Thursday, April 8, 2021

On The Schedule: April, 2021

This month I'm busy with... Modernism Week; scripting the latest episode of Rodeo Drive The Podcast, on luxury menswear clothier Stefano Ricci; continuing the waste conversation with the USGBC; and considering interspecies coexistence with the Nature, Art and Habitat residency.



April 8 -- April 18: Modernism Week 2021 
When spring blooms so do the desert Modern homes of Palm Springs and its surroundings. The annual 11-day Modernism Week smorgasbord of tours, cocktail parties, show room events and lectures has of course been constrained by Covid, but there is still plenty to see and do starting April 8. 
Tickets are still available for in-person (masked) tours of Ray Kappe’s last project, a home built before he passed in 2019, with architect Sean Lockyer. You can see a vintage 70s home designed by Stan Sackley in Indian Canyon, updated to a new level of groovaceousness by interior designers Michael Ostrow and Roger Stoker of Grace Home Furnishings
And you can get tickets for a tour of John Lautner‘s 1947 Living Units, in Desert Hot Springs. This cluster of four structures used to be a motel and I once stayed there; I am still recovering from the ecstatic experience. Each unit has a roof that soars upwards with clerestories at the top of a wall, giving the occupant complete privacy along with openness to the big sky. Celestial. Amazing.
I should add that I have joined the board of Modernism Week so I have witnessed the engine behind it. The passion and organization in a group of mostly volunteers is infectious. Modernism Week has also found new life online and there you can find their highly produced program, a mix of Mod houses for sale and think pieces, like an essay by historian Alan Hess. Hess, a prodigious writer of books on California architecture, and also a board member of Modernism week, brings academic heft to all the fizzy fun.
And psst: while in the Coachella Valley, don't forget to check out Desert X 2021. 

April 13: Rodeo Drive The Podcast/Stefano Ricci
Rodeo Drive The Podcast, Season 2, Episode 4, drops. I’ve been scripting this series, hosted by Bronwyn Cosgrave, about the designers, craftspeople and creative retailers behind the famed three-block strip.
The new episode is about Stefano Ricci, the ultra luxury menswear designer headquartered in Florence, with a showpiece boutique on Rodeo Drive. The brand turns 50 next year and this episode explores the founding of the tight knit family firm and its expansion into a global lifestyle brand, dressing the bodies and furnishing the homes and yachts of men with power and money: strongmen in post-Communist countries and entertainers, also Nelson Mandela and the Pope! Collaborators and mentors along the way included Rodeo Drive's Bijan. The company even acquired an antique silk mill containing a loom invented by Leonardo da Vinci! 
The musician and producer David Foster, a devotee of the brand, says he’s happy to pay up to $25,000 for Stefano Ricci suits because “you get what you pay for.” With Ricci that means impeccable tailoring, personal service and supremely comfortable fabrics that are designed to last. It’s the antithesis of the fast fashion philosophy. Hear from Stephano Ricci himself and his sons Niccolo and Filippo, who now helm the business

April 17: Nature, Art and Habitat conference
One of the unexpected outcomes of the COVID era has been, for many people, a closer relationship with animals: with domestic pets who suddenly got to hang out with their persons 24/7 or the birds and wild creatures spotted on walks that took the place of workouts in thermally controlled interiors. Not to mention the pandemic itself shone a spotlight on our connection with other species:  a good number of scientists believe the coronavirus was transmitted from wildlife to humans encroaching the wilderness. 
This all intensifies thinking already underway by scholars about inter-species coexistence in the Anthropocene. Among them is architect Ilaria Mazzoleni, founder of Nature, Art and Habitat, a residency that takes place in the field at her family owned land in Italy, and online in an ongoing series of conversations. 
The point of NAHR is to “bring together scientists, designers, architects, landscape architects, artists and philosophers to species meet, intersect, coexist, and co-create ecosystems in this anthropocentric era, as the world grapples with COVID-19."
On Saturday, April 17 there will be an all day workshop and I will moderate one of the panels, Coexistence and Ecological Knowledge, with guests Michael Bell, with The Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve at The Nature Conservancy; Peter Stonier, Film maker, ESRI; and Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, artist. 

April 29: Waste White Paper
Speaking of fast fashion… on Thursday, April 29, I will join Ben Stapleton, CEO of the Los Angeles branch of US Green Building Council (USGBC), to discuss their most recent white paper on waste. The focus is plastics and the worrying uptick in plastic detritus over a year of throwaway PPE and packaging materials. But the team also outlines a potential way forward. A lineup of waste management experts will join the conversation, which is open to everybody, online. 
Having spent several months wading in waste, producing this radio series, I can say that this yucky and depressing topic is also strangely inspiring, as it is forcing some highly inventive thinking about how to mitigate the impacts of a culture that emphasizes instant gratification and throwing stuff out. Now, if only we could all afford Stefano Ricci suits!

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