There's been a bit of a long silence on my blog due to running around doing Design fairs for Xmas and being very busy in the studio/shop. An inspiring little film filled with colour and a beautiful spirit booted me into action to write again.
It's about Les Sapeurs in the Congo, a group of men (Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo) who dress elegantly as a statement and an ethos - "to defy circumstance and live with joie de vivre". I wish that people on the streets of our city would live their lives with this aim - and with the amazing sense of style that Les Sapeurs have too. Given where they live and the recent history of the Congo, they must put considerable effort into their lifestyle. (I don't have any shares in Guinness I promise - it's just a very good and uplifting film - so good for them!)
You can watch it here....
My son and I really enjoyed a show last weekend in London called Best of Britannia. It was in the Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell which is a wonderful 1930's building which you may have seen in Downton Abbey (as newspaper offices) or elsewhere on TV.
Anyway this show was great because of the breadth of work on display, from a 3-wheeler Morgan motor car to surfwear, from handcrafted leather bags to jukeboxes and bottles of spirits. Supposedly all made in UK (there were a couple of people who said it was 'Designed in UK' but made abroad so not sure how they snuck in...) nonetheless in almost all cases the stands were hosted by people incredibly enthusiastic about what they were doing and about making in UK, which is always inspiring.
We sat for a while on this beautiful and very comfortable sofa. Their one was in a heathery green linen, perfect for our house. I'm very keen on it's sleek lines with beechwood detailing. It's simply a very elegant piece that won't look dated in 10 years I think. G Plan was founded in 1898 by Ebenezer Gomme. More people should be called Ebenezer don't you think? Their furniture is carefully hand-crafted in Wiltshire so that's even better. I make all my own products in the UK so I'm always looking to buy things that are made similarly. You can have a look at the rest of the G Plan Vintage Collection by Hemingway Design by clicking the link below. Or explore some of the exhibitors from the Best of Britannia show.
Despite being only ten minutes walk from the studio I haven't had a chance to wander over and see this outside Tate Modern but it's on until the 10th Oct so I'll get there this weekend probably. Designed by dRMM Architects it's designed to be moved around and endlessly reconfigured. It's based on the MC Escher designs of stairs which I was fascinated with as a child and which my son really likes now.
There's been lots in the papers about the new extension for the Paul Smith Albermarle Street, not surprisingly because the facade looks beautiful. Apparently it was made in Braintree in Essex. I'm looking forward to having a look at it. And how great does that wall look clad in dominos? Next to the shelves they laid the dominos back-to-front so that it wouldn't be so 'busy' behind the products.
I've always been a massive Patrick Caulfield fan. Very irritated then that my son and I both misread the info on the Tate Britain site and thought the show finished on the 8th Sept bah! We went and peered through the glass doorway at the pictures and then wandered off to look around the newly hung BP British art galleries, of which I shall post separately. I have a bit of a thing about windows so I particularly like the Window at Night by Patrick Caulfield. I like his cartoon like outlining, use of angles and flat colours, he's been a big inspiration to me in my own work. Here are some pieces I love, especially love the bathroom mirror.
I saw one of Vivian Maier's photos on my NY friend Vincents FB page and loved it so I looked up a site about her. I love the colours and also the rather sad story of her life and secretive street photography in NY & Chicago. Her photos were discovered (100,000 negatives along with films and audio recordings) after her death. She worked as a nanny. I'm definitely buying the book
I salivated over this beautiful new set from Tom Dixon's studio, it's so gorgeous. With a bit of a Bauhaus sensibility that I like. Not sure whether it's practical but it's really not about that is it when something looks this good...
I adore everything I've ever seen by Punchdrunk so I'm really excited about their next event that's coming this summer (I dashed to get my tickets this morning).
There's no photograph that does them justice because their work is completely immersive and experiential. So instead of sitting down watching people on a stage, you walk amongst the performers (often wearing a mask and cloak so that you - and all the rest of the audience merge into the backgroud). The action takes place all around you, the actors don't include you generally - it's a bit like watching people sleepwalking.
One of their pieces I saw a few years ago was in a 5 storey warehouse by the river in which they'd built a diner, a cinema and a perfume store all in 1920/30's style, looking like Edward Hopper paintings. The styling of their pieces is immaculate, I kept getting choked up and nearly crying because it was so beautiful! I'm sure you'll fall for them like a ton of bricks - get your tickets quickly!
An intriguing and beautiful concept from a team who last year submitted plans for an inflatable bridge/trampoline for a competition. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if we could experience our cities through playful interactions on structures like these? I'd love the Battersea project to come to fruition.
Today a piece about Fashion Designer Elizabeth Hawes who I first heard about when I worked at the Brooklyn Museum many years ago. She was an amazing talent who had a very interesting life and it's sad that she is so little known. She had a multifaceted career, writing 9 books, fighting for human rights and of course designing ready to wear clothes. Her book 'Fashion is Spinach' which she wrote in 1938 and is a very entertaining read condemning the fashion industry for creating a planet of fashion victims. "I don't know when the word fashion came into being, but it was an evil day" she wrote, unexpected from a top fashion designer you might think! She felt that the only purpose of fashion was to "give a little additional gaiety to life" and to entertain, rather than something to slavishly follow and that the system worked against the customer by creating a thirst for poorly made uncomfortable clothing that wouldn't last. Elizabeth Hawes also challenged fashion for men, creating vibrantly patterned and coloured menswear including skirts and robes.
Elizabeth Hawes was also a union activist and married to Joseph Losey the film director. During the McCarthy era in the US they were both blacklisted as communist sympathisers. As a result she became an alcoholic which lead to her death in 1971. Her books are out of print but you can pick up second hand copies from time to time. Whether you're interested in fashion or not I highly recommend 'Fashion is Spinach'