Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Last spring, as stay-at-home orders set in and consumers cleared out store shelves, we learned something that we probably knew all along: You don’t think about toilet paper until you are desperate.

And if the lowly roll is overlooked, the design of the toilet paper holder is even less considered — until now. The Echo Park gallery Marta is presenting “Under/Over,” an exhibition of more than 50 toilet paper holders by an international lineup of artists and designers.

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“Reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays,” wrote Aldous Huxley in his 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World, and the sentiment is acute nearly 90 years later. The pandemic has intensified and accelerated a digital drift, as culture turns to the virtual— to Zoom, Animal Crossing, or TikTok—for ways to escape and normalize current conditions. Going on a reality holiday, however, risks setting up a needless opposition between activities in our daily lives and our online interactions. The truth is that we are all operating somewhere in between—and it is this middle ground where a number of emerging artists, architects, and designers are staking out territory, using this nonbinary space to address questions of subjectivity and identity. Read More …

The long-awaited follow-up to the now-canonical ‘Evil People in Modernist Homes in Popular Films’ (2010), ‘Sad People’ examines the filmic trope of housing unhappy characters inside of modernist architecture.

Case studies via ten characters / homes / films, from Colin Firth’s George Falconer inside John Lautner’s Schaffer Residence in Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man’ (2009) to Brigitte Bardot’s Camille Javal inside Adalberto Libera’s Casa Malaparte in Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Le Mépris’ (1963).

Color imagery throughout. Essays by Erik Benjamins, Andrew Romano, Adam Štěch (Okolo), and Mimi Zeiger. Ed. by Benjamin Critton. Featuring the forthcoming type release ‘Sunset’ (late 2019).

  • 258mm × 352mm
  • 36 page stapled and folded publication
  • Heat-set web lithography
  • Edition of 2000

The 2020 Exhibit Columbus Symposium: New Middles gathered national and international thought leaders in architecture, art, design, and landscape architecture together with Columbus stakeholders to explore the question, What Is The Future of The Middle City?

The Symposium examined this question through the lens of four topics:

Futures and Technologies: Dan Hill, Vinnova, Stockholm, Sweden; Radha Mistry, Autodesk, San Francisco CA; Moderated by Marcus Fairs, Editor-in-Chief, Dezeen

Resiliency and Climate Adaptation: Iñaki Alday, Tulane University / aldayjover architecture and landscape, New Orleans; Kate Orff, SCAPE, New York, NY; Moderated by Iker Gil
2020–21 Curator, Exhibit Columbus

Arts and Community: Paola Aguirre, Borderless Studio, Chicago IL; Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural & M12 Studio, Winona MN; De Nichols, Civic Creatives, St. Louis MO; Moderated by Anne Surak, Director, Exhibit Columbus

Indigenous Futures and Radical Thinking: Chris Cornelius (Oneida), studio:indigenous, Milwaukee WI; Wes Jackson, The Land Institute, Salina KS; Joar Nango (Sámi), FFB, Alta, Finland; Ash Smith, Carson Center of Emerging Media Arts, Lincoln NE; Moderated by Mimi Zeiger, 2020–21 Curator, Exhibit Columbus

Each topic was explored weekly through Thematic Conversations, hosted in partnership with Dezeen, featuring international thought leaders. They were followed by Columbus Conversations featuring community stakeholders in conversation with 2021 Miller Prize recipients highlighting forward-thinking initiatives happening in our community of Columbus, Indiana.

These dialogues have served as foundational research for all New Middles participants—as a kind of Exhibition Design Brief and Community Design Brief — identifying topics, themes, and writings for community partners while growing exhibition participants’ understanding of Columbus’ culture and context as they conceptualize their commissioned installations for the Fall 2021 Exhibition.

For the Fall 2021 Exhibition, co-curators Iker Gil and Mimi Zeiger have invited exhibition participants to create site-specific, future-oriented installations, which will be developed over the coming year in response to the theme: New Middles:From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?

