A Visionary Design Editor’s Reno Material of the Moment
He names his favorite color, industry hero, and more.
Published Oct 15, 2020 1:00 AM
When Spencer Bailey was 3 years old, he was one of 184 survivors of a plane crash in Sioux City, Iowa. The podcast host; cofounder of The Slowdown; and now author of a new book, In Memory Of: Designing Contemporary Memorials, was heroically carried to safety—a moment captured in a now infamous photograph (it was on the cover of Time magazine) by Gary Anderson and later memorialized with a statue on the banks of the Missouri River. So it’s no surprise that, between dedicating his professional life to writing about architecture, art, and design, Bailey has authored a book on the art of contemporary memorials. “I wanted to focus on the emotional impact of these sites,” Bailey explains on this week’s episode of Design Time. “It’s not just about fear or strength or hope or loss or grief. It’s about all those things at once.”
After discussing his impressive new project (listen to the episode, out today on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to hear more), Bailey took a moment to tell Jessica Romm Perez, Domino’s editor-in-chief, about some of the things inspiring him right now, from his favorite scent to the unexpected way he likes to wind down. Read on for a peek at his favorites.
Memorial on My List“A memorial that I have not been to that I’m really looking forward to going to is Cretto di Burri in Sicily. It’s in the town of Gibellina, which was destroyed in an earthquake, and the artist, Alberto Burri, basically poured concrete over the foundation of the town. Now it’s this massive concrete mound on the side of a beautiful hilly landscape. It seems pretty otherworldly.”
My Design Hero“A living designer I have to mention is Paola Navone, the Italian designer I worked with on my first book, Tham Ma Da. She’s really this global, nomadic creature. Her roving eye and ability to combine high craft with utilitarian materials are so unique. There are very few designers who I find as playful and unexpected as Paola.”
My Material of the Moment“The material I’m obsessed with and always have been is Dinesen white oak. It’s the most beautiful, calming material. My friend, architect Stephanie Goto, has Dinesen planks in the floors of her studio in New York, and it’s just the most magical feeling to wear these little Japanese slippers she’s got on these white oak planks.”
My Go-To Hotel“Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy. Antonio and Carla Sersale, who run the hotel, are just amazing people. It’s pure hospitality there. It’s definitely a fancy, extravagant experience. But one that I look forward to going back to at some point.”
My Favorite Way to Unwind“Drumming. I’ve been playing the drums since I was 11. It’s just one of those things that, when you talk about slowing down or the importance of understanding rhythm and cadence and pace in your life, always helps bring me back to center.”
My Recommended Vintage Source“Patrick Parrish, who is a New York dealer and has a gallery in Tribeca. He creates such a harmonious connection between the old and the new.”
My Safe Space“The Noguchi Museum. It’s my favorite place to go in New York; I usually visit every month or every other month. I love taking people who have never been, because watching the awe and the calm that washes over them as they enter this oasis in the midst of Long Island City is…you can’t really pay for that. It’s special to be able to share my love of the Noguchi with others.”
My Favorite Color“Without question blue, specifically an Yves Klein Blue. There’s this painting I have in my living room that really brings a sense of calm to me every time I look at it. It’s an abstract work that, when you see it, you almost feel as if you’re swimming underwater.”
The Design Object I’m Loving“There’s an artist, Kazunori Hamana, who is also a fisherman in Chiba, Japan. He creates these incredible vessels and objects. I first came across his work at an exhibition in Los Angeles several years ago. He’s one of those artists whose work is so wholly his own.”
The Book I Can’t Put Down“The end all and be all book for unpacking trauma is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I read it while writing In Memory Of, and it completely shifted my understanding of what I had gone through. It has been really informative to me personally, emotionally, and psychologically.”
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