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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 is one of the most vibrant of Domestic’s Vinyl Wall Prints, a mix of fireworks exploding and silver sparks leaping upward like mackerel. It reminds me of a recent advertisement for Sony Bravia, where a bunch of Glaswegian tower-blocks have been rigged up with paint bombs. This wall graphic springs out like a geyser from its source, perhaps as the visual manifestation of an imagination busy at work at the desk. In this sense it reminds me of RW Buss’ ‘Dicken’s Dream’, the unfinished painting of a dozy Charles Dickens surrounded by the wonderful characters he is dreaming of. Perhaps this wall decoration will inspire you similarly.
British publisher Penguin have released a line of classic books with blank covers so that you can design your own front-page. You can send in your cover and Penguin will display the best submissions on their website and on flickr.
Craig Atkinson’s limited edition run of sketch books is just about sold out at Cafe Royal bookstore near Liverpool, but there are still a few of these one-of-a-kind books available. Each book is a unique record of sketches focusing on the household, featuring TVs, Polaroid cameras, garages, games consoles amongst other things. The paraphenalia of domesticity is lovingly rendered, yet tinged with a comical irony that subtly distorts and estranges familiar objects. The detailing on the electrical appliances for instance, dates the items as slightly retro in our streamlined age, and due to the fine relief of graphite these details stand out vividly. That which once made an item cutting edge now historices not only the item but our relationship with it.
The Piece and Peace greetings card is one of the latest productions coming from Japanese graphic design duo D-BROS. The card recycles a variety of discarded mixed media to create a rough yet charming assemblage. Torn magazine pages, a tea doiley, lined paper and a Polaroid are amongst some of the scraps used to achieve the unified whole.
Fashion Illustrator Ruben Toledo has created a couple of cute totes for LA’s MOCA gallery, taking inspiration from the worlds of art and architecture. This bag uses Shigeru Ban’s Curtain Wall House in Tokyo as a design motif, and looks rather splendid.
Swedish artist Lars Arrhenius London A-Z is on sale at BookArtBookShop in Shoreditch at the moment. Arrhenius’ work is a reproduced London A-Z map superimposed with illustrations of fictional characters going about their business in a non-linear visual narrative. The interrogative index at the rear of the book provided by Geoff Ryman offers a further layer of interpretation when cross-referenced with the illustrations.