Another Supreme season has arrived with another range of ridiculous accessories. As the brand officially turns 25 this year, it continues to explore new items to feature its trademark box logo. The accessories this season showcase a wide array of collaborations including practical tools, like a Chapman screwdriver set, and subtle kitchen flexes, like a Stanley coffee canister. But before Eric Whiteback makes an Instagram video with every single accessory from the brand’s Fall/Winter 2019 collection, we ranked some of our favorites.
10. Supreme Post-It Flags
Shouts out to all my thoroughbred nerds out there who care about their books and won’t ever violate the sanctity of parchment. Now, you can mark down the pages of some of your favorite manuscripts in style with these Supreme Post-It flags. No more dog eared pages. –Lei Takanashi
9. Supreme Plated Dumbbells
Thankfully, these gold and silver dumbbells only weigh 5 pounds and USPS Priority Mail has a 70 pound weight limit. So your frail arms will have no problem tossing these into a flat rate Priority Mail box when you make a whopping profit of reselling these, which retail for $30, on Grailed. Congratulations, player. –Lei Takanashi
8. Supreme Voodoo Doll
The perfect Supreme accessory to have on hand when you are wild heated about that L you took on the latest drop. Take your frustration out on resellers and bots by sticking bobby pins into a plush voodoo doll. Wow, it must feel incredibly satisfying to use this doll to curse an OP with a “STD” or simply “SHIT.” Wouldn’t your mother be proud to find this in your bedroom. –Lei Takanashi
7. Supreme Timex Watch
Another piece that adds to Supreme’s early ‘90s drug dealer range of accessories this season. –Lei Takanashi
6. Supreme Hanging Lantern
A traditional Japanese paper lantern that you can stare at while eating Top Ramen in your college dorm room for the next four weeks, which is all you can afford after buying it. –Lei Takanashi
5. Supreme Baccarat Dom Perignon Flute Set
This set of crystal champagne flutes is the perfect accessory to have ready to go by your laptop every Thursday morning. Pop a bottle of bubbly and toast to defeating the bots once again. –Mike DeStefano
4. Supreme x Pyrex ‘2 Cup’ Measuring Cup
Supreme stuck to a theme for some of its Fall/Winter 2019 accessories by stamping its signature branding on a handful of items commonly linked to dealing narcotics. This Pyrex measuring cup fits the bill, but we recommend you use it to bake a cake for your buddies or something. No need to break the law guys. –Mike DeStefano
3. Supreme Knoll Wassily Chair
The Wassily chair has been around since the 1920s. Its unique look and steel construction make for an already striking piece of furniture, but Supreme ups the wow factor with Spinneybeck Italian leather covered in leopard print. Given the fact that a regular version costs almost $2,800, this accessory won’t be for everyone, but will be a solid addition to any living room if you can afford it. It’s also nice to see the streetwear brand not just paint something red and slap their logo on it. –Mike DeStefano
2. Supreme Honda CRF 250R
If you’ve been paying close attention to some of Supreme’s recent seasons, the writing was on the wall for this accessory to come to fruition. First, it was very limited quantities of the Coleman CT200U mini bike in June 2017. That was followed up by the Fox Racing collaboration in May 2018. A legit Honda CRF250 dirt bike is the next logical step. Like most of the brand’s larger accessories, expect this one to be pretty hard to purchase. Hopefully, Travis Pastrana can at least get his hands on one of these to bust out a double backflip in style. –Mike DeStefano
1. Supreme Blu Burner Phone
This is “put a Box Logo on anything” at its finest. The connotations here are pretty obvious. If Walter White were a hypebeast, he’d be keeping one of these handy. Of course, we don’t condone those actions over here. The real question is, is anyone loyal enough to swap out their iPhone for the Box Logo Burner Phone? –Mike DeStefano
With her love of travel and gypsy roots, London-based Scottish-Welsh designer Bethan Gray has always been inspired by different cultures. Her designs combine luxurious natural materials such as wood, marble and leather with refined craftsmanship from around the world and attention to detail. Take for example her Siena series influenced by the black-and-white motifs of Medieval Italian cathedrals or the Shamsian collection based on Omani architecture and crafts in collaboration with celebrated Iranian artist, Mohamed Reza Shamsian, which is made by the same artisans who have been creating for the Sultan of Oman for 40 years. The handmade furniture reveals patterns on stained wood produced using marquetry and inlay techniques that have existed in Islamic craft for centuries. For the detailing on the Dhow table, Gray was drawn to the shapes produced by the large triangular sails of Oman’s traditional dhow boats as they catch the wind, a pattern adapted for the hand-stained, birds-eye maple veneer case of The Glenlivet Winchester Collection Vintage 1967 with its curved solid copper overlays that echo the whisky distillery’s copper stills, the River Spey and the layers of mist that gather in the surrounding valleys. She worked with Scottish master glassblower, Brodie Nairn, to create the bottle showcasing hand-cut lines that result in an ombré color effect with the whisky that goes from light to dark to mimic the 50-year ageing process.
