Monday, 31 October 2016

The High Five | October | The Copenhagen Edit


Oh my, we're at the end of October already and I'm already relishing in the fact that we're well and truly back in layer season - I hate sweaty summer when my all-black attire just doesn't work and the pasty legs have to be brought out into the world. And as we forward-roll into November, I'm getting ready for my next city break to the land of minimal design, hygge and Smørrebrød. Have you guessed where? Of course you have! Im coming for you Copenhagen and this month's High Five is dedicated to you. After popping by the Harvey Nichols x CIFF Project 109 exhibition earlier this month I was well and truly put in the Danish design mood (have you been yet?) and as a result I've added a crazy number of showrooms and design shops to my to-do list. I've got until the end of the week to scrawl down my favourites though, so do send tips. I'm especially on the hunt for romantic yet cheap spots for food (it's the boy and I's anniversary) and any cool street art, hit me up!

1 // Jessie Jacket by Weekday, £100.  2 // Travel Organiser by Nomess Copenhagen.  3 // Sleep Well Neck Pillow by Hay, £35.
  4 // Work Silver Notepad by Playtype, £10.  5 // Copenhagen City Guide by Lost In, £9
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Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Charitable Christmas | Arlo's Snowflake by Jot Paper Co



As I've become older, Christmas has progressively become a time where food is the main priority and a visit from Father Christmas less so - I'm much more partial to a few surprises throughout the year! In other news, apologies for mentioning the C word a tad tad early but I was compelled to on this occasion and you'll soon see why. 

This year I've felt even more inclined to ditch the commercial Christmas spirit bollocks and embrace more of a 'giving' attitude to charities and causes that are in need of support. Conservation and homelessness charities such as ZSL and Centrepoint are normally top of my list but this year I've also had my eyes opened to design companies who are donating their own profits to causes close to their hearts. 

Charity auctions from Art on a Postcard who donate all of their proceeds to The Hepatitis C Trust and Who's Casper, where 15 creatives have customised a Modus stool for auction with all money raised going to support Movement on the Ground - both will still provide you with a treasured gift to maintain the Christmas spirit but will also generate income for worthy causes - win, win right?!



Although I rather wish that design pals Jot Paper Co didn't have to get in touch with me with a charitable concept, when they did drop me an email to let me know of their Christmas campaign it was a. Love at first sight and b. a story that made me just a little teary - I had to buy them immediately. Unfortunately Dan and Becks' nephew, Arlo passed away just a few days after birth and in commemoration the duo have designed the Arlo's Snowflake card in order to donate 100% of the profits to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital where little Arlo was born. 

Featuring a hand-printed snowflake in blue and white foil, the card design is simply divine and with two stylish colourways, it was a hard choice for me, ultimately deciding on the ice blue that I knew would look just right on any mantlepiece this Christmas. I may have to order the white a little closer to the time, don't ya think?

We all know someone affected by either miscarriage, premature or critically ill babies so it only seems right to make sure your Christmas cards this year are both beautifully designed and contributing to a worthy cause. I know it sounds cliche but honestly even a little donation makes a difference so whether it's one card or a hundred, you'll still be contributing to help other little Arlo's all around. And to pre-empt your lovely donation - just as little Buzz below says with another of Jot's creations below - TA!


For further information on Jot Paper Co visit: www.jotpaperco.com/
For further information on the NICU unit: www.ldh.nhs.uk/get-involved/fundraising/supporting/
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Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Peckham Patterns | A Morning with The Pattern Guild



It was love at first glance for myself and The Patten Guild - a platonic relationship of course. Years have now gone by since our first meeting and finally I feel like the time is right to share the geometric goodness of the independent brand that has stolen my heart and looked after my make-up for a good while now. Thankfully, they are a friendly bunch so I popped by their studio in Peckham to admire their prints and talk the pattern business.

The brainchild of creatives, Amber James and Fergus McDonnell, The Pattern Guild is more than just a decorative brand. The honest approach to design by Amber and Fergus is unbelievable and for once you're guaranteed not to hear of any shortcuts, tiptoeing around certain topics or the erasing of an 'ethos'. These two stay true to their word and I have no doubt they'll continue to stand their ground in the harsh world of design, where we all know sometimes profit margins can compromise certain values. 

Photo by Sarah Lloyd courtesy of The Pattern Guild
Having first met on the buzzing markets of Brick Lane, it actually took a year for the duo to get in touch with each other again, after various pleas from other friends that they should be working together. They were both creating similar designs so ultimately the work drew them together and the collaborative process began. Interestingly, they sent old designs to each other via email to rework. You know like those little concertina images that leave you with like a little wacky, disfigured person? I would kill to see The Pattern Guild versions as one can only imagine the creative juices flowing from their fingertips at the time.

