When I got invited to Laurie Rosenwald‘s studio a few years ago, I was completely unprepared. I had met Laurie a few times at events around NY and thought she was absolutely charming, but I didn’t know her very well. When she sent me over the address I was thrilled to see she was in the same building on the Lower East Side where lots of my design-y friends have studio space—decoupage darling John Derian is on the ground floor, Rob Giampietro and Kevin Smith used to have their office there, and supermodel-architect Caleb Mulvena was actually discovered in the lobby. New York called it the “highest concentration of design genius” in the city.
So here I was on a cold December night, walking into the design ghetto, prepared to ooh and aah over Laurie’s work while sitting in a typical graphic designer’s office with its tidy inevitable rows of the same books and one shelf devoted to vinyl toys and vintage packaging. Maybe a smart Scandinavian modern desk (she is Swedish, after all). I swung open the door and gasped.
Something was horribly amiss with this designer’s office. It was a mess. And there had been a explosion. No. A holocaust. A cut-paper holocaust.
Every surface was covered with a thin layer of angular confetti fallout. Half-crayons were scattered about the room, bottles of glue on their sides. A stack of nice words and eviscerated hearts waited on a table, plucked from their paper corpses with the precision of a surgeon. In their shuffle they looked like the raw materials of a love-struck ransom note writer. It was a magazine slaughterhouse.
Overall I would describe the the decor of her studio as a stack of Picasso prints, pored over by Edward Scissorhands. Then run through the Cuisinart. It was awesome.
“Do you want to go to a party?” Laurie had asked earlier, which I thought was a semi-rhetorical question, a thing you were asked in the Realm of the Human Paper Shredder. Come on, Laurie said now. “Put on your coat, we’re going to a party.”
And with that I traipsed through New York City with Laurie Rosenwald to Bowlmor Lanes, one of those next-gen bowling alleys. It was the Christmas party for the Rockwell Group, the people who design stuff like the new JetBlue Terminal at JFK and the 2009 Academy Awards. Laurie had been recruited as a celebrity bartender for the evening, serving up a cocktail of her choice. The cocktail she chose to serve to the New York designerati? The Bull Shot.
I talked to Tucker Viemeister while he was wearing a Santa hat. I discussed digital cameras with Maira Kalman.
A Bull Shot and a half later (it was good but filling in a soup-like way), I stepped back onto the New York streets, a little dazed, a little buzzed, and definitely feeling a little different. Did that just happen? I had just had a taste of Laurie’s universe. And it was delicious!
Laurie’s new book All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem is kind of like that night. I could tell you about it, but it’s much more fun to have her do the talking. I will say that this time, her glossy prey are mags like Cosmo and Elle, which she’s gutted, chopped and remixed back into women’s mag form (think perverse in-and-out lists and “beauty” tips). Yet it’s full of really sweet, endearing bits of writing to complement the big, brassy visuals. And yes, she talks about getting kicked out of yoga.
And because this must be the week that all the cool people are in LA, Laurie’s got two fantastic events in town. A reading on Wednesday at the adorable new Echo Park bookstore Stories LA (a promo on Flavorpill bizarrely calls her “actress/author” and makes no mention of the art—I don’t think they actually read the book). And this Friday she’ll be holding the workshop How to Make Mistakes On Purpose at my favorite Time Travel Mart, 826 LA (where I’ll also be volunteering for the afternoon).
She encourages me to tell you that what is done in the workshop is top secret and no one is to reveal what we will do in that room (but here’s a teaser, anyway). For a mere $15 you’ll be getting the same mistake-training as Starbucks and Google employees. And look how few mistakes those people make in real life! Plus I can assure you, if it’s anything like visiting her studio, it will leave your eyes popping out of your head at odd angles, your head twisted like it’s not on quite straight, feeling cacophonic, cathartic, cheeky and more than little crazy. Sounds good, right? See you there!