For the past five years, as one of the co-founders of the annual “JONALDDUDD” exhibition, designer Lydia Cambron has put on one of the most consistently surprising and challenging presentations of New York Design Week. The group show irreverently eschews all the gloss and polish of contemporary furniture design by lampooning notions of function, elegance, and efficiency—and embracing oozing slime as a running motif.
With the sudden halt brought on by the pandemic, that familiar seasonal rhythm has thrown Cambron and much of the industry into a slight hibernation, as artists spend increased time in the domestic settings they design for, and that “JONALDDUDD” implicitly critiques. Sheltering in place has proved creatively fruitful for Cambron in other ways, though: Earlier this month, she debuted her first short film, 2020: An Isolation Odyssey, a brilliant, uncanny, frame-for-frame reimagining of the ending to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. We caught up with Cambron to talk about domesticity in the time of Covid-19, her self-taught foray into filmmaking, and what she’s working on next.
When did the idea for this film project begin?
Pretty early on into quarantine—maybe a week. I started working from home in mid-March. I have a separate series I’ve been working on that investigates the aesthetic similarities between baroque décor and the material language of space exploration. The iconic room of 2001 is a precedent for that kind of aesthetic blending, for sure, and I think it was just top of mind as I was reflecting on my own “new normal.” In terms of what really sparked the connection, it was just sitting with my own anxiety and uncertainty, and watching, through what was shared publicly, how those around me reacted and coped with what to do and how to direct their energy.
We had also just decided to postpone “JONALDDUDD,” and I stopped working on my own projects—I had been designing and building a sofa for the show. And I even gave up my studio. All to say, I was a little starved for a creative outlet, stuck at home, and eager to pour all my energy into something. Something just bubbled up, and I was like, “That’s it! That’s what I can do!”
How has isolation affected your day-to-day and work?
It’s been a journey, to say the least. Initially I was working from home, then furloughed. It shifted a lot after that, and it was really great to basically have another full-time job, working for myself. In some ways, I did exactly the thing I had been critiquing: calming my nerves with products and productivity. I can be pretty anxious, and am one of those people who needs to “recharge” after being social, so I didn’t mind staying in.
What inspired you to reenact the ending scene from 2001, in particular?
The emotion of the finale. It’s obviously set in a single room in a domestic space, and the main character is isolated. That gave me the idea, but the emotion is what makes it so relatable to what many of us are experiencing now. The stages of quarantine map onto it well: confusion, acceptance, being ready to move on, and feeling like this experience was transformative.
The domestic space is so potent to me. It’s private and personal to everyone, obviously, but universal in a way that makes its narrative ability really powerful and intuitive to work with. This is also a theme for me––my work often explores private behaviors and anxieties through parody, satire, and product narratives. Some of my projects, like Twice Daily and Uncommon Utility, tap into regulating or facilitating emotion through domestic products. This is where the critique comes in for 2020, as well, by dramatizing our impulse to control what’s going on by staying active and, like, better outfitting our homes and this new home life. Which is again, literally what I did in making this film. I am not exempt, which makes me extra-qualified to comment on it! I had actually never filmed or edited video, and did not have any of the tools prior to coming up with the concept. There was a lot of learning involved.
How are you “evolving” during this strange, intense time?
The cultural shifts and revelations happening are both public and private, and are definitely a part of my own evolution. More logistically, my employment shifts require some re-evaluation. Working in retail and seeing that industry take the hit has got me thinking about other ways to apply my experience. I already work between and across fields with my independent and curatorial projects, but this could mean more of a change for me. For now, it’s TBD.
The days stretch and blend. I’m more comfortable with that now, and definitely appreciate the chance to get out of the grind for long enough to think a little further out. That may sound vague, but I think having such a prolonged time away from what things were before forces an openness to alternate futures and views. I don’t mean that in a silver lining or opportunistic, hustle kind of way—more that it’s so uncertain and unknown and so collectively felt, that it’s difficult to put a positive spin or adopt a new point of view right away on whatever form your new reality has taken. I’m okay with a slower process. One that’s long enough to force a good cry, instead of only ever getting as far as nervous laughter.