With a mother who was an art teacher and a great-great-grandmother who was a cabinetmaker, Gray was encouraged to follow her creative instincts. Born in Cardiff in 1977, she graduated in three-dimensional design and was discovered by Tom Dixon in 1998 when he bestowed on her the New Designers Innovation Award for a piece of furniture she showcased. This prize led to her appointment at Habitat, where she rapidly became design director before opening her own design studio in 2008. This allowed her to enlarge her client base and work with the more costly materials that she couldn’t at Habitat, designing best-selling collections for high-profile global retailers and brands such as Liberty, John Lewis, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, 1882 Ltd and Rado. She is recognized today by four Elle Decoration British Design Awards including Best British Designer and Best British Tableware Designer. We sit down with Gray to discuss how she’s inspired by the art and culture of the places she visits, working with hundreds of craftsmen and her business strategy.
You’ve been working in the design industry for 20 years. What motivates you?
I love getting to know people from all over the world and understanding what inspires them – whether it be cultural narratives or elements from nature, as well as their own personal experiences and journeys. This motivates me to use local craft techniques and materials to tell stories that would be relevant to them, but also work for a global audience.
How does your multicultural family background influence your work?
I’m inspired by my ancestors’ journeys – they were a Rajasthani clan that traveled from Northern India through Arabia and Persia and then to Europe, before eventually settling in the Celtic heartland of Wales. I’ve recreated those journeys and been inspired by cultural narratives and nature that I have experienced on the way. I’ve been brought up to be proud of my Romany-Gypsy heritage, so I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures. I don’t know if it’s also about being Welsh. I speak Welsh and only 20 % of the population does, so I’m more aware of different cultures because I speak a minority language. I’ve traveled a lot and like to use cultural references as inspiration; I like to have a link when I’m designing a product. We’ve also formed very close partnerships based on trust and mutual respect with local master craftspeople in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In fact, we support over 400 master craftspeople who make our luxury craft collections.
Describe your creative process.
I start with research and then I like to look at lots of options in the concept phase. So I start and I choose one thing and I know it’s not going to be the end of it, but that leads to another thing and to another. If it doesn’t work, I know quite quickly and move on. Then detailing is very important to me. Getting really simple is the hardest thing. These three elements are equally important, so it’s a balance.
How involved are you in production?
It’s really important understanding what’s possible, how things are made. I love working with craftsmen all over the world. I’m not a craftsperson and don’t have the patience to be one, but I have the utmost respect for them. All my projects are based on craft. I love understanding a new material that I haven’t worked with before. It’s all about pushing the boundaries to show off the craftsmanship so much better. You work around problems and make them work, and the craftsmen are so proud of what they can achieve.
What is your work philosophy?
Every project I do is all about relationships. You have to have an open dialogue with what you’ve created, especially the relationships with craftspeople. Even if you don’t speak the same language, there’s so much that you can communicate. Some of my work comes because I’ve connected with people. Everyone that I have worked with, we have a connection. For instance, I met Emily Johnson of 1882 ceramics, which is based in Stoke-on-Trent, and we got on really well before we decided to do a project together, and we’re continuing to do more. The Shamsian collection is made in Oman; we started there a few years ago and now we’re launching new collections every year with them.
Tell me about your collaboration with The Glenlivet on the Winchester Collection Vintage 1967.
The collaboration started with some simple sketches of the decanter and canister that would eventually house Vintage 1967. We intended to tell a story about the craftsmanship behind such a rare and coveted collector’s item, and we wanted to incorporate features from nature that were important to both Master Distiller Alan Winchester and I. Ideas for the designs stemmed from the Cairngorms landscape, and going back to nature helped to create a truly distinctive theme. For the canister, I have customized my Dhow pattern and included mother-of-pearl inlays to reflect local freshwater pearl mussel shells, while the beautiful and captivating decanter itself was created in conjunction with master glassblower, Brodie Nairn, who used innovative glassmaking techniques and bespoke cutting tools to create a capsule as pioneering and special as the whisky it houses.
What has been your best business decision?
