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This typographic map reduces London to the sum of its named places. The icons, symbols and hard lines representing churches, streets, rivers and parks have been expunged from the map, leaving only letters. London’s burnt off the earth yet it still exists as a psychogeographic entity recognisable by familiar place and word if not by objective figure or form. The map was an award winner at London Design Week 2007 and now a limited edition lithographic print of 100 is for sale. The poster is a wall-filling 60 by 40”, a scale that seems appropriate for the sprawling immensity of the city itself.
These cool table lamps from the BlankBlank design studio resemble upturned iPods, emitting notes of light rather than those of music. Entitled ‘Low Frequency’, the lights come in a range of designs and colours. As the BlankBlank team says:
“The light consists of 6 white planes whose reverse sides are printed with vivid colors that reflect colored light onto the preceding planes, as well as through the translucent enclosure. Front and back planes are available in light or dark wood laminates”
Sarah Oates is a young artist living in North-East England who works with furniture to create objects of symbolic and practical signifance. Her latest pieces are a collection of glass and steel tables fitted with throwaway objects such as wine bottle corks, foam and striped vinyl tape. The most captiving amongst the collection is perhaps her Polo Mint table – rows of the white mints have been fitted under a pane of toughened glass for a cool and sleek effect.
Objects With Light’s latest release is a novel lamp at the junction of sight and sound. The Tweeter lamp uses reclaimed parts from stereo speakers arranged in a spherical or semi-spherical shape surrounding a bulb. Once the light is plugged in to an electrical source the lamp lights up and the speakers begin to play whatever music they are hooked up to.
The One Shot.mgx Stool by designer Patrick Jouin is now available at Unica Home. This rare piece is a portable, fold-away seat that was originally presented as a concept at the Del Mobile exhibition in Milan last year. The seat unfolds at the push of a button so that the legs entwirl outwards. This sturdy and stylish stool is perfect for jaunts out to the country to paint with a suicidal Dutch friend that you are sharing a house with in Arles. And don’t worry when he cuts his ear off, that’s totally normal.
Rene & Edgar have created this outdoor storage unit for dutch design market Frozen Fountain. Called “Herbal House”, it’s intended as an open cabinet in which to store whatever herbs you may wish to grow, from domestic staples such as Rosemary or Thyme, to more illicit varities of shrub. The wrought metal calligraphy adorning the sides of the cabinet consist of 12 English herb names often used in European cuisine.
I’ve been away a bit. I was in an accident and woke up in 1973, not knowing if I had travelled back in time, was mad, or was imaginaing all of it while in a coma. But i’m back now, and i’ve taken this fantastic little journal home with me, a relic from life on mars. The Formata Star Notebook is subtitled with the words “Lined Notebook Germany”. Presumably because Germany is synonymous with neatness, order, rules, regulations, rows, lines. The kind of country that will drill a bit of discipline into unruly kids from Guadalajara. For us in the anglosphere, however, the journal appeals more for its kitsch, retro verve – the kind of louche, incongruous style the hipsters ache for. Boldly designed, it’s a Bowie song about the Berlin Wall, or a disco tune for Chairman Mao, or a Kraftwerk piece about the Zapatistas down in Chiapas.
Visionaire’s latest limited edition issue features a decorative set of 50 russian dolls designed by such luminaries as Kurt Vonnegut, Rita Ackerman, R. Crumb and Chino Aoshima. The collection is released at an initial price of $175 but as the stocks dwindle the sale price rises, so these toys represent a fantastic investment as well as an irreverent snapshot of our times.
The Black Honey Bowl by Arik Levy is based on the hexagonal pattern of the honeycomb. The combed effect provides the shell with structural integrity as well as an intricate and delicate motif dripping with the sweetness of honey.
Francois Azambourg’s Brindilles Lights taper downward in twig-like twirl, mimicing the broken straws and curling stems of a brushwood plant. The luminous strands are made from a combination of LEDs and fibre optic cables, arranged randomly they light up like exposed filaments, burning brightest at the tips, or tumbleweeds catching the sun of the desert and the tincture of white sand.
Tord Boontje’s line of lights for Unica Home are currently selling fast at the store and this is one of the stand-outs. These wonderful chandeliers speak of once lush foliage now crisp with the cold autumnal air, turned golden brown in the sun or to flakes of silver in the snow. The light emanting from within briefly touches the elaborate brocade and dusts the patterns with wintery light. The tones of earth, rust, barley and wheat are expressed by the choice of materials, grounding the frail designs with permanence and instilling a sense of perennial fall. A Hanging Gardens of Babylon curated with the colours of New England.
The Kyouei Balloon Lamp is a self-powered, self-contained lantern that can be strung along in lines for a Japanese hanging lamp effect or grouped together for a clustered cloud look. The ambient lamps are made from a simple balloon affixed to a long lasting LED. The light is powered by lithium coin batteries so there is no need to connect the lamp to a grounded power supply.