The jagged spine of the Rocky Mountains is too beautiful to mar. Yet over the years, developers and builders have manageBuckminster Fuller, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eliot Noyes, and Eero Saarinen completed commissions in the Western United States, transforming it into a hub for architectural modRocky Mountain Modern: Contemporary Alpine Homes (Monacelli Press).
A recurring theme in design critic Alexandra Lange’s work is unpacking how—and for whom—objects and spaces are designed.The Dot-Com City, and surveyed how kids’ toys and physical environments impact their development in her 2018 book, The Design of Childhood. The ways in which outdoor public spaces, with their basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate parks, fail teen girls wa story she wrote for Bloomberg CityLab—one of many publications she has contributed to over the past two-plus decades.
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The concept of the Golden Age was first introduced by the ancient Greek philosopher Hesiod, around 700 B.C., in a refereDesign Miami Basel (June 14–19), taking place at the Swiss city’s Messeplatz. Organized around the theme “The Golden Age: Rooted in the Pa
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In the early 1860s, an advertisement in The New York Times offered $10,000 to anyone who could invent a new material for billiard balls. At the time, elephant ivory was the matercamphor, a waxy substance found in the wood of the camphor laurel tree. Though celluloid would later prove to be less than idea
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Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs (one-of-a-kind digital assets created using blockchain technology), have divided the art woEp. 59 of our Time Sensitive podcast), see them as pathways to a promising future, while others express concern around the sky-high price points and carbon emissions they generate.
A sobering 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization laid out the striking impacts industrial animal agriculture has
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For most of the 20th century, breaking a sweat was seen as unladylike. Popular opinion considered working out dangerous
One afternoon in February of 1966, Stewart Brand took half a tab of LSD, sat on a rooftop in San Francisco’s North Beach
Eating ramen is a multisensory experience: the fragrant steam coming off of the broth, the slurping sound of enjoying thThe Art of the Ramen Bowl” (March 18–July 5) that’s on view at the Los Angeles location of Japan House, an initiative with additional hubs in Londonburi, the porcelain receptacles in which ramen is traditionally served, and renge, the compact, teardrop-shaped spoons that often accompany them, made by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers.
Anicka Yi’s intoxicatingly sensory installations don’t just surround the viewer—many of them literally permeate the body, their sEp. 14 of our At a Distance podcast), in which three industrial steel tanks saturate the air with an aroma concocted by fusing secretions from carpenter an
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Born in Grandin, North Dakota, in 1904, the artist Clyfford Still was among the first generation of Abstract Expressioni
In a single word, how does the future make you feel? A towering sculpture by architect Suchi Reddy, founder of the New Y
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With their audacious, gravity-defying forms, skyscrapers have captured the public’s imagination for more than a century.Skyscraper Page, a zany website with a skyscraper discussion forum that has spread to some 100,000 threads. But what’s the point of obs
In the early ’90s, artist, aesthetics expert, and writer Leonard Koren was bathing at a hot-springs resort near the Japa
“Magazines may be a dying breed,” says Jon Kelly, a former Vanity Fair editor who founded its politics, business, and technology website, Hive, in 2015, after working as a staff editor for The New York Times Magazine and as a founding team member at Bloomberg Businessweek. (His career in media began at Vanity Fair, as an assistant to the legendary editor Graydon Carter.) “But magazine-style writing is always in vogue.” With this coPuck, a subscription-based website where elite writers tell insider stories that lie at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street,
At this and at every moment, the Earth, and all the species who reside on it, are pushing through time and space, surrou
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Brooklyn design studio CW&T is on a mission to change our perspectives on time. To do so, it adapts everyday objects—including clocks, pens, patche
To Felix Burrichter, the German-born, New York–based founder of the biannual architecture and design magazine Pin-Up, life is a glorious cacophony of different voices, visions, and ideas—and he can’t get enough of them. “I’m never happy
