Out of Office

Oct 17 - 2017

Great exhibition in the Gallery attached to Morley College, showing work by visual and digital arts tutors and following in the Morley tradition of teaching, supporting, commissioning and exhibiting art in many forms. I don’t know how this has come about but I do know that running a unit in any teaching establishment means mountains of admin and politics at the cost of practice, so congrats for finding the time and assembling such an interesting body of work across several disciplines.

Open now until 26 October.

Out of Office

Emblematic Distillation by Marian Lynch, Programme Manager for Textiles

Reactive dye monoprint on linen/cotton

Marian Lynch 2

One Paved Court

Jul 30 - 2017

Here’s something nice. An empty shop in Richmond repaired and converted into a gallery and artists’ studio with a partly modern interior incorporating original undisturbed elements - plaster, staircase, detail. A strange thing happens here with the work somehow absorbed into and complemented by the fabric, without being in any way overwhelmed. I can’t generally get enough of white walls but this is, I admit, a welcome change.

 

One Paved Court Richmond TW9 1LZ

Daniel Preece Paintings about everything and nothing

 

 

OPG Daniel Preece 1 OPC Daniel Preece 2 OPC Daniel Preece fireplace

Barcelona Diagonal

Jun 23 - 2017

Day 2, breakfast and off to Plaça de les Glòries to meet architectural historian Mónica Cruz Guáqueta from Guiding Architects. Too much to relay (itinerary here) but we walked an area in the middle of an ambitious regeneration plan that is only one of many such plans successively traced over the same streets. Fascinating on urban fabric, how to progress, maintain the life of small scale business and family life, and the inevitable tensions between civic/social ambition and the might of the developer. We visited a modern market place, walked public routes through civic buildings, and saw other planned connections fenced off where the public and private realm find themselves at odds. Superblocs look good, turns out people don't like them much - Monica however is optimistic that the next version can learn and refine, yet another overlay perhaps finding the answer.

Two buildings en route, opposite each other and opposites also in both appearance and function.

The Media ICT is all about innovation, digitally designed for sustainability and close up looks like it has something to say in its graphic form and ETFE facade, but from a distance it evaporates. Opposite is the beautiful Can Framis, an 18th century textile factory renovated by BAAS almost invisible from the street with its screen of birch and grass, un-city-like paths drawing you in to have a better look at its white-washed facades and connecting concrete slabs and projecting planes. Different approaches side by side, part of the 22@Barcelona project. 

Time for one more meal, why not, at Barraca Barceloneta, buffalo salad, patatas bravas, rosé, and extraordinary cheese ice cream. Delicious.

Just over 24 hours during which we talked and saw design, making, architecture, urbanism, politics, food and wine; the last few weeks in London have somewhat marred the idea and the reality of city life, this visit reminded me that we can have wonderful cities that are good to and for those that live in them. We just need to think a bit about what we want and we cannot leave everything to market forces. Central, local government and we need to protect and encourage the everyday - housing, business, communications, retail. We will have pension funds and international investors making big moves, but we don't need to totally give in.



media ict Media Tic Cloud 9 Enric Ruiz Museo Can Framis bleached elevations Museo Can Framis entrance canopy

Barcelona Balconies & Brummel

Jun 22 - 2017

Back to the hotel, 15 mins on the balcony catching breath and looking at white fire escapes and green balconies.

Shower and out again, to dinner at Hotel Brummel. A compact building in a residential district five minutes from the Miró Foundation somehow packing in masses of milling chilling space, an airy double height volume, restaurant, bar, micro pool, herb garden, and the rooms. This and that, some international cool design and masses of proper oddities and Barcelona character in materials especially. Best bit of dinner? maybe cherry gazpacho, the colour of beetroot with pale salmon pink fishy mouse in the middle, looked & tasted gorgeous, confused eyes and taste buds. And this wine, Sexto Elemento, organic Bobal, hard but not impossible to track down in the UK.



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Hotel Brummel Barcelona white fire escape Barcelona green balcony

Marset Barcelona

Jun 22 - 2017

This is how much you can pack into 24 hours in Barcelona if Montse is in charge:

Marset showroom to see the lights, and an introduction by Javier to the the business heritage and philosophy over lunch. Soon becomes clear that food and stories will be an important part of the trip. Loved the skinny Miro-like Copérnica floor lamps, surprised by the range of materials – veneer and resin, ceramic (see below) – and impressed by the versatility of these designs which go anywhere, which is not to say that they are bland, far from it.

