CREative people begin their journeys with a vision. In their minds, they see the raw materials, with which they are tasked, as something other. Bolts of fabric, lumps of clay, words written on a cocktail napkin provokes a storm in the brain of an artist which often propels these pieces of lifeless matter into things greater. This issue of DELve Mag is devoted to these individuals and their craft… the designer and his designs.
In Untold Stories & Forgotten History, the author (who chose to use the pen name Huge D. Monia… hey, I just work here!) shines a spotlight on a couple of “hidden figures” who, separately, were creators of two iconic designs.
Top Five Logos That Melt the Heart is not exclusive to DELve Mag. It was first on the Greenwich Melts (www.greenwichmelts.com) web site. The topic was so in keeping with the theme, I begged the author (through an intermediary, her husband David, a former DELve contributor), Jackie Dowling to use the piece. She was kind enough to let me republish her take on logos which evokes feelings of comfort to their viewers.
Up-and-coming fashion designer Tory Thompson is the subject of So Fresh! The article, written by me, focuses on the designer’s influences, inspirations and his favorite pastime.
Two friends were asked to work on a project together. The result was Top Five: New York Style. New York-based architect Simon Kristak supplied a list of his top five favorite architectural designs around the city, while the multi-talented Eric Papa was charged with photographing the spaces. I chose the word “spaces” deliberately because some of Kristak’s choices aren’t necessarily thought of when it comes to New York architecture.
Please take note of the photograph which runs just above this opening. Papa took this picture, which seems like the Manhattan skyline is rising up from an open meadow, on Governor’s Island. It was chosen because this is the first time Papa, Kristak and I have worked together in many years. The three red Adirondack chairs (a design deserving of an entire issue) seem to be waiting for us to come chill and talk about the culminating of our collaboration.
It’s been a year (and a couple of months) since DELve Mag. was launched and I could not have done it without calling on my family and my family of friends. Thanks so much for the kind words, encouragement and contributions. Speaking of contributions, if anyone would like to contribute, word or graphics to DELve, drop me a line. Also, as an anniversary gift to my readers I will be giving out crisp $20 bills to any, and all, who suggest themes which end up being used. Already in the works are issues on food, faith, fitness, firsts, serving and protecting and the next issue, DESign II, so these are not included in the offer. You ain’t gonna get rich, but it’s something.
Other than a design-themed C.A.F. that’s about it for now. Until we meet again, always remember the words of Madonna, who sums up this issue best: “Beauty’s where you find it!”
Love and Peace Always,
* Feud: Bette and Joan – The opening credit sequence for this latest show in the Ryan Murphy franchise is compelling. So much so, in fact, that when it was released just ahead of the show’s debut, it was yet another reason to watch the story of two aging actresses who had and intense dislike for one another (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) played by two aging actresses (Susan Sarandon, playing Davis and Jessica Lange playing Crawford – I assume they got along). The trailer, designed by Kyle Cooper with music by Mac Quayle and produced by Alexis Martin Woodall was a slick homage to the opening movie credits of the 60s which is when the series is set. Animated cutouts glide across the screen detailing the filming of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (the only film Crawford and Davis ever appeared in together), the manipulation at the hands of studio chief Sam Warner (of the Warner Bros.), the aftermath of the filming and the toll it took on both women. The award-worthy sequence tells the entire story in a just under 90 seconds. Watch the opening here: Feud open
* Wu-Tang logo – Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with and this also encompasses their enduring logo. For over 20 years, the modified “W” logo has graced albums, clothing and sketch pads of many a young (graffiti and otherwise) artist. The design was created by DJ Allah Mathmematics on the floor of a construction site, on which he was working. The Wu Tang “W” (which morphs into different letters depending on the group member using it) has become iconic, standing alongside other musical logos like the Grateful Dead skull, Public Enemy’s target and The Rolling Stones’ lips.
* Painter and sculptor Kehinde Wiley has taken neoclassic art and given it even newer life. Unafraid of color and pattern, Wiley paints portraits of both ordinary and famous, mostly African-American people posed like modern royalty set against backgrounds of faunas, floras and patterns. As if not content with the status they were assigned, the elaborate backgrounds wrap around the focal point to become foreground, making for a kaleidoscope of color and design.