Marked by a snow-white dial with a texture evocative of tree bark, the SLGH005 timepiece from the Japanese watchmaker Grand Seiko was informed by the shirakaba (white birch trees) that thrive in Japan’s northern region, particularly those near the company’s studio in Shizukuishi
A Fictional World Created by Toyin Ojih Odutola Calls Into Question Real-Life Systems of Power and Gender
New York–based Nigerian artist Toyin Ojih Odutola often uses her creations—eclectic multimedia drawings and works on papA Countervailing Theory” currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. through April 3, 2022, are possiblyIntersections,” a new body of work by artist Sanford Biggers, who was the guest on Ep. 66 of our At a Distance podcast, on view through Jan. 9, 2022.) Commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery in London, where it was presented from August
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Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists Translate Nature’s Sonic Landscapes Into an Emotive Spectacle
To the attentive ear, symphonies abound—especially in the wild. Musician and author Bernie Krause has been recording natEp. 127 of our At a Distance podcast, has captured more than 5,000 hours of audio created by more than 15,000 terrestrial and marine species in some 2,000 h
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Gucci. The luxury fashion house’s name alone conjures up images of vibrancy, extravagance, experimentation, and offbeat latest episode of Hello Fashion, Young’s YouTube show created with The Slowdown, she investigates how this “world” came to be by illuminating the house
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In the sphere of luxury fashion, Dior’s richness of history is practically unparalleled. As stylist Kate Young says, Diolatest episode of Hello Fashion, Young’s YouTube show created with The Slowdown, was filmed. In the episode, Young takes us through Dior’s aesthetic tr
In 1847, French jeweler Louis-François Cartier established a business that bore his last name and specialized in jewels
What does a trench coat represent? For stylist Kate Young, it’s a marker of sophistication, exploration, and evergreen slatest episode of Hello Fashion, her YouTube show created with The Slowdown, Young introduces us to the piece’s original architect—the British luxury f
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Can clothing be at once opulent and utilitarian, traditional and unexpected, ugly and sublime? Can it be both a statemenlatest episode of Hello Fashion, her YouTube show created with The Slowdown, stylist Kate Young explains the ways in which the Italian luxury fashion h
According to business coach Holly Howard, those looking to run a flourishing enterprise should begin by taking a deeper Ask Holly How, in 2012. Since then, she’s worked with more than 500 businesses and founders, guided by the belief that effective entr
Tantric Buddhist practitioners use mandalas—circular, often ornate, symbolic representations of the universe that can apMandala Lab, an interactive multi-sensorial space that opens October 1 at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, an institution dedicated
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Since 1915, New York Public Library users in search of visual information have consulted its Picture Collection. It consists of images cut from magazines, catalogues, and books, each glued to backings and organized into folders enc
In branding and marketing, animal imagery abounds: Lacoste’s crocodile, Bacardi’s bat, Geico’s gecko, Swarovski’s swan, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), animals appear in approximately 20 percent of all advertisements. These creatures, however, receive little to n
In Chicago, more than 10,000 city-owned lots currently sit vacant, concentrated within predominantly Black and brown comChicago Architecture Biennial in 2015. Now, as the latter biennial’s 2021 artistic director, Brown further expands upon his project, using it to info
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Floral jewelry has been a tradition of the French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels since it opened its first boutique atFlorae” (on view through November 14), presented alongside floret-filled photographs by Japanese photographer and film directo
In 1983, French photographer Simon Chaput arrived in New York City for a weeklong trip, and ended up staying for nearly –1991) in California and Japan to “The Floating Piers” (2014–2016) in Italy. Along the way, in 1984, Chaput met the artist and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who recognized Chaput’s love oNew York,” which he began in 1996, that chronicled the developing built environment of Lower Manhattan.
