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Handcrafted Jaguar-undi Bags

Vibrant textiles sourced from across Latin and South America beautifully unite through a common thread

by David Graver in Style on 31 October 2014

Bags, South America, Textiles, Hand-Stitched, Latin America, Accessories, Family-Run, Heritage, Start Ups

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At this year's Pitch Night, we got hands-on with the bags of Jaguar-undi—a family-run start-up that sources traditional textiles from various regions across the Americas (Latin and South) and stitches them together into unique handcrafted bags. Their aim isn't just to create quality accessories, they also want to demonstrate how symbolically beautiful it can be when the disparate fabrics from multiple heritages unite.

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Federika Tovar, one of the family members behind Jaguar-undi, tells CH about the company's origins and inspirations: "Our family has been collecting Latin American handicrafts for the past 30 years. We have traveled and visited many indigenous communities in Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. We developed an eye to spot excellent manufacturing and design," she says. "My grandmother worked very closely with the Wayúu tribe, a nomad tribe that moves in the Peninsula de la Guajira located part in Colombia, part in Venezuela, helping to establish workshops and promoting that knowledge of their handicrafts be continued from one generation to another." From there she notes, "Jaguar-undi goes directly to the source. We buy directly from different communities that produce the handicrafts and therefore travel extensively throughout Latin America. We also attend handicrafts fairs and shop at local markets."

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"We have our own workshop in Venezuela where we re-create and enhance our products. We work as a creative team that approves design ideas by consensus. We also work directly with other workshops in Colombia and Peru, providing the materials to be used for each product." On the subject of unity, Tovar explains that "we believe that our ancestors shared a land without borders and were united by a common thread. We unite traditional skills with innovative design. Our products are a result of a creative collage that unites harmoniously a variety of textiles, producing an ideogram of Latin America United. We try combining a variety of references, disciplines and influences to produce something new out of something old, our products go through a process of re-contextualizing and re-invention."

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For the family, inspiration stems from more than just textiles. "Diana Vreeland coined a phrase 'The eye has to travel.' We find all elements that define a culture to be inspirational. We like to search for inspiration in contemporary art, local food markets, colors, popular arts, pre-Colombian art and mythology," Tovar shares. "We try to discover the soul behind every object that has been handmade by an artist. Picasso was strongly influenced and inspired by African art that led him to evolve and discover Cubism. We are inspired by all things that reflect our Latin heritage and the story behind every object that makes it unique." This inspiration is evident in their bags—where attributes unite for an attractive product with a heartfelt message.

Jaguar-undi is currently in the process of setting up their e-commerce site, which will be in operation this December. Until that time, the NYC-based brand notes that they can "cater to anyone interested in any of our products via email or personal rendezvous."

Images courtesy of Jaguar-undi

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Jones Snowboards' Mountain Surfer

Surf the white winter wave with this handmade, binding-less piece of equipment

by Graham Hiemstra in Culture on 31 October 2014

Handmade, Innovation, Snowboarding, Snowboards, Sports, Surfing, Winter, Wood

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It's safe to say no name is as linked to backcountry snowboarding as Jeremy Jones—so much so, his name is rarely seen without "Big Mountain" preceding it. Under his eponymous brand, Jones Snowboards, he has designed and released a wide array of heavy terrain-specific snowboard designs. Though his latest offering (and undoubtedly most unconventional) is what's caught our eye this time around. The Mountain Surfer is a snowboard in its purest form: a binding-less plank of wood for surfing deep powder. At 4’6“ (139cm) in length, it's the result of design collaboration with legendary California surfboard shaper Chris Christenson, and offers a new experience on snow, whether that's charging the steep and deep in Tahoe or a backyard stash in Vermont.

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In recent years, a slow, nearly silent resurgence of riding binding-less snowboards—called noboarding—has been underway. As one can imagine, riding sans-binders takes serious skill and practice, leaving those involved in the movement few and far between. Jones' Mountain Surfer aims to make the act of returning snowboarding to its surfer roots more accessible. Two metal foot hooks and a foam pad improve board control and traction, making it easier to ride and able to be ridden in less than waist-deep conditions. Simply remove the hooks for the full snow surfing experience.

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The all-wood construction certainly limits the board's tech aspects, though Christenson's craftsmanship still shines through. Drawing on inspiration from speed-focused surfboard shapes, he designed the Mountain Surfer with a contoured base with a slightly tapered, subtle concave channel in the body and near the tail with a rounded convex spoon nose. The reverse camber (rocker) aids in keeping the nose aloft in powder while the sizable width helps create a loose, surfy feel. The handsome, Austrian-made Mountain Surfer, goes for $349 at. For more information, visit Jones Snowboards.