It’s probably having more confidence in my own choices and just going and showing what I want to show, the level of craftsmanship and my style, which is always evolving. Also getting my husband Massimo to join me. He’s a consultant to culture and other creative businesses. He’s got this great way of bridging the creative and business worlds. That’s what he did for me before he joined and that’s ongoing. Sometimes it’s difficult but he pushes me, in the same way that I push the craftsmen. Although I don’t always appreciate it at the time, I do appreciate it afterwards. I’m a perfectionist and I push myself, but he pushes me out of my comfort zone.
What has been the greatest difficulty you have encountered in your career?
Probably letting go of certain details. Sometimes you have to compromise. It’s sometimes difficult to know which things to be strict about and which things to be flexible about. Like in detailing, if something is going to add £2,000 for a very small detail, is it really worth it for the end consumer? Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not, so it’s hard to get that balance.
What is your vision of the future of design?
It’s interesting because we launched a new project at Rossana Orlandiin Milan during Salone that’s all about natural materials that are wasted. For instance, pearl shells from pearl factories only interested in pearls and not the shells. We’re also using goose feathers, scallop shells, abalone shells and pen shells. It’s a new collaboration with Nature Squared, a Philippine company making sustainable products, normally surfaces for yachts. This is the first furniture line that it has created; it’s a new way for it to work. There are about 10 pieces plus some accessories. Obviously sustainability has been there for a long time although people don’t talk about what they do do because I think they’re scared of being criticized for what they’re not doing, but everyone has to start somewhere. We need to celebrate what people are doing, even if they only have one piece in their range that’s sustainable. It’s a step forward.
Want to dial up the glamour on your phone? Give it a change of case—or two. After all, a phone is the one accessory that’s with you everywhere and seen by everyone, so this is no time to skimp on style.
These designer iPhone cases have got your phone’s back—and sides:
Marc Jacobs Orange Peanuts iPhone XS Case
Meet the case that puts the good in “Good grief!” A collaboration between Marc Jacobs and Peanuts, its iconic Charles M. Schulz drawing of Charlie Brown looks like it was lifted right out of the funny papers, complete with Schulz’ unmistakable signature at the bottom. Made from smooth rubber, the interior is printed with some of Peanuts’ classic wisdom: “I need all the friends I can get!” Remember that next time you’re despairing about your paucity of Instagram likes.
Moschino x Sims Pixel Capsule Logo iPhone XS Case
Let the gamer in you revel—this Moschino x Sims case is an AFK win. The logo has been pixelated to the point of obfuscation, as has the “quilted” pattern against which it’s set. The result is a hard-shell case that is no hard sell, with just the right degree of underground cool.
Heron Preston Silver Logo iPhone X/XS Case
Heron Preston, a DJ and artist who got his start with Off-White’s Virgil Abloh and Alyx’s Matthew Williams, is known for his subversion of logo mania—he’s gone from making bootleg NASCAR shirts to collaborating with New York’s Department of Sanitation—and this phone case is no different. Paying homage to the brainiacs at NASA, it has a rocket scientist’s austere touch with its tiny ruler marks, while its metallic-silver coloring makes it something to keep you grounded even when your head is in the clouds.
Off-White Green Camo Quote iPhone XS Max Case
This phone case is so iconically off-white a logo isn’t even necessary (though there is one). With the brand’s signature ironic quotation marks and industrial type, it’s got a muted green camo print that’s better at helping it stand out than blend in. Plus, at this price tag, it’s the piece that’ll help your style work double time without making you do so. It’s also available in yellow for the iPhone X.
Dolce & Gabbana White Laundry iPhone XS Max Case
This is one case in which you definitely don’t want to follow directions. In a heavy dose of fashion-forward irony, this iron- and tumble-dry-ready protector takes the tag right off your clothes and sticks it on the back of your phone. Though the rubberized graphic wouldn’t fare well in the heat of your dryer, it would look great near other hot things—like fresh white Dolce & Gabbana sneakers.
Givenchy Logo iPhone X/XS Case
The shiny black back of this case evokes images of patent-leather glam rock and the velvet-roped clubs of decades past, a nostalgia that’s enhanced by the sprawling rainbow logo. It’s a play between the brand’s minimalist lettering and David Bowie glam. The result is a case that provides ready protection and can go from day to night.
Off-White White Arrow iPhone X Case
The off-white logo on this polycarbonate case is turned into a child’s crayon drawing of a blue table, surrounded by potted plants. Consider this the modern art of cases, with doodling on the back that, yes, maybe you could’ve done yourself (except that now you don’t have to).
