Meet Dan Borelli, Director of Exhibitions at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Dan Borelli is the Director of Exhibitions at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) – and a fan of Rakks. Dan holds a Master’s in Design Studies from the GSD with a concentration in Art, Design, and the Public Domain and a BFA in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design.

Dan’s GSD career began in 2000 and in 2009, he was promoted to the position of Director. He has managed well over a hundred exhibits on a variety of scales with themes that range from history and architecture to urban design, landscape architecture and contemporary art. Dan’s direction, experience and vision contributed to the success of many of the GSD’s memorable exhibitions including the “Dispatches from the GSD: 075 Years of Design” exhibition in 2011. Rakks was honored to play a supporting role in “Dispatches from the GSD: 075 Years of Design” by supplying customized counter support brackets and stands designed to support the exhibit’s display boxes and tables. Dan has collaborated with Rakks on the following exhibits, which is by no means an exhaustive list as Dan has held on to the Rakks products and continues to use them on a variety of applications throughout the GSD exhibitions program.

Grounded Visionaries: Pedagogy and Practice, 2014

Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary, 2013

Dispatches from the GSD: 075 Years of Design, 2011

Utopia Across Scales: Highlights from the Kenzo Tange Archive, 2009

The exhibition space for the GSD is in Gund Hall. Gund Hall was designed by Australian architect John Andrews, a graduate of GSD. The ground floor entry’s open lobby occupies approximately 4,500 sq.ft.. Exhibits by leading designers, planners and artists from around the world are rotated through the space 5 times during the year.

In 2010 and as part of his Master studies at Harvard, Dan started an art-based research inquiry into the Nyanza Superfund Site in Ashland Massachusetts and its subsequent social histories. In seeking to make these buried narratives public, he is juxtaposing the stories of human impact with the EPA¹s findings on remediation and orchestrating a large-scale lighting project that visualizes the below-grade contaminants of environmental degradation. In July 2014, this project, “Illuminating Futures” was awarded an ArtPlace America Grant.

We thank Dan for his help in the preparation of this blog post.

December 5th, 2014 | No Comments

Rakks Style Spy – Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

The design and architecture worlds (and the folks at Rakks) are buzzing about Frank Gehry’s design for the arts centre located next to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, in the Bois de Boulogne the famous park on the east side of Paris. The center is for a cultural foundation established by the Fondation Louis Vuitton to provide a permanent center for the charitable organization centered around the promotion of contemporary arts both in France and internationally. The building is said to resemble a cloud of glass formed by twelve curving sails, made up of 3,600 glass panels.

A few observations we decided to share.

“Piled up in a staggered heap, these great curved shields twist and turn in the architect’s trademark style, their odd angles poking above the trees, visible for miles around. As if caught in a violent storm, the sails flare open in places to reveal an inner world of white walls, sculpted like whipped meringue, and a dense thicket of steel struts and wooden beams that have been forced into improbable shapes.” The Guardian

“It is a vessel, a fish, a sailing boat, a cloud. It has all the metaphors of smoothness. Sporting a glittering LV logo at the front door, it could also be a gigantic Louis Vuitton perfume bottle, smashed to smithereens.” Frédéric Migayrou, architecture curator at the Pompidou Centre.

“It’s for artists to play with, Daniel Buren wants to paint stripes all over the sails, and I’m hoping children will do drawings that we can enlarge and hang in the space between the sails and the building. It doesn’t look finished, purposefully, to encourage people to interact with it over time.” Frank Gehry

“We just love it.” Rakks

If you are traveling to Paris in the future, you will have the opportunity to visit and feast your eyes on this brilliant structure.

Photo credits: Top Photo: Dezeen. Second Photo: The Fondation Louis Vuitton. Jacques Brinon/AP

November 7th, 2014 | No Comments

Rakks Adds Style and Sophistication
to Hong Kong Haberdashery

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The Armoury is a meticulously designed and refined international men’s haberdashery with two locations in central Hong Kong and one in New York City. The stores were established by Alan See, Ethan Newton, and Mark Cho in 2010. The trio shares a passion for classic men’s style. For their Armoury shops, they source products from the world’s most esteemed makers of traditional menswear made with the highest level of integrity and quality.

The architectural team of Greg Yang and Katherine Wong oversaw the design of the shops. For maximum merchandise visibility from floor to ceiling, they combined PC2 poles, L-Bracket shelf supports, J-Hangbars, and Tie Brackets. As part of the overall concept, Yang and Wong incorporated locally supplied custom walnut cabinets and shelves into the Rakks system. The final installation provided an ideal environment for high-quality merchandise to be displayed.

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Rakks applauds the creativity and passion of individuals like Armoury’s founders and the talented architectural team. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing founder Mark Cho, who we thank for his time and insights.

1 – Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in London and have always loved clothes. I used to work in real estate but about 5 years ago, I gave that up and went into clothing, starting with opening The Armoury with Alan See.

