Fringe benefits

Design Build Adventure's Palm Park Tree Installation in Austin, TX.







Waller Creek, the largest urban stream in the country, snakes from the northern part of Austin southward, through the University of Texas campus, along downtown, before emptying into Lady Bird Lake. With a new conservancy set up in its honor, Waller Creek is getting a full makeover (or makeunder, as preservation is the point). To test creative interventions, Austin artist/designer/builder Jack Sanders led a pop-up adventure picnic a year ago in Palm Park, a community art-raising that installed massive accordion rings around a campfire and this tree. Sanders regularly stages such happenings through his company Design Build Adventure, a program of camps and workshops for people interested in collaboratively exploring new perspectives on the built environment (the 4-day workshop in Marfa, TX is calling me). Channeling the play inherent in this project, I couldn't resist pairing the tree skirt with its sartorial twin: a fleece dress with hand-woven flare by Hungarian line Nanushka. Fringe for all.

Avant outpost

Downstairs Bedroom at Hauser & Wirth Somerset.  

One hundred acres as canvas: a contemporary art powerhouse has reimagined a centuries-old farm in rural England into a campus for experiencing art and architecture, antiquity and avant garde, in situ. In a bold move away from urban markets, Hauser & Wirth decided to add Durslade in Somerset to its holdings (joining galleries in Zurich, New York, Los Angeles and London). As derelict as it was historic, the farm (perhaps familiar as the set of “Chocolat” starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche) has taken two years to transform: to resuscitate buildings (including my favorite, the Piggery), add galleries, carve out courtyards, concept a restaurant, landscape the grounds (the doing of Piet Oudolf, High Line designer). Deliberate juxtapositions of old and new abound. In the central Farmhouse, restored fixtures and vintage furniture share space with commissioned work by the gallery’s artists: Argentine Guillermo Kuitca filled all four walls of the dining room with a fractal mural (glimpsed from a downstairs bedroom; when not occupied by private guests of the gallery, the Farmhouse’s six bedrooms welcome reservations). On July 15, Hauser & Wirth Somerset will officially open with an exhibition of new work by Phyllida Barlow. The British artist channeled inspiration from Durslade and its surrounds into color-rich, ragged assemblies; for my part, I would express the farm-gallery binary in this Suno mash-up of country plaid and geometric pattern.

Quirky equus

Hermès installation by Olaf Breuning in Tokyo's Shibuya Seibu district.








An Olaf encore. In researching Clouds, I learned of Breuning’s simultaneous installation for Hermès in the Shibuya Seibu district of Tokyo. Channeling a parallel strain of whimsy, he took Hermès’ equestrian aesthetic to a playful place, fashioning makeshift steeds by draping sheets over indistinguishable structures (Den furniture? Kitchen chairs?). By Breuning’s hand, the brand's venerable horse-drawn carriage becomes rudimentary: four wheels,  thin platform. The bling is in his bold palette; his horses' hairs are loud – canary, cobalt, teal, tangerine – and their googly eyes are fixed on the sidewalk, inviting further rifts on luxury goods and lifestyle. These Céline cuffs seem similarly self-deprecating in their folded forms, at once tactile and tattered and totally perfect.

Cumulus crop

Clouds by Olaf Breuning, 2008, C-Print.








Azure clouds hover above the southeast entrance of Central Park. No, this is not a meteorological phenomenon, but rather a public art installation, a playful inversion of blue sky, white clouds. The plump aluminum panels, perched atop 35-foot-tall steel ladders, are the doing of artist Olaf Breuning in conjunction with the Public Art Fund. Installed in March, Clouds initially offered a color infusion as winter dragged on, and now, as trees bud nearby, the sculpture inspires wisps of wonder and humor. Clouds is based on a photograph Breuning staged in 2008 in Italy. Using cherry pickers and cardboard cutouts, he created a quick installation and documented it on film (for me to borrow, six years later). Keen to reconceive the image, he designed a new cumulus outcropping minus the climb-able cranes. Why clouds? In conversation with Vogue, Breuning suggested, why not? Everybody likes clouds. “There are those moments on a summer day when you’re lying on the grass and you look up and there are clouds,” he said. “I didn’t really think about the clouds; I could have prepared a lot of things to say, but I just now that clouds are recognizable and each person has their own thoughts about them.” Clouds invite the mind to wander, aloft, untethered. And by painting them blue, he channeled an age-old abstraction, the childhood instinct to scribble blue clouds against white skies. “See, my work is as simple as possible,” he said. “When you are a kid, you draw a cloud, and you make it blue. I don’t know why. I think it’s a design thing, and after I made it, I realized, Oh shit, clouds aren’t really blue. But it looks nice, the different colors.” The color puffs on this dress look nice too, camouflaged to a leisurely stroll past public art (before Clouds closes August 24).

Attainable texture

"False Ceiling" by Richard Wentworth at Istanbul Modern, Turkey. Love Moschino Short Dress in White.







I’m feeling the ceiling today. Of place. Of profession. Of person. Coming across Richard Wentworth’s “False Ceiling,” a site-specific installation at the Istanbul Modern in Turkey, gives me hope that I can decide my ceiling's texture. His is one of cultural and intellectual commentary: the books, sourced from Eastern and Western cultures, rest just beyond reach, removed from their purpose as portals to knowledge, removed from the act of reading. His barrier of distance nullifies any of the information printed on their pages. These are books closed to learning, eroded of authority. No longer tomes of truth, they become merely material, forming a permeable, symbolic surface. This Love Moschino dress seems like an exuberant complement to Wentworth: Channeling the pop pows of Roy Lichtenstein, the words stand less for meaning, more for pattern and visual exclamation. Maybe these Wows will inspire you too.