Balenciaga Printed Textured-Leather iPhone X Case
In a bright baby blue, the leather of this case was made in Italy, making it especially worthy of the Balenciaga label inked on it. It offers a minimalist and modern silhouette that’s become standard on the fashion house’s runways; the days of jumbo thimbles have been forsaken for crisp lettering and sleek shapes, resulting in this especially trend-worthy accessory.
Christian Louboutin Loubiphone Embossed iPhone X/XS Case
With ridged rubber sides and a durable PVC back, this “Loubiphone” case has a utilitarian functionality in the brand’s signature high-fashion sensibility. It has everything you love from the brand, including the red of its trademarked soles—a hue so vibrant you might miss the “Louboutin” scrawled down the length of it.
Dolce & Gabbana Black Bag Shape iPhone X Case
If your jean pockets are starting to shade around a familiar rectangle, this is the case for you. Or the bag for you. Shaped to resemble a Dolce & Gabbana purse, it features a top handle and detachable chain long enough to make it an actual purse, while the range of colors—beige, black and red—lets you pick the one that matches your look.
Chloé Printed Textured-Leather iPhone X/XS Case
In retro-prep stripes, this leather case lets you bring Chloé’s ’70s energy with you everywhere. The cream and deep red give it a warmth that’s perfect for fall weather, but, at the end of the day, this is a phone case, and you can’t put an expiration date on its practicality—or it’s durability, thanks to the scratch-resistant felt lining and embossed cow leather. Extra points if your name is Chloé.
Gucci Print iPhone X Case
In a washed design taken from 1980s Gucci archives, this case is a classic, with timeless appeal. The canvas material has a leather effect that’s emphasized by the fading of the logo itself, while the creamy color is an equally refreshing alternative to pure white, with less mess-related stress. It’s also available in black, but you’ll have to jump onto the wait list to get one. And if you do,.
Prada Saffiano Leather iPhone X Case
Don’t damage your case with any old ring prop; this leather case from Prada has the stand preinstalled, so you can hang it, dangle it, balance it however you want straight out of the box. Fashioned in a streamlined Saffiano leather, with navy and white accents, it provides a deserving home for Prada’s iconic triangle logo—a good replacement when you can’t tote your phone around in one of their similarly iconic nylon bags.
Saint Laurent iPhone XS Quilted Leather Phone Case
With chevron stitching giving it an edge—and some cushioning—this case defines luxe phone style, with a metal YSL logo pressed into the material. The perfect partner to any of the brand’s similarly quilted purses, this case is crafted out of a satiny black calfskin, making it your phone’s plush new home.
Before he built the world’s greatest playground and transformed the world of children’s design, Eric McMillan hadspent little time thinking about how kids played. In 1971, the 29-year-old English immigrant was a design consultant living in Toronto, Canada – a sleepy city whose nickname “Toronto the Good” both referenced the place’s lingering Victorian moral rectitude and seemed to set a hard ceiling on its expectations for greatness. It would never be Toronto the exceptional, and the locals seemed content with that.
McMillan’s job was to design an exhibition for a massive new waterfront park called Ontario Place, whose somewhat unpromising theme was the glorious past and thrilling future of the province of Ontario. The architect Eberhard Zeidler had created a series of artificial islands and “pods” that stuck out of the water of Lake Ontario, skewered by columns like olives in a martini. The question of what to do with these architectural wonders, however, seemed to come second. “Now we had to think up a great idea for what to do with our island,” wrote Zeidler in his autobiography, Building Cities Life. “We thought we might have a nature reserve on them, but this was a short-lived dream because the wild animals could easily escape.”
When the park opened in summer 1971, while visitors were awed by the park’s self-flushing toilets and Imax movies, one oversight quickly became clear: there wasn’t enough for kids to do. When the park decided to remedy that by building an area devoted to children for the following year, its director, James Ramsay, turned to McMillan.
The designer was lanky and outspoken, a wild-eyed Englishman with the accent and mannerisms of one of Monty Python’s more unhinged characters. He’d been responsible for the park’s most successful exhibition that year – a multimedia tour through the province’s history called Explosions – but he’d never built anything for children. During a meeting with Ramsay, McMillan remembers his boss asking for his opinion on the park. McMillan didn’t hesitate. “I think it’s boring,” he said. “Well, what would you do?” asked Ramsay. “I don’t know,” said McMillan. “Give me two weeks.”
McMillan huddled with his assistant, David Lloyd, and when they returned it was with a series of sketches for a playscape unlike any seen before. Children’s Village would be a massive success. It would launch McMillan’s career. It would sit at the centre of kid-life for a generation of Torontonians and, briefly, promise to revolutionise the way the world plays.
