BLU DOT DESIGN
photo: Mike Parker
Education
GALLERY TALK
BLU DOT DESIGN AND THE ANDERSEN WINDOW GALLERY


THURSDAY,
NOVEMBER 4, 1999,
6:30 PM

FREE



"Design with a capital D has so long been such an elitist domain. It's nice that, with the iMac and the Beetle and hopefully Blu Dot and other things, that's being changed."
--John Christakos, Blu Dot Design

Charles Lazor and John Christakos discuss the design of The Andersen Window Gallery. Meet in the Andersen Window Gallery in Gallery 4.


DEMOCRATIZING DESIGN:
BLU DOT BUILDS ART AND ACCESS INTO
THE ANDERSEN WINDOW GALLERY

From the start, Minneapolis' Blu Dot Design has had a decidedly populist approach to design. Established by sculptor John Christakos and architects Maurice Blanks and Charles Lazor, its founding goal was to make flawless modernist-inspired designs affordable. "We had a hunch that there were other people out there who were well educated and fairly sophisticated, but were just priced out of the better design market," says Lazor. The hunch has paid off, and during the last three years Blu Dot's furniture has made its way from the pages of Newsweek and Interview to Joey and Chandler's apartment on Friends to, if all goes as planned, the shelves of a Target store near you. At the same time, Blu Dot has garnered a reputation for design that has attracted the attention of Metropolitan Home and Arbitare, not to mention the judges at the 1998 Accent on Design trade show, where it won the Best Collection award. This ability to nimbly navigate the line between high art and mass appeal earned Blu Dot its first commission for an art museum: the design for the Walker's new interactive Andersen Window Gallery.

The design presented a set of unique challenges. Located within the Walker's permanent collection galleries, where most often the art is not to be touched, the Andersen Window Gallery must invite hands-on discovery. And since the installations will change every six months, the configuration requires flexibility for easy and frequent adjustments.

Blu Dot--whose name evokes phrases like "blue jeans" and "blue-plate special" while also alluding to the coolness of Coltrane's "Blue Train"--met these challenges by using the everyday. The firm's three partners selected warm-toned walls of sanded homosote, plenty of wood-grain surfaces, and a pegboard holding computer monitors and hardware to create an environment that is halfway between a home study and a museum. The pegboard system, akin to the kind commonly found in the family garage, allows for countless arrangements. With such low-tech accoutrements, the gallery is just as fit for writing on a chalkboard as it is for searching an online database with a touch-screen computer.

From its innovative design to the interactive projects on view, the Blu Dot-designed Andersen Window Gallery offers a new kind of museum experience. "We wanted it to be clear that when you turn the corner, this is a completely different space," says Christakos.

Blu Dot products are available in the Walker Art Center Shops.