Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Dimensions of Citizenship, the theme of the US Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, co-commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the University of Chicago, challenges architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today. As transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, and geopolitical transformations expand, conventional notions of citizenship are undermined. How might architecture, then, express, and engage with today’s rhizomatic and paradoxical conditions of citizenship?

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Tim Durfee, Mimi Zeiger, editors

At a time when “fake news” is part of our daily cultural lexicon, Made Up: Design’s Fictions explores lies, fantasies, and other un-real scenarios as tools of design.

Through essays, interviews, and narratives by Bruce Sterling, Fiona Raby, Sam Jacob and other significant voices in the field, this volume questions the initial discourses around “design fiction”—a broad category of critical design that includes overlapping interests in science fiction, world building, speculation, and futuring. Made Up: Design’s Fictions advances contemporary analysis and enactment of narrative and speculation as an important part of practice today.

Essays, interviews, and narratives by: Julian Bleecker, Benjamin H. Bratton, Anne Burdick, Emmet Byrne, Stuart Candy, Fiona Raby, Tim Durfee, Sam Jacob, Norman M. Klein, Peter Lunenfeld, Geoff Manaugh, Tom Marble, m-a-u-s-e-r, Metahaven, China Miéville, Keith Mitnick, MOS, Susanna Schouweiler, Bruce Sterling, Mimi Zeiger.

Size: 6.25 × 9.25 in. / 16 × 23.5 cm.
Pages: 108
Illustrations: One-Color
Cover: Softcover
Publication date: December 2017
Published By: Actar Publishers / Art Center Graduate Press
ISBN: English 978-1- 5323-4788- 7
Price: 13.50 € / $16 / £12

As busy, busy people who move through the world and occasionally need to sit still, we have a tacit understanding that furniture should be, if not comfortable, at least neutral — ready to accept the buttocks of any size, gender, race, or orientation. Beautiful designs tempt us into repose. However the conceit of universal design is upset when we are forced to recognize that not all bodies fit in or are supported by the most elemental of objects. So when, earlier this year, Hunger and Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay was fat-shamed for requesting a chair sturdy enough to support her frame and outcry ensued against this affront on body acceptance, I was also shocked by how a simple function — sitting — could be weaponized against bodies. It’s with Gay’s incident in mind that I approached maneuvering my wide hips into the dimensions of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barrel chair. Low ceilings are generally cited for the architect’s famous disregard for bodies other than his own, his sense of scale being modeled on his (alleged) 5-foot-8-and-1/4-inch height. Designed in 1907 as part of the custom furniture of his Gesamtkunstwerk, Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, the Barrel chair is one of his most popular designs, often replicated in its nearly circular geometries. Settled into a reproduction of its oak corseting and obliged thereby to adopt a morally good posture, I imagine other people, other soft bits, shifting uncomfortably against the constraints of universality, yet comforted by the allure of an icon.

When Robert L. McKay, the architect best known for designing and founding the first Taco Bell, died in early October, news of his passing spread nationwide on the AP Wire. The Los Angeles Times ran an obituary, as did Fox Business and news outlets in Kansas and Nebraska – places that were unlikely to have flocked en masse to hard shell tacos before McKay opened his doors in 1962.

In 2015, McKay’s original building was moved from the Los Angeles suburb of Downey to Taco Bell’s corporate headquarters in Irvine, California. Images from that migration reveal his early vision for a hacienda-type fast-food eatery: mission-style arches across the facade, red Spanish tile roof. Riding down the freeway – doublewide on the back of a flatbed truck – the lowly taco stand merged dogged American entrepreneurism and classic Mexican design. Taco Bell is not on the curatorial checklist of Found in Translation, an exhibition on view until January 2018 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) about the design influences between LA and Mexico, but it could be. Or, given how a fast-food restaurant best known for stoner Meximelt binges and questionable slogans – “Make a run for the border” – transmitted Mexican design imagery across the country, it should be. Read More …

