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.
Elon Musk unveils Tesla Bot, a friendly humanoid robot powered with vehicle AI.
Will we live in a future where robots do our grocery shopping? Elon Musk seems to think so. On Thursday, the Tesla CEO unveiled a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot that runs on the same AI used by the automotive brand’s fleet of autonomous vehicles. (Though a functional version of the robot didn’t appear during Musk’s reveal, a dancing performer dressed like one did.) The five-foot-eight-inch robot will be constructed out of “lightweight materials” and kitted out with the autopilot cameras used by Tesla’s vehicles to sense their surroundings. “It’s intended to be friendly,” Musk quipped, “and navigate through a world built for humans.” Musk also noted that, despite calling AI the “biggest risk we face as a civilization,” humans could easily outrun and overpower the Tesla Bot, and even program it to eliminate repetitive tasks such as grocery shopping. “What we’re trying to do here at Tesla is make useful AI that people love and is unequivocally good.” Now for the question on all of our minds: Is it a joke?
The global engineering firm AECOM is moving its headquarters from L.A. to Dallas.
The corporate exodus from California continues with AECOM, the multinational engineering firm that recently announced it would relocate its global headquarters from Los Angeles to an existing office in Dallas by October. Though AECOM’s CEO Troy Rudd and other members of the C-suite will relocate, more than 2,500 employees will remain in California. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has recently become an unlikely magnet for businesses; more than 140 companies have relocated to North Texas since 2010, and more than 45 of those companies were previously based in California. Taxes are likely to blame: Texas’s business tax of 1% pales in comparison to California’s corporate tax rate of 8.84%.
Brazil’s preeminent Museu de Arte de São Paulo is planning a 14-floor expansion.
One of Brazil’s most preeminent modern and contemporary art museums has major expansion plans. The Museu de Arte de São Paulo has announced the construction of a new 14-story structure that will stand separate from its existing two-story building, which was designed by pioneering homegrown architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1968. The new facility will be named after her husband, the museum co-founder Pietro Maria Bardi, and will connect to the existing building through an underground tunnel. Slated to open in early 2024, the new building will add 75,000 square feet to the museum, 28,000 of which is earmarked for gallery space spread across five floors.
Madison Avenue is lagging behind other retail hubs as in-person shopping rebounds.
Despite all signs that bricks-and-mortar retail is rebounding after the pandemic ushered in a reliance on e-commerce, some retail hubs are getting left behind. Orbital Insight estimates that foot traffic along the stretch of Madison Avenue from 57th to 72nd street has stalled at a mere 71 percent of 2019 levels. Upper Fifth Avenue and Soho, two other major upscale retail districts in Manhattan, are seeing more shoppers than before the pandemic. The closure of Barneys New York may be partially to blame, though Madison Avenue also has little appeal to young people who tend to congregate downtown. “You’re more likely to meet your friend down in SoHo to go to brunch on the weekend than you are to go to a museum on Madison Avenue,” Ruth Colp-Haber, who runs Wharton Property Advisers, tells Bloomberg. “They don’t want to go uptown—that’s where their parents and grandparents are living.
The former Art Basel director Noah Horowitz joins Sotheby’s as a “gallery whisperer.”
Noah Horowitz’s departure from his post as director of the Americas for Art Basel had the art world guessing where he’d head next. According to a recent report in Vanity Fair, the enterprising executive landed at Sotheby’s in the newly created role of worldwide head of gallery and private dealer services. In his new role, Horowitz will focus on strategy and building the auction house’s relationships with galleries and dealers. “With Noah’s arrival, we can serve the market at an even greater scale,” says Brooke Lampley, chairman and global director of sales, “by bringing together all the capabilities that Sotheby’s has to offer to foster creative and rewarding collaborations.”
The Dutch firm Mecanoo receives the 2021 European Prize for Architecture.
Francine Houben and Dick van Gameren, the two leading architects of Dutch design firm Mecanoo, have received the prestigious European Prize for Architecture. Presented by the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design, and Urban Studies and the Chicago Athenaeum, the award recognized the laureates for their contributions to the design field that reinforce the firm’s overarching philosophy of “people, place, and purpose.” In the announcement, Chicago Athenaeum president Christian Narkiewicz-Laine noted how Mecanoo’s projects seamlessly combine “architecture, urban planning, landscape, and interior in a non-traditional way” and how “over the years, they’ve learned that functions inevitably change, requiring an amazing amount of creative flexibility and acute aesthetic dexterity in order to create buildings that are prepared for (un)predictable change.” Previous winners of the prize include Henning Larsen, Manuelle Gautrand, and Bjarke Ingels.
Frieze London returns to the tent in Regent’s Park with an ambitious program.
Despite taking a yearlong hiatus as a result of the pandemic, Frieze London seems to have picked up right where it left off. The contemporary art fair will return to Regent’s Park from October 13–17 with a lineup of 276 galleries—almost as many as participated in 2019. Among those are mainstays Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner, Xavier Hufkens, and Lévy Gorvy, which Frieze London artistic director Eva Langret says “confirms London as one of the world’s most exciting art capitals, which has come through the pandemic with huge resilience.” Thematic sections will focus on the times: Unworlding, organized by curator Cédric Fauq, proposes new models for the future while addressing the turbulence of the past year, and a new section called Stand Out spotlights design and decorative arts. For those who can’t attend in-person, the fair will continue offering virtual viewing rooms and complementary online programs.
Today’s attractive distractions:
A documentary about prolific TV painter Bob Ross is coming to Netflix.
Loro Piana is slowly making Juventus the most stylish team in football.
Digital reconstructions show what the White House could have looked like.