In the Mix
PIN-UP Turns 15
Felix Burrichter shares his proudest moments since founding his trailblazing magazine for architectural entertainment
In the crowded landscape of arts-focused media, PIN-UP stands out. Founded by inimitable editor Felix Burrichter in New York City in 2006, the only biannual magazine for architectural entertainment, as it’s dubbed, consistently offers fresh perspectives on the global built environment through cutting-edge photography, inventive graphic design, and on-the-pulse curation of the most fascinating people, places, and projects. PIN-UP appeals to insiders and amateurs alike, inviting all to appreciate just how fun design and architecture can be.
This year, PIN-UP turns 15, and for the first time its full archive is available to the public. With prices per issue ranging from $30 to $1,250, this limited-time-only anniversary sale accords an opportunity to revisit some of PIN-UP’s most memorable moments with luminaries like the late-great Zaha Hadid, the leather-clad king of glam Peter Marino, pioneering environmentalist James Wines, and so much more.
Eager to share in the birthday celebration of one of our favorite sources for design inspiration, we asked Felix to shout out the PIN-UP achievements that have brought him the most joy over the years. Here’s what he told us...
THE FIRST COVER
“The idea for a new type of architecture magazine had been gestating in my mind for a while, but 2006 was the year it came together. I was working in a large architecture firm in New York at the time, and my modest salary there was partially funding the endeavor. We got a scoop for a cover story on Rick Owens’ house in Paris, where he showed for the first time publicly his furniture designs. His unmade, post-coital bed graced the cover next to a photo of a phallic skyscraper prosthesis. Interviews with Zaha Hadid, Daniel Arsham, and the favorite architect of the late Romanian dictator Ceausescu rounded out the offerings. The issue was launched in late October of that year in what was a small exhibition space right behind Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. We had a champagne sponsor, and that’s all that was being served—poured by two topless men in construction hats. In retrospect, the first issue really set the tone for every one that came after: an eclectic and inclusive line-up of voices from architecture and beyond, with the tongue always firmly in cheek.”
DESIGN & TYPOGRAPHY
“Since day one, graphic design has been a huge part of PIN–UP’s DNA. I’ve had the privilege to work with some super talented designers, from Geoff Han and Dylan Fracareta, via Erin Knutson, and now Ben Ganz of Office Ben Ganz. One thing they all have in common is their near exclusive use of the generic Arial font (or versions thereof) for all 30 issues—including the official logo. Most recently Ben Ganz developed two new versions of Arial: One is entirely hand-drawn and then digitized. The other is all rounded and bubbly, which we used for our most recent edition, the anniversary Legacy issue.”
“We’ve done many fun shoots over the years, but among the most memorable ones was at the clothing-optional Belvedere Guest House in Fire Island. It was designed in the late 1950s by John Eberhardt, who was a scenic artist for television. Eberhardt designed it like an opulent castle on the bay, but with the production values of 1950s TV—grand chandeliers, fake renaissance paintings, gold painted furniture, and trompe l'oeil balustrades. We thought the Belvedere’s history and style are an important part of both architecture and queer history, but no other design magazine had ever bothered covering it. The photographer KT Auleta shot there at the height of summer, the hotel’s busiest time of the year, and she was interrupted more than once by curious onlookers in the buff, stunned to see a woman on the premises since the Belvedere is usually men only.”
CITY THEMED ISSUES
“One of the perks of digital technology is that you can operate a small business from almost anywhere. At PIN–UP, we have moved whole teams to create site-specific issues, enjoying self-imposed “residencies” in different cities around the world, including LA, São Paulo, Mexico City, Berlin, and Milan. For the Milan issue (PIN–UP 16), we commissioned photographer Delfino Sisto Legnani to shoot the most important terrazzo floors in the city (so 2014!), from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to Sottsass’s floors at Malpensa airport, which later we turned into limited edition curtains and pillows.”
“Events have always been an important part of PIN–UP’s community building, whether in New York, Berlin, Milan, Miami, or the legendary Biennale parties at the Bauer in Venice, with DJ sets by Michel Gaubert, Fatima Al Qadiri, or Honey Dijon, among others. But perhaps the most memorable for our team was the night in 2010 we celebrated the LA issue at the house of Norwood Young. This veteran R&B vocalist is best known in his Hancock Park neighborhood as the owner of Youngwood Court—or the House of Davids—a suburban faux-palatial mansion with a driveway lined by 16 statues of Michelangelo’s David. During the set-up, something upset Mr Young such that he was ready to cancel less than an hour before guests like Hedi Slimane, Michael Govan, and Lisa Eisner were about to arrive. Total Freedom, who was in charge of music that night, immediately understood how to soothe the owner’s nerves. After 10 minutes of blasting calming gospel music from the sound system, the event could go on as planned. (The evening still ended on a slightly sour note, with one of Young’s guests accidentally opening a commemorative collector’s item Barack and Michelle Obama champagne bottle.)”
30 OBJECTS EXHIBITION
“In addition to the Frank Gehry interview—which we’d tried to score since issue 1—there is another important legacy story featured in PIN–UP’s 15-year anniversary issue: a virtual exhibition called 30 Objects. Co-curated by myself and Camille Okhio, 30 Objects retraces and refracts the first 20 years of the 21st century through, you guessed it, 30 design objects. In essence it’s a survey show that touches upon Dutch design, Zaha Hadid’s parametric sofa, and Grcic’s One Chair from the early aughts via the terrazzo and Millennial pink of the early 2010s, and the competing conceptual lifestyle eras of eco-futurism and Instagram-worthy trash aesthetics we live through now. It was exciting to take stock of the first two decades of design production in this century, and to do it together with Camille, who is incredibly knowledgeable but has a much younger perspective than I do. The texts were written by myself and Camille, as well as writer and curator Hannah Martin, and Carson Chan, the newly appointed director of MoMA’s Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment. A must read and hopefully a helpful reference for design historians and their admirers.” ◆
PIN–UP 30 – LEGACY (Spring Summer 2021) is on newsstands now and available online here.