Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Alternative Market | ICA Garage Sale

A couple of years ago I managed to do all of my Christmas shopping at a little ol' market called 'The Pound Shop', a carefully curated selection of products with most items priced at a simple quid. I'd just started dating the boy at the time and we had decided to only spend £10 on each other. Lo and behold, he struggled in local Poundlands while I bought an array of wondrous stocking fillers from a range of designers and makers - all of which we still have now. The concept was totally brilliant and a refreshing take on the design of a market / sample sale.

Founded in April 2010 by George Wu, Sara Melin and Sarah Gottlieb, the initial idea has since grown and after 17 successful placements, The Pound Shop has gone back to its 2013 ICA roots under the name of the ICA Garage Sale. The range of products will slightly differ from previous sales, with some higher price points, but still prototype testing will remain at the heart of the market with a selection of creations from past seasons, returns and unique work in progress samples on offer. The sale makes for the perfect testing ground for designers to experiment with new and interesting products and test the market reaction to some of their new ideas. Interestingly this means that as a visitor you could also walk away with a piece that never quite makes it into production!

Ruler by Ding Ding, £1; Notebooks by Wrap, from £3; Bangle by Tom Pigeon, £10.
Taking place from Thursday 1st December (yes, tomorrow!), the ICA Theatre space will house over ninety designers selling products ranging from £1 up to £100. I've already got my eye on the rulers from stationery designer Ding Ding, the notebooks from Wrap and the insane looking bangle from Tom Pigeon. There will be loads more to choose from though including prints by Scout Editions, necklaces by One We Made Earlier and unique ceramics from Louise Madzia. The ultimate questions being what will you be buying and if given the opportunity what would you create to sell for a pound? Tell all in the comments below!

Thursday 1st December, 6pm-10pm; Friday 2nd December - Saturday 3rd December, 11am-6pm
ICA, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH
Entry Fee: £1 (Including access to the ICA)
Take cash for a quicker check-out process and let me know your bargain buys. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Colour Edit

1 // Magical Print by Daisy Emerson, £80.  2 // Cyclops Watch by Mr Jones Watches at Oxo Tower Wharf, £135. 
 3 // British Colour Standard Azalea Pink Espresso Cup by Designed in Colour at Oxo Tower Wharf, £10.  
4 // Wonderful Print by Supermundane, £25.  5 // Hand Jobs: Life as a Hand Model by Hoxton Mini Press, £12.95.

'When you buy from a small business an actual person does a little happy dance.'

Surely you've seen this quote from @thepastelfox doing the rounds on instagram in the midst of the Black Friday / Cyber Monday madness? Well it's true and it's times like these that we have to remember quality over quantity when it comes to buying product. My colour edit focuses on those that are working their way up in the creative world while providing you with a pop of pastels along the way. I've even included a couple from the design focused Oxo Tower Wharf where you can find a whole host of independent designers and makers, nestled into their workshops come retail spaces, waiting to boogie the afternoon away. I'll be heading there this Thursday for their Christmas late night opening as well as the launch of the London Illustration Fair so pop along and get your festive shopping sorted.  See you there?

INFO: Late night Christmas activities at Oxo Tower Wharf, Thursday 1st December, 5pm-8pm
Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH


Saturday, 26 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Graphic Design Edit


1 // How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired by Fig Taylor via Laurence King, £17.95.  2 // Small Chains Pencil Case by The Pattern Guild, £16.  
3 // Shapes Mug by AANDERSSON via Moxon London, £18.  4 // The Card Box by Mark+Fold, from £10. 
 5 // Silver Gun Print by Steven Wilson via Unlimited Shop, £95.

The official definition of graphic design is 'the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books' yet for most of us it means something else, normally something completely different. You've probably even done a project on it, right? What I'm trying to get at here is that this gift guide goes with my own graphic design aesthetic and therefore might not be to everyones taste - if that's you I apologise.  I like to think all of these represent a form of visual communication and if you discover the stories behind the like of The Pattern Guild and Steven Wilson I'm sure you will agree. In the meantime, hand me all five of the 'Shapes Mug', fill 'em with coffee and join me in waiting for my next gift guide: The Colour Edit, as if it wasn't bright enough around here already. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Design Haven | Exploring the new Design Museum

Having always held a soft spot in my heart for the 1940s banana warehouse that the Design Museum previously inhabited I was rather disheartened to learn of its upheaval late last year to a new site based on Kensington High Street. No longer would I get to enjoy the shadows of the modernist typeface casting on the side of the building, while taking in the sound and scent of the river and embracing the times when the sun made it the perfect setting for a spot of peace and quiet. I said my goodbyes on the last weekend of opening, in true punk style, with zine making and a 'fuck you' attitude.