Britishness remains at the core of the brand, namely for their ability to actually create the items themselves. 'It's trying to support the the skills and crafts here, and value them. There's nothing bad quality about what's made in China, it's the fact that it's made at a fraction of what it should be,’ states Amber. ‘It's trying to not be fake as well because we've always had that as, well, not the main ethos but a core part of what we do’. 



For Amber and Fergus, it’s about offering the opposite to the approach taken by a fair few other designers and making sure that they don’t end up frustrating their own customer-base. ‘The advantage of making our own stuff is that we can do whatever we want,’ explains Fergus. ‘We can create stuff we want to put our name to,’ and yes, this does translate to brands to if you’ve come across their range in collaboration with Islington lifestylestore Smug.

Coming from fairly different backgrounds, Amber always wanted to create from a young age and unfortunately when growing up she quickly learnt this wasn’t an easy feat and that making wasn’t in demand. Losing the initial dream of costume design, she studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts and became part of the digital era of website design that we now rely on today. Luckily the maker in her never lost hope and after years of freelance work in both graphics and textile design, she decided to go back to her roots but in her own way – culminating all of her skills of design, textiles and her ability to make. ‘Having the desire to use those skills and earn money from those skills, combined with there being a lack of opportunities gave me the idea for my business,’ she explains.

Photo by Sarah Lloyd courtesy of The Pattern Guild
Matched with Fergus’ own Northampton heritage (the home of incredibly made shoes such as Cheaney and Dr Martens), the twosome understand the importance of a well-made product and this translates into their own designs. When I first came across The Pattern Guild I remarked at the high-quality material (organic cotton if you’re wondering), the considered branding and of course the pattern itself – for me they are the whole package when it comes to accessory design and no doubt these have all initiated from the pairs shared values and the bespoke nature of how they work.

Moving on to where the brand will be going in the future, there are plenty of things on the go at the moment including a project I am VERY excited about. I won’t talk about it too much as I’ll probably want to feature it when it comes to light but – a few hints for you - it involves bringing a new pair of eyes to the team, a little bit of code and some embroidery to start of the process. They’re looking for a little more substance behind the designs. They’re not scared of an objective viewpoint and it’s this openness that will undoubtedly give them the edge in the future. It keeps it interesting for us to work with other people,’ mentions Fergus. ‘That’s what it’s about. Working with the right people.’


From the get-go of our conversation we hit it off talking about everything from collaborations, frustrations of a 9-5 studio job and a tiny bit of moaning about worker exploitation. It’s refreshing to come across people who are so conscious of their own future and how they can make a change. ‘We know there’s a value in what we do,’ they say, ‘and hopefully we can project that by getting other people on board with that by doing it.’ Well, I’m certainly down with that and hopefully now you are too.

Thanks so much to Amber and Fergus for having me be nosy. For further information and upcoming markets visit: www.thepatternguild.co.uk
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Monday, 17 October 2016

The Super Super Exhibition | Supermundane at Unlimited



Forgive me for forever mentioning Brighton's finest, Unlimited Shop, every two minutes but they have yet again created an amazing exhibition in the gallery space of their graphic design and creative lifestyle store. Owner Sara has such a knack for spotting talent and developing relationships so it comes as no surprise that their latest showcase presents the work of the incredible Supermundane (aka Rob Lowe).

Titled Super Super, the exhibition explores typography, colours, depth and movement with Lowe's signature slogans and shapes taking centre stage, turning Unlimited in 'a kaleidoscopic world of patterns'. From my favourite YES print to the crazy mad Tropical Hot Dog Night design, every corner of the shop has been Supermindane'd and from small to large pieces, you're guaranteed to find something to fill any gap in your wall (or the one you just mentally made).  



"In planning our 2016 exhibitions it was very much a wish list of who we felt were inspiring to us and who had not been showcased in Brighton.. We're huge fans of Robs work as it compliments the graphic aesthetic of Unlimited." explained Sara when I asked her how the exhibition came about. "We started chatting at the beginning of the year and we'd so chuffed he said yes to a solo shoe with us! He's gone full out and produced an entire body of new prints plus two murals on the shop!"