Pick up bags, jump into cab and off to the beautiful huge white-dusted box that is the Apparatu workshop for a speed-demo by designer-ceramicist-proprietor Xavier Mañosa of the process from clay in bags through casting, polishing, firing, glazing, firing again, a labour of love indeed.

In a couple of hours I have met 2 family businesses that have survived by evolving, successive generations adding different layers of skill and sensibility and finding new markets - a nice way to work. Interesting also that Barcelona has a thriving manufacturing culture fuelled by centrally located viable production space plus locally-sourced materials and people to design, make and support. As usual I'm wondering why we don't seem very good at this in the UK, and I'd be interested to know to what extent Spanish central and local government and maybe EU policy drives this.



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Apparatu front door Apparatu workshop Apparatu Scotch Club Marset Scotch Club Marset Ginger lamp Marset Copernica lamp

UK Election 2017

May 07 - 2017

One real piece of news this week amid the strangeness that is contemporary politics, Cornelia Parker has been appointed official election artist – a previously unknown post. An excellent idea and an inspired choice by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art, she will no doubt bring something subtly extraordinary to the debate as well as publicising the role. Fascinating to see what she does, how much airplay it gets and what the reaction is.

Meteorite Lands in the Middle of Nowhere, 2001Hitting: Bethlehem (North Carolina)

"One of the biggest threats to the future of the planet is obliteration by a giant meteor. The meteorite has become the embodiment of fear of the unknown, although the earth is littered with them" - Cornelia Parker

Good piece on the artist and the role here.
Follow progress on Instagram

 



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Cornelia Parker Hitting Bethlehem North Carolina

4th Plinth

Mar 14 - 2017

So many good things here, wasted on the fridge door.

The Fourth Plinth Schools Awards

London on a Plinth by Ruby & Donald Trump and Hand by Ryan

London on a Plint Ruby Donal Trump and Hand Ryan

News to me

Feb 15 - 2017

2 brands I didn't know

Blond, a lighting manufacturer with a typically impressive Scandinavian design heritage showing both re-editioned light fittings by Erik Gunnar Asplund and new products. They have a distinct line running through the entire portfolio of almost excessively simple design, strong shapes, quality materials and families of different sizes making the fittings useful and adaptable to all scales and type of building. You would think everyone would do this but no. Looking forward to seeing more of this brand in the UK and to using the lights.

Finnish manufacturer Adea, on the other hand, we sadly won’t be seeing or using because of UK upholstery regulations; I was going to say that Europe has one set of rules and we have another but turns out there is virtually no standardisation and all countries have their own testing requirements. So much for blanket imposition of overbearing EU standards, in this case ours are more onerous so Adea can’t sell here. What a shame, I loved this company and as with Blond it’s hard to know quite why - not staggeringly different but very right - proportions, materials, combinations.

 

Blond Bend Mini 300 / Bornstein Lyckefors & GA7 / Erik Gunnar Asplund

Adea Baron sofa, Bon sofa & Plateau table / Mats Broberg and Johan Ridderstråle



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Adea Bon sofa Plateau table Adea Baron sofa Bend Mini GA7

Stockholm Furniture Fair 2017

Feb 14 - 2017

Flying visit to Stockholm last week with Inform, see below, thank you, to visit the fair and see a bit of the city: clear, bright and very cold, pink skyline which was also the colour of the show - various shades from germolene to bubble gum. Recommended by several people as one of the best shows, I totally agree: great exhibition, lots too see but by no means overwhelming, well-curated and laid out, legible, a range of manufacturers from big brands to start-ups including the Greenhouse showing independent designers and design school work. I came away feeling appropriately informed, not exhausted which is my response to the sprawling multi-site mega shows.

As to the city it’s a model of civilised urban living with its distinct neighbourhoods and easy connections – partly the result of an integrated transport system but mostly due to amazingly helpful English-speakers everywhere. I know London is fabulous in so many ways but even getting to the airport en-route to Arlanda was a transport trial: London Bridge, what a mess; you trek miles through re-routed walkways with zero information and certainly no one to ask, nightmare for anyone and especially just-landed visitors, what must they think? Tempting to ask why we can’t do better but just checked the population of both cites and London is roughly times ten, which may have something to do with it.

 



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Stockholm skyline

Inform family

Feb 07 - 2017

Inform love all things Scandinavian, represent both established and new brands and consequently have a beautiful shop packed with good things. Worth a visit. These are a few of my favourite things:

Lightyears Nightowl, Swedese Laminett, Bla Station Honken & Lintex Air Cork



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Inform Family