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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.
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.
In commemoration of Felice Varini’s artwork in, or on, the docks of Cardiff, I’m linking to his seminal publication “Points of View”. The monograph illustrates Varini’s idiosyncratic work, playing with perception by using surfaces to paint geometric and 3-dimensional shapes. The paint appears as discordant, even violent, lines boldly painted at random across streets and buildings, yet when perceived from one particular vantage point, the works become powerfully coherent, transcending their immediate surroundings. The works though, are not posed as puzzles intended to be solved, but works that provide vivid meaning from each and every angle, validity and significance even in chaos and subjectivity.
These three carnets are covered with a charming French design reminiscent of the wholesome 1950s. The three designs feature floral patterns, a feather quill and an early modern motif featuring school kids arranged as if they were players on a fuseball table.
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.
While Ryan Frank’s Hackney Shelf takes its inspiration from the East End, it is an adulteration of urban contexts. The brutalist shapes, squares cut out arbitrarily, recall the brash and vulgar Malaga of the Cubists, the overbearing weight and height Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation in Marseille, while the cheap plywood & chipboard surfaces recall rain-glazed favelas in Brazil. That is where Frank’s input into the system ends. The rest of the credit for these shelves must be granted to the anonymous street artists and vandals who spontaneously decorated the blank wood panels – deliberately left out at night in illicit locations around Hackney and Bethnal Green.
This limited-edition monograph of sorts was released to accompany Cerith Wyn Evans’ ICA installation a few months back. It takes the form of a clear plastic flip album inserted with photographs Evans’ took on a recent trip to Japan. The photos often employ displacement or elision, scenes seem to be cut in half, sun glare distorts the colours and pictures are taken at unorthodox angles and viewpoints. The incongruoux mix of chaotic urbanity and serene nature also provides jolts of discomfort as one flicks through the photos. The individuality of the images then, seems enhanced – rather than an objective record logically filed, the photographs are uniquely peculiar visions that express a singular subjectivity. In looking through this piece we use Evans’ eyes to look, and rather than fixing upon the objective world we are alienated by it. Instead, we are forced to focus not on what we see but the ways in which we see. The albums are signed and numbered by Evans on the backsheet.
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 release of this rare, collectible laptop bag has been timed to coincide with the Japanese tour for Beck’s latest album The Information. The bag is a limited edition luggage concept designed by Beck and French artist Genevieve Gauckler (who has also designed the album sleeve for Beck’s album). The bags come with a 150 page sketchel book featuring images from around 180 global artists.
These parachute hanging lamps from designer Chahiro Tanaka are currently selling at Australian boutique Via Alley. The lights are suspended in groups like dynamic sculptures of movement, falling bombs arrested at the decisive moment just as they approach the ground, or parturient biopods pungent with life. Thankfully this intimidating, haunting power is counter-balanced by the soft, cushion-like feel of the lights as well as the joyous and ambient glow that the lamps subtly and beautifully emit. These lights are as belligerent and as soft as a pillow-fight.
This monograph records Gallery Yujiro’s inaugural exhibition of last year. The exhibition, entitled “The Universe in a Handkerchief”, featured contemporary photography, mixed media pieces as well as digital sound sculpture. The intent of the show was to explore the humour and meaning inherent in whimsical moments of existence, in the patterns created by subconcious & idiosyncratic behavourial traits. The title of the show comes from an apocryphal collection of Lewis Carrol’s juvenilia and other, marginal, fragmented work. Comes with a reflective essay by show curator Anthony Spira.
Over a decade after the concept design for Marcel Wanders knotted seat was presented in Milan, the idea still seems as contemporary and cutting edge as ever. Now those in the US can purchase one of these unique furnishings – cathedras of barbed-wire lattice bristling with beautiful tension. The chairs are made from aramid and carbon fibers and possess a strong, taut frame whilst also looking as precarious and as dainty as the ornamental icing on a wedding-cake.
This multi-layered glass self-portrait of Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami is a limited-edition reproduction of an original 1960s piece. Upon each pane of glass is impressed a single colour and single pattern so that when the panes are aligned a coherent image can be seen. The three dimensional play of light and colour as one’s eye moves across the work evokes Tanaami’s psychedelic background as well as the youthful verve of his days as Art Editor of Japanese Playboy.
Tord Boontje’s tempered glass table design for MoreSo presents a sleek black dining surface shot through with his fine etchings. Like the veins on a dead leaf the iconic patterns resemble a skeletal map, transcending mere ornamentation. The table is sustained by a steel base powder-coated in high gloss black.
The Corallo armchair is fabricated from hand-curved steel wire that has been finished with epoxy paints. This disjointed construction from some angles appears unsound, unfinished, unrefined – like a jumbled up mass of string thrown into a waste paper bin. Yet from other angles the inherent characteristics of the armchair are readily perceived, perhaps even more lucidly than normal due to their structural estrangement. Each chair is woven in a unique, irregular fashion, making each a veritable one-off.
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 best, most atmospheric lights are those with a definable source and somewhat limited luminosity – the moon, stars, candles and even those little trailing LED lights that run along the aisles of movie theatres. notNeutral’s garden lanterns possess such a light, rather than flooding a room with blunt, overbearing colour, they are offertories of a delicate, beaded light. Said to be a mix of Aztec and Morrocan patterns, to me the designs are reminscent of a fine chantilly lace but with the motifs of Aboriginal Art – the fish skeleton, the emu foot, the woomera. The lanterns are made from metal with a black, oxidised finish and come fitted with a candle that shines through the staccato light-holes.
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!
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 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.
The Wurst Gallery, that’s who. Last month they announced a load of one-off art products based on the theme of man’s best friend. Luckily there’s still quite a few of these unique artworks left.
The German Shepherd
This piece is entitled “A Policeman’s Best Friend”, it includes a B&W can with a bold logo and motto emblazoned onto it. Inside, a lump of Chris Ofili-esque ‘poop’, that seems to be made from papier-maiche. This one is designed by Emil Kozak, costs $100 and is available here.
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.