And indeed the murals make it a must-visit - free Instagram content with every purchase - yes bloody please! The outside mural ties in brilliantly with the pre-existing Gary Stranger piece while monochrome inside provides a wonderful contrasting setting for the mass of colourful work Lowe has created. All in all it's not to be missed on any trip to Brighton and if you're already starting with the Christmas shopping, it's the perfect place to snap up goodies for your friends and family while also supporting an independent business - guilt free purchasing if I do say so myself!




INFO
Super Super, Supermundane exhibition will take place at Unlimited, 10 Church Street, Brighton BN1 1US
Thur 6 October – Thur 3 November Mon-Sat, 10.30-5.30; Sun, 11-4; Tues, closed. 

All imagery courtesy of Sara at Unlimited Shop.
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Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Argentinian Spirit | A Feast at Santa Maria del Sur



It's not always just about design around here ya know. Occasionally I like to dip into other things, like food, coffee and well, more food. You've seen it before with my culture guides but this time I wanted the focus to be all on the grub. Everything becomes much easier when the ethos of creating transfers over to the restaurant business and that's why I accepted, with great pleasure, the chance to have a post-LDF rest-oratory meal with fellow bloggers at the homely Battersea-based Argentinian restaurant, Santa Maria del Sur

As a vegetarian, I'm very open to finding tasty options while also allowing my carnivorous friends to enjoy themselves too. I am veggie for moral (and slightly stubborn) reasons but I also am firmly of the opinion that everyone can choose their own ideals - hence the easy going attitude to eating in a restaurant that primarily focuses on meat, meat and more meat. At Santa Maria del Sur there's an overwhelming sense of staff knowing exactly where their meat is sourced and how it is treated, so ultimately - knowing that vegetarianism isn't going to take over the world - that's all I can really ask for. As a place where mixed grills seem to be the go-to, Santa Maria doesn't hold back on their vegetarian offerings, with a variety of options for us herbivores. I'm one for serious food envy so small plates are always on my agenda and with this the featured 'F Word' contestant doesn't disappoint. 


Manager Jose lovingly took us through the menu, with recommendations of wine and side orders. Not because we're special. Just because that's what they do at Santa Maria, the more questions the merrier seemed to be the general attitude. Owner Alberto chatted to other guests and emanated love and passion for his food and home. From the Spinach and Cheese Empanadas right through to the Grilled Mixed Vegetables, I was in utter heaven, predominantly of the cheese kind. The absolute showstopper had to be the Gardel which although a 'Frenchier' delicacy has had me dreaming of returning ever since as Natasha and Ella will absolutely confirm if you're in doubt (we've spoken about it rather too much).

I also managed to wolf down the Grilled provolone cheese, Batatas Quemadas (baked sweet potato), grilled mushrooms, creamed spinach, Morrón Asado (grilled peppers) and potato gratin. And you know what? While others had lost the battle due to the meat, I felt completely fulfilled and energised - hooray! I couldn't fault any of the offerings and felt satisfied, looked after and like my vegetarianism hadn't just been an after-thought. They also have main dishes such as grilled aubergine with tomato, provolone, roasted seeds for those who don't fancy a selection of smaller items.


Accompanying us on our journey was the selected red wine specially made for Santa Maria, a Malbec titled Abasto 2012, which was smooth and the perfect accompaniment even to my steak-free dinner. To finish off the staff also surprised us with just a little detail of EVERY DESERT ON THE MENU which can only make them top of my list for recommendations - every single one was bloody delicious. If I had to choose it would be impossible and the dulce de leche pancake, banana and toffee pie as well as ice cream with nuts and whisky would all be ordered, for second tasting purposes of course. 

Now it wouldn't be my own blog if we didn't talk about the design and while I'm not going to lie about the fact that the menu aesthetic could do with an update, this is the kind of place where you can tell family is at the heart. The abundance of locals in the restaurant, the colourful hand-lettering dominating the signage and the traditional furniture all provide a cosy, comforting atmosphere. Sometimes that's all you need when service and taste take priority. It might not be the next Bronté when it comes to Instagram, but it's certainly a place you'll return to for the loving, homely nature. Oh, and the god damn cheese. 

INFO:
Santa Maria del Sur, 129 Queenstown Rd, London SW8 3RH 
Take a look at the menu here: www.santamariadelsur.com/menu/


Disclaimer: Santa Maria del Sur provided food & drinks free of charge for review purposes (lucky lady!) I agreed for my love of red wine, need for a post-LDF pick me up and because food is brilliant. Opinions my own and all that jazz. 
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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Abandoned Wilde | Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison


Exterior shot of Reading Prison c. Marcus J Leith Courtesy of Artangel
With my partner in crime forever a lover of all things abandoned, derelict or simply spacial, I'm forever on the hunt for anywhere that may spark that little bit of excitement in his eyes, even if the very same thing does leave me feeling a little anxious and sweaty (eek, I'm a wuss)! Cue 'best girlfriend ever' alert when I spotted that Reading prison, with Reading being my old teenage place of residence, was opening its doors to the public for the first time since its closure in November 2013.

