Tag Archives: London

For lovers of craft, indigo and textiles: an exhibition

If these words inspire you: textiles, crafts, traditional and inherited skills, and totally dreamy indigo blues patched over and over: then don’t miss the Boro: Threads of Life exhibition at the East Wing Galleries of Somerset House this April.

Focusing on the ancient Japanese textile tradition of Boro, which means ‘rags’ in English, the textile exhibits on display include bedcovers and clothes made by the poor, rural population of Japan who pieced and patched old pieces of discarded clothing onto and into new items, with fisherman’s jackets morphing into futon covers and on and on, as the pieces were passed down through families and generations.

With their beautiful colours, these humble works of art prompt the viewers to consider the act of ‘mending’: could it be considered an old-fashioned skill? Or, as we continue to embrace traditional crafts at home; and are more aware of the damage caused by excess waste (and/or simply feel the pinch financially) is it becoming more current to embrace repairs, so we can keep our possessions for longer?

Boro exhibition at Somerset House via findthedetails.com

Boro: Threads of Life, 2-26 April, free admission, Somerset House.

Located just off The Strand, Somerset House has to be one of the most hard-working arts and cultural venues in London; changing with the seasons, you’ll discover it hosting al fresco music gigs and giant cinema screens; a multitude of fountains; the latests frocks (it’s home to London Fashion Week) or a beautiful ice rink….

From this….

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To this….:

Somerset house via findthedetails.com Somerset House via findthedetails.comfindthedetails.com

Somerset House via findthedetails.com

[images, Somerset House

The line up of their Summer Series of gigs (10-20 July) has just been announced: tickets go on sale this Friday 21 March, with the cinema screenings to follow later in the summer. To to learn more about the architecture, join their free guided tours (every Thursday and Saturday), taking in the Tudor and Georgian history to the modern-day, including the new Miles Stair created by Eva Jiricna. Enjoy! Jx

Revealed: Designs of the Year 2014: Design Museum / Makoko Floating School

Today The Design Museum  announced their nominations for the Design of the Year 2014 and one of the most innovative architecture designs has to be the Makoko Floating School, which is located in a lagoon in the heart of the city of Lagos, Nigeria. Designed by architecture / design practice NLE in collaboration with Makoko Waterfront Community (the area is described as being similar in functionality, if not looks, to Venice), the floating structure takes into account the community’s needs (for a school and social space) and the physical demands of their environment: increasing tropical rainfall and an increasingly urbanised population.

Lead by architect Kunle Adeyemi, this prototype building is sustainable, ecological and alternative: two classrooms above and a play area below ensure the available space is used thoughtfully:

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find the details / Makoko floating school / courtesy NLE architecturefind the details / Makoko floating school, courtesy NLE

[images courtesy of NLE, Iwan Baan]

Designs of the Year brings together 76 cutting edge, innovative and talented creations, with the best in world-wide architecture, fashion, product and digital design and more on show at the exhibition, which opens on 26 March (until 25 August) at the Design Museum on Shad Thames, London SE1. Head to the show and whilst there, vote for your favourite design; but if you can’t make it in person, the online Social Vote platform gives you a chance to have your say. On Twitter, follow #designsoftheyear and @designmuseum for current conversations.

Wish List: Marimekko Weather Diary china

For this Friday’s wish list I’m dreaming of Marimekko’s Oiva Saapaivakirja (Weather Diary) china. Created as part of their Autumn 2013 collection, the Marimekko design team were influenced by autumnal weather patterns. The resulting china patterns fuse intense colour mixes on to grey ceramic backgrounds, conjuring up the atmosphere outdoors during these stormy, chilly, sometimes sun-filled yet low-lit winter months. The blue and yellow/grey/blue designs are my favourites:

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Marimekko are justifiably proud of their design archive, and many classic designs are either still in production or used to inform new launches. This year they are happily celebrating the 50th anniversary of Unikko, Maija Isola’s instantly recognisable, simple and iconic floral pattern created in 1964. Join the celebrations with the fabric by the metre and accessories in this striking colourway:

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[All images, Skandium]

These and more Marimekko products are available in the UK online and in store at Skandium; and from February at the Republic of Fritz Hansen store in London, W1.