Untold Stories & Forgotten History
By Hughe D. Monia
A wise person once said, “History is a story about the past that is significant and true.” The history of things absolutely fascinates me. Thinking about and learning about historical things is a cathartic process I like to indulge in every now and then. I consider myself to be intellectually curious and I love learning new things.
The bottom line about history, for me, is that it informs us and even tells on us. Yes, history snitches on us and does so in a way that can be both brutal and liberating. It teaches. It inspires and it warns us. It comforts us and tells us the truth about the trials and triumphs others before us have faced and overcome and even succumbed to. It connects us to many of the long-forgotten innovators and pioneers whose life work and accomplishments have changed, inspired and improved our lives. Oh, and let’s not forget the infamous ones. The ones we don’t like to remember but we have to because they were just pure evil, like the Devil and Hitler. Yeah there’s a place in history for them as well.
And how about the lesser known ones we may have forgotten but who have impacted our lives nevertheless, like the person who caused the Northeast blackout of 1965, the person who invented shoe strings or Joseph Gayetty, the guy credited for inventing toilet paper. Just think about that one for a minute.
Two untold stories I want to share with you today involve folks you probably never ever heard of but because of who they were and what they did, they have touched and continue to touch and inspire the lives of many today and their stories must be told.
Who are these two lesser-known historical greats you ask? One is Paul Revere Williams, who was born in Los Angeles on February 18, 1894 to Lila Wright Williams and Chester Stanley Williams and the other is Zelda Wynn Valdes who was born on June 28, 1905 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Now for those of you who recognize those names, congratulations, you get a cookie. But for the rest of us average folk, myself included, who used our inside voices to ask “Who in the world are these folk?”, allow me to just cut through the chase and break it down for you.
Paul Revere Williams, a black man who lived in early 20th century America, with roots in the Los Angeles, California area, was certified as a building contractor in 1915, was licensed as an architect by the State of California in 1921 and is responsible for the design of thousands of private and commercial buildings, including his claim to fame, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). He designed custom homes for celebrity clients and helped to design and create other notable buildings that are now considered landmarks, such as MCA, Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Springs Tennis Club and Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building.
Zelda Wynn Valdes (1905-2001) was an African-American fashion and costume designer whose career spanned 40 years. Working in and around New York City, Valdes began her career as an assistant to her uncle in his White Plains, New York tailoring shop. In 1948, she opened her own shop on upper Broadway, and in the 1950s she moved her business to West 57th Street where, she had a boutique known as Chez Zelda. In the last chapter of her long career, she was the costumer for the Dance Theater of Harlem. She counted among her entertainment-world clients Josephine Baker, Mae West, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, and Marian Anderson. She also designed exquisite dresses for the wives of famous black celebrities, including Nat “King” Cole and Sugar Ray Robinson. But her most well-known design was for Hugh Hefner. Valdes was the creator and designer of the iconic Playboy Bunny costume.
I know what you’re thinking, “How come I never ever heard of these folks?” Right? I know! That was my reaction at first too. But as I dug deeper into their lives and discovered some of the many things Williams and Valdes accomplished, I got real conspiratorial and concluded it had to be partly because of America’s original sin, racism and partly because I just never ventured deep enough into history to find out who these amazing people were on my own.
Now that you know and I know, let’s just think about a few things. And this is where it gets really, really good. What’s the big deal about knowing who these people are? There’s a whole generation of people who need to know!
For starters, they were both people of color and lived during a time when overt racism and prejudice was THE norm. Both dealt with a society that defined their value and place in relation to White folk. They discovered their passions and became experts of their individual crafts. Despite societal obstacles and challenges, they didn’t let it stop them or limit them from being successful. Their enduring legacies testaments hope, wonder, vision and offer hard proof that we all can do and be anything we desire if we let nothing throw a roadblock in the way of our dreams. This is especially true for people of color.
So back to that point about history and untold stories. Where we started this whole conversation in the first place. What’s the point? Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Let’s make a commitment to keep learning about our history, our origin and our culture so we can be deeply rooted. So we can thrive. So we can learn and share the untold stories of the many hidden figures who came before us.
Top Five Logos That Melt the Heart
By Jackie Dowling
Every successful brand needs a logo, a visual representation that is immediately identifiable to the brand. A captivating logo doesn’t need to depict what a company sells or creates, but it needs to be an accurate reflection of a company’s identity. What makes a logo outstanding? There are four elements that stand out and our top five logos embody them all:
It’s Memorable: Exceptional logos have an unforgettable quality about them. You see it once or twice and remember it, but more importantly, it will forever associate that image with that brand.