Thankfully it won't be all ghouls and ghosts of any former inhabitants on this occasion, but instead an immersive interaction with artists, writers and poets who have responded to famed inmate Oscar Wilde's time in the jail between 1895-1897, for homosexual offences, sigh. Wilde's time in this Victorian prison was not a happy one and while trapped in solitary confinement it was here that he wrote some of his most devastating works such as De Profundis, an extended letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas and on release The Ballad of Reading Gaol which was based on memory of an execution that took place in the prison while he was serving his sentence.


Marlene Dumas, Jean Genet. Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison. Photo by Marcus J Leith courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery & Artangel
Designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1844, the prison itself is the first installation with its long gallery of cells and its unique structure - based on the Pentonville structure, it was one of the first modern day prisons to prioritise reforming prisoners rather than simply locking them up. Graffiti from inmates adorns the walls with cheeky phrases and retrospective illustrations of their time inside. I constantly wonder of the talent that lies in these cells and simply just weren't given the right attention at the right time, what do you think?

The remainder of the exhibition includes paintings, sculpture, photographs, videos and writing from the likes of Steve McQueen, Ai Weiwei and Richard Hamilton - some of my most favourite and inspiring artists all under one roof. Housed in cells, along corridors and within the former prison chapel, the works are all a completely unique response to 'a thousand lifeless lives' and I'm more than intrigued to see how my own visit will play out this weekend. Keep posted on my Instagram and Twitter for coverage and let's all ignore the fact that the Patti Smith reading of De Profundis is completely sold out.

INFO:
HM Reading Prison, Forbury Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 3HY (Trains from Paddington on a very regular basis)
Exhibition runs until Sun 4th December. Weds - Thurs: 11am - 7pm, Fri - Sat: 11am - 8pm, Sun: 11am - 5pm. Book tickets here.
Further info via: www.artangel.org.uk/project/inside/


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Sunday, 9 October 2016

The Alternate Art | Five Highlights from Moniker Art & The Other Art Fair


We've made it to that weekend in October when art fairs dominate and take over both the North and the East with an abundance of painters, designers and a fair few eccentrics to brighten your day. For the past few years I've opted for that big ol' one where the 'masters' hang out and have been impressed but suitably intimidated by both the atmosphere and the astronomical pricing. Hence the enthusiasm when Natasha kindly sent over details of Moniker Art Fair - a show already in its seventh year and well known for shaking things up a little in the art world. 

Set in the industrial landscape of The Old Truman Brewery, the fair joins forces with The Other Art Fair to bring a slightly more urban approach to contemporary art as well as an opportunity for some more emerging designers to present their work to aficionados of the art community. Focusing on technology, this year the fair has a variety of interactive installations and playful setups to allow visitors to be carefree and open with their experience, all in all making for a less conservative approach to art. With diversity and innovation seemingly at the heart of the show, I thoroughly enjoyed my own visit and rejoiced in the overwhelming graphic influences that lots of the artists seemed to have - of course Walala was there to head it all up and provide the art for one of the entrances. I'll be without a doubt there next year too but for now you can either visit today or check out my own five highlights below. Let me know your favourites too!


1 // Digital Playground by MASER Art

Having previously previewed the installation via Instagram (thanks Natasha) I was excited to discover this 18-metre 'playground' for myself. Bright colours, thick graphic lines and optical illusion galore, this really was a visual pleaser for me and if it wouldn't have been rude to ask everyone to go away, I would have. As well as the spinning wheels and climbable 3D boxes, the piece can also be interacted with via the Moniker Art Fair app for digital bonuses. Is this too much for a wall in my house?



2 // Strata by Nic Parnell

With a geology book as reference, Parnell has created a very unique project centred around the sedimentary layers found in the real world. While the marble lovers amongst us may instantly be drawn to the delicate colouring and intricate patterns, the story goes deeper here and once you start thinking of each colour as a formation you'll be lost in the work for a rather long time. Having listened to Nic talk about his own process I was in awe - each piece takes roughly five weeks to complete and the journey involves numerous layers and a rather experimental slice through the material at the end. The resulting piece is a surprise for all and I urge you to follow Nic to discover all the exciting plans he has to help show you this.