Gehry comes to London: Battersea Power Station

For years, as buses and trains ferried me across the River Thames and back, like many Londoners I watched as the magnificent Battersea Power Station stood empty; occupying a huge, derelict wasteland site, right on the banks of the river, all the while looking like this:

Work started on the long overdue redevelopment in Autumn 2012 and the consortium have just announced today that two of the world’s leading architecture practices, Gehry Partners and Foster + Partners will be working together on the site’s regeneration, creating residential homes along what will be known as the High Street, leading to the completed Power Station looking something like this:
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[images, Battersea Power Station redevelopment consortium] 

Whilst Foster + Partners architecture is integral to the fabric of this city: it’s impossible to go far in central London without coming across some of this remarkable team’s work (think: Canary Wharf Underground station; City Hall; the Great Court at the British Museum, the Millennium Bridge just as a start), this will be the first time that a Gehry building has been built in London. Gehry Partners’ work challenges our conceptions of what form and shape a building should take, working within its chosen landscape; altering it, always thought provoking yet supremely functional, whether the practice is creating a world renowned art gallery, such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao, northern Spain (below), or a restorative space for cancer sufferers and their families (Maggie’s Centre, Dundee, two below).

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[images, The Guardian

Take a train trip into London any day at the moment, and the skyline will be dotted with dozens of angular cranes creating new buildings: some wonderful to look at, others more… interesting (the under-construction skyscraper, so-called the Walkie-Talkie caused a stir this summer with its car-melting properties…).

I can’t wait to see how the Gehry vision, together with the Foster vision, translates into creating part of what will be a completely new area in south London to explore and discover; relax and live.

Colourful, textured, covetable: West Elm comes to London

Super-popular in the US and coveted by those in the know around the world, American interiors giant West Elm is set to open its first ever UK store this autumn on London’s Tottenham Court Road, W1. Here’s what to expect:

Textiles are textured, tactile and detailed:

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Tableware is designed with the same attention to detail; adding the tiniest pattern and creating pieces with thoughtful shapes turns white china into objects that demand to be displayed:

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Upholstered furniture has tight, clean lines:

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The autumn/winter colour palette zings with ornate, jewel shades of gold, peacock blue, amethyst and cobalt:

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And the scene is set for winter entertaining with mercury glass candlesticks: 

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[All images courtesy of West Elm]

The shop opens late October; happy shopping! If you can’t get to the London store, the US website does offer international shipping for some non delicate items. Visit West Elm for more details.

The river rises: Thames Festival 2013

As I mentioned before here, London buzzes with festivals and high profile events in September, and visitors in town for London Fashion Week and the London Design Festival can also participate in The Mayor’s Thames Festival, which starts today and runs until Sunday 15 September.

This year, the events and performances of the Thames Festival have been re-focused to concentrate on celebrating the River Thames itself,  and one which caught my eye is the film Portrait of a River by Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen. You can get a glimpse of his thoughtful, dramatic style with these stills:

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[All images, copyright Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen

From the military helicopters which gather, then seem to swarm, above the city, to the golfer oblivious to the river beyond, Larsen’s film depicts both the people and the places who define the river, and shows how the Thames is both a place of serious industry, and a place where many relax.

You can view Portrait of a River daily from noon till 9.30pm on a huge outdoor riverside screen near Oxo Tower Wharf. For more information and events happening during the Thames Festival, including the Great River Race, visit Thames Festival.

Endless Stair: new installation at Tate Modern, Sept 2013

I’m still loving the summer months and definitely not wishing the warm temperatures away, but now I’m starting to think about September, when London goes completely design crazy.

