The city of Seattle is rather known as being the birthplace of grunge rock. The question is in which environment this style of music was created. In the early 80s Seattle was voted most livable city in the United States of America, so writer Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark set out to document the people that fell throught that system.
This led to the Life magazine article "Streets of the Lost", documenting the life of homeless youth. When returning from the assignment, Mark's husband, Martin Bell, convinced her to make documentary film about it.
As Mary Ellen Mark already gained the trust, it took a little less convincing to do, but still not an easy task to document their life for 56 days. Despite the sensitive topic, the film is not voyeuristic, but rather compassionate and taking the group of youngsters seriously. Interestingly the film was funded by singer Willie Nelson and Tom Waits made the score.
The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 57th Academy Awards, but lost to The Times of Harvey Milk by Robert Epstein and Richard Schmiechen. Bell and Mark, who kept contact with one of the main characters, made a follow up 32 years later portraying the life of Tiny, called Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell.
A permanent challenge in architecture is to respect the environment and the clients' wishes, while at the same time having a clear and recognizable style. An architect, who does this seemingly carefree, is the Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye.
Dirty House, 2002 Photography by © Ed Reeve
The son of Ghanian diplomat parents, David Adjaye was born in 1966 in Tanzania. Due to his parents' profession he lived in his childhood in multiple cities in Africa and the Middle East, before settling in London. He there studied architecture, first at the London South Bank University and then graduating with a masters degree at the Royal College of Art.
After university, Adjaye was tutoring and lecturing at Architectural Association and the Royal College of Art, but also set up his own practice, initially with William Russell and since 2000 on his own. At the beginning of his career, he made a name for himself creating homes and studios for artists, understanding their needs and wishes. Among other, he made a house and studio for Chris Ofili (1999), the Dirty House for Tim Noble and Sue Webster (2002) or the studio-home for Lorna Simpson (2006).
Studio-Home, 2006 Photography by © Michael Mundy
This then led to bigger projects and commissions like the Idea Store in Whitechapel, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo (both 2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2007) and culminated for him personally in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (2016).
For this building, David Adjaye took inspiration from a crown motif of a Yoruba sculpture, directly closing the gap between the two continents. For his work he received various accolades and was awarded knighthood by the queen in 2017 for his services to architecture.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2016 Photography by © Frank Schulenburg
As so often artists get recognition for their work late in their career, after they stubbornly sticked to their practice for years. This was also the case for the French artisan, artist and designer Valentine Schlegel. In her case the exhibition, who put her back in the focus of a broader public, was curated by Hélène Bertin and called This Woman Could Sleep in Water.
The title stems from her ability to sleep everywhere and her lifelong fascination for the sea. Valentine Schlegel was born in 1925 in the coastal town Sète in the south of France. Growing up in a family of artisans, she studied at l’Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier in 1942. Three years later she moved to Paris, where she was first exposed to the ceramics and met also her lifelong friend the filmmaker Agnes Varda.
Despite the trend of ceramics in the early 50s, her approach was different. She herself put it the following way: “A pot is designed to hold flowers. Without flowers, it’s nothing. To have a life of its own, it must also be a sculpture.” Her ceramics with their organic forms are slightly reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s paper cuts.
Initially she thought that she could live off making mainly ceramics, but by accident a different source of income appeared. Friends bought a vase and wanted to put it on their marble mantelpiece, but and it did not look good, so Schlegel set out and redid the whole fireplace to fit the vase. This led to her now famous characteristic organic fireplaces, which she made until 2000.
These mantelpieces, that she friends and collectors - took between three weeks up to two months to create them. She famously designed and built the interior of Jeanne Moreau's apartment. This mantelpieces also inspired Raf Simons for his set design of his spring summer 2014 show for Dior.
Photography by © Hélène Bertin/Adagp
Additionally she taught from 1958 to 1987 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris and during that time she founded there the clay modeling department for the "Workshops for Young People under 15". She lived and worked until her death in 2021 in a former wheel factory in the 14. arrondisdement.
In the aftermath of Virgil Abloh's untimely passing, many articles pointed out how he blurred the lines between fashion and streetwear and made it approachable to a whole new generation, as he totally understood the zeitgeist. But every pioneer has his predecessor and in the case of Abloh it was the American designer Willi Smith.
Not to be mistaken with the infamous prince of Bel Air, Willi Smith was a prince in his own right. Unfortunately since his death in 1987 slightly forgotten, but through a major exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and an accompanying book he recently got the attention he deserves.
Photography by © Site/James Wines, LLC.
Born in 1948 in Pennsylvania to an ironworker and a homemaker, he grew up in a household where dressing played an important role. Being a rather shy kid, he spent a lot of time drawing at home but also at Philadelphia Museum College of Art. His talent was nurtured by his grandmother, who then helped him get an internship at the famed couturier Arnold Scaasi.
Photography by © Wolfgang Volz
He enrolled at Parsons School of Design in 1965 and after being expelled he worked as a Creative Director for Digits Sportswear. In 1974 he quit the company and founded in 1976 together with his former assistant Laurie Mallet the company WilliWear. The company, especially in the early 80s with the rise of hip hop culture, was under Willi's guidance a complete success.