3 // Art on a Postcard

Always intrigued by a good charity project, Art on a Postcard was an amazing discovery and one that I'll be keeping a close eye on for future developments. Raising funds for The Hepatitis C Trust, the organisation runs an annual secret postcard auction and ‘postcard lotteries’ which occur throughout the year and involve a variety of well-known artists contributing their work to the cause. I spotted the wonderful Daisy Emerson, Doodleman and more in just the above section alone so one can only imagine where the likes of Peter Blake, Gilbert & George and Harland Miller were hiding. Sign up for updates or enter the lottery via their site now.



4 // George by Olly Fathers

'George' was someone I was attracted to instantly and legged it across the room to get a closer look. Something about that grid like appearance paired with 3D geometric shapes and paint drips had me at hello and wanting to know more. Considering himself as a little bit of a town planner, Fathers starts with a blank canvas and the shapes to place on it. His city building begins with the layout of these geometric forms which ultimately then determines the obstruction for the paint where a multitude of colours are used. "I am not always fond of all colour combinations on a work such as 'George'. However much like a city, there are always areas you enjoy more than others. These zones cannot be planned," states Fathers.


Image courtesy of Archie Proudfoot
5 // Archie Proudfoot

Always a firm favourite of mine, Archie Proudfoot has brought his signage A-game to Shoreditch with his selection of reverse glass-guilded slogans and phrases. Proudfoot's work has always been somewhat aspirational to me, with 'Too Bad' and 'Girl' firmly on my "when I'm rich" list and his giclée prints always on the birthday agenda. I've also discovered he know does a 'You Win' pin so be the first to get in on the Proudfoot strong pin game action. Please someone give this chap a community mural space!

www.archieproudfoot.com

INFO: Moniker Art Fair, The Old Truman Brewery, 85 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL

Open until 6pm on Sunday 9th October 2016. Buy tickets here.
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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Window Keeper | Screen-printing with Daniel Heath



How long does it take to create a roll of wallpaper you ask? Well about a day to be exact when if you're bespoke designer Daniel Heath and you're screen printing every single inch of said roll. 

A few weeks ago social platform, In the Window, kindly asked me to take part in a workshop with Daniel at Top Drawer, and since I can't ever say no to a little bit of printing action, I made the trip over to the somewhat overwhelming Olympia London for a few hours of talking thickness of ink, temporary sinks and having a wee go at creating some wallpaper myself.


It's not an easy process and one made more difficult by a lack of space and a very very long printing table. You may remember I visited Daniel's Walthamstow studio back in December but he has since moved on to a larger space in Hackney to facilitate extra orders and some larger bespoke furniture items. Luckily for Daniel, Ben Couture and Pooky Lights were on hand to kit the temporary In The Window studio out and provide him with the perfect temporary studio to both work in and entertain the crowds. 

I had of course tried screen-printing back in the days of my Graphic Design degree but unfortunately I did the usual of not really making the most of the workshop and instead was more interested in doodling my course away. Perhaps it could also be down to the fact that the first time I tried, our output was enormous and my arms hurt for days after! It's all about the wrist muscles when screen printing and while as Daniel knows that you get used it it, my little flimsy arms aren't quite there yet for the multiple print runs. However, with the help of Daniel I was successfully able to pull a couple of screens, even at a very awkward angle.


The resulting Lexington print is based on recent trips to New York by Daniel and pays homage to New York skyscrapers and of course that iconic skyline. Located on Lexington avenue is the cluster of building which inspired the design including the Chrysler Building, General Electric, and the Chanin Building. For Daniel, German film Metropolis helped spur on his interest in the urban and for him 'each of these buildings has their own unique art deco character and symbolise a time of change and advancement towards modernity.' 

The wallpaper is the third to be added to Daniel’s Perivale Collection - a series dedicated to Art Deco architecture - and cry out for "New York, New York" I would if I had a whole wall of this beautiful lustrous print. 


Bespoke orders of all Daniels work are available on request and colours are customisable. The Lexington print itself used a two colour screen printed design with a metallic later and orders take a minimum of three weeks to complete. 

Thank you so much to In The Window for organising such an interactive event - it always a pleasure and without you so many independent designers would struggle with telling their story. Have you had a look at what's in the window yet? Who's your favourite designer discovery? The team will be back with Daniel Heath at Kew Gardens this Saturday so do pop by, say hello and learn even more about the narrative behind this incredible maker. Oh, and I'll be there too (because I just can't get enough)!

All images courtesy of In The Window.
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