At the heart of Exhibit Columbus, a biennial-like exhibition of 17 architectural installations and pavilions that runs through November 26, lies the question: “What can architecture do for a community?” The community in question is Columbus, Ind., known as the birthplace of Vice President Mike Pence, the home to diesel engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc. (the region’s largest employer), and, most prominently, the site of industrialist and philanthropist (and former Cummins chair) J. Irwin Miller’s experiment in municipal modernism. Read More …

New Yorkers find it hard to understand Los Angeles. They extol the beach and weather, but sneer at the traffic and cheesy Hollywood Boulevard. Intrepid visitors might find nirvana on Mulholland Drive or in an order of tacos al pastor, but few get the, to use a very LA word, vibe. Writing in the 1970s, Eve Babitz – artist, author, party girl, Angeleno – once chided a visitor from the East Coast for being so at odds with the city’s pace. ‘And he wore ties, even on weekends,’ she scoffed.

Which is why it’s such a surprise to find David Alhadeff – quintessential New Yorker, founder of Manhattan design gallery and store The Future Perfect, and described by The New York Times as the original ‘fulcrum’ of the Brooklyn design movement — sitting tieless in the kitchen of his midcentury modern Hollywood home. His laptop is open; he’s on the phone. Still, he seems relaxed. The breakfast nook of Casa Perfect is his West Coast office. It overlooks the pool, a David Hockney painting waiting to happen. Read More …

How one responds to the exhibition now on view at SCI-Arc may very well depend on the ability to distinguish between a duck and a swan. “The Duck and the Document: True Stories of Postmodern Procedures” begins with a wall-sized construction drawing for a fountain in the forecourt of Michael Graves’ Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel in Orlando. The drawing at first seems to be a graphic representation of Robert Venturi, FAIA, and Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA’s definition of “duck”: an emblem of architecture’s most valiant form-making impulses. Read More …

On Saturday, October 22, from 11am-3pm, the Architecture Lobby will host a “Think-In” at UCLA, where invited panelists and a professional facilitator will critically debate and discuss topics most integral to the aims of the Architecture Lobby, including: architecture labor and labor rights, the pros/cons of professionalization, the perceptions of architects within the media, and emerging pedagogical models. The Think-In is free and open to the public, and all interested students, academics, or practitioners are strongly encouraged to join the discussion.

Panelists:
Frances Anderton, KCRW (DnA, Design and Architecture)
Wil Carson, 64North, UCLA
Peggy Deamer, Yale University and The Architecture Lobby
Jia Gu, Materials & Applications, The Architecture Lobby
Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center
Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
Mimi Zeiger, critic and curator, Art Center College of Design, The Architecture Lobby
Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany, USC, Free School of Architecture
Facilitator: Nancy Alexander

What is disruption, anyway? The term has been cast as a tech market tactic, a cultural trope, and a belief system of near-theological proportions. In an evening of performances and provocations, we considered many definitions of this watchword. Presenters offered perspectives of radical change ranging from activism and technology to equity and design:

Participants: It’s Showtime NYC subway dancers; Kimberly Drew, @museummammy and associate online community producer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Riley Hooker, editor, Façadomy; E. Tammy Kim, editorial staffer, The New Yorker, Jonathan Lee, design manager/lead, Google Design; Oscar Nuñez, program coordinator, Center for Urban Pedagogy; members of Picture the Homeless; Steven Thrasher, U.S. writer-at-large, The Guardian; and critic, editor, and curator Mimi Zeiger

A collaboration between Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly

#platform is both a means of production and a place to take a stand.

#platform project is a collaborative publication and act of collective criticism.

#platform’s physical documents navigate back into the city, lingering as messages.

For the past four years, participants in the School of Visual Arts Summer Design Writing and Research Intensive in New York have used Twitter to document, research, and critique the city. The social media platform acts as a productive constraint, distilling individual observations and narratives into a public, digital text. Read More …