“I thought it was just another job,” says McMillan today. Ramsay thought differently. “He told me: ‘This is going to make you famous.’”
The playground is a curious creation. The first one in North America was a simple pile of sand in Boston’s north end, installed in 1885 by female philanthropists who wanted to give poor immigrant children a place to play and, crucially, a means to assimilate to American society. That push and pull, between providing children with autonomy and controlling them, has been at the heart of playground design ever since. They are places to expand children’s imaginations while constraining their physical bodies. “Playgrounds are places made by adults, for children, always with the hope of harnessing their play to a specific location,” writes Alexandra Lange in her book The Design of Childhood.
In theme parks, where the prerequisites of play meet the demands of capitalism, the balance between stimulating a child’s creativity and keeping them in control becomes more wobbly. Parks in the Disneyland mould are, above all, about managing the play of children, moving them along efficiently, safely and profitably. The equipment is to be used in a specific way, with no latitude for experimentation. The modern theme park seems to apportion its share of imagination in a perverse way, offering boundless creativity to its designers while leaving little scope for the children themselves.
McMillan wasn’t interested in controlling kids. In designing Children’s Village, his driving philosophy was simple: “What would I, as a child, like to do?” But his conception of what a child might like to do was shaped by a childhood so full of Dickensian deprivation and casual violence that the idea of transplanting that experience to quiet 1970s Toronto is impossible to imagine.
In McMillan’s account of his life – a mixture of fact and family mythology that is difficult to untangle – he was stillborn during the bombing of Sheffield during the second world war and revived by a nurse, and from there life only got harder. “Lots of violence, lots of drinking, lots of poverty,” is his summary.
As a child, McMillan was often hungry and nearly always dirty. For a time, his family lived in the shadow of the Manchester prison called Strangeways. They were desperate enough that, one cold winter, his uncle and father broke into the prison to steal coal. He was constantly moving from rooming house to rooming house, school to school. His father was a day labourer, when he had work. On weekends, he would put on his one good suit and play piano in local pubs, earning as much in a single night as he would in a week, before drinking it all away.
The other side of a childhood of neglect is absolute freedom. “My early memories were just being like a dog, let out in the mornings and let in at night,” says McMillan. In those early years, he would play in the rubble of bombed-out buildings, clambering over the ruins, playing violent games with bricks, building paper airplanes out of the pages of discarded books. There were no restraints, no control.
When he left school at 15, he could barely read or write and his hygiene habits were highly questionable. “Have you seen when the live crabs at the market are trying to crawl out of their crates? You’ll observe that the ones in the back are pulling back the ones that are trying to escape,” says McMillan. “That’s basically where I grew up.”
He got a job as a painter’s apprentice and prepared for a life as a labourer. The trade school was attached to an art school, however, and as he slowly began to talk with the neighbouring students, members of a social class he had never really encountered, the idea of applying there himself became fixed in his mind. He took the exams, got in and immediately entered a new world. When he graduated a few years later, it was with growing confidence and an enormous chip on his shoulder. After designing exhibitions in England, he saw ads looking for a designer for Expo 67 in Montreal and made his way across the Atlantic.
On his personal website, McMillan tells the story of how he escaped his upbringing with a characteristic mix of arrogance and deadpan understatement: “I became an apprentice house painter, and then moved up to art school and then I became a genius and moved to North America.”
I’ve known Eric McMillan since I was a child. My father, another English immigrant who found himself in Canada in the 1970s, was also on the original Ontario Place team, and the two quickly became friends. I remember him striding into our house – a wild presence, all jutting elbows and knees, who would appear out of nowhere with a trunk full of plastic balls or a truckload of couch-sized interlocking plastic blocks, prototypes for a new experiment in fort-building.
At Children’s Village, McMillan was left to himself with a $700,000 budget. Prickly and protective over his vision, he demanded full control. “I think I have the reputation of telling more ministers and deputy ministers to fuck off than anyone else,” he says.
The time in which he was working was a remarkably fertile one for children’s design. In the postwar era, with the baby boom, there were suddenly new economies around childhood. “It led to tremendous innovation,” says Alexandra Lange. With government and institutional support, designers felt free to experiment. “People at the highest echelon of design were interested in childhood,” says Lange. “It wasn’t a subset, it was at the centre of design.”
This was the era in which “junk playgrounds” or “adventure playgrounds” – places where tiny children were given tool belts and fistfuls of nails and left to build their own forts – proliferated across the continent. It was an era in which designers emerging from the 60s, full of dreams about building political and social utopias, took their visions to the local parks, building abstract sculptures and modernist experiments that children could clamber over.
