12 January 2010

I am middle aged. Officially.

I think of myself as a still-relevant guy. While hardly a hipster, I more or less know what's going on in our culture. I wonder why young people do what they do of course, but at the end of the day I don't feel too removed from the mainstream. Or so I did until I saw this.



It's a Delft-style place setting from Lovegrove and Repucci and the pattern is called New York.



It's also appalling. Look at it. It's graffiti for crying out loud. Graffiti, a garbage truck, a cop car and a street vendor cart; it even has an embroidered street lamp napkin.



Nothing's sacred and all is woe. Woe!



Lovegrove and Repucci is a New York-based design firm. They are hip. In looking over their wares I've concluded once and for all that I am not hip and I don't want to be.

All photography by Davies and Starr

58 comments:

  1. Yack! Their website is about as user friendly as the TSA!!! (I too am middle aged and glad of it!)

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  2. That embroidered street lamp napkin is hot. The garbage truck is not...why not a subway or taxi?
    High-Line delft anyone?

    I am surprised though that it is not a Wal-Mart or McDonalds line of collectable china.

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  3. I would truly love to know, "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?????" -Brenda-

    P.S: Hope you are keeping warm Paul. Understand warmer temps are soon headed your way.

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  4. I get it that they're being provocative and based on my revulsion, I'd say it worked.

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  5. LOL! Yes, you are very middle aged or very young, like the lad in the story of the Emperor Who Wore No Clothes

    Those of us that are middle aged remember that tale of the tailor who tricked the Emperor into believing that he wore a new set of clothes. When the Emperor showed his new "threads" to the crowds everyone congratulated him on their beauty and magnificence, even though they knew he wore nothing. It was a young boy that had the courage to tell the Emperor of his nakedness.

    I'm with you Paul. I can't imagine anyone savoring their meal where every mouthful exposes more of the garbage truck pictured on their dinnerware...

    Thanks for your honesty. Cheers, Christine.

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  6. I turned 60 this year and that is an eye opener for a Boomer. I used to think that mid century modern was an interesting term until I realized it applied to me (on a good day! As a Boomer, I understand provocative. As a Libra who loves beauty, this is a pile of crap served up to a naked emperor.

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  7. effing horrific. If that makes me a fuddy duddy, then too damn bad.

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  8. Do you have any idea how much delight I get out of you blogging about some horrible thing that I read about on AT the day before? According to the article they're a "fresh new take on the dinner table"!

    Thanks for my morning chuckle!

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  9. i'm middle aged too, and i think they are fabulous! seriously, i love.

    i think you should have entitled this post "hey you kids- get offa my lawn!" ;-)

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  10. Fresh new take, indeed. Hmmm. Not in this household, thank you.

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  11. I kinda like the graffiti. Not the vehicles or street corners so much. Does this make me cool? Partly-cool?

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  12. ahaha this is awesome! It's so urban hipster chic. I wouldn't put it in my home because I am more for bright colors, but I still love the idea -- then again, I am just 23 years young.

    - Olivia Christine @ Liv & Create

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  13. Thank you one and all. This post hit a real nerve it seems.

    Home Before Dark: Brilliant line, I may borrow it.

    Melody: We are two peas in a pod.

    Nim: I write this stuff for your enjoyment particularly. So far as the source goes... I have no idea what you're talking about...

    Christian: Do you wear Abercrombie too? ;)

    Kelly: Three cheers for good taste!

    Señor Subjunctivo: You will always be fully cool, never partly.

    Olivia: Thanks for your comment. I'm following you on Twitter now. Great blog!

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  14. Love the blue, but the pattern... not so much. I don't get the appeal of seeing a garbage truck on your plate when you finish eating.

    I think it's a fun concept, but the execution could have been a lot better!!

    Ummmm... exactly what number constitutes middle age?!

    Kelly

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  15. I'm not so sure that it's an actual number Kelly. Though based on how my life's unfolded, I quit admiring "edgy" stuff automatically some time after 40.

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  16. After 40? Crap, that means I've got like six months left before the downfall and I have to turn in all my Scandinavian metal cds?

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  17. You'll wake up some morning in the full glow of your 40s and you'll find you just don't need them anymore.

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  18. "You'll wake up some morning in the full glow of your 40's" ... really means ... hot flashes keep you awake all night and every morning you wonder what body part will fail or fall off today. Nim... don't give up your CD's without a bloody good fight.

    On a serious note, I really appreciate everyone's candid opinion because sometimes I look at this stuff and gag, yet experts glorify it. There's an old saying..."there's a dog for every dog house" or how about "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I guess I have to try harder 'beholding' with clients younger or older than myself. :)

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  19. What is says to me is that some jackass is trying to glorify urban decay and appeal to young people who haven't worked hard enough yet to appreciate the fact that others do. Seeing someone's days, weeks, months of hard work pissed on in minutes by some low-life graffiti loser really bothers me. Graffiti looks like shit and I sure as hell don't want to be reminded of it when I am dining.