2 – How did you discover Rakks?
Rakks was recommended by my architects, Greg Yang and Katherine Wong. Greg has used it before so I trusted his recommendation. We used a bit of it for our shop in NYC but the Hong Kong shops are the best implementation so far.

3 – Can you tell us about The Armoury?
The Armoury specializes in classic men’s clothes. We curate beautifully crafted products from around the world. We go a step further by flying in tailors, shoemakers and shirtmakers to meet our customers in person and take their custom orders.

4 – Why did you think Rakks was a good fit for The Armoury?
Very versatile! Our shop layout is always changing and Rakks keeps up.

5 – Do you have plans to use Rakks in the future?
Yes, though I think it always needs to be customized to get the best out of it in a retail context.

If you are traveling to NYC or Hong Kong in the future, visit The Armoury. If not, you can peruse their on-line store at http://www.thearmourystore.com/us/.

October 16th, 2014 | No Comments

Interview with Ray Olivares, Computer Visualization Artist

Interview with Ray Olivares

At Rakks, we are often contacted by talented designers and architects who envision Rakks in a project they are working on. In this case it was Ray Olivares, a very talented computer visualization artist who sent us this illustration of his proposed Rakks installation in his new Chicago home.

Ray’s illustrations are so realistic they are often mistaken as photographs. That was the case at Rakks, when he sent us this illustration. We did a double take and looked very closely at the screen. This must be a photograph was our response. We were wrong. Ray is a master!

He was kind enough to talk to us – virtually of course – about Rakks. If the finished installation is as impressive as his work, it will be worth the wait.

1. What is a computer visualization artist?
We are the director of photography, the cinematographer and the producer of finished art in a virtual world. People come to us when they have a design that needs to be conveyed. We work closely with our clients to create something out of nothing other than a set of floor plans, elevations, and a whole lot of interpretation.

2. What drew you to this profession and how long have you been doing it?
I was lucky enough to go to school at Texas A&M University in the early 90’s when they had an architecture program that was so ahead of its time. I believe back then there were only two other universities in the US that involved computer generated imagery in the designated architectural design curriculum. I remember we had specialized silicon graphic workstations that were “top of the line” and you could just imagine the primitive technology we were using by today’s standard. I’m talking about 3d studio V2 and adjusting everything in Photoshop V2 which didn’t even have layers back then! Any given program on my iPhone is probably more advanced than those programs.

3. Did you study art and/or design in school?
Yes, the studies at my university were for architectural design. But I feel that so much of what I do incorporates much more than architecture. It’s also photography, time management and an understanding of what’s possible given your technological limitations.

4. What is a typical project for you?
A typical project for me involves a series of renderings for a developer trying to sell an empty marketable space in NY or Chicago. That’s where the money is and business is business, money is money, etc. I take great pride in making my renderings photo-realistic, appealing and giving the client exactly what they want. But I’ll admit, the most fun and insane projects were the ones you have to be sworn to secrecy over. I once had to live in an artist’s NYC SOHO studio for a month to animate a video of collected elements in his paintings that he was exhibiting for his opening. I won’t divulge what exactly I witnessed, but P.T. Barnum would be proud!

5. Do you have any exciting new projects on the horizon?
I’m currently working on a few projects that I think are coming out amazingly. The latest being a rendering for a residential space in NYC. It has a very 20th century modern aesthetic. It’s just my style. You’ll recognized the aesthetic and my personal style in my apartment rendering.

Interview with Ray Olivares

6. How did you discover Rakks?
I’ve had Rakks systems in my home for the past 7 years. I lived in a tiny apartment in NYC with 8 foot ceilings. Then I “upgraded” to a 9 foot ceiling. Now I live in Chicago and I have much more room and a 10 foot ceiling. Thankfully Rakks has extensions I can order. In my new space, I am installing Rakks Spring Compression Poles with Rakks Brackets and I am also using Rakks Brackets as bookends.

In the rendering, you can see my personal photography on the wall. I also plan do have that printed and mounted. They’re pretty much from my Instagram account.

7. Do you have a photo of the finished project?
I don’t have a photo of the finished project yet. I’m still so inundated with work at my new place that I haven’t had time to set up my furniture. My very good friend just drove my belongings from Brooklyn to Chicago. Most importantly, my stuff is here!

Thank you Ray! We look forward to seeing the final installation.

October 3rd, 2014 | No Comments

Enjoy Grounded Visionaries Design Weekend!

Grounded Visionaries Design Weekend
Rakks wishes everyone attending this inspiring series of conversations and events celebrating design a wonderful weekend. We are pleased to have played a supporting role in the event.

September 12th, 2014 | No Comments

Shelving From Boston
Lighting Designer's Loft Space


Boston-area lighting designer and fabricator Joey Nicotera’s loft needed to reflect his imagination. This is no small task for someone who has had...


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