The Art-o-Mat Books are 200 unique flip books showcasing art from members of to the AIC (Artists in Cellophane) organisation. Each book is unique and includes 18 different and original artworks from artists such as Christian Pietrapiana, Guy Boutin and Nell Whitlock.
The Arts Council have produced a range of limited edition travel wallets designed by some hot contemporary artists. The wallets are standard British Rail size so perfect for credit cards or your London Oyster Card. Tracy Emin has done one, featuring her infamous pet cat Docket, as has uber-lesbian Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. The wallets are available at Oxfam stores in Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove (my ‘hood!) for a limited period of time, and will also be released to the public for free at a couple of PR stunts ’round the nation. If you can’t get to any of these places, then they’re also on Oxfam’s Ebay shop, but be quick – some of the best designs have already gone!
This innovative lamp is based on the aesthetic of the chemistry flask and glows with a simple, white light through the acid-etched glass. The Airswitch lamps are turned on and off by placing your hand above the light – the closer your hand to the lid, the dimmer the lamp gets, and vice-versa.
The elusive & empyrean cloud shelving system designed by the Bouroullec Brothers is currently being sold at Unica Home. The shelves consist of repeated circular modules that combine to form a shape not unlike the humble cumulus cloud. Stack the shelves on top of one another to create a vertical bookshelf or room divider. The stratospheric shelves are constructed from high-density polystyrene and come in 4 colours – white, light green, dark green or red.
These chic, modern designs make functional clothes baskets an integral part of a well designed room. Made of a soft rubber with a brash sheen, the baskets concentrate on deep, autumnal browns lifted by blasts of sharp yet bright coolness from the pictorial representations.
These lights glisten like winter flowers suspended on ethereal branch-like wires. The light element uses translucent envelopes fitted with electroluminescent film upon which one can write messages that will glow in the dark with a soft, ambient light. Using a dry erase marker, the messages can be wiped clean or kept on as long as one desires. The lights stand on either white marble blocks (recovered from the making of the Arco lamp) or a bundle of pure wool felt moulded into unique shapes.
These photo albums are wrapped in a soft fabric for a look halfway between a wallet and a moleskin journal. Suitably, these albums are small enough to carry around with you in your pocket or bag. They all come from Stacyhandmade, a designer/artisan who also makes wonderful, felt covered coptic journals in the style of the ancient Ethiopians or Egyptians, filled with smooth, sturdy handmade paper. The photo albums come in a range of covers, all possessing a stylish verve with fresh, pronounced colours.
This paper-like, tulip-leaved locket of love belies its rather strange origin. Though it looks soft and silky, the necklace is actually made from Hytrel, an industrial byproduct usually discarded in the process of manufacturing something else entirely. Studio 1a.m., left-field design group from Chicago, have embraced these emitted shavings and used their completely random and unique shapes to make a stunningly simple and sculptural necklace.
SuckUK’s Solar lamps are back. The sun jars sell out immediately wherever they go on sale but i’ve tracked down a supplier who still has a few left. They are made from an old fashioned killiner jar – traditionally used to store jams – a solar panel, rechargeable battery and an LED light. Simply leave the jar out in the sun during the day, and watch it come on as it gets dark. Perfect for those late summer nights when you don’t want the sun to set.
Donna Brady’s gritty photographs of urban Brooklyn have found their way into the home as images printed onto lampshade. The hanging lamps use Brady’s pictures of street graffiti on dark, gloomy walls. Twice removed from their natural environment, the exuberance inherent in the colours of the graffiti is exaggerated and heightened, modifying the lamp light with their brash tone. Brady’s photographics are perhaps second-hand art, simply recording the raw & immediate expressions of street art, yet for this reason the pictures seem perfect for the medium of a lampshade – lit from beyond by second-hand light.
The final, and best (not to mention most expensive) bag featured today belongs to the Queen of Britart. WhiteCube Gallery in Hoxton Sq has its hands a very limited number of these exceptional, individual designs.
Onwards and upwards then, this day bag from London style Guru Lulu Guinness retails at £175. Perfect for travelling, the day bag comes emblazoned with a print of assorted travel documents – a boarding pass (going from London to the World), a UK passport as well as a postcard from Lulu herself.
Staying in L.A. but moving into slightly more expensive climes, this one-off special edition of ‘The New Shopping Bag’ designed by Dutch artist Amie Dicke for designer Susan Bijl is currently available at Peres Projects. Bijl has had huge commercial success with her concept of re-usable shopping bags and has displayed in New York and Tokyo. This one-off collaboration celebrates Bijl’s artful & stylish approach to neccesity by positioning the bags as works of art in themselves whose colours, contours and materials constitute a pure aesthetic form.