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  20. I agree with mr_subjunctive: I dig the graffiti. It's abstract enough on the plates to be interesting. Everything else, not so much.

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  21. Christine: That's hilarious. My 40s have been fantastic, truly the best years of my life. Sure, I notice things don't work quite as well as they used to but if the trade off is wisdom I'd say that's a real bargain.

    Melody: I am on your side completely. I get it that the designers are combining the sacred with the profane and I'd love it if it were part of an art installation. But as $100 a setting china, no way.

    Becky: Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment. All (well most) opinions are welcome here any time. Cheers!

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  22. Well, I still appreciate some edgy stuff -- although my idea of edgy might not be an 18 year old's idea of edgy ;-)

    The comment by melody reminded me of something. I agree that graffiti often looks like crap and it's completely disrespectful to vandalize someone else's property. But this commercial uses graffiti to send a positive message, and I think it's quite good:

    Pfizer commercial

    Kelly

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  23. I totally agree with the sentiment that the statement these dishes seem to be trying to make would probably be more interesting (to me) as a peace of art.. but I totally wouldn't want to eat off them.

    And Paul.. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to need a good part of my collection just as much as I need my opera/classical collection, it's just way too awesome :)

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  24. I just came across this short video discussing graffiti and preserving history or culture. It explains in a loving gentle way what I was about to scream bloody murder about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c_0eMSBXIk

    The bombardment by shitty degrading advertisements and billboards that I am subjected to when I walk out my door, or even cruise around the web, makes me a lot sicker than some artistic kid and a spray can.

    hmmmm...virtual graffiti...the new frontier....Google Maps here I come.

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  25. Awww Nim, your age doesn't dictate anything other than how many candles you put on your cake. Enjoy your Dokken albums well into your 90s, I say.

    Interesting video David. You know, some of the most interesting stuff in Pompeii is the 2000-year-old graffiti. It is interesting and it tells the story of another aspect of Roman life.

    However, I have zero sympathy for the kid in the video who's lamenting the destruction of his art . I have less sympathy for the film maker's point about the need to preserve graffiti because it records the history of the people who make it.

    Sure, some graffiti can be interesting and yeah, some of it's art. But at the end of the day it remains an act of vandalism. So long as it remains an act of vandalism it will be treated as such --as something to be cleaned up.

    Keith Haring started out like the kid in the video --a dead-ender with a back pack full of spray paint cans. Yet somehow he managed to make the transition from vandal to fine artist.

    It's a difficult transition to make but it's in that transition that vandalism transforms into art. The kid in the video has talent and he has vision. With some self-discipline and some direction he could make the transition too.

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  26. Paul: Going out three times a week for weeks on end in the middle of the night with a backpack full of spray cans to create something that you know is going to be removed, destroyed, or covered over in a few days is commitment and self-discipline that I don't have. Maybe all they need is direction.

    Some graffiti is mindless destruction, some of it is art. Some advertisements are mindless distraction, some of it is art. Again we are back to eye of the beholder. My point was that alone.
    I am bombarded by both things, and the thing that irks me more is advertisements.

    If those plates had been defiled with McDonalds or Taco Bell images, they would have a similar effect or even greater one. Actually, what could be more nauseating then a picture of a Big Mac on a fine china plate? It will probably be the next landfill fodder created by some "edgy" design team.

    Keith Haring. He probably would have liked the plates, the lowlife. And here is a question for real debate that has nothing to do with ugly china: Is Keith Haring's work fine art?

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  27. I say that going out three times a week with a backpack full of equipment and robbing banks also requires discipline, but it's still a property crime. So long as graffiti artists showcase their work on property that doesn't belong to them is will remain on the outside looking in. They need more than direction to be taken seriously, they need to respect other peoples' property.

    Billboards pay their own way, despite how they make you respond to them. They are not squatting on someone else's property.

    And really, that's all I'm saying. I don't doubt for a second that a lot of graffiti artists have talent galore and what they do is indeed art. But it's also an act of theft when it appears on property that doesn't belong to the artist.

    And yes, Keith Haring's work is fine art. I see him as the ideological step child of Andy Warhol. He saw himself that way and so did Andy now that I think about it. Art isn't the medium or the method, it's the perspective and the statement. Or so say I at any rate.

