dudler. Photography by Stefan Müller

Berlin’s theatrical new subway station showcases a dazzling star-speckled design.

Berlin’s new Museumsinsel (“Museum Island”) U-Bahn Station by Swiss architect Max Dudler draws inspiration from the theatre designs of the acclaimed German pre-modernist architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. (He also designed the Altes Museum right outside the station’s exit.) Starting July 9, passengers will get a firsthand look at the shimmering dark blue vaults above the train tracks with silver lights conjuring the night’s sky—a close resemblance to the backdrops Schinkel created for an 1816 production of Mozart’s Magic Flute.   

Chinese researchers unveil an ancient skull that may belong to a new species of human.

The skull in question, which was found in Northeast China in 1933 but only came to the attention of scientists more recently, represents a human group that lived in the region 146,000 years ago. “In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” Professor Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum, one of the UK’s leading experts in human evolution, told BBC News. “What you have here is a separate branch of humanity that’s not on its way to become Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years but went extinct.” Researchers, who assigned the specimen as “Homo longi” but nicknamed it “Dragon Man,” say it has the potential to rewrite the story of human evolution.

Screenshot of Lisa Yuskavage’s final post on Instagram

Lisa Yuskavage calls out and quits Instagram after the network censors her work again. 

Last year, Lisa Yuskavage shared an image from a 2000 issue of Talk magazine that pictured her and two topless women promoting that year’s Whitney Biennial. Instagram promptly removed the image and banned the artist for violating community guidelines on nudity. Yuskavage soon reposted the image, writing: “Instagram fuckers took this down and banned my account last year. I’m posting it again. If I disappear again off this medium—you know what happened. And I won’t try to get it back.” When the image was promptly deleted again, Yuskavage decided to “cancel my account out of protest of the hateful way women and their bodies are suppressed.” Instagram’s official guidelines allow no nudity (some depictions of female nipples are permitted) in order to protect users as young as 13 years old. 

The V&A Museum’s new permanent gallery explores how design influenced social movements.

Design: 1900–Now” showcases more than 250 objects across furniture, fashion, media, and technology that charts how man-made objects have evolved from craftsmanship to the digital age. According to Victoria & Albert Museum curator Johanna Agerman Ross, the new gallery “aims to position design as a means for understanding the way we live together, and to explore how designed things prompt us to ask questions of our past, present, and future.” The museum recently reopened to the public with a new focus on rapid response collecting, which features design objects that respond to current social themes including the pandemic and racial reckoning. 

Space Perspective balloon ride

Today’s attractive distractions:

Beeple launches an NFT marketplace that sells “iconic” moments in time.

Cara Delevingne’s house has a pink “vulva” tunnel where she goes to think.

Louis Vuitton and Nike team up for a new line of brightly colored Air Force 1s.

Would you shell out $125,000 to take a balloon ride to the stratosphere?

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