It’s Unique: A creative logo is one that is original and won’t be confused with any other brand (especially a competitor). Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but there’s no excuse for copycat branding.
It’s Timeless: A logo should stand the test of time. Forget trends – a brand’s logo should appeal to all ages and be relevant for this generation and the next. Coca-Cola has tweaked its logo over time, but that cursive writing has been its signature for over a century.
It’s Touching: There’s more to marketing than just data. When there’s an emotional component to a marketing campaign that touches you on a visceral level, when it has melted your heart, it has truly resonated.
Here are our top five logos you can’t help but love:
- LEGO: The brand name in large, bold block letters. LEGO is one of America’s most beloved toy brands, and its logo is simple, easy-to-read and fun — exactly what a toy’s logo should be. They’re difficult to clean up and painful to step on, but LEGO is the most influential toy of all timeand its logo has put a smile on the face of creative builders for generations.
- Vineyard Vines: A smiling pink whale. Is it preppy? Yes, but not in an elitist way. With its “every day should feel this good” mantra and coastal vibe, Vineyard Vines exudes the good life. The smiling pink whale exemplifies that. (Bonus: Its founders are Greenwich natives, so that warms this local’s heart.)
- Gerber: A cherubic baby face. Gerber was founded in 1927 by Dorothy Gerber, a mom determined to feed her baby healthy food. By 1928, she had created a growing business and needed a logo. A contest resulted in the iconic sketch of baby Ann Turner, forever to be known as “The Gerber Baby.” Seeing that face on Gerber jars immediately reminds you of feeding your own little ones. Capturing that sense of nostalgia is part of the reason it continues to be one of the top selling baby food brands.
- The Black Dog: A Black Labrador wearing a red collar. If you’ve spent time on Martha’s Vineyard (or anywhere in New England, really) you’ve seen The Black Dog logo. The tavern of the same name opened in Vineyard Haven in 1971, and the logo was created by a waitress. It’s one of the first images you see when your boat docks on the island, and it’s an indelible symbol of a Vineyard vacation. I went there for the first time more than 20 years ago and fell in love. Today, I have a black lab. He wears a red collar.
- DC Comics – Batman: A bat with outstretched wings. The Dark Knight was first introduced to the world in 1939. He is Gotham’s Superhero without super powers. He’s mysterious, dangerous, tragic, just and strong. He’s the guy everyone roots for and the bat is his symbol. Through comics, television, film and collectibles, the Batman logo has had many variations over the years, but the basic image endures. That simple bat silhouette is able to excite fans young and old, an unlikely symbol representing the hero we all need.
J.D.: Editor of Greenwich Melts. She has 15 years of experience as a writer, copy editor, reporter and media strategist.
by Stephen Holmes
Often, as we age, we sometimes forget just how old we are. That is, until some yung’un comes along and provides you with a slap-in-the-face-reminder. Up-and-coming designer and photographer Tory Thompson was just that such slap for me. Driving to a photo shoot in Brooklyn, for which he was acting as photographer, Thompson, 28, mentioned how he likes to design clothes with little “surprises” which the wearer happens upon. Thompson’s statement sparked a memory of my beloved Triple Five Soul hoodie, which I’ve been wearing for at least 20 years. I mention the hoodie and the tiny pocket inside of the hoodie’s front pouch which I happened to discover.
“You mean the stash pocket,” Thompson offered.
I was suddenly Rip Van Winkle waking from a very long nap. My innocuous tiny pocket was meant to stash a dime bag-o-weed? I try not to lead on to my blissful ignorance by continuing my line of questions.
Thompson, who was born and raised in the suburbs of New Jersey, debuted his Spring/Summer 2015 line during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in 2014. Being a true artist, he felt the line was rushed and didn’t represent him to the fullest. Artistry aside, designing clothes was not his destination, “I was always interested in art and creating and initially when I went to school I wanted to be a fine artist but it’s not a field that makes a lot of money and I kept hearing that, so I did [studied] business for about a year and then I stopped and asked myself what could I do that would allow me to still be creative but make money, so I did fashion merchandizing and that’s how I got into fashion in general.”
While design may not have been what he planned on doing, he felt a connection. “I always thought I had a sense of style. I liked to coordinate things. I always paid attention to details, looking back it was really tacky but now I see where I get the sense and drive as to want to do it.”