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  28. I'd rather eat off the graffiti plate than a plate with stupid windmills on it and clog-wearing, knee-pantsed Hansel & Gretels. Even as a middle-aged suburban woman, I can relate more to the stylized graffiti than to old timey themes in traditional Delft. I HATE the garbage truck, though.
    Maybe it's a statement about the American industrialized diet?

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  29. Remember when I was talking about the difference between Boomers and Gen-Y, and how "design rules" are going to change? Where I found a Gen-Y blog and they had painted a Georgian dining chair white. Painted. No regard for historical importance, just painted because they felt like it.

    (Also how the next generation after them would be a generation of restorers, but that's another topic.)

    You have your proof in the blog right here. We grew up thinking of graffiti as a crime; they grow up thinking it's cool. :)

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  30. Art: I think you make have a point. It is a statement and an interesting one. I just don't like it as china service. Maybe Lovegrove and Repucci will do a series of hip hop Hummels next. hah!

    Kelly: That may be true, but they can't afford $100 place settings, so what's the point?

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  31. Hmm, I disagree. If they can afford a handheld device, a laptop, all the DVDs and downloads in the world, they can easily afford $100 place settings. Especially here.

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  32. I love artfinder's point about the garbage truck being a statement about diet, I think that would make one plate on display a lot more "palatable" for me ;)

    Regarding graffiti, I liked your comment Paul about Pompeii. I have a keen love for Northern European history during the Viking age and one of my favourite things is that a lot of stone work (architecture and such) from that time has furthark graffiti on it that says the equivalent of "Sven was here".

    And does Dokken even exist anymore? You know that there is *current* metal being made still, right? I think you've given me an idea for a blog post...

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  33. Kelly: While I don't doubt the youth of today (US youth particularly) has the disposable cash for electronics, I doubt that they buy china. Don't most of them live with their parents? I think this service is meant for Xers and Boomers who are trying to cling to their vestiges of youth.

    We need to hear from a 20-something or two. Maybe Olivia will come back and weigh in again.

    Nim: The Roman stuff is usually political or an insult leveled at someone. "Agrippa allows himself to be penetrated by dogs," that sort of thing. So of course I think it's fantastic.

    I can't believe I pulled that Dokken reference out of thin air. They just came to me in a spasm. There is still metal being made? Really? Seriously, I thought that was a dead genre.

    And yes, the garbage truck image is a great statement about US diets and about New York, and it's an artistic statement at that. However, is it something you'd serve Thanksgiving dinner on or feel comfortable giving someone as a wedding present?

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  34. Look matching drinking vessels to go with your new china...

    http://www.detterer.de/xue.htm

    Paul, I definitely agree with your point that graffiti is a form of vandalism and lack of respect for property, even if it's abandoned and/or ugly private property, or government controlled "public" property. I am trying to point out that there are reasons that it happens, it is not all ugly, and it is not alone in offending.

    Just because advertisers have money to pay so they can make the world ugly doesn't mean it is any less offensive. It only seems logical that kids growing up seeing logos and company names smeared all over the landscape and all over their possessions, might want to create their own logos to smear around. I don't endorse either mentality, regardless of legality.

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  35. Ahhhh, those China blue beer cans are fantastic. As art. I get what you're saying David, I get it completely. But if these kids could channel their impulses into a medium that wasn't also a crime they'd be better off.

    It's an artist's job to take what he or she sees around him or her and then channel that into something creative. These graffiti practitioners are doing just that. But the minute their medium loses the outlaw trappings, they seems to lose interest.

    It's one of the reasons I love Keith Haring so much. He took his message indoors and never lost his venom and potency. It can be done.

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  36. Hey Paul! Thanks for the invite!

    Opinion of a 23 year old: I think this plate set is not exactly intended for people my age. Fresh out of college, loans up to my ears, and trying to afford independence.... specialty china is the LEAST of my desires at the moment.

    Which is why although I appreciate the art (especially growing up in NYC where the art of graffiti - I am not talking about vandalism - is abundant), I would not purchase it for myself.

    I see its target audience being 26 to late 30-something year olds, with an appreciation for urban artwork.

    So although many of you hate it, I could see my 29 year old brother who is an artist, buying it for his home just to frame it!

    As David Nolan said above: some graffiti is mindles destruction, and some is art. So to each his own! (david didn't say that last part, hehe.)

    - Olivia @ Liv & Create

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  37. And the multi-generational dialog begins. Thanks Olivia!

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  38. How 'bout plates glazed with smears of red sauce that can't wash out. Probably been done already -- or coming soon. (you heard it here) BTW is mismatching your dinnerware still hip (like it was a couple of yrs ago in Jennifer Rubel's "Real Life Entertaining", or has that gone out?