At Children’s Village, McMillan built two and a half acres of mayhem under an orange canopy – reproducing in the safety of Toronto his feral childhood spent scrabbling through rubble, with mountains of colourful vinyl and foam. He erected an enormous spider web structure that hung from soaring watchtowers. He built a series of wooden ladders that spun on their axes, hurling would-be climbers to the mats below. He strung swinging monkey bars over a pool of water and suspended a forest of punching bags at the centre of the village that was, for decades, the most reliable producer of bloody noses in Toronto.
When the park opened in July 1972, it immediately became the city’s capital of kids’ play. “I had never seen anything like it,” remembers Irina Ceric, now a professor in British Columbia. “It was entirely designed just for kids in a way that other parks weren’t. It was the best thing that I had ever seen.”
In my memory, the overriding feeling of entering Children’s Village was an exhilarating, perhaps even slightly scary freedom. The world under the iconic orange canopy was capacious enough that you always felt as if there were undiscovered corners – a child-sized hamster wheel beneath a small hill, a new rope bridge from one of the watchtowers you’d never taken. Here, at last, was a place that had been built specifically for you and then left to your dominion. There were no parents to help you in the chaos of the punching bags. Exactly how you chose to scramble your brain while flinging yourself between the giant vertical rubber bands was your business. The place was yours. It was your village.
Children’s Village was a hit. Families flocked to it and international media praised it, with Time calling it “one of the most imaginative playgrounds in the world”. The next year, the Ontario Place brass gave McMillan control over another section of the park and he set to work creating a water play area, with lagoons and climbing equipment amid rushing water.
Building before the first water parks or splash pads, McMillan created his attractions from scratch, gathering a team of prop builders, metal workers and craftspeople to manufacture the enormous squirting faces controlled by pumps and bicycle-powered water guns he dreamed up. One of the early visitors to McMillan’s park was an American named George Millay. Today Millay is credited as the father of the water park, the progenitor of a massive industry. When Millay opened the first Wet ’n Wild in Orlando in 1977, however, the name he gave the children’s area was a tip of the cap to his inspiration: Canadian Water Caper.
With his success at Ontario Place, McMillan became a major figure in the blossoming world of children’s design. “Suddenly I became the world’s expert on child’s play,” says McMillan. People were calling him the next Walt Disney and the “father of soft play” for his use of vinyl-clad foam. Over the next decade he designed playgrounds in various SeaWorlds in America and amusement parks in France. He built a park in a mall in Chicago and was shuttled out to Alabama and asked to transform 3,000 acres into a science park. In 1980, McMillan teamed up with Jim Henson’s Children’s Television Workshop to create Sesame Place, the first of a planned series of tactile amusement parks to be built across America with the aim of helping children “learn through play”.
It was a decade of remarkable creativity. McMillan remembers sitting around with Lloyd one day and looking at a glass jar of pickled onions. “Wouldn’t it be something to be able to roll around in there?” he thought. They set about ordering masses of light plastic balls for a “ball crawl” in San Diego – the world’s first ball pit, an invention that soon became ubiquitous in McDonald’s and Ikeas across the world.
It seemed to McMillan as if he was working in virgin territory, designing places for kids with a seriousness of purpose he hadn’t seen before. Watching children use his equipment, often in ways he could never have anticipated, made him more and more certain: play wasn’t a frivolous distraction from learning, but something essential to childhood and indeed humanity. The line-up-and-go-on-an-iron-ride model of the theme park was defunct. The key was to build things that sparked interaction, between kids and the equipment, but especially between the kids themselves. According to his design philosophy, each park wasn’t just a place to jump on a shockingly large air mattress. It was “a place where a child can ask questions of what it means to be human”.
McMillan formed his own design company, determined to build his own series of parks his way. “After Sesame Place, I was getting really arrogant, really confident,” he says. “I had sites. I had Montreal, I had Sacramento. I was going to build and operate my own parks and show them how it would be done.
“I got crazy, mate. I was going to change the world. I was going to change American culture and therefore the world. I was sure I was going to do it.”
Instead, the world changed without him. The skills required to fund and run a theme park, of course, are very different from the creativity needed to design one. Spoiled by the free rein he had been given at Ontario Place, he often chafed at the demands and restrictions of his corporate partners. One project fell through, then another. McMillan grew tired with throwing himself into designs only to watch them collapse for reasons beyond his control. “Eric could project a very pure kind of childlike play,” says Henry Piersig, a German-born prop builder who was one of McMillan’s collaborators. “But maybe eventually he ran out of steam.”
