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Archive for June, 2009

Last weekend me and Flora went to the London Design Museum by the Thames. It’s a small-ish private museum with “just” two exhibition spaces and no permanent galleries, as far as I could discern. However, it was enough to keep me occupied for almost two hours. Before I even entered the exhibitions me and Flora already spent an inordinate amount of time in the bookshop, which were stocked with all the latest design books covering most of the design disciplines, and a conspicuous lack of art books. Good design books are clearly my weakness. It is at the same time too expensive and irresistible.

Anyway the two current exhibitions are Super Contemporary and the Brit Insurance Designs of the year. When we entered Super Contemporary’s hall we were first met with a richly informative and well-presented story of London’s role in the centre of the world design community over the last 4 decades. The timeline covered current and important events and breakthroughs in all the design disciplines – architecture, fashion, industrial, graphic etc. I’m not sure of the impact on locals or even for Europeans, but for us faraway foreign students it was incredibly insightful to learn about the design processes and the inspirations behind iconic emblems of our experiences here.

Graphic design were featured heavily, perhaps the most heavily featured in the 70s and the 80s section – showcasing iconic images of our lives here – British Rail’s double arrow logo , Orange‘s erm, orangey logo, the road signs and traffic lights used on British roads etc.

britishrail460image from here.

orange

CD cover art and film posters form an important element of designers’ work in those days, and my favourite was Bill Gold’s film poster for Stanley Kubrick’s dystopian A Clockwork Orange. Fashion was also quite prominent, delving into stories behind and about Carnaby Street, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, Hussein Chayalan etc.

One gets the feeling that architecture was perhaps less important in this exhibition, but stories were told about Modernism – the Alexander Fleming House, now Metro Central Heights, in Elephant & Castle, the Thamesmead South Housing Estate – the film backdrop for A Clockwork Orange mentioned above, the Robin Hood Gardens, the skyscraper Centre Point and continued on to more contemporary stuff such as the Swiss Re tower, the millenium architecture in London and Jubilee Line’s extension.

Industrial design was also featured, and the most iconic had to be Robin Day’s Polyprop chair.

daychair

It was presented in an extremely coherent fashion, and served as an excellent backdrop to the heart of the exhibition – 15 projects showing the latest from London’s design community. Featuring London’s most trendy designers of the moment, the projects included Zaha Hadid’s Vision for London and David Adjaye’s Bus Shelter, and  El Ultimo Grito and Urban Salon’s Horatio’s Garden: a huge canopy above Trafalgar Square (on the same level as Lord Nelson, so you can finally say hi to him). You can watch the video showing the making of the model here.

Paul Smith contributed a quirky design for the New London Rubbish Bin (now a bunny), and there are other things such as a London cab run on electricity.

The Brit Insurance Designs of the Year exhibition displayed the 91 shortlisted designs for the prestigious Brit Insurance Design of the year award. The products ranged across seven design disciplines – architecture, product, transport, fashion, graphic, interactive and furniture. You can see the full list here, and I am happy to say that my favourite among the architecture shortlist won for the architecture category – Snohetta’s new Oslo Opera House.

snohettaImage from Dezeen

Shepard Fairey‘s iconic poster for Barack Obama won the overall award.  (I used to wear lots of t-shirts by this dude when he designed (still designs?) tees for Obey Giant….)

obamaImage from Dezeen again

Super Contemporary is showing until 04 October, and Brit Insurance Designs of the Year is showing until 14 June, so if you’re in London and remotely interested in design….

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, when tanks cleared Tiananmen Square in Beijing, in response to protests by students and intellectuals, resulting in an unclear number of civilians’ deaths.

The effects of the protests have been widely debated, and I wouldn’t presume to know anything about it. I do know a saying that is frequently attributed to Abraham Lincoln though: Important principles may and must be inflexible.

Coincidentally, 1989 is also the year of the Eastern Bloc revolutions – Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia (Now the Czech & Slovak Republics respectively) and of course, perhaps the most potent symbol of that era – the fall of the Berlin Wall. Shortly after, in 1991 the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union collapsed, taking with it a huge chunk of communist states.

Interesting times, hmm? It’s remarkable what changes the events of that year have brought to the world , and 20 years later we are all seeing the effects – just look at the China, Russia and the new members of the European Union of today. In 20 years we are all ever more connected.

P.S. – another quote about principles that is perhaps closer to home. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon lose both, said Eisenhower. Sounds familiar?

berlinwall

Exam results are out – Remnants of the Berlin Wall, Berlin, July 2008

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leavesIn a nice little shaded courtyard in Bristol’s Castle Park I spent 20 minutes photographing some leaves and a bunch of trees while people walked past me staring at the weird guy pointing his camera up at the sky snapping away. I took many photos, in which these 2 are among my favourites.

I have plenty others that I like, but don’t have the time to work on them yet. This is yet another facet of my procrastination, and my attempt to do away with it – Sometimes I select an album to choose a couple of photos from to post when I feel like posting some photos. Whenever I do so I invariably select many more than just a couple, at which I will then tell myself  “Since there’s so many of them, I’ll wait for one fine day and edit and post them altogether”. Of course, that never happens. So now, I don’t care, and just post the first two that catch my eye. So, these may or may not be the cream of the crop, but here you go nonetheless.

leaves2

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