Images courtesy of Jones Snowboards

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Alfred Steiner's "Likelihood of Confusion" Exhibition

Iconic logos reconstructed through found imagery at Joshua Liner Gallery

by David Graver in Culture on 31 October 2014

Art Installation, Exhibitions, Galleries, Joshua Liner Gallery, NYC, Logos, Alfred Steiner, Trademarks

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There's something uncanny about Alfred Steiner's latest exhibition "Likelihood of Confusion," now on display at NYC's Joshua Liner Gallery. There's an element of deep recognition and familiarity to each work, but an exploration within reveals numerous components that add further dimensions and question the piece as a whole. Steiner had a view in mind to tackle the pervasiveness of media and advertising. And he did so by taking logos and trademark imagery and building something similar based upon found photos. Steiner calls iconography into question across 12 works of watercolor on paper, two oil paintings on medium-density fiberboard, and a new piece within his celebrated “Anti-Paparazzi” series—from their resonance and value to the very idea of trademarking.

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There's a lot to be said about titles of exhibitions, and with this show, Steiner hints at his background in law. "Likelihood of confusion is the legal standard used in trademark infringement cases," he shares with CH. "If potential customers are likely to confuse one business' trademark with the pre-existing trademark of another business, then the owner of the pre-existing trademark (or senior user) is entitled to stop the later (or junior) user from using the trademark on its goods or in connection with its services." Delving further into the legal nature of such a title reveals how Steiner's art is protected and also hints to other interpretations viewers may have. "Two primary factors used to make this determination are the similarity of the marks themselves and the relatedness of the goods or services. As used for the title of the show, 'Likelihood of Confusion' carries the superficial suggestion that the compositions of the works are structured by trademarks, but it may also signal other things, like the perplexity that viewers may face when trying to understand the works or when trying to understand contemporary art more broadly."

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"I was one of those kids who was always into art. I took as many art classes as I could in middle school and high school. In college, I shied away from majoring in art after my first art course took more time than all of my other classes combined, coupled with my perception that my parents, who were footing the bill, would have frowned on such an apparently impractical course of study," the artist notes, regarding his background. "I went to law school because my other choice was to start work on a Ph.D. in the philosophy of mathematics, and that sounded too abstruse and solitary. In law school, I drew a cartoon for the Harvard Law Record called Reasonableman, featuring a title character who was anything but reasonable." Steiner has never stopped painting or making things since.

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"Law and art have been in most ways separate spheres for me. But there's no question that the study of law has influenced my work," he continues. "When I was deciding to go to law school, one of my friends suggested that I might be interested in intellectual property. I got a book about it from the library and I was hooked. The types of questions that come up in copyright and trademark law often parallel questions in art. Because I am familiar with the law in those areas, I often see possibilities for projects that might not occur to other artists.

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As for what facilitated the artist's desire to alter logos and imagery that have become globally recognizable, he shares that "using pre-existing imagery to structure my compositions began as a way to channel improvisational drawings. At first, I used geometric figures and then I moved on to iconic art-historical sources. But I found that the sources that produced the most interesting results were graphic or stylized—cartoon characters, trademarks and the like. And it seemed to me, as it still does, that dissecting these pervasive graphic images the way I do might serve some valuable form of visual research, however nebulous and indeterminate."

Steiner, inspired by the pull of graphics, begins by dissecting them. "I look at my source image, say the Starbucks logo, and I free-associate based on the shapes it contains. Some possibilities readily occur to me, but with others, I might draw a shape over and over, invert my sketchbook and even ask other people what a particular shape reminds them of." From there, the internet takes over. "Once I have an idea in mind, say a Greek vase for the body of the Starbucks siren, I do various image searches, looking for something that will best fit the contours of my image. Sometimes, I have to abandon an idea because I can't find a good model."

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Using such found images also toys with the idea of copyright. There simply aren't a lot of color images in the public domain, but Steiner is never seeking an image as whole, but rather independent elements within. "What I am looking for are essentially visual facts—an apple, a bottle of whisky, an alligator skull. When divorced from the rest of a photograph, whatever creative element the original photographer added becomes difficult to identify—there are only so many ways to photograph an apple in a matter-of-fact manner. And once these visual facts are organized in my composition, their aesthetic import changes dramatically. I'll say they are 'transformed' to use a copyright word that has come to dominate the fair use discussion."

"Likelihood of Confusion" will be on display through 15 November 2014 at NYC's Joshua Liner Gallery.

Images courtesy of Joshua Liner Gallery

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