“In the last few years, something distinctly different has been happening in the ways that technologies come to market, The Economist, and launched a popular tech newsletter and podcast called Exponential View. (Last year, he discussed the present-day role of the smartphone, among other digital-related issues, as the guest on Ep. 56 of our At a Distance podcast.) Azhar cautions against the speed with which innovations such as artificial intelligence, automation, and big data emeThe Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology Is Transforming Business, Politics and Society (Diversion Books), out next week. With clarity and insight, he outlines new ways of thinking about technology, alongsid
Wassan Al-Khudhairi, the chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, is the curator of this year’s Focus, a Armory Show—one of America’s biggest art fairs, on view from September 9–12 at New York’s Javits Center—that features contemporary
The concept for Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley’s new book, Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine (MCD), began forming about 12 years ago, when the world looked considerably different from the way it does now. During aEp. 33 of our At a Distance podcast) noticed an old quarantine station turned luxury hotel on a picturesque peninsula across the bay. “Our first questions
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In 2018, contemporary art dealer David Zwirner hired the young Elena Soboleva to optimize his galleries’ online sales operation and digital presence—prompting some critics to respond with skepticis
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Omer Arbel, an Israeli-born, Vancouver-based artist and designer who creates boundary-defying objects and architecture, Omer Arbel (Phaidon), edited by Stephanie Rebick, an associate curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, celebrates the depth and bread
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“Clouds are not something to moan about,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney says in a 2013 TED talk. “Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Pretor-Pinney, a British authoThe Idler, a magazine that extols the virtues of slowness, became fascinated with clouds after noticing them in the skies depicte
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Several years ago, Claus Sendlinger began contemplating ways to address his concerns about overdevelopment in the boutiqSlow, a hospitality venture dedicated to creating places that draw upon their locations’ culture, environment, and history aagriturismo (farmhouse retreat) called La Granja. The working farm practices regenerative agriculture, and teaches visitors how it
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New York–based stylist Kate Young, one of Hollywood’s most highly sought-after, is known for putting the women she dressVogue. This week, Young debuted her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, where she dives deep into the ins and outs of her trade, and the superior craftsmanship of first episode of the weekly series focuses on how she created a series of photographic art for musician Selena Gomez’s new album, “Re
Earlier this month, Francesca Johanson, editor of the Architectural League’s online publication Urban Omnibus, launched Memory Loss,” a new series with Guernica magazine. These essays seek out sites of remembrance in New York City, addressing a “continuum between private and publ
In the era of Covid-19, you might think that Julia Cooke’s book Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out this week, was inspired by a longing for air travel, but you’d be wrong. “What I reall
How Snøhetta Translated the Ethos of Bronx-Based Chef Collective Ghetto Gastro Into an Experimental Kitchen
Three years ago, on New Year’s Eve in Havana, artist José Parlá introduced Craig Dykers, a founding partner of the archiSnøhetta, to Jon Gray, one-third of the Bronx-based chef troupe Ghetto Gastro. The two began what would become an ongoing converBurnside, an intimate, flexible café and culinary event space for the Tokyo creative agency En One. (Health restrictions have pr
Blackness as a color and, in some ways, as a culture often finds itself in close proximity to death. Despite the vivid b
In 2019, Madrid-based designer Jorge Penadés founded Extraperlo, a nonprofit exhibition platform for unorthodox work andCurating Curators,” on view Feb. 18–20 at Penadés’s warehouse-like studio as part of this month’s Madrid Design Festival, upends the conv
Hanna Nova Beatrice is the founder and editor-in-chief of The New Era, a recently launched independent Scandinavian design publication. “It grew out of a strong belief in the [power of] priResidence magazine, prefers to consume media the old-fashioned way, with an eye toward periodicals that innovate on physical page How do you start your mornings?
As the world adapts to pandemic life, we’ve seen creativity heroically emerge, in nearly every sector, amid limitations.Kei Truck Garden Contest in Osaka, which brings nature closer to city-dwellers in the form of compact, foliage-filled creations. (The date for t
For most of us, the urge to bring smartphones into our bedrooms is too strong to resist—even when science, and firsthandattest to the habit’s harmful effects. One way to curb the temptation: Loftie, an alarm clock designed to transform sleep spaces into phone-free sanctuaries. Calibrated for the digital age, the dev
Those visiting Japan’s beloved gardens during the winter might be struck by the sight of trees confined within mysteriouyukitsuri—the term for these intriguing rope webs—is a traditional Japanese gardening technique intended to protect trees’ long b
Design can be a powerful tool in times of crisis, when creativity is a crucial element for survival. At the start of theDesigners Against Coronavirus, and in the fall, took the project a step further by documenting 272 of the works in a book of the same name. Nearly all the resources to publish it, from the paper to securing the copyright for each image, were donated, and the