An Upstart Art Biennial With a Fresh Perspective Launches in New York, and Other News

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

“Passing Winter” (2023) by Claudia Koh. Image courtesy of MoDA Curations

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here

An Upstart Art Biennial With a Fresh Perspective Launches in New York

New art collective MoDA Curations is making its name with a reputation for bringing an anthropologically driven perspective to curation, viewing its own holdings as more of a cultural archive than simply a reflection of market forces. Their debut show, “Being Human,” positions its artists as cultural ethnographers whose works further an understanding of culture and identity. They include Amalia CaputoAlexander JamesClaudia Koh, and Ara Oshagan.

With her oil paintings, Koh (work pictured), currently a RISD student, viscerally renders the profound discomfort of both vulnerability and taking up space. Oshagan’s photography series, “Traces of Identity: the Armenian Diaspora in Los Angeles,” meanwhile, looks at the collective and personal impact of displacement. In an industry that traditionally bases everything from the most foundational aspects of its education to its market values in a Western European historical cannon, MoDA shows the potential in letting artists drive a more personal and impactful narrative. —Jenna Adrian-Diaz

SelgasCano's Serpentine Pavilion at the La Brea Tar Pits. Photography by Iwan Baan

SelgasCano wins a prestigious award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the recipients of its 2024 Awards in Architecture, awarding a total of $60,000 to five architects for their contributions to the field. SelgasCano, a Madrid-based practice, secured the $20,000 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, while LevenBetts, Julie Bargmann, Beatriz Colomina, and Krzysztof Wodiczko were each honored with $10,000 Arts and Letters Awards for their innovative work and related research. This year’s selection follows a prestigious lineage, including past winners like Francis Kéré and Eduardo Souto de Moura, perhaps forecasting potential future accolades for the recipients.

Jean Paul Gaultier picks Courrèges designer Nicolas Di Felice as his next guest couturer.

Jean Paul Gaultier has tapped Nicolas Di Felice, the mind behind Courrèges’ Space Age revival, as his eponymous fashion house’s next guest couturier, setting the stage for an electrifying debut at Paris Couture Week in June. As a Belgian native influenced by Gaultier’s boundary-breaking style, Di Felice aims to pay homage to the designer’s legacy while adding his own distinctive touch. The collaboration marks a significant moment for both Di Felice and Courrèges, coinciding with his role as the head of the fashion jury at the upcoming Hyères International Festival of Fashion, Photography, and Accessories in October.

Image courtesy of Banksy/Instagram

Banksy confirms that he’s behind a tree mural that popped up this weekend in London.

Banksy has confirmed his authorship of a new mural in north London depicting a woman wielding a pressure washer, seemingly spraying green paint up a block of flats’ side. Positioned behind a pollarded tree on Hornsey Road in Finsbury Park, the mural creates an illusion of the tree’s barren branches bursting to life. Current interpretations range from commentary on the climate crisis and greenwashing to a nod to St. Patrick’s Day or climate activists’ vandalism. 

Architects for Gaza is planning to provide free education to architecture students there.

Architects for Gaza has launched the Gaza Global University, offering free education to architecture students affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict. Led by Nasser Golzari and Yara Sharif, the group aims to provide support amid the destruction of universities in Gaza, like Israa University. They’re also seeking assistance from educators to fund and deliver tutorials. Though not yet accredited, the initiative plans to offer courses validated by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and expand to all of Palestine in the future. Architects for Gaza is also developing strategies to rebuild Gaza, including a mobile health clinic and self-build prototypes, aiming to address broader urban and societal challenges beyond immediate shelter needs.

Hilton acquires boutique chain Graduate Hotels in a deal valued at around $210 million.

Hilton has announced a $210 million acquisition of Graduate Hotels, a brand specializing in nostalgic-themed accommodations near universities in the U.S. and U.K., appealing to college alumni, students, and locals. The move aims to tap into the potential for global expansion, with Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta eyeing a market of 400–500 hotels. AJ Capital Partners, which launched the brand in 2014, will retain ownership of the properties, aligning with Hilton’s asset-light strategy. The acquisition marks a departure for the hotel behemoth, which is traditionally focused on internally developing brands, and positions Graduate Hotels for continued growth, with new properties slated for opening across the United States.

“The Lamentation of Christ with a Group of Donors,” which is on view at Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Photography by Sam Drake/Compton Verney

Today’s attractive distractions:

The ghost of a little girl continues to haunt this deadly San Francisco highway.

Iain Treloar explores the history of his family through an old, timeworn red bike.

An especially incisive docent puzzles over the identity of this dated altarpiece.

A Nobel Prize winner claims that we may have “misunderstood the universe.”

All Stories