Little did I know that the new building would exceed all of my expectations and I would fall in love once again. The John Pawson designed building quite simply exceeds expectation and I couldn't help but share my exploration of what I believe will fast become mine (and many others) favourite place to settle for a spot of people watching and of course innovative design.

The 1960s grade II* listed building offers triple the space of the previous building with 10,00sqm of light, bright and airy floorspace over four levels, housing two major temporary gallery spaces, a free permanent collection display, a restaurant overlooking Holland Park, auditorium, studios, library, archive and new learning facilities. 

The loving restoration of the modernist building by John Pawson shines through like a burning fire. Immediately you are met with a sense of calm and freeness as well as a feeling of awe and wonder. Known for his ability to create simple spaces filled with refined materials, the atmosphere is warm and the five years of hard work apparent. The ability to see across the whole atrium of the museum makes it almost render-like where everyone looks slightly like a posed ant - what is real and what isn't? A seating area in the middle of the stairs, although seemingly impractical, provides the perfect setting for sketching and watching the world go by.

A distinctive concrete roof restored by OMA, Arup and Allies and Morrison provides a breathtaking element to the new tourist landmark. One that we will surely se gracing Instagram for many months to come - #aminimalminute being the oh so appropriate hashtag. Italian terazzo flooring and oak panels add to the serene setting, further easing visitors into a sense of comfort and joy.

'There are 'moments' in the building that I relish every time I walk around,' says Pawson, 'but I think it is really the way everything comes together - the new and the old - that gives me greatest pleasure. I hope the Design Museum shows people that you don't have to tear down and start from scratch to make exciting new cultural spaces.'

And while I have always been a firm believer in the latter part of Pawson's words, his initial talk of moments got me thinking. For we all have places in London that we hold dear to our heart and it's normally the little things that make it count. The shadows of typographical signs. The visual communication of a simple arrow. The visual appreciation of a monochrome locker room. 

For me the simple (or not so simple) addition of the rotating Studio Myerscough signage brings a moment of pure delight. Coloured triangles and bold typography, it was of course love at first sight. To then learn that this would be the entrance to the new permanent collection display which would be free to the public simply filled with me joy. Designer Maker User houses almost 1000 objects, viewed from the perspectives of designers, manufacturers and users, as well as a crowd-sourced wall. Suspended vinyl logos and a scale model of a new London tube train offer a variety of textures and interactive design. This is one for us all and I can think of nobody better to have envisioned it, with Morag fast becoming a favourite after the lovely Natasha introducing me to her work. 

Of course for me it is the graphic design and typography that matters. While I appreciate the likes of the curious robot that inhabits the 'Fear and Love - Reactions to a Complex World' exhibition and the issues surrounding it, as well as the other thought-provoking installations and films within it, I also can fully comprehend that I simply am quite shallow when it comes to design. Quite simply put, I like design to be simple and 'on a plate'. 

The 'Beazley Designs of the Year' exhibition provides the perfect mix with the variety of graphic publications, fashion, innovation and solutions. Dependent on mood you can simply peruse or dare to find out more about any one of the 70 nominations. The opportunity to choose 'what design means to you' and view live results shows the rich diversity and opinion in our design community. Nobody is wrong and we are all included. From the Hato Press designed signage to the variety of studios and brands included in the exhibitions, it shows that design is always a conversation and one that we should certainly always continue. Visit, explore and have your own say - I'd be more than happy to come with you anytime. 

INFO: The Design Museum officially opens to the public on Thursday 24th November (today!). 
224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, London W8 6AG
Open daily, 10am-6pm

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Christmas Gift Guide | The Illustration Edit

1 // Swimsuit Pin by Marylou Faure, £6.00. 2 // Burger Patch by CoucouSuzette via Etsy, £7.86. 
 3 // Brutal Utopias Screenprint by Fei Alexeli via Print Club London, £200. 4 // Red Hot Giclee Print by Keeley Sheppard via Skull and Heart, £30. 
 5 // Bullshit Pin by Tuesday Bassen via Skull and Heart, £8.00.

'Tis the season to be jolly and get that bloomin' stressful Christmas shopping underway. Luckily for you, this is the first of my specially crafted Christmas gift guides for the graphic babes and typo mad dudes, aiming for a Christmas shopping list with a difference - just try not to buy everything for yourself. Everything included is straight from independent designers and the sites that stock them (think Etsy, Skull & Heart) so put away that Amazon mindset and support the creative community around you. You'll totally be known for your present buying abilities as a result. Next up is the gift guide for the Graphic Design Buff so stay posted and stick around for the next few weeks, there's much more wish list material to come. 


Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Thing I have with Walls & Floors | Top Ten Places for London Art

I think over on Instagram I've become a little well known for my obsession with the colourful walls and floors that adorn London so it makes perfect sense to round-up my absolute favourites for your viewing pleasure. Hopefully they'll stick around for the foreseeable future so everyone can enjoy - I'll try to update if they do a disappearing act and please do let me know if I've missed off an artist and you know who it is (I absolutely credit where possible but some of these dudes just don't wanna be found). I'm totally not sure why this post hasn't come sooner but I only have Harriet from And Projects to thank for the nudge and inspiration - she's a babe so go check her out for major interior envy and seriously cool DIY's.

1 // The Geometric Galaxy

Coming in at number one is a brand new find in the heart of Notting Hill. Likelihood is you've already seen it from the Boden colour walk a few weeks ago (hence Natasha and I rushing to see it) but this baby is the perfect insta backdrop,  despite some people deciding to dump some junk right by it - who does that?! Tip: Don't make like me and wear a splash of colour to ensure your outfit enhances the art.

Powis Gardens, Notting Hill, London W11 1JG

2 // The Botanical Baby 

After discovering Hixxy a.k.a Josephine Hicks in central London Cafe, Curators Coffee, it was great to connect over Instagram and see that the lady was also working on a mural with her bro in the heart of a historical Hackney estate. Commissioned by ISHA housing association, the mural is based on Loddiges nursery which was the UK's first exotic plant nursery, pre-dating even Kew Gardens. This botanical creation is hidden away in perfect contrast to the surrounding housing, but is merely a short walk away from the likes of Palm Vaults where the coffee cups go with it like a bee to honey.

Lyme Grove, London E9 6PX

3 // The Walala Walk

If only every pedestrian crossing could go through the Walala process, for life would be a happier place. This crossing on the ever so busy Southwark Street has been stopping traffic and distracting tourists since its debut at London Design Festival back in September - look both ways kids! Walala really is the queen of colourful street art in London so do keep you eyes peeled on her Instagram as she's likely to pop up elsewhere in the city relatively soon. 

Southwark Street, London SE1 0HR (head for The Harlequin Building)

4 // The Olympic Swirl

Much to my surprise, my home turf is actually pretty darn good at pulling out the good wall card and this psychedelic piece stretches the whole way through an underpass between Stratford and Leyton. The ‘One Whirl’ installation was created to stop unwanted graffiti and captures the energy of the London 2012 games with a crystal inlay finish bringing some much needed colour and shine to the EastIt's been the source of many a shot for me and I can only hope that more local councils take note to turn dingy tunnels into massively fun places to lurk in.

Temple Mills Lane, London E10 5YA 

5 // The Broken Fingaz

Broken Fingaz never disappoint when it comes to street art and this new addition to the colourful Redchurch Street shows the pink and green should certainly always be seen. I love the way that there work tends to be a little gruesome and tongue-in-cheek yet you still get all the tourists and gals swooning over it. I mean we all love a good painted shirt right? 

Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ

6 // The Flash

Another day, another floor, and this time for pattern legends Eley Kishimoto. The Flash Crossings by The Dogstar in Brixton were another LDF addition but should be here for the foreseeable future, unless the abrupt stepping into the road for shoefies gets complained about too much. Yellow, Red, Green or monochrome - which one will you choose? 

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LQ

7 // The Ever-changing Wall

It seems as this wall piece by Broadway market gets a new lease of life every few months with new additions being added and removed. However, the yellow and black line work seems to remain and quite frankly is my favourite part. Imagine having your front door within this line work baby, sounds like a plan to me.

Ada Street, London E8

8 // The Knowledge of the Northcote 

Another little baby in my local area of Leyton. This mural by Wood Street Walls depicts everything right with feminism, hospitality and just plain doing it right in terms of owning a pub. 'The Northcote welcomes all free thinkers, activists, feminists, movers and shakers. Our pub is your home' is just the last phrase on this wise wall of words and when you can combine art with a G&T in a community-led venue, well why wouldn't you?

Northcote Arms, 110 Grove Green Road, E11 4EL

9 // The Wild World

Although a little different from my usual graphic prints, this collaboration between Imagine Illustration and Steve McCracken is quite the surprise when wondering down Regents Canal. With only a small part of the wall featured above, this mural makes you stop and wonder what the hell is actually happening. Both illustrators seem to have a thing for visual messaging so delve inside their brains through the piece and interpret as you wish. If the verdict is undecided, just marvel at the use of monochrome paired with splashes of colour instead - you're welcome.

Regent's Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London (head from Granary Square entrance)

10 // Tottenham Court Road Tiles

Despite not techincally being street art, the Tottenham Court Road tiling makes it on this list purely for its vastness and cultural history. The Eduardo Paolozzi designed mural is the perfect colour pop for the London commute and the main circular hall is one that needs attention, as much as  TFL try and whisk you around it. This has got to be one of the most inspired and celebrated Transport for London commissions but baffling as it may seem, people do still have the blinkers on and miss the Pop Art greatness - don't be that person.

Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, Oxford St, Soho, London W1

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