More than that, the times had changed. If the design for children in the 60s and 70s had been full of possibility and experimentation, the prevailing mood in the 1980s was of caution. “In the 80s, there was this real turn towards a safety culture,” says Lange. “We tamped down on a lot of innovation and a lot of the risk and reward of the children’s environment.” After a series of lawsuits against playgrounds, “liability”, not “creativity”, became the most important word in children’s design. The adventure playgrounds that once dotted North America were shuttered. The massive wooden jungle gyms in schoolyards were replaced with modest climbing structures.
With its bright colours and unruly design, Children’s Village became a relic on the lakeshore – a vision of the future from the near past. “It feels like it was meant to be the beginning of something,” says Ceric. “But it ended up ending there.”
Children’s Village was closed in 2002. The rest of Ontario Place shut down in 2011. Recently, though, I’ve seen more and more of my peers reflecting nostalgically about the “gloriously unsafe majesty” of Children’s Village. The park is a lost part of childhood for a whole cohort of Torontonians. It feels like a strange dream. Were the towers really so high? Did the ziplines really run so fast?
Nowhere is more infused with nostalgia than the places you played in as a child. Looking back on the playgrounds of the past, however, is more than mere sentimentality, and it isn’t just specific to people who remember Children’s Village. “There’s something in the air,” says Alexandra Lange. “We understand that children’s play environment has been impoverished. And so looking back at those times when it wasn’t so impoverished feels really important.” Today, as the kids who grew up running through the punching bag forest are having children of their own, it’s impossible not to think that Children’s Village represented a brief moment when a different style of mass play was possible. Instead of an amusement park in which kids line up for hours to sit passively on a moving piece of intellectual property, what if a park just provided the raw materials for child-instigated, slightly dangerous adventure?
This summer, the provincial government is accepting proposals for new developments on the Ontario Place grounds. In the years since it closed, there have been plans for a year-round water park, for a casino, for an enormous ferris wheel. There have been calls to relocate the Science Centre to the waterfront or turn the entire thing into a public park.
No one’s asked Eric McMillan what should be on the site of the former kids’ utopia he built on the waterfront. Now 77, he lives with his wife, Rose, in the Quebec countryside. He has an orange tree he likes to visit. He and Rose hand-grind their own coffee, build stone walls, snowshoe up the hills in the winter. The place is their own personal playground. “I can’t imagine a more privileged existence,” he says. He hasn’t visited the grounds himself in years. “Ontario Place long ago became a very sad ruin of what could have been an interesting place,” he says.
Still, McMillan can’t seem to stop himself from thinking about it. Recently, he came up with his own proposal for the site. In his reimagining, the empty pods have been transformed into massive lake filters – sucking up the water from Lake Ontario, cleaning it, and then sending it cascading into the lake below. The design takes Zeidler’s buildings and turns them into massive pieces of interactive art, where kids can help control the flow of water. The plan is whimsical and audacious, as outside-the-box and indifferent to the demands of commerce as ever. When I ask him what else should be done with the Ontario Place pods, he answers immediately. “They just can rip them down and turn them into scrap metal and build condos along the edge,” says McMillan. “Or … they can go really crazy.”
In the new drama After the Wedding, Isabel (Michelle Williams) is the manager of an orphanage on the verge of bankruptcy in Kolkata, India. So she travels to New York to meet Theresa (Julianne Moore), a benefactor who could solve all her financial woes but who may be harboring ulterior motives. To reveal anything further would take away from the twists and turns the film piles on after Theresa brings Isabel to her daughter’s wedding—an invitation that sets off a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
Though it’s not a particularly cheery premise, the stars at the center of the family drama were thankfully all smiles on Tuesday night when the Cinema Society and Chopard hosted a screening for the film. Wearing a chic Givenchy dress, Moore especially had reason to celebrate as the film represents her fourth collaboration with her husband, director Bart Freundlich.
“We’ve really only ever worked together when there’s been a part for me, and when Bart started to adapt this, it was clearly was something I was really interested in,” Moore said. “We’re great partners, and we’re producing partners on this movie too, so it’s the first time we actually worked on something from the very beginning to the end together.”
As both star and producer, Moore was involved in nearly every aspect of the production, including finding the right costar who could bring the necessary emotional intensity to the material. Moore says Williams was an obvious choice, and she emailed the actor directly to offer her the role.
“I mean, when Julianne Moore sends you an email, you pay attention!” Williams said.