Unmissable events include interior design trade shows, from the all-encompasssing Decorex to the cutting edge 100% Design and the London Design Festival which includes, amongst other events, Tent London in the east and Chelsea Design Quarter events in the west. The festival takes place at locations throughout the city from 13 September to 10 October, and this dramatic installation is one of the highlights:

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[Endless Stair, by dRMM with AHEC, image Cityscape via London Design Week]

The Endless Stair will be located just outside the Tate Modern, making this part of London’s South Bank even more worth a visit.

Constructed from hardwood (the structure is sponsored by the American Hardwood Export Council, and created by Architects dRMM) the M.C.Escher-inspired installation will be open to walk up and along during the day and can be admired, illuminated, at night time.

September’s looking to be a busy month, design-wise: I can’t wait.

Architecture News: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2013: launch week

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, an annual temporary structure in the heart of central London, draws architecture experts and lovers from around the world during its brief life in Kensington Gardens. The temporary nature of the building is key: its impermanence allows its architects to create awe-inspiring spaces that challenge our perception of what, in fact, makes a building.

This year the architect in question is internationally highly-respected Sou Fujimoto, and he has chosen to create a mysterious, airy, confusing, awe-inspiring space made from thousands of latticed thin steel poles: 

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[Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2013, designed by Sou Fujimoto, Image credit Iwan Bann

These poles give the pavilion an ethereal semi-trasnparent appearance both on approach and within: it was important to his design that the pavilion is set within the leafy surroundings of Kensington Gardens. Fujimoto, describing his design work: ‘A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and man-made merge…. not soley architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two’.

Visit the pavilion until 20 October, for more information about The Serpentine Gallery click here. 

Park Life: searching for urban fun

Photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro has travelled the world to capture images of urban playgrounds in different contexts.

The juxtaposition of the equipment within its environment is worth a look; and if you’ve ever arrived in a strange city with your children and thought ‘where’s the park?’, then these shots are for you…

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I love the scale of this shot of a playground in Hong Kong (above)

This ubiquitous Spanish playground equipment is erected on hundreds of beaches around Spain’s coast (Benidorm, below):

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Whilst in mountainous Reinosa in Cantabria, Spain, the snow creates a different environment for children to play (above).

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In New York, the lines of the playground imitate the drama of the Manhattan Bridge above….

And on a more prosaic note, the tower block; train line; wire fence and determinedly cheerful colours of the rocket all say to me: think of time spent in London as a child then a parent, getting some ‘fresh’ air…..

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Images courtesy of Designboom

See more of Manuel Alvarez Diestro’s work here

Aria: contemporary, design-led homewares for 2013

A recent desire to revisit of one of my favourite parts of London, Islington: now an interiors shopper’s paradise, but for me, years ago was simply home: somewhere I lived and played as a small child. A little fun with filters on these images, and the shot of the Mini (shame it’s not an original model) plus the communal London square (empty here but filled with children when school is over) brings the memories back…. If I were to display these shots at home, they’d have to slot into a perspex photo cube: (Remember them? No? Click the link! Hilariously retro) they were perfect for helping your photos fade happily together….

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Nostalgia over, let’s go back with a bang to stylish 2013 with a focus on Aria. Set in an atmospheric hall in Islington, Aria has recently overhauled their website so you can shop their interesting mix of classic, contemporary, design-led homewares wherever you live.

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The high ceilings of Barnsbury Hall provide a stimulating backdrop for their mix of furniture, lighting, ceramics and tableware…..

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Expect to find design classics alongside work from young, super-talented up-and-coming designers: I I love these geometric patterned cushions by the highly regarded designer Tamasyn Gambell:

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Whilst their own Aria Selection range includes contemporary pieces, such as this Embrace coffee table / storage:

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As well as smaller pieces: this French-made Aria Selection china, with its simple dip-dye pattern and block colours, is right on trend:

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All images courtesy of Aria 

Do pay Aria a visit if you’re in the area, or visit their website, if like me, you don’t live round the corner….