His denim collection is fresh and has elements of urban culture but one can’t help noticing the influences of Japanese designers who have been in the game for over half a century. “I like Comme des Garcons [which, along with its founder, Rei Kawakubo, was the inspiration for this year’s Met Gala’s Art of the In-Between] and Yohji Yamamoto. I do appreciate fashion history so I look at older designers and at archives.
“[By studying the archives] you see the influences from back in the day and where they came from versus now. You see a lot of bigger brands ‘trickling up’… looking to streetwear for their collections. Back in the day you would see a lot more ‘trickle down.’ You definitely see more of a change now, especially with social media and how people [designers] can reach a broader audience. More people are willing to try something because they have that broader audience and have a quicker response to what they are doing, so if it doesn’t work out or if they aren’t really feeling it, they can switch it up.”
A designer for about six years, Thompson has noticed changes in the industry. He feels social media can also be a detriment. “People are looking at trends more. Fashion is real trendy now and that is something I try to stray away from, I never really liked trends I never really liked what other people liked, I always wanted to do my own thing and still get those viewers.
“As a designer, I’ve grown. When I started, I was strictly streetwear. I used to snowboard and skateboard everyday so that was my life and growing up, it was just streetwear brands like graphic tees and composition and placement and logos and that’s what I was heavily influenced by and that’s what I was doing. When I moved to New York City I would see fashion on a larger scale, I was actually living fashion. I could walk through the streets and see things I liked, see the people I would look at on the computer. I would say, ‘Oh, this is dope!’ It changed my idea of fashion. I look at fashion as a challenge. I want to challenge myself to stay relevant and produce things people will like… more on a timeless view. Fashion has definitely changed for me from when I started to now. It went from graphics to fashion design.”
The streets of New York don’t always offer Thompson inspiration. “You can lock eyes with someone and they lock eyes with you,” and silently acknowledge the person’s wardrobe. “The fit can be dope but if you don’t have the right shoes, it just doesn’t work.”
Thompson talks passionately about the elements of design but he is equally passionate about another subject. “I have a love for snowboarding.” Prior to beginning his career, Thompson would customize purchased clothes by tailoring them and adding appliques. “I wanted to make it [look] as cool as possible, something I could be proud of riding down the mountain.” He then began to design his own line for the slopes. “I tried to do technical stuff. I was trying to make snow pants, hoodies and tee shirts. I did a few pair of pants, they came out terrible,” confesses Thompson, “I still have them.” He goes on to explain that the Community College of Morris, which he was attending, made him take sewing courses. He thought to himself, “I don’t want to do this, I don’t like sewing. It’s too time-consuming, it’s not fun.” Sewing allowed him to get the desired fit for his snowboarding attire. “Overall, it was a good decision.”
Snowboarding is a sport not typically known to be popular among African-Americans youths. I wondered aloud why a nice Black kid from the suburbs of Jersey would venture into snowboarding. “Boredom,” he replied. “When I was younger we use to do bad things. One day one of the homies bought a snowboard out.
“I remember my first snowboard was a little plastic Walmart one. If you could get down the hill without falling out of it and breaking your ankle… that was snowboarding. From there it just grew.” He had to decide whether to go to Colorado and be a snowboard instructor or go to school in New York and be a fashion designer. “They [his parents] definitely wanted me go to school and continue my education but I really wanted to be a snowboard instructor.” Much, I’m sure, to his parents’ relief, Thompson opted to continue his studies at the Art Institute of New York.
“I mean I still want to ride all the time. There is nothing better to me than waking up and sun is shining or in a snowstorm. But waking up, they call it a ‘Bluebird,’ go up to the mountain and the sky is blue, no clouds (you’re above the clouds) and the snow is just fresh. It’s like the best feeling in the world.”
S.H.: Is a writer (among other things) whose words have appeared in GQ, the in-house publication Inside PRN, the online literary magazine NWDrizzle.com and the Huffington Post. Winner of several awards (none of which have anything to do with writing, but more so on his willingness to eat anything on a dare), Mr. Holmes is genuinely dumbfounded every year when he is snubbed on both People magazine’s “Most Intriguing” and “100 Most Beautiful” lists. While waiting for the world to recognize his intelligence (and beauty), Mr. Holmes can be found at home in New Jersey, where he has been known as a photographer, chef and educator.
