Archive for the 'Websites' Category


NAU 2010 Teaser

In January I became a partner at NAU, a unique design collective focused on the creation of narrative spaces.

We often fuse physical & digital design, utilizing emergent technology and catering to markets including architecture, interior design, experience design, advertising, film, television and interactive media. NAU’s principals are active innovators, pursuing a future design initiative, yielding such concepts as the Stratocruiser, and speaking at universities and conferences worldwide.

NAU’s partners include former Studio Daniel Libeskind architects Michael Brown and Jean-Lucien Gay, former Zaha Hadid architect Pia Habekost, Hollywood production designer, Tino Schaedler and myself, Oliver Zeller.

I invite you to subscribe to the NAU newsletter and visit our new website at We have over twenty projects on display and also offer a sneak peek at our directorial & design work on several upcoming spec commercials and short films.

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March Arrives

March Rick Joy Avraverde

Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO) in Brooklyn, resides the former Grand Union Tea Company warehouse. Entering the understated foyer one is greeted by welcoming aromas from a small coffee bar, wedged next to a staircase. One that leads to a bar and restaurant with an atmosphere befitting the latest mecca of artists in New York.

A quick walk up another flight of steps leads you to one of the building’s earliest post renovation occupants, the corner office of March. Here against the rustic load bearing walls is a dash of modernism where custom white desks, shelves, partitions and doors featuring meticulously flush edges, offer insight into the partners design sensibilities and attention to detail.

March is at the avant-garde of a new breed of architecture practice dedicated to digital architecture.

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As a site dedicated to architecture and design in media, I’m remiss for not having mentioned nous.

“A gallery, network, and publication with an initiative to expose and promote design qualities inherent in digital media and technologies for architecture and design.”

nous network is especially interesting as it “provides a communication platform for work, ideas, and discourse to be shared by practitioners, theoreticians, students, offices, and universities.” Anyone can peruse the work of its members in the exposure section; already an impressive repository of design concepts.

Founded by three distinguished architects with backgrounds in computational architecture, (Christian Derix, Melissa Woolford and Paul Coates) their latest exhibition, Border Lines, debuts next week in London, November 11 - 17.

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Layer Tennis

layer tennis

Time constrained competitions between new media artists are all the rage nowadays. From Cut & Paste to Fjorg! they remind me of South Korean gaming events that resemble concerts or sports events. Fitting in a world where capitalism demands accelerated creativity. At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, I’m not inclined toward such events. They’re a factor in building misconceptions that are forcing visual creatives to complete projects at an increasingly faster rate. A significant issue, epitomized by the continuing ramifications in the visual effects industry after Spielberg’s War of the Worlds wrapped post only three months after principal photography.

That aside, these visual jam sessions can be a great outlet for artists and entertaining for onlookers as evidenced by Layer Tennis. A well executed venture of the Chicago based design, advertising and interactive studio, Coudal Partners.

Matches are played “using lots of different applications, from Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Flash, but the basic idea is the same no matter what tools are in use. Two artists (or two small teams of artists) will swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post that to the site. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. The matches last for ten volleys and when it’s complete, everyone with an opinion sounds off in the Forums and we declare a winner.”

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Art Directors Guild Design Presentations

Ugly Betty Art Director

The Art Directors Guild, the Hollywood guild whose members handle the production and set design for television series, films and commercials, has publicly made available select design presentations provided for their eleventh annual awards. These PDF presentations are occasionally accompanied by quicktime video clips highlighting the sets. Unfortunately some PDF files suffer from over compression and low resolution source material; recommend viewing at seventy five percent zoom.

The presentation for Ugly Betty, (Winner for Episode of a Single-Camera Television Series) featuring prodution design by Mark Worthington, is the real standout. While this presentation is apparently the only one not present on the new Art Director’s Guild website, it’s still accessible from its prior incarnation.

Another highlight is the pilot for Aaron Sorkin’s defunct NBC series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which interestingly incorporates 3D wireframe models of the main set. Most presentations are relegated to television, though Superman Returns is done justice with well varied examples. Other productions covered include House M.D., Heroes, Hell’s Kitchen, The Queen, Stephen King’s Desperation, and more.



Visual Effects, Design & Asset Management firm Speedshape, recently relaunched their website with a complete makeover. Founded in 2003, Speedshape quickly became known for their efficient CAD to VFX automotive translation pipeline. A year ago Speedshape expanded into the LA market, opening shop with Rob Nederhorst (Digital Domain, Sway Studio) as VFX Supervisor. Their best known work; the sublime SAAB Aero X short film Blackbird directed by Joseph Kosinski, and the GMC Sierra commercials that frequented the airwaves this past summer.

Particularly interesting, is the wealth of animatics, storyboard and concept art hosted in their broadcast and interactive portfolio, a rarity for studio websites. When visiting the Speedshape website, be sure to left click, hold and drag on the stills, previz and storyboard panes to see all the content.

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Lebbeus Woods Comes to the Web

Lebbeus Woods The New City

The experimental avant-garde architecture of Lebbeus Woods has influenced generations of artists. From film, Wood’s ambiguous Neomechanical Tower (Upper) Chamber blatantly served as the interrogation room inspiration in Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, to games where Woods apparently influenced Half-Life 2’s design team.

I first became truly fascinated with his architecture when working for Director Marco Brambilla whose library included a copy of Lebbeus Wood’s The New City. Particularly interesting is his inclination to base his experimental architecture in a topical geopolitical context from the crumbling of the Berlin War (Berlin Free Zone) to ethnic cleansing in Sarajevo (War and Architecture).

Lebbeus Woods recently launched his official web prescence. To coincide, Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG has posted an extensive article and interview with Lebbeus Woods. A prominent segment looks at his 1999 work, Lower Manhattan.

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The Photographic Works of Kristopher Grunert

Kristopher Grunert

An excellent architectural, industrial and landscape photographer was recently brought to my attention. Kristopher Grunert’s photography blurs the line between commercial work and fine art. His rendition of modern industry and his careful consideration of compositional lines, atmosphere and lighting evoke the work of Charles Sheeler and Michael Kenna, with a distinct edge that borders on the cinematic.

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Jen Stark


Artist Jen Stark, previously noted in’s article on Paper Sculptures, has updated her website with new work and launched a blog featuring her latest exhibitions and press coverage.

Jen Stark’s next show is the solo exhibition “Little by Little”, at the Heaven Gallery in Chicago starting September 14th.

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Walking on 33rd & 8th in NYC, the above image is hard to miss. It’s plastered across an entire building facade. This new ad campaign for Motorola stars Formula One racecar driver Danica Patrick, highlighted in a dramatic Flash microsite designed by agency, DraftFCB and directed by Jason Koxvold. Invited to handle 3D Animation & Visual Effects duties for the microsite, I decided to collaborate with talented Prague based VFX studio, imagesFX, to deliver within the tight schedule.

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