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  39. I was thinking about these dishes over lunch and I decided that my issue with them is likely due to the style of the designs even more than graffiti being a vandalism thing, which seems to be Paul's main issue. I think that if someone was to put together a neat selection that encompassed something non-dish type art, say like traditional sailor tattoos.. I'd totally buy that. In fact.. I wonder if that's already been done.. I could always use a new set of dishes..

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  40. George: I replaced all of my mismatched stuff with plain white stuff two years ago. If I did it then that can only mean mismatched stuff is simply not done anymore. Hah!

    Nim: I think my problem with the whole thing isn't graffiti so much as it is adorning dinnerware with graffiti. If it were a single art installation I would think it was great. As a set of china I think it falls flat. It's pretty inspired as art but as something decorative it fails. That's all I'm saying.

    Now if it were a plate that said something like "Agrippa allows himself to be penetrated by dogs" in archaic Latin I'd be all over it.

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  41. I think that the difference between art and decoration can be so distinct like this for some of us at least. I totally agree that I think it'd be a fabulous installation.. though I tend to be wary of installations since one tried to kill me.

    And Paul, if you made that dinnerware, I would totally want it, because I'm twisted that way.

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  42. er.. I meant to say that it's INTERESTING how distinct the difference can be.. eesh.. have some more coffee Nim..

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  43. It is INTERESTING, wildly so. I think it's utterly fantastic that a topic like art can generate a response such as this post did. It's a real pleasure to engage in this kind of exchange. A real pleasure.

    Now about that Agrippa series of dinnerware...

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  44. Whoda thunk 'dumpy' dinnerware would generate so much discusssion??? There's some really passionate responses here so I know I am in the right crowd to ask my question...

    I don't cook much. In fact, I could replace my appliances with vending machines. In spite of this I have quite successful and memorable dinner parties on our "spagetti nights" (only thing I have perfected). If you were my dinner guest, which of the following would be most important or impressive in your mind. Prioritize please...

    a) the food
    b) the dinnerware
    c) the stimulating and very cerebral dinner discussion with fascinating guests
    d) the fabulous design of my kitchen

    ???

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  45. C, hands down. I LOVE dinner parties, hosting and attending --but especially hosting. I love to feed the people I care about. With that said, my cooking is there to enhance the mood, not to determine it. Everything takes a back seat to good company and good conversation.

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  46. A

    A

    A

    If you having guests for dinner, you must have great food. If you invite Paul, you won't have to worry about the other three, he will guide you to success. If you convince him to cook, you will have nothing to worry about at all.

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  47. My vote on the dinner party issue is totally that C is the biggest deal and A is a close second. I wouldn't mind "decent" food one bit if it came with fabulous conversation!

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  48. Geez David, I'm blushing. I'll make you dinner the next time you breeze through town just for that.

    And I'm still with Nim on this one.

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  49. It's funny actually that I think that.. because I never through dinner parties, though I LOVE cooking (and fancy myself as being rather decent at it) because I rent a crappy place that doesn't lend itself well to having ppl over for dinner. But.. I don't have the space or money for a nice dining room table :(

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  50. Pish posh! It's amazing how well you can disguise a crappy sawhorse and plywood dining table with a table cloth. Hospitality means more than the setting where it takes place. A meal shared in an atmosphere of love and generosity is the highest expression of humanity. Or so I say anyway.

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  51. Speaking of plates, check out Emma Biggs' plate project, "Made in England" using OLD British plates -- the backs!

    http://www.mosaic-blog.com/2010/01/made-in-england-a-local-history/

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  52. Cool George, thank you. Her work in plates reminds me of Yakov Hanansen's monochromes. He uses shards of white porcelain dinnerware to create these amazing, narrative, dimensional mosiacs. Astounding!

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  53. George I looked at that link you mentioned and Hanansen's web site at http://mosiacsphere.com My word, her work is brilliant. Wow... If those plates could talk, just imagine the cacophony!!!

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  54. 38 and the China is divine and if I could afford it I would get it instantly! It is a wonderful synthesis that demonstrates the destruction of the high/low art barrier in craft form. Also, can we move on from Haring and Basquiat (1980's) and start talking Banksy, Barry McGee, and Chris Johanson (late 20th- 21st century)?

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  55. Nim...check these out....Japanese Traditional Tattoo.

    http://www.fitzsu.com/irezumi-dish-tattoo-design-piece-place-setting-dinnerware-p-6846.html

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  56. Anna: Good point, I think of Keith Haring any time I think of graffiti artists gone good. Banksy's work is amazing.

    Daivd: Wow, where do you find this stuff?

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  57. That link came from my good friend Anna. I like those plates myself.

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  58. I really like them, they're distinctive and subtle. I think the ham fistedness of the graffiti stuff was at the root of my bad reaction to it.

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