Top Five: New York Style
by Simon Kristak with photos by Eric Papa
Oculus – Santiago Calatrava
For all of the exoskeletal volume’s aggressive and protective spines and shell-like armor, the interior’s supple and adventurous configuration balances what could have been too brazen a statement for the hallowed site. White-on-white, the floors and walls reflect the ambient light that filters through the Oculus’s roof: a series of skylights framed by the awkward spines above. A cathedral to commerce and transit, ones eyes are drawn upward to the light, which gives you the feeling of being underwater, or within a world apart at least – as if walking inside of what one would imagine the innards of a white marble manta ray is like, the sinuous curves of gills as structure, and aquatic tendons as stairs and escalators.
VIA W57 – Bjarke Ingels
For fans of the Danish design wunderkind Bjarke Ingels, the VIA W57 is a culmination of a number of builds elsewhere. Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) process is often described by ridiculously simple diagrams that carve Platonic solids – in this case a cube – into friendly human-centered forms. In the firm’s first New York building, structure, green space, and vistas are all parameters to be nudged and massaged – to the pleasure of The Durst Organization, wealthy home-seekers, and design followers alike – into a pyramid-like form with a void at its center. Despite showcasing a radical form, the appearance from most of Manhattan is obscured – the most striking views of VIA are from across the Hudson River, and as you drive north on the West Side Highway the building emerges as a shimmery slope, almost like the leeward side of a metallic sail. While BIG is known for exciting if not slightly saccharine propositions, here they managed to successfully walk a fine line between intriguing design solution and an overly formulaic product.
Vagelos Science Center – DS+R
Diller Scofido and Refro (DS+R) is one of the storied firms of New York, with recent contributions to the High Line and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall adding to their notable resume. Their latest effort, the Vagelos Science Center, located in Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion zone. DS+R has created a building of material oppositions: a cascade of concrete ribbons tumbles across the facade, the surreal structure punctuating the glass at each floor. The variable floor plates respond to the function of the spaces on the interior, often fitted with dark wood panels and planks interacting with inert white surfaces, much like the glass and concrete of the facade. At night, the sharp technological feel of the building is dampened – the building appears to be a haphazard stack of lanterns, the warm wood within breathing humanity into the buildings angular stance.
Beekman Hotel Restoration – GKV Architects
The Beekman Hotel is one of New York’s latest Instagram-worthy spaces. While not a new (it was originally built as an early skyscraper, the Temple Court Building, in 1883) or particularly remarkable building, the Beekman’s interior space is a remarkable restoration of what was the first “Fireproof” building in New York City. This obscure distinction is something celebrated within the renovation by GKV Architects (Gerner Kronick + Valcarce Architects), with each detail of the soaring 8-story atrium attended to, from the cast iron railings and cantilevered floor supports to the terracotta tile and wood doors and moldings. If you make it to the top, you are rewarded with a crystal top reminiscent of the Burnham and Root’s contemporaneous Rookery Building in Chicago. In fact, the building’s rudiments feel more like another of Sillman and Fransworth’s buildings, the Morse Building a few blocks away – also one of New York’s earliest skyscrapers.
Governor’s Island Park – West 8
Now that the ferries are once more making the jaunt across lower New York Harbor to Governor’s Island, it is time to enjoy one of New York’s most enchanting public spaces. The newly created park does what a number of great urban spaces do – allow you to feel an element of surprise by obscuring if not obliterating the relentless city. Creating this natural divide – and thereby a sense of distance and relief – is no easy task and the manipulation of earth by Dutch landscape firm West 8 is masterful as it moved rock and soil into a multigenerational exploration zone. The end of the island’s park is capped by the 70-foot Outlook Hill, where one can capture vistas across the harbor and back over the park to the lower Manhattan skyline.
E.P.: Is a photographer, filmmaker and location scout living in New York City. He has collaborated on 40+ feature films and TV shows to date and while doing so has wandered and explored countless mills of the City’s streets and landscapes, taking photos of the motions of everyday life, which transform into cinematic scenes, becoming beautiful still moments in a moving life. His work can be found on Instagram at: e_papawashere
S.K.: Is Director of the New York studio of Billings Jackson Design. He graduated with a Masters in Architecture from the Pratt Institute, where he focused on digital design and fabrication techniques. Kristak worked as an architectural designer and as a writer and editor for various publication before joining Billings Jackson in 2008.