Swiss Design by Stefi Talman


Close to the Cathedral, there is one shop I drop in occasionally when I stroll on the stone-paved streets of the old town of Niederdorf.
Stefi Talmam.

While she is considered as a Swiss designer who is capable in the wide-range of fields from architecture to typography or industrial design, she is also a well-known cutting edge in the fashion field.

Her collection is interesting and has surprises in the color variation, mainly in the shoes and bags as well as small items and accessories that decorate the windows. Especially, the combination of the leather used for the base and colorful unborn calf. It is amazing to see the well-thought combination balance of humor, intelligence, and functionality.

Since mid 1920’s, most of the people who have been innovative in the design world of this country are those who had moved to Switzerland from overseas. Stefi is no exception. She is a cosmopolitan of European and Asian origin.

While incorporating sharp and simple conventional Swiss design, targeting to the working women with borderless sense is probably, I believe, very Zurich like.
She has established popularity among assertive Swiss women, and has many fans in USA and Asia as well.

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Mountain spirits and carnival masks at Museum Rietberg Zurich


Geographically speaking, it is in the south-southeast of the Lake Zurich. This side is called Silver Coast, contrast to the Gold Coast of the other side of the lake. Because the sun shines by grazing the mountains, shadows are darker. The light is somewhat dreary, and the streets of buildings with beautiful neo-classical carvings are full of stories. Although there must be a lot of stories to tell, the streets seem to trap us into puzzles to be solved whenever we walk on the streets.

Getting off the tram and walk to the left. After passing the iron-gate on the slope, and on the top of a small hill, you will see an elegant villa build by Otto Wesendonck, a successful silk trader in the mid 19th century. This mansion is the old wing of Museum Rietberg. The building right in front of that is the new wing and most of you who are involved in architecture may be familiar with this building since it has held world-class competitions.

The collections of Museum Rietberg include Oriental, African, American and Oceanic arts, and this is very unusual for an European museum.
However, that is the part where you find the Swiss folklore art, and I realized for the first time at this exhibition of Performing Masks Swiss Carnival, which displays carnival masks, that the museum has an enormous permanent collection of Swiss masks.


Carnival mask, Tschäggäta Switzerland, Lötschen valley, early 20th century

It was the time when I was wondering where the mountain people are now. One day by chance on TV, I saw the people who were walking through the field of snow, by wearing huge masks that were hard to tell whether they were those of animals or humans.

I was told it was a traditional local festival called Tschäggätä in the Valais region, to get rid of evil spirits. It is held on the Thursday before the Ash Wednesday in February. It is very interesting because the way it looks and the custom to wake up children by visiting houses are similar to the Japanese Namahage.
Although there are various stories as to the masks, it is said that the masks used for this occasion is the oldest ones in Switzerland. Because their facial expressions are too fantastic, super-human and mystic, it had already attracted the attention of ethnologists by the end of the 19th century.


Museum Rietberg Zurich Carnival mask Carver: Albert Anton Willi (1872-1954) Switzerland, Domat/Ems

Furthermore, the masks in the Salganz region where Rumantsch, one of the Swiss 4 languages, is the official language, have the characteristics of rich expressions which extend vertically and horizontally. When I was going through the exhibition catalogue, I found one photo where Mr. Albert Anton Willi, who was a sculptor in this region, was putting an expression of a mask on his face in front of a mirror.


Many of the masks displayed this time are made by curving woods and coloring, by using animal skins, sheep -skin and textiles and so on. While there are 3 major regions where the masks are handed down through generations, it is overwhelming to see the enormous variety of expressions. I wonder this tells us that individualism were accelerated more in the days when the nature was severe and the people had to live in the environment where communications were cut off due to the rugged mountains.

In this country surrounded by the mountains, religions before Christianity was brought in, or faith before religion, have been affected in various ways by the surrounding countries. In some regions, they have integrated with Catholicism and re-grown as individual cultures.

Awe and respect for huge mountains. I hear that the roots of many mythologies and legends can often be found in the regional festivals.

From the Alpine mountains or deep in the forests, in the room deep in the museum, the sprits are conspicuous.

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Artists who express themselves beyond the boundaries of genre.The 5th Zurich Film Festival

Director, Terry Gilliam, appeared on the red carpet.

Zurich Film Festival has been a focus in recent years as one of the distinctive film festivals in Europe. The Zurich Film Festival has celebrted its 5th year. More than 60 films from Switzerland and other countries, including those big pieces considered to be the greatest in the movie history, are being shown here.

The competition consists of 3 sections; International Feature Films, International Documentaries, and German-language Films. Apart from these films, you can enjoy a wide range of various films such as digital films and short films.
USA, Mexico, Israel, Russia and Korea, as well as European countries have participated. Especially this year, several films from Argentine have attracted attention.

While it is aimed to find and promote unique expressions and excellent talents from all over the world, it can also be said that it is a film festival based on the originality and home-court advantage of Zurich where young ambitious filmmakers can easily get together

Related events and workshops by young producers were held in various venues. Furthermore, the speeches by Morgan Freeman, Michael Keaton, Peter Fonda and so on are also included in the program.

“Golden Eye” is an award given to excellent moviemakers.

Although the news of the arrest of Roman Polanski apparently might have made this film more visible, the “Golden Eye; A Tribute to…” was awarded to Mr. Polanski. At the same time, it was announced that the award ceremony would be held in his absence, based on the firm appreciation of his achievements. The retrospective is being held according to the schedule.


The “Golden Icon” Award which can be said as a lifetime achievement award, will be given to Morgan Freeman who appeared in the films such as “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Until October 4, 2009

Photo: Zurich Film Festival

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