This 2020–2021 cycle of programming explores the future of the center of the United States and the regions connected by the Mississippi Watershed. New Middles speculates on the heartland, an ecology stretching beyond political borders—from North to South—from the Canadian Border to the Gulf, and from East to West—from Appalachia to the plains. Embracing a long timeline of cities past, present, and future, New Middles builds upon Columbus’ legacy as a laboratory for design as civic investment. In a moment when we most need reflection, creativity, and innovation to envision new ways of being, New Middlesconsiders Columbus a place to destabilize assumptions, and imagine new architectures and landscapes as a way to positively move our cities forward.

The J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize is the centerpiece of Exhibit Columbus and honors the legacy of two great patrons of our community. The 2020–21 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize recipients represent practices that celebrate design and have a deep interest in research and making. They have been selected for their commitment to the transformative power that architecture, art, and design have to improve people’s lives and make cities better places to live. This year’s J. Irwin and Xenia Miller Prize winners are:

Dream the Combine, Minneapolis
Ecosistema Urbano, Miami and Madrid, Spain
Future Firm, Chicago
Olalekan Jeyifous, Brooklyn
Sam Jacob Studio, London, England

Seven University Design Research Fellowships have been awarded to leading professors of architecture, landscape architecture, and design from American universities who will create installations highlighting their research. University Design Research Fellows were selected for their ability to tackle specific sets of issues germane to the future of the city and the Mississippi Watershed region, such as sustainability and material reuse, non-human habitat, watershed ecologies, emergent technologies, and migration. The University Design Research Fellows for 2020–2021 are:

Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller, Texas Tech College of Architecture, El Paso
Ang Li, Northeastern University
Derek Hoeferlin, Washington University in St. Louis
Joyce Hwang, University at Buffalo
Jei Jeeyea Kim, Indiana University, Lola Sheppard and Mason White, University of Toronto & Waterloo University
Natalie Yates, Ball State University

New Middles introduces two Photography Fellows, who over the course of 2020–2021 will document parts of Columbus, the heartland, and the Mississippi watershed from social, economic, and environmental perspectives and present this work in innovative ways as part of the exhibition.

The Photography Fellows for 2020–2021 are:
Virginia Hanusik, New Orleans
David Schalliol, Minneapolis

Graphic Design and Wayfinding:
Jeremiah Chiu, some all none, Los Angeles

Plus the Columbus High School Design Team

US Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale: May 26–November 25, 2018

Wrightwood, Chicago: February 28–April 27, 2019

Curators: Niall Atkinson, Ann Lui, Mimi Zeiger, and Iker Gil

Commissioners: University of Chicago and School of the Art Institute Chicago

Participants: Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez in collaboration with Shani Crowe, Studio Gang, SCAPE, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, with the Columbia Center for Spatial Research, Keller Easterling with MANY, and Design Earth

Films: Frances Bodomo, Mandana Moghaddam, David Rueter and Marissa Lee Benedict, Mika Rottenberg, and Liam Young

Exhibition and graphic design: INFO_CO

Photos: Tom Harris Read More …

Driving the 101 Freeway from Silver Lake to Calabasas, California, I kick around in my head the literary references I could use to describe this stretch of road bounded by the Sherman Oaks Galleria to the south and the turnoff for the Ronald Regan Presidential Library to the north. Charles Bukowski’s pulp and grit was left back in Hollywood, we’ve crossed out of Reyner Banham’s ecologies, and the hills that so famously burn in Joan Didion’s Letter from Los Angeles are farther east. There’s probably a German term for this landscape of rolling hills, Starbucks, and Lexus dealerships. Certainly Adorno coined some phrase in his critique of the culture industry, written while living in exile in the Pacific Palisades.

It’s tempting to say that we are on the edge — the edge of culture, the edge of suburbia, the edge of rural California and all the narratives that go with it. (The Western High Noon was shot at Warner Bros. Ranch, which is now the Calabasas Golf Club.) But if we leave behind old-fashioned geography and look at our pin on the media map, we find that this is the territory of E!: a pop-cultural space populated by people whose names often start with K.

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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.