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.
Tavares Strachan Serves Up a Different “Last Supper”
A theatrical scene is unfolding in the courtyard outside London’s Royal Academy of Art. There, as part of the institution’s recently opened show “Entangled Pasts, 1768–Now: Art, Colonialism, and Change” the Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan has restaged Leonardo da Vinci’s seminal painting The Last Supper. Instead of depicting Jesus with the Twelve Apostles, Strachan imagined a friendly gathering between historical figures from Africa and its Diaspora who realistically never met because they came from different periods. Among them are abolitionist Harriet Tubman, congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Brazilian resistance fighter Zumbi Dos Palmares, and Strachan himself in the guise of Judas.
Each figure, frozen in motion making animated gestures, is rendered in black patina and gold leaf that markedly contrasts the gray architecture of Burlington House behind it. “I think it’s important for us to have an archive of the stories of our folks—one that doesn’t necessarily center Europe, modernism, or any -ism that’s not indicative of us,” Strachan said in the exhibition catalog. Uncovering marginalized histories has long fueled Strachan’s conceptual practice. He became the first Bahamian to visit the North Pole to retrace the journey of Matthew Henson, the Black explorer who is rarely credited for having journeyed there first, in 1909. Perhaps Henson can rest knowing that he now has holds a seat at Strachan’s hallowed table. —Ryan Waddoups
Adam Neumann, the ousted co-founder of WeWork, is aiming to buy back the co-working company from bankruptcy with support from “well-known capital sources” including Third Point, according to reports. However, Third Point clarified that while they had engaged in preliminary discussions with Neumann, no financing commitment had been made. Neumann’s interest in acquiring WeWork dates back to December, with attempts to secure financing as early as October 2022. Despite resistance from WeWork advisors, Neumann persisted, exploring options like debtor-in-possession financing. WeWork, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2023, continues to focus on restructuring efforts amidst ongoing financial challenges.
NASA has revealed a groundbreaking robotic system developed by the ARMADAS team, aimed at constructing and maintaining structures in space autonomously. Using inchworm-like robots and a set of 3D building blocks called voxels, the system can assemble, repair, and reconfigure structural materials in space environments, paving the way for future missions to the Moon, other planets, and beyond. In a recent test at NASA’s Ames Research Center, three robots built a shelter structure using hundreds of voxels, showcasing the system’s scalability, reliability, and autonomy without the need for complex sensing or external measurements. With plans to expand the library of voxel types and incorporate new robotic tools, NASA envisions this technology playing a crucial role in future deep space exploration missions.
Gap and Dapper Dan, in their fifth collaboration, are introducing their largest collection yet. Drawing inspiration from the “original cowboy,” the spring collection is expanding to include head-to-toe western denim looks, offering a diverse range of products from hoodies to denim kimono jackets. With a focus on inclusivity and elevating perceptions, the collection aims to de-stigmatize items like hoodies while celebrating cultural unity and love. Available in a wide range of sizes and price points, the collection exemplifies a blend of luxury and urban style.
Larry Gagosian is returning to his roots as the dealer who introduced Jean-Michel Basquiat to collectors outside of New York. Gagosian’s Los Angeles gallery will feature “Made on Market Street,” the first exhibition showcasing the late artist’s works from his early-’80s tenure in the city. Despite Basquiat’s association with New York, the show highlights the influence of Venice Beach on his life and art, with Gagosian recalling their close relationship during Basquiat’s stays in Los Angeles and the impact of that time on both Basquiat’s career and his own as a dealer.
The Venice Biennale’s artist list for the 2024 edition was announced last week, along with the publication of national pavilions. Notably missing from the lineup was Russia, which will not participate in the second consecutive Biennale, likely due to its ongoing war in Ukraine. In contrast, Ukraine will once again have a pavilion, as it did in 2022 during Russia’s invasion. Geopolitical tensions often affect national pavilions, though countries like Israel and Ukraine are maintaining their presence despite ongoing conflicts.