While the biggest thrill of After the Wedding is seeing Williams and Moore, two of the greatest living actresses, deliver unstoppable performances, they give their costar Billy Crudup just as much room to shine as Oscar, Theresa’s artist husband. The film served as a reunion for the actor and director, who’ve remained friends since Freundlich first directed Crudup in 2001’s World Traveler.
“Bart was talking about this script he was working on, and needless to say, as an actor, you’re always like, ‘Is there a part in there for Ol’ Bill?’ ” Crudup joked. “I read the script and couldn’t quite find my way into the character, but after having a conversation with Bart and then seeing the movie on which it’s based, it became clear he was trying to tell a subtle, nuanced family drama.”
After the screening the after-party kicked off at the Crown, the chic rooftop bar in Hotel 50 Bowery. The DJ kept spirits high with a pop-heavy playlist before Abby Quinn, who plays Moore’s daughter in the film, performed a brief set including covers of “Sea of Love” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Backlit by a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, Moore and Freundlich made the rounds, eager to hear everyone’s thoughts on the film.
After the Wedding was an especially personal project for Moore, who has made it her mission to bring dynamic and layered female characters to the screen. “It’s really wonderful to see these two self-actualized, self-created women in sort of a struggle for dominance,” Moore said. “You don’t see that in movies very often, especially when it’s between two women and not centered around a man!”
In the last decade, thousands of people have stood in line at Target stores around the country to get their hands on colorful, limited-edition items designed by big names like Missoni and Lilly Pulitzer. Those were chaotic events, with shoppers grabbing merchandise by the armload. Online, these same frenzied buyers crashed Target’s site multiple times. In case you missed out on the madness the first time around or are just ready to throw some elbows to get zigzag merchandise at a reasonable price, you’ll have your chance on September 14. Target just announced that it will be releasing a limited-edition collection of 300 products to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its design collaborations.
Twenty of its previous collaborations are included, including Missoni, Lilly Pulitzer, Jason Wu, Isaac Mizrahi and others, as well as homeware designers like Michael Graves and Philippe Starck. Prices will range from $7 to $160. According to the retailer, collections and items will vary from store to store, and guests will be limited to five items of any given size and color. So far, no images or hints have been released about which specific items from past collections will be available this time around. Target is also putting out a documentary and a Rizzoli coffee table book to commemorate the occasion.
Target was one of the first retailers to pioneer the collaboration model. The company has decreased the frequency of these collabs, but they still occur, most recently in May with the Vineyard Vines collection. Over the years, collaborative collections have become a regular occurrence at retailers at all price points, especially in the streetwear market, which relies on limited edition “drops” and frequent partnerships.
At its heart, these types of collections act as marketing for the designer brand involved, which is usually more aspirational or expensive than others Target sells. But mostly, it’s an incredible way for Target to get people into its stores and to get people talking about Target, as a marketing professor explained to Vox back in May. It’s human nature to want what is hard to get or won’t be around for a long time, and Target excels at this marketing model.
While this anniversary collection will likely appeal to a wide swath of people, fashion fans should love this for the nostalgia factor alone. Jason Wu, Thakoon, Rodarte, and Proenza Schouler pieces are all included. And there is one timely update: Target has said that all of the women’s fashion pieces will be available in “extended sizing.” A lack of extended sizes has gotten the retailer into trouble in the past. In 2014, bloggers boycotted Target for not offering the Altuzarra collection in plus-sizes. The next year, it produced plus-size pieces for the megapopular Lilly Pulitzer range, but it faced controversy again because it only offered them online and not in stores.
In 2011, Target rereleased several of its fashion collaborations to celebrate five years of its Go International program, which is what is was called then. This collection will go beyond fashion, rereleasing a lot of the homeware collaborations as well, possibly including the popular home items from Missoni. Home is a hot category now. Anecdotal evidence: Erin Fetherston, who had a fashion collection with Target in 2007 and whose pieces will be included in this reboot, no longer designs fashion — she only sells home goods now.
Target has been beefing up its private labels in-store, particularly in the home department. If you’ve ever seen how picked-over the HGTV darlings Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Hearth & Hand collection is, you have a sense of this already. Presumably home design enthusiasts are going to be excited about scoring one of those late ’90s Michael Graves Seussian tea kettles.
Target will undoubtedly capitalize on the same FOMO and anticipation that has driven these collections to such success in the past. In the next few weeks, Target will likely release teasers of items that will be included in this collection. Websites will release the lookbook. Shopping strategies will be planned. And the ultimate reason this exists: carts will be loaded.