Photography by © Andreas Sterzing
What made Willi Smith so ahead of his time and still successful, was how he saw fashion and his clientele. "I don’t design clothes for the Queen; but for the people who wave at her as she goes by." Not only he designed for broad public, but was also inspired by them: "Most of these designers who have to run to Paris for color and fabric combinations should go to church on Sunday in Harlem. It’s all right there."
Another point, where he paved the way, was his close collaboration with artists. That included his stores and showrooms, that were designed by the Architectural firm SITE or runway shows with Nam June Paik. He also designed clothes for theater and film. Also he made the workers outfits for Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Surrounded Islands and The Pont Neuf Wrapped. On another level he broke barriers as he invited at that time young artists like Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger or Jenny Holzer to contribute designs for his Artists' T-Shirt series.
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Nevertheless, this lockdown is not stopping us from our traditional Christmas Calendar.
As we spend more time at home, what better way to lift our spirits, then to get inspired by some cultural highlights. Some of them are new, some well seasoned, some known, some less, but in our opinion all worth checking out.
Next to these cultural inputs, we proudly present you 4 exclusive specials, where we explored some new territory for this season.
Additionally, those specials will also be available online.
We dearly hope that this year’s selection offers something for everybody and brings some ease into your Advent.
Second set of the beautiful series that David Avazzadeh shot for our spring summer 2021 selection.
Spring 2021 is steadily taking up momentum and what better way to start the new year than with a new suit.
We have two amazing options by either Swedish brand Séfr or hailing from Munich, Germany A Kind Of Guise. First one is leisurely cut double breasted blazer in a beautiful blue featuring wider, slightly 70's inspired lapels. Additionally it is fully lined in a Pink Viscose fabric.
A Kind Of Guise's suit is made in Italy from a Belgian linen. Perfect for warmer temperatures the single breasted blazer is only partially lined and features two patched chest pockets.
Photos: David Avazzadeh
Model: Paul Gärtner (Casting Büro Wien)
Despite a year where every distraction is welcome, we arrive at the end of 2020's Christmas calendar. We hope you enjoyed this year's selection and found some new inspiration. Now enjoy your holidays with your family and friends. Merry Christmas to all of you!
Your GRUNDTNER & SöHNE Team
Musically the focus was rather on homelistening as most of the clubs were closed. The occasions for loud beats and big baselines were rare, but more subtle and comforting music was in high demand.
So it was the perfect timing that the amazing singer and artist Joanne Robertson released her beautiful album Painting Stupid Girls in March 2020. Initially she drew our attention through her collaborative work with musician and prankster Dean Blunt. A close friend of hers, she worked with him on his acclaimed albums like The Redeemer, Black Metal, Stone Island and Skin Fade.
These collaborations were that fruitful that it resulted in a joint album called Wahalla, which was released in 2017. Often her fragile voice stands in contrast to Dean Blunt's production and she states that he helped her find her style and avoid cliches. But she already made music before and released her first album The Lighter in 2008.
She also regularly works with her husband Jasper Baydala known as KOOL MUSIC. Next to music, she also paints, which stands in contrast to the sensitivity of her music, as it is for her rather a physical act, but she states that those two feed of each other and open new spaces.
Politics in art is a sensitive subject, but even more more so and rarer in the field of design. A master at it was the Italian designer Enzo Mari. Infused by his political views he saw Design having a social responsibility and was quite outspoken about it and said things others would not dare like calling Rem Koolhaas a "pornographic window dresser".
16 Animali for Danese, 1957
He was born in 1932 in Cerano in the Piedmont region. When he was two years his family moved to Milan, where he went to school. He dropped out in his early teens to support his mother as his father was unable to work after an illness. He took on many different, but labor intensive jobs that early informed his political views.
Box Chair for Castelli, 1971
Not having a high school diploma he was only able to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Brera, where he studied painting and sculpture, but also already gravitating towards design. After graduating, he opened his own studio in 1952 in Milan. First success was with his work for Danese called 16 animali, a wooden puzzle with 16 different animal shapes made from a single piece of wood. This led to fruitful collaboration with Bruno Danese and his wife Jacqueline Vodoz.
Through his studio he worked for different companies like Castelli and later Muji. In the early 60's started to teach at Scuola Umanitaria in Milan. Various teaching appointments would bring him also to other schools in cities like Carrara, Florence, Berlin and Vienna. His teachings fueled also his theoretical approach as he was a big design thinker and theorist. This is most visible in his project Proposta per un’Autoprogettazione originally from 1974, but later adapted for more projects like the Ecolo in 1995. Through proposal for self design he cemented his beliefs that design should be egalitarian, economic, but still beautiful.
Ecolo for Alessi, 1995
In his six decades long career he made over 2000 designs, which are on displays on museums all over the world like the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Swiss architect summarized his work by saying that he "thought creatively and built logically". Enzo Mari died this October from COVID-19.