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Chili’s is scrutinizing how their cooks prepare shrimp, Wendy’s is designing efficient kitchens by analyzing its workers’ footsteps, and now fast-casual chains Chipotle and Sweetgreen are automating bowl assembly. In May, the latter opened its first location staffed by a proprietary robot. Once customers punch in their order online or through a screen at the restaurant, the robot swiftly shoots ingredients like kale, chopped vegetables, and cooked meats through cylindrical dispensers onto bowls that glide along a conveyor belt. Staffers then add toppings and garnishes before placing the bowls on a shelf for pickup. Jonathan Neman, CEO of Sweetgreen, claims the system can reduce labor requirements and bowl-making time by more than half, and envisions the robots becoming standard fixtures in future locations.
The shift towards automation comes as restaurant chains grapple with rising food and labor costs. While manufacturing and retail has found success with automation, it hasn’t quite taken off in the restaurant industry, which often requires working with small portions and squishy ingredients. Sweetgreen’s approach, however, is bolder and more far-reaching than other chains. Wall Street analysts are listening, but are skeptical about scalability and making sure the apparatus runs without hiccups. “A lot of other companies are trying to figure out how to add automation to their experience and are not willing to start over,” Neman told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m willing to blow the whole thing up.” —Ryan Waddoups
Rubelli, a stalwart in Italy’s textile industry with a remarkable 130-year legacy, is ushering in a new era of creativity with Milan design studio Formafantasma at the helm of its artistic direction. Guided by designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the partnership extends beyond collections to encompass communication strategies, showrooms, and innovative collaborations. Their initial project centers on reimagining Kieffer, Rubelli’s experimental textile brand, placing a keen focus on raw materials and weaving techniques, resulting in a collection that emphasizes natural elements like hemp, wool, and paper.
An upcoming defamation case could potentially reveal the identity of the elusive graffiti artist Banksy due to his use of Instagram to condemn a Guess store for unauthorized use of his imagery. This legal battle is viewed by some as an attempt to force Banksy to shed his anonymity, a key element of his mystique. While speculations have circulated for years regarding his true identity, Banksy’s persona may not be the ultimate revelation; Banksy has evolved into a collective that collaborates on major works and installations, including projects like Dismaland and the Walled Off Hotel. The collective’s commitment to brand maintenance and authentication, managed through Pest Control, serves to ensure the legitimacy of Banksy’s works and reinforces the enigma surrounding this renowned street art phenomenon.
Starting in the spring, the Dia Art Foundation will launch the prestigious Sam Gilliam Award, an accolade that comes with a generous cash prize of $75,000. The annual award, which will span a decade, is made possible by a generous donation from the estate of Sam Gilliam, celebrated for his unconventional large-scale paintings. The criteria for the award are broad, open to artists worldwide across various artistic genres or mediums. A distinguished panel of nominators will create a long list, subsequently narrowed down by a jury of five experts, to determine the winner. The Sam Gilliam Award’s $75,000 prize elevates it among the most financially significant art accolades in the United States, rivaling the likes of the $100,000 Nasher Prize and the $250,000 Heinz Awards.
LVMH is set to launch a dedicated space for craftsmanship in Paris’s eighth arrondissement, close to Dior’s ateliers and exclusive boutiques on Avenue Montaigne. The Maison des Métiers d’Excellence aims to provide visitors with hands-on experiences and insight into the 280 skilled trades across LVMH’s 75 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dom Pérignon, Tiffany & Co., and Sephora. This initiative, part of LVMH’s efforts to address the shortage of skilled workers, will also serve as a physical home for its vocational training program, the Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, and is expected to open by the end of 2025.
Tarik Kiswanson, a Palestinian Swedish artist, has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Marcel Duchamp Prize in recognition of his contributions to the contemporary art sphere in France. Kiswanson’s multidisciplinary work, spanning sculpture, writing, performance, drawing, sound, and video, delves into themes of rootlessness, renewal, and memory. His minimalist sculptures and videos explore topics such as heritage, loss, and belonging, drawing from his personal experience of relocating from Palestine to Sweden as a child. The prize includes €35,000 ($37,000) for the winner and a residency at Villa Albertine in the United States.