Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

In September, Rem Koolhaas stood in front of a bunch of mayors and experts convened in Brussels for the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities and called them dumb. Not dumb as in stupid, per se, but as these proponents champion a positivist approach they are mute on the real challenges of contemporary cities and deaf to the role of the architect as a shaper of the urban realm.

In the edited transcript of the talk posted online at the European Commission on 3 November, Koolhaas starts out swinging. “I had a sinking feeling as I was listening to the talks by these prominent figures in the field of smart cities because the city used to be the domain of the architect, and now, frankly, they have made it their domain,” he begins, setting up his tweetable one-two punch. “This transfer of authority has been achieved in a clever way by calling their city smart — and by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid.” Read More …

If I were to sum up the stylistic forces at work in the design world over the last year, it wouldn’t be too far off to dub 2014 the year of the postmodern revival. In graphic design, in fashion, and even in architecture we’ve seen a return to the period’s signature formal tropes and a renewed debate over the worthiness of their preservation.

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The Bolton/Culbertson House in Pasadena wears its more than 100-year history well. Located on West Del Mar Boulevard, just off of Millionaires Row, the stately Craftsman bungalow appears seems to defy time. A herringbone brick path cuts through a trim lawn to a welcoming porch. A wide cedar door, detailed with teak insets and a stained glass window by former Tiffany Studios artisan Emil Lange, seems ready to yawn open and embrace visitors. Arcing boughs of blue cedars complete the Arts and Crafts composition. Read More …

On a hot October evening I stood on the front walk of Greene and Greene’s Gamble House in Pasadena and watched a puppet crane poke his beak through the center of what can only be described as an Arts and Crafts vortex. A nearly 30-foot-wide sculpture hung from the street façade, patterned in a hallucinogenic, Morris-style rose motif. The crane and rose are, of course, the Gamble family crest. Its author, artist Patrick Ballard, calls it The Swirling Mess Below the Sleeping Porch Soon Solidified into a Crest of Phantasmagoric Weight that Creaks Between the Doors, the Floors, and a Form that Could Never Be a House Again. Read More …

Arkitekturens Grannar returns to FFAR (Ringvägen 141) for a public event with architect and critic Mimi Zeiger. In the talk she will tract the rise of publishing as practice through her own work. Memos from the Front Line rejects the binary of the print and digital divide and suggests that the commingling of the analog and algorithmic creates rich territory for cultural production, collective criticism, and architectural experimentation.

On the day I arrive at Peter Shire’s Echo Park studio, a pile of fall fruit perches on a countertop. Bright orange persimmons and crimson pomegranates compete with the full spectrum of riotous color in the artist’s workshop. Racks are filled with multi-hued ceramics, and metal sculptures powder-coated in vivid green, blue, and violet hang from the ceiling. And then there’s Shire himself. He’s dressed in a tangerine t-shirt, a red apron, gray shorts, and lime and purple striped socks.  Read More …

TEXTTEXT is a workshop at the Sandberg Instituut Studio for Immediate Spaces that explores the act of critical writing as drawn from keen observation and experience. The workshop takes the form of three parts over the course of two days: Reading, Ramble, and Reflection. Through the use of existing texts, constraint exercises, fieldwork, research, and digital tools, TEXTTEXT offers participants a framework for the production of a critical essay and a meditation on collective criticism.